And then there were none ...
When Consumer Reports published its annual automotive issue last week, the Ford Focus was the only domestic-brand vehicle to make the Top Picks list. Then the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crashed the party.
The Institute slammed a sled that simulated an SUV into the side of 16 small cars. For side-impact crashes, the Institute rated the Focus and 13 other cars "poor." So Consumer Reports yanked its endorsement of the Focus as the top small sedan.
But the annual auto issue had already been printed, so the magazine posted a notice on its Web site that the recommendation had been withdrawn. That leaves nine vehicles as top picks for the year - all import brands: the Acura TL, Lexus LS 430, Subaru Forester, Lexus RX 330, Honda Pilot, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Prius, Honda Accord and Subaru Impreza WRX.
- Dale Jewett
More power to him
Dave Power has always wanted to expand the research firm that bears his name. Now he has the cash. Last week, Power sold his company - J.D. Power and Associates - to publisher McGraw-Hill. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Power plans to stay involved.
What do Cadillac buyers really want?
Despite its trendy vehicles, Cadillac hasn't entirely shed its reputation for boulevard rides.
Bob Lutz, of all people, unwittingly perpetuated the stereotype in a recent remark on GM's FastLane Web log. Last week, he told his cyberspace audience why GM did not plan to sell the European Cadillac BLS in America.
"It was developed specifically for European roads and drivers, and, as such, is not intended for American needs or tastes," he wrote.
Oops. Readers have posted at least 60 responses, most of them denouncing Lutz for implying that Americans don't appreciate sporty handling. On Thursday, March 10, Lutz posted a mea culpa. He also offered a new reason why GM won't bring the BLS to the States: the weak dollar.
"Yes, I think this car would work in the United States, all things being equal," Lutz wrote. "And it would be a great car, much like an Audi or a BMW or a Saab 9-3, but we can't profitably do it this time around."
For Lutz's remarks, go to http://fastlane.gmblogs.com.
- Dale Jewett
Chris Bangle, BMW AG design chief
A.Bangle: I don't know, and I don't care. I've been designing cars for more than 20 years and have seen the industry from inside numerous automakers. The top management of no other carmaker in the world is as deeply involved as BMW.
I didn't sit down one night all by myself and single-handedly change the direction of BMW design.
|Pininfarina's Ken Okuyama drew the final sketch for the Ferrari Enzo in 15 minutes.|
AutoWeek, a sister publication to Automotive News, interviewed Pininfarina designer Ken Okuyama at the Geneva auto show, where the Pininfarina Maserati Birdcage won the magazine's Best Concept award.
Is it true you designed the final version of the Ferrari Enzo in 15 minutes during a lunch break?
The job had been going on for about a year, but without a final design freeze. One day after debate and input, I sat down and drew up the one that was selected. That sketch took basically 15 minutes.
Is the Maserati Birdcage concept a future product?
Many show cars or concept cars these days are so close to the production version. It's taking away a bit of the charm of the auto design industry. So this car is quite far from production state, but the design itself is very complete. It's like a 1970s dream car.
Can Maserati get back on its feet?
It's taking longer than expected, but the Quattroporte is doing really well. The Coupe and Spyder (by Italdesign Giugiaro) were designed before the company was purchased (by Ferrari) in the early 1990s, so they were old cars when introduced. I've seen our new Coupe and Spyder, and they look great. Maserati needs to build more than 10,000 per year.