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

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On The Surface


Tuesday
Sep232008

On The Surface #464

September 24, 2008


Cadillac. The idea of a four-cylinder Cadillac - something that's on the table for the division's product plan for 2011 in the North American market - is not sitting well with too many people. It doesn't sit too well with us either. If GM's downward spiral stops with just two divisional entities left here in the states - Cadillac and Chevrolet - then there's no reason in the world that Chevy can't feature all of the possible four-cylinder drivetrain combinations that the corporation can think of. But it should stop right there, because four-cylinder engines don't belong in Cadillacs. Period.

Chrysler LLC. From the "Electric Car Hysteria" File comes word that the beleaguered Auburn Hills, MI-based automaker is fighting back with three - count 'em - three proposals for electric cars, and even promises to have one on the market by the end of 2010. Chrysler's product plan calls for a Jeep Wrangler EV (extended-range electric vehicle), a Chrysler Town & Country minivan (extended-range electric vehicle) and a Lotus Elise-based all electric sports car for Dodge that is to be jointly developed with Lotus Cars Ltd. Development for the vehicles was done in-house by Chrysler’s ENVI electric vehicle research and development organization and began before Cerberus bought Chrysler in August 2007. The Town & Country and Wrangler EVs are said to target the same performance parameters as the upcoming Chevrolet Volt, which means a range of 40 miles on one electric charge, with an on-board ICE for extended-range capabilities. Chrysler said they wanted to speak with actions instead of adding to the EV hype - and to that we say thanks and best of luck - but we'll have to reserve a giant "we'll see" until the end of 2010.

2010. Speaking of which, we marvel at what's in store for 2010. Going by the promises of the Detroit Three, the sky will be bluer, the air will be cleaner, and there will be legions of cool cars at our disposal - from European-spec driver's cars and hybrids of all stripes - all the way to full-blown electric vehicles. The only problem is that nothing happens in a vacuum, and every other automaker around the globe will have their cool stuff out too. 2010 is shaping up to be either The New Beginning for the domestic automobile industry, or The End as we know it.

Diane Tucker, The Huffington Post. With Michigan on the front burner in the presidential race, all of a sudden Michigan - and the auto industry - matters. Check out Peter's interview this week with Diane Tucker in . In an article entitled, "Suddenly Obama's Auto-Policies Matter: Michigan Is The New Florida," Peter discusses the current plight of the automakers and dissects the presidential candidates' positions on Detroit and what needs to be done to help the industry. The vitriol directed at him in the comments section is revealing, and emblematic of most of the country's attitude about Detroit and the domestic automobile industry.

Bob Nardelli. "Minimum Bob" shows up on CNBC yesterday morning and appears to be flustered when talking about Chrysler's new product lineup, mentioning the Liberty and the "1500." As an alert reader pointed out, we're sure he meant the new Ram truck but you'd think after a bunch of months doing this he'd nail his product story in a national television interview, right? Wrong.

Ford. From the "You Probably Didn't Know That" File comes word that the Ford Motor Company maintains nearly 200 acres of sunflower fields, prairies and grow zones around its world headquarters, research and engineering campus in an effort to conserve natural resources, create wildlife habitat and lower grounds maintenance costs. Ford planted 100 acres of corn and sunflowers this year on several large fields near its world headquarters.  By replacing what would otherwise be traditional turf grass, the company saves approximately 30 percent on the cost of labor, gas and fertilizer, while creating an attractive habitat. "We're being strategic about what we plant, where we plant, and how we maintain our landscapes in an effort to reduce costs and improve the environment," said Terry Burt, manager, Fairlane Grounds, the group responsible for Ford's landscaping and grounds maintenance.  Planted in late summer, the crops provide food for birds and animals throughout the winter. Fox, wild turkeys and coyote have been spotted on Ford properties, several of which have been certified by the Wildlife Habitat Council. In addition to planting annual crops like sunflowers, Ford uses many native plants that are well-suited to the local soils and climate and therefore do not require significant use of fertilizer, pesticides or irrigation.  According to Burt, finding the right balance between traditional and sustainable landscapes is key to gaining public acceptance.  "People want to do what's right for the environment, but they aren't accustomed to what ‘natural' looks like," said Burt, so Ford has installed several grow zone signs around the fields designating them as natural habitats. 

(Ford)