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 June 28, 2013. The Ford F-150 Tremor, the end of the Peugot family’s reign, NISMO fun for Nissan Leaf owners, a diesel Mazda MAZDA3, and Jaguar spurns two V8 Supercars invites - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
The Ford Raptor is an excellent performance pickup, but its off-road focus leaves those who prefer to keep their hooning antics on the pavement a little left out. Enter the Ford F-150 Tremor, a short-wheelbase truck with a locking rear differential and a twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 engine under the hood. Still spitting out the stock rating of 365 horses and 420 lb-ft of torque, the Tremor improves its acceleration by way of a 4.10 rear end gear ratio - a first for an EcoBoost F-150. Ford says that the truck, which walks in the footsteps of the departed supercharged F-150 Lightning, will sprint to 60-mph in just a tick or two over six seconds.
Peugot/Citroen is in trouble, and it would appear that the family that controls the French automotive giant might have finally realized that the company’s issues go beyond their capability to fix. Reuters and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that the automaker’s cash situation is dire, with funds predicted to run out by the end of this year, and that the Peugot family is now willing to listen to a GM offer to increase its stake in the organization from seven percent to a majority. It’s not set in stone that General Motors would be willing to invest in such an ailing company, but the move is thought to be one that would see captive brand Opel merge at least a portion of its production facilities with its European rival.
Actually, it’s called the NISMO Performance Package, but that’s splitting hairs. The important thing to take away is that Nissan is now offering a sport-tuned version of the Nissan Leaf electric car. The NISMO Performance Package adds improved aero bits (including custom bumpers, skirts, and a rear spoiler), as well as lightweight wheels, a lowered ride height, a stiffer suspension system, and a re-tune of the car’s power management software that provides more spirited response from the Leaf’s electric motor as well as better battery range. So far, the package has been restricted to the Japanese market.
The Automotive News has published an interview with Mazda North America CEO Jim O’Sullivan that the diesel engine that is currently making waves under the hood of the Mazda Mazda6 mid-size sedan hasn’t been ruled out as a potential power plant for the recently revealed 2014 Mazda MAZDA3 compact hatch and sedan. The redesigned MAZDA3 will gain a hybrid drivetrain for sale outside of the American market, leaving the Skyactiv gasoline engine family and potentially the 2.2-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel as the automaker’s fuel efficiency champions. The MAZDA3 would join the Cruze and the Jetta to form a trio of entry-level diesel cars available in the United States.
The V8 Supercars series is a popular racing franchise in Australia, one that pits tuned sedans against each other in an exciting and action-packed door-to-door format. We won’t be seeing the Jaguar XF in the series anytime soon, however, as Motoring.com.au has reported that a Jaguar spokesperson has stated that the brand is not at all interested in competing against the homegrown Australian crowd. The same individual indicated that Jaguar saw no value in fielding an entry that wouldn’t be competitive with the significantly-invested Holden Commodore teams, and indicated that this same lack of experience would embarrass Volvo and Mercedes-Benz AMG, each of which are facing the same odds as newcomers to the sport.