Episode 511 – Global Car Sales Improve, Nissan New Mobility CONCEPT, Chevy Volt Test Drive

November 1st, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 9:21

Global sales are up nearly 16 percent compared to last year and automakers are on track to sell about 74 million vehicles before the year is over. Nissan showed off a two-seat electric car this morning, which it calls the New Mobility CONCEPT. Ford is set to show off a specially tuned undercover-version of its new Police Interceptor at the SEMA show. All that and more, plus John test drives the Chevy Volt.


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This is Autoline Daily for Novermber 1, 2010. And now the news.

GLOBAL CAR SALES IMPROVE (subscription required)
In a sign that the automotive industry continues to recover around the world, Ward’s reports that global sales are up nearly 16 percent compared to last year. Up through September automakers sold over 55 million vehicles and are on track to sell about 74 million cars, trucks and busses before the year is over, which is an impressive statistic.

But in Japan the news doesn’t look that good. After the government let sales incentives lapse, Bloomberg reports that car sales in Japan last month plunged to their lowest level since 1968, which is a scary statistic.

But while sales in Japan look like they’re headed for hard times, sales in China, which could hit 17 million units this year, look like they’ll continue to run strong. Gasgoo reports that automakers, especially the luxury brands, are expanding their sales operations to second- and third-tier cities in China. So far automakers have put most their effort in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, but now they’re going after smaller cities, which are still huge by any other comparison. It’s estimated that 30 percent of the wealthiest Chinese are in the tier-one cities, while 70 percent of them live in second- and third-tier cities. In other words, this Chinese juggernaut is just getting going.

Which brings us back to this story on rare-earth metals. A month ago or so China drastically cut exports of rare-earth metals which are needed to make batteries for hybrids and electric vehicles. Now countries and companies are scrambling to find other sources. Reuters reports that Japan and Vietnam are partnering up. And according to Bloomberg, the two biggest automotive suppliers in Europe, Continental and Bosch, are lobbying the European Commission to secure supplies from other countries and even start producing them in Europe.

And China must have taken notice because according to Reuters, the vice minister of commerce in China said there won’t be any significant cuts in export quotas next year. China controls over 90 percent of global rare-earth production, and cut export quotas by 40 percent this year compared to last.

OK, back to Japan for a moment. Nissan showed off a two-seat electric car this morning, which it calls the New Mobility CONCEPT. But don’t expect to see it on the roads anytime soon. Nissan created it to study its use for a variety of services, such as ‘seamless mobility service’, a public transportation service linking public transport and EVs. ‘Two-mode EV car sharing’, where the vehicle is used as a private commuter vehicle in the mornings and evenings, and as a corporate car during business hours, and, lastly contributing to the revitalization of communities with improved mobility in both urban and tourist locations.

CHRYSLER’S “TIGER SHARK” ENGINE (subscription required)
Now to North America. It’s no secret that Sergio Marchionne is transforming Chrysler. It seems like a week doesn’t go by that the company isn’t showing off some new or refreshed product. It really feels like Chrysler’s got its mojo back, and that extends to its powertrain lineup. It just launched a brand-new V-6 and it’s putting it into just about every vehicle it makes; now news of a super-secret engine program is starting to come out. According to Ward’s, it’s code named “tiger shark” and is a HEAVILY updated version of its 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline powerplant. Very little is known about the project – since Chrysler seems to be more secretive than the CIA these days– but it’s rumored to feature Fiat’s Multi-Air system and possibly even direct injection. Reportedly the company has pulled the program ahead by several months to launch the engine in early 2011. My guess is that it will debut in the redesigned Sebring and Avenger sedans.

Ford is set to show off a specially tuned undercover-version of its new Taurus-based Police Interceptor at the SEMA show in Las Vegas. The concept’s designer says he drew inspiration from the SR-71, a high-speed stealth aircraft from the 1960s. If nothing else he matched the color perfectly. Dressed in black, the car looks sinister. It’s been lowered, features massive 22-inch wheels, an upgraded exhaust system, a special lighting package and a revised front end. The car’s most striking feature is its grille, which is completely different from the standard Police Interceptor. It’s black mesh instead of the Taurus’ regular three-bar arrangement.

What’s it like driving the Chevy Volt? Come on, I’ll take you for a spin in the car, right after this.

I’ve been able to do extensive test drives of both the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, and today I want to give you some of my impressions of what it’s like driving the Volt.

That package was going to run too long for this show. But you can catch the entire test drive on the John’s Journal section of our website at www.AutolineDaily.com.

