Tag Archives: Aston Martin

2011 MAMA Spring Rally: See You There

Has it really already been a year? Since it is the week before the Memorial Day holiday weekend, that must mean it is time for the spring Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA) rally.

Two days of driving the new cars in various conditions. Wednesday we have the opportunity to drive the latest metal around the track at  Road America in Elkhart, WI, and surrounding public roads.

On Thursday we switch modes and spend some time off-roading. After getting the off-road capable vehicles muddy we’ll put some of the cars through their paces on an autocross course.

For those who have forgotten, last year included a quick storm that brought hail and downed some trees. Unfortunately one of those trees landed on a brand new Aston Martin Rapide. Moving quickly a few of us removed the tree but the damage was done. The Aston Martin’s time at the rally was over and it was quickly trucked back to HQ. Hopefully this year will be just as eventful but with less damage, and no storms.

For instant updates during the week make sure to follow me both on Twitter, and become a fan of the High Gear Media Facebook fan pages.

Twitter:

JoelFeder

CarConnection

MotorAuthority

 

Facebook:

TheCarConnection

MotorAuthority

 

MAMA Fall Rally – See You There

It is time once again for another MAMA rally. The fall rally is this Wednesday in Chicago, IL. It is much smaller then the spring rally which included track time at Road America Raceway. With over 50 new vehicles scheduled to be in attendance, not to mention the manufactures representatives, this should be a good day. Though I can only assume there will be no falling trees on Aston Martin’s, so drama should be a little lower then the spring rally. I will be tweeting and Facebooking to both my personal profiles along with The Car Connection, Motor Authority and Social Car News profiles.

Cars & Café – September 4, 2010

Another month has come and gone which means it is time for yet again another Cars & Café.  Unfortunately this month the Saturday happened to fall on the holiday weekend known as Labor Day.  Most people in Minnesota that have a cabin know Labor Day weekend as a work weekend and I fall into that category.  As I was cleaning up boats, many auto enthusiasts in Minneapolis were gathering for coffee and doughnuts.  Oh and there were cars as well.

The weather was gorgeous (where as last month is was *ahem* crappy) and the cars flowed in.  Luckily for us my friends Ross and Alex Bellus both were in attendance reporting back.

The good is a long list this month.  The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Super Snake made an appearance again as did the Aston Martin DB7 Vantage.  The Bentley Continental SuperSport made an appearance along with three Porsche GT3 RS’s.  These are all super but the Mazda Miata with a LS3 V8 shoved in it, well that really takes a special place in my heart.  The amount of awesomeness that oozes from that is off the charts.

I’m told little to no head scratching vehicles made an appearance, so I will just have to take the word that there were few.  I did hear about a VW Golf that had digital camouflage (what!?).  Also, the above VW something or another that was chopped and had a small bed welded on on the back made an appearance.  Oh and that VW something or another had full hydraulics in the front which the owner lowered down once parking.  Also a BMW had a very unique sound system in the trunk that payed homage to BMW’s M division.

From the Super Seven to the Yenko Camaro, the cars were all there and the weather cooperated.  Many thank’s to Ross and Alex Bellus for providing the photo’s.  Until next month when the enthusiasts gather again for a cup of coffee and doughnuts, oh and the cars.

Photography- Alex Bellus and Ross

Cars & Café – August 7, 2010

Aston Martin DB7 Vantage

Another month, another gathering of man and machine.  Of course I speak of Cars & Café, out at the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen.  This month promised, as usual, to be eventful.  I woke up a little early (4:40 am), as I did poor planning.  I had not washed the 300ZX (note to self: next month wash the 300ZX before the morning of Cars & Café). So, I washed the 300ZX and popped off the T-Tops.

As I was cruising out West to meet up with my buddy in his S2000, I saw black sky in front of me – then lightning  – and then I saw a car come over the hill with windshield wipers on (this was not going well).  I hit the gas and made it to his garage with the 300ZX still clean and dry.  We ended up taking his daily driver and leaving the 300ZX and his S2000 there, as it started pouring down rain right after I pulled into the garage.

