With BMW’s M2 Competition coming aboard to succeed the well-respected M2, shaving a quarter of a second off its 0-to-60 time in the process, we figured the brand would put the model on the back burner for a while. However, earlier this week an M2 test mule was spied on the Nürburgring by Motor1.
The outlet surmised that this was likely a prototype for a high performance CS or CLS variant, but we remained uncertain. For all we knew BMW was simply testing new pieces from its performance parts catalog and felt the need to disguise them with some body-colored tape. Then, a few days later, rumors emerged that a production date had already been set for the M2 CS.
The five-door bodystyle hasn’t turned the acclaimed 10th-generation Civic into an ugly duckling. The sloping roofline transitions smoothly into the rear liftgate, which incorporates taillights identical to those of the Civic sedan.
If you were looking for at least one wild-ass auto show rumor to see you through the weekend, look no further: Bloomberg (via AutoGuide) is reporting that Buick may show “a sporty coupe concept” this weekend prior to the opening of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday.
The sports car, reported to be “about the size of the Chevrolet Camaro,” is expected to debut Sunday night. AutoGuide is now speculating that model will be called — drum roll, please — Grand National!
According to Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen, it probably could.
According to Automotive News, de Nysschen told analysts that Cadillac would have a “a far higher degree of autonomy and self sufficiency” within two years, and the company could report its own profits and losses, separate from GM.
Already, Cadillac contributes “a very sizeable contribution to the overall profit at General Motors” de Nysschen said, so let’s cut the dead weight already and keep the ugly sorority sisters in the basement?
*Unless it isn’t.
According to Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales, the next-generation lightweight Lotus two-seater sports car has a future in the United States around 2020 — that is, if Lotus is still around then.
The chief executive spoke to Automotive News and said the Elise could be adapted to the U.S. market’s famously fussy safety regulations, which eventually killed the current-generation Elise in 2011 in the States.
This isn’t the first time Lotus has teased us. Remember the Esprit (pictured above) that was definitely going to be a thing? Yeah, um, I guess that one is still in the mail, huh?
“For 100 years, people have been dreaming about flying cars,” says, well, a promotion video that attempts to drum up investor interest for a flying car. Despite many attempts, we don’t see many flying cars, nether flying, nor driving. At TTAC, the story is as old as the old Farago-era layout. Fear not, flying cars will be here, real soon now, promise. One will even be at the New York Auto Show.
TTAC has long held that GM should have initially sold the Volt as a Cadillac, putting its newest, most high-tech drivetrain in a luxury car that could support its high list price. Of course the bailout made a CadiVolt a touch too elitist, which led to GM canceling production plans for its Converj Concept coupe. But with plans back on to sell a Converj-inspired ELR coupe, a new question arises: can Cadillac really charge significantly more than the Volt’s $40k-ish MSRP without doing more than simply rebodying the Volt in Cadillac’s Art & Science styling? Automotive News [sub]’s Rick Kranz reckons Cadillac could do more, and thinks that the ELR could end up with rear-wheel drive.
According to two independent sources within FoMoCo, FIN has learned that Lincoln has killed off plans for the MkC. Instead, Lincoln will focus all compact energies upon their new CUV, which is internally named the MkD. According to one source, Ford feared that the MkC would cannibalize sales of the larger MkZ sedan… According to a source who has seen the “MkD,” the Escape based CUV sports a design that is more of a tall hatch rather than a traditional CUV. When it comes to interior dimensions, it will be slightly less than that of the Escape
OK, let’s get this straight: a Focus-based “MKC” competes with the MXZ but a next-gen Escape-based CUV doesn’t compete with the MKX? It’s good to see Lincoln trying to focus its efforts, but it’s hard to say that a reborn Mercury Mariner is the place to be focusing. Meanwhile, this wasn’t the only spooky news coming out Ford’s struggling luxury brand over Halloween weekend…
Dow Jones cites a report in Der Spiegel Magazine which claims that GM Vice Chairman for Corporate Strategy Steve Girsky
has made enquiries at BMW to start discussions on “far-reaching joint projects.”
