Episode 878 – Q1 Financial Results, Inner Mongolia Attracts Luxury Brands, Escape EPA Numbers

April 27th, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:39

We’ve got the first-quarter financial results for a whole bunch of automakers and the numbers are all over the place. Luxury automakers are starting to expand into Inner Mongolia because of growing wealth in the area. The EPA made if official: the brand-new Ford Escape has the best fuel economy in its segment when equipped with an automatic transmission. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week with Carla Bailo, the senior vice president of Research and Development for Nissan Americas.

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Welcome to the end of another week of Autoline Daily. I’m John McElroy and here’s what’s happening in the car business today.

We’ve got the first quarter financial results for a whole bunch of automakers today and the numbers are all over the place. We have detailed numbers in today’s show notes, so click on the link if you really want to get into them, but here are the highlights. Volkswagen is the undisputed global leader in revenue and profits, even if it doesn’t sell the most vehicles. VW’s financial performance is now the best in the industry. Daimler also had a good quarter and so did Honda. But now let’s get to the bad news. Ford saw a drop in sales, revenue and profit due to losses in Europe and Asia and a big drop-off in profits in South America, though it did quite well in North America. Meanwhile, the picture looks very bad for Fiat and Mazda. Both companies reported lower sales, a big drop in revenue, and a bottom-line disaster. As I predicted two years ago, Chrysler is now bailing out Fiat. And while Sergio Marchionne says he needs an Asian partner for Fiat-Chrysler, it seems unlikely he would want to hitch up with Mazda if the company is losing so much money.

Now here’s one I never expected. Turns out Inner Mongolia is one of the hottest car markets in China. It’s all those rare-earth-metal millionaires from the mining industry. And they have money for luxury cars. Porsche sold 200 vehicles in one small city there called Ordos, which is known for its Genghis Khan mausoleum. So now Porsche is opening a dealership there. So will Bentley and Maserati. And I want to give a shout out to our viewers in Mongolia, because we do have a few fans there.

Wolfgang Bernhard just got another five year extension on his contract at Daimler. He turns 52 later this, is a member of the Board of Management and is responsible for Manufacturing and Procurement of Mercedes-Benz cars as well as the entire Mercedes van division. He also was the COO at Chrysler in the DaimlerChrysler days.

Auto shows are all about glitz, glamour and hot new vehicles, but that’s not the case in Beijing. According to China Car Times, a gang of thieves was on the prowl, stealing photographic equipment and other electronics worth thousands of dollars. So far dozens of people have been robbed. I’d bet a lot of them are jet-lagged foreign journalists – rich pickins for local thugs. A big problem is that practically anyone can obtain credentials to attend the media days. Scalpers were selling press passes for as little as 1,500 yuan, about $240.


The EPA made if official: the brand-new Ford Escape has the best fuel economy in its segment, when equipped with an automatic transmission. It comes with three engines – a 2.5-liter four-banger, as well as one-six and 2.0-liter EcoBoost options. All of them achieve at least 30 miles per gallon on the highway, which is about 7.8 liters/100 km. The efficiency champ is the 1.6. It delivers up to 33 MPG on the open road – five more than the outgoing Escape, including the hybrid version! The Mazda CX-5 equipped with a manual gearbox delivers 35 MPG on the highway, but it’s way down on power compared to Ford’s smaller EcoBoost engine. And besides, Americans don’t buy manual transmissions so it’s better to be best with an automatic.

Coming up next, how come Japanese automakers don’t seem to have any women executives or engineers?

On Autoline This Week my guest is Carla Bailo, the senior vice president of research and development for Nissan Americas. In a wide-ranging interview, one of the topics we get into is how Japanese automakers don’t seem to do a very good job of promoting women. Also joining me for the show are Lindsay Brooke from Automotive Engineering International and Brent Snavely from the Detroit Free Press. Here’s a taste of what the show is about.

(Today’s Autoline This Week preview is only available in the video version of the program.)

You can watch that entire interview right now on our website at Autoline.tv, or if you live in North America, check your local public television listings since Autoline This Week is carried coast-to-coast in the United States and Canada.

Friday is here, and there’s no better way to wind down our automotive week than with the RoundAbout crew. Host Craig Cole has a preview of what is coming up tonight.

Well, last week we talked about a truck that appeared to emulate a Soviet jetliner, and fittingly tonight we’ll tell you about a Russian MiG-29 tooling down Slovakian roads. Plus, Ford of Spain has figured out how to perfume your used car with the odor of off-gassing plastics, AKA new car smell. Find out about all this and way, way more with our guest panelist Jeff Glucker from Hooniverse.com. Join us 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.tv.

