BlogTue, 29 Dec 2009
You've seen the dealer commercials before. "Now is the time to buy.... year end sale!" Well, if you want the Pontiac or Saturn of your dreams, this really is the best ever time to deal because it's literally the last chance to get a new vehicle from these brands. The Wall Street Journal reports that General Motors is offering dealers $7,000 in cash for each new Saturn or Pontiac model sold until the deal ends January 4. Edmunds reportedly told the WSJ that it expects GM will have about 4,200 Saturn and Pontiac models by January 1.
That $7,000 in cash goes straight to dealers, meaning that a dealer can give you all or only some of the $7,000 off the vehicle if they so choose. But if you do get the entire $7,000 rebate, it could amount to 46 percent off the price of a new Pontiac G3 - you know, if driving a rebadged Chevrolet Aveo is your idea of excitement. But hey, how many new cars can you buy for $8,000 outside of India? A more compelling deal could be $7,000 off the price of a Saturn Astra. Getting a brand-new Astra with tons of options and a $13,000 price tag could be considered a steal.
The catch to the sale is that the vehicle will be sold as used since dealers will officially be the first owners of the vehicle. That could effect customers' ability to purchase a new vehicle with a GM employee or supplier discount, but in the majority of cases, the $7,000 would likely be the better deal. Hat tip to Keerthi!
Honda's Commercial of the Decade: "Grrr" - Click above to watch video
The mad men at Adweek recently voted for the Commercial of the Decade (Super Bowl commercials not included) and Honda took top honors over memorable ads from the last ten years by companies like Nike, Budweiser and Sony. That's not a big surprise considering Honda often puts a huge amount of effort into its on-air spots. However, the Japanese automaker didn't win for the commercial you might have expected: "Cog." Though Honda's famous commercial that breaks down a European Accord Tourer into a Rube Goldberg-esque machine was also a finalist, it was beaten by another Honda commercial called "Grrr" that's narrated by Garrison Keillor of all people. You've probably never seen it, but you can after the jump.
Volkswagen also made the list of finalists, but the particular ad chosen out of all the comical VW ads we've seen was unexpected as well. Most surprising carmaker with a commercial in the finals: Saturn. Who knew...
2009 Chevrolet Cobalt SS - Click above to view high-res image gallery
General Motors may have shed itself of much of its pre-bankruptcy problems, but the automaker still has to tend to its warranty and recall duties. As such, GM is recalling 53,000 Chevrolet Cobalt, Pontiac G5 and Saturn Ion models for a potential fuel leak problem that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says could lead to a fire. The problem involves 2006 Cobalt and Ion model models sold or registered in Arizona and Nevada and 2007 Cobalt, G5 and Ion models sold or registered in Arizona, California, Texas, Florida and Nevada.
NHTSA says the plastic supply or return port on the cars' modular reservoir assembly may crack, potentially leading to a fuel leak that could cause cause decreased efficiency and performance. Worse, if that leaking gasoline comes into contact with an ignition source of any kind, you could be looking at a Delta platform car-b-que.
GM Daewoo has four shareholders: GM, Korea Development Bank, Suzuki Motor Corporation, and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation. When GM Daewoo put out a rights issue, only one of the four took the bite: GM, which made it rain to the tune of $412 million and raised its stake from 50.9% to 70.1%.
Neither GM's move nor the non-interest of at least two other parties is surprising. SAIC is still gun shy about certain investments after the Ssangyong debacle, while Suzuki is more concerned with being courted by VW and the Kizashi's fate in the U.S. right now. It is GM that has every reason to strengthen its ties in Asia; after all, The General sold more cars in China last month than it did at home -- and with GM Daewoo.
Daewoo engineers small cars for GM, like Chevrolet's crucial acid test known as the Cruze, and last year, all told, GM Daewoo sold 1.9 million units. The financial infusion will be used for debts and to help the company's liquidity position.
Daihatsu Deca Deca concept - Click above for high-res image gallery
Daihatsu has a way with words: the company calls its Deca Deca concept a "super box," and we'll call it a super super box. A funky little piece of chunk, the Deca Deca has a flat floor - and a flat everything else -- along with pillarless doors that render the interior absolutely cavernous. The abyss inside has been tastefully appointed with slim, movable fold-up seats, a table, and an LCD television in case you want to "work inside the vehicle or stow large items."
Interestingly, the car was so popular that we couldn't get close to it until the second day -- there were camera crews around it constantly. But for all that, and with Japanese rents what they are, it might make a fine place to live - after all, it was "designed with leisure use in mind," and how could anyone complain about living in a super box?
Daihatsu e:S - Click above for high-res image gallery
Daihatsu didn't just bring out its big little guns, it had a couple of tiny guns there as well, such as this, the Volvo C30-esque e:S. Called "a new eco-car that reveals the future role of mini vehicles," it focuses earnestly on environmental impact and "embodies the roles that mini vehicles should play." We aren't sure what that means, but it has a 660-cc engine, a total length of just over seven feet, is claimed to be able to "accommodate four adult passengers," and the whole shebang weighs 1,540 pounds. That combination will yield 70.5 mpg. Whether you wish to pay the price for that economy, well, that's for you and your bones and joints to decide. You can have a look at it in the gallery of high-res photos below -- it shouldn't take long...
Gallery: Tokyo 2009: Daihatsu e:S
Daihatsu Tanto Exe and Tanto Exe Custom -- Click above for high-res image gallery
A "tanto" is a short Japanese sword or dagger, which means the only thing it has in common with the Daihatsu Tanto Exe and Tanto Exe Custom is the descriptor "short" and the additional epithet, "light." Both the Tanto Exe and Exe Custom are "lighter and more fuel efficient versions of the Tanto" which, compared to most other cars, is still no heavyweight.
