SPY SHOTS: ’05 MUSTANG CONCEPT
Retro styling is back with the next Mustang — and a new concept caught by an unwitting spy photographer shows what you’ll be seeing in January at the new year’s first auto shows. We’re expecting the new Mustang to be offered with a variety of engine choices, including a 215-hp 3.0-liter V-6, and a modified 4.6-liter V-8 with 280-hp. The Cobra version will likely be fitted with a 400-plus horsepower V-8. We’ll see the concept debut at the NAIAS in January, but the all-new (production) Mustang will wait until its 40th anniversary in 2004 to make its official debut. You can see more inside TheCarConnection.com right now:
Spy Shots: 2005 Mustang by Brenda Priddy (12/4/2002)
NHTSA OPENS GM INVESTIGATION
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has moved ahead with a possible safety recall on 2.3 million GM cars. The NHTSA has been investigating reports of engine problems that could lead to a fire, Reuters reports. The vehicles involved include some Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick and Oldsmobile models made between 1996 and 2000. The NHTSA has logged 604 complaints that the vehicles with 3800 V-8 engines backfire and leak fuel from fractured manifolds; 44 fires have also been reported. GM has issued a recall for some 1996 models for similar problems, the news service reports, but several design changes have not stopped the reports. The current NHTSA investigation could become a full recall if the agency determines through its ongoing engineering analysis that the engines are defective.
Wagoner Gets GM Chair by Joseph Szczesny (12/4/2002)
FORD EUROPE SEEKS MARKET BOOST
Ford’s European operations are in the black, and the division’s chief says he expects to increase market share while Ford faces slackening demand at home. Ford Europe President Martin Leach told reporters on Tuesday that his division’s goal is to boost market share from 8.8 percent to more than 9 percent in 2003. Ford Europe has undergone a drastic reinvention, with cost and job cuts teamed with a renovation of its product lineup. Leach said the market-share increases would come even as competition within Europe gets more fierce.
HONDA GREENEST; FORD GETTING BETTER
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) says Honda has the cleanest vehicle fleet on the U.S. market — and that Ford is making progress in its chairman’s commitment to cut truck emissions. The UCS put DaimlerChrysler at the bottom of its survey, which ranked Honda above Toyota, Nissan, Ford, and GM respectively. Ford’s progress, the research group said, is encouraging and the company is making progress toward its goal of cutting SUV fuel consumption by 25 percent, although it has lost ground among its cars. In all, the UCS says the average 2001 truck emits 2.4 times as much pollution and 1.4 times as much carbon dioxide as a 2001 model car.
PORSCHE PLAYS SANTA FOR SHAREHOLDERS AND WORKERS
Capping a year of record earnings and slightly lower unit sales, Porsche is providing an early and generous Christmas for two of its biggest stakeholders. At its annual meeting Wednesday, the German automaker announced a special, one-time 14-euro dividend, on top of the regular 2.94-euro stock dividend. Meanwhile, Porsche workers will receive the equivalent of a month’s pay as their share of the company’s 828.9 million euro pre-tax earnings. That number was up 40 percent for the fiscal 01/02 year, said Chairman Wendelin Wiedeking. The coming year presents both challenges and possibilities, Wiedeking told a modest turnout of shareholders. The company’s biggest market, the U.S., is having economic problems, potentially impacting sales of the 911 and Boxster models. Meanwhile, Wiedeking said, 2003 brings “the biggest challenge the company has ever faced in its entire history” with the launch of the new Cayenne SUV. Asked later to explain, he insisted the issue isn’t one of market acceptance, but having enough of the vehicles to meet demand. Ultimately, Porsche’s new plant in Leipzig will be able to produce 25,000 Cayennes a year, and company officials revealed the project’s breakeven point is well below the 20,000-unit mark. —TCC Team
Preview: 2003 Porsche Cayenne by Ian Norris (11/25/2002)
PORSCHE HEAD HEADED ELSEWHERE?
Rumors have been swirling around Wiedeking in recent months suggesting he might leave Porsche after a decade at the helm, possibly to take charge of the troubled Deutsche Telekom. Wiedeking confirmed he has been receiving a lot of job offers lately—not surprising since Porsche is one of the few major German companies where stock price and earnings continue to resist the country’s economic malaise. But Wiedeking told TheCarConnection he’s not moving on. “I’m motivated with Porsche. That’s it.” He added that he’s more than well paid for his work. While he wouldn’t reveal details, some industry sources have suggested an annual paycheck of as much as $10 million. —TCC Team
Porsche Plans for the Long Term by TCC Team (11/25/2002)
TCC DRIVES: GM HY-WIRE FUEL CELL
With the press of a button, I begin a journey into the future.
