In Praise of Press Fleets

Alone after drop-off---unless a chaser car’s involved---they trudge off into the day or the night to the bus, subway or train. Their reward is another car to be delivered to another journalist, who may or may not be in a good mood that day or may criticize a car’s maker or car color straight off instead of looking in the driver’s eye for the briefest of greetings and perhaps ask how the trip was.

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Ezra Dyer and STI Exchange

This whole scenario, as constructed by STI, is incredibly bizarre. Generally speaking, an aspiring writer gets in touch with the manufacturers, who then talk to the fleet company to arrange test cars. I’ve never heard of a fleet company trying to foist cars upon a publication, unasked for, under the guise that they have a directive to do so from their “patrons.”

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Q&A With Bob Golfen,

SPEED: What’s the significance of Italian automaker FIAT purchasing a 35-percent stake in Chrysler? What’s the future hold?

Bob Golfen: Those of us who remember the funky Fiats of the ‘60s, whose ‘Fix-It-Again-Tony’ reputation eventually turned away even their most loyal fans, should know that FIAT today is a multinational company with a global dealer and supply network. But like most automakers, their sales dropped like a stone in 2008.

What FIAT would get out of this Chrysler deal is a re-entry to the U.S. market for both its Fiat and upscale Alfa Romeo brands, a goal that otherwise has eluded the company, with a ready U.S dealer chain in Chrysler and Dodge stores, and manufacturing capability through Chrysler plants.

What Chrysler gets would be a range of small cars, and cool ones at that, from both brands, followed by midsize cars, platforms and drivetrains. The cars would be sold under their Italian names as well as Chryslers and Dodges. (more…)

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