Tuesday, November 29, 2005
In an earlier post I had referred to an article about one UAW workers thoughts buying habits. The quote "Unemployed, hungry? Eat your Japanese car!" Was catchy in a simplistic way.
But one thing that has always bothered me is this, all the Union workers driving foreign cars. Now I'm Union, have been for almost 20 years, and even I in the past have owned cars that were non union built. My first new car was a Ford Festiva, built by Kia in Korea and sold here in the US as a Ford. My only other foreign car was a used 1984 Honda Accord, I bought as a winter beater a few years ago. But out of more than 17 cars, those were the only ones not "American" My current vehicle a Ford Ranger was assembled by UAW workers here in the USA. But were all the components? I think not.
Over the years, I have harassed fellow union members about what they drove to work. Many of my fellow workers drove Japanese or Korean cars and trucks. All the while, they would have bumper stickers saying how "proud to be Union" they were and how patriotic they are. Well, that does seem a tad hypocritical of them. I mean most "foreign" cars, even those assembled in the US are built by non union workers. And as for being "patriotic," how can you make that fervent claim from the seat of a foreign vehicle, possibly built in a country that many American soldiers died in battle against?
As for the "American" cars, the percentage of cars labeled such, that are actually imported in whole or in part is growing everyday, and with cheap labor overseas, I don't see that trend reversing. Even my "American" Ranger has parts, whole assemblies built overseas. Whether it be a transmission or engine, or the electronics or glass, no car is entirely built in the United States today. Some "foreign" cars have higher "local" content than "American" cars.
Now, I'm no simple dolt who thinks that people will all of a sudden stop buying "foreign" cars, nor would I really suggest it. With the state of the industry today, it would work against us in the end. But to my Union brothers and sister around the country, I would say this, think about your next purchase and how it may affect a fellow Union worker. To those that claim to be very "patriotic" and "proud to be American" how does it feel to have that American Flag decal on your Hyundai??
Hey, I'm not saying don't buy what you want or can afford, that's the American way. But when the lights go out in the last American plant, and our welfare rolls are at their highest and your taxes are going through the roof, just remember it didn't happen over night.
Yes the Big Three and the UAW are partially to blame, and maybe some of them deserve a kick in the pants, but what about all of those that work in jobs that are related to the auto industry? What about the communities around those closed plants? There are no easy answers, but there is food for thought.
So next year I'll be looking to attend this event if possible. The Mazda and GM events are well run, with the biggest complaint for both being long wait times to get into a vehicle. GM is the only one that I'm aware of that has competitors' vehicles there for direct comparison.
Click the link in the banner and see if they have an event near you.
Monday, November 28, 2005
A union auto worker rants about several factors in the decline of the US auto industry.
Now I'm not saying that he's 100% right, but read it and see what you think.
I've posted on this situation myslef, several months ago;
And not trying to go off on a rant myself, but it has always bothered me to see union workers driving foreign made vehicles. I'm a union Engineer, not working in the auto industry or related field. It's always been my opinion, that union workers bear a responsability to support other union workers. Just like crossing a picket line, buying a foreign made, non union produced vehicle is not suportive.
Now in this case, it's obviously not just the buying of foreign cars, but poor management and the union's unrealistic outlook. Combine this with CEOs setting up sweat retrirement packages. It's all cumulative.
I'm not calling for protective tarrifs at this late stage in the game, nor am I saying to burn foreign cars at football games like they did in the 70's. Just read the articles and think the next time you go shoppping.
Mark Fields, the new head of Ford America, studied the Mercury brand and it's place in the future of Ford Motor Company. And the winner is Mercury, saved from the chopping block.
Apparently Mercury's rebadged Ford products make more money than they would save by killing the brand. I've posted my thoughts on Mercury in the past, and what I think should be done. Mercury needs better product and a clearer image.
Read the comments on the BlueOvalNews forum then click through to the article at the Detreoit News.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
I have to learn PhotoShop, I've got all these ideas in my head and no way to share them.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Now you may be asking why introduce a new Ranger in Thailand? Apparently it's a very competative and large truck market. The Thai buyers are a tough crowd, so it's assumed you make them happy, most of the world will be happy.
Now one thing that struck me was the Conept's name 4 Trac, very close to Sport Trac, second was the resemblance to the Honda Ridgeline. But from what I've read this is all truck and tough.
Notice one imprtant thing, it's a crew cab, Ford knows that to be competative a crew cab is essential in the world market, wonder why it's not important here?
