Episode 228 – Europe Backs Off Diesels, EVs Dominate Frankfurt, VW Wants To Add Brands

September 15th, 2009 at 12:18pm

Runtime 7:15

Is Europe turning its back on diesels? The Frankfurt Auto show is dominated by electric cars. Volkswagen looks at adding two more brands to its portfolio. Bugatti unveils an all new, stunning luxury sedan. All that plus more unveils from the Frankfurt Auto Show.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Is Europe turning its back on diesels? The Frankfurt Auto show is dominated by electric cars. And Volkswagen looks at adding two more brands to its portfolio.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, September 15, 2009. And now, the news.

Electric cars are all the rage at the Frankfurt show, and Renault is clearly out to grab the high ground. It introduced four different electric cars, in three different sizes. The smallest is the Twizy, a two-passenger city car with tandem seating. It’s 2.3 meters long, about seven-and-a-half feet, and only a little over one meter wide, or just over three feet. Renault says it offers the performance of a 125 cc motorcycle.

The Renault Zoe is aimed at people who have more than one car. It has 21-inch wheels, and a very unique rear door to allow passengers easier access to the rear seat, as well as access to the trunk.

The Renault Fluence is the most conventional looking electric car the French automaker unveiled, at least on the outside. But when you look inside this family car it looks a lot more like a futuristic fantasy machine, which of course, is what concept cars are all about.

The Kangoo will also look familiar since it’s already in production, though not as an electric vehicle. This concept version is designed to meet the needs of delivery or transport companies with its high opening tailgate and flat loading floor. Renault plans to put all these vehicles into production in the next three years.

Peugeot unveiled this EV called the BB1. You’ll note the car’s windshield that runs up to the roof and continues all the way to the back of the car. It also features suicide doors, and a steering wheel that’s more like the handle bars on a bike. The BB1 can also seat four people even though it’s only 2.5 meters long, a little over eight feet.

Not all the news at Frankfurt was about EVs. The Wall Street Journal reports that Volkswagen is interested in adding two more brands to its portfolio, and that doesn’t include Porsche. The Journal says VW’s new brands could include Ducati, the motorcycle maker, Suzuki, which we’ve reported on already, and MAN, the big truck and diesel engine manufacturer.

After the break we’ll show you Audi’s outrageous electric version of the R8, the new van that Ford will be bringing to the American market and even more from the Frankfurt auto show.

While most automakers seem to be focusing on electrifying compact cars, Audi went with the e-tron, an electrified version of the R8. With a water-cooled 42 kilowatt lithium-ion battery onboard it should have a range of 248 kilometers or around 150 miles. It has four electric motors, two on each axle, delivering a total of 313 horsepower and get this – 3,319 pound-feet of torque! From a standstill it should hit 100 kilometers an hour in about 4.8 seconds.

Bugatti showed the Galibier, named after an Alpine mountain pass. According Autoblog, this top-dollar four-door features a two-tone outer shell made of dark-blue carbon fiber and polished aluminum. The look is stunning and unlike anything else out there. Expect it to share the same 8.0-liter W16 engine with the Veyron, except the Galibier can run on ethanol. Top speed is rumored to be 217 miles an hour!

Ford announced more details about its EcoBoost engine lineup. It’s premiered two four-cylinder versions at Frankfurt. A 1.6-liter unit will cover the 150 to 180 horsepower end of the market, while a larger 2.0-liter version is good for 200 horses and beyond. The company has confirmed that the two-point-oh will launch globally INCLUDING North America next year.

Ford introduced two C-MAX models at Frankfurt. One, a five-seat version, the other a seven-seater called the Grand C-MAX which will make its way to North America in 2011. It seems to be aimed right at Chrysler’s minivans with features like sliding doors on each side and a seat stowage system that allows the middle seat in the second row to fold under the two outer seats. The two C-MAX models are the first vehicles to launch on Ford’s all-new global C-platform. The two vehicles go on sale in Europe next year.

Citroen introduced a rechargeable hybrid car, called the REVOLTE. The small car features an engine mated to an electric motor that are both able to drive the wheels. It has the ability to run in all-electric mode and it can also recharge the batteries to supply the electric motor. Solar panels cover the front hood, that help operate some of the cars electric functions. Inside it resembles a lounge with a three seat set up and features suicide doors for easier access.

