GM Fate Intertwined With Auto Industy25/02/2009
"What's good for General Motors is good for the auto industry," Esmond said in an interview at the Chicago Auto Show. "General Motors' troubles don't help anyone," he noted, citing the recurring announcements of layoffs.
"What people don't understand is that the auto industry is intertwined. Not only do some dealers who have Toyota stores also have domestic brand stores, but the same parts and component suppliers who serve GM, Ford and Chrysler serve Toyota, too. "So Toyota isn't immune to a weak economy in the U.S.," he says. "We hope housing recovers, credit loosens and the president's stimulus package works to restore consumer confidence. Even people with money are holding back."
Just the genesis: Hyundai won't rest on its laurels now that its Genesis sedan captured 2009 North American Car of the Year honors from the nation's automotive press.
"Our goal is to be No. 1 in fuel economy in the industry by 2015," John Krafcik, president and CEO of the South Korean automaker's U.S. operations, said in an interview at the show. "We're No. 3 behind Toyota and Honda now but plan to average 35 m.p.g. from our vehicle fleet by 2015," five years sooner than the government's target.
Hyundai's fleet averages 32.4 m.p.g. for cars and 25.5 m.p.g. for trucks.
To reach 35 m.p.g. combined, "all Sonatas will offer only 4-cylinder engines by 2011, and we'll have an all-new Sonata in February of 2010 and in the fall of 2010 a gas/electric Sonata like Toyota does with Camry," he said. "And in a couple years we'll have a new small coupe smaller than the Tiburon coupe [last offered as a 2008 model] with a fuel-efficient 1.6-liter, 4-cylinder engine."
On battery technology, Krafcik said, "We're going to leapfrog it with lithium polymer. Lithium polymer is a gel, which makes it easier to fit in a tiny package, takes only 72 cells to power a car, is lighter weight and has longer life than lithium ion."
It has been reported that Hyundai execs in South Korea said the larger Equus sedan would join Genesis in the U.S. as Hyundai's new flagship in two years. Krafcik's mum though insiders say Equus may spotlighted at the New York Auto Show in April. If it can make it there …
Smart move: Love your new mini Smart Fortwo, but would prefer that the automatic transmission didn't lurch into gear?
Smart Cars USA CEO Dave Schembri says a fix is coming in a matter of weeks for buyers of any of 25,000 2008 Fortwos, the first model year the car was offered in the U.S.
"Some say the way the car shifts adds to the its unique character," he says, pointing to himself.
"For those who don't want that much novelty, Hyundai will offer a free update to the car's software system to make for smoother transmission shifting."
Installation will take about an hour.
Sting Ray stung: The Chevrolet Corvette concept that borrows styling cues from the 1959 Sting Ray is making jaws drop—even more at the thought that the star of this summer's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" could possibly be given a production thumbs up.
"At the moment we don't plan to start this project [a production model]," says Chevy general manager Ed Peper, quickly adding, "But that's not to say it won't happen."
Blame the feds for the holdup. The loans GM got were to develop high-mileage small cars, not high-performance sports coupes—stunning though the latter might be.