Tag: platforms

By on July 29, 2011

While Fiat-Chrysler revives its Lancia brand by rebadging new Chrysler models with few other modifications, it’s attacking Maserati’s aging product lineup with a similar but more subtle strategy. Automotive News [sub] reports that the current Quattroporte has a problem

The car is too big to be a compelling driver’s car, but too small – particularly in terms of rear legroom – to serve as a good chauffeur’s car.

Luckily, according to the report, there’s an easy solution:

The problem will be resolved by offering two cars – a “baby” Quattroporte, code-named M157 and a larger Quattroporte, code-named M156.

The new flagship model will continue to use a Ferrari-sourced V8, and presumably an evolution of the current model’s underpinnings, extended by 70 mm to 5170 mm, or 203 inches… about the length of the forthcoming Cadillac XTS. The smaller version, on the other hand, is going to be a case study in the ever-evolving art of balancing shared components and premium differentiation.

(Read More…)

By on July 28, 2011

As we’ve already seen, BMW is building a record number of variants of its next-generation 3 Series, including “GT” hatchback and X4 “Sport Activity Coupe.” But as this photo shows, there is at least one other Dreier bodystyle that we hadn’t heard about yet: the long wheelbase sedan (top). Given the brand’s post-Bangle swing towards extreme styling consistency, the decision between a LWB 3 series and a 5 series seems to have serious head-scratching potential… but it’s not something we’ll have to worry about. The LWB sports sedan will only be sold in China, according to Auto Motor und Sport, where upmarket buyers favor chauffeurs… even in the Ultimate Driving Machine.

By on July 27, 2011


A few weeks back, SRT CEO and Chrysler Group Design boss Ralph Gilles hinted that a new LX-platform station wagon could be coming back, as the NYT reported:

“With the Magnum, we owned the station wagon segment,” Mr. Gilles said. “It was always a pleasure to go to car shows and trade fairs and see the number of Magnums that owners had personalized with such obvious loving care.”

Asked if a design for a second-generation Magnum might be found in one of his sketch pads, Mr. Gilles just smiled.

“Stay tuned,” he said. “Great things are coming. That’s all I can say.”

But now Gilles is changing his tune completely, telling the Fox Car Report that the rumor simply came about because the launch event was held in California (one of the Magnum’s biggest markets), and Gilles noted that he saw them “everywhere” and that every one of them was customized. While noting that the he “needs to get to the bottom of that” customized Magnum phenomenon, Gilles made it clear that the “rumor” was just him waxing nostalgic and that “we’re focusing on the products we have.”

But if Chrysler is desperate to make inroads in California, and the Magnum resonated there, might there be some sense in a neo-Magnum? After all, Sergio Marchionne has noted with disapproval how few variations are available for the LX platform, and said he would not have re-invested in an update if it were up to him (and really, putting an LX update ahead of a good C- or D-segment platform was a pretty shockingly poor business decision). On the other hand, the Magnum only ever had one year over 50k units… and that might not even be worth the cost of even a rebody. What say you?

 

By on July 25, 2011

With Opel planning to pull itself into the black within the year, the brand’s thoughts are turning from survival to “luxuries” like a flagship model planned for around 20k units starting in the 2016-2017 timeframe. Codenamed “TOL” for “Top Of Line,” the sedan will be designed to highlight one of GM’s many alt-drivetrain technologies, but according to Automotive News [sub], nobody yet seems sure which. Opel labor rep and recent champion of the brand’s forthcoming products Klaus Franz explains:

Already with the our Ampera electric vehicle, we have shown what we are able to do and enjoy an advantage of two to three years compared to the competition

But with the TOL is planned for 2016, Opel may have to dig deep to jump out ahead of the market, which is why a fuel cell-powered electric drivetrain is being considered (also, after decades of FCV research, GM has to build a production model someday). And if the eventual product has a truly ahead-of-its-time drivetrain, and looks as good as last year’s Flextreme Concept (above), this flagship could be an exclamation point on Opel’s turnaround. Unfortunately, neither of these things are a given…

(Read More…)

By on July 22, 2011

Every automaker is in this business to make money… there’s nothing surprising about that. But some are a little more focused on profits than others, and it should be equally unsurprising that Porsche is one of them. In an extensive interview with Automotive News Europe [sub], Porsche CEO Matthias Mueller gives a strong impression of how Porsche sees itself over the course of the first two questions:

What is your vision for Porsche in 2018?

Porsche is synonymous with sports cars – yesterday, today and doubtless tomorrow as well. In addition, in every other segment where we operate, such as with the Cayenne or Panamera, we always offer the sportiest vehicle. At the moment we are hard at work on our future strategy. And I promise you, it will contain a few exciting surprises.

