Episode 585 – New Vehicles Cut Into GM’s Profits, MINI Rocketman Concept, Aston Martin Virage

February 23rd, 2011 at 12:00pm

Runtime 8:02

Analysts are saying don’t be surprised if GM’s fourth-quarter earnings are not that good because it had to spend money on developing and introducing new vehicles. MINI will debut a concept in Geneva called the Rocketman, which is smaller than any car it builds now. Aston Martin just introduced its latest sportscar, called the Virage, which is powered by a hand-built 6.0-liter V-12 that cranks out 490 horsepower. All that and more, plus John answers your questions about ethanol, the Toyota Prius and much more in the “You Said It!” segment.

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This is Autoline Daily for February 23, 2011. And now, the news.

NEW VEHICLES CUT INTO GM’S PROFIT
When GM announces its fourth-quarter earnings, analysts are saying don’t be surprised if they’re not that good because Ford and Daimler also posted poor Q4 profits. The reason? The high costs associated with developing and introducing new vehicles. Analysts believe GM’s fourth quarter could be the smallest quarterly profit it reports since the company emerged from bankruptcy. Plus, CEO Dan Akerson is pushing the company to speed up the introduction of new models and all automakers are facing higher material costs. Even so, GM’s fourth-quarter net income could top $1 billion. Isn’t it amazing when a billion-dollar profit isn’t very impressive?

DENISE JOHNSON LEAVES GM
And speaking of General Motors, Denise Johnson, the head of the company’s Brazilian operations, abruptly left the company. Bloomberg reports that she left to “pursue new career opportunities” which sure sounds like she was pushed out to me. Strange. Just a while ago GM was touting her as a rising star in the company.

CHINA’S BIG EV AMBITIONS
President Obama says he wants to see 1 million electric vehicles on the road in the United States by 2015. That means counting every EV sold for each of the next five years. But China has much greater ambitions. It wants to be building and selling 1 million EVs a year by then, and it’s ready to spend $15 billion to help subsidize manufacturing those vehicles. All I can say is that they better hope that EVs really catch on, because if they don’t that’s a lot of money to wash down the drain.

BIG GOALS FOR YOUNGMAN LOTUS
Speaking of China, they have so many car companies over there it’s hard to keep track of them all. There’s one called Youngman Lotus that only sold a paltry 30,000 cars in China last year. But this little company has big plans. It says it will sell 700,000 cars in just a couple of years. We say: fat chance! Interestingly, Youngman Lotus gets the Lotus name because the first car it sold was a rebadged Proton, the company that now owns Lotus. Lotus Engineering is now involved in a joint venture with Youngman, which allows its cars to carry a badge that says Engineered by Lotus.

I’M A (MINI) ROCKETMAN
Now to Europe. Believe it or not today’s MINI is HUGE. Park one next to an original and you’ll see what I’m talking about. In fact, the company thinks it may be too big for some markets, which is why it’s going back to its roots. Debuting in Geneva, the Rocketman concept is a much smaller car than what MINI builds now. It’s similarly sized to the original model, which means TINY. It features three doors, three-plus-one seating and a body that’s slightly longer than three meters. With a footprint that small it’s pretty obvious this thing is all about fuel efficiency. To maximize its MPGs the Rocketman is built around a carbon spaceframe PLUS it features other weight-saving details. As for fuel consumption, the company says it should average around 3.0 L/100 KM – about 78 U.S. miles per gallon – but that being said we have no idea what’s under the hood. I’d say it’s got to be some sort of hybrid, though.

ASTON MARTIN VIRAGE
In related news, Aston Martin is set to show off its latest sportscar. Called the Virage, which is French for bend or turn, it’s positioned between the DB9 and the DBS, supposedly splitting the difference between luxury and sport. Under the hood it’s powered by a hand-built 6.0-liter V-12 that cranks out 490 horsepower. Inside just about everything is covered in leather – SEVEN cows’ worth in fact. Look for the Virage – and its drop-top sibling – at Aston Martin dealerships around the world right now. Oh yeah, and bring your checkbook. This thing ain’t cheap.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now it’s time for some of your feedback.

Jim saw our story on how features like power windows that used to only be on luxury cars are now standard equipment on even some of the cheapest cars, he makes this observation, “Speaking of power windows, how many times do you say to a passenger to ‘roll down your window’ even though there are no longer window cranks. Old habits die off slowly.”

