Who’s ready for some politics? With the presidential election still over 14 months away, recent Iowa straw poll winner Michelle Bachmann is upping the campaign promise ante by telling a Greenville, SC crowd
The day that the president became president gasoline was $1.79 a gallon. Look at what it is today. Under President Bachmann, you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again. That will happen.
Without even taking a side in the muck of presidential politics, it’s plain to see how ridiculous this statement is. As Politico helpfully notes:
Bachmann didn’t detail how she would cut the price of gasoline, which is tied to the global price of oil. [Emphasis added]
Personally, I think gas should probably be taxed to a point where Americans pay about what the rest of the world does, in order to pay for the externalities of oil consumption. Most auto execs agree, arguing that America’s artificially low gas prices play hell with product planning. But even (or is that especially) if you’re a hard-core anti-tax free-market fundamentalist, Bachmann’s statement should be treated with scorn. After all, markets, not presidents, should be setting oil prices. But what’s principle (or even good practice) when compared to the need for political pandering?
Despite marketing its Lincoln brand as “not just luxury… it’s smarter than that,” Ford has finally admitted what the car guy world has been saying for some time: Lincoln isn’t a luxury brand… it’s a rebadge brand. Ford’s product honcho Derrick Kuzak tells Automotive News [sub] that the jig is up and there will be
In his New York Times comparison of heavy-duty pickup trucks, Ezra Dyer opens with a provocative comparison:
Heavy-Duty pickup trucks are the supercars of the truck world. They have more power than drivers are likely ever to exploit, and bragging rights depend on statistics that are, in practical terms, theoretical.
How does he figure?
While you can’t buy a diesel engine in a mainstream light-duty pickup, heavy-duty pickups now offer propulsion suitable for a tandem-axle dump truck.
I’m not exaggerating. Ford’s 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V-8 packs 400 horsepower and 800 pound-feet of torque; the base engine in a Peterbilt 348 dump truck offers a mere 260 horsepower and 660 pound feet. Does your pickup really need more power than a Peterbilt?
I’m guessing most HD truck owners won’t take kindly to the question, especially coming a scolding Gray Lady. But if you read the full review, you’ll find that Dyer was able to locate at least one contractor willing to admit that he realized he just didn’t need his HD’s overabundance of ability. It goes against the grain of the “bigger, faster, tougher, more” marketing message that has helped make trucks such a huge part of the American market, but is it possible that the tide is turning? Have pickups improved too much? The huge sales of Ecoboost V6-powered F-Series certainly suggests the we may just be moving towards a more pragmatic truck-buying market…
The source of today’s Quote Of The Day, a BMW M Division engineer, is clearly not a native English speaker, but he reveals just where performance cars like the new M5 are going when he says:
More and more demand is from our test engineers from the referring(?) departments and they come over and 80%, 90% are only working on the electronic systems. The other 10, 20 percent are working at the car, under the car….
Of course, the M engineers aren’t developing a car from the ground up here, but it’s still amazing that the workload is so unevenly weighted towards electronic rather than, for lack of a better term, “greasy hands” work.
From the “sidelines” of the MBS conference in Traverse City Michigan, Wards Auto reports that Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is not keen on giving the UAW a board seat. UAW President Bob King has been pushing for VW Works Council-style representation on the Chrysler board, but as Marchionne explains
The best intervention that the unions or labor or organized labor can bring to the party is a support for the choice of the right leader to lead the organization… I understand Bob. I understand what he’s saying (but) we have to be very careful that we don’t exaggerate the value of co-determination
Co-determination gives rise to two decision-making bodies. The executive board makes decisions. And the unions sit on supervisory boards, one of which is the choice of the CEO. The most fundamental and difficult decision that a board makes is the choice of a CEO. If you make the right choice, issues with labor unions will not arise
Considering the UAW VEBA trust fund is the single minority shareholder in his company, Marchionne is admirably and typically frank in dismissing his union boss’s ambition. And since Marchionne doesn’t intend on retiring before 2015, his answer might as well have been “why do you need a board seat, when you have me?” But there’s another aspect to his argument that reveals that Bob King might have already doomed the union’s chances at a board seat.
With the luxury market defying sluggish economic conditions, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche doesn’t want the upstarts at BMW and Audi to slip past it… which they are. Six months through 2011, the Mercedes brand found itself in third place among the German global luxury brands, at 610,531 units. A surging BMW captured 689,861 sales in the half, while Audi took second with 652,970. This, for Zetsche, is an unthinkable state of affairs. In a letter to his employees, excerpted by Automotive News Europe [sub], Zetsche makes it clear that leadership in the luxury space is a Daimler birthright.