According to Dow Jones, the Spiegel article does not cite any specific source for its information, and TTAC has not yet been able to find the original article online. According to Dow Jones, GM is
primarily interesting in gasoline and diesel engines… General Motors is at an advanced stage in developing a fuel cell and could offer co-operation in that field… The technology behind GM’s Opel Ampera electric vehicle would also be of interest to BMW, according to the report.
GM has not yet responded to TTAC’s request for comment. A similar r umor was floated by Handelsblatt around this time last year, but BMW was quick to quash it. Are things different this time, or is GM still struggling with unrequited desire? We’ll let you know as soon as possible…
In a blog item bemoaning the likely imminent death of the Honda Ridgeline, Automotive News [sub] Product Editor Rick Kranz accuses Honda of “abandoning” its funky pickup by failing to update its styling or hardware since it was introduced in 2005. His point seems to be that the Ridgeline was a decent enough niche product that withered on the vine… and the sales numbers certainly seem to support that thesis. But if you compare Ridgeline to other Japanese-brand compact-midsized pickups, you find that Toyota and Nissan saw similar drops in volume over a similar time period… as did practically all non-full-size pickups. So could Honda have done more for the Ridgeline, or was its decline inevitable? While you’re pondering that mystery, consider this: Kranz points to the last sentence of a months-old piece for one of those zombie rumors that never really got any play:
Based on conversations with industry sources, the story said a smaller pickup is under consideration, derived from the CR-V platform.
Presuming less payload and towing capacity than the Ridgeline, I can’t imagine why a smaller pickup based on a front-drive platform would be a more successful product formula for Honda.
On the other hand, a CR-V-based pickup is something that hasn’t been tried for decades in this market… and it wouldn’t compete nearly as directly with the cheap full-sizers that are killing the “compact” (actually midsized) pickups. So, is Kranz’s logic sound, or could a CR-V-based pickup mix up the market? Faith springs eternal for me when it comes to efficient utility vehicles… but what say you?
Edmunds Autoobserver reports that Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed in today’s Q2 analyst call that
“we’re in discussions with [Toyota] for a deal that is an order of magnitude larger than .” A Tesla official later confirmed to AutoObserver that by “order of magnitude,” Musk was stating that the 8-year-old company was discussing a $1 billion deal with the world’s largest automaker.
Holy Shnikeys! Check out Tesla’s Q2 shareholder letter here.
[UPDATE: So, what’s going on? Toyota Japan reps are on break until Saturday, and we’re still waiting on word from ToMoCo’s US operations. Ask us to speculate, and we’d guess it has something to do with the NUMMI plant Toyota sold Tesla (the joint Tesla-Toyota RAV4 EV will be produced and sold to the public, but a plant has not yet been named. A joint venture at NUMMI makes sense because Tesla can’t fill it to capacity alone. On the other hand, Wards reports that Toyota may be leaning towards Ontario as a production site for the RAV4 EV). Tesla and its CEO Elon Musk aren’t saying anything for now either. Musk was last seen talking about saving humanity by helping it become a multiplanetary species… let’s just hope we find out something else about this “billion dollar” deal before Elon decamps for Burning Man later this month.]
Having seen its RX-8 banned from Europe for flunking emissions tests, Mazda may be going to extreme lengths to improve the efficiency of its next-gen rotary engine (codenamed 16x) which has been in development since 2007. Autocar reports
The 16X’s capacity has been raised from 1304cc to 1600cc, and it is also physically smaller and partly built from aluminium. The changes are designed to improve two of the biggest issues with rotary engine performance: fuel economy and torque delivery.
The Mazda source said the new engine “needed a smaller hole on the wall [of the combustion chamber]” as a result of eliminating the space-hungry normal spark plug. He also admitted to Autocar that the use of laser ignition “was absolutely possible”.
Recent advances in Japan have created high-power lasers made from ceramics that measure just 9mm in diameter and 11mm in length, easily small enough to fit into a car engine.
Not only would laser ignition allow the 16x to burn leaner, it would also allow more precise control of ignition points and timing. More importantly, it would cement the Wankel rotary’s status as the least-necessary, most overly-complex and thoroughly awesome engine ever created. And they say emissions standards always make cars less interesting…
According to Auto Motor und Sport, this Opel “Junior” city car (A-Segment) could be sold in the US if Opel isn’t sold first and if union boss Klaus Franz gets his way. Though GM has ruled out selling the Opel brand in the US, Franz tells AM und S that
I can see strong demand for this car in the cities of the East and West coasts.
