Friday, November 03, 2006
On August 20th, Christiano was moved out of the ICU, and recently has become significantly more responsive to verbal commands and other stimuli. The extent of the damage, and therefore the speed and possibility of recovery, have yet to be determined, but his progress has been encouraging and the possibility exists for a full recovery.
Chistiano da Matta was released from the Theda Clark Medical Center and flown to his Miami home on September 22nd, according to a Champ Car World Series news report. His condition has shown steady and encouraging improvement, although no timetable has been set for his return, if any, to Champ Car.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
The first noticeable item is the new front bumper. No longer will you find the flat steel, but plastic with integrated fog lamps. Moving onto the next phase of the ‘07’ larger wheels. Starting at 16” but also can be 17” and 18”. I’m sorry I don’t need “bling bling” wheels on a Jeep. I’ll stick to my 15” wheel with big tires. The new Jeep is a wider stance which is nice, except on those tight trails. The new features which I do like are the slightly curved body panels. They do still look like flat steel but add to the strength of the Jeep and also aerodynamics. One other feature they change has been the windshield. This something on the fringe for me, you get used to the flat, insect killing, rock attracting Jeep windshield in the older models. This new design incorporates a new “slightly” curved windshield to help with the overall aerodynamics of the Wrangler. Let take a look at the inside of the cabin.
Features, features, features is the world we live in now. Navigation, stereos, let face it toys. Yet again the Jeep itself is a toy. The interior is even more modern than the last redesign, the TJ “97 -06”. Larger, more roomy space is nice. The dash has more of Jeep Cherokee feel than the traditional military feel. Nice ideas and movements of part would be the middle air vents being mid mounted in the dash. That’s right below the stereo. Not a bad idea for those pesky winter months. Some of the new toys to be found the 07 wrangler are navigation system, larger glove box storage, power winders and locks (not so military with that one), larger seats, sound absorbing carpets for the 368 watt stereo with 6 speakers and subwoofer (little overkill unless you drive a Hummer H2), under the cargo floor storage bin (now that’s military), as well as a crap load of airbags. We all love upgrades and this new Jeep has a few.
The last large change to the 07 Jeep Wrangler is the engine. Gone is the 4.0L straight 6, dating back to the Stone Age it seems. The new 2007 is powered by a 3.8L V6 based off of the Jeep Liberty’s power plant, creating 205HP and 240lb-ft. Other new feature include electronic sway bar disconnects, 32 Inch BF Goodrich tires, and more suspension travel for improved departure angles while offroading.
With all of these new features and designs, the 2007 Jeep Wrangler claims to be “In a class all its own.” which is true. Gone are the days of the Military Jeep. Due to new laws for safety the Jeep had to change, which in my mind is quite unfortunate. I, like many others, like to pay some homage to the WWII vets that built and drove these machines into battle. Looks like those days are gone.
Take a look at some links below for images and articles.
Friday, July 28, 2006
Not to be outdone by Champ Car's A.J. Allmendinger or F1-turned-NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya, on Tuesday the IRL's Danica Patrick announced her signing with Andretti Green Racing for the 2007 season.
Patrick was signed by Bobby Rahal five years ago and led the 2005 Indy 500 with Rahal Letterman Racing, however the team's plans for next season are tentative at best.
Andretti Green Racing currently fields cars for Tony Kannan, Marco Andretti, Bryan Herta, and Dario Franchitti, although the latter two have not been resigned for 2007 as of yet. The AGR drivers have not always been Danica's biggest supporters, however pairing Patrick with the youngest Andretti will guarantee publicity for both the team and the IRL.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Following on the heels of the recent Champ Car World Series roster moves, both Formula 1 and NASCAR were simultaneously shaken up on Sunday. Star F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya announced his immediate departure from team McLaren/Mercedes, stating he will begin preparations to drive for Chip Ganassi in the NASCAR Nextel Cup next season. According to Sunday's press conference, Casey Mears will surrender his seat in the #42 Dodge to Montoya, familiar to American racing fans as the winner of the 1999 Champ Car title and the 2000 Indy 500. The Columbian is a marketing dream for NASCAR, itself planning to expand into Latin-American markets. His aggressive driving style and occasionally-public temper should make for an excellent fit in the NASCAR scene.
