Episode 177 – June Sales Flat, Toyota and Daimler to Tango?, New BMW X1

July 2nd, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:52

June sales in the American market don’t show that much progress. Daimler and Toyota might team up to share development costs and production of their luxury flagships. BMW revealed its new X1 compact crossover ahead of its official unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit, all about the new cars that have come out so far this year.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. June sales were pretty mediocre in the American market. Daimler and Toyota might team-up. And a sneak peek at the new BMW X1.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, July 2, 2009. And now, the news.

Well, we got the numbers for June sales in the American market and they’re disappointing in that they really don’t show that much progress. Total sales reached 857,000 units. That’s down 30 percent from a year ago and 3.5 percent lower than in May. Indeed, 66,000 fewer customers showed up in showrooms in June compared to May. The annualized sales rate in June was only 9.6 million

The brands that did the best were Subaru, down on 0.7 percent. Volvo was off 3.4 percent, Kia down 9 percent, Ford which was off 11 percent, and Audi was down 12 percent. The worst performing brands were Suzuki, off 79 percent.  That’s worse than the GM brands that are getting dropped and a reason why Suzuki just started giving away three months of free gasoline as a sales promotion.  Porsche off 67 percent, Saturn at 61 percent, Saab at 60 percent and Hummer which was off 50 percent. All this data, by the way, comes from WardsAuto.com (subscription required) which is the best source for this information.

BMW revealed its new X1 compact crossover ahead of its official unveiling at the Frankfurt Motor Show. While the company hasn’t commented on what powertrains will be offered in the ‘States, the top engine is expected to be a 258 horsepower, 3.0-liter straight-six. BMW is also giving buyers a choice of several four-cylinder diesel engines, with horsepower ranging from 143 up to 204. The X1 is available in rear- or all-wheel-drive, and features some fuel-saving features like auto start/stop and a brake energy regeneration system. Among other things, the company claims the new “premium compact” will offer buyers a roomy back seat and an available panoramic glass roof. In the U.S., the new X1 should join its big brothers, the X3 and X5, in 2011.

In a fascinating development, Reuters reports that Toyota and Daimler may start working together. Toyota is rumored to be considering building versions of Mercedes’ A- and B-Class models to better utilize its production capacity in Europe. But here’s the real bombshell. The two companies may also share development costs and production of their luxury flagships, the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class. So far Daimler called the report “speculation” and declined to comment further.

Citroen released photos of the new C3 due out in November. The first thing you’ll notice is the panoramic windshield that runs about half way up the roof. And the car will be offered with a diesel that emits 99g/km of CO2. Unfortunately Citroen didn’t release many more details about the car. But we will report more when we get that info.

Pretty much all automakers in the American market, except for the Germans, have scrapped their diesel plans, except in heavy-duty pickups. Perhaps they will reconsider after seeing Volkswagens diesel sales in June. Diesel accounted for 80 percent of Jetta Sportwagen sales, 40 percent of Jetta Sedan sales, and nearly 30 percent of Touareg sales. Overall, diesels accounted for over a quarter of VW sales last month. It was only one month but those numbers have to be encouraging to diesel proponents.

Coming up next, a look at all the new cars that have come out so far this year.

Joining me on Autoline this week is Stephanie Brinley of Auto Pacific, Frank Markus of Motor Trend and Eddie Alterman from Car and Driver. Together the four of us continue our discussion about the new product that has launched so far this year. In the following preview clip we talk about some of the new crossovers entering the luxury-end of the market and how they’re going after Lexus’ best-selling RX.

Remember, you can watch the entire episode of Autoline on our website later today.

And that’s it for today’s show, except that I have to announce this week’s trivia winner because we’re taking tomorrow off to help America celebrate her birthday. We challenged you to tell us what the letters B-S-F-C stand for. And as ALL of you correctly responded, the answer is, Brake-Specific Fuel Consumption. It’s a measure of how much fuel a reciprocating engine consumes per unit of power produced. And this week’s winner is … Loren Anderson of Sugar Grove, Illinois. Congratulations Loren, you’ve just won this stylish Lexus hat.

Anyway, that’s it for today’s show, but don’t forget to tune-in tonight for Autoline After Hours, the most candid discussion about anything and everything automotive. Joining us for the discussion tonight is Charlie Hughes, who was CEO of Land Rover and Mazda in North America and is the author of Brand Rules. That’s tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time at www.AutolineDetroit.tv.

Lastly, if you can’t join us this evening, have a safe and happy Independence Day, and we’ll see you next week.

