Episode 522 – Ghosn Gaga Over EVs, Chevy Camaro Convertible, The Taxi Of Tomorrow

November 16th, 2010 at 12:39pm

Runtime 7:55

Carlos Ghosn made a bold prediction yesterday: Nissan/Renault plans to build 500,000 electric vehicles annually by the end of 2013.  The Chevy Camaro drops its top; GM unveiled the convertible version of its iconic muscle car.  New York City is holding a competition called the “Taxi of Tomorrow” to find the best purpose-built people mover.  All that and more, plus John critiques the design of the new 2011 Dodge Charger.


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Just like we promised last week, I’m back!  Jim Hall here of two thousand nine hundred and fifty three analytics, bringing you another saucy yet informative episode of Autoline Daily, this time for Tuesday, November 16, 2010.  I can’t believe it’s nearly Thanksgiving already.  And you know what else I can’t believe?  The amazing selection of news stories we’ve rounded up for you today, so let’s get to it.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan/Renault, made a bold prediction yesterday while participating in a roundtable discussion with automotive journalists.  The Detroit News reports he said the two companies plan to build 500,000 electric vehicles annually by the end of 2013.  That’s just three years away!  He also predicted the industry will continue consolidating, though he thinks this will happen through joint ventures rather than acquisitions.  Nissan plans to sell 20,000 LEAFS . . . or is it LEAVES . . . in the U.S. over the next year, but that’s a far cry from half a million.  The rest of the volume will have to come from the two automakers’ other EVs.  Each is expected to offer four electric vehicles by 2013.  For Nissan, that includes a light commercial model, a small city car and a an Infiniti 4-door sedan, in addition to the LEAF, of course.

The Auto Show in L.A. kicks off this week and we have the first reveal to share with you. Yesterday General Motors unveiled the Camaro convertible. The drop-top comes standard with a 3.6-liter direct-injection V-6 that produces 312 horsepower while delivering 29 MPG on the highway. The SS model is available with two 6.2 liter V-8 engines that crank out at least 400 horsepower. Each engine comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission.  A six-speed automatic is optional. The Camaro convertible goes on sale next February with a starting price of $30,000.

Yesterday we reported that Fiat could sell a stake in Ferrari as it prepares to merge with Chrysler. And perhaps this next story is part of that process. According to Bloomberg, Fiat exercised an option to buy back a 5 percent stake in Ferrari that was held by an Abu Dhabi investment firm. The company will pay $166 million to get the stock back which will push its share in Ferrari to 90 percent.

NASCAR has its Car of Tomorrow and soon citizens of New York City will get to ride around in the “Taxi of Tomorrow.” The city held a competition to introduce the first ever custom-built taxicab for the streets of NYC. And yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled three finalists to be the new, exclusive taxi for the city for the next ten years. The finalists include designs from Ford, which looks like a modified Transit Connect, Nissan and a Turkish company named Karsan. And the public can even vote on what kind of features they would like to see in the taxis. The winner will be named early next year and when the first Taxi of Tomorrow appears on New York streets sometime in 2014, it will be the Taxi of Today.

The Honda Civic has always been a rock-solid little car.  Its reputation for quality and efficiency has made it a popular choice around the globe.  Last year the company sold nearly 610,000 of them.  Unfortunately for Honda though, it’s not doing so well in the Japanese market.  According to the Wall Street Journal, in 2009 the company only sold 9,000 in Nippon.  As a result, it will no longer offer the stalwart Civic in its home market.  It already stopped production of the gasoline-powered version last August and now it’s pulling the plug on the hybrid as well.  Demand has dropped in recent years, with the market moving toward the smaller Fit and minivans.  Honda will still build the Civic in Japan, but for export only.

Here’s an incentive if I ever saw one!  The Detroit News reports that a car dealer in central Florida is trying to lure used-truck buyers to its showroom by giving away free AK-47s.  This sounds suspiciously like the scheme cooked up by a Missouri Hummer dealer we reported on a year or so ago.  Customers can pick up their Kalashnikov assault rifles AFTER passing a mandatory background check by redeeming a $400 voucher.  The coupon can also be used toward the purchase of other guns.  Evidently this is a popular incentive in the Sunshine State.  Since the promotion was announced on Veterans Day, business has more than doubled.  To get in on this deal you’d better act fast.  It only runs through the end of this month.

