No. 950
June 13, 2018
 

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

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On The Surface


Wednesday
Jan092008

On The Surface #427

2008 NORTH AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL AUTO SHOW

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(Photos courtesy of Ford)
The new Ford Verve small car concept tips-off consumers on the direction of Ford's burgeoning small/compact car thrust into the U.S. market beginning in 2010. Small-car sales are predicted to increase by more than 25 percent through 2012, with smaller cars and crossovers being the only vehicles having projected near-term growth in the U.S. The four-door Verve offers the kind of sophisticated technology and expressive design demanded by globally savvy customers, according to Ford. A European three-door Verve concept is also being displayed at the North American International Auto Show this week.

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(Photos courtesy of Ford)
The 2009 Ford F-150 pickup - aka "The Franchise" - makes its debut this week at the NAIAS at Cobo Hall. You can take all of the adjectives you can muster, like tougher, better, stronger, etc., and attach them to this vehicle, as it represents an evolutionary as opposed to revolutionary step in the development of America's most popular vehicle. New for this year is the Platinum series (shown), which will be the top of the line for the F-150 lineup when it arrives at dealers next fall. Though we expect the new F-150 to be a formidable competitor per usual, with GM offering its outstanding 2 Mode Hybrid system in the Chevrolet Silverado pickup next fall, Ford is going to have its work cut out for them.

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(Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)
Grammy award-winning music artist Mary J Blige performs "Just Fine" with a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette at GM Style - General Motors' car-studded music and fashion gala that kicked off the 2008 North American International Auto Show Saturday night in Detroit, Michigan.

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(Photo by John F. Martin for GM)
Detroit's own Kid Rock performs as Jeff Gordon drives the new Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 down the runway during its world debut on stage at GM Style-General Motors' music and fashion gala that kicked off the 2008 North American International Auto Show Saturday night in Detroit. Models on the runway are wearing fashions from William Rast's Made In Detroit Denim collection.

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(Photo by John F. Martin for GM)
Grammy award-winning band Maroon 5 performs as the Pontiac Vibe and models sporting fashions from Mark Zunino walk the stage at GM Style - General Motors' car-studded music and fashion gala that kicked off the 2008 North American International Auto Show Saturday night.

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(Photo by John F. Martin for GM)
Jeff Gordon exits the Corvette ZR1 after driving it down the runway during its world debut on stage at GM Style-General Motors' car-studded music and fashion gala that kicked off the 2008 North American International Auto Show Saturday night, January 12, 2007, in Detroit, Michigan. Models on the runway are wearing fashions from William Rast's Made In Detroit Denim collection.

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(Photo by Tom Pidgeon for GM)
Jeff Gordon at GM Style, Saturday night in Detroit.

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(Photos coutesy of GM)
The Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept debuted at the NAIAS.

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(Courtesy of GM)
The Buick Riviera concept will make its American public debut at the Detroit show this week. The Riveira was originally shown in Shanghai. Does it preview a future addition to the Buick product lineup? Let's hope so.

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(Courtesy of Ford)
The Mazda Furai Concept is a design study based on a leftover Courage racing chassis. Very nicely done.

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(Courtesy of GM)
We saw the GM Hummer HX concept just over a year ago in unfinished form (no interior) and loved it. Since then, GM has refined and tweaked it and given it a sparkling interior - and we love it even more. The good news? This is the future of Hummer in that this vehicle will be built, and make no mistake - it will be the Jeep Wrangler's worst nightmare. The bad news? It's three years away at the earliest.

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arrowdown.gifarrowdown.gifarrowdown.gif Mid-Engine Corvette Fans. Publisher's Note - BREAKING NEWS (6:30pm, 1/10/08): I have learned that the often-rumored, on-the-front-burner/off-the-front-burner mid-engine proposal for the next-generation Corvette (C7) has now officially been shelved because of costs associated with doing the program. The challenges that I reported as being "solved" last August on Ujian-nasional.info apparently grew more complex, and because of that the volume proposition for the mid-engine Corvette came apart. To do the car properly would have meant limiting its numbers to the point that it would put the car at a price point far beyond the historical value-performance equation that the Corvette has enjoyed almost since its inception, even beyond the price point of the recent Ford GT. It's not clear yet how much the new EPA regulations factored into the decision. So now, the next-generation C7 will be in a much lighter and slightly trimmer package size, with traditional front-engine/rear-wheel-drive configuration. Even though engine choices are fluid at this point in time, an aluminum V8 will remain an essential ingredient of the next-generation Corvette. But you can also expect a dramatic, advanced, "alternative" powertrain configuration to be a prominent option on the car. So there you have it, folks, the fabled mid-engine Corvette is dead for another generation. And one more thing, it is said that the death of the mid-engined C7 will not affect the ongoing development of the next-generation Corvette racing car that's being developed for the new "EVO" rules due to take effect at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2010. That racing program, which revolves around a mid-engined car designed to new technical regulations, is said to be continuing as planned. - PMD

arrowdown.gifDelusional auto executives. We know, we know, why pick on such a woefully misguided and philosophically challenged group when they're down, right? But alas, a perpetual state of cluelessness is no excuse. If we can remove driver involvement from cars altogether as GM's Next vision suggests, maybe we can do away with the so-called "visionary" executives who think robo cars are a good idea while we're at it. 

