Tough times for Ferrari
Published: Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 8:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 8:49 p.m.
Hot off the press
Wanna buy Ferrari? The spy guy has picked up some interesting rumblings from certain financial circles to the effect that some, or even all, of Ferrari could soon be on the block. It's not that the exotic brand isn't doing well for its Fiat owner (which also owns most of Chrysler), but the Italy-based automaker needs to pare down or eliminate its massive debt load resulting from the deep European recession.
It's said that the sale of Ferrari would at least partially offset a large chunk of that debt and also allow Fiat to purchase the remaining 41.7 percent of Chrysler that it doesn't already own from the U.S. government. Apparently Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne isn't thrilled about selling off such an iconic brand as Ferrari, but ultimately he might not have much choice.
A lesson in Civics
The Sleuth is downright amazed at just how quickly an automaker can move when it really wants to. Case in point is the Honda Civic sedan. On average, most models are upgraded every three years with new front and rear body panels, revised suspensions, added content and other tweaks.
However Honda has changed the Civic after just one model year. Civic sales have remained strong throughout 2012 so there are no apparent public acceptance issues. Criticism from Consumer Reports and various enthusiast publications directed at the 2012 Civic could have had had something to do with it.
But the secretive one also suspects Honda is counterbalancing a competitive onslaught, including the new Dodge Dart, an enlarged and enhanced Nissan Sentra and an all-new 2014 Toyota Corolla and Kia Forte. Keeping the Civic fresh is the best way to keep the competition at bay.
Talk about fast turnaround. It took Honda just one model year to redo the Civic.
Jeep is Fiat's jewel
For The Sleuth, it has been clear since Day One that the Jeep brand was the real prize for Fiat in its 2010 majority acquisition of Chrysler. That acquisition has paid off handsomely, with record sales of its Wrangler and Grand Cherokee models.
Now the sneaky one hears that the variety of Jeep models is about to increase to six from the current four and that the newbies will be based on existing Fiat/Alfa Romeo platforms. In addition, plans are afoot to sell a lot more Jeeps throughout Europe and Asia, as well as here in North America.
What this should mean is the replacements for the Compass and Patriot will arrive with a distinct Euro flavor, if not in looks but in mechanical content, including more fuel-efficient engines. A mid-January reveal of at least one new Jeep and possibly an upcoming prototype is expected at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich.
Recognizing Jeep's brand value, more models will be added and sold around the world.
To Infiniti and beyond
The Sleuth's hyperactive grapevine is abuzz after Nissan's luxury-centered Infiniti branch completely rearranged the labeling of its vehicles for the 2014 model year to call all of them either "Q" for sedans, or "QX" for SUV/wagons.
From what your trenchcoat-wearing spy can figure out, the current M sedan becomes the Q70, the G37 coupe will be called the Q60 and the G37 sedan will wear the Q50 brand. The four Infiniti wagon names will range from QX50 to QX80, replacing the EX, FX, JX and QX designations. If it all sounds so confusing it's because it is, but The Sleuth thinks all the online carping about names is complete nomenclature nonsense.
Considering Infiniti doesn't sell that many vehicles in North America in the first place, the naming conversion process should be relatively painless.
So, after one model year, the JX35 will be called the QX . . . something. Confused?
Limo business is up for grabs
If someone else pays for your ride to and from the airport, you've likely logged a few miles luxuriating in a Lincoln Town Car. However, since the Ford-owned brand's demise following the 2010 model year, the Town Car will soon vanish. Then what?
The Sleuth hears that Carey International, Inc., regarded as the world's largest limousine firm, is trying to decide which vehicle will best serve its needs and those of its customers. Among the contenders to replace Carey's fleet are the Chrysler 300, Toyota Avalon and Lincoln's own MKT wagon.
But the word from inside sources is that Cadillac's newly created Livery Package for the 2013 XTS sedan has piqued Carey's interest. It will be a mad scramble to see which conveyance is chosen, but the sneakster is betting his rent money on the XTS to deliver the goods for Carey and others.
The Sleuth has a hunch that the new Cadillac XTS will become the limo of choice to replace the Lincoln Town Car.
Up, American Suzuki: Ever since the U.S. branch of Japan-based Suzuki announced it was filing for bankruptcy, sales of the automaker's products have climbed significantly, up 22 per cent (to 2,224 vehicles), in fact, for the month of November. As a result, Suzuki is shipping an extra 2,500 units to its dealer network to help handle the extra demand.
Up, Fresh from the Bat Cave: In case you were wondering who owns the original Batmobile from the 1960s TV show, the car never left the hands of creator George Barris. The "King of the Kustomizers" took just 15 days to make the Batmobile, but he had quite a headstart with the bubble-top 1950s Lincoln Futura concept car. Replicas were made for public appearances, but the original has remained in Barris's hands since 1966.
Now, though, the car will be put up for auction at the upcoming Barrett-Jackson collector-car event.
How much will it go for? Craig Jackson of Barrett-Jackson has suggested several million dollars.
Auction organizers have planted the seed about how much it will take to pry the Batmobile out of the George Barris's hands.
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