Episode 375 – Chrysler Could Save Fiat, Dealers Rank Audi No. 1, Harley-Davidson Sales Plummet

April 21st, 2010 at 12:08pm

Runtime 7:56

Fiat saved Chrysler but the Pentastar brand may be bailing out its new partner in the future.  Car dealers say Audi is the best brand to have.  Sales of Harley-Davidson motorcycles have fallen through the floor.  All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions in the “You Said It!” segment.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Chrysler could be bailing out Fiat before too long. Car dealers say Audi is the best brand to have. And sales at Harley-Davidson fall through the floor.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, April 21, 2010.   And now, the news.

Fiat and Chrysler reported their first-quarter earnings and the numbers tell an interesting story when you compare the two. First off, both companies took in about the same amount of revenue. Fiat Autos took in $9 billion, Chrysler took in $9.7 billion. Fiat posted a trading profit of $203 million; Chrysler posted an operating profit of $143 million. Fiat sold 532,000 cars and light commercial vehicles; Chrysler sold 334,000.

Here’s my Autoline Insight. Fiat sold a lot more vehicles than Chrysler, but Chrysler earned more revenue than Fiat. And while Fiat made more operating profit than Chrysler, it wasn’t by much. In fact, by the end of this year, Chrysler will likely be far ahead of Fiat in revenue and profit. One very telling fact, if you divide total sales into total revenue, Chrysler gets about $29,000 for every vehicle it sells, while Fiat gets less than $17,000. No wonder Marchionne wanted to get his hands on Chrysler. Yes, Fiat saved Chrysler, but within a year or so, it’s going to be the other way around.

In a sign that people are still holding off on big purchases because of the economy, Harley-Davidson’s first-quarter earnings dropped like a rock. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company earned $33 million in the first quarter compared to $117 million a year ago, down 72 percent. Sales were fell 28 percent and the company expects sales to be down the whole year. In order to boost earnings the company is looking to expand in international markets and is selling off the sport-bike brands it bought earlier this decade.

MLive reports that for the first time in over a century GM is not in the Top 10 of the Fortune 500 list. The company fell from number 6 to 15, the first time in 101 years it wasn’t in the Top 10. On the other hand, Ford remained in the Top 10 but fell from number 7 to number 8.

According to The Detroit News, General Motors will invest $120 million in its Detroit-Hamtramck plant to build the upcoming 2012 Chevy Malibu.  The site is already home to the Volt, but assembly of this extended-range electric is not going to take up much space at the plant, which is GIGANTIC at 3.6 million square feet!  GM needs a high-volume car to help boost its capacity utilization.  Building the Malibu at both its Fairfax, Kansas, and Detroit-Hamtramck plants will give the company more flexibility.

AUDI NO. 1 BRAND FOR DEALERS (login required)
Audi is the luxury brand with the best prospects for the future – so says the National Automobile Dealers Association which just published a semiannual study on the issue.  The NADA’s findings indicate that U.S. car dealers observed the greatest increase of value in the Audi franchise compared with all other premium brands.  This should come as no surprise.  The company has been shooting up the charts, surpassing Mercedes-Benz in global sales and nipping at BMW’s heels.  It’s on track to become the world’s best-selling luxury carmaker.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now it’s time for some of your feedback.

Miradart wrote in to say,

“Even on the small car platforms out there, why is there almost no wagons from the USA? No Cobalt wagon. No Stratus/Avenger wagon. I don’t think the Focus wagon is even still made. I don’t get it.”

Miradart, even though enthusiasts love wagons, the general public just doesn’t buy them, the sales numbers are abysmal. People will tell you how cool and practical they look, but they will turn around and buy something else. Crossovers are actually station wagons designed to look a little bit more like SUVs and that’s where the station wagon market has gone. Crossovers are the hottest segment right now.

Bajabusta has a question about how car companies count their sales.

“I have been curious about when vehicle sales are calculated. Are they considered from plant to dealer, or dealer to customer?”

Good question, bajabusta. The industry uses two ways to count sales. First is factory sales, which is just what it sounds like – sales that go from the factory to dealers and distributors. Those numbers are usually just quoted in the annual reports. Then there’s customer sales, from dealer to customer. Whenever you hear about sales, that’s the latter number they’re using, sales to customers, both fleet and retail.