An interesting coincidence is that Montoya participated in a Speed Channel promotion called "Tradin' Paint", where he and Jeff Gordon swapped cars for a day of hot laps at Indy during the festivities for the 2003 U.S. Grand Prix.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
As mentioned by AdRants, Pontiac recently launched two television commercials to bolster their campaign with the Hispanic market: One is called Grab and features the Solstice and a frisky girlfriend. The other is called Traffic Stop, which shows that flashing lights aren't always a bad thing. Both commercials are in Spanish, but are excellent regardless of what language you speak.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
A.J. had yet to win a race with RuSport, so his departure is not unprecedented. However, his talent is obvious and the fact that he is now without a ride is certainly no help to Champ Car. Those paying close attention will also note that Allmendinger was the only American driver in the series. More importantly, he has a distinct character and is readily likeable.
Dale Coyne Racing now has an open seat which may be offered to A.J., but the reality is that DCR is not consistently competitive and A.J. may decline to drive for a backmarker team. His presence in Champ Car is a positive one, so we can only hope that he finds himself back behind the wheel shortly.
Effective immediately, Mario Dominguez has been released from Forsythe Racing, leaving the #7 INDECK car without a driver. The announcement came this morning, citing "changes in the engineering structure of the team." Dominguez has crashed in to teammate Paul Tracy twice this season, taking them both out of both races. This includes a first-corner-of-the-first-race incident at Long Beach, and Forsythe's "engineering structure" may simply be changing to a model where one team car does not take out the other. Forsythe Racing, and particularly Paul Tracy, were expected to be the primary challengers of Sebastien Bourdais and Newman/Haas Racing, but have struggled so far this season. An interesting note is that A.J. Allmendinger came up through the karting ranks on Paul Tracy's karting team, and the two are longtime friends...
Earlier today, Forsythe Racing announced the addition of A.J. Allmendinger to the team. The move reunites Allmendinger and Tracy, gives Forsythe arguably the two most aggressive drivers in the Champ Car World Series, and should dramatically increase Forsythe's ability to challenge Sebastien Bourdais and the Newman/Haas team.
Assuming the near-inevitable placement of Mario Dominguez in the vacant seat at Dale Coyne Racing, the rearrangement of drivers and teams should make for a better show. Former champion Christiano da Matta is now back with a competitive team, and will be directly challenging the team he won his championship with. A.J. Allmendinger still has a competitive car to drive, and the mix of his personality with Tracy's will be nothing short of wildly entertaining. Mario Dominguez has suffered a downgrade in terms of equipment, but he joins a team that has in the past resuscitated the careers of both Oriol Servia and Christiano da Matta.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
According to McElroy, even if oil companies operated at cost, the effect on gas prices at the pump would be minimal. Further, compared to the software, financial, and entertainment leaders, the oil companies are certainly not the appropriate recipients of any public criticism.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The LFI is running TV and print ads that look at the numbers from a different perspective: According to them, Ford and GM both each employ more Americans than all foreign auto manufacturers combined, and together with Daimler Chrysler account for 8 out of 10 U.S. autoworker jobs. The Level Field Institute's website has several graphs and charts detailing the specific differences between the domestic and foreign manufacturers.
It is worth noting that the LFI was founded by retirees of The Big Three, shedding some light on their motivation. The numbers they present are nonetheless powerful, and as stated by them they should be taken into account when shopping for a new vehicle.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
As if that weren't enough of a challenge, the dominant Corvette C6Rs were saddled with a 176lb weight disadvantage to the Aston Martins. Actually a 66lb addition to the Vettes and a 110lb weight reduction to the DBR9s, the adjustment was intended to bring parity to the GT1 class, long dominated by the Corvettes.
In classic Corvette Racing fashion, the two C6Rs led every lap and finished 1 and 2 in class, 2 and 3 overall. Nothing short of a monumental achievement for GM, the Corvettes held off the fiercely-competitive Aston Martins, and were bettered only by Audi's R8, arguably the greatest car in sports car racing history. This is nothing but bad news for the rest of the GT1 competitors, as it clearly shows that nothing short of an unlikely mechanical failure will keep the Corvette Racing C6Rs off of the top step of the podium.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
RACER Magazine reports that Price suffered no serious injuries and was released from the Dokyu University Hospital later that day. Franchitti drove back from the considerable delay to finish 11th, well back from his top position of 3rd but still ahead of his rookie teammate Marco Andretti.
