No Robots in Disguise for GM

“Truck owners want trucks,” says General Motors global design guru Ed Welburn here. Not, he adds, vehicles that “do a lot of gymnastics and transformations.”

Welburn’s remarks are aimed in the general direction of competitors such as Toyota and Chrysler. The former has shown a midsize-truck concept, the A-Bat, that features a fold-down midgate, while Chrysler’s Rampage boasts a dry storage area under the cargo bed that can accommodate a standard-size sheet of plywood.

Ironically, GM has gotten a lot of mileage from its association with the “Transformers” movie franchise. Sci-fi characters of the same name morph from vehicles such as the Chevrolet Camaro into formidable robot warriors.

Criticism From Pillar to Post

Fair or not (or perhaps just jealous), a wide range of industry executives express disappointment with the design direction demonstrated by Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz cars, telling Ward’s the luxury-vehicle maker has lost its way.

No criticism is too harsh. In a swipe at the brand’s heritage, which is steeped in elegance and sportiness, one high-ranking suit from Germany declares the new E-Class sedan is “no longer German.”

But a design-community insider gives kudos to Mercedes’ radical decision to roll out the E-Coupe, unencumbered by a B-pillar. With the vast array of crashworthiness regulations affecting design, “It takes guts to do a pillar-less car,” he tells Ward’s.

Some Day My Prince Will Come

Fiat’s core brand adopts a playful theme at its auto show stand here.

With its pastel-shaded backdrops, the decor resembles a children’s nursery, with cars such as the pint-sized Fiat 500 strewn about like so many toys. Meanwhile, Disney music wafts in the background, including “Some Day My Prince Will Come.”

Journalists wonder if Fiat is sending a subliminal message about its elusive CEO Sergio Marchionne.

Pinned

In bygone days, lapel pins were, for high-school sweethearts, an outward sign of devotion.

So it’s fitting that Siegfried Wolf declares his commitment to the marriage of Magna and General Motors’ Adam Opel GmbH.

With the ink barely dry on GM’s acceptance of a Magna-led consortium’s bid to buy a partial stake in Opel, Wolf, the mega-supplier’s co-CEO, shows up at the auto maker’s press conference sporting Opel’s lightning-bolt logo on his jacket.

– compiled by Eric Mayne

Special Coverage

Frankfurt Auto Show