Daily Edition: Nov. 15, 2005

November 14, 2005

Phaeton Dumped from VWoA Lineup

The $70,000 Phaeton sedan will exit Volkswagen'sU.S. sales lineup early next year as the German automaker realigns its future product plans with the vision of its new leader, former Chrysler exec Wolfgang Bernhard. The Phaeton move will also reconcile VW's lineup with the reality on the ground: sales have been a trickle since the Phaeton was introduced in 2003. The ultra-expensive Volkswagen was to have led a charge up the price ladder for the brand, but the company ran into serious resistance from buyers who are buying BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes in record numbers. With VW's sales down 17 percent, the company is spending its money more wisely on new variants of the Golf, including a coming crossover based on the entry-level vehicle and a new Eos hardtop convertible due out next year.

Bernhard Sounds Clarion Call at VW by TCC Team (9/19/2005)
Exec outlines product strategy, need for labor concessions.

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S-line Joins Audi A3 Lineup

Audi is adding a V-6-powered, DSG-gearboxed, quattro-all-wheel-driven model to the A3 lineup this month. Dubbed the A3 3.2 quattro S-line, the new version will wear a sticker price of $33,980 at Audi showrooms. Its 3.2-liter engine turns out 250 horsepower and also puts out 236 pound-feet of torque, and accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, thanks to the six-speed DSG gearbox. The suspension's been retuned for sporty handling, and five-spoke, 17-inch alloy wheels with 45-series tires are standard, while 18-inch wheels and 40-series tires are optional. The A3 3.2 quattro S-line also gets a restyled front bumper, fog lights, a roof spoiler, special badging, and a leather interior as well as a Bose audio system with a six-disc, in-dash CD changer.

2006 Audi A3 Sportback by Marty Padgett (8/9/2004)
Audi improves its Golf game.

"Red Tag" Prices Come to GM Through Jan.

General Motors is turning to discounted prices once more to clear inventories of 2005 and 2006 models from its lots. The company's new "Red Tag" promotion, dealers will put maximum prices on vehicles that will reflect reductions on prices of anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $4400 on some models, the Detroit News calculates. The program, which does not include Cadillac, Saturn, Saab, or HUMMER vehicles, will run through January 3.

Chrysler Minivans in NHTSA Study

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is studying reports of airbag problems in the Chrysler Group minivans. The 2005 model-year vans, the NHTSA reports, could have front airbag sensors that fail, possibly due to corrosion. The agency has logged five complaints from owners who say their airbag sensors failed; the sensors for the front airbags are located behind the front bumper, and owners have reported the warning light for the front airbags had illuminated in their vehicles. More than 400,000 minivans are being studied; if enough evidence is presented, the safety agency could order a full recall of the vehicles in question.

Feds Also Looking at Benz S-Class for Gauges

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has begun an investigation into recent versions of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class for a potential problem with the vehicle's gauges. The Associated Press reports that the S-Class sedans from the 2000 and 2001 model years are the subject of complaints to the NHTSA that their speedometers and fuel gauges have failed to light. Seven complaints have been logged with the agency, and 72,000 S-Classes are being investigated for the problem, which could become a full recall if the agency determines the problem to be a flaw in the vehicle's design.

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