September 19, 2012
The U.S. Government. Decides now would be the best time to protest China's subsidies on auto parts and automobiles to the World Trade Organization, estimated to be at least $1 billion. We'd say that was three years too late and about $2 billion short, but who's counting?
Alan Mulally. From the "I'm Not Going Anywhere Anytime Soon" File, Ford's leader dampens speculation about his departure with a very pointed, "Not So Fast My Friend" type of response to the media while on his Fusion launch tour.
Sergio Marchionne. Sticking to his guns about his dislike of pattern bargaining with labor unions, he remains adamant in his disdain for the CAW's bargaining tactics, telling the Toronto Globe and Mail on September 7: "Nobody in their right mind would continue to create an unlevel playing field in its own organization. It's impossible. We have other plants, other options."
VW. Editor-in-Chief's Note: Every once in a while a piece of advertising comes along that makes you sit up and take notice. And no, I'm not talking about Eminem, or Clint. I'm talking about an auto manufacturer with the vision to do something completely unexpected and frankly, damn near genius. The folks at VW decided we all needed a break from the endless barrage of political advertising we're being subjected to for the next seven weeks. And boy are they right. So they've come up, or I should say their advertising agency - Deutsch, Los Angeles - has come up with a wonderful 30-second TV commercial that doesn't show one car. Not one. Instead it shows a variety of real people across all age groups smiling and laughing, closing with a tag line that says simply, "It's not the miles, it's how you live them. That's the power of German engineering." Sound corny? You have to see it for yourself. It's far from that. It's probably the most compelling piece of advertising - auto or otherwise - to come along in ages. Kudos to VW and its advertising agency for having the guts to do something completely different. It's simply wonderful. Watch it here. - PMD
(Sam VarnHagen/Ford Motor Co.)
Ford president and CEO, Alan Mulally, and celebrity host Ryan Seacrest introduce the all-new Ford Fusion, at an event in Times Square. The Ford Fusion delivers a U.S. EPA-certified 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway and 47 mpg combined in its hybrid model. Seacrest was there announcing “47 Challenges, 47 Days” chapter of Random Acts of Fusion; details available at www.RandomActsofFusion.com.
The MINI Paceman – the seventh model in the MINI lineup - makes its formal debut at the Mondial de l’Automobile show in Paris next week. BMW says that the Paceman is "the first Sports Activity Coupé to be launched in the premium compact segment," whatever the hell that means. BMW also says that the Paceman "takes the brand into new territory once again, combining extrovert design and stylish individuality with a fresh interpretation of the hallmark MINI go-kart feeling." Sure it does. It's called brand extension, folks.
On the heels of the Lexus LF-LC concept unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show last January, Lexus is unveiling a new mid-sized coupe concept, the LF-CC, at the upcoming 2012 Paris Motor Show. The LF-CC is a more compact, rear-wheel drive, full hybrid that clearly takes its design cues from the LF-LC. According to Lexus, "... the LF-CC reinforces Lexus’ commitment to create more engaging, inspirational vehicles through attractive design, a superior driving experience and advanced technologies." The new concept also telegraphs that Lexus plans on announcing the launch of a premium mid-sized coupe in the more accessible D-segment in the near future.
(Photos courtesy of McLaren Automotive)
McLaren Automotive will use its first ever international motor show appearance at the Paris Motor Show, Mondial de l'Automobile 2012, to preview its next-generation ultimate supercar – the McLaren P1 – which "takes much of its technological and spiritual inspiration from the company’s Racing division." McLaren says that they had one simple goal when developing the P1, and that was to have it be "the best driver’s car in the world on road and track." The McLaren P1 to be unveiled in Paris will be previewed as a design study. A production version, which the company aims to put on sale within 12 months, will be revealed next year. "The McLaren P1 will be the result of 50 years of racing and road car heritage," says McLaren Automotive Executive Chairman Ron Dennis. "Twenty years ago we raised the supercar performance bar with the McLaren F1 and our goal with the McLaren P1 is to redefine it once again." "Our aim is not necessarily to be the fastest in absolute top speed but to be the quickest and most rewarding series production road car on a circuit," says McLaren Automotive Managing Director Antony Sheriff. "It is the true test of a supercar’s all round ability and a much more important technical statement. Our goal is to make the McLaren P1 the most exciting, most capable, most technologically advanced and most dynamically accomplished supercar ever made." We don't doubt that they will achieve their goal, given their track record with the F1. The McLaren P1 will be the pinnacle of the company's product lineup when it goes into production later next year, priced above the 12C and 12C Spider. More information will be revealed next week.
