April 26th, 2012 at 12:00pm
Automakers are posting their first-quarter financial numbers and we’ve got the latest from Hyundai and Chrysler. Internet search giant Google is getting into the auto business . . . or at least trying to. A prototype product called the “Track N Go” looks like an awesome add-on to four-wheel-drive vehicles. All that and more, plus John McElroy answers your questions and responds to your comments in our “You Said It!” segment.
Welcome to Autoline Daily for April 26. I’m John McElroy with the latest news in the automotive industry.
HYUNDAI Q1 EARNINGS
And the headlines today are all about first-quarter earnings. Hyundai surprised analysts today with a net profit that jumped 31 percent. The company earned a net profit of $2.2 billion for the first three months of the year.
CHRYSLER’S CASH FLOW
Chrysler also posted its first quarter results and we have more details on those numbers. The company sold 607,000 vehicles, which is 25 percent more than a year ago. That boosted revenue to $16.3 billion, an increase of $3 billion. And that dropped a lot of money to the bottom line. Chrysler quadrupled its net profit to $473 million. Even so, the company’s profit margin was only 2.9 percent, so as well as it’s improving, it still needs to double what it has already achieved.
GOOGLE CARS (subscription required)
As you may know, internet search giant Google has been testing Toyota Priuses, excuse me, Prii, equipped with self-driving technology, but now it wants to partner with an automaker to bring autonomous cars to market. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company says it’s talking to every automaker to develop software and sensors needed for autonomous driving. Besides more testing, Google says it’s talking to insurers about liability issues before driverless cars come to market. The head of the company’s autonomous efforts, Anthony Levandowski, says driverless cars could be on the market before the end of the decade and also added, and I quote, “If not, shame on us as engineers.”
CHINA’S EV BLITZ
China is going to install 400,000 EV chargers in 2,000 stations by 2015, in over 20 cities across the country. The government believes this will help domestic manufacturers develop EVs, but it’s obviously also an attempt to reduce dependence on imported oil. 85 percent of China’s electricity comes from coal, and it has a century’s worth of coal.
REACH FOR THE STARS (subscription required)
Toyota just released some numbers on its affordable new sports car, the Scion FR-S. According to WardsAuto.com, the company expects to sell around 10,000 of them this year after it goes on sale in the U.S. June 1. That puts the annual goal at 20,000 units. Jack Hollis, the brand’s vice president is quoted as saying they’re confident dealers will sell every one they receive from the mothership. Subaru, on the other hand, has much more conservative goals for its BRZ, which is the Scion’s doppelganger. They estimate they’ll move between 5,000 and 7,000 per year. The FR-S is off to a good start. The company already has some 1,200 pre-orders for the car, which starts at about $24,000.
TRACK N GO
This next bit of technology looks like something right out of a James Bond movie! Called the Track N Go, it’s a bolt-on kit that transforms a truck into a tank! It lets you plow through feet of snow and climb steep hills with ease. THIS IS SO COOL! Track N Go consists of four individual carriages that bolt to each of a pickup’s wheels. According to Autoblog, these contraptions were created by AD Boivin, a company that’s well known to motorcross and snowmobile enthusiasts. Amazingly, the truck’s wheels directly power each of the tracks, a very clever design – and apparently easy to install, too, as you just drive up onto them. Now, before you go running to your computer with a fistful of money, I’ve got to let you know, these babies are only in the prototype stage. The company hasn’t said if or when Track N Go will be available for sale – nor how much it would cost. But I’d bet A LOT!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
Dcars heard us say we’ll be reporting on who we think will replace GM CEO Dan Akerson.
“Hopefully they can replace Dan Ackerson sooner than later. My pick is Mark Reuss. He could captain GM through some great times and be so much better than any one else.”
Dcars, are you spilling the beans on the results before we even get a chance to do our report?
A bunch of you really slammed satellite radio for the way it treats its customers. I liked what Jon M. had do say.
“Sirus/XM’s customer service is lousy. They want you to provide C/C info so they can bill you at a 3 year rate automatically. But I only renew for short periods and I beat THEM up to get dirt cheap rates for short periods. Its kind of pain, but there are a number of channels I just love.”
I hope Sirius/XM reads all the comments on our website. There are a lot of unhappy customers who love the channels but hate the customer service.
A bunch of you also discussed the best way to sell your own personal used cars. HtG says:
“I am advised by someone in the business that Craiglist is the way to go. Ebay isn’t worth his attention because the sales usually fall apart due to flakes of all sorts. I’m going to be putting up the Miata soon, since driving around here has become a bit of a Charlie-Foxtrot. I’ve had enough of chicks on their phones blocking a parking lot because now it’s there turn to gab back to their girlfriend, and Bimmer drivers pulling out into the left lane before a nice turn so they can barely creep around the Merc in front of them. I’m going to curb my rant here, John, but it has gotten that bad.”
DonC thinks that Honda is making a mistake appealing that small claims decision on the woman who won almost ten grand in small claims court because her Civic hybrid didn’t deliver the fuel economy it promised.
“Honda’s decision to appeal strikes me as crazy. A small claims case sets no precedent. But if they lose the appeal, and they might, then that’s an entirely different story.”
DonC, I’ve talked to legal experts on this and they say that California small-claims judge is a problem judge who loves to slam corporations and they tell me that Honda will easily win this on appeal. Let’s see if they turn out to be right.
And that’s a wrap for today’s show, but make sure you check out Autoline After Hours, tonight! I will not be here for it, which means Mr. Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo is in charge. His guests for the evening include Frank Markus from Motor Trend magazine and Gary Vasilash of Automotive Design & Production. Should be a great show! You can check it all out at our website, Autoline.tv. The LIVE webcast starts at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time so don’t be late!
Anyway, thanks for watching today’s broadcast, we’ll see you tomorrow!