November 15th, 2011 at 1:00pm
Consumer Reports conducted another survey asking Americans if they are in favor of higher fuel-economy standards, and guess what? Of course they are! Sales of the Fiat 500 are going slow in the American market, in fact Ward’s data shows there was a 30 percent decline in October compared to September. Ford is making some big changes to the Mustang for the 2013 model year. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in the “You Said It!” segment.
This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, November 15th and here’s what’s going on in the industry today.
LIES FOR LIARS
Consumer Reports conducted another survey asking Americans if they are in favor of higher fuel-economy standards. Well of course they are; 93 percent said so. But then come the lies. 56 percent of Americans said they WILL buy a hybrid or electric car. And 81 percent said they’d pay extra to buy one. Why do I call these lies? Because Consumer Reports has been reporting these results for years. Yet, hybrids account for 2 percent of new car sales, while gas-guzzling luxury cars and big SUVs continue to sell strong. The lesson in this is don’t believe what people tell the pollsters. Instead, watch what they actually buy.
FORD ≠ FUEL ECONOMY
Speaking of fuel economy, Ford says that two-thirds of Americans don’t believe the company has fuel-efficient vehicles. Ford’s vice president of marketing, Jim Farley, says that perceptions of fuel economy greatly affect how an automaker can price its products. He says Ford needs to boost the public’s perception of its fuel economy so it can raise prices. Even though that perception has improved, Farley says Ford has a long way to go.
FIAT’S FAILING 500
Sales of the Fiat 500 are going slow in the American market. Ward’s data shows there was a 30 percent decline in October compared to September, so Chrysler will suspend production of the 1.4-liter engine, which powers the 500, for the next two weeks. The company laid off 30 employees at its engine plant in Dundee, Michigan. Here’s the problem. Fiat kind of blew the launch. It still doesn’t have all its dealers up and running, and besides, with only one model in the showroom, not enough people are coming in to shop the brand.
Earlier this year the U.S. Treasury Department said losses from the auto bailouts would be around $14 billion. Now with a big drop in GM’s stock price, the agency has revised its estimate. The Treasury now says it expects the loss will be over $23 billion.
It’s no secret, Google is developing autonomous cars. The internet-search giant has been testing them out in California and a fleet of modified Toyota Priuses has been cruising around the Bay Area for some time now. But a curious paragraph in a New York Times article makes it sound like Google will build its own vehicles, and do it in the U.S. It makes sense for the company to update existing cars to add autonomous functionality, but to actually manufacture its own vehicles sounds absurd.
2013 FORD MUSTANG
Ford is on a roll with the Mustang. It seems a year doesn’t go by without it getting some big upgrades. The iconic ponycar was redesigned in 2010. Then, for 2011, it got a host of minor enhancements plus a brand-new powertrain lineup including a reborn 5.0-liter V-8. And Ford is at it again for 2013. The car’s styling has been reworked. It gets new technology including an information display that shows all kinds of parameters like 0 to 60 times, cornering G’s and braking performance. On GT models the five-oh gets a nice bump to 420 horsepower. Two new colors are even available – “Gotta Have It Green” and “Deep Impact Blue.” But the biggest story here is the Shelby GT500. It gets a brand-new 5.8-liter supercharged V-8 that delivers a staggering 650 horsepower with 600 foot-pounds of torque! Ford claims it’s the most powerful production V-8 engine in the world. Amazingly, it’s exempt from the gas-guzzler tax. Top speed should be more than 200 miles an hour.
Don’t forget to join us tomorrow afternoon for our LIVE coverage from the LA Auto Show. We’ll give you a walking tour of what’s being unveiled on the floor, as well as some great interviews with some of the top automotive executives attending the show. That’s tomorrow starting at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.tv.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It.
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
Motorman wonders, “Why are not the auto companies working on more natural gas power vehicles since the USA has lots of cheap natural gas?? Could it be that with a natural gas compressor in your garage to fill your car, the state and federal government would have no way of collecting road fuel tax?” Motorman, it’s up to the people to buy these vehicles and they simply are not buying them. First, it’s hard to find gas stations that serve natural gas. When I test drove a CNG Civic I discovered the closest natural gas station I could find was 20 miles away. Second, those CNG vehicles are really expensive. A CNG Civic is about $7,000 more than a base gasoline version.
Denis saw our story on how Chinese automakers seem to be following part of Mao Tse-Tung’s military strategy and says: “This is how the how the Chinese Communist central planning committee directs their corporations, in order to beat the capitalists at their own game. Ironically, the Western brands are assisting in their own demise, by their substantial transfer of capital and technology to the Chinese auto industry. This strategy is clearly outlined in Sun Tzu’s, ‘The Art of War.’” Denis, I think that automotive trade issues with China will become a major global issue later in this decade.
T. Bejma is ticked off at people putting down the Chevrolet Volt because one caught on fire. He says: “This one caught on fire 21 DAYS(!!!!) after being hit by a side impact sled!!!!” Good point. This was a crash-test car that was severely damaged, but passed the crash test and was left to linger in the bone yard, and then it caught fire. The root cause definitely needs to be uncovered, but I would not say that there is a problem with the Volt.
XA351GT is not very impressed with the new Toyota Camry. “For having 90 percent of the parts redone it doesn’t look much different than the last Camry. It’s boring, reliable and will sell by the truck load to those that only care about going point A to B.” You’re probably right, it will sell well. But will it sell as well as it did before? My guess is that Toyota is going to have a harder time holding onto that No. 1 slot with the Camry.
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And that wraps up this show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.