No. 1005
July 17, 2019

About The UjianNasional@PeterMDeLorenzo Author, commentator, influencer. "The Consigliere." Editor-in-Chief of

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On The Surface



October 28, 2009


arrowup.gifFiat-Chrysler. A "down" arrow for leaking some of the salient details of Sergio's "plan" to the Wall Street Journal in some sort of a trial balloon. And don't tell us you didn't, either. The meat of the sandwich? A refurbished Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 sedan - which we already knew about - and the deletion of the Viper, the PT Cruiser, Chrysler Sebring, Jeep Compass, Jeep Patriot, Dodge Caliber, Nitro and Avenger. They're keeping the Challenger, Ram truck, and the Charger - and the Chrysler Town and Country minivan too - but other than the Viper, would you miss any of them? Then Chrysler is bringing in the Fiat 500 in late 2011 - which we knew - and relaunching Alfa Romeo in this country starting in 2012 with the MiTo, the Milano and another sedan to be named later. (More on Alfa below - WG). The "up" arrow? Maybe, just maybe, now that the basic plan is out, Sergio and the boys can lop three hours off of next week's media death march. The one that's unfortunately already scheduled for six hours.

Fiat-Chrysler. Hey, we like the idea of bringing back Alfa Romeo as much as any enthusiast does, but Sergio's plan, shall we say, leaves a lot to be desired. First of all, to properly launch Alfa Romeo, yes, launch - because it can't be a relaunch when nobody but hard-core fans and enthusiasts even know what Alfa is - in this country to the point it resonates on the awareness meter at all, it will take $250-$300 million in marketing costs the first year and $250-$300 million per year after that for at least eight to ten years, minimum. So any wildly optimistic notion dancing in the heads of Sergio and his troops of Alfa becoming an Italian Audi in this country has to be tempered with the reality that the likelihood of Fiat-Chrysler selling 75,000-100,000 Alfas in this market by 2020 is a pipe dream, at best. Sergio's big on five-year plans, but 8-10? Not so much.

arrowup.gif Ford, Honda, Toyota. Consumer Reports says that Ford is the only U.S. automaker that is competing with Asian brands with "world-class reliability," with 90 percent of Ford's vehicles achieving average or better reliability, according to their latest study. Ford's Mercury finished tenth in reliability - the only U.S. brand to make the top 10 - while Ford itself ranked 16th and Lincoln came in 20th. Asian car companies continued to dominate the magazine's list of recommended vehicles, with Toyota's Scion ranked on top followed by Honda's Acura brand. Lexus came in third. GM's Chevrolet ranked 25th on the list. Chrysler's brands dropped further behind the competition in the ratings with Jeep in 30th, followed by Dodge. And the Chrysler brand finished dead last in the magazine's reliability ranking, with more than a third of Chrysler models through the 2009 model year "much worse than average." Ouch.

arrowup.gifarrowup.gifarrowup.gifJill Lajdziak. Publisher's Note: Jill Lajdziak, who was with Saturn from the absolute very beginning and who was the most passionate and eloquent ambassador of the brand, will retire from GM at the end of the year. Jill fought tirelessly for Saturn over the years - and especially over the last several months - while trying to help Roger Penske put together a viable plan and organization to save Saturn from oblivion. I'm sure it was a very sad moment for Jill when the Renault-Nissan board of directors killed the plan, but she can hold her head up high because she had an outstanding career, one in which she actually made a difference every day. A rare occurrence in this day and age. Jill's drive and enthusiasm will be sorely missed in this business because it is becoming rarer by the hour, but I wish her all the best in her next chapter. - PMD

Henrik Fisker. The P.T. Barnum of the auto industry announced that he will buy an old plant located in Wilmington, Del., from Motors Liquidation Co. - aka the old General Motors Corp. - for $18 million. Another $175 million - allegedly - will be spent to retool the factory over the next three years, according to Fisker. The company already is to receive $528.7 million in federal loans from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program to help its cause. Fisker plans to build a mid-sized plug-in hybrid family sedan yet to be revealed that will sell for $39,900 after federal tax credits beginning in late 2012 (the $90,000 Karma luxury sedan will be built in Finland beginning late next year, allegedly). Fisker plans to sell between 75,000 and 100,000 units per year, with about 50 percent to be exported. Interesting. Interesting, too, that Fisker has labeled the UAW as its "partner" in the venture. Hey, Henrik, it sounds like you've been puffing off of Sergio's pipe. First of all, let's see the Karma get launched first, and remember you said you were going to sell 15,000 of them anually, right? Right. And then we'll look for a mainstream sedan from you somewhere out around 2014, at the earliest. That is unless your UAW "partners" decide that the deal they originally signed with you isn't "good enough" and decide to strike your ass. As we like to say around here, you can't make this shit up. Fun stuff.

The UAW. Speaking of those upstanding citizens who have nothing but the good of the country in their hearts, now is the time for the U.S. auto industry to bust this cabal once and for all. If the car companies in this country - both foreign and domestic - wanted to end the UAW stranglehold over this business for good, then now is the time. Lock the UAW out in a mass action, and there would be people lined up 25-deep for each and every job available, hungry and ready for work. All it would take is some major cojones on the part of the leaders of these car companies to get it done too.

Bob King. Memo to the auto manufacturers: Beware of this UAW VP because he has an agenda - an agenda that by no means bodes well for the long-term health of the industry - and he's determined to be the new face of the union going forward. Let's just say that this development is a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier of Not Good.

(Photos courtesy of Ford)
Ford Powertrain, Detroit Street Rods and Experi-metal have teamed up to create a classic '34 Ford 3-Window Coupe hot rod with the "first" rear-wheel-drive application of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, which will launch next year in the Ford F-150. The custom truck will be introduced next week at this year's Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show.  The 3.5-liter twin-turbo, direct-injected EcoBoost V-6 delivers an estimated 400 horsepower and 400 ft.-lb. of torque. In Ford's future product lineup, the  3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 will replace some - but not all - naturally aspirated V-8 engines. The 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4 will replace naturally aspirated V-6 engines, and the 1.6-liter EcoBoost I-4 will replace naturally aspirated large I-4 engines. The body is from Steve's Auto Restoration and is the recently released 1934 Ford 3-Window coupe. The complete body and fenders are from brand-new tooling, and are designed, stamped and manufactured by Experi-metal in Sterling Heights, Mich. This "replica" '34 features all-steel construction, full fenders, running boards, electronic power windows, air conditioning and custom bumpers. The engine was repackaged and fitted with an engine plate adapter to mate with an aluminum flywheel, performance clutch and a Tremec TKO five-speed transmission. The turbochargers were repositioned to the front of the cylinder heads, and custom aluminum tubing was used to route the air from the custom air cleaner through the air-to-air intercooler. The exhaust gases are routed from the cylinder heads through coated headers, through the stock wastegates, and pass through large custom exhaust cones located outside the engine bay and just above the front fenders.





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Publisher's Note: Check-out John McElroy's daily news show covering everything about the auto biz by clicking on the graphic below. Good stuff guaranteed. - PMD


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