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 January 18, 2013. An Italian Miata, the Dodge Dart wedding registry, Ford Fusion Energi gets official efficiency ratings, the C7 Corvette, and Lincoln's latest customer-seeking strategy - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
01. The Next Miata Will Also Be An Alfa Romeo
It's finally official: Mazda will be collaborating with Alfa Romeo to design and produce the next-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata. What's going to be shared between the tiny Japanese automaker and the corporate behemoth that is Alfa Romeo's parent company, Fiat? According to the joint press release, the vehicle's chassis will be the biggest common link holding the Mazda / Alfa Romeo venture together. Both Mazda and its Italian partner will bring their own respective power plants to the party, and styling will also be handled in-house on each side. The cost-savings associated with a Fiat partnership should help Mazda continue its return from the near insolvency that has plagued its recent history.
02. The Dodge Dart Wedding Registry
Getting married? Why not register at Dodge! That would seem to be the general thrust behind a new advertising campaign surrounding the Dodge Dart compact sedan, which now has its very own wedding registry website where brides and grooms can divide the car into various segments (steering wheels, seats) to be 'sponsored' by well-wishers. The Dodge initiative allows couples to set funding goals and expiration dates on the registry, and once these are reached a check is cut and sent to the impending newlyweds. Dodge can't actually require participants to spend the money on a Dart - or any other Dodge vehicle - but it's a unique take on the traditional wedding registry and just different enough to create a little buzz for the automobile.
03. 2013 Ford Fusion Energi To Feature 620 Mile Range
The 2013 Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid is very close to going on sale in the United States, and Ford has just released its predicted range and EPA fuel efficiency figures. The vehicle will be good for trips of up to 620 miles on its combined gasoline / electric drivetrain before it requires recharging or refueling, a figure which is substantially greater than its nearest competitors, the Honda Accord Hybrid. The Ford Fusion Energi will also offer 21 miles of battery-only driving, as well as an EPA rating of 108 mpg-e city and 92-mpg-e highway. Given the recent kafuffle over the standard Fusion Hybrid and C-Max Hybrid not meeting their advertised fuel economy targets in real-world driving, one can be assured that the Energi model will be under substantial scrutiny once it hits dealerships.
04. The New C7 Vette Is Here
At this past week's North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, all eyes were on Chevrolet and the introduction of the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Corvette. Dubbed the 'C7' Vette, this next-generation sports car brings with it significant interior refinement, the most powerful base engine ever installed in the coupe (a 450 horsepower, 6.2-liter LT1 V-8 that is also good for 450 lb-ft of torque), and the hottest performance right out of the box (0-60 mph in less than four seconds). Styling changes made to the new Corvette were evolutionary but dramatic, as the car now features a greater number of vents and hard edges that combine to give it a more aggressive personality.
05. Lincoln To Follow Scion Down The Customization Path?
It seems like every couple of weeks or so we hear about a new strategy for how Lincoln is going to move its brand forward and recapture the market share that has gradually slipped through its fingers over the course of the past 20 years. This week, it was the Automotive News reporting that the latest direction that Lincoln's path from the wilderness of luxury obscurity will take is one that will introduce greater personalization across its lineup.
The article quotes Lincoln's Jim Farley as stating that the customization that was emphasized during his time at Scion is something that could work well for the automaker's more mature audience, especially in terms of creating higher margins on semi-bespoke models. Anything that could help differentiate Lincoln from the competition would be welcome from the luxury brand at this stage of its existence.
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