2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part III

January 9, 2006

2006 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/7/2006)




Hyundai Strengthens its U.S. Position


Hyundai Motor America President and CEO Bob Cosmai briefly mentioned that this year is Hyundai’s 20th anniversary in America — the Unites States of, that is. According to Cosmai’s address, the automaker is on top of its game, with a customer loyalty rate of 56.3 percent and an 8.7-percent sales jump over the past year. In addition, Cosmai predicted that 2006 will be the first year that the automaker tops 500,000 U.S. sales. Hyundai is in the middle of an expansion effort in which seven new products are being introduced over 24 months. Cosmai also said that soon, fully half of the automaker’s vehicles sold in America will be built in America. —Bengt Halvorson



Santa Fe Goes Crossover, Aims Upmarket


2007 Hyundai Santa Fe

2007 Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai took the wraps off the long-anticipated new Santa Fe sport-utility at Detroit . The new 2007 Santa Fe is seven inches longer than its predecessor and considerably sleeker. It offers three rows of seating (Hyundai’s Cosmai said that 40 percent of crossover buyers look for it), and there will be a choice of two more powerful V-6 engines for 2007 — a 180-hp 2.7-liter “Mu” and a 230-hp 3.3-liter “Lambda.” The Santa Fe will offer an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system, but there will be a new 50/50 front/rear “lockable” torque split feature. Stability control, electronic brakeforce distribution, anti-whiplash head restraints, and side-curtain airbags will all be standard. Convenience features available will include dual-zone climate control, a wiper de-icing system, and heated mirrors.


While the current Santa Fe is more truck than crossover, the automaker moves right into the middle of the crossover market with the new model. In developing the new vehicle, Hyundai worked closely with crossover buyers — benchmarking the Lexus RX, Acura MDX, and Volvo XC90 — to see what they looked for in such a vehicle. While previous industry information had the new Santa Fe built entirely on the new Sonata’s underpinnings, Hyundai says that the new crossover is built on a separate, dedicated crossover vehicle chassis. The Santa Fe will be built, along with the Sonata, at Hyundai’s new Montgomery, Ala., plant. —Bengt Halvorson



Talus More About Hyundai’s Future


2006 Hyundai HCD-9 Talus concept

2006 Hyundai HCD-9 Talus concept

Hyundai also revealed its latest concept, called the HDC9 Talus and the newest of its HCD-series of show cars. Described as “taking the sports car into the luxury arena,” the Talus has a rakish, swoopy GT sport coupe shape that also rides with more ground clearance than a typical sport coupe. Deep-dish 22-inch polished aluminum wheels seem to accent the car’s shape and exaggerate the ground clearance at the same time. The effect is an attractive car overall—though one that can look like an civilized Aston at some angles and a buff AMC Eagle from another.


Designed at the Hyundai Design Center in Irvine, Calif., the Talus is a generous 184 inches long, rides on a rear-wheel-drive platform with all-wheel-drive capability, and carries an “extremely powerful” 4.6-liter V-8 underhood, mated to a six-speed automatic—a powertrain combination that’s already in the works for an upcoming premium sedan from the automaker.


Eric Stoddard, the car’s chief designer, said that one of the primary ideas behind the concept was to “take away some of the compromises that sports cars have.” The interior is uncommonly roomy for a sport coupe, with a raked forward center stack that edges back as a center console. There’s also blue LED lighting throughout the interior. DVD-player screens for back-seat occupants are built into the back of the front-seat headrests, and rear passengers also get secondary audio controls. The Talus also boasts night vision and adaptive cruise control for the driver, as well as in-car wireless Internet access. Besides the requisite smaller, rear-hinged back doors, the cargo area also boasts a clamshell design that can open three different ways to help fit tight cargo or when there are passengers in the back seat.


Stoddard said that the automaker is considering the model not as a replacement for the Tiburon but as a standalone model next to the Tiburon. “We see an emerging market segment in four-door sporty vehicles,” said Stoddard. Cosmai said that there are no production plans for the Talus, but that it “alludes to the future design direction” of the brand.—Bengt Halvorson



Car Makers Can't Go Chapter 11

The chances of General Motors Corp. or any other automaker filing for bankruptcy are remote, says Sean McAlinden of the Center For Automotive Research. Since World War II, no automaker in any part of the world has filed for bankruptcy. Instead, companies like American Motors Corp., have been bought by other automakers or the have merged, or they've sold off their assets like Packard, Hudson and Studebaker did back in the 1950s. "There is no Chapter 11 for automakers. If they go into Chapter 11, the customers will not buy their products," McAlinden said in a "What Drives Detroit" conference sponsored by the Foundation For American Communications, which sponsors educational seminars for working journalists. McAlinden's point is supported by new surveys indicating that only one in four consumers would even consider buying a car from a bankrupt automaker. "It's just something that's never been done.” Thus speculation is on Wall Street about GM or Ford filing bankruptcy is just that—speculation, McAlinden said. "Now the suppliers, they can go bankrupt and things work out fine," he said. The more likely scenario if an automaker gets into serious trouble is "liquidation," he added.  Somebody will come in and buy a piece of one company or have assets transferred to somebody else. In fact, in some case the process is already underway via downsizing or restructuring.—Joe Szczesny

Five-Day Car is Dead


The idea of a five-day car has dropped off the auto industry's radar screen, said Michael Robinet, CSM Worldwide vice president. Robinet noted there was a lot of talk during the Internet boom of the late 1990s of letting individual customers any new vehicle with more of a personal flavor. The era of mass customization never materialized, said Robinet, and is no longer something manufacturers, who are facing the need to consolidate platforms and make wider use of common parts, are actively pursuing, he suggested during the "What Drivers Detroit" conference sponsored by the Foundation For American Communications. Robinet, however, said more and more of the customization work is being done by dealers. The aftermarket is continuing to grow and has become an important component of the business of many dealers, whose profit margins on the sale of new cars have been squeezed. Manufacturers also are helping by making cars easier for dealers to trim out with aftermarket parts.—Joe Szczesny

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part I by TCC Team (1/8/2006)
Car and Truck of the year, Lexus LS has eight speeds, Enclave concept..

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part II by TCC Team (1/8/2006)
Shelby GT500, Ford Reflex, predictions for 2006 and Lutz on GM financials.

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part IV (1/8/2006)
Nissan's next steps, Benz GL-Class, GM hybrids.

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part V by Bengt Halvorson (1/8/2006)
Honda Fit, Ford Edge, and more from Bill Ford.

2006 Detroit Show, Part VI by TCC Team (1/9/2006)
The new face of Lincoln, Mazda Kabura, Infiniti G35 and MINI Clubman.

2006 Detroit Show, Part VII by TCC Team (1/9/2006)
GM planning big price cuts, Aston Rapide, Volvo C30, XK pricing.

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part VIII by Bengt Halvorson (1/9/2006)
Jeep Compass, Toyota Camry, Nissan Sentra and Urge.

2006 Detroit Auto Show, Part IX by TCC Team (1/10/2006)
Camaro by the numbers, Acura RDX, Jaguar gets Ford help.

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