April 23rd, 2010 at 12:00pm
Ford, Hyundai and Chevy all reveal new models at the Beijing Auto Show. AutoNation’s CEO says the economic recovery is here and this time it’s real. Meanwhile, commodity prices threaten to dampen the recover as they surge once again. All that and more, plus a look at how the Corvette has turned its image around in Europe.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Lots of new products at the Beijing Auto Show. Commodity prices are soaring, again. And how the Chevy Corvette turned its image around in Europe.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, April 23, 2010. And now, the news.
AUTO RECOVERY IS THE REAL DEAL
In a clear sign that the US car market is recovering, AutoNation, the largest automotive retailer in the country saw profits go up 60 percent in the first quarter. The Wall Street Journal says that other publicly traded dealership groups will probably have positive news when they report their earnings next week. It quotes Mike Jackson, the CEO of AutoNation, as saying the recovery is the real deal.
COMMODITY PRICES SURGING, AGAIN
But here’s a development that could put a damper on that recovery. The Journal also reports that global commodity prices are soaring again. The cost of rubber has gone up 74 percent this year after rising 92 percent last year. Platinum and palladium, which go into catalytic converters, are up almost 40 percent. The surge in commodity prices is driven by strong demand in Asia.
MINAS GERAIS BANS TOYOTA COROLLA
And in a sign that Toyota’s problems are far from over, Bloomberg reports that the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil is banning sales of the Corolla. There have been nine reports of unintended acceleration, which Toyota blames on floor mats. Minas Gerais says Toyota can resume sales once it replaces floor mats in cars that have been sold and the ones in the showrooms.
MORE DETAILS ON FORD’S NEW COP CAR (login required)
We learned a little more about Ford’s upcoming police interceptor, a cop car based on the Taurus. It will have a column shifter, 18-inch wheels, a bigger radiator, and rear doors that open 71 degrees. It comes standard with a 3.5-liter V-6 that is E-85 capable, and the turbocharged EcoBoost version of that engine is optional. All-wheel drive is another option, and Ford believes 80% of these cars will be equipped that way. It also passes Ford’s 75-MPH rear-end crash standard. But this car will not go on sale until the late fall of 2011, which is when the Crown Victoria goes out of production.
BEIJING SHOW: NEW HYUNDAI ACCENT (Subscription required)
We’ve got some new product reveals to report on coming out of the Beijing Auto Show. We started showing you sketches of some of these vehicles last week but now we’ve got the real stuff. First up, Hyundai. According to Ward’s, the South Korean Automaker used the show to reveal its redesigned Accent, also known as the Verna if you live in China. It features a swoopy body that looks quite a bit like the new Sonata. It’s powered by either a 1.4-liter or a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine with 105 or 121 horsepower, respectively.
BEIJING SHOW: FORD START CONCEPT
Ford debuted a design study called the Start Concept. The company says this small car was inspired by mega cities and the unique demands they put on vehicles. Drivers in densely packed urban areas around the world have to deal with heavy traffic, limited parking spaces and high fuel costs, issues the Start Concept is designed to address. Interestingly, it’s powered by a 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder engine that should emit fewer than 100 grams of CO2 per kilometer.
BEIJING SHOW: CHEVY MP5 E-REV
GM showed off a concept for a Volt-based Crossover called the MP5. It looks a lot like its sedan counterpart and is powered by the same Voltec powertrain. According to the company, designers and engineers paid careful attention to aerodynamics to maximize the vehicle’s electric-only range.
Europeans used to look at the Chevrolet Corvette as a stinky bucket of bolts. Now they admire the car. So what made them change their minds? That is coming up next.
Last night we had Doug Fehan, the head of Corvette Racing, on Autoline After Hours. We talked about a lot of things but one that sticks out in my mind is how racing the Corvette at Le Mans, and winning, had a dramatic impact on how European enthusiasts regard the car. Here’s a clip of that show, with David Welch from Businessweek, Peter De Lorenzo from Autoextremist, and myself.
OK, it’s Friday, which means it’s time for our trivia quiz. We asked you this question: ”Car designers have a language all of their own. When they refer to the ‘backlite’ of a car, what are they referring to?” And the answer is, the backlite is the back window of a car. And the winner is, Roger Gudobba of Washington, Michigan. Congratulations Roger, you’ve just won an 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.