November 18th, 2011 at 12:00pm
The electric version of the Honda Fit will only be available for lease in select cities in the U.S. GM’s sales chief in the U.S. says sales in 2012 won’t grow that much. Conversely, J.D. Power says next year’s sales rate could hit 14 million units. BMW just bought a 15 percent stake in a company called SGL Carbon, a maker of lightweight materials. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week all about the most recent UAW contract negotiations.
Greetings first-time viewers, and welcome back all you Autoline Daily veterans. It’s FRIDAY-FRIDAY-FRIDAY, the 18th of November, 2011 – almost Thanksgiving. The smell of turkey is in the air – the bird, not the country. As you should know by now, I’m Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist. And it has been a long week. A L-O-N-G week. So, let’s get this show on the road.
FIT EV FOR LEASE ONLY IN U.S.
And let’s start with some news from L.A. . . . hopefully the last of it. In addition to the 2012 CR-V, Honda unveiled the electric version of its Fit. And unlike most hybrids, the exterior styling is identical to the standard model. The company says its combined range is 76 miles. But the real news is it will only be available for lease in a few markets in the U.S. Starting in 2012, Honda will begin leasing in the huggable states, California and Oregon, and then will expand to six East Coast markets in 2013. The price is about $400 a month. The company only expects to have 1,100 available over the next three years. Sounds like Honda doesn’t think EVs will become popular anytime soon.
2012 SALES ESTIMATES DIFFER
Earlier in the week GM’s sales chief in the U.S. said he expected this month’s sales rate to be close to 14 million units. Unfortunately, he isn’t as optimistic about next year. According to Bloomberg, he says sales in 2012 will be “flat to slightly up.” But J.D. Power analysts see it differently. They’re suggesting that if current trends continue, by the second-half of next year, the rate could be at 14 million. The forecasters say car sales could grow because drivers need to replace their old vehicles. The average age of a vehicle in the U.S. is close to 11 years old.
BMW INVESTS IN COMPOSITE COMPANY (subscription required)
Lightweight materials will play a key role in meeting future fuel-economy targets. More and more automakers are turning to aluminum and composites to cut the fat on their vehicles. The Wall Street Journal reports BMW just bought a 15 percent stake in a company called SGL Carbon, a maker of lightweight materials. The move comes just eight months after Volkswagen purchased 10 percent of the organization. Forward thinking, as always, BMW is trying to safeguard its supply of carbon composites.
BRAAIVLEIS, RUGBY, SUNNY SKIES & CHEVY
The other day we showed you a vintage advertisement for Holden down in Australia. This 1974 piece was a copy of the old Chevy spot that talked about baseball, hotdogs and apple pie. Well, there’s yet another take on this iconic pitch. Autoline viewer Andrew Charles pointed us to a radio ad from South Africa that used the same jingle. Instead of meat pies and kangaroos they’re singing about braaivleis, rugby and sunny skies. Funny, no mention of apartheid. . . . Braaivleis is the Afrikaans word for barbeque, or grilled meat. Question of the week: Do any of you guys know of other versions of this advertising jingle? If so, let us know.
GRILLE DESIGN EVOLVES
Look at just about any car on the road today and right smack in the middle of the grille is the brand logo. But that may be about to change. Some automakers want the shape of the grille to convey the brand, not just a badge. This is how BMW has done it for years, but now Ford and Kia are about to do the same. The Evos concept car shows how Ford will be doing this with its passenger cars. Its trucks WILL NOT receive the same treatment. The GT concept shows how Kia is about to start doing the same thing.
In a moment we’ll take a peek at this week’s episode of Autoline, covering the recent UAW labor negotiations, but first: are you ready to cap off L.A. Auto Show week? Craig Cole’s over at RoundAbout HQ with more details.
Tonight on RoundAbout we’ll be doing a comprehensive wrap up of all the reveals that came out of the LA Auto Show this week. We’ll be talking to Miss MotorMouth, Michelle Naranjo, as well as car designer Dali Dimovski to find out what they thought about the crop of new vehicles announced at the show. Plus, we’ll be playing the game that challenges you to identify cars based only on OEM press release spin: Lie of the Beholder. Join us for all that and more at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time at — can you guess it? That’s right, Autoline.tv.
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
Social media is a very big deal these days, and even though I choose to participate only intermittently on my Tweet account, companies are finding it necessary to have a presence on the twitter-sphere in order to “interact” with customers. The same is true of other organizations. In fact, the famously guarded UAW has even turned to social media.
John’s guests this week on Autoline include Sean McAlinden from the Center for Automotive Research; Joe Szczesny of the Oakland Press; and Robert Chiaravalli from Strategic Labor & Human Resources. And you know the drill. You can watch the rest of this week’s episode of Autoline RIGHT NOW. Just swing by our website, Autoline.tv. Of course, if you’re on the go, the show can also be downloaded as a podcast.
And that’s a wrap. Again, I’m Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist. Thank you for watching this week. John should be back in the anchor chair on Monday. I’ll catch you later.