Paris Auto Show: The Highlights Page 2

September 27, 2004

Ferrari F430

2005 Ferrari F430

2005 Ferrari F430

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With a body styled by the legendary Italian design house, Pininfarina, the new F430 is the latest addition to the Ferrari line-up. The $160,000 two-seater will replace the aging 360 Modena when it reaches U.S. showrooms later next year. The heart of the new coupe is an aluminum 4.3-liter V-8 making 490 horsepower through a Formula One-style gearbox, an electronically-shifted manual with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. The system can shift gears in just 150 milliseconds. There's enough power to launch the F430 from 0-60 in 4.0 seconds and the car tops out at just under 200 mph. The F430 makes good use of Ferrari's racing knowledge, with its electronically-controlled differential and carbon-ceramic brakes. There's also a system, called marinetto, which allows the driver to adjust suspension settings without taking hands off the steering wheel.

Chevy Going Global with New
Euro Drive

There was a time, not all that long ago, that General Motors so dominated the American market, the U.S. Justice Department tried to split the automaker in half. If all had gone according to government plan, Chevrolet would have become a company in and of itself, and then there'd be the rest of GM. It's been a long time since the feds abandoned their anti-trust assault. Market forces have done the job for them. Yet despite a sizable decline over the last few decades, Chevrolet is still a force to be reckoned with. It's close to selling three million cars a year in the U.S., and hopes to nudge past Ford Division to again become America's best-selling brand. Chevy also dominates in Latin America, the Middle East and worldwide, the nameplate accounts for nearly one of every sixteen cars and light trucks sold annually. "Chevrolet is the foundation brand for General Motors' global spectrum," said GM CEO Rick Wagoner, during a recent seminar on the automaker's global strategies. The exception has been Europe, where the Chevrolet bowtie is all but invisible. Sure, European buyers nab a few Corvettes each year, but GM's mainstream brands are Vauxhall, in the United Kingdom, and Opel, in the rest of Europe. At least, that's been the order until now. But it's about to change. "Opel (and it's virtual twin, Vauxhall) has too broad a range to cover," explained GM executive Gary Cowger. The European brands have been trying to offer products in virtually ever possible niche and market segment, from mini-compact econocars, to mid-luxury sedans, even the go-kart-like Opel Speedster.

Chevy Going Global with New Euro Drive (9/25/2004)
American icon to deal Korean products in Europe.

Ghosn Taking Cost-Cutting to Paris

Carlos Ghosn will take his no-nonsense management style back to Renault in May of 2005 — but in the meantime, he continues to set down lofty goals for Nissan, the Japanese automaker that he has led successfully for more than five years. Nissan is again on track to meet the sales and financial goals set for the current fiscal year, which ends March 3. "I would say we are on track both on the global sales volume for the year and we are on track for the financial performance for the year," Ghosn said during a round table with reporters at the Mondial de l' Automobile in Paris last week. Ghosn added the first half of the year was "slightly softer" because Nissan had not launched any new products over the past six months. Nissan's fortunes will shift for the better, however, with the introduction of several new products, including the Pathfinder sport-utility vehicle and the Frontier pickup truck in the U.S. and the introduction of more new vehicles in Japan and in Europe where the Japanese automaker hopes to make a better showing in the future.

Ghosn Taking Cost-Cutting to Paris (9/25/2004)
As he prepares to lead both Renault and Nissan, Carlos Ghosn sets some ambitious goals.

California Sets Tough New Global-Warming Agenda

California's plan to cut what it deems global-warming emissions will produce the toughest car emissions standards in the world. According to the Associated Press, California will become the first state to set maximum levels of emissions like carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide beginning in 2009. Because those emissions are generated by gasoline-powered engines, the effect of the new rules will be to require dramatically higher fuel economy and cleaner-burning fuels. Overall, the new rules would require automakers selling vehicles in the state to reduce emissions by about 30 percent by 2016, seven years after the new rules take effect. California's rules for emissions are also followed by seven Northeastern states, and analysts say if the state can make the rules withstand legal challenges from automakers and from the federal government — which insists it's the only body to be able to set fuel-economy levels — it will likely force nationwide increases in fuel economy. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is said to be in favor of the new measures, but automakers are already estimating the new rules would add at least $3000 to the price of a new vehicle.

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