Boy, ain’t that the truth. I still say roll down your window.

Michael saw our report on the fight over E15 gasoline in the U.S. and says, “I don’t know whether or not ethanol content in gasoline will harm my 1993 engine, but it certainly HAS harmed my Toro snow blower. Took it back to where I got it, and the guy tells me that gasoline containing ethanol will fry the carb. He goes on to say that Mobil and BP are two that do still supply non-ethanol gasoline.”

Michael, I don’t think that’s true about Mobil and BP. I don’t think you can buy pure gasoline in any major metropolitan area anymore. The EPA mandates what they call an oxygenate in gasoline to make it burn cleaner, so metropolitan areas can come into compliance with the Clean Air Act. And about the only oxygenate that’s EPA-approved right now is ethanol, and that’s been the case for nearly two decades.

Kit Gerhart heard me say that I wasn’t impressed that a Chevy Cruze with a diesel would only get 34 MPGs combined, and he points out that, “The combined rating for the Jetta TDI is 34, so if a Cruze diesel could do 34, it’s where is should be.”

Kit, good point, I stand corrected.

Richard S. saw our report on how a Toyota Prius gets different fuel economy ratings in different countries because of different test procedures. I pointed out that in the U.S. the Prius is rated at 50 miles per gallon, but its rated at 60 MPGs in the UK, so he says, “John, you did not mention whether the economy ratings for the different countries took into account that a U.S. gallon is 25 percent smaller than a UK gallon. That could explain most of the difference between the U.S. and British economy ratings because a British quart has 40 ounces while the US quart has 32 ounces. So a British gallon has five U.S. quarts or 160 ounces. If you do the math, the exact economy ratings would be very close – 50 MPG US is the same as 62.5 MPG UK.”

Richard, thanks for making that point but we did take that into account in our comparison. In fact, that’s why we also gave the comparison in liters per 100 kilometers. But I like the fact that you questioned us on it.

Tokyokurisu saw our report on the Nissan Moco and wrote in to say, “Lol….Nissan Moco. Translation from Spanish = “Booger.”

All I can say is that you learn something new everyday on Autoline Daily.

And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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77 Comments to “Episode 585 – New Vehicles Cut Into GM’s Profits, MINI Rocketman Concept, Aston Martin Virage”

  1. bob Says:

    “Kit Gerhart heard me say that I wasn’t impressed that a Chevy Cruze with a diesel would only get 34 MPGs combined, and he points out that, “The combined rating for the Jetta TDI is 34, so if a Cruze diesel could do 34, it’s where is should be.”

    Kit, good point, I stand corrected.”

    Actually, John, Kit was responding to my comment, not yours, I believe! So you don’t need to correct anything.

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    When gas hit $4+ two years ago, small cars started selling at MSRP and people started dumping their big SUV’s like crazy, I wonder if this time the same will happen?

  3. bob Says:

    “DENISE JOHNSON LEAVES GM
    And speaking of General Motors, Denise Johnson, the head of the company’s Brazilian operations, abruptly left the company. Bloomberg reports that she left to “pursue new career opportunities” which sure sounds like she was pushed out to me. Strange. Just a while ago GM was touting her as a rising star in the company.”

    There were many, many females, engineers or engineering illiterate MBA’s, who were placed on top of now defunct GM divisions (Hummer, Saturn etc), or in charge of various politically correct green, hybrid and other niche programs in GM and Ford, and not one of them distinguished herself. In fact, some were utter disasters, and went on to ruin other brands too (such as Jill of Saturn, who next went to SMART after Saturn’s demise).

    Why don’t some people face reality: Most Women would care less about cars than I care about women’s shoes or purses, which is, not at all.

    WHY try to push women in the auto industry, even in the auto press, when they obviously do not seem to give a damn? I see the female reporters in Automotive News, the alleged “bible” of the Auto industry. WIth perhaps only one veteran exception, they are all utterly clueless. They are the sort of poor people Salesmen routinely rip off at the dealers.

    Seriously, does anybody know a female Bob Lutz? And who is her, I’d be very curious to meet her.

  4. HtG Says:

    yer gonna get letters bob.