But if the Opel brand is off the table, what will this car be sold as? There’s been no rumor yet of a Buick-branded microcar, but Cadillac did recently show an A-Segment concept, called the ULC, that could tip the strategy for this car’s US-market design and branding. It’s just too bad TTAC’s Best and Brightest answered the question “Does Cadillac Need A MINI-Fighter?” with a resounding “NO”. But would a ULC-style micro-Caddy be any less appealing than a baby Buick? This car will be a tough sell coming from any of GM’s remaining brands, but with CAFE increases in the cards (and as prices rising anyway) this may an unavoidable conundrum.
When Chrysler Group Design boss Ralph Gilles said yesterday that “nothing has changed from the Five Year Plan,” I failed to mention one of the issues that made his statement less than entirely accurate: the planned “mid-sized pickup” which was supposed to debut as a 2011 model. The planned unibody pickup was labeled as “under consideration” at the time, and since nobody has mentioned it since (and because Honda’s Ridgeline has been losing sales), most industry watchers seemed to think the idea was stillborn. Not so, reports wheels.ca. Citing insiders and suppliers briefed on the program, Wheels says the new truck will be built in Windsor, Ontario on Chrysler Group’s minivan platform as
an insurance policy that the plant will continue on three shifts at full capacity.
Which isn’t as thrilling a justification as, say, “the compact pickup market has been shamefully neglected for years, and rising gas prices and CAFE standards make well-developed, modern, fuel-efficient pickups a no-brainer,” but it will have to do. And since Chrysler is reportedly targeting only 15k-20k units per year, it’s not particularly surprising either. In honor of Chrysler’s return to front-drive, compact pickups, be sure to check out the Curbside Classic on its progenitor, the Dodge Rampage.
Apparently possessing the institutional memory of sperm, the auto media is once again trotting out the 50-year-old rumor that will never die: OMG, the new Corvette is going to be mid-engined! Or, as we are so fond of saying around here, not. The madness started earlier this week, when GM North America boss Mark Reuss blew his dog whistle by hinting that the C7 Corvette would be “completely different.” The media needed no further encouragement to trot out the mid-engine rumor once again. As Paul Niedermeyer has pointed out, the mid-engined ‘vette speculation has been an industry institution since Zora Arkus Duntov posed proudly with his CERV I concept in 1959. Besides, Corvette engineers have been emphasizing the C7’s evolutionary nature for some time. Reuss’s hints could be about something as mundane and pre-signaled as a split rear window, or as out-there as Two-Mode hybrid option. Hoping for more is, I fear, would amount to a failure to learn the lessons of history.
One of Bertel and my favorite Chinese car blogs, ChinaCarNews, has been reporting since October than the next-generation of MG/Roewe midsized sedans would be based on GM’s Global Midsized (Epsilon II) chassis (which underpins Buick LaCrosse/Regal and the new Chevy Malibu), and now the rest of the media appears to be catching up. From InsideLine to Autocar, everyone’s running with the story that MG/Roewe, which is owned by GM’s main Chinese partner SAIC, is working on an Epsi II-based MG7 for launch in the 2015 timeframe. According to InsideLine
[In 2015], the MG7/Roewe 750 sedan replacement appears some 15 years after the debut of the Rover 75 they’re based on. A coupelike four-door, it uses GM’s Epsilon platform and will be powered by 2.0 and 2.4 four-cylinder gasoline engines and a 1.9 diesel, all with dual-clutch transmissions.
GM and SAIC signed a Memorandum Of Understanding back in October [.DOC file here], which included the provision that, in addition to developing a next-gen electric architecture,
SAIC and GM anticipate sharing an additional vehicle architecture and powertrain application in an effort to help reduce development costs and benefit from economies of scale.
This could explain MG/Roewe’s rumored use of the Epsilon II chassis, but for the moment GM dismisses these rumors as “speculation.” And no wonder: even GM hasn’t announced when it will offer a dual-clutch transmission in its Global Midsized platform. Chances are, The General will want to offer that combination before its Chinese partners use it to beef up its MG/Roewe brands, which have been in product rehab for some time now.
