Crystal Ballin' the Jack
Last year about this time, we gazed into the crystal ball to predict a few changes in the automotive world. A lot of water's gone under the proverbial bridge since then: Toyota's world number one, the UAW's selling out their membership for a few dozen billion, Ford and Chrysler are attempting turnarounds with leaders who have no automotive industry experience whatsoever and GM Car Czar Bob Lutz is straining his personal credibility beyond breaking point. Well, OK, some things haven't changed. Anyway, with all that's happened in the past year, what does the future hold? Here are some of our predictions.
Hyundai Announces New Model: Hyundai's Ford division has unveiled its latest offering: the midsized Torino II. Rejecting web reports that the "new" car is merely a rebadged next gen Sonata, Ford's Emperor of the Americas, Mark Fields, stated "The new Torino II resurrects a distinguished name from Ford's past in a bold move that brings an unprecedented level of sophistication to the Ford brand."
The new model rounds out the Ford line, joining the subcompact Pinto II (built on the Accent platform), compact Maverick II (which shares drivetrain and other components with the Elantra), and the new F-150 II pickup (built on the Veracruz platform). Kia's Mercury division has yet to make any new model announcements. Rumors of a resurrected Lincoln Continental based on the Kia Amanti are unconfirmed.
GM Relocating to Follow Their Market: In a surprise move late yesterday, GM announced plans to relocate the company headquarters to Mumbai, India. CEO-for-Life Rick Wagoner explains: "Since all of our assembly plants are in India, Thailand, Korea and China, it was only natural that we consolidate our operations in that region, too. This will allow us to get better control of expenses and begin the last phase of our turnaround plan."
GM plans to keep a small staff on floors three and four of the Renaissance Center to handle North American marketing, along with a warranty claims staff on floors five through 68. Nonagenarian Vice Chairman and Product Czar Robert Lutz was napping, and thus unavailable for comment on the move.
Gore Declares War on Environmental Hazard: Nobel prize winner, former Vice President and presidential also-ran Al Gore announced today he was beginning a campaign to limit the use of fuel cells in automobiles. Gore, who won his Nobel for inventing the internet and discovering greenhouse gases, stated that these so-called "zero emission" cars were, in fact, producing dangerous levels of dihydrogen monoxide (DMHO) and releasing it into the environment.
As he explained, once released, this compound collects in large clouds in the atmosphere which block the sun and increase the greenhouse effect. It is found in acid rain and contributes to soil erosion. DMHO has become so pervasive it can be found in almost all foodstuffs and is even sprayed on "organic" produce, Gore warned. He has made eliminating DMHO from the environment his primary goal for this decade.
Business as Usual in the PRC: Chery is being sued by Daimler for patent infringement. The suit centers around the rear suspension of the Cherysler 300. The suspension, originally designed by then-DaimlerChrysler, was based on the suspension of the Mercedes E-class. Since Chery's acquisition of the Chrysler division from Cerberus, Daimler claims they have done nothing to modify or redesign the suspension and in fact are expanding its usage to other vehicles.
Daimler legal counsel Max Schwanstüker, who filed the suit, asserted Chery has had plenty of time to redesign the suspension– but chose not to. Chery countered by stating they have indeed redesigned it; as it now includes parts from the latest E-class. The Chinese government has issued a statement saying there have been no patent infringements by domestic automakers, nor can there be.
UAW Seeks New Identity: The United Autoworkers Union (UAW) is changing its name. Since their membership no longer includes any autoworkers, the UAW realizes they have to change with the times. In a press release, the UAW stated, "Unlike the Teamsters Union, which has nothing to do with horse teams, sports teams or any other kind of team, we want our name to remain relevant." Some of the names they're considering: Minimum Wage Workers Union (MWWU), United Service Industry Workers Union (USIWU) and Busboy, Waitress, Casino and Daycare Workers International (BWCDWI)
Motor Trend Modernizes Content: Motor Trend (MT) disclosed plans to publish content consisting only of special advertising sections. MT publisher Beefy McBigmac justified his decision by saying, "Surveys show our readers don't know the difference between what we write and the advertisements, so why not save a few editorial bucks and let the advertising agencies write all of our copy? This way we can afford to keep giving away subscriptions while other automotive magazines are having to convert to on-line publishing."
In an unrelated story, Motor Trend announced their Car of the Year is the all-new Hyundai Ford Torino II.
GM Death Watch Reaches Milestone: TTAC's GM Death Watch Series has reached a milestone. This week sees the publication of The Truth About Cars' GMDW 1,000. Publisher Robert Farago said, "That f-ing company has more f-ing lives than a f-ing alley cat. Just when you f-ing think it's going down for the third f-ing time, someone throws it a f-ing life preserver and it just keeps f-ing floating along, hanging on by its f-ing fingertips." Farago is certain GM– which is now the world's sixth largest automaker after Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, and Chery– can't last much longer. "We're in it until the bitter end – either theirs or ours."
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- MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
- Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
- Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
- Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
- Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.
