Several automakers, including BMW, Audi, Toyota and General Motors, have announced that they will halt all sports car development and production in light of the financial uncertainty surrounding Germay’s famed Nürburgring racetrack.
“Development at the Nürburgring has become the price of entry for high-performance cars,” said General Motors spokestalker Teddy Cardigan, speaking on the condition that we paid for lunch. “There is simply no other track like it in the world. If we can’t develop cars like the Corvette ZR1 and Cadillac CTS-V on the Nürburgring, then screw it, we don’t want to develop them at all.”
The famed German racetrack has been considering a bankruptcy filing since July, and attempts to secure public funding for a bailout loan have run into problems.
Audi spokesmein Helmut Schickelgruber expressed concern about the potential impact of new track management on the automaker’s development costs. “We don’t sink ze Nürburgring will close for good, but we’re concerned about what ze new owners will do to the rates. At 26 Euros per lap we can afford to go around a few times, but if ze price goes up, it could wreak havoc with our development budget. We just can’t take zat chance, so we are halting production of our S and R series cars immediately.”
Toyota, which used the Nürburgring for development of the Lexus LFA supercar, said they experimented with fine-tuning the car at famous American racetracks, but stopped after realizing they would not be able to evaluate performance in right-hand turns. Fortunately, they said, of the 500 LFAs built, they still have enough unsold cars to meet demand until the year 2307.
Jaguar Cars Limited, which has been testing their new XFR-S at the Nürburgring in recent months, was unconcerned about the tracks’ financial troubles. “We’re a British car company,” explained spokeschap Sir Nigel Peter Jesus Victoria Withington-Smythe III OBE, Second Earl of Batterson-on-Sea. “Bankruptcy doesn’t bother us.”
Former General Motors marketing chief Joel Ewanick granted an exclusive interview to Autoblopnik in which he said he is going to take some time to decide on his next career step, but is eager to return to the automotive industry.
“When you’ve worked as many jobs as I have in such a short time, sometimes it’s good to take a break and get some perspective,” the Wharton graduate told Autoblopnik from his office at the Boeing Aircraft company, where he was just one hour into his new job as Vice President of Marketing for the Seattle-based aircraft manufacturer. In that time, Ewanick had already doubled the number of aircraft orders he generated at European rival Airbus, which had employed him as Director of Sales the previous afternoon.
“General Motors is one of the world’s great companies,” Ewanick said, breezing out of his office to accept a job as chief of marketing for Pepsi-Cola, where he increased overall market share by seven percent before being hired away for the rest of the afternoon by Johnson Wax. “Yes, it was harder to get things done than it was at Hyundai, or Nissan, or Porsche, or Home Depot, or Black & Decker, or Wal-Mart, or Pep Boys, or the State of Idaho, or even Dell, though maybe not as tough as General Dynamics or Burger King or Weyerhauser. Still, it’s cool to say you worked at General Motors, even when you’ve headed up marketing for companies like US Shoe and Dunder-Mifflin and Kroger Markets and been head of research for Corning Labs and DKNY.”
During a break for dinner, which he spent turning down positions at RJR Nabisco (“I hate smoking,” Ewanick explained) and Target (“Homophobes”) and briefly taking over as the Prime Minister of Uganda, Ewanick said he would love to work in the automotive industry again, and that he has had “productive talks” with Mazda, Ford, Chrysler-Fiat, Kia, Fisker, Honda, Volkswagen, BMW, Suzuki and Audi, some or all of which he planned to work for in the next week.
“The goal is to find a company where I can settle down for a good long time,” he told us as he contemplated a job offer from NBC-Universal and designed a sneaker that lets you jump to the moon. “Like maybe a month.”
As the sun set behind the picture window of his new office at 3M, which hired him just as our interview was drawing to a close, Mr. Ewanick leaned back in his chair, invented a kind of toothpaste that doesn’t make orange juice taste terrible, and picked up a picture of wife and children.
“These guys are all that really matters,” he said, pausing to wipe away a tear and cure cancer. “The people who love you. That’s what is really important.”