    On Mini size, keep in mind that today’s Mini is a Cooper, which was not the original tiny car, but itself was an enlarged model.

    oh bob

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I attended a big Mini show/rallye this weekend, and it’s amazing how many “classic” Minis have found their way into the U.S. over the years. They ware last “officially” imported in ’67 ir ’68, and only in very small numbers. There were about an equal number of RHD and LHD cars at the show, most of them from the 70′s and 80′s. It is apparently not too difficult to register and title non-U.S. spec cars in Florida, after they are 25 years old. My “new Mini” is probably 25-30% bigger than the original in most dimensions.

  6. HtG Says:

    Wasn’t the new BMW Z4 designed by two women, one for the exterior and the other for the interior? Isn’t there a female aerodynamicist working for GM? Didn’t John have a woman manager from FORD on the AAH show, talking about hybrids?

  7. bob Says:

    The original Mini was much smaller than even the base Mini of today, but it had some nice wood accents inside that today’s plasticky Mini does not have.

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If they did a good job of keeping the weight down on the Mini RocketMan, a ~1.0-1.2 liter, 3 cylinder diesel would would make a good power plant.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    “Sorry, Mr Bond, you will not get the new Aston Vistage, instead you will get the new Ford Crappage” ps them chicks should be limited to picking interior touches like cupholder placement and color schemes, leave the engineering stuff to the guys, you don’t see any of them at NASA, do you?

  10. HtG Says:

    holy moly Michigan!

    http://tv.gawker.com/#!5767829/angry-customer-trashes-car-repair-shop-as-local-news-reporter-records-the-chaos

  11. bob Says:

    Your Tata Nano is ready, Mister Bond!

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The oldest Minis were very primitive, with sliding side windows (simpler than crank), no interior door panels, etc. Except for the seats, pretty much everything was painted sheet metal.

    Over the years, they “dressed them up” a lot with some wood, etc. especially some special edition late 90′s cars. There was one of these at the show I just attended which was imported from Germany, but not registered. He’ll have to wait a while to do that. The car had a very attractive interior with real wood, leather, and wool carpet, but even the owner said it is still a very primative car, noisy, rough ride, etc. I really enjoyed seeing it.

  13. bob Says:

    Poor Al roker may have lost a ton of weight with his surgery, but he looks like a cadaver.

    Still, don’t take “poor” literally, the clown must make $6 million a year minimum…

  14. bob Says:

    “Kit Gerhart Says:
    February 23rd, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    The oldest Minis were very primitive, with sliding side windows (simpler than crank), no interior door panels, etc. Except for the seats, pretty much everything was painted sheet metal. ”

    I don’t think so, the one I saw near my summer home a few months ago had nice leather seats AND a dash that I was 99.99% was made of wood. If it was painted sheet metal, as Kit says, they sure did a very convincing job of it.

  15. bob Says:

    “leave the engineering stuff to the guys, you don’t see any of them at NASA, do you?”

    They could try to find fault with Toyotas charged with sudden acceleration… now that the NASA boys tried and failed to find any fault with their engineering.

  16. tj Martin Says:

    MINI Stuff ;

    1) The original Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S were no larger in size than the original Mini . The Cooper and S designations were in reference to the motors state of tune and the suspension mods

    2) MINI Rocketman – The power for the new mini MINI will be both the diesel and gas powered 3 cylinders BMW is just finishing up on

    3) Lots of original Mini’s west of the Miss. as well with many having Honda engine conversions . Which works brilliantly

    Hmmn . Maybe I need to re-think dumping the MINI what with fuel prices/shortages on the potential horizon etc.

    But then there is the shoving a 50 + year old body into the car as well as the storage etc. , along with moving back to the Rocky Mountains in the next 24 months or so

    What say you @ HtG since you know what I’m thinking about buying ?

  17. bob Says:

    Actually, to be fair to Ford, I just read a review for a version of the new Focus, and the stats and the price were OK:

    base price $18,065, as tested, $21,850

    160 HP, 146 LBFT ( I wish they also gave the RPM!)

    2889 lbs, 28/40 (EST) EPA MPG

    Available in Spring 11.

    It is priced competitively and has good MPG. It should do well.

  18. tj Martin Says:

    The Ecllestone Papers ;

    HtG asked for this so here it is ;

    1) Know right up front Bernie’s formula is ” If you make $10 on F1 or his name : he makes at least $20″

    2) ESPN and Bernie ; Correct me if I’m wrong but my understanding of why ESPN ” Lost ” F1 coverage was the typical Bernie Formula . He wanted more control and more money and ESPN told him where to shove it .

