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Writing Fridays: On Ford’s happiness, Volkswagen pride and Fiat’s boldness

Another shiny Friday is upon us.

A lot happened during the week behind us. Expect this summer to be full of surprises in automotive industry.

Shake the dust off your computer screen and let’s have a look at the hottest new stuff from the past few days.

All the Ford’s Smart Moves

Special Edition Truck Few Are Going to Miss

medium 2641711014 Writing Fridays: On Fords happiness, Volkswagen pride and Fiats boldnessMaybe the right word is nobody, but that would be plain disrespectful. Let’s just say that the experiment went wrong. These things happen to the best all the time, even Ford is not excluded. Cooperation between Harley-Davidson and Ford Motors Company (yes, that’s their official name) turned out to be a misfire. Co-branding between them started back in the 1999, when the legendary F-150 was chosen to become a limited edition top-of-the-line model. A year later the first of these trucks came down the assembly line. After sufficient but not brilliant sales for a time period of 13 years, Ford’s officials finally announced that production of this high trim pickup will be discontinued this year. They didn’t uncover any specific detail regarding the reasons for such decision. They just said that they are satisfied with the current state of affairs on the market and in their own yard. It seems they’re not going to shed any tears for this truck. Nor are we. After all, limited editions are… well, limited. You can always buy one “basic” F-150 and then do a build according to your own taste.

Blue Oval approaches 4th of July with Pride

That were the bad news from Ford. Now, the good ones.

Every year compares and rates all the vehicles on American market in order to find the top American-made car. The resulting list serves as the indicator of trends in car sales. It’s also used to show that for a car to be called American-made is not necessarily made in one of the “Detroit three” (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler).

medium 4356702607 Writing Fridays: On Fords happiness, Volkswagen pride and Fiats boldnessToyota Camry has been holding the first place for three consecutive years – from 2009 to 2012. But this year we have a new winner! All-American F-150 won the prestigious first prize (like it needed a recognition after 30 years of being the best sold car in America). But I doubt that guys at Ford are not flattered. In fact, being on the top of this list means that they are making smart moves. Recognition came thanks to the growth in sales of the F-150, but the percentage of car parts made in the U.S. built into this pickup didn’t change. Plain and simple – F150 is again becoming popular among people. And I personally have nothing against it.

The only bad thing I can remember when I was reading about this was when I found some guys questioning the methodology used in study. In their survey that was performed earlier this year they found that GM Lambda crossover is the most American-made car of the year. Well, you know what? Let me question your methodology by making my own. Let’s say I introduce to my methodology another factor – sheer awesomeness or something like that. We would have some new winner. Not everyone can be satisfied. To make things clear, I respect anyone’s opinion on the matter but I think F-150 earned the recognition.

Oh! I just remembered. Speaking about contests, lists and winners I need to inform you that today is the last day of Neotrucks summer cover photo contest! Ugly photos will be taken into account too but they won’t win anyway…

How Did Germans Do It (Again)?

Really, I always wonder how did they do it. There’s something with these guys that’s keeping me profoundly intrigued whenever they break some record. And pretty much everything else, I suppose.

This time they managed to set the new Guinness World Record. Not all the Germans of course. Just their car manufacturer Volkswagen (“People’s Car”). A VW Passat TDI 2.0 produced at Volkswagen plant assembly in Chattanooga, Tennessee crossed a distance of 8,122 miles or about 13,071 km with a record low fuel consumption within 16 days time. It was all recorded in the presence of officials of the Guinness World Records.

medium 5964304687 Writing Fridays: On Fords happiness, Volkswagen pride and Fiats boldnessTeam of two drivers – a blogger Wayne Gerdes and engineer Bob Winger reached the fuel consumption which amounted to astonishing 78 miles per gallon (3.02 liters on 100km)! The guys afterwards said that they’ve had a hunch that they could beat the existing world record with the standardly produced non-customized Passat TDI 2.0. Anyway, to overcome the existing record with an average of 77.99 miles per gallon is truly amazing and impressive. It also demonstrates the potential of Volkswagen TDI vehicles. But, as Gerdes has said it, it shows yet another important fact about fuel consumption – it largely depends on the driver and how he handles the vehicle. Even the best fuel efficient vehicle in the hands of an imbecile driver can become a useless cash spender.

