By Chris Haak
It might be an understatement to say that Suzuki is a company that is fighting for its survival in the US market right now. The brand, which had seen some degree of success in the US as recently as 2006, has been knocked down a few pegs in the race for American consumers’ hard-earned money. Much of the problem has been that Suzuki made the strategic decision to no longer rebadge cheap, but lower-quality Korean-built Daewoos and sell them to US consumers. Unfortunately, Suzuki didn’t really have a fallback product in place after the departure of the likes of the Forenza and Verona. With a smaller model lineup and small marketing budgets, it’s difficult to get traction in the difficult US market. To address this hole in its lineup, Suzuki spent over $1 billion USD (according to its advertisements) to develop the Kizashi, its new small midsize sedan.
By Chris Haak
With Crown Victoria production ending in late 2011, Ford had to find a worthy replacement for its time-tested Crown Vic-based Police Interceptor. The current Crown Victoria-based Police Interceptor holds the lion’s share of the police vehicle market (which can be as many as 65,000 vehicles annually in “normal” economic times), and the competitive offerings from GM (the front wheel drive Impala) and Dodge (the rear wheel drive Charger) have not gained much traction in the marketplace.
GM has responded to the Impala’s lack of police market success with its upcoming rear wheel drive Chevrolet Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV), a car that should completely dominate the Crown Vic-based Police Interceptor in terms of performance and driving dynamics. And now it’s Ford’s turn to counterattack.
By Brendan Moore
After a six-month interruption in deliveries due to the fact that the parent company’s survival was decidedly tenuous, Saab Cars North America has shipped new product to their 218 dealers in the United States.
Saab dealers in the US should start receiving new 2010 9-3 models sometime this month. And in a bid to jump-start sales, Saab’s new owner, Spyker, has lowered prices.
How much? Quite a bit – anywhere from a 4% to 12% reduction in base price, depending on the model.
As an example, the 2010 9-3 base model has an MSRP of $29,725 USD, compared to the 2009 9-3 base model, which had an MSRP of $31,135.
The 2010 9-3 Convertible has an MSRP of $40,815, compared to the 2009 9-3 Convertible, which had an MSRP of $42,905.
By Chris Haak
I just finished a week driving an Infiniti FX50, and I just can’t get myself to fall in love with this odd duck. During my week with the car, I added about 400 miles to its odometer, and was able to sample it in snow, on dry pavement and wet, on the highway and in the city, and with the family and without them. What I found was an interesting looking crossover that’s very quick and powerful, but one that seems to have little more utility than a conventional sedan. In other words, it’s a vehicle with the economy of an SUV, the performance of a sports car, and the interior of a large luxury car. Tell me again who thought this would be a good idea.
The FX50 is a statement vehicle. Its design is not burdened by practicality concerns (though, admittedly, a five-door hatchback shape is more practical than, say, a two-seat sport coupe), with a long hood, low roofline, and complex organic curves that each manages to cut a little bit more into the FX’s usable interior space. Were the FX to wear more conventionally-sized wheels – say 18s or 19s – instead of the giant 21s on my sport package-equipped test vehicle, it just wouldn’t look as sporty, or as menacing.
Extra production should bring down Mitsubishi’s costs per EV
By Brendan Moore
Mitsubishi will manufacture the cars at its plant in Mizushima, Okayama Prefecture, Japan. The PSA-branded vehicles will be based on Mitsubishi’s four-seat i-MiEV, which, after a long lead-up, finally goes on sale for the masses next month in Japan. The i-MiEV is scheduled to be offered in Europe by year’s end and in the United States in the second quarter of 2011.
The cars manufactured for PSA will get different body styling, interiors, and will have handling and suspension characteristics. The vehicle will be sold under the iOn brand by Peugeot and under C-Zero by Citroen. PSA plans to sell 25,000 EVs a year, with half of the total going to each of it’s two brands.