    Bernie has even had a say on who can comment on SPEED’s coverage of F1 control freak that he is ; blackballing several audience favorites .

    3) Bernie has over the years ended the careers of several famous ( magazines books etc ) Photographers because they wouldn’t switch to the ” Official ” camera , Canon .

    4) Bernie has also stuck his nose into some of the retired F1 drivers lives / business e.g. They make a deal with a manufacture to create a Signature model of what ever and at almost production time Bernie’s Cadre of Lawyers shows up at the manufactures and retired drivers door demanding Bernie’s “Cut ” which all but eliminates any profits .

    Both # 3&4 happened to personal friends ( and I was involved in a # 4 ) but both requested I keep this anonymous for obvious reasons .

  19. Zieke Says:

    Re: #13
    Al Roker. What a treat. I can’t even connect him with weather, let alone automobiles. Today show can’t be serious ,can they?

  20. HtG Says:

    tj, thanks for the Mini info. So it’s not true that the Cooper was bigger than the original?

    Since you’ll be paying cash, you will be in a better position if gas prices go up and the economy gets hurt.

    One way I get in and out of the Miata is to hold the steering wheel with my right hand, using the wheel as a handle. You could also take up Pilates.

  21. HtG Says:

    Zieke, that Al Roker clip isn’t the one I intended to post. You need to Copy the whole link and paste it into your browser command line. The video is of a woman going berserk over a towing fee. Near Grand Rapids

  22. tj Martin Says:

    Bob ;

    The tarted up Classic Mini you saw was no doubt one of the many aftermarket “Conversions ” (Radford etc. ) which were very popular amongst the well heeled and celebrity Mini owners back then : some of which costed upwards of £20,000 back in the day .

    The Mini Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S from the factory had the basic interiors in them .

    That or it was one of the later Classic Mini’s at the end of its life span still using the original bodies but gussied up to keep them selling .

  23. HtG Says:

    tj, did you read the piece on his Highness and Slavica in the Daily Mail? They say he’s as tall as her when he’s standing on his wallet. Good stuff, but way intimate.

  24. tj Martin Says:

    @HtG ;

    Im not clear on post #20 . Does that mean your opinion is buy the Toy(ota ) or does it mean keep the MINI ?

    And yes all Mini’s , Cooper & Cooper S etc. were the same size .

  25. tj Martin Says:

    HtG;

    Ahhhh Slavica . The epitome of the Gold Digging Trophy Bimbo . Seriously , is there ANY original equipment left on her , or is it all Botox , Surgery and Plastic ? ( with a healthy dose on Sherwin & Williams paint )

  26. HtG Says:

    tj I can’t tell you what to do. If you really want the new toy, that’s your pleasure. Do all the calculations you want, emotion is powerful. Maybe you go try to negotiate a price with the dealer and see what the real cost is today. Then recheck how you feel. Herb Cohen might say you’re able to care about the deal, but not that much.

  27. HtG Says:

    On Slavica(keep it clean boys), it’s just poetic that Bernie moved all his wealth offshore and into her name in order to avoid tax, and got torn in half in his divorce.

  28. dcars Says:

    The countrymen is a nice looking car! there new commercials are also pretty cool.
    I used to love F1 but the arrogance of it’s leader and their disdain for all things american (except our money!) was too discouraging.

  29. Lex Says:

    John and Peter De:

    Have you seen the latest Lexus IS 250 commercial? This is the one were the IS 250 mashes into with White Form Outlines of different vehicles segements, like minivans and SUV’s on a billboard background. What is the purpose of this commercial? Who are these advertising executives who dream up this stuff? Lexus has nothing to do with minivans.
    This commercial simply reduced my perception of the Lexus Brand.

    The Toyota Thundra commerical pulling the huge trailer up a spiral steel framework structure while flames roast the vehicle is another reason these pickups do not sell. People want to see real world application of vehicles (economy. durability and functionality) so that they con envision themselves in those vehicles.

