May 4th, 2012 at 12:02pm
Remember JAC’s blatant F-150 rip off? Turns out that Ford does a bang-up job protecting intellectual property. Delphi’s aluminum wiring solution can save a ton of weight over the copper alternative — find out how much. BMW’s first-quarter results are very impressive and we’ll have the breakdown. All that and more, plus Craig Cole has Autoline’s first look at the Scion FR-S!
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily for Friday on May 4th. I’m John McElroy.
HIT THE ROAD, JAC
Remember this blatant rip-off of a Ford F-150 from a Chinese automaker named JAC? Well, turns out it never went into production. And that’s because Ford has an arsenal of patents in China protecting its intellectual property. On Autoline After Hours last night, Bill Coughlin who heads up all of Ford’s intellectual property, said companies can absolutely protect themselves by properly registering and patenting their IP through the correct agencies in China. In fact, Ford has never faced any kind of copy cat designs in China going into production because it has properly protected itself.
THE BMW BUMP
We’ve got more to report on first quarter earnings. BMW sold over 425,000 vehicles in Q1, an 11% gain over last year, which includes MINI and Rolls-Royce. Motorcycle sales were up nearly 8%. Total revenue topped 18 billion euros which translates to over $24 billion, and that’s a 14% increase over 2011. Net profits were 1.3 billion euros or about $1.7 billion, which is 18% higher than a year ago. Bravo BMW, that is very impressive.
ALUMINUM WEIGHT-LOSS PLAN
There sure is a lot of wiring in a typical car. And all that copper adds a lot of weight. That’s why Delphi is showing off aluminum cables. Compared to copper, aluminum wiring reduces mass 48% while achieving the same conductivity. A typical car in North America has about 25 pounds of copper cabling, so switching to aluminum would save about 12 pounds! Better yet, aluminum is cost competitive with copper but doesn’t suffer from the same price volatility. Aluminum cables haven’t caught on because over time they have a tendency to become brittle and corrode at the connecting points, so Delphi developed a sealant to prevent this from happening.
RACE TO REPLACE AKERSON
All week we’ve been introducing you to the top officers at General Motors who are in the running in the race to replace current CEO Dan Akerson. Next week I’ll tell you who I think is going to win the race, but today we have to look at one of the strongest contenders, Mark Reuss. He brings a fascinating history to the company in that his father, Lloyd Reuss, was president of GM two decades ago. You’ve got to believe that the father can provide the son with some pretty astute advice of how to climb the corporate ladder. Even so, Mark Reuss has done a pretty good job of that on his own. A complete gearhead, he’s one of those rarities in American car companies: a senior executive who truly knows and loves product. He came up on the engineering and product development side of the business, and played pivotal roles in creation of the V-series Cadillacs and SS Chevrolets. He is even a certified industry pool test driver on the North Course of the Nürburgring. But to be CEO at any automaker these days you should have extensive global experience and Reuss’s only assignment overseas was as chairman and managing director of Holden in Australia for a little over a year. Even so, Reuss runs the biggest and most profitable part of the company and that will weigh heavily in the board’s decision.
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
On Autoline This Week, my guest is Larry Dominique from TrueCar, a company that generated quite some controversy with some dealers accusing it of stealing data from them. Steve Finlay from Ward’s Dealer Business and Craig Trudell from Bloomberg also join me on the show, and here’s a clip from that program.
(Today’s Autoline This Week preview is only available in the video version of today’s program.)
(Our first-look at the new Scion FR-S is only available in the video version of today’s program.)
Thanks for that report, Craig. Well that wraps up an eventful week of developments in the automotive industry. Thanks for watching, and join us back here again on Monday.