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JUST IN TIME FOR THE DREAM CRUISE—THE LIMITED EDITION PT
As reported in yesterday’s TCC Daily Edition, Chrysler will be offering a series of special PT Cruiser vehicles, dubbed “Series 1”, starting in February. The vehicles will list for just under $24,000 with an automatic transmission. And the vehicles will be limited-edition, with just 7,500 to be made in two (so far) different flavors—a “Woodie” and “Flame” model (at $895 and $499 extra, respectively). The cars are meant to fit in with the custom car theme of the Annual Woodward Dream Cruise (held on the famous boulevard this weekend north of Detroit). Even the “regular” PT Cruisers are hard to keep in showrooms, with the company working to expand total Cruiser production capacity from 200,000 to more than 310,000 by the end of next year. The vehicles are made in Toluca, Mexico, and Graz, Austria.
SUPERCAR MODEL COULD BE MADE, BUT COULD YOU AFFORD IT?
An 80 mile- per- gallon car? Sure. But who could afford it? That seems to be the reason the National Research Council says the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles, established under the Clinton administration to facilitate the development of a so-called “supercar” capable of correspondingly super gas mileage might need a rethinking. More realistic aspirations might be significant fuel-economy gains by light trucks, SUVs and pickup trucks that account for half of all new-vehicle sales in the U.S. Indeed, the sales of these vehicles have increased as a percentage of total vehicles since the PNGV program was put in place. The report also points to the likelihood of higher fuel consumption due to new clean-air rules that will make the use of fuel-saving diesel technology more challenging.
WRONG TIRES FOR THE CLIMATE? FIRESTONE SUPPLIED ‘GRADE C’ TO FORD
Bridgestone/Firestone supplied tires to the Ford Explorer that it knew were vulnerable in hot climates. That’s the contention of attorneys representing victims of a Firestone tire-related accident in which a family member suffered a brain injury and is confined to a wheelchair. The family, although it settled with Ford in the case, is now seeking $1 billion from the tiremaker in the first case to go to trial in the U.S. In a deposition, a former Bridgestone/Firestone quality assurance executive said the tiremaker had supplied C-grade tires to Ford, the lowest-rated tires the company makes. The tiremaker, the deposition said, knew that an inflation rate of 26 pounds per square inch, as prescribed by Ford for Explorer tires, was very close to the margin of safety required. In a separate deposition, Firestone CEO John Lampe acknowledged the tiremaker might have learned earlier that some of its tires had defects if it had analyzed claims data. The trial continues.
T-BIRD ANYONE? FOR JUST 38 PERCENT MORE THAN THE STICKER PRICE
Talk about sticker shock. When Alan Must put down deposits for two new Thunderbirds, he expected to pay full price. But not $15,000 over the $39,000 MSRP. He’s suing the dealer, McLaughlin Ford of Royal Oak, Mich., alleging the dealer broke an oral agreement to sell the cars at list so it could cash in on the demand for the retro roadster. McLaughlin Ford, formerly Royal Oak Ford, said it never quoted a price and has the right to sell for whatever the market will bear. While automakers generally discourage markups, dealers are not bound by the “suggested” price and it happens—more recently with the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Audi TT Coupe, both of which went for much higher than MSRP. A trial is scheduled for January, although the dealer is not prohibited from selling the cars in the meantime.
MERCEDES BUYING SPECIAL SYSTEMS FROM HARMAN OVER THREE YEARS