Upon arriving, it was clear the rain, which was at this point a nice steady rain coming down, had affecte turn out.  Nooooooooo I cried to the car gods.  Luckily some of the cooler rides still managed to show up.  As I was admiring a nice Ford F150 Lightning, I heard something loud pulling into the complex.

I turn to see a true hard core car guy (you would have to be) driving a Cobra in (remember no top) through the rain.  Two Dodge GLH Turbos sat next to each other, both in ridiculously good condition.  I also counted not one but two Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbos (I drooled a little).  Quite a few Acura NSX’s showed up, along with a Lexus IS-F.

Two BMW’s caught my eyes this month.  One was a early 90’s 540i manual white on black with only 28k on the odometer.  The kicker?  It is for sale and they are asking only $25k!

Someone buy that car or buy me that car!  There was also a mid 80’s M6 in fantastic condition that caught my eye., along with an early 2000’s black Audi S8 that is a regular at Cars & Café.  I just love that car!

So good story,  I am walking by the club house and hear tires squealing like a burn out.  I look around and am quite confused.  Suddenly I realize that the sound is coming from behind this building in the VIP section.  I go running through the crowd, and as I turn the corner I almost fall over.

This Lamborghini Miura owner clearly had put the car in reverse instead of first gear (as best I can tell from the situation).  The car had gone backwards off the cement and onto the pebbles directly below.  Part of  the car definitely was resting on the cement.  The tires were squealing and these two guys were pushing the back of the Miura trying to get it back onto the cement.  Finally after a few minutes they accomplished this task, but not before you could smell the clutch and tires.  It was quite a scene.

Also filed in the – ahem – interesting category, was the Toyota Camry Solara parked in the American muscle section.  Hey at least it was on dubs!  Sitting next to that was a Chrysler 300C.  Not just any Chrysler 300C, but one riding on 24’s – and wait – it gets better.

The person had welded extensions (eyebrows?) onto the leading edge of the hood.  You can still see where the person welded and sanded them.  They were not painted yet (I am assuming they are going to paint them….at least I hope so).  Let’s not forget the white Toyota Yaris hatch with lime green wheels.

Jensen

On the list of awesome cars I would include the RUF 911, Aston Martin DB7 Vantage, and a Jensen that showed up.  The red GMC Typhoon that was for sale earlier this year was on hand, along with two Ford GT’s (they are Cars and Cafe regulars).  A new Lotus Evora made the trip, along with a Ford Mustang Shelby Super Snake.

One of the cleaner Oldsmobile 442’s I’ve seen was on site as well.  Obviously I have already mentioned the two Dodge GLH Turbo’s but I want to just mentioned them again in this section of awesome.  Last but not least was the regular BMW 200ti. It is a work in progress, but hot all the same.

One cool thing was this garage that had a Corvette Z06 in it.  Ok that car was nice but you know those bag chairs you take to soccer games and such?  Well they had one of those. and then they had a ginormous one that was literally super sized.  To get a idea of just how big it was they let me sit in it and I got a picture!

Overall the rain really put a damper on the attendance, or at least it felt that way.  With most of the people clearing out before 10 AM, it had to be one of the shortest Cars & Cafés I have attended yet.  Thankfully, the doughnut holes provided by Imola Motorsports stayed dry in the clubhouse.

Yes they were tasty,and yes I ate some.  Just for the record, doughnut holes always seems to taste better when they are delivered in a BMW M5.  I can not prove that, but that seems to be my experience.  Here’s hoping for a dry Cars & Café next month!

The First Time I Met The 2011 Fisker Karma – Thoughts And Impressions

I have read all the brochures and online materials, I have seen all the pictures – and the reality is none of that does the Fisker Karma justice.  I could sit here and list all of its specifications, but I won’t.  Mainly because that is not what this post is about.  Many of you have not had the opportunity (yet) to see the Fisker Karma in person.  When you do, you will remember it.  The lines and curves on this car are just gorgeous.