We could put the Tanto in our own words, but Daihatsu's marketers have hit a hyperbole home run so we'll go with their phrasing: "both vehicles feature expansive interiors at the top levels in their classes," "the sophisticated interiors allow adults to enjoy the pleasure of driving," and "the exteriors express both quality and vitality." Oh, we can say that the Custom has a Momo steering wheel. As for the rest, have a look at both vehicles in the gallery of high-res images below and decide for yourselves.
Daihatsu Basket -- Click above for high-res image gallery
We're sure it wasn't meant this way, but standing beside the Daihatsu Basket concept, you do feel like you could throw things in it, pick the thing up by its t-top crossbar, and take it to a picnic. And carrying it that way would probably be better than driving it. A thoroughly JDM offering, it is described thusly: "the slow pace of life open four-seater model with a wide rear deck is designed for full enjoyment of life, such as for trips to the family vegetable plot out of the city." Amen.
The rinky-dinky pickup packs a removable hardtop up front and a removable canvas top in back, and linen throughout the cabin for that light, airy interior feel. We like it. We like it a lot. Take a look at it in the gallery of high-res photos below.
Ford buyers appear to love their cars more than customers of any other automotive brand, returning back to the American automaker when it comes time to purchase their next vehicle. According to a study by Experian Automotive, six of the top 10 vehicles for customer brand loyalty wear badges from the Blue Oval. That includes the Ford Fusion (62.4 percent), Ford Edge (57.9 percent), Ford Five Hundred/Taurus (56 percent), Ford Freestyle (51.9 percent), Ford Escape (49.4 percent) and the Ford Focus (47.57 percent).
Other vehicles making up the top 10 include the Toyota Prius (52 percent), Chevy Impala (51.7 percent), Toyota Camry (47.8 percent) and Toyota Corolla (47.56 percent). This brings up an interesting question: With the closing of automotive brands like Saturn and Pontiac, where are those buyers to turn for their next automotive purchase?
Apparently, not back to General Motors. According to Experian, Pontiac owners are most likely to look to the Ford lineup for their next car or truck and Saturn shoppers will switch to Toyota or Honda - not particularly surprising given that Saturn was meant to compete with import brands. Experian predicts that GM's overall market share will fall from 20 percent to about 17.5 percent, with most of the slack being picked up by Ford, Honda and Toyota.
DeLorean Motor Company Pontiac Solstice renderings - Click above for high-res image gallery
General Motors has made a science out of sharing platforms. So when the company's Kappa platform was introduced for a new rear-drive roadster to be distributed across three different motor divisions, you'd have figured the program was pretty safe, right? Unfortunately for the workers at the Wilmington Assembly Plant which manufactured the Kappa roadsters, those three divisions were Pontiac, Saturn and Opel - three units which the General has either sold or shut down. Which is a shame, because a perfectly good rear-drive roadster platform is a heck of a thing to waste.
In one of the strangest rumors we've heard recently, however, our compatriots over at Jalopnik report that the DeLorean Motor Company (yes, that DeLorean Motor Company) is considering buying the plant and the platform from GM and putting it back into production as a new DMC.
Wed, 23 Sep 2009
Click above to view the video after the jump
When the deal to sell Saturn to Penske Automotive fell through, there were likely a lot of surprised people at General Motors' Detroit, MI headquarters. Penske released a statement saying that the reason the deal fell through after months of good faith negotiations was that a suitable post-GM supply of vehicles could not be found. However, after reacquainting ourselves with over eight minutes of outtakes from Jim Gaffigan's old Saturn commercial, we're thinking the comedic pitchman is to blame.
In what looks like a serious-but-probably-the-norm case of industrial espionage, General Motors' South Korean Daewoo division is reportedly alleging that the Russian automaker TagAZ has tried to copy its Lacetti sedan. Backing up those allegations are the arrests of two TagAZ engineers - former Daewoo employees who are said to have taken computer files from one company to the other. A third former Daewoo employee, an executive, left notes proclaiming his innocence and then committed suicide.
The two engineers reportedly copied at least 6,000 documents outlining designs and key technologies used in the Lacetti. That information, according to Daewoo, was used by TagAZ in the creation of a car it launched this past summer in Russia. South Korean prosecutors are still investigating the case, after which Daewoo will decide if it wants to pursue the matter for criminal damages. TagAZ hasn't said anything in response to the allegations. If nothing else, this could be good practice for GM - it will now know what to do if it happens at Opel...
Daewoo Matiz spy shots - Click above for high-res image gallery
The folks at Noticias Automotivas have scored shots of what looks to be the next-generation Daewoo Matiz, the subcompact hatch that we know better as the Chevrolet Spark.
The budget runabout is clearly very similar to General Motors' 2007 Beat concept and is in fact bang-on the Bowtie-badged production-intent model we saw displayed at this year's Geneva Motor Show, albeit with a Daewoo-specific upper and lower grilles, less stylized fog lamps and discount looking wheels.
Chevrolet Aveo, a.k.a Chevrolet Kalos/Daewoo Gentra/Holden Barina/Pontiac Wave - Click above for a high-res image gallery
Eyebrows raised at reports that General Motors could hold on to its British subsidiary Vauxhall even if - or, more likely, when - its German counterpart Opel would leave the family. With the model ranges of the two European GM divisions intertwined, a Vauxhall without Opel would seem like an empty shell. New reports suggest, however, that instead of re-plastering Opels with the griffin badge, the British marque could instead continue operations under GM ownership by importing products made by GM Daewoo Auto & Technology.