Mark Webster. The good news? You've been appointed general manager of Smart USA, according to a story in Automotive News. The bad news? You've been appointed general manager of Smart USA. A dead-in-the-water non-starter with little or no redeeming qualities, it's the brand that delusional Mercedes-Benz executives just can't seem to let go of. Yikes.
Anthony Foxx. Charlotte's Mayor has just been named as Ray LaHood's replacement as head of the Transportation Department. Foxx has been "one of the most effective mayors Charlotte has ever seen" according to the President's statement from the White House, claiming the city's resurgence is due, in part, to his emphasis on transportation projects. Seems logical, sure.
Sergio Marchionne. The Exalted One had this to say after first quarter profits tumbled because of the expensive launches of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Ram pickup: "This is a one-time event. It's a one-off. Just close your eyes, plug your nose, and move on from here," Marchionne said. "I knew I was going to be limping in the quarter. I didn't know that I was going to be limping that much." Whatever you say, Sergio.
Coda. This is one so-called "green" car company start-up that we're happy to report, "we told you so." Looking for all the world like a recycled Geo Prizm (for $37,000.00, no less) the Chinese-made Coda EV never had a frickin' snowball's chance in hell of making it, which was readily apparent when they showed the car at the Detroit Auto Show over a year ago. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday, after selling 100, that's right, 100 cars in a year. Two questions: Who in their right mind actually plunked down real money for these things with so many far better choices out there? And how does it feel now? Cue the sound of actress Kelly Preston's voice - as Avery Bishop - calling Tom Cruise - as Jerry McGuire - a "loser" in the movie of the same name. Yeah, that's what it sounds like.
Editor's Note: Gary Vasilash, from AutoFieldGuide.com, nicely sums up last week's Autoline After Hours for us here. (And you can watch the show too.) - WG
(Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)
The Rolls-Royce Wraith made its debut in the UK this week showcased in the window display of luxury department store Harrods in Knightsbridge, London. The Wraith on display is painted in Midnight Sapphire with an upper two-tone contrasting color in Cassiopeia Silver, accentuating Wraith’s jaunty fastback profile. The interior is finished with an Arctic White and Navy Blue leather scheme, with intertwined RRs embroidered in the headrests in Navy and, unique for this model, the striking new Canadel Panelling in Santos Palisander. Completing the interior is a starlight headliner, casting a glow from hundreds of individual ‘stars’ in the roof lining at the press of a button. In case you're in London this week, the Wraith will be in the window of Harrods department store until Saturday May 4th.
Ford is teaming up with Shinola, a Detroit-based luxury goods manufacturer, to celebrate 50 years of the Ford Mustang with the release of a premium 46-millimeter wristwatch with Swiss movements. Bedrock Manufacturing Company purchased the Shinola trademark, first used in 1929 on a wax-based shoe polish, in 2011. A year ago Shinola moved into a 30,000-square-foot space in the historic Argonaut building in Midtown Detroit. Handmade watches and bicycles are now being crafted there. Shinola also offers other American-made products, including an artisanal leather collection, and journals created with paper from Michigan’s sustainable forests. In June Shinola will open a retail space. Only 50 companies will be licensed to create products bearing the Mustang 50 Years logo, which was designed to celebrate the sports car leading up to its 50th birthday on April 17, 2014.
Fifty years ago, the Porsche 911 made its debut at the Frankfurt International Auto Show - and just ten years later, the first 911 Turbo prototype was at the IAA. On this 40th anniversary of the 911 Turbo, Porsche is now presenting the new generation 911 Turbo and Turbo S - what the company is calling "the technological and dynamic performance peak of the 911 series." A new all-wheel-drive system, active rear axle steering, adaptive aerodynamics, full-LED headlights, and up to 560 hp - the 3.8-liter, twin-turbo flat six-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection produces 520 hp in the 911 Turbo and 560 hp in the S model - underscore the role of the new generation 911 Turbo as "an ultra performance car, every day car, and technology flagship," according to Porsche. The new Turbo has an entirely new chassis and lightweight tweaks with a 3.9-inch longer wheelbase and larger 20-inch wheels. The Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) active anti-roll system, which is being offered for the first time in 911 Turbo models, increases dynamic performance even more. This system is standard equipment in the 911 Turbo S, as is Sport Chrono Package Plus with dynamic engine mounts, and Porsche Carbon Ceramic Composite Brakes (PCCB); all of these features are also available as options in the 911 Turbo. The result: The new 911 Turbo S shortens the lap time for the North Loop of the Nurburgring to well under 7 and a half minutes with standard production tires.
For even faster and more precise power distribution to the front and rear axles, Porsche developed a new PTM all-wheel drive system with electronically controlled and activated multi-plate coupling. The system is equipped with a new water cooling function, which allows for more strength, and therefore more drive torque to the front wheels, than the system in the previous 911 Turbo. Simultaneously, the optimized interplay of the engine, transmission and all-wheel drive systems results in significant improvements to the acceleration capabilities of the 911 Turbo and Turbo S. The 911 Turbo with the optional Sport Chrono Package Plus accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, on its way to a top track speed of 196 mph. The 911 Turbo S handles the sprint to 60 mph in just 2.9 seconds, with a top track speed of 198 mph. At speeds above 50 mph, the active rear axle steering system steers the rear wheels parallel to the front wheels. This is equivalent to a virtual lengthening of the wheelbase by 19.6 inches and gives the car tremendous directional control capability. At the same time, the steering input by the driver leads to significantly faster build-up of lateral force at the rear axle, which responds to steering commands even more quickly.
Porsche developed an active aerodynamic system on the new 911 Turbo models for the first time. It consists of a retractable three-stage front spoiler, whose segments can be pneumatically extended, and a deploy-able rear wing with three adjustable wing positions. This makes it possible to tune the aerodynamics of the 911 Turbo to fulfill driver wishes for either optimal efficiency or top dynamic performance. In the performance position, all segments of the front spoiler are fully extended, and they generate considerable down force at the front axle. Similarly, the rear wing is extended to its maximum height with the greatest angle of attack. This also generates more down force at the rear axle. Dynamic performance is improved to such an extent that lap times at the North Loop of the Nuburgring are improved by up to two seconds due to this system alone.
The interior was completely redesigned in both 911 Turbo models. The S model offers such features as an exclusive interior in a black/Carrera red color combination and standard Sport Seats Plus with 18-way adjustment and memory. In addition, the seat back shells are upholstered in leather with double cap seams and various elements in carbon look. As on the previous models, the Bose sound system is installed as standard; for the first time, a Burmeister system is also available as an optional feature. A radar-controlled cruise control system, camera-based road sign recognition, and speed limit recognition are other new options being offered if you just can't help yourself from checking option boxes.
Visually, the characteristic expansively wide rear body panels of the new generation 911 Turbo are a further 1.1 inches wider than on the 911 Carrera 4S. The fenders feature a nearly level surface, about the width of a hand, between the C-pillar and the outer edge of the car body. Other differentiating characteristics include forged two-tone 20-inch aluminum wheels. On the 911 Turbo S they have center hub wheel locks. The Turbo S is further differentiated by new, standard full-LED headlights that feature four-point daytime running lights and camera-based high/low beam control, which can be ordered as an option for the 911 Turbo.The new top models of the 911 model series arrive on the market at the end of 2013 in the United States. The 911 Turbo is priced from $148,300 while the 911 Turbo S begins at $181,100, not including a destination charge of $950.