Episode 248 – Asia Sales On Fire, Ford Improves In Europe, Bugatti’s New Showroom

October 13th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 5:15

The growing markets in both China and India posted significant auto sales growth in September. Ford’s European market share increased to over 10 percent for the first time in eight years. Luxury carmaker Bugatti opened its first-ever showroom outside of France. All that and more, plus a look at how Ford’s new EcoBoost V-6 compares to its eight-cylinder competition, and the lowdown on some exciting new spark plug technology.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. India and China are on Fire. Ford’s sales soar in Europe. And Bugatti expands its dealer base.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, October 13, 2009. I’m Frank Markus, Technical Director at Motor Trend Magazine filling in for John McElroy. Anyway, here’s the news.

You can certainly tell it’s a brave new world in today’s industry when our lead story are sales reports…from ASIA! That’s right. The growing markets in both China and India posted significant growth in September, and in China’s case it was RECORD growth! In fact, Bloomberg News reports over 1-million vehicles sold in the last 30 days for the first time ever.

Meanwhile, its neighbor India – the Associated Press tells us – topped the 200-thousand number continuing eight straight months of sales improvement for that very young market. Of course these numbers might presage the improving global economy, however, you do have to factor in that both countries had notable stimulus programs encouraging sales.

And before we leave the international sales story we should note that Ford tells us that its European market share increased to over 10-percent for the first time in eight years, much of that driven by Fiesta sales which topped 51- thousand units in September. The best September sales for the car since 1994. But overall, Ford of Europe’s numbers are slightly down from this same point last year.

A new study says that, in 10 years, suppliers will provide most of the value of a car. According to Ward’s, a study from PriceWaterhouseCoopers says suppliers will provide 90 percent of the value of cars by 2020 (subscription required), up from 75 percent today. The trend toward integrating modules will continue and automakers will give up significant chassis and engine production the study says. It also predicts that sales levels won’t recover to pre-recession numbers in mature markets, and that by 2014 the majority of vehicles will be built in emerging markets.

Luxury carmaker Bugatti opened its first-ever showroom outside of France. According to Gasgoo.com, the Volkswagen-owned brand recently opened a showroom in Beijing, to capitalize on the growing market in China. As of now, the company has very modest sales goals. They hope to sell two vehicles in the first year.

Millions of New York motorists are battling an annoying, and potentially costly problem. Vehicle registration and inspection stickers are peeling off, causing many drivers to come unhinged. The New York Times reports that at least 2.5 million of the stickers issued this year won’t stay put. The situation is so bad, police have been asked to be lenient towards drivers with stickers that have fallen off. Fines for an improperly displayed tag can range from $50 to $100, plus a hefty surcharge. If you live in New York, keep some Scotch tape in the glove box.

Coming up next, a look at how Ford’s new EcoBoost V-6 compares to its eight-cylinder competition, plus the lowdown on some exciting new spark plug technology, we’ll be back right after this.

Those of us who cover and follow the auto industry have had a bellyful of bad news of late, so I thought I’d share a few pieces of good news from Ford that I’ve recently come across on my Technical beat.

Ford is leading the charge toward downsizing engines with the help of both direct fuel injection and turbocharging. The first 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engines are rolling out now with several smaller variants to follow in the near future.

Motor Trend recently participated in an event pitting an EcoBoost V-6 Lincoln MKS against V-8 powered European luxury cars from BMW, Jaguar, Maserati, and Mercedes-Benz in a timed run up Colorado’s Loveland Pass. In that rarified 12,000-foot mountain air, the boosted Lincoln still makes nearly all of its 355 rated horsepower, while the V-8s lose some 20 percent of their output. The Lincoln ended up beating all but the considerably lighter and better handling BMW 550i up the hill.

Another cool development Ford is working on is laser ignition. Yes, you heard that right: Lasers replacing spark plugs. Benefits include, the ability to project the spark into the middle of the mixture, away from the cold cylinder wall, the possibility of creating numerous sparks per cycle – maybe even in different places – and the ability to analyze the products of combustion by collecting reflected laser light.

