Episode 453 – Jaguar/Land Rover Profitable, Changan Shopping For Talent, Jet-Powered School Bus

August 10th, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 8:35

Jaguar and Land Rover are making money for Tata.  Chinese automaker Changan is shopping all over the world for talented people.  An Indianapolis man builds a jet-powered school bus!  All that and more, plus we take a look at the new Mazda2 and find out how it compares to its platform-mate, the Ford Fiesta.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

This is Autoline Daily for August 10, 2010. And now, the news.

No sooner does the Ford Motor Company sell-off Jaguar and Land Rover to Indian automaker Tata, and what happens? They start turning a net profit. And not some namby-pamby profit, but a healthy $370 million over the last three months. Bloomberg reports that Tata’s chairman, Ratan Tata, wants to grow Jaguar’s line-up with a station wagon, a roadster and an entry-level model. Don’t forget, he has Carl-Peter Forster running those operations, and he used to run GM of Europe. And when you add in the rest of Tata Motors, which also makes trucks and the little $2,500 Nano, the group posted a net profit of $430 million.

How is China going to get the automotive expertise it needs to compete globally? That’s easy, it’ll just go out and hire the people who have that experience, no matter where they are in the world. The Changan automotive group has hired 60 experts from overseas. In fact, it just held a recruiting effort in Detroit where it hired 10 industry experts. The company opened R&D centers in Nottingham, England and two in Torino, Italy. It expects to hire another 50 to 60 overseas experts in the next two years. But it’s not just relying on foreigners. It has 3,000 Chinese engineers.

Portland, Oregon just became the first city to open a public quick-charge station for electric vehicles in North America. The station was manufactured by Takasago Limited, a subsidiary of the NEC Corporation, which worked with Portland General Electric to install the station. It can charge an EV with lithium-ion batteries to an 80 percent charge in 20 to 30 minutes. The first vehicle charged at the station was a Nissan LEAF.

Over last weekend’s Indy-Car race at Mid-Ohio, Honda announced it will continue to supply engines to the series. The new engine, which will debut in 2012, is a 2.4-liter, twin-turbo V-6 that will replace the current V-8 supplied by Honda. The company says the new lease price for the engine will cost 40 percent less than the current engine. And according to Autoblog, even though the series will allow other manufacturers to supply engines starting in 2012, Honda is the only one to commit so far. Honda has been the sole engine supplier to the series since 2006. Little known fact: most of those engines are made in Plymouth, Michigan.

Volkswagen has completed its acquisition of the famous Italdesign, founded by the renowned Giorgietto Giugiaro. Based on in Torino, Italdesign designed countless iconic vehicles over the years including the first VW Golf and numerous Lamborghinis.  The Giugiaro family still owns about 10 percent of the company.  To accommodate different projects, Martin Winterkorn, Vee Dub’s Chairman of the Board, said that the company will be expanding Italdesign’s team of designers in the future.

Statistically speaking, riding the bus is actually the safest way for kids to get to school – safer than being driven, safer than riding a bike and even safer than walking. But by the time they get to high school, it’s just not cool to ride the bus . . . except for maybe this one. CNET.com reports that a guy in Indianapolis took a completely different – and possibly insane – approach to tackling this problem … he built a jet-powered school bus!  Unbelievably, this bright-yellow people-mover can hit a top speed of 367 miles an hour, and shoot 80-foot flames out the back!  Obviously, the bus was heavily modified to reach these speeds because you can’t just strap an aircraft engine on top and hit the accelerator.  Only about 5 percent of it is original, the rest is exotic, hand-crafted metal. I tell you, I’d even start riding the bus again if I could get a ride like that.

The Ford Fiesta and Mazda2 are supposedly built off the same platform, but there sure are a lot of differences between the two. In fact, you almost wonder why they even share the same platform. We’ll show you what we’re talking about, right after this.

Ford and Mazda seem to be going their separate ways. Even though the two companies still share some resources, they’re definitely doing things differently. Seamus McElroy filed this report on the differences between the Ford Fiesta and the Mazda2.