Lets back up a minute.  What the heck is a Fisker and what is the Karma?  Funny you should ask.  Fisker Automotive is a new car brand founded by Henrik Fisker, who is also the current CEO (funny how that works).  He was previously known for being the design director for Aston Martin and the president and CEO of BMW’s Designworks USA.  Maybe that does not mean much to you, but it equates to this: he is responsible for cars such as the BMW Z8 (one hot piece of metal), Aston Martin DB9 and the V8 Vantage (also both hot pieces of metal).  Needless to say, he has a sense of style when it comes to designing a car.

The Karma is the first car from Fisker Automotive.  With demo cars arriving at the end of the year, production should (if it stays on track) start in the very beginning of next year.  The car will be built overseas in Finland initially.  In fact, it will be built in the same factory as some Porsche’s and other vehicles.  In 2012 production will move to the Wilmington Assembly plant in Wilmington, Delaware.  This plant was recently purchased by Fisker from General Motors.  With the plant already up to date with tooling and a local trainable workforce, it is an ideal location.  The plant was previously producing the Saturn Sky, Pontiac Solstice and Opel GT.

One last thing before we get to the actual Karma –  If you have not seen pictures I will tell you that this the car is a saloon.  It will fit two sets of golf clubs in the trunk, but getting in and out of the rear seat isn’t exactly graceful.  Another car is coming in 2012 from Fisker, and it will be a more mainstream, higher volume vehicle.  Currently the project is code named Nina and it will be a midsize sedan.  I was informed it will be about the size of the BMW 5 Series, but with much more usable interior space (read really practical).  The Nina should come in somewhere around $45-48k.  Also coming sometime between the 2012 Nina and 2011 Karma is the Karma Sunset.  The Karma Sunset is essentially a convertible version of the Karma, featuring a retractable hard top.

Upon seeing the Karma in person, I really was stunned.  Yes, from the front it looks somewhat like the Joker from Batman.  It still looks great though.  Some of the design cues from the front translate to the rear and interior.  This gives the car an overall cohesive design.  Each rear fender has a “fuel” door.  On the passenger side is the gasoline, while on the driver side is the plug-in for the rechargeable lithium ion battery pack.  The front headlights feature LED running lights, while the rear tail lights are also LED.  The roof features a full length solar panel to help charge the car and provide cooling for the interior cabin while the car is parked.  I remember the early 2000’s Audi A8s had this as an option on their sunroof.  The wheels are 22 inches (!) and are made from a  lightweight alloy.  The brakes are the same Brembo setup used in the Cadillac CTS-V.  The door handles have a electronic push pad under each handle that you merely push and the door opens.  This is similar in concept to the Chevrolet Corvette and new Cadillac CTS Coupe.  As you can see in pictures, the exterior is just gorgeous.  Some might say breathtaking.  I do suppose some could say it is controversial but I am in the “it is definitely gorgeous camp.”

Ok, I can understand how someone might be mixed on the exterior of this car, but the interior is simply stunning.  This is a whole new take on luxury.  This interior feels so different from all the other luxury sedans out there.  When I think of high end luxury cars (we are not talking small volume cars like the Rolls Royce Phantom), I think of cars like the Audi A8, Lexus LS 460 and many others.  This car is completely different inside.  To be honest, when I got inside of the Karma I felt like I had just stepped inside one of the older Chris Craft boats.  With rich thick leather and real wood, the interior just felt so natural and polished, yet elegant.  Keep in mind this was a pre pre-production car.  The 10.2″ center touch screen, which controls most of the cars functions (A/C, Radio, etc) was stuck in a black loading screen (I’m guessing the software was not ready) and the car could not turn on, though the gauges were lit up and the windshield wipers worked (I checked).  Oh something to note, the engine in the Karma is being sourced from GM – though that is not the only thing.  I noticed both the turn signal/cruise control stalk and the windshield wiper control stalk were both parts bin GM.  In fact, I am 99% sure they are the very same stalks in the Cadillac STS.  Whether these are the exact stalks found in the production sedan is yet to be seen.  Also, the rear view mirror is GM sourced too.  The gear shift level (if you could call it that) has a button on the left that I assume starts the car due to it’s power symbol and the lack of any other power button on the console or near the steering wheel.  The right hand part of the gear shift level is actually a switch that gets flipped into different positions to select your gear (PRND).  Down the center of the interior is the battery pack, but it is packaged beautifully behind glass and leather.  The front seats are downright sporty, comfy and are terrific.  The rear is awkward to get in and out of, but once in the car, the seats are comfortable.  Leg room is acceptable but not amazing.  The roof line does cut into rear headroom.  Overall, the interior is stunning.

