While there were a few unveils this week–the most notable being the new Bentley Continental Flying Spur–we don’t typically cover cars costing $200,000 or more. So you’re stuck with your regularly scheduled Week in Review. That said, it was still a great week of news, albeit one not wrapped in French-stitched leather with matching lamb’s wool rugs. While we mentioned investing, nitpicking, and politicking in the title this week, and while there will be plenty of that discussed, it’s not nearly as boring as it sounds. You’ll see what we mean.
Monday, February 18
Billionaire founder of investment firm Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett has brought his company into tighter quarters with General Motors, purchasing 10 million shares of stock in the automaker. That raises BH’s total ownership of GM to more than 25 million shares. Buffett also owns a decent chunk of China’s BYD, a company that specializes in electric cars and has an office in Los Angeles. Buffett didn’t get rich by making bad choices; could the man with the Midas touch be looking ahead to further prosperity for General Motors?
Tuesday, February 19
Alfa Romeo, the famed Italian automaker that was as important to Dustin Hoffman’s career as it was to the movie that launched it, is returning to the U.S. after a nearly 20-year hiatus. The first car it will be selling here is the 4C sports car set to officially debut next month in Geneva. What’s more, though, Alfa Romeo is set to grow beyond its Fiat corporate cousin, at least in the U.S. Alfas will be sold at top-performing Fiat dealerships and should be in showrooms by the end of 2013. We can’t wait.
Wednesday, February 20
The National Insurance Crime Bureau has updated its reports on the car damage Hurricane Sandy has waged. Anticlimactically, it seems, 250,000 claims of flood damage from the storm. While many of these cars are being reconditioned, salvaged, and readied for resale–and there’s nothing wrong with that–some are falling between the cracks. They’re being sold as undamaged cars, trucks, vans, and utility vehicles without the owner identifying the fact that they may have been sitting under several feet of water. That’s just wrong.
Thursday, February 21
You thought your Honda Civic nipping at 40 mpg was impressive. How does 261 mpg sound? After years of testing, Volkswagen is finally unveiling a production-ready version of its XL1 plug-in hybrid whose mission is to maximize fuel economy at all costs. Weighing less than 1,800 pounds, with a combined 75 horsepower from its diesel two-cylinder engine and electric motor, it needs just over 8 horsepower to keep moving at 62 mph. Hand-built from carbon fiber, the Volkswagen XL1 isn’t likely to come to the U.S. But if it does, don’t expect it to be cheap.
Friday, February 22
For most of Friday, the news was a what-might-have-been look at a design study for the next-generation Saab 9-3 sedan. Interesting, but ultimately fruitless. But then, in a “Fine, we’ll just show you” counterattack to numerous leaked images, Jeep unveiled official images of its 2014 Jeep Cherokee. Yes, Jeep is bringing back the Cherokee name in its mid-level crossover. And, yes, crossover; the new Cherokee will be based off a vehicle made by Chrysler’s parent company, Fiat. While only four images were released–none of which feature the interior or rear end–we’ll get a much better look at the New York Auto Show in March. For now though, the front end styling is…polarizing, to say the least. Most reactions are pretty negative, although our news director Keith Buglewicz mentioned that he kind of liked the unusual front-end styling. It should be pointed out, however, that he has had multiple eye surgeries.