October 31st, 2011 at 11:55am
Volkswagen set a goal of becoming No. 1 in the world by 2018, but it looks like the company could get there this year. MINI is introducing a roadster version of its popular small car, its first ever two-seat drop-top. Renault revealed a new small car for the Indian market called the Pulse. All that and more, plus a look at which car companies raked in the most money and had the best profits for the first half of the year.
This is Autoline Daily for the last day of October in 2011. Man did that month go by fast! And don’t forget that today is Halloween. Now for the news.
VW ALREADY #1?
As you know, Volkswagen set a goal of becoming No. 1 in the world by 2018. But it looks like the company could get there this year. That’s certainly the case if you measure all the revenue it raked in so far this year, and how much profit it’s generated. We’ll have all the details later in the show.
NISSAN NV OFF TO SLOW START (subscription required)
Earlier this year Nissan introduced a commercial van in the U.S. called the NV. The segment is currently dominated by GM and Ford, so it’s no surprise to see that Ward’s is reporting that the NV is getting off to a slow start. Its 205 days’ supply is second only to the Dodge Viper’s 304 days. But I would point out that a high days’ supply is common when a new product is introduced. Even so, the NV’s sales are very slow. Through September just over 3,000 have been sold compared to nearly 70,000 Ford Econolines and 42,000 Chevy Expresses. And in September only 24 NVs were sold.
GLOBAL CAR SALES UP (subscription required)
But globally speaking, car sales are strong. Over 6.9 million vehicles were sold in September, a 6.6 percent increase compared to a year ago. North America. South America, China and Europe all recorded gains. But Japan was the only major market to see a fall, with sales dropping 2 percent.
Another day, another new model for MINI. The British brand is introducing a roadster version of its popular small car. It’s the sixth vehicle in the company’s lineup and its first ever two-seat drop-top. A naturally aspirated 1.6-liter is the base engine. The S model straps on a turbocharger and gains about 60 horsepower. There’s an even more powerful John Cooper Works edition and of course a diesel. Output ranges from 122 ponies on the entry-level engine to 211 on the Works model. The diesel puts out 225 foot-pounds of torque, a crazy amount for such a small car. There is no pricing or availability information to report at this time.
RENAULT PULSE REVEALED
Renault took the wrapper off a new small car over the weekend. The Pulse will be the brand’s third model sold in India when it goes on sale next January. The Fluence sedan and Koleos sport-utility vehicle are its other two offerings. The Pulse will compete in the low-priced, small-car market currently dominated by Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai and Tata.
DUPONT WANTS TO SELL PAINT BUSINESS
There was a time when Henry Ford told his customers they could have any color they wanted as long as it was black. That’s because black paint dried faster than other pigments, which meant Henry could make more Model T’s. But then around 1920 DuPont, working together with General Motors, came up with a lacquer paint it called Duco, which allowed any color to dry quickly and that spawned a color revolution in automobiles. So why do I mention all this? Because Bloomberg is reporting that DuPont is looking at selling its paint operations, hoping to get about $4 billion that it can invest in faster-growing areas. And so goes a part of history.
Don’t forget to join Open Line tomorrow. You can catch another call-in episode at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Host Michelle Naranjo will be joining in LIVE from Las Vegas where she’s attending the SEMA show. She’ll also be joined by co-host Chelsea Sexton as well as Aaron Bragman from IHS Automotive. Be sure to call in or watch at Autoline.tv. We’ll see you there.
Like we said at the top of the show, VW is now No. 1 in the world, and we’ll give you all the details on why that’s the case, right after this.
TOP AUTOMAKERS IN REVENUE, PROFITS
A couple months back we looked at research and development expenditures for the major automakers, to see which car maker is investing the most in future products. Now let’s look at which companies raked in the most money and had the best profits for the first half of the year.
Just like with R&D spending, Volkswagen dominated in Total Revenue. The company took in $14 billion more than No. 2 Toyota which in turn beat No. 3 GM by $23 billion. For the most part, the ranks depend on how many cars an automaker sells but that’s not always the case. Daimler and BMW are not high-volume companies, but both are in the top 10 in revenue. Both companies benefit from being able to charge a premium for their vehicles.
The net profits seem to show a much clearer picture of how well the automakers performed in the first half of the year. And surprise, surprise, VW is again at the top. The company made $3 billion more than second-place GM. To put that in perspective, that gap is more than what eight automakers on this list made in net profits.
The earnings show just how much of an impact the strength of the Yen and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan had on its automakers. All three Japanese automakers are ranked out of the top 10 in net profits. Only Nissan earned over $1 billion. This helped put the three German automakers, VW, BMW and Daimler, in the top five. Also moving up the list due to the Japanese struggles is Hyundai and Kia. Both are in the top 10 but Hyundai’s $3.9 billion profit is especially impressive. It’s just $1 billion less than Ford which is No. 3 on the list.
It will be interesting to see if the Japanese automakers will recover before the year is out or if they will have to wait until next year before their books are back in order.
Rounding out the list is Chrysler. It’s not too surprising it was the only OEM not to make a profit in the first half. The company does not have many new models and at the time, it was still owned by the Canadian and American governments.
And that wraps up this show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.