1st Gear: Brazil Demanding Better Fuel Economy
Reuters reports that Brazil is about to demand that carmakers improve their fuel economy ratings by 11 percent. The fuel economy provision is expected to be part of a new law that requires automakers to use more locally produced parts. If they can't comply with the local content regulations, the automakers could face tax increases of 30 percent. Brazil is the world's fourth largest car market, and virtually every major automaker produces vehicles there.
Taken together, Reuters says the two measures are the strongest protectionist moves by the government since the market opened up to foreign companies 20 years ago. Analysts expect the new measures could prompt companies to make a wave of investments in their engine plants, in order to boost their cars' mileage ratings. As a carrot, the government is going to give tax breaks to companies that are able to improve fuel economy by 22 percent.
2nd Gear: Ford Says Fusion And Escape Are Its Ticket Back
Bloomberg says Ford is banking on new versions of the Fusion and the Escape to help it recover the market share it's lost over the past year. In 2012, Ford holds 15.6 percent of the U.S. market, down from 16.8 percent last year. Mark Fields, Ford's President for the Americas, blames its market share loss on old versions of the Escape and Fusion, as well as lower market share for the F-series pickup. But Fields says Ford "won't go after share for share itself. We want a good, profitable business."
3rd Gear: Fastest Mini Ever Is Headed to Paris
Agence France Press reports that the fastest Mini ever is about to debut at the Paris Motor Show. The John Cooper Works GP, which will be limited to 2,000 units, will be able to go 150 miles per hour, and travel from zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. The little speedster has a four-cylinder, 1.6-liter engine that gets 218 horsepower and the equivalent of 39.8 miles per gallon. A Mini that fast makes us think of just one thing: The Italian Job, although we don't think the cars in this clip are going anywhere near 150 mph.
4th Gear: Do We Want the VW Phaeton Again?
Automotive News (sub. required) says that Volkswagen is thinking about bringing back the Phaeton sedan, as part of the global domination push that we call Beigekrieg. The Phaeton actually has remained on sale in other parts of the world, but it was pulled from the American market in 2006 when it was a dismal flop. That Phaeton started at $65,000 but top-level models reached $100,000, with a 12-cylinder engine. Automotive News says the next Phaeton doesn't have a return date for the U.S., but it's due in Europe in 2015.
Reverse: How The Sept. 11 Attacks Affected The Auto Industry
It's the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the crash of United Flight 93 in a field in Pennsylvania. The tragedy dealt a terrible blow to the airline industry, and it threatened to do significant harm to auto sales, as well. But General Motors came up with a solution to avoid a slump, called Keep America Rolling. The program, which involved zero percent financing for up to five years, is now considered a key move that supported the overall American economy. Stories at the time weren't quite so laudatory, as you can see from this Forbes report. For GM, though, the plan boosted its market share almost to 30 percent, a number no longer in its sights. [History]
In keeping with our new discussion system, here's a place for you to own the floor. We're asking each day what you think about an issue that comes up in TMS.
Today, tell us what you think of the way the auto industry responded to the Sept. 11 attacks. Did Keep America Rolling convince you to purchase a car? Was it a proper response by the companies? Should the government have done more? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.
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