Volkswagen introduced an electric version of the Up, called the E-Up!. The electric motor is powered by lithium-ion batteries which allow it to travel 130 kilometers, or 81 miles. The roof is equipped with solar panels to help power the cars electrical system. It also features a unique layout inside to fit more passengers in the vehicle.

Before we go, I wanted to mention that NEXT WEEK MONDAY – that’s September 21st – we’re having Tom Stephens, GM’s Vice Chairman of Product Development in the studio. Starting around 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, you’ll be able to watch LIVE as we tape an episode of Autoline Detroit. Then the discussion will continue in an exclusive web-only broadcast in which we’ll be taking some of your questions and comments.

You can submit questions in two ways starting TODAY. One, you can send an e-mail to viewermail@autolinedetroit.tv, just make sure you put “Tom Stephens Question” in the Subject Line so we can find it easily. Two, you can leave us a voice message by dialing 1-620-288-6546.

Anyway, that’s it for today’s top auto news. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

26 Comments to “Episode 228 – Europe Backs Off Diesels, EVs Dominate Frankfurt, VW Wants To Add Brands”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    JMO, but Bugatti really needs someone who can design an exterior vehicle; they are just not my ‘cup of tea’.

    Interesting about all the new electric vehicles ‘across the pond’ (wonder where they are going to get there electricity), as in, same question we’ve been asking over here for quite a while now. I do know that France isn’t shy about using nuclear, which could be our answer as well.

  2. Dave Says:

    I love that Bugatti, I would Like to offer my services to test one in the real world for a year..:)

  3. Salvador G. Says:

    Wonderful show JohnMcElroy, wish I was in Frankfurt.

  4. pedro Fernandez Says:

    I keep reading about Ford’s upcoming modern engines, but nothing from GM. Do they think they can get people to buy their upcoming cars with antiquated engines?

  5. Willi Says:

    where is everyone? only four comments? maybe at the auto show – i’ve been there – lots of glitz not much reality

    i’ve started to back off the electric, simply because gas is getting cheap again, BP found a ton more in the gulf, it’ll go on forever as long as the cost of the electric is too high

    you’ll get a few guinea pigs to try them, hardly enough to pay for the R&D, no mass demand so the price stays high … most of those designers live in la la land anyway

  6. John Says:

    John McElroy,

    Do you think anyone has given any thought to the laws of physics with regard to the EVs size?

    The pictures in the first half of the show brought four words to mind.

    Golf Carts Gone Wild.

    Natural selection will weed out the segment of the population without common sense.

  7. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Wili; everybody ran away from their computer screens when they saw those fugly European cars/concepts.

  8. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I don’t believe for a minute that europe is “turning their backs” on diesel.Electric is okay for city folk,but won’t cut much out in the country.Audi has been hammering the airwaves with clean diesel adverts.

    Interesting that VW might pick up Man.Could it be that there is more diesels in the pipeline?I sure hope so.

    I heard that the Chinese had several of their vehicles at the show but pulled them out.Apparently people were using them for trash cans by mistake……..LOL.

  9. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    GA. I thought I read that the lead paint was peeling off and the German babies were eating it, ps. the Chinese cars came with Michelin tires.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pedro said:
    I keep reading about Ford’s upcoming modern engines, but nothing from GM. Do they think they can get people to buy their upcoming cars with antiquated engines?

    GM’s “ecotech” 2.2 and 2.4, and smaller versions sold in Europe are very competitive in their class. The direct injection versions of this engine are among the least “antiquated” gas engines around. Also, the 3.6 litre GM V-6 is about as good as any engine of similar size and configuration. Ford is now starting to catch up. Hopefully, the horribly obsolete V-6 now used in Mustangs will soon go away.

  11. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    But Kit, are they coming here? Also why don’t American cars come with inline 6 engines. Most people like those better than V6

  12. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    According to Reuters, there was a fire at the Chinese car pavilion in Frankfurt, caused by a short circuit in one of the ev’s which ignited the toxic fumes coming from the interior plastics and trim. Chinese news agency F U denied this saying it was sabotage done by “agents from the west” trying to keep superior Chinese automobiles from destroying the European auto industry.

