August 2nd, 2012 at 11:45am
General Motors reported its second-quarter earnings, and it was a fairly weak performance. Car sales in the U.S. were up slightly last month, but they show the market is slowing down. Vehicles equipped with manual transmissions have accounted for 7 percent of sales so far this year, up from around 4 percent last year. All that and more, plus a look at the 2013 Chevy Camaro ZL1 Convertible.
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily for August 2nd. I’m John McElroy and here’s the news.
GM REPORTS WEAK EARNINGS
General Motors reported its second-quarter earnings, and it was a fairly weak performance. Global vehicle sales rose 3 percent to nearly 2.4 million cars and trucks. But revenue fell by more than 4 percent to about $37 billion. Net profit fell 41 percent to just under $1.5 billion. Worse, GM’s North American operations, which are the real engine of growth and profits, showed a marked decline. Sales in North America fell 4.6 percent and profits dropped by more than 12 percent. We expected weak earnings because of the slump in Europe and the slow down in South America, but we were taken by surprise to see GM getting weaker in North America, which stands in direct contrast to Ford and Chrysler.
JULY CAR SALES LUKEWARM
Speaking of sales, the numbers for last month in the American market are decent, but they show the market is slowing down. Total sales hit 1.1 million units, up nearly 18 percent from a year ago. But that’s when Japanese automakers were still reeling from the impact of the earthquake, so that skews the numbers. Sales were up 1 percent compared to a month ago, and the SAAR came in at 14 million units, down from 14.3 million last month. The fastest growing car companies were Honda, the Volkswagen Group, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru and Jaguar-Land Rover, with Land Rover getting most of the credit.
MKT TOWN CAR GETS I-4 ECOBOOST
Ford will offer a 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine in the gigantic Lincoln MKT Town Car. But the engine combination is only for the livery market that provides limousine services. According to Motor Trend, with front-wheel drive it delivers 20 MPG city and 28 on the highway. That’s 3 to 4 more miles per gallon than when it comes with a 3.7-liter V-6. Pricing for the 2.0-liter is just under $50,000. The V-6 is a grand more.
NEW LEXUS LS REVEALED
Lexus just revealed the updated version of its high-brow LS. Changes to this luxury flagship seem pretty minor on the surface. Its received the brand’s new face, the so-called “spindle” grille, plus engineers have supposedly focused on dynamics to make it a lot more fun to drive. For the first time ever a sport version will be offered. The redesigned LS also gets a truckload of new technology plus a stiffer body structure. As before, it will be available in rear- or all-wheel drive configurations. Other than that no other specifications were revealed so stay tuned . . .
MANUALS MAKE COMEBACK
Hooray! Auto enthusiasts are finally stemming the tide of the automatic transmission. In North America the manual gearbox is clawing its way back from oblivion. According to Edmunds.com vehicles equipped with shift-it-yourself trannies have accounted for 7 percent of sales so far this year. That compares to just 3.9 percent for ALL of 2011.
LADA TO OFFER 1ST AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION
In related and somewhat unbelievable news, Russian automaker Lada will offer its first vehicle ever equipped with an automatic transmission. WardsAuto reports the Granta low-cost sedan will go on sale in the country later this year. It gets a four-speed auto from JATCO. Interestingly, Lada has only been building cars since 1970. Today it’s owned by Renault-Nissan, and together these three brands control about 40 percent of the Russian market!
COME FLY WITH ME
Here’s one of the more bizarre things you’ll ever see. French artist Natacha Mercier covered an old Mercedes-Benz with flies! According to Autoblog, she coated the car with fly-paper, parked it in a greenhouse and then released 100,000 flies into the building. After that she drove the vehicle around the streets of Toulouse, France, much to the surprise of the many onlookers. Does this FLY with you or does it just BUG you? Sorry I couldn’t resist.
2013 CAMARO ZL1 CONVERTIBLE
(The Camaro ZL1 review is only available in the video version of today’s show.)
Chevy needs the ZL1 to help bring more customers into the showroom. For the last two months in a row, the Camaro was outsold by the Ford Mustang.
Tonight is a historical one for Autoline After Hours. Ed Welburn, the head of design for GM is going to take us into the inner sanctum. He’ll be giving me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, a personal tour inside the Design Center. We’re going to be bringing our cameras into areas that have never been shown before. Now they’re not going to give away any design secrets, but we are going to get into top secret areas. Be sure to tune in tonight starting at 6 p.m. Eastern Time. And remember, you can always catch all the action after that because we’ll be rerunning that show at Autoline.tv.
And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.