During an interview this year at the Detroit auto show, Jamie Hresko, then vice president of GM global powertrain engineering, strongly suggested the automaker was exploring a new mid-sized pickup. He resigned in late February to pursue other opportunities.
To meet proposed higher U.S. fuel economy and lower emissions standards, automakers that sell in the United States eventually will need to develop a leaner range of pickups, Hresko said.
At some point, especially with the likelihood of higher gasoline prices down the road, a smaller, lighter-weight pickup is inevitable…
End of the 60s, Volkswagen and Porsche cooperated on a budget sportscar called the 914. Soon, one of the many feuds erupted between Wolfsburg and Zuffenhausen, and the mid-engined twoseater was sold as a “VW-Porsche” in Europe. Memories of the boxy, targa-topped car flash through my mind as I read in Germany’s AUTOBILD that Volkswagen might bring back a new Volksporsche.
Lord love the car blogs. On the same day TTAC was fooled by a local TV report’s use of a forum photoshop, the rest of the autoblogosphere has gone bananas for an “alleged spec sheet” that is in fact pure speculation on the part of a member of the GM forum cheersandgears.com. Although the “document” in question “surfaced” in a forum poll entitled “2014 Cadillac ATS – Powertrain Predictions” (and was never presented as an official or “leaked” document), the High Gear Media Hive Mind proceeded to write up the “alleged spec sheet” as if they’d just found it in the RenCen’s executive washroom. Though unable to “confirm its authenticity,” the HGM Collective was able to determine that
the new Cadillac ATS-V will feature a 6.2-liter V-8 developing 470 horsepower and 428 pound-feet of torque. That’s more than the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, the bad boy of the current crop of executive sports sedans.
From there, it was inevitable that the big boys of the car blogging world would jump aboard the bandwagon, albeit with the decency to call the source a “speculative document” or “the rumormill.” Still, this document didn’t “surface”… it was put together by a fan who then asked the members of his forum to vote on whether they “love” or “hate” his speculative lineup. Meanwhile, in the rush to parrot the “news,” some basic considerations have been left out…
Beijingers who shop for a car increasingly find themselves SOL. Dealers report a shortage of cars. Especially scarce: inventories of Volkswagens, China’s largest passenger car brand. “I have to turn to another auto brand for not being able to get a single car of Volkswagen’s for five months,” a customer named Li Guang complained to China’s Global Times. The paper reports delivery times of 3 months for China-made Polos, Sagitars (formerly known as Jetta) and Magotan (known as the Passat B6 in other countries.) Now, Beijing’s car dealers are pouring more oil on the fire. The rumor mill is ablaze with talk that Volkswagen might postpone its car supply to Beijing’s auto market for January next year, because Beijing might launch new car registration limit policies at that time. The result?
Like most modern corporations, car companies tend to be extremely opaque. Only rarely do non-insiders like us get a peek behind the PR curtains of a major automaker, and when we do, we have to wonder why we’re getting the show… and what are we looking at, anyway? Just such a moment has arrived, as a tipster has pointed us to coolsprings.com, where an interview with a Nissan consultant based at Nissan North America’s headquarters in Tennessee appears to be literally overflowing with the kinds of juicy scandals, corporate gossip, and inside baseball that we so rarely see in print. But can the self-described whistleblower Sharyn Bovat be trusted? Is Nissan-Renault’s upper management really locked in a global struggle for control of the company? Do Tennessee taxpayers really pay for Nissan executives’ spa treatments? Did Nissan really relocate a number of employees from California to Tennessee, only to try to fire them shortly thereafter? This is The Truth About Cars, so we’ll proceed with caution… but this story is just too juicy to ignore.
If you’re reading this article, that means Fuhrer Schmitt has figured out under what moniker this article should be filed under. As far as I’m concerned it should be a “Question Of The Day”, but it could easily slot into “WTF” and “Wild Arse Rumor Of The Day”. So, here we go…
GM has been showing off all kinds of future product at its day-long “Global Business Conference,” as it drums up support for its upcoming IPO. Sadly TTAC was not invited, but a wealth of exciting news is percolating through the autoblogosphere. Like this item: Compact MPVs are a big deal.
