March 21st, 2012 at 11:50am
Production of the Chevy Camaro ZL1 was delayed due to an undisclosed “quality assessment” issue. The Chinese government is raising the price of fuel in the country. Even though the U.S. unemployment rate still remains at its highest level in nearly 30 years, trucking companies are having a hard time finding enough qualified drivers. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in “You Said It!”
Welcome to Autoline Daily for March 21, the spring equinox for us north of the equator, and the vernal equinox for those of us that live south of it. And now to what’s going on in the auto industry.
EUROPE GOES FROM BAD TO WORSE
The situation in Europe is going from bad to worse. Now Opel’s top labor official is warning General Motors that it better not think about closing any plants (subscription required). Instead, labor is arguing that Opel should simply sell more cars, mainly by exporting them to other markets. Gee, if only it were that easy. Sergio Marchionne says that Europe needs to go through a painful restructuring with lots of plant closings and layoffs. He says the auto industry needs a pan-European solution to overcapacity, because individual nations don’t have the political will to do it on their own. Here’s my Autoline Insight. Getting a pan-European solution is a great idea, and maybe they’ll come up with one in another five years. But all the while, the auto industry will bleed red ink, and GM, for one, can’t wait that long. Instead of pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Peugeot, GM should have used that money to close a plant. That’s what they’re going to have to do anyway, so they may as well get started now.
CAMARO ZL1 POSTPONED
If you’re on the waiting list for a Camaro ZL1 better hang on tight. Autoblog reports production of the 580-horsepower monster was delayed due to an undisclosed “quality assessment” issue. Several hundred ZL1s have been built so far, but none of them released for sale. They’re still awaiting repairs back at GM’s plant in Oshawa, Ontario. A company spokesman says they’re close to getting things sorted out and will have production up and running again in “weeks, not months.”
EPA LOWERS BMW 328I’s FUEL ECONOMY
BMW is taking a fuel-economy hit on its new 3 Series. It estimated its 328i models would 36 miles per gallon on the highway, better than the previous-generation 335 diesel! BMW’s testing showed that the turbocharged four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission could hit 36 MPG, but the U.S. EPA said no, it gets 33. The city-rating also dropped by one mile per gallon to 23. Despite the drop, the 3 Series’ fuel-economy numbers are still best-in-class. You know, this is emerging as some sort of trend – automakers NOT hitting their electric-range or mileage targets. The Fisker Karma also fell short of expectations, as did the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.
CHINA RAISES FUEL PRICES
Here’s another reason why the Chinese car market could slow down. The Chinese government is raising the price of fuel in the country, gasoline will rise by 7 cents per liter while diesel gets an 8 cent per liter increase. Before the increase a liter of gasoline cost around one dollar which is about $4 per gallon.
TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE
Even though the U.S. unemployment rate still remains at its highest level in nearly 30 years, trucking companies are having a hard time finding enough qualified drivers. According to Bloomberg, companies need to offer higher pay and other benefits because workers are moving to other industries like construction, where they make a similar salary and don’t have to be out on the road for days on end. New regulations are also limiting the number of qualified drivers. As we reported the other day, this is also contributing to the shortage of trucks that haul cars to dealerships.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
YOU SAID IT!
And now for some of your feedback.
Chuck Grenci saw our report on the new Azera in which we said Hyundai claims it’s best in class. “Help an old guy out. What class is this thing in and what other vehicles reside in this class?”
Chuck, that’s a good question. I think the industry would classify the Azera as an upper mid-size car. And it competes against cars such as the Toyota Avalon and Buick LaCrosse.
ERME03 says “I love this show but lately they’ve been talking about Kia, GM and Mazda (like) there is nothing going on with the others automakers.”
And Mark wonders, “John, what is it with your guys and the Mazda CX-5? This is the third glowing segment on the car.”
Well, guys, it’s all about the latest new-car launches that we’ve been to. You watch, in a couple of weeks everyone’s going to be complaining of all the coverage we devote to the Acura ILX, the Ford Escape, and Dodge Dart.
Pedro Fernandez wants to know, “Do you feel the new trend for bigger tires/wheels is worth it when you consider how much more expensive these 16 and 17 in. tires cost, even for ‘economy’ cars?”
It’s all about the look, Pedro. From a ride-and-handling standpoint those bigger wheels often add so much unsprung weight that they’re not worth it for everyday driving. But they sure look better, and can actually help sell a car when it comes time to get a new one.
2003SCT saw our report that Nissan was going to give star quarterback Peyton Manning a Titan pickup truck if he signed with the Tennessee Titans. “Well that’s ONE way that Nissan can get rid of Nissan Titans…lol.”
Yes, they have been rather slow sellers.
And C-Tech says, “Since Manning is going to the Bronco’s will Ford be willing to build him an SUV?”
Well, since Ford no longer makes the Bronco, maybe Chevrolet should give him a Colorado pickup truck.
And Chuck wants to know, “Does the European market have a number similar to our SAAR number?”
That is a great question. I’ve never seen a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate for Europe or heard anyone talk about it. In fact, I don’t know any other market in the world where sales data is as complete and as quickly available as it is in the U.S. For example, I’d love to get a break-out of hybrid sales in Europe or Japan. If anyone knows where I can get my mitts on that data, let me know.
Thanks for all you letters and comments, and keep them coming. And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.