October 25th, 2011 at 11:30am
The bowtie brand prepares to make a big splash at SEMA with its Z-Spec small cars. Ford inches toward an investment-grade rating. Thailand highways turn into parking lots, literally. All that and more, plus a look at how BMW is merging high performance and high fuel economy with the new Z4.
This is Autoline Daily for October 25, 2011, and now the news.
CHEVY’S Z-SPEC SCREAMERS
Chevy is making a big splash at SEMA. The bowtie-brand is showing off a new lineup of customization options for the Sonic and Cruze small cars. These so-called Z-Spec options are being evaluated for production. They include styling, personalization and performance enhancements – things like ground-effects kits, body graphics and unique wheels. Inside it includes new trim, unique seats and sport steering wheels. High-flow exhaust systems and upgraded brakes are also available for real driving enthusiasts. These upgrades should add some sizzle to GM’s B- and C-segment offerings.
BOSS TRACKEY COULD HURT WARRANTY
Ford’s Boss 302 Mustang has had its share of controversy. The muscle machine is in trouble with the California Air Resources Board over the TracKey, which uncorks its 5.0-liter engine for maximum performance. Now, according to Autoblog, if owners opt for the magic key they will see their warranties dramatically shortened. Ford backs up the powertrain with a five-year, 60,000-mile guarantee, but rumor has it that could fall to just three-years and 36,000 miles if Boss owners go with the TracKey. Additionally, ANY bolt-on performance modifications will COMPLETELY VOID the warranty. Naturally, Ford spokes folks say there are no reliability issues to worry about. You’ve been warned.
FORD TO RESTORE DIVIDEND
Speaking of Ford, Bloomberg reports that it’s getting ready to restore its stock dividend, and that in itself could pay additional dividends for the company. It puts Ford one step closer to earning an investment-grade rating, and that will put it back on the list for many portfolio managers who are not allowed to invest in stocks with less than an investment-grade rating.
NAFTA CAR MARKET GROWS STRONG (subscription required)
For automakers and suppliers, the NAFTA region is a hugely important market. While the United States market gets most of the attention, the Canadian and Mexican markets provide a critical mass for almost everyone in the business. So far this year, sales in the NAFTA region are up more than 9 percent, with 11.3 million vehicles sold. While the Mexican market is the smallest of the three, it’s actually growing the fastest. And while the Canadian market is only up modestly this year, that’s because the Canadian economy has been strong for several years and sales never fell off that much. And I point this out because outside of the car companies and suppliers, people seem to lose track of just how big the NAFTA market has become.
HIGH & DRY
Highways can turn into parking lots if there’s a crash or other problems, but right now in Thailand their motorways are literally turning into parking lots. In an effort to stay high and dry, drivers are parking their cars on highways to avoid the flooding that’s devastating the country. According to The Bangkok Post, around 500 vehicles were illegally stopped on an elevated stretch of road in the capital city.
Coming up next, a look at the new BMW Z4, but especially its new powertrain and what it means for the rest of the BMW line-up.
BMW is the ultimate driving machine, but these days you can’t have your performance without getting good fuel economy, and Seamus McElroy reports on one of the ways that BMW is doing this.
Thanks for that report Seamus. And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.