Episode 223 – China Sales Soar, India Exports More Than China, GM Debates Opel’s Fate

September 8th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:17

August passenger car sales in China grew by an eye-popping 90 percent. But India just passed China in car exports for the year. General Motors’ board could decide on Opel today. All that and more, plus John gives you his styling analysis and driving impressions of the new Hyundai Genesis coupe.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. China’s car sales soar 90 percent. But India surpasses China in automotive exports. And GM’s board could decide on Opel today.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, September 8, 2009. And now a look at what’s going on in the auto industry.

The Wall Street Journal reports that GM’s board of directors meet today and tomorrow and we could see two big decisions. First, it will review GM’s new marketing campaign for the U.S. market. And second, it will discuss the deal to sell Opel. Germany says it wants a decision before next week’s Frankfurt auto show. But Reuters reports that Germany seems to be softening its opposition to GM keeping Opel, provided GM present a better strategy plan of what it’s going to do with it. But maybe that’s because the European Union has warned Germany, the UK, Spain and Poland they cannot offer aid to Opel on the contingency that it keep plants open in their countries.

August passenger car sales in China grew by an eye-popping 90 percent. According to Bloomberg, sales reached over 850,000 thanks to government stimulus efforts. The Chinese government says sales, including buses and trucks, could hit 12 million for the year.

Car sales in China may be surging but exports are slumping. Bloomberg reports that India just passed China in exports for the year. India’s jump in exports was fueled by Suzuki, Hyundai and Nissan producing minicars in the country. India has exported nearly 230,000 vehicles while China has shipped out 165,000.

Over the weekend President Obama appointed auto czar, Ron Bloom, as the country’s new manufacturing czar. According to the Detroit Free Press, Bloom will keep his automotive responsibilities but he now will be in charge of formulating policies to help create manufacturing jobs in the country.

We’re just a few days away from the start of the Frankfurt Motor Show, and more and more automakers are tipping their hands as to what they’ll be revealing at the event. First up, Lexus. Autoblog reports that Toyota’s platinum division has released photos of a swoopy new concept car. The LF-Ch is a hybrid hatchback that looks about the same size as an Audi A3. The most prominent thing about the car is its uncharacteristically strong design. Maybe it’s a bellwether of more stylish Lexuses to come. Next, in keeping with its updated C70, Volvo has released details of its refreshed C30. The Swedish hatchback gets some relatively minor tweaks inside and out. Some of the refinements include a reworked frontend with a larger emblem on the grille as well as new interior colors. Lastly, Rolls-Royce has revealed its new “baby” saloon, which is what they call a sedan. Too bad there’s nothing small about the Ghost, which should slot in below the Phantom in the company’s lineup. It rides on a 130-inch wheelbase and practically rivals the Queen Mary in length. It’s powered by a 6.6-liter V12 with 563 horsepower. It should be the most affordable Roller available. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but to paraphrase J.P. Morgan, “If you have to ask . . .” In other new vehicle news, Mazda released details on its refreshed CX-7. The updated crossover goes on sale in Japan today, and features freshened styling and a reworked engine for better fuel economy.

Coming up next, I’ll give you my styling analysis of the new Hyundai Genesis coupe.

The Hyundai Genesis coupe is a good-looking design because it incorporates a number of styling elements that give it its distinctive look. I just finished test driving one and here are my impressions of the way it looks.

The Hyundai Genesis coupe was designed by Joel Piaskowski, a graduate of the College for Creative Studies and a former GM designer. He recently left Hyundai to run the California design studio for Mercedes Benz, and we are undoubtedly going to see more of his work in the years to come.

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

24 Comments to “Episode 223 – China Sales Soar, India Exports More Than China, GM Debates Opel’s Fate”

  1. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    No one should be surprised by the jump in China sales, after all, as our manufacturing middle class begins to disintegrate, theirs keeps getting bigger year after year. Soon our bicycle and sneaker sales will begin to grow also.

  2. Nick Stevens Says:

    JOHN McElroy:

    The wheelbase of the New ROller is a delicious 130 inches, BUT you are wrong to say that the length of the car is on par with the Queen Mary. At 212 in, it is plenty long, but it is smaller than the “commoner” Lincoln Town car (215 in) and almost equal to the very common Ford Crown Vic or Mercury Marquis.

    And that’s what I really dislike about big US made cars like these, they look terrible with their tiny wheelbases and long front and rear overhangs.

    The new Rolls derives from the new BMW 7 Series, which has a very comfortable 126 inch wheelbase in its 750iL format (and 121 in the regular length version). I have driven 7 series and can tell you for sure that the extra wheelbase does not in the least reduce the ability of these big, heavy cars to handle like ballerinas around town.

  3. Nick Stevens Says:

    As for the Hyundai so-called “Genesis” Coupe, it is an utter FRAUD by Hyundai to name this vehicle a “Genesis”, as it has little in common with the real Genesis (the Sedan), and far more in common with the non-luxury coupe the Tiburon.

