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

Enlarge Photo
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, 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

Enlarge Photo
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.

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