Tuesday, June 16, 2009

2011 Mustang Gets new powerplants

2011 V6 Mustang is rumored to get the 3.7 Duratec V6.

The base model mustang has always soldiered on with a meager, yet reliable powertrain.

Finally, it gets something decent.

Everyones been asking for either the 3.5 or 3.7L since they've had them in the Edge and Flex etc, but that engine was designed for FWD application. Well, Ford's been seeing the light and making some changes to go in rear wheel drive fashion, only because the F150 is supposed to get the Ecoboost V6 as well. Not sure if its going to be an optional motor or the base one. (cant see it being the base motor).

Going unchallenged in the pony car war for 6 yeras does that I guess. Then the bowtie drops 300 HP V6 Camaro I guess will light a match under your rear.

The MKS and CX9 both use the 3.7L and put out 273 hp with regular Fuel Injection. Will we get some direct injection action? That should put it up there with the Camaro.

Ecoboost V6 Mustang Anyone?

I want to hear more about the new 5.0L V8 coming out as well. 400/400.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Fallout of GM and Chrysler Bankruptcy

From Autoblog:

Completing the Obama Administration's plan to replace its fleet of government vehicles with newer, more efficient vehicles, the U.S. General Services Administration is reporting a purchase of roughly $210 million worth of new vehicles from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.

Of the three American automakers, Ford was the clear winner of government funds with a total of 7,924 Blue Ovals bought and paid for at a total of $129 million (about $16,280 per car). GM was well represented too with the Fed's $105 million outlay bringing in a total of 6,348 cars (about $16,540 per car). Chrysler held up the rear with a total of 2,933 vehicles purchased for $53 million (about $18,070 per car).

Though the breakdown of actual models purchased has yet to be released, the GSA says each of the new vehicles will replace a fully operational older vehicle that was ready to be retired. To qualify for the program, the new vehicle needed to achieve better fuel efficiency than the car it replaces. In other words, we can only assume that the old fleet of Crown Vics are being turned over with new Fusions or maybe even Focuses.

Soon, the GSA plans to complete its spending ways by investing another $15 million on a new fleet of advanced technology buses and electric vehicles. See the official press release after the break.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In other news.....

GM divebombing and Ford climbs.

I am curious as to why it shows 184,000 cars last year and this year only 150,000 units. Were gas prices that much last year to boost car sales over truck? I guess we owe four dollar gas and a new 2008 Focus sales to the higher numbers. Not sure if the Edge crossover counts as a truck.

Maybe the 2010 Fusion, Mustang and Taurus will all be grand slams and Ford will continue to do well!

Wall Street Journal
DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. is preparing an effort to gain market share while its two main rivals are bogged down in bankruptcy and restructuring.

Ford, the only one of Detroit's Big Three that didn't need a bailout from the federal government, plans to increase production of cars and trucks in the third quarter by about 10% from the level of a year ago, a company official said. It will be Ford's first significant production increase in almost two years.

In contrast, General Motors Corp., which is expected to file for Chapter 11 protection Monday, and Chrysler LLC, which is nearing the end of its bankruptcy reorganization, are planning to shut down their plants for nearly all of the third quarter. The difference in production plans will give Ford a chance to push sales through the prime summer selling months while GM and Chrysler focus on their internal issues.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to separate us from our other domestic competitors," said a person familiar with the matter at Ford. "No one is going to gift-wrap it for us. You have to deliver the product people want to buy. That said, you have to take this historic opportunity to grab market share."

Ford has seen a gain in retail market share in six of the past seven months and expects to see another boost when May auto sales are reported Tuesday. As of April 30, Ford's U.S. market share was 13%, according to the company.

In the third quarter, Ford plans to produce 150,000 cars and 310,000 trucks for a total of 460,000 vehicles, according to company officials. A year ago it built 184,000 cars and 234,000 trucks for a total of 418,000. The bulk of the increase stems from high production of the company's highly profitable F-150 pickup trucks.

The move represents a gamble, however. Gas prices have been creeping higher in recent weeks, topping $3 a gallon in some parts of the country. Further gas-price increases could damp F-150 sales, and a worsening of the overall economy could slow sales of both cars and trucks. If either happens, Ford could end up with elevated inventory levels later in the year.

The truck market "is still going to be a challenge," said Michael Maroone, president and chief operating officer of AutoNation Inc., the largest chain of car dealerships in the U.S. and the largest Ford dealer by volume and locations.

Ford executives played down the notion the company is trying to take advantage of the troubles of GM and Chrysler. "I feel for my competitors. It's got to be very, very difficult," Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, said Sunday. "This is not a case of 'Gee, let's stick it to them.' We have been watching our inventory levels and we've seen our market share grow. This is really just us working our plan."

Like most other auto makers, Ford is still losing money -- it lost $1.4 billion in the first quarter -- but it has been faring better than GM and Chrysler, in part because it borrowed $23.5 billion in 2006, before credit markets started to freeze up, and was quicker to sell some of its fringe brands. As a result, Ford had a larger cash cushion. Recently it also raised $1.6 billion in a common-stock offering.

