2005 Ferrari F430Enlarge Photo
Ferrari Launches F430
With a body styled by the legendary Italian design house, Pininfarina, the new F430 is the latest addition to the Ferrari lineup. The $160,000 two-seater will replace the aging 360 Modena when it reaches U.S. showrooms later next year. The heart of the new coupe is an aluminum 4.3-liter V-8 making 490 horsepower through a Formula One-style gearbox, an electronically shifted manual with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The system can shift gears in just 150 milliseconds. There’s enough power to launch the F430 from 0-60 in 4.0 seconds, and the car tops out at just under 200 mph. The F430 makes good use of Ferrari’s racing knowledge, with its electronically controlled differential and carbon-ceramic brakes. There’s also a system, called Marinetto, which allows the driver to adjust suspension settings without taking hands off the steering wheel.
Classy CLS Debuts
2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS 500Enlarge Photo
Mercedes Goes On Tour
2004 Mercedes-benz Vision BEnlarge Photo
Anchoring Mercedes' ABCs
2005 Mercedes-Benz A-ClassEnlarge Photo
Workers Say Yes, But More Needed at PAG
Workers at Solihull, the British plant producing Ford’s Land Rover products, voted nearly two-to-one in favor of a new cost-cutting contract on Friday. The so-called “Road Map” should improve everything from operating policies to the work culture of the plant, according to Mark Fields, CEO of Ford’s Premier Automotive Group. “Generally,” said Fields, “there will be more flexibility in the plant, which was very important to the plan.” His goal is to achieve steady double-digit increases in productivity at Solihull for at least the three-year life of the contract. Even with the good news out of the Land Rover plant, Ford officials remain concerned about the health of the PAG. In the most recent reporting period, the luxury group lost $342 million, about a third of that because of the weakening dollar. The U.S. is PAG’s largest single market. The situation varies by brand, with Jaguar clearly the most troubled of the group’s marques. Earlier this month, it was decided to close the Brown’s Lane assembly plant in Coventry, the “spiritual home” of Jaguar. There are many advocates within Ford who want to see at least some PAG production moved to the U.S., but “right now we have no plans” to do that, insisted Fields. He quickly added, “In the medium to longer-term, I rule nothing out.” Despite recent setbacks, “we are still comfortable with the target” outlined in Ford’s turnaround plan, which would have PAG generate as much as $1.3 billion in profits by 2006, asserted Fields. That won’t give the subsidiary much time to get its automotive act together. There have been rumors that Fields might be recalled to the U.S., though he insisted to TheCarConnection that, “I’m in Europe and I’m here to stay.”
Hubbert Wants To Finish Up
He’s known to many as “Dr. Mercedes,” and to many, it’s becoming difficult to separate Juergen Hubbert from the high-line brand that he has closely guided for the past fifteen years. But at the end of the year, Hubbert retires, handing over the reigns of DaimlerChrysler’s flagship brand to Eckhard Cordes. It’s a challenging period for such a major change.
While Mercedes sales continue setting new records, the brand has seen its quality reputation tarnished as it slips in studies like the oft-quoted J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Index. “Even if we have had a few bad years,” asserted Hubbert during an interview with TheCarConnection, “we have a solid and good basis” going forward. The problems “didn’t just happen in the last year,” he said, and they won’t be resolved overnight. But the dapper executive is convinced that the worst issues have been resolved, particularly with the faulty electronic systems that caused the majority of Mercedes’ quality concerns.