Episode 442 – 2011 Ford Explorer, BMW & Daimler Partnership, Vespa Expands In Asia

July 26th, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:22

Ford finally unveiled its redesigned Explorer and we’ve got the details. BMW and Daimler announced that they will extend their joint-purchasing agreement to include car seat-frames. Piaggio SpA, the Italian company that builds the iconic Vespa scooter is investing heavily in Asia. All that and more, plus a look at a new heavy-duty diesel pickup comparison test being conducted by Ward’s Auto.

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

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, July 26, 2010. I’m Christie Schweinsberg from WardsAuto.com sitting in for John McElroy. Here’s today’s top news in the global automotive industry.

2011 FORD EXPLORER
It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Ford finally unveiled its redesigned Explorer. The 2011 model is completely new from the ground up, shedding its traditional body-on-frame construction in favor of a car-based structure. Given the times, the company is really pushing fuel economy with this update. It’s claiming that V-6-powered models can stretch a gallon of fuel 20 percent further than this year’s version. But the big news is the availability of a four-cylinder EcoBoost engine putting out 237 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque with a 30-PERCENT BUMP in economy! Both engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Ford doesn’t want you to think the Explorer has gone soft just because it shares a car platform and gets better fuel economy. The company is also emphasizing off-road capability. The SUV features a terrain-management system with four modes: normal, mud, sand and snow. Each mode alters the vehicle’s driving behavior to best match the conditions. Also, six-cylinder models which deliver an estimated 290 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, are rated to tow up to 5,000 pounds. Look for the 2011 Explorer at dealerships this winter.

FORD CUTS PRODUCTION (subscription required)
Also from the Ford beat, my Ward’s colleague James Amend reports today that the blue oval is taking its foot off the gas when it comes to second-half production. Despite the fact that there will be new products like the Explorer we mentioned, the Edge and Fiesta to name a couple others, Ford will be producing fewer cars and trucks for the second-half of this year for two specific reasons. First, there are the planned holiday shutdowns and tooling changeovers needed for some of those new vehicles. And then there’s consumer demand — Ford sees it falling-off a bit. In fact, based on unemployment and continuing tight credit, the company has lowered its industry sales forecast to somewhere around 11.5 million units. That’s give-or-take a million under its previous prediction.

BMW & DAIMLER PARTNERSHIP
BMW and Daimler announced that they will extend their joint-purchasing agreement to include car seat-frames. According to Bloomberg, a BMW spokesperson says that the two companies can save at least 150 million Euros, that’s nearly $200 million, if the seats are used across all models. The two automakers are cooperating in purchasing and other joint projects in order to reduce costs. BMW wants to cut spending on components and supplies by 4 billion Euros by 2012. And Daimler recently set up a joint venture with Renault to share development costs in order to save money as well.

VESPA EXPANDS IN ASIA (subscription required)
Piaggio SpA, the Italian company that builds the iconic Vespa scooter is investing heavily in Asia. According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s pouring some 100 million Euros into India over the next three years to double production capacity in the country. It’s also bolstering a factory it built in Vietnam a year ago and it’s planning to enter China. Asia is the world’s largest market for scooters and this investment is a result of economic troubles in Europe that have cut into Piaggio’s profits.

BMW TO SPONSOR U.S. OLYMPICS
Finally, a question … how American is a U.S. team that is sponsored by the Germans? It seems that since General Motors let its longtime sponsorship of the United States Olympic Committee go after the 2008 games, the Associated Press reports that BMW is ready to move into that void. The deal, expected to be signed this week, could mean as much as 24 million dollars to the USOC and last until at least 2016. Of course, our team will still be U.S. through and through, but it does mean we might have to get used to seeing our athletes tooling around in 3 and 5 Series instead of Malibus.

Coming up next, the lowdown on a heavy-duty diesel pickup comparison test we’re working on at Ward’s. Back right after this.

