Episode 971 – Volvo Pressures Suppliers, Audi SQ5 TDI Concept, BMW Concept Active Tourer

September 14th, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 10:19

Volvo is telling its Swedish suppliers they better cut their prices by 25 percent in the next two years, or else. Audi is set to premiere a performance version of its Q5 crossover at the Paris Motor Show in a of couple weeks. And speaking of Paris, BMW just introduced a plug-in hybrid called the Concept Active Tourer before it debuts at the show. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week where we take you inside the top secret design studios at General Motors.

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Welcome to Autoline Daily, we’ve almost made it through another week. And here’s the latest of what’s happening in the world of automobiles.

Well, it was easy to see this one coming. Volvo is telling its Swedish suppliers they better cut their prices by 25 percent in the next two years, or else. And the “or else” means they’re going to buy more parts in China. Ever since Chinese automaker Geely bought Volvo it was inevitable it would use more Chinese suppliers, especially since it wants to quadruple sales in China and will be doing more production there.

And now geopolitics are starting to play a role in the Chinese car market. Japan and China are embroiled in a dispute over a set of dinky islands in the East China Sea and that dispute is starting to turn nasty. Bloomberg reports a Honda Civic was burned in protest in front a Honda dealership yesterday. Chinese automaker BYD says it will give the protester a new Surui sedan to show support for his patriotism. Other Chinese functionaries warn that unless Japan cedes those islands to China things will get worse. Last month sales at Honda and Toyota dropped 15 percent at the same time that German, American and South Korean sales jumped by double digits.

Now over to Japan where the Transport Ministry is set to approve a brand-new vehicle segment: the ultracompact. If you thought kei cars were small think again. These things are so tiny they’re dwarfed by golf carts. They’re primarily aimed at elderly people living in rural areas of Japan that may not have easy access to public transportation. There’s a very similar vehicle segment in Europe. Town EV, a startup founded by a former Toyota executive is set to introduce a single seat electrically powered four-wheeler called the ZEVe. Top speed is 50 kilometers an hour, while its range is 50 kilometers – 31 miles. The car will sticker for about 800,000 yen, roughly $10,000. Naturally, Japan’s big automakers are watching this segment very closely. One Toyota executive predicts demand for ultracompacts will hit 70,000 units annually once they’re allowed on the road, which could be as early as next month.

Audi is set to premiere a performance version of its Q5 crossover at the Paris Motor Show in a couple weeks. The “SQ5 TDI exclusive concept” will be hauled around by a 313 horsepower diesel. It will be the first Audi S ever powered by a compression-ignition engine. A limited production run of just 50 concept models will go on sale in the first quarter of next year. In Germany they’ll sticker for a handsome €92,000, about 121 grand. The regular version, which lacks many of the concept’s luxurious flourishes starts at a more reasonable €59,000, about $77,000.

Last week Land Rover revealed the new Range Rover in London, England. Now the luxury SUV is making its debut in the U.S. As you may recall the big news is that it’s about 700 pounds lighter, thanks to an all-aluminum chassis. The new Range Rover goes on sale in the U.S. this winter with a starting price of $83,500 and nearly $131,000 for the top model. That’s not cheap but it’s a lot less expensive than in the U.K. where the base price starts at $115,000.

BMW just introduced a plug-in hybrid concept before it debuts at the Paris Motor Show. Called the Concept Active Tourer, it’s powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline-turbo engine and a lithium-ion battery. Unlike other BMWs, the engine does not power the rear wheels, it drives the front wheels while the electric motor takes care of the rear. It has a range of about 18.5 miles on electric power only and its average fuel economy is 94 MPG. But that doesn’t mean it’s a slug. The Concept Active Tourer moves from 0 to 100 km/h in under 8 seconds and has a top speed of about 125 MPH.

Coming up next, we’re going to take you where television cameras have never been invited before, deep inside the top secret design studios at General Motors. We’ll be right back, after this.

Maybe you caught the Autoline After Hours show where GM’s head of design, Ed Welburn, let us into the inner sanctum of GM Design. If you didn’t catch it here’s your chance to see the edited version. That’s because this week we’re presenting the television version of our tour inside GM design. And here’s a taste of what the show is all about.

You can catch that entire show on our website at Autoline.tv, or check your local public television listings for Autoline this Week. And before we go, let’s check in to see what’s in store on tonight’s LIVE episode of RoundAbout. Here’s Craig Cole.

Coming up at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time: would you sell your car to fund an operation? One man is hocking his so he can become, well, less man-ish. We’ll also tell you about a troop of British classic cruisers caravanning their way across the African continent … yikes. Mark Phelan from the Detroit Free Press and designer Jason White will join us, and we’ll get them to play another hilarious game of Cartegories. Be there for all the fun at Autoline.tv, 6:30 Eastern.

