Auto News for Dec. 31

It was my intention to close out the year on a happy note, until word came about Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident. He is said to be fighting for his life in a hospital in Grenoble, France, after hitting his head on some rocks during a fall. AFP reports Schumacher’s family is with him as doctors try to assess the full extent of his injuries. Doctors told the news service that he is in critical condition with life threatening injuries. By all accounts, Schumacher was the best Formula One driver of all time – winning more world titles and races than any other.

The year ended with the death of Andy Granatelli who really did it all. Best known to many for his STP commercials, he also raced, set hundreds of speed records, designed race cars that twice won at Indy, and was inducted into no less than 19 motor sports halls of fame. Granatell, 90, died of congestive heart failure in a hospital in Santa Barbara, Calif. The now sanitary race world needs more like him.

Many times I have written about the need to make vehicles lighter to improve gas mileage, an idea that really had its roots years ago in Lotus sports cars. Now word is that the new Ford F-150, rumored to be unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show, will make extensive use of aluminum. Wonder if that might set off a backlash by the faithful?

There is another indication that sluggish auto sales in Europe are turning around. A stock index that includes BMW, VW, Renault, is set to close the year with a 38 percent gain.

Nissan will show off a “Sport Sedan Concept” at the Detroit show next month. It is said to offer “an advanced look at a future production” vehicle. We will learn more on January 13th.


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