Episode 337 – Lear & Delphi Investigated, Hummer Dealers Happy?, Jaguar Land Rover Profit

February 26th, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 8:16

American suppliers Lear and Delphi are also under investigation for automotive electronics suppliers by the European Commission. Dealers in China are so ecstatic that Tengzhong lost out on Hummer, that they’ve raised the prices of their vehicles. Jaguar/Land Rover reported its first quarterly profit since being bought out by Tata. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit about how cars and movies go together.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Lear and Delphi are also under investigation for automotive electronics suppliers. Hummer dealers in Shanghai rejoice that Tengzhong didn’t get to buy it. And Jaguar and Land Rover post a profit for Tata.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, February 26, 2010. And now, the news.

A little bit more information on that investigation into automotive electronics suppliers is coming out. The Detroit Free Press reports that American suppliers Delphi and Lear are being investigated by the European Commission. It quotes Lear’s chairman Bob Rossiter as saying he’s confident the company is not involved in any anticompetitive practices.

Coskata, the start-up company that makes cellulosic ethanol which General Motors invested in, was named one of the 50 most-innovative companies by Technology Review, the journal of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other companies on the list include Apple, Google and Twitter. Coskata was named because it is producing ethanol that can be cost-competitive with gasoline unsubsidized almost anywhere in the world.

And in related news, the Detroit news reports that Toyota’s lobbyists in Washington were concerned about mandates for flex-fuel vehicles that can run on blends of gasoline and ethanol. Toyota stated that it would cost it $200 to $300 per vehicle, or up to $600 million a year. I find that strange. GM says it costs about $75 to convert a vehicle for flex-fuel capabilities and that it’s spending $100 million a year.

Thanks to the new six and a resurrected 5.0-liter V-8, The Detroit News reports the 2011 Mustang racked-up almost 11,000 preorders– that’s three-times more than the 2010 model. Surprisingly, the V-6 is accounting for 50 percent of the orders. In related news, Ford announced output numbers for its new Super-Duty pickups. The 6.2-liter gasoline V-8 delivers 385 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque, while the brand-new, 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel puts out 390 horsepower and – get this – 735 pound-feet of torque!

BMW is showing its 5 Series ActiveHybrid model ahead of the Geneva Motor Show. The car uses a derivative of the hybrid 7 Series’ drivetrain with some changes. It features a larger 40 kW electric motor – up from 15 in the 7 – and a larger battery pack, both of which allow the 5 to operate in electric-only mode at low speeds. Instead of a twin-turbo V-8 under the hood it features a force-fed inline six borrowed from the 535i.

Lexus too has pulled the wraps off a new hybrid model it’s showing at Geneva. The hatchback CT 200h is powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine. Toyota hasn’t released output numbers for the powertrain but it’s probably pretty close to the Prius’ combined 134 horsepower. The CT 200h can run up to 1.2 miles in EV mode at speeds up to 28 miles an hour.

GM is looking for potential buyers of Hummer after its deal fell apart with Chinese company Tengzhong. According to Bloomberg, GM won’t comment on who’s interested but its still likely Hummer will be shut down.

In other Hummer news, dealers in China are so ecstatic that Tengzhong lost out on Hummer, that they’ve raised the price of the vehicles. According to Gasgoo, since GM will probably just wind the brand down, dealers are anticipating they’ll become scarce and so they raised prices. An H3 is selling for around $3,000 more and the price for an H2 just went up nearly $15,000.

Jaguar Land Rover reported its first quarterly profit since being bought out by Tata in 2008. According to Bloomberg, the company made a profit of $90 million dollars, thanks to increased sales and laying off over 2,000 workers. Even though it was good news for the company, Tata purchased Jaguar Land Rover for $2.5 billion from Ford, so it still has a ways to go before it pays off.

Coming up next, a look at how cars and movies go together. We’ll be back right after this.

The auto industry and the film industry practically grew up together. Cars have been heavily featured in movies ever since movies were first made. That’s why this week’s Autoline Detroit looks at the role automobiles have played in the movies, the funny ones, the serious ones and the weird ones. Joining me for that show are Jim Hall from 2953 Analytics, Todd Lassa from Motor Trend and the Autoextremist himself, Peter De Lorenzo. Here’s a clip from that show that I hope makes you want to watch the whole thing.

