July 27, 2011
Hyundai. Editor-in-Chief's Note: From the "Sergeant Schultz 'I Know Nothing' File" comes word that just when John Krafcik and the troops at Hyundai started lighting up their cigars and putting their feet up on their desks for five minutes the curious case of the "wandering" Sonatas has come to the fore. It seems that too many Sonatas have the tendency to wander to the left at freeway speeds, with no good explanation available as to why either. I could say that Hyundai is "telegraphing" their upcoming entry into NASCAR by getting their Sonata "shoes" used to turning left, but the reality is - as I've said umpteen times before - that the Hyundai Good Times freight train is about to come off of the tracks. Hyundai doesn't think they have a problem, but trust me, the longer it persists and the longer it stays on the radar, the worse it will get. Time of your lives, eh kids? - PMD
Sergio Marchionne. Editor-in-Chief's Note: The Chrysler Supreme Leader tells reporters and analysts yesterday that despite the infusion of Italian culture and management teams he's going to pick the best executives for the jobs at hand and that he won't screw-up the "American-ness" of Chrysler, ever. Hmmm. We think he's confusing the "one-hit wonder" Super Bowl commercial and the snow job that his marketing guru - Olivier "I'm a frickin' genius, just ask me" Francois - has pulled on him with the reality of the situation. The new Chrysler is no longer an American car company, period. It's an Italian-owned entity that does business here. It might try to wrap its products in the flag every chance it gets, but make no mistake, there are only two domestic automakers left in the U.S. - PMD
Bentley. From the "Hell Is Freezing Over" File comes word that VW - Bentley 's parent company - is investigating developing an SUV for the traditional luxury automobile brand. Well, with Porsche deriving all of its profits from the Cayenne SUVs and with Ferrari building honest-to-goodness sport wagons, what's the difference? Those clinging to the good ol' days of brand purity at this point better get used to the fact that those days are long gone.
The Obama Administration. They want to drop the CAFE requirement for 2025 from 56.2 to 54.5 if the automakers agree to it by Wednesday. Hear that? Listen carefully... it's the sound of one hand clapping. These guys are good. Not.
Sergio Marchionne. He tells reporters and analysts yesterday that despite Detroit getting healthier and in Chrysler's specific case, having the executive pay restraints lifted now that Chrysler's government loans are paid off, that "The hog days are over.... that once we're out of jail (no one should assume) we're going to start distributing crack cash indiscriminately to return to the old ways of sin. ... I think that the industry itself has learned to be much more cautious and judicious." Really, Sergio? We'll remind you of that statement when you give yourself a big fat raise and stock options up the wazoo. And that's our AE Quote of the Week.
Ferrari. Serviced your Ferrari lately? Ouch. But Ferrari North America is doing something about it. Customers ordering a 2012 Ferrari California, 458 Italia or FF from an authorized dealer will be entitled to a free seven-year scheduled maintenance program. Ferrari's "Genuine Maintenance" program is unique in that it's the first time an automobile manufacturer has offered such lengthy free maintenance coverage. The Genuine Maintenance program covers each individual vehicle and extends to any eventual subsequent owner during the entire seven-year period. On June 30th Ferrari reported revenues of 1,080 million Euros (+19.6%) and 3,577 cars delivered to its dealer network in the first six months of the year, an increase of 11.8% over the first half of 2010. Both are records.
Nissan's "Official Taxi of New York City" deal doesn't come online until 2013, but in the interim Ford has gotten approval by the city to sell its Transit Connect Taxi. Thus New York joins Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia on a list of major cities to approve the Ford Transit Connect Taxi. The standard 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine and automatic transmission powering the Transit Connect delivers a best-in-class 23 mpg combined, an estimated 30 percent improvement in fuel efficiency versus many of today's traditional taxis. Ford also offers engine prep packages that allow conversions to compressed natural gas and liquefied propane gas. It will be interesting how many taxi operators in New York orders the Transit Connect ahead of the Nissan deal. Something tells us the roomy and practical little Ford is going to be quite popular for drivers and riders alike.
The new, limited-production 2012 GranTurismo MC is powered by a 4.7-liter all-alloy V8 delivering 444 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 376 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. The machine comes standard with an MC Shift-controlled ZF 6-speed automatic and goes 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds with a top speed of 185 mph. It is the fastest production Maserati available in North America. The 2012 GranTurismo MC has a base MSRP of $139,900 in the U.S.