Helena, Alabama, United States
Recently, the finance arm of PSA/Peugeot-Citroën was in such debt trouble that it was pricing itself out of the car loan market. The rates it was paying to service its debt, which was rated one step above junk, were so high that it was forced to charge car-buying customers higher rates than they could find elsewhere. This was adding to Peugeot's already impressive woes by sending revenue out the door to competitors.
Two months ago a deal was worked out with the French government whereby the state would provide 7 billion euro ($9 billion USD) in bonds to guarantee the finance arm's loans. The French government could nominate someone to join the Peugeot board, Peugeot would guarantee more French jobs, and on top of that deal, other banks would provide non-guaranteed loans. The government would take no equity stake in the car company.
Although not yet finalized, the arrangement is meant to create some breathing room for Peugeot Finance to lower its interest rates for customers, and a government-nominated board member, Louis Gallois, was recently named to Peugeot's supervisory board. The arrangement was also openly questioned by at least three competitors: Ford, Renault - which is 15-percent owned by the French government after it received state aid - and the German state of Lower Saxony, itself a 15-percent shareholder in Volkswagen.
You might expect a rare Ford GT40 to cross the block at some sort of prestigious auto auction from RM or Gooding, not show up on eBay for over $2 million. However, that's exactly what we have here. The seller claims the car is a late-build Mk1 GT40 from 1969, and it's currently owned by the director of the Hublot watch company in Switzerland.
According to the listing, GT40 #P1108 started life as Mk1 car that was built from factory spares in 1969 and was first sold in 1971. However, the auction is somewhat confusing. According to an image in its gallery, the vehicle was actually built from one of the seven spare Mk3 tubs when production of the iconic racers ended.
This GT40 was never built as a racecar - it lived on the streets its whole life. After assembly finished, it was sent to Germany and was eventually registered for the road. The first owner kept the car until 2005 and sold it with 7,300 miles on the odometer. The current owner bought it in 2012.
Ford made some serious waves when it unveiled the latest F-150. Instead of making its bodywork out of steel, like just about every other truck on the market, Ford went with aluminum. And you can bet the F-150 won't be the last Ford model to go with the lightweight alloy construction, either.
Our compatriots at Edmunds report that Dearborn is considering replacing two of its most popular SUVs with aluminum versions. One candidate is the Expedition, which would make sense considering that the current model (like the two preceding generations and the fullsize Bronco before it) is based on the F-150's underpinnings. Another is the Explorer, which was traditionally based on the Ranger pickup but went with a car-like unibody chassis in its current iteration. If the Explorer does go the way of aluminum, don't expect it to be a part of its very next update, which is likely due too soon for such major changes.
It would stand to reason that, if the Expedition were to go aluminum, so would the next-generation Lincoln Navigator. Ditto the MKT together with the Explorer. But those aren't likely to be the only models in contention for aluminum construction. Like any other automaker, Ford is under pressure to steadily reduce its carbon emissions and improve its fuel economy figures, prompting it to look at a whole range of measures - including more efficient engines, lower rolling-resistance tires, active aerodynamics and lightweight construction. Expect aluminum to play a big part in that equation moving forward.