Ford Motor Co.'s high-profile executive in charge of its gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle program has put in her resignation, the auto maker says.Is Ford cleaning house or are people leaving because they don't feel Ford will follow through with their public statements? What do you think? (Comments can be posted at the end of this "article.")
The departure of Mary Ann Wright, director of Ford (Research)'s sustained mobility technology and hybrid vehicle programs, comes at a time when the No. 2 U.S. auto maker is pushing ahead with ambitious growth plans for the hybrid segment.
Wright is leaving for personal reasons, Ford spokesman Oscar Suris said.
VW Is Living Life Of Cars! Cars! Cars! Editorial Staff
AutoWeek reports: Hookers and phony receipts: Ex-VW exec tells all. This is the life. Cars, hookers and booze. Is there any more to life? Hey, VW, we'd like to apply for a job. And to show you how easy-going we are: forget the cars and booze.
U.S. Govt To Detroit: Protect Pensions
The Detroit News reports: Big 3 fear pension reforms. This is another one of them articles where they use a lot of words and big ideas about everything. It's very difficult to figure out which side to believe, but if Detroit screws people by defaulting on their pension... We don't even know what to say. It's not like this country will riot or anything if that happens. It's old people. They are easy to screw over. Detroit, you have previous obligations and they must be met. While current auto execs (the really big dudes) are going to be fine and don't have to worry about their retirements, lots of people are worrying about theirs. Detroit, make your deals with the unions but don't ruin the lives of the people who played by agreed-upon rules.
And finally, Detroit, build more cars like the HHR*, Solstice and... Crap. We need another one. Anyone?
Oh, Autoblog has a bit on a talk by Steve Miller: The Delphi situation in Steve Miller’s own words. Mr. Miller seems like a bright guy but he didn't mention that part of the turnaround plan has to be building cars that people want to buy. We're so fucking tired of reading, "As someone said, buy a Hyundai and get a satellite radio as an option. Buy a Chevy, and social welfare comes as standard equipment!" No, we're buying a Hyundai because it is built better than a Chevy and has a warranty that's a hell of a lot longer. By the way, we're aware Delphi makes parts but the overall idea is correct.
Luxury Without The Guilt
AutoWeek reports: Hyundai's new Azera apes Avalon looks, not price, as automaker turns to big sedan market. Very interesting. Hyundai is going after the Toyota Avalon's market, but using prices that are closer to Toyota's Camry. And we like the marketing line Hyundai is using, "Luxury without the guilt." On paper, this sounds like a hell of car and some of our automotive friends (we have some, really!) have already examined the car and had nothing but praise. We're waiting to read over reviews before we exclaim, "The Hyundai Azera is the only car you'll ever need!" We're also waiting for a big, fat check from Hyundai...
Lincoln: Crap! We Need To Make Cars!
AutoWeek reports: Lincoln counting on Zephyr, Aviator to launch sales recovery, says large sedans to come.
Next year will mark the beginning of Lincoln's sales recovery, Ford Motor Co. executives predict.It's always a line like that, isn't it? It's like Hyundai (above) saying, "The check's in the mail." Lincoln is claiming greater sales based on cars they haven't even hinted at. We doubt they've even hired anyone to work on them yet. Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln... What are we going to do with you? Lincoln's should be big and luxurious. Not trucks. Not minivans. NOT TRUCKS! There's a reason the Mart LT has sold just over 25% of what you expected and it's not this reasoning:
Said Elena Ford: "We could do more to Lincoln-ize it, frankly."Yeah, how about Lincolnizing it into a car? The most screwed up part, we bet no one at Ford even knows what "Lincolnizing" stands for. Lincoln, here's the deal: Build a car that makes people say, "Wow!" when they get inside. You know, the way Angelia Jolie does with her @#$%@#.
Go check out VW's site where they are promoting the crap out of the new Passat. Just click on the dinosaur in the lower right corner. 120 films of fun. Nice!
