October 26th, 2010 at 12:00pm
Ford reported its third-quarter earnings today and the numbers are downright impressive. Nissan just introduced its own hybrid in Japan, the Fuga, which is known as the Infiniti M elsewhere in the world. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency issued fuel-economy standards for heavy-duty trucks . . . for the first time ever. All that and more, plus a comparison of the Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF.
This is Autoline Daily for October 26, 2010. And now the news.
Ford reported its third-quarter earnings today and the numbers are downright impressive. The company made a net profit of nearly $1.7 billion, which is $690 million higher than a year ago. It also made a profit in every region of the world, except Europe where it posted a loss of nearly $200 million. Ford also paid-down its debt by another $2 billion and says it will end the year with the same amount of cash and debt, which would represent at least a $9 billion improvement since the beginning of the year. But here’s what makes all these numbers so impressive. Ford’s revenue, all the money it brought in over the last three months, actually declined by $1.7 billion. The fact that it brought in so much less money, but made so much more profit shows just how productive and efficient the company has become.
BMW 2 SERIES
Our colleagues over at Car and Driver dug up some inside information on BMW’s future product plans, including a 2 Series model. What evidence do they have? Well, BMW just filed a U.S. trademark application for the monikers “220,” “230,” “235” and “M2.” Could these be the front-wheel-drive cars it’s allegedly developing? Possibly, but the notion of a high-performance M model using this powertrain layout just doesn’t seem right. Here’s a possible scenario, though. In the coming years, the 1 Series could shrink and go front-wheel drive while the 2 Series picks up the leftover rear-wheel-drive platform from the current 1 Series. Does that make sense? It seems to, since the “230” and “235” names imply six-cylinder engines, and it’s mighty hard to fit a long, inline powerplant in a transverse, front-wheel drive engine bay. What do you think BMW is up to? Post your response in the comments below.
NISSAN’S HYBRID FUGA
Nissan just introduced its own hybrid in Japan, the Fuga, which is known as the Infiniti M in the U.S. A lithium-ion battery helps power the car, along with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that’s mated to an electric motor and a seven-speed transmission. The Fuga hybrid gets 19.0 km/l which translates to about 45 MPG on the Japanese driving cycle. Nissan says it’s able to travel up to 100 kilometers an hour or 62 miles an hour on a level highway driving on electric power only. The Nissan Fuga goes on sale at the beginning of November in Japan. Pricing starts at $71,000, about twenty-grand more than the non-hybrid version.
While Nissan is pushing its latest hybrid and electric cars, it is definitely worried about getting the raw materials it needs to make them. As we’ve been reporting on Autoline Daily for weeks, China has cut off Japan from getting its rare-earth metals, and you can’t make hybrids or electric cars without these materials. As a result, prices have more than doubled. Now, Bloomberg reports that Nissan is seeking alternative sources for those metals. But reports out of Germany say it could take a decade to build up mines in other countries to replace China, which has 90 percent of the global market.
PUTTING THE “F-U” IN FUEL ECONOMY
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency issued fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks for the first time ever. This affects tractor-trailers, heavy-duty pickups, vans, and vocational vehicles. The standards require a 7 to 20 percent reduction in both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions depending on the category of vehicle. The new rules start in 2014 and run through 2018. It’s projected this will save 500 million barrels of oil and cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 250 million metric tons over the lives of the vehicles produced within the program’s first five years.
BENTLEY SUES AXL ROSE
It sure is expensive being rich! Autoblog reports via celebrity gossip site TMZ that rock star Axl Rose is being sued by Bentley for close to $74,000! Seems he was less than kind to the 2006 Continental Flying Spur he leased from the fine folks at Crewe. He apparently returned the car several months past its due date with body damage including a cracked windshield and a broken taillight, plus a few dents in the doors and a busted bumper. But here’s the kicker, it was 42,000 miles over the lease limit! 42,000 miles! What? He was using it as a taxicab? How do you go so many miles over your lease?
How do the Chevy Volt and Nissan LEAF compare to each other? We’ll take a look, right after this.
CHEVY VOLT VS. NISSAN LEAF
There’s a lot of controversy comparing the Nissan LEAF to the Chevy Volt, but it all has to do with whether or not the Volt is truly an electric car, or whether it’s a hybrid. But let’s set their powertrains aside for the moment. I just got a chance to test drive both cars, back to back, and here’s my impression of what the they’re like.
This whole LEAF versus Volt argument is really going to come down to two things. Which car do you think looks better, and do you think you can live with a LEAF, which only has a 100-mile range, or do you need a partial electric that can go further than that, which is what the Volt offers.
And that is it for today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.