Episode 477 – Biofuels Could Power Europe, Geely Aims to Double Volvo, Ford’s Smell Jury

September 14th, 2010 at 12:08pm

Runtime 7:22

A report says plant waste and municipal waste could provide for a majority of Europe’s fuel needs by 2020. Volvo’s new Chinese owner Geely intends to double global sales of the brand. Ford assembles a “smell jury” to figure out what odors people like best. All that and more, plus our drive of the new Nissan Juke.

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This is Autoline Daily for September 14, 2010. And now, the news.

Yesterday we reported that Land Rover would spin off its Range Rover line, to form a new brand. That prompted Land Rover to contact Autoline Daily and object to the word “spin off.” It says that would imply using a separate sales channel, and that that is not going to happen. However it sure looks like Range Rover is going to evolve into a brand of its own, even if those vehicles will still be sold in Land Rover stores.

Speaking of Land Rover, Gasgoo reports that it is in talks with two Chinese automakers to build vehicles in China. Land Rover sales are growing very quickly there, so it’s talking to Chery and a small, state-owned company called Tian Qi Auto. Land Rover reportedly wants to build 40,000 vehicles in its first year of operation in China. But first it has to decide which automaker it wants to partner with.

GEELY WANTS TO DOUBLE VOLVO (subscription required)
And speaking of China, now that Geely bought Volvo, it has big plans for the Swedish brand in China. According to the Wall Street Journal, Geely’s Chairman, Li Shufu says he wants to build at least three plants in China that would produce up to 300,000 Volvos a year, just for sale in China. That would double the automakers global sales. Part of Geely’s plan includes selling cars to government agencies, which buy thousands of vehicles a year. But Geely first needs the government’s approval to build the factories.

Despite all the interest and subsidies going into making electric vehicles, biofuels could give them a real run for their money. Bloomberg reports that plant waste, municipal waste and crops could account for 65 percent of all fuel needs in the European Union by 2020. It says that Europe could produce 90 billion liters, which is 24 billion gallons, of ethanol. However, the European Union has not put any plans in place to make this happen. Meanwhile, in the US, the departments of energy and agriculture have joined forces to provide funding to develop plants better suited for biofuel production. Ward’s reports they are investing almost $9 million to accelerate genetic breeding programs to develop non-food plants that can be used to make biofuels.

Harley-Davidson workers in Wisconsin reluctantly voted to approve labor concessions yesterday. According to the AP, the union agreed to pay freezes, job cuts and allowing the hiring of part-time workers. The company had threatened to move production out of its historical factory in Wisconsin if workers did not approve the new deal. But even still, the new agreement doesn’t guarantee production will stay in Wisconsin, management only agreed to stop looking at alternatives sites. The new pact is a seven year deal that begins in 2012.

Ah, that new car smell can really smell good, so Ford is now using a special team to help evaluate how a car smells. It calls them the “smell jury.” To test smells, components are placed in a jar and are tested in three different conditions… humid room temperatures, humid moderate heat and elevated dry heat. The jury, made up of five people, is separated when making their decisions so they don’t influence each other, and they rate each component on a 1 to 6 scale, with one being no perceptible odor and 6 meaning it stinks real bad. The scores are then averaged to see if it passes the test. Obviously Ford started doing these tests after the Transit Connect was introduced because the interior of that vehicle stinks to high heaven!

Coming up next, a look at Nissan’s new small sporty crossover, the Juke. We’ll be back right after this.

Nissan’s newest vehicle is a crossover called the Juke. Seamus McElroy reports on what it’s all about.

And where better to start than with the funky styling. Nissan compares the headlights on top of the hood to that of an alligator’s eyes that pop out of the water. Other unique styling cues include, large rally like fog lamps that are integrated into the grille, rear door handles that are integrated into the body, and the boomerang shaped rear tail lamps are similar to the ones on the 370Z.

