January 23rd, 2012 at 11:30am
Ward’s Auto is forecasting that car sales this month in the U.S. market will jump nearly 10 percent compared to a year ago, which translates to a SAAR of 13.9 million vehicles. Honda delivered its first Fit EV as part of its Electric Vehicle Demonstration Program. Scosche, a company that sells electronic accessories, just introduced a device that can block mobile phones while in the car. All that and more, plus find out why Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says the Jeep Liberty is the most important product the company is investing in.
This is Autoline Daily for January 23. And as we all get back in gear to start a new week, here’s what’s happening in the automotive industry.
JANUARY SALES UP FROM LAST YEAR
Ward’s Auto is forecasting that car sales this month in the U.S. market will jump nearly 10 percent compared to a year ago. And that will result in a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, or SAAR of 13.9 million vehicles. That’s still a low number by historical standards, but it’s the best rate since June of 2008, not counting Cash for Clunkers. Chrysler is expected to have a fantastic month. Ford, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai are expected to be up strong. The outlook is cloudy for Honda. But GM, which ran heavy retail incentives a year ago, is expected to see sales fall 8 percent.
NAIAS ATTENDANCE BEST IN YEARS
In another sign things are turning around in Detroit, the auto show just posted its best attendance in years. Close to 771,000 people over nine days went to the show, the highest total in five years. And during press week, close to 5,200 members of the media from 61 counties came to Detroit. The Detroit News reports this year’s show had a $400 million impact to the Detroit area which was better than when the city hosted the Super Bowl a few years ago.
HONDA DELIVERS 1ST FIT EV
Honda delivered its first Fit EV to the city of Torrance, California as part of its Electric Vehicle Demonstration Program. Google and Stanford University are also participants and will provide Honda with real-world feedback of the Fit EV before it goes public. It launches this summer in California and Oregon and has a combined range of 76 miles.
NEW DEVICE BLOCKS CALLS IN CAR
Scosche is a company that sells all kinds of electronic accessories from iPhone cases, to power adapters and screen protectors. Their latest product is aimed at drivers who want to prevent themselves from talking on the phone in the car. cellCONTROL is a little black box that plugs into a vehicle’s OBD-II port and can block mobile phones while a vehicle is underway. This means no calls, text messages or data can get through. BUT there’s a caveat, and it’s a BIG one. You have to have a corresponding application installed on your handset. This limits its functionality to smartphones PLUS, if you ever wanted to circumvent the system all you’d have to do is uninstall the app. Pretty stupid. The price for all this nonsense? About 130 bucks. If you’re that worried why don’t you just turn the phone off when you get in the car?
MUSTANG VS. CAMARO
Ok, back to the good stuff. Ford versus Chevy, Mustang versus Camaro, we’re talking mega-powered ponycars. The Camaro ZL1 packs a 580 horsepower punch, with 556 pound-feet of torque. The 2013 Shelby GT500 is set to parry Chevy’s blow with 650 horsepower and an earth-shattering 600 pound-feet of twist. With more oomph and a lighter curb weight the Ford should be the quicker car, but Al Oppenheiser, the Camaro’s chief engineer says they’ve done simulations, and the ZL1 should be quicker from zero to 60 and around the Nürburgring. Is he right or is this just trash talk? We’ll have to wait until both cars are available to find out.
Sergio Marchionne says the most important investment that Chrysler is making in new product is with the new Jeep Liberty. Why does he say that? We’ll get into it, right after the break.
MARCHIONNE TALKS JEEP LIBERTY
Sergio Marchionne believes they have an awful lot riding on the next generation Jeep Liberty. In fact, he says it’s going to redefine the SUV, as well as move the Jeep brand to a brand new level. And when the Liberty comes out, look for the Patriot and Compass to go away.
We’ll be webcasting live from the Washington DC auto show this coming Thursday at noon, with a strong line-up. If you want to know what the regulators, environmentalists, suppliers and electric car manufacturers are talking about, join us then, right here at Autoline.tv
And that wraps up this show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.