Episode 193 – RHJ Might Resell Opel to GM, Ford Slashes Hybrid Costs, Nissan’s EV

July 27th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 8:45

RHJ says if it gets Opel it might sell it back to General Motors. By 2012 Ford aims to reduce the cost of its hybrid systems by another 30 percent. Nissan gives another tantalizing glimpse of its upcoming electric vehicle. All that and more, plus a walk around with the designer of the new 2010 Ford Taurus.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. RHJ says if it gets Opel it might sell it back to GM. Ford slashes hybrids costs by 30 percent. And Nissan gives another tantalizing glimpse of its new electric car.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, July 27, 2009. And now, the news.

Reuters reports that RHJ, the investment company that’s in the running to buy part of Opel, says it might sell Opel back to General Motors after both companies get through their restructuring and are back on their feet. Canadian supplier company Magna is the other bidder for Opel, and wants to work with Russian automaker GAZ to use Opel technology to make new cars.

GM is making numerous changes on its international executive staff, including a change at Holden, its Australian subsidiary. Mark Reuss, who had been running Holden will return to the U.S. to play a major role in GM’s product development. He will be replaced at Holden by Alan Batey, a long time veteran in GM’s overseas operations.

Dealers are being told by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to destroy the engines of cars traded in under the cash for clunkers program with sodium silicate. According to Bloomberg, dealers must replace the oil with the chemical and run the engine for a few minutes to kill it. NHTSA noted that some cars turned in under Germany’s scrappage plan were resold and it doesn’t want the same to happen in the U.S. Dealers face up to $15,000 per infraction if it violates the rules.

Even though China surpassed the U.S. in car sales this year, its imports and exports of vehicles have fallen for the year. According to Gasgoo.com, imports have fallen 34 percent while exports have plunged 60 percent in the country for the first half of the year. Imports have dropped because dealers built up a large inventory by the end of last year and they are also pessimistic about future auto sales.

Ward’s reports that by 2012 Ford aims to reduce the cost of its hybrid systems by another 30 percent (subscription required). That reduction is incremental to the 30 percent it already took out of the system in the Fusion. One example of how the company is doing this is how it switched from using chillers to cool the battery pack on the original Escape Hybrid to air cooling on the Fusion. Ford is working with its suppliers to keep costs down on upcoming lithium-ion batteries.

Nissan previewed an upcoming electric vehicle in Tokyo. The prototype is based on the company’s compact Tiida – or Versa in North America. It features a lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the floor that should deliver a range of 160 kilometers or about 100 miles. In other Nissan news, the company announced that it’s working on its next-generation CVT. At 7.3:1, the newly designed transmission’s ratio spread is 20 percent higher than other CVTs. It’s also 10 percent shorter in length and 13 percent lighter. Look for the new transmission to debut in the “near future.”

Coming up next, a walk around with the designer of the new 2010 Ford Taurus, we’ll be back right after this.

Last week on Autoline we took an in-depth look at Ford’s redesigned 2010 Taurus. Let’s take a walk around the car with the man responsible for its new look.

Look for the hot new Taurus to start arriving on dealers shortly.

And that’s it for today’s news. But don’t forget to tune in for Autoline After Hours on Thursday night at 7 p.m. Eastern, when our guest will be Jim Hall from 2953 Analytics. He always has great insight. On another note, we’re working on a story all about hypemiling and would like to know your driving tricks to get the best fuel economy possible. Give us a call at 1 – 620 -AUTOLIN, that’s Autoline without the “E,” or the full number is 1-620-288-6546.

Anyway, that’s it for today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

20 Comments to “Episode 193 – RHJ Might Resell Opel to GM, Ford Slashes Hybrid Costs, Nissan’s EV”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I really like the new Taurus,it already has a refined look about it.Question:how will the new Taurus Limited and the SHO relate to Lincoln? It seems that the level of refinement/performance and pricing puts it into the Lincoln range.Will mercury has a similar car?

  2. paulstewart Says:

    Hi John, I didn’t hear you mention that the SHO takes Premium gas ??? Or ask him or the panelists about the weight issue ??? over 4000lb for a Taurus.

  3. Dave Says:

    I am not a Ford fan and as a past owner of a Ford I will NOT buy another, but I will give ford credit that the Taurus looks nice.

  4. Tom Martin Says:

    Is the Escape/Mariner getting an updated hybrid system in 2010, or does it keep the more expensive, less efficient second gen system?

  5. Chuck Grenci Says:

    It sure appears that Ford did its homework on the new Taurus. Even though I am not a big Ford fan (my blood runs GM blue), I’m hoping that Chevrolet does the same upscale move on its Impala and brings back the ‘car wars’ of old, to again fight for the top domestic top seller and dethrone the current Camry/Accord contenders.

  6. garypaul Says:

    Regarding GM executive replacements, this is clearly GM’s most critical task as management at the top has been the foundation of GM concerns over the last 50 years. In addition, GM must function for a while with some of the same individuals at their posts, as you cannot just replace 100s of people without moving through some type of criteria and search for relevant replacements. Yes, changing top management and following through with massive cultural change means ripping up the floorboards to lay down new hardwood.

    …SHO is supposed to run on premium or regular (87 oct) with a slight reduction in hp and performance if the latter is used, as reported in various sources. It looks like the Taurus is a replacement for the Crown Victoria. As with so many Japanese vehicles sold here (Accord, Camry, Altima), each generation seems to grow in size. Nevertheless, it’s still too heavy and Ford knows it. A good effort however, & recall Ford will follow soon with many lighter vehicles in its lineup.