TCC Drives GM’s Hy-Wire by TCC Team (12/4/2002)
CHEVY TO SPIFF UP FIRST 25 SSR ROADSTERS
The first 25 Chevrolet SSR hot-rod trucks will be customizes and commemorated in what GM calls a “unique launch program that will create one-of-a-kind "pedigrees" for each vehicle.” The SSR Signature Series has already designated those first 25 vehicles with specific missions: the first vehicle will go directly to the GM historic collection, for example, while a handful of cars will be reserved for press drives and later auctioned complete with memorabilia and even autographed reprints of reviews of the vehicles. The Signature Series will be built between now and April; each will wear Ultra Violet paint and special Signature Series badges.
WORLD REPORT: EUROPE
Car Won’t Start? Call For Oscar
London’s Daily Telegraph has reported the case of a unique form of anti-theft device – a car that would not start without the presence of its owner’s baby son.
Amanda Webster was out shopping near her home in West London. As she loaded packages into her Ford Focus, her one year-old son Oscar played quietly with the car keys. With the shopping stowed, Mrs. Webster took the keys from Oscar and went to start the car. But the engine wouldn’t fire, and after trying a number of times she phoned the automobile club for help.
When patrolman Keith Scott arrived he tried the starter, with no effect. At first he suspected a flat battery, but then noticed that the key was incomplete – the tiny transponder, which communicates with the car’s on-board anti-theft system and ensures that only the correct key will start the car, was missing. He and Mrs. Webster looked round the car to see if the transponder had fallen out, but could find nothing.
Then it dawned on him. Mrs. Webster had said that Oscar had been biting on the key – he’s at the teething stage – while he played with it. Could he have swallowed the missing part?
Knowing that the transponder communicates by radio, the enterprising patrolman decided to try an unusual remedy. He asked Mrs. Webster to sit Oscar on her knee, as close as possible to the ignition key slot, while using the key to turn the engine over. With Oscar’s tummy pressed against the steering wheel, she inserted the key and turned it. The Focus burst into life and Mrs. Webster and Oscar were able to continue their journey home.
The Telegraph reports that when nature finally took its course and the transponder emerged, it still worked perfectly, having gone through a test that Ford’s product testing technicians would never have thought of. —Ian Norris
Renault Returns – But Not Until 2010
Renault would like to make a comeback in the U.S., but not until 2010 at the earliest. That’s the word from Renault SA Chairman Louis Schweitzer, who told Automotive News that if the French automaker does revisit the U.S. market, it would have to be as an automaker as well as a seller. Renault’s Nissan subsidiary does both in the U.S.
“I think a volume carmaker in the U.S. has to produce locally,” said Schweitzer. “For a luxury brand, that’s different.”
Renault already has a presence in North America, as a producer of Clio and Scenic cars in Mexico. Both subcompact in size, both cars are sold in Latin America primarily. The Mexican plant is being expanded to accommodate a Nissan product, which could be its first exported to the U.S. Schweitzer is expected to retire in 2005, with his likely successor being Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, a former Renault executive. —Mac Gordon
FROM THE SOURCE
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: GT) announced today that Philip A. Laskawy, 61, has resigned from its board of directors to accept a position on the General Motors Corp. board. Laskawy, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Ernst & Young LLP, had been a member of Goodyear's board since August 2001.
President Bush today signed "Anton's Law," a child passenger safety measure sponsored by U.S. Senator Peter G. Fitzgerald (R-IL), in an Oval Office ceremony. Fitzgerald, who joined the president, Anton's mother Autumn Skeen, and other child safety advocates at the White House event, said the new law is a significant step forward in the ongoing effort to better protect children riding in cars.
The Motor Press Guild last night presented its Dean Batchelor Award to Gordon Kirby during the organization's annual Holiday Awards Dinner at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Kirby, motorsports journalist and author of five auto-racing books, was recognized for his compelling biography of Mario Andretti.
Volvo Cars of North America today launched a national public service program to inspire people to make outstanding contributions to their communities. The Volvo for Life Awards will be a multi-year grassroots program that celebrates and honors ordinary people doing extraordinary things and makes more than $500,000 in financial contributions in its inaugural year. Beginning today and through Feb. 28, 2003, Volvo invites people to log onto www.volvoforlifeawards.com to submit nominations for individuals who go above and beyond the call of duty in the areas of safety, quality of life and the environment.
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