The power will come from a battery pack with a 50 mile range.  Beyond that 50 mile range, the 2.0 liter turbo range extender engine kicks in and produces 260 horsepower.  This motor is sourced from GM and is the same engine used in the Saturn Sky Redline and the Pontiac Solstice GXP.  The total range between the battery and the gasoline engine is 300 miles.  You can forget range anxiety –  this is a series hybrid just like the upcoming Chevrolet Volt.  That means the gas engine is in no way driving the wheels. Rather, the engine is connected to the battery which powers the two electric motors connected to the rear wheels.  We will get into all the technical stuff in another post some other time.

The cars sticker price before tax rebates is $89,000 and change.  I know there is a government tax rebate and certain states (I think Minnesota does) also has tax rebates on qualifying vehicles.  The dealership here, which is the one and only one for the state of Minnesota has pre-sold and took deposits for 3 Karmas.  I was told varying numbers for how many total cars the dealership has pre-sold, but the most common number I heard was 17.  Not bad at all.

So what are my final initial impressions?  Well, I can not wait to get my hands on a production model.  Considering I did not get to drive or start this one, and the infotainment system did not work, I cannot give a full impression post.  I can say it does not feel “kit car” in anyway.  The interior is just ridiculous (in an amazingly good way).  The exterior I love, but some will not.  This is for sure a legitimate automobile with a company that I frankly hope succeeds in many ways.  As for the Karma, I’ll see you soon!

Local Unveiling – The Fisker Karma Comes to Minneapolis

This Thursday the up coming Fisker Karma sedan will have its local unveiling.  The sedan will be shown to the public at Borton Volvo which will be the Twin Cities only Fisker dealership.

Quick run down –

WHO: Created by acclaimed Danish designer Henrik Fisker,  who also designed the BMW Z8 and the Aston Martin DB8,  the Fisker Karma combines plug-in hybrid technology with stunning design and sports car performance.

WHEN: Thursday, June 10, 2010 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

WHERE: Borton Volvo/Fisker, 905 Hampshire Ave. S., Golden Valley, MN 55426

FISKER KARMA DETAILS:

  • Combines world-class luxury and sports car-like performance with industry-leading economy and zero tailpipe emissions in electric mode.
  • With 403 hp, it can reach 60 mph in six seconds and a top speed of 125 mph.
  • Achieves more than 100 mpg.
  • Lithium-ion battery can be fully recharged in as little as eight hours from any electrical outlet.
  • A gasoline generator provides electric propulsion when the battery is low

MAMA Spring Rally Wrap Up

After taking time to digest everything I wanted to share some experiences from the MAMA spring rally.  MAMA is the Midwest Automotive Media Association,  a non-profit group that brings automotive journalists and public relations people together. A quick recap: the spring rally was a two day event spanning a Wednesday and Thursday.

Getting right into it, we were first unleashed onto the track at Road America Raceway on Wednesday morning after a quick breakfast and safety seminar.  During breakfast the various manufactures in attendance gave quick speeches about what they had brought with them for the rally.

Once we were unleashed we had choices; cars were lined up and each car had a sticker on the windshield stating either “road” or “track”.  If a car had a track sticker we were allowed to take it on either the public roads or the track.  Cars with road stickers were not permitted on the track.

Some things to note about the day: we were asked to keep stability control on at all times in the cars.  They were trying to avoid people over-reaching their abilities and wanted to minimize any damage or injury that might occur and while this most likely hindered some people’s lap times and severely hindered some autocross times, it was fine because part no major incidents occurred.

