Faster Viper for 2010 - The swan song?
With Chrysler Group LLC having lost
control of itself in the American auto fall-out, and the
reins going to Fiat, there was much written that the new
owners would let the Viper die a slow death, but it was
hoped that Fiat SpA CEO, Sergio Marchionne, would decide to
keep the Viper as an icon for Dodge.
Now it seems as if the Viper has been given a reprieve, with
the 2010 Dodge Viper SRT 10 ACR having been released at the
Los Angeles Auto Show, after setting a few speed records at
the Laguna Seca raceway in Monterey, California.
Industry sources had said that 2010 would be the last year
for the Viper as it will need re-engineering to meet
regulation changes being heaped upon the motor industry. In
addition, Chrysler tried last year to sell off the Viper
division but was unsuccessful.
Dodge/Chrysler insiders such as Ralph Gilles, head of design
and Dodge car brand is now saying, “We’re going to keep
Dodge’s performance icon alive and well by not only
producing some of the most special Vipers ever built, but
we’re also investigating what the next-generation Viper is
going to be.” Referring to the new liaison with Fiat, he
said, “When we have partners across the ocean who are known
as the best sports car makers in the world, the future
opportunities are huge.” This is Fiat SpA’s Ferrari and
Gilles said not to expect Vipers and Ferraris to share
underpinnings, but to offer expertise, especially with
engines, as a new Viper may revert to a V8, rather than the
V10 it has used up till now.
Changing fortunes at
BMW and Toyota?
The world recession has been felt in all quarters
of the motor industry, but those who thought that Toyota and
BMW were above the financial problems may have to think
As the world enters the post-recession phase, the
marketplace has begun to change and consumers are looking
for smaller, more fuel-efficient and cheaper vehicles.
Where does that leave BMW, to start with? It certainly has
smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles in its 1 Series and the
Mini, but they are definitely not bargain basement. It would
also be very difficult for BMW to retool and produce a small
economy car. Having spent the last decade trying to equate
its branding with being up-market, it would appear that it
could be caught in a cleft stick over this turn in the
Toyota is also in a precarious position. Having become the
largest auto manufacturer in the world, just as the auto
industry slipped into recession, Toyota might have just
found that the price of reaching so high globally might have
been a little too much.
Having staked its reputation and sales on the quick-silver
characteristic called “Quality”, it now appears that Toyota
has an Achilles heel in that area. Look at these statistics,
according to the US press - Toyota has had to recall 4.26
million vehicles to repair accelerator problems, and in
2005, recalled more vehicles (2.38 million) than it sold in
the United States that year (2.26 million).
Toyota, for the first time since Adam was a small boy,
recorded a loss and is still not out of the woods (or should
that be the cherry blossom trees?). What must be even more
galling, is that Ford is quietly making a profit, and
increasing market share. Even Honda is not in as much
financial doggy-doo, and that nasty upstart Hyundai is
getting top marks in the quality stakes and increasing its
market share probably at Toyota’s expense.
What has happened with the global financial crisis is that
the recession that pushed GM and Chrysler Group LLC into
bankruptcy and fueled Ford’s evident resurgence, has also
accelerated change in the motor industry. Having emerged
from its bankruptcy, suddenly GM is a big player once more.
Its labor costs are competitive; its product portfolio is
revamped and geared more to customer’s needs and wants, it
is doing very well overseas, and it is coming out of debt,
to make it a competitor once more. Toyota will need to move
swiftly to improve both its image, and its sales.
Last week I asked an MG history question.
What was the difference between the rear suspension on
the MG TB as opposed to the MG TC? The correct answer
was that the TB had a sliding trunnion rear spring,
whilst the TC had the more usual hangers at the rear of
the leaf spring.
So to this week. Who made this electric car? The year
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first
correct answer to email email@example.com
Can Porsche, as we
know it, continue?
I have the distinct feeling of dread for the
continuation of Porsche as a manufacturer with
individual excellence after receiving this press release
from Volkswagen: Wolfsburg, 24 November 2009 - Prof. Dr.
Martin Winterkorn, Chairman of the Board of Management
of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, and Hans Dieter
Pötsch, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen
Aktiengesellschaft responsible for “Finance and
Controlling”, will join the Board of Management of
Porsche Automobil Holding SE effective November 25,
2009. They will exercise these duties in addition to
their functions on the Board of Management of Volkswagen
Aktiengesellschaft. Prof. Winterkorn will become CEO,
Pötsch will assume responsibility as CFO.