Missing from Eagle One's approach is the means to avoid manually drying the car after the wash. The soap lacks the "Dry Rinse Polymers" of Mr. Clean's AutoDry, and letting the car air-dry will produce water spots. Washing the car with the Eagle One soap, then rinsing it with the AutoDry's filtered water seems to be the ideal solution to a quick, effective manual car wash.
GM's continued trouble is bad for everyone except Toyota, but someone like Roger Penske may just be able to bring the fresh strategy and outlook that is needed to turn things around.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
According to AutoWeek, the car lapped the Long Beach street circuit within 10 seconds of the times laid down by the Daytona Prototypes racing there last weekend as part of the Champ Car World Series.
Certainly an exciting development for fans of the Trans Am series of old, or of Ford Mustangs, with any luck Davis' vision will catch on with enough weekend racers to make it a reality.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
For several years, Michelin has been developing an alternative to the dual-wheels commonly seen on large trucks. Called the X One, these tires are twice as wide as standard truck tires so only two are needed per axle. According to Michelin, this setup saves weight and significantly improves fuel economy, as well as offering better traction and control. Michelin recently doubled their production capacity of this tire, which may soon change common 18-wheelers into 10-wheelers.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Monday, April 10, 2006
The Heritage Edition is a currently-available trim package, comprised mainly of aesthetic alterations to the 300C. It includes unique badging, chromed-aluminum wheels, "performance" front seats, a rear decklid spoiler, a "performance" exhaust system, and other touches. Certainly nothing Earth-shattering, although it is reassuring to know that Chrysler has at least some idea of the importance of heritage, and is trying to find ways to let that heritage work for them.
According to Auto Express, Chrysler will unveil a long-wheelbase version of the 300C at the upcoming New York Auto Show. The long-wheelbase version will be six inches longer than the standard version, adding about 10 cubic feet to the cabin. The car will be aimed squarely at Jaguar XJ, Mercedes S-Class, and Audi A8 customers with options such as lighted writing tables for the rear seats, foot rests, and custom paint and pinstriping options. There is no word on pricing yet, although the car is scheduled to launch this fall.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Criticism like this serves as a reminder that each automaker must move as a cohesive unit, with the model line, advertising, and corporate staff moving in the same direction at the same time, all reflecting the same image.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Ed Carpenter had backed his car into the Turn Two wall at about 10:30am, a few minutes into the session. His car slid to the bottom of the track and came to a rest sitting perpendicular to the flow of traffic. Paul Dana was unable to avoid the stationary car and struck it at roughly 170mph.
Both men were airlifted to nearby Jackson Memorial Hospital, but Paul Dana was declared dead just before noon. Ed Carpenter was found to have no broken bones but was held overnight for observation.
During a pre-race press conference, Brian Barnhart (IRL President and COO) and Bobby Rahal (Paul Dana's team owner) confirmed that the trackside and in-car yellow lights functioned properly and quickly, and there was no problem with the radio system in Dana's car, leaving some question as to why Dana did not appear to slow down sooner. The Indy Racing League cars are equipped with an array of safety systems, ranging from data recorders to wheel and wing tethers to chassis designed to deflect energy away from the driver in the event of a crash. That the crash was fatal despite these measures speaks to the severity of the impact.
Fellow Rahal-Letterman drivers Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice withdrew from the race, but the Toyota Indy 300 proceeded as scheduled, leaving Dana's fellow drivers to put the tragedy out of their minds, at least temporarily, and get on with their business of racing.
Paul Dana was seen by many as an enthusiastic driver, happy to have his shot at the IRL. He had broken his back while practicing for the Indy 500 last May, but had fully recovered and was in excellent shape. While most of his fellow drivers considered him capable, there was some concern for his lack of experience. Unfortunately Dana's death follows that of Jorge Bastuck's last week as a sharp reminder of the dangers of motorsports.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
The ad connects the glory days of GM with their current offerings, effectively delivering the message that GM is once again capable of producing innovative, desirable cars and trucks. Clever editing and a catchy, relevant song should help plant the ad firmly in the mind of anyone who sees it. It is interesting to note that missing entirely from the commercial is any mention, reference, or image of anything from the 80's.
