August 31st, 2010 at 12:00pm
Chrysler reveals more of its plans for Fiat in the U.S., and some important numbers like sales and pricing leak out. Opel is planning to expand globally, entering Australia and South-American markets. The U.S. EPA is aiming to make it easier for consumers to compare fuel-economy ratings between different vehicles by introducing a new-type of window sticker. All that and more, plus we take a look at the recently redesigned Saab 9-5 . . . from a designer’s perspective.
Rod Meloni here from WDIV Channel-4 News, Detroit. Welcome to Autoline Daily for Tuesday, the 31st of August, 2010 – the last day of the month. Across town and around the world here’s the latest news from the automotive beat.
CHRYSLER REVEALS FIAT PLANS
Chrysler revealed more details to its dealers about its plans to bring Fiat to the U.S. According to the Detroit News the company will choose 165 locations to sell the Fiat 500 at the end of the year. Dealers have three weeks to submit a proposal for a franchise. Also, they learned that they won’t have to build separate facilities to sell the 500 but eventually they will need separate showrooms for Fiat. Pricing for the 500 won’t be announced until the LA Auto Show in November, but the Detroit Free Press reports that a dealer says the car will be priced between $16,000 and $19,000. Also the AFP reports that the company expects to sell 50,000 500s next year.
OPEL PLANS GLOBAL EXPANSION
According to a report from Deutsche Welle that we found on Autoblog, Opel has big plans to grow around the world. The German brand is looking to expand into at least four, new global markets. In the near-term, it will enter South America and Australia, as well as other Asian markets after that. The company also wants to grow in China, reinventing itself as a premium brand with European design . . . a strategy not unlike Audi. Last year Opel only sold some 4,000 cars there compared to Audi’s 130,000, so there’s a lot of room for sales to improve in China.
NEW WINDOW STICKERS
The U.S. EPA and NHTSA are aiming to make it easier for consumers to compare fuel-economy ratings between different vehicles. The two government agencies are collaborating to design a new type of window sticker that clearly shows things like fuel economy and fuel costs, as well as emissions. So far they’ve revealed two different designs and are looking for public input. Part of the idea is to introduce a letter-grading system to the auto industry – something students are already very familiar with. For example, depending on how efficient a vehicle is, a pure-electric car could get an “A+,” a plug-in hybrid an “A, ” a flex-fuel vehicle a “B” and so-on down the line. New EPA labels could go into effect in 2012.
MAZDA’S NEXT-GEN ENGINES (subscription required)
While a number of automakers are gearing up to release electric vehicles over the next few years, one automaker is heading the other direction. According to Ward’s, Mazda is bucking the EV trend – at least for now – and is getting ready to release new, more-efficient internal-combustion engines. The company will have a new family of direct-injection, four-cylinder gas engines and a new diesel that was developed to sell around the globe. In fact, Mazda expects 75 percent of these engines will be equipped in its vehicles over the next five years. The engines will be built in Japan and all of them, including the diesel, can be produced on the same line. The first gas variant will make its way to the U.S. next year and the diesel will debut in North America in 2013.
FOUR-CYLINDER ENGINE DEMAND DROPS (subscription required)
And speaking of engines… demand for four-cylinders in North America is starting to slide. According to Ward’s, about 62 percent of 2010 models are equipped with four-cylinder engines compared with 65 percent last year. Also more V-8s are being installed in cars this year, about 6 percent compared with about 5 percent in 2009. While car buyers are upgrading their engines, truck buyers are downsizing. V-8s are being equipped in about 37 percent of trucks this year compared with about 40 percent last year.
NISSAN, HYUNDAI BENEFIT FROM TOYOTA
The Detroit Three aren’t the only automakers benefitting from Toyota’s problems. According to USA Today, Nissan has been gaining ground in America this year with 10-straight months of sales increases. Not surprisingly, Hyundai is making headway, too. Among Asian automakers in the U.S. Toyota still holds onto the top-spot and Honda’s a strong second, but Nissan and Hyundai’s growth trajectories put them on a path to overtake Honda. If one thing is clear, the old hierarchy of brands is changing.
Coming up after the break, a look at the brand-new Saab 95 . . . from a designer’s perspective.
SAAB 95 DESIGN
Dutch businessman Victor Muller pulled Saab back from the brink of death after years of neglect at the hand of GM. Now the company has to start the long, arduous process of rebuilding its product lineup. One vehicle that’s well-past its prime is the brand’s midsize sedan, the 95. Thankfully it’s one of the first cars to receive a ground-up redesign, and here’s a look at its design.
Strong design cues and a sense of identity will probably go a long way to help Saab recover. We’ll have to wait and see if the new 95 can do its part to help revive this struggling brand.
And that’s it for Autoline Daily this month. Again, I’m Rod Meloni, Business Editor at WDIV Channel-4 News, Detroit. Thanks for watching John should be back tomorrow.