While the exterior is wild looking, the interior is a bit more conventional. It comes with the standard amenities buyers come to expect in vehicles these days like a Nav system, USB and auxiliary jacks and heated seats. Just the kind of equipment you need if a car company is going to grab a slice of this fast-growing segment.

And even though the Juke is built on the same platform as the Versa, it’s a little bit taller and wider but shorter in length and has a different buyer..

Powering the sporty package is a 1.6L four-cylinder turbo gas engine which can be mated to a CVT or a six-speed manual transmission and in addition it’s available with all-wheel drive. But that fun driving doesn’t come at the expense of fuel economy, a Juke equipped with front-wheel drive and a CVT gets 27 MPG city and 32 on the highway.

Thanks for that report, Seamus.

The base model starts at $19,710. Add leather seats, a nav system and all-wheel drive and the price jumps to $25,300.

And that brings us to the end of today’s report on the latest news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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21 Comments to “Episode 477 – Biofuels Could Power Europe, Geely Aims to Double Volvo, Ford’s Smell Jury”

  1. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    Should be the JOKE because that is what Nissan is playing on the GEN Y, Millenials and what ever other name that group is called. OVER 20K for something that has the style of a crosseyed TOAD.

    Just goes to show that there is AN A** FOR EVERY SEAT!!

  2. Tony Gray Says:

    The Transit Connect smells? The Truck of the Year? I bet the Equinox will demand a recount.

    Seamus seemed to liven up a bit on this review. If he punches it up just a notch more, he’ll be a fine reporter.

    And as for the front styling of the Juke…while I’m not sold on it, to me it isn’t immediately offensive as the Aztek or the Tribeca were. I’m not in the targeted demographic anyway, so what do they care what I think.

  3. Chuck Grenci Says:

    It seemed that Nissan had lost its way when it started to style their Infinity line in bizarre shapes. Now it seems contagious, that the Nissan line has caught a case of the ‘ulgies’ from whence it came. I think someone has been lying to Nissan/Infinity that their new modeled shape is good. Maybe because I’m an old guy (59) and just don’t get it, that this styling just leaves me cold.

  4. dcars Says:

    I feel bad that the Harley workers are making give backs but would have felt worse if they lost their jobs. The world labor markets have gotten very competitive and changes are needed to stay in tune with this environment.

  5. Chuck Grenci Says:

    In regards to Harley; the bubble (sales) had burst with the softening of the economy. A lot of those bikes were bought with surplus money that quickly dried up after the banks crashed (as had auto sales). The union realized that survival was the smart thing to do (so they can live to ‘fight’ another day).

  6. Willi Says:

    The world labor markets have gotten very competitive???

    when did this happen?

    try 1999

  7. Rob Grosse Says:

    Sorry nissan, I think the J in Juke should be replaced with a P; In my opinion, it Looks gimmicky and toy-like. I fear it might flop as a result. Am I old fashioned because i like sharp, smart and square body styles? As in, G Wagon anyone?

  8. Salvador G. Says:

    The Nissan Juke sure is one ugly frog. Nissan is an extrange company, they do make some really good cars with excellent style and once in a while they do make another Juke.

  9. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The Juke looks ok, but ITS THE PRICE STUPID!!!

    A Subcompact FROM NISSAN starting at $19K WHAT ARE THEY ON CRACK!!!

    Only an Idiot or a Minimalist (MINI Driver) would pay $19K for a BASE subcompact Nissan OR ANYTHING that’s 163 inches in length.

    Sure, it’s not a bare bones car but it’s a Nissan. It needs to start at $14K, and with the same equipment as the $19K model.

    By the way on that Chrysler 200, Ive been looking at Chinese Spyshots for months. GUESS WHAT? It’s still the same Sebring shape. I cant believe you guys have been waiting so long for this Phantom “Total Redesign” when the info was out months ago on how this car would look.

    Im sorry but it still looks better than a Camry, and if I had the choice between Camry and that, Im buying the Sebring no questions asked.

