By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion
A random collection of various industry news items for the beginning of the week..
The rich are not like us: According to observations and predictions by IHS Global Insight, sales of high-end luxury vehicles will grow at a double-digit rate through 2012. The idea is further supported by recent announcements from various companies.
Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes told the press that his company anticipates setting new sales records this year. RR is also investing a large amount of money to expand its UK plant. Mr. Mueller-Oetvoes said, “I do not feel that sentiment is deteriorating in the luxury market. We are dealing with people who are unusually wealthy and never really have to ask themselves, can I still afford this or not?”
Additionally, Ferrari (owned by FIAT) is capping its annual production at 7,000 units to, in their words, maintain exclusivity. Maserati (also owned by FIAT) has announced it wants to produce 45,000 cars per year by 2014, and introduced its SUV prototype, the Kubang (below), at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Industry watchers anticipate a “significant six-digit price tag” for the luxury ride.
Refreshing change from Ford: Ford’s Marketing boss, Jim Farley, recently said that the company’s advertising for its growing number of electric, hybrid and plug-in vehicles will focus on selling the car, not the company’s high-tech image or best fuel economy for the class. He said “customers who want EVs are sensitive to the environment, not just looking to save money on fuel.”
Zapped zoom: Mazda has ceased production of its hi-revving rotary engine found in the RX-8, and that car will not appear as a 2012 model. Company info says they’re working on a replacement for a 2014 model, but with stiffening fuel efficiency requirements their engineers have a rough road ahead to make the fuel-thirsty screamer comply. If you’ve never driven anything with a rotary engine, you should.
Just wondering: Many vehicles now use a continuously-variable transmission or CVT. Many owners don’t even notice the change from a common 4 or 5-speed automatic. The CVT is billed as always “being in the right gear” but critics have noted that CVTs are rather tame in performance and also may not enhance fuel mileage all that much.
On the traditional side, new multi-speed automatic boxes are appearing, aimed at boosting fuel mileage also through use of “best gear” control. Chrysler says they will couple a ZF 8-speed automatic to a new V-6 engine in some ’12 models, and ZF recently announced a 9-speed unit for front wheel drive cars. We wonder how many gears (speeds) can be included before the automatic becomes a near equivalent to a CVT.
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The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.