September 17th, 2010 at 12:10pm
China drafts up a new policy requiring foreign automakers to hand over hybrid and electric vehicle technology to their domestic counterparts. Chevy reveals a number of the vehicles it will debut at the Paris Motor Show. Shareholders approve a plan that will split Fiat in two. All that and more, plus we talk to Scion’s Jack Hollis to see how the company plans to curb flagging sales.
This is Autoline Daily for Friday September 17, 2010. And now, the news.
GIMME, GIMME, GIMME
Yesterday we reported about how China wants to dominate the global automotive industry. Today it’s the front-page story on the Wall Street Journal. It reported that the Chinese government is drafting up a new policy to force foreign automakers to give their latest hybrid and electric vehicle technology to their Chinese joint venture partners. China wants to be the global leader in this technology before the decade is out. In fact Toyota has postponed the introduction of the Prius in China until these rules are clarified. By law, foreign automakers must form a joint venture with a Chinese partner and take a minority position in the company. Up to now suppliers have been exempt from this rule, but it seems like it may now affect them as well when it comes to making components for hybrids and electric vehicles. While this policy is still in draft form, foreign automakers are dead set against it. But none of them will say so publicly for fear of being barred from the booming Chinese market.
JOINT VENTURE MANIA
Speaking of joint ventures in China, Gasgoo reports that Toyota plans to form a JV with Brilliance Automotive to make specialty vehicles. Brilliance already has a joint venture with Mercedes-Benz to do the same thing. And just to show how incestuous these relations in the auto industry are getting to be, the AP reports that Mercedes is looking at licensing hybrid technology from Toyota.
FIAT’S SPLIT PERSONALITY
And while automakers are forming more and more partnerships with other automakers, Fiat shareholders just approved a plan to break the company into two separate parts. The AFP reports that the company will be split into Fiat Auto and Fiat Industrial. Fiat Auto will have all the car brands including Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati and all the component operations. Fiat Industrial will include its commercial truck company called Iveco and its agricultural tractor company known as CNH. Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne says this will give Fiat Auto greater freedom to operate as it sees fit.
PARIS DEBUT: CHEVY AVEO
More on the upcoming Paris Auto Show. Here’s a sneak peek at four cars Chevy will unveil there. First up, the redesigned Aveo. It looks similar to the Aveo RS concept that was shown at the Detroit Auto Show this year but it’s a bit more toned down. In Europe the new Aveo will be available with 3 gas engines and 2 diesels with start/stop technology. The Aveo goes on sale next summer.
PARIS DEBUT: CHEVY CAPTIVA
Next up, the Captiva which has a new front end design and a redesigned interior. The SUV features 3 rows and can seat up to 7 people. The new engine line-up consists of two gas engines and two turbo diesels which can be mated to a new six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The Captiva goes on sale in Europe next spring.
PARIS DEBUT: CHEVY CRUZE HATCHBACK
Chevy will also show a vehicle that I know some of you have been interested in, the Cruze hatchback. There isn’t a whole lot of details on this car, I would imagine it comes with the same powertrain options and features as the sedan. The press release didn’t mention what it will be available with. The Cruze hatchback goes on sale in Europe next year.
PARIS DEBUT: CHEVY ORLANDO
And finally the Chevy Orlando will make its world premiere in Paris. It’s based on the concept shown two years ago at the same show. The van features 3 rows of theater style seating for up to seven passengers. It will be offered with three engine choices, one gas and two diesels. Production starts this October and it will go on sale across Europe starting early next year.
Are car thieves getting lazy? In the US, they are at their lowest levels in 20 years. According to Consumer Reports, nearly 800,000 vehicles were stolen last year, a 17% drop based on data from the FBI. That’s the good news. The bad news in that only 42% of those vehicles were recovered, the lowest in 25 years. The FBI says more sophisticated thieves are why recoveries are so low.
Sales at Scion have fallen off a cliff in the last couple of years, but Toyota says that the brand is still doing what it was supposed to be doing. Sound confusing? We’ll get that straightened out, after the break.
My guest on Autoline Detroit this weekend is Jack Hollis, the vice president in charge of Scion. Even though sales at Scion have plummeted, Hollis says they have a lot of new products coming that will revive the brand, and besides, he says Scion is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing, bringing in buyers who would otherwise not set foot in a Toyota store. Here’s a clip from that interview.
You can catch that entire interview with Jack Hollis from Scion at our website, AutolineDetroit.tv, where he gives a lot more specific information of how he plans to get Scion back on its feet.
And that is it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, thanks for watching, we’ll see you on Monday.