February 17th, 2011 at 12:20pm
For the first time in what must be 80 years Ford has more dealerships than Chevrolet in the American market. We’re really starting to see car culture develop in China, in fact, the Chinese love the American lifestyle and are really getting into motorhomes. Over in Japan Nissan just introduced the third generation of its Moco minicar. All that and more, plus a walk around the brand-new 2011 Mini Countryman crossover.
This is Autoline Daily for February 17, 2011. And now the news.
FORD VS. CHEVY (subscription required)
For the first time in what must be 80 years Ford has more dealerships than Chevrolet in the American market. Ward’s reports that as of the end of last year blue oval stores numbered 3,131 while the bow tie had 3,084. That’s a difference of just 47. Chevy lost a lot of dealers over the last two years as it went through this little thing called Chapter 11. Of course fewer dealers means more throughput for the remaining stores, which makes them more profitable. For a little perspective, back in 1912 during the heyday of the Model T, Ford had some 12,000 stores in the U.S.! Boy, have times changed. But you know, maybe Chevy doesn’t need many dealers. Ward’s reports Chevy Volts are already turning up on eBay (subscription required), some with hefty markups. One Volt listed on the popular auction site had a “buy-it-now” price of $47,700! That’s a $4,000 premium! Yikes, it’s expensive being an early adopter.
FUEL ECONOMY: IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU MEASURE
What kind of fuel economy rating does a car get? Well that depends on which part of the world you live in. Different countries have different testing procedures, and it makes a massive difference in how a car gets rated. Take the Toyota Prius, one of the most efficient cars in the world. In the United States it’s rated at 50 miles per gallon, which translates into 4.7 l/100 km. But in the United Kingdom the Prius is rated at 60 miles per gallon, or 3.9 L/100 km. And in Japan the Prius is rated at 89 mpg, or 2.6 l/100 km. Remember, this is the exact same car. The only difference in how it gets rated is in how different government agencies test the car.
AERODYNAMIC FAIRINGS CUT CONSUMPTION
Speaking of fuel economy, engineers fight tooth and nail for each percentage point of efficiency they can wring out of a vehicle. Anything that claims to cut fuel consumption by double digits is usually considered snake oil. But according to Autoblog Green, BMI Corporation working with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed a set of aerodynamic fairings for tractor trailers. They claim the kit improves efficiency by 7 to 12 percent. Called the SmartTruck UnderTray System it consists of five individual components that cut drag. This kit can be installed by OEMs or as an aftermarket add-on. If every long-haul truck in the U.S. had these fairings BMI estimates we could save some 1.5 billion – BILLION – gallons of diesel fuel annually.
OPEL’S REFRESHED ANTARA
Now to Europe where Opel just introduced the refreshed Antara which was sold in the U.S. as the Saturn Vue until GM axed the brand during bankruptcy. The 2011 Antara features a reworked front grille along with new fog lights and rear lights. Inside it offers new upscale trim and upholstery, instruments with new graphics and a redesigned center console with extra storage. Under the hood the Antara can be equipped with a 2.2-liter CDTi diesel engine that has two output levels or a 2.4-liter Ecotec gasoline engine. Both have been upgraded for 2011, and can be mated to a newly developed six-speed manual or automatic transmission.
NISSAN’S THIRD-GENERATION MOCO
Over in Japan, Nissan just introduced the third generation Moco minicar. Its refreshed exterior design helps to enhance the driver’s visibility. It’s got a longer wheelbase than previous models which helped to increase the head and legroom. And thanks to that extra room seating can be configured in six different ways. The Moco is equipped with a new engine which is mated to a CVT and is also available with a turbo. Fuel economy for a two-wheel drive model is about 60 MPG or 3.9 l/100km based on Japan’s test cycle. The Moco costs about $13,000.
CHINESE CAR CULTURE
We’re starting to see a real car culture develop in China. Check out these knuckleheads from Xi’an, which is in the middle of the country. They took a Lamborghini out on the expressway hitting speeds of 295 kilometers an hour, or about 180 miles an hour. And of course they posted a video of their experience for all to see. And than there’s a little known fact that came out of Chinese prime minister Hu Jintao’s visit to the U.S. Turns out the Chinese love the American lifestyle and are really getting into motorhomes. A California company called MVP RV signed a deal to export 30,000 Class-A and Class-C Recreational Vehicles worth $5 billion to China. Like I said, there’s a real car culture starting to emerge in China. I think the Detroit Three are missing an opportunity by not at least testing the market to see if the Chinese would like full-size pickups.
Coming up next, we’ll take a look at the new Mini Countryman.
2011 MINI COUNTRYMAN
Autoline recently caught up with Vinnie Kung, the product manager for Mini USA. We asked him to talk about the new car, especially about the exterior design details.
Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern time. Joining us tonight is Art Spinella from CNW Marketing with some very interesting insights into what’s going on in the market right now. Join me and the Autoextremist, Peter DeLorenzo, tonight on 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.