July 11th, 2012 at 11:40am
Rental car company Hertz announced it’s adding the Porsche Panamera to its fleet. Chevy and Chrysler are offering new incentives to try and boost sales. Researchers at Michigan State University have come up with a new biofuel production process that produces energy more than 20 times higher than existing methods. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in “You Said It!”
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. I’m John McElroy, this is the 11th of July, and here’s the news.
HERTZ TO OFFER PORSCHE PANAMERA
Rental car company Hertz announced it’s adding the Porsche Panamera to its fleet, becoming the first major rental company in the U.S. to offer Porsches. Unfortunately the company will only offer the Panamera in California, Florida and Nevada. The cost? $250 for a weekend day. Hertz will also sponsor the 2012 Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge and the JDX Racing Team which competes in the American Le Mans Series.
CHEVY TRIES TO LURE CUSTOMERS
Automakers are rethinking the way incentives work. In the bad old days they’d pile a bunch of money on the hood to move the metal. This, of course, takes a huge bite out of profits. Now Chevy is launching its Confidence Program, where buyers can return a car after 60 days if they don’t like it. And it offers no-haggle pricing, just like Saturn used to do. This will probably generate a lot of buzz, but more importantly, very few people will ever return their vehicle. It’s just too much of a hassle, plus then you’ve got to buy another car! So this kind of incentive is a lot cheaper than putting money on the hood.
CHRYSLER OFFERS NEW INCENTIVE
A related story, Chrysler just introduced a new offer that lets buyers defer payments for the first 90 days of ownership. This national promotion applies to all of its vehicles and runs through the end of the month.
CANADIAN PRODUCTION SLOWS
Auto production is growing in the United States and Mexico but in Canada it’s going down. According to Wards, in 2007 the country had the capacity to build 3 million vehicles, now that’s down to 2.5 million and will fall slightly next year. There are several reasons, but it’s mainly because of the strong Canadian dollar. GM CEO Dan Akerson recently said Canada is the most expensive country to build vehicles.
CAW SEEKS DETROIT 3 COMMITMENTS
So it’s no surprise to learn that CAW President Ken Lewenza is seeking commitments from the Detroit automakers to build new vehicles in Canada. According to the Detroit News, the union’s contract is up in September and it wants investment from the automakers in future product. The Detroit 3 wants the CAW to accept profit sharing deals like American workers instead of benefit and wage increases.
TOP VEHICLES IN CHINA
Though the Chinese car market is slowing down, it’s still growing. So which automakers are doing the best job of appealing to Chinese car buyers? As the latest sales figures show, General Motors, Volkswagen and Nissan dominate the top ten list of passenger vehicles.
We haven’t heard much about cellulosic ethanol recently, but researchers at Michigan State University have come up with a new biofuel-production process. They claim it produces energy “more than 20 times higher than existing methods.” Special microbes break agricultural waste down into ethanol, and then a second strain of bacteria feeds off of waste products from the fermentation process and actually generates electricity. But don’t think they’re charging car batteries with all this juice. They’re using the power to produce hydrogen! This boosts the recoverable energy to a whopping 73 percent! It’s all very complicated but this could be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
YOU SAID IT!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
Jesse is pretty ticked off about that guy in California who is suing Hyundai because he says the advertised 40 miles per gallon on the Elantra is misleading. “Any idiot who has even half his or her eyesight can plainly see in big numbers the combined mileage in an Elantra is 33! It’s 40 mpg on the highway and down below on the sticker is actual mileage between x and z. Leave it to those air heads in la la land to waste the courts time and taxpayer dollars!”
Amen, I’m with Jesse on this one.
Josu heard us report that Cadillac had the best sales gain of any brand last month in the US market and says, “You can bet that Cadillac will keep on growing in the next months. Look at what they have. In June they added the XTS. When the ATS gets into the market, Cadillac probably will grow much, much more. Those guys will triple their car offerings in a year.”
Cadillac desperately needs that new product. Audi has now caught up with Caddy and only new product will keep the brand competitive. Look for a new CTS and Escalade in the next year or so.
A lot of you sure liked that new ad for the Dodge Dart because we got a lot of responses about it. Some of the typical responses include InsurgenceRX who says, “Dang! Chrysler always makes the best ads.” And trapneck says, “I love the, ‘kick out the finance guys’…lol”
But while you liked the ad, will enough people actually buy the new Dart? Pedro Fernandez points out that, “Consumer Reports released an article where they pick their recommended American vehicles by class and none of the new small Detroit offerings is recommended because of their reliability issues. Seems like more that things change, they stay the same. You could have been reading this same article from 10, 20 or even 30 yrs ago, and it would have applied as well.”
Yep, despite all the improvements they’ve made the automakers in Detroit still have a perception image to overcome, especially in small cars.
Thanks for all your letters and comments we sure appreciate getting them.
Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tomorrow night for the second annual fantasy draft. I’ve got a group of colleagues who are coming up with their own fictional car companies and we’re all going to choose which executives in the auto industry we would want running our car companies. It’s a great way to learn who are the top executives in the global automotive industry, and that’s tomorrow night on Autoline After Hours.
Thanks for watching and we’ll see you tomorrow.