Jim Hossack:

BMW X6 – You're Kidding Right?

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X6 Blisters the Eyes
It turns out that others at the North American International Auto Show were agog at the BMW X6. My colleague Jim Hossack related a conversation with senior BMW of North America planner Rich Brekus and it sounded much like my own with him. What is it? “Well, it’ a category defining new idea,” said Brekus. Who will buy it? “People who want something really different with outstanding performance.” I’ll give ’em credit, I guarantee the X6 will be wonderful to drive, once you can get into it, but I think living with it will be another matter. Even if you like the styling, ingress/egress is very compromised. Visibility is poor. Cargo room above the beltline is non-existent (BMW’s response is that folks rarely stack anything above the beltline – true enough).

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Divided Opinions Between Old and Young?
As Hossack was commenting about the X6 in the AutoPacific staff meeting the Monday following the show, Ed Kim, AutoPacific’s new Director of Industry Analysis joined in saying that he loved the X6. Being younger than me and ‘Sack, and smaller, Ed had a very different take on the X6. Much more positive. Well, he’s entitled to his opinion.
In any event, the BMW X6 promises to be among the most controversial new vehicles introduced this year. NEW — Watch our video montage here.

What are the Germans Smoking?
You wonder what the Germans are smoking, however. Americans must seem very, very conservative to folks who are launching products like the Mercedes CLS (beautiful car you can’t live with – almost, if not quite, a failure in the USA), the Mercedes R-Class (Grand Sport Tourer not setting the world on fire), the BMW X6, the rumored Audi A7 (a CLS from Audi), etc. We applaud Audi, BMW and Mercedes pushing the envelope, but they do it at the potential risk to their vaunted reputations for building some of the world’s best vehicles.
AutoExtremist Weighs In
Peter DeLorenzo of the AutoExtremist website, wrote this blurb about the X6… we can’t help but agree with most of it.
Speaking of arrogant Germans in the car business (btw, is there a more accurate and time-honored descriptor than that? Uh, no – ed.), you gotta hand it to BMW. I swear these guys don’t understand the word “restraint” in the English language. These guys are inventing niches within niches, and in their obsessive quest to become all things to all people, I believe they get lost in their own talking-to-themselves brilliance to the point that they can’t even see the Black Forest for the trees. Add to that their annoyingly unhealthy habit of believing half the shit that Chief Designer Chris Bangle shoves their way, which just compounds matters, and you have a recipe for a truly ugly little bundt cake. Once again, some of my esteemed colleagues (cough, hack) in the media just couldn’t wait to gush over Bangle’s latest atrocity, the BMW X6, but believe me, it will not “redefine the category” or “set the standard for crossovers for years to come” or any other such nonsense. On the contrary, as a matter of fact. The X6 is nothing more than a German-accented Pontiac Aztek, a vehicle for Bangle’s self- aggrandizement, a rolling monument to one man’s mediocrity and an unmitigated P.O.S. that is “beyond category” tedious. Trust me on this one, the only inspiration other designers will take away from the X6 is the inspiration to turn their heads in horror and then walk – make that run – away. If it weren’t for the perfect albeit overpriced 1 series, I’d be worried that BMW has finally gone off the deep end.


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VehicleVoice#62 – The 2007 Toyota Tundra and the Future of Minivans

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Most of you already know that Jim Hossack is AutoPacific’s expert on a lot of things – fuel prices, powertrains, trucks. But did you know that he’s also an expert in minivans? For the past several years, when we’re covering the big auto shows, Jim’s assignments have always been about the new truck models and minivan breakthroughs. But recently, there hasn’t been a lot of news surrounding minivans. Ford and GM have been clear that they think the segment is dying, and their exit strategy is uncomplicated. They’re just getting out. But Jim was in the Chrysler booth to check out the new 2007 Town & Country, aka Dodge Caravan, and he says, “not so fast” Ford and GM. There’s still a healthy segment here.
In this podcast, we’ve got Jim doing double duty at the Toyota booth. The Japanese manufacturer is taking it’s (first, second, third) fourth carefully planned step into the full-sized truck market with the new 2007 Tundra. And according to Jim, Toyota’s latest try is right on the money.
New Vehicle Reviews –
Dodge Caravan
Toyota Tundra

