Hyundai Equus takes on the Germans and The myth of ‘Cadillac Care’

Hyundai Equus takes on the Germans.
The myth of ‘Cadillac Care’.
Board pay: Unchecked and out of hand.
Hyundai smokes the competition.
–(– 01/05/2010 – Finance news provided by Financial News USA. The Equus performed superbly in both roles. It rides quietly and powerfully, just the way a modern luxury car should — much like the Lexus LS 460 that was Hyundai’s benchmark vehicle.

The view from the back seat was enhanced by the careful craftsmanship demonstrated by leather seat coverings and wood veneers, as well as comfort features like heated and cooled seats, and the massage rollers that work over your back. Unfortunately, I saw no friends on the sidewalks of Seoul, so there was nobody to admire my upscale conveyance.

Up front the view was even better when I was in command. The controls on the Equus are clearly marked, the 368-hp V-8 engine responsive without being intrusive, and the performance alert. As the old Rolls-Royce ads used to say, the amount of power is “sufficient” to accelerate the Equus to 60 miles per hour in a little more than six seconds. That isn’t drag-strip speed, but it’s close enough for everyday driving. [Read the full article]

Can you tell a Chevy Malibu from a Cadillac Escalade? I’m sure you can, but I’ve got doubts about the 60 Senators in Washington who want to impose a stiff excise tax on what they call “Cadillac Care” health plans to raise revenue and reduce health spending.

The problem is that they define “Cadillac” not by the benefits a plan delivers but by how much a plan costs. But as any insurance maven will tell you, costs depend more on the people being covered (old, sick, or both?) and location (high-cost New York or low-cost Montana?) than on the level of benefits. “High-cost plans aren’t necessarily generous plans,” says Beth Umland, director of research for health and benefits for the Mercer consulting firm.

Indeed. Here’s an example. Let’s say that the 100 members of the U.S. [Read the full article]

Today, with executive pay making headlines generally, it’s worth turning the spotlight on corporate directors: For them, what is “high pay,” and who gets it? Specifics on this point have been sketchy, so Fortune did some research, starting with executive recruiter Spencer Stuart’s 2008 data for 491 large and important companies. Those 491 paid their nonemployee directors an average of $213,000 in 2008. We next searched the proxy statements of the 23 companies in the survey whose average exceeded the nosebleed level of $400,000.

What we extracted is the information below, which spotlights 10 companies that pay their directors spectacularly. XTO Energy (XTO, Fortune 500), a Fort Worth oil and gas exploration company that Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500) recently announced it would buy, gets the prize. Or rather director Jack Randall, 60, got it, and it was $1.56 million in 2008 compensation — more than seven times the average. [Read the full article]

Parts shipments are tracked from the time they leave the supplier until they reach a plant. Cameras peer into assembly lines from Beijing to Montgomery and keep a close watch on Hyundai’s giant Ulsan, Korea, plant, the world’s largest integrated auto factory and the scene of frequent labor unrest.

Are competitors’ spies lurking? The GCCC watches over Hyundai R&D activities in Europe, Japan, and North America, as well as its sprawling, 4,300-acre test facility in California’s Mojave Desert, with its 6.4-mile oval track.

Almost no outsiders, and certainly no visitors from Fortune, are allowed inside the GCCC to view the operation firsthand. Hyundai employees aren’t even supposed to talk about it. But its existence says volumes about how Hyundai views itself and the rest of the world.

Hyundai is a confident, hyperaggressive company that not only wants to win, it expects to win. [Read the full article]

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