October 16, 2006
SAIC Picks "Roewe" For Car Lineup
Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC), the company that lost out in the bidding for the Rover nameplate rights last month, has chosen a name for the cars it will build from old Rover 75 technology. The name will be Roewe, roughly pronounced "roo-eevey," according to the Wall Street Journal, which says the word is derived from the German word for lion (loewe) and is not only close to the actual Rover name, but to names like Spain's Loewe SA luxury-goods maker. Worse yet, the Journal adds, the name pronounced in Chinese sounds like "wrong way." SAIC's new cars, due to be introduced in China on the 24th of October, also will wear a badge with lions on a red-and-black shield. SAIC hopes to sell the new Roewes in the U.K. beginning in late 2007.
Cadillac Going to South Africa
GM's Cadillac brand will open for business in South Africa early next year, the company announced on Wednesday. The launch of the brand will begin with three vehicles-the European-bred BLS sedan (based on the Saab 9-3), the SRX crossover, and the STS sedan. GM says it's heading to the country because "South Africa is one of the fastest growing automobile markets in the world, and with our distinct portfolio of luxury vehicles, Cadillac is ready to further its expansion on the African continent." Cadillac is trying to expand its brand name globally and is pushing big sales increases in places like Europe and China.
VW Bows ParkAssist on Touran
Forget satellite radio and multi-zone climate control - Volkswagen has just unveiled the must-have optional extra for the discerning driver (and bad parker). The German firm's new seven-seater compact minivan in Europe, the Touran, will be available with ParkAssist. It's the first VW model to feature the technology, but it's sure to spread to others if it proves a hit. Front and rear ultrasonic sensors detect whether an available parking space is big enough, and acoustic and visual displays guide the driver to the correct parking start position. Once reverse gear is selected the car parks itself in under 15 seconds. All the driver has to do in this time is accelerate and brake - the Touran does all the steering. Gimmick or great gadget that means the end of supermarket dings? Only time will tell.-Richard Yarrow
Rolls Going Smaller; Maybach, Too?
Less than 24 hours after Rolls-Royce revealed it would develop a new small model, Maybach was saying it might do something very similar.
The new Rolls will be launched "within the next four years" according to chairman and chief executive Ian Robertson, and sit below the flagship Phantom. The company says it will cost between $250,000 and $380,000 before tax, depending on spec.
However, there's speculation it won't just be one car, as it was described as a "new model series" rather than a new model.
Planning permission has been granted to expand operations at Goodwood, U.K.
The Maybach news was revealed by Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management for DaimlerChrysler. Asked to comment on the new Rolls, and whether Maybach might do something similar, he said: "Obviously there's some space between the price range of the current Maybach and the top Mercedes. We're looking at that and if there's a chance of filling it we have to decide if we want to. And also if it is with the Mercedes brand or the Maybach brand. However, we feel under no pressure to make that decision soon." -Richard Yarrow
MORE ON ROLLS: Rolls-Royce's next convertible
GM Says Corsa Coming to States
General Motors' Opel brand will send the Corsa compact to the U.S. market after the vehicle's next redesign, likely to come in the next few years. Automotive News reports that GM vice chairman Bob Lutz says the Corsa will be badged as a Saturn. It could be as many as five years before the Corsa is replaced, since a new version has just arrived in Europe. And despite its design origins, the car likely will be built in North America - leaving open the possibility that it might be built in Spring Hill, Tenn., the original Saturn plant that is losing Vue production to a GM plant in Mexico soon, or potentially in Mexico. The Corsa's competition will be subcompacts like the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, and MINI Cooper.
VW, IG Metall settle pact
Reports from Germany indicate that Volkswagen AG and IG Metall, the big German metal workers' union, have negotiated a 15-percent increase in working hours at plants in western Germany without any corresponding increase in pay. IG Metall members will now work 33 hours per week. The agreement appeared to fall short of the 35-hour week sought by VW's negotiators but did address one of the major structural weakness in the company's labor contracts, where employees have worked fewer and fewer hours for the same-in some case more-pay. The new pact runs through 2011 and applies to all six of VW factories in the old West Germany. As part of the agreement, VW also pledged to build the Golf mainstay as well as another unspecified high-volume model at its sprawling factory in Wolfsburg. The VW plants in Hanover, Kassel, Emden, Braunschweig and Salzgitter also won similar production guarantees. The necessary investments must now be approved by Volkswagen's board of directors.-Joseph Szczesny