Fiat Stock Fizzles, BMW Bikes On Fire, And Polestar's Volvo S60 Concept

Illustration for article titled Fiat Stock Fizzles, BMW Bikes On Fire, And Polestars Volvo S60 Concept
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Illustration for article titled Fiat Stock Fizzles, BMW Bikes On Fire, And Polestars Volvo S60 Concept
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1st Gear: How Much Will It Cost To Combine Fiat And Chrysler?
Bloomberg reports that investors are fleeing Fiat shares, for fear that it will be expensive to combine Fiat and Chrysler. Fiat shares have dropped about 18 percent since Oct. 30, when Sergio Marchionne outlined a plan to focus on upscale models. Philippe Houchois, an analyst for UBS in London, estimates Fiat might have to raise as much as $5 billion in order to put the two companies together. UBS cut its rating on Fiat shares from "buy" to "neutral," joining seven other analysts who have cut their rating on the stock since the plan was announced. Nobody has raised their estimate for Fiat since then.


Illustration for article titled Fiat Stock Fizzles, BMW Bikes On Fire, And Polestars Volvo S60 Concept

2nd Gear: Tupac Shakur For Ford Fusion (Sort Of)
Ford rolled out a new ad campaign yesterday for the Fusion that features the late rapper Tupac Shakur. Or at least, his poem, "The Rose That Grew From Concrete." Ford says it's the company's latest effort "targeting the African-American community." (Of course, Shakur was the target of someone in Las Vegas, where he died at age 25 in 1996 in a drive-by shooting.) Ford multicultural marketing manager Shawn Thompson says Shakur's poem is "the perfect description of how the Fusion design came to be. As it's described in the words of the poem, the Fusion is a clear testimony of what we can do if we keep our dreams."

You might not think to fit Shakur's poem to car design, but here it is.
Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature's law is wrong,
it learned to walk without having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.

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Illustration for article titled Fiat Stock Fizzles, BMW Bikes On Fire, And Polestars Volvo S60 Concept
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3rd Gear: Close, But No CR For Dodge Dart
Bloomberg reports that the Dodge Dart did pretty well on Consumer Reports' latest ratings of small sedans, but fell just short of the level that would allow it to get a coveted "recomended" tag. It's kind of unusual for CR to disclose a consolation prize, but quality is a key issue for Chrysler. The Dart is the first car sold in the U.S. from Fiat's "compact wide" platform, which also is the basis for the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. It was lengthened and widened for American buyers.

"The Dart is the first decent compact car from Dodge in decades," Jake Fisher, director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center, said in a statement. "It has some solid positives. But overall it can't yet measure up to the best in class." So, who did well? CR rated Subaru Impreza first among small sedans, followed by the Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, and the Chevrolet Cruze. The ratings come out in CR's January issue.

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Illustration for article titled Fiat Stock Fizzles, BMW Bikes On Fire, And Polestars Volvo S60 Concept
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4th Gear: NHTSA Probing BMW Bikes For Fuel Leaks
The Associated Press reports NHTSA is investigating BMW's R-series motorcycles for fuel leaks that could result in fiery deaths. The probe affects 24,000 motorcycles sold between 2005 and 2008. According to the AP, the housing around the fuel pump can crack, and leak gasoline. No fires or injuries have been reported, but the safety agency has received 28 complaints from owners of the bikes. At least two owners say that gas soaked their pant legs, the AP says. The agency will look into the reports and decide if a recall is needed.


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5th Gear: Volvo S60 Polestar Concept Is A 500+ HP LOLVO You Can Own

You know in modern racing games where you can automatically spec up a car with random mods until it reaches some hilariously high horsepower number. Then you give it a wild paint job and hit the track. More »

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Illustration for article titled Fiat Stock Fizzles, BMW Bikes On Fire, And Polestars Volvo S60 Concept
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Reverse: The First Flight Of The Concorde
On this day in 1969, the Concorde took to the skies for the first time. It only stayed aloft for 27 minutes, but the test flight launched a new era in aviation that sadly has since come to an end. It took a few more years for the Concorde to begin commercial flights after the test, which defied critics who said the plane would never be commercially viable. [BBC]

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Today, a lot of you will be hitting the road for the Thanksgiving weekend. Where are you headed? Are you driving or flying? Or, staying put? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.

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DISCUSSION

You know, it's really kind of sad that the notion of high-end supersonic airliners didn't get more traction. From the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s, major nations had ships of state - ocean liners - that were symbols of national pride and practical transportation. Ocean liners ignited confidence in nations, and led to generally friendly rivalries amongst nations and shipping lines to create ships that were ever bigger, faster, safer, more luxurious, and more advanced. Quite simply, the development of ocean liners drove a great deal of the innovations that we take for granted today.

With the advent of the Jet Age, ocean liners got sidelined, until they went (almost) completely extinct. For a time, there was nothing to really replace ocean liners in their role of not merely means of conveyances, but also as symbols. From a historical perspective, it looked like the race to build supersonic airliners would arise to fill that role, and take over as symbols of national pride. Everyone was "working on one," but only two ever made it off the ground, and only one of them had a lengthy, though not particularly glorified, career. The Concorde had a respectable career, don't get me wrong, but it ultimately fizzled out for a combination of reasons that I do actually understand.

But along with the death of the Concorde came the death of, well, passion about putting on a show and building something miraculous and impressive just for the sake of advancement. The romantic notions of pride, achievement, and sporting rivalry just shrivelled up and died. There has been nothing of interest since; nothing to turn peoples' heads, nothing to impress people, nothing to inspire people, and nothing to capture the imaginations of people the world over. There was a glimmer of hope with the STS program, but that's dead now, too. The rest of the space program is only just limping along at the moment.

All we do now is fire off cryptic, inane messages on social media outlets while wondering at the audacity of the people in line ahead of us at Starbucks. How dare they be there and make you wait for your coffee! Let me share my ground-breaking frustration with millions of people who don't give a flying fuck, all while feeling self-important.

Goddamn, we're boring and pathetic.

Collectively, as a species, we're at our best when we're building things and pushing our luck trying new things. At this particular moment in time, the world at a whole seems to be rapidly approaching its worst. What ever could be missing to cause this all?

Can we please get back to being interesting and inspiring again?