You’ll be able to catch the whole program later today on our website at AutolineDetroit.tv.

Ok, it’s Friday and you know what that means. It’s time to answer this week’s trivia question. We asked you what was the first product the Toyoda family manufactured well before it made cars? And the correct answer is they made looms. Weaving Looms. And the winner is Paul Black from Grafton, Ontario. Congratulations Paul, you’ve just won a Autoline Detroit coffee mug.

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

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, Car Chat, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

44 Comments to “Episode 337 – Lear & Delphi Investigated, Hummer Dealers Happy?, Jaguar Land Rover Profit”

  1. Nick Stevens Says:

    On the alleged Tata-Jag-Rover profit, I will believe it when I see their books… and even then, I’d bet the farm that it is NOT a net profit, they must have lost billions to date, after Ford lost tens of billions of $ propping up these losers and got nothing in return.

    Re that Meyer movie, I had the misfortune of seeing it about 15 years ago. What a total waste. And for those of you that falsely believe that it is worth seeing for the bimbos, (who are nothing to write home about anyway!), you will be sorely dissapointed. It is PG-13, nudity-wise.

  2. Tony Gray Says:

    I am now a full fledged seer, swami and soothsayer as I predicted on this very forum about the rise in Mustang sales once the new motors became available.

    Send tribute to Tony Gray, care of this station.

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    A Lexus with a 1.8 Corolla engine? What the hell are they thinking?. Even the top of the line Corolla now comes with Camry’s 2.4 powerplant.

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    Favorite all time chase scene: French Connection with Gene Hackman. runner up: Bullitt.

  5. Nick Stevens Says:

    A Lexus with a 1.8 Corolla engine?

    This is nothing compared with the same 1.8 toyota engine powering the LOTUS ELISE overpriced go-cart ($60k?)

  6. Tom Martin Says:

    A couple days ago I commented that Ford was late in reducing the extra shift in building Mustangs. Ford already had enough Mustangs to carry them until the 2011 is built in May. The 2011 Mustang would be very popular and it would be difficult to sell the 2010 models.

    I now understand that the shift reduction will not occur until July–well after the 2011 goes into production.

    Looks like Ford is changing the way it builds and sells cars. The old approach has been to build as many as you can and sell them at whatever price you can get.

    The new approach with the Mustang appears to be let’s limit production, have a waiting list, and sell them at premium price.

  7. Tom Martin Says:

    The V6 Mustang has always been the Mustang sales leader by being heavily discounted. The GT only received minimal discounts and is where Ford made it’s profits.

    In 2011, the Mustang V6 gains 95 hp and about 25% better fuel economy. In fact, it has only 10 less hp than the 2010 GT, and more hp than the 2009 GT.

    The V6 will list for a similar amount as in 2010, but I bet will sell around MSRP at lowest–thousands more than the V6 typically sold for. This will still be more than $5K less than the GT price. So for $5K less, you get 2010 GT performance and get fuel economy that is not that different from a V6 Camry, Accord, or Altima.

  8. Tom Martin Says:

    Another trend I hope continues is that the current Mustang V6 engine is built in Germany. The new V6 will be built in the U.S.

  9. John McElroy Says:

    Anyone want two tickets to Autorama at Cobo Hall in Detroit this weekend? First person to respond here in the Comments, via Twitter or Facebook gets ‘em!

    You must be able to pick the tickets up tonight (Friday 2/26) at our Livonia, MI studios by 7PM.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Elise’s got a turbo and besides anyone who buys that car is not a very smart consumer. You can do a lot better for that kind of money.

  11. Tom Martin Says:

    Thank you for the two tickets to the Washington Auto Show. My wife and I attended.

  12. Nick Stevens Says:

    “pedro fernandez Says:
    February 26th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    The Elise’s got a turbo and besides anyone who buys that car is not a very smart consumer. You can do a lot better for that kind of money”

    The Elise is not bought by consumers. It is a fourth or fifth car for an affluent family whose teen kid wants to have some thrills on the track, where the lightweight Elise excels.

    Perdo would actually like it, because it is bare-bones to save weight, it probably has power nothing.

    I’d not buy it myself, but I am curious, what can you buy that has equivalent performance and “do better”?