After the break we’ll get some of John’s thoughts on the redesigned 2011 Dodge Charger.

Last week Chrysler hosted a whirlwind press event out in San Francisco, California.  The company opened its garage door so to speak and let journalists sample its 2011 product; from the new Dodge Durango and Journey to the redesigned Sebring . . . I mean 200.  One of the more exciting vehicles in the Pentastar stable is the updated Dodge Charger.  With a quick look at the exterior design, heeeeeeer’s Johnny!

That’s right, John, the new Charger is a really nice ride.  They’ve done a GREAT job of channeling the essence of the 1968-70 models.  Hmmmm . . . you know, Ford has done pretty well the last few years with a special-edition Mustang inspired by Frank Bullitt’s ride from the movie of almost the same name.  Mayhaps it’s time for Chrysler to do a special-edition, all-black “Phil and Killer” Charger R/T.  One can hope.

And don’t forget to check out our special coverage of the Los Angeles Auto Show.  Join us Wednesday . . . as in tomorrow . . . the 17 of November, 2010 for a special LIVE broadcast.  McElroy and company will be bringing you the latest news from the show floor, including interviews, the hot new products revealed and a lot more.  The event kicks off tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, 12:30 p.m. Pacific.   Again that’s Autoline LIVE tomorrow, November 17 starting at 3:30 p.m.  You don’t want to miss it.

And that brings us to the dénouement of today’s installment of Autoline Daily.  Once more, I’m Hall, James Hall, of 2953 Analytics.  Thank you for watching . . . or listening if you subscribe to the audio-version of this program.  Take care!

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

26 Comments to “Episode 522 – Ghosn Gaga Over EVs, Chevy Camaro Convertible, The Taxi Of Tomorrow”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t the taxi companies in New York privately owned? So why is Joseph Stalin Bloomberg making them all buy the same type of taxicab? Wake up, free people!!!

  2. tj Martin Says:

    pedro fernandez ;

    There you go Thinking again . Shame !

    The worst thing about the Cab of Tomorrow is they’re all just a variation on the Mini Van theme . Boring . But then again so is the Art Work on our currency . ( boring that is ) Ahhh but what do you expect from a Bean Counter ( Bloomberg ) Picasso ?

  3. M.J.B. Says:

    So, the Civic is no longer being sold in Japan. Looks like the U.S. is not the only nation suffering from what so many critics of people who buy foriegn cars point to as a lack of loyalty to its own domestic brands.

    Far too often the “Out of a job yet? Keep buying foreign” bumper-sticker toting crowd points to the tendancy of many Americans to buy foreign, when they haven’t stopped to realize that, much like Honda, Ford and GM (and hopefully someday Chrysler) enjoy very healthy revenues from overseas sales – not just domestic sales.

    Just look at Honda. I’m sure there are some die-hard Japanese Civic fans over there crying foul because not enough Japanese will “support their own”. But the most important thing is that the car is still bringing in large revenues for the company – from outside it’s borders. So, just a word to so many of the “Buy American” die-hards. If the whole world were as bent on supporting only THEIR OWN domestic industries as you, Ford and GM would not enjoy much of the profit they have today.

  4. HtG Says:

    Careful what you say about Mayor Mike, boys. He’s going to be our next and first President.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    I wonder if the fact that France gets much of its electricity from nuclear influences Carlos (Mr Bean)Ghosn to be so bullish on EV’s?

  6. RonE Says:

    One thing I like about the new Dodge Charger is that the fuel filler door is located on the driver’s side as it should be. Other manufacturers should take note.

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    HTG if that is the case, I’ll make amends with Castro and move back there. or maybe Costa Rica.

  8. Dale Leonard-Lakewood,Ohio Says:

    Well,I think Chrysler finally has their mojo back with the 2011 Charger. Now If they can keep it going they just might become a factor in the car market again.
    BTW: Great Job again Jim. Look forward to seeing you again.

  9. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    Why are you so surprised that the promotion of giving away an AK47 is going well. Central Florida is mostly cattle ranches and citrus groves with the exception of the Disney Swamp.

    Check the numbers on Ford And Chevy truck sales. They outpace cars and suv’s by a long shot. No Pun Intended!!