WARD’S DIESEL SHOOTOUT (subscription required)
This week my colleagues at Ward’s will be spending a day in Flat Rock, MI. No, they didn’t hear of a free media breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Ford and Mazda plant.

Instead they’ll be driving GM, Ford and Chrysler’s all-new heavy-duty diesel pickup trucks in a battle we’re calling the “Diesel Shootout.”

While we’ve judged heavy-duty pickups in the past as part of our annual Ward’s 10 Best Engines competition, we never judged them as their engineers intended: towing a big, honkin’ load.

So Ward’s editors, along with some folks from our sister publication Fleet Owner, will do just that, both on road and at Bosch’s 1.3-mile test track. At the track and on the road, each truck will tow a 10,000-lb. load.

Judges will rate the trucks’ diesels on all the usual 10-Best Engines metrics: acceleration, technology, fuel efficiency, driveability and overall power. Noise, vibration and harshness levels at idle, cruising speed and during hard acceleration also will be judged.

To keep a level playing field, all three trucks for the “Diesel Shootout” will be roughly the same: three-quarter-ton 4×4 turbodiesel crew cabs with automatic transmissions and axle ratios of about 3.73.

All three trucks offer astoundingly powerful turbodiesel engines, and Ward’s Automotive Group is setting out to pick the best of the bunch.

We plan to announce the winner of the event in September, and the trophy will be presented at the 2011 10 Best Engines banquet on January, 12 during the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

So, if you’re down in Flat Rock this week, please don’t disturb anyone in a navy golf shirt with a pen and pad, or try and lap a heavy-duty GMC, Ford or Ram pickup. This is serious business we’ll be doing.

And that’ll do it for today’s episode of Autoline Daily. Thank you for watching, John McElroy will be back in the saddle tomorrow. One more thing before I sign off, I want to remind you that our new call-in program, Open Line, goes LIVE TONIGHT starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. To join the conversation you can call in from any phone, just dial 1-218-936-6581 and enter the PIN 4928. Again, that’s 1-218-936-6581, PIN 4928. If you’re not near a phone you can always jump in the chat on our website, AutolineDetroit.tv.

Again, I’m Christie Schweinsberg from WardsAuto.com, 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

35 Comments to “Episode 442 – 2011 Ford Explorer, BMW & Daimler Partnership, Vespa Expands In Asia”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    A “diesel shootout”,I like that.Too bad we have no smaller diesel 4×4 trucks to throw in the mix.Maybe next year……….yeah,right.

  2. dcars Says:

    Interesting move by Ford to cut production. GM canceled their summer shut down to meet demand. I also wonder if Ford has too many cuv’s in their lineup with the Edge, Flex and now the Explorer.

  3. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Good on Ford for increasing the fuel economy on the new Explorer but why the vague announcement of 20% this and 30% that; give us the EPA numbers. Even if the EPA numbers can be dubius, at least we can compare to before and after (as well as between competitors).

    The diesel shootout sounds cool. Too bad the winner won’t be announced till September.

  4. GPL Says:

    Chuck, I don’t think they have the EPA numbers yet.

  5. Fernando Gomez Says:

    The “new” Explorer looks like an old Ford minivan crossover that got jacked up and JC Whitney grill installed.

    But as long as Ford keeps BSing the masses, they will buy it.

  6. Salvador G. Says:

    Thanks for the show Christie.

    I’m not a design expert (obviously), or maybe its just the color or even the almost all around dark pillars, but it is somewhat familiar… (for a crossover)
    http://i607.photobucket.com/albums/tt151/gxracer5/MotorAlbum/Range-Rover-Evoque.jpg

    -Also, did Ford just announce a new car today just to hide the fact that their cutting production???

    Does anyone know who won the last Diesel Shootout??

  7. GPL Says:

    “I also wonder if Ford has too many cuv’s in their lineup with the Edge, Flex and now the Explorer.”