I focused much of my attention on the track in the early morning.  I drove everything from the Mazda RX8, Audi S4 and Mercedes Benz C63 to the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T R-Spec.  I instantly found the Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0t R-Spec underwhelming.  I was not in love with the manual, it felt slightly mushy and the shifts were not clean and crisp.  The engine needed to stay high in the revs to keep going around the course.  When I asked the Hyundai rep about this he admitted that this was too much track for the car and went on to state that the car is better in shorter track scenarios.  I can easily believe that.

The new 2010 Audi S4 was just tackled the track.  I set all the settings to dynamic mode and took off.  I loved the six speed manual transmission in that car.  Through the corners, the car felt much more neutral then the last generation with the heavy V8, though I will admit I do miss the V8 exhaust from the previous generation S4.  The car pulled itself through the corners pushing power to different wheels with the sport differential in the rear.

I did not take the time to properly set up the Mercedes Benz C63 or the E63 before hitting the track and this hindered some of the fun.  I did not tinker with all the settings, thus the car was not to my liking.  The paddles did not seem to do what I wanted them to do, the steering was not how I predicted through the corners, and the E63 was just simply hard to place in the corners.  You really need to play with the settings to get these cars to your liking and I did not take the time.

For the road portion I took out the upcoming Suzuki Kizashi Sport with the CVT transmission.  The paddles responded nicely and overall, the car was very nice.  The slightly more aggressive exterior body kit is welcomed and the larger wheels and tires looked great.  This was no barn burner but it went well enough.

The Rolls Royce Ghost was another trip all together, hitting near illegal speeds in no time. The interior of the new Rolls Royce Ghost is just plush.  Everything is made of quality materials.  I determined if I can ever afford a house with carpet as nice as the floor mats in the Ghost, I have made it.  The umbrellas in the doors have ventilation ducts that dry them, giving the ability to put away the umbrellas wet (coming in quite handy when Jeeves picks you up at the gallery opening).  Speaking of Jeeves, this car is much smaller then the Phantom (though still quite large) and many owners may prefer drive it themselves instead of having a chauffeur.  Sorry Jeeves, you’ll be taking the other car.

I also took the new Ford F150 Raptor with the 6.2 liter V8 out on the roads.  This big truck finally seems to have the much needed motivation to move like it should.

You know what they say, it’s not a party until a tree falls on an Aston Martin Rapide.  If nothing else, many people will remember this from the 2010 MAMA spring rally.  Upon getting back to our hotels (tired and stinky from being in the sun all day) it started to downpour and I mean a torrential downpour.  Within minutes of the rain hitting, hail rolled through.  The chunks of hail were about the size of a pea.  Of course, my thoughts quickly rolled to the millions of dollars worth of cars sitting outside of the hotel and the track.  Once the storm passed, I walked to dinner.  As I was walking everyone was heading to the parking lot.  I asked why and they only could utter something about a tree and the Aston Martin.  Uh oh, that is not good.  To my (and everyone else’s) horror, a pine tree had fallen on the Aston Martin Rapide.  We lifted the tree off as they backed the car out from under it.  Upon closer inspection, the passenger side mirror was gone, the hood was dented, the windshield broken and the worst part was that wood had gone through the windshield and into the dashboard, more then likely ruining the dashboard. Not good.

Thursday morning we had an autocross course set up next to the track.  The Ford Fiesta was a ton of fun due to its handling.  The new 2011 Ford Mustang V6 was much better then I anticipated.  The Mercedes Benz C63 was a beast though the E63 was a boat through the course, mainly due to it’s size.  Its power was what pushed it through.