There are styling cues taken from the Equator Escape Concept, like the lights and grill. This concept also carries a "rescue" theme, with a huge number of LED lights and winches fore and aft. I'm sure the production units will be a little tamer. No word on the possability of this coming to the US, but I would hope that any update would be "global".
When I get a chance, I want to read as much about this as possible, see what powertrain options, and if the remake is only skin deep. The Ranger chassis isn't really outdated, and powertrains have been adequate for the world market, but a fresh new look, could bring US sales back up.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Now I respect Jeff Fisher, and agree with most of what he posts, but if you don't like what he's got to say, don't burn down my house. I check Jeff's blog as often as possible (It's high graphics content makes it load slow on DSL, but on Cable it's fine) and today I saw he posted on the new Roush 420E an export only version of the tuner Mustang. Read his blog, it's interesting and you know in your heart he's right.
Here's a question maybe some of you can help me with. I have a 4.0L OHV V6 in my Ranger. Now I know that this engine owes it life to the humble 1.7L V4 from Germany, the engine that was in cars like the Taunus and even used by Saab when they went to 4 stroke engines from 2 stroke. But the new Ranger 4.0 SOHC V6, also used in the Mustang, where did that come from?
The 1.7 was enlarge, two extra cylinders to make the 2.8L V6, which became 2.9, then 3.0 before being "punched out" to 4.0L. But all of these are OverHeadValve engines, where did the SingleOverHeadCam 4.0L V6 come from? Is it just a modification of the Cologne V6, or was it a new design?
Interesting trivia for those who didn't know, the 1.7L V4 was the engine for the original Mustang concept, the mid engine two seater.
I'm hoping someone will know and either email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment here.
Answer at link in title, hell I couldn't actually wait, I just went to Wikepedia. www.wikipedia.org
The new Mustang GT has a 3 valve 4.6L V8 making 300 hp and 320 lb. ft. of torque, is capable of 0-60 in 5.3 seconds and the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds. This is prety impressive stuff, but the Challenger will have at least 340 hp with it's 5.7L V8 and as much as 425-450 with the SRT8's 6.1L V8, and if a Camaro ever comes to market it will have a more than likely 400 hp from it's 6.0 L V8, a clear 100 hp advantage over Mustang. So how can I say that Mustang will be the winner? Simple, I'm not talking about the racetrack, I'm talking about sales numbers.
In 2005 Ford expected to sell 140,000 new Mustangs, but the final number will be closer to 200,000 units and it's expected to be the same in 2006. Not all Mustangs sold will be the 300 hp GT either, more than half will be the V6 model. Now the new Challenger if it comes out will more than likely come out at least as an R/T version and using the Charger's pricing that means it will be just over $30,000 without all the options. The Mustang GT can be had for as little as $26,265.00. The Charger, Magnum and 300 are not available with a manual transmission, so will the Challenger have one? If they do, will they charge extra for it, like GM does for the manual in the GTO? By the way, you pay almost an extra $700 to shift for yourself in the GTO, that on top of it's $34,295 MSRP. Now it's true that for that extra money, you get an IRS in both the Chrysler and the GTO and standard leather interior, but the fact remains, even with the leather, Mustang is still much less expensive.
Will Chrysler come out with a base Challenger? A V6 version? Probably not, they won't want to pull capacity away from the other models. If you want a V6 version, buy the Charger is what Chrysler will be thinking. The Challenger will be a niche car, sold in small numbers.
Even when you talk horsepower, Mustang isn't lost there either, because even though Shelby GT500 prices aren't released yet, they should be competative with the GTO and SRT8 Chrysler products. Also don't forget Ford's history of special models. There are rumors on the internet of upcoming Mach 1, Bullit, Boss and California Special models. Not to mention that Mustang is the only one that can be had as a convertible. Even if you max out a Mustang GT convertible, your price will be GTO territory.
Let's not forget one other thing, the aftermarket. I'm not talking about all the Tuners, Saleen, Steeda, Roush etc..... I'm talking about people buying a Mustang GT and installing one of the many supercharger or turbocharger kits. The Mustang has always been a blessing for the aftermarket. And if you will recall, some of the first people to get a hold of the new "retro" Mustang, were aftermarktet companies. Ford worked with many of them, giving them access to engineering data and preproduction vehicles and parts. The Mustang is the cornerstone model for today's aftermarket. I could buy a Mustang GT and personalize it and get another 100 hp and still not spend much above the stock Charger or GTO.
