Do consumers want cars with navigation systems - and are they willing to pay for them? In this era of cost cutting and removing content from vehicles, it's not surprising that the question arose during a panel discussion on emerging technologies at last week's Auto Interiors Show in Detroit. Jeffrey Godshall, senior design manager of the Chrysler group's product design office, was quick to answer: "A real man will pay any money so he doesn't have to ask directions."
TIES TO THE PAST - Mark Fields, president of Mazda Motor Corp., will become London-based head of Ford Motor Co.'s Premier Automotive Group in July, but he doesn't seem to be itching to get behind the wheel of a Volvo or Range Rover. "I've asked to get the first U.K. delivery of the (Mazda) RX-8" rotary-powered sports car, Fields said.
IT JUST AIN'T FAIR - Dieter Zetsche, president of the Chrysler group, wanted the Detroit-based Adcraft Club of marketing professionals to know that he understands their profession. For example, he said, it was "mean" of Mercedes-Benz, his former employer, to move him straight from his job as head of r&d and engineering at the luxury German automaker to the top marketing post. "All of a sudden," he said, "I had to start selling all my own stuff."
BACK TO THE FUTURE - General Motors' search for a low-cost rear-wheel-drive platform may go no further than reviving a past proposal, says Jim Taylor, vehicle line executive for the Sigma rwd architecture. Sigma is used in high-end vehicles such as the Cadillac CTS and the coming SRX sport wagon but is too pricey for other GM divisions. But Taylor said the original Sigma proposal included a "value Sigma" option, and added that GM also could use the Holden V/W architecture from Australia - or perhaps concoct a hybrid from the two.
GM IDLING ON V-12 - News reports that General Motors will build a V-12 engine came as a surprise to executives of GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz's own automotive venture, Cunningham Motor Co. Cunningham executives are awaiting the
V-12's approval so they can price their proposed Cunningham C7 coupe. GM showed a 750-hp V-12 in the Cadillac Cien concept vehicle at the Detroit auto show. But no word yet on production plans for the engine, says a Cunningham executive.
eSUPPLY AND eDEMAND - BMW's Mini, with supplies not meeting demand, is a hot item on eBay Motors, said Simon Rothman, general manager of the online auction site. Last week there were 21 Minis listed on the site, including a Mini Cooper with an asking price of $21,300, almost $5,000 above BMW's suggested retail price.