August 9th, 2012 at 11:45am
Renault is making a big push into Africa in hopes of boosting sales. Right now it’s building the largest assembly plant on the continent. Ford’s commercial vehicle partner, Jiangling Motors will take a stake in the Taiyuan Changan Heavy Truck Company, allowing the Dearborn automaker to expand into China’s heavy-duty truck market. Chrysler is set to introduce a CNG version of the Ram 2500 HD pickup truck later this month. All that and more, plus guest host Peter De Lorenzo sounds off on a group of governors joining forces to “save” the auto industry.
Welcome to Autoline Daily, it’s Thursday, August 9, 2012, and I’m Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, bringing you the latest news from the automotive beat. And now, THE NEWS!
RENAULT TO SELL DACIA’S IN AFRICA
The economic crisis in Europe is causing all kinds of problems. It’s especially impacting the car business. In spite of this, German automakers are doing quite well, though the same cannot be said for their French counterparts. The Germans ran to emerging markets – especially China – to increase their sales volume and now Renault is trying the same strategy, but with a twist. Bloomberg reports the company is making a big push into Africa in hopes of boosting sales. Right now it’s building the largest assembly plant on the continent. The 1 billion-Euro facility is in the Moroccan city of Tangier, located at the Strait of Gibraltar. It will have an annual capacity of 400,000 units, dwarfing other plants in Africa. Renault will build several low-cost Dacia models there.
GREEKS SHUN CARS FOR BIKES
In related news, Greece is in a financial meltdown. The Southern-European country faces huge unemployment and a falling standard of living as thousands of businesses close their doors. This is bad news for the auto industry as Greeks shun cars, but it’s good for another sector of the economy. Bicycle-makers are seeing a sales boom as people turn to low-cost transportation. In 2011 more than 200,000 bicycles were sold, up about 25 percent compared to 2010. That pace shows no signs of slowing down this year.
FORD TAKES ON CHINESE HEAVY DUTY MARKET
Automakers have been flooding the Chinese market with passenger vehicles the last several years to boost sales, but now Ford is expanding into the heavy-duty truck market in the country. According to Bloomberg, Ford’s commercial vehicle partner, Jiangling Motors will spend up to $42 million to acquire Taiyuan Changan Heavy Truck Company. The expansion is part of the company’s plan to introduce 15 new models in China by 2015. But this is a very interesting development, especially since Ford sold off its heavy duty truck business to Daimler a decade ago.
CNG POWERED RAM
Chrysler is set to introduce a CNG version of the Ram 2500 HD pick-up truck. According to WardsAuto, the truck is powered by a 5.7 liter HEMI V8 that runs on both gasoline and compressed natural gas and is only available as 4×4. The truck is aimed at customers looking to save on fuel costs but it doesn’t have the same utility as a regular Ram. Two 34-gallon tanks for the CNG are in the flatbed and its towing capacity is lower, 7,600 pounds compared to 10,400 pounds for a comparable gas-powered Ram. The Ram 2500 CNG is for fleet customers only and has a starting price of just over $46,000.
DODGE PULLS OUT OF NASCAR
The announcement that Dodge was pulling out of NASCAR at the end of this season was really no surprise. After Penske Racing – its only front-line team – decided to switch to Ford for the 2013 season, Dodge simply didn’t have quality teams left of any consequence to field their cars. Dodge leaving NASCAR is yet another sign that the series is in decline, with ticket sales and revenue falling for the past five years. But it’s also a sign that Sergio Marchionne & Co. never had the stomach for NASCAR and he and his Italian brain trust won’t miss it. Besides, Dodge has brought the Viper racing program back to the American Le Mans Series so they’ll be plenty busy trying to earn their chops back against BMW, Corvette, Ferrari and Porsche. If you want more details on the Dodge pullout from NASCAR, read my “Fumes” column on Autoextremist.com.
Up next . . . state governors are joining forces to save the U.S. auto industry, or so they’d have you believe . . .
NATIONAL GOVERNORS AUTO CAUCUS
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is forming an auto caucus comprised of a bipartisan group of four governors to support policies aimed at boosting the U.S. auto industry. Snyder revealed his National Governors Auto Caucus yesterday in a speech at the Center for Automotive Research’s annual Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan. Snyder, along with Govs. Jay Nixon, D-Mo.; Bill Haslam, R-Tenn.; and Pat Quinn, D-Ill., are founding members, although it will be open to all governors. The goal of the caucus is to provide “a forum for governors to discuss bipartisan, noncontroversial issues related to the industry and its 8 million jobs,” the governors said in a statement. “The caucus will explore broad policy frameworks, initiatives and developments that impact the industry at large and are consistent with a strong auto manufacturing presence in the country.”
Good luck with that, Rick. When I hear terms like “broad policy frameworks” and “initiatives” all that means is more hand wringing and posturing by a group of Pollyanna Politicians hoping that things will be different. Well, hoping and hand wringing isn’t going to make one bit of difference, especially when you have politicians in Washington and Northern California armed with the stated mission of eradicating the automobile from the U.S.
Wake up and smell the coffee, Rick, It’s going to take a lot more than a Governors Caucus to make a dent in the growing movement to lynch the automobile.
And that’s the High-Octane Truth for Thursday, August ninth.
And that’s also the end of today’s show, but make sure you check out tonight’s episode of Autoline After Hours. I’ll be there along with Johnny Mac plus Michelle Krebs from Edmunds.com and Karl Brauer of TotalCarScore.com. The LIVE show starts at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.tv. Be there or . . . well, just BE THERE.
Closing things out, I’m Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist. Thanks for your patronage and we’ll see you this evening.