9 Comments to “Episode 177 – June Sales Flat, Toyota and Daimler to Tango?, New BMW X1”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I am surprised at Suzuki doing so poorly.The others on that side of the list is no surprise at all.BEWARE OF THE DIESEL INVASION…..LOL.Your going to see more and more small clean diesels for sale here in the next 2 years.Too bad they won’t be put out by american manufacturers.None of the “big 3″ get it.If foreign car makers can do it,so could american car makers.Once again,a day late and a dollar short.Doesn’t anybody read to what the customers write in to the car makers for?They wonder why some of us have “had it” waiting and will buy foreign.Yo,big 3,you only have yourselves to blame for whats coming and this time king oblama ain’t gonna give you OUR MONEY.

  2. Jude Says:

    Hey John,

    The only reason Suzuki’s sales are down so much is because they’re no longer selling the GMDAT-sourced Reno and Forenza (which made up the bulk of their sales and competed with their own Aerio), or the CAMI-sourced XL7.

    I mean, part of it may be down to fairly low fuel prices and tight credit, but no more than any other automaker. And it probably is disappointing to Suzuki (and its dealers) that the SX4 isn’t selling as well as the old Aerio and Reno/Forenza put together. But all in all, the numbers look more problematic than they actually are.

    Of the vehicles Suzuki actually makes themselves, (i.e., SX4 and Grand Vitara), Suzuki’s sales are down 66% for the month, but when you look at the first half of CY2009, that number is down to 41.4%.

  3. Jude Says:


    Seriously? Do you know ANYTHING about what’s going on in the industry right now?

    The Big 3 may not be selling diesels here anytime soon, but Toyota, Honda, and Nissan have canceled their plans to bring them over, too:


    When will Toyota (who lost more than GM and Ford COMBINED in Q1) get it? When will Honda (who lost more than Ford in Q1) get it? When will Nissan (who lost more than Ford in Q1) get it?

    Unless, by “big 3″, you actually meant Toyota/Honda/Nissan.

  4. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Suzuki and Saturn suffer from the same type of identity crisis, they both are mostly rebadged brands from everywhere around the world, and today’s better informed buyer won’t go for that crap. John, as long as Lexus continues their excellent customer service and reliability I don’t think they have to worry much about competition. Everyone I have met that owns or has owned a Lexus is extremely pleased with their vehicle. On the other hand, even though the European brands get high marks for their handling and road manners, they need a lot more trips to the dealer for repairs, adjustments, prematurely worn parts, ect.

  5. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Jude, I think most American would be afraid to buy a diesel dut to the uncertainty of the price of this fuel, last year when gas was so high, diesel was more expensive than even premium, and as it’s been said here before we don’t produce enough diesel to supply both the trucking and private cars if all of a sudden diesels became popular, imagine you buy your diesel vehicle and the price of diesel shoots up to the point where it is not economically feasible to run your car, then what do you do?

  6. G.A.Branigan Says:

    It appears that VW is doing real good at selling diesels.The same will be true when the Mahindra line starts too.As for diesel fuel,it’s a by product of making gasoline,increased production could easily be ramped up as they do for gas.Add to the mandated E85 program,the same could be made for bio-diesel as well.It would increase availability for both fuels.Diesels would also contribute greatly to the fleet average mpg’s.Jmho.

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    You know,if they would even encourage small clean diesels in crossovers,suv’s,and pickups,that alone would do a great deal to improve the mpg of the heavier vehicles.If people don’t believe that the incredibly high price spike for diesel fuel wasn’t contrived then I feel sorry for them.It is/was as real as global warming.They managed to keep the prices high too.As for toyota/nissan/and honda,I don’t care what they do.I am more concerned with the american manufacturers.I have two new american vehicles and want to very much keep my purchases american.As far as car makers dropping thier plans for diesels,look back and see where their line of thinking and doing business has gotten them……have they changed?

  8. David B. Fishburn Says:

    After hearing that Daimler and Toyota would share costs, i laughed. Daimler will probably do the “suck the money and run” they did on Chrysler.

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Even when the difference between prices of gas and diesel were the greatest, the fuel cost was still lower for a diesel VW or Mercedes-Benz than for the gas counterpart, though most Americans probably didn’t know it. With diesel now about the same price of gas, I hope all of the car companies will re-consider diesels. They are just plain more efficient than gas engines.

    The price of gas and diesel fuel should be about the same, but the capacity for producing them in the proper ratios will need to be adjusted if a lot more diesel cars are ever sold in North America.