DAILY EDITION: Mar. 2, 2004

March 2, 2004


NHTSA Tests Slam Mid-Size Sedans

The latest round of crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) finds midsize sedans lacking in bumper strength. The insurance industry-funded group reports that the last test of six midsizers left each with bumper damage of more than $500 each. The Mitsu Galant suffered the least damage, with an average of $525 in bumper repairs needed after the 5-mph test. The ’04 Chevy Malibu and ’04 Acura TSX got the agency’s worst rating, averaging nearly $1000 in damage, while the Suzuki Verona, Nissan Maxima, and Acura TL got the second-worst rating with roughly $700 in damage each.

Sierra Club, UAW United Against NHTSA by Joseph Szczesny (2/23/2004)
New fuel-economy proposal draws the ire of some unlikely allies.

Pontiac Getting Equinox-Alike

Pontiac is getting a version of the Equinox crossover wagon coming to Chevy dealers for 2005, Automotive News reports. The Equinox will be built at GM’s joint-venture with Suzuki in Ingersoll, Ontario, and has been running far below its capacity with its most recent products, the Vitara/Chevy Tracker. The weekly reports a Suzuki version will also be spun from the same architecture for the 2007 model year. Each of the vehicles will share some componentry with the Saturn VUE crossover, already on sale.

Nomad Gets Prelim. Green Light by TCC Team (2/16/2004)
Family of rear-drivers grows as Solstice closes in.

Buick Concept Slated for New York

Auto Week Magazine reports that Buick will show a rear-drive, four-seat convertible concept at April’s New York Auto Show. Dubbed the Velite, the concept will share some underpinnings with GM’s Opel Insignia concept show at last year’s Frankfurt auto show. The new rear-drive architecture for both will be a global architecture that could also be used for new Holdens for Australia. The magazine expects a V-6 engine to appear in the concept.

A Visit with GM's Ed Welburn by William L. Sharfman, Ph.D (3/1/2004)
GM's new design chief lays out the principles of style.

WJR Auto Report: Ferrari Scaglietti

Good automotive salespeople know there’s a basic rule for success: always fall one car short of demand. Nowhere is that practiced more perfectly than at Ferrari, where there’s actually a waiting list of up to two years on some products, such as the 575 Maranello. The Italian supercar company is introducing the all-new 612 Scaglietti, but even with the new model, it plans to hold sales flat at 4000 cars a year. But that doesn’t mean Ferrari isn’t interested in growing. It’s just taking an alternative approach. The automaker acquired its long-time rival, Maserati, a few years back, a company once known for exotic design and high-performance. But quality problems drove Maserati out of the U.S. and almost killed it off entirely. With Ferrari’s financial help, Maserati is back, and will soon roll out its most important new car in decades, the exotic, four-door Quattroporte. Should it succeed, it will not only bring Maserati back to life, but help Ferrari grow — even while its buyers remained queued up. —TCC Team

Hyundai Betting on Slovakia

Hyundai is expected to name Slovakia as the site of its new European assembly plant today at the Geneva Motor Show. A site in Slovakia apparently has won out over a location in Poland near Krakow for the $1.4 billion project, Reuters reports. The announcement may be made by Hyundai subsidiary Kia, the report indicates, because the new plant would begin production by building Kia models. The 300,000-unit plant could open for business by the end of 2006.

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