And that wraps up this week’s news. Thanks for watching and we will see you on Monday.

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

33 Comments to “Episode 878 – Q1 Financial Results, Inner Mongolia Attracts Luxury Brands, Escape EPA Numbers”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I was a little suspicious of the Escape’s ‘claim to fame’, and finally figured it out. It does lead the class with the 1.6 Ecoboost/ecoboast, but you would think it a mile-stone by the likes of the reporting; The Chevy Equinox is just slightly behind at 32 mpg/hwy (and has been doing this for a year or two)already. Congrats for 1 mpg/hwy (sarcasm intended).

  2. Lex Says:

    The New Ford Escape is Butt Ugly. The Equinox is better looking and if Chevy would bring the Captiva, which is smaller and littler, to the US for general sale it would probably match or beat the Escape.

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    The transfer of wealth from the West to the East marches on and now even the most remote areas of this planet are booming for the well off, poverty only worsens though.

  4. Dave Says:

    Many people complain that they don’t get the 32 mpg in the real world with the under powered Equinox 4 banger, and most publications… Hopefully the Escape 1.6 EB will prove better and soon offer the $295 engine stop feature.

  5. C-Tech Says:

    The really interesting thing about the Escape being at 33 mpg higway, is that this WHOLE segment has improved gas mileage, styling and interiors. If you can afford it, its a very good time to buy a small suv.

    After hearing from the technicians who work on the rental Captivas, Chevy does NOT want to unleash them on the U.S. market until the quality improves. The mileage is not better than the Equinox/Terrain either.

    There is always movement of “money” as technology and society tastes change. As far as “wealth” moving, its really takes a longer time. Hooray for the “Mongo Moguls”.

  6. C-Tech Says:

    For Ford, hopefully the woman who successfully sued Honda for their hybrid not meeting the fuel economy numbers will NOT buy an escape.

  7. Dave Says:

    Amazing how people already know the Escape won’t live up to the EPA number…

  8. Chuck Grenci Says:

    @Dave #4
    The power between the Ecoboost and the Ecotech are very similar (hp/torque within 10 for each between each), don’t know about curb weight, so each vehicle should perform very similarly; would assume that between the Ford and the Chevy both are going to have complaints about meeting the hwy figure (and maybe complaints about being under powered). For those concerned, they’re going to have to buck up for the bigger engines (and suffer the consequences for fuel mileage). I guess what I’m trying to say is that the numbers aren’t/shouldn’t be the determining factor; get the vehicle that you like best (stemming from other equipment content).

  9. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I have a 2012 Equinox LTZ,AWD,3.0l V6.Combined mpg according to the epa #’s is 25.With only 5k miles on mine,I get a bit better then that on the hwy…..no complaints.

  10. HtG Says:

    From the department of, ‘It’s Over, Johnny,’ comes this piece from Slate. I didn’t bother to read it all, because it’s too depressing. Imagine a world where a critical threshold of botcars are all driving the speed limit. Now, imagine me only driving if I have to, Mark Reuss. It’s really gonna suck.


  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Self driving cars: While certainly not all encompassing, if you don’t want to have to drive your car anymore, hop on a bus/train/taxi; commuters have been ‘working’ on the way to work for (forever) just about. I don’t understand some ‘car guys’ embracing these self-drivers, when if you mention more mass-transit, they emphatically (then) are non, or at least, less supportive. Just a few random thoughts (and certainly not the comprehensive answer either).

  12. HtG Says:

    What I’m anticipating is a critical number of botcars such that all traffic is forced to move along as HAL wishes. How many cars on the highway does it take get everyone to drive at 55? How often do you drive at ridiculously low speed limits like 25 or 35, unless there’s kids around or poor weather? While I’d still be able to get from point A to B, it would be torture rather than the ‘freedom’ the automakers used to sell. I already look at most driving as glorified waiting in line at the drugstore.

  13. cwolf Says:

    I can imagine botcars will allow some physically impaired to become more mobile and gain them some independence;And that’s a good thing. Yet,I invision others will use this as a means to get more work done. IMO,we already are over worked,over stressed and required to do more and more;Even more than most in other countries. We should just sit back and enjoy the drive.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’d rather ride a horse or in my case, a burro rather than one of those robotic cars, I don’t even feel comfortable with roller coasters.

