Episode 901 – Blue-Oval Blues, Charting Chrysler’s Changes, Freightliner Cascadia Evolution

May 31st, 2012 at 11:45am

Runtime: 6:21

Ford is facing a happy problem – it cannot keep up with demand for its vehicles.  Yesterday Chrysler was in the news for announcing the Town & Country minivan is going away, today more product information is out, including plans for another SRT model.  Freightliner just debuted a super efficient new big rig called the Cascadia Evolution.  All that and more, plus John McElroy test drives the 2012 Audi TT-RS.

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Greetings, salutations, hello! I’m Murray Feldman from FOX 2 News, Detroit. Welcome to another episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Thursday, the last day of May, 2012. John is still out of town, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any news to report. There’s plenty going on.

First up . . . Ford is facing a happy problem. The Detroit News reports the Dearborn-based automaker cannot keep up with demand for its products. CEO Alan Mulally said they will continue working throughout the year to build more vehicles. They’re adding shifts at various plants and adjusting work schedules to turn up the wick on manufacturing. Supply-chain trouble is one of the main issues holding production back, at least in the short term.

Despite having a relative scarcity of hot-selling models like the Focus and Explorer, the company actually raised incentives this month. According to Bloomberg, spending was up more than 7 percent compared to April, but its incentives are still in line with the rest of the industry – about $2,600 dollars per vehicle. The reason for the increase is that it drastically cut discounts in April so it’s correcting for that.

And speaking of Ford, Its products are better and the company is making money. But it still has a nearly $50 billion dollar pension liability that could hurt its bottom line. Reuters reports that the company is getting ready to offer voluntary buyouts to nearly 100,000 former white-collar workers beginning this summer. Ford will offer retirees the option to take a one-time payment in exchange for their monthly pension checks. Ford’s U.S. pension liability has grown by 50 percent since 2000 and at the end of last year its global liabilities were under funded by over $15 billion.

More Chrysler product news. Yesterday we reported the company is dropping the Town & Country minivan. Now Sergio Marchionne has stated the Jeep Compass and Patriot models will continue to be assembled at the company’s plant in Belvidere, Illinois through 2014. After that the Compass will be replaced by a new, unnamed vehicle. The reborn Dodge Dart – also built in Belvidere – made headlines, too. An SRT version of Chrysler’s latest C-segment car is reportedly in the works. Marchionne said they’re currently debating how big of an engine to put in it. I say go HEMI or go home.


Daimler Trucks North America revealed a new big rig yesterday. The Detroit News reports the 2014 Freightliner Cascadia Evolution will be up to 7 percent more efficient than its predecessor. That’s a huge improvement in fuel economy. Aerodynamic changes and a new Detroit-built engine are responsible for these gains. In controlled testing at an independent track the Cascadia Evolution delivered almost 11 miles per gallon.

It’s Thursday and that means it’s time for another episode of Autoline After Hours. With McElroy away the Autoextremist will play. Peter De Lorenzo is at the helm tonight and he’ll be joined in the studio by Scott Burgess from AOL Autos and Gary Vasilash with Automotive Design & Production. Check out the LIVE webcast starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.tv.

The head of Volkswagen of America, Jonathan Browning says the company needs a midsize utility vehicle in the U.S. According to the Detroit Free Press, Browning says the company needs a vehicle to slot between the smaller Tiguan and the larger Touareg. The new midsize SUV could be built at its new assembly plant in Tennessee but there’s no time frame on when it may come out.

And speaking of Volkswagen, the company just agreed to a pay raise with German union IG Metall. According to Reuters, over 100,000 workers will get a 4.3 percent pay raise over 13 months. This could mean it will be tougher for General Motors to get concessions from Opel workers. GM is trying to restructure the German automaker after years of losing money.

After the break John takes a hot new sports car for a spin. Stay tuned . . .

2012 Audi TT-RS
(This feature is only available in the video version of today’s program.)

I LOVE that color. The sparkly blue really pops in the sunlight.

Hey, before we go today here’s a heads up about some special programming. Next Friday, June 8, we’ll be broadcasting a special Hall vs. Hall edition of RoundAbout. Jim Hall will grapple with twin brother Bob Hall in all things automotive, so tune in to that at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time next week Friday. But, we also want topics for the Hall brothers to debate – you know, what’s the best “this”? Who built the worst “that”? E-mail all your ideas to RoundAboutShow@gmail.com. Once again, that’s RoundAboutShow@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

And that’s the exciting conclusion of another episode of Autoline Daily. Once more, I’m Murray Feldman, FOX 2 News Detroit. Thank you for watching and I’ll see you later.

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

27 Comments to “Episode 901 – Blue-Oval Blues, Charting Chrysler’s Changes, Freightliner Cascadia Evolution”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    My first review of the all-new Scion FRS, “Sure beats my Crapolla. Does not shake, vibrate, groan, moan or squeal” Thanks for your attention.