    I agree with Peter that Chevy’s “Solid like a rock” tag line was one of the greatest. What does Toyota need do? I suggest putting a little “Thunder” into their Thundra Commercials. Picture bad weather with high winds and snow. A competitors vehicle is stuck in a snow bank after sliding off the road. The Toyota Thundra appears and either a Voluntee Fireman or EMS workers stepping out to check if every one is OK and pulls the trapped vehicle out of the snow bank. This type of commercial pulls on emotion and would make people consider the featured vehicle.

    The Prius Commercial with the healthcare woman suggestiong that solar cells might be benefical for medical tents in diaster areas is a great commerical.

    I saw the first two commercials and said to myself, forget about these fancy pants stupid commercials. Just tell me the good points about your vehicle and how it fits my lifestyle. These fancy commercials waste money which could be used to reduce the cost of the vehicle.

    The new Dodge Journey AWD and Charger AWD commercial is a great example of confidence gained when you purchase an AWD vehicle especially this winter. Bravo Dodge!!!

  30. tj Martin Says:

    @dcars ;

    For what its worth I’ve followed F1 since 1964 ( R&T articles / time spent in the “Bog ” at Watkins Glen etc. ) but over the last decade with the lack of competition , Bernie being in Ferrari’s back pocket , the ongoing ” Parade ” lap after lap , Bernie and Max’s ( now Todt ) personally tailored ” Show ” and yes Bernie’s overwheling control of Everything F1 I’ve had enough . this last round confronting Bernie’s influence in a UK General Automotive Forum being the last and final straw : not that I wasn’t heading there anyway .

    I’ve cancelled my Montreal reservations , taken my name off the list for working the Austin F1 race , cancelled my F1 Racing subscription as well as to the UK magazine that blew me off site after censoring my Bernie post , will not watch the TV coverage live or otherwise ( I’m getting a bit disgusted with SPEED as well lately ) etc. etc.

    And no @ HtG I won’t buy the book either , knowing full well Bernie will be getting his cut .

  31. tj Martin Says:

    @HtG;

    As to the new purchase I’m still leaning towards getting the Toy(ota ) But damn those MINI’s get under your skin once you’ve owned one .

    (FYI : for any who have tried to guess or care its a Toyota FJ Cruiser I’m looking at trading into )

  32. HtG Says:

    tj, before you erase all memories of F1, do you know how much Ferrari extracts out of the series each year? I heard they got millions for staying in the series.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “I don’t think so, the one I saw near my summer home a few months ago had nice leather seats AND a dash that I was 99.99% was made of wood.”

    The early Minis had body colored painted sheet metal, with no attempt to make it look like wood. These “Mark 1″ cars had no interior door panels; you could see the outside door skin from inside the car. The early Minis had an 850cc engine. Later cars had 1000cc and 1275cc engines. The “Cooper S,” starting in about 1964 was the first Mini with a 1275. All of the later cars had that engine.

    There were Clubman Estates and pickups during part of the 1959-2000 run of what people now call “classic Mini.”

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    tj said,
    “That or it was one of the later Classic Mini’s at the end of its life span still using the original bodies but gussied up to keep them selling.”

    The car brought over from Germany that I mentioned in #12 was one of the late, gussied up versions. I forget what name they used for the special edition. I was surprised that they would put such a fancy interior in an “old” Mini, but I guess it helped sell a few more cars at the end.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    tj,
    I assumed all along it was an FJ Cruiser you were talking about, and now I know.

  36. tj Martin Says:

    HtG;

    Actually what I’ve heard is that Ferrari pays Millions to maintain their advantages with the FIA and FOCA . Of course , up front they receive several million in appearance , previous years placement fees etc. as does McLaren and any of the other front runners .

    But its behind closed doors that the money is rumored to flow in the opposite direction from Ferrari . Rampantly !

    Probably one of the many reasons Marchionne keeps threatening to sell off Ferrari . Between the money they lose on each car sold and the Multitudes of Millions spent on the team as well as the under the table deals , well Ferrari is costing FIAT a fortune .

    And hey I won’t forget the great times I had in F1 . Getting drenched in the Bog ( yes I was young and it was fun ) Martini’s with Ross Brawn discussing Flyfishing , watching Ayrton Senna come up thru the ranks , Lauda , Stewart etc. etc. .

    Nope . Lots of great memories . I’ve just lost interest in the Future of F1 .

  37. tj Martin Says:

    @Kit Gerhart ;

    Re; Guessing correctly . Always assumed you to be one of the smart ones here .

