GM spending million in Michigan

February 13, 2006

Spy Shots: 2008 Scion xB

Scion's hot-selling xB is due to be redesigned soon, and the replacement vehicle is expected to be larger than the current model.  This photo captures a prototype mule, obviously based on the current xB, but stretched, which seems to confirm that the new xB will be at least a few inches longer than today's car. -Antoine Guilbaud/Hidden Image

GM Will Invest $500 Million in Michigan

A press conference scheduled for tomorrow by GM is expected to confirm the company's investment of half a billion dollars in the state of Michigan, the Wall Street Journal reports. The paper says GM will spend $500 million to upgrade five manufacturing facilities in the state - two assembly plants, one stamping plant, and two powertrain facilities. Among the facilities is GM's Orion plant, the WSJ adds. The investments will be a spot of good news for the state, which has been inundated with news from Ford and GM regarding job cuts and from suppliers, by bankruptcies.

Detroit Stakes Out Political Path by Joseph Szczesny (2/13/2006)
Ethanol wins over Detroit and Washington, but healthcare still a big concern.

At Maserati, Tank is Half-Empty - or Half-Full?

2004 Maserati Quattroporte

2004 Maserati Quattroporte

Is the gas tank half-empty or half-full? You could certainly argue it either way when it comes to Maserati. Reborn from its own ashes, the Italian sports car manufacturer ended 2005 with record sales. In the critical U.S. market, Maserati's largest, the numbers surged 53 percent over the year before, with buyers snapping up 2100 sedans, coupes, and convertibles. Worldwide sales hit 5600, a 25-percent increase.

But there's a downside, company officials acknowledge. The 92-year-old brand is likely to miss plans to bring sales up to the 10,000 mark by 2007 or '08, acknowledged CEO Karl-Heinz Kalbfell. With the current product mix, he told TheCarConnection.com, worldwide sales of 6000 to 7000 are probably more realistic. The challenge, then, is to expand the product lineup and tap into new markets Maserati has so far missed.

It's not that the Italian automaker, a subsidiary of Fiat Auto, isn't trying. The striking Quattroporte is already the marque's best-seller, accounting for more than half of its sales last year. Maserati hopes to gain even more traction with unique spin-offs, such as the $115,000 Executive GT, which it showed at the Detroit auto show. The sedan is aimed at buyers who might prefer being chauffeured during the week, then take the car out for a spin of their own over the weekend.

At Maserati, Tank is Half-Empty - or Half-Full? (2/12/2006)
Brand is selling more cars, but still short of 10k targets.

Great Drives: Maui, Hana, and Haleakala

1999 Chrysler Concorde

1999 Chrysler Concorde

Ana kapuana - it means "so the story goes." You hear it chanted in native Hawaiian songs that infuse antiseptic AM waves with floral scents, and from the locals who slow down and wave to other drivers through rolled-down windows at the few roadside stops on the 52 miles from the airport to the eastern tip of nowhere. At the 90-minute mark, give or take, you figure out that the phrase also applies to the "hour or so" you were told it would take to get from the Maui airport to one of the many visions man has held of paradise.

The hour or so becomes nearly two and a half hours, during which the lilting music on our car's radio begins to dissolve away any connection to the mainland or even the more populated center of Maui, about 300 sharp turns and dozens of one-lane bridges back. BlackBerries lose signal at roughly the same point where only the road ahead indicates any sort of civilization has dawned somewhere nearby. Waterfalls cascade on the veering road, and deluges and sharp-edged rays of sun fence atop the pavement while the ocean keeps languid score.

At some point - is it nap time already, or time for a carsick bag? - you arrive in Hana, where the Hawaiian blessing mahalo ("may you be in divine breath") parts from the lips of everyone in the village and at the Hana-Maui resort, almost a mantra. It's a local inflection, we soon learn - mahalo, as in manana, only less urgent.

Great Drives: Maui, Hana and Haleakala (2/12/2006)
Twists, turns and the occasional bout of carsickness.

CarGirl: What Real

Women Drive

Last November, TCC ran a column by Douglas Flint entitled "What Real Men Drive," in which he claimed real men don't drive macho HUMMER H2s or diesel Ford F-350s; they drive International Scouts and Chevy El Caminos. And if they can't get their hands on one of those out-of-production models, other real-man options include:

-Any convertible (the Mazda Miata excepted) as long as the top stays down whenever it's not raining or snowing

-Any plain-Jane American four-door sedan (think Ford Crown Vic or Buick LeSabre)

-The Jeep CJ series ("pre-Eighties wussification")

-Anything with a plow on it

In response to his column, TCC reader Erin Mays wrote a letter to the editors praising Flint on his choices and concluding with, "I'm just eagerly awaiting 'What Real Women Drive' by TCC's CarGirl."