I don't see the Camaro as really having much of a chance right now, what with all the problems GM has. But even if it does come out, it will be a low production model like the GTO and failed SSR. GM will never make a V6 version, the last generation Camaro was enough of a sales nightmare.
Mustang is and always will be the Pony Car. Hell, why do you think they call them "Pony" cars?
The Mustang is simply the most fun you can have for the money, the biggest bang for your buck. And while it may take some time, don't expect Ford to sit back and let the Mustang stagnate, there will be horsepower increases across the line, and more than likely in the future an SVT or Shelby version with the IRS. Challenger and Camaro may come and go, but Mustang will be here on top in the end. 41 years of non stop production and sales tell me that.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
But more to the point, I was watching episodes of both shows, where they reviewed the Ford Ka.
Now if you haven't heard of the Ka, that's because it's never been sold in the US. Introduced in 1996 in Europe, this small car is powered by several small Diesel and Petrol engines. There's even a roadster version and a "performance" version. Priced from about $10,000 up, it's a very poplular car in Europe, based on Fiesta mechanicals. There are enthisiast clubs and websites and a healthy aftermarket for the Ka. www.kaklub.co.uk
Now, I'm not sure it would do well in the Midwest, this tiny Ford could be a minor hit in places like LA, NY and Boston, with it's tight handling and great economy.
Some of the other topics discussed were LPG conversion for Petrol and Diesel vehicles and the Smart Crossblade.
And when you say limousene, what do you think of? Yes Lincoln, and the image that comes to your mind is more than likely this 1961 model that was built for almost a decade.
Lincolns had some performers over the years, the big V-12 Lincolns from the 30's and the LSC mark VII and VIII from the 80's and 90's. This blue 93 Mark VIII has the DOHC 4.6 from the SVT Cobra with 315 hp.
The Lincoln LS was a good attempt, the chassis and styling are good, room for improvement, but promissing. This car needed more power and a better markteting strategy.
So my wish list? It's simple, give the new Zephyr and Aviator more power. Not just the 250 hp from the new 3.5 DOHC V6, I mean 300-325 hp.
Bring out a propper replacement for the Town Car, with rear wheel drive, like this Continental concept from not too long ago.
Here's an idea, have a 4 door drop top version of that new Continental.
Bring out the Mark X concept!! Based on the T-Bird/LS chassis, and stuff the supercharged Jaguar V8 under the hood.
Don't bring out a Lincoln version of the Mustang. The Mustangs, strut front suspension and solid rear axle are not going to be competative with models from Lexus, Infinity, Cadilac, Chrysler, hell they won't be competative with Nissan or Honda.
I think Al's article was well written, just lacking substance. While mine may not be well written, I do have some items on my wish list.
The Ford Mondeo pictured here is available with a 2.0 TDI engine in Europe, and while the Mondeo is unlikely to come here, that Diesel or the 2.7 V6 will come here in PAG partner vehicles over the next few years, after we get the low sulphur fuel situation worked out.
I would love to drive this Mondeo, I've read other's reviews and driving impressions, and with the 6 speed manual it seems like it would be a great drive. Read the article and rethink the Diesel, we can only benefit from their re-introduction in this market.
The new Mustang is a great car, arguably underpowered at 300 hp, the complete package is a smash hit. Even the base V6 Mustang is a spirited drive, but the best attribute is the value. Mustang has always been the best bang for the buck from day one. So while people will drool over the 425-450 hp 6.1 V8 in the Challenger concept, the Mustang will always outsell any competitor that comes along.
April 14 1964, at the New York Worlds Fair, Ford introduced the Mustang and the concept of the "Pony Car". The whole concept was not to be the fastest, but to be a real value oriented sporty car. And from day one it was a convertible.
Even though the Plymouth Barracuda came out 2 weeks earlier, the Mustang overshadowed this car from day one. Even though both were based on lesser economy cars, the Barracuda on the Valiant and of course the Mustang on the Falcon. The Mustang was able to differentiate itself from it's humble beginings. The Cuda' would have to wait until 67 for that.
And as any fan of the movie Vanishing Point will tell you, the big news was in 1970 when Dodge got it's version of the Cuda' the Challenger. While Challenger and Cuda' were competative on the track with Mustang, their combined sales figures were minimal compared to the original Pony car.
Now above and below you will see how closely the new concept Challenger favors the 1970 model. Based on the 300/Magnum/Charger chassis, it will use the same power options, but will it be offered with a manual trans??