And that’s today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

37 Comments to “Episode 511 – Global Car Sales Improve, Nissan New Mobility CONCEPT, Chevy Volt Test Drive”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’ve yet to see one single Volt review where they show how many miles it goes in normal EV mode before the gas engine kicks in. I also noticed that the center console thingy looks as if it was glued on to the dashboard as an afterthought. It just looks out of place.

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    That Ford police car can be easily mistaken for a homey-mobile.

  3. Phoenix Mark Says:

    pedro, I have to agree with the dash/center stack looking tacked on. I see short fall in the Camero too. I heard GM is re-thinking re-engineering the Camero dash, I guess not in time to re-thing the Volt’s.

  4. tj Martin Says:

    pedro ;

    As well as no one ( but John ) making a big stink about the fact that California ( of all places ) has confirmed that the VOLT is not an extended range E/V by denying VOLT buyers the E/V tax credit .

    Lets call the VOLT what it is . Another round of GM Smoke & Mirrors .

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    tj as I’ve said before, the problem with the Volt getting that EV credit is that you can opt out of charging the damn thing if you choose so and then it wont run on the battery at all, then becomes a short range gas powered car.

  6. dcars Says:

    I never thought about someone buying a Volt and not using the charging option, why buy it? I suppose that it would act like a Prius in that scenario.

  7. tj Martin Says:

    @dcars ;

    Thats kind of the point we’re ( pedro and myself ) trying to make ( as well as the State of California ) The VOLT is in fact just an over priced GM copy of the Prius masquerading as an E/V .

  8. Dale Leonard,Lakewood Ohio Says:

    Hey John, Re: Ford’s U/C Police Interceptor. Look’s like Ford is saving money as it appears they went to the Crown Vic grille parts bin and just cut it to fit.

  9. Dale Leonard,Lakewood Ohio Says:

    Another thing,John, I’m really impressed with Ford’s new line of police vehicles,and what better birthday present then to show me the newest addition to the fleet,the U/C Interceptor version….Thanks

  10. Adam Says:

    The 2011 Edge has inductive buttons, John.

  11. tj Martin Says:

    What Movie is it that the Ford Police Interceptor looks like it just escaped from ? It looks awfully familiar .

  12. cwolf Says:

    According to C&D(Dec.2010)the Volt qualifies for the Federal Tax Credit because it meets the min. requirement of having a 16 kWh of storage in its battery. If factual, I wonder how California can deny anyone of credit? I don’t see any smoke and mirrors here by GM; only that we are just beginning to learn more about the Volt and who it will serve best(If they are that green,loaded,or wastefull with their dough).
    The article,also,stated getting midway range between 25-50 miles on EV mode. Upper 30′s were claimed going under 60mph.
    IMO it does seem to be a nice functional small family car.

  13. wl simpson Says:

    CHINA ! the new leader of the notsofree world.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’ve actually heard a few folks expressing interest in looking into the Volt, but when they see those humongous dealer markups raising the price close to $50k, they’re gonna run, not walk out of those Chevy dealerships.

  15. cwolf Says:

    Pedro, I remember when Jetta diesels were marked up.The Fiesta is another car suffering from markups,like the Volt. Do you know if the Cruz is being gouged,since orders to date exceed production?

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf: a lot of cars have been marked up excessively at launch which I think is counterproductive to a car maker and a dealership, I remember even the crappy Pt Cruiser, the Miata and I’m sure that the Cruze and the Focus will also be marked up, recently a friend of mine got a V6 Camaro and he was charged $2k for “adjusted market value”. What manufacturers need to do is build up enough stock and then release the car, so there’s no shortage. But they’ll never do that so ther dealers can make a nice profit.

  17. TomL Says:

    Sergio Marchionne is transforming Chrysler!!!
    Looks like we will be seeing some GREAT cars from Chrysler.

  18. cwolf Says:

    Pedro: I think excessive dealer profits are only demand driven and uncontrolable by the manufacturer. It doesn’t make sense for them to allow dealers,more or less,to hinder sales for any reason. Building stock at launch is really difficult at this time for many reasons. Formost is due to suppliers; since downsizing, they simply can’t gear up as fast as wanted. The manufacturer,also,has to believe their product will have estimated demand. Unexpected last minute tweeks or problems may be another reason for limiting stocks.
    I know my plant is going full bore to meet just the current demand for cars sharing the same part.

  19. M Campbell Says:

    Thank you for the YouTube link, it is a big help!

  20. XA351GT Says:

    I think that’s the idea of a Undercover car to blend in.
    I think it’s Bad ass I like the mesh grille I hope it becomes a option for civilian models . All it needs is a big supercharger hanging out of the hood and it’ll be like the original Black Interceptor in Mad Max LOL.