  4. Tony Gray Says:

    The dip down on the rear side window and the dual exhaust on the 4 cyl Genesis Coupe are interesting ideas.

    With the side window, it may help reduce the blind spot so common on coupes with large C pillars, and it seems to be similar to the cut down Ford uses on the FRONT doors of some of its pickups.

    The duals in the back are probably just eye candy, but you know, some folks purchase larger motors just to get the dual exhaust look. Maybe this will put them in the motor that actually fits their lifestyle, saving a few gallons. (Me, I want the biggest engine available….I’m a throwback).

  5. Phil Says:

    Sorry John, but I can’t STAND that dip down in the quarter window of he Geneis. I find it really disrupts the lines of the vehicle. It’s just ugly.

  6. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    If the Genesis coupe is not FWD, then it has nothing in common with the old Tiburon, RWD means it’s derived from Genesis with a shorter wheelbase, oem’s can now do wonders extending and reducing wheelbases as they see fit.

  7. dave Says:

    I was looking forward to seeing the Genesis coupe before it came out. I wanted to a real killer car with the new great V8…then the 4 and 6 cyl.??? Put the v8 in it out of the sedan and really give the big 3 a run.

  8. Nick Stevens Says:

    I checked up on the Genesis Sedan and the so-called “Genesis” Coupe at KBB Tech specs and prices, and they are apples and orangesd in many more ways than one:

    FIRST OF, the Coupe is NOT made from the Genesis Sedan PLATFORM, which is the mark of relatedness.

    Second, most people consider the Genesis SEDAN as a LUXURY sedan (or at least near luxury), and its base prices go from $33,050 for the v6 to $38,050 for the V8.

    The “genesis” coupe is not a luxury coupe, and its base prices are $22,750 with the tiny 2.0T (an engine not at all available on the Sedan) and $24,750 for the V6.

    Also note that the coupe, even tho a “performance” vehicle, is not available with the V8, with which the SEDAN IS available!

    Further, look at some stats:

    GENESIS SEDAN, even with the smaller engine (the V6):

    115.6″ WB, 195.9″ length, 3,897 LBS wt.

    Genesis coupe, in its heaviest form (v6):

    111″ WB, 182.3 ” length (ONLY!), 3,389 lbs only!

    NOW take any other coupes tryly derived from the SEDAN’s platform

    Such as the imposing Mercedes S class coupes of 1991-99:

    Not only do they have the same engines and, surpsisingly, identical WEIGHTS with the larger sedans,

    They cost much MORE, not much LESS, than the Sedans.

    So, in conclusion: do not fool yourselves. If you go buy the “Genesis” coupe, thinking you are buying the Sedan at Half price, you are sadly mistaken.

    Hyundai deliberately called the coupe the “Genesis” to take advantage of the good reception of the Sedan, and propagates that dishonest fraud in its advertising, claiming that the coupe has the sedan’s DNA and related BS.

  9. Alex Kajdi Says:


    I was reading “Viewer’s Mail” and read a piece from another viewer (John Kujawa) who wrote in to suggest that if you could invite Phil Lebeau from CNBC onto Autoline After Hours. I too would really like to hear what’s Phil’s unfiltered perspective of the Auto Industry.

    I would also like to suggest inviting Roger Penske or someone from the Saturn Transition Team to speak about the future product offering we can expect from Saturn onto AAH.

    Great Job!

  10. EAB Says:

    Gee, Pedro, you mean that if you have manufacturing in your country that your citizens can afford to buy products manufactured in your country? Wow, what a concept. Perhaps Henry Ford would have known this and paid his workers enough money so they could afford the cars they produced. Yeah, what a concept.

    Can’t wait until I get laid off of this job so I can go work at McDonalds for $6/hr. Of course, I won’t be buying anything worth having if that happens.

  11. Nick Stevens Says:

    # EAB Says:
    September 8th, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    ” Perhaps Henry Ford would have known this and paid his workers enough money so they could afford the cars they produced. Yeah, what a concept.”

    Even if every single one of his workers bought a car, and even if all the cars they bought were FOrds, how much would that amount to? 5% of all Ford sales? 10%? It sure would not ensure Ford’s viability, unless it could sell its cars to ten to a hundred times the number of buyers than just its work force. Have in mind that Ford sold and still well over one million cars a year.

    “Can’t wait until I get laid off of this job so I can go work at McDonalds for $6/hr. Of course, I won’t be buying anything worth having if that happens.”

    I assume you had a goo dpaying job before tghat, such as those peachy UAW jobs where people with little skill and virtually no education were able to make, with overttime, $100,000 a year, at a time where Genius U of Michigan Math and Engineering Profs with PhDs from MIT would get $19,000 for 9 months?

    If you were that fortunate, then, assuming you did not squander the millions you made over 1-2 decades, until your layoff, you could just invest a few hundred thou in the Shanghai stock market and enjoy the dividends while you relax in your retirement?