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    For those who want to know more of the history of “classic” Minis, there is a good article on Wikipedia at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini

  39. tj Martin Says:

    @Kit Gerhart ;

    You should see first hand some of the Coachbuilt Classic Mini’s that were done back in the day .

    Some of them have interiors to rival the Rolls Royces of the day . Folks then , that could afford it spent a bundle modifying their Mini’s be it thru Radfords or any of the other Coachbuilders of the day .

    The ” original ” Mini being the original Egalitarian car .

  40. HtG Says:

    tj, I heard through my B-in-L, whose buddy does TV deals in Europe that among the business people actually at the race, as soon as the start happens no one is paying attention to the race anymore. Just not interesting.

    I think if I hadn’t grown up following the sport, there’s no way I’d do so now. Yesterday Vettel said the new Pirellis will make more marbles, so passing chances will be hurt. Maybe all those new fans in new venues can’t tell it’s a bad show.

  41. tj Martin Says:

    @Kit Gerhart ;

    So you’ve got one ( a MINI ) You know what I’m considering .

    Any opinions ?

  42. tj Martin Says:

    @HtG;

    The worst part for me with the ” New ” F1 is the complete lack of accessibility for the fans no matter what Ticket you purchase .

    Back in the day being able to go into the pits . meet the drivers first hand at the track and local restaurants , being plunked into a Mclaren F1 car as a child by one of the mechanics who’d seen the gleam in my eye .

    I mean Crap ! What do you get now ? Fences a mile high . Drivers that charge for a bloody autograph . If you can get one ! A 90 minute ” parade” . All for a God Awful Fortune in ticket prices .

  43. tj Martin Says:

    @HtG

    I think with the majority of the ” New” F1 fans its more about the Zeitgeist of ” No Brow” rather than the Sport .

    e.g : Its all about being seen . Participating in the Current Trend . Running with the ” Right ” crowd etc.

    The Racing being purely secondary . Which by the way is the way Bernie is promoting the sport . Giving Stars and Celebrities Free Passes , Hospitality etc. in return for the odd Interview and Showing up on camera .

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Any opinions ?”

    I don’t know too much about it, since it’s not the type vehicle I buy, but of what I know, I like it ok. The off road capability is very good, and I like the “retro” styling. Also, it is a decent value in today’s market.

    I’m sure you know the down side, mediocre gas mileage and on-road handling, etc. I’d say, if you like it, buy it, but maybe you should keep your MINI if you have space for an extra car.

  45. HtG Says:

    Exactly tj.

    I remember watching the pre-race on Speed a few years ago as the camera focused on a male celebrity walking around the staged cars. Neither Hobbs, Matchette, or the other guy knew who he was at all. It was Carlos, the soccer player, and they had not a clue!

  46. tj Martin Says:

    By the way I love the photo of Bernie on the Home Page of http://www.autosport.com today .

    Looks for all the world like a Grey , Short Haired version of Muammar Qaddafi . Same angry pose . Same vacant stare . Same vacuous eyes . Same pointing finger ( I’d like to point a finger at Bernie )

    Hmmn . Related perhaps ? Or suffering from the same syndrome ?

  47. tj Martin Says:

    Jeeze , with all the comments and inside info I’ve posted on Ecclestone today , you don’t suppose John would have to have me booted here as well because of Bernie’s influence do you ?

    Nahh . John would probably give Bernie the Colbert ;

    ” Guess what finger I’m hiding behind my hand ” routine . Or something similar .

    I hope !

    Tomorrow may tell .

  48. tj Martin Says:

    And to end on an Automotive Industry note ;

    Today AutoWeek is reporting that FORD is Re-Calling 144,000 F150 P/U’s for faulty air bags .

    February is barely over and the Recall numbers are already stacking up .

  49. HtG Says:

    tj, I think I may have just bought Bernie a pint and a bag of crisps.

  50. tj Martin Says:

    HtG;

    What did you buy ???

  51. tj Martin Says:

    So now FIAT is claiming we will get the FIAT 500 Abarth , in order to circumvent the 500 being labeled as a ” Cute Only ” car .

    In 2013 that is ! Too little , too late I’m afraid .

    FIAT needs to learn a lesson from the Porsche Play Book . Release the Top of the Line High Performance version of a brand new model ( re; Cayenne and Panamera ) to WOW the potential buyers .

