November 16th, 2010 at 12:39pm
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.
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.
GHOSN GOES GAGA OVER EVs
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.
CHEVY CAMARO DROPS ITS TOP
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.
THE TAXI OF TODAY TOMORROW
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.
HONDA KILLS CIVIC . . . IN JAPAN
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.
FLORIDA DEALER “GUNNING” FOR CUSTOMERS
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.
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!