March 8th, 2012 at 12:00pm
BMW reports the highest profits in the history of the company. Obama announces a $4.7 billion plan to get Americans to buy more fuel-efficient cars, but diesels are conspicuously absent. Mazda’s weight reduction on their newest crossover has gone to obsessive levels. All that and more, plus Seamus McElroy has a report on Volvo’s latest Polestar-tuned models!
This is Autoline Daily for March 8, 2012, I’m John McElroy, and here’s the news.
BMW’S BLOW-OUT PROFITS
BMW just reported record profits for 2011. Its earnings before interest and taxes, or what they call EBIT, were just over $10 billion. That gave it an 11.8 percent profit margin. Only Volkswagen has posted higher profits, and VW is a much bigger company. Not only did BMW boost sales, it also cut costs by sharing more parts and components across model lines. And all that resulted in the best results in the history of the company.
WHAT? NO DIESELS?
President Obama announced a $4.7 billion plan to get Americans to buy more fuel-efficient cars, but only if they are hybrids, plug-ins, electrics or run on natural gas. How interesting that diesels are not included on the list even though they provide a 25 percent reduction in CO2, a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy and already outsell hybrids in the American market despite the fact they’ve never had any incentives. The president claims the U.S. needs to adopt an “all of the above” strategy, but I think he needs to modify that statement to “most of the above.”
EVERY GRAM COUNTS
Speaking of improving fuel economy, here’s a cool tech tidbit we found on the new Mazda CX-5. That car weighs 220 pounds less than the CX-7 it replaces. And in its fanatical effort to cut weight, Mazda reduced the size of the heads on the bolts that it uses. The diameter and length of the bolts are the same, but the smaller head saves 8 grams per bolt. That’s the kind of attention to detail you need these days, and Mazda says regular sockets will still fit the new bolt design.
DOE NIXES CARBON MOTORS LOAN
Remember Carbon Motors, that company developing a purpose-built vehicle for law enforcement? We haven’t heard from them in a while. Now they’re back in the news, but not in a good way. Bloomberg reports the automaker WILL NOT receive a $310 million loan from the U.S. Energy Department. Naturally, Carbon Motors’ CEO, William Santana Li, someone I interviewed on Autoline a couple of years ago, is outraged by the move. He’s not alone. Some 14 members of congress sent letters to the Energy Department on behalf of the company.
TOYOTA’S LIGHTWEIGHT FT-Bh
This is the last of our coverage of the Geneva Motor Show, I promise . . . maybe. Toyota just revealed a concept in Switzerland called the FT-Bh. This futuristic vehicle hints at its next-generation hybrids. It’s powered by a 1.0-liter two-cylinder engine and a lithium-ion battery. Natural-gas and plug-in versions could also be possible. Helping deliver a fuel-economy score of 112 miles per gallon, the FT-Bh weighs just 1,800 pounds, or just over 800 kilograms! Ok, it’s one thing to claim that for a concept car, could they get it into production at that weight?
WE NEVER TIRE OF GOOD IDEAS
Tires, the final frontier of vehicle customization. But not for long, because Bridgestone is boldly going where no rubbermaker has gone before! According to Autoblog, the company developed a new printing technology that allows drivers to personalize their tires. The process involves two layers of ink and a protective coating. Practically any design can be painted on the sidewall as long as it’s in vector-graphic form. No production date is set, but they could be available by this summer.
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Thanks for that report Seamus. We’ll have even more details in upcoming shows.
Tonight we’ve got a great After Hours in store. We have Paul Schilperoord the author of a new book on a guy named Josef Ganz, who claims a Jewish engineer really came up with the idea of the original Volkswagen. Also joining us tonight is David Kiley from AOL Autos, who also wrote a book on the Beetle. Please join me and that bodacious Autoextremist for the best insider information in the business.
And that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching we’ll see you tomorrow.