For starters, both have completely different powertrains. The Mazda2 is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder that cranks out just 100 horsepower, compared to the Fiesta which has a 1.6-liter four with 120 horsepower. Both are available with five-speed manuals but the Mazda2 has the option for a five-speed automatic while the Fiesta is available with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Because of these powertrain differences the Mazda gets worse fuel economy than the Fiesta.

As I mentioned before, the Mazda2 and the Fiesta share the same architecture, but Mazda says the two vehicles only share four parts.

Since this is a car that will be sold around the globe, Mazda’s designers in Japan and Europe collaborated on the look with the goal of creating a sporty-looking hatch.

The company is aiming for sales of 20,000 in the U.S. and the same amount in Canada as well, with about 20 percent of those being equipped with manual transmissions. Two trims are available and Mazda expects that each will evenly split sales.

Thanks for that report, Seamus. The Mazda2 is on sale right now with a starting price just over $14,700.

Don’t forget, next week Wednesday we’ll be broadcasting LIVE from Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, Michigan, for our special Dream-Cruise edition of Autoline After Hours.  The party starts at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  You can watch everything LIVE from our website, AutolineDetroit.tv OR, you can join us in person.  We’ll be broadcasting from the Balmoral Centre at Woodward and Normandy.  Everyone’s welcome to attend.  If you’ve got some classic iron you’d like to show off hit the John’s Journal page on our website.  We’ve got a form there where you can register your car for the party.  You can also e-mail us at ViewerMail@AutolineDetroit.tv to submit your vehicle.  Hope to see you there!

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9 Comments to “Episode 453 – Jaguar/Land Rover Profitable, Changan Shopping For Talent, Jet-Powered School Bus”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    AndrewCharles ;

    I’m afraid your view of a WRC car is about 24 years out of date ( 1986 & the demise of Group B )

    Ever since the inception of Group A all WRC cars must be based on the platform and body of a currently available Production car albeit with AWD added ( if ti doesn’t come with it ) any motor from the company’s stock and safety equipment along with all welds etc. redone .

    The new incoming regulations are even more demanding .

    So for SAAB to re-enter the WRC in 2012 the new 9-2 would have to be up and running , on the dealers lots and in customers hands before they could gain entry into the WRC .

    Crazy thing about this bit of SAAB news/rumors is that on one hand a company” official” is feeding the racing press the story of SAAB’s 2012 come back at the same time Muller is saying the 9-2 won’t be ready until 2014 .

    You have to wonder if SAAb isn’t keeping something close to their chest with the intent of a Major surprise . Or maybe just a bit of Smoke & Mirrors to keep the Press interested .

  2. dave Says:

    No story on SAAB and we are still talking about them!!!

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the Mazda does well with the 2. the auto tranny is cheaper and less complicated than the Fiesta plus the total price of the car is also lower. I guess the Chinese got tired of stealing technology so now they need to pay for it

  4. SeattleJeremy Says:

    Hey John, is Seamus related to you?

  5. Rafi Says:


    Why doesn’t Honda sell one of its Acura vehicles (or the Ridgeline pickup) with a V-8 engine if it can build those awesome V-8s? And does Honda provide the engines to Indy Race Teams in order to get its name out or does it actually make money by selling them to the teams?

  6. James2 Says:

    Ford spent a whole lot of money rehabbing Jaguar and Land Rover and it’s paying off… for someone else. Oh, the irony. It’s also very likely that Volvo will do the same for Geely. While “One Ford” is probably the best direction for Ford, perhaps they should have asked for a MUCH higher price for the former PAG crown jewels, considering the billions that were poured into those brands. As usual, hindsight *is* 20/20.

  7. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Seamus” is the Celtic for James. If he is John’s kid, that would make him an Irish McElroy.

  8. Nick Stevens Says:

    Celtic name, the Gaelic equivalent of James, sez WIkipedia.

  9. Randall Says:


    Why doesn’t Foose (or similar shop) design and produce a wheel, body and grill kit for the Acura TL? It is a fine car that has a face only a few consumers and Acura designers can love.

    AMG spiffed up Mercedes autos over the years with great success. A Foose TL would complement the line like and AMG SL550 or Saleen Mustang or etc.

    Ridding the TL of the the bucktooth grill with a “performance appearance package” in this fashion should move car inventory for Acura and allow the company designers to save (unfortunate) face by sticking to their guns on this design que.