Monday, October 05, 2015

Automotive Reporter Biz News for Wk of 10-5-15

As if the exciting previews of the new 007 movie aren’t enough brand placement for Aston Martin, the automaker is also capitalizing on the final flight of an iconic Cold War-era British bomber later this month.   

The Avro Vulcan XH558, a delta-wing  long-range bomber built in the ‘50’s, is being reunited with its modern day namesake, the Aston Martin Vulcan, an 800-hp, all-carbon fiber supercar. There are only 24 models of the racecar in existence. 

The company staged a flyby of the Vulcan bomber over the Vulcan race car at Elvington Airfield in Yorkshire. The final flight of the Vulcan will be this weekend (10/10-11).

The charity that owns and operates the XH558, the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, has concluded it is no longer safe to fly the aircraft, as technical support for the bombers Rolls Royce jet engines and other systems are being discontinued by various vendors and providers. The Vulcan has already exceeded the maximum flight hours experienced by other Vulcans by more than ten percent, and it is the studied opinion of her operators that identifying and diagnosing future problems and maintenance issues with the aircraft would be increasingly difficult. Without such support, the British Civil Aviation Authority is effectively grounding the aircraft. The bomber will be on permanent static display in England at the Robin Hood Airport in Doncaster.
I have no idea where that is.

Aston Martin says the first deliveries of the track-only Aston Martin Vulcan to customers worldwide will take place before the end of the year. This week Aston Martin also announced the appointment of Laura Schwab as President for Aston Martin The Americas, effective later this month.

The recent backlash over cellphone use in public places has created some interesting social solutions. There is an emerging trend to stack smartphones in the center of the table for the duration of a meal, and the first person to grab theirs has to pay for the group’s tab.

Chevrolet takes that notion one step further, while capitalizing on the need for personal connectivity in a new series of TV commercials you’ll be seeing this week. The point is memorably made.

“Focus Groups” are brought into a room with a big round table, and a big red wood chipper. They are told to surrender their devices for reasons of intellectual security, at which point the moderator calmly walks over to the wood chipper, and feeds the phones into the machine. The reactions of the group members are pretty priceless, albeit rather sedate compared to what my personal response might be in the same situation. The point of the exercise keys in on our perceived need for total connectivity at all times, which Chevrolet says it can deliver in the new Cruse Lite 4G Wifi automobile.

Has Toyota created a flying car? While the new Toyota Mirai Hyrdogen Fuel Cell electric car cannot literally fly, Toyota says it is flying off the virtual shelf!

Nearly 1,900 people have reserved their Miraii, exceeding the expected initial production run of 1,000 vehicles, and pushing the grammatical envelope on how to properly describe what is the plural of Mirai.
Mirai's? Miraii? What?  

Toyota’s order request portal now directs customers to a wait list until production can catch up with demand.  Toyota says existing order requests are being reviewed, and automaker will begin placing the first customers in the driver’s seat of their new Mirai later this month.   

A fellow Mazda MX-5 Miata owner pulled up in front of my house on Friday evening in his early-edition NB and turned off the engine. He sat in the car at the curb for a very long time, tapping on his smartphone, before walking up to my door. His clutch slave cylinder had failed, and he couldn’t shift the manual transmission. 

I repressed my urge to discuss with him the art of engine-rev clutchless shifting, and instead commiserated about the extent to which owners go to keep our MX-5’s running at peak performance, regardless of the vintage. The car remains parked in front of my house this morning, as I compose this column. I don’t know who his insurance company is, but my towing service would’ve been on scene within the hour.

As a public service to him, and to you, I am passing on Mazda’s just-released pricing points for its new Global Mazda MX-5 Cup cars. The version is Mazda Motorsports first-ever ready-to-race production MX-5 Miata, checking in at only $53k. It is an entry-level  racing car, and is Mazda’s contribution to growing the sport by encouraging new drivers to affordably enter the competition. What do you get for that price?

Long Road Racing, Inc. takes a street version of the MX-5 and strips it down to replace several OEM items with high-performance components, including a high-capacity radiator, limited slip differential, a racing cage, cooling lines, performance brakes, and racing fluids for the transmission and crankcase. 

Each Miata Cup car is built identically so that their performance on the track is altered only by the skill of who’s behind the wheel. You can order yours online at
You’re welcome.

Ford Motor Company’s newest advertising campaign for Ford service is themed, “The Specialists at Ford,” and will feature big-screen action hero, producer and business entrepreneur Dwayne Johnson.
Yes, The Rock drives a Ford—several, in fact. His favorite: The Ford F-150.

“The Specialists at Ford” are an elite crew of Ford technicians led by Johnson. This dedicated team has all of the training, diagnostic tools and Motorcraft parts that make servicing your vehicle at your local Ford dealership the right decision.

I wonder if he’ll glare into the camera and snarl, “Can you smell what The Rock is fixing?”

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