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 October 21, 2011. Cars that talk to each other, the Cadillac XTS looks to take over for the Lincoln Town Car, the Chevy Malibu Coupe bites the dust, BMW to import an all-new 3 Series wagon and Jaguar entry-level sedan woes - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
Cars that drive themselves might still be a long way off, but vehicles that are capable of talking to each other electronically are already here. General Motors has created a range of mobile devices that can be installed in almost any vehicle and then used to help that automobile receive and transmit alerts about driver behavior, road and traffic conditions and weather information.
The devices, which make use of GPS transponders and feature smart phone integration, are designed to provide an extensive amount of information concerning the location of other vehicles and even cyclists and pedestrians in order to help drivers avoid collisions. Updates concerning construction, slippery or curvy roads and the position of stop signs and traffic snarls can also help owners plan their routes more efficiently and avoid spending time sitting in gridlock or braving hazardous conditions. GM expects the technology to become commercially available before 2020.
The departure of the Lincoln Town Car has left a gaping hole in livery fleets across the country. The Town Car was the go-to vehicle for high end taxi and limousine services, and although Ford has attempted to position the Lincoln MKT crossover as a viable replacement the idea has thus far failed to gain significant traction.
Enter the upcoming Cadillac XTS full-size sedan. The Cadillac XTS was designed to replace both the Cadillac STS and the Cadillac DTS, and the front-wheel drive automobile serves as a sort of amalgamation of the former's sporty ride and the latter's plush comfort. According to an article published by Automotive News, even though the XTS is aimed at luring import luxury buyers away from their BMW and Lexus sedans, Cadillac is also making overtures to the "Black Car" business of high end fleet operators. A livery-only edition of the Cadillac XTS, which will offer a very similar features package when compared to the retail model, will go on sale in early 2012 right around the same time that the consumer edition of the luxury vehicle hits showrooms.
Mark this under the "Didn't Even Know It Was In The Works" file: Chevrolet has stopped development on a two-door edition of the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu mid-size sedan. The Malibu is certainly a handsome family car, but as Chevrolet has not offered a coupe version of the Malibu nameplate since the 1980's it is not so surprising that one won't be forthcoming in the near future, as reported by Inside Line.
In fact, it's somewhat mind boggling as to why a two-door Malibu was being considered in the first place. The affordable mid-size coupe market is not exactly one which has lit a fire in the imaginations of America vehicle shoppers over the past decade, with entries such as the Toyota Camry Solara, the Chrysler Sebring and the Dodge Avenger all biting the dust after being ignored by new car shoppers. Even diehards like the Honda Accord Coupe and the Nissan Altima Coupe attract only a small fraction of the customers who drive home in four-door editions of the same nameplates.
While on the subject of niche models with a small customer base, BMW has made it known that the upcoming 2012 BMW 3 Series sedan - which was unveiled last week - will eventually be joined by a wagon body style. Autoblog has quoted a BMW source as stating that the wagon (known as the Touring) will arrive in the United States in place of a rumored hatchback "GT" model.
BMW attempted to replace the 5 Series mid-size wagon with the 5 Series GT hatchback, but discovered that instead of retaining its family buyers it instead saw sales cannibalized from the 7 Series full-size sedan as well as a high rate of defection to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon.
Jaguar has been kicking around the idea of introducing an entry-level sedan for several years, but after the lukewarm reception given to its largely Ford-sourced X-Type offering in previous decade it has elected to proceed with caution and get all of its ducks in a row before making anything official.
Automotive News claims that while a new and more affordable Jaguar compact sedan and coupe are in the cards for 2014, the British marque is struggling with the fact that the smallest engine currently produced by the company is a 5.0-liter V-8 - hardly the mill one would expect to find under the hood of an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series competitor. A much smaller four or six-cylinder engine would need to be developed or imported in order for the vehicle to make sense in the company's lineup.