Peugeot 208 GTi a dead cert
Speculation was rife among Peugeot designers, management and PR types at the recent launch of the all-new 208 in Portugal. Individually, several sources told motoring.com.au officially that 208 GTi will only make it to production if the business case made sense — but in subsequent conversations let slip details that confirmed the model was indeed on its way.
“The production model will have bigger brakes”, and “It will look exactly the same, except for the wheels”. One spokesperson even went so far as to lock in timing for Australian delivery as “this time next year” -- pointing to the fact a September debut at the Paris Motor Show is highly likely.
Sources elsewhere in the Peugeot world have also indicated that the hot Pug would feature “the same engine as the RCZ”, in the same breath adding they would favour an output closer to that of MINI’s John Cooper Works models. That should see the 208 GTi right for around 155kW/260Nm, giving it a 0-100km/h of roughly 6.5 seconds.
If, or is that when Peugeot 208 GTi reaches production, it will be placed ahead of the current top-spec petrol offering 208 1.6 THP which develops 115kW/260Nm. The formula looks otherwise unlikely to differ greatly from the concept model shown at Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.
Ford gloating, Germans sobbing in their bier?
Visiting Australia for the launch of the EcoBoost Falcon, Ford's Andrew Fraser had plenty to say about the intense rivalry in drivetrain technology development around the world. Fraser acknowledged that BMW was, in his opinion, the company leading the rest of the world in this area of research, particularly as applied to petrol engines.
"I'll be completely honest and say I think BMW have led the way with their EfficientDynamics package; they've had variable oil pumps, variable water pumps, grille shutters, smart charging systems — and they very clearly communicate that in the market.
"If you ask me, I would probably name BMW as the leader in powertrain technology, in that they're not the Bayerischen Motoren Werken for nothing. They're very, very good at their engines [although] they charge a premium price for them. The technology they offer and the results they achieve are absolutely outstanding, both their gasoline and diesel engines...
"I would be quite happy if we could emulate BMW's capability... while hopefully maintaining Ford's accessible pricing. That's the challenge."
But in spite of this acknowledgement of BMW's supremacy, Fraser did have something to offer, in counterpoint to his interlocutor's suggestion this made Ford a "follower".
"Probably with the exception of BMW, I think we've now got a leading line-up with the Ford EcoBoost engines; I don't think anyone else has got such a capable petrol line-up as Ford has — certainly not in the high-volume segment that we occupy.
"The two-litre has been a great success, and the 1.6, but the one-litre has really stolen a bit of a lead on the market. We unveiled it at the Frankfurt motor show last year and it was in the German heartland [so] it was quite gratifying to have people from BMW and Volkswagen come up and say: "Hmm, we never expected something like this from Ford..."
Fraser also agreed with the motoring.com.au correspondent that Volkswagen is Ford's strongest threat in Europe, where advanced petrol engine technology is concerned.
"The TSI/TFSI is a very similar package. I think EcoBoost has gone a bit beyond it and we've seen in the comparative tests — in Golf for example — the 1.6-litre Focus is superior to the 1.4-litre TSI Golf, both in performance and fuel economy, which is quite pleasing.
"Actually, a German magazine, the first week of this year... Auto Bild, did a comparative test with the new BMW 1 Series, which has got a new 1.6 DI [direct injection] turbo. Again, the Focus comfortably beat it, purely on a powertrain basis... it's the motor that makes the car. That was particularly gratifying, to have a German magazine rate a Focus ahead of a BMW 1 Series for powertrain technology.
"We get favourable press in Britain, but it's always a hard sell in Germany..."
In a sign of interesting times ahead, Fraser even dismissed efforts by GM (Opel), and other, non-German companies - including two Japanese firms.
"I think we're well ahead of PSA and GM in that area; even Toyota, Honda... I would say we're leading that group quite comfortably now."
Rolls recall reflects realityRecalls are a fact of life in the automotive industry. Even a company like Rolls-Royce is not immune from issuing the occasional recall. This is a manufacturing concern owned by BMW and boasting a reputation for achieving the very pinnacle of build quality.
Yet earlier this week the prestigious brand issued a recall notice for each of its Phantom and Ghost models. In the case of the Phantom, engine oil from the brake vacuum pump may seep into the brake vacuum line, resulting in reduced braking assistance. Owners of the Rolls-Royce Ghost have been warned that coolant leaking through a cracked housing for the turbocharger cooling pump may short out the electronics, causing a failure of the pump. Ultimately, the vehicle may catch fire.
Obviously recalls reflect badly on the manufacturer concerned, but too many consumers regard recalls as a sign of serious negligence on the part of the company. In practice, nothing could be further from the truth. Negligence would be the car company NOT issuing a recall once aware of a defect. And for those who argue that defects should never arise if the company's quality assurance is up to scratch, try living in the real world. The modern car is as complex a manufactured item as most consumers will ever buy. Components are bound to fail and even if that failure is foreseeable, the consequences frequently aren't, until years down the track.
There is no such thing as a company that has never made a mistake designing and building a car. Toyota can testify to that, as can plenty of volume-selling companies from Asia, and so can Audi and a heap of prestige brands from Europe...
Yet there remain those brand-loyal enthusiasts who will leap upon any opportunity to level the playing field, as they see it, by chopping down the tall poppies.
Develop or die
Radical right wing 'think' tank, the Citizens Electoral Council of Australia, is demanding answers regarding Ford's decision to stand down workers due to a parts supply issue this week. The CEC is suggesting the Australian Government is aiming to shut down the auto industry, despite the commonwealth's recent history of bailing out local manufacturers.
"The government made a big show of giving money to the car companies as inducements to keep production in Australia, to look like it supported the industry and its thousands of employees," argues CEC Australia National Secretary, Craig Isherwood.
"But since then, key parts suppliers such as APV and now CMI have started going to the wall, threatening the hundreds of jobs in those companies and the thousands in the factories who rely on those parts, and the government is doing effectively nothing."
His group suggests the threat to Ford workers simply because CMI failed to pay rent is "bizarre". "What's going on?" he asked. "This wouldn't be happening if the government was truly committed to car manufacturing."
The CEC of Australia argues local manufacturing "was targeted for annihilation from the moment in 1989 when Bob Hawke and Paul Keating adopted Ross Garnaut's report, 'Australia and the Northeast Asian Ascendancy'."
Keating's idea was that Australia's economic future under free trade was to be a raw materials exporter and "if other industries survived, fine, but they would no longer be a priority." The CEC of Australia is suggesting the auto industry is one of those that are no longer a priority to the government.
The car industry has only ever existed with government support, says the CEC of Australia missive, but committing Australia to free trade, which has been continued by every government since Keating's and will be further continued adds to "the self-destruction of our agro-industrial production capability".
"I'm calling for an end to economic retreat. It is time to reclaim our industries and throw out the policies that are turning us into an industrial wasteland," said Isherwood. "I call on the manufacturing workers, and the unions who claim to represent them, to support the CEC's Develop or Die resolution. Every Australian who isn't stupid enough to believe in free trade should also support the call. Let's strike political fear into the free trade nutters in Canberra, and stop this deliberate destruction of our economy."
Interested or simply amused? If not for the fact that the issue is topical, the CEC's statement would not be published here. It's not an organisation we endorse and a read of the Wikipedia entry for the CEC reveals why.