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2003 L.A. Auto Show Coverage by TCC Team (1/1/2003)
2003 Detroit Auto Show Coverage by TCC Team (1/2/2003)
MAZDA SETS PRICE FOR NEW RX-8
Mazda’s newly-revived, rotary-powered sports car will carry a base price of $25,180. That figure covers the version of the four-seat RX-8 equipped with a 210-hp engine mated to a four-speed automatic. The more powerful, 250-hp version, mated to a six-speed manual, pushes the figure to $26,680. That’s a good bit below expectations, but suggests Mazda learned its lesson when it overpriced the last generation of the old RX-7, stifling sales and driving the sports car from the U.S.
market. “You either learn or you’re history,” said Mazda’s U.S.
chief executive, Charlie Hughes. The RX-8 boasts a number of novel touches, besides the rotary powertrain. Taking aim at potential buyers who don’t want to cope with a cramped back seat, the unusually roomy package features the so-called “Freestyle Door System,” which makes it much easier to get in and out of the back. Mazda expects a high proportion of manual transmission sales, not only because of the fun factor but because it had to limit torque with the automatic gearbox to handle the high-revving rotary. -- TCC Team
Mazda’s fascination with unusual ingress and egress methods was further underscored by the Washu concept vehicle introduced in Detroit
. The name translates into “eagle’s wings” in Japanese, and refers to the way the front doors open. Similar to the gull wing doors tried by other manufacturers in the past, the Mazda design hinges, so the Washu can be opened up in tight places. The rear doors slide out and sideways, much like the cabin doors on a commercial airliner. The seating is arranged in a 2+2+2 configuration. And to make it even easier to get in and out, the steering wheel retracts, while the instrument panel lifts up and into the windshield when the driver door is opened. -- TCC TeamFORD BITES BULLET ON F-SERIES COSTS
Ford Motor Co. believes it needs to get $1000 out of the cost of its new F-Series pickups, which are due to market later this year, according to company chairman Bill Ford. But the automaker has decided to hold off on any cost-cutting efforts in order to ensure a smooth launch, the family heir stressed. What is critical, added Jim Padilla, president of Ford’s North American operations, is that “We are going to deliver this product on time and with high integrity. This is not time to play,” and risk the sort of last-minute problems that have plagued other Ford product introductions in recent years, Padilla told TheCarConnection. -- TCC Team
BACK-TO-BASICS ACCORDING TO GHOSN
“When you cannot make a profit, it is a signal you are doing something wrong,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said during a media roundtable Tuesday. To try to ignore that basic rule is like “trying to ignore a fever.” The Brazilian-born executive has led a significant reversal of Nissan’s fortunes and is now unleashing a significant product blitz that brought an assortment of trucks, passenger cars and crossover vehicles to Detroitthis week. That includes the new Titan pickup, which will take aim at the full-size segment long dominated by the Big Three. Ghosn stressed that Nissan has no interest in maintaining unprofitable products, and will quickly pull any off the market. He declined to discuss sales forecasts for the new Titan, though the automaker’s new plant in Canton, Mississippi, has 400,000 units of capacity. Along with the pickup, it will produce two new full-size SUVs based off the Titan ladder-and-frame platform, as well as the new Quest minivan. -- TCC Team