Episode 185 – Nano Passes Crash Tests, Geely May Get Volvo, Nissan’s Dual-Port Injection

July 15th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:50

The Tata Nano passed European side- and frontal-impact crash tests. Chinese automaker Geely is the lead contender to buy Volvo from Ford. Nissan develops a new fuel-injection system. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions about the Pontiac Solstice and natural gas in the “You Said It!” segment.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. The Nano meets European crash standards. Looks like Geely will get Volvo. And Nissan develops a new fuel-injection system.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, July 15, 2009. And now, the news.

The Tata Nano has passed European side- and front-impact crash tests. According to Autocar, the Nano passed a 40 percent offset test and a 35 MPH, or 56 km/h, front-impact test. Tata plans to subject the Nano to NCAP testing sometime in the future and expects the car to achieve a four-star rating. That, is stunning!

Yesterday we reported that agencies in China were at odds over Sichuan Tengzhong’s bid for Hummer. But Reuters quotes a Chinese spokesperson saying “both hold a supportive attitude toward Chinese companies venturing abroad”. China’s National Development and Reform Commission supposedly is concerned over Hummer’s environmental impact and Sichuan Tengzhong’s vague plans for the company.

GM’s former CEO and Chairman Rick Wagoner got the bad news yesterday about his retirement package. Instead of getting $22 million over the next five years, that drops to $8.6 million. After that he gets $74,000 a year. Pretty good numbers for most of us, but a pittance for someone who once ran one of the largest corporations in the world.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese automaker Geely is definitely the lead contender to buy Volvo (subscription required) from Ford. It says Ford now believes Geely has the management expertise to run Volvo and points out Geely has been working on getting Volvo for over three years now.

June sales in Europe were up about 2.5 percent thanks to scrappage schemes in several member countries. Sales were the strong in Germany, up nearly 41 percent, Slovakia up 57 percent, and the Czech Republic up 18 percent. Overall sales in Europe are down 11 percent for the year. That’s the first year-over-year increase in Europe in quite some time.

The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry are dukeing it out for title of best-selling car in the U.S. Ward’s reports that the Accord has gained ground on the Camry (subscription required) for the first six-months of the year. Fewer than 20,000 units separate the two titans. But I’d point out Toyota counts the Solara as part of Camry sales. Take that out and the Accord is number one. In other Honda news, Ward’s also reports that the company has stopped importing Japanese-built Accords to the U.S. (subscription required). All versions sold in North America will now be built in North America.

Autoblog reports that Nissan is developing a new fuel-injection system. It aims to boost efficiency by using two port injectors per cylinder instead of one. This setup improves fuel vaporization and combustion while cutting hydrocarbon emissions. When combined with variable valve timing, the system reduces fuel consumption by around 4 percent. The technology should debut on vehicles in starting in 2010.

Yesterday ExxonMobil announced that it’s partnering with a company called Synthetic Genomics to develop new algae-based biofuels. The energy giant is looking to invest $600 million in the program.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now it’s time for some of your feedback.

This is “You Said It!” Every day we get dozens of comments and questions from you, our viewers. “You Said It!” gives me a chance to respond.

Max Christensen, saw our story on the Honda Crosstour and asks, “How in the world is the new Honda Accord Crosstour considered a crossover? Is there a firm definition of “crossover” in the automotive world?”

Max, talk to three different car companies and you’ll probably get five different definitions. It’s easier to say what a crossover is not, rather than what it is. It is not a sedan, an SUV or a wagon. It’s kinda like all of them together.

And Chuck Grenci writes, “So I saw your review of the Pontiac Solstice and classic or not, don’t you think the car needs to be resurrected under another badge and stay in the lineup?”

Chuck, you’re right in that once GM drops the Solstice it will not have anything like it in its lineup. But in its best year the Solstice only sold 20,000 units and now it’s at half that rate. That’s too few cars to justify the investment, especially since the Saturn Sky and Opel GT, which are rebadged versions, are also being dropped.

And Dave, who obviously heats his house with natural gas asks, “If we run more and more cars and trucks on nat. gas, how much will it cost to heat my home?”

Dave, I imagine running more vehicles on natural gas could push up prices. However, there is a lot of natural gas available, especially in shale. Just last week Exxon announced it made a major find in Canada.

And that’ll just about do it for today, but the show wouldn’t be complete without some shameless self promotion, so … join us this Thursday evening for another edition of Autoline After Hours. We go live at 7 p.m. sharp on our website. Joining us this week is Michael Sprague, the head of sales and marketing at Kia, a brand that seems to be almost immune to the sales down turn. And we’ll also be announcing the winner of the GM Bankruptcy Contest, where we asked you to guess how many days GM would be in bankruptcy.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

18 Comments to “Episode 185 – Nano Passes Crash Tests, Geely May Get Volvo, Nissan’s Dual-Port Injection”

  1. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Hey, that’s not a fair test on the Nano, Indian dummies are oblivious to pain and injury due to being able to meditate. Please John let’s set up a fund to help poor Rick get more money so he can continue his lifestyle, we all know 75k/year is just not enough.

  2. Episode 185 - Nano Passes Crash Tests, Geely May Get Volvo, Nissan’s Dual-Port Injection « Honda Says:

    [...] See the original post: Episode 185 – Nano Passes Crash Tests, Geely May Get Volvo, Nissan’s Dual-Port Injection [...]

