October 20th, 2009 at 12:11pm
Fiat, Daimler and Ford may announce third-quarter profits. Honda may start building its subcompact Fit in the U.S. Toyota announced it will expand its operations in South Korea. All that and more plus, a look at a fight brewing between Fiat and Chinese automaker, Great Wall Motor.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Things in the auto industry could be looking up. Honda may be moving production. And Toyota expands in South Korea.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, October 20, 2009. I’m Christie Schweinsberg from Ward’s Auto playing John McElroy today, who’s still out of town. Here’s the news.
Topping the news…from the “Light at the end of the Tunnel” department there’s this…
Fiat, Daimler and — brace yourself — Ford Motor Company may soon be blessing us with good news. We’ll start with Fiat’s holding company, where the Detroit Free Press reports that strong sales by Fiat’s three core car brands will propel the company to a third-quarter profit. While European car sales dropped more than 6.5 percent in the first nine months of the year, Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo increased Fiat’s overall market share in Europe by almost a full percentage point, leading to the potential profit posting.
Meanwhile, Fiat’s northern neighbor, Daimler AG, is reporting better than expected earnings. Bloomberg News tells us that, thanks to demand for Mercedes’ new E- Class, the company ended three consecutive quarters of losses. We’ll get confirmation of that next week when the company officially releases its third-quarter report.
And finally this surprising tidbit, sneaking out of Dearborn via New York. The Free Press again tells us that two JP Morgan auto analysts told investors yesterday that Ford could report a third-quarter profit next week. That analysis is based on a number of factors, including the fact that Ford gained at least one full point of American market share, even as it cut incentives on its products. So we’ll have to wait another week to see how accurate JP Morgan is, but if anyone sees the Glass House lobby filling up with blue and white balloons later this week, that may be an indication they’re on track.
No shock here, automakers are against California’s proposed “cool cars” legislation. According to the Detroit News, the Association of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade organization including many foreign carmakers, released a letter asking CARB to reconsider its plans. The proposed legislation would kick-in in 2014 and require vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less to block 45 percent of the sun’s energy from entering the interior. The number increases to 60 percent by 2016. Automakers are worried they’ll have to build cars specifically for the California market, which would raise costs.
Making money on small cars is not easy, especially now that the Yen has gone UP in value compared to the Dollar. It’s risen about 8 percent since August, which is cutting into Japanese automakers’ profitability. To fight back, Autoblog reports that Honda is almost certain to start building its subcompact Fit in the U.S. Currently about 80 percent of Hondas sold here are built here. So far this year the company’s sales are down 25 percent, but the Fit is only off by 12 percent, making this an important move.
Earlier this year, OnStar began offering a feature that will shut off a vehicle if it’s stolen. Over the weekend it nabbed its first suspect in California. According to the AP, after the victim’s Chevy Tahoe was carjacked, he called the police, who then got in contact with OnStar to locate the vehicle. And when police officers spotted the truck and went after the thief, he took off, but OnStar disabled the Tahoe a few blocks down the road and the police were able to make the arrest.
Coming up next, more news! We’ll take a look at a fight brewing between Fiat and Great Wall Motor, plus we’ll find out who’s adopting the Mitsubishi i-MiEV for police duty. All that and a lot more. We’ll be back right after this.
Toyota announced it will expand its operations in South Korea. According to the AP, the company will sell the Camry and Camry hybrid, the Prius, and RAV4 in the country. Toyota has been in South Korea since 2000 selling Lexus vehicles. It’s aiming for sales of 700 units a month.
Ward’s reports that Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV electric car is about to join police forces in the United Kingdom (subscription required). So far the vehicle has been on trial for almost a year. It has a 100-mile range and a top speed of 81 miles an hour. The car’s compact size and quiet operation make it ideal for urban policing. Production versions of this special “law enforcement” model are set to arrive in the UK next month and will be on roads in December. The West Midlands department is the first to receive the new electric vehicle.
Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor is accusing Fiat of plagiarism. According to Gasgoo.com, Great Wall has filed a complaint in a Chinese court and supposedly provided evidence that Fiat illegally visited its research center and took pictures of its Peri model. Fiat denies the allegations. The funny thing is, back in 2007 Fiat sued Great Wall over the Peri saying it was a copy of its Panda model and an Italian court ruled in Fiat’s favor. Could this be payback?
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, but before we go, here’s an important announcement about a special upcoming webcast.
Again, that’s Autoline After Hours on AutolineDetroit.tv or at my website WardsAuto.com where you can watch and chat along with the After Hours gang every week.
I’m Christie Schweinsberg from Ward’s Auto, thanks for watching. We’ll see you tomorrow!