January 20th, 2012 at 12:00pm
GM announced that it sold just over 9 million vehicles globally last year which sparked off a flurry of news reports over who’s the Number One automaker in the world. Chinese automaker Youngman Lotus and Turkish private equity firm Brightwell Holdings intend to place bids for Saab. Hyundai will supply six-speed automatic transmissions for the Dodge Dart. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week about the pitfalls and benefits facing automakers in China.
This is Autoline Daily for January 20th as we wrap up a week’s worth of reports of what’s going on in the global automotive industry.
WHO’S NUMBER ONE?
Yesterday GM announced that it sold just over 9 million vehicles globally last year, which sparked off a flurry of news reports over who’s the Number One automaker in the world. Of course it all that depends on how you count sales. Many analysts do not count GM’s sales with SAIC or Wuling in China, since GM is a minority partner in those joint ventures. In fact, Volkswagen says if it counted sales the way GM does, it would be Number One. I don’t know why VW is worried. As we pointed out last year, when it comes to revenue and profits, Volkswagen is far and way the biggest automaker in the world. In the first half of last year alone, VW’s revenue was $37 billion higher than GM’s.
NEW INTEREST IN SAAB
Maybe Saab is Swedish for cat because the company seems to have nine lives. Believe it or not, there’s still interest in the company. Chinese automaker Youngman Lotus will renew its efforts to acquire Saab. But it looks like Youngman will have some competition. Bloomberg reports that Turkish private equity firm Brightwell Holdings intends to place a bid for Saab. It would keep production in Sweden but it also needs approval from GM and the Swedish government. Don’t hold your breath.
GERMAN AUTOMAKERS MISS MPG TARGETS
German automakers could be penalized for not meeting fuel economy targets in the U.S. Carmakers had to achieve a fleet average of 27.5 miles per gallon in 2011, and achieve CO2 emission limits. Daimler, Porsche and BMW were the farthest from meeting the standards according to initial estimates. Daimler had the lowest average at 25.2 MPG. The government won’t finalize its results until later in the year.
CONTINENTAL TEAMS UP WITH SKI (subscription required)
The giant German supplier Continental is forming a joint venture with South Korean battery producer SK Innovation. SKI will focus on lithium-ion cells while Conti puts its energy in the electronics and battery pack of the equation. SKI will also build a brand-new plant in Korea that’s capable of producing between 25,000 and 40,000 batteries a year. This may seem like a risky proposition given how slowly EVs are selling right now, but Continental estimates that by 2025 they could account for 30 to 40 percent of global sales. And that is far higher than anyone else seems to be forecasting.
DART EQUIPPED WITH HYUNDAI TRANSMISSION
The new Dodge Dart blends American design with Italian mechanicals. But this C-segment car is even more international than that. Car and Driver reports Hyundai of all companies will supply the vehicle’s six-speed automatic transmission. This sounds sacrilegious, but it really isn’t too far of a stretch. The Dart’s new “Tigershark” powerplants are derived from the old GEMA engines that were the result of a Chrysler/Hyundai/Mitsubishi tie-up. It’s interesting they wouldn’t use a Chrysler or Fiat automatic, or just buy one from a supplier like ZF. The 2013 Dodge Dart also offers a conventional six-speed manual as well as a dual-dry-clutch automatic.
And don’t forget to check out our coverage of the Washington D.C. Auto Show next week. We’ll be webcasting LIVE from the nation’s capital on Thursday, January 26th starting at high noon, Eastern Time. But we need your help! Go to the John’s Journal page of our website, Autoline.tv and submit your questions. Get ‘em in as soon as you can. You can also see the complete list of regulators and policymakers that I’ll be interviewing.
Coming up next, Cadillac is trying to boost sales in China, but the Chinese have a not-too-flattering nickname for the brand. We’ll get into that, right after this.
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
On Autoline This Week, my guest is Michael Dunne, author of the book “American Wheels, Chinese Roads” which is all about the Chinese auto industry. Also joining me for this show are Sharon Terlep from the Wall Street Journal and David Welch from Bloomberg. In the following clip, Michael Dunne points out some of the pitfalls and benefits facing automakers in China.
You can see that entire show on our website Autoline.tv right now. And that wraps up today’s show, except that there’s another game of heroic savings and epic failures on tap on RoundAbout tonight. Here’s Craig Cole with the details.
If I’m sitting in front of a wall of flames that can only mean one thing: RoundAbout will be playing a thrilling game of Dungeons & Dealers. This time our gladiators are designer and author Jason White as well as Josh Lewis from RawAutos.com. Tune in for that plus all the weird, cool and funny car news of the week. It starts at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.tv.
That wraps up this week, thanks for watching and we’ll see you on Monday.