May 26th, 2011 at 12:16pm
Chinese car sales aren’t just slowing, they could fall. U-Haul won’t rent you a trailer if you’re a Ford Explorer buyer or own a soft-top Wrangler. Ford demos Sync integration with medical equipment for blood sugar monitoring on the go. All that and more, plus we get a look into the EPA where we learn they don’t just test cars.
This is Autoline Daily for May 26, 2011. And now, the news.
CHINESE CAR SALES COULD FALL
We’ve been reporting that car sales have been slowing in China, what with the government dropping subsidies and cities like Beijing limiting how many new cars it will allow. But now a think tank in China says sales aren’t just going to slow down, they’re going to go down. The China Automotive Technology and Research Center forecasts that sales in China will fall 10 percent this year. But the Chinese government says they’ll go up 8 percent, and car companies continue to add capacity at a rate that’s greater than that. Here’s my Autoline Insight. We’ve seen this happen before all over the world. In Europe and North America and South America, automakers build too many plants, all in the belief that they will sell out their production, and that it’s the other guys who will be stuck with overcapacity. But as we’ve seen in the history of the industry, overcapacity leads to a price war that hurts almost everyone’s profitability.
DR. SYNC IS READY TO SEE YOU
The wheels rarely stop turning at Ford… especially when it comes to R&D. Recently, the company showed reporters a new interface with its popular Sync system. And this time it’s medical.
Ford engineers have integrated what they call health and wellness features into the car. So, for example the system can communicate with blood glucose meters and tell diabetes patients what their blood sugar is in real time through simple voice commands.
Even though Ford says it’s leading the industry on health and wellness features, don’t expect a visit from Dr. Sync in your car anytime soon. The technology is still in the waiting room. Even so, it’s this kind of technology, like Sync and My Ford Touch that allows the company to get consumers to pay more money when they buy a car.
EPA LABEL ADDS MORE FINE PRINT
For the first time in 30 years, the Environmental Protection Agency dramatically retooled its fuel economy labels. Starting with next year’s 2013 models, the EPA says new look labels will include more consumer-friendly information like easy-to-read ratings, driving range estimates as well as the annual fuel cost for the car and its impact on the environment. The current fuel labels have been around since about 1980 and were tinkered with over the years but never like this. More information on the new label can be found at the EPA’s website.
SMALL CARS, STRONG!
Just in time for higher gas prices, The Detroit News reports that small cars are getting safer. Or at least that’s the word from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As we’ve reported on Autoline Daily, manufacturers have been flooding the market recently with new smaller cars. And thanks to the engineering additions of stronger steel and more airbags, the small car is no longer a poor performer in safety tests. In fact, 6 of 13 small cars were just awarded the Insurance Institute’s Top Safety Pick this year with the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra leading the way.
NO U-HAUL FOR YOU
If you own a Ford Explorer and plan on renting a trailer, don’t try and get one from U-Haul. According to Consumer Reports, it’s corporate policy for the company to not rent out any trailers to Explorer owners. It seems the rule was implemented after Ford’s lawsuit over defective Firestone tires. This policy even applies to the all-new Explorer even though it has nothing in common with the ones involved in the lawsuit. A spokeswoman with U-Haul says of the policy “Every time we go to hire an attorney to defend a lawsuit, as soon as we say ‘Ford Explorer,’ they charge us more money.” But it’s not just Explorer owners who will run into this problem, U-Haul won’t rent trailers to owners of Jeep Wranglers that don’t have a hard top.
KYLE FORGETS WHERE HE IS
NASCAR driver Kyle Busch had a little too much fun test driving a new car earlier in the week. The AP reports the race car driver was pulled over in North Carolina for driving 128 MPH in a 45 MPH zone. He was testing out his new 2012 Lexus LFA and said “I got carried away.” In addition to speeding, Busch was cited for careless and reckless driving, a charge I’m sure a lot of his competitors in NASCAR would agree with.
We all know the EPA tests cars for emissions and fuel economy. But it turns out they test a lot more than cars or trucks. We’ll show you what else they test right after this.
But first — you may have been wondering why Open Line has gone on hiatus. I talked to Michelle Naranjo earlier this week and got an update.
The EPA tests all kinds of engines. In fact, as long as it doesn’t fly, the EPA has responsibility to test just about everything else out there.
Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tonight at 7PM Eastern. Our guest tonight will be Russ Clark, talking about the upcoming redo of the Chevy Malibu. Join me and the Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo for the best insider information in the business 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.