Episode 377 – Beijing Auto Show Reveals, Commodity Prices Surge, How Corvette Changed its Image

April 23rd, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:36

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.

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | Zune | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

You can watch that entire interview, and it’s a good one, on our website at autolinedetroit.tv or get the podcast at the iTunes store. Just look for Autoline After Hours.

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.

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

25 Comments to “Episode 377 – Beijing Auto Show Reveals, Commodity Prices Surge, How Corvette Changed its Image”

  1. HtG Says:

    Corvette may have been on the bus schedule, and it’s great to win at LeMans, but in 2002 it could also be that the popularity of an american car was helped by the the 9/11 attacks the previous year. We had everyones’ sympathy then. Now we’re the teabaggers that brought the world to the brink of a financial apocalypse.

  2. tJ Martin Says:

    In light of all the Toyota detractors and constant bad press I think the following story needs to be shared .

    This morning in one of our Midwest downpours a lady cut in front of my wife’s2008 Matrix xR at speed forcing her into an extreme evasive maneuver .
    All of the electronic safety devices including ABS and traction control came into play , especially the ABS .

    The end result being my wife , though being somewhat upset by the incident , as able to avoid collision with the lady in question as well as the rest of the traffic on the road and drove away intact .

    Now to clarify , the wife’s Matrix is well maintained and driven properly . But when needed all of Toyota’s engineering came into play avoiding what could have been a tragedy .

    Again I just felt this needed to be shared .

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    That Accent looks really nice, I just wonder how much is the price gonna go up with all it’s improvements.

  4. Salvador G. Says:

    I like how JohnMc. starts the show… ‘The economy is really getting better’ Yay!! ‘ And now everything is going to cost a lot more” y.a..y.. .

    2. Am I to understand that the Chinese will get better technology or rather the next advances in technology before America? is that how even American car companies see the U.S., this country barely gets whats in Europe as it is and now China gets first deeps. OK

    Finally, I still say car companies Should really provide driving schools before selling a car (or at least make all cars with a MT)

  5. len simpson Says:

    Just imagine how the world of cars could be
    with serious driver training. I,m amazed that Insurers allow this condition to exist.

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    ‘tj’ glad your wife is okay, but let me say this; you shouldn’t laud a car for doing what it is supposed to do in the first place, Toyota’s problems stem from what it not supposed to do. (Hopefully every car that contains the safety equipment you mention performs as designed; you can’t make a point for a car company by listing one example.) Again, I’m glad everything worked to you and yours’ favor.

  7. Chuck Grenci Says:

    John is correct (at least in my opinion) that last night AAH is a ‘good’ one (especially if you are a Corvette enthusiast). I was a fan even when they weren’t as good as they are today; ever since the C5 (1997), Corvettes have been world class and the bargain of the sports car market.


    “It’s got a cop motor, cop’s suspension, etc., etc…………………………..so is it the new ‘Blues Mobile or what?” :-)

  8. Nick Stevens Says:

    The real or imagined sudden acceleration problems affected a ridiculously small percentage of all TOyota owners and drivers. Out of the tens of millions of Toyotas out there in the US alone, there was a total of.. 23 incidents? over 10 years? As John said, this is 2.3 per year, compared to the 44,000 fatalities or so we have every single year for all cars. And who knows how many of the 2.3 per year were pure, 100%, driver error? 2.2?

  9. clem zahrobsky Says:

    As a Corvette owner since 1959,the Mrs and I went on our honeymoon in a new 59 Corvette,we have had since then 11 new Corvettes in our garage. I owned some rare ones like a 1965 396 we picked up at the St Louis factory on April 16 1965 and now own a 2008 coupe and this is the “best Vette yet”. Can’t wait for a C-7 but GM better hurry as I am 76 years young.

  10. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    And that’s just the Cheap for China Model, Pedro. The US One will have GDI, Hybrid, and a Turbo. It will also have those Delta Shaped Mirrors like Sonata, Different even more premium options on the interior.

    The US one will offer hexagonal and the Chinese grilles, with available Chrome.

    The US Headlights will have a partitioning effect that will simulate the feel of projector headlamps. Ive asked Hyundai for Projectors, but they say considering the other stuff going into the car, it will cost too much. Their compromise- headlights that give that effect. The US Headlights will look different and be more shaped like Tucsons headlights, to give more room to put in a Hexagonal Grille.

    Ford Start: Cough, Next gen Fiesta or KA. It maybe be a concept study, but Id bet good money 2016 Fiesta or 2014 KA will look a lot like it.

    It looks very nice.

