November 30th, 2010 at 12:04pm
Porsche’s made boatloads of money off of its Cayenne, and now the German automaker is coming out with a smaller SUV called the Cajun. Naval researchers have figured out how to modify a radar gun to detect suicide bombers . . . and underwire bras! Chrysler is joining the “ratio race” by announcing plans to introduce an eight-speed automatic transmission. All that and more, plus a review of the brand-new Volvo S60.
This is Autoline Daily for the last day of November, 2010. And now, the news.
A LITTLE MORE SPICE FOR PORSCHE
Even though Porschephiles were mortified when the company came out with an SUV, the Cayenne proved to be enormously successful. They made boatloads of money with it. So now Porsche is coming out with a baby Cayenne that will be called the Cajun, Bloomberg reports. And one of our sharp-eyed readers shot these pictures of the Cajun while it was undergoing testing in Colorado. Our thanks go to Boris Gunjevic. He says it resembles an Audi Q5, and you can see that it is smaller than the Hummer H3 it’s parked next to. Now that VW owns Porsche, it wants to nearly double sales to 150,000 vehicles a year, and the Cajun will play an important role in hitting those sales targets.
RESEARCHERS BUILD BOMB/BRA DETECTOR
Here’s an unexpected twist. Naval Researchers have found that by tweaking a radar gun, the same kind of radar gun the police use to nab speeders, they can detect suicide bombers. Autoblog reports that the radar gun can pick up the patterns of wire loops used to wire suicide vests. They say it detected volunteers in replica suicide belts 85 percent of the time at a distance of 33 feet, about 10 meters. However, it also gives off a high number of false alarms, like with jewelry and underwire bras. So they’re hoping to fine tune it to overcome those problems.
CHRYSLER JOINS THE “RATIO RACE” (subscription required)
Most automakers are embracing direct injection for engines as a way to help reduce fuel consumption, but not Chrysler. According to Ward’s, the company says it will invest in advanced transmissions to boost fuel economy because it’s not as expensive as direct injection. The company recently announced an $840 million-dollar investment at its transmission facility in Kokomo, Indiana to build an eight-speed transmission developed with German supplier ZF. Even though Chrysler likes lots of gears, it does plan to use direct injection as well.
PRIUS “WARRANTY ENHANCEMENT”
Toyota’s in the news again for defective parts which it says it will fix, but just don’t call it a recall. According to the AFP, the company is offering to replace an engine coolant pump on 650,000 Prius models worldwide which can lead to overheating if it’s not working properly. Toyota has not received any complaints about the problem but says it will “voluntarily” replace the part. The problem could arise in Prius models from 2004 through 2007.
DEFECTIVE AIR BAGS
And speaking of defective parts, Bloomberg reports that Land Rover is recalling nearly 3,000 LR2 vehicles in the U.S. because the driver’s air bag may not go off in a crash. The recall is for model years 2010 and 2011.
ROLLS-ROYCE HOT IN CHINA
Rolls-Royce is getting ambitious in China. According to Bloomberg, the super-luxury nameplate plans to sell some 800 cars there next year. That’s an EIGHT-FOLD increase compared to 2009! Through the first 10 months of this year, the brand moved about 500 cars in China, so its target of 800 doesn’t seem unreasonable. What is amazing though is the price they’re asking for a Phantom, 6.6 million Yuan, nearly $1 million! Of course the smaller Ghost is much more affordable at a paltry 4.1 million Yuan, only $620,000. China is getting more affluent by the minute. The country has about 875,000 millionaires, 6 percent more than last year, a statistic that can’t hurt Rolls-Royce.
RENAULT’S MOVIN’ ON UP! (subscription required)
Speaking of up market, Renault also has its eye on the prize in China. Ward’s reports the French automaker is trying to pull a George Jefferson by “movin’ on up,” to the Far East. It plans to open its own dealer network in the country next year and it wants to position itself as a high-end import brand.
VOLVO’S MOVIN’ ON . . . DOWN?
The flipside to this premium push is a report from Autocar. It says Volvo’s new CEO, Stefan Jacoby, wants the Scandinavian car-builder to shed its premium image. He wants it to emphasize its unique Swedishness to stand apart from the herd, and not come off as pricey. It’s funny, Ford spent years trying to make Volvo a top-tier marque and now they want to move in the opposite direction.
Speaking of Volvo, coming up next, we’ll take an up-close look at the Volvo S60.
2011 VOLVO S60
Volvo is very excited about its new S60. Not only is it a very good car, it puts the Swedish brand right smack in the middle of the volume segment of the premium market, even if the company says it wants to shed its premium image. Seamus McElroy filed this report.
It’s all new top to bottom, front to back. Let’s start with what’s under the hood where you’ll find a turbocharged 3.0 liter six-cylinder gas engine that’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It cranks out 300 horsepower to go along with 325 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is also standard.
You immediately feel comfortable behind the wheel of the S60 thanks to the cockpit being oriented toward the driver, bolstered sport seats, and a padded leather-wrapped steering wheel. And rear passengers also benefit from more legroom.
Of course this wouldn’t be a Volvo without new safety technology. Making its debut on the S60 is Pedestrian Detection which uses RADAR and cameras to warn the driver about pedestrians and can even bring the car to a stop to avoid a collision, if necessary. We’ll take a closer look at this technology in a future Autoline Daily.
This is an important car for Volvo. Since it was introduced in 2000, the S60 has gone on to sell over 600,000 models around the globe, making it Volvo’s most-popular car. And the company has set a target of selling 90,000 units a year worldwide for the new S60.
The 2011 S60 is now on the market with a starting price of $38,550.
Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours this Thursday. Sandy Munro will join us to talk about a breakthrough in making aluminum that could usher in a new era of lighter cars. Join me and the Autoextremist, Peter DeLorenzo, Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time for Autoline After Hours.
And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.