On The Surface #450
Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 05:54PM

June 18, 2008 

arrowdown.gifarrowdown.gifarrowdown.gifThe Auto Industry. June is shaping up to be the worst sales month in two decades for the automobile business in this country, and people are worried. A stabilization of sales is expected, but if the business continues at this weakened pace much longer, the shake out will be staggering - and brutal.

arrowdown.gifChrysler. The Detroit Free Press obtained a copy of a memo Bob Nardelli sent Chrysler employees yesterday that warned of a dramatic downturn in sales in June. "This is the lowest sales level in 16 years and indicates a significant and continued softening of the U.S. automotive market," Nardelli said. Deeper cuts are expected to follow.

arrowdown.gifHolly Springs, Georgia. From the "This Is Going Too Damn Far" File comes word via USA Today that this north Atlanta suburb is now charging a $12.00 "fuel surcharge" on all moving violations. The city of Atlanta might be next. Argh.

arrowup.gifarrowdown.gifChrysler. The gang over in Auburn Hills is touting the fact that its Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen hybrids will be almost $8,000 less than GM's large SUV hybrids (the two-mode hybrid system was jointly developed by GM, Chrysler and BMW, with GM taking the lead role). The only problem is that the whole "large SUV hybrid" thing seems to be a non-starter for American consumers.

arrowdown.gifSmall car aficionados. Will high gas prices ruin it for all of those small car enthusiasts out there? It was nice driving around knowing you were ahead of the curve, right? You loved the thought that you understood the double-secret formula of small + light x sporty = lots of fun (and good mileage). Now, with hordes flocking to get in on the action, will it be the same? Oh well, high-performance electric cars are shaping up to be the next frontier, so you can always be ahead of that curve.

arrowdown.gifConsumer Groups. Consumers Union, Public Citizen and the Consumer Federation of America are now pushing for another round of increased fuel economy standards, saying that NHTSA's latest mileage proposal doesn't go far enough. Guess what? In the new world of $5.00 per gallon gasoline - which is already accelerating the transformation of the nation's fleet at a breakneck pace - fuel economy standards are irrelevant and obsolete anyway, almost as much as the bleating of these various consumer groups.

arrowup.gifHonda PR. Giving away your latest million-dollar hydrogen fuel cell car - the FCX Clarity - for $600 per month on a three-year lease (up to 200 cars total) to assorted Hollywood types and others in green-tinged California is a stroke of genius. It won't get the hydrogen fuel infrastructure built any sooner, but for a few days you got to be the world's greenest car company. Low fives all around.

arrowup.gifGM. General Lutz says that GM engineers are meeting and exceeding all targets in testing of the battery packs for its new Volt. Time to dust-off and update Reddy Kilowatt and make him the GM Volt mascot?

arrowdown.gifarrowup.gifGM Marketing. Katherine Benoit, GM's corporate marketing director, told a meeting of the American Advertising Federation last week that the automaker was planning to air a commercial on NBC's "Meet the Press" on June 22 that would tell "Big Oil": "We think we will both be happier and healthier if we see less of each other." The spot was created by McCann Erickson in Birmingham, MI, for possible airing on Planet Green, a channel launched by Discovery Communications that focuses on the environment. When AdAge reported what Benoit said, basically all hell broke loose. Racing to do damage control, GM spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato said that Benoit "spoke prematurely" and that the spot was being tweaked and might not run at all. Ms. Cusinato also told AdAge that the commercial, which begins with someone typing "Dear Oil" on a white screen, wasn't targeting oil companies but, rather, oil as a source for fuel. Right. Wow, it has to be one of the worst cases of premature extrapolation we've ever heard about. Now we really want to see the spot.


(GM Photo)
The Corvette ZR1 by the official numbers? 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds. 0-100 mph in 7.0 seconds. Elapsed time in the quarter-mile: 11.3 seconds at 131 mph. EPA-estimated fuel economy of 14 city and 20 highway. $103,300 MSRP (including $850 destination charge). The ZR1 also has a verified top speed of 205 mph (330 km/h), making it the fastest Corvette ever produced and ranking it among the finest super cars in the world. None of those other super cars can touch the ZR1's performance-per-dollar ratio, however. The Corvette ZR1's 0-60 performance is 0.3-second quicker than the already-quick Corvette Z06 and the 0-100-mph performance is nearly a full second quicker - 7 seconds vs. the Z06's 7.9 seconds. "A favorable power-to-weight ratio gives the ZR1 an advantage over the competition and performance that has to be experienced to fully appreciate," said Tom Wallace, Corvette chief engineer. "Of course, on a racetrack, drivers of competitors' cars may appreciate the ZR1 in a whole different manner." "The ZR1 is an incredible machine by any measure," said Ed Peper, North American Vice President, Chevrolet. "There's simply no other vehicle in the world that does a better job of balancing performance, price and fuel economy." The standard ZR1 comes with equipment based on the Z06 including lightweight seats and lightweight content. The available up-level interior option package ($10,000) includes power-adjustable, heated and leather-trimmed sport seats (embroidered with the ZR1 logo); side air bags; Bose premium audio system; navigation system; Bluetooth connectivity; power telescoping steering column; custom leather-wrapped interior available in four colors and more.  Chrome wheels ($2,000) are the only other available option on the ZR1. A $1,700 Gas guzzler tax is also required. The Corvette ZR1 represents the absolute high point of the modern American high-performance era. From here on out, high performance will be defined differently and be even more costly. A lot more.
arrowup.gifarrowup.gifarrowup.gifTiger Woods. With a will to win unrivaled in all of sport and a focus that defies description, the greatest golfer of all time enthralled America in his pursuit of this country's National Championship. We're just glad we can witness Tiger in his prime...

arrowup.gifRocco Mediate. He played the golf of his life, and he took the greatest player in the world to the brink. A superb effort from a gutty, gritty and immensely likable guy.

arrowup.gifarrowup.gifarrowup.gifTim Russert. Far too young to go, but his bright, personable and impressively polished son will be his most enduring legacy.

Article originally appeared on UjianNasional.com ~ the bare-knuckled, unvarnished, high octane truth... (http://ujian-nasional.info/).
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