IIHS flunks Fusion
Okay, maybe not. But the Institute did announce a new batch of test results that included a poor rating for Ford's new Fusion sedan. The rating dealt Ford a potential major setback, as sales of the Fusion had been brisk since the start of the year. The Fusion received a Poor grade in its side crash protection test, a Marginal rating for rear crash protection and an Acceptable rating for its frontal offset test. Results also include the Mercury Milan. Ford has asked the Institute to retest with a Fusion equipped with side and side curtain airbags, which will become standard later this year.
The 2006 Pontiac G6 did better, but still suffered mixed results from the Institute, getting an Acceptable rating for side impact – with airbags – and a Marginal for rear impact tests. The G6 did score a Good rating for frontal impact, however, as did the 2006 Hyundai Sonata. The Sonata also received an Acceptable rating for side impact, and a Good rating during rear impact testing.
You know the old adage: you get what you pay for – and it’s especially true when it comes to vehicle safety, apparently, as the BMW 3-Series and the Lexus IS received Top Safety Picks for side, front and rear impacts. Both the 3 series and the IS were silver safety award winners, the 3 Series matching the IS with cars built after February of 2006.
On top of the Fusion’s poor rating, Ford has also hunkered down after predicting no profit for 2006. According to the company’s annual report, Ford expects to spend $1 billion restructuring its North American operations this year. Ford also noted that the bankruptcy of an “unnamed” competitor would be bad for its business, giving the “unnamed”competitor an advantage.
They must be referring to Toyota, right?
GM prices may vary
It’s hard to say if the strategy is working, as February sales were flat to down for most automakers. For GM, sales fell 2.5 percent, while Ford took a hit of 3 percent. Toyota increased sales 2.4 percent, and Hyundai was up a whopping 8.7 percent in February. DaimlerChrysler also enjoyed a boost of 4.3 percent, and Honda gained almost nine percent. As if on cue, of course, domestic automakers are extending discounts. This time, however, they promise not to get into a rebate frenzy like they have in the past, saying that incentives would be more selective. Sure….
So watch out for the HIGHLY selective GM March Madness promotion coming soon. According to the Detroit News, GM will lower sticker prices on slow selling models, and offer up to $1,500 cash. There will also be zero percent offers from Ford and Chrysler, along with piles of consumer cash stacked up on hoods. Plus, chances are you can get a real good price on a Fusion about now…
You can also get a good price on a GMC Yukon, too, which is a mild surprise – the Yukon, after all, was just redesigned along with the Tahoe, a large SUV that has enjoyed robust sales. General Motors has set sticker prices for the new Yukon at about $890 less than the models being replaced – a screaming deal, if you ask me.
Consumer Reports picks
That kind of success tells you pretty much all you need to know. Add to that news about failed safety tests and discount pricing gimmicks, and it’s as obvious as a Dodge Ram Mega Cab: people are willing to spend money on innovative, quality cars that have proven to be dependable, year after year. If you’re still skeptical, consider this: Honda sales have risen by 14 percent in the first two months of this year alone.
Their frustration is understandable, as is their skepticism of Eriksson’s story about a mystery German named Dietrich, though some may think Dietrich is the engineer on the new VW GTI commercial. The happy ending to this surreal tale? Ferrari says the Enzo can be repaired for about $200,000 - $300,000. Something tells me that the famous car just may wind up in a collection somewhere, and Fat Steffy – after jail time – will be driving a 1974 Chevy Vega. Let’s see him try to get that thing to fly.
Photos courtesy of General Motors, the IIHS and Ferrari.