Archive for November, 2006

Problems seeing out of your car? Blame the PVC.

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

Here at BeyondtheKM, we like to analyse current issues that concern the European auto industry. This posting concerns most all manufacturers because it involves a very common component: PVC.

For a little background PVC, or Polyvinyl Chloride is the substance or “plastic” commonly found in automotives. You will often see it used on the dashboard for instance. PVC contains plasticizers such as phthalate. These are non-toxic substances as classified by current science, however, they are produced with toxic substances including vinyl chloride.

A recent Los Angeles Times article by Ralph Vartabedian takes a look at various car manufacturers and their efforts to improve air quality in cars. Notably, VW was at the bottom and Ford, Toyota, and Honda were at the top of the 19-manufacturer list.

The article goes on to point out two key pieces of information including the fact that PVC is a problem for humans from manufacture to use to end-of-life. Additionally, the significance arises from the fact that most manufacturers use PVC in over 50% of the interior parts.

The end result is this: first, PVC is what is causing your interior glass to “haze” over. This is not only a nightmare to clean, but can cause impaired vision from within the car. Second, while current science claims PVC is non-toxic, consumers and manufacturers might be wise to take caution. PVC is an environmental hazard. It is possibly not as bad as DDT, but we should acknowledge that it is far from “safe.”

That’s not to say that everyone should run out and buy a Porsche with leather-covered dashes. Economically, that is not a reality. This posting merely serves to let people know that the car you are riding in, despite all of the technology, still has faults. It is a not a perfect creation, and poses a potential risk for more silent and inconspicuous than your average road accident.

A good laugh. Life without the Beetle.

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

I wouldn’t ordinarily post this, but it is deserving.

Aston Martin No Good for Ford?

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

Within the past week the Guardian Unlimited (a UK news source) has reported that up to 30 bidders could be vying to take over Aston Martin from Ford Motor Company. The source reported that this could raise the price of Aston to over $1.9 billion (£1 billion).

The revelation is not unexpected as Aston has been on the chopping block at Ford’s Premier Auto Group, which incidentally was the second largest segment for Ford Motor Company in the 2nd Quarter of 2006. A number of companies have passed including BMW and the Japanese companies. Some speculation had also been that management in a MBO would buy the company, but that seems unlikely now. The resounding sentiment seems to be that no existing, large car manufacturer needs to buy such a niche sports car maker to add to its stable. BMW did seem a likely buyer, as it also owns ultra-luxury maker Rolls-Royce and could have an ultra-luxury sports car maker. VW is obviously out as is Fiat since they have Lamborghini and Ferrari, respectively.

Again BeyondtheKM ask the big question, why not keep Aston Martin? As we’ve said in previous posts, Ford stands to benefit from having a sporty marque within PAG. They currently have a luxury SUV maker (Land Rover), a luxury car maker (Jaguar), and Volvo, which is mid-high end (and brand identified as “safe”) vehicle. Additionally, they have Aston Martin, a company that was really evolved and made it profitable and highly desirable. In short, Aston Martin is everything that the other Ford and PAG brands are not. They are an important piece of Ford’s diversification in the auto industry.

Like it or not, money or not, axing Aston Martin is the WRONG move. If anything Ford should look at home to its Lincoln and Mercury brands to find ways to sell them or cut them altogether and save money. Ford must also do a better job of integrating technologies and platforms with Volvo and even Jaguar. For sportier cars, Ford must borrow technologies from Aston. This serves to bring more buyers to Ford through a “halo” effect and it serves to keep Ford diversified and send money back to Ford through PAG, the most profitable companies of which are Aston and Land Rover – the “jewels of Ford,” if you will.