Cowger: 18 Million Units, New Saturns Coming
With just two days left in the selling year, GM’s Gary Cowger is betting the industry will sell about 16.8 million vehicles in 2003, not an annual record but strong enough that Cowger is seeing even better results for next year. In 2004, Cowger said to Los Angeles auto show media, the industry could hit 17 million units. And by the latter part of the decade — perhaps as soon as 2007 — the American market could expand to 18 million units sold, which would set a new annual sales record. In other comments to the media convening at the L.A. Convention Center, Cowger confirmed that Saturn will double its model lineup by 2007 as has been reported by TheCarConnection previously — but Cowger clarified that two of the new models on tap for Saturn would be a small sportscar and a bigger SUV to complement the current VUE, which gets a 250-hp Honda-sourced engine option for 2004.
Chevy Cobalt Aiming Upmarket
The 2005 Cobalt is Chevy’s latest salvo in the compact-car wars — but unlike the outgoing Cavalier, the Cobalt won’t be competing at the lean end of the pricing spectrum. Though no prices were announced for the new four-door sedan and jazzy two-door coupe, Chevrolet is intent on letting its new Korean-sourced Aveo compete against the cheapest Kias and Hyundais, leaving the upper reaches of the economy class to the new Delta-architecture compacts, which share some components with the Saturn ION. The Cobalt four-door will come in base, LT and LS editions, all with a 2.2-liter Ecotec four with about 140 hp and all sporting a rich-looking interior (from photos shown at the press conference) and upmarket options like heated leather seats and a power sunroof.
The two-door coupe, on the other hand, will offer more sporting tuning, circular taillamps, and a different model range that tops out with a Cobalt SS model with a new 2.4-liter Ecotec worth 170 hp and a 200-plus-horsepower SS Supercharged edition with 18-inch wheels.
BMW 6 Coupe Priced From $69,995
The 645Ci Coupe made its first U.S. appearance in the U.S. in Los Angeles, with a price tag reaching to the stratosphere. The new two-door, based on 5-Series running gear, will retail for $69,995 including destination and handling. Its 4.4-liter V-8 engine churns out 325 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque through one of three six-speed gearboxes: a manual, a Steptronic automatic, or a Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG). The 645Ci hits a top speed of 149 mph and could run and gun to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. BMW also priced its revised X5 4.8is sport-ute from $70,495, including destination charges, a six-speed Steptronic automatic and xDrive.
Acura TL A-Spec Concept: Type-S in Disguise
If the new Acura TL spawns a Type-S performance edition soon, it might carry some of the fancy features displayed on the TL A-Spec concept shown in L.A. The concept rides on a track two inches wider than the stock TL, and is shod with 21-inch wheels and a high-flow exhaust system that boosts its 3.2-liter V-6 to more than 300 hp. A panoramic glass sunroof opens the red-leather interior to the sun, and the new rear end gets restyled taillamps and a spoiler. Brembo brakes with eight-piston calipers and Adaptive Cruise Control round out the package.
Ford GT Starts from $139,995
Will it be a beach condo or a new two-seat supercar? It’s time to decide, now that Ford has priced its retro-cool GT supercar from $139,995, not including destination charges or gas-guzzler taxes. The 500-hp GT, inspired by the Sixties racing GT40 supercar, goes on sale in the summer of 2004. Ford says it already has received about 700 special requests to line up for the GT, independent of the folks who have plunked down deposits with dealers. About 3500 GTs are expected to be built over the course of two model years.