August 29th, 2011 at 12:09pm
Toyota owners remain loyal to the brand despite problems of unintended acceleration and production disruptions due to the earthquake in Japan. Porsche’s CEO says the company plans to develop a vehicle to compete with Ferrari. A look at Ford’s four-cylinder EcoBoost engine that’s debuting in the 2012 Edge and Explorer. All that and more, plus John recently got a chance to ride in GM’s EN-V concept car.
This is Autoline Daily for August 29, 2011. And here’s what’s happening in the wonderful world of the automobile.
TOYOTA LOYALTY REMAINS HIGH (subscription required)
Toyota lost a lot of sales what with problems of unintended acceleration and production disruptions due to the earthquake in Japan. But Ward’s reports that loyalty remains high for Toyota owners. Jim Lentz, the COO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, says the company has won back all of its loyal car buyers and retained 75 percent of buyers intending to buy a competitor’s vehicle. The company, which just introduced the new 2012 Camry, plans to launch 20 new models over the next two years. The company blames slow sales on low inventories but expects levels to be completely normal by next spring.
PORSCHE TARGETS FERRARI
Porsche is going for Ferrari’s throat. Reuters quotes the company’s CEO, Matthias Mueller, as saying “It always irritated me that the 911 tops out at 250,000 euros and then the 918 continues starting at 750,000 euros.” He says Ferrari has very little competition in the high end of the market and that there’s room for a larger sports car like the 959 that Porsche built back in the 1980s. Mueller says the model could cost between 250,000 – 400,000 euros.
HIGH-END AUCTIONS BOOMING
And that goes well with this next story. You’ve all heard the saying, that the rich keep getting richer. Actually I like the version that comes out of the hollers, “Them that has, gits.” And this applies to high-end car auctions as well. Bloomberg reports that really expensive cars at auctions are doing very well, while everything else is faltering. One reason the high-end cars are doing well: high-end customers are pulling money out of the yo-yoing stock market and putting it into something more tangible, like rare cars.
Ford’s EcoBoost strategy is running at redline. Its 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 is a HUGE seller in the F-150, and now the company is introducing a smaller, four-cylinder version. This 2.0-liter unit is debuting in the 2012 Edge and Explorer with many models to follow. The numbers it brings to the table are nothing short of impressive.
I can’t wait for this EcoBoost engine to land in something smaller and lighter. Focus ST anyone?
TUNNEL BETWEEN RUSSIA & ALASKA?
The Channel Tunnel linking England and France is an impressive engineering achievement. But it ain’t got nothin’ on a proposed underground connection between Russia and Alaska. According to The Times, Moscow revealed an ambitious plan to physically link the continents with a 64-mile-long tunnel – roughly DOUBLE the length of the Chunnel – underneath the Bering Sea. Price tag? $65 BILLION! It would contain a high-speed rail line, energy links and a fiber-optic network. Tsar Nicholas II proposed a similar idea, but then this messy affair called World War I got in the way. Russian officials estimate the tunnel could carry 100-million tons of freight each year.
MIA EV (subscription required)
It’s fascinating to watch all the electric cars that are being built all over the world. Here’s a new entry called the Mia that was done by former Volkswagen designer Murat Gunak. It’s a cute little EV that offers a longer wheelbase version and a panel wagon. It has a top speed of 68 miles an hour, a driving range of 75 to 80 miles and can be recharged in five hours. But here’s the downside. Ward’s reports the price is, are you sitting down? Over $44,000. Even so, they’ve sold over 3,000 of them.
They say there are almost 7 billion people in the world and that we’re headed to 9 billion. So how does the automobile fit in to that kind of society? We get to drive GM’s vision of the future, right after this.
GM designed the EN-V concept car for an overpopulated world dominated by mega-cities. But this vision of the future is more than just a concept vehicle, it actually works, as I recently got a chance to find out.
GM actually designed three versions of the EN-V. One from its Australian design studio, which is the one I got to drive. There are also versions from its design studios in the United States and in Europe.
And that’s today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.