1st Gear: Despite showing off its new "Universe" concept in Shanghai last week — and competitors in the barely-luxury segment, like Cadillac, joining the fight — Volvo's aggressive expansion will not include a new flagship sedan to compete against the BMW 7 series and Mercedes S-class. "It is not in our midterm or long-term strategy right now," CEO Stefan Jacoby told Automotive News and other reporters in Shanghai. "That has been decided." You know what else has been decided? That it'll be really hard to hit the brand's 200,000 unit sales target with a brand that isn't willing to give China a luxo-barge.
2nd Gear: To celebrate the firm's new ownership under Lotus F1 — and today's official consummation of the deal — Caterham Cars will build a limited run of Team Lotus special edition Sevens. Limited to just 25 units in the UK, the Lotus upgrade package can be added to any variant up to the top-of-the-range 263bhp version for £3000. A further 25 cars will be available for the company's export market — including here in the United States. Yay!
3rd Gear: Shanghai GM announced sales of Buick products have surpassed 3 million units since the joint venture began offering its original vehicle brand in 1999. Buick has become one of China's fastest-growing passenger car brands. With Shanghai GM's rollout of its new Buick brand strategy in 2008, sales have increased by more than 100,000 units annually — bringing Buick sales up to 550,010 vehicles in China last year. Here in the United States, only 155,389 blue-hairs bought Buicks in 2010. And yes, that's why GM kept Buick. They needed the dues.
4th Gear: While "drill baby, drill," continues to be a popular refrain for administration critics and some Democrats hailing from oil-producing states, the argument's relevance to gas prices has recently come under greater scrutiny. A growing consensus of energy experts and analysts is that increasing the balance of domestically produced energy will not yield significant relief to consumers struggling with high pump prices. Just sayin'...
5th Gear: This year, Mercedes-Benz's Unimog truck celebrates its 60th birthday. To honor this milestone, the German automaker will host a special anniversary party on June 4th. Fans, club members, owners of classic vehicles, drivers and owners of current models are all invited to the event, which will be hosted at the Wörth plant in Germany where the Unimog is built today. This really isn't what you'd call "huge news," but, what can I say? I fucking love Unimogs. Especially Brabus-tuned Unimogs. Rowr!
6th Gear: You know how Toyota is really feeling the hit from Japan's terrible March 11th earthquake and tsunami? Now General Motors, the largest U.S. automaker — and soon to regain the title of world's largest — said the same earthquake and tsunami will have "no material impact" on operations this year. That comes according to Tim Lee, president of international operations, who gave the quote to Bloomberg in Bangkok today. And this is why GM's gonna be back on top as the world's largest automaker — unbelievable tragedy and dumb luck.
⏎ Volkswagen quarterly profit triples on demand for Audis in China. [Bloomberg]
⏎ The UAW wants a negotiation foursome. [Detroit News]
⏎ Pricing hits for redesigned 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK, CLS. [Kicking Tires]
⏎ The Saab property sale is stalling. [Detroit News]
⏎ Rabbi Dave is complaining about how much time he has to spend in cars. [Kicking Tires]
On this day in 2009, the struggling American auto giant General Motors (GM) says it plans to discontinue production of its more than 80-year-old Pontiac brand because it was no longer "driving excitement." [History]
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