No. 744,
April 23, 2014

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On The Table




arrowup.gif Mary Barra. Editor-in-Chief's Note: Well, the honeymoon is officially over for GM's freshly-minted CEO, as she now leads the charge on GM's response to the massive ignition switch recall. Time of your life, eh, kid? - PMD

arrowup.gif Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. The grating senator from Tennessee took direct aim at the UAW and its conduct after losing the organizing election at VW's plant in Chattanooga in an op-ed piece that appeared in The Wall Street Journal. An excerpt: "Unfortunately, the UAW has chosen to ignore the employees' decision and has filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board, charging that elected officials like me should not be allowed to make public comments expressing our opinion and sharing information with our constituents. It is telling that the UAW complaint does not mention President Obama's public statement urging the employees to vote for the union. If the National Labor Relations Board upholds these objections, it would be an unprecedented assault on free speech. In every similar case where a company has remained neutral in a union-election drive, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have voiced their opinions. The NLRB has ruled repeatedly that public officials have the right to make statements taking sides in a union election, and that those statements do not justify overturning the outcome of that election." And that's our AE Quote of the Week.

Sergio Marchionne. Editor-in-Chief's Note: The Exalted One says that FCA will keep its minivan production in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. This after withdrawing a public request for government help, which much to his surprise (but no one else's) was not forthcoming. But Marchionne warned the Canadian government and labor unions that the outcome of 2016 negotiations with UNIFOR, which represents Canadian auto workers, would be crucial. "It is clear to us that our projects are now being used as a political football, a process that, in our view, apart from being unnecessary and ill-advised, will ultimately not be to the benefit of Chrysler," the company said in a written statement. In other words, Marchionne was handed Chrysler on a silver platter and he's quite convinced that as "political footballs" go, he should be handed other prizes as well, just because of who he is. Marchionne gets feisty and belligerent when he can't control a given situation and people don't acquiesce to his every whim and wish. Too bad. He better get used to it. - PMD

(Lexus USA)
The 2015 Lexus RC 350 F SPORT
makes its world debut at the 2014 Geneva International Motor Show, joining the recently introduced RC 350 sport coupe and RC F performance model in the Lexus lineup. Lexus insists that the RC is a stand-alone model rather than a two-door derivative of a sedan although it is built on the GS sedan platform. It has the same width as GS but a shorter wheelbase than the IS sedan. The F SPORT’s dynamic upgrades include Adaptive Variable Suspension (AVS) and the available Lexus Dynamic Handling (LDH) system. The new model can be identified by its model-specific “F” mesh design evolution of the Lexus spindle grille and unique 19-inch F SPORT mesh alloy wheels featuring machine-finish and dark metallic paint, an F SPORT perforated leather steering wheel and shift knob, Silver Performance trim and an F SPORT-exclusive Rioja Red interior with seats featuring unique contrast stitching. The new F SPORT arrives here next fall.


(Digital images courtesy of Audi)
The all-new Audi TT Coupé and 310PS TTS Coupé are making their debut at the Geneva Motor Show this week. The sports car has been updated and comprehensively reengineered for its third generation, according to Audi. “The Audi TT is the epitome of an authentic design icon and a top-performance driving machine,” explains Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG for Technical Development. “With the new generation, we are making this technology even easier for the driver to experience – just as they would expect from a real sports car.” They seem to be hung-up on whether the TT is a true sports car or not. A little sensitive perhaps?

For the interior of the new Audi TT the designers worked on the basis of “less is more.” The slender instrument panel has been made possible by combining the instrument cluster and MMI screen in a central, digital unit – the so-called Audi virtual cockpit - and by repositioning the controls for the air conditioning system in the air vents including seat heating (where applicable), temperature, direction, air distribution and air flow strength. As an option (?) the vents can also house small digital displays, which show the chosen setting. The horizontal control panel is located under the central air vents. The 3D-designed toggle switches activate the hazard warning lights, control the Audi drive select adaptive dynamics system and operate other assistance functions, where specified. The standard sports seats in the new Audi TT are positioned lower and are also more than five kilograms lighter. As an option – and as standard in the TTS – newly developed S sport seats are available. The cargo area has a capacity of 305 liters, an increase of 13 liters, and can be extended by folding the rear seat backrests forward.

New engines, a new suspension configuration and a heavily revised quattro system capable of temporarily deactivating to boost efficiency are some of the changes in the new Audi TT. The curb weight on the entry level model has been reduced by 50kg, due to refinements in the aluminum and steel hybrid construction process. The 2.0 TFSI  in the TTS develops 310PS, and with the six-speed S tronic transmission can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 4.7 seconds.

(Images courtesy of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars)
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars hasunveiled the Ghost Series II at Geneva. “The Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II is the ultimate entrepreneur’s business tool," Chief Executive Officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Torsten Müller-Ötvös said. "Following the worldwide success of its predecessor, I am confident that this re-designed and updated Rolls-Royce will continue to attract increasing numbers of new customers to the marque, in particular business entrepreneurs seeking an oasis of calm in a frenetic business world.” A tool? Really? Please.

Rolls-Royce says the Ghost is, "The ultimate contemporary combination of luxury, technology and connectivity available to the successful entrepreneur on the move today, Ghost Series II’s onboard technology ensures it is an oasis of calm in a busy, connected world where he or she can do business in peace." Again with the tool thing. We would have loved to have been in those strategic positioning meetings.