* We might have been wrong in our initial assessment of the Chevy HHR. We've hearing and reading too many nice comments about the thing to have it totally suck. So we're thinking we were wrong about the HHR. Go HHR! ... It still needs better gas mileage! Ah ha! See that, Chevy? You thought we were being all nice and, pow!, right in the kisser. Don't mess with us, Chevy. We're like ninjas.
What Crash Ratings Mean
The NY Times (registration required) reports: Safety Decoder: How to Make Sense of the Crash Ratings. Sadly, there isn't much to make fun of in this article. It's a good read and worth your time. This makes a lot of sense:
Making sense of everything that's out there, and not out there, can be daunting. Consider that the Hummer H2 and other S.U.V.'s that weigh more than 8,500 pounds, when fully loaded, are exempt from federal crash testing and fuel economy regulations. This is a vestige of how the system was set up before families were riding in such heavy vehicles. Automakers have lobbied to keep the exemptions in place, although proposed legislation in Congress would make these vehicles subject to some crash testing in a few years. One should also consider that such vehicles do not have to meet many minimum performance standards governing the sturdiness of roofs, door latches and many other features.
GM: We're Addicted To Big
The Detroit News reports: GM places bet on crossovers. A long time ago we predicted that crossovers would be the new, mainstay of the American family. It hasn't happened... But now GM has us wondering again. When we first read this article we assumed GM's crossovers would be big and dopey with bodies (and engines) far too big for what is really needed but then:
Lutz said the new crossovers will primarily be powered by fuel efficient 4-cylinder or 6-cylinder engines, but added each "will be compatible" with versions of the company's hybrid gas-electric system under development.Although we're not sure if we should believe him because, heck, he's trying to save a sinking ship. "Do anything, say anything... Don't let it sink!" We think people want these tall wagons because they make a lot more sense than big SUVs and because people are so worried about image, they'll pass over the really smart minivan category. Jalopnik asks the right question, Can GM turn its business around on the crossover SUV, or are we about to have another running punchline for the next decade?
But How Long Can They Hang In The Pooper?
The Detroit News reports: Health tab up for GM managers. We hear a lot of "GM workers have a great deal even after this increase in monthly contributions and deductibles" so they shouldn't complain. Well, we certainly agree that they have a decent deal (we haven't really read anything detailed about the coverage but the fact that MSM says they have a good deal is good enough for us... MSM wouldn't lie to us, would they?). What worries us is the whittling away of benefits to the point that, perhaps, one day there will be none. And GM can be quite an example to other companies. GM's top people get to negotiate for their packages and us regular folks don't and we'd bet Rick and Bobby don't have to worry about paying any co-pays and whatnot. And if those two turnaround to us and say, "Look here, "editorial" writer guys, we do have to pay!" it's not like it's serious money to them. But, you say, "These guys should get to negotiate their pay packages. They have experience running big companies and should get paid for knowing so much." Right.
Old Car Manuals
Cup reporter Keith points us to: The Old Car Manual Project. Holy crap! This is some cool shizznit! If you are into restoration, repair or just nostalgic this site if for you. There's so much at this site there's no way to talk enough about it. Old manuals. Old brochures. There's even paint chips from 1946 Chevys! This is cool stuff.
We'll Make It Up In Volume
CNN/Money reports: Honda stuns with operating profit dip. Ugh, more numbers to figure out. Eh, instead we'll just read between the lines. By read, we mean stare at the screen until we see through the screen to the magical land that lies beyond. By magical land... what the hell are we talking about? Okay, it seems Honda's profit was less than expected but sales are supposed to be higher. However, they made a profit which is more than GM and Ford can say so we don't think this is so horrible. Unless it makes you sad. Honda shouldn't make you sad. Bad Honda!
Wow, Lexus Sells A Lot Of Cars
Even though The Detroit News reports: Lincoln carves out new future we mostly remember the chart on that page. Lexus sells a crapload of cars. Well over twice what Lincoln sells. Lincoln's almost 70k cars behind Acura and we don't even know who buys Acuras anymore. That saddest in the chart was Jaguar and Saab. Poor Saab... Idiots. Anyway:
Ford has struggled to make Lincoln relevant again but with little success. So far this year, Lincoln sales have fallen 10 percent.Thing is, this article showed off a Lincoln truck-thing (a crossover lots of folks call it). Lincoln, Lincoln, Lincoln. Make some cool cars the rich folk want to drive. Don't make another truck. Please!