Editor-in-Chief's Note: From the November 30, 2009 edition of The Onion (below). Still priceless today. - PMD
Nation's Poor Bastards Never Even Saw it Coming
NEW YORK. According to a report published Tuesday by the Center for the Study of Goddamn Fucking Shames, 96 percent of the nation's sorry sons of bitches never even saw it coming. The study found that two-thirds of those surveyed didn't stand a chance, 21 percent never would've thought for a second, and 2 percent were just sitting there minding their own business when all of a sudden, whack, right in the back of the head. "Poor bastards," head researcher David Childress said. The report also showed that the remaining 4 percent did manage to see it coming, but before they had a chance to do a damn thing about it, it was too late.
Editor-in-Chief's Note: This week's "quick take" has us in the 2012 Volkswagen Beetle Turbo. VW promoted the big change in the Beetle exterior as moving toward a more aggressive design and for the most part they've accomplished it. It's lower and sleeker and from the rear 3/4 (and if you squint a little) it has a 50s Porsche Coupe feel to it. But only if you squint. To me the Beetle looks best in its standard configuration, in black, with the classic chrome hubcaps. The rest of the re-do is very, very nice, especially in the interior. The VW Group interiors are stellar across the board, and the Beetle interior doesn't disappoint in this regard. On paper the Beetle Turbo should be excellent dynamically, after all it shares its underpinnings with the Golf GTI, but for some reason the car is a giant disconnect. The GTI seems better in every respect and I don't know if it's because the Beetle shape doesn't lend itself to being a performance machine or the spatial relationship in the GTI's interior is just more conducive to driving, but there's no comparison between the two in my book. As I said, if you got one in basic black with the classic chrome hubcaps you'd be at least attempting to make a design statement. But when it's all zooted-out in boy racer mode it falls flat. I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone would take this car over a VW GTI. Unless you just gotta have the new Beetle shape, get the GTI. It's one of the best all-around, real world performance machines for the money you can buy. The Beetle? It's nice, but beyond that, I just don't care. -PMD
2012 VW Beetle Turbo: $25,165 ($23,955 Base Price; Reflex Silver Metallic with Black/Blue interior; 2.0-liter turbocharged, direct injection 4-cylinder with 200HP and 207 lbs-ft of torque; 6-speed manual gearbox; Electro-mechanical power steering; Independent front and rear sport suspension; 18" alloy wheels; Electronic stability control (ESC); Anti-slip regulation (ASR); Heatable front seats and a bunch of other stuff, all standard; Bi-Xenon Head Lamps and 19" wheels, $1,000; Destination charge, $770)
We've introduced a new dimension to our "Quick Take" auto reviews 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: Which image? Is it the nostalgic Volkswagen or the contemporary automotive conglomerate that delivers in every segment in which it competes? The Beetle is neither, which is why its brand image is puzzling, at best. The Beetle vs. GTI comparison (above) says it all. The Beetle exists for a state of mind that is rapidly fading from view in this country, and I can't believe VW spent the money on the re-do of this car. Not that it isn't pleasing in the aforementioned basic black and classic chrome hubcap configuration, but this freshened version seems to exist in a Twilight Zone that has nothing to do with the original car, or what VW is today. The Beetle isn't even a niche vehicle. It's a curiosity bordering on being an oddity. And not in a good way. - PMD
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