A production version ofGroupâ€™s Firepower will have to be renamed because Chrysler found out that the Exide folks own that name for their batteries.
"Firepower is a sport tourer that's more refined and more comfortable than a Viper without Viper's aggressiveness," says Trevor Creed, senior vice presidentGroup design.
He says Firepower isn't meant as a Viper replacement nor is it meant to displace the Crossfire coupe from the lineup. Rather Crossfire, which offers a V-6 and no V-8, is a "baby brother" to Firepower.
While refusing to call it "Chrysler's Corvette" Creed says, "If we do this car it certainly would attract some `Vette enthusiasts."
And while mum on production plans, he allows that: "I certainly can see this car in my garage someday. There are a lot of champions for this car at Chrysler."
Creed says Firepower could be produced within 24 months after the executives give approval, which they haven't done as yet.
Syn and the City
Phil Martens,Motor Co. vice president of product creation, says Fordâ€™s Syn concept â€śis a vehicle with an attitude and an edge to it for future urban growth.
â€śWe're going to watch the response we get to it on the auto show circuit. It would be a low-volume vehicle, and we haven't determined yet if it would be front drive or all-wheel drive.
Martens says Syn might look weird, but so does the Scion xB wagon. "Weird hasn't been bad in Japan for some time. The Scion xB legitimized weird."
No Fusion of Opinion
One the major unveilings during the first press preview day wasMotor Co.s Fusion high-production sedan, which consistently drew onlookers.
Opinion was mixed: â€śItâ€™s a great looking car. They kept a lot from the 427 (concept), which I liked. And itâ€™s a little bigger than the Mazda6.â€ť
â€śIt looks good, but itâ€™s kind of non-descript. I get the feeling I could pass it right by and not even notice. The key is, do I want it? No, I donâ€™t want it.â€ť
â€śThe proportions are nice. I think this is the first car in a while from Ford that will be legitimately competitive.â€ť
â€śThe thing about this car is you put it in a bag, mix it up and it would come out aAccord. Thatâ€™s still the best car out there. Nobody can beat. Everybody tries to, but no body can.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s a nice change. I mean, these were Taurus buyers, right? It will be interesting to watch in that segment. I think it will do well. They made some interesting feature choices: a 4-cyl. (engine), a 6-speed (transmission) and all-wheel-drive.â€ť
Lutz Warms to Chrysler 300
Corp.â€™s Bob Lutz says he is starting to like the Chrysler 300, the hot rear-drive sedan thatâ€™s been a solid hit with customers, media and urban America â€“ and the car Lutz openly derided at the time of its launch.
But the always-opinionated head of product development for GM now says he is just glad to see a mid-market sedan from a domestic manufacturer become a hit. â€śI wish it was our hit, but Iâ€™m just happy to see a domestic sedan successful,â€ť he says. â€śIt is a ray of hope to all domestic manufacturers. It says, do the right thing and you will get the customer back. Itâ€™s an encouraging sign.â€ť
But Lutz also throws a little cold water on the 300 and Chrysler, saying the auto maker â€ślucked outâ€ť with the 300. And he says people shouldnâ€™t consider Chrysler the styling leader based on the success of â€śjust one car.â€ť
â€śThe rest of the stuff is not (designed) to the same level,â€ť he says.
To Be or Not to Be
Phil Martens, Ford Motor Co. vice president of product creation, says auto shows will help Ford answer questions about the boxy concept Fairlane's appeal and potential features.
"It has suicide doors, yet we could do slide-open side doors like on a minivan," Martens says. "But if we do, people will see it as a minivan and not a crossover. We're very interested in consumer feedback and will watch consumer reaction to learn what vehicle they perceive it to be â€“ crossover or van.
Adds Steve Lyons, president of the Ford division: "We've shown dealers the concept, and they want more consumer feedback on who buyers would be and what type of vehicle they'd trade."