"We've kind of lost our way," said Elena Ford, the company's director of North American product marketing, planning and strategy. "Product is always what brings you back."
Dodge Entry-Level Car To Not Be Entry-Level
AutoWeek reports: Dodge says upcoming Caliber won't compete with entry-level cars. We don't think this is as bad as our made-up headline alludes to (we just like to pick on everyone as often as we can because we still haven't gotten over our high school traumas -- damn you Bob Grochocki! Not into that locker again! Hatin' you!).
The Caliber likely will be priced around $17,000. The 2005 Neon starts at $14,295, including shipping. ...Honda has found themselves in this same position -- the Civic ain't no entry level car. While Honda is coming out with the Fit, it's not for sale yet. We recently priced a Honda on the internet (you gotta get on this internet thing) and it came out to nearly $24,000. Whoa!
The Caliber's primary domestic competitor is the Pontiac Vibe, and its import rival is the Mazda3, Landry says. College-educated 25-to-35-year olds with an annual household income of $40,000 are the primary target, he says.
You Have To Be Rich To Bust Up Your Beemers. Or Bimmers. Which One Is The Car Again?
AutoWeek reports: Minor front end collisions can cost big bucks on BMW 5 and 6 Series. But don't read that article because they used our patented method of offering up the news: they copied it from someone else! Those bastards! The LA Times (registration required) has the real story: Front-end repair? Maybe just throw it away. BMW is using expensive, fancy materials and techniques to make their expensive, fancy cars. It's all expensive (and fancy) so why shouldn't it cost a lot to fix the thing when we rolled our shopping cart into your pretty 5-series? We were distracted. We're not sure how to explain that link either in the context of being in a parking lot... it's not like she was there playing with those feet... and little toes... while you think about that, listen to this -- she's a bright cookie. What? The beemer/bimmer thing from the headline? We still don't understand even after reading a defintion of it all.
Some workers spend more than 48 minutes away from the line at Wayne truck plant, slowing production of SUVs.Which makes us think the workers are doing Ford a favor. Or maybe they are coming up with ideas for upper management.
But at least one analyst said automakers are beginning to take cost-saving ideas too far.Calls to Ford about how long upper management could sit on the can went unanswered.
Bathroom monitoring is just one of a number of "incredibly stupid ideas" being floated by automakers, said Sandy Munro, CEO of Munro & Associates, a manufacturing consulting firm in Troy. Munro said a number of suppliers have told him that Ford and General Motors Corp., which is also trying to battle back from deep losses, are beginning to explore small ways to save money.
"It's a giant throwback to the bad old days of the '70s and '80s, when you squeezed the guy at the bottom of the heap any way you could," Munro said. "That only causes lots of discontent, and only someone from Harvard could think of something as stupid as monitoring bathroom time."
GM (Research) said the subpoenas relate to its financial reporting for pension and other post-employment benefits, and transactions between the company and auto parts supplier Delphi Corp.
They also relate to the SEC's interest in GM's recovery of various costs from suppliers and supplier price credits, and any obligations to fund pension and post-employment benefits costs related to Delphi's Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, the company said in a statement.
It said SEC and federal grand jury subpoenas had also been served on entities linked to its finance arm, General Motors Acceptance Corp., in connection with insurance industry probes into products that may help companies smooth earnings.
What's good for Gener... Toyota is good for... Hmmm, this isn't working. CNN/Money reports: Toyota to put GM in rearview mirror. To be honest, there's a jumble of numbers in this article, and not long after we started reading it, we got quite confused. And bored. And then tired. And then hungry. Neither Toyota nor GM offered us anything to eat, so we had a bologna sandwich and watched some Oprah on our Tivo. Upshot: Toyota Motors is growing, and General Motors isn't. But we all knew that.
