September 18th, 2012 at 12:15pm
Ford and the Canadian Auto Workers Union have reached a tentative agreement for a new labor contract. Vehicle registrations in Europe dropped 8.5 percent in August versus the same month in 2011. GM’s 2.5-liter EcoTec four-cylinder engine features the company’s new Intake Valve Lift Control system. All that and more, plus a look at which vehicles are flying off dealer lots the fastest.
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. It’s Tuesday, September 18, 2012. Summer is rapidly winding down and it’s starting to get a little bit cool up here in Detroit. I’m Michelle Krebs, Senior Analyst at Edmunds.com bringing you the latest car news. And in the second half of the show we’ll take a look at which vehicles are selling the fastest.
FORD AND CAW REACH DEAL (subscription required)
But first, Ford and the Canadian Auto Workers struck a tentative agreement for a new labor contract. According to the Wall Street Journal, the four-year deal reduces the starting wage for new hires and extends the period when they’ll reach higher wages. It also eliminates cost-of-living increases and freezes veteran workers’ pay. In exchange, current employees won’t have their wages or pensions reduced. And Ford agreed to create 600 new jobs over the life of the contract. The CAW hopes to use this contract as a framework for deals with General Motors and Chrysler. Its contract with the two companies ended yesterday but the union has “indefinitely” extended a strike deadline as it negotiates with the two companies.
EUROPEAN SALES CONTINUE DECLINE
The overall European economy is a mess right now and that turmoil is having a big impact on the automotive industry. The latest sales figures are in, and they aren’t looking good. New-vehicle registrations dropped 8.5 percent in August versus the same month in 2011. Sales for the calendar year are off about 6.6 percent. Germany was one of the few bright spots in Europe, but not even this mighty economy is immune to the downturn. Sales dropped 4.7 percent. The August performance marks the 11th consecutive month of decline, and the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association projects car sales will be at a 17-year low by year’s end.
DELTA WING TO TAKE FLIGHT . . . AGAIN
The Nissan DeltaWing racecar received a lot of attention when it competed at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Unfortunately the car did not finish the race, but now the DeltaWing gets another shot to compete. It will race at next month’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, a 1,000 mile 10-hour event. And we could be seeing more of the DeltaWing in the future. It can race in the 2013 American Le Mans Series and a provision will be made for the car as part of the merger between ALMS and the GRAND-AM series in 2014.
PROPANE AND PROPANE ACCESSORIES
Last month we reported that gasoline prices in some parts of Italy were as high as $9.50 a gallon. Now Bloomberg reports this has caused sales of natural-gas and propane-powered vehicles to skyrocket. Sales of those cars are up 90 percent this year and now account for more than 11 percent of the Italian market, more than double what it was a year ago. This is one of the bright spots in the Italian car market, as overall sales are down 20 percent this year. See, I told you Europe was in trouble!
The Feds have officially rated the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid. This stylish family car is driving away with segment-topping fuel-economy honors. It’s an efficiency triple play, a hat trick, a turkey if you will. The U.S. EPA has officially certified the car at 47 miles per gallon in the city and 47 on the highway for a combined score of, you guessed it, 47 miles per gallon! That’s about 5 liters per 100 kilometers for all you metric folks out there. Ford is eager to trumpet the Fusion Hybrid’s economy advantage over the Camry Hybrid. It delivers 8 MPG more on the highway and 4 more around town than the Toyota.
INTAKE VALVE LIFT CONTROL
The next-generation Chevy Impala gets a comprehensive overhaul for the 2014 model year. Along with a stylish new body, it has also received extensive work under the hood. The car’s available 2.5-liter EcoTec four-cylinder engine is getting some fancy technology to make it more powerful and efficient. It features the company’s new Intake Valve Lift Control system, I-V-L-C for short. What does it do? Well, it varies how far the engine’s intake valves open. There’s a low-lift setting for light loads and low engine speeds. This helps generate torque. When greater output is required, the system shifts over to a high-lift cam lobe, which helps maximize airflow through the engine. This gives drivers the best of both worlds. Overall it’s a very clever design.
Coming up next, what vehicles spend the fewest days on dealer lots? I’ll give you the inside scoop right after the break.
What were the fastest sports cars sold last month – or, at least, the ones that were sold fastest off dealership lots?
The answer is Toyota’s Scion FR-S, Subaru’s BRZ and Hyundai’s Veloster. The trio represents a winning formula of size and price for young, recession-weary buyers who to put some fun back into their driving.
The FR-S and the BRZ topped the list of quickest-selling vehicles in August, according to Edmunds.com’s analysis. And the Veloster was right up there as well.
The limited-volume FR-S and BRZ are entry-level, rear-drive sports coupes that are attractively priced at about $25,000. The pair share underpinnings, were jointly developed by Toyota and Subaru and are built by Subaru.
They have been among the industry’s quickest sellers ever since they went on sale in the spring. In August, the typical FR-S and BRZ sold in just 11 days and the Veloster in a mere 17 days, according to Edmunds.com’s calculation of days-to-turn. That is, the number of days from a vehicle being dropped off at a dealership by the car hauler to when it is driven away by a paying customer.
For comparison, the industry average days-to-turn in August was 58 days.
Another Subaru – the Subaru Impreza – was right behind the FR-S and BRZ in flying off dealership lots. The Impreza is driving Subaru to its fifth consecutive year of record sales. In the past five years, Subaru sales have soared a whopping 75 percent.
Some Detroit iron made the fastest-selling list in August as well – something that doesn’t happen every month. The new Chevrolet Spark is turning very quickly. It’s already out-selling the more established Toyota Yaris, and it is still only available in 18 markets. It goes nationwide by year-end. The flagship Cadillac XTS sedan has been on the fastest-selling list for a couple of months since it went on sale in June. It could be in even scarcer supply if the Canadian Auto Workers union decides to strike GM as the XTS is built in Oshawa, Ontario. And from Chrysler, the Dodge Dart is turning in an average 17 days.
But while sales may be UP our time is nearly OUT. Again, I’m Michelle Krebs, Senior Analyst at Edmunds.com. Thanks for watching, listening or downloading. I’ll see you later. Bye!