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Navigating the Current Auto Scene Made Lively


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3. March 2014

The Geneva Motor Show is upon us. So because most of us aren’t going to be there, and because Detroit Free Press Auto Critic Mark Phelan has something of a soft-spot for the event in Geneva, he talks about how this year’s show seems, unlike those in past years, to be a place were more straightforward cars are being presented, not those which are somewhat more conceptually baroque. Phelan suggests, perhaps, that this is an indication that the western European auto market is coming back and various OEMs want to get their saleable products front and center, rather than their more imaginative ones.

Opel ADAM ROCKS Opel Adam Rocks Debuts in Geneva

Keith Naughton is with Bloomberg News. He writes for Bloomberg BusinessWeek. And as he is Detroit-based, he knows a lot about the business of the automobile business. Last week, Detroit’s biggest automaker, General Motors, found itself having to explain a problem that has led to the recall of nearly 1.4-million vehicles. A problem that, in GM’s own words, “may have caused or contributed to the non-deployment of the frontal airbags” in 31 cases “involving 13 front-seat fatalities.” Naughton explains that as this is GM CEO Mary Barra’s first big on-the-job crisis, it is absolutely essential that she get in front of this.

Consumer Reports is out with its automotive issue. It is a publication that is undoubtedly poured over at kitchen tables across the country by those who are considering a new vehicle purchase. What car did CR decide is the absolute best overall? The Tesla Model S. Its choices are reconsidered by Phelan, Naughton and me in the opening segment of this edition of “Autoline After Hours.”

Bannon Lincoln Navigator Chief Engineer Elaine Bannon

And then there’s the guest, a woman who has tremendous experience and background at Ford Motor Company engineering an array of vehicles, including the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX. Elaine Bannon is now the chief engineer of the Lincoln Navigator, a substantially reengineered product that will be arriving in showrooms this fall, a vehicle that is something of a flagship (OK, it is big, with the extended length 2015 SUV being 222.3 in. long, giving rise to ocean liner metaphors) for the Lincoln marque.

2015 Lincoln Navigator

2015 Lincoln Navigator

Bannon explains some of the engineering behind the new Navigator and explains the relevance of this massive vehicle in an age where things seem to be more micro than macro. (Here’s a hint: some 70% of Navigator customers go buy another one.)

All that and more can be found right here:

 

 

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