Hits and errors in 2003
10:39 AM PST on Saturday, January 17, 2004
By JIM MATEJA / Chicago Tribune
The automotive industry and the year that was in 2003:
Ford Motor Co. spared no expense to celebrate its 100th anniversary as an automaker. It set up thousands of bleachers in a field near corporate headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., to treat folks visiting from around the world to a concert - only to watch the bleachers sink into the mud as torrential rains forced the concert to be cancelled.
A federal court ruled that, while the seven-slotted grille on the Hummer H2 looks very much like the seven-slotted grilled on every Jeep made the last couple of decades, Jeep doesn't have rights to the grille. Jeep responded by unveiling a new concept called the Rescue with a seven-slotted grille and a body that looks almost exactly like a Hummer H2.
Ford says it will produce 10 new vehicles carrying Ford, Mercury and Lincoln nameplates in the next three years, all derived from the same platform as the Mazda6 sedan from the Japanese automaker in which Ford owns an equity interest.
General Motors says people don't like the term minivans so it will call its new lineup for 2005 crossover sport vans, or CSVs. And, just to be safe, the CSVs will look like sport-utes, not minivans.
Toyota brings out the next-generation gas/electric Prius with a fuel-economy rating of 60 mpg city/51 mpg highway.
Volkswagen produces its last original Beetle in Mexico, a car last sold in the United States in 1977 coupe form and 1979 as a convertible.
Chevy says it will sell a retro wagon slightly larger than a PT Cruiser called the HHR in the 2006 model year. It will feature the styling of the 1949 Suburban.
Acura kills its slow-selling CL coupe.
Dodge kills plans to add a midsize Dakota M80 pickup to the lineup.
Saab says it will expand its lineup in July with an all-wheel-drive 9-2X hatchback derived from the Subaru WRX and a version of Chevy TrailBlazer sport-ute in '05.
Ford sells the first of its upcoming exotic GT sports cars - for $557,500 at a charity auction - and hires noted racer/car developer Carroll Shelby, 80, to help it come up with high-performance models.
Infiniti says it will offer a full-size sport-ute called the QX56 built off the full-size Nissan Titan pickup as an '05 model.
Chrysler paid $14 million to songstress Celine Dion to promote the Chrysler lineup in the next three years to attract male buyers. However, Chrysler found Dion was more prominent than the cars in the ads so Chrysler dumped her.