April 28th, 2011 at 11:31am
Wow! Hyundai just surged past Honda in global sales in the first quarter. The federal government is downsizing . . . the vehicles in its fleet, that is. Six U.S. Senators – three Democrats and three Republicans – are working on a debt-reduction plan that includes a gas-tax increase! All that and more, plus a look at the power-to-weight ratios of some popular b-segment cars.
This is Autoline Daily for April 28, 2011. And now, the news.
HYUNDAI > HONDA
Hyundai surged past Honda in global sales in the first quarter. Hyundai had been gaining on Honda for the last year, but the aftermath of the giant earthquake in Japan helped push it past Honda. Specifically, Honda sold 860,000 cars in the first three months of the year, while Hyundai sold 919,000. And the news gets worse for Honda as it posts the financial results for the most-recent quarter. Revenue plummeted 66 percent, net profits fell 27 percent. In fact, Hyundai made more money than Honda despite the fact that Honda also sold a ton of motorcycles and power products. Specifically, Honda made $542 million for the quarter, while Hyundai earned $1.7 billion.
MCELROY’S AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER TRADING
Not that we here at Autoline Daily go around trying to get you to buy stock, but if you are looking for someplace to invest your money you might want to consider the stock of European car companies. According to the investment firm, Vermilion Capital Management LLC. European automakers will outperform American and Asian automakers in the stock market this year. Vermillion says that Japanese earthquake pulled down all automotive stocks and now it’s very bullish on BMW and Volkswagen in particular, while Daimler, Renault, Fiat, PSA, Porsche and Volvo all look pretty good.
NO LANCIAS FOR CHRYSLER
Chrysler won’t bring a rebadged Lancia to North America. According to Car and Driver, the company planned on offering a rebadged Lancia Ypsilon in the U.S. market but Olivier Francois, the head of the Chrysler brand, says the Ypsilon is too closely related to the Fiat 500 and he doesn’t want two similar cars in the same market. There were also plans to bring a compact sedan to North America for Chrysler but those plans look unlikely now. The president of Dodge, Ralph Gilles, has already confirmed that they’ll get a compact car to replace the Caliber. So it seems like the Chrysler brand got left out.
LUXGEN NEORA EV
Luxgen, the automaker I visited earlier this month in Taiwan, just unveiled an EV concept in Shanghai called the Neora. The company says its design cues will be used in future models. The car is powered by lithium-ion batteries and a 180 kW electric motor. The company says it can travel 400 kilometers when fully charged which is nearly 250 miles, but that’s at a steady 45 miles an hour. The Neora can go from 0 to 100 km/h in just 6.5 seconds I’ll have a test drive of the car coming up soon.
NO MORE BIG GOVERNMENT . . . VEHICLES
The government is downsizing . . . the vehicles in its fleet, that is. The Detroit News reports the General Services Administration, or GSA, is buying more sub-compact cars as opposed to full-size vehicles. This will have a big impact on the efficiency of the fleet, which numbers some 600,000. Fuel economy is estimated to improve by 21 percent this year to 23.4 miles per gallon, up from 19.1 MPG today. This is projected to save some 2.4 million gallons of fuel and $9 million taxpayer dollars annually.
GAS TAX TROUBLES
In related news, six U.S. Senators – three Democrats and three Republicans – are working on a debt-reduction plan that includes a gas-tax increase! Hard to believe, I know. The plan calls for a 15-cent increase. Currently the federal fuel tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. The last time it was raised was back in 1997, which means IT IS NOT linked to inflation. The Highway Trust Fund, which handles this money, is set to run a $7 billion deficit this year. Compounding the problem, a fleet of more fuel-efficient vehicles means less fuel is consumed leading to lower tax revenues. A tax hike is necessary but unlikely. Politicians don’t like raising taxes, especially when gasoline is selling at four-bucks a gallon and the economy is on shaky ground.
WASH YOUR HANDS!
Here’s a shocker. Steering wheels are dirtier than public toilet seats . . . nine-times dirtier! According to Autoblog, researchers at Queen Mary University in London found there are – on average – 700 different kinds of bacteria per square inch of tiller. Toilet seats averaged only 80. If it’s any consolation trunks fared even worse, with 1,000 kinds of bacteria lurking in the shadows. Why are steering wheels so dirty? In short, we’re filthy animals. Clean your cars more often, people!
Coming up next, a look at which compact cars have the best power to weight ratio.
B-SEGMENT POWER TO WEIGHT
We’re trying to push power-to-weight ratios in our product features and reviews. To bring you up to speed on how different cars stack up against one another we figured we’d do some direct comparisons. And where better to start than at the bottom of the market with b-segment cars?
Here’s a lineup of popular subcompacts offered in the U.S. today. In alphabetical order by manufacturer we have … the Chevy Aveo four-door … the Ford Fiesta sedan … the Honda Fit sport … the Hyundai Accent hatchback… the Mini Cooper … the Nissan Versa SL … the Scion xD … and the Toyota Yaris liftback.
All of these cars are powered by small, four-cylinder engines and each of them is equipped with an automatic transmission. For consistency, we took the heaviest version of each car listed by the manufacturer.
Not surprisingly, they all produce similar amounts of power and torque (PAUSE). Whoa, that’s a lot of numbers! The xD is the horsepower champ delivering 128 ponies, while the Yaris brings up the rear with 106.
Of these eight cars the Mini has the best power-to-weight ratio a whisker more than 20 pounds per horsepower while the Chevy Aveo has the worst at about 24. Still, it’s surprising how close they all rank to one another. No car has a big advantage over any of the others. Some of them are separated by just a couple of tenths in the pounds-per-horsepower category. Look how closely grouped the Yaris, Fit and Versa are.
From performance cars to minivans, look for more direct vehicle segment comparisons like this one in the future. It will be interesting to see how other groups of vehicles stack-up to the b-segment and to one another.
Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. Our guest tonight is Chris Theodore who played a key development role in the Dodge Viper and Ford GT, and has now come up with a rolling chassis that he sees as ideal for electric cars. Join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, tonight for the best insider discussion in the business.
And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global auto industry, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.