February 28th, 2011 at 12:06pm
Jaguar along with Italian design firm Bertone is pulling the covers off two concept cars at this week’s Geneva Auto Show. Diesels are making a comeback in the European market where they had been losing market share. Researchers say safety systems in cars need to be specifically engineered to protect obese and older people in crashes. All that and more, plus John compares a Chevy Silverado with a 5.3 liter V-8 versus a Ford F-150 with an EcoBoost V-6.
This is Autoline Daily for the last day of February in the year they call 2011. And now, the news.
JAGUAR/BERTONE CONCEPTS IN GENEVA (.pdf)
The press days for the Geneva auto show are taking place this week, and Jaguar along with Italian design firm Bertone are pulling the covers off two concept cars. The first one is called the B 99, a compact four-door sedan that’s constructed entirely of hand-made aluminum panels and other premium materials, like soft Italian leather and exotic African wood. Under its long hood the B 99 features a “full-hybrid long-range power system,” but the company gives no specifics as to what that entails. The other car Bertone is showing off is a full GT2 race version of the B 99.
FIAT REBADGING CHRYSLERS IN EUROPE
And keeping in the European market for the moment, Fiat is rebadging a number of models from Chrysler to sell as Fiats and Lancias across the continent. In fact, it’s dropping the Chrysler brand-name in Europe all together. So now the Chrysler 300 becomes the Lancia Thema. The Dodge Journey becomes the Fiat Freemont. But Bloomberg reports that analysts in Europe aren’t expecting much in the way of sales. They point out that re-badging efforts have never really gone anywhere and they only expect incremental sales. But, Fiat does get a number of new models out of this that didn’t require any new capital costs.
DIESELS MAKING COMEBACK IN EUROPE (subscription required)
And there’s a change going on in the European market. Diesels are making a comeback. While diesels are very popular, they had been losing market share. But Ward’s reports that through November of last year diesels grabbed nearly 52 percent of the market, up from 46 percent in recession-crippled 2009. In January they hit nearly 56 percent. As fuel prices go up fuel economy becomes a bigger and bigger issue for motorists. However, the popularity of diesels could change in the near future. Euro 6 emissions regulations require new aftertreatment systems which add significant cost to the engines plus gasoline powerplants keep getting more efficient.
BYD’S BIG PROBLEMS
OK, now to China where there seems to be big problems at BYD. It shot into the headlines a couple of years ago when Warren Buffet invested in the company, and when BYD chose Los Angeles as its North American headquarters. The company claimed it would soon start selling electric cars and plug-in hybrids in the United States. But this morning the company’s stock plummeted on the Hong Kong exchange amongst rumors its was laying off half its sales staff. Now China Auto Web reports that BYD only sold 33 of its e6 electric car, and most of them were sold to one of its own subsidiaries. And it only sold 417 of its F3DM plug-in hybrid. Even so, none of this phases the company’s chairman Wang Chuanfu. He sticks to his prediction that the little company will be the biggest in China by 2015 and will become the world’s largest automaker by 2025. I’ve got a word of advice for the Oracle of Omaha: short the stock!
OBESE/ELDERLY NEED NEW SAFETY SYSTEMS (subscription required)
The U.S. population is getting older and heavier and researchers say safety systems in cars need to be specifically engineered to protect them in crashes. According to Ward’s, seatbelts and airbags are being reworked so they can protect the different sizes of obese people as well as older people who are more frail. Seatbelts need to be wider and stronger than they are currently to protect obese people. Look for inflatable ones to be used for this, too. Also, airbags are being worked on that inflate based on occupant size, weight and position. It’s a problem that’s not going away anytime soon, currently over a quarter of the U.S. population is obese and it’s growing at a rate of half a percent every year. And today there are 40 million Americans 65 and older. That number will more than double by 2050.
ONSTAR DOUBLES SUBSCRIBERS IN CHINA
Lots of telematics news today. First up, GM announced that OnStar more than doubled its subscriber base in China to more than 200,000 users. OnStar began providing service in China in 2009.
SYNC HEADS TO EUROPE
In Europe Ford announced it will bring SYNC to the continent starting next year. SYNC will first be offered in the new Ford Focus and the company expects that up to 2 million vehicles will be equipped with it by 2015. The system can perform 10,000 commands in 19 different languages.
KIA TEAMS WITH VODAFONE
And Kia announced it is partnering up with Vodafone, one of the world’s largest mobile communications companies, to develop telematic services in Europe. Later this year Kia will offer its version of SYNC called UVO in certain models in North America.
Would you buy a V-6 engine for your full-size crew-cab pickup truck? Or would it have to be a V-8? That is coming up next.
SILVERADO V-8 vs. F-150 ECOBOOST V-6
Ford is rolling out its EcoBoost technology across its product line, from some of its smallest cars, up to its full-size pickups. But truck buyers love V-8 engines, and that made me wonder if they’d buy a 3.5-liter V-6, even if has twin turbochargers. So recently I got a chance to test drive a Chevy Silverado with a 5.3-liter V-8 versus a Ford F-150 with an EcoBoost V-6. Both trucks were pulling heavy trailers, and here’s what I found in driving them.
If you want an F-150 with the EcoBoost V-6, Ford will charge you about $750 over the price of the 5.0 liter V-8. I think once people test drive this engine Ford is going to sell more than I would have originally expected.
Don’t forget to tune in to Open Line tonight for some of the best discussion on cars that you can get involved with. Join host Michelle Naranjo tonight starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, on Open Line.
And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.