Jay Leno Makes a Rendezvous Of His Own

Checkout Jay Leno's great adaptation of the classic Rendezvous: The Fast and the Famous, featuring the awesome Mercedes-Benz SLS.

I couldn't get the Wired video to play well, so fortunately it's on YouTube!

Labels: ,

posted by Lee Gale @ 1:15 AM, ,

Moving deck chairs on the Titanic

Checkout Wikipedia for the origins of the saying Moving deck chairs on the Titanic - I especially Like Stephen Colbert's analogy.

Whilst the signs are increasingly looking positive for Ford, the same can't be said for GM.

Earlier this month, Chairman Whitacre announced he was taking over as acting chief executive following the resignation of Fritz Henderson as CEO. Henderson had led GM through bankruptcy and in the months following after taking over for Rick Wagoner, who had resigned as part of a government bailout of GM.

Anyone coming into a role after such a profound change i.e. merger, acquisition,... accumulation of more than $80 billion of losses in eight years... is going to have a tough and short tenure.

Apparently, Obama's administration was an advocate for the change by having appointed Whitacre as it's broom. Whilst the situation for Fritz wasn't great with GM in bankruptcy, he didn't exactly do a fantastic job of the Saab sale, UAW negotiations or the attempted sale of Opel to Magna International.

But wait, there's more!

GM has appointed the chief financial officer, Chris Liddell, of Microsoft as its new finance chief, and as it turns out, life isn't too bad working for a government agency: Chris will have a base salary of US$750,000 and also receive stock awards worth US$3.45 million in stock over three years beginning in 2012. That's a step up from his pay at Microsoft but a cut from GM's past CFO salary.

Will replacing Fritz bring about changes at GM? According to the WSJ, changes in leadership account for roughly 10% of the variance in corporate profitability on average. To quote:
As Mr. Buffett likes to say, "When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact."

So, who is likely to replace Fritz? BusinessWeek offers some insights but it's clear that GM's board probably has their eye on someone already - you generally don't let a CEO go without a plan to replace them. I think it would be wise to get someone in from a manufacturing background (as Ford did with Alan) as I can testify that more 'virtual' industries like financial services and, to a degree software, are able to maneuver far quicker than an auto maker will be able to. Whitacre is yet to articulate the long-term strategy and priorities for GM - let's hope he does so soon!

On the positive side, GM did repay some of it's loans recently... that's good, right?

Image by ivan petrov

Labels: ,

posted by Lee Gale @ 1:39 AM, ,

What a dilemma

I appreciate labeling "choosing a four-seat cabriolet worth twice the average Australia annual wage" as a dilemma to be somewhat cheeky, but that's the truth.

Follow my logic here:
  1. I like convertible cars primarily because of the opportunity on great days & nights where the weather conspires to deliver a truly brilliant experience - especially in Sydney; and
  2. My partner wants to get a second Beagle, which means we would need four seats if we're to legally and comfortably get them A to B.
And it's therefore quite early in the process that it starts to unravel.

If you are going to get a four-seat car, surely logic dictates it should be able to handle four adults? Now, I'm tall so generally need the drivers seat positioned a reasonable distance from the pedals and steering wheel.

At this point, we can start eliminating some of the 109 different four-seat convertible models found on drive.com.au, including: Aston Martin DB9, Audi A3, old Audi A4, BMW 1 & 6 series, Ferrari California, Ford Focus, Citroen C3, Holden Astra, Jaguar XK, Mini, Peugeot 207 & 307, Porsche 911 and Volkswagen EOS.

Next, we can prune objects that don't qualify as 'cars' because either they are totally crap quality, handles like runny manure, and/or have the soul of a kitchen appliance - i.e. anything Chrysler (PT Cruiser & Sebring), Lexus (SC & IS), the Renault Megane, the Saab 9-3, Volkswagen Beetle and the Volvo C70.

Now I'm acutely aware our American friend staying with us over New Years might be upset with the Chrysler inclusion, and work colleagues whom are senior to me will be upset with the Saab & Volvo inclusion... but deep-down, you know I'm right and if you don't, I'll have to avoid publishing a CLM online.

Then, we need to prune cars that I can't afford without either a sudden deal where I can make 1000% of my annual target, a lotto win, or the sudden death of a wealthy relative I didn't know I had. Therefore, we need to kick: the Bentley Continental GTC, a potential Aston Martin Rapide convertible, the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead and the Maserati GranCabrio - the last at excruciating agony because it's almost affordable and ever so sexy.

Which leaves us with: Audi A5, BMW 3-series (barely - those back seats are questionable in their utility) and the Mercedes E-class (previously the CLK).

I want to like the BMW 3-series - especially the 335 or the M3 versions - but the one thing holding me back, aside from those questionable rear seats, is the styling. The exterior looks like every other 3-series on the road, and there are a lot of them in Sydney. The interior seems to have followed Volkswagen's strategy of making every car in it's range identical inside so you are completely unaware of which car you are in... and both manufacturers seem intent on inducing their passengers into a coma with their mundane style. I don't think it's actually possible to have made it more boring inside - it should come with a shot of adrenalin to avoid causing more road fatalities.

And both the Audi and the new Merc (according to the pictures from AutoExpress) look like barges with their roof's down.

Which leaves me wanting neither.


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:51 AM, ,

Dead cat bounce?

Checkout Wikipedia for the origins of the saying dead cat bounce.

It's way too early for us to say the car industry has recovered from the GFC, but the signs are looking good for Ford.

Recently they posted a profit - their first in over two years - for their 3rd quarter 2009.

I blogged back in Carmageddon '09 that I thought Ford was going to come out the other side pretty nicely and mostly due to Alan Mullaly's leadership. It seems like many people agree, including Automobile Magazine who named him 2010 Man of the Year. Hopefully this isn't a flash in the pan for Ford and they can manage their debt load in the coming years - continuing actions like the sale of Volvo to Geely will help.

On a lighter note, Jon Stewart takes a look at a sector of the industry that the stimulus packages didn't help:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Crash for Clunkers
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis


posted by Lee Gale @ 2:53 AM, ,

Deal or No Deal

Let me start by saying that I'm no fan of the US Republican party's policies generally. I was also one of the many that were completely and thoroughly shocked when California's voted Arnold Schwarzenegger as their Governor.

But: if you were a sceptic of his ability to govern and lead, I'd encourage you to checkout the Newsweek article on the failure of the Copenhagen talks on climate change and how sub-national interests are pressing ahead to secure their own futures. In it, the steps California is taking are impressive... but I guess it's not unexpected for a state that, if it were a country, would be able to stand in the G8.

It's an interesting parallel to current Australian politics, with Tony Abbott and the Liberal party muddying the waters around the ETS with climate change skepticism. Don't get me wrong, I welcome healthy political debate over legislation that has the potential to make us both a more expensive place to live (if that's possible) and less competitive in the global economy.

But: I think Tony needs to take his head out of the sand and realise inactivity will cost us more than implementing a less-than-perfect framework that could be adapted over time.

Labels: , ,

posted by Lee Gale @ 1:40 AM, ,

Don't forget to follow me on Digg

Keep track of what I'm reading via Digg.


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:27 AM, ,

McLaren MP4-12C Spider

McLaren are certainly stirring up the emotions and imaginations with the MP4-12C's journey to become a production car.

Now, they've added more fuel to the fire with the possibility of a Spider version, supposedly with a retractable hard-top.

It certainly looks like better conversion than Audi managed with the R8 Spyder.

Checkout the rendering courtesy of AutoExpress:


posted by Lee Gale @ 1:49 AM, ,