Our aim is to raise the Lotus brand equity back to its rightful place as it existed in the 1970s when it competed with the likes of Ferrari, Porsche or Aston Martin. Maintaining the unique Lotus DNA is crucial, but with more relevance, greater efficiency and even more sustainability than we have had in the past.Lotus’s owner, the Malaysian automaker Proton, is getting tired of steady losses, and is giving the legendary British marque five years to become competitive with the top-rung of European sportscar houses. That means more volume (from 2,500 to 8k annual units in five years), more marketing and (almost certainly) less of the stripped-down enthusiast utilitarianism that keeps the brand so beloved by hardcore handling fans. Oh yes, and Lotus is reportedly getting one more thing that every brand overhaul needs: a little Maximum Bob Lutz.
Not being a regular trackday driver, my recent tryst with a Porsche Cayman S didn’t leave me wishing Porsche would make their own Turbo version. I may be putting my auto-writer-posturing credentials on the line by typing this, but on real roads patrolled by real police officers, 320 hp is plenty, thanks. Besides, everyone knows that Porsche will never allow its crocodilian coupe outshine its older (and more profitable) brother, the 911. But, according to forum postings from someone claiming to have attended Porsche’s recent general sales meeting [via Pistonheads], Zuffenhausen will let the Cayman get a little bit closer to its true potential with a lightweight version due out in the US next Spring.
We’ve been pretty hard on Cadillac’s decision to replace its aging DTS/STS “flagships” with the stretched-Epsilon XTS, shown in concept form at this year’s NYIAS. We reckon Cadillac needs a true S-Class competitor (as opposed to a glorified Buick LaCrosse) to be taken seriously as a world-class luxury brand… and it turns out that Ed Whitacre agrees. C&D reports:
Cadillac fans will be thrilled to hear that Ed Whitacre himself has instructed the brand to build a true, full-size flagship above both the CTS and the upcoming XTS. The car has not been clearly defined yet. The Zeta platform (Holden Commodore, Chevrolet Camaro, etc.) is heavy and dated, and therefore the flagship is more likely be built on a stretched version of the CTS’s Sigma platform.
If you’ve been reading TTAC regularly, you might have noticed that many of us have something of a soft spot for compact pickup trucks. And what started for me as an innate affinity for all forms of cheap, honest, rugged transportation has become full-blown affection on the strength of several months driving a ’92 Toyota with four-cylinders, four-wheel-drive and a manual transmission. Of course, all auto writers struggle with the disconnect between their personal taste and that of the buying public, and cheap full-sized trucks seem to have eliminated all chances of a re-investment in the segment. Ford, for one, has said that it plans on “replacing” its aged Ranger (which dies next year) with Ecoboost-powered F150 options and its Focus hatchback. Dodge, or Ram, or whoever builds the trucks in Auburn Hills is said to be considering an unibody Dakota replacement, but hasn’t made a peep about it in months. Meanwhile, GM is shutting down Canyon/Colorado production at its Shreveport plant by 2012, ending its half-hearted competition in the segment. But, according to Pickuptrucks.com (which is usually one of the best at breaking these kinds of stories), GM is considering a new entry into the otherwise neglected segment.
The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that Toyota will team up with Tesla to “build electric cars in California.” The governor made this shocking revelation at Google’s I/O Conference today, and told reporters [via the Sacramento Bee]
Today is a very exciting day for me because … I am also going over to the Bay Area to talk about Tesla and Toyota forming a partnership, where they take one of the Toyota cars and make them electric. And again, they’re going to do that here in California.
The obvious scenarios involve joint manufacturing at Toyota’s former GM joint-venture plant NUMMI in Fremont, CA, although there has been no confirmation of these or any other details yet. [UPDATE: According to insidebayarea.com, a Downey, CA city councilman
confirms that Tesla will build the Model S at NUMMI. The Downey City Council had planned to approve a lease deal for a Tesla factory site, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk called to announce that his firm would be setting up shop at NUMMI]
Personally, the lack of a blue “Mark of Excellence” was the last thing I noticed about GM’s latest advertisement. Over at GMInsidenews.com, however, they picked up on it a little quicker. GM’s trademark “chiclet” has already been removed from all of its future vehicles, and Cadillac has publicly announced that it’s distancing itself from the GM name. In fact, post-bankruptcy, everyone at GM has said that the “GM brand” should take a backseat to Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. But will The General go as far as get rid of its little blue box altogether?
