Germans plan to steal the show in Detroit
12 January 2005, HAMBURG - German carmakers have adopted a new motto in the face of adversity: When the going gets tough, the tough get going. The strong euro and sluggish sales are causing headaches at home but major players like BMW and Mercedes-Benz will be trying to shine the brightest when the wraps come off their new models at the Detroit car show. The first car gala of the season opens to the public from Friday and runs for eight days. North Americans are expected to buy a total of nearly 17 million
12 January 2005
HAMBURG - German carmakers have adopted a new motto in the face of adversity: When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
The strong euro and sluggish sales are causing headaches at home but major players like BMW and Mercedes-Benz will be trying to shine the brightest when the wraps come off their new models at the Detroit car show. The first car gala of the season opens to the public from Friday and runs for eight days.
North Americans are expected to buy a total of nearly 17 million new cars this year but bosses like DaimlerChrysler's Juergen Schrempp know what German firms are up against.
Only last month he warned: "The competition is going to get even tougher."
Last year Porsche alone could boast healthy US sales, while Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler and in particular Audi lost ground.
Sophisticated engineering is what sells German cars and there will plenty of that to drool over in Motor City. Take BMW's 507- horsepower M6 Coupe, the solution to "problems" seldom encountered beyond Germanys speed-limitless autobahns - such as how to overtake everything in sight and cruise effortlessly at 250 kilometres an hour.
The M6's V-10 power unit is a spin-off from Formula One and already performs its duty in the sporting M5 limousine. This version has an extra sting in the tail.
It burbles to life with a respectable 400 horsepower, but push a button on the steering wheel and an extra 100 horses are there for the taking. They'll send the M6 howling from 0 to 100 km/h in a mere 4.6 seconds. It would keep going past 300 km/h - if it werent for an electronic governor installed for sanity's sake.
This coupe par excellence has a sequential gearbox with the option of 11 driving programmes, including one that lets drivers dash away from the lights with maximum power and no wheelspin - just like Grand Prix ace Juan Pablo Montoya. The restyled 5-Series station wagon will also be making its first public appearance in Detroit.
The Mercedes-Benz M-class more or less broke the market for German sports utilities (SUVs) in the United States and the second generation has been eagerly awaited.
Mercedes overcame quality problems at the custom-built Alabama plant to sell 620,000 units in seven years. Since then the Tuscaloosa factory has been doubled in size at a cost of USD 600 million. It is planned to turn out 160,000 offroaders a year.
The new M-Class has grown larger, looks more purposeful and is more agile in rough terrain.
Limited slip differentials fore and aft and gadgets like a hill- start driving aid ensure that. A new common rail diesel is on offer but the beefy V6 and V8 engines and lavish interior fittings along with a column shift should cater more for Stateside tastes.
The legendary Porsche 911 would have been killed off more than 25 years ago if an erstwhile boss of the Stuttgart maker had got his way. Of course, it lived on to be become an automotive icon and the captive North American market has been chosen to showcase the latest drophead version.
The electronic softtop folds down in 20 seconds at the press of a button and it can be even opened and closed while underway - provided the driver doesn't exceed 50 km/h while doing so. This has to be one of the most user-friendly hoods on offer - it retracts in a Z formation with the outer side facing up to avoid rain spilling on the occupants.
The 3.6-litre flat-six engine in the Carrera engine has 325 horsepower - good for 285 km/h while the Carrera S boasts a 3.8 unit (293 km/h).
Thanks to some intelligent weightsaving, both cabriolets tip the scales at only 85 kilos more than their closed equivalents despite sophisticated safety features like integrated rollover bars and head and thorax air bags for driver and front seat passenger. Its little brother, the Boxster, makes its debut in revamped form in the U.S. on January 15.
The Volkswagen Jetta - essentially a Golf with a boot added - has always had a dull, nodding-dog-in-the-backwindow image in Europe but it is the company's top seller in the United States.
More than 40 percent of all VWs sold in the US are Jettas, so Europe's biggest carmaker cannot afford to get this one wrong. The completely restyled Jetta will be powered by a five-cylinder 2.5 petrol engine and is built at VWs Peubla plant in Mexico. It goes on sale in Germany as the Bora in the summer.
Total VW sales in the US were down by 15.4 percent last year but chairman Bernd Pitschetsrieder will be putting on a brave face in Detroit, unveiling a new Beetle variant which the firm hopes will captivate the clientele just like the New Beetle did back in 1998.
The low-slung Beetle Speedster, remiscent of a famous Porsche that bore the same name, has cult potential and may even end up in some customer driveways. That is more than can be said for most of the outlandish concept cars which this event traditionally spawns.
Subject: German news