November 21st, 2012 at 11:41am
GM invests in Proterra Inc., a company that makes electric, fast-charging buses. Mazda will be building B-spec race cars, in what it calls the 50-hour project. Could the Buick logo get its first redesign in the last decade? One top executive thinks so. All that and more, plus John talks with Mike Jackson, the CEO of Autonation on Autoline This Week.
Welcome to Autoline Daily. It’s November 21st, the day before Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and what are we thankful for? Well, to you, our loyal audience for one, and the never-dull, ever-changing auto industry for another. Let’s dig in!
GM INVESTS IN QUICK-CHARGE BUSES
GM Ventures, which is kind of GM’s in-house venture capital arm will invest for a second time in Proterra Inc., a company that makes electric, fast-charging buses. GM invested $6 million in 2011, and now it’s investing more. GM and 6 other companies have invested a total of $23 million. Proterra’s EcoRide buses can be charged in only 10 minutes and have up to 40 miles of range. GM used to dominate the market for city buses in the US. Could it possibly be looking at re-entering this segment?
RENAULT DELAYS ZOE EV
Electric vehicle sales are nowhere near where automakers hoped they would be and not surprisingly Renault is delaying the launch of its ZOE EV. It says it’s postponing the launch until next year because of the economic downturn in Europe. And Renault says it doesn’t want to interfere with the similarly sized Clio hatchback which it just launched. Even so, it’s yet another setback for the EV market.
WALL STREET LIKES ZIPCAR
Looks like Wall Street is warming up to the idea of car sharing. Goldman Sachs just put out a buy on Zipcar, and the stock is surging. Goldman says that Zipcar is growing could enjoy better profit margins. Even so, it says this is a high-risk investment. Though the price is up this week, it’s down 44 percent for the year.
FORD AND MAZDA STILL TOGETHER IN CHINA
Ford and Mazda have been going their separate ways the last several years but they’re not completely ending their partnership just yet. According to Reuters, the two companies, along with their Chinese partner Changan, have agreed to invest an additional $37 million to their engine plant in China.
TO B-SPEC OR NOT TO B-SPEC
Have you ever thought about going road racing? If so, the B-spec racing series is about as easy and affordable as you can get into. Mazda, Honda, Kia and Mini all offer B-spec race kits, in fact, at the Performance Racing Industry (PRI) Trade Show, Orlando, Florida on November 29th, Mazda will be building B-spec racers, in what it calls the 50-hour project. The kit is $2,575, and if you start out with a used Mazda2, you can build a race car for about $15,000. By the way, Mazda offers $75,000 in prize money for the Mazda Club Racer Shootout, so if you’re good enough, you could actually make money at the same time you live your dream.
NEXT WEEK IN LA
Well, we’re officially one week away from our annual LIVE broadcast from the floor of the LA Auto Show, but you can get involved and send questions now! We’ll have a show loaded with top-level executives making news at the show like Anthony Foulk from Audi, Mark Reuss from GM, Tim Kuniskis from FIAT and many others. Submit your questions by clicking the link in John’s Journal on Autoline.tv where you’ll see a full, up-to-date list of the guests slated to appear. And, make sure you tune in next Wednesday at 4PM Eastern Time, 1PM Pacific for the live show.
ENCORE GETS AWD SYSTEM
Buick will be installing its Active On-Demand all-wheel-drive system in the new Encore SUV. They worked with Borg Warner to develop a magnetically actuated compact coupling. The system sends power to the rear wheels on take-off, but if no slip is detected, a computer disengages the clutch and returns the vehicle to front-wheel-drive. The all-wheel-drive Encore gets 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway and will be available by the third-quarter of 2013.
A BLOW TO THE SHIELD
In other Buick news, according to Mark Reuss, President of GM North America, GM will consider a revamp of Buick’s famous tri-shield logo. It would be the first redesign for the logo in the last decade, and the idea is to give it a more modern look that will appeal to the younger buyers that Buick is bringing into the brand.
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
Car sales in the US market are one of the few bright spots in the American economy. So why are they going so strong? Mike Jackson, the CEO of Autonation has some strong opinions about it, and we’ll get into that right after this.
Mike Jackson is one of the savviest CEO’s in the automotive industry. He heads up Autonation, which may well be the largest retailer in the world. They sell 32 brands in 215 dealerships, so this guy really knows who’s buying what and why. In the following clip Mike Jackson explains why car sales are doing as well as they are in the American market.
By the way, Steve Finlay from Ward’s and Craig Trudell from Bloomberg are on the show as well and you can watch the entire show on our website at Autoline.tv
And that wraps up this week’s reports for Autoline Daily. We will be taking the next two days off to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, and we hope all of you can take a moment to be thankful for what you’ve got. Thank you for letting us be a part of your day, and we’ll see you back here on Monday.