Lexus And Aston Chatting, BMW X5 Slimming, and Audi Is Ducati Riding

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1st Gear: Strange End To A Big Renault Exec's Career
Bloomberg says Renault executive Patrick Pelata stepped down from the French company because it basically had nothing for him to do. Pelata, who's rumored to be headed to a California technology company, was once one of the most powerful executives in the industry. But his fall came swiftly last year, after he became entangled in a botched espionage case. Renault mishandled a spy investigation that led to the wrongful dismissal of three senior managers, and caused an uproar in France.

It's a strange end to the close association between Pelata and Renault/Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. They've been pals since they attended France's Ecole Polytechnique together. The pair eventually ended up working at Renault, and when Ghosn was sent to rescue Nissan, he took Pelata to Japan with him. Pelata was named No. 2 to Ghosn in 2006, serving as chief operating officer. He played an important role as Renault and Nissan meshed their product development operations. But someone had to take the fall for the espionage scandal, and Pelata told Bloomberg that over the past year, he only worked on strategy, not implementation. It will be interesting to see if Pelata ends up back at another car company at some point.


2nd Gear: More Trouble In The Land Of Small SUVS
The Associated Press says Honda is recalling more than 321,000 small SUVs and cars because their doors may not close. The worldwide recall involves The recall affects 314,000 CR-Vs from the 2012 model year and about 7,300 brand new 2013 Acura ILX cars. Honda says that if the inside driver or passenger door handles are used at the same time as the power or manual door locks, the inner door latch may not work. This means a door may not latch at all, or it could latch, but then open when the locks are used. The Honda recall comes on top of the 2013 Ford Escape recall that we told you about yesterday.


3rd Gear: Ford's Better Idea For White-Collar Workers Is Just Fine
Speaking of Ford, the AP also brings us this news of an arbitrator's ruling that has some UAW members upset. Two years ago, the union filed a grievance when Ford reinstated merit raises and 401(k) matches for salaried employees, but didn't give equal treatment to blue-collar workers. UAW President Bob King said he thought he had a verbal agreement from the company not to reinstate the benefits. But as Sam Goldwyn was fond of saying, a verbal agreement isn't worth the paper it's written on, and the arbitrator said Ford wasn't under any obligation to treat its employee groups equally.

4th Gear: Here's A New Spy Video Of The BMW X5
World Car Fans was able to get their hands on video of the 2014 BMW X5 going through its paces at the Nurburgring. The design doesn't look that different than the existing X5, so World Car Fans says to look for changes in other ways. It says the new generation X5 will ride on a new architecture that is known in-house as "X for All" and will be used across the BMW X range. It will probably weigh about 330 pounds less than the current generation which should give the model a base curb weight of about 4,409 pounds.



5th Gear: Aston Martin And Lexus May Share A V8
De Telegraf is reporting that Aston Martin may turn to Toyota for Lexus V8 engines. (Motor Authority has a helpful translation here.) The British luxury automaker may even have its sights on the 4.8-liter V-10 that Toyota builds exclusively for the Lexus LFA, although it might be a stretch for Toyota to share that little hand-built gem.

Motor Authority says the arrangement makes sense because there's already a relationship between Aston Martin and Toyota, such a move makes good sense to us. Toyota supplies Aston with iQ bodies in white, which the British firm builds into its diminutive-but-pricey Cygnet city car. Also, Akio Toyoda and Aston CEO Ulrich Bez are racing buddies. Their teams even shared garage space at the 2011 24-hour Nurburgring,



6th Gear: Audi Now Owns Ducati
Bloomberg says Audi has completed the purchase of Ducati, and promptly put its CEO, CFO and another executive on the Ducati board. Audi paid $1.06 billion for the Italian motorcycle company. Ducati made about 42,000 bikes last year, and employs about 1,100 people. For now, Audi says it's going to keep Ducati's managers on board and in charge. In return, Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio (a truly awesome name) gets to join Lamborghini's board.


What To Bring To A Picnic With A $100,000 Car [Forbes]

Unemployment Claims Jump As Auto Layoffs Kick In [Associated Press]

Subaru's Newest Baby Pickup [Pickup Trucks]

Ford Curbs Its Water Use [The Guardian]

VW To Raise Its Brazil Investment [Dow Jones]

There's Going To Be A Motown Broadway Musical [Huffington Post]

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, we'd like to get your view of global alliances. What do you think of Toyota providing Lexus engines to Aston Martin? Is this just the way things are done now, and everybody has to team up? Or are there some things a company ought to build in order to assure brand character? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.


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