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 February 15, 2013. The Ram 1500 diesel, low production numbers for the Alfa 4C, SRT Viper officially out-of-stock, BMW Geniuses, and Volkswagen's infotainment plunge - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. Ram 1500 Goes Diesel
Want to steal the thunder away from rival GM's recent introduction of its next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups? Simply let it be known that your own half-ton truck - the Ram 1500 - will be available in just a few short months with a turbodiesel drivetrain under the hood. The 2013 RAM 1500 has already been lauded by media and owners alike as one of the best full-size pickups on the market, and the addition of a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 to the vehicle's options list is certain to attract scores of new customers to Ram showrooms.
Not since a slow-selling, not-all-that-efficient Chevrolet offering in the 1990s have light truck owners been able to order a turbodiesel motor in their daily driver, despite the fuel mileage savings associated with this type of technology. Technical details have yet to be released, but the same engine already on offer in the Jeep Grand Cherokee generates 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, and is matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission to help it achieve fuel mileage in the neighborhood of 30-mpg.
02. Upcoming Alfa 4C Sales To Be Limited By Fiat
We've been waiting a long time for the Alfa 4C sports, and now it appears that anyone who doesn't get in line with their cash-in-hand as soon as possible might have to extend their patience even longer. Fiat will only be bringing 1,000 initial examples of the mid-engine sports car to the United States, which mirrors the number being offered in Europe. The lightweight 4C has been given exotic looks and a turbocharged four-cylinder engine pegged to deliver about 240 horsepower, which would make it a force to be reckoned with in the performance car world. Pricing is still a mystery for the coupe, but in Europe it will crest 60,000 euros, which translates into approximately $80,000 USD.
03. 2013 SRT Viper Sold Out
From one sports car that's certain to sell out almost immediately to another that already has: the 2013 SRT Viper, which debuted to great fanfare at the 2012 New York Auto Show, has seen its entire production run of 800 snapped up by eager fans. Wards Auto is reporting that 80 percent of these vehicles represent the luxurious, and more potent GTS trim level, indicating that pent-up demand for a more comfortable Viper that could be used on a daily basis was high.
800 might not seem like a large number, especially when compared against the Chevrolet Corvette which is projected to move between 15,000 and 20,000 examples of its own redesigned 2014 edition. Ralph Gilles, head of SRT, is pleased with the volume, however, stating that once the convertible edition of the SRT Viper arrives in the next couple of years he expects combined coupe and drop-top sales to rise no higher than 2,000 models per year.
04. BMW Genius Everywhere To Take Edge Off Of Shopping For Luxury
Do you find shopping for a new BMW confusing? Do model and trim names like Z4 sDrive35is leave you wondering what, exactly, they could possibly mean? If so, then BMW will soon have a solution for you: the BMW Genius Everywhere program. BMW Genius Everywhere is intended to train a unique breed of product experts in the intricate details of the German luxury brand's lineup. These 'Geniuses' will then be set loose in BMW showrooms where they will intercept potential customers and offer useful information and answers to questions about its products. No selling will be done by the Geniuses Program initiates, with that particular duty left to traditional sales people.
05. Volkswagen Jumps Into Infotainment Game
Volkswagen might have partnered up with music industry heavyweight Fender in producing branded audio systems for its various vehicles, but until now it has resisted introducing a true infotainment suite in any of its automobiles. Later this year, however, the Automotive News is reporting that Volkswagen will be importing an in-dash system that will allow customers to link up their mobile devices and integrate apps into the driving experience. It will also offer roadside assistance, which has so far been absent from most Volkswagen products. The current Golf, which was recently redesigned for the European market, already benefits from the same type of system that will be allotted to American buyers.