It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for December 6, 2013. The 2015 Ford Mustang arrives, Paul Walker is killed under tragic circumstances, GM axes Chevrolet's European operations, the Ram ProMaster City makes some noise, and Mercedes-Benz opens up its pocketbook to placate S-Class owners. Let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. The 2015 Ford Mustang Leaks And Debuts In The Same Week
The hype surrounding the next-generation 2015 Mustang reached a fever pitch this week as photos of the car - in the form of a cell phone snapshot of an Autoweek cover, followed by Time magazine's flagrant disregard of the press embargo - preceded a five time-zone unveil on Thursday. The new Mustang features styling that continues its retro trend, along with the addition of a 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder EcoBoost engine option to the already-established drivetrain lineup that should put out roughly 300 horses. The biggest news, however, is in the chassis, which is now 200 lbs lighter and boasts an independent rear suspension system. Given that the previous version of the car handled exceptionally well with a live-axle setup, the redesign promises to be something special.
02. Paul Walker, Star of Fast and Furious, Dies In A Car Accident
Paul Walker, star of the most successful series of car movies in Hollywood's history, was killed this past week in a car accident. Walker's role as Brian O'Connor in the Fast and Furious franchise was only the tip of the iceberg when it came to his passion for automobiles, as he was an avid collector, driver, and racer - the only real 'car guy' in the cast. Walker was killed alongside his longtime business partner, Roger Rodas, and leaves behind a teenage daughter. He was 40 years old.
03. General Motors Pulls Chevrolet Out Of Europe
In a move that comes across as a lifeline to struggling Opel, General Motors has announced that it will be ending the sale of Chevrolet vehicles in most segments of the European market. The Automotive News reports that Chevrolet will continue to offer prestige models like the Chevrolet Corvette but will focus the rest of its promotional and logistical efforts on increasing Opel's bottom line. One exception to the pull-out is Russia, where Chevrolet enjoys significant success and where it will remain a part of GM's product mix. Chevrolet currently sells 200,000 vehicles a year in the rest of Europe, representing roughly 1.2 percent of the total market.
04. Ram To Introduce Ram ProMaster City In 2014
Who knew that cargo vans would emerge as one of the hottest new vehicle spaces of the last - and next - 12 months? Right on the heels of Ram's full-size ProMaster van debut this year comes news that a smaller version, dubbed the ProMaster City, would be arriving in dealerships before the end of 2014. Like the Ram ProMaster, the Ram ProMaster City will be a re-skinned FIAT van, in this case the Fiat Doblo, and it will also aim to marry practicality and efficiency by way of a range of small-displacement engines. The ProMaster City will go head to head with the Nissan NV200, the upcoming Chevrolet City Express (which is a badge-engineered NV200), and the Ford Transit Connect.
05. MB Select Illustrates Just How Serious Mercedes-Benz Is About S-Class Customers
If you are a Mercedes-Benz S-Class buyer, and if you are in any way unhappy with your ownership experience, don't hesitate to let your local Mercedes-Benz dealer know about it. The Silver Star mothership has given its dealer network carte blanche to please S-Class customers in the form of a $2,500 cash allowance that can be spent at the discretion of management to fix problems, soothe savage beasts, and otherwise placate any wealthy and irritated clients.
According to the Automotive News, the program is called MB Select, and it doesn't just target S-Class owners but has been extended (albeit with a $1,000 cap) to buyers of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class entry-level sedan and will also touch other important products in the near future. So far, MB Select has been used to compensate S-Class drivers for unexpected maintenance or minor issues in the form of free dinners and small gifts, and the company has suggested that body work and other at-cost services also be absorbed by the MB Select funds.