Reporters didn’t hold a gun to Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s head when they asked him where the next big industry consolidation would occur. He didn’t have to give an answer, and Automotive News [sub] certainly didn’t have to run it as a standalone story. But then, Marchionne’s Fiat is the Don Juan of the global auto industry, having been linked to flirtations with nearly every automaker in the game. If anyone has an idea of the M&A picture in Europe, it’s Sergio. His reply?
The next merger will probably be French. [PSA Peugeot-Citroen] tried with Mitsubishi and they will try with someone else… An alliance involving France and Germany is not that easy, but [the Renault-Daimler-Nissan deal is] a step in the right direction
PSA Peugeot-Citroen and BMW currently develop transverse four cylinder engines together… does Marchionne foresee a deeper relationship?
In September of 2007, Jim Press surprised the automotive world by leaving Toyota to become president of Chrysler LLC. Press, the first non-Japanese member of the Toyota board of directors, was generally considered to be a major factor in Toyota’s North American success, and his move still has people scratching their heads. It’s been generally assumed that Chrysler’s then owner, Cerberus, promised him a big pile of money. That assumption seems to be reinforced by Press’ inability to pay $1.35 million in debt and taxes last September, which he attributed to bonuses not received due to Chrysler’s meltdown. Still, regardless of the merits of working for the strugling Auburn Hills automaker, leaving Toyota in the first place seemed like a poor career choice.
Yesterday, Chinese site auto.sina.com had what our Ed Niedermeyer called “a belly-laugher of a wild-ass rumor: they say BYD has its eye on Daimler’s zombie luxury brand Maybach.” Funny as it may be, media all over the world jumped on the story. Now, the story is heading right to Snopes. After what must have been a round of heated phone calls between Stuttgart and Shenzhen, Daimler denounced the dumb-ass tale:
Chinese site auto.sina.com [via thetycho.com] has a belly-laugher of a wild-ass rumor: they say BYD has its eye on Daimler’s zombie luxury brand Maybach. The rumor is clearly based on the fact that BYD and Daimler recently closed a cooperation deal, in which they will jointly build vehicles in China for sale under a new brand name. But beyond that, there’s not much to go on. From what I can tell from the Google Translate version of the story, auto.sina.com seems to have an anonymous source in BYD that on March 23 divulged:
BYD is on the matter and approached Daimler, Daimler announced soon abandoned the brand, BYD Auto will soon be underway acquisition action.
Along with flying cars and hydrogen fuel cells, the mid-engined Corvette occupies the most spurious level of automotive rumor-mongery. GM has a deep, rich history of flirtation with the idea of a mid-engine ‘vette (too deep and rich for us not to commission a forthcoming brief history from Paul Niedermeyer), but even in the last three years the engine configuration of the C8 Corvette has attracted intense speculation. In October of 2007, Motor Trend kicked off the modern era of mid-engine ‘vette rumors with a lengthy piece which “revealed” that
GM vice chairman Bob Lutz reportedly has been pushing for a mid-engine C7… We hear Lutz is backing down from his support of a mid-engine C7, though other powerful GM execs reportedly still favor it. Those at GM who prefer an evolutionary, front-engine C7 are facing a tough battle.
Almost exactly a year later, MT took it all back. With GM facing bankruptcy and bailouts, plans for a new Corvette were put on hold and the RenCen pendulum was swinging back towards an evolution of the front-engined C7. And yet now, with bankruptcy still less than a year in GM’s past, the mid-engine Corvette rumors are bubbling back up again.