Developing fiber-optic cables robust enough to deliver the high-energy laser light is proving tricky, and the cost will be higher than plugs and coils, but the sensing technology could be a boon to HCCI engines, and the multiple sparks might even make ammonia viable as an alternate fuel for agricultural equipment.

I’m really pulling for Ford to bring this Buck-Rogers technology to market. Visit motortrend.com to keep abreast of these and other developments on the automotive tech front.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Again, I’m Frank Markus, Technical Director at Motor Trend Magazine, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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37 Comments to “Episode 248 – Asia Sales On Fire, Ford Improves In Europe, Bugatti’s New Showroom”

  1. Dan B. Says:

    Ford’s eco-boost challenge means nothing to the drivers who don’t live a mile above sea level.

  2. HPope Says:

    While Ford isn’t always the first to market a technology, hopefully they can make it cost effective.

    Colorado State University patented the laser spark plug in 2006.

    http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=%2220060055925%22.PGNR.&OS=DN/20060055925&RS=DN/20060055925

  3. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Just went to MT’s website where they tested the new Lacrosse and declared it better than Lexus. The last time I paid any attention to those bozos I ended up buying a 1980 Buick Skylark, the biggest POS car I have ever owned. I believe they also praised such winners as Ford Fairmont and Chevy Citation.

  4. Nick Stevens Says:

    It is unbelievable what total, utter POS cars got the various Car of the Year Awards in the 80s, including the utterly forgettable Renault Alliance (!) or Fuego (!). These models could not make it for more than a few years in the US market, and to vote them as #1 shows how clueless the average US Automotive Journalist really is, or, WORSE, as this “Autoextremist” guy says, these awards are utterly RIGGED.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Citation was the 1980 M/T Car of the Year, and Chrysler K cars were ’81 COTY. Looking at these cars now, they aren’t very good cars, but at the time, they weren’t THAT bad compared to a lot of the competition. Have you driven a 1982 Camry lately? It wasn’t that great either, and probably rusted a lot quicker than a Citation or K car.

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Laser ignition, sounds intrigueing; best it be bullet proof though. (fiber optic cables like to play in a nice quiet environment; tough nut to crack under the hood of any automobile)

    Bought a brand new 1980 Citation (X-11); not a bad car for the time. Got 30plus mpg on the highway, mine was a four-speed which was fun, and very reliable (at least the one I got) Ha

  7. Art Greenberg Says:

    That NY registration sticker problem has been going for as long as I can remember. Is it that hard to come up an adhesive that will make a piece of paper adhere to glass for more than a week?

    I have a brand-new car with this crappy looking sticker in the windshield. And they just increased registration fees astronomically!

  8. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit,

    Trust me, they were not bad, they were Terrible.

    Inexcusably bad, compared to the Civics and Accords you could then buy for a mere $2k more.

  9. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Have you driven a 1982 Camry lately?”

    I did not even know the camry went as early as that, I thought it was a mid-80s intro.

    But the 1982 Accord sure was a winner, far, far better than the competition. Same with the civic.

    My original comment however was not about the Citation or even the K-car (which WAS terrible) but the Renaults!

  10. Salvador G. Says:

    Thanks for the report F.Markus, then is noted if your going to buy a car, it better be a BMW, althought; I’m not really that surprise that a V6 Twin-Turbo light weight won againts normally aspirated V-8 or that it lost to an even lighter car.

  11. Nick Stevens Says:

    “The last time I paid any attention to those bozos I ended up buying a 1980 Buick Skylark, the biggest POS car I have ever owned.”

    My college office mate, a big car guy from a wealthy family living in london, UK, also bought a Skylark in 80, new, and paid only $5,000 for it! After graduation he has Porsche 911 Carrera 4s and Subarus (!).

    The Lacrosse today will set you back at least six TIMES as much as that $5,000. If not eight!

  12. Will Says:

    At 12,000 feet a normally aspirated engine is losing far more than 20% of its output. A normally aspirated engine is losing 20% at 5,000 feet. Lets see the challenge repeated at sea level, or even 5,000 feet and watch the Lincoln get smoked by all its competitors.

