Episode 872 – Rage Against F1, Ford Breaks Ground in China, Compression-Ignition Fun

April 19th, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:11

Formula One racing returns to Bahrain this weekend, but opponents of the regime that controls the country vow to wage three days of rage to coincide with the race.  Ford is racing to catch up in China and just announced it will build another assembly plant in the country.  Mercedes-Benz is expected to offer a diesel engine in North America by 2013.  All that and more, plus Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn takes a peek at the company’s amazing collection of classic cars.

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Welcome to Autoline Daily for April 19th. I’m John McElroy and here’s what’s happening out there.

Formula One racing returns to Bahrain this weekend, but opponents of the regime that controls the country vow to wage three days of rage to coincide with the race. Major banks have been firebombed and graffiti with the word “Avoid” as in “avoid the race,” was sprayed on one of the buildings. It’s all part of the Arab Spring that continues to roil the Middle East. And I’m sure some of us will be tuning into the race this weekend to see if anything happens besides the race itself.

Ford is racing to catch up in China and just announced it will build another assembly plant there. It just squeaked that in before the Chinese government slammed the door shut on new plants by foreign automakers. The plant will be capable of building 250,000 vehicles a year, which will bring Ford’s total annual capacity in China to 1.2 million vehicles when it comes on stream in 2015. In fact, that will bring Ford’s global manufacturing capacity to 8 million vehicles, which would put it right up there with GM, VW and Toyota.

Chinese automaker BAIC just hired Italian designer Leonardo Fioravanti as its chief of design. He started his career at Pininfarina and later worked at Fiat, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo. He left his position as Chairman of the Italian Association of the Automotive Industry Car Coachbuilders to join BAIC. This is another sign of how Chinese automakers are getting serious about design.

And here’s the benchmark they have to compete with. Mercedes-Benz will intro this gorgeous concept car, called the CSC, at the Beijing auto show. The name stands for “Concept Style Coupe,” and according to Autoblog, this four-door is sized to take on the Audi A3 and Volvo V40.  Supposedly the production version could even end up in North America.


Just before its bankruptcy General Motors sold one percent of its ownership in SAIC-GM to its Chinese partner. That dropped it to a 49 percent minority partner. GM always said it would get that 1 percent back, and now it has a convoluted arrangement that allows it to say it did get it back, sort of. Under the new deal, which still needs government approval, the alliance would be split into two parts, a sales side and an operations side. GM and SAIC would have 50-50 ownership on the operations side while SAIC would keep 51 percent control over sales. But it still sounds to me like GM is second banana in this arrangement.

OK, back to Mercedes-Benz for a moment.  First up, Ward’s reports the German automaker will likely bring a four-cylinder diesel engine to the U.S. sometime in 2013.  It already offers a gasoline four-banger in the C-Class, so an oil-burner is not too far of a stretch. You know, slowly but surely automakers are becoming more receptive to offering diesels in North America.  It’s about time!  If you build ‘em – diesel-powered cars – they – the American public – will buy ‘em!

Have you heard about this one yet? Maybachs are such a sales disaster they’re now offering them with a $100,000 rebate. C’mon down, it’s a clearance sale! We can put you in one of these babies for only $272,000. You know, Daimler does a great job building Mercedes-Benzes and commercial trucks, but it can’t seem to figure out how to launch new brands. Whether it’s the cheap little smarts or the super expensive Maybachs, both have been a disaster.

Coming up next we’ll have Carlos Ghosn drive us down Memory Lane with some of Nissan’s historic cars.

Nissan just put out this video of Carlos Ghosn taking a tour of the company’s heritage center. We found this interesting enough to share with you.

(This feature is only available in the video version of today’s program.)

I hope Nissan does build its own museum. I think it’s smart for car companies to honor, remember and maintain their heritage.