  21. Jon Says:


    Thanks for listening! While the resolution at Youtube is not HiDef, the screen size options will sure make it a lot more fun to look at images. Now, your folks can also focus on smaller details that the old format just was too small to display well enough. Great work getting the alternate video location, I’ll probably link their after each email arrives!

  22. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The Future of American Highway Lanes. Well, in my dream world.

    6 Lanes

    - – - – - -

    D 7 7 6 5 T
    R 5 0 5 5 R
    I U
    V M M M M C
    E P P P P K
    H H H H
    R L
    E M M M M A
    S I I I I N
    P N N N N E
    O I I I I
    S M M M M
    I U U U U
    B M M M M

  23. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    That said:

    Lane 1 Drive Responsibly
    Lane 2 75 MPH Minimum
    Lane 3 70 MPH Minimum
    Lane 4 65 MPH Minimum
    Lane 5 55 MPH Minimum
    Lane 6 Truck Lane

    Part of America’s Economic problems result from it’s criminally low speed limits and other transportation systems slowing dowm the flow of goods, services, travelers, and workers.

  24. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I work 60 miles from home, and many people around here drive far to go to work. It would be nice to have such lane systems.

    The REAL Driving enthusiasts are the ones that go after gold far away from home.

  25. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    By the way, I have a Vendetta against the Anal Probe looking Prius now because one blocked my way, and I zoomed around it while a cop was hiding and got a ticket.

    I test drove a chairman of the board at my non-profit’s IS 250 today. Im not impressed anymore with Lexus, and in fact It’s time for Hyundai to kill em. That New Accent will have an Interior close to being that good, and for the price premium the IS is not worth it.

    It’s time to destroy Lexus by keeping them from getting new young customers. We MUST force them to become the Old Buick.

  26. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    How does a gussied-up Corolla Cost $38K Base MSRP, while a Pimped out Golf Costs $27K?

    And you doubt Hyundai’s Luxury aspirations?

    COME ON, IT’S AN ASIAN CAR!! IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE CHEAPER THAN EVERYBODY!!! It’s not a quality thing, it’s a worker and materials cost thing.

  27. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    That’s an IS and A3 comparison.

  28. Nick Stevens Says:

    The STUPID Volt failed in CA because it failed the emission classification, ULEV, SULEV and all that. Look back for the report.

    ONE VERY dirty BIG secret of the STUPID Volt is that it is NOT Clean at all!

    More than 50% of all US electricity is made from COAL, the (by far) dirtiest fossil fuel, and in CHina this is 80%!!!

    Also, in gas mode, it returns a PITIFUL 30s MPG at best. COmpared to the STELLAR 50 MPG+ of the PRIUS, the ONLY new car in the market that can reach this MPG today.

    NOTHING in John’s full video Volt review would make me change my very low opinion of this POS ONE IOTA.

    Let’s hope the EXCELLENT Chevy CRUZE is a HUGE home run that makes up for the eventual VOLT failure.

    PS GE’s corrupt CEO Immelt (in bed with Obama in all kinds of PORK Green energy etc, and dealing with IRAN too) wants to buy 45,000 EVs for his sales force. I bet this will include the PLUG IN VOLT..LOL.

  29. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# tj Martin Says:
    November 1st, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    @dcars ;

    Thats kind of the point we’re ( pedro and myself ) trying to make ( as well as the State of California ) The VOLT is in fact just an over priced GM copy of the Prius masquerading as an E/V .”

    It is MUCH, MUCH worse. I WISH the STUPID Volt was a copy of the prius!! But it barely gets 30s MPG in gas mode. The Stupid VOlt is just a COBALT-CRUZE, only at double the price (or triple!)

  30. cwolf Says:

    Agreed, the volt is not even close to the prius and much too pricey, but Gm and the gov’t is much too vested in it and the technology to let it go away anytime soon or ever! GM is positioned rather well with this car,because the excellent cruze is capable of carrying the volt until it becomes more prius competitive. I believe GM is in a win/win situation; to have a sure money maker with the cruze and gov’t sub’s to improve the volt over time. No auto maker will refuse free(taxpayer) money. The asian makers have been taking it from their gov’ts for years!

  31. cwolf Says:

    Let’s not get distracted by gov’t funding! My point is that the Volt/Cruze is a nice car and a good platfom to build upon. I just hope GM isn’t blind of the fact that the Volt will not sell as now offered,but has merit. Boy!!!…it sure would be a great opportunity for GM to plunk in a small diesel. I’d buy one in a heart beat if offered around the 30k range.

