By on January 9, 2009

I think it’s great to get excited about new cars, announcements from manufacturers, spec sheets, press kit photos, and concept cars. I’m a jerk, but I’m not a jerk made of stone. With my mea-culpa qualification out of the way though, I do find it frustrating to see what I think of as undue enthusiasm. If you jump, you can see my five TTAC-spirited assessments of the product announcements of the week.

1. Chrysler says they’re thinking about building a car-based pickup truck. Some say it would be more like a Honda Ridgeline, others that it would be akin to the El Camino. I say it’s not going to happen.

2. Everybody (save Edward Neidermeyer) loves the Buick Lacrosse. I think it looks fine, especially the interior. But who genuinely believes this is going to sell well? Other than the trick suspension, consumers are going to see a cleanly-designed but unmemorable car, from Grandpa’s brand, made by a dying company. Check the Lincoln MKS sales to peer into the Lacrosse’s future.

3. Ford Fusion’s 4-cylinder mileage is best in class (23/34). Great. But unless that’s going to be Ford’s total new image – the most fuel efficient cars on the road – it’s not going to get enough new customers into the showroom to matter. That, or $5.00 gas (wait a few years).

4. Cadillac is going to show a Volt-based car at the Detroit Auto Show. I’ve said many time that I don’t think the Volt will ever be built and sold in meaningful numbers. So the odds for this car in real life are even slimmer. As in none.

5. The Nissan GT-R Spec V is cool. Matter of personal preference. You might really love it. Or instead, you might be over 13.

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22 Comments on “Berkowitz’s Futures Market: Car News That’s Not Worth the Fuss...”


  • avatar
    dean

    Edited: I misunderstood the point of the piece.

    I think the Fusion 4-banger will do pretty well. Most Camcord buyers are buying the low-spec versions anyway.

  • avatar
    Philip Lane

    Finally!

    Thanks for sharing my opinion of the GT-R, Berkowitz.

  • avatar

    dean: They improved the MPG.

    The Fusion has the best shot in this bunch. Ford is essentially going after Toyota’s position. A tough sell that if it works at all will involve years of slow, steady growth. The idea is that people will hear enough times that the Fusion gets the best gas mileage, is as reliable as a Toyota or Honda, etc. that they’ll cross-shop it with the Camry and Accord. Then they’ll discover it’s cheaper, and give one a shot. Then, if they like it, they’ll not only buy another to replace it but tell their friends.

    No, it’s not a recipe for overnight success. But it might be a recipe for long-term survival.

    Check out the Fusion’s reliability and real-world fuel economy at TrueDelta. You can see how the price compares using TrueDelta’s pricing tool here at TTAC–the the “pricing” button in the header or the widget in the sidebar.

    http://www.truedelta.com

  • avatar

    I would buy a Rampage if it were ever built…oh yeah, and if it were built by someone other than Chrysler.

    John

  • avatar
    mtypex

    I’m over 13. Am I supposed to lust after the Rampage instead??

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I’m not too sure the Fusion hybrid is going to be a sales success but I think the Fusion 4 cylinder will do quite well.

  • avatar
    frizzlefry

    correct me if I am wrong but isn’t the Spec-V going on sale Feb 2nd? I think that qualifies as happening.

  • avatar

    Here’s my $.02.

    1) Completely agree. Though I think the concept is neat, but it would be a miracle if it happened.

    2) Considering the competition and how blandly most of them are styles, I think this has a chance to be successful (relatively… it is a Buick, after all). As for it’s looks, my wife, who rarely comments on cars, felt the need to say that this was a nice looking car.

    3) Completely disagree. While the styling has some love/hate elements, overrall I think it is a nice-looking car. Certainly better than ToyoHonda. As for the fuel economy improvements, from my perspective, the Fusion just jumped two spots on my list and we are buying a car in a year.

    4) I want you to be wrong, but GM hasn’t shown enough to bet on it.

    5) Like you said, this is a matter of personal preference. Whether it’s emotional maturity or just seeing this as the an amazing combination of tech, form and function dedicated solely to performance, the supply will be smaller than the demand. It’s not on any of my lists (even the lottery-fantasy list).

  • avatar
    mcs

    3. Ford Fusion’s 4-cylinder mileage is best in class (23/34).

    That’s a myth. The mid-sized 2010 Prius will top both the 4 cyl and the hybrid. Number 2 again if they’re lucky.

    Actually, the current Prius is a mid-size car as well.
    http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2009-01-07-toyota-ford-midsize-hybrid_N.htm

  • avatar
    umterp85

    I think the LaCrosse comparison to the Lincoln MKS is flawed. The MKS is a much larger car—in the next price range. The MKS is more Lucerne range than LaCrosse. I see LaCrosse competing more with the redesigned MKZ

    Oh…BTW…while in absolute numbers the MKS isn’t setting the world on fire…relative to the competition (Acura RL etc.) it isn’t doing badly. Furthermore—I am sure most of the MKS sales are incremental to Lincoln and thats why Lincoln’s year-on-year decrease isn’t as ugly as Acura and others in the luxury / semi-luxury space

  • avatar
    SpacemanSpiff

    If the new 4-cylinder Fusion offers a sport suspension option with a manual transmission like they do now, it could be pretty compelling to me…
    Why don’t Toyonda offer sport suspension packages on the Camry & Accord? Hyundai has a sport package for the Sonata, but it requires an automatic transmission… What’s up with that?

