July 10th, 2012 at 12:15pm
MINI is investing major money into expanding its capacity in the U.K., yet the company is looking to build cars elsewhere too. The Eurozone economic woes are hitting Thailand’s auto industry hard, that country’s exports to Europe fell 10 percent. Despite the popularity of crossovers, minivans soldier on to the tune of 500,000 annual sales. All that and more, plus Dodge launches the Dart’s ad campaign.
Welcome to Autoline Daily for July 10th. I’m John McElroy and here’s some of the latest developments taking place in the global automotive industry.
MAKING MORE MINIS
Yesterday we showed you the Mini “Inspired by Goodwood” that costs $50,000. Today, Mini announced it will invest $388 million at three of its facilities in the United Kingdom to boost manufacturing capacity by 2015. This is on top of a $776 million investment it made in those operations last year. Yet, even with that increase Mini says its growth strategy means it will need to build cars outside of the UK and is in discussions with the Nedcar plant in the Netherlands, which is a subsidiary of Mitsubishi, to be a contract manufacturer for satellite production.
While Mini is expanding in Europe, overall car sales are plummeting and that’s now starting to hurt Thailand. According to Ward’s, car exports from Thailand to Europe have fallen nearly 10% in the first five months of 2012 compared to last year. Shipments to Europe represent about 6.5% of Thailand’s total car exports.
MINIVANS SOLDIER ON
Even though crossover vehicles have moved a lot of people out of minivans, the minivan segment is still pretty important. There are 6 minivan models in the American market, but only four of the 6 enjoy significant sales. The sales ranking puts the Dodge Caravan as number one, followed by the Honda Odyssey, the Toyota Sienna and the Chrysler Town & Country. Nissan still sells the Quest and Kia has the Sedona, but their sales are not very good. So far this year they’ve each sold only 10,000 vans. And yet, by the end of the year, total minivan sales will run well over half a million units, which is a healthy number. Remember GM and Ford no longer have any entries in that segment, and that means the minivan survivors each get a bigger slice of the pie.
HIGH HORSEPOWER HUBS
A year and a half ago on Autoline After Hours we had Bob Purcell on the show. He’s the CEO of Protean Electric, a US-based company that developed hub motors, that is, electric motors integrated into the hub of a wheel. Now the company announced it is getting $84 million in new investment to manufacture those hub motors in China. Each motor can generate 110 horsepower and 590 pound feet of torque. That’s 81 kilowatts and 800 newton meters. The motors weigh 68 pounds, or 31 kilos. And that sure is a lot of bolt-on power.
BMW is rolling out its 3-series Active-Hybrid this fall, but the engineers in München must have slept through Hybrid Car class in engineering school because they gave the car more power than the standard 3-series. The turbocharged straight six and electric motor combination makes 13 percent more horsepower and 11 percent more torque than the gas version. The gas-electric 3-series also can travel up to 2.5 miles at 45 miles-per-hour on electric power alone. But any money you save on fuel efficiency will be eaten up by the $7000 price hike over the standard sedan.
GAS MILEAGE LAWSUIT
For the second time this year, someone is suing an automaker over fuel economy claims, and they seem to be getting out of hand. A California man accuses Hyundai of misleading ads because “40 MPG Hyundai Elantra” claim only reflect the car’s highway mileage and not city or combined fuel economy. The suit also accuses Hyundai of making any disclaimers about the mileage claims impossible to read in the ads. Honda was sued earlier this year in a case that got tossed out of court and my bet is that’s exactly what’s going to happen with this case. Full disclosure, Hyundai is an advertiser on other Autoline programs.
Speaking of car ads, the folks over at Chrysler have shown they’re pretty good at coming up with television ads for their different brands. And the newest one for the Dodge Dart is worth taking a look at.
We normally don’t like to run TV ads for car companies on this show unless that automaker is paying for them. But the new ad for the Dodge Dart is a well crafted, entertaining, 90-second piece that is worth taking a look at.
Now, if we can only convince the people at Dodge to pay us to keep running that ad!
AFTER HOURS DRAFT
Which team owner will have the strongest draft according to our expert analysts, Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press and Scott Burgess of AOL Autos? If you correctly match their final verdict, you could win a chance to appear on Autoline After Hours with John McElroy and Peter De Lorenzo.
To qualify for the contest there are two steps. First you must convince a minimum of five new subscribers to sign up for our Autoline e-mail. They can do this by clicking the link on the left side of Autoline.tv. Then submit those names and addresses to firstname.lastname@example.org. And then second, watch or listen to the show and try to determine who Mark and Scott will say won the draft. Submit your guess also to email@example.com for a chance to win.
Remember there are two steps. First qualify and then submit your team owner. No submissions will be considered unless they have had a minimum of five new subscribers sign up for the Autoline e-mail. Our winner will be announced on Thursday, July 19′s Autoline Daily. Good luck!
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.