  3. Darron65 Says:

    FYI, John. Natural gas is not “pumped” from the ground as shown in your clip. It rises under its own pressure.

  4. Tony Gray Says:

    I agree with you John. While Rick W was at the helm during the demise of the old GM, I doubt anybody thought his exit compensation would be that, well, different from his peers.

    He most likely took a bath on his stock holdings as well, meaning his lifestyle, unless he hurries up and writes a book, will drastically have to change.

    Not too many Clear Days at HIS GM, I’m afraid.

  5. paulstewart Says:

    Good show today,John !!!

  6. Andy S Says:

    Why would you remove Solara sales from the Camry? It is a 2-door Camry and is referred as the “Camry Solara” in Toyota’s marketing/consumer materials, and the Accord sales numbers include the 2-door Accord. Perhaps the fairest comparison will be 4-door Camry vs. 4-door Accord vs. Malibu vs. 4-door Altima vs. Fusion.

    But Fusion is the only one of the lot that offers AWD. I wouldn’t remove AWD sales from the Fusion tally, but it would interesting to learn what has happend to AWD passenger cars sales over the past 2 years. I suspect the AWD mix have declined significantly, even at Audi.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I guess I don’t feel too sorry for Wagoner. He will be getting as much money each of the next five years as many people earn in a life time, and what was his contribution? He presided over the near-death of what was, until recently, the largest and most successful manufacturing company in the world.

  8. John McElroy Says:

    @Andy: If Toyota goes to the trouble to badge a car as a separate model, it should be counted as a separate model. I don’t believe that it says “Camry” anywhere on the Solara. The same goes for the Matrix and Corolla, Toyota lumps their sales together, too. And the Hyundai Genesis coupe and sedan, which are compeltely different cars. Or Ford with the F-150 and F-250. It’s just a cheap trick the car companies use to make the sales look better.

  9. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Maybe the car, the Nano, gets a four star rating, but I bet if they measured the “G” ratings on the passengers, they’d be deader than a ‘doornail’.

  10. pedro Fernandez Says:

    The Toyota website refers to it as “Camry Solara” since its the same car but in a 2 door just like Altima and Accord have 2 door models.

  11. C-Tech Says:

    Too bad about the Solstice / Sky. It always amazes me how Americans will purchase lesser cars that are better marketed.

  12. Dave E. Says:

    Hello,
    Can I have Rick W.’s pittance? I promise to buy only gm if I get the cash! He may have done the right things at GM, but unfortunately, at the wrong time.

  13. Alex Kajdi Says:

    John,

    Rick Wagoner should not receive a dime of Tax Payer Bailout Money that was used to Save General Motors!

    He built junk for the North American Auto Market, and used those profits to build Chinese and Russian auto plants for General Motors. That money should come back to GM in North America to repay the US Government. His employment contract should have become null and void upon the bankruptcy of the Old General Motors. The rest of the world believe Americans are stupid and lazy because we reward failure at the highest levels of the capitalistic system. Shame on us.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    C-Tech,

    The Miata, the only real competition to the Soltace/Sky is not a “lesser car.” It is quite the opposite with a better top mechanism, bigger trunk, better selection of gear ratios, better interior, and better reliability. The Solstice and/or Sky may look better to some people, a subjective thing, and there are the “fast” versions of the GM roadsters, but that won’t keep an entire assembly plant going. The Solstice/Sky kept some people employed a few more years at the old Astro/Safari plant in Delaware, but 20K cars a year won’t keep a plant running.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Correction to my last post: The Saturn L series was made in the Wilmington, Delaware assembly plant before Solstice/Sky. Astro/Safari were built in Baltimore. Sorry about the error.

  16. William R. Walling Says:

    John,
    “Welcome news for domestic sales of Honda’s ‘Accord’ vehicle, unfortunately the same is not being reported for ALL A.H.M.C. offerings.”
    U.S. postal mail review by Mr. Mendel would aid ALL (manufacturer, retailer and PUBLIC) involved.
    This is, ‘Excepting competitors!’ :-)

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    John and Andy,

    The case where I have a real problem regarding “how vehicles are counted” has to do with claims for the highest production volume vehicle of all time. In this case, I have a real problem when Toyota Corolla is compared with the Model T Ford and air-cooled VW Beetle. Anyone would have to admit that, in addition to the name, there is a lot of continuity with model T’s, and with Beetles. All T’s have the same splash-oiled flat head four and two-speed planetary gear box sharing oil with the engine. All “old” Beetles have similar air cooled horizontally-opposed four cylinder engines. All of the Beetles were even two door body style, though a small fraction were convertibles. Corollas, on the other hand, have been rear drive and front drive with a few AWD’s thrown in. Then, there is the plethora of body styles, including two and four door sedans, wagons, and hatchbacks. The only continuity with Corollas is the name.

  18. C-Tech Says:

    Hello Mr. Gerhart. When I refer to “lesser” vehicles it was not a reference to the Miata. I work at a dealership and when people consider buying a new car it is not always an “apples to apples” comparision. Competition for the Sky and Miata include other sporty coupes and sedans out there for 20-25K, including used BMW’s and Audi’s. Sometimes I believe the industry insiders spend too much time amongst themselves and not enough time with the nurses, carpenters, warehouse supervisors, etc. to find out what they really want and believe about cars and trucks.