  7. Don MacConnel Says:

    Keeping the Taurus name was brilliant. It really raises the contrast between the old and new designs. Great move!

  8. APMeterman Says:

    I just received my new Motor Trend in the mail with the Taurus on the cover and I read that there will be no Mercury version…and it will also run on regular unleaded with a slight horsepower penalty. This new car weighs 1,000 lbs more than the first SHO. No wonder midsize and large cars are lucky to break 30mpg.

  9. pedro Fernandez Says:

    John: considering the stricter mpg standards coming soon do you think cars will start getting smaller again or will the trend towards larger next generation model continue like it has for the past 2 decades?

  10. paulstewart Says:

    I’m fully aware that it can take Regular, but no one has explained why it needs it or how much of a reduction in horses or Torque. So why not just state it needs regular and say it makes 340 OR 350 horse.Bragging rights. Flagships were Lincolns, my dad made Lincolns at the old Wixom Plant. A Ford was a good solid car at a “reasonable price” Not at nearly 40k a crack. There was no shame for buying a Ford way back even 4-5 years ago OR 20. Why is that new 36k-40K advised to take Premium ???

  11. C-Tech Says:

    Although not in a position to trade my clunker for a new Taurus SHO, I really hope it is successful. Considering the price of a Chrysler 300C, I think the Taurus provides some competition, not to mention the price of the mid-size Lexus and Acura. I hope they didn’t repeat the same mistakes of the previous Taurus SHO’s. Saw on the lot: someone traded in a 1987 Firebird Formula in better than average condition with the L82 corvette engine for a 4 cylinder Dodge Avenger. Since the deal is a “cash for clunker” it must be destroyed, engine first. John was this what they intended in Congress?

  12. Richard S Says:

    Dave: Saw your comment about NOT buying another Ford. I think that remains the biggest concern for all of the Detroit three. They have alienated a whole generation of potential buyers like you and me. In my case it was GM who treated me lke crap after paying thousands of dollars for their piece of junk, then paying thousands more to keep it on life support. The GM dealer would not even take the car on a trade! Like you, I won’t be back.

  13. thor Says:

    The new taurus may look nice, but just nice does not cut it any more in this very compwetitive segment.

    Indeed, I just read an independent comoparison test between the NEW Taurus and the Honda ACCORD, which has been around for at least two years already, and the ($4k CHEAPER) ACCORD WON HANDS DOWN. Only the uninformed and the import haters (of whom I have a few even in my Dept) will buy it. The Accord and even the Camry need not worry much. The malibu and the aging impala might!

  14. pappie1 Says:

    why are taurus people in ford trying to sell taurus regaring FLOW LINES CURES ON LIGHTS etc. ford spend the time on quality,interior comfort,reliabilty. why pay these guys money to be excited about the Flow of outside of taurus. i own 2008 limited awd people every day admire it but it all comes down to fuel economy, reliabity, how it is over bumps. NOT CURES AND OUTSIDE BS. Stop paying these guys to talk about outside lines and cures

  15. pedro Fernandez Says:

    After reading the comparison reviews between Accord and Taurus, I think the Taurus’s worst enemy is the Fusion, when buyers see both side by side I don’t think they’re gonna spend the extra money to go for the larger, thirstier, clumsier big brother. These companies gotta stop making the next model larger than the one before, the tests prove the smaller Accord is a better engineered car, although the Taurus is way better than anything Ford has ever produced.

  16. Willi Says:

    you’re kidding right? refined? nice? what’s the world coming to? i haven’t seen an exiting car from Ford or Chevy in a few years … bland, blah, asian, generic – like Nascar, all the same

  17. paulstewart Says:

    Mr Fernandez & Thor I must admit I’m edging closer & closer to apoligizing to you for my past comments to your comments in the past. This Ford Taurus is too heavy and too expensive.

  18. Reno Says:

    Real world.
    Lets see, I’m going to trade my wife’s perfectly good Tahoe with 123k for $4500 toward a new $27k Equinox. 17 vs 32 mpg to have the Tahoe destroyed. How much energy is really saved with construction and replacement of a new Equinox? Why can’t someone less fortunate be awarded a good Tahoe? My wife said, “leave my Tahoe alone!”

  19. Willi Says:

    my biggest problem is with styling and design, both inside and out, the only decent one to me in recent history is the Chrysler Pac and Crossfire ( Daimler influence ) the Challenger, Mustang and Camaro – all retro’s lack in interior – cheap flat panel design – cheap electronics – this includes the Ford and Lincoln dash – whimpy and exposed, no protection from the sun, glare…
    the rest of the lot swap looks between foreign and domestic to where you can’t tell one from the other – Cadillac and Lincoln try harder – if i had more time, i’d post on the right sites and point out these flaws that drove customers to the foreign market, where is the R&D???

  20. Ray C Says:

    I know i’m way late, but i watch autoline weekly, some of the people that commented on this blog must not watch autoline at all…..someone said FORD needs to focus on reliablity lol how funny/stupid at the same time. If you read or better yet listen to John…..FORD has better reliabilty than ANY foreign car….fact not opinion! @ Thor- get real, keep buying foreign….the tables have turned…FORD is the better product! @ Pedro- Accord and Taurus comparison lol they shouldve compared the accord to the Fusion, there both midsize…..dumb dumb the Taurus is a flagship……..hence all the technology, which is why the Taurus is more expensive……..duh