Show Runtime – 6:02


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VehicleVoice#55 – Land Rover LR2 North American Debut

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Land Rover has always been the smart choice for people who wanted to go off-roading – we mean really off-roading, like on safari, running away from charging rhinoceros off-roading. And the nicest things about a Land Rover, was that you could flee that rhinoceros in style and comfort. But recent quality issues and reliability disappointments have tarnished Land Rover’s sterling reputation. They’re hoping the all new LR2 puts those issues to rest.
The LR2 was unveiled to North America at the Los Angeles Auto Show earlier this month and AutoPacific Senior Consultant Jim Hossack was on hand to have a first look. He liked what he saw.

Show Runtime – 2:28


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VehicleVoice#53 – Ferrari 599 GTB Debut at LA Auto Show

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The Los Angeles Auto Show just seemed to be the right place to watch Ferrari introduce its new supercar. Since moving to Southern California, I’ve found Ferrari’s to be far less exotic, because they’re nearly ubiquitous in certain areas of L.A. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not that jaded. I still think Ferrari is the epitome of what’s truly beautiful inside and out, in the automotive world. And Ferrari hasn’t disappointed with the new 599 GTB (Grand Touring Coupe) Fiorano. It even sounds good!
AutoPacific’s Senior Consultant, Jim Hossack, got a personal tour around, in and under the hood of this 611-hp beauty. This is your chance to see the latest in nearly perfect design from the Italian automotive masters.

Show Runtime – 9:11


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VehicleVoice#42 – Lower Fuel Prices and the SEMA Show

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Welcome to VehicleVoice – Episode #42

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This week, our VehicleVoice audio podcast host David Barrett sits down with AutoPacific’s Vice President and Senior Consultant Jim Hossack for a conversation about one of the funnest auto shows on the circuit, SEMA, and a recent article on CNN.com that points to the short term memory loss of the American car buyer.

Recently, American automobile sales showed that October had a big jump in larger vehicle sales. What! Now that fuel is back under $3.00 a gallon, have Americans completely forgotten how much gas a Yukon, or an H2 or a Navigator guzzles? Are we that myopic?! Well, on the surface, that’s what the sales figures say, but as consumer expert Jim Hossack tells us, those figures can be misleading.

Also on tap this week, Jim and David chat about the week spent in Las Vegas at the SEMA show – the wildest after-market auto parts show a car nut can happily attend.

Show Runtime – 15:04

Show Rundown
01:01 Ford’s inability to hold on to good talent – Still.
02:45 New Sales Figures – Big gas-guzzling engines are again on the American car buyer’s shopping list.
05:13 SEMA – How many wheel makers are there, anyway?!


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VehicleVoice #36 – Ford's New CEO, Dip in Fuel Prices, Roadtrips

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Welcome to VehicleVoice – Episode #36

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This week, our VehicleVoice audio podcast has host David Barrett sitting down with AutoPacific’s Vice President and Senior Consultant Jim Hossack for a conversation about the state of the American Auto Industry.

Jim and David chat about dropping fuel prices and the sights seen from the window during a roadtrip through the Rockies, not to mention GM’s new warranty, BMW’s new hydrogen car (is it practical?), and how renting a Mustang convertible in the Yellowstone region is a lot easier than you might think. And that’s just the beginning!

Show Runtime – 15:04

Show Rundown
00:28 GM’s recent changes – Are they turning things around?
03:33 Ford’s New CEO – Will an outsider make a difference?
07:29 Gas Prices – Why are they falling and will Americans start buying big cars again?
09:55 BMW’s New Hydrogen Car – Will it sell?
11:38 Western Mountain Road Trip – What kind of cars can you see on the road in the Rockies?


