June 23rd, 2009 at 12:00pm
Peugeot-Citroen says European sales may drop as much as 12 percent and that it may lose up to $3 billion. Ford, Nissan and Tesla are set to get loans from the government to help them build green cars. GM announced the 2010 Buick LaCrosse will be available with a four-cylinder engine. All that and more, plus a look at the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Peugeot-Citroen expects a big loss. Ford, Nissan and Tesla to get government money for green cars. And we get new details on the new Buick Lacrosse.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, June 23, 2009. And now, the news.
PSA, the parent company of French automakers Peugeot and Citroen, and the second largest automaker in Europe won’t escape the downturn in the industry this year. According to Bloomberg, the company said European sales may drop as much as 12 percent and that it may lose up to 2 billion euros or about $3 billion. And in related news, Nissan confirmed at its shareholder meeting earlier in Japan today that it is posting a 230 billion yen net loss for its last fiscal year. That’s about $2.3 billion. Nissan also expects a 10 percent drop in sales this year as well.
According to the AP, Ford, Nissan and Tesla are set to get loans from the U.S. Energy Department. The money comes from a $25 billion fund set aside to help automakers retool their plants to build greener vehicles. Ford has asked for $11 billion in total while Tesla is requesting $450 million. Nissan has not officially announced how much it’s asking for, but yesterday we reported that rumor has it the company is seeking around half a billion dollars. GM requested more than $10 billion, and Chrysler $6 billion, and when you add it all up, they’ve all asked for $28 billion, when only $25 billion is available.
We just learned more details on the new Buick Lacrosse. It will offer two different V6s that produce over 254 horsepower, but it’s also going to be available with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with direct fuel injection. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission it should deliver about 20 miles per gallon in the city and 30 on the highway, that’s 11.6 to 7.8 l/100 km. The base V6 version of the car starts at nearly $28,000 and is aimed at the Acura TL, Lexus ES 350 and Lincoln MKZ.
And speaking of Buick, Autoblog has spy photos of a Buick-version of the Opel Astra have been snapped as it undergoes testing on the Nürburgring in Germany. Under the camouflage you can clearly see the brand’s trademark grill and curvaceous lines. Inside, it looks like the Astra’s new interior has been carried over. It’s unlikely that this car will ever be sold in the U.S.; China will likely be home for this compact Buick.
Yesterday the U.S. government launched a website to help consumers understand the cash-for-clunkers bill. The website, www.cars.gov, explains the process for turning in an old car for a more fuel efficient one and also encourages people to call dealers to see if they qualify for the program. Even though Congress passed the bill last week, it still needs President Obama’s signature to go into effect, so it could be another month before we see it in action.
Coming up next, a look at the latest J.D. Power IQS study, we’ll be back right after this.
J.D. Power came out yesterday with its Initial Quality Survey, or IQS, which received quite a bit of coverage from the U.S. media, but we didn’t report on that and here’s why. I was one of the first automotive journalists to ever report on this report back in the early 1980s. And for nearly 30 years now, the headline has always been the same, American automakers make improvements, but Toyota is still the best. Also, the quality of cars has improved so much that they’re almost identical. For example, Toyota was rated at 101 problems per 100 cars. Ford was rated at 102. That means a difference of only one problem per 100 cars. So to find the difference between any one Ford or Toyota you need to divide by 100. That means the typical Ford has 0.01 more defects than a Toyota, and only 0.02 more than a Honda. Can you even measure a fraction of a defect?
Worse yet, every few years J.D. Power changes its survey, so you can’t compare the latest survey to one that came out, say, 5 years ago. I think this is done to be able to keep selling surveys. After all, if I’m an automaker who is only a fraction of a defect better or worse than my competition, why buy the latest survey?
My biggest problem with all the attention the IQS survey gets is that it only measures quality after the first 90 days of ownership. C’mon, everything should work for the first three months. I put more credence in J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Survey, which measures quality after three years of ownership, and we’ll see those results later in the year.
Well, that wraps up this show, but don’t forget to tune in Thursday night for another edition of Autoline After Hours. Join me, Jason Vines and Peter De Lorenzo for a no holds-barred, off-the-cuffs discussion about everything automotive. The show starts at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time on our website. Don’t miss it. Anyway, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.