May 3rd, 2012 at 12:05pm
It looks like GM is still the world’s biggest automaker, but VW is nipping at its heels with massively more revenue to show for it. Volvo’s hybrid semi-truck sets a world speed record. Renault-Nissan will take a majority stake in AvtoVAZ in order to polish up the Lada brand. All that and more, plus John McElroy responds to your questions and comments in this week’s edition of You Said It!
Welcome to Autoline Daily for May 3rd. I’m John McElroy and here’s the news.
GM SELLS MORE, PROFITS LESS
General Motors reported its first-quarter earnings this morning and the numbers are disappointing. Worldwide vehicle sales grew by 97,000 units for a total of 2.4 million vehicles, which means GM is probably still the world’s largest automaker, just edging out VW, which sold 2.2 million vehicles. But, GM’s revenue was just under $38 billion, compared to VW’s whopping $61.5 billion. Worse, GM’s net profits fell one-third compared to a year ago to only $1 billion. VW, by comparison put over $4 billion on the bottom line. GM’s profits fell because it had a one-time charge of $600 million, but mainly because its costs and expenses rose by $1.5 billion.
Wow, a 200 MPH Camaro! Lingenfelter Performance Engineering managed to crack the 200 MPH barrier with a souped up 2012 Camaro ZL1. Of course, to push a Camaro to that speed takes a lot of power, and this car cranks out an eye-popping 720 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque. That’s thanks to a Lingenfelter camshaft, CNC ported cylinder heads, a custom air intake plus a more powerful supercharger.
MEAN GREEN MAKES A SCENE
Speaking of fast vehicles, Volvo just set a world speed record in a modified hybrid semi-truck it calls Mean Green. From a rolling start it hit 147 MPH or about 236 km/h in a 1,000 meter course — that’s about 3,280 feet — and from a standing start it reached 95 MPH or about 153 km/h over the same distance.
NO LAZY SUMMER FOR CHRYSLER
As we reported yesterday, Chrysler’s sales keep soaring so the company just announced it will skip its traditional two-week summer shutdown. Four factories that make the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, Jeep Compass and Patriot, the Dodge Dart, Dodge Journey, Fiat 500 and Fiat Freemont will not shut down this summer. Chrysler also said two more plants will close for just one week.
A WHOLE LADA POTENTIAL
Remember the Lada? Renault-Nissan just announced it will take a majority stake in AvtoVAZ, which builds the Lada. Renault-Nissan will invest $750 million in AvtoVAZ to polish up the Lada brand and hopefully boost sales in Russia’s booming car market.
THE RACE TO REPLACE AKERSON
Earlier in the show we talked about GM’s disappointing earnings. So how is GM’s next generation of leadership going to turn the company around? Well that depends on who gets the top job. This week we’re presenting you with the race to replace Dan Akerson and today we take a look a Steve Girsky, who spent most his career with Morgan Stanley on Wall Street, where he was ranked the top automotive analyst for 14 years in a row. Girsky, who is 50 years old, also served as an advisor to GM chairman Rick Wagoner in 2005, and was later hired by the UAW to advise it on its VEBA negotiations with GM and Chrysler. In fact, in 2009 the UAW named Girsky to represent it on GM’s board of directors, a seat he continues to hold. And in 2010 he was named vice chairman of GM with all product planning and purchasing reporting to him. All this puts him in a perfect position to become the next CEO of the company, except for one thing. While others in the company wanted to dump Opel, Girsky argued in favor of keeping it. Opel is now holding GM back financially, with no solution in sight to fix it. Unless or until Girsky, who now sits on Opel’s board, can figure out a way to show significant progress on turning Opel around, GM’s board may want to look at a candidate who has a track record with more recent successes.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
C-Tech had a few comments of his own on our review of the Toyota Yaris. “It appears the Yaris is one Toyota that sells on the Toyota reputation. It may only be a matter of time before it is overtaken by the competition.” C-Tech, it’s already happening. Last month the Hyundai Accent, Ford Fiesta, Chevy Sonic and Nissan Sentra all outsold the Yaris. However, Toyota continues to build up inventory levels of the Yaris, so we’ll have to see if it can move past the competition in the months to come.
Jim Thykeson is puzzled why GM would link up with Isuzu again. “GM needs to learn from past experience; their relationship with Isuzu did not reveal any good things, why would you go there again?” Jim, Isuzu is very good at medium-duty trucks and diesel engines, and that part of its relationship with GM on a worldwide basis was pretty good. But why GM thinks it needs to take an equity stake in the company is something it hasn’t explained very well.
Cynthia, like us, was saddened to see the passing of Dan Knott at Chrysler. “Dan Knott was, indeed, one of ‘the good guys.’ He was also kind, caring, funny, a terrific engineer and a consummate gentleman with impeccable integrity. Those who were lucky enough to work with him will never forget him. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers.” Amen, Cynthia, we truly lost one of the good guys.
Jumadepe saw our report that the new Ford B-Max does not have a B-pillar and wonders why we thought this was news. “John, removing the B pillar is not new. There are some mini minivans in Japan without the B pillars.” You’re right Jumadepe, pillarless cars and vans are nothing new, but the early versions never had to meet today’s side impact and rollover standards. That’s why we haven’t seen pillarless cars in a long time, and that’s why it’s impressive to see that Ford figured out how to meet those standards without a B-pillar.
fperkins17 says, “It’s great to see Autoline Daily going HD! This is the single best channel for learning about the automotive industry. Please extend HD to the other programs in the Autoline world. Way to go guys!” Thanks fperkins17, we’re working on it, and it’s great to see that you appreciate the continuous improvements we’re making to Autoline.
Thanks for all your letters and comments, we love getting them. Don’t forget to join me and that outrageous, bodacious, Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo tonight for Autoline After Hours. We’ll have Bill Coughlin from Ford explaining how they’re going to use TechShop Detroit as an incubation lab for coming up with new ideas between Ford and its suppliers. This could be a breakthrough approach to R&D. that’s tonight starting at 6PM Eastern Time at Autoline.tv.
And that wraps up today’s report, please join us again tomorrow.