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Let's Talk Cars: Alaskan Pipeline Trouble, the Future of E85 and BMW's New Hybrid Deal

Welcome to “Let’s Talk Cars”

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This week, Let’s Talk Cars sees David Barrett sitting down with AutoPacific’s Vice President and Senior Analyst Jim Hossack for their bi-monthly chat. On tap – British Petroleum’s disintegrating Alaskan Pipeline, Walmart getting into the E85 game, waning interest in motorsport, GM’s CEO Rick Wagoner, and the new GM/Chrysler/BMW Hybrid deal.
First up, how will BP’s announcement of deteriorating pipelines and their subsequent shut-down in Alaska effect prices at the pump? David asks Jim that plus his thoughts on Walmart getting into the fuel selling business with a new commitment to the eco-friendly E85. What is E85? Don’t worry, Jim will explain everything.
What’s the future of motorsport when it seems every series out there is going for one engine, one tire, and one cookie cutter package? David and Jim share their opinions.
Jim Hossack and other executives at AutoPacific had the opportunity to lunch with Rick Wagoner, CEO of the embattled General Motors. Find out his impressions. And speaking of GM, they’ve decided to take on some partners – BMW and DaimlerChrysler to be exact – in an effort to develop a new hybrid engine that will work in larger American trucks and SUVs.
David and Jim have a full plate this week, so tune in!
Show Rundown
01:08 British Petroleum’s Alaskan Pipeline
03:08 The Future of E85
06:50 Motorsport’s Fading Manufacturers
10:28 An Afternoon spent with GM’s Rick Wagoner
13:52 The New Hybrid from GM/DaimlerChrysler/BMW


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GM's Rick Wagoner Takes PR Swing Through SoCal

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Steve Harris, General Motors’ Vice President of Communications, is known for aggressively getting the company’s message out. Last week the General Motors corporate jet was hopping around Southern California. Rick Wagoner, GM’s Chairman was aboard with an entourage of varying size depending on where they were going. As near as we can judge, he was in Los Angeles on Monday having an seance with the Los Angeles Times and other media types.
On Tuesday morning he jetted up to Bakersfield to open a new $10 million facility for a top Chevrolet dealer there. On Tuesday afternoon he was talking to a bunch of researchers and analysts in a LAX airport hotel. Heck, even ol’ Dave Power, scion of J.D. Power & Associates, was there. Jim Hossack and George Peterson represented AutoPacific.
Wouldn’t Want Wagoner’s Schedule on a Bet
Following the analysts’ discussion and an afternoon of more activities, they hopped back on their jet and were to land in Detroit the following morning at 430AM. And, lo and belold, Wagoner was next seen on the following day in Traverse City announcing the new Camaro. Man, wouldn’t want his schedule.
Wagoner Mug Blog.jpg
Wagoner began with a short download on how GM is doing today. He readily admits that they have a lot of work to do in their publicly announced restructuring, but contends that they have made good progress. They are “well ahead” of their objective to reduce hourly head count that is “expensive, but necessary”. A fifty-minute Question and Answer session followed. Wagoner seemed honest and forthright, not spinning the usual transparent BS that comes so often from company heads.
Kerkorian and Renault/Nissan Nicely… Ummmmm, Avoided
Wouldn’t talk about the potential relationship with Renault and Nissan but admitted that there may be some synergies on the product and purchasing side of the business. While you know this is really on the top of his mind, “Can’t talk about it”. Wagoner did say that the teams working on the issue would be reporting in about 60 days. That puts it in early October.
Saturn Repositioning on the Horizon
One of the more interesting discussions was on the repositioning of Saturn. After being neglected and starved ever since its launch, Saturn is about to become a very important part of the General Motors portfolio. Appealing to lowest common denominator buyers who generally thought of a car as a necessary evil and bought through Saturn because it was easy, Saturn became a cipher in the market. In the coming months, Saturn adds the mid-size and more upscale Aura, the Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid, the high performance Vue Red Line (Vue is Saturn’s SUV). In addition to the Aura, perhaps the most important addition to the Saturn lineup is the Lambda crossover vehicle – the Outlook. The Outlook is a large crossover with distinctive styling – even though it shares its platform with the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave.
Wagoner cautions Saturn dealers, however, not to expect bargain basement pricing anymore. Saturn evolves into a General Motors’ premium brand along with Cadillac, HUMMER and Saab. This will be an interesting one to watch.