arrowdown.gifarrowdown.gifarrowdown.gifHyundai. Speaking of delusional auto executives, Hyundai is readying their new Genesis, a rear-wheel-drive luxury sedan (or near-luxury, depending on how you view it) for the U.S. market, due to arrive next summer. This is the vehicle category that the Koreans have been hot to enter for years, and several American executives who were blessed with brains and a sense of reality lost their jobs while trying to talk sense into the Koreans suggesting that this move was a recipe for disaster. But true to form, and while ever-marching to the dulcet tones of the sounds of their own voices, the Koreans are barging into a segment with the wrong car, at the wrong time, with the wrong dealers and the wrong brand name. But hey, other than that we'd call it a brilliant move. These guys are good.

arrowup.gifAudi. Let's talk about people in this business who actually seem to have their shit together for a change. Automotive News Europe is reporting that Audi will unveil a concept version of their R8 sports car on Sunday in Detroit that will have a 500hp, V-12, 6.0-liter turbodiesel engine - a derivation of its 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning 650HP 5.5-liter V-12 diesel, which powers its R10 prototype racers. If Audi goes forward with production, it will become the world’s first production diesel supercar.

arrowup.gifarrowdown.gifToyota. The Japanese juggernaut failed to meet its stated (and often publicly repeated) goal for its new Tundra full-size pickup, falling short of its 200,000 sales target (196,555). Toyota is saying they made their number for all intents and purposes, and if they feel that strongly about it, we'll give it to 'em. But they paid a steep price to save face by having to offer staggering rebates beginning last spring and running throughout the year, which were unprecedented and unheard of in scope for a brand-new vehicle. It will only get tougher for Toyota from here on out, especially since GM has an 18-24 month jump on them (at least) with their 2 Mode Hybrid Chevy Silverado pickup due out next fall.

arrowdown.gifRon Gettelfinger. The UAW President told Automotive News late Monday that he's confident Chrysler and Ford are in healthy financial positions to weather economic hardships. Whew. We can all sleep better now.

arrowdown.gifThe Detroit News. And we can all rest easier even more now that The Detroit News has decided to get their Green on in a tedious series about the environmental movement and its affect on the auto industry this week. We searched for something new in any of it, but all we found was was a rehash of the obvious and a restate of what has already been said for going on at least 18 months now. Why?

arrowup.gifGM. The company announced yesterday that it would deliver the 1,000th bus powered by the GM-Allison hybrid system to the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC). It's part of a fleet order by the RTC that will double its fleet of hybrid buses from 30 to 60 operating in the Las Vegas area. The GM-Allison hybrid buses operate in more than 70 cities in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and will save an estimated 1.4 million gallons of fuel annually, enough to fill 175 tanker trucks. According to a study conducted in 2006 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, transit buses with GM-Allison's hybrid technology deliver up to 75 percent better fuel economy than traditional transit buses, and reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) up to 39 percent, particulate matter (PM) up to 97 percent, carbon monoxide up to 60 percent and hydrocarbons up to 75 percent.

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In the spirit of showing the Detroit auto show before we actually get to the Detroit auto show, Ford will reveal the Explorer America concept next week at Cobo Hall. Billed as a "mid-size utility that embodies what customers love about the current Ford Explorer in a more modern execution," the Explorer America is said to deliver an approximate 20 percent fuel economy improvement, while it provides room for six and their gear, along with moderate towing and off-road capabilities. It also forecasts, of course, what the next Ford Explorer will look like, and the fact that it will be a car-based crossover rather than a body-on-frame truck-based SUV.

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(Courtesy of GM)
GM will unveil the 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line 2 Mode Hybrid next week at the Detroit Auto Show. The Vue Green Line combines GM's direct injection 3.6-liter V6 with two electric motors. The new Green Line Vue is said to offer a 50 percent improvement in fuel economy over the standard Vue, while being able to tow up to 3,500 pounds and still deliver a 0-to-60 mph time of around 7.5 seconds. The Vue Green Line 2 Mode should be available at the end of this year.

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(Courtesy of GM)
The Cadillac Provoq Concept is a crossover that's smaller than the current SRX and based on GM's E-Flex vehicle architecture, which is also used in the Chevrolet Volt. The primary difference is that the Provoq is powered by GM's latest generation hydrogen fuel cell system, instead of the electric with ICE assist system utilized on the Volt. The Provoq will be introduced in Detroit next week and hints at a future crossover offering from GM's luxury division.

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(Ford)
In celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the orginal, the first 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR ("King of the Road") Mustang rolled off the production line on Carroll Shelbyâs 85th birthday this week. Powered by a 540-horsepower supercharged V8, each Shelby GT500KR begins life as a GT500, built at AutoAlliance International Inc., in Flat Rock, Mich. From there, the cars are shipped to Shelby Automobileâs facility in Las Vegas, where a Ford Racing performance pack, exhaust system and short-throw shifter are installed. The GT500KR is also fitted with body, chassis and interior components. To fine-tune the GT500KRâs chassis - stiffened 50 percent to deliver increased body control - SVT engineers put the GT500KR through a rigorous testing program developed specially for SVT products, including a 12-hour racetrack durability test. The result, according to Ford, "is a car with increased performance capability that is still comfortable to drive on the street." Every GT500KR will be hand customized and delivered to each customer in an enclosed transporter, just like the legendary Ford GT. The Shelby GT500KR will arrive at select Ford dealerships this spring for an exclusive run of only 1,000 units.

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