October 25th, 2010 at 12:08pm
Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne provoked anger in Italy when he said the automaker would be better off without the country and its unions. BMW plans to launch a new program in Germany that allows drivers to rent its vehicles by the hour. We get an update from John McElroy, who’s down in Nashville driving the Nissan LEAF. All that and more, plus a look at the brand-new engine lineup for the 2011 Ford F-150.
This is Autoline Daily for Monday, October 25, 2010. I’m Jim Hall – like you didn’t already know that – from 2953 Analytics filling in for John who’s down in Nashville, Tennessee driving the Nissan LEAF. We’ll hear from him a little later in the broadcast, but first, here’s the top news from the automotive beat.
MARCHIONNE ANGERS ITALY
Sergio Marchionne is ruffling more than a few feathers. According to The Detroit News, Fiat’s CEO said the automaker would be better off without Italy and its troublesome unions. Not surprisingly, his comments provoked an angry reaction from labor groups and government officials. The company has been in difficult negotiations with unions over plans to shutter a factory in Sicily next year. While appearing on an Italian TV show last Saturday he said that Fiat could do more business if it eliminated Italy from its operations, adding that “One cannot forever manage operations that are at a loss.” Needless to say, these remarks are unusual for a public figure in Italy. Does this mean that Fiat has plans to pull production out of its home country?
BMW ON DEMAND (subscription required)
Have you always wanted to drive a BMW but just couldn’t swing the monthly payment? Well, now’s your chance to get behind the wheel of your dream car . . . if you live in Germany, that is. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company plans to launch a new program called “BMW on Demand” that allows drivers to rent its vehicles by the hour. In big cities around the world car ownership is declining, especially among young people, and this is an alternative way to make money without selling vehicles. The plan will allow drivers near BMW’s Munich headquarters to rent various models from its lineup. Prices range from €16 an hour for a 1 Series – that’s about $23 an hour to roughly $32 for a 7 Series. Logically, the company thinks that many people will choose vehicles they can’t afford to purchase, and that they’ll rent them for special occasions. I’d say look for programs like this one to gain popularity around the world as cities become more and more crowded and concerns about pollution rise.
BIG 3 IMPROVE FLEET BUSINESS
Fleet sales are up this year for the Detroit automakers, but The Detroit News reports they’re doing a much better job of managing that side of the business. In the past, the Big Three would unload slow-selling and overproduced models to fleets in order to boost sales. But this ultimately hurt resale values. Now they’re doing a better job of matching production to demand. Last month fleet sales accounted for about a third of the domestics’ total sales, but Ford and GM expect by the end of the year that number will fall to around a quarter of their total sales.
AUTO ENGINEERS IN DEMAND (subscription required)
More good news for automotive engineers. Last week we reported that engineers in the auto industry can make good money, and now Ward’s reports demand for engineers is surging. Many companies had to shed engineers when the industry crashed, but now as the economy starts to recover engineers are becoming hot commodities. With the industry focusing more on alternative energy vehicles, automakers and suppliers are looking for engineers with skills in those areas, but they’re finding that there aren’t enough qualified people. As a result there are a number of open positions for engineers.
McELROY’S UPDATE FROM THE ROAD
As I mentioned at the top of the show, McElroy’s down in Nashville driving the Nissan LEAF. Here’s an update from the road.
Yes sir, Captain McElroy! I look forward to hearing what you think about the LEAF after you get back from your trip down to the Volunteer State. Anyway, coming up next, we test drive the brand-new engine lineup in the 2011 Ford F-150. We’ll fill you in on all the juicy details right after this.
NEW F-150 ENGINES
Ford is making waves with the 2011 F-150. It’s offering four brand-new engines in the popular pickup. At first glance it looks like a best-in-class lineup, but how do they drive? Autoline Daily Correspondent Craig Cole has more.
I’m sad to report that I STILL haven’t gotten any stick time in one of these trucks. They look great. Are you listening, Ford?
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And that’s it for today’s show. Again, I’m Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics, thank you for watching and I’ll see you again soon, probably the next time John’s out of town. Take care.