Ramping up production can be seen as evidence of Ford's cautious but growing confidence in the state of the U.S. auto market, which saw one of the most severe downturns in its history last year and may now be poised for a rebound.

"We're starting to see the light nearing at the end of the tunnel," Mr. Fields said.

Ford's production increase also raises the prospect that the Dearborn, Mich., auto maker could surpass GM in North American production this year, something that hasn't happened in decades, according to IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm.

Monday, June 1, 2009

GM Files for Bankruptcy

This is what happens. Its a surprise to me that this didn't happen much earlier.

General Motors filed for bankruptcy today, forcing the 100-year-old automaker once seen as a symbol of American economic might into a new and uncertain era of government ownership.

The filing is the third-largest in U.S. history and the largest-ever U.S. manufacturing bankruptcy. The company listed $82.29 billion in assets and $172.81 billion in debts.

The decision to push GM into a fast-track bankruptcy, and provide $30 billion of additional taxpayer funds to restructure the automaker is a huge gamble for the Obama presidency.

But in a sign of progress in the government's high-stakes effort, a bankruptcy judge approved the sale of substantially all of U.S. automaker Chrysler's assets to a group led by Italy's Fiat S.p.A. in an opinion filed late on Sunday.

Chrysler's bankruptcy, also financed by the U.S. Treasury, has been widely seen as a test run for the much bigger and more complex reorganization of GM.

President Barack Obama is due to speak on the auto industry shortly before noon Eastern time today. A news conference by GM CEO Fritz Henderson will follow.

The GM plan as detailed by U.S. officials is for a quick process that would allow a much smaller GM to emerge from court protection within 60 to 90 days.

'The hard part'

"Now the hard part begins, which is making GM and Chrysler competitive. If they don't do that, then we'll be doing this all over again in a few years," said Christopher Richter, auto analyst at CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets in Tokyo.

"The immediate implication is that the companies are going to get smaller and so market share is up for grabs, which means that rivals like Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai are going to gain share."

Since the start of the year, GM has been kept alive with U.S. government funding as a White House-appointed task force vetted plans for a sweeping reorganization that will be undertaken with $50 billion in government financing.

By preparing to take a 60 percent stake in a reorganized GM, the Obama administration is gambling that the automaker can compete with the likes of Toyota Motor Corp. after GM's debt is cut by half and its labor costs are slashed under a new contract with the UAW.

The governments of Canada and the province of Ontario agreed to provide another $9.5 billion to GM in a late addition to the plans for the bankruptcy that have been taking shape for weeks, U.S. officials said.

GM plans to close 11 U.S. facilities and idle another three plants. It has not provided an updated target for job cuts but had been looking to cut 21,000 factory jobs from the 54,000 UAW workers it now employs in the United States.

The UAW would have a 17.5 percent stake in the "new GM." The Canadian government would own 12 percent stake and GM bondholders would get 10 percent.

Sunday brunch at Hugo's. Not so much.

Hugos restaurant was one of my favorite restaurants to eat at in Houston until this past Sunday. Their food is excellent, including their Sunday brunch.

We have been eating at Hugos for 7 years regularly. Over time, the service has gone from good, to O.K. to medicore to pathetic.

We visit Hugos about 6-8 times a year. Usually always for Mothers Day brunch and dinner other times. The food and service is usually always decent. However, the last 2 years, they have tried to seat us at the table NEXT TO the buffet line, which is loud and interruptive to enjoy brunch. This is even with reservations.

I made reservations with Hugos on Tuesday for Sunday brunch to celebrate a 70th Birthday. We arrived at for our10:30 reservation, and the lobby had a bunch of people there, but nobody was being seated. After waiting in line to talk to the Maitre'd, I had my turn, gave him my name and he said "We'll seat you next."

The next thing, the hostess comes back and seats 2 other parties. I bit my tongue. Finally, we get seated by someone, who was either a bus boy or new, and spoke very little english. He takes us right back to the table that backs up next to the brunch line. We've been put here before, and its always a hassle to get another table. When the guy showed us the table, I immediately cringed. I asked for another table. The host looked at me like he was trying to figure out what I was saying, and said that there was no other tables available (tons of tables around were empty).

I asked to speak to the manager. The host told me that there was nothing we could do. So I walked to the front to talk to the main guy at the maitre'd station. I told him calmly that we, for some reason, always get seated there, and the host that seated us said that there's nothing that can be done. I told him that I didn't like how we continue to be placed there over and over again.

The Maitre'd looked at me like, sarcastically apologized, and then with a angry look on his face asked me to "calm down" and there was "no reason" to "act like that". To which I was surprised, since I had maintained my temper without getting angry. I wasn't happy with the way we were being treated, so we left.

Service like this is not going to fly, no matter how good the food is.

To the owners of Hugos, you need to get your staff under control and start treating customers like they're customers again.

We ended our jaunt at Kenny and Ziggy's where the service and food was excellent.