July 24th, 2012 at 11:28am
A Finnish company Valmet makes its money by building cars for other manufacturers that lack capacity, which seems like an oxymoron in Europe nowadays, but Mercedes just hired them to build 100,000 cars. Ford says it has shaved 30 percent from the cost of its latest hybrid by sharing parts and in-sourcing development. Goodyear announces it’s looking at replacing petroleum with soy-based oils in tires. All that and more, plus a look at the Volkswagen Golf R!
Welcome to Autoline Daily for July 24th. I’m John McElroy and here’s some of the latest developments taking place in the automotive business.
Up in Finland a company called Valmet has done a bang up business with its automotive assembly plant. It’s made Boxsters for Porsche, it’s currently making the Fisker Karma, and now Mercedes-Benz has contracted the plant to make A-classes. That’s because Mercedes completely ran out of production capacity to meet demand of the A-class. Valmet will assemble 100,000 of the cars from 2013 to 2016. How ironic that with all the manufacturing overcapacity there is in Europe, Valmet has built a successful business around making cars for companies that don’t have enough capacity.
HYBRID COST SAVINGS
Yesterday Ford announced that the plug-in version of the C-MAX will deliver a 20 mile electric range and a 550 mile combined range. Today the company announced that pricing for the car will start at $33,745 and with a $3,750 federal tax credit, the price drops to about thirty grand. But the big news is, Ford cut the cost of the hybrid system by 30% by bringing more development in-house and by sharing parts and components from other vehicles on the same platform. Thirty percent is a lot, and shows the value of brining work in-house instead of outsourcing it.
SOY TIRE LATTE
Did you now that about 7 gallons of oil goes into making one tire? That’s a big reason why Goodyear announced it has found a way to replace petroleum with soybean oil. The company says it should be able to get soybean oil based tires on the road around 2015 and that using soybean oil may also improve tread-life by as much as 10 percent.
CARROLL SHELBY DISPUTE
This next one is disgusting. Carroll Shelby’s family has been fighting over his estate, and his remains. Now the fight is over and Shelby’s last wife and three children agreed to split his ashes five ways with two shares going to the wife and one each to the children. I’m tempted to say that Shelby must be turning in his grave as they fight over his remains, but in splitting his ashes five ways he can’t even be doing that.
PICK-UP TRUCK STEP
If you own a pick-up truck and hate climbing in and out of the bed, this could be perfect for you. Called the Elephant Stand, it’s a steel plate that attaches to the hitch assembly, no special assembly is needed it just slides into place. You just spin the stand out and lock it into place with a pin and then you can use it as a step to get into the bed of your truck. The Elephant Stand is rated to hold over 600 pounds and can be bought online for $170 including shipping and handling.
(Today’s feature can only be seen in the video version of this program.)
No doubt the R is helping sell more Golfs. So far this year sales are up 34% in the American market. Even so, while sales are up, the volume is not that great, only about 12,000 cars. No doubt VW has plans to take that higher.
Be sure to join us this Thursday night for Autoline After Hours where me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, will take the show over to Bob Lutz’s garage. We’ll show you his collection of cars, and no doubt he’ll have a lot to say about the car business from the vantage point of someone who used to be an insider and doesn’t have to be as careful about what he has to say. Not that Bob Lutz ever held back. Remember if you can’t join us for the live show, you can always catch it whenever you want on our website at Autoline.tv, or get the podcast at the iTunes store.
And that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.