Avanti, General Motors Settle Dispute Over Xuv; Studebaker Suv Goes Into Production This Fall
The dispute between Georgia-based independent automaker Avanti Motor Corporation and the General Motors Corporation over the design of Avanti's new Studebaker XUV has been settled amicably and out of court.
"We're glad that this could be resolved in this manner, and we're excited that the production of the XUV - and the comeback of the Studebaker name - will continue as planned," said Michael E. Kelly, chairman of Avanti Motor Corp. "I'm sure our customers are excited as well."
To review, the conflict between the General and Avanti began when Avanti's Studebaker XUV (Xtreme Utility Vehicle) - the company's first foray into the sport utility market - was unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show last February. A day after the XUV was introduced, GM took legal action, saying the vehicle looked too similar to the popular Hummer H2 and would confuse the car-buying public.
GM counsel then sought to have Avanti remove the XUV from the Chicago show, but Auto Show officials refused, leading GM to the courts for injunctions to not only keep Avanti from displaying the XUV at the Chicago show, but to stop Avanti from displaying it at any auto show. GM attorneys were twice denied action, and a June 2003 court date was set for a subsequent GM lawsuit to block Avanti's manufacturing of the Studebaker XUV altogether.
The recent settlement between the two auto builders will result in some minor alterations to the XUV's design, "while others (styling changes) are changes we've made ourselves while tweaking the (XUV's) plans in the last few months," said Kelly.
Among the XUV's changes are an increased angle to the windshield and A-pillars, the removal of hood latches and vents, the addition of vent windows in the rear side doors, larger side windows, and a smaller roof-mount luggage rack (although a larger rack will be available as a dealer option). The rear tailgate will open from the bottom (the H2's is hinged at the top), and the XUV's rear window will roll down into the tailgate.
Construction on the Studebaker XUV is scheduled to begin this fall, with initial deliveries slated for year's end. Avanti, with headquarters in Villa Rica, Georgia, is the largest independent automaker in the country. For more information, contact: Avanti, (770) 456-0900, www.avantimotors.com.
Goodyear Tires Ride To The Top Of Country Music ChartsIn a business where the products are often under-appreciated and always subject to tough conditions, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company isn't afraid to have consumers get some mud on its tires.
But Goodyear officials didn't expect their company to be mentioned in what has quickly become the No. 1 selling country music CD on the market: Brad Paisley's new record, "Mud on the Tires."
The CD, released July 22, has shot up the charts, positioning Paisley as one of country music's fastest-rising young stars. The "Mud on the Tires" CD cover shows Paisley sitting with his guitar, having been splashed in mud, along with a mud-covered pickup in the background.
The fifth track on the fast-selling CD, "That's Love," carries these lyrics:
If she cooks all day,You'd better eat it with a smile,Doesn't matter if it tastes just like bad gravy on a Goodyear tire.Yeah, yeah, yeah, alright, so you bend the truth, Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's something that you'll have to get used to, Cause that's love, you'll see,We all commit a little bit of perjury, But that's no crime if you ask me. That's love.
Paisley's CD was produced and is being promoted by his record label, Arista Records. While Goodyear representatives weren't actively involved in the creation of the lyrics that mention their tires by name, Arista later contacted officials at North America's largest tire company to assist with the details of the CD's marketing campaign.
"We had a telephone call from Arista that introduced the "Mud on the Tires" project, and we ended up cooperating on a deal to promote the CD. Since Brad mentions Goodyear in one of his songs, radio listeners in targeted markets were given opportunities to win a set of Goodyear tires when they heard his songs," explained Bob Toth, marketing manager of Goodyear auto and truck tires.
"Our off-road tire line for pickups and SUVs was developed to withstand some tough conditions," said Mark Cherveny, Goodyear product manager for light-truck tires. "We know that many of our customers trust their Goodyear tires for severe off-roading, such as rockcrawling. As durable as our tires are, we are happy when our customers want to go out and get some mud on their tires."