Afghanakk wants to know,

“I’ve heard Toyota’s problem over and over again through the news.  Is it a problem which only the U.S. versions have? I live in Europe here we don’t hear anything about those electric problems.”

Afghanakk, there are two reasons why you don’t hear about this problem of unintended acceleration outside of the United States. First, in America, everyone needs to be able to drive a car. We don’t have much public transportation and going by car is the way most people get to work. So we have to let just about anyone drive, even if they’re not a very good driver. I have said all along there are no electronic ghosts that are mysteriously making Toyotas accelerate out of control. It is driver error. The second reason you don’t hear about this outside of the USA is that no other country in the world has the army of plaintiff attorneys that we do. And no other country allows lawyers to earn contingency fees, where they get paid based on part of the money from the settlement, which incentivizes them to sue for massive amounts of money.

Don’t forget, tomorrow night on Autoline After Hours we have Doug Fehan. He’s the GM Racing Program Manager for the American Le Mans Series. But remember, when the official show ends, the broadcast goes on. Michelle Naranjo of MissMotorMouth.com will take over our airwaves and make you the star. Anyone can call in to continue the automotive discussion or to talk about new issues we weren’t able to get to in the show. Anything goes when we open the phone lines so be sure to stick around for that!

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

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

56 Comments to “Episode 375 – Chrysler Could Save Fiat, Dealers Rank Audi No. 1, Harley-Davidson Sales Plummet”

  1. Tony Gray Says:

    Living in York and having a lot of friends and neighbors working for Harley, I feel their pain. I’m not sure what the real answer is to Harley’s problems short of a general economic recovery.

    Obviously here in the US, motorcycles, especially Harleys, are considered enjoyment purchases, not normally used for day to day commuting. If they were, then perhaps the fuel crisis of a few summers ago and the economy would have placed MORE riders in seats as they looked for cheaper ways to get around.

    Why is that? Well even when I had my bikes, I rode them to work only sparingly. Weather, carrying capacity, knuckleheads in minivans, etc all conspired to put my butt in my car or truck rather than on my Harley for the daily trip up I-83.

    I’m interested to hear others on the board comment. Do they have bikes for daily transportation? Do they consider Harley as a brand that makes products suited for that purpose or do they look to other manufacturers?

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m surprised Harley-Davidson sales are down only 28 per cent. A few years ago, a lot of Chrysler and Delco employees I know bought new Harleys. Now, many of the jobs are gone, and those still working for the car companies are not likely to buy an expensive bike, given the shaky status of their jobs.

    The doctors and lawyers are still buying them, but I suspect the (formerly) well paid factory workers make up, or made up, a lot of the market for Harley-Davidson.

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Tony Gray says:

    “I’m interested to hear others on the board comment. Do they have bikes for daily transportation? Do they consider Harley as a brand that makes products suited for that purpose or do they look to other manufacturers?”

    I have ridden since 1973, and the closest I’ve had to a Harley was a Buell Cyclone. I have several bikes, but the ones I ride the most are big scooters (Honda SilverWing and Yamaha Majesty) and a Suzuki V-Strom 650. I have nothing against Harleys, but they are pricey, and “not my thing.” I like light weight machines like the V-Strom, and the big scooters because they are effortless to ride, have good storage capacity, and have good weather protection. The reason I have two big scooters is that I’m a “snow bird” and have one in Florida and one in Indiana.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Tony Gray says:

    “Do they have bikes for daily transportation?”

    I have always been mostly a “fair weather rider,” but I often rode to work before I retired when the weather was good. My commute was about 7 miles of rural and “light urban” traffic. I had to contend with the knuckleheads in minivans, or more often, SUV’s, but it wasn’t as bad as it would be a lot of places.

  5. Nick Stevens Says:

    I am not at all surprised that Harleys are way off. What do you expect in THIS economy???? People buy the very expensive Harleys when they can afford them!

    Harley has had major cycles in its business before. I supervised a project for them in 1997, visited the sites both in York, PA and Milwaukee, also toured their museum as well as the factory floor.

