Consumer Car News: 2/4/02

February 4, 2002

Admitting it has lost market momentum in recent weeks, Chrysler has announced a new sales incentive program, but the number-three automaker has consciously decided to keep its cash-back awards smaller than those from either General Motors or Ford Motor Co.  "We're not giving up any more market share around here," declared Jim Schroer, sales and marketing chief for DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler Group.  The new package offers consumers up to $2,500 on a variety of vehicles, including minivans and the Jeep Grand Cherokee.  That's on top of the new seven-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty Chrysler recently introduced.  But together, Schroer revealed to TheCarConnection that the American automaker is spending four points less on its new incentive package than it did a year ago, when the industry's rebate run-up first began.  Chrysler will kick off the new program with a weekend ad blitz.  It will run through February 28th, though Schroer admitted Chrysler would extend the incentives, if necessary, to respond to its competition.
Chrysler Locks in Product Program by Joseph Szczesny (1/21/2002)



Ford is denying reports that the 1994-1998 Mustang convertible failed to meet internal safety targets, according to various wire reports. An Atlanta attorney, Joseph Fried, is said to be preparing a set of documents, including some from inside the company, that show that the ‘Stang convertibles from those years suffer from design problems with the fuel tank and rear body structure. Ford officials are disputing any problems with the vehicle: "The Ford Mustang convertible has always met or exceeded all federal safety regulations and continues to do so," said Sue Cischke, Ford's environmental and safety chief. "The Mustang meets Ford's internal fuel integrity standards, which are significantly more stringent than those required by the federal government," she said in a release.



2002 Hyundai hCD-7 Concept

2002 Hyundai hCD-7 Concept

A forward-thinking interpretation of the biggest Hyundai will be the brand’s concept at next week’s Chicago auto show. The HCD-7 concept, Hyundai says, will be a luxurious “advanced-performance sedan” with a sleek aero shape and roomy interior. The vertical headlamps and taillamps suggest the future styling theme for the brand, a release says. Look for the HCD-7 and other Chicago concepts next week as TCC comes to you live from McCormick Place, beginning Wednesday.
Hyundai Narrows Plant Search by Joseph Szczesny (1/28/2002)



Honda Model X concept Tokyo 2001

Honda Model X concept Tokyo 2001

Honda officials say a closer-to-production version of the Model X sport-ute will be shown at March’s New York Auto Show. The Model X, which the company says will be built on the Civic line in East Liberty, Ohio, is a crossover vehicle intended for young, active buyers who do strenuous things like snowboarding and hiking. It will sport a different name when it enters production toward the end of 2002, but the concept Model X’s center-opening doors and flexible interior are to be carried over into production, a spokesman says.


General Motors Corp. is planning to build not one but two versions of its mid-size Chevrolet Malibu. Gene Stefanyshyn, GM's mid-size passenger car vehicle line executive, said Thursday that GM planned to unveil the next version of the Malibu next year, and will build it in Fairfax, Kan. The new Malibu will be aimed at the traditional buyers of Chevrolet sedans who are looking for a "three-box sedan," but the Fairfax plant also will be equipped to build an "extended version" of the Malibu, Stefanyshyn said. The extended version of the Malibu will have nearly six more inches of wheelbase and will be aimed at more affluent buyers, he added, but he refused to comment on speculation about whether it will a station wagon. "It's not a crossover," and GM isn't calling it a station wagon either, said Stefanyshyn. Stefanyshyn also said GM will concentrate all of the W-car (Century, Regal, Grand Prix, Impala and Monte Carlo) production, at the company's assembly complex in Oshawa, Ont., he said.—Joseph R. Szczesny


Ford is moving ahead with plans for an airbag system that deploys with a force proportional to the weight of the occupant of the seat. While Ford introduced a weight-sensing system on the Windstar that simply deactivates the airbag if no passenger is present, the future system would be able to distinguish between small children, large adults, and people in between, as well as an empty seat. The company has promised to spread its Personal Safety System, which includes the on/off airbag device, across its entire lineup.


Some 804 Ford Ranger compact trucks are being recalled from dealer lots for faulty rear-axle castings, according to Reuters. Another 374 trucks already sold to consumers are being recalled as well. The affected vehicles — five-speed, 2002 models with the FX4 package — have defective differentials that require that the entire rear axle assembly be replaced.


General Motors is recalling more than a half-million of the last generation of its midsize sport-utility vehicles. The 2000-2001 Chevrolet Blazer, GMC Jimmy, and Oldsmobile Bravada are being brought back for a defect in the lighting systems; the rear stop lamps may not light when the brakes are pressed, and the hazard lights may not light when cued. The 546,000 vehicles in question were built between September 1999 and August 2001, according to the company; two accidents have been reported but no injuries are said to be involved.
2002 GMC Envoy by Marty Padgett (12/31/2001)


DaimlerChrysler has recalled nearly 65,000 Mercedes-Benz C-Class vehicles for battery problems. The batteries in the vehicles in question may explode when fluid levels inside are low. Five explosions and one injury have been reported; the batteries will be replaced free of charge at dealerships.


Before GM’s Hummer H2 hits the streets it hits U.S. circuit court. Why is the H2 due in court next week? Because Jeep claims that the Hummer’s seven-slat grille looks too much like those on its own products. Jeep parent DaimlerChrysler has asked the court to force GM to change the appearance of the vehicle, claiming a limited trademark violation: in response, GM has filed suit of its own, claiming that any lawsuit is frivolous, coming ten years after the first civilian sale of Humvees in the U.S. in 1992. The $50,000 H2 is due to go on sale midyear.
GM Hummer H2 Goes Public by TCC Team (12/17/2001)


The Weather Channel (TWC) is the latest information provider to sign on with GM’s OnStar in-car telematics. The Weather Channel will provide updated forecasts through OnStar Virtual Advisor. Users will also be able to add cities to their profile at OnStar’s Web site and have multiple forecasts delivered to the vehicle.



Aston Martin boxers

Aston Martin boxers

Aston Martin’s saucier accessories are history, thanks to the more puritanical leanings at the home office in Dearborn, Mich. Reuters reports that Aston’s sexier accoutrements — including handcuff-themed jewelry and leather shorts for him or her — will be dumped from the luxury brand’s product catalog at the request of parent Ford. A spokesman told the news service that the company would be reprinting its catalogues and adding new items — undoubtedly with less bondage-chic appeal.
Handcuffs, Thongs and Astons by Ian Norris (12/24/2001)
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