Archive | March 2013

It’s Another Tough Week at Fisker as Workers Are Furloughed, Restructuring Lawyers Consulted

Fisker Karma Front Quarter

Covering Fisker Automotive’s unraveling will likely turn into somewhat of a series here on Downshift Autos, as this week saw the distressed automaker furloughing its entire 200+ American workforce for one week, as well as hiring law firm Kirkland & Ellis for possible bankruptcy advisement, Reuters reports.

Bad news was foreshadowed by the departure of co-founder and namesake Henrik Fisker on March 13, citing disagreements with management regarding future business strategy. One week later, on March 20, Chinese auto manufacturer Geely (Zhejiang Geely Holding Group) officially withdrew from negotiations to purchase Fisker, a disappointing development as Geely was favored to overtake the company. That left only another Chinese automaker, the state-run Dongfeng Motor Group, as the most likely to purchase Fisker; Dongfeng dropped its bid yesterday.

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Hatchbacks and Wagons Are in Full Effect at New York Auto Show

As Americans continue to downsize from full- and midsize SUVs to smaller crossover utility vehicles and regular cars, auto manufacturers are hoping to sell more hatchbacks and wagons, vehicle types that combine the practicality of a large storage area with the fuel economy of a typical sedan. Americans have been notoriously resistant to hatchbacks and wagons, and I’ve done my fair share of bitching about it, but there are plenty of new 3- and 5-doors being released on our shores over the next year that are looking to chisel away at that resistance. Here are the wagons and hatchbacks that debuted at this year’s New York Auto Show:

2014 Volvo V60

Volvo V70 Front 2 Hi Res

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2014 Cadillac CTS Goes on a Diet, Now Comes With MORE POWER

2014 Cadillac CTS

All photos courtesy of General Motors

Cadillac unveiled the 2014 CTS today at the first press day of the New York International Auto Show, and judging by the specs sheet, the new midsize from the General’s luxury division appears to be even more a worthy competitor to the normal German sports sedans than ever before. Read More…

BMW 3 Series Will Get a Wagon, and the M6 Gets a Stick

BMW 3 Series Wagon Front Quarter

Anyone paying attention to BMW’s business strategy knows that the Bavarian automaker is constantly expanding and tweaking its lineup as it attempts to appeal to every possible demographic and their respective (assumed) wishes. BMW doesn’t think Americans buy wagons, so they created the ugly as sin 3 and 5 Series GTs. Want an SUV but with none of the practicality or usefulness? An X6 for you! A not so-Mini Cooper that is a two-door version of a four-door small CUV that itself is just a bigger, fatter Hardtop? I have no idea why anyone would want such a thing, but Mini makes it with the Paceman. Sometimes, though, BMW, in its quest to cover every possible margin, creates something for the people who love driving, even when they’re buying $100,000 luxury cars . That was realized this week with the announcement of a 3 Series wagon (328i xDrive Sports Wagon) and an M6 with a manual transmission.

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Used Car Profile: Saab Turbo X

Saab Turbo X SportCombi

From saabcentral.com

$16,000 gets you a lot of car if you’re looking for a sporty European sedan made in the last decade. You could, for instance, grab a well-maintained, low mileage BMW E39 540i, or an Audi S6 from the same era. Hell, you could even get a Jaguar XJ8 if you are in a particularly Old World mood. The thing is, though, that all of those cars, wonderful as they may be, are sort of…uninspired. The S6 would be the tarted up version of the A6 (although nobody would be able to tell the difference if they didn’t search for the badges), and the other two were purchased en masse. So what to do then, for the distinguished gentleman looking for a little flair to go with his discerning tastes? Can I interest you in a Saab Turbo X?

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Weather Is Less a Factor at Malaysian GP Than Reliability, Ego Issues

The second race of the 2013 Formula One season was not defined by the weather and tires, as pre-race commentators initially speculated, but instead by car reliability and driver ego that may ultimately cast rain clouds between teammates as the season progresses.

Race start found all drivers shod with the intermediate wet tires, and earlier concerns about rainfall were dissipated shortly before the starting lights went out. The track would be damp to start, but the clouds above Kuala Lumpur would soon blow away, revealing a hot Malaysian sun that would quickly dry the track. The drivers would have a few quick laps to run with the wets, but would have to pit early on in the race to switch to dry tires.

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Vettel Earns Pole While Räikkönen Leads Practice Sessions Ahead of Malaysian GP

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel battled a wet track and stifling humidity to take pole position for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix, while Lotus’s Kimi Räikkönen set the fastest lap during practice sessions.

Rain starting in Q2 seriously hampered the results of the first- and second-tier teams, leading Räikkönen’s teammate Romain Grosjean to be bumped to 11th on the starting grid. With the weather changing every few minutes, tire choices throughout Q2 laps decided which teams would finish in the top 10 and which would be stuck starting the race mid-pack. Force India’s Paul di Resta managed to spin his car on both of his laps in the same corner; di Resta’s difficulty with keeping the car on the track relegated him to 15th place ahead of Pastor Maldonado, who was unable to finish a lap on dry tires before the rainclouds took over.

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