October 24th, 2011 at 11:35am
Car sales continue to be one of the few bright spots in the American economy and the October SAAR is looking up. Rolls-Royce is expanding its global footprint with plans to open dealerships in Brazil and Chile next year. Google has set a goal of hitting 1 million miles with its autonomous cars. All that and more, plus a look at how ZF is making it easy for automakers to electrify vehicles.
This is Autoline Daily for October 24, 2011, with news pouring in from all over the world.
STAR-SPANGLED SAAR (subscription required)
We start in the United States. While economic problems continue to dominate the headlines, car sales continue to be one of the few bright spots in the American economy. Ward’s reports that the October SAAR, or seasonally adjusted annual selling rate, could come in at 13.6 million units. That would be up 15 percent over a year ago, mainly thanks to Toyota and Honda getting back to normal levels of production. Ward’s predicts both companies will make significant gains in market share. It says the total market will be down somewhat compared to September, but that normally happens, and the month-over-month decline will be smaller than in the past.
CUTTING THE (MOO SHU) PORK SPENDING
And now to China where there’s bad news for Volkswagen and Audi. The government is about to introduce new regulations that will essentially prohibit government officials from driving foreign-brand cars. Today, VW and Audi dominate that market. Not only is the government banning foreign-brand cars for government officials, it’s limiting what they can buy. Right now they can spend up to $39,000 on a car with a 2.0-liter engine. Going forward they can only spend $28,000 on a car with a maximum of a 1.8-liter engine. It’s all aimed at boosting sales of cars from Chinese companies.
PLATES COST AS MUCH AS A CAR
Speaking of China, the price of a set of license plates in the city of Shanghai has hit an average of almost $8,500. The city issued 9,000 license plates last month, but 19,000 people applied for them. Get this people, that’s nearly a billion dollars a year in license-plate fees, and that’s in just one city!
ROLLERS IN RIO
Now to the southern hemisphere where Rolls-Royce is expanding its global footprint. The super-luxury brand just announced plans to enter South America, marking the first time in history that its cars will officially be available on the continent. The fast-growing markets of Brazil and Chile are its main focus.
LOOK MA, NO HANDS!
Back to the States for a moment, where Google has set a goal of hitting 1 million miles with its autonomous cars. So far they’ve been driving in cities, on country roads, on expressways and have also done all this at night. And they’ve done all this with the cars driving themselves with no human input. Progress marches on.
TANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
And now we end up in North Africa. Libyan rebels won a great victory against Muammar Gaddafi and his oppressive regime. Rag-tag freedom fighters battled government forces with whatever weapons they could scrounge up – or make. The Telegraph reports industrious insurgents constructed a battle tank! This Conestoga wagon-like vehicle is built on top of a bulldozer and features double-thick steel armor reinforced with concrete. Painted in the colors of Libya’s new flag and emblazoned with Arabic script praising God, the armored earth-mover bristles with five machine guns and a tank cannon on top. It was designed to take out sniper positions on rooftops.
Coming up next, some of the technological progress being made on developing electric cars.
Converting vehicles to become electrically powered can be easier than most people might think, especially if all you have to do is convert the rear axle. ZF recently unveiled its latest contribution to the cause. Take a look.
And that wraps up this report on the latest news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.