Weekly Wrap-Up – 16 October 2011
General Motors – American cars rarely succeed in Japan, but that isn’t stopping The General from trying again with the new Korean-built Chevy Sonic subcompact hatchback. Typically, the only American cars that sell in Japan are imported from the states: Corvettes, Cadillacs, and for whatever reason… Chevy Astros. The Sonic is a huge leap forward from the lowly Aveo, but will it be enough to win over a market already flooded with competent microcars?
General Motors – The Chevy Volt is a tough sell. They say its electric, but it comes with a backup generator that uses premium fuel, so consumers are left wondering if its gas, electric, or both, and it isn’t a hybrid in the traditional sense, not like a Prius. Summarizing this much information into brief messages is a challenge, so GM is using snarky ads to get the point across to consumers.
Chrysler Group – All-new ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic transmissions have arrived, and not a moment too soon. In the Chrysler 300 V6 sedan, the new transmission brings 0-60 times down from 7.3 seconds to 6.6. Highway fuel economy increases from 25mpg to 31mpg, quite impressive for a 4162lb monster on wheels. The new 300 was already an excellent vehicle; the new transmission makes its relatively cheap $33,000 sticker price an even better bargain.
Tourists – A family with a three week old baby got lost in a corn maze. The mother frantically called 911 only 25 feet from the exit.
BMW – The new 3-series is here with a coupe and convertible arriving in late 2012 for 2013. The interior is nicer, the tail lights no longer look like slices of canned pineapple, and the headlights are narrower and more aggressive. It also manages to weigh 88lbs less than its predecessor. It will, expectedly, continue to be a global top seller.
United Auto Workers, Ford – Strikes are expected at Ford assembly plants near Detroit including Chicago. The Taurus, Explorer, and Lincoln MKS would be affected.
Summary: Unions struggle for relevance in an increasingly global market.