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    MCS… this is not the Fusion Hybrid, just the regular old gasser version. Even though they may be in the same EPA class, they’re not in the same class regarding drivetrain types.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I agree with Edward on the LaCrosse. It’s pleasing to look at, but as visually striking as an Accord. Besides, how many times does GM show a good looking car and later we learn it’s put together like merde or has some critical flaw.

    It would be great if it’s cut from the CTS/Vette/G8 cloth, but no one knows yet.

    @umterp85:

    The MKS sells for $37k, the RL for $46k. The MKS ought to be outselling a car costing 9k more. Also, the MKS isn’t scowling at people. It’s a nice, clean design that doesn’t do anything wrong.

  • avatar
    davey49

    LaCrosse fights the MKZ not MKS
    MKS has been the best selling Lincoln since its intro
    mcs- the Prius is narrower than the Fusion by 4 inches. Shoulder room is greatly reduced.
    The EPA needs to change their definition of midsize

  • avatar
    mtypex

    I don’t think the purpose was to compare the MKS and the LaCrosse in terms of subsegment. Everyone here knows that the LaCrosse is not a “LARGE” car like the MKS (which is, in fact, LARGE). The general idea is that US domestic luxury sedans in general are a dying market segment. I like sitting in the STS, MKS, etc type cars, but I would never buy one.

    In the meantime, though, GM is right to focus on Buick and not on Pontiac or Saturn. I suspect that Buicks are nearly pure profit (Chevrolets with a little chrome trim and a little extra design work), whereas GM does not make money on Pontiacs and Saturns.

  • avatar
    mcs

    davey49 : mcs- the Prius is narrower than the Fusion by 4 inches. Shoulder room is greatly reduced.

    The 2010 Prius is larger than the current model. The 2010 Fusion will be competing against the 2010 Prius.

    Besides, the exterior width and shoulder width don’t always scale 1 to 1. In fact, the 09 Prius shoulder width is 55 inches vs. 57 on the 09 Fusion. Two inches.

  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    4. Cadillac is going to show a Volt-based car at the Detroit Auto Show

    I hope they call it the Ampere…

    The tag line could be..
    The new Cadillac Ampere, remember its not the volts that kill you its the Ampere!…

    Its a GM, Surprised?

  • avatar
    mcs

    TEXN3 :

    MCS… this is not the Fusion Hybrid, just the regular old gasser version. Even though they may be in the same EPA class, they’re not in the same class regarding drivetrain types.

    You’re absolutely right. I thought Justin was referencing the “most efficient Midsize sedan claim” from Ford. Now that I re-read the article, I stand corrected.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Justin, you nailed it on every count. This is why I now subscribe to TTAC instead of Car & Advertiser.

    By the way, I sent my $40 and am wondering when my first issue will arrive…

  • avatar
    Packard

    A Volt-based Cadillac?

    Let us think about that for a few moments:

    First, the Volt itself is priced into Cadillac territory, at least as that brand has been moved down-market.

    Second, GM said a year ago they couldn’t make money on the Volt for years to come. So, maybe they should just price it as a premium car and make it a Caddy from the get-go. Forgettabout the Chevy nameplate.

    But, ultimately, how would this rather weak car fit into the Cadillac brand? The Cadillac is supposed to be a LUXURY CAR!!!. The Volt is a compromised vehicle in every respect. It can’t recharge itself during long-distance driving, it is a limited range vehicle in any realistic use, and a Prius appears to be able to beat the pants off it in any realistic comparison.

    And this little number is going to be sold by the guys that sell Caddies.

    To whom?

    Ain’t nobody that dumb.

    Oh, I take that back. There is Congress.

  • avatar
    davey49

    mcs- 2 inches is a lot, plus its 52.5 vs 56 in the rear seat. No one is going to cross shop the Prius with Fusion/Malibu/Accord/Camry/6 by size. They’re going to say that they will sacrifice some roominess for the extra fuel mileage. Plus the Prius still looks like a Prius, which might be hard to take for some people.

  • avatar
    thoots

    SpacemanSpiff :
    Why don’t Toyonda offer sport suspension packages on the Camry & Accord?

    Camry does. It’s called the “SE.” You can get it with a powerful V6 engine, and with highly-bolstered sports seats. Nobody at Car and Driver magazine, which only values performance, will never compare anything but the plainest-Jane stripper Camry to its precious (and always top of the line model) Accord.

    As for Fusion, the kind of thing that always stops me is “six-way power seat.” Nope, you just can’t get a full power seat in the thing. Like you can with Accord and Camry. Or the cheap-subcompact “antenna on the roof” job. Nope, you’re not gonna get one hidden in the rear window like Accord and Camry. Believe it or not, real buyers pay attention to little details like these. And more than a few people comprehend that it’s built on the past-generation Mazda 6 platform. In Mexico. With (get this) “50 percent US-sourced parts.” As opposed to the Camry, built in Kentucky (that’s in the US), with 75 percent US-sourced parts. Or the Accord, built in Ohio (that’s in the US, too), with 70 percent US-sourced parts.

    Never even minding whether you want to call this thing a “US” car or not, “Cheaper than Accord or Camry?” Gosh, it should be!


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