911 for 2010
The conditions for their appointments at Porsche were met
when the Supervisory Boards of both companies approved the
contracts of implementation relating to the comprehensive
agreement on the creation of an integrated automotive group
with Porsche. These contracts specify the binding provisions
governing the organizational, structural and legal details
of the union between the two companies.
Approval of the contracts of implementation marks a further
important step towards an integrated automotive group with
Porsche which is to be completed during the course of 2011.
The next milestones are a 49.9 percent participation of
Volkswagen in Porsche AG which is planned for realization by
the end of 2009, and the Extraordinary General Meeting of
Volkswagen AG on December 3, 2009.
Prof. Dr. Winterkorn commented, “All major issues concerning
the creation of an integrated automotive group have now been
settled. By 2011, we will have joined forces to form a new,
strong group with an unparalleled model range and the
highest technological competence. We are seizing a unique
strategic opportunity for all parties. With the integration
of Porsche, Volkswagen is systematically continuing its
successful multi-brand strategy. Porsche will benefit from
new, additional openings for growth.”
Sifting through all that, it is apparent that two head
honchos from VW are taking up the reins as the governing and
“controlling” forces in Porsche. I am also left wondering
where the “new, additional openings for growth” are going to
be coming from. VW and Porsche do not have a synergy in the
marketplace for VW to offer new opportunities to Porsche -
unless we end up with a VW with a Porsche badge on it. Last
time this was done, was when an “Audi” came out with Porsche
badges and was called the Porsche 924. There are still
Porsche enthusiasts who refuse to even acknowledge the 924
as a ‘real’ Porsche.
Suzuki jumps in with a
Suzuki states that it has committed $200 million
towards building their eco compact car in Thailand from
2012. With the manufacturing incentives by the government
(finally?) stabilized, Suzuki Motor Corp is now taking
advantage of the Thai government tax incentives available
under its so-called “eco-car project”.
Under the eco-car program, global manufacturers receive cuts
of up to 90 percent in import tariffs on components and
materials used for producing the vehicles. Specifications
include a petrol engine displacement of 1.3 liters or lower
(1.4 for diesel), compliance with the Euro 4 emissions
standard, maximum CO2 emissions of 120 g/km, and maximum
fuel consumption of 5 L/100 km.
The Thai government also offers a corporate tax exemption
for at least five years if annual production volume of cars
under the program reaches 100,000 within the first five
years of operations.
Suzuki announced last week that it would commit $200 million
to the construction of a new plant in Rayong province, with
production of a still-to-be-specified 1.3 liter compact car
to begin in March 2012.
Suzuki expects to build 10,000 cars by the end of that first
The most likely candidate for production at the Thai plant
is the Suzuki Splash, a five-door, five-seat hatch slightly
larger than the Indian-built, four-seat Alto.
Splash is currently produced in Hungary, and demand for the
model in Europe has taken all the production, consequently
the idea of getting a government assistance to build another
Splash plant makes much sense.
The new plant could allow Suzuki to export vehicles from
Thailand to places such as Australia as Thailand also has
the free-trade agreement in place with Australia, which
makes Thai-built cars a better financial proposition than
those from Japan or India.
Natter Nosh and Noggin
The monthly car enthusiasts meeting will be at
Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to the Nova Park
development. The car (and bike) enthusiasts meet on the
second Monday of the month, so this time it is Monday
December 14 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. This is a totally
informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet
motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates. Many
interesting debates come from these evenings. Come along and
meet guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and
enjoy the Jameson’s Steak night special, washed down with a
Road Safety data as
scandalous as ‘Climategate’
The recent ‘Climategate’ scandal comes as no
surprise to those at the Association of British Drivers
(ABD). For many years they have been questioning the data on
man made global warming because the issue has been used as
the main excuse for very heavy motoring taxes,
underinvestment in the British road system, restrictions on
movement and speed of travel.
Climategate is a prime example but is part of a much bigger
picture of scandalous abuse and hiding of statistics by
government funded bodies. Statistics are frequently hidden
or manipulated with government approval to play up certain
issues. A leading example is the role of speed in accidents
where statistics on accidents caused by all sorts of things
are lumped together as ‘speed related’, even when they occur
below the speed limit or are caused by drunks or drug users
in stolen cars. This is then used as an excuse for draconian
enforcement of often unrealistic limits against those
travelling at perfectly safe speeds. These limits themselves
are set by highly questionable ideas based upon very shaky
science again decided by government funded scientists using
often hidden and/or manipulated data.
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries said, “The whole issue of the
Freedom of Information Act and those responsible for its
implementation must be subject to a public enquiry, as must
all issues of manipulation and hiding of statistics by
government funded bodies and scientists.”
As Bob Lutz of GM said, “Global warming is a crock of sh*t.”