Published on February 17th, 2012 | by John O'Neil0
This week in the Automotive Industry – 2/17/2011
10. Next salvo in Uber-wagon war
The recent resurgence of the wagon among many automaker’s model lines has produced some rather less family oriented variants, such as the recently teased Merc CLS AMG, whose performance obliterates the mainstream’s idea of what a wagon represents. In keeping wit this theme Audi has announced the return of the RS4, as only a wagon, still armed with that beautiful 4.2 V8. Which wagon will smash your groceries most to a pulp on a winding road?
9. “Sick ‘em!”
This may be the phrase shouted from your local Kia dealership if the rapidly expanding brand debuts it’s new platform here in America, dubbed K9. The K9 is a rear-drive luxury platform, the first ever for Kia, underpinning the Hyundai Equus, which is set to attack more established luxury brands around the globe. Will this new rear-driver ever be nipping at the heels of 3-series and C-classes in America?
8. Another lost battle
In an unsurprising but no less tragic move, Porsche is set to remove a traditional stick from the options list of the next track-focused 911, the 2013 GT3. This is another step backward what has been a 1-step-forward-and-2-step-backward game with manuals lately, as many of the highest performing cars have abandoned them completely while many cheaper cars have expanded the manual’s availability. Could this be the first nail in the coffin of the stick from Stuttgart?
7. Big profits for the biggest automaker
In news surely to delight President Obama and Clint Eastwood, GM saw a profit for 2011, a big one. This comes only a few short years after what many considered a humiliating bailout during a time when many were already writing off GM as a lost cause and a dinosaur in the automotive world better off slipping into extinction. Just how much has GM made it rain, and will this spur the automaker to take more chances with its cars?
6. Transformation: Complete
Far from your Grandaddy’s Deville, the soon to debut Cadillac ATS is a small luxury sedan which promises to be agile, economical, and decently quick. Powered by two new turbo-fours likely to obliterate any memory of such boat anchors as the 4.9L pushrod V8 of the early 90’s, this Cadillac is poised to power the brand solidly into the modern automotive world, and perhaps into more driveways at home and abroad than ever before. Will the ATS finally have the features to convince the Jeremy Clarkson’s of the world that Cadillacs can be good?
5. Modest power
No, we’re not talking about a low amount of horsepower here, but rather car’s whose advertised horsepower may hide the truth about that rip-snorting beast under the hood. This sort of thing was most popular in the muscle car era to lower insurance rates, when cars such as a Regal GS likely exceeded their advertised output by at least 100hp. Now, it seems BMW is the automaker being coy, as a recent dyno test reveals its turbo-four powered 3-series may exceed it’s advertised 240hp by a good amount. Just how modest has BMW been?
4. The cure for automotive depression?
In a recent survey, J.D. Power ranked automakers by “consumer delight”, or how far the brands cars had exceeded expectations or simply proved a joy to own. In this modern, clinical world of sales figures and bailouts and other dreary talk surrounding the automotive world, getting in a car and finding a smile creep up your cheeks may be just enough to turn your attitude around about the auto industry, the future of cars, or even life in general. So, which cars are likely to replace your Zoloft?
3. The X factor: Just what Tesla needed?
Though Tesla has debuted some of the most compelling cases for the electric car, from both an enthusiast’s standpoint and an engineer’s, response from buyers has been lukewarm, and because of slow sales of its electric spots car the Start-up American brand continues to bleed cash. That may soon change, however, as the recently debuted Model X employs the same engine technology but in a much more familiar and sales friendly package: A small SUV. Pre-orders for the model X have already reached $40 million, a significant chunk of Tesla’s Debt. Could success of the Model X reinvigorate Tesla and the production of electric sports cars?
2. Should it still be called Eco?
This will undoubtedly be the debate surrounding Ford’s newest performance engine, the 2.3L Ecoboost. Already known to be in development for future mustangs, this engine is reportedly the motivation for the next Focus RS as well, and new information reveals the engine develops well over 100hp per liter. In fact, this little beast makes near the same power as the twin turbo 3.5 Ecoboost V6 already available here. Though economy may not the main focus of this powerplant, will some smokey burnouts in a new available-in-the-States RS make us forget about all that?
1. VW’s grow in size and ambition, but not passion
In trying to increase it’s sales in the U.S. by more than double, VW is rolling out some new models, and increasing the size of others for American and Chinese tastes. VW plans to build a new Tiguan in both countries, as well as an updated Phaeton. However, these goals have left the future of the very interesting Bluesport mid-engine diesel-powered sports sedan uncertain. VW says the car will not reach production if it cannot sell in large volumes. Do the biggest aspirations produce the best cars, or will V-Dubs focus on sales leave enthusiasts disheartened?