Archive for September, 2006|Monthly archive page

Paris Motor Show: Porsche 911 Targa

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Porsche also debuted its 2007 911 Targa 4 and 4S at the Paris Motor Show, in addition to the superlative 2007 911 GT3 RS. The Targa concept has been around since 1966, and the new Targa 4 and 4S give buyers the option of having the open sky experience of a convertible without loosing the rigidity of a solid roof. The 4.2 pound glass roof of the Targa 4/4S can be retracted to provide 4.8-square feet of open air. The glass rear hatch compliments the roof by continuing the open-air impression all the way to the rear of the car, and the roof frame is embellished with a polished aluminum strip to hark back to the days of the removable top Targas of the first generation 911. There is also a semi-translucent, black-cloth sunblind to protect the occupants from the sun”s death rays.

The drivetrain choices are similar to the current 911 hardtop and convertible, so the Targa is an interesting compromise for those who may love the open air motoring but find a hardtop more practical. Thanks to Eric again for catching the Targa 4S in the flesh, so to speak.

More photos after the jump.

 

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Ford Credit looking for its own Way Forward

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The cutting and slashing continues over at FoMoCo”s finance arm, Ford Motor Credit. On Tuesday they announced the closing of 59 offices within the U.S. and the elimination of 2,000 jobs from its 8,500 strong workforce in the United States and Canada. Additionally, the number of regional offices within North American will be reduced to six. The process will continue through 2007, during which time the employees chosen to stay will either be transferred to another location or allowed to work out of home offices. Hopefully, for Ford Motor Credit”s employees, this should be the last stage of Ford”s consolidation that began in 2002 and has cut over 6,000 jobs over the last four years. The full press release can be viewed after the jump. PRESS RELEASE >

FORD MOTOR CREDIT COMPANY TO RESTRUCTURE ITS NORTH AMERICAN OPERATIONS, REDUCE GLOBAL COSTS

  • Fifty-nine branches will combine with six existing service centers, consolidating originations and servicing functions in the United States.
  • Dealers will continue to be served by sales personnel located in their markets; consolidated operations will provide dealers with extended hours of service and faster contract approvals.
  • Operating costs to be reduced through global cost reductions, North American restructuring and salaried personnel reductions of about 2,000 positions.

DEARBORN, Mich., Sept. 28, 2006 – Ford Motor Credit Company today announced it is consolidating and centralizing most of its originations and servicing operations in the United States to reduce costs and improve process efficiencies. At the same time, the company said it is reducing its operating costs through efforts that include salaried personnel reductions of about 2,000 positions in the United States and Canada.

This continues the company”s global business transformation that has been ongoing for more than a decade. “We have a history of managing change effectively, and I”m confident the course we are on will be equally successful,” said Mike Bannister, chairman and CEO.

Ford Motor Credit will consolidate its remaining 59 U.S. branches into six existing service centers, creating new business centers that will manage originations, dealer credit and wholesale operations in addition to the servicing functions already handled today. Sales employees who work directly with dealers will remain in local markets to maintain and enhance their strong dealer connections. Completion of the branch consolidation is expected by the end of 2007. A similar structure is being considered for Ford Motor Credit”s operations in Canada, which currently has seven branches and one service center.

“As a company with strong business fundamentals, we believe this new structure will further strengthen our operational effectiveness,” said Bannister. “Our strong collections processes will continue while we enhance our originations of automotive financing contracts. T he North American restructuring also will provide us with the flexibility and scale necessary to adapt to any changes in business conditions.”

“Many of the same Ford Motor Credit salespeople who call on our dealers today will continue to do so going forward,” said A.J. Wagner, president of Ford Motor Credit Company North America. “Our salespeople have a unique understanding of our dealers” market and business issues and are in the best position to provide them with practical solutions to support their business.”

In the last decade, Ford Motor Credit has restructured operations in Australia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, North America and the UK with a focus on reducing costs and improving process efficiencies. Since 2003, Ford Motor Credit has closed nearly 110 branches in the U.S. and Canada.

Personnel reductions will be achieved through attrition, early retirements, voluntary separations and, if necessary, involuntary separations. Currently, about 8,600 employees work in Ford Motor Credit offices in the U.S. and Canada; the region accounts for 75 percent of the company”s global business. As of June 30, 2006, the company”s global managed receivables were $151 billion.

Ford Motor Credit Company is one of the world”s largest automotive finance companies and has supported the sale of Ford products since 1959. With about 14,000 employees, Ford Motor Credit operates in 36 countries. Ford Motor Credit is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. It provides automotive financing for Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda and Volvo dealers and customers. More information can be found at http://www.fordcredit.com and at Ford Motor Credit”s investor center, http://www.fordcredit.com/investorcenter/.