    Building Harleys is like making JEWELRY, not ordinary utilitarian vehicles. Technologially they are not a big deal. But to paint their little gas tank alone cost $400 in 1997, when you could paint an entire Honda Accord for $180! TRUE FACT!

  6. Nick Stevens Says:

    John M:

    1. Your discussion of the alleged Chrysler so-called profits can be very misleading, if the listeners are not paying careful attention and do not know that OPERATING profits are quite DIFFERENT than the REAL, overall ,NET profits, which I bet are nonexistent for Chrysler, and even for Fiat.

    2. Audi SHOULD sell many more copies than Merc or even BMW because they sell for FAR LESS than the average Merc or Bimmer! And these makers make much, if not most, of their sales NOT from true luxury cars but from NEAR-Luxury 3-series, A4 or C-class.

    But I agree that Audis must be the most desirable brand a dealer could sell. Think of the many thousands of $ every year they will bring that dealer in Repairs!!!

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    I think Audi is to VW what Acura is to Honda, basically a more upscale version of the same car, while BMW and M/B have no peers or lower priced clones. In my opinion, they are a better buy and have a higher resale value. ps. the Audi juggernaut will die out after a couple of years.

  8. tJ Martin Says:

    Well as for Harley Davidson their lack of sales comes as no surprise in this economy. I’m sure we’ll be seeing the aftermath of the lower sales here in KC as one of H-D’s main plants is here .
    As to the daily rider issue I can say God love the guy there is at least one person in the KC area who’s H-D is his main source of transportation . Come rain or shine . +95 or – 5 , short of ice and snow that man is commuting past my townhouse every work day . Rock On ! Whoever he is .

    @ John M; On your Audi comment . Two big thumbs up . Been there . Never again .

  9. Nick Stevens Says:

    Tony Gray says:

    “I’m interested to hear others on the board comment. Do they have bikes for daily transportation?

    I do have a ten speed brit Rayleigh bicycle which I bought back in 82 but used intensively only for my first year here. it is tsill in my garage, last time was used waas probably in 1990 or so.

    I always lived close to work and could walk in 20 min-half an hour to the office whenever i wanted to.

    Coincidentally, today has been the first day in 2010 that I did walk to work, there was too much stress and too much to do until yesterday evening (last day of classes at our U), and the weather of course was not pleasant walking weather most of Jan-March.

  10. tJ Martin Says:

    Sorry , that was Nick Stevens I was addressing on the Audi comment .

  11. Drew Says:

    Nick Stevens said “But to paint their little gas tank alone cost $400 in 1997, when you could paint an entire Honda Accord for $180! TRUE FACT!”

    I have owned Honda Accords since 1986, and have NEVER seen a paint job for anywhere near $180….
    you must be thinking about $180 paintjobs from many decades past my friend.

  12. Nick Stevens Says:


    I was 100% correct at what I wrote. You obviously did not understand that I was clearly talking about how much it costs HARLEY, NOT YOU, to paint their gas tank, and how much it cost HONDA, NOT YOU, to paint the entire Accord, which was indeed 100% correct at $180 back in 1997.

  13. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS I also owned Hondas, since 1991, I donated the 1990 Acord to charity in 2008 but I still drive my light, diminutive, low-mile 91 civic today, and I (or my family.. I doubt I will be around that long!) will probably drive it another 80 years easy, given how few miles we put on that. (it is our summer home vehicle)

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m surprised at how many Audis I see when I travel in Europe, which is about every two years. There really seem to be a lot of A4 and A6 wagons, most with diesels. I haven’t researched it, but it would seem that the price premium for Audi over VW is smaller in Europe than in North America.

  15. Nick Stevens Says:

    # tJ Martin Says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Sorry , that was Nick Stevens I was addressing on the Audi comment .

    I never owned one, but one of my oldest friends insists, and he spends a fortune because he wants them to be in extremely good shape, does repairs that even the..dealer thinks are not needed!!! And the guy buys them used and w/o warranty, so he pays every cent of the multi-$1000 repairs..

    But he wants the AWD and likes the VW-Audi handling and serious design and good interiors.