The rest of the morning was spent off roading in everything from Range Rovers to the Ford F150 Raptor 6.2.  The Raptor 6.2 was my first vehicle I took off road and its size made it a handful.  The course was somewhat tight in some areas and I had to back up to make some corners.  The truck handled everything like the beast that it is.  After going through the course in the Raptor, I decided to go for something a bit smaller.  The new 2010 Range Rover Sport was next up and this thing was ridiculously nice.  Something crazy to note is that the Range Rover Sport was also labeled Wednesday as a track car.  This vehicle was put through its paces both on the track and off road.  Not many vehicles can be pushed through the track one morning and then stuck onto an off road trail the next.  I was curious as to how the stock 20 inch wheels and tires would handle the off road portion seeing as they had been used on the track the morning before.  To my surprise, the Range Rover Sport (I should not have been surprised) was an off road machine, shrugging off everything I threw at it.  Driving the Range Rover next was a very cool experience.  The all digital gauge cluster is really useful.  Being able to change what is displayed based on what you are doing comes in handy when off road.

The entire experience gave me the opportunity to drive many different cars in varying situations throughout a two day period.  The track portion was a blast, as was everything else.  The people were friendly and inviting.  Sitting and having lunch with two gentlemen from Consumer Reports lead to quite an interesting conversation.  Everyone from freelancers to Cars.com writers were in attendance.  Overall it was a great first experience and I look forward to whatever the next MAMA rallies should bring.



It’s Not a Party Until a Tree Falls on an Aston Martin Rapide

As many of you know I am at the MAMA spring rally today and tomorrow.  Tonight right before dinner a storm rolled through and hard rain followed by hail and large gusts of wind huffed and puffed and blew this tree down.  Sadly the Aston Martin Rapide that is here at the event happened to be under where the tree landed.  Sitting next to it?  A Bentley Continental Supersports.  Luckily the Bentley was unharmed.  The Aston?  Not so much.  Smashed windshield, the passenger side mirror is a goner and the hood has an nice dent. That is all we could tell immediately.  The transporter is already en route and this fair lady will be out of here tomorrow.  Sad day indeed.

The Windshield

Cars & Café – April 3, 2010

It has been four long months of winter wonderland but the sun has finally broken out and the snow is melted.  Another season of Cars & Café has come upon us and the first one of the season did not disappoint.  I was a little nervous as the weather predictions for Saturday were calling for rain, but that all changed last Friday.  I started to get hope as the prediction changed to a chilly 51 degrees and sunny.  I woke up early Saturday morning (late, I was supposed to get up at 6 but had a major alarm clock fail on my part.  I forgot to turn it on and woke up at 6:37 am) and looked outside to find the sun breaking cover.  Excited, I hopped in our 1990 300ZX and headed out to the AutoMotorPlex in Chanhassen.

Our 1990 300ZX

It was a chilly 42 degrees at 7:38 am when I rolled into the AutoMotorPlex.  Gates opened at 6:30 am and only a few tuned up Audi’s and a lonely (read awesome) BMW Z8 were there so far.  I parked in the Japanese parking area and started mingling.  Cars started pouring in around 8 am and it just never stopped.  The sun started warming things up and we reached a nice 57 degrees.  It turned into a huge turnout with couples, families and enthusiasts alike, all coming together with the passion of automobiles.

Some of the more notable (read interesting) rides included a first generation Scion XB that was white with plain steel wheels.  What made it really interesting was it was lowered, had the windows tinted, and had strips of LED lights taped (yes, taped with black duct tape) directly above the headlights.  Parked next to that was a Nissan 240SX with a broken up body kit that was held on with zip ties.  Yes, you read that right zip ties.  The 240SX was painted green with John Deer graphics.  The owner commented on how the zip ties break all the time and he replaces them constantly.

LS1 Shoved into a mid 80's Mazda RX7

All was not lost though because many really awesome cars where there as well.  There were more Corvettes from all different eras than I could count.  Some Corvettes were heavily modified some were plain stock though most were tasteful (save for a few).  A Volkswagen bus showed up and was in really good condition.  When a mid 80’s Mazda RX7 pulled in, I knew something interesting was under the hood mainly because of the sound coming out of it.  Upon further inspection the owner had shoved a LS1 engine under the hood with a custom exhaust system.  One of the most questioned cars was the original Mini Cooper but it was a stretch limo version.  The owner informed people it was originally owned by the Spice Girls and was actually signed by them on the rear.

