October 11th, 2012 at 11:55am
As the situation in Europe continues to go from bad to worse, Volkswagen may put its ultra-luxury SUVs on hold. Fox and Turner Sports have inked a deal that may have greater ramifications on racing coverage. And, John McElroy weighs in on whether Chrysler should buy Fiat to save the company. All that and more, plus correspondent Andrew Justus has some first drive impressions of the new BMW M5!
Welcome to Autoline Daily for October 11th. I’m John McElroy and here’s the latest developments in the wonderful world of cars.
VW MAY DELAY DEVELOPMENT
Despite posting a $7.7 billion operating profit so far this year, Volkswagen want to save cash. According to Reuters, the company may delay development of SUVs for Bentley and Lamborghini. Bentley already showed us this awkward looking SUV called the EXP 9-F. And Lambo already pulled the wraps off the Urus. VW is so profitable, that when it delays new models, you know it believes the crisis in Europe is going to get really bad.
PATHFINDER GETS A PRICE TAG
Nissan just announced pricing for the all-new Pathfinder. The base, two-wheel drive model starts at $28,270 and the top of the line Platinum model with four-wheel drive starts at $40,770. That does not include destination charges. The new Pathfinder is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 with a continuously variable transmission, but the big news is the weight savings. By going from body-on-frame to unit-body its 500 pounds lighter, and that, along with other improvements, improved its fuel economy by up to 30%. The 2013 Pathfinder goes on sale at the end of the month.
F1 AND DONE
Fox and Turner Sports just inked an 8 year contract with Major League Baseball. Why should we care about that? Well Fox is the parent company to the Speed Channel, and it’s rumored that Speed will turn into an all-sports network. Fox Sports Media Group confirms it’s evaluating the possibility of a national sports channel, but says no such network is imminent. Well for all of us who can only go to Speed for racing series like Formula 1 and Grand-Am let’s hope they at least keep that.
HOW LOW CAN YOUR CONSUMPTION GO?
A few days ago Ford showed off a prototype carbon fiber hood that could help lower fuel consumption. This should not come as huge surprise after Ford announced a collaboration with Dow Automotive earlier this year, that will look at new materials, design processes, and manufacturing techniques. The new carbon fiber hood weighs 50 percent less than its steel counterpart with production times being significantly reduced. Ford continues to look into using carbon fiber on more components, and hopes to drop an average of 250 to 700 pounds on its vehicles.
FIAT COMING UP SHORT
Things are going from bad to worse in Europe, but especially for Fiat. Sales are plummeting, Moody’s just downgraded the company’s credit rating, and Italian politics being what they care, it is politically impossible for Fiat to reduce its considerable overcapacity. Plus, Fiat still doesn’t have full control of Chrysler, it only owns 58.5 percent. It wants to buy more stock from the UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, but needs to come up with more cash, and Fiat doesn’t have much cash to spare right now. Since it doesn’t own Chrysler outright, Fiat can not legally touch Chrysler’s bank account. But Sergio Marchionne did tell me recently that Fiat can contract Chrysler do development work for it, which can save the Italian automaker money. Chrysler meanwhile, continues to confound its critics, boosting sales, gaining market share, and making money. And it’s just getting going in the international markets, so the future looks bright. This presents an interesting opportunity. Why not have Chrysler buy Fiat? To borrow a phrase from Mr. Marchionne, it could be done for a “symbolic price,” that is, with no cash trading hands. Fiat would no longer have to cough up a couple of hundred million dollars to buy more Chrysler stock and Chrysler could provide Fiat with cash. Bada-boom-bada-bing, I find this to be an intriguing possibility.
(Today’s first drive impressions of the BMW M5 are only available in the video version of today’s show.)
M is for magnificent.
Hey don’t forget to join us tonight for Autoline After Hours. I think the Autoextremist is going to be in fine form, because he’s got a lot to say about Dan Ackerson’s latest move to put someone in charge of Cadillac who has absolutely no automotive experience. Plus, if you have any questions about bio-fuels, we will have the answers. Tune in tonight for what promises to be a rocking good time on Autoline After Hours.
And that wraps up today’s report. We’ll be back here tomorrow.