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Ford the wiser, dead American brands, no diesel GTI

Posted by Bill Griffith  March 31, 2009 04:30 PM

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Wagoner Nardelli and MulallyFrom left, former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli, and Ford CEO Alan Mulally testify on Capitol Hill last November prior to the automotive industry bailout. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Editor's note: Bill Griffith shares his take on the unprecedented automotive news from the past several days and highlights his favorites.

1. "As GM goes, so goes the country." With the government running the country's largest automaker, that certainly takes on new meaning. I have no problem with President Obama ousting GM CEO Rick Wagoner, someone I consider a good man trying to do an impossible job. Just wondering: Why didn't some Wall Street CEOs get the same treatment?

2. Some sort of bankruptcy/reorganization seems inevitable at GM, given President Obama's statement that the government will back all GM warranties.

3. That all begs the big question: Would you buy a GM vehicle now?

4. Ford's decision to avoid taking government loans – and the attached strings – looks wiser by the day.

5. AMC, Checker, DeSoto, Hudson, Kaiser, LaSalle, Nash, Packard, Rambler, Stanley, Studebaker, Tucker, Willys. I tried to come up with 10 defunct US automakers off the top of my head and wound up with a baker's dozen. Add Oldsmobile (GM) and Plymouth (Chrysler) as recent brands I miss.

6. Will the all-electric Chevy Volt come to pass? As time goes by, you know other carmakers are working on their electric vehicles, so chances for the Volt to be a company-saver are dwindling. Are batteries still the problem? Yes.

7. Wonder how the folks at Honda's Formula One racing program are feeling this week? The 2009 Honda F1 cars were bought by former Benetton & Ferrari guru Ross Brawn, fitted with Mercedes engines, and swept the pole and finished 1-2 in last weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix. Wonder how the folks at Ferrari and Toyota are feeling, given that result.

8. The government's fuel economy requirement for cars rises from 27.5 to 30.2 in 2011. For trucks, it goes from 23.1 to 24.1. And, for manufacturers' fleets, from 25.3 to 27.3.

9. Hyundai is on a roll. It's bucking the trend by actually seeing sales increases (or at least staying level). The company has an electric vehicle in the works, did a high-tech YouTube unveiling of its Genesis Coupe, had the best Super Bowl ad (in my humble opinion), and now is planning a high-m.p.g. replacement for the discontinued Tiburon – a vehicle with a personality.

10. Good news: The new VW GTI is on the way. Bad news: VW won't be sending the diesel version (mid-40s m.p.g.) to our shores.

11. Buick & Jaguar tied atop the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 vehicle dependability study for three-year-old vehicles, supplanting Lexus. The leaders had 122 reported problems per 100 cars compared with 126 for Lexus, which fell to No. 3. Rounding out the Top 10: 4. Toyota, 130; 5. Mercury, 134; 6. Infiniti, 142; 7. Acura, 146; 8. Lincoln, 147; 9. tie between Cadillac and Honda, 148.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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1 comments so far...
  1. GO FORD GO First On Race Day !!

    Posted by tim6119 April 2, 09 02:39 AM

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Clifford Atiyeh is an automotive writer and car enthusiast . He has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own.
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Bill Griffith is a veteran Boston Globe reporter, having reviewed cars for more than 10 years and serving as assistant sports editor for 25 years. He was also the paper's sports media columnist.
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