  10. HtG Says:

    re Charger; what struck me about the design is the slope of the windshield and backlight. John pointed out the swept-back front glass, but the rear is also very aero friendly.(recall how Pratt’n Miller got Corvette to rake back the windshield of the street cars) This can only mean one thing…NASCAR. Compare in you mind the rear window of the CoT against this Charger, and it all makes sense.

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    As the Civic grew and grew over its iterations, I think it just outgrew the Japaneese market. From a real efficient small car it grew to a midsize, which still fills a void in America but is maybe, now, too much for the homeland.

    I too have a problem with Bloomberg declaring an official New York City Taxi-cab but perhaps the story was a bit out of context and his only roll is he’s just announcing the N.Y.C. certified vehicle (as picked by some other authoritative office. And I fail to see why N.Y.C. needs an official cab in the first place; free market would seem to eventually limit the pick to one that makes the most sense.

  12. tj Martin Says:

    pedro fernandez ;

    If HtG’s scenario comes to pass I may just be joining you . That guy ( Bllomberg ) switches parties and affiliations faster than most people change their underwear ! Cuba might almost look good in comparison to living with that SOB as our president . A step up from Sara Palin , but thats not saying much is it ?

    Hmmn . Wonder what the immigration policies to Italy or Switzerland are like . I’ve still got family in both countries . Hmmn .

  13. shan Says:

    Love the new 2011 Charger’s exterior. Hope to see a new re-vamped Viper someday too :) Now, if Jeep would bring back the Scrambler….that would be icing on the cake.

  14. Dave Says:

    The charger looks nice, cant wait to get my new police RT!

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    For years, the Civic has been a “designed for America” product, big, no hatch or wagon, etc. Not surprisingly, no one in Japan would buy it.

  16. HtG Says:

    Pedro, you got room on your boat?


  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    If I came in a banana boat, what would I call the boat that brings me back to Castroland, the Bloomberg Escape Express? BTW tj I think you got Bloomie’s and Sarah’s politics mistaken, the former is a dictator-type politician, who wants to dictate even what type of condom we can use while Palin is just a gun-toting, albeit attractive, airhead.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    tj yeah, Italy might be the ticket I can go for the vino and the pasta and the Monica Belucci.

  19. XA351GT Says:

    That Charger looks really nice on the outside I hope they didn’t drop the ball on the Interior. That has for years been Chryslers achilles heel.

    Oh and John I believe you meant the 68 and 69 Chargers ,this would also include the 70 as they share the same body. They 66 & 67 were the fastback Chargers with the hideaway headlights. they also had a full length tail light if my memory is right.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    Had the opportunity to drive a 70′s Charger with the 4 barrel carb and the whole 9 yard, it’s nice to reminisce and all but the new version kicks its ass in every way, except the base 6 is too lethargic, they need to get a better base motor in there.

  21. tj Martin Says:

    pedro fernandez ;

    Italy it is then . Like you said , lots of Vino , great Pasta and a nice albeit unreliable choice of cars . Plenty of room in the Villa so come on with us ( wife & I ) assuming Herr Bloomberg takes over the country .

    BTW though ; don’t you think Palin and Bloomberg are a variation on the same theme ? e.g ” Do it my way or else ” Different ” My Ways ” for sure , but still .

    Old Chargers . best friend in H.S. had a Super Bee 440 Six Pack . Yeah the new one will out run it but damn that car was a blast ! A real bear to tune though .

  22. tj Martin Says:

    HtG ; You coming also ? its a big place so call your slot before they’re all gone .

  23. HtG Says:

    let me call Silvio and see if I am still welcome after that last party.

  24. JT Lambert Says:

    Cann’t wait to see that Camaro RAG tomorrow.John be sure and cover it.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    London has had “London taxis” forever, and it has worked well for them as a city which depends a lot on tourism. New York is somewhat the same. The yellow taxis, most of them Crown Vics, have been a landmark of NYC for a long time, and now, with the demise of the CV, that will change. I suspect the intent is for the new “official” New York taxi to become an icon in the fashion of the London taxis.

  26. dcars Says:

    I’ve always wondered why the charger never took any styling cues from the older chargers. Thanks for clearing that up John.