What are your most important objectives?

We want to remain the world’s most profitable car manufacturer – and build on this position.

These are actually two separate goals altogether, and not two which necessarily go hand-in-hand. But if anyone can pull off the mix between performance and profit, it’s Porsche… and to understand how this strategy will play out in the near future, let’s take a look at Mueller’s product plans.

(Read More…)

By on July 13, 2011

It’s every manufacturer’s worst nightmare:

Between the top 911 model [the $245k GT2 RS] and the 918 Spyder [projected price point: $845k], there’s a price range that we’re not serving, but where other manufacturers are selling one or another product. We’re currently examining what options can be derived from this… [and] there already are initial ideas that look very promising on paper. It makes fundamental economic sense to serve demand that exists in the marketplace in a wise way

Poor Porsche sales boss Bernhard Maier. I mean, how does someone sleep at night knowing there’s demand in the $250k-$850k price range that you’re not exploiting? After all, Porsche currently offers nearly 30 “models” with base MSRPs between $80k and $200k. That, on average, comes to a different “model” every $4,000. So, according to the “fundamental economic sense” that Porsche applies to the $80k-$200k market, this new “hole” in the lineup should “be served in a wise way” by no fewer than 150 new vehicles. [via Automotive News Europe [sub]]

By on July 4, 2011

[Editor's note: the initial draft of this piece misunderstood the structure of the deal. Youngman and PangDa have paid over $350m for a 51% of Swedish Automobile, Saab's parent company (which has a market cap of $68m). Funding for the New Product Joint Venture (50% owned by Youngman, 50% owned by Swedish Automobile) has not been disclosed. See comments for more background.]

Just when the lights seem to be going out all around Saab, with employees calling for bankruptcy, suppliers in revolt and even the Swedish government pretending like nothing was happening, Saab always seems to find away to prolong the agony. Selling, then leasing back the factory was one step that’s been approved by the EIB. Getting the suppliers to take ten percent down on deliveries? Well, it turns out that management has some time to sort that one out, as the factory’s annual vacation starts in a week, and Saab is letting its employees go a week early rather than starting up and then shutting down the line. And the company is certainly hoping that it won’t have to restart the line simply to restore confidence, as it’s announcing the “final agreement” with China’s Youngman Auto and the dealer group PangDa for  €245m (about $365m) which it hopes will clear up the perception that Saab is a sneeze away from death. Needless to say, this agreement fits squarely into the “stringing along” category rather than the “game changing” category…

(Read More…)

By on June 29, 2011


 

Our sharp-eyed, GM-obsessed buddies over at GMInsidenews.com captured this image from a video that appears to have disappeared from the GM.com website, and they’re pretty sure it shows a skin-off look at the forthcoming Cadillac ATS. Based on the troubled (think: 4,000 lbs)Alpha platform that will also underpin the next-gen CTS and Camaro, the ATS is likely to launch with four-cylinder engines in naturally-aspirated and turbocharged forms, with a possible twin-turbo V6 rumored for the “V” version. Unless, of course, GM has made the questionable decision to engineer the platform to take a small-block V8 (which actually would not be much harder to package than a twin-turbo V6). Meanwhile, the big news recently on the ATS front has been GM CEO Dan Akerson’s opinion that the ATS and XTS

are not going to blow the doors off, but they will be very competitive.

We can’t see any front or rear subframes, so rumors of a complex and “sub-optimal” multilink front suspension must remain rumors for now. Otherwise, the body seems to have some strong potential looks-wise. Let’s just hope the entire package is able to deliver something better than what the rumors are suggesting, otherwise GM will have squandered yet another opportunity to crack the lucrative 3-Series market.

By on June 25, 2011

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”…

By on May 27, 2011

Three times now, GM has planned to build a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of its Theta-platform crossovers, once with the Saturn Vue, once with the Buick “Vuick” and now, according to Reuters

General Motors Co has canceled plans to develop a plug-in hybrid vehicle based on the current Cadillac SRX crossover platform, deciding the project was not financially viable, three people with direct knowledge of the project said.

While two of the sources said the plans could still be revived on a future platform, they and two others familiar with the matter said engineers involved had been reassigned to other projects.

Back in early days of the program, the plan was to bring a Vue PHEV to market as soon as 2010, but the death of Saturn (and other difficult-to-identify issues) forced a change of plans. The Buick version was literally laughed out of consideration in what was the first-ever Twitter-based future product killing. But given that hand-picked members of the public were driving mules nearly two years ago (see video), we figured enough development had been done that GM essentially had no choice but bring the troubled Theta PHEV to market. Today’s cancellation of the SRX version is therefore just a little confusing…
(Read More…)

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