GM was late to the Pony car war, not coming out with the Camaro until 1967. They did come out swinging and again on the track were fierce competition for Mustang. The Mustang outsold Camaro/Firebird most but not all years over the years and often, especially in late years lagged behind in horsepower. But Mustang is the undisputed winner, after all it's been in continual production since 1964, the Camaro being discontinued a few years ago, and the Challenger ending in 1973.
GM will be late again to the party, that is if they even show up. This concpet Camaro has been kicking around the internet for quite a whle. Suposedly based on the Holden Monaro/Pontiac GTO chassis, or a new platform GM keeps saying yes then no to, it will be years away if it is ever produced.
Mustang has the same lead it always had, first to market and better value. There are enough variants of Mustang from the base and Pony V6 Mustangs, to V8 GT and new Shelby, with more special models such as Bullit, Mach 1 and Boss versions waiting in the wings. The fact that Mustang has a droptop option is also one of the biggest advantages.
No Pony Car war, just a nod to the past.
This is based on the posting on another site of a picture (photo shop image?) with a 500 Police special. The comments are interesting, many in defense of the Crown Victoria.
One comment that amused me, was one guy saying that the 500 didn't have the appropriate look, that it doesn't look tough enough. He then compared it to European police cars like the Mondeo.
Read the comments, very interesting. I live in the suburbs of New York City and that has to be one of the toughest environments for Police Cruisers, just as I said of Taxis not long ago. I think the 500 would be a great vehicle for cities like New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago. Where many departments have been using Chevy Impalas as well as Crown Victorias and SUVs like the Blazer, Explorer and Trailblazer. I don't think the 500 would be a great pursuit vehicle, but how many departments in this day and age actually get involved in high speed chases. Too many accidents and law suits.
Just think how much municipalities could save with fleets of Hybrid 500 police cruisers. Food for thought.
Friday, November 18, 2005
While I have seen many of the ads, and think they'r smart and funny, I think it's wrong to label a brand as the "chick" brand. Actually I think it's stupid, sexist and insulting to women. People have tried to label different brands before, either along racial, sexual or "lifestyle" lines.
I guess what ever works, but let me ask this if 36% were women, what were the other 64%? And is some idiot out there trying to measure each brands breakdown?
Ford won't complain, it get's Mercury's name out there, and there is no harm in that. But I feel sorry for the guy driving his new Milan, getting the eye from other guys in their manly Fusions.
This type of fluff sells papers, and I guess keeps my fingers moving across the keyboard.
The Lincoln LS came out a few years ago without much fan fare and that's the way it stayed. Stillborn, unwanted and unloved from day one. Why?? This handsome sedan, predates some of it's fiercest competitors and had such potential. Offered in V6 and V8 models with 5 speed manual and automatic transmissions, with indendant rear suspension and a non-strut front suspension. A very capable chassis and the 3.9 V8 had real potential. This could have cut the legs out from under the Cadilace CTS, even the V-Spec if given the propper attention.
The Cadilac CTS, replaced the unloved Cetera, which was based on the European Opel. Available with V6 and V8 and manual transmissions, this car was credited with giving GM a real "Euro-fighter" even though the LS came first. The V-Spec CTS is impressive, with it's Corvette sourced V8. Still sharing a "global" platform with European GM vehicles.
The Acura TL is the last generation Honda Accord Euro Spec with a 270 hp V6 and available 6 spd manual driving the front wheels. The Zephyr is underpowered compared with this model, but the larger size and more civilized ride may help it compete here. The Acura being more of a driver's car.
The Infiniti G35 is basically a four door Nissan 350Z with it's rear wheel or all wheel drive and sports car handling, as well as 285 hp, the Zephyr competes in only the most general terms. It is obviously outclassed by the small Infiniti.
The Lexus ES330 is a pimped out Camry, and still outpowers the Zephyr. But this is just a Camry, so Zephyr may lure buyers away from it's stale styling, that is until the new version comes out in 2007. Zephyr needs the new 3.5 v6 with it's 250 hp, sooner than later.
Now Mr McCormack didn't mention the Lexus GS350, which like the G35 is more performance oreinted, with rear wheel drive and excellent handling.
Nor did he mention Lexus IS 350, the latest near luxury sports car, with more power, rear wheel drive and a driver oriented chassis and interior.