While no one expects radar-guided missiles or afterburners, Saab could use many existing technologies to reinforce their jet heritage: The ubiquitous turbo engine is an obvious starting point, and may be the only actual link between the cars and aircraft. Heads-up displays have been available in GM cars for a decade, and Cadillac's night vision could find a home here as well. Radar- or laser-guided cruise control would mesh with the theme, and external cues such as a large rear wing or prominent front air intakes would add a visual tie-in. A markedly driver-centric dashboard could produce a cockpit feel, complete with a plethora of analog gauges reporting all manner of information. Up-level models could even feature five-point-harness-friendly seats. Redundant buttons on the gear shift lever for radio (or perhaps turn-signal) controls would add to the image.
The production of warplanes is considerably more exciting than the production of farm equipment, for example, and Saab has an excellent opportunity to develop a powerful connection to their past. However, simply mentioning that past is not enough, and neither is the one-off Aero-X Concept, canopy and all. The cars they produce must carry their image to the consumer in tangible ways, or it will simply be lost in the fog of other mindless marketing drivel.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Thursday, March 16, 2006
The 2007 Koenigsegg CCX is a marvelous car. Koenigsegg is located in Sweden and had produced its first concept car in 1996. This version is completely US street legal. The engine is produced completely in-house. It sports an 800hp supercharged 4.7L V8. Lots of kevlar and carbon fibre are used throughout the car. Performance claims are 0-62 in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of at least 245mph. All for a mere $600,000 which is a bargain for trying to go those speeds. Currently you can order your CCX at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
“The reason we said it was canceled is because that way our people would put their pencils down, in GM if you say something is deferred, then people keep working on it. We really needed to get that message through to everybody. It was my fault that it got out of control in the first place, it was going to be the world’s greatest car and apparently cost nothing to make. So we’ve started over now. The program is back on and it’s going full tilt.”I think the whole exercise is a good example of how many people actually like the GTO despite their thrashings of it. Bring on more Australian engineering combined with American engineering and drop 500-600 hp engines on this zeta platform with large tires in the 300 mm width range please. I don't care what they call it or who they piss off when they do.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
GM unveils the Opel GT at the Geneva autoshow. It looks oddly similar to the Solstice and Sky vehicles. However, the Opel GT is much faster.
This is nothing but exciting news for those who still think of Ferrari as a producer of world-class sports cars.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Frank Biela - Three-time Le Mans winner (2000, 1, 2), defending ALMS co-champion
Emanuele Pirro - Three-time Le Mans winner (2000, 1, 2), defending ALMS co-champion
Marco Werner - Defending Le Mans winner (2005), two-time ALMS champion (2003 - 4)
Rinaldo Capello - Two-time Le Mans winner (2003, 4)
Allan McNish - Previous Le Mans winner (1998), previous ALMS champion (2000)
Tom Kristensen - Seven-time and defending Le Mans winner (1997, 2000 - 5), previous ALMS champion (2002)
With the help of what is arguably the most elite team of drivers in endurance racing history, Audi will almost certainly put on a clinic for their competition. Biela, Pirro, and Werner will drive together in one car, and Capello, McNish, and Kristensen will share duties in the other. This team will also drive in the ALMS 12 Hours of Sebring, as well as other late-season events.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Ford's plan revolves around an addition to their website, called the Accessorizer. This feature allows customers to install Genuine Ford Accessories to a new car online to instantly see the visual and financial results. Once the customer has finalized their creation, the site allows for the usual options of printing out the results or e-mailing them to a local dealer for a final price quote.
By making the customization process as easy as possible, Ford is hoping to snare potential customers for whom "stock" options just don't cut it.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Another championship-caliber celebritiy giving away cars is Tiger Woods. On Buick's home page you can sign up to win one of several special editon Buick Lucernes:
The Lucerne CXS ... features a black exterior and cashmere leather interior, a standard 275 horsepower 4.6L Northstar V-8 engine, a wood steering wheel and shift knob, 18-inch chrome wheels with a 10-spoke design, heated washer fluid, heated and cooled seats, Magnetic Ride Control, six standard air bags, a unique exhaust tip, spoiler and more. Tiger is autographing a plaque for the vehicle's interior.For every tournament that tiger wins someone is going to win his car. Not a bad deal for Tiger either, since he'll be getting a new car to lug his golf bag in. Maybe if you win you'll get some left-over grass that fell out of his cleats in the carpet.
