May 17th, 2011 at 12:00pm
German Chancellor Angela Merkel just unveiled plans to double financial aid to German automakers, with the goal of getting 1 million EVs on the country’s roads by the end of the decade. Cadillac is gearing up for the debut of its new XTS by selling off the DTS and STS models it will replace. Audi is capacity constrained right now but at least it has a sense of humor about the situation. All that and more, plus a look at the updated 2012 Honda Civic.
This is Autoline Daily for May 17, 2011. And now, the news.
SAAB SAVED . . . AGAIN
Saab was able to stay one step ahead of the bear, yet again. It managed to land a deal with Chinese company Pangda which will inject about $91 million into the company. Pangda is an automotive distributor in China that handles foreign brands including Toyota and Audi. But to put that money into perspective, I would estimate that it represents about two months of cash burn at Saab, so clearly the company will have to come up with a lot more money if it is going to survive.
MERKEL’S MILLION EV MARCH
Germany is next on the list to get a million EVs on its roads by the end of the decade. German Chancellor Angela Merkel unveiled plans to double EV financial aid for German automakers to nearly $3 billion. And unlike the U.S., which is giving EV buyers $7,500 toward the purchase of one, Merkel doesn’t favor subsidizing sales. Instead, the plan calls for eliminating a road tax for 10 years on cars that emit fewer than 50 grams of CO2 per kilometer. EV drivers will be allowed to drive in bus lanes and park and charge for free in some areas. And the plan will reform taxes to encourage companies to use EVs for their fleets.
Hyundai is red-hot right now. Like Korean barbecue, it’s sizzling! To keep things cooking, the company is investing $173 million in its Alabama plant to build engines for the compact Elantra. The facility will be able to build 600,000 engines a year, also for the Sante Fe crossover and Sonata sedan. Now these engines won’t have to be imported South Korea.
CADILLAC CLEARING WAY FOR XTS
Cadillac is gearing up for the debut of the XTS by selling off the models it will replace. According to Ward’s, the brand is looking to sell 3,000 DTS models it still has on dealer lots along with 900 STS units before the XTS goes on sale next year. The STS sells about 200 units a month and the DTS ranges from 800 to 1000 a month. Production for the STS ended last month and DTS production could come to a halt in the next three to four weeks. The company isn’t concerned if it runs out of STS and DTS models before the XTS goes on sale because of strong sales from the other models in its lineup.
SURVEY SAYS . . .
The Consumer Federation of America released the results of a survey yesterday, where it found that Americans overwhelmingly support higher fuel economy standards of 60 miles per gallon, which is 3.9 liters per 100 kilometers. Of course, consumer and environmental groups often release polls showing that Americans want better fuel economy. Who doesn’t? But if Americans truly want better fuel economy, how come hybrids account for less than 3 percent of car sales? How come they still buy big trucks and big SUVs in big numbers? I’ll tell you why. Because what Americans tell the pollsters and what they go out and do in the real world are often two different things. If you really want to know what Americans think, don’t pay attention to what they tell the pollsters, instead, watch what they spend their money on.
It’s no secret Audi is capacity constrained. It is THE luxury car-brand to own right now. And even with its factories working overtime it just can’t build enough vehicles to meet demand. Interestingly, the company is being a good sport about it. It’s actually poking fun at the situation in its latest commercial, which we found in a post on Autoblog.
That’s a great spot. I wish all advertising were this much fun. Unfortunately though, buyers are waiting months for custom-built Audis and the company is sitting on just a 27-day supply of cars! For a little perspective 60 is ideal.
Coming up next, a look at the 2012 Honda Civic, we’ll be back right after this.
2012 HONDA CIVIC
Honda just came out with a redesign of the Civic, and here’s Seamus McElroy reporting on some of the highlights about the car.
Rounding out the lineup is the performance Si model and a new natural gas version, which drops the GX name and will just be called the Civic Natural Gas.
Under the hood, the sedan and coupe feature an updated 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine which can be mated to a five-speed manual or automatic transmission. Even though it’s the same setup as before, fuel economy is better thanks to improvements. The HF model, which stands for High Fuel Economy, uses the same powertrain as the standard model but is able to eke out a couple extra MPGs thanks to aerodynamic improvements. The Si gets a new 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder that comes with a six-speed manual. And the hybrid gets a larger engine, a 1.5-liter up from a 1.3 and uses a lithium-ion battery instead of a nickel-metal hydride one. It too gets better fuel mileage than before.
The styling is pretty similar to the previous model. The front end has been tweaked and the hood has a couple of character lines running along it unlike before.
Inside there is more cargo and seating area even though it’s got pretty much the same dimensions. Like the previous model, the Civic features a two-tier instrument panel but new for 2012 is what Honda calls its Intelligent Multi Information Display or i-MID for short. It shows audio information, Bluethooth info, and turn by turn navigation directions. i-MID also helps the driver get better fuel economy.
And to further improve fuel economy all Civics – except for the Si – are available with ECON mode which changes the dynamics of the vehicle to operate more efficiently.
Thanks for that report, Seamus. The sedan, coupe, HF and hybrid models are available now. The Si will be available later this month and the Natural Gas version doesn’t go on sale until fall. However, Honda says there will be limited production for the next few months due to the disaster in Japan. Starting prices for the Civic begin at just over $16,000 and go up to $25,000 depending on the model.
If you missed last week’s special edition of Autoline After Hours with Margery Krevsky and her top-notch troupe of product specialists, make sure you head over to the John’s Journal section of AutolineDetroit.TV. By the way, she left us with a stack of books to give away. Watch our Facebook and Twitter pages for details on how to win a copy of “Sirens of Chrome”
And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.