September 20th, 2010 at 12:00pm
Ford hires former Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz designer, Joel Piaskowski, to head up all exterior design for Ford in the Americas. Nissan plans to nearly double its production in China to 1.2 million units. BMW is set to unveil what looks like a thinly disguised version of its next-generation 6 Series at the Paris Motor Show. All that and more, plus a look at a competition organized by Ward’s Auto, to see which Detroit-Three automaker has the best diesel engine for its heavy-duty pickups.
This is Autoline Daily for September 20, 2010. And now, the news.
FORD HIRES PIASKOWSKI
One of the reasons why Hyundai has been on such a roll lately is that the designs of its vehicles improved dramatically. And now the Ford Motor Company managed to grab the guy responsible for those designs. Joel Piaskowski was the one who came up with cars like the Genesis Coupe, the new Sonata and a bunch of good looking concept cars. But then Mercedes-Benz hired him away to run its advanced-design studio in California. And then, for reasons none of us here in the media have uncovered, only a year later, Mercedes pushed him out. Everyone in the design community was wondering where he would land, and now Piaskowski is headed to Ford where he will head-up all exterior design for Ford in the Americas. He starts there on October 1st.
NISSAN DOUBLES-DOWN IN CHINA
Nissan plans to nearly double its production in China to 1.2 million units, which is 20 percent higher than the company originally planned to put in place. Reuters reports that Nissan wants to boost its market share to 10 percent of the Chinese market, up from 6 percent today. But some voices in China say the country is adding too much capacity that could cause a glut. And one former U.S. trade representative warns that China will be tempted to export its excess capacity, causing even greater trade frictions. However, Gasgoo reports that other experts say the top 10 car companies in China actually need more production capacity, and that the excess capacity is with China’s smaller automakers. China has well over 100 vehicle producers.
MULALLY NOT BULLISH ON COMPOSITES
Carbon fiber and other composites could be the miracle materials that allow automakers to meet upcoming fuel-economy standards, but not everyone is optimistic about them. According to Dow Jones Newswire, Ford CEO Alan Mulally said he cannot make a business case for composites in the auto industry. He cited the huge volume needed for mass production and the cost of autoclave ovens needed to bake the material. Mulally says there is still plenty of room for improvement with conventional steel and other alloys. Remember Mulally used to head Boeing, which is pioneering the use of composite materials in its new, but much delayed 787 Dreamliner. It first took to the skies last December. The first deliveries are expected to reach airlines by the middle of the first-quarter next year.
NEXT BMW 6 SERIES?
BMW is set to unveil what looks like a thinly disguised version of its next-generation 6 Series. This “concept” is set to take a bow at the Paris Motor Show which opens to the press next week. Details about this new 2 + 2 are limited. It will have full-LED headlamps and what the company is calling a freestanding control display for its iDrive system . . . I hope that means it’s easier to use. Still, BMW has released plenty of pictures of the car and it’s gorgeous. The body is a lot cleaner-looking than today’s version of the 6 Series and its leather-lined interior is very photogenic to say the least.
TOYOTA SETTLES LAWSUIT
Over the weekend Toyota confirmed it settled a lawsuit brought by relatives of four family members who were killed in a high-speed crash last year that led to the recall of millions of its vehicles. According to the AP, terms were not disclosed, but Toyota is expected to file motions in court today disclosing the settlement. The dealer that loaned the car to the family was left out of the settlement and the lawsuit against him has not been dropped. Last year a California highway patrol officer borrowed a Lexus from a dealer. He was traveling with three family members when the car sped out of control and led to a horrific crash because a floor mat became stuck on the accelerator. This high-profile accident led to Toyota’s massive recall.
GM SET TO TEST ELECTRIC CRUZE
Is GM hedging its bet with the Volt? According to the AP, the company is getting ready to launch a test-fleet of all-electric versions of the Cruze in South Korea next month. It will be powered by batteries from LG Chem and propulsion systems from LG Electronics. GM says it doesn’t plan on selling an electric-version of the Cruze in the U.S. but I believe that GM wants to make sure it doesn’t get left behind in the EV market if the Volt, with its extended-range system, doesn’t catch on.
Ford, GM and Chrysler all have heavy-duty pickups with heavy-duty diesel engines. Each one of them brags that it’s the best, so which one is? Our friends at Ward’s just put them through the test and we’ll look at who came out on top right after this,
WARD’S 2010 DIESEL SHOOTOUT
There was a shootout a couple of weeks ago but this one had nothing to do with the OK Corral. It was a three-way dogfight just south of the Autoline Daily studios as America’s Heavy-Duties went grill-to-grill-to-grill testing everything from towing to acceleration. Organized by our friends at Ward’s who called it the 2010 Diesel Shootout, all we can say is “may the best truck win!”
And I can guarantee you Ford really liked that idea since it won the Shootout with its new Power Stroke V-8. Though to be fair, all three engines were very close.
Hey, if you want to find out more about this first-ever Ward’s Diesel Shootout we’re doing something new for us – we’re posting much of the raw video that we shot at the Bosch Proving Grounds that didn’t make it into the story. You can watch it in the John’s-Journal section of our website.
But if you still need even more information, Ward’s also has a special section at its website with all the data, audio and reporting behind the 2010 Diesel Shootout that you may want to check out.
One more thing before we go. If it’s been a while since you checked out our automotive call-in show, Open Line, host Michelle Naranjo has an update.
Thanks, Michelle. We’ll see all of you at 8 p.m. Eastern, Time 5 p.m. Pacific for another edition of Open Line tonight.
And that is it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.