June 18th, 2009 at 12:00pm
GM says its product plans will be based on the assumption that oil prices will be headed up to $130 a barrel. The Fiat 500 will be built by Chrysler in Mexico starting in 2011. T. Boone Pickens invests in a start-up California-based auto company. All that and more, plus a look at the supercharged Jaguar XFR.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. GM says oil headed over $100 a barrel. The Fiat 500 will be built by Chrysler in Mexico. T. Boone Pickens is getting into the car business.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, June 18, 2009. And now, the news.
A poll by the Wall Street Journal and NBC shows 56 percent of Americans are against the government bailing out General Motors. But, the Journal says, there’s some good news for GM. Over half of those polled said they may buy an American car. Of those people, 40 percent of them said the troubles the American makers are going through make them more likely to buy American. If this is true, that means the Detroit Three should gain back market share. But we also know that people often tell pollsters what they think they want to hear.
And at the National Summit in Detroit yesterday, which is a conference of industry leaders from all different kinds of industries, Fritz Henderson, GM’s new CEO said the company’s product plans will be based on assumptions that oil prices will be headed to somewhere between $100 and $130 a barrel. The AP reports that Henderson said oil prices will be volatile and customers already expect them to go higher.
California-based V-Vehicle announced it will build a new, fuel efficient car at a vacant Louisiana plant. The AP says the plant will start production in about 18-months and will employ about 1,400 people. The company investors include T. Boone Pickens, and it has requested loans from the government. The designer of the vehicle is Tom Matano who used to run the design operations at Mazda North America. With T. Boone involved this will undoubtedly be a vehicle powered by natural gas.
Chrysler will restart production at seven plants in North America June 29. And one of the vehicles that will resume production is the PT Cruiser. Hey, I thought that was going out of production? Maybe they need it for their truck CAFE numbers. According to Edmunds Inside Line, when the PT goes out of production it will be succeeded by the Fiat 500 which will start production in Mexico in 2011.
Today, Tesla is a privately held company. But how much would it be worth if it went public? According to Autoblog that depends on who you ask. Doing a little math, Daimler paid $50 million last month for about a 9 percent stake in the company. That values Tesla at right around $550 million dollars. But according to Shares Post, a company that researches private equity firms, its actual value could be up to $1 billion! It would be interesting to see if Tesla will be tempted to go public, and use its equity to go on a shopping spree in the industry. I hear you can buy car companies and assembly plants very cheaply these days.
Man, if the United States would only adopt Europe’s diesel emission standards. Here’s what I mean. The Chevy Malibu, with a four-cylinder gasoline engine delivers about 22 miles per gallon, but Ward’s reports that to the new Opel Insignia EcoFlex doubles the Malibu’s performance (subscription required), returning 46 miles per gallon. The Insignia and Malibu are built on the same platform and weigh roughly the same amount. The Insignia does it with a 160 horsepower 2.0-liter diesel engine and a six-speed manual gearbox. But trying to meet US emission standards would add thousands of dollars of cost to that engine, and lower its fuel economy. Can’t we get a temporary waiver?
Coming up next, we’ll go to the opposite end of the spectrum and look at the supercharged Jaguar XFR. Back in 15 seconds.
Last week we took you inside the new Jaguar XF, today we’re taking a look at the high-performance version of the car. The XFR is designed to compete with the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG – some pretty heady opponents.
Jaguar is serious about this, and it backed the new R-model with a force-fed version of its new 5.0-liter V8. With a supercharger and direct fuel injection it delivers 510 horsepower and 461 lb-ft of torque. That’s three more ponies and 78 more pound-feet of torque than the M5. From a standstill, 60 miles an hour should be available in only 4.7 seconds.
But you can’t add a boatload of extra power and expect everything to be okay. That’s why Jaguar did a number of other things to keep the horses thundering away under its hood in check.
Engineers gave the XFR a faster steering ratio, bigger brakes and an electronically controlled rear differential. The chassis is also fitted with adaptive dampers.
In the style department, the R gets unique, 20-inch wheels and a revised front end, while inside it shares the same brilliant interior as the standard XF, but it gets embellished with dark oak veneers and an 18-way adjustable driver’s seat!
Jaguar has come a long way with its new XF and the performance-minded R-version. It’s a legitimate threat to the German competition. When’s the last time you legitimately could say that? And you know something, it’s funny. Ford finally gets things in order at Jaguar and then sells it.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But make sure you swing-by our website tonight for another edition of Autoline After Hours. Our special guest this week is Mark LeNeve, the man in charge of sales, marketing and advertising at GM. This is going to be a lively discussion so don’t miss it. As always, it starts at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time or 23:00 hours GMT. If for some reason you can’t watch the live webcast you can always catch it on our website later or download it as a podcast. Just search for Autoline in the iTunes music store. Anyway, that’s it for now, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tonight.