General Motors shocked the automotive community on Sunday by announcing that marketing chief Joel Ewanick had been asked for his resignation.
“We’ve told a few press outlets that we had issues with his Manchester United deal,” said GM spokesguy Teddy Cardigan, speaking on the condition that we write a positive review of his brother’s restaurant on TripAdvisor. “But the truth is that we never expected him to stay as long as he did.”
Ewanick is best known for inventing the Hyundai Assurance program that helped the South Korean automaker grow sales in a declining market. He came to Hyundai from Porsche, and was then hired by Nissan before jumping ship to General Motors.
“He was at Nissan for, what, ten minutes?” Cardigan said. “And that was after he ran away from Hyundai like his ass was on fire. We figured he’d stay in the job for a couple of months, maybe come up with something snappy like he did for Hyundai, and then take off, and we could say we hired the hottest marketing guy in the industry. If you’re a car company, hiring Ewanick is like banging J-Lo. But then the guy just wouldn’t leave. We moved him to a smaller office. We gave him the most crotchety personal assistant we could find. We even tried giving him a Chevrolet Aveo as a company car. I guess some people just can’t take a hint.”
Sales grew during Ewanick’s tenure at General Motors, but their growth trailed the rest of the industry.
“I guess he was just out of good ideas,” said Cardigan. “Okay, maybe he was right about Facebook, since junior high school students don’t buy cars, but dumping the Super Bowl for English soccer? And ‘Chevy Runs Deep’? What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
Hot on the heels of a Chevrolet Volt bursting into flames three weeks after a crash test because no one could be bothered to read the manual, General Motors’ innovative range-extended electric hybrid car is once again under fire over alleged safety concerns.
Citizens United for New Technology, a Denver-based consumer advocate group that no one has ever heard of, is calling the Volt “unacceptably dangerous,” saying the car has potential to cause serious head injury after an incident involving a valet in Reno, Nevada.
CUfNT alleges that Norman “Rod” Hailey, 19, a part-time community college student who has been parking cars at the Adventure Inn and Wedding Chapel since late last month, struck his head on the Volt’s roof while getting in to park it. Hailey treated his own injury by putting his hand on his head and yelling “Ow! Fuck, dude!” and was able to return to work after a couple of seconds of rehabilitation.
“This is a serious safety flaw,” said CUfNT spokesman Daniel Waiting. “It’s a miracle that young Mr. Hailey’s injuries from this serious safety flaw weren’t more serious. Head injuries cause concussions, bleeding, even death. How many people have to die before this serious safety flaw is addressed? How much carnage must litter our highways before General Motors acknowledges that the Volt is an unacceptably dangerous car with serious safety flaws that are serious?”
Mr. Hailey blames the accident on his own inattention, saying he was staring at what he calls a “totally hot MILF” with “a righteous rack” and “a booty you could bounce all night long” who was getting out of a vehicle nearby, but Waiting dismissed this as irrelevant.
“Totally do-able MILFs show up to shady Reno hotels all the time,” says Waiting. “General Motors should have designed the Volt for this possibility. Instead they’ve built an unacceptably dangerous car with serious safety flaws that make it seriously dangerous. Sorry, I mean unacceptably dangerous.”
CUfNT is calling on General Motors to recall the Chevrolet Volt and every other car they’ve ever made and “just do something.”
“The Nissan Leaf has never been involved in an incident like this,” Waiting points out. “Why can’t General Motors do anything as well as the Japanese?”
Asked for a comment by Autoblopnik, a General Motors spokesperson pointed out that the nearest Nissan Leaf is owned by a woman in Sacramento, California, 132 miles away, and does not have enough range to drive to Reno.
Leather so serene,
Chromy glitz, but underneath
It’s just a LaCrosse.
- Model/price as tested: 2013 Cadillac XTS Platinum, $59.080
- Powertrain: 3.6 liter V6, 304 hp, front-wheel-drive
- Fuel economy: 17 MPG city/18 MPG highway
Autoblopnik attended a press preview, to which we were not invited, in order to facilitate this review.