NY Times Special Auto Section
The NY Times (registration required) reports: Look at the fancy auto section from the newspaper people. Look at us. We're fancy with our big auto section with artwork and spelling. And fact checking. We'da made something like this if we had the money in the budget. If we had a budget. Or money... Crap, we had to knock down Henry the bum and take his money to get coffee today.
Holy Crap! Chrysler Makes Money!
That's a little misleading. We don't believe they actually make money... They sell cars. By cars, we mean gas-guzzling cars with Hemis in them but cars nonetheless. The Detroit News reports: Rise in profit sets Chrysler apart.
"We are only as good as the products we deliver to customers," Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda said. "This will always remain a top priority and will continue to be what sets us apart from the competition."When he was supposedly asked what this meant:
DaimlerChrysler's third-quarter net profit fell 21 percent to $910 million despite a 38 percent jump in operating profit, to $2.2 billion.Mr. Lasorda supposedly said, "Heck if I know, son." He then cracked open a frosty one and said, "Gotta keep yourself in shape, son." He then took a huge swing of the beverage and said, "Look! I'm a Dieter!"
Lincoln Unaware of Products It Makes
AutoWeek reports: Lincoln aiming new brand advertising campaign at younger buyers.
The new campaign is called "Reach Higher." It seeks to cast Lincoln as a contemporary luxury brand by focusing on the 2006 Zephyr, Mark LT pickup and Navigator SUV.Hello, Lincoln? Your sales are in the toilet because of the products are make. You think the Mark LT pickup is going to turn things around? This is pretty insane. Everyone* is asking: Where's your luxury convertible? Where's your "wow" car? Leave the Town Car for the airport runs and make a new, full-size sedan for the rich white guy who's still afraid of black people. Absolutely no one is asking, "Did you see the new Lincoln pickup!?" And they are certainly not saying said pickup is awesome. *In our room. Which has a mirror, so it looks like there are more people, which is probably why there's a consensus.
Lincoln's aging flagship, the Town Car, is intentionally absent from the brand ads.
"We want to change people's perceptions," Tom Grill, Lincoln Mercury's marketing communications manager, told Automotive News. "The campaign is the tipping point. We have an opportunity with a whole new group of buyers to tell them that Lincoln is relevant to them and their lives."
Grill would not disclose the cost of the campaign. Lincoln Mercury spent $330.1 million to advertise in U.S. media last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Lincoln is nearly doubling its overall ad budget this year, Grill said.
Lincoln needs a boost. In the first nine months of 2005, its sales were down 10.1 percent from the same period of 2004. Last year, Lincoln sold 139,016 vehicles in the United States -- just 60.0 percent of its sales in 1990.
New BMW 3-Series: No Suckin'
AutoWeek reports: Despite intense competition, BMW's 3 series continues to lead the compact luxury pack. Man, we have to give credit where credit is due. BMW has not dropped the ball here, and that's pretty damned impressive considering competition is stronger than ever. This is also impressive:
The 3 Series has a base price of $31,595, including shipping. The average transaction price on the 3 Series is $38,245 -- higher than competitors and $4,860 above that of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, according to Power Information Network data.Man, they cost more, too. Sweet bratwurst! Do you think anyone will ever take this car segment away from BMW?
Bracht says BMW's mix has improved, with 34 percent of buyers opting for the more expensive 330i compared with 17 percent for the prior generation. He attributes that to pricing.
For the previous generation, it cost about $4,000 to move up from the 325i to the more powerful 330i. With the model changeover, BMW has made the jump cost $2,700.
Delphi Corp.'s first offer to unionized autoworkers since filing for bankruptcy protection calls for an unprecedented elimination of benefits and even steeper wage cuts than an earlier proposal made by Chairman Robert S. "Steve" Miller.Profit sharing, ha! It was a funny roshambo!
Instead of the $10 to $12 an hour that Miller said Delphi should pay its production workers, the company started talks with the United Auto Workers last Friday by seeking wages as low as $9 an hour, according to a copy of the proposal posted on union Web sites.
