December 14th, 2010 at 11:52am
The World Trade Organization rejected China’s accusation that the United States violated trade rules when it imposed import tariffs on some Chinese tires. There is a shortage of automotive engineers in North America, not only at the OEMs but also at the suppliers. Honda released a sketch of the 9th generation Civic that will make its official debut at the Detroit Auto Show next month. All that and more, plus a look at the new Pentastar V-6 engine from Chrysler.
This is Autoline Daily for December 14, 2010. And now, the news.
WTO REJECTS CHINA’S COMPLAINT
And this is what I call a big story. The World Trade Organization rejected China’s accusation that the United States violated trade rules when it imposed import tariffs on some Chinese tires. The tariffs were a victory for the United Steelworkers union which represents tire workers. But they were opposed by the Tire Industry Association in the U.S. Bloomberg reports the U.S. and China do $366 billion in trade between each other. But China has a trade surplus with the U.S. of more than $200 billion. Here’s my Autoline Insight. This ruling by the WTO is going to encourage other unions and industries that have been hit by Chinese imports to push for more tariffs. And this will not just happen in the United States, but in other countries as well, particularly in Europe.
Sticking with China for the moment, there are so many new cars on the road there that it was only a matter of time before traffic congestion would become a problem. Now the city of Beijing is trying to alleviate the problem. According to Bloomberg, the proposals include offering public bicycles, building tunnels, handing out fines for driving in certain sections of the city, and building more subway lines. A report says traffic in Beijing is now tied with Mexico City as being the worst in the world.
PUT YOUR CAR TO WORK
But maybe this next story will be of interest in China. You’ve heard of Zip Car, haven’t you? That’s the car service that allows you to use a car by the hour when you need it. Well, a company called RelayRides, a start-up backed by Google, will let you loan your car out to anyone who wants to use it. Anyone with a good driving record, that is. You register at the company’s website, and then they install an immobilizer that can only let the car be activated by someone who’s scheduled to use it. The idea is that you can make money off your car since, for most people, it spends most the day just sitting around. They charge $6 an hour, which includes insurance and gas. The owner gets 65% of the money. 20% goes for insurance. 15% goes to RelayRides. Bloomberg says most people could make $250 a month.
ENGINEERS IN DEMAND
Now that the Detroit automakers are starting to recover in North America, more good news is starting to emerge. Bloomberg reports that there is a shortage of automotive engineers not only at the OEMs but also at the suppliers. One supplier, Ricardo, put up billboards around metro Detroit and is running radio ads trying to lure engineers to the company. The company says its difficult to attract top talent since so many companies are competing with each other to hire engineers that were laid off during the downturn two years ago.
NEW JEEP COMPASS
And now for some now product news. Jeep just released pictures of the Compass. Just as Chrysler has done with its other products, this mid-cycle refresh includes much better styling. It really looks like a Jeep now, doesn’t it? And they greatly improved the interior.
9TH GENERATION HONDA CIVIC
And Honda released this sketch of the 9th generation Civic. It will make its official debut at the Detroit auto show next month. This sketch makes the Civic wider, lower, sleeker and more aggressive. But sketches are always more dramatic than the actual car, aren’t they?
HYUNDAI SONATA i40 WAGON
And then Hyundai released these sketches of the station wagon version of the Sonata. Autoblog reports it will debut at the Geneva Auto Show and go on sale in Europe shortly after that. Sure is a good looking car. No word yet on whether it will be sold in the American market, but my guess is that it will not. As much as I like sporty looking wagons like this one, Americans just don’t buy them in enough numbers to justify the investment.
Coming up next, let’s take a deeper look at the new Pentastar V-6 engine from Chrysler.
CHRYSLER’S NEW PENTASTAR V-6
It’s not every day an automaker introduces a new engine family. They cost a fortune to develop, and that expense has to be spread out over many, many years.
Chrysler just launched its latest V-6 in the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Called the Pentastar, it was under development for at least four or five years, but it was worth the wait.
And Chrysler’s engineers succeeded. From an NVH standpoint the Pentastar can go toe-to-toe with just about any engine in its class. It’s really quiet, but what’s even more impressive is how it compares to its direct predecessor.
Sounds like a win-win to me. With 290 horsepower the Pentastar is very competitive. But other automakers are not standing still, which is why engineers have planned for the future.
They wouldn’t come out and say it, but reading between the lines, direct fuel-injection and Fiat’s Multi-Air system have got to be in the works for this engine. In the years to come, the Pentastar V-6 will be a driving force behind Chrysler’s renaissance because it’s excellent AND it’s going practically every vehicle the company builds.
And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.