DAILY EDITION: August 5, 2003

August 4, 2003

TCC'S DAILY EDITION: August 5, 2003

Benz Yanks A-Class from U.S. Plans, Subs In CST

Mercedes-Benz’ plan to sell the Golf-sized A-Class in the U.S. have been scuttled. Automotive News confirms reports from Benz insiders to TCC that the brand’s base model in the U.S. will instead be a sport tourer based on the A-Class platform, and sold under the CST badge. The CST, the industry weekly reports, arrives in 2005 and will resemble the GST — a new six-passenger sport tourer also due in 2005 and to be built alongside the M-Class SUV in Vance, Ala. AN adds that Benz hopes to price its CST class under $30,000.

2003 Mercedes-Benz G500 by Marc K. Stengel (8/4/2003)
Taking off-roading to rare heights.

Aviator to Fly Away?

2003 Lincoln Aviator

2003 Lincoln Aviator

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Automotive News also reports this week that Lincoln will drop the slow-selling Aviator SUV, possibly as early as 2005. Where Lincoln had hoped to sell as many as 35,000 Aviators a year, they’re selling somewhat short of the rate. Just 15,164 have gone out the door through July of 2003, AN reports. Dealers have blamed the vehicle’s high sticker price and its looks, which blend the larger Navigator with the downmarket Explorer on which the Aviator is based. The weekly adds that Lincoln will replace the current Aviator with a car-based sport wagon built from the Mazda6 platform as a 2007 model. The Lincoln car-ute is expected to be built in Canada.

Lincoln Won’t Follow Caddy Upscale by Joseph Szczesny (2/17/2003)
Ford isn’t sure which direction Lincoln is headed — except it’s not chasing Cadillac into the stratosphere.

Incentives Top $4000 Per Unit

The American brands spent an average of $4000 in incentives for every vehicle they sold in the U.S. in July, according to a new study from Autodata. The industry researchers found that General Motors leads the U.S. automakers in offering $4253 per vehicle last month, up 37 percent from last year; Chrysler gave back $3846 per vehicle and Ford, $3687. Each of the American automakers lost share in July, although representatives of each expressed optimism that sales would improve along with the economy. In total, the American brands held just less than 60 percent of the U.S. auto market in July, down more than 1.6 percent in a year.

July Sales Upbeat for Some by Joseph Szczesny (8/4/2003)

CVTs Hit Their Stride

Traditional automatic transmissions — some now with five or six (and soon seven) speeds — are advancing to a new level of drivability and performance. But wait: There’s an entirely new type of automatic transmission on the market, and it’s already available on several new models. These increasingly popular CVT (continuously variable transmission) units bypass the usual gears in favor of a “shiftless” belt-drive system that can tweak the drive ratio to best fit the engine’s torque curve and driving conditions. For decades now, it’s been predicted that CVT designs will completely replace conventional automatic transmissions. As ordinary automatic transmissions continue to make gains in drivability, durability, and performance, CVTs may not in the foreseeable future replace all conventional automatics, but they’re definitely catching on for the future.

CVTs Hit Their Stride by Bengt Halvorson (8/4/2003)
No longer just a tech curiosity, the new generation of shiftless transmissions offers a real alternative to conventional automatics.

Riding with the Boys of HUMMER

1999 AM General Hummer 4-door Wagon

1999 AM General Hummer 4-door Wagon

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What a disaster. Apparently it wasn’t enough that Jerry spent a precarious lunch hour groping underneath a three-and-a-half-ton Hummer H1 to repair a broken rear half-shaft that was splintered by an aggressive boulder. Then this guy Ron goes and pretzel-bends two tie rods on his unwisely modified Hummer H2, stranding sixteen or so trail junkies until you-know-who — that’s right, Jerry again — can make the necessary field repairs. All in all, a fantastic day of max-adrenaline off-roading according to the general consensus. For members of The Hummer Club, who gathered in the East Tennessee mountains overlooking Oak Ridge for their recent Windrock Trails 2003 event, “hitting the trail” is a commandment they take literally. Ride along with them inside TCC today:

Riding With The Boys of HUMMER by Marc K. Stengel (8/4/2003)
Hummer enthusiasts go out of their way to reach the unreachable.



Chrysler Aiming To Get Fast, Low-Cost, Lean

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