In addition, Delphi wants workers to accept:
• Huge increases in out-of-pocket health care costs and the reduction or elimination of pension benefits.
• The loss of vision and dental benefits, tuition assistance and child care subsidies.
• Reduced vacation days, paid holidays and overtime.
• The elimination of cost-of-living raises and profit sharing.
And while Miller [Delphi ceo Robert Miller] has said Delphi needs huge wage reductions, he added that he understood the anger of rank-and-file workers.Miller supposedly then turned to his assistant, "All of this blaming the unions for our troubles is making me hot. Fan me."
"They pursued the American dream and globalization has swept over them," Miller said at an Oct. 12 news conference.
In fairness to Miller, he's only making a buck a year so he should get staff to cool him off if he's hot. But what really drives us crazy are all the people pointing fingers at the unions as if they're the only problem (We're not claiming the unions are faultless, but to pin the blame solely on them and making them take the punishment for the problems is fucking moronic and shortsighted, yet sadly typical). Besides the fact that the cars GM was making for decades were uninspiring, unreliable and unnonsuck* there's another reason for these problems: Pigs. While this Reuters headline has a lot of feel-good in it: Delphi CEO, other executives slash pay, it pays to read more than the headline (which we only recently learned to do):
Before declaring bankruptcy, the Troy, Michigan-based Delphi raised the severance for top executives other than Miller to 18 months from 12 months, if they were fired or left voluntarily, in exchange for noncompete agreements.Greed, self-interest and short-term thinking are to blame here. We aren't saying the unions are exempt from those characteristics, but they aren't running the show. If GM had been making top-notch cars all along, none of this would be an issue. We assume a strike is coming.
*Sorry about the unnonsuck. Three uns are tough to come up with. Simon suggested unintelligible, but he's always making fun of the foam that gathers around our mouth when we begin our rants about people getting screwed over.
We're not sure why we obsess over this stuff... we're wrong about almost everything anyway so why we'd be upset about being wrong about one more stinking this is beyond us.
The basic idea behind the technology is relatively simple: the tip of the metal coil is inserted into the Metal-Steam combustor together with water where it will be heated to very high temperatures. The metal atoms will bond to the Oxygen from the water, creating metal oxide. As a result, the Hydrogen molecules are free, and will be sent into the engine alongside the steam.Man, it's a car and it poops! There's a lot of potential material here!
The solid waste product of the process, in the form of metal oxide, will later be collected in the fuel station and recycled for further use by the metal industry.
This reminds of Lionel Hutz from The Simpsons TV show. He wants to help but, really, he doesn't know what he is doing. CNN/Money reports: Ford turns to workers for answers. And The Detroit News reports: Slumping Ford picks employee brains. Oh we can poke fun at Ford (try it, it's easy as hell) but this is a good idea that will produce some good dialogue between upper management and little worker bees if not a few good products. Ford, ask your employees:
1. Which car they'd buy if they couldn't buy a Ford.
2. Which car they'd buy if they couldn't buy a Ford or a Japanese model.
3. Would they kill someone if they were runnin' around on you? (Note to Ford: This will help weed out the people who want to build more SUVs).
Ford employees, ask Mr. Ford:
1. Why is he totally out of touch with you (as in this quote from Mr. Ford):
"I've been flooded with e-mails from employees with ideas -- and not just product innovation: everything from plant ideas to saving money, ideas to reach the customer," Ford said in the conference call. "There is a lot of pent-up demand, apparently."Mr. Ford... Bill... you had no clue that your own employees had ideas to help the company? Apparently.
Gas Prices Are Falling. Or Not.
It's all made up anyway, so what's the big deal? Check out these two headlines we came across this morning, in this order:
So, yeah, we got no idea what is going in regards to gas prices. Or, crap, anything. We do think it's a prudent move to make more fuel efficient cars that pollute less. And that are more reliable. And safer. And that Claire Danes wants to ride in. With us. To our penthouse by the ocean. We had more to write but we're going to spend the rest of the morning staring at that picture of Claire.