    Then gradually release the cheaper versions once the general buying public is convinced they ” Need ” one.

    Dumping the cheapest model on a new audience only serves to reinforce the fact that the car you’re selling is junk .

  52. HtG Says:

    I couldn’t resist No Angel. Your stories have tempted me beyond my control. It’s shipping from the UK. It’s on you, mate.

    I kid tj. But I have to read this stuff.

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The things I like about F1 are that, unlike most major racing series, there are multiple engine and chassis builders. It’s too bad that Bernie is such a jerk, and that the outcome of the races is mostly determined in qualifying, and to a lesser extent by pit strategy. Racing? There’s precious little of that.

  54. tj Martin Says:

    @HtG;

    First you don’t invite me for pizza . Next you’re dumping $ into Ecclestone’s coiffure’s . And now to top it off you order it from the UK when its available this month in the US ?????

    That BBQ offer is becoming a vague and distant memory :o )

  55. HtG Says:

    ┌∩┐(◣ _ ◢)┌∩┐

  56. tj Martin Says:

    @Kit Gerhart ;

    The sad thing is that in spite of there being different manufactures in F1 , if you were to strip all the decals and paint off , leaving them in naked carbon fiber ( easy guys ) you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between them because of all the rules and restrictions these days .

  57. tj Martin Says:

    HtG;

    Cute but what is it ???

    #55

  58. HtG Says:

    it’s a manual emoticon. Two fister.

    I’m just kidding. It made me laugh when I saw it first.

  59. tj Martin Says:

    HtG;

    Just looked at the Amazon US site . They lied . All their sources for the book are UK and Germany . So you’re partially forgiven .

    Have you read the One review on the UK Amazon site ?

    And how the heck did you do that ( put up that emoticon on this site ? )

  60. HtG Says:

    I just copied the emoticon from another site. Highlight it, put your mouse on it, right click, left click ‘copy,’ then paste into your notepad if you use Windows. Then you can whip it out for the right occasion.

    I’ll read the UK review soon. I just want to know where BE comes from. The Slavica story in the DailyMail went some way.

  61. W L Simpson Says:

    what happens (details, please) when a supplied
    product screws up & the car factory is faced
    w/the recall routine? Does the supplier do anything but replace the item?I know the relationnship is amazingly complex & it would be interesting to know the “restofthestory” as Paul Harvey used to say.

  62. Andrew Charles Says:

    Re the Mini Rocketman—nice car but not as the press release implies “just over 3 m long”. Read a little further and you find that it’s just under 3.5 m long (3.419 m)—a little more than 200 mm less than the standard 2002 Mini and less than 300 mm shorter than the new Mini. That puts it at the bottom end of the European A-segment (3.4–3.8 m hatchbacks) with the PSA-Toyota C1, 107 and Aygo triplets. Most new A-segment cars are in the 3.5-3.6 m, or pushing into the Mini’s 3.6-3.8 m range where the A- and B-segments overlap (e.g. Twingo, Spark, Sirion). BTW, the Mini is not just a Mini Cooper. In most of the world the range begins with the Mini One. The Mini Cooper is larger, but the difference is purely cosmetic (different front airdam etc.)

  63. tj Martin Says:

    @Andrew Charles ;

    Sorry but from the MINI ONE all the way up to the JCW MINI Cooper S , all the new MINI coupes are the exact same body on the exterior and the interior . The differences are again like the Classic Mini , in the engine , suspension and options along with a few fiddly bits ( spoilers and the such ) Although any of the fiddly bits are available as options from the dealer .

    The only size difference in the new MINI is between the BMW New MINI Series One , and the Series Two ( current ) with the Series Two being larger .

    What may have you confused is that up and until last year the Coupe was the Series Two whereas the Convertible was still based on the Series One Body/Platform

    Also in the EU/UK you have the choice of ;

    MINI D
    MINI One
    MINI Cooper D
    MINI Cooper
    MINI Cooper S
    MINI Cooper JCW

    Along with the convertible in the above configurations , and then of course the Clubman , Countryman etc. all soon to have the above variations as well

  64. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It surprises me that they use a Toyota diesel in the MINI D, given that the diesel version of the PSA “Prince” gas engine they use is very good. I’d think it would make sense to use a PSA diesel too.