Seems like some good marketing. The American public generally listens to winners regardless of how blatent the advertsing. Tony Stewert does actually use chevy products to win his races though.
The idea of sponsorship is a good one: Make known the products used by professionals, and the rest of us will follow suit. An example of this is the OZ Racing rims on all IRL and Champ cars. Sponsors paying for real estate on the cars themselves is certainly nothing new, and for the most part this practice is inoffensive.
However, on occasion things wander off of the acceptability path clear into the field of ridiculous. A well-documented example of this is a NASCAR driver's victory interview, where each of the 22 major sponsors is given credit for the win in an unintelligible mumble. Another example that came to my attention recently is in Champ Car, the full name of which is actually The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford. Not to mention the inescapable grammatical error, this name is so long and cumbersome that it is frequently shortened, both in print and in the minds of the audience. The result of this is the disassociation of the brands Bridgestone and Ford, negating much of the marketing value of the sponsorship. The problem only gets worse when the name of a race is included, such as The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach season opener. This ridiculous name is commonly referred to simply as the Long Beach GP, taking all of the brand names right out, including that of the series.
Race sponsorship, such as the Toyota Grand Prix, can work if done tastefully. Even appending "Powered By Ford" to the end of the series name is clever. But the mess that results from Naming By Committee is something that both viewers and sponsors would be best off avoiding.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
The campaign is fairly extensive, including print and TV ads, and a website where users can perform a self-diagnosis to see if they are affected. The cure, of course, is the purchase of a new Ford Fusion, which is apparently an incredible source of adrenaline.
Obviously tied in to Ford's NASCAR campaign, the campaign would seem to make sense. However, while Karl Edwards may drive a formula car with "FUSION" stickers on it, the Fusion is by no means the best source of adrenaline within the Ford Motor Company(Shelby Mustang, anyone?). The end result is a good effort that produced an ad campaign that works well in a box, but makes little sense when brought out into the real world.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Bearing a striking resemblance to modern LeMans prototypes, the T1 appears to be very nearly an F1 car with fenders. Not content to merely deliver blistering speed, the T1 promises unmatched 3+g grip levels. Regardless of the unlikelihood of US legality, the mere production of the T1 should excite even the most jaded supercar enthusiasts.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
The answer to last week's trivia question is: 1992 was the last year in which GM cut its dividends.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Monday, February 13, 2006
The advantages of Lincoln avoiding alphanumeric names has been previously discussed, but this case is a mistake for additional reasons. Cadillac has shown us that replacing the name of an existing model with a series of letters can work if done properly, but Cadillac made the change to models that were years into their production. The resulting letter combinations were easy for prospective customers to relate to the old names. Lincoln released a bold, new car as the fresh face of Lincoln, and has drastically changed its name just over a year later. This will undoubtedly cause customer confusion which Lincoln may not be able to afford, furthered by the fact that the MKZ moniker brings the names of all three new Lincolns within one letter of each other.
If there is good news regarding the MKZ, it is that for 2007 it gets a new 3.5 liter V6, an AWD option, and other upgrades. Still, none of that will matter much if customers can't keep the names straight.
I'm glad someone agrees with me; Like Cassio Cortes of Racer magazine, for example. He brings up the good point that not only are there loads of alphanumeric cars already out there, but MKX, MKZ, and MKS are all very similar to a few competitors. At least enough that Honda is suing Ford because MKX is a little too similar to Acura's MDX for their liking.
This whole Lincoln naming fiasco has earned top What Were You Thinking marks in my book.
Friday, February 10, 2006
I'm sure the script seemed funny and left a few ad staffers laughing out-loud, but the voices chosen for the final cut make for a terribly boring conversation.
