May 29th, 2012 at 11:47am
Dany Bahar, the CEO of Lotus, has been suspended from the company because of an unspecified complaint over his conduct. To try to boost sales, China will revive a cash-for-clunkers program. Nissan is looking for serious growth in Russia. It wants to nearly double its market share in the country by 2016! All that and more, plus a look at the design of the all-new Dodge Dart.
I’m Craig Cole and welcome to another episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Tuesday, the 29th of May, 2012. I hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. A break from the old routine is always refreshing. Anyway, here’s the latest news from the automotive beat.
TROUBLE IN LOTUS LAND
Dany Bahar, the CEO of Lotus, was suspended by the company. According to Bloomberg, the sports-car maker’s parent company DRB-Hicom filed an unspecified complaint over his conduct that led to the suspension. The move could be performance related. Lotus is in the middle of a restructuring plan to try and turn a profit for the first time in 15 years.
YUAN FOR JALOPIES
Car sales in China are slowing down from their torrid pace just a few years ago. And to try to boost sales, Bloomberg reports that the country will revive a cash-for-clunkers program. Consumers will receive incentives to trade in their old cars for new ones. Car sales are down 1.3 percent in the first four months of the year in China.
GLOBAL VEHICLE SALES STRONG (subscription required)
But the slowdown in China hasn’t hurt overall global car sales. According to WardsAuto, worldwide sales in April hit 6.6 million units, an increase of 3.4 percent compared to 2011. Asian countries recovering from natural disasters that occurred last year helped fuel the growth. Europe and South America were the only regions to see sales fall.
RUNNING FROM IRAN
Iran’s nuclear program is a prickly issue. The Islamic Republic claims its atom-splitting efforts are for peaceful purposes only. But that’s more than a little hard to believe coming from a country that wants to obliterate one of its neighbors. The international community is stepping up efforts to put more economic sanctions on Iran. An oil embargo is slated to kick in starting July 1. Automakers have been under pressure to stop doing business with the Persian Gulf nation. Fiat and its subsidiaries are pulling out of the country. They’re immediately halting all sales in Iran, which they claim are “totally immaterial.” IVECO-branded trucks and buses make up the majority of Fiat vehicles sold there.
IF HOTCAKES COULD SELL LIKE PRII!
Toyota’s popular Prius has hit an important milestone. Bloomberg reports the hybrid has become the third-best selling car line in the world for the first quarter of the year. It’s trailing the Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus. Prius-branded cars – and remember, there are four in the “family” – have been buoyed by strong demand in the U.S. and Japan. Part of the reason for the resurgence in Toyota’s home market is that there’s a 100,000-yen incentive – about 13-hundred dollars – AND buyers can cash in on an additional 100,000-yen tax rebate.
RUSHIN’ FOR MARKET SHARE
Nissan is looking to grow in Russia. Today its market share in the country stands at about 5.9 percent. It’s looking to hit an even 10 percent by 2016. To do that it will have to triple sales to nearly half-a-million units annually. Last year it sold about 161,000 vehicles in Russia. To boost volume the company has upgraded its facility in St. Petersburg. The plant will be able to assemble five different models at the same time including the Qashqai, Teana, X-Trail and Murano. The newly revived Datsun brand is part of Nissan’s growth strategy in Russia as well.
Coming up next, a look at the exterior styling cues of the new Dodge Dart, we’ll be back right after this.
(This feature is only available in the video version of today’s program)
DODGE DART HITS DESIGN BULL’S-EYE
It’s been a long time since Chrysler’s had a competitive small car. Front to back, top to bottom, inside and out, the Dart looks like it’s going to give the segment leaders a run for their money.
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Once again I’m Craig Cole, thanks for watching, I’ll see you next time.