August 13th, 2012 at 11:35am
VW has publicly bragged that it will be the biggest car company in the world by 2018 but one automotive analyst believes it’s going to come up short. A new study shows that young people aren’t buying cars like they used to. The Indy Lights series, which is the farm system for the IndyCar Series, is going to get a new race car and it could be the Delta Wing. All that and more, plus a look at the fastest MINI ever built.
Hello and welcome to a new week of keeping track of all the fascinating developments in the global automotive industry. And here’s the latest of them all.
WHO’S NUMBER ONE?
Volkswagen has very publicly bragged that it will be the biggest car company in the world by 2018. Unfortunately, at least one automotive analyst believes it’s going to come up short. Jeff Schuster, the head of forecasting for LMC Automotive says that Toyota will be No. 1 in the world in 2019, followed by VW. Renault-Nissan will take third place, and General Motors drops to fourth. Hyundai-Kia come next, followed by Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, and Honda. Interestingly, Suzuki-Maruti takes the ninth spot and PSA takes 10th. Schuster bases his prediction on sales, manufacturing capacity and future models. One reason why GM falls to fourth is that most analysts don’t count sales of Wuling vehicles in China, since GM is a minority partner in that venture.
TOP 5 SEDANS IN CHINA
The car market in China is continuing to slow down but we thought we’d take a look at the top selling sedans in the market and not surprisingly the list is dominated by General Motors and Volkswagen. According to China Auto Web, the Chevy Sail was the top selling sedan in July, with over 23,600 in sales. It was followed by the Hyundai Elantra (22,539), Volkswagen Sagitar (21,844), Buick Excelle (21,727) and the VW Jetta (20,088).
LARGE LUXURY SEDANS ON THE DECLINE (subscription required)
Are the days of large luxury sedans numbered in the U.S.? Lexus seems to think so. At a media preview of the new LS sedan, Mark Templin, the Group Vice President and General Manager of Lexus in the U.S., told WardsAuto, “There’s some great cars in this segment, but over time you’re going to see this segment decrease.” He says that Baby Boomers, which are the primary buyers of large luxury sedans, are choosing to downsize because they don’t need the extra space. And poor fuel economy is also turning consumers away. Last year Lexus sold just under 10,000 LSs in the U.S. However, back in 1990, its best sales year, over 40,000 were sold.
DELTA WING TO INDY LIGHTS?
The Indy Lights series, which is the farm system to groom a new generation of Indy car drivers, is going to get a new race car. And it could be the Delta Wing. Currently the series uses a Dallara chassis that’s been around for 10 years. There are a number of other constructors who are interested in building race cars for the series, but none would attract as much attention as the radically different Delta Wing. Nissan sponsored the Delta Wing at this year’s 24 hours of Le Mans, but no word yet if Nissan would be involved in the Indy Lights series.
YOUNG BUYERS SPURN CARS
There’s trouble on the horizon for automakers. Young people aren’t buying cars like they used to. According to a study by R.L. Polk, 18 to 34 year olds accounted for 17 percent of new-vehicle purchases in April of 2007, before the Great Recession hit. That figure declined to just 11 percent in the same month of this year. Financially hampered youngsters may be throttling-back demand by as many as 2 million units annually! Are you ready for another distressing statistic? In 1983 92 percent of 20-to-24 year olds had drivers’ licenses. In 2010 it was just 81 percent.
CAW FIGHT CONCESSIONS
Contract negotiations between the Canadian Auto Workers’ Union and the Big Three kick off this week. According to the Detroit Free Press GM, Ford and Chrysler want more concessions but the CAW has two important trump cards. For the first time in a long time North American profits at each of the automakers are strong. Beyond this important fact none of them have taken very much away from workers in Europe, where the situation is turning into a bloodbath. But with the Looney at parity with the U.S. dollar, manufacturing is more expensive than ever in Canada. This will work against the CAW in these negotiations.
It’s been out of the market for the last six years, but after the break we’ll give you the first sneak peek at the John Cooper Works GP edition. Very few of them will actually be built.
JCW MINI GP
The GP edition is a very special version of the John Cooper Works MINI. And we were able to get a look at the car and the most important highlights before it officially debuts at next month’s Paris Auto show.
(Today’s overview of the John Cooper’s Works MINI GP edition is only available in the video version of today’s show.)
We think the car will be priced well above $40,000.
Don’t miss this week’s episode of Autoline After Hours. We’ll be down at the Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise, the world’s largest public display of classic cars. Join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, for the best car talk in the business. That’s this Thursday night starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.