Friday, January 29, 2010

Honda's plan to add hybrids to Acura's lineup

The Honda CR-Z is No CRX: Of coursework not; did you expect otherwise? My '87 CRX DX weighed 1900 pounds, was a blast to drive fast, & consistently got 33-41 mpg. The CR-Z looks a bit zaftig in the hind quarters, but if it can get out of its own way & handle well, with minimal understeer (like the CRX), it will be worth a second look. Being an IMA hybrid, though, the CR-Z's redline is some 1000 rpm short of the original CRX's, so the Mini Cooper S (& the upcoming sport coupe) & Honda Civic Si probably will remain the CRX's spiritual successors.

Most Significant News from Ford: Mark Fields says Ford will ramp up production of its full-size sport/utility vehicles. Ford Expedition sales rose 45 percent in December, & there is a 31-day supply. Lincoln has a 24-day supply of Navigators. A 60-day supply is the industry norm.

Why it is Significant: Because until gas goes up to $4+ per gallon & stays there, our tastes in cars & trucks won't be the same as they are in Europe.

40 mpg: The bogey EPA highway fuel mileage number for automakers doing business in the U.S. Ford says both the new Focus & new Fiesta will accomplish that with the new dry dual-clutch six-speed, which means the Focus will far outsell the Fiesta so long as they are priced within a couple-thousand dollars of each other. Chevy expects to get 40-mpg highway, , out of its 2011 Cruze.

Best Use of a Non-Aligned Brand: Fiat Auto owns Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia & part of Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge/Ram. It doesn't own Ferrari & Maserati, though -- that would be parent Fiat SpA. Yet, the Ferraris, Maseratis & their spokesmodels are all mixed in with the otherwise stark Chrysler display. Lovely way to draw crowds.

But Will the Focus Sell? Yes, it is a jewel-like automobile. The sedan looks like a shorter Mondeo. But until gas hits $4, the 34-mpg highway Fusion will outsell it (the hybrid's mileage is higher of coursework). Despite what Ford thinks, the Focus four-door sedan will outsell the Focus four-door hatchback in the U.S., though I predict the Fiesta hatch will outsell the Fiesta sedan.

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