    Maybe it’s the Americans and Baby Boomers especially that the Sebring offends, because Im not seeing anything wrong with the styling?



    For a 3rd World Proto-Korean (1980s Korean) car company like Chrysler the Sebring wasnt bad, and besides the Sonata is the Sebring that Chrysler should have made in the first place.

    By the way, if you buy a Nissan or VW over a Chrysler you’re ignorant, as Chrysler has better long term durability scores than Nissan. I could see if you bought a Hyundai or a Buick over a Chrysler but not a VW or a Nissan.

  10. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Not only that, you guys have been ridiculous with this Chrysler whipping boy crap. At least they are bettering their cars to the standard that they should have been in the first place, and without charging ripoff prices.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    H/S says:

    “Maybe it’s the Americans and Baby Boomers especially that the Sebring offends, because Im not seeing anything wrong with the styling?”

    I’m a baby boomer, and I like the styling of the Sebring as a less boring alternative to Camry, et. al. The problem with the Sebring is that it doesn’t work as well as the competition. I hope the 200 is better in that regard.

  12. JumpJiveandJuke Says:


    Please correct your video. The “Rally lights” are not fog lights. Those are headlights.

    The lights on the hood are parking/turn signals ONLY.

    The fog lights are lower on the bumper but just not pictured in the blue model you were driving.

  13. JIm Thykeson Says:

    Until the big oil companies agree that a new fuel would be a good thing, the U.S. will linger in the doldrums as they plan to come in last to the new fuel reality. Unfortunately, this country is in the hands of corporate greed, which has no intentions of doing something to help the planet to survive. We will be the last to the dance unless the gov’t. forces the big oil to do the right thing.

  14. HtG Says:

    Harley hosed a long time dealer in White Plains NY a couple of years ago when they forced Reggie Pink to move across the street to a much larger building. This was at the height of the Finance bubble and now Pink is dead. This dealer that had been in business for decades is no more.

    I grew up driving by that dealership and it’s just sad.

  15. mike g Says:

    The Joke, I mean Juke, reminds me of the Pontiac Aztek. It is a little sleeker but a sleeker piece of crap is still a piece of crap. JMO of course.

  16. Mark Says:

    Seamus, that was a much better narration than in the past. I still recommend you kick it up a notch on the energy level!

  17. Rafi Says:

    I like the Juke’s styling in that it is fresh and stands out among the vast majority of vanilla styled people movers. I’m also thrilled about the performance numbers and the fuel economy (27-32 mpg). What leaves me cold though it the price; I mean even if the car is built and imported from Japan, it shouldn’t cost anywhere near as much as it does.

  18. Reno Says:

    I really hate to comment on style, but, what I will say; just be glad its not carrying a GM badge. Everyone would hate it. Put he Juke in the category of the first Honda Element. Import buyers will get comfortable with it.

  19. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Obviously Ford started doing these tests after the Transit Connect was introduced because the interior of that vehicle stinks to high heaven!”

    How come John and all these auto journalists did not pick that stink up when they voted, incredibly, to pick the Butt-ugly, Unstable-looking Connect as… Truck of the Year over the OUTSTANDING Chevy Equinox?

    Told you so so many times, John.. it is becoming unfair to pile on…

    I’d stop if I hear a MEA CULPA, though, instead of more excuses why you all voted this way!

  20. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS The Nissan Aztec, I mean the Nissan Junk, or Joke, or Juke. NOTgonnabuyany.com

  21. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS2 BTW, John Mc:

    You probably saw the September inventory numbers already? here is a sample:

    MY Outstanding EQUINOX: 28 DAYS. Better than LEXUS or BMW or the hottest new Minis.

    YOUR stinky Ford Transit Connect so-called “Truck of the Year” (maybe adding “worst” would be more accurate: 127 days!!!

    Somebody is stuck with a real DOG here. Probably will be Mullaly’s first blunder at Ford, although I smell a rat instead.. that slick snake oil salesman Mark Fields is probably to blame for this FIASCO.