How wide is the Dodge Hornet concept? Not as wide as the number the Chrysler group posted on its media Web site before the car's unveiling at the show. Those dimensions had the Hornet at 76.1 inches - 2 inches wider than the Chrysler 300 sedan. It seems that someone asked for the car's width from side mirror to side mirror - not the usual way of determining a car's width - and that number ended up on the Web site. The Hornet's actual width is closer to that of the Dodge Caliber's 68.8 inches.
General Motors Vice Chairman Robert Lutz took off in full rant mode when asked about the domestic industry's relations with Washington: "The general view in Washington is, 'Hey, those guys made their bed with the UAW 15 or 20 years ago; now let them sleep in it. As far as we're concerned, they can go away, and the American auto business will be owned by Toyota and Honda - we don't give a damn.' They haven't quite figured out that it's a zero-sum game."
Lutz also had this to say about industry wage levels: "In the future, there will not be high wages or low wages. The answer is lower pay or no jobs at all. That is the future."
How are GM's financial woes affecting the automaker's senior managers? Carl-Peter Forster, president of GM Europe, said you have to keep smiling. "We are all quintessential optimists," he said. "Otherwise, we would be in another business."
Bentley CEO Franz-Josef Paefgen isn't ready to say sales for the Volkswagen-owned luxury brand have peaked. But with sales of 8,627 units worldwide in 2005 - an increase of 30 percent over the prior year - Bentley isn't likely to top that number by more than 200 units this year, he said. "The time of overall growth for Bentley is over; we have done the ramp-up," he said. He added that Bentley's maximum capacity - using two shifts and going flat-out - is a "theoretical" 9,500 vehicles a year.
Audi wants to increase production capacity for the new Q7 SUV by about 6,000 units a year. Ralph Weyler, board member for sales and marketing, said Audi now thinks it can sell 76,000 SUVs in a full year of production - and at least 35,000 in the United States. U.S. sales begin in May. Weyler said Audi has more than 1,000 orders in the United States for the Q7, calling that "a very good rate."
Because of anticipated sales of the Q7, Audi has decided not to bring the A6 allroad quattro to the United States, Weyler said. "The more you differentiate your product portfolio," he said, "the more complex your business gets."
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