    I don’t see the Flex being around much longer. I don’t think sales have met expectations, possibly due to the polarizing, boxy-stationwagon appearance.

    Discontinuing the Flex would leave the Escape (small), Edge (medium), and Explorer (large), which would compare to Toyotas lineup of the RAV-4, Venza, and Highlander.

  8. Jerry Says:

    Where did they get the snow?

  9. Mohammad Rafi Says:

    I do wish the best to the Ford Explorer and I hope it sells well. And I like the fact that the I4 model has more power, but sips less fuel than the I4 Toyota 4Runner. Then, of course, the 4Runners less powerful engine is due to a lack of a turbo charger and its mpg numbers have to do with the fact that it’s a real, body-on-frame SUV that’s built for more extreme off-road driving and dependability. But we just have to wait and see if the new Explorer is as reliable and utilitarian as it’s main competitors like the Honda Pilot and so on.

  10. Alex Kovnat Says:

    So the new Ford Explorer will no longer have a traditional body-on-frame structure? Here’s something to think about: Last Friday my younger son, one of the only two children I have, accidently lost control of the Jeep Cherokee he was driving and hit a tree. Fortunately he survived with a mild concussion. What would have happened if he had been driving one of Ford’s new Explorers with unibody construction?

    Something we should all think about.

  11. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    Alex@

    I am happy to hear your son is OK

    Keep in mind that with the new safety features he may not have had even the mild concussion. With Side Airbags, Side Seat Airbags, Newer Front Airbags with quicker micro-processers the safety is getting much better all the time.

    The old body on frame may have had nothing to do with the amount of injury your son sustained considering it probably has only front airbags.

    Either way his safety is the main concern.

  12. XA351GT Says:

    Alex,
    I’m also glad your son is okay. As Ralph said it may actually be better. Here’s a couple other points. Unibody are more prone to absorb the crash energy than a full frame will. The vehicle may not fair as well ,but it will do the job of protecting it’s passengers better. It’s a proven fact that very rigid vehicles transfer more G force to body. proof of that was crash testing on a Smart car. The car stood amazing well in the impact ,but the driver and passenger would surely have died from excessive gloads the human body wasn’t meant to take. Top Gear did a excellant test on this. Crush zones are why Volvos and Saabs always had great survival ratios for the occupants . The car sustains alot of damage but takes alot of the nergy away that would otherwise injure or kill.

  13. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    This thing is a work of art.

    Maybe Ford could consider shrinking the Flex and making it weigh substantially less. That way Flex could be a trendy subcompact Box Car like Soul, Cube, and XB. Oh Course it would need a 1.6 or 2.0 Direct injection powertrain to make sense as well.

    If the Flex was small and looked like the Explorer, optioned out right, but priced fairly Ford could turn that thing into a Mega Hit. More so than the overpriced Fiesta, BY A LOT.

    Well see the take rate this month on Fiestas, but Ive only seen one so far (a month ago) and it was a Sedan. It was small but, its presence make it look like a larger car than what it was. Close up, its a Very Large Subcompact like an Accent, Soul or a Versa. Far Back view it looks larger than Focus, but its not.

    Just remember the Fiesta Sedan is about as long as a Camry 20+ Years ago.

  14. PureMoose Says:

    Official North American Launch of Saab 9-5 July 27

    The launch is officially scheduled for Tuesday, July 27th 8:30AM-9:30AM EDT / 3:30PM-4:30PM CET

  15. C-Tech Says:

    The Jeep Cherokee is a unibody I believe.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Alex Kovnat Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    “Last Friday my younger son, one of the only two children I have, accidently lost control of the Jeep Cherokee he was driving and hit a tree. Fortunately he survived with a mild concussion. What would have happened if he had been driving one of Ford’s new Explorers with unibody construction?”

    Glad to hear that your son came out of the accident pretty well. I guess that makes a good case for unibody. Cherokees, and the Comanche(sp?) pickup based on the Cherokee were unibody, and were lighter, and stronger than their contemporaries. Ford seems to be on the right track with the new Explorer, except that very few people have any real need for any SUV of any type.

