July 29th, 2009 at 12:00pm
Automotive earnings come in from Japan and Europe. The Ford Mustang will debut next year in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series. GM released a few sketches of its new B-segment car from Brazil. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions in the “You Said It!” segment.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Automotive earnings come in from Japan and Europe. The Ford Mustang heads to NASCAR. And a look at GM’s new B-class car from Brazil.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, July 29, 2009. And now, the news.
A number of earnings reports came in from Japan and Europe this morning. Honda posted a net profit surprise for its first fiscal quarter this year. It only made $79 million, but any automaker that can turn a profit these days is way ahead of everyone else. Honda’s revenue fell over 30 percent. Nissan posted a net loss of only $170 million, which is not a very big loss despite a 35-percent drop in revenue. Daimler posted a net loss of 1 billion euros, about $1.4 billion, with a 25-percent drop in revenue. And PSA, the parent company of Peugeot and Citroen had a net loss of nearly 1 billion euros for the first half, with revenue dropping nearly 22 percent. All in all, not a very good quarter for the industry, but maybe not as bad as many had feared.
In a sign of what the future of NASCAR may hold in store, the Ford Mustang is heading to the Nationwide Series, which is the stepping stone category up to NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series. According to Autoblog, the Mustang will debut next year and once templates are finalized, production of parts will start so teams can build and begin testing the car later this year.
In other racing news, BMW announced it is pulling out of Formula One at the end of the year. BMW said it wants to commit resources to developing new drive technologies and projects in the field of sustainability. The company said it will continue to participate in other motor sport series, but clearly Formula One, which lost Honda last year, is a series that faces a tough future.
Ahead of its official unveiling, GM released a few sketches of its new B-segment car. According to Autoblog, the Chevrolet Agile was developed entirely in Brazil and is set to begin production shortly in Argentina. It’s speculated that this is the small car the company will build at its Lake Orion, Michigan, plant for sale in the U.S. With a wheelbase of just 98 inches, the Agile is almost identical in size to the Honda Fit and Ford Fiesta.
In other GM product news, some high-res photos of the new SAAB 9.5 have turned up on the internet. Autoblog is running these pictures which show that the car has a smooth, new design, but it keeps the classic look the brand is known for. It’s a similar story inside, too. The interior is unmistakably SAAB, with crosshatch air vents and some other unusual details. Now we’ll have to wait and see if Koenisgegg’s take-over of Saab actually goes through and maybe we’ll see this car come to production.
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.
G.A. Branigan saw our report on the so-called German Provision, where European luxury car makers will be allowed to exceed CO2 emission levels in the American market, and says: “The ‘German Provision,’ that’s nice. What other concessions to foreign auto makers will our law makers do? How about sending some provisions our way, like ease off on the outrageous diesel restrictions?”
G.A. that is a great point. Easing off diesel emission standards to make diesels more affordable makes all the sense in the world, since diesels emit 25 percent less CO2.
Paul Stewart saw our interviews with the designers and marketing guy for the new Ford Taurus and wrote in to say, “I didn’t hear you mention that whether the SHO takes Premium gas, or ask the panelists about the weight issue – over 4,000 pounds for a Taurus.”
Paul, since I was interviewing designers and marketing people, I did not get into the technical aspects of the car. As far as the type of gasoline for the SHO, Ford says it needs a minimum of 87 octane, so it can run on most regular gas, though Ford recommends premium. And as far as the weight goes, 4,000 pounds for a Taurus makes it a porky car. That’s about 400 pounds heavier than a Toyota Avalon or Nissan Maxima.
And Pedro Fernandez asks, “Considering the stricter MPG standards coming soon, do you think cars will start getting smaller again or will the trend towards larger, next-generation models continue like it has for the past two-decades?”
Pedro, there is no doubt that fuel economy standards will force the industry to build a lot more small cars. But in the American market, most car buyers prefer larger vehicles, and whichever automaker can figure out how to deliver high fuel economy in a big car at an affordable price is going to move a lot of metal.
Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow night for Autoline After Hours, our live webcast that starts at 7 p.m. Eastern. Our special guest will be analyst and commentator Jim Hall who really wants to get into the topic of what General Motors is going to have to do, not just to survive, but what it’s going to have to do to claw its way back to the top again. That will be a good discussion.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.