Flirtation between Nissan and GM has a rich history, dating back to 2006, when the two firms nearly merged, in a move that would have left Nissan-Renault’s Carlos Ghosn in charge of French-Japanese-American juggernaut. GM fought off Ghosn’s advances (and a stockholder rebellion) to stay independent, but with a post-bankruptcy IPO now looming, Ghosn has once again appeared on GM’s horizon. In a bit of in-depth speculation at Dow Jones Investment Banker [via the WSJ [sub]] Jamie Miyazaki and Alessandro Pasetti break down the pros and cons of a Renault-Nissan hookup with GM. Their conclusions: although, Renault is currently playing footsie with Daimler:
Over the long haul, looking west to General Motors in the U.S. could prove more fruitful for Renault than strengthening partnerships in Europe’s saturated market. Taking an equity stake in a reborn, and eventually relisted, GM would give the Renault-Nissan alliance exposure to the U.S. auto giant’s diverse geographic presence… GM [has] shifted about 37% of its total 2009 sales in Asia, South America and Eastern Europe, according to J.D. Power & Associates data. Throw in GM’s plans to ramp up its Indian operations and its large presence in the Brazilian market, where Renault is investing to roughly double its market share to 10%, and the Detroit giant’s allure is obvious.
Paging Captain Kirk!
Unnamed sources tell Reuters that the Maximum era at GM will end on May 1, when Vice-Chairman Bob Lutz will announce his retirement. Unless this is one of those Brett Favre things. Needless to say, TTAC appreciates the month of notice, and will struggle to put together a fitting tribute to the man we call Maximum.
As connoisseurs will certify, daily Hummers are good for you. The Chinese agree and keep us supplied with the delicious staple of GM (and we don’t mean genetically modified) food.
Yesterday, we announced that time may be running out for the Hummer-Tengzhong deal. Jalopnik even went as far as saying that the deal is dead.
“Not so” said Shanghai Daily in the early Chinese morning hours of Wednesday. One of their sources said that “the chances of having the deal approved had dropped to 50-50,” another source of the Shanghai paper remained defiant: “Tengzhong has not given up hope yet to win government approval.”
This (U.S.) morning, the Wall Street Journal weighed in on the matter. Their Beijing correspondent reconnected with her “person close to the situation” after the source had returned from the Chinese New Year holidays. That impeccable source reported that “Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. has been told that the Chinese government won’t clear its deal to buy General Motors Co.’s Hummer unit.”
In the afternoon, Reuters did a straddle.
Car enthusiasts are an odd bunch. They don’t understand why people buy “bland-mobiles” like Toyotas & Hondas, they can’t see why anyone would choose an automatic gearbox over a manuals, and they still can’t figure out why all cars aren’t RWD. For them, the smell of burning petrol (or oil, if you’re in Europe) combined with smouldering rubber, is somewhere between, a freshly baked apple pie and cooked bacon in the spectrum of heavenly smells. Well, there’s one other thing that car enthusiasts may have to combine with those smells, the hum of an electric motor… and it might just mean the end of their sweeping disdain for anything with the word “hybrid” in its name.
Speaking to MarketWatch at the Detroit Auto Show, Tesla Chairman Elon Musk apparently just revealed that the Tesla Model S sedan will be released “within two and a half years.” Which is interesting considering Musk claimed that production would start in 2011 at the Model S launch last March. But then, Tesla is still trying to decide on a factory location, apparently waffling between former aeronautical manufacturing locations in Downey and Long Beach. And apparently Tesla’s mere consideration of a brownfield site in Downey has drawn protests from a group calling themselves The Raging Grannies.
We’ve got a two-for-one deal on today’s wild-ass rumors, as neither seems likely to amount to much. First off, GM’s Jon Lauckner caught a headline at the WSJ by conjecturing that the Volt’s price “could be notably lower” than the anticipated $40,000. “We have until this summer to figure that out,” Lauckner said. Meanwhile, The Atlantic‘s Daniel Inviglio ran a few numbers, and came up with some rough estimates about possible amortization compared to a Toyota Prius at different price points ($40k, $30k, $25k). Even at $30k, according to Inviglio’s analysis, you’d have to drive 3,350 miles per month to see an economic benefit over the Prius. Yikes!
According to Dagens Industri’s sources, GM is planning to use the new Saab 9-5: an own model program, including a future Buick in the U.S.. GM is also in a letter to Saab’s sub-contractors have estimated the time of closure of Saab to five years.
There are sources in Saab Automobile in the Dagens Industri – DI – indicates that GM now see positive opportunities to closure of Saab. By making use of Saab’s technology, tools and production equipment for GM use the new 9-5: an – that would be launched in the spring – to a future Buick in the U.S..
In the GM is also talk of exploiting Saab technology for the production of a new premium car for Opel, “says DI’s sources. It would then be about the reopening of the closed trial with an Opel Senator in Europe.
