By Charles Krome
There are plenty of good reasons why Ford has reclaimed its place as one of the top automakers in the U.S., but one that sometimes gets short shrift is the company’s efforts to unify its global product offerings. So going forward, instead of having to spend the resources needed to support two entirely separate Focus lines, one in the U.S. and one in Europe, the company is going to take advantage of the economies of scale that come with building just one.
Unsurprisingly, the practical effect of this will be that many of the U.S. Fords will be replaced with their European counterparts—not the other way around. It actually started when Ford began importing the Transit Connect, and we’ll soon see the European Fiesta introduced on our shores, followed by the European Focus.
By Kevin Miller
It’s no secret that Hyundai is set to launch its Equus luxury sedan in the US. Officially introduced at the New York Auto show in April of this year, the Equus will occupy a market segment above the Korean automaker’s Genesis sedan. While neither a price nor an on-sale date for the Equus has been announced, it is widely believed that pricing for car, targeted at the Lexus LS460 and Mercedes-Benz S550, will start close to $50,000, and rise to around $60,000 fully equipped. Hyundai Motor America’s President and CEO John Krafcik penned a piece last month published by stating the the retail launch of the Equus is still several months away- which indicates that it will be on sale in late 2010.
So far, the only place in the US to get a good look at an Equus has been either at an auto show, or on the internet. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I encountered an Equus sedan yesterday evening on California’s rural Cabrillo coast highway (CA-1). I was re-tracing the route of my California Great Drive, and I passed through a construction zone with single lane traffic controlled by an automated signal near Pescadero; waiting for the signal to change on the other side was a Hyundai Equus. At first glance I took it to be a (still relatively rare) Genesis sedan, but as I glanced at the car’s side profile I could tell it was not a Genesis. Just like any car guy would do, I had to get a better look. With no traffic oncoming or behind me on the rural highway, I quickly made a U-turn and found myself behind the car badgeed EQUUS VS460, wearing a California distributor license plate.
See our Huyndai Equus gallery after the jump…
By Chris Haak
Chrysler’s well-known parts and accessories arm, Mopar, will begin offering Jeep-branded off-road-capable campers next month for order at any dealership. The campers feature styling reminiscent of the Jeep Wrangler itself, and are designed to go off road, sometimes on fairly harsh trails, unlike other travel trailers. The Jeep trailers are constructed of tubular aluminum for durability and strength, and sleep four adults in reasonable comfort.
Because they are sold as Jeep products (via Mopar), they are designed to sync with the capabilities of the Wrangler, and are available in two flavors. The base model, called the Trail Edition, sports 32 inch BF Goodrich mud terrain tires and 12 inches of ground clearance. It’s designed for casual campers who will keep their trailer on fairly smooth trails. Included in the $9,995 base price are sofa, bed, built-in cabinet for gear storage, stowable center table, and 110-volt power inverter.
By Charles Krome
About six years ago, in what seemed to me like another gratuitous anti-Detroit effort, auto safety watchdogs convinced GM to pull its latest Corvette commercial. The spot, showing a young boy hooning it up in a ‘Vette while his schoolmates gaped in astonishment, was knocked for encouraging underaged, over-the-top driving, though the scenes were clearly—clearly—meant to be the product of the kid’s imagination.
And that was pretty much the last time you saw a Corvette commercial on TV—until late last week. That’s when Chevrolet debuted a new ad showcasing the Corvette ZR1, with a suitably patriotic “It’s nice to know America still builds rockets” tag line.
By Roger Boylan
When it came out in late 1999 as a 2000 model, the Chrysler PT Cruiser PT was, love it or hate it, sui generis. It kicked off the retro revolution. Two years after the furor of the New Beetle, American car design was back where it belonged, out in front of the pack, and Chrysler was once again taking chances…and dividing public opinion. I can remember no other vehicle—not the Mini, not the New Beetle, not the Chevy HHR–that aroused such passions, pro and con, at its inception. A few years later, of course, feelings had cooled, and after a couple of minimal cyclical touch-ups and a spate of spinoff submodels such as the Dream Cruiser, the GT Turbo, and the misbegotten convertible, Chrysler wound down its investment in the Cruiser.
By 2007, after a half-hearted attempt to refresh the aging design, the company, by then heading rapidly down the tubes itself, had essentially condemned the PT to death. It limped on for another three years. Then the former “it” car, the hottest of hot sellers, the paradigm of cutting-edge design, was no more. The last one rolled off the line on July 9. The plant that produced it in Toluca, Mexico, is being retooled for Fiat 500 production.