Some of our competitors are now growing faster and more profitably than we are. Granted, those are just snapshots in time and should not be overestimated. After all, many of our best new products are yet to come… In the long run we can’t be content to be in a “solid second” or even “third” place: We are Daimler – we should be far ahead of the pack! And if that requires something that we don’t currently have, then we’ll identify and develop it.
Enjoy your summer and refill your tanks. Because in the second half of this year we’re going to continue to play some hard offense!
But does a sense of entitlement actually motivate workers?
In 2009, the world’s top 20 platforms accounted for 29 percent of global production, underpinning 18 million vehicles. This number is about to double to 35 million units in 2015, when the top 20 platforms will cover 38 percent of global output
Herbert Demel maps out the future of platform-sharing for Automotive News Europe [sub]. This Quote Of The Weekend has been brought to you by the word “differentiation”…
“I don’t see any problems here. I don’t see how they could help me out,” said [Rocky] Long, who’s worked at the Hyundai Motor Co. assembly plant in Montgomery, Ala., for five years. Of the union representatives who came to his home this year, he said, “I really didn’t give them the time of the day.”
Bloomberg reports on the challenges the UAW might face if they should care to pick Hyundai to be the “at least one” transplant automaker they’ve vowed to organize by the end of the year. But why would the UAW target Hyundai? According to Berkley Professor Harley Shaiken
Hyundai is a rising star. It’s a company that’s got something to lose if it is embroiled in a PR issue.
The new Lotus Esprit will offer a more “authentic” driving experience than the Ferrari 458 Italia and McLaren MP4-12C, according to CEO Dany Bahar… Bahar claims the Lotus Esprit will “have the character and emotion” that he says the McLaren lacks. He also revealed that the rolling chassis was now complete and fully running prototypes would be ready by November… Formula 1 KERS-style technology is also expected to feature on the Esprit, but Bahar said such electronic systems would be used only where they add to the driving experience and not as driver aids.
If you can make any sense of this blithering nonsense, or how Bahar came to it based on his impressions of a rolling chassis, you must work in marketing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…
More people feel that the task of driving belongs to the driver, and do you really want to sort of hand over your safety to a machine? It’s possible the technology might one day be widely deployed. I just don’t think we’re anywhere close to that right now
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland came away from his first run-in with Google’s autonomous cars in a less-than-entirely optimistic mood [via the DetN]. You might think that Strickland, who is a central figure in Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s “War on Distraction,” would appreciate a driver that has no need for Twitter, Facebook or the other increasingly-common in-car distractions. Instead, he took his position to its remarkably solid core: that individuals need to think more, not less, about their responsibilities as drivers. It’s actually a fantastic message, especially given that he wasn’t kidding about the “technology isn’t ready” part, telling the DetN
There’s near misses. It’s not fool-proof. There’s a lot of work to go, [but] it’s a great piece of technology.”
I’m not in the business of helping people Tweet better, I’m not in the business of helping people post to Facebook better. My job is to make sure we keep people safe behind the wheel. I’m not going to deny the fact that people want these things. They do. Especially the generation behind us. They’re used to being connected 24 hours a day.
A car is not a mobile device — a car is a car. We will not take a backseat while new telematics and infotainment systems are introduced. There is too much potential for distraction of drivers.
NHTSA Administrator David Strickland took the war on distraction to the enemy in a speech to an auto technology conference, reports Bloomberg. With nearly every manufacturer racing towards ever greater implementation of connectivity, communication and entertainment systems in cars, Strickland’s rhetorical line in the sand foreshadows a serious confrontation between industry and government. Either that, or this is just Ray LaHood-style hot air calculated to make it look like something’s happening.
I am sorry I am being brash but when you owe money to people and you pay them back you shouldn’t be celebrating. You just cut them a check and send them home and say thank you on your way out
We’ve given Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne some grief for his somewhatunseemlyself-congratulation at his repayment of “every penny loaned less than two years ago.” This quote, given to CNBC, is more what we were looking for. After all, one imagines that Chrysler doesn’t hold such celebratory spectacles for folks who finish paying off loans on their Calibers and Caravans. Acknowledging the mundanity of Chrysler’s Wall Street re-fi is a much better way for the firm to re-boot its post-bailout relations with the American people. For this quote, as much as for the promising but still-wildly-uncertain turnaround of Americas most troubled automaker, I am happy to extend Mr Marchionne and his team a modest, unceremonious word of thanks.