2004 New York Auto Show Index (4/5/04)
No News That 1-Series is Delayed
2005 BMW 1-SeriesEnlarge Photo
Things are getting ugly!
The sudden shift in exchange rates is leading import
manufacturers to scramble for cover. When the dollar bought 1.2 Euros and 125
yen, it meant big profits for manufacturers like
Nissan Needs a Starter car
Count Nissan among the companies who think it needs a model line to combat Hyundai and Kia in the $9,000-$13,000 segment. Ford, too, is trying to make a case for a model line below the Focus. Nissan thinks it needs some pizzazz below its entry-level Sentra model. “We have much younger customers than a lot of companies...certainly younger than Toyota,” said Nissan product development chief Jack Collins. Collins says it favors finding a model it will sell under the Nissan brand, not following the lead of Toyota’s Scion brand. Scion is a separate brand with a separate showroom at Toyota dealerships. Nissan has previously looked at selling its Micra small car in the U.S. as a kind of “cheaper MINI,” but a business case couldn’t be made for the car, which is sold in Asia and Europe.
There was a lot of talk about the
return of rear-wheel-drive in
There’s been a lot of talk about the demise of “retro” styling, especially with the lackluster reception given the hotly promoted Ford Thunderbird. But it’s anything but played out in favor of new styling fads, asserted a testy Mays. “I didn’t know you had to have one or the other,” he said, adding that “I was under the understanding that it would be a better place if people had more choice in the marketplace.” As to the soon-to-arrive Mustang, Mays had some second thoughts about what to call it. Forget retro, he explained, noting, “We call it old school.”
Ford Hybrid Plans Beyond Ford; Volvo Hybrid Coming?
Ford has now announced plans for three gas-electric hybrid vehicles — the Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, and the Ford compact sedan formerly known as Futura. Ford lost a legal challenge from Pep Boys over use of the name. But how about Volvo? Given Volvo’s fatter profit margins and the European demand for fuel-efficient vehicles, doesn’t Volvo make sense for a hybrid? “Absolutely,” says Volvo’s U.S. chief Vic Doolan. “I’d love to have a gas-electric hybrid and we are looking at it.” The car Doolan would like to see it in? He pointed to the XC90 SUV. Ford’s current hybrid system wouldn’t be sufficient for the XC90 weight. But Ford CEO Bill Ford says he is confident the second generation gas-electric hybrid system will be sufficient for Ford — and thus Volvo? — mid-sized SUVs.