June 22nd, 2012 at 12:08pm
When U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu first took office in 2009 he was not a very big fan of hydrogen fuel cells but things have changed, including the secretary’s stance on hydrogen. Volvo says it’s looking for a partner in North America within the next five to six years to produce vehicles. Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn is considering retirement before the company’s next mid-term review, which is five years away. All that and more, plus we head down to Smyrna, Tennessee to pay a visit to Nissan’s sprawling manufacturing campus in this week’s Autoline This Week preview.
Welcome to Autoline Daily. I’m John McElroy and here’s the news.
PRICE OF OIL TO REMAIN LOW
Fascinating oil forecast from the analysts at Raymond James. They point out that oil prices have dropped $20 a barrel recently, to around $83 on the West Texas Intermediate price index. That’s thanks to the weak global economy and soaring oil production in the United States. They’re predicting that the WTI price will drop to only $65 a barrel next year. And even 10 years from now they don’t see it going over $80. If they’re right, that’s really going to throw a monkey wrench in the sales of hybrid and electric cars.
FUEL CELL FLIP-FLOP
When U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu first took office he was not a very big fan of hydrogen fuel cells. His rationale was that the technology was too far out there, that it would not be a significant player in the transportation sector for at least two decades. He even cut federal funding for the fuel-cell research by nearly 60 percent! But 2009 is not 2012. Things have changed, including the secretary’s stance on hydrogen, as you’ll hear in this exclusive interview with Autoline.
Secretary Chu also mentioned another one of hydrogen’s big advantages – refueling time. It’s WAAAAAAY faster to top-off a tank with a liquid fuel than it is to charge a battery, no matter how advanced the chemistry is.
VOLVO SEEKS PARTNER IN NORTH AMERICA
Automakers continue to team up to cut costs for developing and producing vehicles. Now Volvo says it’s looking for a partner in North America. According to Bloomberg, the automaker is talking with a couple of carmakers but declined to name them. Volvo says it needs a partner within the next five to six years to produce vehicles and that building its own plant in North America is unlikely. The Swedish automaker says it’s open to partner with any automaker and would prefer one that will share development costs on small cars.
GHOSN CONSIDERS RETIREMENT
Well we knew it was inevitable, but Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn could be on his way out in the next five years. Ghosn, 58 years old, is considering retirement before the company’s next mid-term review which is five years away. Possible replacements could include Renault COO Carlos Tavares and Renault CFO Dominique Thormann.
Speaking of Nissan, coming up next, we’re going to sit down with Bill Krueger, the vice chairman of Nissan Americas to talk about what they are going to do to really ramp-up sales of the Leaf when their new plant opens in Tennessee at the end of the year.
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
On Autoline This Week we headed down to Smyrna, Tennessee to pay a visit to Nissan’s sprawling manufacturing campus. In the following clip I sit down with Bill Krueger, the vice chairman of Nissan Americas, to ask him what they need to do to boost sales of the Nissan Leaf.
U.S. assembly of Nissan Leafs and battery packs should come online at the end of this year.
And that wraps up this week’s reports, see you back here on Monday.