  13. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Whether you pay $5 or $6k for a new car,back in the 80′s, after 3 years it should be good enough so at least you could go for a weekend trip w/o worrying about getting stranded far from home. Well this Buick had a constant overheating problem that no one, not even dealer, could solve. So I took a big loss in ’85, got a Camry 1986, which was reliable to the end of its 12 yr. life with me and I was sold on Toyota then and there.

  14. Tony Gray Says:

    My brother had a Citation X-11. I think it rattled itself apart. I had TWO Renault Alliances (bought them at the same time from my boss for $1k a piece…traded them in for $4k on an 88 Chevy Nova) and they were OK, but woefully underpowered.

    On the other hand, we had a Reliant K Army Staff Car. We could not kill that thing. It went through snow like a 4WD and ran like a champ until its transmission finally died. We weren’t so lucky with it’s replacement – a Caravan.

  15. Dave Says:

    That new ford v6 sounds like it would be fun, but I don’t think that it will be that great on gas. 3.5l motor with 2 turbos forcing air in, well you need to add fuel to that air demand. IF you can drive it and keep your foot out of the boost MAYBE good mpg. As the boost goes up the fuel gauge goes down.

  16. bobnally Says:

    Pedro … I for one do believe that MT to which I have subscribed to about 50 years of my life, I am 65 now does a very thorough job of there testing ! I would NOT classify a 2010 Buick as A POS, try one it might surprise you of the quality and don’t forget American owned….I feel any of the big 3 would give Asia or Europe a run for there money !

  17. Nick Stevens Says:

    In 82, before I got my 83 Pontiac, I saw a K-car that its dealer was asking $6k for (and it was such a primitive POS, it should sell for much less than that). Even between that and the pontiac 2000 (the next size down from the chevy Citation style), the Pontiac was far superior, with its 5-sp manual, bucket seats, and excellent MPG. The Pontiac never stranded me until it doed 11 years later, but the poor quality of the materials and the cheap plastics, the poor transmission (not smooth) etc were not pleasant.

    But the K-car was really primitive. A friend at the time had one, and I really suffered when she would give me a ride, since it had a Bench front seat that went front and back as a whole, and she needed, being rather short, to move it up front, which really crushed my (long even for my 6 1″ frame) knees against the damned dashboard!

  18. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Dave Says:
    October 13th, 2009 at 2:41 pm

    That new ford v6 sounds like it would be fun, but I don’t think that it will be that great on gas. 3.5l motor with 2 turbos forcing air in, well you need to add fuel to that air demand. IF you can drive it and keep your foot out of the boost MAYBE good mpg. As the boost goes up the fuel gauge goes down.”

    The 3.5 ecoboost has 355 horses. Most cars need less than half that. You may be able to get 150-200 horses from a 1.8 lt Ecoboost, and that sure will have excellent MPG.

  19. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Bobnally, I did not put down the new Lacrosse, as a matter of fact, it looks like a very nice car, my question is to the choices MT and other car mags have made in the past as car of the year, It seems they have gotten better though the years, but I don’t believe most Lexus buyers would look at Buick for comparison, they would look to Merc or BMW or even Caddy instead.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    October 13th, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    “Kit,
    Trust me, they were not bad, they were Terrible”

    Did you have one? I had an ’81 Citation, four cylinder, 4-speed manual. I drove it about 2 years and 40K miles. I sold it to a friend who drove in another ~6 years and 100K miles without fixing much.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    October 13th, 2009 at 3:04 pm
    “In 82, before I got my 83 Pontiac, I saw a K-car that its dealer was asking $6k for (and it was such a primitive POS, it should sell for much less than that). Even between that and the pontiac 2000 (the next size down from the chevy Citation style), the Pontiac was far superior, with its 5-sp manual, bucket seats, and excellent MPG.”

    The GM competition for the K Car, the X car, had 4-speed manual. I had one. Also, the first of the J cars in ’82 had the same 4-speed as the only available manual transmission. By ’84 the J cars had 5-speeds, as did the Chrysler K cars. The bigger GM products, including my Celebrity wagon, still had the same 4 speed as an early Citation, even in 1986.

