February 18th, 2011 at 12:00pm
Yesterday Nissan Americas appointed Carla Bailo as the senior VP of Research and Development, the first American to hold the position. Chevy just introduced its own hands-free, voice-controlled infotainment system called MyLink. Honda quietly revealed its brand-new Civic which offers some mechanical changes but not much else. All that and more, plus a big argument between what liberals and conservatives think the auto industry should be doing in a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit.
This is Autoline Daily for February 18, 2011. And now, the news.
NISSAN APPOINTS NEW HEAD OF R&D
Women keep making progress in the auto industry. Yesterday Nissan Americas appointed Carla Bailo as the senior VP of Research and Development, the first American to hold the position. She will be responsible for all of Nissan’s vehicle engineering and development in Michigan, Arizona, Mexico and Brazil. Bailo is currently based in Japan, has been with Nissan since 1989, and started her career with GM.
Ford has pretty much had the in-car infotainment segment to itself with SYNC but that’s about to change. Chevy just introduced its own infotainment system called MyLink which is integrated with OnStar. Like SYNC, MyLink is a hands-free, voice-controlled system that integrates your MP3 player or smartphone with the car via Bluetooth, so you can make phone calls or listen to music without taking your hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. It also integrates internet radio services like Pandora and Stitcher SmartRadio. It comes with a seven-inch, high-res, touch-screen display to select different functions, and while listening to music it will show the artist’s name, song title and album cover art. Chevy MyLink will first be offered with the 2012 Volt and Equinox.
2012 HONDA CIVIC
Honda quietly revealed its brand-new Civic, and talk about an understated unveiling! It’s not even the big story on the FRONT PAGE of its media site. What? Are they embarrassed by it? Running down the spec sheet this 2012 model will offer buyers three different engine choices. The volume powerplant is a 1.8-liter four-cylinder churning out an underwhelming 140 horsepower. The hybrid version is motivated by a 1.5-liter unit paired with a CVT. Of course it also features an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. The sporty Si model loses its high-revving 2.0-liter four in favor of a larger 2.4-liter engine. Here, Honda traded RPMs for torque. The horsepower increases by three to 200 but the twist jumps up to 177 pound-feet. The company also emphasized fuel economy with this redesign. Coupe and sedan models are expected to deliver 39 miles per gallon on the highway. The HF version – Honda’s fuel economy model – is expected to return up to 41 MPGs. Other than these mechanical changes there’s not much to say about the new Civic. Inside and out it looks very, very similar to today’s car. Look for it at dealerships this spring.
CARS COSTLY IN SINGAPORE
We all know BMWs are expensive. But be thankful you don’t live in Singapore! Bloomberg reports the price of a 3 Series over there is about $260,000 – five times what is costs in the U.S. And it’s not just BMW. Owning a car costs a fortune in Singapore. Buyers also have to pay excise and registration fees equal to roughly 150 percent of the vehicle’s market value. They’re doing this because they’re concerned about air quality AND they’re investing heavily in public transportation, so they’re trying to push people in that direction. For auto enthusiasts this really puts the POOR in Singapore.
ECOMOTORS & NAVISTAR NEWS COMING
Many of you will recall the revolutionary engine from EcoMotors we reported on last year. It could help a car get a 50 percent improvement in fuel economy. Well, Tuesday EcoMotors and Navistar, the giant truck and engine manufacturer, are holding a press conference. No word yet on the specifics, but it seems to suggest Navistar will license EcoMotors, and that could be big news. Remember, you heard about it here, first.
CHINA’S HALL OF SHAME
China is now the biggest auto market in the world, but at least some in the Chinese media say that just because it’s the biggest that doesn’t mean it’s the best. And so China Auto Web came up with what it’s calling the Hall of Shame. Here we go:
Number One on the list is Cadillac for being the proud sponsor of a propaganda film that celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party.
Number Two: Volkswagen, for silencing the Chinese media and covering up the fact that three of its top executives were killed in a Tiguan that rolled and burned to the ground.
Number Three: BYD, for turning out copycat designs, failing to launch its electric car, and for a drop in sales in the hottest market in the world.
Number Four: the Chinese government, for denying green car status to the Toyota Prius because it determined that its 1.8-liter engine was too big.
Number Five: Geely, the Chinese company that bought Volvo, known the world over for safety. Yet Geely actually builds a car that got zero stars in an NCAP crash rating.
Number Six: the Chinese government, again, for its incompetence in trying to solve an epic traffic jam that stretched for 60 miles and took 20 days to unravel.
Number Seven: Honda, for enjoying high profit-margins in China, largely because it pays its workers $250 a month.
And finally, Beijing Auto, because BAIC only sells other automakers’ cars and has flooded the city of Beijing with Hyundais.
Just goes to show the Chinese media are more open than a lot of people realize.
Coming up next, a big argument between what liberals and conservatives think the auto industry should be doing.
THIS WEEK ON AUTOLINE
Recently Autoline was in Washington D.C. where we caught up with three guys who have strong opinions about what the auto industry needs to be doing. Daniel Weiss is a Senior Fellow at the liberal Center for American Progress. Fred Smith is the president and founder of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute. And Ron Cogan, the editor of Green Car Journal and GreenCar.com, a leading outlet for green transportation, but a very sensible fellow. All three of them are on Autoline Detroit this weekend and here’s a taste of what the show is all about.
You can catch that entire show on our website right now. Also, Autoline is now available to every public television station in the United States. If you’d like to see the program locally, let your public TV station know you’d like to see them carry Autoline.
Don’t forget to tune into the LIVE webcast of RoundAbout tonight at AutolineDetroit.tv. Tonight you can learn about what famous car chase is being recreated in 1/32th scale and we’ll take a look at Turkey’s first EV that looks to be . . . well, he said it, not me. Check it out at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time, or you can subscribe to the podcast at RoundAboutShow.com.
And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you on Monday.