Consumer Car News: 12/24/01

December 24, 2001

TCC PREVIEWS DETROIT, L.A. SHOWS

Got plans for the New Year yet? While you’re carousing in a drunken revelry, the world’s automakers (and those of us at TCC) will be prepping for the twin auto shows that kick off the year. This week at TheCarConnection.com, we’ll be previewing the 2002 Los Angeles and Detroit Auto Shows to show you in advance the sheetmetal we’ll be seeing on the show floors, including L.A.’s 420-hp Jag S-Type R, the 2004 Chrysler Crossfire and the 2002 Maserati Spyder, and the cavalcade of Detroit intros including the Honda Pilot SUV, Hummer’s H2 and just maybe, the return of the Chevrolet Bel Air.
2002 L.A. Auto Show Preview (12/16/2001)
2002 Detroit Show Preview (12/16/2001)

 

FORTY-NINE, FAIRLANE DEAD?

Ford Forty-Nine Concept

Ford Forty-Nine Concept

USA Today reports that Ford’s slumping finances have left no money to produce an updated Ford Fairlane and a roadgoing version of the concept Forty-Nine. The Fairlane, the paper reports, was to eventually replace the Crown Victoria. The cost pressures also mean it’s virtually certain that the Ford mid-engine supercar to be shown at next month’s Detroit auto show won’t be produced as well. While Ford is in its current product drought, analysts like John Casesa at Merrill Lynch are predicting that the competition will replace its products much more aggressively, which could place Ford in even a more difficult position.
2002 L.A. Auto Show Preview (12/16/2001)
2002 Detroit Show Preview (12/16/2001)

 

COTY FINALISTS SPELLED OUT

2002 Ford Thunderbird

2002 Ford Thunderbird

It’s almost official — the finalists for the North American Car and Truck of the Year have been named. The winners of the competitions will be announced during the press days of the Detroit auto show. A representative from the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche released the following finalists to jurors yesterday:

CARS: Cadillac CTS, Ford Thunderbird, Nissan Altima

TRUCKS: Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Jeep Liberty

2002 L.A. Auto Show Preview (12/16/2001)
2002 Detroit Show Preview (12/16/2001)

 

GM WANTS DAYTIME RUNNING LIGHTS RULE
In an unprecedented action, General Motors is petitioning regulators to order the new safety hardware for vehicles sold in the U.S.  Since 1997, all U.S. GM light-duty vehicles have been equipped with Daytime Running Lights, or DRLs, which stay on whenever the vehicle is running.  "We think it's time to afford that safety benefit to all roadway users," said GM safety official Bob Lange, noting a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows a seven-percent decline in accidents where DRLs could play a role.  And NHTSA found a 29-percent drop in pedestrian fatalities involving DRL-equipped vehicles.  Regulators appear receptive to the idea.  The devices typically add $20 to $40 in cost, but they're already mandated in a number of countries, including Canada, which would make it easy to add DRLs on models also sold in the U.S., Lange noted.  DaimlerChrysler is reportedly already working on its own DRL rollout plans.

 

FORD CHIMES IN – AND DRIVERS BENEFIT?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says that Ford’s belt-minder system increases seatbelt use. The device, which chimes up to five minutes at drivers who neglect to buckle up, was found to increase belt use by five percent among customers polled in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City area. The devices will be universal in 2002-model-year Ford vehicles.

 

HONDA SHOWS HYBRID CIVIC
Will a regular vehicle with a hybrid powertrain be popular with buyers and greens alike? Honda is attempting to find out with the hybrid Civic, which adapts the gas/electric powertrain from Honda’s Insight two-seater into the Civic’s more consumer-friendly package. The company is showing the hybrid Civic at the Washington, D.C. auto show this week, and will sell the vehicle beginning in April for $20,000. Honda expects the vehicle to get about 50 mpg in the city and highway EPA tests, which would improve on the standard Civic’s economy by about 35 percent.
Toyota Penning Cheaper Hybrid by Joseph Szczesny (6/18/2001)

 

CHEVY BEL AIR, PONTIAC ROADSTER CONFIRMED FOR DETROIT
Confirming big speculation across Detroit, GM said on Wednesday that it would show a Chevrolet Bel Air concept and a Pontiac Roadster concept at January’s Detroit auto show. The Bel Air, styled after the most attractive Chevrolet in history, perhaps, is said to be a rear-drive, two-door concept with bench seats, a steering column-mounted gearshift, and a new Vortec 3500 turbocharged five-cylinder engine, which is expected to make its way into a new range of compact trucks. The Pontiac Roadster concept, says GM, is a lightweight two-seater with a 220-hp engine, a twin-cockpit interior and a European feel.
2002 L.A. Auto Show Preview (12/16/2001)
2002 Detroit Show Preview (12/16/2001)

 

CHRYSLER CALLS PROWLER EXTINCT

2002 Chrysler  Prowler

2002 Chrysler Prowler

The hot-rod look-alike Chrysler Prowler will become extinct one year earlier than originally planned, Chrysler announced today. While the company says in a statement that the vehicle was intended to be a five-year program when it was introduced in 1997, its shift from Plymouth to Chrysler was at first supposed to last two years, according to prior TCC reports. The $45,000 roadster will be supplanted in 2004 as the Chrysler halo car by the Crossfire, a German-made coupe built on Mercedes mechanicals. The last 300 of about 11,000 Prowlers made over the course of five years will be painted a special cherry red.
2001 Chrysler Prowler by Dan Carney (10/15/2001)

 

CAR TRAVEL STILL STRONG FOR HOLIDAYS
While air travel remains significantly damaged since the Sept. 11 attacks, holiday travelers are going by car in nearly the same numbers as last year, the American Automobile Association reported yesterday. The AAA says that air travel should be down 20 percent from last year, while highway travel will decline only about one percent from 2000. Some 42 million people are expected to travel over the open road for the extended December holiday season.

 

LINCOLN FLAGSHIP CONCEPT TO SPORT V-12

Lincoln flagship concept

Lincoln flagship concept

Making your plans for the Los Angeles Auto Show? TCC will be on the scene starting Jan. 2 for all the product launches and concept-car debuts. On the show floor we’ll bring you the show version of this Lincoln flagship concept. While the current Continental front-drive sedan sails into likely its final year, Lincoln is prepping a possible replacement; the flagship concept has a V-12 engine under its squared hood, which appears similar to the MK9 concept from last year's Detroit show. No more details have been supplied, but it's assumed the flagship concept will be rear-wheel driven.
2002 L.A. Auto Show Preview (12/16/2001)
2002 Detroit Show Preview (12/16/2001)
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