February 15th, 2012 at 12:00pm
Uh-oh, there’s more trouble in green-car land. Like China, EVs are simply not selling in Europe. The stage is set for Ford to unveil its redesigned B-Max compact MPV. It will take a bow in less than two weeks at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Audi is getting ready to drop a bomb — a 450-horsepower explosive charge in the form of its new RS 4 Avant. All that and more, plus John answers your questions and responds to your questions in the weekly “You Said It!” segment.
This is Autolne Daily for February 15. And now, the news.
EUROPE’S DISMAL EV SALES (subscription required)
Uh-oh, there’s more trouble in green-car land. Yesterday we reported how a big switch to electric cars will increase pollution in China because of how much coal is used to generate electricity. Today, Ward’s reports that EVs are just not selling in Europe. Last year only 11,500 Europeans bought electric passenger cars, representing 0.09 percent of the market. This, despite generous subsidies to buy EVs and gasoline prices that are over $7 a gallon. Here’s my Autoline Insight. Most people in Europe live in apartment buildings and they don’t have anyplace to plug in. And they don’t want to park at public charging stations that in most cases are blocks away from where they live.
NO ZIP IN ZIPCAR
Other alternative transportation providers are struggling as well. Zipcar, which rents out cars by the hour, just reported a bigger financial loss in its first quarter than what analysts were expecting. Its stock took dropped 14 percent on the news.
INVESTORS INVESTING IN GM
Speaking of stock, GM announced yesterday that an investment firm, Capital Research Global Investors, bought 5.8 percent of the company. That’s a pretty good vote of confidence. GM is expected to report a net profit tomorrow somewhere around $8 billion.
RING, RING, B-MAX CALLING
The stage is set for Ford to unveil its redesigned B-Max. This compact MPV will take a bow in less than two weeks at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. This will be the first vehicle ever introduced at the event, which is basically a cell phone show! Executive Chairman Bill Ford will give the keynote address. As for the vehicle itself, it’s built on the Fiesta architecture, features dual sliding doors and will offer a 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine or a one-six diesel. It will also be shown at the Geneva show next month.
KIA HAS CEE’D THE LIGHT
Speaking of that pleasantly neutral country in central Europe, Kia also has an important product to reveal in Switzerland. The second-generation Cee’d hatchback is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor. This five-door also gets stylish new bodywork and a redesigned interior. From the grille to the dashboard layout, the new Cee’d is 100 percent Kia, which isn’t a bad thing. You can bet we’ll have more details on it when they become available.
AUDI’S UBER GROCERY GETTER
Audi is readying its latest Autobahn burner — and it’s got room for the wife and kids! The RS 4 Avant will deliver blistering performance with wagon practicality. It’s powered by a hand-built 4.2-liter V-8 delivering a staggering 450 horsepower. If you do the math, that’s 108 ponies per liter – from a naturally aspirated engine! It’s matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for near-instant gear changes. Delivers to German customers are expected to start this fall. Base price of the RS 4 Avant is nearly €77,000. That’s 100 grand and some pocket change.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
MJB heard me criticize the type of motorized seat belt that became known as the electric mouse and says, “I, for one, LOVED the track-mounted active restraint belts on my 1991 Acura Integra! In fact, when I finally had to sell the car, it was that feature I knew I’d miss the most.” Wow, that takes a lot of courage to admit that MJB. You’re the first person in the world I’ve ever heard about who liked that system.
Dave liked our report on what GM has done to make the Malibu quieter, “The Malibu shows how far GM has come in a decade. Compare that 2013 to the 2003 Malibu and you’d be shocked they came from the same company.” Yep, that’s what happens when true car people, led by product enthusiasts like Bob Lutz, get to override the finance people who would cheapen up the product to try to save some money.
Lex was disappointed in what we had to say about the Honda CR-V. “It is unfortunate that your review of the New CR-V was poor. My family are all loyal Honda owners. When it comes time to get new vehicles Hyundai/Kia models will be on the top of our shopping lists.” Lex, as we pointed out, there are a lot of positive attributes to the CR-V. I would still suggest test driving it and its competitors before you make any decision.
T. Bejma wants to know, “John – Do you think the big increase in large truck sales is a sign of a recovering economy? I sure do. The first thing to get this country going is manufacturing, and what do you need to move things around? Big trucks.” I’ve got to tell you, in my entire career I have never seen big trucks post such big sales gains as they’re doing right now. They are setting all-time records, and that really bodes well for the U.S. economy.
C-Tech saw our report on how much car sales may grow in China. “35 million vehicles in China will drive gas prices to what level? $7/gallon?” I don’t know if gas prices will go that high, but that increase in sales in China is like adding the entire U.S. car market on top of what China is already selling, and doing that in the next four years. It’s hard to believe that will actually happen.
A final note here. We had been getting complaints from a number of you who regularly post comments on our website that the tone of a couple of people was getting downright nasty and personal. The only reason we even have a comment section is to allow you, our viewers, to post your ideas, comments, insight and information. We actually learn from this, and have picked up some really good story ideas to pursue. But we are not going to tolerate bullying, name calling or rude behavior. And so we temporarily banned a couple of people from posting. We welcome big arguments over issues, not personal attacks. And we welcome anyone who wants to follow this kind of format.
Anyway that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching we’ll see you tomorrow.