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Episode 195 – Auto Earnings Reported, Mustang Headed To NASCAR, GM’s Agile B-Car

July 29th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:32

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.

18 Comments to “Episode 195 – Auto Earnings Reported, Mustang Headed To NASCAR, GM’s Agile B-Car”

  1. T. Bejma Says:

    With Mustang getting into NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, can we expect the Camaro to soon follow? I see a Pony War coming back like in the early 1970′s!

  2. Episode 195 - Auto Earnings Reported, Mustang Headed To NASCAR, GM’s Agile B-Car Says:

    [...] Excerpt from: Episode 195 – Auto Earnings Reported, Mustang Headed To NASCAR, GM’s Agile B-Car [...]

  3. R. Rufty Says:

    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?”

    And this the same government that wants to run health care.

  4. S. Gikas Says:

    Would you rather “we” lent them money ala GTM and Chrysler?

    This just might prevent a suit at the World Trade Organisation claiming the loans to GM and Chrysler were an unfair trade practice.

  5. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Good news for Ford and the Mustang.It would be so cool to have the Trans Am series back.We have the mustang,camaro,and the challenger and of course the vette.Talk about a blast from the past.

  6. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @R.Ruffy:”And this the same government that wants to run health care”.

    Truer words man.It seems common sense has long ago left our elected officials,no doubt replaced by the all important election campaign
    donations.JMHO ;}>

  7. Tom Says:

    The New 9-5 Saab sure looks good.What engines will they use?

  8. Chuck Grenci Says:

    This may help Formula 1 (a little at least); Michael Schumacher has agreed to fill in for Phillipe Massa (after his accident). See link:
    http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_news_item.php?fes_art_id=38593

  9. Posts about Ford Mustangs as of July 29, 2009 | Mustang Says:

    [...] Excerpt from: Episode 195 – Auto Earnings Reported, Mustang Headed To NASCAR, GM’s Agile B-Car Episode 195 – Auto Earnings Reported, Mustang Headed To NASCAR, GM’s Agile B-Car – autolinedetroit.tv 07/29/2009 Runtime 6:32 Automotive earnings come in from Japan and Europe. The [...]

  10. paulstewart Says:

    John, I just wanted to say “Thanks” for responding to my ??? I need to remind myself from time to time. That if you ask Very hard questions undiplomatically it could become very diffucult in getting cars to test or getting interviews etc. etc. Diplomacy is the key.You really are doing a great job, I probably wouln’t get far with my (60 minute style of interviewing)Regards, paulstewart

  11. Episode 195 - Auto Earnings Reported, Mustang Headed To NASCAR, GM’s Agile B-Car « Honda Says:

    [...] Here is the original: Episode 195 – Auto Earnings Reported, Mustang Headed To NASCAR, GM’s Agile B-Car [...]

  12. C-Tech Says:

    Given how well honda has done with motorcycles and cars, perhaps the government should sell their GM shares to Harley-Davidson?

  13. pedro Fernandez Says:

    I’m confused about the Chavy Spark/Agile. Is it the same car? or is one smaller than the other? Either way I don’t see how GM can turn a profit by building here and keeping the price competetive.

  14. Salvador G. Says:

    Hello JohnMc. been a while since I wrote anything here, but I like to comment on “You Said it”… in particular comments made by G.A. Branigan and Pedro Fernandez; both comments since to match perfectly and need the same answer, so here is my response…

    1. Lobbyist in Washington and their contributors (as well as some senators) drive expensive foreign made cars and as for diesel, I have to ask; What wealthy American oil company is currently lobbying for more diesel when gasoline is so much rewarding???

  15. Thor Says:

    John: You must know that it is not necessarily true that cars have to become smaller to be more fuel efficient.

    cars can be as big as they are now and get far more fuel efficient by several other ways, by ditching dinosaur v8s and even v6s for more efficient turbo 4s, developing excellent innovative new engines,

    and, in another direction, using lightweight materials to replace steel and other heavy ones.

  16. John McElroy Says:

    @Thor: You’re right, there is plenty of technology available to boost fuel economy in larger cars. It all comes down to the cost of that technology. Even in Japan and Europe where gas prices are high you don’t see full-size lightweight cars with turbo fours in them. That may happen in the not too distant future (check out the Mercedes F700 concept), but for now automakers are planning to meet fuel economy regulations by building smaller cars.

  17. Thor Says:

    John: Of course I fully agree that cost will be the primary criterion. However, while cost may be higher if you use luightweighjt materials, cost will actually be lower if you use smaller engines that produce the same or even less HP and Torque. You only have to look at an annual car review volume from 20 years ago or 22, which shows you how much heavier and far more overpowered cars are today than they were in 1985-1990. Any car, from the Honda Accord that used to have less than 100 HP and now has a min of 160 from its I-4, to the Mercedes |S-class that had laughably low HP (177 for the 300 SEL 1990 a friend forked over 57k to buy new!) There are v4s today that cost far less and have far more Hop and TOrquwe than that Merc I6!

    Given our speed limits, most extra HP is utterly useless (and a huge waste of fuel) except in faster acceleration a few times per trip.

  18. Thor Says:

    PS John, in response to your comment about Europe, narrow steets and parking problems, not so much the cost, are the primary reason cars in Europe are far smaller than in the US.

    A little old lady in the US (or even a retired couple that does not tow anything) do not need 300 HP Buicks that weigh 4,200 lbs and cost an arm and a leg.

    PS2 the New Taurus may be larger than the current Accord in the EXTERIOR, but, the intelligently designed Accord has more INTERIOR volume than the trendy Taurus!