© 2012 Autoblopnik
Chevrolet has released a teaser photo and initial details of a new retro-styled rear-wheel-drive coupe that it says is right for today’s style- and economy-conscious market.
“In the conceptualization of this new car, we looked at the most successful aspects of current in-market products,” said Chevrolet spokesman Michael Vincent “Captain Lou” Albano. “Consumers are excited by rear-wheel-drive cars like the Subaru BRZ, retro cars like the MINI and Beetle, and economy-minded sporty cars like the Hyundai Veloster. We believe that by drawing on GM’s traditional strengths, we can blend all of those elements in one vehicle.”
Albano says the car features several retro details as illustrated in the teaser shot, including round sealed-beam headlights, stamped-metal wheel covers, and what Albano describes as “an available wood-trim applique”. The styling, he says, will look ”strikingly familiar to Americans old enough to remember Paul Simon before he ruined his career with that stupid Graceland album.”
GM has not released technical specifications, and Albano would only say that the car is based on “an existing platform” and “makes extensive use of proven components.” Insiders tell Autoblopnik that in order to keep costs down, the 1.6 liter engine will be carbureted, and transmission choices will include a 4-speed manual and a non-computerized 3-speed automatic. Albano would neither confirm nor deny, but did acknowledge the application of what he calls “heritage technology,” adding that the new car will achieve 43 MPG on the highway.
Chevrolet has not announced the new car’s name, only saying that it is a portmanteau that means “small Chevrolet” and “reflects the car’s relationship to powerful performance icons like the Corvette.” Alleged automotive supersite Edmitts.com speculates that the car will be called “Minicorvchevy” and used their proprietary high-end computer imaging software to extrapolate a composite image based on the teaser photo.
“The new car will go on sale in the first quarter of 1975,” said Albano. “Um, sorry, I mean 2015.”
Citing consumer reaction to its decision last week to cancel advertising on Facebook and the Super Bowl, General Motors announced that it is going to cease advertising altogether.
“Reaction to our Facebook announcement led to a 1.4% increase in consumer traffic to our web sites, and the news that we were pulling out of the Super Bowl gave us another increase of 2.3%,” said General Motors PR professional Bert Fanktanker, speaking on the condition that we refer to him as Lance Hardmore. “Those two outlets represent approximately 4% of our advertising budget, so we figure if we drop all of our advertising, besides saving a buttload of money, we’ll increase consumer interest by a factor of… um… well, a lot.”
GM plans to rely primarily on word-of-mouth advertising and strong buyer loyalty as exemplified by satisfied Chevrolet customer Fern D. Climptrap, who was brought along to the interview despite our strenuous objections.
“Ain’ no way I’d buy a furrin’ car from one of those pissant little countries we kicked the shit out of back before the god-damned Democrats ruined the god-damned country,” Climptrap said. “God-damned Mexicans.”
Fanktanker Hardmore underscored the effectiveness of this strategy. “We read an article in the Delta in-flight magazine that said that word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising, and we realized that was true. I mean, Nader wrote that book about the Corvair, what, fifty years ago? People are still talking about that, and it didn’t cost us a dime.”
“God-damned right,” added Climptrap.
General Motors’ global marketing chief, Joel Ewanick, was unfazed by the news that he was out of a job.
“I was there for two years,” Ewanick told a woman putting change in the parking meter who he mistook for a reporter but who, it turns out, actually is a reporter for Autoblopnik, so that worked out well for us. “That’s an eternity for me.”
Ewanick would not comment on his immediate post-GM future, but sources close to his cleaning lady say he plans to take over Ford’s European marketing efforts for about twenty minutes before being hired by Mazda and then getting recruited by Toyota later that afternoon.
GM CEO Dan Akerson, interviewed by Autoblopnik in the men’s room near Gate E14 at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, said he supported the move.
“We’re General Motors, for crying out loud. Why the hell do we need to advertise? Anyone who would even consider one of our cars already knows who we are. Shit, my fly’s stuck. I should never have let Karin go to that discount tailor. Don’t print that.”
© 2012 Autoblopnik