Odds and Ends about Cars and the Car Business
By Brendan Moore
JAY LENO, host of The Tonight Show, stand-up comedian, and, perhaps the most famous auto aficionado in the world, is going to bring his Las Vegas road act to the Detroit area, and he’s going to do it for free. The tickets are free to the people in the Detroit Metro Area that want to have a night out. Leno says he really feels for Detroit and he wants to do something for the city and its residents. But, of course, since this is Detroit, someone on the City Council is unhappy with the idea. Martha Reeves, the former lead singer of the Motown singing group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and now a Detroit councilwoman, was piqued by the fact that the two shows would be at the Palace of Auburn Hills (April 7 and April 8) outside of Detroit. She wanted the shows to be in the city of Detroit at Joe Louis Arena. Ms, Reeves seems to have been mollified by a promise from Leno’s people that a future show could be held in Detroit. Meanwhile, the free tickets have already shown up on eBay, being offered (scalped) for as much as $200 apiece, and this is making Leno himself pretty unhappy. Last night on The Tonight Show, he stated, “Here is something that annoys me. I look on eBay today and I see four tickets to my show for sale. … You’re out of your mind to pay $800 to see me. … I would like to ask the people on eBay to take the tickets down. There is nothing for sale here.” It appears today that the ticket sale offers have been removed from eBay.
MERCEDES-BENZ continues to poach good designers from other manufacturers. In January, they got Joel Piaskowski, Hyundai’s North American design chief, who had been with the company since 2003, and was with GM for 13 years before 2003. Piaskowski was credited with being the design force behind the new Hyundai Genesis sedan and coupe. He is now in charge of advanced design for Mercedes in North America. Now M-B has gained Karim Habib, the guy who designed the exterior of the new BMW 7-Series, from BMW. Habib will oversee the advanced design studio of Mercedes in Stuttgart. Gorden Wagener, the new head of design overall at M-B, is building quite a stable of design stars at his new place of employment.
SAAB is being considered as an acquisition by six to eight very large companies, according to Sweden’s Industry Minister Maud Olofsson. But, as she put it, “There are many who go to apartment viewings, but not everyone is there to buy.” Saab intends to find a new owner in the next 60 days.
CAR magazine of England says the new Jaguar XFR is a better car than the BMW M5, the long-time standard of sports sedans. The magazine said the new 503 BHP supercharged Jaguar coupe is also better than the new Audi RS6. Chris Chilton, the author of the piece in CAR, stated thus: “The XFR has a broader range of talents. It’s a points win for the Jaguar – a brilliant all-rounder.” The new Jaguar is a particular favorite of the staff here at Autosavant; a wonderful car that just doesn’t seem to put a foot down wrong. So we’re happy to see the car get its just deserts.
General Motors is confident that the company will do better in an organized restructuring than if they filed bankruptcy, CEO Rick Wagoner told reporters today at a press conference in Washington. Wagoner says that the chances of a restructuring working are better than the chances of a bankruptcy working. Wagoner also reitereated that a bankruptcy would be more expensive than a restructuring, and that the government would have to provide much more financing in order to effect a successful bankruptcy.
CHERY, one of the large Chinese auto manufacturers, plans to launch a premium brand tomorrow. Like Toyota, Honda and Nissan before it, Chery wants to show the world that they are not just an economy car company. Oddly, there are absolutely no details to be had in advance of the launch tomorrow, only rumours about what might be in the lineup, what might be the brand name and badge, etc. There are some details about the other part of the Chery brand that will be sectioned off; that is, the commercial use brand. That brand will be called Karry and is promised to have a flatbed truck and a pickup truck in the future, as well as some car-based cargo haulers.
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