Now if the LS, had been given the attention it deserved, it could have competed with these cars and shown some of them up easily. The 3.9 V8 is a version of the V8 in the Jaguar and Land Rover ranges, and supercharged versions are putting out near 400 hp in those cars. V-Spec Cadilac territory. And take a look at the Jaguar S Type R, that car sits on this same chassis.
So instead of developing the LS into a world beating competitor, Lincoln let it die and replaced it with a pimped out Fusion. What happened here????
The future of Lincoln does not look bright, with a shift toward front and all wheel drive clones of lesser Ford models being all that's on the horizon. Ford has missed many opportunities in recent years. The Thunderbird based Lincoln Mark X roadster, the Continental Concept, the LS. I still see Lincoln and Mercury adrift in a sea of despair.
Additional thoughts on the subject. For the record, I don't think the Zephyr is a bad car, nor do I think it should be removed from the line up. I look at the Zephyr as a complimentary model to the LS. I believe the LS should not be discontinued, but improved and marketed more aggressively. The LS chassis is compitent, with adequate handling and comfortable ride. The powertrains could use a little upgrading, the new 3.5 V6 should be installed as the base engine and a new 4.0 or 4.4 version of the 3.9 V8 installed. A higher end, more powerful version in line with the V-Spec Cadilacs should be developed along the lines of the Jaguar S Type R sibling. The Zephyr now fills the near luxury, entry level position at Lincoln, move the LS up the ladder a little and don't bring a 500 clone over at all. Build a new chassis to replcae the Panther Town Car, maybe based on the Australian Ford Falcon/Fairlane chassis. With the Zephyr and an improved LS Lincoln would be in a better position to compete with some of the cars above. Lincoln doesn't need a Mustang variant, it needs a better LS. The Aviator is a great vehicle for Lincoln, and the Navigator is great, but loose the stupid Mark LT. Lincoln needs a new niche vehicle. Bring out the Mark X roadster with real seating for 4 and an improved powerplant. Lincoln will not benefit from a 500 clone.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Here is part of Jeff's answer, so you can read what he was told by a Ford Employee;
"The next Ranger could be nothing more than a shortened Explorer... which would match up very well (and better, since it's an excellent platform) with the competition. The GM trucks in this size range are fine mechanically... but are almost the ugliest things GM has.Had an interesting talk with a Ford engineer a little while ago... while I can't go into details I did find out that a Ranger replacement is planned yet again (of course these days who knows where the budget is) - but it will have to share a single platform and suspension worldwide. That's what I was told... keep in mind that there are currently a couple of different platforms worldwide all labeled "Ranger" and apparently somebody has an idea of doing this with 1 response (Nissan and Toyota does, why can't Ford?). The term "worldwide" to me means low common denominator for the places where a truck is still a truck (aka where it would actually be used as a truck). Furthermore that says the Explorer platform would be too expensive."
Now, I'm not saying Jeff is wrong, I'm saying he's misinformed by his friend. Jeff isn't the only pundit or blogger that has passed on this same eronious information. And the shame is that anyone who takes the time to check Ford's Global websites, can see the truth for themselves. This Red Ranger Crew Cab is from the UK, and is the same one that's available in Mexico, All of Europe, Australia (as the Courier) Indonesia, Malaysia, Philipines, Taiwan, Thailand and all of Africa and the Middle East as well as South America. Depending on where you are it's called eitiher the Courier or the Ranger, but look at the photos and specs and they are all the same truck.
This truck, the same one sold in the US for over a decade!!
The major differences are the optional crew cab and available 2.5L Diesel. Otherwise, the same chassis with torsion bar front suspension is offered globally.
I posted months ago, that this "new" grille for the 06 Ranger was in fact one from the overseas parts bin. That's all the difference, minor sheetmetal and lighting differences.
Now with SUVs there is a huge difference, the Explorer is available almost everywhere in the world as well.
But the Endeavor or Everest, again depending on where it's sold, is for markets where the Explorer's IRS and soft road suspension is not suited to the roads or lack of. This is popular in Asia and the Middle East. This is based on the Ranger/Courier.
So maybe Jeff's friend is correct that for the Ranger to continue being a global vehicle the above concept, which is actually a photoshop image, based on the Explorer, would not be likely.
But unless someone can produce a picture of the "other" Ranger, I would consider this MYTH BUSTED!!
Again, this is not directed to Jeff, this is something I've heard time and again from all over the Internet and from knowledgable guys. This is just one of those urban legends that gets reapeated so often that people assume it's true. I've checked every global Ford and Mazda site I can and not found any indication that Mazda even builds a unique truck anywhere either.