May 18th, 2012 at 11:51am
Chevy is bringing back a rear-wheel-drive, V-8-powered sedan in the U.S. for the first time in 17 years. Ford is pricing its new C-MAX hybrid around 26 grand, undercutting the Prius v by about $500. Lexus stopped production of the HS250h hybrid because of poor sales. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week with Dr. Walther Kiep, the longest serving member of Volkswagen’s supervisory board.
Welcome to Autoline Daily for Friday, the 18th of May. I’m Craig Cole and here’s the news.
CAR INVENTORY IN CHINA SOARS
Looks like the automotive industry could be headed for a rude awakening in China. Inventory levels are starting to pile up at car dealerships as production is running faster than sales. Bloomberg quotes an official at the China Automobile Dealers Association as saying this will be like “a contagious disease that spreads.” The big worry now is that dealers will start slashing prices to move the metal. Indeed, car prices have been on a downward slope for four years running. And that means automakers may have to slash production to prevent the situation from getting worse. Honda just closed a plant for two weeks. China’s economy has shown a lot of resiliency but this is a disturbing trend we’ll be watching closely.
CHINA ISSUES EV MANDATES
Speaking of China, the government just enacted new standards for electric vehicles. EVs must be able to travel 80 km/h or about 50 MPH, for 30 minutes. And they must be able to go a minimum distance of 80 km. The government is implementing these new rules because it wants to speed up the development and production of electric cars in the country. The regulations apply to cars that carry up to five people. They go into effect on the first of July.
KURUMA DE DS
In most new cars today you can pair handheld devices like MP3 players and smartphones with the vehicle’s infotainment system. But now there’s a new portable device you can hook up. According to Kotaku.com, as part of Toyota’s Smart Navi navigation system, owners in Japan can use a Nintendo DS as a nav system. It’s called Kuruma de DS which means “Use the DS in the Car.” The Bluetooth-enabled device can even pipe the DS’s sound through the car’s speakers. But it ain’t cheap. The Smart Navi system costs about $2,500, then you need to spend an extra $90 for the Kuruma de DS game card, and that’s assuming you already own a Nintendo DS, of course.
Great news for performance enthusiasts. Chevy is bringing back a rear-wheel-drive, V-8-powered sedan. Essentially this is a Chevy version of the Pontiac G8, which itself is a rebadged Holden VF Commodore. This marks the first time Chevy has offered a rear-drive sedan in the United States in 17 years. Even so, the SS name has a long history. The “Super Sport” designation first appeared on prototype Zora Arkus-Duntov Corvette racecar back in 1957.
C-MAX UNDERCUTS PRIUS V
At the polar opposite end of the spectrum, Ford just opened the order books for its C-MAX Hybrid. This eco-friendly wagon is priced around 26 grand, undercutting the Prius v by about $500. Ford also claims the C-MAX Hybrid will offer better fuel economy, performance, technology and functionality than the Prius. Them’s fightin’ words! We’ll have to see if all of these features are enough to get people to actually buy them, because so far Toyota is the only automaker that has cracked the code on how to sell hybrids.
LEXUS ENDS HS250H PRODUCTION
Well, most of the time. Production of Lexus HS250h has been suspended. According to CarandDriver.com, the last one rolled off the line back in January. This really underscores the unpopularity of hybrids. In 2010, the car’s first full year on the market, Lexus dealers moved fewer than 11,000 examples. At the end of March just 563 had been sold this year. The decision to cancel the car is pretty obvious. People will not pay top-dollar for what amounts to a gilded Prius.
Coming up next, a look at how German car companies must be run by both management and unions. PLUS, we’ve got details on our latest give away.
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
On Autoline This Week, John’s guest is Dr. Walther Kiep, who served for 21 years on the board of supervisors of Volkswagen — longer than anyone else in the history of the company. In the following clip he talks about how Germany adopted codetermination, where companies have to be run jointly by management and labor.
(Today’s Autoline This Week preview is only available in the video version of the program.)
Dr. Walther Kiep has written a fascinating book about his life in business and politics called “Bridge Builder.” We’re giving away three copies to three lucky viewers. If you’d like a chance to win one of these books, send us your name and address to contest@AutolineDetroit.tv. We’ll announce the winners next week.
One more thing, on this week’s RoundAbout, we have a dilemma for you to ponder: is it ethical to drive a stick? One Salon columnist doesn’t think it is, and the interwebs are in an uproar! Be there tonight to tell us what you think. Plus, we’ve got more stories of irresponsible auto-related parenting and one more reason to hate people who drive Lambos. Oh yeah — and we’ll play one of our favorite games with Michelle Naranjo of Autobytel and Steven Ewing from Autoblog. Get all this and an overflowing bucketful more tonight at 6:30PM Eastern Time, at Autoline.tv.
Anyway, that wraps up this week’s worth of reports. Thanks for watching and join us back here again on Monday.