The transitional world record was recorded 67.9 miles per gallon which is around 13 percent less than Passat’s result. Volkswagen made a really great progress in developing more efficient engines. Reportedly their advanced diesel engines with turbocharging and direct injection offer the most economical fuel consumption on highways. Official numbers are EPA certified 43 miles per gallon (or 5.5 liters per 100 kilometers) when equipped with a six-speed manual transmission.

If we know that certified consumption number is 43 mpg, I really wonder how the heck did they manage to stretch it to 77.9 mpg?! For such results don’t come easy, I am pretty sure they’ve implemented some really neat tricks to achieve that. Still they deserved it. Respect to both you guys and the folks from the Volkswagen!

That reminded me that earlier here on our blog we were writing about some of the tricks you could use to improve your fuel economy. So here’s the link if you want to drive like a pro:

Chevrolet: Finding a New Way To Make Customers Happy

How Single Spark Becomes a Flame

medium 6686459727 Writing Fridays: On Fords happiness, Volkswagen pride and Fiats boldnessChevrolet was always primarily focused on medium to big size vehicles. I don’t think even they thought their little Spark will have so much success in sales. They already sold over 14k units during May this year alone. That being said, they are now in the vicinity of the 17,5 thousand units of Fiat 500 (the popular Italian made “Cinquecento”) we’ve written about here on our blog several days ago.

Since its introduction in 2009, Chevrolet Spark has scored more than 720,000 units sold worldwide. During the first twelve months in the U.S. this little town car got 27,000 happy owners. Searching to learn about the owners’ experience, I came by a lot of negative opinions how the car is ugly, how it looks like a bug, how it’s not a real car and so on. I later understood that I was reading mostly comments from people who have never driven Spark. I found just pure hate with no apparent reason. In truth, when I finally got a chance to chat with a few people who actually BOUGHT the car, not a single one had any complaints about it. I guess its quality finally found its way to customers.

Really you shouldn’t expect from the car in this category to do something it’s not supposed to do. But if you want the best small car with great fuel economy that is fun to drive, then Chevy Spark is the right one for you. Its current retail price is somewhere in the neighborhood of $14,5k (the average price).

Italian Invasion: Fiat 500L Trekking

Fiat 500′s bigger bro, the 500L Trekking model returns to us stronger, more agile and ready to be pushed to its limits.

medium 6974977071 Writing Fridays: On Fords happiness, Volkswagen pride and Fiats boldnessIf you attended last year’s LA auto show you should have seen it there. Although I find it a bit weird for a car this size to be used as an off-road vehicle, Italians obviously wouldn’t agree. Their new 500L Trekking definitely wants some rock’n'roll. I hope I will get a chance to try it myself some day. Until then, let’s see what’s under the hood.

There’s four engine options – two petrol and two turbo-diesel engines. We will be able to choose between 0.9-liter TwinAir Turbo (77kW) and 1.4-liter (70kW) petrol engine options. If you prefer diesel, you’ll have to pick between 63kW 1.3-liter MultiJet and a 77kW 1.6-litre MultiJet II diesel engines.

But that’s not all. Fiat’s Traction+ traction control system will also be included in 500L with purpose to help vehicle’s stability and controllability during the ride over hard terrain and bad weather conditions. You can read interesting conversation regarding Traction+ on this forum.

medium 8732366833 Writing Fridays: On Fords happiness, Volkswagen pride and Fiats boldnessModel’s specific suspension makes the car higher for 13mm and works together with above-mentioned system. In terms of “smart” systems that come in standard trims are rear parking sensors, cruise control, hill-start assist and automatic lights. Personalization of cars became something of a trademark of the Fiat factory during the past few years and it’s the same case with this one too.

With starting price of $28,500 it will be interesting to watch how the market is going to welcome it. To improve their chance of success, Fiat launched this funny commercial – “Italians are invading”! I don’t even know what to think about it, but I must say the car itself is enough.