  2. HtG Says:

    1 oooooooooh, what color? how’s the steering feel? what does it feel like when you change direction? oooooooooh

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    What gearbox does it have, manual or auto?

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ok Ok admirers, hold your horses, first off, small steering wheel which I’ve always liked, unlike the Corolla that thinks b4 changing directions, this one is obedient, white color, auto. (son not fan of stick) precise steering without being “jittery” or “nervous” seats are contoured (heavy folks, don’t bother even trying one on for size) needs premium gas, tires are almost $700 a set (ouch)! back seat, what back seat? not even Tattoo from Fantasy Island would fit in there. Trunk is decent plus you can push down the seat and extend it.

  5. HtG Says:

    White kind of white, sugar or coca? Sheez, 700 for tires; that’ll discourage one’s inner drifter.

    ps I was also shamed by those seats, Pedro.

  6. Alex Kovnat Says:

    > In controlled testing at an
    > independent track the Cascadia
    > Evolution delivered almost 11
    > miles per gallon.

    I remember when Chevy Impalas were getting that many miles per gallon :)

    We should note that these fuel economy improvements for heavy trucks are not motivated by environmental altruism. The motivation is MONEY. So when I read in the newspapers about declining gas prices, I can’t help but be concerned that this will result in reduced incentive for us to use less fuel.

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    it’s a $200 xtra white if you can believe that! low luster, yeah, drifting my RECTUM, we’ll leave that for those from the land of the rising sun and those with tuners with used $40 rubbers.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    BTW I always assumed electric steering sucked big time from all the negative reviews I’ve read, but I guess when properly weighed and executed, it’s not bad at all

  9. cwolf Says:

    More ol’timers would take a buy-out if the company would span the sum over a period of years ddue to taxes. It’s easy to jump into a higher tax bracket on a two incomes. And,I’m sure a break on health insurance would push even more over the edge of acceptance.

    I know almost nothing about German unions. So if a 4% raise is an annual and not extending over 4 years,like US unions,GM shouldn’t be so disgruntled. The probability of a jaw-dropping German decline during the second year is almost a certainty. How could this work in GM’s favor,you ask? Cuz they chose to close 1 or 2 German plants and added production in other Euro countries which will regain some of the export addvantages Germany now reaps.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    Today I went to a shop where they were restoring a tiny Honda from the 1970′s that I had never seen before, left hand drive and 10 in wheels, I think the Smart is big next to that thing. Anyone knows what the heck that is?

  11. cwolf Says:

    Sure,pedro,it was a Honda lawn mower!LOL
    By the way,the Scion is your SON’s car,so how’d you manage to get behind the wheel? I’d ather hear you relate his driving experiences after the weekend and once he knows you are nowhere near! we,then,might learn how long rubber marks were or even just how good it can drift. Then again he prolly won’t divulge that info….yuk-yuk!!!

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It has a lot in common with a MINI, except for styling and the wheels that make it go. The MINI has precise steering, a rather useless back seat, and wants premium gas, though not a lot of it.

    What kind of tires does it have? Unless they are some kind of super performance ones, they should last a long time, if he avoids drifting, smokey burnouts, etc.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Probably a Honda 600. They “offically” sold them in the U.S. for a year or two.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yeah, Kit that thing was tiny reminded me of the old Mini, Cwolf I got to drive it so I could take it to get tints and wheel locks at my expense, so let’s see: I drove for 10 mins each way and spent about $150 comes out to $7.50 per minute, the secret service guy in Colombia did much better than me!

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here’s some info on the Honda 600:


  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit it comes with Michelin low profile 17 inchers which go for over $600 a set at Tirerack, but there are cheaper brands

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    They have a very low 260 tread-wear, no drifting for sure, very expensive hobby.

  18. cwolf Says:

    Yea,pedro,both you and the secret service guy got milked. Just in different ways!

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    #15 yep, that’s the one they had there, the guy was putting a sound system in, I guess there goes the trunk and back seat, 10 in wheels where do you even find tires for that?

  20. Jesse W. Henry Says:

    #19 Pedro Fernandez,

    I would guess Home Depot… in the wheel barrow section.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    I suppose so, mounting and balancing not included. I think maybe where they sell boat trailers should have them as well. I would seriously avoid pot holes in that thing!

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There would be cheaper ones, and I suspect some with much higher tread life.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I think some early Minis used 10 inch wheels, so Brit car parts suppliers might have tires that would fit.

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    #22 exactly! I don’t know why Michelin are so damn expensive, and they are the o.e. tires that come with this car, much lower priced ones are available online, local shops are way more expensive.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Generally speaking, Michelin tires are the best, or among the best in most catagories. I suspect they may have used them OEM, at least partly, because people consider them “premium.”

  26. Mike S Says:

    John! Dude! You gotta get outta those work clothes and into some waaaay better threads if you’re going to review such righteous rides as the Audi TT! Seriously, man, someone’s gonna think you stole the thing driving it around in dumpy clothes like that! For real!

  27. HtG Says:

    26 Come on Mike S, mom jeans are coming back!!