  17. Andrew Charles Says:

    Ford doesn’t have too many CUVs, but the new Explorer is too big—too far above the Edge and too close the the Flex in size—instead of competely directly with eh Pilot and Highlander, it goes up against the the Acadia and CX9, just like the Flex.

  18. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Chuck Grenci Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    Good on Ford for increasing the fuel economy on the new Explorer but why the vague announcement of 20% this and 30% that; give us the EPA numbers.”

    Despite the 30%, the actual EPA numbers ARE available and I commented on them long ago, they are 28 or so HWY, which is far, far inferior to the Stellar Success Chevy Equinox’s 32 MPG with FWD.

  19. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Fernando Gomez Says:
    July 26th, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    The “new” Explorer looks like an old Ford minivan crossover that got jacked up and JC Whitney grill installed.”

    Right…

    “But as long as Ford keeps BSing the masses, they will buy it.”

    FOrd itself knows it can only fool a FEW people ALL the time. Their planned production is a tiny, tiny fraction of the 400,000++ Explorers they used to sell everyt year in the late 90s and early 2000s’

  20. Nick Stevens Says:

    That blond parrot can think?

    “Finally, a question … how American is a U.S. team that is sponsored by the Germans?”

    Here is the ANSWER: BMW, which was nice enough to build Transplants in the US and build and even EXPORT BMWS produced by real US Citizens OVERSEAS too, is far more of an “American”, you ignorant person, than FORD, which builds both the Focus AND the Overpriced FIESTA and all kinds of other crap in MEXICO.

  21. Nick Stevens Says:

    Alex wrote: “he was driving and hit a tree. Fortunately he survived with a mild concussion. What would have happened if he had been driving one of Ford’s new Explorers with unibody construction? ”

    Are you implying he would have been hit worse than that? I doubt it. Not that I think highly of the boring new Explorer or the wasteful older one. If body on frame vehicles were any safer than unibodies, do you really think MErcedes would build the $100,000++ S-class as unibody???

  22. GPL Says:

    Nick, the 32 MPG Equinox is a smaller vehicle with less power. Apples and oranges.

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just had to make an unexpected rental, and luck me I get a Cobalt (again) this time I had to hit the highway. I must admit on the highway it’s not bad, I did not get tired, and it got decent mpg. But around town, the acceleration is lethargic, feels more like a big, ponderous car rather than a small one. At 22k miles it has a check engine light on, late last night, far from home, after I filled up, it refused to turn over, I had to call AAA and get help. this is a car I rented for peace of mind cause mine has all those miles. I’m gonna demand that Budget gives me a full refund for this BS they should not be renting out a new car with a lit check engine light, but as the counter girl explained, the demand exceeds supply, I’ve noticed all local agencies have empty lots now that it is vacation time and on weekends specifically.

  24. Nick Stevens Says:

    # GPL Says:
    July 27th, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Nick, the 32 MPG Equinox is a smaller vehicle with less power. Apples and oranges.

    only a LITTLE Smaller, and both are crossover FRAUDS, NOT body on frame real off roaders like the Toyota FOUR-RUNNER. AND most people DO NOT need the few extra cubic centimeters of interior space. I predict DISMAL sales for the entire Explorer-class segment. Look at the sales data. tHE EQUINOX sells 12-15,000 a MONTH, the explorer used to sell 35,000 a month in 2000 or so, the new one will be lucky if it sells 10,000.

  25. Nick Stevens Says:

    “I’m gonna demand that Budget gives me a full refund for this BS they should not be renting out a new car with a lit check engine light,”

    You’ll be lucky if you get a full refund. My $100 customer satisfaction from Hertz after they pressed me into renting a Nissan Altima Hybrid POS that had such a huge oil leak (or?) that it ran out of oil after a few miles (50 or so) and they told me to drive it back to their backyard by which time the engine was DESTROYED, that $100 was only about 60% of the two-day rental (second day was an excellent PRIUS). OF course the rental was all reimbursed, it was business travel.

