Geneva Motor Show, Part I

March 10, 2002

Index: 2002 Geneva Motor Show by TCC Team (3/5/2002)


2003 Volkswagen D1

2003 Volkswagen D1

The 72nd International Motor Show in Geneva has opened its doors for the media — and one of its most anticipated launches came yesterday in the form of the VW Phaeton, the company’s first large sedan aimed squarely at Mercedes, BMW and even its own Audi brand. Volkswagen board member Robert Buechelhofer told the press in Geneva that the company hopes to sell 20,000 Phaetons, 10,000 of those in the U.S. beginning next year. In Europe the luxury sedan will start just under $50,000.

Stay tuned this week for more from the Geneva Motor Show:

VW Unveils D1 Luxury 4-Door by TCC Team (10/15/2001)

Geneva Show Preview, Part I (3/4/2002)

Geneva Show Preview, Part II (3/4/2002)



Volkswagen AG has set up a new strategy committee that will have the final word on future products—with an eye on better distinguishing the automaker’s numerous brands. “It will steer the product plan of the whole group to ensure there is no unintentional overlap,” explained new VW CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder during a dinner kicking off the Geneva Motor Show. VW has come under increasing fire in recent months for the way it has allowed the lines separating brands like SEAT, Skoda, VW and Audi to blur. Some buyers have reportedly been opting for lower-image models--the VW Golf instead of the Audi A4, for example—in order to save money. It is important, added board member Ulrich Eichhorn, that VW offer, “the right products in the right segments and not get in each others way…as we’ve done before.”



2002 Aston Martin Vanquish

2002 Aston Martin Vanquish

When the next James Bond film hits the silver screen later this year, super-spy 007 will, as already reported, be driving the Aston Martin Vanquish. But TheCarConnection has learned “this will be the PAG film,” according to a Ford source, referring to the automaker’s Premier Automotive Group. While a few final details haven’t been confirmed, it appears the film’s villain will be driving a Jaguar XK8 specially customized by Jag’s chief designer, Ian Callum. One of the legendary “Bond girls” will be driving a new Thunderbird (not actually a PAG vehicle, but close enough), and plans reportedly called for other Premier brands, including Volvo and Land Rover, to make their Bond debuts.

Preview: Aston Martin V12 Vanquish by TCC Team (10/16/2000)



2003 Maybach

2003 Maybach

What will DaimlerChrysler’s new Maybach supercar look like? The automaker provided a few tantalizing hints Monday night of what appears to be a long and elegant sedan powered by an all-new, 550-horsepower, twin-turbocharged V-12. But there was nary an actual working model, nor even a pre-production prototype to be found at the automaker’s traditional dinner event kicking off the annual Geneva Motor Show. Company officials did have a few things to say about the new Rolls-Royce-class Maybach. “We believe there’s room for a new summit,” declared DCX Board Member Juergen Hubbert, who will oversee the Maybach brand, which is coming back to life after more than 60 years. The German carmaker did roll out one of the original Maybachs—and offered up a prototype of one of the multifunctional rear seats that may make owners wish they’d never have to get out of the car.



2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK

2003 Mercedes-Benz CLK

Mercedes-Benz used the evening festivities to provide a first look at the new CLK-Class coupe, the first complete redesign of the two-door model line since its introduction in 1997. The CLK has proven a strong seller for Mercedes, which has captured a 35-percent share of the market segment. The base CLK will jet from 0-60 in about 6.0 seconds; the high-performance AMG model still under development is expected to cut that down to 5.2 seconds. The new model has been slightly stretched, with most of the added space going to the passenger compartment. Mercedes executives boasted that the new engines developed for CLK will deliver higher performance while also boosting fuel economy, on average, more than six percent. In Europe, the starting price will come in at just over $30,000.


The Chrysler Group would love to opt out of the Big Three, said the DaimlerChrysler unit’s president, Dieter Zetsche while in Geneva. Whether the automotive media stops using that dated designation is uncertain, but Zetsche said that when it comes to setting quality benchmarks, “We do not want to compete with the other two guys in town (a reference to Ford and General Motors), but with the best.” The mustachioed German admitted past quality problems will continue to hurt Chrysler’s image for some time to come, even though its actual quality numbers have been sharply improving, according to recent reports from market research firm J.D. Power and Associates.


In separate news, Zetsche said he does not see Chrysler closing any of its North American assembly plants, even if it wins permission from the United Autoworkers Union. Many observers were surprised when Chrysler’s January 2001 cost-cutting plan did not call for any shutdowns in the U.S. or Canada. But others realized such a move would violate the anti-plant-closing clause in the automaker’s contract with the UAW. Ford recently announced plans to press the union for several closures and General Motors has said it may do the same. But Zetsche said any plant closings would be counterproductive. Since most Chrysler products are built in only a single plant, it would force the company to eliminate whole model lines and that would cut into Chrysler’s already declining market share. Zetsche said he believes his company can “maintain or slightly improve” its share in 2002 when compared to last year’s anemic and declining levels.

Feb. Sales Hurt Ford, DC (3/4/2002)


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