AD #1613 – EV Battery Costs Falling, VW Merges HD Truck Brands, Bigger Can Be Better

May 5th, 2015 at 11:51am

Runtime: 8:17

- VW Merges Heavy Duty Truck Brands
- FCA Offers Free College to Dealers
- Bigger is Better at Cadillac & Lincoln
- EV Battery Costs Falling
- Barn Finds
- Why Sergio Marchionne is Talking Mergers

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34 Comments to “AD #1613 – EV Battery Costs Falling, VW Merges HD Truck Brands, Bigger Can Be Better”

  1. Bradley Says:

    What percent of those Lincoln and Cadillac sales numbers are from Fleet Sales?

  2. Moe Says:

    The barn find is a Crosley wagon. I do wonder what powers it now.

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It looks like I was right about the Packard. The 3, rather than 4 Buicky things on the rear fenders gave it away as a ’51. A ’52 Patrician had 4.

    It’s really unfortunate that Cadillac doesn’t have better brand perception. Their cars that are selling, are the badge engineered ones that are basically overpriced Chevies. Meanwhile, the excellent ATS and CTS are not doing so well. If “bigger is better” for American luxury brands, maybe the CT6 will do better. I hope it does, if it’s as good as the smaller Cadillac rear drivers.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    2. Some of the Crosleys had “sheet metal” engines as used as APU’s in WWII bombers. It’s anyone’s guess what the surviving ones would have. Maybe most have Chevy V8′s, like most 50′s cars of any brand that I see at shows these days.

  5. RumNCoke Says:

    Poached this cool Crosley image:

  6. Rob Says:

    If gas prices climb back up to the $4 mark I would bet the “bigger is better” sales of Cadillac and Lincoln vehicles will drop faster than EV sales increase.

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Gas prices in my area have been raising steadily.Reg-$299.9,Diesel-$2.79.9.

    Macaroni is right imho.Like ford and gm collaborating on a 10 spd trans,more can be shared throughout the auto industry cutting costs for everyone.Makes sense to me for what that’s worth…

  8. C-Tech Says:

    Cadillac and Lincoln sales: each brand has different issues. Cadillac – the CTS seems to have strong sales when it was positioned (in the consumer’s mind and priced) as a BMW 3-series / Mercedes C-Class competitor. The higher price and positioning it against the 5-series/E-class has yet to take hold. The ATS will take time to be considered as the 3-series alternative. The traditional (DTS and Escalade) customer continues to buy the luxury car/truck these always have, or always have wanted.

    Lincoln’s best 2 vehicles are their best 2 sellers. The MKS barely registers in consumer’s mind, and the MKT (which I like) is pushed into fleet servive as the Town Car replacement.

    Cadillac needs more help with marketing and time. Another small luxury cuv will help Cadillac. Lincoln needs better base product.

  9. C-Tech Says:

    Couldn’t Marchionne reach his goal through more joint-ventures with other companies? It seems to me if you need a new engine or chassis why not join up with another company with the same need?

  10. HtG Says:

    Sharing development costs isn’t anything new. We’re seeing more and more silicon tech getting into cars, but the business model that has led to so many cheap devices is one in which underlying technology is developed by one company and then licensed to others. So if a chip maker wants to make a new chip they can acquire various rights to designs upon which they can then design a complete chip. Whether you’re using a Samsung or Apple or Nvidia, the chances are the underlying design was licensed from ARM(ding! you knew I was going there)*.

    So SM is right about the value of reducing development costs. The question is can he make it happen with his own business? The model we see in silicon arose as a counter to Intel’s design and production model, but in carcos there’s some quite established cultures that may not want to work together. If I were an adversary of FCA, maybe I’d look at rising development costs for autonomy and meeting govt regs as a way to squeeze FCA into the ground. Why help Sergio become a hero riding off to Marlboro country?

    *If anybody is interested, here’s a link to Linaro group which is an industry consortium developing Linux tools that will be commonly shared.

  11. Larry Sharp Says:

    The car is a Crosley.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In addition to sharing development costs, FCA needs a partner that is stronger globally, and that is strong in smaller vehicles. Chrysler group is doing pretty well in the U.S. and Canada, but mainly with pickups, Jeeps, and big cars. If gas abruptly doubles in price, that product mix won’t work.

    Fiat brand is sold a lot of places, but is a bit player, even in Europe, with 6% market share for the most recent full-year data I could find, 2013.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I always thought MKT meant MK Truck, but I guess it was intended to be MK Town Car. I, personally, think it competes well with Aztec for ugliness, but I guess it’s fairly roomy.

    If I had to pick a favorite Lincoln, it would be MKZ, but I like the looks of Fusion better. The MKZ interior is nice, though, and it has a push button transmission, like the1964 Plymouth Valiant I had.

  14. Joseph Engelhardt Says:

    John it is a Crosley wagon probably around 1950. We used to own one, it was a great car! It had Four wheel disc brakes and a single over head cam 750 cc motor, very advanced. My father sold the engine and transmission to a 3/4 midget racer where they dominated their class.

  15. HtG Says:

    It’s almost as if people don’t want sedans and hatchbacks anymore. Or sports cars or station wagons. Those people that used to be driving Caddies look to me to be in 5series BMWs and Acura RLXs: these aren’t young people’s cars.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Americans want tall hatchbacks, AKA CUV’s, but not car height hatchbacks like Focus, etc. I’m clearly an outlier, having 4 cars, but no CUV’s, and no 4 door sedans. I suppose Prius is the best selling car-height hatch in America, even though sales are off from what they have been.

