Episode 64 – Fiat After PSA?, 43 MPG by 2016, Toyota Certified Used Hybrids

January 22nd, 2009 at 12:18pm

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Despite denials, Fiat is now seeking to buy part of PSA, the parent company of Peugeot and Citroen, for two billion Euros. Automakers in the U.S. face vastly higher fuel economy targets if California gets its way. Toyota is starting a certified used program for hybrids. All that and more, plus a look at some of the technology powering the new Honda Insight hybrid.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Despite denials, Fiat could be after PSA. Automakers in the U.S. face vastly higher fuel economy targets. Toyota is starting a certified used program for hybrids.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, January 22, 2009. And now, the news.

A game of musical chairs may be underway in the industry. After Fiat announced it was taking over part of Chrysler, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica says Fiat is now seeking to buy part of PSA, the parent company of Peugeot and Citroen, for two billion Euros. But the Associated Press reports that a Fiat spokesman denied it was raising capital, a kind of curious denial. And PSA declined to comment. And people, that tells me there’s something to this story, because if it’s not true, you deny it, you don’t decline to comment.

The Obama Administration is going to have to decide soon whether or not to allow California to set its own CO2 standards. It effectively would establish a fuel economy standard of over 43 miles per gallon for cars and over 26 mpg’s for trucks by 2016. The Detroit News reports that letters from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the head of the California Air Resources Board are asking the new president to grant a waiver to the Federal Clean Air Act. About 13 other states want to do the same, meaning automakers would have to meet two different standards in the country.

Not long ago BMW unveiled its 7 Series ActiveHybrid concept. It’s really a lower cost version of the two-mode system that BMW co-developed with GM, Daimler, and Chrysler. But in this case it can’t run on pure electric power. The concept features a twin-turbo V8 augmented by an electric motor mounted inside the transmission. Extra power is stored in a compact lithium-ion battery that’s mounted in the trunk. These features combined with other tweaks supposedly cut fuel consumption by 15 percent. No word yet when it might go on sale.

Mike Jackson the CEO of AutoNation, the largest auto dealer group in the US, is once again calling for a gas tax to encourage consumers to buy fuel efficient vehicles. His plan is to increase the price of gas 20 cents per year for five years. Jackson argues that as long as gas is cheap customers won’t buy fuel efficient models. He was speaking at an industry conference yesterday.

Toyota is launching a certified used program for its hybrid vehicles to try and attract more hybrid customers. Each vehicle comes with a three-month/3,000-mile comprehensive warranty, seven-year/100,000-mile limited powertrain warranty and a roadside assistance plan. And according to the Detroit Free Press, the company may also bring its small Smart-sized vehicle, the iQ, already sold in Japan, to the US. Toyota believes there is a market for the vehicle but no plans on when it may do so.

Autoblog is reporting that Ed Peper, Vice President of Chevrolet, is predicting the division will gain market share in 2009. Turns out that as bad as 2008 was, Chevy posted a retail market share increase of six-tenths of a percent. The new Malibu did very well and Peper thinks the redesigned Equinox crossover will bring even more people to the brand.

Coming up next, a look at some of the technology powering the new Honda Insight. We’ll be back right after this.

Earlier this week we showed you Honda’s reintroduction of the first Hybrid nameplate in North America, the Insight, from a sales and marketing perspective. Now let’s take a look under the hood.

This car has been on hiatus since the 2005 model. Over the last few years the company did some reengineering, upgraded a few elements and now feel they’re ready to go grill-to-grill against the segment leader Prius.

This latest vehicle has an integrated motor assist hybrid system, or IMA in Honda-speak, with an i-VTEC four-cylinder engine along with a 10-kilowatt electric motor. Honda says that lighter materials plus the increased efficiencies of its systems like power assist and energy regeneration make this car competitive in the hybrid category. But there are other improvements as well.

The 2010 Honda Insight is available in three models and will go on sale sometime this spring. At this point Honda is still working on pricing.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget, you can get podcasts, transcripts and a whole lot more on our website, AutolineDaily.com. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

15 Comments to “Episode 64 – Fiat After PSA?, 43 MPG by 2016, Toyota Certified Used Hybrids”

  1. Chuck Vergetis Says:

    It is less expensive for me to pay the higher tax then fork out thousands of dollars to replace my cars or even one car. In this economy, the one thing I will not do is mortgage my future for a car. At this time I am saving my car payment for a future.

  2. pedro Fernandez Says:

    So they want to raise the gas tax to encourage people to buy gas-efficient vehicles? How about this:STOP BUILDING THOSE GAS-GUZZLING MONSTERS!

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If the US car mix becomes more like that of Europe, which may well happen if gas prices go back up to >$4.00 a gallon and stay there, Fiat’s buying into Chrysler could make a lot of sense. There would be a large, existing dealer network to sell Fiats. This could make even more sense with PSA involved. Peugeot and Citroen have some very good cars in the Golf/Astra/Focus and smaller classes, and some of these could be sold through Chrysler dealers. Also, some of Chrysler’s excess plants could tool up to build Fiats and Peugeots.