So this one's for you, Erin, albeit three months late.

CarGirl: What Real Women Drive (2/12/2006)
Our battle of the sexes takes place on wheels.

Talking and Driving - Sans Phone - Still Dangerous

Cellphones aren't the only distraction for drivers. A new report suggests that in-car conversations can be just as dangerous as using a cellphone while driving, researchers at the University of Michigan say. The school's Transportation Research Institute equipped 36 cars with video cameras and studied the footage while comparing it to vehicle movement. What they found was that more than a third of the time, drivers were talking (15 percent of the video clips observed), grooming themselves (6.5 percent), using a cell phone (5 percent), or eating and drinking (2 percent). And compared to observations of drivers talking on cell phones, the study found that proper steering and lane discipline were about the same for drivers talking to a passenger or talking on a phone. All forms of "non-driving" behavior had some negative impact on safety, the researchers report, mostly in steering inputs. Women and drivers younger than 30 were more likely to engage in distracting behavior than other subjects, the study also said.

WORLD REPORT

Kia Re-Ups with Davis Cup

Kia Motors said it has renewed its sponsorship of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas as a worldwide automobile partner, commencing with the First Round taking place Feb. 10-12, 2006 in 24 countries around the world.

Over the past three years, the Davis Cup/Kia Motors partnership has created tremendous synergy for both parties by delivering the joy and excitement of the Davis Cup to tennis fans around the world, the automaker said.

Yong-Hwan Kim, Senior Executive Vice President and COO of Kia Motors, said, "the renewal of our Davis Cup sponsorship can be seen as Kia Motors' desire to get even closer to the fans by broadening our marketing spectrum through stepped-up on-line and on-site promotional activities."

As an official worldwide sponsor and car of the Davis Cup from 2006-2008, Kia Motors will supply more than 300 vehicles annually around the world to support the transportation needs of the ITF and its respective member federations, it added. -Peter Chang

FROM THE SOURCE headlines from the latest press releases

PRNewswire

Sue Unger, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer (CIO), DaimlerChrysler AG, has been selected to receive the Automotive Hall of Fame's 2006 Distinguished Service Citation. She was honored during the Automotive Hall of Fame an Annual Awards Luncheon on February 12 in Orlando, Florida. The event was held in conjunction with the annual convention of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).


Name Symbol Last Change
Autobytel, Inc. ABTL 4.83 -0.06 (-1.23%)
Autoliv Inc. ALV 51.66 +0.07 (+0.14%)
AutoNation Inc. AN 21.26 -0.18 (-0.84%)
ArvinMeritor Inc. ARM 15.66 -0.28 (-1.76%)
American Axle & Mfr. Holdings Inc. AXL 16.49 -0.38 (-2.25%)
Ballard Power Systems Inc. BLDP 5.26 -0.01 (-0.19%)
BorgWarner Inc. BWA 53.49 -0.86 (-1.58%)
Cummins Inc. CMI 99.50 -0.38 (-0.38%)
Dana Corporation DCN 4.08 -0.08 (-1.92%)
DaimlerChrysler AG (ADR) DCX 59.35 +1.59 (+2.75%)
Dura Automotive Systems DRRA 2.50 -0.03 (-1.19%)
Eaton Corporation ETN 66.65 -0.25 (-0.37%)
Ford Motor Company F 8.20 -0.07 (-0.85%)
General Motors Corporation GM 22.00 +0.13 (+0.59%)
Gentex Corporation GNTX 16.73 -0.19 (-1.12%)
Goodyear Tire & Rubber GT 15.01 +0.10 (+0.67%)
Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) HMC 28.55 -0.34 (-1.18%)
Johnson Controls Inc. JCI 66.74 -1.27 (-1.87%)
Lear Corporation LEA 22.36 -0.31 (-1.37%)
Magna International Inc. MGA 71.48 -0.91 (-1.26%)
Motorola Inc. MOT 21.64 +0.04 (+0.19%)
Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. (ADR) NSANY 23.01 +0.33 (+1.46%)
Sonic Automotive Inc. SAH 23.61 -0.34 (-1.42%)
Siemens AG SI 89.25 +0.26 (+0.29%)
Sirius Satellite Radio SIRI 5.61 -0.13 (-2.26%)
Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) TM 103.96 +0.67 (+0.65%)
TRW Automotive Holdings TRW 25.94 +0.03 (+0.12%)
Tower Automotive Inc. TWRAQ.PK 0.064 -0.012 (-15.79%)
United Auto Group Inc. UAG 39.52 +0.37 (+0.95%)
Visteon Corporation VC 4.70 -0.03 (-0.63%)
XM Satellite Radio Hold. XMSR 24.66 -0.92 (-3.60%)

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