  13. paulstewart Says:

    Got Thor ?

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The direct injection Ecotech is used in the new Equinox. It will probably soon used in other cars in North America.

    I like inline six engines, but no one is using them except BMW. Toyota used one in the old IS300 and GS300, but replaced it with a bent six. Mercedes also replaced their inline sixes with bent sixes. The main reason for all of the bent sixes is that they are short and package more easily.

  15. Chuck Grenci Says:

    GM is also offering, new this year, a 3.0 direct injection in the CTS, new SRX. And also an optional (later this fall) a 2.8 direct injection turbo for the SRX.

  16. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Gentlemen: I stand corrected. It doesn’t make any sense why American car companies introduce their most modern engines in Europe instead of here.

  17. Willi Says:

    now we’re talking – btw, why is no one rushing to get into the Smart? = because it’s not safe

    non of the electric vehicles will be as safe as my pacifica – oops – i gave it away

    and i’ll convert to ethynol before i go diesel

    did you hear about the guy making fuel from chicken scraps? tons of it every year …

  18. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Willi Says:
    September 16th, 2009 at 8:08 am

    now we’re talking – btw, why is no one rushing to get into the Smart? = because it’s not safe”

    You just opened a can of worms. the Smart (or more accurately, the dumb), is not really a car, it is a covered 2-seat scooter with lousy fuel economy for its size, unrefined mechanicals (a horrible transmission, which may have been improved lately, but was real bad when it entered the US market), and way overpriced.

    The “Dumb” was never intended to be a best seller, in the US it is a niche vehicle people who live in big crowded cities may consider (But if I lived in Manhattan I would not bother to have a car at all, unless my company paid every expense)

    “non of the electric vehicles will be as safe as my pacifica – oops – i gave it away”

    Passive safety only, not active safety. And why couldn’t one build a big, heavy (due to battery weight) EV, which would also have a very low center of gravity and handle extremely well (and would accelerate like crazy due to torque avaiolable at 0 RPM!)

    “and i’ll convert to ethynol before i go diesel”

    I’ll never do that. I don’t even need a diesel since I do not drive a lot of unreimbursed miles with any one of my cars. Same way I do not need a hybrid except as a toy or a video game.

    “did you hear about the guy making fuel from chicken scraps? tons of it every year …”

    That sounds silly. Unless the guy is unemployed and on welfare and really short of cash, and has time to burn…

  19. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Pedro Fernandez Says:
    September 16th, 2009 at 6:44 am

    Gentlemen: I stand corrected. It doesn’t make any sense why American car companies introduce their most modern engines in Europe instead of here.”

    Pedro, it makes a ton of sense. First of, cars are far more expensive in Europe for the same type vehicle, so they can revoere the extra cost of the better engine. Also, fuel is twice what it is here, so the more fuel efficient engine will be worth to the consumer twice as much there.

    The only good consequence of the higher MPG CAFE I can see is that Merc and BMW, that do not have high MPG inexpensive cars in their fleet, as Lexus does with Toyota and Audi with VW, will be forced (and are already doing so) to finally bring the smaller engines and especially their excellent DIESELS to the USA!

  20. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS Hell, even PORSCHE, which has the same problem with Merc and BMW, no high mpg lass volume products to offest the thirstier ones, has developed a 27 MPG (they claim, average!!) Hybrid Cayenne (see last Sunday’s Autoline Detroit interview) and may offer the hybrid in the Panamera and even the smaller porsches as well!

  21. Jim Sachetti Says:

    “Cash For Clunkers is an economically unsound program that will only make the American economic situation worse. It transfers wealth from one group of people to another while simultaneously destroying real wealth and misallocating scarce capital away from its best use.

    To understand why this is, you need only understand the Broken Window Fallacy.