That’s it for today’s show thanks for watching and we will see you next week.

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22 Comments to “Episode 971 – Volvo Pressures Suppliers, Audi SQ5 TDI Concept, BMW Concept Active Tourer”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    That looks more like the Pixar studios where they make cartoons, well some of those GM cars look cartoonish, so it makes sense, but where are the drafting tables? the clay models? where do they really engineer the cars? this is more like a tech geek’s ultimate dream setting.

  2. Rumblestrip Says:

    John, the sticker prices you quoted for the Audi in Euro’s that Land Rover in Pounds Sterling, did that include the 20% VAT in the price?

  3. HtG Says:

    TGIF. Here’s a big set of photos from Lime Rock Historics Day. On Labor Day weekend different classes of race cars competed, Stirling Moss was around, and loads of interesting cars were scattered around the parking lots. The photo set is in the order I took the shots, you’ll see Duncan Dayton of Delta Wing being photographed near the Lotus79 he drove in a race, and even an image of yours truly. In the swaps area there was a man showing his collection of dealership brochures, which he’s been assembling since he was a kid. He told me that one way to get stuff was to find the old mom and pop dealers in places like Pennsylvania, since owners would just box up a year’s worth of stuff and stuff it into the attic.

    Again, the camera was purchased with proceeds of my Miata sale.


  4. C-Tech Says:

    The new owners of Volvo are betting that quality will not suffer when asking suppliers to cut prices, good luck with that! I doubt suppliers will bring their best innovations to Volvo first for integration on their cars. Will the new Chinese suppliers be able to work with the engineers at Volvo? The next generation of Volvo’s may become the third or fourth choice among buyers (if at all).

    I think it is pretty slick the GM 3-D stuios being able to create and/or modify a car online. It is quicker than doing and re-doing a clay model and the 3-d view is better than the limited dimensions of a concept drawing (although I do appreciate the concept drawings and artists who create them).

    Ultra-compacts? Where is the GEM car company entry. In that category, GEM must be the Roll-Royce!

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    The cheaper Swedish parts woul still be better than the crap that will come out of China and will further drive Volvo into automotive oblivion, much the same as SAAB has.

  6. C-Tech Says:

    @ #3 The pictires are great, brings back old memories, and quite a few “What is THAT !” moments

  7. C-Tech Says:

    Thanks HtG, the Miata lives on

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Great pics, HtG. Boy, what a diverse collection. You don’t see many of those NSU’s around.

  9. HtG Says:

    Thanks, C-Tech and Kit, I liked seeing those diverse cars in the parking area all next to each other. If you look in the engine bay of the NSU you’ll see three condensors each feeding a spark plug, I think. But I don’t get how the timing worked. I saw the car driving, and it was dreamy, like going back in time. In fact, seeing all those race cars felt like the mags and TV were coming to life. Check out that purple Cooper; this is the start of mid engine cars in F1.

  10. Alex Kovnat Says:


    I’d like to see how well this category of vehicle does, regarding grams of CO2 per person-mile. Or, foot-pounds of energy (however measured) per person-mile.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    Motorweek just tested the ATS and really liked it, now if they can keep the reliability up and get enough word of mouth out there, GM might just have a big seller on their hands!

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Which powertrain in the ATS Motorweek drove? I’m guessing V-6 automtic.

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    2 liter turbo auto, they reported no turbo lag and felt like a strong 6 and most amazingly, the weight is low for its class, a trim,light on its feet and fit American, go figure!

  14. Chuck Grenci Says:

    My local Cadillac dealer just got their first ATS; it is an ATS Luxury with the 3.6 liter. I went over this morning to take a look (Sunday); I go on Sunday’s to avoid salespeople. It was Glacial Blue and looked real nice.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Low and behold, I’ve found that driving in with an old POS car keeps car salesmen away from me, they figure I’m there just to waste their time, funny thing is when I went with my sister to really buy something 2 yrs ago, we could get little help. We actually walked out of a Chevy and a Chrysler dealer cause no one came over. (Lost out on a sale)

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I expected the ATS on Motorweek to be the six, since that is what all of them at dealers seem to be. I’m looking forward to hearing about the turbo manual. If it shifts as well as a BMW or Miata, that should be a cool car.

  17. HtG Says:

    Did you see the manual is a 1K option? And it only comes with the turbo 4?

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:


  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The manual is a negative $1K option. That is unusual these days. I think a manual costs extra in a Corvette.

  20. Chuck Grenci Says:

    And the manual trans credit varies from model to model: 1180 for the standard and luxury, 1280 for the performance and 1475 for the premium.

  21. Philip Says:

    How is it that the Range Rover costs over $30K less in the US, than in England where it is built? Is the US version stripped of content?

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Mainly, the VAT (national sales tax) they have in Europe.