 

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Suzuki unveils MIO: the fuel-cell powered wheelchair

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From sister-blog Engadget comes word of an adorable new Suzuki that should have people rolling in the aisles. Not because it”s funny looking, but because it will offer mobility to those who need the aid only a wheelchair can provide. And guess what? It”s one of the greenest vehicles on the planet too. Ditching the old-school lead-acid batteries of its forefathers, the new Suzuki MIO uses a so-right-now fuel cell-powered motor. Well, it doesn”t forego batteries altogether, using a “large capacity Li-ion secondary battery.” Range should be around 25 miles per 4 liter methanol fill-up. And check out the other slick features on this broken-hip whip. The MIO uses armrests that double as safety barriers, ergonomic handlebars, a ventilated mesh seating surface, and an LCD panel that displays fuel level and power status. Suzuki insists the MIO is simply a prototype, and offers no pricing details while it “judges consumer interest.” [Source: Engadget]

 

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Paris Motor Show: Ligier Be Two

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The Paris Motor Show isn”t all about luxury and supercars, and Eric discovered this example of the oddities on display alongside the more glamorous hardware. Ligier Automobiles, a French company with an extensive competition history that includes its eponymous Formula 1 team, is displaying what may be the ultimate in “entry-level” vehicles – the Be Two quadricycle. The space-frame Be Two is powered, if that”s the word, by a 505 cc two-cylinder diesel engine, putting out a ground-pounding 4KW (about 5.5 hp) through a continuously-variable transmission. No performance figures are given, but more information about the Be Two, and its big brother, the Be Up, are available at the company”s website. More pictures after the jump!

 

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Paris Motor Show: Ferrari 612 P4/5 photos

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Eric Bryant just wired a whole batch of pics of our favorite coachbuilt supercar, the James Glickenhaus commissioned Ferrari 612 P4/5! Now it”s true we”ve covered this car extensively in the recent past, but if you don”t want to see any more photographs of it, you can just skip this item. For those who can appreciate too much of a good thing when that thing is so very good, click through for more pics and links to previous posts about this Enzo-based homage to the LeMans-winners from Ferrari”s glorious racing past. Scroll fast enough and it will look like a slideshow! Related Posts:

 

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Paris Motor Show: Hyundai HED-3 Arnejs

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Hyundai finally revealed the HED-3 Arnejs concept to the world this week, and our friends at Autoblog Spanish were there to gather vital photographic documentation of the models posing with the car as it basked under the lights at the Paris Expo. This corporate sister ship to the Kia cee”d will arrive in production trim sometime in 2007, and like the Kia, it”ll be a Europe-only model. The concept car features a 2.0L 170-horsepower four mated to a 5-speed automatic. The production version will target market powerhouses like the VW Golf and Renault Megane, and will presumably be more upscale than the Kia cee”d. The Arnejs concept sports 19″ turbine-style wheels, a two-tone interior, and an interesting-looking v-shaped glass roof panel. As for the inexplicably bizarre name, your guess is as good as ours. We gave up trying to figure out the naming strategies automakers come up with a long time ago. Plenty more to see after the jump. Guys can send thank you notes to Autoblog Spanish”s man on the floor, Alberto Ballestin. (Additional live shots and press photos after the jump) [Source: Autoblog Spanish (translated)] PRESS PHOTOS:

 

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They’re at it again: CA Sues Automakers on CO2 Emissions

If any of you have followed my posts on this site, you know I’m no great fan of the heavy-handed tactics employed by activist governments. I am, for example, philosophically opposed to the smoking ban in cars (as opposed to being pro-tobacco, a fact that seems to be lost on most of you). I’m sure I’m going to get a similar response for my stand on this latest act of lunacy by California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer.

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Saint Hugo: Pandering to America’s Poor

Last week, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez took the podium at the United Nations and proceeded to blast the Bush administration and the United States. He repeatedly called President George W. Bush “the devil” and that the council chambers “still smells of sulfur” all the while genuflecting and looking heavenward. As if this was not enough to convince everyone of his benevolent intentions, he then staged a PR coup at a Harlem church to hand out discounted heating oil contracts to disadvantaged families in America through Citgo, the wholly-owned Venezuelan government oil company.

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Prius Gamepiece: Sign of the Times?

In the newest “Here and Now” version of Monopoly, Hasbro has replaced the old open-wheel race car with a Toyota hybrid Prius. Other game pieces included are a mug of Starbucks Coffee, a New Balance running shoe, a carton of McDonald’s fries, and a laptop.

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5 Questions to ask while conversing with a minitrucker: Now you know!

1. How did you get into this scene?
Notice the difference between HOW and WHY. Asking “why”, (generally speaking, of course), is accompanied by a mocking, skeptical attitude, while asking “how” shows less bias and more curiosity. Whenever you come across a unique hobby or automotive enthusiast niche, you may find there was a likewise unique entrance into that “world.”

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