Don’t forget to tune in tonight for Autoline After Hours. We’ll have Art Spinella from CNW Marketing who always has fascinating insight about cars and what’s going on in the car market. Join me and the Autoextremist himself, Peter DeLorenzo, for some of his High Octane Truth tonight starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

And that wraps up today’s news, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

21 Comments to “Episode 872 – Rage Against F1, Ford Breaks Ground in China, Compression-Ignition Fun”

  1. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems that Bernie E. just loves having races in unstable places, like Bahrain, since he can get dropped into the racing venue by is helicopter without seeing what he is surrounded by. They cancelled the Bahrain race last year, and they should have done so again. I hope there are no major “incidents,” but aren’t there enough places in the world free of major unrest to have F1 races, without going to Bahrain?

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, Mercedes-Benz is going to offer a 4 cylinder diesel in the U.S., but only in the GLK, and with mandatory AWD. It will be interesting to see what mpg it gets, but why not put that engine in CARS, like in the rest of the world?

    The current Benz diesel car, the E350 Bluetec seems to offer little reason to buy it, now that they drastically improved the mpg of the gas E350. The EPA combined rating of the diesel, at 25 mpg, is only two mpg better than the E350 gasser.

    That 4 cylinder diesel in the E-Class, now sold about everywhere except North America, should get very good mileage, and would have adequate power. A C-Class with that engine would be almost quick, and get very good mpg.

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    FWIW, the four cylinder diesel E250CDI BlueEfficiency gets 42% better “combined” mpg on the Euro cycle than the 6 cylinder E350 BlueTec sold in the U.S. The the four cylinder has almost as much power, 204 hp, vs 211 for the V6 E350 diesel.

    Maybe the 4 cylinder would lose a little in U.S. guise, but probably not much.

  4. MJB Says:

    Hmmmmm. Now where is it I’ve seen that CSC design before? Oh, that’s right! The brand new refresh of the CLS!

    Beautiful as it is, the CSC concept seems to me to be nothing more than one of the design exercises that ended up being the new CLS.

    On the $100k Maybach discount, do you think Diddy will try and get a rebate on that last one? http://www.musicrooms.net/urban/25706-p-diddy-buys-son-another-maybach.html

  5. C-Tech Says:

    Perhaps I am old fashioned, but please give me a “coupe” with 2 doors, no b-pillar (or a very slender b-pillar
    I am not in the tax bracket that can afford a Maybach, but I really get a sense that a large part of Maybach’s problem is salesmanship and marketing. Seeing the Rolls Royce dealers at shows they at least seem more willing to aanswer questions and talk to people who show and interest in the product. The salespeople at Maybach came across as not wanting to speak to you until they saw your credit report or bank statement.
    “Italian Flair, Chinese Quality” odes not sound like a winning combination yet.
    I agree about automakers having their own museums. A small admission charge will often cover the day to day expenses. It need not be Disney-esque.

  6. Jon M. Says:

    When you have to offer six figure rebates–or rebates at all–on ultra high-end cars, calling it a sales disaster is an understatement! What an embarrassment for Daimler. When will they learn to stick with what they do best? (Note to Daimler: new brands and acquisitions under the pretext of mergers aren’t what you do best.)

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    When you charge Rolls-Royce prices for a car, it needs to look special, not like a mildly stretched version of a car that costs “only” $100K. That was one problem with the Maybach.

    Another problem is the name. To me, Maybach is the brand of engines on an airship that met a fiery death in New Jersey years ago. Also, there is too close of connection with Nazi Germany for Maybach to be an ideal name for a car.

  8. MW Says:

    John, Please tell the Autoextremist himself, Peter DeLorenzo, that the High Octane Truth is that people actually prefer a V6, as in the Ecoboost Ford F-150, when they can get good gas mileage AND good pefformance. He wasn’t a believer back when Ford came out with the technology. For myself, I’d like to see one of those trucks in my driveway.

  9. Lex Says:

    It sounds like to me that Ford, GM, VW and Toyota are building way too much production capacity around the world, and especially in China. The rate of growth in China is no longer in the double digits. China is already building towns / cities that are empty because no one can afford them. What will they do when all those cars come off the assemble lines and there is no one to buy them? You think the Chinese Government wants civil unrest when the foreign OEM’s layed off their Chinese Auto Workers?

