August 8, 2012
Pollyanna Politicians. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is forming an auto caucus comprised of a bipartisan group of four governors to support policies aimed at boosting the U.S. auto industry, according to Dave Shephardson of the The Detroit News. The Michigan Governor is set to reveal the National Governors Auto Caucus today in a speech at the Center for Automotive Research's annual Management Briefing Seminars at Grand Traverse Resort. Snyder, along with Govs. Jay Nixon, D-Mo.; Bill Haslam, R-Tenn.; and Pat Quinn, D-Ill., are founding members, although it will be open to all governors. Its goal is to provide "a forum for governors to discuss bipartisan, noncontroversial issues related to the industry and its 8 million jobs," the governors said in a statement. "The caucus will explore broad policy frameworks, initiatives and developments that impact the industry at large and are consistent with a strong auto manufacturing presence in the country." Good luck with that, Rick. Especially when you have politicians in Washington and Northern California with the stated mission of eradicating the automobile from the U.S.
GM PR. Editor-in-Chief's Note: They could have and should have insisted that the company be forthright about the departure of Joel Ewanick, instead of letting rumors about the departure of GM's marketing chief reverberate around the town and this business for weeks. Their solution? Release an email statement that said that Ewanick failed to "meet the company's expectations of an employee." Huh? This was followed by CEO Dan Akerson telling industry analysts last week that, "I know a lot of the public views this as a personality-driven industry," he said. "It's a team effort and what you saw manifest in the marketplace was a thought-out strategy that was agreed upon as a team." That's flat-out unmitigated bullshit. When you have a position that directs one of the largest media budgets globally, and you're dealing with the marketing and advertising media, you bet your ass it's a personality-driven industry. Come on, Dan, you know better than saying stuff like that. Oh by the way, we're starting a new website: StupidShitCEOsSay.com. - PMD
Kevin Kennedy. The longtime industry pro who handles PR for Ford Racing wasn't afraid to straighten Ralph Gilles out after he whined publicly about Ford signing Roger Penske to join its NASCAR campaign. "That was an aggressive decision on Ford's behalf..." Gilles said, who was clearly miffed. Dodge announced it was pulling out of NASCAR yesterday, something we called on Sunday. Kevin Kennedy told The Detroit News, "We didn't hide the fact that we were looking for a second championship-capable team. We're in NASCAR to win and then to market that success. He calls it 'aggressive,' I call it good business. We're just trying to be as successful as we can. Our job is to have a winning program." Amen to that, Kevin. And that's our AE Quote of the Week. Check out this week's "Fumes" for more detail on Fiat-Chrysler's retreat from NASCAR.
Honda has unveiled images of the all-new 2013 Honda Accord Sedan and Accord Coupe. Honda calls it, "The most sculpted Accord ever..." Uh, more like, "we tried to put as much Sonata in it as we possibly could." The ninth-generation Accord has increased passenger and cargo space in both the sedan and the coupe, while the overall exterior lengths are noticeably shortened, contributing to a sportier driving character and easier parking, according to Honda. The new Accord has aero-tweaks such as low-drag exterior surfaces including nearly flush windshield glass, flush-mounted windshield wipers and careful under-body detailing to enhance fuel efficiency. The new Accord also has available LED daytime running lights, headlights and taillights. It will go on sale in the fall.
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Our "quick take" this week has us in something called the "Audi A5 2.0 TFSI quattro MT6 Coupe." Other than the fact that Audi really needs to give some serious thought as to how they officially name their vehicles here in the U.S. - how about shortening it to just "Audi A5 quattro Coupe" for starters? - finding fault with this beautifully-sculptured Audi Coupe is like finding fault with Justin Verlander's late-inning pitch sequence. It's just not possible. First of all, the VW Group's direct-injected, turbocharged 4-cylinder is simply one of the finest engines in the business, bar none. Throttle response is superb, it's acceptably quick, it's perfectly suited to the six-speed manual gearbox and it delivers excellent real world fuel economy (to the tune of 29-30+ mpg at a consistent 85 mph). This A5 is so good at the mind-numbing urban slog with this drivetrain combination I'd be hard pressed to go for the S5, it's that good. Okay, so of course I'd take the S5 but for all-around performance the 2.0-liter package is just too good to ignore. As for the rest of the car, the cockpit is typical Audi-detailed and refined, the driving dynamics lack nothing, and the overall fling-ability of the A5 is just, well, damn near perfect, to the point where it would be difficult to choose a 3 Series BMW over it. Okay, there's one fault: The price. I know that when assigning cars to the media fleets the manufacturers tend to load their cars up with options, but $10,000 worth? Yikes. It's no secret why Audi has become the star profit generator for the VW Group machine. But even with that being the case, this Audi is one of the best enthusiast cars available in the market today. -PMD
2012 Audi A5 2.0 TFSI quattro MT6 Coupe: $47,680 ($37,100.00 Base Price; Monsoon Gray Metallic, $475; Black interior; 2.0-liter, direct-injected, turbocharged I4 with 211HP; 6-speed manual gearbox with dual mass flywheel; A5 Premium Plus Model - Audi xenon plus front lighting, LED daytime running lights and taillights, Auto-dimming interior mirror with compass, Auto-dimming heated exterior mirrors, Convenience package, Heated front seats with driver memory, Three-zone climate control - $3900; Audi MMI Navigation Plus - MMI "high" control panel, 1CD/DVD player and HD radio, Color driver information system, HDD Navi with voice control - $2000; Sport Package - Front sport seats with 4-way power lumbar, 18" 10-spoke-design wheels, Sport suspension, 3-spoke steering wheel - $1000; Bang & Olufsen Sound System, $850; 19" 5-arm Y-design wheels with summer performance tires, $800; Audi advanced key, $550; Polished exhaust tips, $130; Front filler panel, included; Destination charge, $875)
We introduced a new dimension to our "Quick Take" auto reviews last week by discussing brand image, in which we will ask a simple question: Does the vehicle we're driving adhere to the stated image of the brand? Or is it just a placeholder until they figure it out? We will be very clear as to what we think here, unlike some of the manufacturers in question who aren't quite sure as to who they are and what they stand for. - PMD
Adherence to Brand Image: Outstanding. The Audi A5 Coupe exudes "Audi-ness" from stem-to-stern. The German brand went through its "march to a different drummer" phase when it was on its quest to get on par with BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but now there's no question that it has arrived in consumers' minds to take its place at the top tier of luxury-performance automobiles. Was it an easy journey? No, not by a long shot. But I have to commend Audi management over the last 12 years for their focused consistency as to what they believed in and where they wanted to take the brand. It would have been very easy to walk away from their dominant Le Mans-winning racing program, or to get lazy with their product execution and cadence, but they didn't allow themselves to waver or falter. Audi still does things with their cars that indicate a fundamental passion for the engineering and a willingness to do things that in their minds constitutes the right way - the Audi way if you will - rather than worrying about what's "acceptable" given the competition. That's refreshing and an integral part of what makes Audi special. In some ways, Audi operatives still retain a slight chip on their shoulder from their "march to a different drummer" days. It defines them and it reveals itself in the driving difference that propels the brand. I sincerely hope they never lose that edge. - PMD
THE ALL-NEW AE STORE IS HERE!
CLICK ON THE PIC BELOW TO CHECK IT OUT!