Episode 984 – September Sales Strong, Infiniti Wants to Expand in F1, Jeep Heads to India

October 3rd, 2012 at 11:40am

Runtime: 7:40

Car sales in the U.S. continue to grow, hitting nearly 1.2 million units, an increase of 13 percent compared to last year. Infiniti wants to expand its relationship with Red Bull’s Formula One team. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is pushing to sell Jeeps in India. All that and more, plus a look at Opel’s new small car, the Adam.

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Hello and welcome to another episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Wednesday, the 3rd of October, 2012. I’m Christie Schweinsberg from WardsAuto.com bringing you the latest news from the automotive beat.

Well, the figures are in, the numbers have been tallied and results are good. September was a banner month for new-vehicle deliveries in the U.S. According to the mother ship, WardsAuto.com, sales hit nearly 1.2 million units. That’s an increase of about 13 percent year over year. This strong showing pushed the SAAR to 14.9 million, the highest since March of 2008. Small, fuel-efficient cars stole the show, increasing 44 percent versus September 2011. Sales of midsize sedans were up almost 18 percent. They could have done even better had there not been inventory shortages for some models. However, pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers fell about 7 percent. As for manufacturers, Toyota charged up the sales charts, leading the industry with a 41.5 percent year-over-year increase in September. Take that tsunami! Honda and Volkswagen/Audi were up very strongly as well. Ford sales were down nearly 1 percent, largely due to shortages of the Fusion, which is in sell down right now. The company also lacks inventory of the popular Escape. Chrysler was up double digits. Let’s hope things continue to improve like this and that the auto industry can continue to drive the country out of the economic doldrums.

The Land Rover Defender hasn’t been sold in the U.S. since 1997, but the company says it will return at some point. The head of Land Rover in North America confirmed to the CarConnection.com that the next-generation Defender will be sold in the U.S. Even though it will be sold around the globe, the company says it will be engineered with U.S. sales in mind. Last year Land Rover showed a concept version of the Defender called the DC100, but it’s not known if it will become the production version.

Details about the 2014 Mazda3 are leaking out. According to Car and Driver, like the new 6, the 3 is expected to shed hundreds of pounds of weight, thanks to the company’s Skyactiv platform. It’s expected to be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. A diesel is also under consideration for the U.S. The turbocharged MazdaSpeed 3 may also return. The 2014 Mazda3 is expected to go on sale late next year or early in 2014.

Until recently, the Infiniti brand was primarily sold in the U.S. and Japanese markets. But now it wants to go global. In fact, Infiniti recently moved its headquarters out of Japan over to Hong Kong. And since Formula One racing is so global, Infiniti wants to get more involved with it. It’s sharing technical information with the Red Bull team on its hybrid and battery technology. And Infiniti hints that it would like to supply engines to the team. But it goes beyond that. Infiniti says Red Bull is one of the most high tech marketing firms in the world, and it wants to leverage that know-how so it can sell more cars globally.

In more global news, the American automaker run by an Italian has plans to expand into India. WardAuto reports Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is pushing to get Jeep into the hugely important Asian market. These rugged off-road vehicles are already sold in some 120 markets around the world. Through August global Jeep sales were up 58 percent compared to the same time last year.

Last month we reported about tests that show the battery in the Nissan LEAF degrades in hot climates. Now TopClassActions reports the company is being sued over the loss of battery life and vehicle range. The suit alleges there’s a defect in the battery and that Nissan tried to conceal the problem. The class-action lawsuit asks that the company remove and replace the car’s battery system, reform its battery warranty, cover the loss of battery capacity under warranty, and reimburse any repairs made. Nissan says it’s aware of the lawsuit and that it lacks merit.

After the commercial break we’ll take a look at Opel’s BIG reveal at last week’s Paris Motor Show. Stay tuned . . .

We recently ran into Martin Golka, the mini car product manager for Opel, who explained the basics of what the new Adam is all about and what it means for Opel.

To distinguish itself from the competition, Opel offers an amazing number of ways to configure the Adam.

So how is Opel going to handle all the complexity of offering 30,000 build combinations?

We asked Martin Golka about the kinds of customers that Opel expects to buy this car.

While other small cars like the Mini and Fiat 500 went with a retro design, that’s not the way that Opel went.

Opel may be in deep financial trouble, but a key way for it to fix its problems is with new products, especially ones like the new Adam that get the company into a segment of the market where it has not competed before.

And that brings us to the end of today’s broadcast. I’m Christie Schweinsberg from WardsAuto.com. Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

30 Comments to “Episode 984 – September Sales Strong, Infiniti Wants to Expand in F1, Jeep Heads to India”

  1. Bradley Says:

    Mazda3 Diesel needs to be Mazda’s Hail Marry. It will be successful and so will Mazda.

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    In related news, the repo industry expects a banner year in 2013, that Adam is masculine? really? that multi-colored thing is not very masculine looking to me!

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ # 1:I think Mazda is spot on with offering a diesel option. As for the Opel Adam,I like it…..kinda.With the wide range of color combos and wheels etc,I think it will be a big success…jmho.

  4. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Pedro: I think it’s masculine looking with the right color.Some of the darker colors almost seemed to change it to another whole look.Some of the colors shown were a throwback to the 60′s and made it look small and kinda dumb looking.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Infiniti wants to supply engines to the Red Bull F1 team? Infiniti is Nissan, and Nissan/Renault are the same company, so all it would take is very simple “badge engineering” for Red Bull’s Renault engines to become Infiniti engines.

  6. Lex Says:

    I think Infinite and Nissan should pool their resources together for F1. This will give both brands equal visibility if they should be so lucky to partner with Red Bull Racing. One Red Bull Car would carry the Nissan Badge and the other the infinite Badge.

