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Steering Out of Trouble

With market showing signs of recovery, Continental rolling out new safety systems, including Emergency Steer Assist.

by on Jun.17, 2010

Continental's next-generation safety technology, ESA, could help you steer out of trouble.

The US auto market is finally bouncing back – at least in the eyes of Samir Salman, CEO of Continental’s North American Automotive operations.  And that could be good news for suppliers hoping to find a market for next-generation safety technology, he says.

“We initially thought the rebound that we’re seeing now might have taken three to four years,” Salman said, “but the current 11.5-million unit production level is encouraging.”

While discussing new technologies that Continental has ready for production, Salman said that he expects the rebound to continue into 2011 with 12.5 – 13 million units produced.


“Compared to 2009 sales of 8.5 million, things are looking pretty good, but we’ve got a long way to go. We expect that sustainable sales of 15 – 16 million units are possible in the next three to five years.” had the opportunity to speak with Salman as Continental showed American and European journalists new safety-related products from three of the supplier’s divisions; Chassis and Safety, Powertrain and Interior. (Continental’s tire operations, the highest-grossing in the group, were not included.)


First Drive: 2011 Ford F-Series Super Duty

Oh, if fuel were really cheap again…

by on Mar.08, 2010

Reviews Rex Roy longs for the days of $1-a-gallon gas, when he's driving the 2011 Ford Super Duty.

Sitting high behind the wheel of the 2011 F-250 Super Duty 4×4 King Ranch, I caught myself wishing for dollar-a-gallon diesel. At least then I’d have a semblance of an excuse for owning a truck that weighs over three tons and can yank an apartment building off its foundation.

The newest version of Ford’s over-8500 pound pickup is inexplicably cool to drive, especially if you’re towing five tons or crawling over boulders the size of Fiats. It’s not bad on-road either. But the reality is this isn’t the 1990s. Few people without a practical reason to own a heavy-duty truck will do so just because it looks good in the driveway.

Ford touts the 2011 Super Duty as all-new, but it isn’t. Nor does it need to be. The last major Super Duty makeover was in 2008, so it’s not like the current model was a dinosaur.

The biggest changes happened under the hood. There are two all-new engines (that really are all-new), as well as an all-new six-speed automatic transmission. Additionally, some of the sheet metal is different and the interiors are mildly freshened.

Trusted Reviews!

The timing for this refresh is important given that Dodge introduced their new 2010 Ram Heavy Duty at the end of last year, and that GM showed their beefier 2011 Silverado and Sierra HD models at the Chicago Auto Show. Given the company’s momentum, Ford wasn’t about to wait another two or three years to unleash their best new truck technologies. As the company has seen with their rollouts of the Escape, Mustang, Fusion, and Edge, buyers positively respond to meaningful product refreshes.


Lutz Says Show Me the Numbers

The numbers put it all in perspective….maybe.

by on Dec.21, 2009

Show me the numbers, says GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, referring to Buick's claims.

"Show me the numbers," says GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, when told of Buick's claims.

There are numbers, damn numbers and statistics.  Just ask the Buick folks.

The long-troubled brand has steadily seen those numbers dwindle, over the decades, though there have been a few small but important bright spots, lately, starting with the launch of the Enclave crossover and running up to the debut of the new LaCrosse.


How bright?  As it seems to always happen at press previews, Buick’s product marketing director, it was Craig Bierely’s compulsory role to put a positive spin on things, telling a captive crowd of journalists that since the LaCrosse sedan went on sale, late this year, the troubled division’s conquest sales of import buyers had quadrupled.


First Drive: 2010 Porsche Boxster Spyder

Light, quick antidote purists should love.

by on Dec.03, 2009

Lighterweight means markedly better performance with the 2010 Porsche Boxster Spyder.

Lighter weight means better performance with the 2010 Porsche Boxster Spyder.

There’s nothing like some positive sales news to make an automaker sound absolutely ebullient, so despite some cautions about the uncertain future, Porsche officials bolted into this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show sounding upbeat and optimistic about their expanding line-up.

There’s certainly been plenty of product news, of late, with the addition of models such as the 911 GT3 RS, 911 Turbo and Panamera.  And, for L.A., add the latest addition to the Boxster line, the 2010 Porsche Boxster Spyder.

Klaus Berning, Porsche’s executive board member responsible for worldwide sales and marketing noted that sales have been better than 2008 for the past four months, and the company is ahead 18-percent over the same period last year. Berning cited several factors, including that dealers have gathered more than 1500 orders for the 4-door Panamera.

Auto Show News!

Auto Show News!

These positive news items set the stage for the reveal of the 2010 Boxster Spyder. Most journalists had to wait until the sports car idled out onto the turntable, but the day before the L.A. Auto Show opened to the press, Porsche hosted a group of journalists in Carmel, California.


SEMA 2009: Running, But Not Quite On All Cylinders

“More opportunity for survivors”?

by on Nov.06, 2009

Saleen brought its latest offering, the S281 Mustang, to this year's SEMA show, but there were plenty of no-shows at the normally SRO event.

Saleen brought its latest offering, the S281 Mustang, to this year's show, but there were plenty of no-shows at the normally SRO event.

Veterans of the annual Specialty Equipment Market Association convention can gauge the gathering’s health like an old-school mechanic with stethoscope.

Arriving in Las Vegas early Monday, the show’s last day for set up, taxi lines that in past years would have consumed hours were non-existent. Driving to the Las Vegas Convention Center, our cab circled the large parking lot in front of the three main halls. Normally the space features display vehicles and mobile marketing rigs. While there was activity, vast areas that had once held a veritable midway were largely open.

Keep in tune with the "tuners."

Keep in tune with "tuners."

In the pressroom, journalists arrived to have their hopes dashed about scoring yet another SEMA-logoed roller-wheel backpack (coveted annual swag for more than a decade). Even the more functional, but less glamorous steno pads went missing, both for lack of sponsorship.

People keep working on their cars, said one SEMA 2009 exhibitor.  They just don't spend as much.

People keep working on their cars, said one SEMA exhibitor. They just don't spend as much.