  13. Alex Zauder Says:

    The Lexus CT 200 h (with Corolla power) is an exhibit for Toyota’s growth by all means mind set. The expansion mode is still going forward. I DO NOT THINK THAT TOYOTA’S BUSINESS PLAN TO COMPLETELY CONTROL THE US MARKET HAS BEEN OR WILL BE CHANGED. they will pullback for a while and then go back to aggressively pursue their goal. With the Japanese market closed to all outsiders and the US market wide open, without limits like in the EU, why would they not. It is good business for them.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I know someone who has an Exige, basically a hard top Elise, and he drives it occasionally on the street, autocrosses it, and plays with it on a race track with a club a couple times a year. It is an expensive toy, but about as close as you can get to a race car that is street legal. Except for being crude and noisy, it is a decent commuter car. It gets decent gas mileage, and the Exige even has A/C.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    For $60 grand I’d say the Boxter or the 911 right off the bat. The Elise is a ripoff at that price. Just buy something used you can customize like so many young enthusiasts do. If you just want to go fast and have superior handling w/o caring about the luxury or comfort.

  16. Nick Stevens Says:


    The Elise would make mincemeat of the Boxster (even the Boxter S!) on the track. I don’t agree that it is a decent commuter car, it is bare bones and probably the suspension will make you pay for every pothole you have to drive over.

    It is pointless to compare it with any street car, since it was designed for the TRACK.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    How good an Elise would be as a commuter depends on how tolerant you are of noise and a very stiff ride. I probably wouldn’t want to drive one every day now, but wouldn’t have minded it when I was 25 years old.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Of course, most people who can afford to spend $60K on a fourth or fifth car aren’t 25 years old.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In Consumer Reports tests, an Elise is quicker 0-60 but slower in the quarter mile than a base Corvette. Both are much faster than a Boxter, but slower than a 911 Carrera S. They don’t run laps on a race track, but the Elise should do very well on a tight track, but less well compared to the others on a “fast” track. It would probably beat any of the others on a normal autocross course with equal drivers.

    disclaimer: Consumer Reports doesn’t get the best published performance numbers for manual transmission cars, but since all of these cars were manual transmission, the data should be valid for comparison.

  20. Drew Says:

    The Corvette Grand Sport would be a much better all-around car than the Elise. Of course, if you are ONLY going to use a car for the track, then the Elise is one of the top cars for that single purpose.

  21. Nick Stevens Says:

    Right, Drew.

    I would still feel cheated that it has the cheapo 1.8 toyota engine, turbo or not. But I am not 25 years old any more either.

  22. John McElroy Says:

    Just gave away the tickets for Autorama! Thanks for playing!

  23. GUY FIROR Says:


  24. GUY FIROR Says:


  25. Andrew Charles Says:

    The CT200h is not just a Lexus with Corolla power, it IS a Corolla in drag, or to be more exact the widebody Toyota Auris disguised as a Lexus. They are even using the exact same powertrain in the Auris.

  26. Andrew Charles Says:

    With all this talk about brake over-ride, what about heel-and-toeing, or two-footing to keep the engine revs up while you’re braking?

  27. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Youre right Mr Charles, but somebody’s favorite company has some hybrid secrets that will blow everybody away.

    Kind of like of how this same company I speak of who used to make conervative designs is now blowing everybody away with “Fluidic Sculpture.”

    200h, and Ch will look like a joke when this other company brings those powertrains out of its Nerdery.

    A 35 MPG hybrid yeah Toyota has really lost it, and badly. A hybrid in a car that size should be geting at least Prius mileage at the very minimum.

  28. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    200h is still smaller than Prius, by a hair, but still smaller.

  29. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I meant HS 200 when I speak of the sedan. I like to call it 200h though.

  30. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    HS250, sorry.

  31. Wes Says:

    I believe the late Brittany Murphy and Paul Oakenfold did a music video called “Faster Kill, Pussycat” perhaps in homage to the movie.

  32. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Why does the gauge cluster on the 200 Ch look cheaper than Hyundai’s new products? Stunts like that from Lexus make it so much easier for companies like VW and Hyundai to grow into bonifide Luxury Brands.

    No Really those Gauges remind me of my 98 Accent. My 07 Accent has more advanced Gauges than this thing.

