Week in Review: Buyouts, Red Corvettes, and Green Cars
This week flew by without much in the way of earth-shaking news. Sure, there were things like the Mazda3, Infiniti Q50, and Volkswagen Passat 1.8T receiving official EPA certification, with a few of the cars touching more than 40 mpg. But that's not terribly exciting--well, it isn't unless you're looking at trading in your old Hummer H2 for a new car. No, this week was largely one of pragmatism, from financial transactions like the mysterious deal of Mercedes-Benz purchasing a massive property from Boeing in Southern California that we don't yet have all the details on to less-than-ideal pricing on the 2014 BMW 4 Series, which can reach all the way up above $67,000. And that's not even the forthcoming BMW M4! We can only shake our heads at just how expensive that may get. Anyway, on to the important meat and potatoes of our Week in Review.Monday, July 8 In case you've been living under a rock, Fiat has been slowly acquiring the remaining assets it doesn't already have of Chrysler in an effort to streamline its structure between its American and Italian operations. This week, it exercised its option to pick up 3.3 percent more of Chrysler, and it looks to acquire the remaining 31.5 percent it doesn't yet own. The only problem: Fiat values the remainder of Chrysler at $4.2 billion; The UAW's VEBA fund, which owns the shares, says it's worth more like $10.3 billion. The two sides are heading to mediation, and it's likely that they'll be meeting somewhere in the middle when Fiat gets the rest of Chrysler.Tuesday, July 9 We know we've mentioned that fuel economy stories weren't quite the most exciting. That notion doesn't really cut it when it comes to the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. With 455 horsepower, it can run from 0 to 60 in under 4 seconds on its way towards closing in on 200 mph. But, as luck would have it, it's been rated at a sensible 17 mpg city/29 mpg highway. Chevrolet even says that if it's driven in Eco mode, it can hit 30 mpg on the highway. Not long ago, there were family sedans that couldn't get that kind of fuel economy. Now, you can do that in a world-beating sports car. My, how times have changed.Wednesday, July 10 The BMW i3 will be on sale at the beginning of next year, and we'll have our first look at it at the end of this month when BMW takes all the wraps off of it. In the meantime, BMW has already spilled most of its beans on the electric car, including its 2,630-pound weight, 170-horsepower electric motor, 80- to 100-mile range, and carbon fiber construction among a long list of other new technologies and features. If that weren't enough, the car will be able to travel another 60 miles beyond its electric range, courtesy of an available on-board generator. We'll fill you in with more details as we have them.Thursday, July 11 Speaking of green cars, the Ford Focus Electric is getting a massive $4,000 price cut for 2014, now priced at $35,200. The car has been selling slowly amid tough competition from the much cheaper Nissan Leaf and new entries like the Fiat 500e. Still, Ford needs to move metal to bring down overall costs--it's losing money on each Focus Electric as it is--and to satiate the demands of the California Air Resources Board, which mandates that 15 percent of an automaker's fleet has to be emissions-free, or else. Or else what? Fines and possible banishment from selling cars in the nation's largest market. That's what.Friday, July 12 Striking a happy medium between the all-out Chevrolet Corvette and greenie cars like the Focus and BMW i3 is the new Mazda3. More specifically, rumors are already swirling about the next MazdaSpeed3, the high-performance version of the little compact. The current car has a 263-horsepower, 2.3-liter four-cylinder, with power all going to the front wheels. A European publication that spoke with an engineer in the know says that there's a distinct possibility that the next MazdaSpeed3 could ditch the turbo for a lighter weight and around 200 horsepower from a 2.0-liter, non-turbo four-cylinder engine. Might it be more efficient? Sure. But it could also completely miss the point of the car if it's not done right.
Honda's full-size pickup truck, the Ridgeline, is going on hiatus starting next year. Don't worry though,...