    I now have a close derivitive of a K car, a first generation minivan, and it drives just fine. I realize that it would not do well in a crash compared with today’s cars, but neither will any other similar-size car from the mid 80′s.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    October 13th, 2009 at 2:12 pm
    ““Have you driven a 1982 Camry lately?”

    I did not even know the camry went as early as that, I thought it was a mid-80s intro”

    The front-drive Camry started life in the US for 1982 model year. There were earlier cars using the Camry name in Japan, but they were rear-drive, based on the platform of the Celica
    coupe sold in North America.

  23. pedro Fernandez Says:

    To set the record straight, I believe the first Camry was a 1983 FWD, before that they had the Corona, RWD. Then the whole automotive world went nuts for FWD, and the Camry was born. I clearly remember all Toyotas being RWD even Corolla,I used to love Celica/Supra during the 70′s,it was Honda who originally went FWD in all their models

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Two search results I found listed ’82 as the first year for the front-drive Camry. Maybe they were wrong, and it was ’83.

    I’d like to have a rear drive Corolla wagon if I could find a nice one. I guess I kind of like to “collect” cars that no one else would want, like my turbo, 5-speed minivan.

  25. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    @Kit, according to Wikipedia, Camry began in 1982 but Edmunds says it was 1983, perhaps the ’82 was for Japan only. It’s become almost impossible to find any RWD Toyota, since it has become a favorite of the drifting crowd ( I don’t get that form of racing, but to each his own) . I recently did a web search for any Cressida and I could only find a few in Cali. at a very high asking price. Even those old Toyota inline 6 engines are in high demand and short supply.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had one of the last Toyota inline sixes, in a Lexus IS300 SportCross. It was a really nice engine, smooth, with decent power, but the gas mileage was not too great for the size and power of the car. I only got ~25 on the highway on premium. I suspect taller gearing would have helped.

  27. dcars Says:

    Its’ nice to think that GM’s getting it ‘right’ now. The problem is that they have burned so many people that it will take years for them to prove that their cars won’t brake. One year of nice cars won’t do it. Didn’t the Citation have a spin out problem in icy conditions?

  28. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Besides their shoddy build quality, the v6 X-cars suffered from torque steer and locking brakes. In the mid 80′s GM extended the X-car chassis and created the A-body cars which had most of the problems of the X-cars fixed, at the mercy of all those hapless x-cars buyers, who had to put up with such crap. The replacement for the Citation, the Corsica/Bereta did not fair much better either. Samples even suffered from having the whole dash separate from the body and rattles and noises galore.

  29. dcars Says:

    I didn’t own a Corsica/Bereta, but looked at them and wasn’t impressed. Years later I bought a Saturn SW1 hoping that GM could make a car that was as good as the Asian cars, they weren’t. Now I own a Honda and a Nissan.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had a ’92 Beretta with the 2.2 four cyl. and 5-speed manual. This was one of several GM cars that I bought new, drove about 30K miles, and sold to a friend who got good service from it. I, like many GM employees at the time, bought way too many new cars. I came out well financially on a lot of them back when the employee discount was actually worth something.

    Berettas and Corsicas must have been better than a lot of late 80′s to early 90′s cars, rust-wise, because I still see them in regular use in road salt-heavy central Indiana. The later Berettas and Corsicas, after ’91 or so, had much better interiors than the early ones.

  31. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    I love the idea of laser ignition. Go Ford

  32. Nick Stevens Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    October 13th, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    “Kit,
    Trust me, they were not bad, they were Terrible”

    Did you have one? I had an ‘81 Citation, four cylinder, 4-speed manual. I drove it about 2 years and 40K miles. I sold it to a friend who drove in another ~6 years and 100K miles without fixing much.

    Please read my posts again, I never mentioned the Citation, I was talking specifically about the Renault Alliance and the K-cars, both of which, incredibly, got “Car of the Year” awards, when there were excellent Civics and Accords to give that award to, not to mention Corollas and later Camrys. Again, that tells you something about the intelligence and maybe integrity of “Automotive Journalists”. I hope John McElroy reads this and addresses it. “Autoextremist” sure has, in his site, and claims these prizes are a gigantic HOAX, and worse..