  11. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Well, Verna/Accent is not really cheap for China, as they rolled out a couple of real nice leather seat trim ones yesterday. It utilizes carpeting as soft touch material on the doors. There was a screen in the dash. Wow, they made a true Baby Sonata, and this is just the Chinese Spec model. Its like a Civic EX-L for the price of a standard Fit.

    They did a lot of NVH refinement supposedly too.

  12. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    They also Debuted the 1.6 Gamma GDI for the US model that has 138 lb/ft Torque, so Im guessing 145-150 HP as HP was unspecified. They kept the MPG secret.

    They also Debuted a possible 300+ 3.3 V6 GDI they claim is the World Leader with Best in Class Fuel Economy. If the Mustang gets 31, I guess this gets 32-33. This will go in many Vehicles, and maybe seen under the hood of products like: Azera, Gen Coupe, Santa Fe, Varacruz, Sorrento, Kee, Optima, Cadenza, etc…

  13. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    With an Azera and Accent Fanatic like Krafcik at the helm, I think that we have the bases covered. I think those 2 will by far win the Award for most improved.

  14. Nick Stevens Says:

    “NASHVILLE — Nissan North America Inc. has taken 6,635 customer reservations for its all-electric Leaf in the first three days of offering the car online.”

    I am not a fan of nissans, they are more unreliable, cheaper versions of Toyotas and Hondas, priced closer to their domestic rivals, but this Leaf is a good value and I am not surprised it has so many orders already.

    There are many families with two cars, no need to have ONE (the Volt) for both urban and highway trips, one of the two could be a leaf, far cheaper than the Volt and fully electric, unlike the volt, and having much fewer systems (that can break down) than the Volt!

  15. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    Thought this was interesting!!

    An aquaintence called GMAC to get information on his lease turn in and the call center that took the call was in the Phillipines!!!

    Now Government Motors outsources even after begging for taxpayer money for the bailout.

    Would someone please explain this one to me???

  16. Nick Stevens Says:

    GM currently sells more cars in China than in the US.

    If it had not become Obnama Motors, I would see it as a multinational that has the right to invest wherever the hell it likes to, in order to maximize the return of its OWNERS, the SHAREHOLDERS, who it SHOULD Serve, and NOT the workers, the communities, and all the collateral benefits.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ralph: you may be surprised to find that there are a lot of call centers in foreign countries for American companies, ex. AmeEXp has one in India and that’s why it’s so hard to understand what the hell they’re saying and you end up getting frustrated and get nowhere.

  18. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Mr Marchionne has to bring Chrysler upmarket, becuase Chrysler’s at its current positioning cant compete with the “New Hyundai.” Pretty much its seems like Hyundai has replaced Chyrsler and is doing the job superbly.

    Accent or PT Cruiser? Yeah I think the the smart buyer will choose Accent.

  19. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    If Chrysler had its own version of Alfa Guilietta, they would be back in the game, well temporariliy. The question is, will powertrain reliability be a problem?

  20. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Yeah forget selling that car as an Alfa. They need to sell it as a Chyrsler.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    Smoke: Between Chrysler and Fiat there’s 175 years of car making experience and they’re both at the bottom of quality surveys in Europe and America, so I don’t understand why you’re so excited about this merger and anything good coming out of it. all of a sudden they’re just gonna be like H/K?

  22. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Pedro, Im not excited about it at all. The more as time goes by however, the I realize that Chyrsler isnt going to shut down soon.

    People want the new Charger, people want 500, peopel want MiTo, people want Alfa Spyder, Journalists are looking forward to the new Voyager with its Electric variants, Journalists are trying to pump up the next Caliber. They want to see Next Avenger/Sebring Duo. they want to see a new Viper, etc…

    The Crapsler Cheerleading is sickening, but they still actually have willing buyers for new Next gen products. We can try to inform them on quality, but they are still going to buy and will have to find out the consequences of their purchasing decision on their own.

    With Fleet they will make this fragile incubation period, with new product the question is will they make it past 2018 now?

  23. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Pedro, did you know Ford puts FIAT engines in its KA A Segment? The same engine as the FIAT 500, believe it or not.

  24. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Pedro, that Alfa Guillieta is a Bautiful Little car, and that’s how I want Hyundai Fluidic Sculpture to catch the imagination like that.

    An Accent 5 door Hatch with a Tuscon grille on an ix-metro body, a fludic side rake, a C pillar door handle to give it that 3 door look, Delta wing mirrors like Sonata, and a little chrome here and there.


    An Accent 3 door hatch that is the Veloster with a Tuscon Hrille.

    Now that would be as Sweet as the Guilietta, and unlike the Guilieta its actually going to work everyday!!!

  25. HyundaiSmoke Says:


    I hope GM shuts these guys up in refference to Corvette. They do have to upgrade that interior, and upgrade that handling.