  32. Nick Stevens Says:

    I’ve heard rumors that the SECOND Gen VOlt, which is underway already, will be much improved (better battery tech).

    (The same was very true for the Prius, the 1st gen was an ugly dog tiny Echo, but the 2nd and 3rd are HUGE improvements over the 1st.)

    As a taxpayer funding GM’s bankruptcy, I have every rational reason to wish that they do well, that the Cruze sells 500,000 (!!) copies a year (eventually), that the Equinox continues its stellar sales, etc.

  33. Nick Stevens Says:

    And we should NOT be like the Japanese, that country has been in a COMA since 1990, 20 years! And its stock market fell from 40,000 down to 7,000 and never came back (currently it is less than 10,000 20 years later!!!)

  34. cwolf Says:

    By the time EV’s evolve enough to leave any type of footprint in the market most of us will be too old to care. So I think it is reasonable so say more efficient small engines and diesels will be the mainstay until the well runs dry. So I have pondered: What would be a more realistic power/wt. ratio fitting for the US buyer? I have a newer 4cyl. Milan for a work car. It’s NO ball of fire, but serves my long commutting driving habits well. I ask myself; is the car too heavy, eng.too small or a bit of both? With a bigger eng., mileage would suffer.Trimming weight may effect body integrity. That is unless higher quality light materials are used,like the BMW, but comes with a higher cost.
    The new Regal is another good example. Nice ride,but way to heafty and not enough ass. Is there anything in the big3′s arsenal to overcome this shortfall that is economically feasible?

    Rick: Do you need a car that can go 0-60 in 6sec. or can fly around cones and corners going 70mph? As I recall, you drive 18k annually and I doubt any of these traits are utilized.Hell,Rick, my wife and I WALK that far just walkin the dog and seeing neighbors during the year! Plus, to afford these goodies, you have to buy USED.
    So I ask: What would be an ideal car, how big, and at what cost?

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    I may have found the best place to own a Volt: The village of Key Biscayne, Fl basically an island where most folks have an electric golf cart for errands around the village(not good in the rain) besides their regular vehicle (when they need to leave the island), the Volt could be the ONE vehicle they need for all duties.

  36. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Rick: Do you need a car that can go 0-60 in 6sec. or can fly around cones and corners going 70mph?”

    I assume you mean me (Nick, not Rick). I don’t really NEED it but when I enjoy it hugely, can afford it easily (in fact almost everybody can afford a $10.5k BMW 740il 1998, which can be had now for $8k or less after 5 years!), I do few un-reimbursed miles, so why not? But even if I commuted long distances, I’d still own a untra-luxury, ultra-safe (passive AND active safety) 7 series or X5 or LS430-460 or S class. Thank God for depreciation!

    ” As I recall, you drive 18k annually”

    Oh no, I drive much less than that, 5-6 k per year, of which 4k are reimbursed business miles at more than $0.5/mile, so I actually MAKE $ off the Bimmer, when there is no major repair, such as in 2009 (4 trips to DC, 4500 reimbursed miles, $2,250; gas for 4,500 miles was, at 22.5 mpg highway, and $3/gal, an insignificant $600, so profit $1650, which easily pays for insurance ($520/yr), oil change ($100) and any minor repairs

    “and I doubt any of these traits are utilized.”

    I would not roll down the highway in a stupid SMART toy when there are Suburbans and Navigators alongside. Even the 7 is not totally safe against these, so if I had a family I’d have to also buy a crossover or big SUV like the BMW X5 (hopefully the excellent diesel, but used diesels are far more expensive than gas X5s) or the Merc GL biggest SUV also diesel, if I did lots of miles. How much is my life worth? Yours? Sure more than a few measly thousand!.

    “Plus, to afford these goodies, you have to buy USED.”

    How can you resist the HUGE depreciation? I could easily afford several copies of any car new, but WHY waste my $? No matter what your budget is, as long as it is below $100k, you can do MUCH BETTER used. It is not a Q of affording it, it is a Q of not looking like a fool buying a new Fiesta for $23k when you can get a low-mile, far better looking, far more luxurious, far better performing, far better looking, 3 series 2005 model for the same or less $!

    “So I ask: What would be an ideal car, how big, and at what cost?”

    For me now? New only?

  37. Nick Stevens Says:

    # cwolf Says:
    November 2nd, 2010 at 8:04 a.. Boy!!!…it sure would be a great opportunity for GM to plunk in a small diesel. I’d buy one in a heart beat if offered around the 30k range.

    You’d pay $30k fo ra CRUZE DIESEL? I’d not pay $20k for a MALIBU diese, and the Mal is one size up!