  65. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Woops, it looks like I was behind times. They are now using PSA, rather than Toyota engines in the MINI D.

  66. Andrew Charles Says:

    @tj Martin: isn’t that exactly what I said (the size difference is purely cosmetic)?

  67. bob Says:

    ┌∩┐(◣ _ ◢)┌∩┐

    Looks more like two middle fingers, not just two fists. Could work as a standard facade of the IRS building in your town. (two buildings separated by two triangular cut bushes as above)

    I’d speculate the reason they use a Toyota Diesel and not the PSA one, despite Peugeot’s long experience in Diesels, must be the reliability, or maybe Toyota higher ups encourage such cooperations.

    it is even more surprising that LOTUS ALSO had been using the Toyota 1.8 gas engine in all kinds of cars it made recently, the Elise and all the rest of them, and only recently recently they also use larger engines.

  68. pedro fernandez Says:

    This would be a perfect symbol for OPEC towards the West.

  69. tj Martin Says:

    re; Post # 55 & 67

    Looks to me like a pair of loud speakers blaring at twin buildings but then again that may be a built in bias on my part .

    @Bob ; Yup Lotus dumped the Vauxhall motors they were using for the Toyota 4 cylinder and now like you said are using the V6 as well ( in the Evora ) Too bad the idiot running the company ( Dany Bahar ) has pretentious ambitions for Lotus to build their own motors as half the appeal of the Elise/Exige/Evora is that Toyota reliability with Lotus driving dynamics .

    And talk about deals . Check out the bargain basement prices of a used Elise these days here in the US .

  70. tj Martin Says:

    Oh look . I’m still here ! I guess Ecclestones far reaching Iron Fisted grip hasn’t made it this far .

    Freakin Little Tyrant !

    ( ever noticed its the short ones e.g. Ecclestone Napoleon etc. that make life difficult ? The Chihuahua complex . Bark louder because you know in a straight fight you can’t defend yourself )

  71. bob Says:

    http://www.cars.com/for-sale/searchresults.action?alMdId=21056&mkId=20071&mdId=21056&crSrtFlds=stkTypId-feedSegId-mkId-mdId&rd=100000&zc=48105&PMmt=1-1-0&stkTypId=28881&alMkId=20071&rpp=50&feedSegId=28705&searchSource=SORT&pgId=2102&sf1Nm=price&sf1Dir=ASC

    Out of curiosity I went to cars.com and found the 52 Elises on sale all over the US, ranked from lowest price (about $20k) to highest ($50s). They did not cost much more than $50k new, did they?

  72. bob Says:

    # pedro fernandez Says:
    February 24th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    This would be a perfect symbol for OPEC towards the West.

    it’s their oil, it is their perfect right to lower their production so they can sell it at a “higher” price, as it is our right to consume less to bring the price down (supply and demand)

  73. tj Martin Says:

    @Bob

    Yes the Elise sells at around $50K new , but the folks trying to sell their used Elise’s at that price are living in fantasy land .

    A friend that owns a Lotus dealer has told me Elise’s are traded in so rapidly that they ( his dealership ) is no longer accepting them as Trade In’s unless its towards a very expensive ( $175K plus ) car in their inventory .

    $20K or less is the average actual selling price of a used Elise .

  74. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect the noise and ride would make an Elise get very old, very quickly, if you tried using it as a daily driver. I suspect most people who buy them would do so mainly to have a fun toy for track days and/or autocrossing, but some would buy them with the intent of driving them to work, etc., but quickly finding that not to be much fun.

  75. bob Says:

    The Elise is far more of a track toy than other small lightweight convertibles like the Miata, which you can drive daily too.

  76. Jimmy R Says:

    Guilty as charged! When I’m in the car, I still talk about ROLLING MY WINDOWS up and down, even though they’re power windows. But, then, I still say I’m DIALING my phone when I’m actually pressing buttons. Some “zombie” expressions just refuse to die, because, despite advances in technology, we just haven’t come up with correspondingly advanced phrases to describe how things work. My radiologist wife still READS FILMS even though x-rays have been digitized and computerized for years. I’d like to say more about this, but I have to go now. My phone’s been RINGING OFF THE HOOK all day!

  77. dcars Says:

    I checked out the Elise on e-bay motors not a lot bids and some cars less than 20k.