Spice Girls Mini Cooper Limo

De Tomaso Pantera

The cars garnering the most attention were the Ford GT, Lamborghini Murcielago, De Tomaso Pantera and the Aston Martin(s).  A ton of American cars showed up and they even had their own (decent size) section.  Three Pontiac G8’s were in attendance all parked next to each other.  Two were GT’s and one was a GXP.  The GXP had a Holden badge on the rear and one GT had a custom hiding (flip down) front license plate.

The turnout was terrific. The weather held out and really ended up being beautiful.  I am not sure we could have asked for a better Cars & Café to kick off the season!  Here is looking forward to the first Saturday next month.

Ford Finally Sells Volvo

Ford announced yesterday morning that all the major parts of a deal to sell Volvo to Geely have been settled.  They made it clear that details will not be made public yet, but that the deal will be signed in Q1 of 2010 and the sale will be done in Q2.

Many have speculated that Volvo would be sold to Geely and now it is a reality.  Some people seemed concerned about Geely’s resources for the future of Volvo.  When people raised concerns to Ford they responded with “the prospective sale would ensure Volvo has the resources, including the capital investment, necessary to further strengthen the business and build its global franchise.”  Geely is a Chinese car manufacturer and that worries some people as well.  Not known for quality or safety, many question what Geely brings to Volvo.  It seems Volvo brings things for Geely, mainly the safety technology.

With new product just arriving from Volvo (2010 XC60) and more coming soon (new S60) Geely bought Volvo at a decent time.  Some of the model line just received a face lift or is new/coming.  Chinese car companies have not made it into the U.S. and many are afraid this is the beginning to a bad thing.  While that is a valid concern as I mentioned earlier Geely is not known for safety or reliability.  Two things that many car shoppers care about these days.

Twitter was a buzz yesterday morning when the news of the sale hit.  Many Volvo fanatics were angered and saddened.  I even heard some say “There went Volvo.”  We have to examine what happened in a similar situation with Jaguar/Land Rover.  Tata bought the brands from Ford and really did not make many changes.  They liked what planned.  Deciding to take a wait and see approach is not a terrible idea.  So far it has worked for Tata and Jaguar/Land Rover is rolling out refreshed or new product.  Sales are up, and everyone seems to be happy.  If Geely plays things smart, they will let Volvo be themselves and stay somewhat hands off.  If left alone and not interfered with, Volvo could become profitable.

Something to keep in mind about this whole deal is platforms.  Many Fords ride on Volvo platforms.  They share so many, the deal must have clauses in place for platform sharing for at least the foreseeable future until new models arrive.  I assume the platform sharing will cease at in the future.  Other things are shared such as BLIS.  BLIS is Volvo’s blind spot detection system that Volvo developed and uses.  Ford has stated that they intend to work “closely” with Geely in the future.  For how long no one really knows but it can easily be assumed it is because of all the sharing of technology and platforms.

Ford has to be happy right now.  They have no off loaded all the brands in their premier portfolio including Aston Martin, Jaguar/Land Rover, and now Volvo.  They have been trying to sell all of these and have now accomplished just that.  Letting them get the focus back on Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln.

Ford’s press release is below-

PRESS RELEASE:

DEARBORN, Mich., Dec. 23, 2009 – Ford Motor Company [NYSE: F] confirmed today that all substantive commercial terms relating to the potential sale of Volvo Car Corporation have been settled between Ford and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Company Limited.

While some work still remains to be completed before signing – including final documentation, financing and government approvals – Ford and Geely anticipate that a definitive sale agreement will be signed in the first quarter of 2010, with closing of the sale likely to occur in the second quarter 2010, subject to appropriate regulatory approvals.

The prospective sale would ensure Volvo has the resources, including the capital investment, necessary to further strengthen the business and build its global franchise, while enabling Ford to continue to focus on and implement its core ONE Ford strategy.

While Ford would continue to cooperate with Volvo Cars in several areas after a possible sale, the company does not intend to retain a shareholding in the business post-sale.

More details will be made available once the expected definitive sale agreement is signed in the first quarter of 2010.