May 18th, 2009 at 12:00pm
Toyota will replace 40 percent of its senior managers and half of its board of directors when Akio Toyoda takes the helm of Toyota next month. Import luxury brand retailers could face big problems in the American market. Chrysler tells its suppliers how it plans to switch its contracts to the new company formed when the alliance with Fiat goes through. All that and more, plus an in-depth look at Ford’s new EcoBoost engine.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Management shakeup coming at Toyota. Luxury brand dealers face hard times. Chrysler tells suppliers how contracts will switch to Fiat.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Monday, May 18, 2009. And now, the news.
It looks like some sweeping changes are going to take place when Akio Toyoda takes the helm of Toyota next month. According to Autoblog, the company will replace 40 PERCENT of its senior managers and half its board of directors. Toyota reported its worst loss in its 71-year history last quarter, a $7.8 billion loss, which is more than GM lost.
The German government may send a team to the U.S. to discuss solutions for GM and Opel, Reuters reports. The German government is interested in forming a trustee arrangement to protect Opel from creditors. So far Fiat and Magna are interested in buying Opel, and possibly a company called RHJ, the European part of Ripplewood, the private equity firm. Supposedly, we’ll learn Wednesday who is officially bidding on Opel.
And if Magna gets it, Opel could build cars for other manufacturers. According to Reuters, Magna does not plan to close any of Opel’s plants in Germany and if they have to reduce output, could offer production capacity to other brands.
As it charges through bankruptcy, Chrysler is getting ready to mail letters out to 1,200 suppliers (subscription required) about how it plans to switch its contracts to the new company formed when the alliance with Fiat goes through. The letters will also detail how it can be “cured” of its contracts and the process by which suppliers can start receiving payments.
Former Wall Street analyst Maryann Keller says that import luxury brand retailers could be the next ones to face big problems in the American market. Keller tells Autoline Daily that a number of dealers for Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus built enormously extravagant dealerships, some costing nearly $40 million. She says these facilities, derisively referred to as Taj Mahal stores, were built on the assumption the luxury segment would keep on growing. Keller says it’s now impossible for these stores to turn a profit.
Ford will end production of the Mercury Sable this Thursday. According to the Detroit News, Ford decided not to bring out a new Sable so that it could invest more money into the new Taurus, the car it shares a platform with. This leaves Mercury with four models and two of those, the Mountaineer and Grand Marquis, are scheduled to end production in the next few years as well.
Coming up next, an in-depth look at Ford’s new EcoBoost engine, we’ll be back right after this.
Automakers are turning to a variety of technologies to meet the next wave of fuel economy and emissions regulations. In the long run, powertrain diversity will be key, with hybrid, advanced internal combustion and electric all playing a part. But there are some interesting near-term solutions.
One of the most exciting is Ford’s EcoBoost. The company has been touting the technology for a couple years now, and finally we got a chance to drive some EcoBoosted vehicles. Last week Ford invited us to its Romeo Proving Ground to put it to the test.
On the surface, EcoBoost is all about doing more with less, but if you only focus on the fuel economy benefits you’re missing out on all the fun.
The first EcoBoost engine the company’s releasing is a potent V6 based on the three-point-five-liter Duratec. It kicks out 355 horsepower and 350 pound-feet at 12 PSI of boost. The torque curve is literally flat from 1,500 RPM to 5,500 RPM.
Part of the reason for the flat power delivery is that the engine has twin-turbochargers and direct fuel injection. A pair of small turbos spin-up faster than one big one. DI also cuts lag.
But I’m sure you really want to know how it performs. We tested it in the Lincoln MKS and the new MKT crossover. Both vehicles were very fast right off the line with ZERO turbo lag. Top-end power is strong, too. It pulls stronger than a V8 but sips fuel like a small six. On flat portions of the test track the MKS registered 28 miles per gallon with the cruise set at 70 miles an hour. On the same test, the MKT indicated almost 24.
Refinement is another big part of the EcoBoost formula. There’s no whooshing from the turbos and no clatter from the direct injection. Icing on the cake is that the whole shebang runs on 87 octane regular gasoline.
The only real downside to EcoBoost is the sound. It has a nice snarl to it, but it’s no substitute for a V8′s rumble. Later in the week we’ll bring you a review of the new MKT, crossover so tune in.
Don’t forget to tune into Autoline After Hours this Thursday night at 7 p.m. That’s live and uncensored!
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.