    Yeah Toyota has lost it.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Of what I see in the pictures, I like the gauges in the 200 Ch better than the gimmicky gauges in the first generation IS that were styled to look like a wrist chronometer.

  34. Nick Stevens Says:

    The whole IS series was an utter failure to compete with the 3 series. Th ESs are Camrys in very thin disquise, for snobs that want to pay $5k extra for the “L” logo.

    There is only ONE Serious Lexus model, and that is the LS460, and its predecessors the LS430 and LS400, and even these are not for everybody but for non-enthusiasts that are OK with a soft ride and poor handling and no road feel as long as the thing is reliable and the interior is nice.

  35. Nick Stevens Says:

    If there was ever a movie that was not worthy of any homage to it, it must have been that moronic “Faster Pussycat” utter POS.

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Off topic…

    John M., or anyone else with an informed opinion:

    Is there any advantage to using “Top Tier” gas, or is it just so much marketing BS?

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit: from what I understand, top tier gas has to contain a certain amount of cleaners and be consistent through all grades, I don’t know if its true, but the other day a gas station manager told me to watch out for mickey mouse gas stations because no one monitors the quality of the fuel in the holding tanks, and some disreputable people add some water to the fuel. While the name brand delivery drivers test the holding tanks for water b4 they pour in the new fuel, to prevent this from happening, remember, most gas stations are independently owned/operated.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    The inventor of the air bag must have gotten the idea after watching that pussycat movie.

  39. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Kit Gerhart Says:
    February 28th, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Off topic…

    John M., or anyone else with an informed opinion:

    Is there any advantage to using “Top Tier” gas, or is it just so much marketing BS?”

    Modern cars are made to run with any kind of gas, even 87 octane, their computer adjusts the engine. My manual specifies 89 octane and that’s what I put, once i tried 87 and it performed poorly around town, but it was ok after it hit the highway. Not worth it, IMHO, to risk it for a few pennies.

    However, there is little difference between one gas and another of the same octane, and any additives are not worth the extra cost, if any.

  40. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS Gas fraud such as water additives can occur with any brand.

    Due to convenience and price, I find myself frequently using Speedway stations around town, and Fuelmart (I-80 and I-280 intersection in the Toledo OH are) when I take long trips east.

    Never had a problem, been using them for more than a decade.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The only thing that makes me think there might be something to this “Top Tier” thing is that BMW, Honda, GM, Toyota, and VW are involved in it. See: toptiergas.com/

    Still, as you, Nick, I’m not convinced that “Top Tier” gas would make any difference.

    As far as octane, the manual for my Mini says “91 octane highly recommended,” but that you can use as low as 87 octane. I’ve tried a tank of 89, and couldn’t tell any difference. I’ll probably try a tank of 87 sometime as an experiment, but will mostly use 91. The difference in cost between 91 and 87 for me would be about $7/month, and since they “recommend” 91 for my car, I’ll use it most of the time.

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I have another experience that makes me wonder about, but not know what to think of the “Top Tier” thing.

    Two or three years ago, (before the meltdown of GM and the rest of the auto industry) I e-mailed GM through their web site and asked if I should use “Top Tier” gas in my ’06 Malibu. They replied, and basically said “follow what the owner’s manual says.” The owner’s manual says minimum 86 or 87 octane, no more than 10% ethanol, no more than 15% MTBE—the usual stuff, but no mention of “Top Tier” gas, even though GM is involved in the program hyped in toptiergas.com.

  43. Nick Stevens Says:

    “The difference in cost between 91 and 87 for me would be about $7/month”

    The actual difference would be a bit smaller, since you usually get a little better MPG with the higher octane (or so they claim), or even in favor of the 91 if the lower octane fuel causes a costly repair (multiply cost of repair by the probability of repair)

  44. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Kit, I like those Gauges, and I think they should have evolved it.

    Its a Lexus it shouldnt have gauges that simple. Its like John’s commentary on the Bentley Continental Supersports. The Gauges make the interior look A LOT CHEAPER than it is.

    VW for example has great to touch interiors but the layout looks cheaper than what it is too.

    Im a Hyundai guy, I like the biggest bang out my buck. I want something to look and feel more expensive than what it is. The other guys just arent doing it for me anymore.