August 18th, 2009 at 12:28pm
American automakers match the Japanese in the latest customer satisfaction survey. General Motors is looking at building a car that only costs $4,000. Chinese auto company BYD will sell lithium-ion batteries to another Chinese automaker, SAIC. All that and more, plus a look at Suzuki’s new Kizashi midsize sedan.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. American automakers match the Japanese in the latest survey. GM looks at building a $4,000 car. And a look at the new Suzuki Kizashi.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, August 18, 2009. And now, the news.
Well, we’ve been reporting on this for months and it’s finally over. GM finalized a deal with Swedish sports car maker Koenigsegg to take over Saab. Koenigsegg essentially gets Saab for free, though now it needs to raise a lot of money. It looks like the Swedish government will guarantee the bank loans that Koenigsegg will have to raise from the European Investment Bank. Saab says it’s excited, and can’t wait to bring out the 9.3X later this month.
Speaking of GM, the Wall Street Journal reports that the company is looking at building a car that only costs $4,000 (subscription required). But it probably will only be sold in Asian markets. An executive at Wuling, one of GM’s joint venture partners in China, told Autoline Daily that it is now moving into making passenger cars, and sees a big market in China and other developing countries for cars in the $4,000 to $5,000 range. GM has not announced where its low priced car will be designed and developed, but Wuling seems like a good bet.
More action on the battery front. Chinese auto company BYD will sell lithium-ion batteries to another Chinese automaker, SAIC. According to Gasgoo.com, the batteries will be used to power its Roewe hybrid vehicle.
Creditors of the old Chrysler sued Daimler on Monday. According to the Detroit Free Press, the creditors claim Daimler diverted billions by separating Chrysler Financial from its parent company days before Chrysler was sold to Cerberus. Because of this, Chrysler Financial’s assets avoided being a part of Chrysler’s bankruptcy which left less for Chrysler’s unsecured creditors. They want to split amongst themselves the assets that didn’t get sold to the new Chrysler which includes several factories.
Kia is readying an all-new multi-purpose vehicle (subscription required) for the European market. The Venga is a production version of the “No. 3″ concept it debuted at the Geneva Motor Show last March. The B-segment people-mover will offer a wide variety of gas and diesel engines, with output ranging from 75 to a scorching 115 horsepower. All drivetrains will feature stop/start functionality to save fuel. The MPV will be built at Kia’s plant in the Czech Republic. The company says it has no plans to bring the Venga to the U.S.
Despite all the problems facing the auto industry, OEMs are doing a better job keeping American car buyers happy. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (PDF), the industry improved its score over last year, and the Detroit Three all posted significant gains. The study reveals that American automakers now EQUAL their Asian competitors for the first time in a decade. Honda was up while Toyota’s score was unchanged. Nissan’s customer satisfaction score fell. Cadillac topped the list with Lexus in second place. Buick, Honda and Lincoln/Mercury round out the top-five brands.
Coming up next, a look at Suzuki’s new Kizashi midsize sedan, we’ll be back right after this.
Suzuki is best known for making small cars, and even more impressively, for making a profit on those small cars. But now the company is venturing up-market with its first midsize sedan, the Kizashi. The company tantalized us for a couple of years with dramatic concept cars to signal the styling direction of the Kizashi. The production car is kind of disappointing in that regard. But this is an impressive car. And Eddie Rayyan, a product planner with Suzuki, stopped by out offices to walk around and show us some of the highlights of the Kizashi.
Though Suzuki hasn’t announced pricing for the Kizashi, look for the base price to start just under twenty grand, while a fully loaded one like we just looked at should come in around $26,000.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.