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 May 4, 2012. GM spurns Facebook, Porsche's four-doors good, two-doors bad philosophy, Toyota's RAV4 EV pricing, the death of the Lexus HS 250h, and the new Ford Taurus SHO Performance Package - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
It seems like a no-brainer: placing advertisements on arguably the world's most popular web destination in order to draw attention to new cars and trucks. To General Motors, however, Facebook advertising is an idea whose time has come and gone, as the automaker announced this week that it would be pulling its paid ads from the social media site.
Why has GM elected to give Facebook the cold shoulder? According to the an article in the Huffington Post, the $10 million it spent on Facebook ads simply wasn't providing the kind of return that the brand expected, leading to the decision to focus exclusively on maintaining its product pages on the website. $10 million might seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the $2.8 billion that the General spent on advertising in the U.S. in 2010, but the company is firm in its decision. As might be expected, Ford took the opportunity to take a few shots at GM's 'ineffective' Facebook strategy by way of a different social media site - Twitter - boasting of their own success on Facebook and holding it up as a blueprint for other companies to follow.
02. Porsche Walks Away From Sub-Boxster Roadster, Embraces Second Sedan
The on-again / off-again saga at Porsche concerning the viability of a smaller-than-the-Boxster sports car model would appear to have been finally put to bed. The Automotive News is reporting that the entry-level roadster is no longer in line for production, with Porsche citing fears that a more affordable model would 'dilute' the brand and risk damaging the delicate sensibilities of current customers. Conceivably this opens up the path to market for a Volkswagen-badged roadster offering similar performance, as VW no longer has to worry about cannibalizing sales from one of its most profitable divisions.
Porsche is still looking to expand its lineup, but it will be going after sport sedan shoppers instead of its traditional sports car buyer base. The Porsche Panamera has been an important success for the brand - in much the same way as the Porsche Cayenne SUV has been - and Autobild has published an article stating that a mid-size version of the luxury flagship is on the way within the next five years.
03. How Much Would You Pay For An Electric RAV4?
Toyota has released pricing for the Toyota RAV4 EV, and let's just say it's quite a lot to swallow. Those who complained that the Chevrolet Volt's $39,000 MSRP was too much to pay for a compact hybrid car will no doubt be flummoxed by the RAV4 EV small crossover's $49,800 price tag, which doesn't include the vehicle's $810 destination charge. The Toyota EV, which is subject to the same $7,500 income tax rebate as the Volt and the Nissan Leaf, is set to go on sale in California this summer, where it will also benefit from a $2,500 state tax rebate. The 154 horsepower electric RAV4 takes six hours to charge and delivers 100 miles of mixed driving on a full battery. The vehicle was developed in conjunction EV manufacturer Tesla and represents the first fruits of the partnership between the Japanese giant and the American upstart.
04. Lexus Deep-Sixes Lexus HS 250h Hybrid
As one electric vehicle joins the Toyota family another is slated to shuffle off this mortal coil. The Lexus HS 250h compact hybrid sedan has been unceremoniously dropped from the luxury brand's lineup due to the extremely slow sales that have dogged the automobile since its launch just a few short years ago. In fact, Lexus actually ceased production of the HS 250h all the way back in January and has kept a lid on the situation until this past week, when a formal announcement was made to the public.
The Lexus HS 250h was an experiment aimed at probing consumer interest in a small, premium hybrid car. While the HS 250h was certainly comfortable, lackluster fuel mileage (35-mpg city / 34-mpg highway) and a high price doomed it to play second fiddle alongside larger, more luxurious and more efficient options like the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.
05. Ford Unveils Track-Ready Package For Ford Taurus SHO
The Ford Taurus SHO might seem like an unlikely track star due to its considerable weight and family sedan aspirations, but EcoBoost power under the hood (365 ponies in total) and a host of suspension and performance upgrades have seen a considerable number of SHO owners testing out their automobile's capabilities on the drag strip and road course. In recognition of this, Ford has released a Performance Package for the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO.
What does the Performance Package bring to the table? Chassis changes include upgraded springs and shocks, larger brake calipers and track-oriented brake pads, and an OFF setting for the vehicle's electronic stability control that completely wipes out the sedan's driver's aides. Other tweaks include the SHO's electric power steering being recalibrated for a more direct connection with the road, new coolers for engine oil, the rear differential and the transmission, and a higher final drive gear ratio.