Media outlets around the globe are regurgitating Ford’s Press Release on its latest safety gizmo: Rear seat air bag seatbelts. Next year’s redesigned Explorer gets the optional new belts first with worldwide rollout expected someday. According to Ford, its all about the children: “The advanced restraint system is designed to help reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear seat passengers, often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to such injuries.” However, don’t expect moms to flock back to Explorers thanks to the availability of yet another set of air bags. CarMax put out a release recently on their research into women’s car buying priorities. Safety features came in fifth place as mothers’ primary reasons to buy. Price, reliability, fuel economy and spaciousness all beat out safety as the mom’s hot button issues. It doesn’t look like yet more airbags is going to be the thing to get the Explorer back in the hunt.
Posts By: John Horner
The long Ford-Navistar diesel engine drama has played out its final days and the replacement engine is finally officially in existence. Given the troubles—contractual and otherwise—with the outgoing Navistar-sourced engine, Ford is quite eager for everyone to know the new 6.7-liter Power Stroke engine is “Ford-engineered, Ford-tested and Ford-manufactured”. Buried amongst the PR gems in the release is this nugget: “On turbocharger service, for example, the body/cab no longer has to be removed from the frame to access the turbo.” Wow, that means you have to remove the truck body to repair the turbocharger on the current engine. Ouch.
Bloomberg reports on Toyota’s pickle vis-à-vis Fremont, California-based NUMMI. New GM is leaving its NUMMI ownership share in the hands of Old GM. Thus, Old GM and Toyota together own NUMMI in a 50/50 joint venture. Old GM will be selling off its moribund assets over a period of a year or more as the long slow process of liquidating the discards and paying creditors pennies on the dollar plays out. (Old GM is looking like an economic stimulus program for a small band of lawyers, accountants and realtors.)
Ford is jumping on the recently-signed Car Allowance Rebate System (a.k.a. Cash for Clunkers) to lure customers into the showroom. Ford’s home page includes a highlighted link to the “Recycle Your Ride” program. A prospective Ford buyer can enter details about their current vehicle into a drop-down menu system and quickly see if it qualifies for scrappage. They can also discover which Ford models earn the $4500 or $3500 federal voucher against the crusher candidate. So far the Dodge, Chevrolet, Honda and Nissan websites have nothing. Toyota and Volkswagen both offer primitive informational pages, but nothing to match the sophistication of Ford’s effort. You would think the government-owned auto companies would be all over the government-run incentive program. But no. And get this: KBB’s man tells the New York Times that the consumers might be better off without the vouchers . . .
After a short, suspense filled couple of laps under the yellow, the US Supreme Court has dropped the green flag on the Chrysler-Fiat deal. The New York Times sums up the court’s view that “the Indiana funds ‘have not carried the burden’ of proving that the Supreme Court needed to intervene.” Also, earlier today, the Chrysler dealer slaughter was also given the go ahead when Judge Gonzalez approved that aspect of the deal. So, that pretty much closes this chapter of the saga. The deal is going down as planned by Fiat and the US Treasury. Now the really hard part begins.
Although Judge Gonzalez has so far given Chrysler-Fiat just about everything it has asked for, approval of the dealer cull still isn’t a done deal. The AP reports that: “U.S. Judge Arthur Gonzalez will hear arguments Thursday on the Auburn Hills, Mich.-based automaker’s motion to eliminate the franchises. Chrysler executives are also expected to testify. The motion was expected to be heard Wednesday.” In parallel actions, the Senate is holding hearing today on the very same issue. Again from the AP : “Lawmakers contend the dealership closings will put thousands of people out of work and offer few savings to GM or Chrysler, which have received billions in federal aid as they attempt to restructure and return to profitability.”