    As for the citation, a colleague had an automatic Oldsmobile (Calais?) version that he let me use when he went overseas for a few weeks and it was OK. Basic, but OK.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Calais was Oldsmobile’s N-car, like Pontiac Grand Am, and was sold from ’85 to ’81. The Olds X-car was Omega.

  34. Nick Stevens Says:

    ” Also, the first of the J cars in ‘82 had the same 4-speed as the only available manual transmission. By ‘84 the J cars had 5-speeds, as did the Chrysler K cars.”

    My 83 1.8 lt Pontiac 2000 already had a 5-speed manual. I bought it in April 83.

    “I now have a close derivitive of a K car, a first generation minivan, and it drives just fine. I realize that it would not do well in a crash compared with today’s cars, but neither will any other similar-size car from the mid 80’s.”

    It is not just that it is much smaller and lighter than today’s minivans, it is that it does not have even the most elementary, necessary safety systems, not even a driver’s airbag and ABS. How much is your own life worth? And even if you are a perfect driver, what about all the bozos driving around in 6,000 lb Escalades and texting or applying makeup? What if you are hit by one of these clowns? Do you have enough ACTIVE safety (power, acceleration, handling) to avoid them? What if you can’t? What if you have your young kids in it?

    People spend a ton of $ for their homes, many live in $500k or more homes and drive a lot of miles in $2k beaters that do not have any modern safety systems. Is this a rational behavior?

  35. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Kit Gerhart Says:
    October 14th, 2009 at 9:25 am

    Calais was Oldsmobile’s N-car, like Pontiac Grand Am, and was sold from ‘85 to ‘81. The Olds X-car was Omega.”

    Then it was the Omega. He left it to me over xmas in 82-83. I believe it had a 2.5 lt 4?

  36. Alex Kovnat Says:

    Someone here mentioned a K-car being good in snow. I think that was not a function of quality/fit/finish, but strictly a matter of percentage of total car weight (which includes anything you put in the car, including driver and passengers) which rests on the front wheels (if the car is, like most cars these days, front wheel drive).

    With FWD, if the weight on the front wheels isn’t high – like 60% or more – you won’t get the traction you need for overcoming snow and for acceleration or hill-climbing. Part of the problem with FWD is, EVERYTHING wants to transfer weight off the front wheels. This includes aerodynamic forces, acceleration forces, and climbing up hills.

    So while my present car (2005 Toyota Corolla) is a much better car, fit and finish and technology wise, than my first FWD Car (1979 Plymouth Horizon), I doubt the Corolla is any better – and it may even be worse – than my ’79 Horizon was in getting me through snow. The latter may have been a POS quality-wise, but what a blizzard-wizard it was! Most likely its because the 2005 Corolla doesn’t have as high a percentage of weight on the front wheels.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    October 14th, 2009 at 9:39 am

    “It is not just that it is much smaller and lighter than today’s minivans, it is that it does not have even the most elementary, necessary safety systems, not even a driver’s airbag and ABS. How much is your own life worth? And even if you are a perfect driver, what about all the bozos driving around in 6,000 lb Escalades and texting or applying makeup? What if you are hit by one of these clowns? Do you have enough ACTIVE safety (power, acceleration, handling) to avoid them? What if you can’t? What if you have your young kids in it?”

    First of all, I don’t have young kids. I use the van mainly to transport model airplanes to a flying site.

    As I’ve said before, while I do my part to drive safely and I always use a seat belt, I realize that I am more vulnerable to texters in Escalades than some other people. I even ride motorcycles. My van, and my air bag-less ’86 VW Cabriolet are pretty safe in a crash compared to a motorcycle. They are also pretty safe compared to the air cooled VW beetles that probably thousands of collectors drive more than I drive my van. I drive this van, and my ’86 VW a few hundred miles a year.

    As far as “active safety,” my van would do as well as a lot of SUV’s and pickups on the road in regard to handling and acceleration, but obviously not as well as cars in handling.