OK, not entirely serious... January - Microsoft buys GM with spare cash found in trousers sent for cleaning. Promises a new start with Microsoft Auto (tm) 2008. Offers free optical intellimouse with each car sold. Sales triple as customers buy Saturns, keep intellimouse and return, what could be described as, the car. Residuals "bouyant" claims GM spokesperson. "GM is a valued part of our offering" according to Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer. February - Porsche buys China - The world's most profitable car company buys entire comunist state. Plans to introduce cheap wankel engined sportscar - the Porsche Boxer Revolution. Audi shares drop. Aston Martin anounces new DB9 model, DB9Jan08. March - Renault buys Chrysler on ebay on a Saturday night. Refuses to collect as goods are "not as advertised". Rumours are rife that Renault was actually drunk on Creme De Menth and lemonade when they made that bid after watching "France Idle". Owner relists with lower reserve and "Buy It Now" option. Aston Martin anounces new DB9 model, DB9feb08. Explains that a "footballer" had bought a DB9Jan08. Jeremy Clarkson declares DB9Fef08 as the "best aston evah..." on Top Gear. April - Toyota declares itself an seperate country - new Japanes PM's hair not "floppy enough" for spaced car execs. Not satisfied with being the world no.1 car company, Toyota declared yesterday that it was seperating itself from the mother country and was from now on an independent state. The company said that it was let down badly by the country's politicians who had decided to elect a man with normal hair instead of "that bloke with a footballer's perm" as the spokesman put it. "We feel that if we don't look sexy when being prime minister then we may just be puked on by any american president who turns up for dinner" the spokesman added. VW shares drop sharply. May - Microsoft anounces there will be no new GM car releases. Current customers can expect service packs and security updates only until 2012. Open source advocates suggest customers move to Lada. Balmer describes Lada as "unamerican". Walrus adopted as mascot for Lada. James May is a victim of "Rendition" and placed on a secret flight to Detroit. There he is subjected to torture (watching French films on continuous loop) for 60 days non-stop before admitting that the Dodge Caravan is actually a cool car. June - Renault buys Dodge on ebay on Saturday night, sobers up and explains to wife that it will be "good fer zee keeds". Realises this also includes free Chrysler and initiates Ebay complaint process. Renault's wife leaves him. UAW anounce entry in "American Idle 2008". Ford sells PAG to TTAC on ebay. Ebay user RFarago denies a few too many "Buds" and ebay on Friday night. TTAC sells PAG to itself. Told to make an honest living at last. X-type cancelled. July - Peugeot anounces 208 model, updating 207 anounced 2 years ago. France anounces that it will no longer seek to be paid for a living by the rest of the EU and will "put it's national shoulder to the grindstone" and improve economic output and performance. French president anounces start of 20 hour week. Riots in Paris begin, then pause for lunch. Aston Martin anounces new DB9 model, DB9july08. Jeremy Clarkson declares DB9Fef08 as the "best aston evah..." on Top Gear. August - Formula 1 world championship rules for 2009 anounced. To make all racing equal teams will be limited to 1 litre, 8 cylinders and overhead valves in the interests of safety. India's Hindustan Motors anounce that they will compete in all rounds in 2009. Bentley buys Saudi Arabia on credit to guarantee clients access to oil. Panic in Germany as someone thinks Bentley has bought "Audi". Bentley plans to sell sand to "builders and builders merchants" to offset purchase costs. BMW shares soar. September - New James Bond car anounced - Toyota Pius. James Bond will return in 2009 with a new tricked out car, a Toyota Pius. Bond, played by famous actor Craig Daniel, 65, will fight international villains and terrorists from the seat of the worlds cleanest car. Al Gore is set to reprise his role as Moneypenny with Tony Blair guest starring as Feltblow. Jeremy Clarkson will play Bond's arch enemy "Anti-environmentalist". Ferrari anounce that they have delivered the last F430 "slightly faster" model. They anounce the "slightly faster a little bit more" model. Key improvment is a plastic gearknob which reduces weight by 0.05kg. Car magazine declares new F430 as "the ultimate car". October - Peugeot anounces 209, update of 208. French president anounces that EU will continue to pay for "France" as a world heritage site. France closes for lunch. Tata begins sales drive in US anouncing that each car will come with its own free Bollywood starlet. November - Coca Cola anounces that it will no longer show the Christmas advert where the trucks carrying "Coke" pass through a snow covered small town. A spokesman explains the decision thus: "They've built a bypass now, so we use the motorway..." Global warming advocates heard to say "It's a bit chilly, isn't it ?" when they go outside. December - US EPA anounces that since Reindeer powered cars no longer meet emissions regulations, Santa will have to make alternative arrangements to deliver pressies to US kids. Dodge offers use of US EPA approved, 8-litre V10 powered RAM crew-cab as an alternative vehicle. Hugo Chavez offers a herd of Moose to US kids as a free alternative for Santa to use. TTAC readers argue that a normal "Deer Bluemotion" is every bit as good and emits less "poo" than a Reindeer whilst others suggest that nobody in America will buy a "clean deer" as they need a full sized "moose" that does 0-60 in 8 seconds as an every day car.
Bravo TaxedAndConfused! Fantastic read!