  16. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit: As you may know, in Europe you can buy stripped-down versions of Audis, mercs or BMWs at much less than fully optiones, I had a colleague at TU BErlin who paid twice the base price for his Merc 280 C class back in 99, and with that $ he could have bought a base .. S class.

    And of course in Europe they also sell them with a very wide engine range, while here they only bring the top 1-2 gas engines and usually no diesels.

    Germans are quite tight $-wise and they usually do n’t even get A/C (!) since they really do not need it in most of Germany and N Europe, their summers are not the god-awful hot and humid summers in the US, but mild, and springlike weather most of the time.

  17. Nick Stevens Says:

    I wrote:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    John M:

    1. Your discussion of the alleged Chrysler so-called profits can be very misleading, if the listeners are not paying careful attention and do not know that OPERATING profits are quite DIFFERENT than the REAL, overall ,NET profits, which I bet are nonexistent for Chrysler, and even for Fiat….”

    The Washington Post article proves me 100% RIGHT!!

    “Chrysler posts $3.8 billion loss

    Firm reports loss from second half of 2009, but says it expects operations to break even in 2010.”

    I think, John, that you should have mentioned the above huge loss right after you touted the alleged OPERATING, NOT NET, profit for Chrysler.

  18. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Chrysler posts financial results, loses $197 million in first quarter”

    And in case you wondered, here it is, not even a break even, but a LOSS, John!

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    “Kit: As you may know, in Europe you can buy stripped-down versions of Audis, mercs or BMWs at much less than fully optiones”

    Yep. I wish we could buy some of them like the 4 cyl. diesel, manual transmission C-Class wagon a friend rented last summer. It drove great, got great fuel economy, and was very comfortable, at least to me. It wasn’t fast, but was certainly adequately quick for any normal driving.

  20. Nick Stevens Says:

    My first cousin of same first and last name bought a 3 series wagon, he lives and works in Amsterdam and they consider it the… large car!

    it is the prior to the current model, which is considered more high-quality inside than the current one, but it looked not luxurious at all to me, all plasticky inside, and not even leather.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The C-Class wagon I mentioned had vinyl seats, but that’s not surprising considering they sell $50K+ E-Class sedans in the US with vinyl.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    years ago, M/B was the choice for Taxi operators due to their durability and build quality in a lot of third and second world countries where roads are atrocious, I don’t know if this is the case anymore, I have not traveled for many years, but of course, this cars were basic, no electronics, no power windows etc. Too bad we can’t get them like that her. It would kill their Luxury status if they did.

  23. tJ Martin Says:

    Nick Stevens ;
    Well I did make the mistake of owning an Audi ( leased it thank goodness ) and in three years and 9,500 miles , on warranty luckily it racked up …… yes this is true $ 13,000 worth of repairs from new ECU’s to three rear suspensions . ! The VAG Advocacy Group was a joke . Even John stuck his two cents in to no avail and the end result being my returning the car at the end of its lease and never setting foot in a VAG dealership of any kind ever again .
    And the stories I heard when in the waiting room to pick up or deliver the car for repairs were similar or worse . This in the early 2000′s

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect all MB’s have power windows now, but in most ways, you can get a pretty basic car, at least the C-Class. By basic I mean manual seats, no sunroof, no wood on the dash, manual A/C, etc. You can probably get a no A/C car in many markets. Also, you have a choice of manual or automatic transmission, and several different gas and diesel engines, including 4 cylinder diesels in the C-Class. You can get an S-Class with the V-6 diesel in most or all European markets.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    I wonder if Audi should give a big thanks to the visually impaired Acura designers who thought that making their cars look like Japanese robots was a good idea and has kept people from even approaching their showrooms, thus giving making Audi a viable choice.

  26. dcars Says:

    Fiat’s latest moves are interesting. Large companies spin off companies for a number of reasons, ie when they no longer have a strong relationship, it’s ruining their balance sheet, they think it’s going to die or it just better off not being apart of a conglomerate (Delphi.) In Fiat’s case it might be two of the above.

  27. Nick Stevens Says:

    “You can get an S-Class with the V-6 diesel in most or all European markets.”