    Frederic Bastiat originally formulated the Broken Window Fallacy in his landmark book That Which is Seen and That Which is Not Seen. Henry Hazlitt then expounded and reformulated it for a more modern audience in his classic work, Economics in One Lesson (which was one of our 31 top resources for small business owners and employees). In Chapter 2, entitled “The Broken Window,” Hazlitt wrote:

    A young hoodlum, say, heaves a brick through the window of a baker’s shop. The shopkeeper runs out furious, but the boy is gone. A crowd gathers, and begins to stare with quiet satisfaction at the gaping hole in the window and the shattered glass over the bread and pies. After a while the crowd feels the need for philosophic reflection. And several of its members are almost certain to remind each other or the baker that, after all, the misfortune has its bright side. It will make business for some glazier. As they begin to think of this they elaborate upon it. How much does a new plate glass window cost? Two hundred and fifty dollars? That will be quite a sun. After all, if windows were never broken, what would happen to the glass business? Then, of course, the thing is endless. The glazier will have $250 more to spend with other merchants, and these in turn will have $250 more to spend with still other merchants, and so ad infinitum. The smashed window will go on providing money and employment in ever-widening circles. The logical conclusion from all this would be, if the crowd drew it, that the little hoodlum who threw the brick, far from being a public menace, was a public benefactor.

    Now let us take another look. The crowd is at least right in its first conclusion. This little act of vandalism will in the first instance mean more business for some glazier. The glazier will be no more unhappy to learn of the incident than an undertaker to learn of a death. But the shopkeeper will be out $250 that he was planning to spend for a new suit. Because he has had to replace the window, he will have to go without the suit (or some equivalent need or luxury). Instead of having a window and $250 he now has merely a window. Or, as he was planning to buy the suit that very afternoon, instead of having both a window and a suit he must be content with the window and no suit. If we think of him as part of the community, the community has lost a new suit that might otherwise have come into being, and is just that much poorer.

    The glazier’s gain of business, in short, is merely the tailor’s loss of business. No new “employment” has been added. The people in the crowd were thinking only of two parties to the transaction, the baker and the glazier. They had forgotten the potential third party involved, the tailor. They forgot him precisely because he will not now enter the scene. They will see the new window in the next day or two. They will never see the extra suit, precisely because it will never be made. They see only what is immediately visible to the eye…”

  22. Willi Says:

    ok Nick, i’m with you, somewhat, but you don’t own a MB, BMW or Porsche if you have concerns over fuel mileage …

  23. Nick Stevens Says:

    # Willi Says:
    September 16th, 2009 at 9:45 am

    ok Nick, i’m with you, somewhat, but you don’t own a MB, BMW or Porsche if you have concerns over fuel mileage …

    YOU may not, but this does not apply to anybody else necessarily.

    First of, there are plenty of 30mpg+ highway,non-diesel! BMW 3 series around, they are the best selling model by far by BMW in the USA and abroad. Very few BMWs and MErcs are heavy, expensive V8s.

    Except for the obese fale Porsche, the Cayenne, all 911s and esp. all boxsters and caymans are quite fuel efficient as well, due to their light weight (and no v-8) especially.

    Second, in the USA you can buy any large luxury V8 from MErc or BMW for peanuts, as long as it is 8-10 yrd old, and some have low miles too. As long as you do not need to do 120 miles a day, you could care less about the MPG. Anybody and his mother-in-law can afford such great cars in the US, as long as you do not do too many miles, or if your miles are REIMBURSED. The 4-doors depreciate like hell. Only exotics and low-volume coupes and convertibles (potential classics) hold their values.

  24. Willi Says:

    ok, point well taken

    i’ve purchased a couple of fords and chrylsers from the C lot or manager’s special, saving the $5K loss as you drive a new car off the lot

    furthermore i’ve had several luxury cars at 10K that left me enough $ to buy fuel for the rest of my life – i should have been more definitive with the foreign car ( as well as the U.S. ) : laying down 30K or 40K plus, fuel mileage can’t be a big concern …

  25. Nick Stevens Says:

    Even in Europe, friends tell me that even there, with gas at least $6.50 a gallon and in many nations over $8 a gallon, when they go on a family trip, fuel is the smallest of their expenses. Maybe because they do not do as many miles as in the much larger US, and also their cars are far more fuel efficient, esp, when they are 50-60 MPG diesels, but also 40 MPG (sub)compacts with gas engines.

  26. Willi Says:

    i have a cousin that wrecked an E class, car saved his life, the guy is loaded, got another sedan, cost irrelevant, safety no 1, gas … what, they put gas in there? lol