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GM's New Trucks

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We Catch the Summer Reveal of All-New Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra
GM’s leader Rick Wagoner took some time from his work on the turnaround project and the ongoing Renault-Nissan tie-up evaluation to introduce new products critical to GM’s future profitability and success. VehicleVoice contributors Jim Hossack and Stephanie Brinley, from AutoPacific‘s Market Research and Industry Analysis offices, were on hand for a first look. Brinley helps with the overview, while long-time full-size truck owner Hossack tells us what’s missing.

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The current full-size Chevrolet Silverado (image here) and GMC Sierra, developed under GM’s GMT800 program and first introduced for 1999MY, launched to strong reviews and well-deserved praise. Sales increased throughout the lifecycle and combined they outsold their rivals. Even in 2005, GM outsold the Ford F-series by about 80,000 units, according to AutoPacific’s Sales Forecast Service.
The GMT900 pickups offer significant improvements to body, chassis, and powertrain. GM developed them with the eye to improving on every level an already successful truck. We saw them in pre-production form, but didn’t get the chance to drive them. Based on our first look, the trucks will arrive boasting a best-in-class standing. The 1500 series gets to showrooms in November 2006. Heavy-duty (2500 and 3500) models arrive during the first quarter of 2007. Unlike the previous generation, which rolled out over two years, all versions of the GMT900 trucks roll out in five months.
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The Good Stuff
On a bright, hot August morning, dozens of Silverado and Sierras drove up in front of us at the GM Milford, Michigan, proving grounds. Showing off their versatility and working natures, the display trucks towed boats and equipment, hauled hay and horse trailers. The message was clear: Choice and capability. Whatever you need these trucks to do, they can do it. Whatever form you need, they have it. Short beds, medium beds, long beds, crew cabs, regular cabs, extended cabs with a cool new 170-degree opening rear door, all are available from the GM trucks. It was a dizzying array, but all these options keep loyal buyers happy and to prove that GM is dedicated to full-size pickups.
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Let's Talk Cars: Exxon's Record Profits, Choosing Cars Based on Fuel Consumption, and Buy vs. Lease

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Welcome to “Let’s Talk Cars”

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Let’s Talk Cars this week sees David Barrett sitting down with two of AutoPacific’s industry analysts, George Peterson and Jim Hossack, to take on the timely issues of fuel prices and slumping American car sales.
First up, Exxon’s extraordinary reported profits for the second quarter of 2006. At over $1,300 a second, yeah, that’s PER SECOND, Exxon is raking it in faster than most bean counters can count beans. And there’s plenty of people up in arms with the ethics of record-setting fuel prices creating misery for the consumer and record-setting profits for corporations.
But how is this effecting the average American car buyer? According to Jim Hossack, months of higher prices at the pump are beginning to have an effect on the sales floors of dealerships around the country as Americans start turning away from SUVs and trucks, and start looking at smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. And there’s an entirely new crop of very small, very efficient vehicles coming to the American market. David and Jim chat us up on all of these topics this week.
Plus, George Peterson went car shopping last week to see what deals were out there, and my, what a good time of the year to be getting into a new vehicle! The big question – should you buy or lease? George and David chew on that tidbit this week as well.
Show Rundown
00:58 Exxon’s Record Profits – VehicleVoice contributor David Barrett and AutoPacific Vice President and Senior Consultant, Jim Hossack
04:45 Choosing New Vehicles Based on Fuel Consumption – VehicleVoice contributor David Barrett and AutoPacific Vice President and Senior Consultant, Jim Hossack
06:25 Diesel as a Buying Choice – VehicleVoice contributor David Barrett and AutoPacific Vice President and Senior Consultant, Jim Hossack
08:53 June Fuel Survey Results – VehicleVoice contributor David Barrett and AutoPacific Vice President and Senior Consultant, Jim Hossack
11:04 Car Selling Slump in the U.S. – VehicleVoice contributor David Barrett and AutoPacific Vice President and Senior Consultant, Jim Hossack
14:15 New Crop of Small, Fuel Efficient Cars – VehicleVoice contributor David Barrett and AutoPacific Vice President and Senior Consultant, Jim Hossack
17:30 Buy vs. Lease and the Summer Deals to Be Had – VehicleVoice contributor David Barrett and AutoPacific President and Founder George Peterson


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