    In fact you could get an S class with a diesel 6 (not sure if it was a V or an I) as late as 1994, and I used to have a brochure for these truly gigantic vehicles, it weighted 4,700 lbs and had a ludicrously low 155 HP and about 232 Lbft torque, if my memory serves me well. An ideal vehicle for retired grandparents to visit the grandkids all over the US in the summer.. in utter safety, traveling like a king with the thick double windows and the 60 different motors in the car, and with 30ish MPG. You can probably find a few of them today, but they are very rare.

  28. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# tJ Martin Says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Nick Stevens ;
    Well I did make the mistake of owning an Audi ( leased it thank goodness ) and in three years and 9,500 miles , on warranty luckily it racked up …… yes this is true $ 13,000 worth of repairs from new ECU’s to three rear suspensions . !”

    The above sounds worse than any Audi Story I remember. Are you sure you could not return and replace it under the lemon laws?

    I have a colleague in our Business school who made the big decision to buy a Maserati Quattroporte, it spent more time at the shop than on the road, and finally he got fed up and took it back to the dealer as a lemon, and got another one. The second apparently was not utter junk, he still drives it daily to work! Unless there is a second one I saw on the lot the other day.

    ” The VAG Advocacy Group was a joke . Even John stuck his two cents in to no avail and the end result being my returning the car at the end of its lease and never setting foot in a VAG dealership of any kind ever again .”

    That’s what the Maserati guy above did with his Junk JAguar XJ in the late 90s. His wife, however, who had leased a Lexus 400, kept it after the lease was over, and did more than a quarter million easy highway miles with it, she has a 140 mile a day commute to a U in another city nearby!

    In 2005, I took a big risk and bought my 740iL from the owner after driving it twice, and not taking it to a mechanic. It had already more than 100k miles, and I paid 10% of its cost new today (!!), with the car in near-perfect condition. (the owner would give it to me for $9k as is but i refused, and asked him to fix a few items first, and paid $10.5k instead).

    I am not sure if I am very lucky, but the car has been excellent for the almost 5 years I drove it and put over 20,000 hard miles on it.

    Consumer Reports does not differentiate between the Audis, the Mercs and the BMWs, it said to avoid the 7, and so far I am mighty glad i disregarded their recommendation.

    Hell, in 2009 the 7 was a.. profit center, since the repairs were minimal and small (mostly a part replacement and regular service), while I did over 4,000 reimbursed miles at $0.55 a mile which sure had a net profit after insurance and licence and gas etc! And I also used the car every day, rain or snow!

  29. Nick Stevens Says:


    here’s such a M-B Diesel from 1993, one owner, only 92,000 miles, $12,000. From a dealer.

  30. B. Berman. Says:

    Come on John, be serious. Could it be that the reason Chrysler gets more money ($29K and Fiat gets $17K) per car is the difference in vehicle range and size?
    Chrysler gets 70% more money per vehicle than Fiat but it only makes 12% more profit per vehicle. Also, Fiat’s profits represent 2.2% of revenues while Chrysler’s profit represents 1.5% of revenues. If you are going to tell a story, tell the whole story.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens says:

    “In fact you could get an S class with a diesel 6 (not sure if it was a V or an I) as late as 1994″

    It was an inline six up through the 2004 model year. The iron block I6 diesel was replaced by an aluminum block V6 diesel that came along in ’05.

  32. tJ Martin Says:

    Nick Stevens ;
    I tried to invoke the Lemon Law but Audi refused and the state I was in at the time wouldn’t back me up . Even the dealer who sold it to me thought it needed to be returned . Lost his job for saying so . Nice folks VAG .
    Nice catch on the BMW 7 . I’d say you did well on that one in every respect .
    And I have to be honest I’m rapidly losing confidence in Consumer Reports findings of late .
    Has anyone found a more reliable source these days as I’m looking at buying another car soon .

  33. Max Christensen Says:

    In the profit/loss news for Chrysler, it also was not mentioned that Chrysler gained market share in North America during the 4th quarter of 2009. Gaining one full percentage point in the United States (from 8.1 to 9.1) and over two full percentage points of market share in Canada. (from 11.6 to 13.7)

    And now for your reading pleasure, news of another one MILLION mile Chrysler product – this time a Dodge truck!


