June 15th, 2012 at 11:05am
NHTSA is expanding its investigation into fuel-tank fires in Jeep Grand Cherokees. Looking back now to the early 1990s. GM just filed for trademark of the name LTS. Could this be what the long-awaited Cadillac flagship will be called? For the first five months of the year, worldwide VW Group sales hit 3.65 million units, an 8.4 percent gain compared to last year. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week with Paul Ingrassia the author of the new book “Engines of Change.”
Welcome to Autoline Daily for Friday the 15th of June, 2012. I’m Rod Meloni, Business Editor at WDIV Local 4 News, Detroit covering for John who’s livin’ it up in France right now at Le Mans.
NHTSA INVESTIGATES GRAND CHEROKEE
We don’t tend to spend a lot of time here talking about recalls or safety actions, but this one is too big to ignore. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expanding its investigation into fuel-tank fires in Jeep Grand Cherokees. They’re looking back now to the early 1990s. That’s a universe of more than 5 million vehicles. Sometimes these kinds of investigations lead to recalls and this would be in the top 10 all time should NHTSA pull the trigger. NHTSA says it has nearly two dozen complaints of rear-collision fires. Chrysler says it’s done extensive testing and found the risk of fires in rear collisions is equal to any other SUV on the market. The original investigation started back in 2010. The largest recall of all time was the infamous Toyota sudden-acceleration sticky-pedal investigation.
LEXUS AIMS TO TAKE BACK SALES CROWN
Speaking of Toyota, its Lexus brand has been the top-selling luxury automaker in the United States since 1999, but last year it lost the crown to BMW. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company sold just shy of 200,000 units in 2011, about 50,000 fewer than its German rival. You can blame inventory levels for the shortfall. But this hasn’t taken all of the wind out of Lexus’ sails. The company is gunning to sell a quarter of a million vehicles in the U.S. this year, 25 percent more than last year. It’s counting on new and refreshed products to take back the No. 1 spot – cars like the GS and ES plus a redesigned RX crossover cannot hurt sales.
GM FILES TRADEMARK FOR LTS
In other luxury news Cadillac has been taunting us with the idea of a rear-wheel drive flagship sedan for some time. Its stunning Ciel concept pushed all the right buttons with us. If they’d only build it! Well, the company may be in the thick of development because according to a report on CarandDriver.com GM just filed for trademark of the name LTS. Could this be what the long-awaited Cadillac flagship will be called? It would certainly fit in with ATS, CTS and XTS.
EUROPEAN SALES DECLINE
European car sales continued their slump in May. Just over 1.1 million vehicles were sold last month, a decline of 8.7 percent and it’s the eighth month in a row sales have fallen in the region. Only the United Kingdom posted a sales increase last month. Overall sales are down close to 8 percent for the year.
VW POSTS STRONG SALES
But despite falling sales in Europe, Volkswagen continues to post strong results. For the first five months of the year, worldwide VW Group sales hit 3.65 million units, an 8.4 percent gain compared to last year. And last month sales were up close to 8 percent for the group. Gains in North America, Asia and Eastern Europe helped fuel the growth.
BEER FESTIVAL CANCELS INDYCAR RACE
Here’s another case where drinking and driving don’t mix. According to Sports Illustrated, IndyCar’s August race in China has been cancelled because of a beer festival. IndyCar had a deal in place last year to race on a new street circuit in the city of Qingdao but new government leaders don’t want to run the race at the same time of the city’s international beer festival. Now IndyCar is scrambling to find a new venue to replace the China race.
After the break, who is John interviewing on the latest episode of Autoline This Week? Stick around to find out . . .
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
(Today’s Autoline This Week preview is only available in the video version of the show.)
So what are those 15 cars in Paul Ingrassia’s new book? Did the Model T make the grade? What about the Volkswagen Beetle? Well, you’re going to have to watch the rest of this week’s episode of Autoline to find out. Check your local public television listings to see if Autoline is broadcast in your area or head on over to Autoline.tv. I should also mention John is joined in the studio by Drew Winter from WardsAuto World and Todd Lassa of Motor Trend magazine.
Hey, it’s Friday and that means another episode of RoundAbout is on the docket. This week host Craig Cole will discuss the auto news you might have missed with Michelle Naranjo from Autobytel and that Corvair Captain, Scott Burgess of AOL Autos. Tune in for all the fun at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time on our website Autoline.tv.
Anyway, that’ll do it for today, and conveniently the week as well. Again, I’m Rod Meloni, Business Editor at WDIV Local 4 News, Detroit. Thanks for watching and I’ll see on Monday.