Ultimately, the message conveyed by the ad is arguably accurate, but less than flattering: the Honda Element is dull, awkward, and doesn't live up to the hype shoveled upon it by others.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
This week GM announced that it is dropping their dividend payout in half. This is good because it will save millions of dollars. However, this has caused some banks to advice their stockholders to sell the stock. Another cost cutting measure taken is that Wagner has cut his own salary in half and the executive's salaries across the board between 30 and 10%. Overall this will save the company approximately 500 million a year. Thats a far cry from the 8 billion in profit lost in 2005. However, its more of a PR stunt so that people dont say, "Maybe they wouldn't have to fire all those employees if the executives took a pay cut!". Wagner should probally follow the lead of Ford's CEO and take a 100% paycut for himself until they become profitable again. There is still a lot of work to be done this year to make up that 8 billion dollar gap. With a brand new SUV line added to an already solid lineup of cars it would seem a bit of key marketing this year could put them in a position to cut their deficit in half or even more. If not expect to see GMAC sold off pretty quick to stave off bankrupcy.
This weeks trivia question: In what year was the last time GM has cut its divdends?
The answer can be found in next week's post.
Monday, February 06, 2006
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
This week's trivia: Name the three different cities in which corvettes have been produced. Lets not get cute and talk about how someone may have built one in their garage. I'm talking about normal production corvette plants.
Monday, January 30, 2006
One very underrated feature of the Malibu Maxx is the equipment used to generate that power. Based on Chevy's 3.5 liter V6, the 3.9 in the Maxx doesn't appear to be anything special with its iron block and pushrod design. However, closer inspection reveals variable valve timing for both intake and exhaust.
This marks the first instance of variable valve timing in a pushrod engine, and is a very exciting development considering cars like the Corvette have yet to take advantage of this technology. It will certainly open up options for powertrain engineers looking to boost the power and efficiency of their pushrod engines.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
After going to my local dealer and sitting in a Pontiac Solstice, I have got riled back up about convertibles. I miss my old convertible. Its a car that looks even more beautiful in person. The extreme round front is not as pronounced when your standing over, looking down on the car. It is unfortunate that a front license plate is required in Massachusetts. Pontiac is nice enough to supply a bracket, however I'm sure drilling is required to get it in there. The whole car is very elegant, which is not what you think of when you say Pontiac. When you think of Pontiac generally you think of huge hood bulges and giant fender flares. The one part of the car that does follow in gaudy Pontiac tradition is the 245mm wide tires. Holy crap is that huge for a 2 seat roadster from the factory. For comparison the GTO Pontiac also sells comes with 245mm tires as well. The inside is big. There should be no problem for those of us who have long legs. All this for $20 to $24k.
This week's trivia/Google questions is:
Name the 2 seat roadster prototype and year which eventually evolved into the highest selling 2 seat roadster in Ford's company history. Email your answers here.
Monday, January 23, 2006
On closer examination, you can see it is a Ssangyong Korando, with a Michigan dealer plate:
Ssangyong has very little presence on the Internet, so digging up information was rather difficult. I managed to find a few reviews, and most of them are surprisingly favorable. It seems the truck is built in Korea, and in fact Ssangyong is Korea's fourth-largest auto maker. The obvious resemblance to the Jeep Wrangler is apparently intentional, as the truck was drawn up by a Professor of the Royal College of Art in London who used the WWII Willys Jeep as his basic theme. I would have thought the seven-slot grille and round headlights would have brought the wrath of Jeep, but it has somehow escaped. The Korando uses Mercedes engines, and Borg Warner transmissions and transfer cases. Daimler had a stake in Ssongyang (possibly explaining Jeep's tolerance), but has since sold its stake to Daewoo, the majority shareholder.
None of this explains what one was doing wearing Michigan dealer plates navigating morning rush hour in Los Angeles. It was possibly on a shakedown run in preparation for an entry into the U.S. market, or it could have been on some kind of comparison test for an auto publication, but I couldn't find any mention of it anywhere online. Nonetheless, an interesting sight during the morning commute.
Lincoln seems to have realized the importance of this heritage by bringing back the Zephyr name: The Zephyr was originally offered in the 1930's and was in fact the car that made Lincoln financially successful. The names Continental and Town Car are classic Lincoln. Before the mediocrity of the 80's, these names had 50 years of history and heritage behind them.