  34. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I love the Acura beak, I just think they dont have the brand equity to charge $45K for a small Coupe like CUV.

    They are like 1 to 2 steps ahead of Hyundai, and 2 steps behind Lexus. So why are some Comparable Lexuses cheaper than some Acuras?

    On top of that Acura is from Honda, and when people expect Honda they expect fuel efficiency. Man has Acura lost their way, when they allow a budding tier 3 company like Hyundai to sell a cheaper product that trumps their TSX with compeititve power both trims but with much superior fuel economy on both trims too. Who needs a base TSX when you can get a Sonata Limited for 4 grand cheaper that has pretty much the same stuff and more?

    Then again, they once said that about Lincoln and Acura. We all know how that story came out. One company grew up, and the other is still alive and kicking.

    Acura used to be the Fuel Economy Premium brand. I guess that’s going to be Hyundai’s job now, since Acura sold out to SH-AWD Mid output Low fuel Efficiency ANCIENT powertrains, etc…..

    V-Tec is so 90s, yet people still act like its state of the art becuase its from Honda, LMAO!!!!

  35. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I hear Acura is going downmarket to get their priorities together.

  36. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    FIAT is a maker of small cars. Chyrsler is a maker of Whales.

    I think John’s theory is correct, but as changes force Chrysler to downsize they will only continue to be able to secure a $29K average MSRP if they have smaller, and more upmarket products.

    Hyundai is taking Chyrsler’s place on that low rung permium tier, which is good for Chrysler becuase they can now focus on their upmarket objectives.

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    Smoke: I think only you and the designer’s mom like the “Acura” look. The mom can be explained, but you? C’mon, are you kidding? Good thing H/K have not followed that line otherwise they would not be doing so well.

  38. Mike Says:

    Regarding Chrysler and Fiat … two wrongs don’t make a right and two losers don’t make a winner.

  39. Stuart Somers Says:

    Station wagons do sell well. Ever heard of Subaru?

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:


    I like station wagons, but Subaru has this obsession with mandatory AWD and the desire to make their wagons SUV-like. Therefore, they are not on my shopping list, and won’t be until they change their philosophy. Subaru sells very few cars in Florida where I am, but apparently they don’t want to sell cars here.

  41. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Lmao Pedro, I know the look is very controversial, but its a needed breath of fresh air. I think they should keep the look, but tone it down and refine it more.

    That Acura Beak on a Black or Brown ZDX coming up to you on a road is classic. Have an imagination. I can see Blue HIDs on it too, SWEET!!!! John is right on that C Pillar door defect however, it can poke someone’s eye out.

  42. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I just think its 5 years too early for that look for people to understand it and apreciate it.

  43. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Call me Crazy, but I really love the Acura ZDX despite its quirks. I like Quirky Trucks and utes.

    I love dramatic and quirky grilles. I love that bold statement. I want that WTF look from people. The Hyundai Tucson and Sonata, and Soon Accent have that Dramatic grille look.

  44. Jeff Mohr Says:

    A number of my kenosha engine plant co workers have been involved with harley, some real talent, trades, managers, engineers etc. I hope they make it but at $20k plus–forget about gas savings—period—younger people have little interest in these chrome heavyweights.

  45. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Harley Davidson:Harley’s ain’t selling simply because they cost as much as a car,and the market has been saturated.My brother and I have owned several Harley shops going back almost 40 years.I have long ago lost count how many I have owned/built/restored/repaired.One of the tats on my right arm is a graveyard with harleys tombstone engraved with “died from greed”.If they fell off the planet tomorrow we still have enough parts to keep us going till we die.The yuppies and rubs have stopped buying new bikes every year,which for the last 2 decades kept harley going.They even lost the wannabes sales.I love the bikes….hate the factory.

  46. Andrew Charles Says:

    Subaru doesn’t sell any “wagons” either. They position the Outback as a crossover (the plain wagon didn’t sell very well), and the Impreza as a hatch. In other markets where wagons are more popular the Legacy and Impreza are both sold as “wagons”. That’s why Toyota is positioning the Venza as a crossover and not a “wagon”.

