Consumer Car News: 7/8/02

July 8, 2002

Z4 BOWS AT BMW’S S.C. PLANT
BMW’s 2003 Z4 roadster takes the entry-level sports car a notch higher with new styling, a new suspension and more features. Two engines are available: a 225-hp 3.0-liter in-line six in the Z4 3.0i,  mated to either a six-speed manual or Steptronic five-speed automatic, while the 184-hp, 2.5-liter Z4 2.5i gets a five-speed manual or automatic. BMW’s Sequential Manual Gearbox will be available next spring. A modified 3-Series suspension gets grafts of standard run-flat tires and Dynamic Stability Control. The soft top has a heated glass rear window and an integrated tonneau cover; power operation is optional. A Carver audio system and a DVD nav system are optional. The Z4 goes on sale this fall.

BMW BUILDS LAST Z3
In preparation for the Z4 launch this fall, BMW has built the last Z3 roadster in its Greer, S.C., assembly plant. A six-cylinder roadster with leather became the final Z3 about lunchtime on Friday, June 28th, and will remain there as a display in the factory’s museum and visitor center. BMW built 297,087 copies over seven model years.

GM LAUNCHES MORE ZERO-PERCENT DEALS
GM’s “Summerdrive” incentive and rebate program will bring back the zero-percent deals the company has used to propel sales since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. GM says the program, which runs through Sept. 3, doesn’t include its newest 2003 models. Saab, Saturn, and Hummer vehicles are left out as well.
Zero Percent Is Back (7/8/2002)

FORD BACK IN ZEROS, TOO


Ford’s response to the renewed GM incentives will “rock you” – if you believe the tagline based around the Queen song that will propel the latest Ford rebates. The new program, which ends Sept. 30, increases rebates on a variety of models, brings back zero percent on some vehicles and awards lessees a $1000 to $1500 bonus when they opt for another Ford Motor Co. product as well. The Thunderbird and SVT vehicles are excluded from the program.

2003 Maybach M62

2003 Maybach M62

FIRST MAYBACH ROLLS OFF THE QE2
DaimlerChrysler’s Maybach brand received an auspicious—some might say audacious—kick-off Tuesday when the marque’s first sedan floated into New York Harbor aboard the QE2. It was then airlifted off the ocean liner in time to reach a crowded press preview on Wall Street where, if the stock market reverses current course, many future buyers might be found. Company officials announced plans to hand-build 1000 copies a year of the $300,000-plus car. About 80 percent will be the “short” M57 model, though the car shown in New York was the larger M62. The numbers refer to length, in meters, the long-wheelbase model measuring nearly 20 feet nose to tail; that’s longer than the massive Ford Excursion and indeed, the longest passenger vehicle on the road. Each Maybach will be "bespoke," or custom-built, a process expected to take about four months from start to finish. Look for a formal launch in Europe this coming fall. U.S. sales will follow, early next year.-TCC Team
Maybach Lands in NYC (7/8/2002)

MERCEDES-BENZ BRINGING TINY A-CLASS TO U.S. WILL SMART FOLLOW?
Even as it takes a giant step upmarket, DaimlerChrysler is getting ready to move downward as well, a top executive told TheCarConnection in an exclusive interview. After conducting extended research, it has concluded there’s a potential market for the micro-compact A-Class in the U.S. “The next generation of the ‘A’ will be in the States,” said Juergen Hubbert, the DCX board member overseeing passenger car operations. “It is a definite decision.” Hubbert was less clear on specifics such as when it would arrive, hinting only that it would be sometime between 2004 and ’05, when the current platform is refreshed—and sources say, likely to be stretched a bit. Meanwhile, Hubbert hinted DaimlerChrysler’s even smaller Smart could follow. “Everyone is expecting Smart will come,” he hinted, adding, “There is increased interest” on the company’s part. Barely seven feet long, the so-called city car currently wouldn’t meet federal safety standards, so either they’d have to change, Hubbert noted, or the Smart would have to be redesigned.-TCC Team

TOYOTA SAYS FUEL CELL COMING SOON
Toyota says it will have a limited number of fuel-cell hybrid sport-utes on sale by the end of the year, here in the U.S. and in Japan. The company says the sport-ute will be based on the Highlander crossover wagon and will offer performance similar to that of a conventional vehicle. Initially some 20 vehicles will be leased to a select group of corporate clients from “technology related companies, institutional organizations and research facilities,” a Toyota release says, because the vehicles will depend on a hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

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