Regardless of Cadillac's apparent success in the switch from names like DeVille and Seville to DTS and STS, Lincoln appears to need all the help it can get and it would seem wise to remind people as much as possible of the days when a Continental was something you wanted to work towards. As much as someone may aspire to someday own a 760Li, S600, or LS430, I think Lincoln would do better to try to add Continental or Town Car back to the list, rather than MKS.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
What Mr. Olsen doesn't seem to take into account is the difference between assembly line jobs and upper level (R&D, management) jobs. While Toyota may have factories in Indiana, their corporate offices are in Japan, and Toyota is certainly a foreign company.
Buying a Toyota is hardly the same as mailing cash overseas: many mutual funds include Toyota stock, and Toyota pours a fairly large amount of cash back into U.S. operations. However, the majority of Toyota's profits go home to Japan.
While the UAW may be thrilled that Toyota has opened so many jobs for them, the overall state of the U.S. economy is not aided by the proliferation of Camrys and Corollas, while it is rather directly linked to the success of both GM and Ford.
Mr. Olsen seems to share the rather popular opinion that the American auto industry is in no real danger, nor is it linked in any real way to the U.S. economy. The reality of the situation is that stereotypes brought on by inferior product in the 80's, along with aggressive and deceptive marketing by Toyota and other foreign manufacturers today, have put Ford and GM in very real financial danger. Further, the health of these two companies is extremely important to the health of the U.S. economy as a whole.
As always, chosing a vehicle that is the best solution for your particular needs is a smart move. Perhaps, however, country of origin should carry more weight in the decision than has previously been necessary.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Now its trivia/google search time. Please guess or find the total number of Lamborghini sales for 2005. Please email entries here with subject as Street Level Trivia. A winner will be announced Jan 24th.
*Edit* Total number of Lamborghini's sold in 2005: 613.
Monday, January 16, 2006
The end result may see Toyota unable to import its current hybrids, which would of course be a fairly serious blow. While a monetary settlement is much more likely, this should be interesting to watch in any case.
While Boris Said was originally listed as the fourth driver, Howard Boss Motorsports has announced that Jan Lammers will take his place, citing "size limitations." This may sound trivial, however the height difference between Said at 6'4" and Patrick at 5'2" is not slight. Most multi-driver race cars have slightly adjustable seats, but 14" of travel is simply not possible. Lammers has won the Daytona 24 twice, finished third last year, and is certainly an appropriate replacement for Said.
This rehashes the difference between active and passive safety. Passive safety is the ability of a vehicle to absorb damage without adversely affecting its occupants. Crumple zones, seat belts, and general heft are means to this end, with SUVs and other large vehicles standing as examples. Active safety, on the other hand, is the ability of the vehicle to avoid the danger in the first place. Nimble handling and computer controlled stability systems contribute to this, as demonstrated by smaller, sportier cars.
While both are obviously important, it would seem to make sense that if the goal is to reduce and minimize injury, avoiding the accidents in the first place would be more effective.
Either way, in the meantime it should make for some exiting racing as 22 cars take to each track.
In an attempt to retain the die-hard fans, as well as bring back the bored masses, the FIA has settled on a number of significant rules changes designed to liven the competition in various ways. The cars will look significantly different, as the rear wings will be split in the middle. This will allow for a smoother wake behind the cars, which will in theory allow trailing cars to follow closer, facilitating passing. The cars will also run slick tires, allowing for much greater mechanical grip. Coupled with some aerodynamic adjustments, this will again allow for closer running and more passing. Another goal of the changes is to reduce costs, hopefully attracting more teams while keeping those currently running. Larger fields would obviously make for more exciting races.
As an F1 fan, I am very excited to see what effect these rules have on the series. Formula 1 has long thought of itself as the pinnacle of motorsports. With any luck these changes will start to convince the rest of the world of the same.
