November 8th, 2010 at 12:09pm
Chrysler reported its third-quarter earnings and posted a $239 million operating profit. General Motors will field a Chevrolet-branded twin-turbo V-6 engine for the 2012 IndyCar season. A report by China’s ministry for environmental protection says about a third of the 113 cities in the study failed air-quality tests due to the influx of cars sold in the country. All that and more, plus guest host Christie Schweinsberg from WardsAuto.com shares her thoughts on all the EV bashing that’s taking place on the internet.
This is Autoline Daily for Monday, November 8, 2010. I’m Christie Schweinsberg from WardsAuto.com filling in for John. Here’s today’s top news from the automotive beat.
CHRYSLER 3Q EARNINGS
Chrysler reported a $239 million operating profit for the third quarter. However, it posted a net loss of $84 million, largely due to interest payments it made on loans from the U.S. and Canadian governments. This is the automaker’s third-consecutive quarter of better-than-forecasted results. Look for Chrysler’s performance to improve as its new and refreshed products hit the market.
GM BACK IN INDYCAR
Honda has been the sole engine supplier to the IndyCar racing series since 2006, but that’s about to change. According to the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, GM will field a Chevrolet-branded twin-turbo V-6 beginning with the 2012 season. Also, according to his sources, “GM is planning a new and very aggressive offensive into motorsports” now that the company is starting to put the bankruptcy behind it. GM Racing will also be supporting several Grand-Am DP teams with Chevrolet engines, as well as be supporting Camaro teams in Grand-Am GT. It’s ramping-up its involvement in NHRA Pro Stock in 2011 and fielding a two-car team of Cadillac CTS-V Coupes in the 2011 World Challenge GT series.
PUTIN DRIVES F1 CAR
And speaking of motorsports, last month we reported that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin helped negotiate a deal to bring Formula One racing to Russia starting in 2014. And now the AP reports the Russian leader was able to get behind the wheel of a Renault F1 car over the weekend. After getting instructions from team engineers he took the car out on a track near St. Petersburg. He was able to get it up to 150 MPH and reportedly only spun out once. After he got out of the racecar he smiled and said in English “For the first time, it’s good.”
CHINA’S POLLUTION PROBLEM
Car sales have been booming in China the last several years and not surprisingly it’s having adverse effects on the environment. According to Gasgoo, a report done by China’s ministry for environmental protection says about a third of the 113 cities in the study failed air quality tests. The number of vehicles on the road in China grew nearly 10 percent last year to 170 million. Car sales in the country aren’t going to drop anytime soon, and that’s why the government is encouraging automakers to build more hybrids and electric vehicles.
HONDA POWERS PLANT WITH PLANTS (subscription required)
The Wall Street Journal reports that Honda is turning to renewable sources for power. It’s looking at biomass as a solution to meeting its future energy needs. It plans to build an on-site power plant at its factory near Swindon, in southwest England. The facility could produce between 5 and 30 megawatts of juice by 2015, a year before the government forecasts that Britain will run short of power capacity. The idea is to burn miscanthus, a fast-growing, low-maintenance grass native to Africa. Honda is trying to convince local farmers to start planting it by offering them 15-year growing contracts. Understandably, they’re skeptical of the risk. It takes three years for miscanthus to yield a crop.
ASIMO iPHONE APP
In completely unrelated Honda news, the company wants you to get fit, and it’s enlisting ASIMO to help. The automaker has created an iPhone application that works as a pedometer, but it’s much more interactive than a simple step counter. Here’s how it works. Since Honda has been building robots for years you “evolve” ASIMO the more you walk. Every 100 paces bumps him up to the next level. After the 1,000 step warm-up you can enter what’s called the ASIMO Grand Prix and virtually race around the Suzuka circuit in Japan. As you walk or run, your progress is shown virtually on the track. After completing a lap, which is nearly six kilometers in length, you can compare your time to those of other users. You can even share them on Twitter or Facebook. The “Run With ASIMO” app is currently available on the iPhone platform and will be offered for Android phones late this month.
After the break we’ll get some of my thoughts on all the EV bashing that’s taking place on the interwebs.
After 100-plus years of internal-combustion-engine vehicles, the upcoming debuts of Nissan’s all-electric LEAF, and GM’s extended-range electric, the Chevy Volt, are monumental.
But you wouldn’t know that reading a lot of the Internet comments about these cars.
Yes, the naysayers are out in full force, spreading their misinformation and downright nonsense.
The anti-EVers, as I like to call them, can come up with a multitude of reasons EVs will never work, for themselves or anybody else.
Most are laughable. Like the one about EVs being a terrible return on your investment. Newsflash: any new car is a terrible return on your investment! Just like the computer you non-progressives type on, while sipping your money-losing $6 Starbucks diabetes-in-a-cup.
I also don’t see anyone up in arms about how almost every passenger car Mercedes sells has an ALG-rated poor residual value, as do most of the best-selling, and not-cheap, domestic fullsize pickup trucks.
Speaking of not-cheap, these wet blankets whine about the high price of the LEAF and Volt. Despite the fact more than 10 million Americans bought new last year, at an average transaction price pushing $30,000, these skeptics claim they only ever buy used, spending no more than $10,000. If you believe that there’s a bridge I’d like to sell you.
The cynics deride the LEAF and Volt as coal cars. While it’s true millions of Americans get their electricity from coal, research shows EVs still are cleaner than ICE cars when the cost of extracting, shipping and refining oil is factored in. And electricity can be generated, and is, using cleaner methods.
Bottom line: electric vehicles have the potential to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil while proliferating a technology that could bring jobs and engineering leadership to our country.
But don’t tell that to these Luddites, who are no doubt pining for the days of the horse and buggy.
And that’ll do it for today’s show, but before I sign off, don’t forget to check out Open Line, the best automotive call-in program around. The party starts tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. You can listen-in on our website, AutolineDetroit.tv or pick up the phone and join the conversation. Just dial 218-936-6581. Once more, the number is 218-936-6581,and PIN to get in is 2150, 2150. This week we welcome special guest Anne Lutz Fernandez, author of the book “Carjacked.” We’ll ask her why she thinks cars have had a negative impact on society. Whether you agree or disagree, this is your opportunity to interview her directly.
Again I’m Christie Schweinsberg from WardsAuto.com. Thanks for watching, I’ll see you next time.