  15. cwolf Says:

    pedro: With a name like yours and riding a burro??? I suggest you avoid a trip through Arizona!!

  16. HtG Says:

    I acknowledge the benefits of computer driven cars, cwolf. I also like taking the bus and the train. Commuting is mostly wasted time. What I don’t like is being trapped in a grid of rolling road blocks that are being driven by a gigabyte of algorithms. The geektards at Google may like the engineering challenge of getting a Prius to the Apple store and back, but I’ll be turning my back to the road as much as I can.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    like I said before, Google should use their robotic cars to do the photo maps they do of just about every single American road they can access, what better way to prove that their technology works?

  18. cwolf Says:

    I wouldn’t buy stock in these cars.I think half of Google’s intent is to get their name in the paper,though they do deserve credit for advancing the idea. How do these things find a parking spot, park themselves or avoid pot-holes?

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    And animals crossing the street and drunks passed out at cross walks and jay walkers and on and on.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just read the first review of the Dart online and Chrysler puts 2 competitors against its well-equipped model, a bare bones Civic and Elantra. Really?? why not put instead a Cruze and a Focus, two more direct competitors to the Dart? The answer is simple: It would lose.

  21. C-Tech Says:

    @ #20
    You really hate Chrysler don’t you.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    I base myself on tests and reviews and just absorb what is being reported by others and then I give my opinions, if you bother to read the article, the tester was not even able to get close to the mpg’s they claim to get, because the engine is underpowered, you must give it more gas to keep it moving at a good clip

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    I am biased against that company, back it the early 70′s, my widowed Mom went to a Plymouth dealer by mistake looking for a Colt, instead of directing her to the right place, they dumped a Ply Cricket on her, possibly the worst car ever brought to this country (Yugo tied for 1st place) needless to say the car was a total mess and the dealer could not fix it after many tries so they gave her a “deal” on a Valiant and she turned that car back in (lost a ton of money in the process), So I guess my beef should be with the dealer ( they no longer exist) that plus my sister’s Journey brake problems just added more fuel to the fire.

  24. cwolf Says:

    A fair statement about all Chrys products is that they are only so-so,and mediocre at best. The best of their line-up,the 300,totals less than 20,000 units. And the reviews of the better selling 200 are depressing. Since Chry products are not known for reliability,either,you would think they try to improve the service which is prolly one of the worse in the industry.

  25. HtG Says:

    WSJ’s Dan Neil has this piece from the Chinese auto show. Drivers want to show off their status with a big honking grill. Do you guys ever get the sinking feeling that we’re no longer the prettiest girl at the sock hop?


    (I originally wrote something lude in this space, but it’s Sunday)

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I just returned from a trip to St. Louis, and have a couple observations. First of all, public transportation can be great. I flew into Lambert airport, and needed to get downtown. I could take a taxi for, I’d guess, about $50. Then, there were shuttle vans for about $20. Then, they have this light rail thing called Metrolink. It is partly above and partly below ground, and works great. It cost $2.25 to go between the airport and downtown, and is quicker than either of the road going alternatives.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My more car-related observation is that I overheard a conversation at the Orlando airport where someone rented a Chrysler 200, and liked it. Even though the 200 is basically a makeover of the Sebring, they must have made progress. I never heard anything even mildly positive about the Sebring from people who rented them.

  28. T. Bejma Says:

    My wife drives a 2010 Equinox LT FWD with the 2.4 Ectotec and easily exceeds the 32 highway mpg by 3-4 mpg and get’s a city/hwy combined 29 mpg. Even with my lead foot on a hour long highway trip with the cruise control on 78 mph, I averaged 33 mpg. It is also far from underpowered (unless you have the ECO button pressed) and is an awesome overall vehicle.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Any car will meet, and usually beat its EPA highway rating, if you go a steady speed of not over 65 or so. When the speed goes up, the mileage goes down, especially in the case of high drag vehicles like SUV’s and pickups.

  30. HtG Says:

    Is it just me, or are there a lot cardinal red cars in St. Louis? I’ve notice the same thing going on with orange cars in the SF bay area.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I think St. Louis has more than its share of red cars.

  32. Earl Says:

    That Ford Escape may have good mileage numbers but that front end styling is something I can’t bring myself to like. It and the Focus looks like they’ve already been in an accident.
    Does anyone know when Toyota will be upgrading the RAV4. I like their 2.5 engine but don’t want to settle for a 4 speed automatic, when everyone else in this class has 6 speed.

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