DAILY EDITION: Dec. 16, 2003

December 15, 2003

TCC'S DAILY EDITION: Dec. 16, 2003

Annual Car/Truck of the Year Finalists Announced

The drum roll will have to continue for another three weeks, but at least the finalists for North American Car and Truck of the Year have been announced. On the passenger-car side, the Cadillac XLR, Mazda RX-8, and Toyota Prius were the top-three vote getters, while the Caddy SRX, Ford F-150, and Nissan Titan were top contenders for the truck award. Final results will be announced on January 4th, kicking off the first press day at the 2004 North American International Auto Show, in Detroit. A total of 49 journalists — representing some of the top automotive media, including TCC — participated in NACTOY balloting this year.

2004 Mazda RX-8 by Dan Carney (7/14/2003)
Rotary fans can rejoice: the Wankel’s back.

2004 Cadillac XLR by TCC Team (5/26/2003)
A new lease on sportscar life for GM’s rapid social climber.

2004 Toyota Prius by John Pearley Huffman (8/25/2003)
As close as Toyota comes to making a Ferrari.

2004 Cadillac SRX by TCC Team (7/7/2003)
Redefining a niche, reshaping a brand.

2004 Ford F-150 by Marc K. Stengel (7/7/2003)
Ford stakes its very future on the success of a dramatic redesign of the best-selling F-150 pickup.

2004 Nissan Titan Crew Cab by TCC Team (9/29/2003)
Is Nissan’s Titan-ic pickup unsinkable?

Fuel Cells Could Launch Abroad

To stage an aggressive transition to hydrogen power, the auto industry may have to launch fuel cell sales abroad, rather than in the United States, according to a senior General Motors executive. GM has been one of the most vocal proponents of fuel cell technology, and while some of its competitors are backing off on plans to introduce fuel cell vehicles, or FCVs to the public, GM still hopes to hit market by 2010, says Byron McCormick, director of GM’s Alternative Propulsion Center. McCormick admits there are some serious obstacles to overcome: the technology is still costly and unreliable, for one thing, and there’s the need to establish a production and distribution infrastructure to deliver hydrogen to motorists. GM is “not cocky but confident” that it can overcome both challenges, says McCormick, though creating a hydrogen infrastructure likely would cost upwards of $10 billion. Part of the challenge is that the U.S. population is so spread out, and even servicing just the 100 largest cities would require at least 11,000 filling stations. “The U.S. is a tough place to introduce this in,” says McCormick, adding that it’s “entirely possible” the first consumer market for FCVs could emerge abroad. Where? Perhaps in Japan, a nation with dense population centers, lots of pollution, and a costly dependence on imported oil. Then there’s China, which is only now setting up a public energy infrastructure, and which also wants to minimize dependence on oil imports. —TCC Team

Investors Want Progress on Warming by Joseph Szczesny (11/24/2003)
Environmental concerns want to leverage their power to get big companies to clean up.

BMW 6-Series Cabrio Coming to Motown

2004 BMW 645Ci

2004 BMW 645Ci

BMW will use the upcoming Detroit auto show to showcase the ragtop version of its new 6-Series coupe, the company said this week. The new 645Ci convertible shares its 4.4-liter V-8 with the 645Ci Coupe, and makes 325 hp through any of the three transmissions BMW will offer on it: a six-speed manual, a six-speed Steptronic automatic, or a six-speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG) with Formula 1–style shifting. The convertible will hit 60 mph in roughly six seconds on its way to a top speed of 155 mph. A DVD navigation system will be standard.
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