    This Opel Adam sounds like it’s come to the party too late in my opinion. The Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 already have that segment in Europe sewn up.

  7. Brett Says:

    It was a shame the Astra did not survive Saturn’s demise. I’d like to see the Adam imported here, too.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    GM should bring it here and sell it as a Buick, but they won’t.

  9. C-Tech Says:

    Hearing the numbers, I’ll have to put salt and pepper on my prediction that the SAAR will be under 14 million and eat it.

    We’ll see if there is a Diesel under the hood of the Mazda3 in U.S.

    @ #4 and #8 G.A. and Pedro you both are on target for Opel and the Opel Adam. GM should let their Buick dealers dust off their Opel signs and put them back up. Let Buick sell the Adam. If Opel could put together another GT, well…….

    @ #5 Kit, you are right on target. Sadly, since Infiniti is not sold much in Europe, the name does not mean much in Europe.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    Every time I watch a small car review from the UK, they always compare it the Vauxhall Astra or the VW Golf the 2 benchmarks for small cars over there, yet they bring the Astra here as a Saturn, no promotion, flew under the radar during its existence here and it did not make a dent in sales, this Adam has a chance, I mean people are buying that awful 500 even though it gets hammered by critics just because it’s different.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Astra sold by Saturn was an outgoing generation in its last year or two of production. Then, they sold it with that one engine which neither performed particularly well, nor did it get great gas mileage. The pricing wasn’t too good either. I liked the car ok, but not nearly enough to buy one, knowing that depreciation would be horrendous.

  12. W L Simpson Says:

    I am certain the Astra I test drove when new had holes in the floor.

  13. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ #12: Did you test drive the flintstone model?

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    GM kept blundering every thing they did, spent a fortune to develop Saturn and then let it languish for years, by the time they tried to fix it, it was too little, too late.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Toyota is doing the same with Scion, the FR-S should have been a Celica or a GT-86 like the rest of the world and let Scion sell small, quirky cars like it’s been doing since it began.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    They could no doubt sell FR-S/Celica at my Indiana Toyota/Honda/Ford store in decent numbers, if it were a Toyota rather than a Scion. Maybe the Scion sub-brand should be dropped or all Toyota dealers should sell Scion. They’d sell more cars if they did.

  17. cwolf Says:

    I took the “masculine” comparison as to its interior design. To me, it was more of what one is used to. The many variation options has me wondering about the added costs to the company to orchestrate and keep in supply all these extras. I do like the Adam and don’t think it’s too late for its intro. It is only one of several new models to be introduced which should capture much needed interests.

    Now it’s Mazdas turn again to hint at a diesel in a car. How many times have we heard this before? I’ll believe it when I see it!

    C-tech, I too under estimated the SAAR but the crow we eat may not be all that tainted. Experts say pent up demand is pretty much depleated, along with most rebates(like Chry’s) and interest rates to future buyers may be not as low as one may percieve. They expect sales to become flat at best. Mrs.Dash goes good with crow!

  18. cwolf Says:

    The FR-S may get a boost if Bloomburgs best get their way as being one on the list as best cars of the year. They chose the ATS,M3,Fusion(hyb) and the FR-S.

  19. C-Tech Says:

    @ @18, #17 CWolf I know both of us would rather eat crow than watch sales drop. I don’t understand, I thought FR-S sales were a bright spot at Toyota/Scion. Why call it a Celica to boost sales?

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    Scion been selling “hippie” cars and in the case of the xA and xD, girlie cars, they have their sporty car, the tC, Toyota fans have been clamoring for a sporty car since the demise of the Celica, MR2 and Supra, selling the FR-S as a Celica would have made the brand more complete.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf, as much as you dislike Toyota and all Asian cars, the FR-S filled a void in the US car market for years, an affordable, sports car that you can live with everyday and will not kill you in the gas pump either, no one has anything similar in price to compete with it. In the next few years, we should see others join the party.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe they don’t sell the FR-S as a Toyota in the U.S. because, with the additional sales outlets, they couldn’t build enough to meet demand.

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit: over here, all Toyota dealers sell Scion as well, I thought that was the norm nationwide. Scion was supposed to be the entry-level brand for Toyota, but it turns out the Yaris and Corolla are both cheaper than any Scion model.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pedro, I guess I’m just used to Toyota dealers that don’t have Scion, because that is the case with the dealer in the town where I’ve spent most of my life. Maybe this dealer is a rarity. I think their Toyota/Honda/Ford combination is a rarity.

  25. cwolf Says:

    pedro, I do not dislike Toyota or Asian cars; I just don’t want to own one. I like the Miata, considered the Corrola as a work car,bought my son a Mazda3 and admire Honda’s tranny.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    #24 I guess in more rural America, you see different brands under the same roof, not here, only GMC. Buick for example and most Lexus dealers are attached to a Toyota dealer, but separate service and sales.

  27. HtG Says:

    A couple of years ago, when I spoke to a product specialist at the NY Autoshow, I learned that one intention of the FR-S was to raise the average age of people interested in Scion. Back then it was teenagers. The 86s I’ve seen on the road have looked quite the cool and were being driven with verve

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yeah, too much verve, my son just got his first speeding ticket in almost 10 yrs of driving, cops pick on sports cars, the other day, a guy in a red sports car next to me got pulled over at a speed trap and we were both doing the same speed, go figure!

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Any guesses on car of the year? I think it will be the ATS, groundbreaking for the US auto industry!

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    How about a veggie burger for Katie and just tell her it’s a regular one?