    The late Dodge Magnum was among the more successful wagons in the US market, making up about 20% of Dodge’s large car sales. Since most dealers offered the 300 as well though, it drops below 10%, which is more typical.

    The European market is different. Wagons are a key component of the “executive” market. Fuel taxes and CO2 taxes have made them more popular than crossovers, and they are an attractive option for “commercial travellers”, who want a company car they can use after work, but which has extra room for samples and deliveries. The guy who comes around to restock your office’s vending machine would probably drive a wagon.

    In Japan wagon’s have gained a commercial vehicle “stigma”, despite some attempts at “sports” wagons in the past, such as the Toyota Mark II Blit, Caldina and Nissan Stagea (G35 wagon). Nissan, Toyota and Honda all make small wagons, but their primary market is as commercial vehicles. The only remaining “sport” wagon is the Subaru Legacy.

  47. Nick Stevens Says:

    “pedro fernandez Says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Smoke: I think only you and the designer’s mom like the “Acura” look.”

    So true. I think the look may also attract faqns of space soap operas (star Trek, Star wars etc)

  48. Nick Stevens Says:


    Now Sergio Macaroni-Castro is totally out of control. Not only did he give another castroesque 7-hour marathon talk, he presented a… “five year plan”…just like in the good old USSR…

  49. Nick Stevens Says:


    Watch the Unbe-effing-lievable video.

    Worst Driver Ever?

    What a waste, this idiot to be driving an X5…

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    they’ll most likely blame Toyota for this one too. I seriously think Sergio must worship Castro, how else can you explain these marathon blab fests and nothing to show for it. Fiat/Chrysler should go down into Automotive oblivion. We’ve lost better brands and the world survived it.

  51. Max Christensen Says:

    So many nay-sayers on the Fiat/Chrysler hookup! This group has got to be either the most pessimistic group of people in the world, or the most anti-Chryser group…….. or a maybe a little bit of each.

    Chrysler has had so many near-death experiences, that those of us who love them wouldn’t know what to do if they actually showed some signs of real life. And perhaps that is one reason some of us like them so well – if nothing else, you have to admire their grit and determination to survive. There many better and lesser brands that would have been dead and buried by now ……..

  52. Nick Stevens Says:

    Don’t be paranoid, max. First of, I only see ONE or TWO people here worried about it, and second, if DAIMLER failed, and if FIAT stiffed GM to the tune of $4 billion, WHY in the world did the fools in DC sell Chryslerdown the rivere to these CROOKS, who also seem to havre NO CLUE?

    it has NOTHING to do with Chrysler, it has everything to do with FIAT’s crookery and incompetence!

  53. Nick Stevens Says:

    I finally figured out who this funny-looking idiot, aptly named Porkmeister and Sec of Transportation Ray LaHood looks like.

    MR. BEAN!!! A much dumber and older version, but they almost iDENTICAl in the face!

  54. Jim Thykeson Says:

    John: Chrysler desperately needs a signature vehicle, and the concept ‘Firepower’ could be that car. That beauty has the most gorgeous cockpit I’ve seen in quite some time. Think ‘Firepower’ with Hemi/electric/CNG and they’ll jumpstyart the competition!

  55. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    But I love space soap operas…..

  56. Steve Salis Says:

    I’d like to add one more reason to help explain why Toyota is being raked over the coals in the US and the US only. I agree with you about the poor quality of our many drivers and the litigious nature of American culture. The US is the only country in the world where an individual is the only person who is not responsible for there own actions.

    Anyway… the third couse of Toyota’s problem in the poor quality of the American Press corp. You are the only reporter who is properly reporting and commenting on this story. The 30 minute nightly news guys rarely spend enough time to get anything right and we’re used to that. But even the 24 hours news networks have dropped the ball on this one.

    Even Phil Labough, CNBC’s auto reporter is getting this one wrong. CNBC is always on in my office and they take the time to get a lot of things right.
    Do you ever reach out to these guys to help them get auto stories right? I don’t know it that’s appropriate but it would be helpful.