October 27th, 2010 at 12:09pm
Nissan says that every one-yen increase against the dollar shaves nearly $190 million off its profits. The CK1 from Chinese automaker Geely received zero stars in crash tests. A 1964 Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery in the James Bond movies “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball” is up for auction. All that and more, plus John responds to your comments in the “You Said It!” segment.
This is Autoline Daily for October 27, 2010. And now, the news.
EXCHANGE-RATE CRISIS (subscription required)
Japanese automakers are in a full-blown crisis. They are getting hammered by the strength of the Japanese yen. The dollar is down to near-record lows, only 80 yen to the dollar. Nissan says that every one-yen increase against the dollar shaves nearly $190 million off its profits. Of course, it wasn’t that long ago when the yen was going in the other direction and Japanese automakers were racking up record profits. I remember back in the early ’80s when the yen was at 225 to the dollar and American automakers were at a massive cost disadvantage. In fact, for the better part of 30 years Japanese automakers have enjoyed a currency advantage, so now they’re about to experience what GM, Ford and Chrysler have been up against for decades.
MOUNTAINS OF MONEY (PDF)
Volkswagen says it wants to take the pole position and become the biggest car company in the world by 2018, and today the company says it made a $3 billion profit in the third quarter. That’s nearly twice as much as Ford reported yesterday. And it’s thanks to strong car sales, particularly with Audi and especially in China. But, the AFP reports, Bentley and Seat continue to lose money, and VW says it expects profits to go down in the last three months of the year.
STARS? WHAT STARS?
Uh-oh this is not a good sign for Chinese automaker Geely. According to Auto Express, the company’s CK1 model received zero stars in crash tests in South America. This video shows the car folded up like an accordion. The vehicle was tested without airbags but the testers said adding airbags wouldn’t help because the integrity of the body is no good. And maybe this helps explain why Geely bought Volvo, which knows a thing or two about safety.
YOU OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES
Have you ever wanted to own one of James Bond’s cars? If you have, you’ll have a chance to get one of 007’s more-famous rides but you better have your checkbook ready. According to Bloomberg, a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 driven by Sean Connery in “Goldfinger” and “Thunderball” is up for auction. The car could go for as much as $5.6 million. But it comes with some cool props like a bullet-proof windshield, revolving license plates, an oil-slick sprayer and machine guns.
OBAMA MOTORS MAKES GOOD CARS
Consumer Reports just released its annual reliability survey. Predictably, Honda and Toyota topped the chart, but the Detroit Three keep getting closer. Ford builds the most reliable vehicles of the domestic automakers, with 90 percent of them delivering average or better reliability. That puts them just behind Lexus in quality. Chrysler on the other hand didn’t fare too well. None of its models rated better than average in reliability. GM splits the difference between the two, but it’s moving up the charts, FAST. Here’s David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center.
GM made the most progress of the Detroit-Three automakers. Of its brands, Cadillac improved the most, jumping seven places from last year’s ranking while Chevrolet had its best showing in years.
BABY CADILLAC ON THE WAY
And this should help the Big Three even more. According to the Detroit News, GM is spending $190 million in Lansing, Michigan. The move will put some 600 people to work and paves the way to start production of a new compact Cadillac, the ATS. It’s a small car aimed right at the BMW 3 series. With a rear-wheel-drive layout it has perfect proportions, which could make it a strong global seller, unlike Cadillac’s previous compact sedan, the BLS, which failed dismally in Europe.
CHRYSLER GETS AN UPGRADE
The Detroit Free Press reports that Chrysler is investing $850 million in its Sterling Heights, Michigan facility to upgrade its body and paint shops. Sounds like it’s getting ready to start production of the new 200. The company is also putting $150 million in its Dundee engine plant to build Fiat-designed four-cylinder powerplants.
FORD BETS ON 6 (subscription required)
Like Chrysler, Ford is also investing $850 million in Michigan. It’s upgrading several facilities so it can build more six-speed transmissions to make good on its promise of having them in 100 percent of its vehicles by 2013. And all those investments translate into thousands of more jobs.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
One of the ways we’re looking at delivering this show is via YouTube. Autoline was just invited to become a YouTube partner, so we asked you to let us know if they block YouTube at work.
Juan Barnett who calls himself the “Lej Geek” who wrote in to say, “My workplace, (the Pentagon), does not block YouTube. As much as I like looking at John, Peter and Jim – I find it easier to listen via Stitcher.”
And of course he’s referring to how you can use Stitcher to listen to Autoline on your smartphone.
Dave in China, says “I used to live in New Jersey, but if you move to YouTube you will be blocked. China doesn’t allow YouTube in the country. Not sure how many other people are in China watching your broadcast almost daily, but I know I am one.”
Thanks for the feedback from China, Dave. And actually, we have a decent amount and a growing number of viewers there.
And finally Thom wrote in to say, “John, we are not blocked, and as a college instructor I often use AUTOLINE as a teaching aid.”
Thom, thanks for that. I love the fact that Autoline is helping students learn more about the auto industry.
So, the bottom line is, you can now watch Autoline Daily, and our other programs on YouTube, but since enough of you would be blocked out if we migrated there, we’re going to offer you both ways to get the program, here on our website, and on YouTube, oh, and on Stitcher.
Don’t forget to tune in for Autoline After Hours tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Join me and that rambunctious Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo for some of the best inside information of what’s going on with cars and the people who make them.
That’s tomorrow at 7:00. And that’s today’s report for the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.