  17. HtG Says:

    Speaking of big cars, today the new Miata went on “pre-order.” I checked around by zip code and in most places the manuals are sold out. Atlanta and Miami still have some. Automatics still available everywhere I checked.

    But with all the CUVs and bigger rigs out there, it’s scary to be in a little convertible. Just me?

  18. Sam Fiorani Says:

    The Cuban car is a 1950 Crosley station wagon. Crosley produced cars from the late 1930s until the early 1950s…all of them tiny.

  19. G.A.Branigan Says:

    FCA: I still believe it was,and is a mistake to have ‘Americanized’ the 500 for the NA market.The same applies to the Alpa Romeo.Just not hot items here.They probably do better in europe,maybe asia.But here,it is a needless moneypit.

  20. HtG Says:

    Off Topic-F1

    Former Ferrari boss, Luca diM., is saying that RedBull boss Mateschitz is trying to get Audi into F1.

    “In an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, di Montezemolo reveals that Mateschitz is currently pushing for Audi to join the fray and will eventually call it day if his lobbying proves unsuccessful.”

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    17 It’s not completely just you. I feel a little of it in my Corvette, even though it’s not a convertible. The ‘Vette is really low, about 2 inches lower than a Miata as I remember when I looked it up a while back.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ditto for the FR-S, even normal cars look pretty scary compared to it.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    20 Interesting. If Renault fails to improve or quits, could Red Bull get Mercedes or Ferarri engines, or are they contracted to to only supply their current teams? If VW/Audi decided to get into F1, is there any reason to think it would go any better than for Honda?

    I don’t know the politics of F1 very well, but the whole hybrid thing seems quite silly. While I really like my Prius, for what it is, using hybrid power trains in F1 just adds to the expense, and makes it much more difficult to be competitive. I doubt that Renault, and especially Honda would be where they are, if they were just building engines.

  24. w l simpson Says:

    My ol vette was fun to restore & show , but not to drive in heavy traffic. 4 spd was infinitely worse. Thoroughly researched Prius V wagon , that’s my next. Fabulous drivetrain.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    Jack Baruth over at TTAC wrote a very good piece on his experience with a new Prius over a long distance trip and then some track time as well, I have to think THIS IS the new Model T.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    24. The Prius V has the same drive train as the regular Prius. If you need the extra room, the V makes sense. If not, the regular Prius costs less, and seems to drive about the same. The interior of the V is a little nicer, though.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    25 I haven’t seen it. I’ll have to check it out.

  28. John 617 Says:

    the mystery car is a Crosley

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    25 I read Jack’s article, and it was great. With very few exceptions, I agree with what he said, and I’ve been driving a Prius for 5 years. I especially agree with a couple things he said.

    “A thousand miles in a Prius will make you a believer, as long as you understand what it is. It’s not a Swiss Army Knife, it’s not a Hellcat, it’s not a Tesla Model S. It’s the most intelligently-executed basic transportation since the Model T. As such, it lacks both surprise and delight. ”


    “The Prius isn’t brilliant because it’s a hybrid. It’s brilliant because it is designed for a single purpose – efficient transportation – and the HS-Drive is a part of that design. A Prius without the battery would be a better commuter than an Elantra with one. But as a single, unified system, the standard Prius is flat f**king wonderful..”

    He also said that he probably wouldn’t want a Prius as an only car, because it is slow and not exciting. That would probably also apply to me, but for 80% of my driving, the Prius works great. It is so, well, effortless. Also, even though it is slow, I seem to find myself on the tail of BMW’s on onramps wishing they’d speed up.

  30. Bob Wilson Says:

    Tracking fuel efficient cars, the top 10 sales for April in our list:

    8,822 – Prius Liftback – hybrid
    5,072 – Ram Pickup – diesel
    3,523 – Prius c – hybrid
    2,650 – Camry – hybrid
    2,481 – Sonata – hybrid
    2,462 – Prius v – hybrid
    2,182 – Passat – diesel
    1,949 – Jetta – diesel
    1,900 – Tesla – electric
    1,820 – Fusion – hybrid

    About 20-25% of the commuter vehicles at my work are pickups that typically carry only one person. Better a Ram pickup diesel than the other sorry excuses for a commuter car.

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville, AL

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    30 Thanks for that list. I checked your extended list, and it looks like the high efficiency vehicles I like, in addition to Prius, are not very high on the list. Those are Golf and Golf Sportwagon TDI.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Also, I don’t understand why the C-Max hybrid sells so poorly. Yeah, it under-performs its EPA numbers, but it still gets great mileage. It even looks CUV-like, which should make it sell well in America.

    Other than the crappy controls, it is a great package, and it is far from alone in having crappy controls.

  33. Bob Wilson Says:

    Car sales have a certain amount of ‘black magic’ since it seldom follows my expectations. Given the discontinued models, I’m company with car makers.

    BTW, the reason for posting our top 10 list is to suggest that a claims about diesel sales has more merit if it identifies the specific models. Then we can tell if we’re counting ‘beer trucks’ or something that might appeal to a working stiff, commuter.

    BTW, I want to give credit to my source, Jeff Cobb’s that gives us a monthly summary of efficient cars. I collect and share the past four months so we can see early trends that otherwise might be ‘hidden in plain sight.’

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville AL

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Just recently, I have been seeing a lot of ads pointing out that VW sells more diesel cars in American than anyone else.