Episode 690 – European Financial Numbers, UAW Wants a Seat on GM’s Board, Ford Explorer Fuel Economy
July 28th, 2011 at 11:32am
European automakers are posting exceptionally strong earnings today and we hit some of the highlights. The UAW wants a seat on GM’s board of directors. Ford just released some pretty impressive numbers for the Explorer, which is getting an EcoBoost four-cylinder engine for the 2012 model year. All that and more, plus a look at the brand-new Nissan Versa.
This is Autoline Daily for July 28, 2011. And European automakers are posting exceptionally strong earnings today.
We have the latest numbers for Volkswagen, Renault and Ferrari. Let’s start with VW. These numbers are for the first six months of the year. Under European reporting regulations, corporations do not have to report quarterly earnings. VW sold 4.1 million vehicles, up a strong 14 percent, which brought in about $108 billion in revenue. That’s an amazing amount of money and even if VW does not sell the most vehicles this year, it could take the No. 1 spot when it comes to revenue. The company also boosted its net profit by a whopping 38 percent to roughly $9 billion. Meanwhile, Renault reported this morning that it sold more than 1.3 million vehicles in the first half, up by less than 2 percent. That brought in more than $29 billion, up more than 7 percent, but its net profit of about $1.1 billion was up an astonishing 52 percent. And Ferrari reported that it sold 3,577 cars in the first half. That brought in about $1.5 billion up nearly 20 percent, and it earned a net profit of about $128 million, up an impressive 23 percent.
FORD STEPPING UP IN INDIA
Three years ago GM and Ford were flat on their backs, but now they’re investing heavily in emerging markets. Ford will invest $900 million in India to build a new plant that will employ 5,000 people. Ford wants to introduce seven new models in India over the next several years. Currently it sells four.
GM SPENDING BIG IN BRAZIL
And GM announced it will boost its investment in Brazil by more than its current investment in the country of $3.2 billion. The new plan runs through 2017.
STANDING ROOM ONLY
Speaking of GM, Ward’s reports the UAW wants a seat on the board of directors. UAW President Bob King says the union would add value because it has a long-term interest in seeing the company succeed. Despite all the lovey-dovey talk between GM and the union, I’ll bet the company isn’t exactly enamored of that proposal.
HYUNDAI-KIA LABOR TROUBLES
And speaking of labor negotiations, things aren’t going so smoothly between Hyundai-Kia and its workers in Korea. Kia workers rejected a tentative agreement that would have increased bonuses and given workers stock in the company. Workers are unhappy about going from a three-shift to a two-shift schedule. And Hyundai doesn’t want to pay union representatives who don’t work on the line. Many people are not aware that the Detroit Three pay union representatives who are located in their plants.
Happy birthday, Chevrolet! The iconic brand celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, and today it starts a 100-day countdown to November 3, the date it was founded. The company has launched a new website to help commemorate the occasion, Chevy100.com. Fans can share stories about their cars, learn of centennial activities and vote for the best Chevrolet of all time. But one vehicle that’s not on the ballot is the 2013 Malibu. It’s not even on sale yet, but GM is gearing up for it. The company hosted an open-house this week, highlighting some of the car’s features, like its brand-new interior. We’ll have more on the 2013 Malibu in the coming days, so stay tuned.
Ford’s new Explorer has doubled sales and now the much-anticipated EcoBoost four-cylinder engine will be available late next month. Output is 240 horsepower and 270 pound-feet of torque. It should deliver 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the highway – that’s up to 8.4 L/100 km. Those numbers beat the Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, Toyota Highlander and even the Subaru Impreza, which is a compact car! Pretty impressive, but insiders at the company hinted they were shooting for 30 MPG. So close Ford, so close.
2012 NISSAN VERSA
Since its introduction in 2006, Nissan has sold over 350,000 Versas in the U.S. At the end of last year it was the leader in its segment, controlling just over 30 percent of the compact-car market. Now the company is set to release an all-new version of the sedan. And here’s what’s new.
I only mention the sedan because Nissan won’t introduce a new version of the hatch for 2012 but it should get updated the following year. Interestingly, the hatch has outsold the sedan in the U.S., but Nissan believes that trend will reverse which is why the sedan is coming out first.
It’s built on Nissan’s new “V” platform which uses 20 percent fewer components and weighs 150 pounds less than the previous platform.
Under the hood, the Versa comes with a brand-new powertrain.
Customers also get the option to mate the engine to a five-speed manual, which gets 27 MPG in the city and 36 on the highway. Overall it’s not very powerful, with just 109 horsepower, but it’s good enough while out on the road.
The exterior has been completely redone, but it also hints at what Nissan’s cars will look like in the coming years.
There is plenty of legroom in the back but the headroom wasn’t quite as spacious.
The Versa sedan goes on sale in early August with a starting price just under $11,000 with a five-speed manual. And the top trim model starts at just over $15,500. Both prices do not include destination charges.
Thanks for that report Seamus.
Don’t forget to join us tonight for Autoline After Hours. We’ll have Jay Baron from the Center for Automotive Research coming on. And if you have any questions about electric cars and especially the Nissan LEAF, we’ve got Mark Perry who handles all those questions for the company in North America. Join me and Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, for the best insider discussion of what’s going on in the industry.
And that’s today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.