Episode 72 – January Sales Will Stink, BMW M-Cars Soar, Ford May Sell Volvo to Renault

February 3rd, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:43

January sales in the American market will come out today and the numbers will be grim. Sales of BMW’s high performance M-cars shot up 50 percent in 2008. Ford might sell Volvo to Renault. All that and more, plus a look at the redesigned 2010 Volvo XC60.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. January sales will come out today and they’re going to be yucky-pooey. But BMW’s high performance M-cars are selling great. And Ford might sell Volvo to Renault.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, February 3, 2009. And now, the news.

Later today we’ll see what car sales were for last month in the American market and the numbers will be grim. Reuter’s reports that analysts are predicting the annualized rate for January will be barely over 10 million, about the same disastrous level they’ve been running for the prior three months. And fleet sales are expected to be down dramatically, which will hurt the Detroit automakers the most, since they do the most fleet sales.

Here’s one I’m at a loss to explain. Sales of BMW’s high performance M cars shot up 50 percent, making 2008 the M-brand’s second-best year on record. You remember 2008, when oil prices topped $140 a barrel and then the market collapsed? Well sales of M-cars in the U.S. rose 70 percent, the brand’s highest increase. Just goes to show that some people just love performance.

French automaker Citro├źn is introducing a new line-up of near-premium cars that includes bringing back the DS, probably the brand’s most iconic car. I ought to know, I own a DS. The first concept car introducing the new premium cars is expected to debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month. Later, the company will introduce two other midsize models and more details should surface in the coming weeks so stay tuned.

And the rest of this show seems to be all about Ford.

Earlier this morning Ford announced that Johnson Controls-Saft will supply the lithium-ion batteries for its plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. Ford says it will have an electric commercial van to market by 2010, with speculation centering on the Transit Connect. It will have an electric sedan by 2011, likely based on the next generation Focus, with the EV powertrain coming from Magna. And it will have a plug-in Escape in 2012.

In other Ford news, the company announced it will move its Asia Pacific and Africa regional headquarters from Thailand to China. According to Gasgoo.com Ford says the move will help strengthen its presence in the region and allow the company to be more competitive.

And According to Autoblog, Ford is reportedly talking with Renault about buying Volvo. The two automakers allegedly got together in the fall to discuss the purchase of Volvo and now, have apparently resumed talks. Volvo and Renault almost combined back in 1993, but Volvo management and stockholders were against the merger.

And that’s the perfect segue into our feature story. Coming up next, a look at the redesigned 2010 Volvo XC60.

Volvo’s ownership continues to be an open question, but that hasn’t stopped this 80-year-old Swedish company from adding to its stable of unique vehicles. The latest is the XC60, a small luxury crossover that we asked our West Coast reporter Isaac Bouchard to drive around the California coast.

Isaac reports that the XC60 is the company’s first vehicle to incorporate the new Volvo DNA or Dynamic New Approach as they’re calling it. In fact if you’d like to know even more about the styling of this small premium utility, we’ve got a video walkaround of the vehicle with Steve Mattin, the Design Director at Volvo in the John’s Journal section of our website, www.AutolineDetroit.tv. You can find a link to that video in today’s show notes. And by the way, Isaac will be back on Thursday’s Autoline Daily with a look at Volvo’s new safety feature on the XC60.

Also, we’ve got an event coming this Friday you will not want to miss. It’s a live webcast at noon with Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, the chief economist at Ford. She’ll be giving us Ford’s forecast for how the economy will do this year, as well as Ford’s forecast of what will happen with car sales. You’ll be able to post comments and ask questions during the interview, so start thinking about what you’d like to ask. You’ll be able to see it all at AutolineDaily.com or at AutolineDetroit.tv. That’s this coming Friday, live at noon Eastern Time, or 1700 hours Greenwich Mean Time.

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.

5 Comments to “Episode 72 – January Sales Will Stink, BMW M-Cars Soar, Ford May Sell Volvo to Renault”

  1. Tom Martin Says:

    BMW M-Series sales make sense to me.

    The price of Gasoline is down.

    Those who buy M-series cars don’t jump from pay check to pay check.

    There are few luxury performance sedans, and in a couple years — there may be none. It may be the last opportunity to get a new one.

    By the way, I don’t consider the CTS-V, any Lexus, G37, etc. in the same league as an M-series BMW in regards to both performance and luxury. Mercedes has some models that come close.

  2. Salvador G. Says:

    Good for you John, the C/DS was a futuristic car when it came out/ half a century ago/. so the new one will be what… run on hydrogen, able to fly and use the FORCE???
    I’ll settle for the Force or a Mercedes S-Class.

  3. Ed Says:

    BMWs are the most over-rated vehicles on the planet. Drive a Cadillac CTS (it doesn’t even have to be the V) and see what all those M series drivers are missing, including the extra bucks to have a propeller symbol on their hood. Big deal.

  4. pedro Fernandez Says:

    John: Despite what frustrated comedians may say I remember back in the 70′s a colleague of mine had a Citroen which he let me drive around the block once. I have never forgotten the experience, it was like nothing I had ever been in before and to this day I still fondly remember it. ps the maintenance on it was very expensive even in 1970′ s dollars but he could afford it and always said it was well worth it.

  5. Phil Krueger Says:

    John: I knew there was a reason I liked you! Other than your auto industry expertise, of course. Having owned many French cars in the past, I look back fondly on my ’66 DS21 Pallas as the car I most enjoyed owning. Thanks for all you do; I am a dedicated viewer.