By Kevin Miller
On Sunday, a press conference was held at Volvo’s headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, announcing that Ford has entered into an agreement to sell Volvo Car Corporation and related assets to Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Company Limited. The release states that the sale is expected to close in the third quarter of 2010, and is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of applicable regulatory approvals. The purchase price of $1.8 billion will be paid to Ford primarily in cash at the time of closing.
“Volvo is a great brand with an excellent product lineup. This agreement provides a solid foundation for Volvo to continue to build its business under Geely’s ownership,” said Alan Mulally, Ford’s president and CEO. “At the same time, the sale of Volvo will allow us to further sharpen our focus on building the Ford brand around the world.”
Stephen Odell, CEO of Volvo Cars, added, “The Volvo management team fully endorses Ford’s sale of Volvo Cars to Geely. We believe this is the right outcome for the business, and will provide Volvo Cars with the necessary resources, including the capital investment, to strengthen the business and to continue to move it forward in the future.
By Brendan Moore
The first of two press days for the New York Auto Show occurs Wednesday (Techshake will have three writers at this year’s show), and one of the cars debuting on the first day is the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco, a high-mpg car that GM hopes will attract buyers who want great fuel economy in a car without sacrificing creature comforts.
The Cruze Eco will get 40 mpg on the highway, according to GM, and it does that with the assistance of a feature unusual in the compact segment – automatic shutters in the lower front fascia that close when the car reaches a speed of 37 mph, much like an automatic spoiler on sports cars that raises when a specific speed is reached. An electric motor closes the shutters at 37 mph, and opens the shutters when the car’s speed drops to 34 mph.
By James Wong
AMG announced just a few weeks ago that their venerable 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V8 in their cars will soon be phased out for a new twin-turbocharged 5.5-litre V8. And, just last weekend I attended the launch of VW’s new Golf R. The successor to the R32 will now have a 2.0-litre turbo from the S3 (a near-direct transplant), discarding the purring VR6 from the old car.
On paper it seems like an unquestionable decision. More power and even more torque from a smaller engine that gives better mileage. There doesn’t seem to be any drawback, is there? Well, while the advantages are undeniable, there are also some consequences that we should consider.
By Brendan Moore
Muller told a gathering of Saab dealers in France that “a large number” of serious industry players have approached Saab about sharing their technologies with the reborn Swedish automaker. Muller stated that he wanted to make sure that Saab has the technology it needs to be successful moving forward. Muller noted that “successful” to Saab means being profitable as a stand-alone entity.
Muller also commented that the technology deals will be a two-way street, with Saab technology being supplied to new partners.
“Nobody sees us as a threat so everybody wants to talk with us,” Muller said. “And there are good chances that we will be supplying our technology to third parties, we’re not going to be just on the demand side of things,” he added.
By Brendan Moore
Sales in the United States auto market are expected to jump this month, with preliminary reports showing large increases due to a combination of incentives from all the major automakers (led by Toyota) and the recovering national economy.
Toyota has rolled out huge incentives in the form of low-interest and zero-interest loans, as well as subvented leases, in order to reverse the sales slide resulting from their particular hell of vehicle recalls, and the other automakers have rushed to respond, so as to remain competitive in the market. Consumers have responded en masse, and sales numbers for the month look very rosy so far.
But Chrysler is trending down 10% month-to-date from last year’s decidedly dismal results. Chrysler’s Fred Diaz, the company’s U.S. sales head, says not to worry.
By Chris Haak
The Mitsubishi Galant, sold in its current form since the 2004 model year, has been relegated to something of an also-ran in the hyper-competitive midsize sedan segment. While competitors such as the Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Ford Fusion, Chevy Malibu, and Mazda6 have already moved onto their next-generation vehicles since the Galant’s late-2003 on-sale date, Mitsubishi has asked its Galant to soldier on with few substantive changes through the 2010 model year. Most of the car’s changes are related to equipment packages and pricing, in an effort to keep the car on some buyers’ radar screens. The car also received a mild update to its front and rear end styling for the 2009 model year that only the most-dedicated tri-diamond watchers would notice.
On paper, the Galant seems like a reasonably good value. The Galant SE that I reviewed had six airbags, automatic climate control, cruise control, 660 watt audio system, Sirius Satellite Radio, power windows, power mirrors, power locks, Bluetooth phone connectivity, 18 inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, a backup camera, heated cloth seats, and DVD-based navigation with a 7-inch LCD screen. That the Galant SE costs just $23,999 with all of that equipment ($24,719 after adding the $720 destination charge) is somewhat unusual in a segment where heavily-optioned models can top $30,000 without much trouble.
By Chris Haak
Acura’s new ZDX crossover continues a recent trend of attaching a four door coupe-like body onto the higher ride height of a crossover’s platform. The resulting vehicles often look kind of like unfortunate types of hybrids – not the kind that have a gasoline engine and an electrical motor, but rather vehicles that combine two totally different vehicle types, with both low-cut tops with a partially jacked-up body.
The ZDX’s shape – clearly an evolution of the design theme that Acura is hopefully still in the process of perfecting – actually is one that grew on me over the past few months, and even more so during its time with me. The shape is now what I’d call practical (more like function following form, particularly in terms of the loss in rear-seat room and cargo volume compared to the related MDX), but it’s clean, sporty, and reasonably attractive. In fact, driving the car, I felt like I was tooling around in a concept car rather than a production car, since the ZDX is so new and I’ve never seen one on the road before, and its shape is so different from other vehicles out there.
By James Wong
It has been a while since I felt any love for my car. It has absolutely no sense of humour when it comes to modifications – each time I install something new in it, it will retaliate by giving me problems. Being a meticulous person that I am, I notice every single one of the problems immediately (its almost as if the car knows that too) and it is driving me up the wall. I have also given my friends more than their fair share of drivel about my modifications and how my decisions have gone astray ever since I lost focus of my purpose of modifying. For that, I owe them my greatest apology and also my gratefulness that they are also willing to put up with it (I’ll stop, I promise).