Regardless of exciting new rules changes and the formation of new teams, dropping race dates is never a sign of good health for a race series.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
William Clay Ford, chairman and CEO of Ford Motor Company has announced that his company will hold on to its market share in 2006. The automaker has been losing market share every year for the past five years and Mr. Ford has vowed that this is the end of the line. Of course losing market share isn't always a bad thing. The highest volume manufacturer is not always the most profitable manufacturer, which partially explains why this vow to hold on to market share can be viewed as a change of strategy rather than simply stating the obvious. In recent years Ford allowed market share to slip at times when retaining it would have caused losses. Back in 2002 when William Ford replaced Jacques Nasser as CEO of Ford this strategy made a lot of sense. The company was reeling from a $5.5 billion loss in 2001 and it was crucial to show a profit quickly, even if it meant sacrificing market share. Today Ford's most visible setback (besides having its debt rating cut to junk status) is losing the distinction of being the world's second largest car manufacturer.
If this all sounds a little familiar, think back a few years to the period when GM made a whole lot of noise about its intentions to reach 30 percent domestic market share. After years of slipping they wanted to climb back up to what they considered a reasonable share, and intended to get there through sustainable business practices. All of the executives wore gold pins advertising their intent to hit the thirty percent mark. After a while it became clear that they would never even crack twenty seven percent and the pins quietly went away.
Does Ford have a better shot? Arguably yes. Its product line is the best it has been in years, and the company seems to have a good idea of what its customers want. But competition from both domestics and imports is fierce, and Ford will have to work hard to hold on to the market share it has.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Volkswagen has unveiled a new crossover to their potential lineup. This new vehicle is a half car and half motorcycle. The GX3 is the crossovers current name. Powered by a 1.6L 4 cylinder engine with 125HP this baby is made for the mean streets of the city. With an amazing 46 MPG rating and the top speed of 125MPH this pocket rocket can move. This not-so-standard vehicle is made to get your blood moving. Designed with the cityscape in mind, the GX3 is made to corner and power down the road. The estimated price tag of this machine would be less than $17000. Not too bad for a modified motorcycle with two seats.
From what the statistics read, this odd machine weighs in at lean 1257lbs which gives it a very nice power to weight ratio of 10 lbs/hp. The 5.7s 0-60 MPH isn't have bad either. Still keep in my mind that at 46 MPG this rocket is pretty impressive. Take a look at the link below for some photos and more detailed information.
At the time of the release, Ford was producing 24,000 hybrid vehicles annually, with plans to produce 250,000 hybrids per year by 2010.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Of course there's more to be concerned with than just the American market. Ford was recently surpassed by Toyota as the world's second biggest automaker. GM and Ford are both losing ground in the global market while Toyota continues to thrive. Will we see a new global sales leader by the end of the decade? It's too early to tell, but it's definitely not out of the question.
"E85 is the term for motor fuel blends of 85 percent ethanol and just 15 percent gasoline. E85 is an alternative fuel as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy. Besides its superior performance characteristics, ethanol burns cleaner than gasoline; it is a completely renewable, domestic, environmentally friendly fuel that enhances the nation's economy and energy independence." -ksgrains.com
Unlike the "hybrid" bandaids which still use a normal gasoline mixture. GM's solution is an actual difference maker in the transition from foreign oil to domestic fuel.
Today modern technology has allowed manufacturers to deliver the power we crave with none of the emissions we detest. Why then, one might ask, can't they simply bring back the cars so adored by the American public? Indeed why not? And so they have. Chrysler probably deserves credit for kicking off the modern age of retro styling. Its Prowler arrived in 1997, delivering the styling of a classic hot-rod melded with the performance and reliability one can expect from a modern chassis and powertrain. Others soon followed, pilfering their own (and others') heritage for shapes and lines that stir passion in consumers' hearts. The New Beetle, the PT Cruiser, the Mini, the HHR, the Mustang... the list goes on.
Now Chrysler is at it again, bringing us perhaps the most cleanly and gorgeously re-interpreted car yet. The Dodge Challenger. Unlike the new Mustang which borrowed styling cues from several generations and integrated them into a new design, the Challenger concept is a straight-forward remake of the 1970 Challenger. It delivers the lines and stance of the original car, in a thoroughly modern package, backed by a proven chassis and drivetrain. This isn't "building it like the used to." this is better.
For now it's only a concept, but recent years have shown that making the leap to production is not something to bet against. Chrysler says that if the car gets the response they're looking for, it could be in production by 2009. Only time will tell how long the retro movement will last, but for now let's hope DC has the good sense to put this stunning car into production.