"In short, Ghost remains the ultimate choice for successful entrepreneurs around the world and the calmest place from which to run their successful enterprises on the move." Or, how about this? For people who have $225,000+ in "fuck you" money to spend on a car, the Ghost Series II is just perfect for you.

(McLaren Automotive)
The new McLaren 650S Spider was introduced in Geneva as a companion to the 650S fixed-roof Coupé. McLaren says that the Spider suffers no decrease in torsional rigidity
due to its unique carbon fiber MonoCell chassis and it weighs about the same too. The two-piece roof can be raised or lowered in less than 17 seconds on the move at speeds up to 30 km/h (19 mph). The McLaren 650S Spider is mechanically identical to the 650S Coupé and is fitted with the McLaren M838T twin turbo V8 engine, producing 650PS (641 bhp) and 678 Nm (500 lb ft) of torque. This means a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) sprint of 3.0 seconds, identical to the Coupé, and 200 km/h (124 mph) is reached in 8.6 seconds, only 0.2 seconds shy of the fixed-head model. Maximum speed is 329 km/h mph (204 mph). Fuel consumption and emissions remain the same for the 650S Spider, returning 24.2 mpg (11.7 l/100km) on the EU combined cycle and 275 g/km. The latest model is shown in Tarocco Orange, a new addition to the McLaren color palette, developed with technology partner AkzoNobel. And of course McLaren would have a "technology partner" for colors, I mean, doesn't everyone?

The all-new 2015 Jeep Renegade, which made its debut in Geneva, is the brand’s first entry in the small SUV segment. Designed in Auburn Hills, the littlest Jeep will be built in Italy on
the all-new “small-wide 4x4 architecture.” Jeep operatives say that the Renegade will offer a best-in-class combination of fuel efficiency and off-road capability.

(BMW USA newspress USA)
BMW has unveiled the all-new BMW X4 Sports Activity Coupe, a new mid-sized premium Sports Activity Vehicle. "Like the X6 before it, the BMW X4 combines the performance and capability of a premium Sports Activity Vehicle, with the style and elegance of traditional coupe," according to BMW. In the US, the X4 will be offered with a choice of two TwinPower Turbo engines: The X4 xDrive28i, with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $45,625 (including destination and handling), has a 240 horsepower 2.0-liter four cylinder while the top-of-line X4 xDrive35i, with an MSRP of $48,925 (including destination and handling) will feature BMW’s 300 horsepower 3.0-liter inline six. Both models include an 8-speed Steptronic sport automatic transmission with shift paddles as well as xDrive, BMW’s intelligent all-wheel drive system.
Compared to the larger BMW X3, the X4 is 184.3 inches (4,680 mm) long, actually 0.6 inches (14 mm) longer than the X3, but it is also 1.5 inches (37 mm) lower (height: 63.9 in./1,624 mm).

(BMW USA newspress USA)
The X4’s body is mounted 1.5 inches (37 mm) lower than that of the BMW X3. The driver and front passenger sit 0.8 in. (20 mm) lower and the rear passengers 1.1 in. (28 mm) lower. The load capacity available is 17.7- 49.4 cu. ft., which can be used in a wide variety of ways thanks to the standard 40:20:40 split rear seat bench. A power tailgate is standard. It is also available with the optional Smart Opener, which allows it to be opened with a movement of the foot. All X4s include BMW’s iDrive Controller and central display. When equipped with the available on-board navigation system, the new BMW X4 receives the new iDrive Controller with touchpad, which allows drivers or passengers to use their finger to write letters for text inputs, such as a navigation destination, for example.

(BMW USA newspress USA)
The 2015 BMW X4 will make its world debut at the New York International Auto Show in April and begin production this spring exclusively at BMW’s US production facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It should arrive at BMW dealers late spring.

So you get a Bentley, but you feel the need for even more accessorizing. Thus, Bentley injects more color into its new haute-couture range of luxury accessories for women, including two handbag models – the Continental and the Barnato – with references to Bentley’s signature bespoke hide combinations. There's a Special Ivory derived from Bentley’s 1952 Continental R-Type executed for the Continental handbag model in patent leather with a deep Burgundy interior. The Barnato handbag is now offered in an Imperial Blue exterior with Linen panels, a Linen interior accented with Imperial Blue pockets, "representing the ultimate expression of luxury and refinement in harmony with sea and coastal landscapes, yachting and other leisure pursuits," according to Bentley. Other classic colors include a Dragon Red drawn from the Continental GT V8, also executed in patent leather; and Cumbrian Green, which harkens back to the renowned Bentley Blower model executed in combined patent and smooth leather, thus replicating the traditional 1930’s design where the car body was part paint, part trimmed in leather. The color combinations can also be perceived as "passe-partouts," or central blocks of color, which are bordered by contrast tones, as a picture in a frame. Such combinations include: Saffron/Linen, Imperial Blue/Linen, Portland/Pillar Box Red, Saddle/Linen. The press release goes on, but we'll stop here.

Editor's Note: If you would like to see more images from the Geneva International Motor Show, go here. - WG

Well, it has finally happened! We are pleased to announce the publication of A Bud's Life: One Man's Journey Through Life Unbridled. Dr. Bud's Kindle eBook is available now on Amazon. -WG