Thought, you’d seen the last of Renault in North America? Well, think again and this time, they’re bringing their big guns! The Wall Street Journal [sub] reports that Gerard Detourbet, head of Renault’s entry level division is contemplating selling their low cost cars in South East Asia and North America. “We’re looking at Southeast Asia closely,” he said “We ended up not going there for a variety of reasons. But the idea is that we won’t remain absent from that territory.”
Because of an unusual concentration of radio and television broadcast antennae in and around the Detroit suburb where I live, just about every car company and automotive electronics vendor that does business in North America tests their cars for resistance to radio frequency interference in my neighborhood. Ford in particular seems to like the testing location – it’s only 20 minutes from Ford facilities in Dearborn and convenient to do worst case real world testing.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- 285exp If the conversion to EVs was really so vital to solve an existential climate change crisis, it wouldn’t matter whether they were built by US union workers or where the batteries and battery materials came from.
- El scotto Another EBPosky, "EVs are Stoopid, prove to me water freezes at 0 degrees Celsius" article.It was never explained if the rural schools own the buses or if the school bus routes are contracted out. If the bus routes are contracted out, will Carpenter or Bluebird offer an electric school bus? Flexmatt never stated the range of brand-unspecified school bus. Will the min-mart be open at the end of the 179-mile drive? No cell coverage? Why doesn't the bus driver have an emergency sat phone?Two more problems Mr. Musk could solve.
- RICK Long time Cadillac admirer with 89 Fleetwood Brougham deElegance and 93 Brougham, always liked Eldorado until downsized after 76. Those were the days. Sad to see what now wears Cadillac name.
- Carsofchaos Bike lanes are in use what maybe 10 to 12 hours a day? The other periods of the day they aren't in use whatsoever. A bike can carry one person and a vehicle can carry multiple people. It's very simple math to figure out that a bike lane in no way shape or form will handle more people than cars will.The bigger issue is double parked delivery vehicles. They are often double parked and taking up lanes because there are cars parked on the curb. You combine that with a bike lane and pedestrians Crossing wherever they feel like it and it's a recipe for disaster. I think if we could just go back to two lanes of traffic things would flow much better. I started coming to the city in 2003 before a lot of these bike lanes were implemented and the traffic is definitely much worse now than it was back then. Sadly at this point I don't really think there is a solution but I can guarantee that congestion pricing will not fix this problem.
- Charles When I lived in Los Angeles I saw a 9-5 a few times and instanly admired the sweeping low slug aerodynamic jet tech influenced lines and all that beautiful glass. The car was very different from what I expected from a Saab even though the 900 Turbo was nice. A casual lady friend had a Saab Sonnet, never drove or rode in it but nonetheless chilled my enthusiasm and I eventually forgot about Saabs. In the following years I have had seven Mercedes's, three or four Jaguars even two Daimlers both the 250 V-8 and the massive and powerful Majestic Major. Daily drivers of a brand new 300ZX 2+2 and Lincolns, plus a few diesel trucks. Having moved to my big farm in central New York, trucks and SUV's are the standard, even though I have a Mercedes S500 in one of my barns. Due to circumstances with my Ford Explorer and needing a second driver I found the 2006 9-5 locally. Very little surface rust, none undercarriage, original owner, garage kept, wife driver and all the original literature and a ton of paid receipts and history. The car just turned 200,000 miles and I love it. Feels new like I'm back in my Nissan 300ZX with a lot more European class and ready power with the awesome turbo. So fun to drive, the smooth power and torque is incredible! Great price paid to justify going through the car and giving her everything she needs, i.e., new tires, battery, all shocks, struts, control arms, timing chain and rust removable to come, plus more. The problem now is I want to restore it and likely put it in my concrete barn and only drive in good weather. As to the writer, Alex Dykes, I take great exception calling the 9-5 Saab "ugly," finding myself looking back at her beauty and uniqueness. Moreover, I get new looks from others not quite recognizing, like the days out west with my more expensive European cars. There are Saabs eclipsing 300K rourinely and one at a million miles and I believe one car with 500K on the original engine. So clearly, this is a keeper, in love already with my SportCombi. I want to be in that elite club.