Monday, December 29, 2003

Doug's Automotive Predicteration for 2004

#1) For better or worse, the automotive horsepower race will continue unabated. Nissan's groundbreaking success in appealing to lead-footed instincts will breed a host of copycats. Witness Acura's 2004 TL, boasting 270 horsepower versus the G35's 260. Look for 300 horsepower sports sedans, in the under $40K category, coming soon to showrooms near you.

#2) Mazda will continue its struggles. Its margins must be truly appalling and I suspect its volumes are disappointing overall. Witness the RX-8, which has been priced to undercut the G35 Coupe. Or the Mazda 6 Sports Sedan, which has some appeal, but is fighting against premium brands that have introduced low-end competitors (e.g., Acura's TSX). The Miata needs more horsepower... significantly more. In short, not a pretty picture.

#3) As I've written previously, VW's Phaeton will be an unmitigated sales disaster.

#4) Porsche will be forced to find a partner as it struggles to survive. At nearly every level, Porsche has been met with major challenges: Infiniti's FX versus the Cayenne, the G35 Coupe versus the Porsche Coupe, the Honda S2000 versus the Boxster. Porsche has to modify its model if it is to stay in the game... since this won't happen, its only other choice is to find a sugar daddy.

#5) Grille-challenged autos will suffer in the marketplace. Those models with bizarrely shaped grilles, presumably to establish uniqueness or brand awareness, will underperform equivalent models with conventionally shaped grilles. In the bizarre grille category: Acura and Mazda.

#6) Another safe bet: GM will continue to lose marketshare outside of Cadillac (which will perform a bit ahead of plan) and its Pontiac division, which will hold its ground - barely.

#7) Ford will take major heat for revelations that the Ford Foundation funded Palestinian and other interests not aligned with mainstream America. Expect Ford, Mercury, Jaguar and Volvo all to suffer as a result.

#8) The first manufacturer to produce an eco-friendly SUV (e.g., hybrid powerplant) for a reasonable price will perform astonishingly well in the marketplace.

#9) Hummer's forthcoming H3T will be a big hit among professional athletes, musicians and other playahs.

#10) Ford's new F150 will meet sales projections, but only by a hair.

Top Ten Fixes After HB12 is Law

From GlockTalk: "Top Ten Problems with HB 12 as passed by the General Assembly...

#3. Sec. 2923.16 creates a nearly unworkable framework for licensees to carry a firearm in an automobile, requiring that it be in a holster "in plain sight on the person's person" or locked up. Will this lead to a new market for chest holsters? What are women supposed to do who carry in their purses? What if your car's glove box doesn't lock? "

Read more: Top Ten Fixes for HB12.

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