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The sales records show that Mercedes-Benz sold only a handful of it’s expensive, heavy, and very thirsty ’91-’99 S-Class coupes. Maybe Hyundai wants to take a different approach with is smaller and cheaper coupes. We’ll know in a few months how their strategy is working.

  13. Nick Stevens Says:

    # Kit Gerhart Says:
    September 8th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    The sales records show that Mercedes-Benz sold only a handful of it’s expensive, heavy, and very thirsty ‘91-’99 S-Class coupes.

    Of course. Especially since they had far less interior room in the back seat and trunk than the Sedan L versions, in fact the rear seat was strictly for two, with wooden console divider in the middle.

    The coupes shouldnot have been any thirstier than the sedans, they had slightly lower weight, and, more importantly, they were shorter in height, so they must have had less aero resistance at high speeds.

    “Maybe Hyundai wants to take a different approach with is smaller and cheaper coupes. ”

    That’s quite obvious. WHat I object to is calling the non-luxury coupe with its much smaller enbgines a “Genesis” coupe.

    “We’ll know in a few months how their strategy is working.”

    Logically, you’d expect many buyers to flock to buy the “Genesis” coupe, since it carries a flattering name, and sells for as little as $21k for the 2.0T, a price you can’t find even a near-luxury car today, much less a true luxury car. I’d also expect luxury buyers to move away from the diluted Genesis brand for the same reason. We’ll see.

  14. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS re Mercedes, they are marketing a so-called “E class coupe” these days, which is based on the cheaper C-class platform, but sells for at least as much as the E-class sedan. I obviously strongly object to this misleading practice too.

    And speaking of Merc and BMW, I wish both of these companies would go back to the good old days of naming their vehicles accurately. The 740il, for example,that Thor drives, should be the 744iL, and the 335 should be the 330! Mercedes does the same thing with many of its models and it is quite confusing and frustrating.

  15. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    If I was younger, so much younger than I am, I would take the Genesis coupe over the old-fashioned Camaro or Challenger, It is a car for these times not a throwback to an era that was great but it’s over. Besides the “real” young people are going for smaller displacement and higher horsepower. not 1970′s dinosaur engines.

  16. Jim Sachetti Says:

    I agree with Nick’s points re Hyundai’s mislabeling the coupe to make it look like the far more substantial luxury sedan with the same name but with little else in common.

    Pedro also correctly compares the Hyundai Coupe with the Camaro, Challenger (and I’d add the Mustang). In fact, I believe Car and Driver did a comparo, I’ll look it up, and I believe the Hyundai Coupe (I’ll deliberately not call it a Genesis) did not win.

  17. Jim Sachetti Says:


    Here it is: The Camaro indeed won over the Hyundai Coupe.

  18. Jim Sachetti Says:

    And note this was the Huyndai coupe with the larger engine (the V6) and not with the 2.0T, and the camaro was also with the V6 and not with the far superior V8.

  19. Episode 223 – China Sales Soar, India Exports More Than China, GM … | China Today Says:

    [...] View post: Episode 223 – China Sales Soar, India Exports More Than China, GM … [...]

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Genesis Coupe is more a “pony car” than anything else, though it is smaller than Camaro, et. al. According to the C and D article, the Hyundai is 8.1 inches shorter and 2.1 inches narrower. It lost the C and D comparison to the Camaro by one point. The Mustang and Challenger were “no shows” to the comparo because they didn’t have competitive V-6′s.

    I wouldn’t buy the Hyundai, but it’s undeniable that Hyundai has made amazing strides over the short time they’ve been building cars.

  21. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    @ EAB seems to me that the Chinese have been doing so well by manufacturing things and then exporting them, much like we used to do back when we were the #1 industrial nation, then somewhere along the line, some genius said: ” hey why don’t we let the Asians build stuff for us and we’ll just scratch each other’s backs and let the .com’s make us a lot of money”, so much for Fantasy Island.

  22. Drew Says:

    The Genesis Coupe should have incorporated a HATCHBACK opening…..that small opening for a trunk is rediculous.

    The styling could remain nearly exact even with a hatchback opening.

  23. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Drew is right-on on the Genesis, but remember Americans don’t like hatchbacks much, specially at that price range. Ex. the Lexus IS hatch sold poorly, they associate hatchbacks with cheap economy cars.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I agree with Drew and Pedro. I love hatchbacks, but realize that because of the “macho” mentality so prevalent in the US, hatchbacks don’t sell well. People want “trucky” vehicles instead. I was one of the few who bought a Lexus IS “SportCross” hatchback, which was a great car, except for the so-so gas mileage and the need for premium fuel. I now have an ’06 Malibu Maxx. It remains to be seen what will come along by the time I’m ready to replace the Malibu, but it will be a hatchback or wagon. Right now, there aren’t many out there in the US market.