June 1st, 2011 at 12:11pm
Car sales in the American market slowed down in May. J.D. Power forecasts that the SAAR rate will come in at only 11.5 million units. UPS is testing a fleet of lightweight trucks made with composite body panels which reduce the weight of the truck by 1,000 pounds compared to its normal delivery trucks. Fiat decided to dump the Chrysler brand in Europe and slap Lancia badges on them instead. All that and more, plus John answers your questions about Chevy, labor negotiations and much more in the “You Said It!” segment.
This is Autoline Daily for June 1, 2011. And now, the news.
CAR SALES SLOW IN MAY
Car sales in the American market slowed down dramatically in May. J.D. Power forecasts that the SAAR rate will come in at only 11.5 million units. It had been running at 13 million. Now the question is, what’s causing the slow down? Is it higher gasoline prices, a slowing economy, the continuing housing crisis, a loss of consumer confidence? Or is it simply a matter of a shortage of Japanese-brand cars? Automakers will start reporting May sales tomorrow and that will give us a clearer picture. One thing to be on the lookout for: Truecar.com predicts that Hyundai/Kia will outsell Toyota/Lexus. And that would be a big WOW!
TOP TEN AUTOMAKERS IN INDIA
India is starting to turn into one red-hot automotive market. Sales there are sizzling. So who are the major players? J.D. Power just compiled this top-ten list and the rankings may surprise you. So far this year the top seller is Suzuki, which is teamed up with Indian automaker Maruti, and sells more cars in India than the other top-nine automakers put together. Second place, by another wide margin, goes to the Hyundai Group. Then there’s a very tight pack: Volkswagen, General Motors, Toyota and Ford. Then there’s a big drop-off to Honda and the Renault-Nissan Group, while Fiat and BMW trail well behind. Sales in India are well behind China, but with a population that’s expected to surpass China, India has the potential to become the second-largest car market in the world in another decade or two.
UPS TESTS LIGHTWEIGHT TRUCKS
The delivery company UPS is testing a fleet of lightweight trucks across the USA. The trucks, called the CV-23 prototype, use composite body panels which reduce the weight of the truck by 1,000 pounds compared to its normal delivery trucks. Powering the prototypes is a four-cylinder diesel made by Isuzu. It’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission from Aisin. The goal is to see if the package can deliver a 40 percent improvement in fuel economy. UPS is testing five vehicles in five cities across the country until the end of the year in order to see how they work in different conditions.
MULALLY LOBBIES FOR MPGs
Speaking of fuel economy, Ford CEO, Alan Mulally is in Washington D.C. lobbying Congress to adopt one fuel standard for the entire U.S. He’s saying that because California is considering writing its own rules, which could be adopted by other states. Ford and other automakers would like to avoid a patchwork of different fuel standards and instead have just one standard for the U.S.
END OF CHRYSLER IN EUROPE
No more Chryslers in Europe, at least not with the Chrysler brand name on them, that is. Fiat decided to dump the brand in Europe and slap Lancia badges on them instead. Marchionne and company say they can’t afford to support the two brands so they’re going with one. Bloomberg reports that Paolo Mazzali, an Italian car dealer who spent a decade selling Chryslers, calls them “emotional” vehicles, equating them to Harley Davidson motorcycles.
AUDI A1 CLUBSPORT QUATTRO
Audi – along with Seat, Skoda and Vee Dub – is celebrating its annual enthusiast gathering at Wörthersee, in Austria. To mark the 30th anniversary of the occasion, which runs from today until June 4, the company is unveiling a new show vehicle. The A1 Clubsport quattro is a racy-looking B-car. It features a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine that delivers a walloping 503 horsepower! Even with all-wheel-drive on board this thing is a featherweight by today’s standards, tipping the scales just at a hair more than 3,000 pounds. Zero to 60 should take a mere 3.7 seconds! Beyond raw performance, the car also showcases the latest accessories Audi’s offering for the A1, which includes a lineup of body decals as well as interior and exterior trim add-ons.
TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION
Can’t a guy catch a break? After his limousine ran aground in Ireland, President Obama traveled to London where the city’s department of transportation is charging a congestion fee to each of the 20 vehicles is his motorcade. According to the AFP, the ten-pound fee, about sixteen bucks, is charged to all vehicles traveling at peak times in central London, with no group discounts for the leader of the free world. Some embassies in London, including the American one, have complained of the charge, saying it amounts to a tax, which they should be exempt from. The city says it is owed 51 million pounds — $83 million — by various diplomats who have objected to the fee.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
LEX saw our report that the next-generation Chevy Impala will be built in Detroit and wonders, “Do you have any clues as to what changes we can expect in the new Impala? Will it be a version of a Holden vehicle? When can we expect to see the Holden/Chevy Caprice Police Cruiser in the USA?”
Lex, I don’t think we’ll see huge changes. Remember, the Impala is mainly a fleet vehicle. Last month Chevy sold 21,000 Impalas. Only 5,000 of them were retail sales, the rest were fleet. So GM is not going to pour all kinds of investment and technology into a fleet car. That suggests no Holden-based Impala. As to the Holden-based Caprice police cruiser, we ought to see if pretty soon. All kinds of police departments are testing the car and when they’re ready to buy, Chevy will be ready to sell.
G.A. Branigan says, “Okay, Chevy will be selling diesels here in the USA? In what vehicles? How about compact trucks? Since you seem to know John how about sharing this info. Inquiring minds want to know….”
G.A., word leaked out earlier this year that Chevy could put a diesel in the Cruze, and while GM will not confirm it, they haven’t denied it, either. As to putting a diesel in its compact pickups, that would make a lot of sense, but I wouldn’t expect if for another four years.
pavilion1985 saw the most recent Autoline Detroit show on labor issues and says, “Great episode. Do we have any idea as to what percentage of transplant workers would be open to unionization?”
Pavilion, very few. The UAW has tried organizing Honda and Nissan for nearly 30 years and got nowhere. I don’t see why things would change.
MrAvalanche2004 saw the report on the different type of car horns used around the world and says, “I think they should bring back the old auugaa horn.” Well, here you go.
jjpg2000 knows that we’re going to give away autographed copies of Bob Lutz’s new book, “Car Guys vs Bean Counters.” And he knows that they way to win it is to send a letter or email to your local public television station and ask them to carry Autoline Detroit. He says, “Sent an email to KCTS here in Seattle. Love the show, and I hope it will be picked up in more areas.”
Good move, jjpg, and anyone can enter by going to bit.ly/AutolineContest.
And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.