It sounds like Goodyear and Paisley have invented a new form of music: Mud Country.
For additional information on Wrangler MT/R tires, or any other products in the Goodyear lineup, visit www.goodyeartires.com.
Superlift Suspension Systems Acquires Black Diamond Advanced Off-Road EquipmentSuperlift Suspension Systems announces the purchase of Black Diamond Advanced Off-Road Equipment, effective September 2003. Superlift, an industry leader in the manufacturing and distribution of suspension lift systems for light trucks and SUVs, acquired Black Diamond from Woods Ready Distributing.
Superlift plans to retain Black Diamond's trade name in the off-road industry, but intends to evolve Black Diamond into a specialty product line geared toward dedicated off-road enthusiasts, according to Superlift President and General Manager Bret Lovett. The plans include offering high-performance suspension lift systems and a wide variety of chassis enhancements for vehicles that are popular for hard-core off-road use, including the Jeep family of vehicles, pre-'78 Ford Broncos, and Toyota FJ-40 Land Cruisers.
The Black Diamond line will continue to be sold directly to Superlift dealers and distributors, and Superlift's existing worldwide dealer network will be retained. All of Black Diamond's sales and technical support staff will be combined with Superlift's existing staff, so customer service will not be affected by the new ownership.
Black Diamond's toll-free 800-number and fax number will remain open for approximately 60 days following the change, at which point Black Diamond can be reached through Superlift's existing phone and fax numbers. Here's the contact information: Black Diamond, Dept. OR, 300 Huey Lenard Loop Rd., West Monroe, LA 71292, (800) 551-4955, www.blackdiamondoffroad.com, www.superlift.com.
California Exhaust Noise Testing Program Now OpenThe California Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) announced that it has begun operation of the state's motor vehicle exhaust noise testing program. The program, the product of a Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association-sponsored law, will enable California automotive hobbyists to fight unfair exhaust noise citations issued by state law enforcement officers. Motorists can now prove their vehicles comply with state noise standards. The law also allows courts to dismiss citations for exhaust systems that have been tested and for which a certificate of compliance has been issued.
Under the landmark program, approximately 40 smog check stations that provide referee functions will perform the test. These referee stations, located across the state, will issue certificates of compliance for vehicles when tests of their exhaust systems demonstrate that they emit no more than 95 decibels, under Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) test procedure J1169 (May 1998). However, only those vehicle owners who have received a citation for an exhaust noise violation will be permitted to submit their vehicle for the test. Later this year, BAR will issue a regulation to provide for the cost to consumers for performing the test. Tests performed prior to the official establishment of the testing fee will be performed at no cost to consumers. According to BAR officials, to have a cited vehicle tested at a state referee center, motorists must make an appointment by calling the Referee Scheduling Center at (800) 622-7733. Cited motorists should have the citation and vehicle registration available when calling.
"The new law forces compliance with an objectively measured standard in a fair and predictable test. Through this procedure, cited motorists who drive vehicles legally equipped with modified exhaust systems can confirm that those vehicles comply with California's exhaust noise standards," said SEMA Senior Director of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. "For years, the enforcement policy used by police officers deemed nearly all exhaust system modifications illegal, even where the noise levels were not excessive or unusual. That policy left exhaust system manufacturers, dealers, and their customers without recourse."
"Motorists who modify their vehicles for durability, appearance, and performance prefer aftermarket exhaust systems," McDonald added. "By establishing this evenhanded testing process, this program should serve to benefit consumers who favor these state-of-the-art products, the aftermarket industry which markets them, and even police officers who are charged with enforcing the law."
SEMA represents the $27 billion specialty automotive industry. Founded in 1963, the trade association has 5,222 member companies. It is the authoritative source of research data, trends, and market growth information for automakers and the specialty auto products industry.For more information, contact: SEMA, Dept. OR, 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA, 91765-3914, (909) 396-0289, www.sema.org, www.enjoythedrive.com.