November 21st, 2011 at 12:00pm
Car sales in China have been slowing all year and now the drop in sales is even hitting the luxury segment. But even with the slow down, China is still the biggest market in the world and that’s why Ford just announced plans to introduce 20 new engines and transmissions in the country. GM is considering a simple midsize work truck for the U.S. All that and more, plus a look at how Chevy makes the ZL1 Camaro slice through the wind.
This is Autoline Daily for November 21, and there sure is a lot going on in the news.
CAR SALES SLOW DOWN IN CHINA
We’ve been reporting for some time that car sales are slowing in China. They’re still up 6 percent this year, which most countries would love to see, but that’s down considerably from China’s formerly torrid pace. Next year, analysts and executives say sales will slow more due to the end of some incentives and tighter credit control. But here’s where the real news is. The drop in sales is even hitting the luxury segment. Gasgoo reports that luxury sales have been slowing since September. In Shanghai, which is a bellwether for the rest of the country, registrations were down over 40 percent in October compared to September. Beijing also saw a similar decrease. The drop in luxury sales is attributed to small private businesses falling on harder times.
FORD INTRODUCES NEW POWERTRAINS IN CHINA
But even if it’s slowing down, China is still the biggest market in the world and that’s a key reason why Ford just announced plans to introduce 20 new engines and transmissions in China by 2015. The technology, which includes EcoBoost, will end up in 15 new vehicles. Direct injection, twin-independent variable camshaft timing and dual-clutch transmissions are also on the menu. Add it all up, and these advancements should deliver around a 20 percent improvement in fuel efficiency.
GM CONSIDERS MID-SIZE TRUCK FOR U.S. (subscription required)
And yet, while Ford is giving up on selling its Ranger midsize pickup in the American market, GM believes it can make a business case for that segment. Ward’s reports that GM sees a need for a simple midsize pickup that offers the best 10-year cost of ownership in the segment. It quotes Mark Reuss as saying GM would offer a truck with a smaller engine, perhaps with e-assist and maybe one that could run on alternate fuels. The idea is to come out with a work truck and that’s why Reuss says they would not go after the Toyota Tacoma, which offers lots of accessories and is a life-style oriented truck.
CAR SALES PICK UP IN U.S. (subscription required)
While sales are slowing down in China, they’re gaining momentum in the US. Last week we reported that GM’s sales chief in the U.S. expects this month’s selling rate to come in around 14 million units, including medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Now Ward’s says, the November’s sales rate for light-passenger vehicles could hit a 13.7 million SAAR. That does not include the heavies. Automakers in the U.S. are expected to sell 1 million vehicles this month, which is over a 10 percent increase compared to last year. More inventory, more fleet sales and year-end incentives should help the SAAR reach its highest total since cash-for-clunkers.
FORMER GM CHAIRMAN PASSES AWAY
Former General Motors chairman John Smale passed away at the age of 84. He was also the former chairman of Proctor & Gamble and was the one who pushed GM to adopt brand marketing to sell its cars much like P&G sells consumer products. Under this strategy, GM unleashed a myriad of models, aiming for every conceivable consumer segment. But it turned out not even General Motors could afford to tool up and properly advertize so many models from so many brands, and it was one of the many strategies that ultimately forced General Motors into bankruptcy.
SUZUKI SEEKS TO END VW PARTNERSHIP
The spat between Volkswagen and Suzuki is only getting worse. Some reports say that Suzuki has terminated its two-year relationship with VW, but VW is having none of it. According to Bloomberg, Volkswagen won’t sell its shares in Suzuki! It owns about 20 percent of the company. Martin Winterkorn, Vee Dub’s CEO, is quoted as saying they’re in it for the long haul and will merely wait until a new generation of Suzuki management takes the reins because maybe they will want to cooperate. German stubbornness at its best!
Coming up next, a look at how Chevy makes the ZL1 Camaro slice through the wind.
CAMARO ZL1 AERODYNAMICS
Horsepower is one way to get a car to go faster. But if you can make a car more aerodynamic you can do the same thing. The trick is to make it do that and stick to the road. Here’s what GM did with the aerodynamics of the Camaro ZL1.
I think aerodynamics will become even more important later this decade as automakers struggle to meet fuel-economy standards. And I think there’s a lot more that can be achieved with active aero, where parts of the body adapt to the aerodynamic load.
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And that wraps up today’s show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.