December 2nd, 2011 at 12:03pm
As the auto industry struggles to sell more cars, teens aren’t helping matters because fewer of them are learning to drive. Motorcycle sales are on the increase in India while Tata Nanos languish on dealership lots. This RC car doesn’t come cheap, but for good reason: it can hit 100 miles per hour! All that and more, plus John McElroy’s analysis of November sales results.
This is Autoline Daily for December 2nd, and so wonderful to see that it’s Friday. Later on in the show I’ll give you my analysis of the sales numbers, but now, the news.
WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ LICENSES
A study from the University of Michigan says fewer young people are getting their driver’s license. In 1983, 87% of 19 year-olds had their license, in 2008 the number dropped to 75%. Part of the reason is, there are more restrictions for teenagers to get their license now but the main factor is teenagers don’t need to drive anymore to socialize with their friends. They’ve got smartphones and the internet to do that now. And this is a serious threat to the long-term health of the auto industry.
THIS RE-EV IS SWIFT
We’ve got one more Tokyo reveal to look at. Suzuki took the wraps off the Swift EV Hybrid. Like the Volt, it has a small engine to charge the battery when it gets drained. It can travel up to 18 miles in electric only driving because Suzuki says that’s average distance most Swift drivers drive. That means it uses a smaller battery which means it costs less and doesn’t take as long to charge.
KEEPING UP WITH THE GUPTAS
Maybe having the cheapest car isn’t cheap enough. Sales of motorcycles in India are growing because they’re not nearly as expensive as small cars like the Tata Nano. You can buy a motorcycle in India around $830, while the Nano sells for about $2,800. But it’s also about image. Who wants to show off to their family, friends, and neighbors that they bought the cheapest car you can buy?
COLOR ME GONE
Hey, who says the Chinese aren’t innovative? The Double Star Tire Company decided that if every car in the world has black tires, then there’s probably an opportunity to do something different. So it’s going to offer a multitude of different colored tires, from red to blue to green, and just about every other color in the rainbow. So the next time you go out to light ‘em up and lay down some rubber, you could leave some beautiful aqua colored strips running down the road.
THE TRAXXAS TOY WONDER
We found this fascinating story on Autoblog. It’s a radio controlled car, but this one can do something no other RC car can do. The Traxxas XO-1 can do 100 miles an hour, that’s 160 kilometers an hour for our metric viewers. They took it to the Texas Motor Speedway to run it at max speed on the high banks of the oval. It’s powered by a lithium polymer battery, and even though this is a toy, the front splitter, the undertray, rear diffuser and wing are fully functional to provide downforce with minimal drag. Of course, like they say in racing, speed costs money. The Traxxas XO-1 costs just over $1,000.
Mark your calendar for next Tuesday’s 2011 finale of Open Line. The guest of honor will be none other than that living automotive icon, Bob Lutz. As always with Open Line, you’ll have the chance to call in and have a conversation with Bob. The whole show kicks off at 8PM Eastern Time with hosts Michelle Naranjo, Chelsea Sexton and Aaron Bragman. That’s Tuesday, 8PM at Autoline.tv.
Coming up next, I’ll give you my analysis of the latest sales numbers, and all I can say is wow!
NOVEMBER SALES (subscription required)
Everyone was expecting November to be a good sales month in the American market and that’s exactly what we got. According to Ward’s, the SAAR, or seasonally adjusted annual rate, came in at 13.59 million units, the strongest sales month we’ve seen in a couple of years. The total number of vehicles sold was just under 1 million units, and cars gained more than trucks.
The biggest gainers, on a daily sales rate basis, which is the way Ward’s does it and provides the accurate year to year comparison, shows Mercedes topping the charts with sales up nearly 41%, followed by Chrysler at just under 40%, Volkswagen up just under 35% and Kia up more than 33%. Those are huge increases folks.
But some automakers did see their sales go down, including Suzuki, Subaru and Mitsubishi. But they’re minor players. Most notably, Honda was off 10%. That’s mainly because of a big drop in sales with the Accord, and a brand new Civic which was up only 3.5%. That’s not very good for a new car.
In fact, Nissan outsold Honda, but here’s the real news. Hyundai-Kia outsold both of them.
The best selling passenger car in the American market was the Toyota Camry, followed by the Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion. The F-series continues to dominate the full-size pick-up segment, outselling the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra combined. And Ford is clearly clearing out stocks of the outgoing Escape to make room for the new one, because it decimated the competition in the cross-over segment.
Back to the big winners for a moment. Mercedes topped the list of big gainers thanks to the C-class which was up 104%, while at Chrysler, Jeeps were literally flying off the lots. Sales of the Compass were up 847%!
Remember, you can subscribe to our email list and get the latest information and all our updates delivered right to your inbox. Just go to Autoline.tv scroll down the home page and on the left hand side you’ll see a box to click on where you can enroll for free.
And that wraps up this week’s coverage of the latest news in the global automotive industry. Have a great weekend and we’ll see you back here on Monday.