  10. RonE Says:

    At first glance, I thought Carlos was Mr. Bean.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect people who use a truck for actual work, and plan to keep it for a long time, might rather have an engine without the direct injection and two turbochargers. Ford’s turbo V6 works well, but gets barely better mpg than than the same truck with a 5 liter V8, or a Chevy with a 5.3 liter V8.

    The EPA numbers are one mpg better for the “ecoboost” than the Ford with a V8, and CR actually got the same mpg in their tests.

  12. cwolf Says:

    The Detroit Free Press had some pretty good interior views of the Escape. The center consol looks a tad wide,which could cause an impingement for some not so slender. The rear seat is said to be more comfortable on long distances than before and the backs,themselves,recline;That’s nice! Another improvement over the old is that the rear seat,when folded,creates a FLAT surface. Ya-Hoo!! See more for yourself.

  13. RonE Says:

    I like the new Escape but why do these grocery getter type vehicles have to have a 150mph speedometer? IMO, drop 40mph off of it and make the numbers larger.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf, all these new vehicles suffer from the same disregard for the driver’s or passenger’s girth, instead sacrificing room for the sake of being stylish. I’ve noticed just about all new vehicles are like sitting in a soap box derby racer.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC report that in 2015 all new vehicles will likely be equipped with black boxes, big brother watching every thing you do. I’m not interested, thanks.

  16. Jesse W. Henry Says:

    #11 Kit Gerhart

    I agree on the work part I feel the V8 is better from a long term maintenance standpoint. Less to go wrong. The ecoboost is a step above the 5.0 not a competitor it is a competitor to the 5.3 Chevy. Neither of those V8′s has the torque on tap down low that the ecoboost does. Drive them back to back and there is a noticable difference.

    In torque feel down low the ecoboost is much closer to the 6.2 V8′s in feel. It actually has more torque than the GM 6.2 V8 so those engines would be a better MPG comparison.

    It is the fuel economy when empty and the ability to easily tow over 10,000 pounds that make the ecoboost unique.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, maybe contrary to popular belief, a lot of turbo engines have very flat torque bands, making them “feel good.” Even the archaic 2.5 turbo in my ’89 Dodge minivan is that way, and the Ford turbo V6 is exceptional in that regard.

    As far as ultimate performance, horsepower is what matters, given that you keep the engine near its power peak rpm for accelerating or climbing. That being the case, the more powerful Chevy 6.2, and even the 5.3 are quicker than the ecoboost V6, but they need to use more revs.

  18. Jon M Says:

    “If you build ‘em – diesel-powered cars – they – the American public – will buy ‘em!” Amen, John. A diesel over a hybrid or EV any day of the week for me. I would seriously consider the option if it were available on whatever vehicle I chose.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Speaking of Ford turbos, it looks like they will sell one next year with a manual transmission, the Focus ST, so you can actually appreciate the broad torque band. That should be a fun car.

  20. Jesse W. Henry Says:


    Agreed Kit… that engine feels quite snappy in the Edge and Explorer I am looking forward to seeing how it is in the light little Focus.

    I agree also on the 6.2 chevy being faster having around 40 more HP but he 5.3 sorry gotta disagree. The ecoboost has 365HP to it’s 315HP the 5.3 has exceptional fuel economy though… better than Chevy’s own 4.8 V8 and equal to the 4.3 V6.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, you’re right. The Ford turbo has more power than the Chevy 5.3.

    The Chevy 4.8 still uses a 4-speed automatic, while the 5.3 gets a 6-speed, but, as I remember, the gas mileage ratings were the same when they both got 4-speeds. I suspect they only make the 4.8 so they can charge more for the 5.3 that makes more power, but gets equal or better gas mileage.

    I don’t know the pricing of the V8 vs the “ecoboost” V6 in the Ford pickups, but I’m curious, and plan to look it up.