    To those of you who remember Fiat only for what they imported to the US in the 60′s and 70′s, don’t laugh. Fiat’s present cars are quite competitive in their classes.

  4. Harley Weyand Says:

    Why penalize those of us that have shunned the gas hogs all these years. How about a tax on engine displacement (many states and european countries have used this method for years), or expand the “gas guzzler tax” now in effect. Secondly,nobody (manufacturers) gets waivers or the such, which includes “corporate fuel economy” and the seemingly less requirements for trucks and commercial vehicles. And finally, ban any vehicles made in China and India, since they do not seem to want to participate in pollution reduction.

  5. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble regarding seeing Fiats over here: looked at European websites dedicated to vehicle quality and reliability, Fiat is sorely lacking behind other carmakers in quality and reliability. and according to one source, it’s actually getting worse so please we don’t need more mediocre foreign cars here, lets stop looking abroad for answers, we can build our own here and leave our dollars and jobs here! Ford has better cars in Europe than Fiat or just about anyone else.

  6. Tom Cain Says:

    Pedro, nobody says you have to drive one of “THOSE GAS-GUZZLING MONSTERS!” I’ll thank you for not telling ME what to drive either!

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I haven’t researched the reliability of all of the cars sold in Europe, but do know that the Citroen C4 I rented and the Fiat Panda a friend rented last summer both drove very well, were rattle-free, and got exceptional fuel economy. Both were diesels which helped fuel economy, but the gas versions would also do well. Both had very good suspension and steering feel, the seats were comfortable, and the cars were reasonably quiet at highway speed.

    Europeans do tolerate more quality glitches than Americans, but I suspect that is changing.

  8. Tom Says:

    Not allowing people to buy large vehicles raises concerns of the peoples freedoms.

    Like Liquor, Cigs. The politicans are trying to craft a plan that will boost tax revenue and pervent the americans from being too dependant on oil. Also the taxes are designed to stabilize the markets.

    I think the new taxes should be imposed a quarter after the economy is almost back to normal…

  9. R. Rufty Says:

    Why is everybody’s answer to every problem an increase in taxes or creating new taxes? The government does enough of that without others chiming in “Yeah, let’s raise taxes”. All thoe in favor of raising taxes should be the ones to pay them.

  10. Richard Tait Says:

    Let’s take something into account. The fact that FIAT builds less-than-reliable cars in Italy doesn’t mean that a subsidiary is any more likely to do the same. Ferrari is owned by FIAT and is at the top of their game. Hands down. I think the workforce has a lot to do with how a vehicle is assembled. The work attitude, the morale, the team spirit. I don’t think that there necessarily has to be a complete white-wash of ex-European models being sold as Chrysler products for there to be viability. Some of Chrysler’s products need to go. Dakota, Durango, Avenger, Caliber, Sebring, Patriot, and Compass all need to be put to rest. The Caliber for one could be replaced by a FIAT model, perhaps the Bravo (the Linea is perhaps a better match but the GM-sourced chassis would not be easy to get past the lawyers). The 500 would be a welcome addition as a Chrysler model (it doesn’t look like a Dodge and the issue should not be forced, as well as it is likely to be priced above the likes of Honda Fit, so using the Chrysler badge would explain that). The 200C, as recently unveiled at the Detroit show would be a welcome addition, especially is kept in rear drive form. The trucks simply need to be updated, made smaller (to distance themselves from the Ram) and call it a tidy day.

  11. G.A.branigan Says:

    I’ve long been in favor of compact diesel trucks,yet there aren’t any here.The mileage and power would go a long way to removing the larger pickups that people are forced to buy because they do want diesel.Same with cars.Unbelieveable mileage and power not to mention longevity.A national standard for biodiesel etc.would ease the burden of using eastern oil and increase jobs here.

  12. Howard Remeta Says:

    John,
    I am curious. You say the Honda Insight will come in 3 models. I know they have the LX and the EX. What is the third model?

  13. Le Sparrow Says:

    Raising tax is the only way to shift average expenditure, the % is the only part that matters as a ratio of total household spending, stop worrying about it. if the everage income tax is droped to offset this then it is user pays…. everyone wins except the gov. and thats what we want! inc tax also kills hybrids. YES WE CAN!

  14. John F. Says:

    john cars are to expensive no matter what the price of gas goes to i have to keep driving my minivan 1999 dodge, i need it to carry my wife’s electric wheel chair, by raising gas prices it only hurts people who are having a hard time dealing with the economy. PS i am glad your friend can afford a new car and gas he needs to get his head out of the sand we are heading for a depression

  15. John J. Says:

    Mr Remeta,
    The “third model” of the Insight really just an option (and the only option) for the EX: the satellite Navigation system. Curiously, even though the Navi system is satellite-linked, you cannot option for the satellite radio available on other Hondas.

    John,
    The original Honda Insight ended production in 2006 (I’m driving a 2006), not 2005. Also, the new Insight’s Econ button changes only the performance of the car; the gauges and mileage-coaching displays work even when not in Econ mode.