Consumer Car News: 1/21/02

January 21, 2002

With huge throngs surrounding their two supercar prototypes since the Detroit motor show opened to the general public, Ford and General Motors officials are taking the first steps to turn their two prototype supercars into production vehicles. Several senior Ford officials revealed to TheCarConnection that they hope to build a street-ready version of the GT40 for a price slightly above $100,000. The GT40 concept is an unabashedly retro remake of the race car that dominated the European race scene in the late 1960s. Meanwhile, the new Bob Lutz product team is actively investigating which outside production house could build the Cadillac Cien supercar. Modeled after the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, this edgy design would symbolize Caddy's bid to rejoin the ultra-premium luxury segment. Current thinking would mean building only a few hundred of the Cien, with a price tag of at least $250,000, and probably a bit higher, several sources confided.



2004 Cadillac SRX

2004 Cadillac SRX

Cadillac will put its new luxury crossover vehicle into production during the second quarter of 2003, general manager Mark LaNeve revealed on Tuesday. The vehicle, based on the Caddy Vizon concept, will be named the SRX, the “R” standing for “reconfigurable,” suggesting it will feature a highly flexible seating and cargo compartment layout. The crossover was originally to be named LAV, for Light Activity Vehicle, but Cadillac planners thought the acronym might bring to mind other more hygiene-oriented connotations. Including the SRX, Escalade and other crossover and light trucks to come, LaNeve estimated light trucks will account for 40 percent of Caddy’s volume by mid-decade. Noting Cadillac currently competes in only three of six luxury segments, LaNeve hinted that by 2004, “Cadillac will be selling five to six (new) models, variants and powertrain options we did not have before.” Along with the SRX, the new CTS sedan, and the EXT SUV/truck hybrid, the GM flagship division has confirmed it is working on a replacement for the Seville, dubbed STS, and a version of the Evoq show car, to be named XLR. A high-performance lineup is also under development. And as TheCarConnection reported on Monday, Caddy has begun preliminary work on what could become a production version of the Cien concept supercar.
2002 Cadillac Escalade EXT by Sue Mead (11/1/2001)



2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

2003 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

DaimlerChrysler unveiled a new Mercedes E-Class sedan at the Brussels auto show on Tuesday, and said it hoped to sell 200,000 of the cars worldwide this year. The new generation of E-Class shows a markedly curved roofline and the now -trademark goggle-eyed quad headlamps. Inside, dual-stage airbags and side curtain airbags are standard; the new E also sports a four-link front suspension, electrohydraulic brakes and a new air suspension that’s standard on V-8 E-Classes. Five engines – including V-6s, V-8s and diesels — range up to 306 hp, and the supercharged four-cylinder is expected to be added.


While GM moves on to $2002 rebates and Chrysler turns down the cheap-financing faucet, Ford says it will stick with zero-percent financing on some models. Excepting the Ford Thunderbird, Escape and SVT-branded performance vehicles, Ford now will offer zero-percent financing on 36-month loans until March 5. For 48-month loans, the rate is 3.9 percent; for 60 months, 4.9 percent.
Strong Dec. Boosts 2001 by Joseph Szczesny (1/7/2002)


After a months-long drop after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, gas prices have begun creeping slightly higher. Analysts quoted by the AP report a three-cent rise in prices nationwide; on average the price of a gallon of unleaded is $1.15, about 34 cents cheaper than prices one year ago.


A fuel system problem is forcing Chrysler to recall 76,143 Jeep Grand Cherokees. In certain high-speed, rear-end crashes, the fuel tank could come loose and leak, the automaker discovered. There have been no injuries reported as a result of the problem, but Chrysler plans to install a reinforcing bracket on 2002 model-year Grand Cherokees sold in North America.


Volkswagen has recalled some 324,000 Jetta, Golf and New Beetle vehicles over a potential emissions issue. VW will replace the oxygen sensors on those vehicles and likely another 46,000 in Canada because they could permit the vehicles in question to exceed emissions standards. The cars in question are 1999-2001 models, mostly built at VW’s Puebla, Mexico, facility.
2002 Volkswagen New Beetle Turbo S by Marty Padgett (12/31/2001)
Spy Shots: ’03 VW Beetle Conv. by Brenda Priddy (1/14/2002)


GM will expand its offering of XM satellite-based audio this fall, offering the radio option in 23 of its models, the company said on Monday. Some 2002 Cadillacs offered the system as an option; for 2003, the following vehicles will also be made available with the subscription-based service, which charges users $9.99 a month for 100 channels of digital-quality audio:
Buick: Rendezvous, LeSabre
Cadillac: Escalade, Escalade EXT, DeVille, Seville,
Chevrolet: Avalanche, Cavalier, Impala, Monte Carlo, Silverado, Suburban, Tahoe
GMC: Denali, Denali XL, Sierra, Yukon, Yukon XL
Olds: Alero
Pontiac: Aztek, Bonneville, Grand Am, Sunfire


Facing the defection of some of its biggest teams, CART is looking into a move from its suburban Detroit headquarters. Though no formal plans have been announced, Championship Auto Racing Teams officials acknowledged they are considering several locations. That includes Indianapolis, home of 10 of 13 CART teams—as well as the rival Indy Racing League. “We're in major league open-wheel auto racing,'' CART spokesman Adam Saal told the Associated Press, “and obviously the center of that is in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. Being based there would have a nice ring to it.”

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