No. 979
January 16, 2018

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

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On The Surface



March 25, 2009


See a special live webcast event hosted by Autoline Detroit's John McElroy with The UjianNasional himself, Peter De Lorenzo, along with auto industry veteran Jason Vines this Thursday evening, April 2, at 7:00PM EDT at . Tune in to see "the bare-knuckled, unvarnished, high-octane truth" and expect a no-holds-barred discussion about what's going on in the industry right now, along with anything else that pops up in our minds. You can chat with us "live" too. Again, that's Autoline Live this Thursday evening, April 2, at 7:00PM EDT at Click for a preview!

The Car Biz. More grim news on the home front. GM began reducing its global salaried workforce by another 10,000 people in a series of previously announced cuts. For the U.S., that means 160 positions jettisoned at GM's Tech Center in Warren this week. And another 3,400 white collar jobs deleted from GM's U.S. operations by May 1. And so it goes.

The WSJ. Publisher's Note: As I've stated many, many times before in this column, we feel that the coverage by The Wall Street Journal of the crisis in Detroit and the U.S. automobile industry has been erratic, mistake-prone, at times maliciously anti-Detroit and blatantly unprofessional. It's also clear that the WSJ has an anti-GM bias on top of everything else, pushing the Chapter 11 scenario for GM in a relentless stream of stories, columns and editorials, with Neal Boudette, Holman Jenkins and Paul Ingrassia leading the charge. GM apparently had had enough last week when Tom Wilkinson, Director of GM News Relations, posted comments on GM's Fast Lane blog directed at the media questioning the WSJ's coverage of GM's restructuring, specifically its all-encompassing focus on bankruptcy. This is what he had to say: "As a former writer and editor, I did not do this lightly. Although I sometimes grouse about details in your stories, I understand that journalists and publications have an obligation to present information in a manner they believe is fair and balanced, even if we sometimes disagree about exactly what that means. But looking back over recent coverage, it seems pretty clear to me that The Journal has been consistently overplaying the bankruptcy issue. This has continued even as we have explained -- in speeches, interviews and legally binding public documents -- why we believe Chapter 11 is a really lousy option for restructuring GM." Wilkinson also included an attached summary with headlines and lead paragraphs from a number of recent Journal stories on this issue. This was all triggered by an incident last Wednesday, when the WSJ turned an off-the-cuff remark by GM CEO Rick Wagoner in a media scrum in Washington into a lead story that GM was now leaning toward bankruptcy. The only problem was that other journalists in that scrum insisted that Wagoner's comment indicated nothing of the sort, and they were flat-out appalled and flabbergasted that the WSJ ran with the story with guns blazing. Given the WSJ's past performance over the last 18 months, I wasn't surprised in the least. But the incident did serve a worthy purpose, however, because now the question on everyone's mind in the media revolves around the speculation that Rupert Murdoch's takeover of the WSJ has now corroded its editorial board and its reporters' perspective on the stories they cover. I don't think there's any point speculating on that at this juncture. Instead, you can book it. - PMD

Smart. Back when the Smart car was being hyped we stated emphatically that it would thrive on the media frenzy and the "first-on-the-block" buyers for about a year, then after that, reality would set in. Now that Smart sales are off substantially, the company is blaming it on the economy. Memo to Smart executives: It ain't the economy, stupid. It's the fact that there are too many excellent competing vehicles out there that deliver more car and better mileage. Smart is just about over. People have opened their eyes, seen the light and are walking away from deposits, or not bothering to give Smart a closer look in the first place. It was cute while it lasted.

GM. It has postponed the Camaro convertible until 2011, and the Z28 indefinitely. Since the V-8 car is pretty quick as it is, we can see pushing back the Z28, at least a little. But the convertible? Not. So. Much.

arrowup.gifGas Prices. Notice that creep upward at the pump? It's as inevitable as another run-in between Lindsay Lohan and Sam Ronson in the club du jour. We're betting $3.25 for regular by Memorial Day.

arrowup.gifVW. The German car company has finally come to its senses and is dropping the Rabbit name in the U.S. in favor of Golf for the 2010 version, which arrives here next fall, according to Automotive News. Halle-frickin-luja.


Ford. Ford PR says: Flash back to the spring of 1964. The mood of the country is still sullen, following the 1963 assassination of John F. Kennedy. Lyndon B. Johnson is leading the nation forward as President of the United States. “Beatlemania” is sweeping the country, with hits like “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” at the top of the Billboard charts. The price of gas is 30 cents a gallon, and it costs 5 cents to buy a postage stamp. “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Bonanza” and the “Dick Van Dyke Show” are among the most popular shows on television, and “From Russia with Love,” starring Sean Connery as James Bond, is playing at U.S. theaters. On April 17, 1964, the Ford Mustang, with its long hood, short rear deck and sporty features, caused a sensation when it was introduced to the public at the New York World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, Queens. “When the Mustang was unveiled, the reaction was so positive that there was no doubt it was going to be a success,” recalls Joe Oros, chief designer of Ford’s original pony car – dubbed the 1964½ because it was launched at an unusual halfway point in the year. Don Frey, product planning manager for the original Ford Mustang, says he knew the car was going to be a hit months earlier when the design team gave Ford employees a sneak peek at one of the prototypes. “We built the first prototype in an experimental garage, and employees flooded the place to see it,” he said. “Their reaction was spectacular, and it was very revealing to us. We knew the car was going to be roaring success from the start.” The 1964½ Mustang debuted at a price of $2,368 – a bargain even in 1964. The rest of the story, according to AE? Ford expected annual sales of about 100,000 units, but the car exceeded all expectations by a wide margin. Twenty-two thousand orders were taken on the first day, and an astounding 417,000 orders were taken in the car’s first 12 months on the market. The Mustang remains the quintessential definition of a grand-slam home run in the automotive business. On April 17, 2009, Ford will commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Ford Mustang - an American icon - with a four-day celebration in Birmingham, Alabama.

(Photos courtesy of Ford)
1964 1/2 Mustang Convertible.

(Photo Credit: David Newhardt/ "Mustang - Forty Years")
1965 Ford Mustang K-Code.

1966 Shelby Mustang GT-350H.

(Photo Credit: David Newhardt/ "Mustang - Forty Years")
1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500.

(Photo Credit: David Newhardt/ "Mustang - Forty Years")
1968 Ford Mustang Bullitt Fastback.

This is something called the Mercedes-Benz F-Cell Roadster. This machine was created by apprentices at Daimler who were obviously inspired by the original AE "flatulence-powered balsa wood smiley car" concept that we first talked about years ago. Powered by a 1.2 kilowatts fuel cell engine and featuring a top speed of 15mph and a driving range of over 200 miles, this Answer to the Question that Absolutely No One is Asking should be common on the streets and byways of California in 2016 after the Green Posse get through decimating the auto business once and for all. We can just see the ad campaign now: Imagine the conversations you'll have with your touchy-feely neighbors while they pass you on their bikes! And who can top the thrill of being chased by packs of wild dogs in L.A. as they strain for a closer look! Have the sun, the moon and the stars brought to you in ultra-slow motion! Say HELLOOO! to your driving future, America!



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