    “but as the counter girl explained, the demand exceeds supply,”

    Not sure I get this?

  26. Nick Stevens Says:

    “but as the counter girl explained, the demand exceeds supply,”

    And did this excuse them from fixing the check engine light?

  27. G.A.Branigan Says:

    The Jeep Cherokee’s were unibody.

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well, Nick, I have come to the conclusion that the best place to rent a car is at airport locations. Local branches are usually independently owned and they just want to rent out as much as they can. And you are correct, they said I had to pay because I called AAA and not them for service. (they would have taken a lot longer to get there) But I paid with Amex so I will go that way to fight the charges. ps As soon as I returned the car, they cleaned it out for the next waiting customer, despite the experience I had with it. And it is a fact, rental business is booming because most people are not buying that new car for the family trip, so they rent one.

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Nick and others here: why has the station wagon fallen so out of style in the American car market? replaced by all those SUV and crossovers. I believe they’re still popular in Europe, Nick, ave you seen many there in your travels?

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens says:

    “only a LITTLE Smaller, and both are crossover FRAUDS, NOT body on frame real off roaders ”

    Body-on-frame has little, if anything to do with creating a “real off roader.” As has been mentioned before on this thread, including my post #16, the old Cherokee was unibody. From what I’ve heard over the years, it was a much better off roader than it’s body-on-frame contemporaries, Bronco II and first generation S-10 Blazer.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Wagons and 5-door hatches are very popular in Europe.

    It seems like a lot of people in the US like trucky vehicles so they can “see over” the traffic, while, of course, blocking the view of people in cars. Also, people in northern climes justify their getting a trucky, 4wd SUV because they are good in the snow, though, somehow, I got by for years in Indiana with an RWD Plymouth Duster, without snow tires. Also, there seem to be a lot of Americans that like the “macho” look of some SUV’s.

    The bottom line is this: America has cheap gas. If we were paying ~$8/gallon like much of the rest of the world, a lot more people would be driving cars like Golfs and Passat wagons, and Explorers and Expeditions would never have had their “day in the sun” that lasted for years.

  32. GPL Says:

    “only a LITTLE Smaller”

    Nope. The Equinox is a little smaller (about the same length and several inches narrower) than the EDGE, which is even smaller than this Explorer. The Explorer should be about the same size as the Lamda triplets.

  33. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# pedro fernandez Says:
    July 27th, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Nick and others here: why has the station wagon fallen so out of style in the American car market? replaced by all those SUV and crossovers. I believe they’re still popular in Europe, Nick, ave you seen many there in your travels?”

    There are a few station wagons and mini-minivans, and very few sedans, but most cars here are efficient 5-door designs with a short trunk that one can parallel park easily in tight spots. Ours is a 3-door 91-92 civic that still runs like new since it has only 78k KM (50k or so miles)

  34. Nick Stevens Says:

    ‘The bottom line is this: America has cheap gas. If we were paying ~$8/gallon like much of the rest of the world, a lot more people would be driving cars like Golfs and Passat wagons, and Explorers and Expeditions would never have had their “day in the sun” that lasted for years.’

    Quite correct, we had DIRT-CHEAP GAS most of the time The Explorers and Expeditions vanished when gas got to $4 and never came back. $5 gas may take the fat crossovers like the Enclave-Outlook-etc off the market, and $6 gas might make the Minivans downsize while $7 may make people switch from camrys to corollas.

  35. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Kit says: Body-on-frame has little, if anything to do with creating a “real off roader.”

    Tell that to the millions of Toyota Highlander and Fourrunner owners.

    The Highlander is a unibody crossover that is little more than an obese AWD wagon with no serious off-road capability. The 4Runner, on the other hand, was always a body on frame SUV with serious off-road capability.