Friday, February 04, 2005

Dealing with Mercury

This is a 1954 Ford sedan:

And this is its Mercury counterpart, the Monterey:

In the 1950s, buying a Mercury meant buying something different than a Ford, at least to customers. Engineers and others who knew about cars probably knew better. Some would argue that since all cars sold were so similar to each other, small aesthetic differences meant a lot. I contend that even now, cars are very similar to each other. They have similar engine displacements within their class, are forced to undergo the same NHTSA crash testing, numerous other government regulations, and with billions more dollars riding on their success. Even the steering wheels of cars need to be similar nowadays in order to hold an airbag.

Mercury's today look almost exactly like Fords. They have the same engines, the same everything. Mercury needs to be different.

Leather interior? That should only be available in Mercurys, standard. V8? Only a Mercury offering. And the designs should be as different as possible. Sure they should have the same exact platform to save money, but why do they also have to have similar chrome fronts? Is money that tight in the design departments? Only Mercury should offer coupe versions of the Ford sedans at the very least.

I don't believe GM needs to get rid of Buick or Pontiac, and model themselves after the Japanese with a middle class line of cars, and an upper class line of cars. The same goes for Ford with Mercury. There is room for both Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln. IF they differentiate their designs like they did in their heyday of the 1950s. Remember, car designing is free. Poor sales are not.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Remember Me?

Alfa Romeo has turned their stunning Brera concept into a production model. Of course, as an American I'll be lucky to see one in the flesh ever.

A perusal of Alfa Romeo's website shows me a few cars that could more than compete in the American market, at least in limited numbers. If only GM wasn't suing Alfa's parent company FIAT.

Instead of spending millions of dollars developing the Saab 9-2x, why not spend a small percentage of that emission certifying, and crash testing some of Alfa's models? Sell them out of Saab dealerships, the demographic buyer is the same. If worried about Saab's marketshare dwindling because the same buyer class is buying another vehicle, sell things Saab doesn't sell. Like this:

The Alfa Romeo 147, a perfect replacement for the odd 9-2X. Or the Brera coupe above. Or this GTV, considering Saab doesn't sell a coupe:

The interiors quite frankly are stunning. I leave you with the GT's interior:

They come with a nice range of engines, including a v6, which Saab lacks. Only FWD though.

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Monday, January 31, 2005

Pricey Hybrids?

Carlos Ghosn, probably THE most talented auto executive in the business, taking a basket case like Nissan and turning it into the second largest Japanese auto manufacturer in the world, thinks hybrids are too expensive to be realistic, according to this article.

At current gas prices, with current production numbers, I'd say he was right on. But what if gas went up to three dollars a gallon? And what if the demand of hybrids increased ten fold? Wouldn't a ten fold production increase in hybrids, decrease the expenses in making them? According to Economics 101, the more you make of a product, the more you can spread production expenses across the entire produced amount. That means a cheaper creation price, and a cheaper price for customers. When Toyota first started making the Prius, they said they were losing money on everyone sold. By the second generation, that was no longer true.

I'm really suprised at Ghosn's short sightedness, and seemingly complete lack of knowledge of the world's energy future. Automakers need to realize that the stuff that powers their products is finite, and also needs some analysis as well.

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