May 25th, 2010 at 12:10pm
A company called Transonic Combustion just added Bob Lutz to its board of directors, but who the heck is Transonic? Infiniti is getting ready to offer a lineup of high-performance aftermarket parts for its vehicles. Ford is moving to vertically integrate its electric vehicle operations with a $135 million investment. All that and more, plus an inside look at Ford’s new Taurus-based Police Interceptor.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, May 25, 2010. And now, the news.
SO MUCH FOR RETIREMENT
A company called Transonic Combustion just added Bob Lutz to its board of directors, which, of course, has got everyone in the industry like me wondering, just who the heck is Transonic? It’s a California company with offices in Michigan that has come up with a new fuel-injection system that relies on high pressures and precise electronic controls. The company says it will not release more info about it, at least not yet. But it has an impressive board, including Lutz, former GM and Delphi executive Don Runkel, and private equity investor Vinod Kholsa. With people like that on its board, seems to me we’ll be hearing more about Transonic Combustion.
INFINITI PERFORMANCE LINE
V-Series, AMG, S, RS and M are all letters that are synonymous with high-performance luxury. Notably absent from that list is Infiniti, but it looks like Nissan’s top-tier brand is jumping on the bandwagon by offering its own line of go-fast goodies. According to Autoblog, it will offer special aftermarket parts branded “IPL,” which is short for Infiniti Performance Line. The list is expected to include things like air filters, cat-back exhaust systems and even turbo kits and superchargers. The approach will likely be similar to Lexus’ F-Sport Performance Line. Look for IPL to premiere this August at the Pebble Beach Concourse.
CAR DEALERS LIKELY TO GET REPRIEVE
In a move that car dealers across the country have been watching intently, the Detroit News reports that the U.S. Senate is likely to exempt dealers from new financial reporting rules. There’s a new agency being created by the Obama Administration called the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. It’s an effort to overhaul financial lending regulations, all because of the lack of oversight that led to the collapse of the financial system in 2008. But dealers complained that they were already subject to a lot of state and federal regulations and that they did not cause the financial crisis. The White House says that auto loans comprise an $850 billion industry – larger than the credit-card industry – and that it should be held to the same standards as anyone who makes loans.
FORD VERTICAL INTEGRATION (login required)
Back when Henry Ford started making the Model T, he wanted to do it all in-house. No outsourcing for old Henry, he wanted vertical integration. And now the company is following that philosophy with electric vehicles. FoMoCo will assemble battery packs in its manufacturing facility in Rawsonville, Michigan – something that’s currently done by a supplier in Mexico. It will also build electric transaxles at its Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Michigan, bringing jobs home from Japan. And it will assemble its EVs in Michigan. Ford says it wants to control all aspects of manufacturing electric cars.
HONDA STILL INVESTING IN EVs
Last week we reported that Honda is not bullish on electric vehicles in the short-term but that doesn’t mean the company won’t pursue the technology. According to Reuters, Honda’s Chief Executive, Takanobu Ito, says he would like to develop batteries for electric cars in China because of the country’s technology and resources. But he says a breakthrough is needed in battery technology before EVs become mainstream.
CODA MOVING TO OHIO
While Honda is moving from a high cost country to a low cost one, Coda, which makes car batteries in China, is taking the opposite approach. According to Bloomberg, the company will open a plant in Ohio to build batteries because it’s afraid the value of the Yuan, China’s currency, might rise, which would make it more expensive to export. So they’re protecting themselves by moving some production to Ohio.
FORD BUILDING POLICE-GRADE EXPLORER
Ford plans to introduce a police vehicle based on the Explorer. According to the Detroit News, the vehicle will be all-wheel drive and pursuit-rated which means it can perform high-speed chases. Ford believes it makes sense because the Explorer is built on the same platform as the Taurus Police Interceptor, so each can share parts, which helps cut cost. Also, the company wants to maintain its share of the market for police fleets since GM and Chrysler will be introducing new models of their own within the next year.
And speaking of Ford’s new police car, we’ll be taking a closer look at how they’re modifying the Taurus to ensure there’s law and order on the streets, right after this.
Thanks for that report, Jeff.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.