Episode 795 – 2012 Sales Forecast, Dodge Charger Redline, Land Speed Record Attempt

January 3rd, 2012 at 12:04pm

Runtime: 10:01

The Polk company says worldwide car sales could hit 77.7 million units in 2012, about a 7 percent gain compared to 2011. Mopar is set to unveil a couple of new packages at the Detroit Auto Show next week. A man in Southern California is looking to shatter the current land speed record of 763 miles an hour, by hitting 2,000 MPH! All that and more, plus John McElroy and two of his fellow NACTOY jurors predict which of the three Car of the Year finalists will win the award.

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This is the first Autoline Daily for the year, 2012. Gee, it’s great to be back, and here’s how the automotive industry is getting back up to speed after ending last year.

You know, even though the final sales results for 2011 are still being tallied, that isn’t stopping forecasters from predicting car sales for this year. The Polk company says worldwide sales could hit 77.7 million units in 2012, about a 7 percent gain compared to 2011. Analysts say all regions will see sales gains except for Europe because of the debt crisis there.

Mopar is unveiling a couple of new packages at the Detroit Auto Show next week. The Dodge Charger Redline offers three levels of upgrades. Stage one includes carbon-fiber aerodynamic bits, including a front splitter and rear spoiler. It also gets door scoops reminiscent of the 1970 Charger. Stage two includes a cross brace and a cat-back exhaust system, meaning new from the catalytic converter on back. It also gets new brake linings. Stage three includes a 426 Hemi that cranks out 590 horsepower. But that’s a crate engine intended only for the race track. Wink, wink, don’t drive it on the street, people!

Mopar is also spiffing up the Chrysler 200, with a version called the Super S. Stage one includes a chin and rear deck spoiler, a new grille, side sills and black chrome badges, to name a few. Stage two includes a coil-over suspension that lowers the car, a cold-air intake and a new cat-back exhaust system for less back pressure and a better sound.

Auto shows are all about cars, hence the name – AUTO SHOW. But toolmaker Craftsman will participate at next week’s NAIAS in Detroit. No, it’s not revealing a new line of wrenches or sockets, nope. It’s taking the wraps off its latest premium lawn tractors. Look for the CTX Series along with the latest Ford Fusion, Dodge Dart and BMW 3 Series. These “cutting-edge” mowers go on sale next month and are priced anywhere from $3,000 to $6,500. Look for them in the lobby area of COBO Hall. This is a fascinating move. I’ve never heard of a tractor being revealed at an auto show before!

In an effort to expand its business in growing markets, French auto supplier Valeo just acquired an 80 percent stake in Chinese automaker Chery’s lighting unit. The joint venture will design, manufacture and sell lighting products mainly for Chery vehicles in China. And I think that will be an on-going trend, of established suppliers buying business in China, by buying Chinese suppliers.

How fast is fast? Well, at the end of the 19th century it was nearly 70 miles an hour! That honor goes to a bullet-shaped, battery-powered carriage from France. A few years later Henry Ford’s “999” racer clocked-in at almost 92 MPH. Today’s land speed record stands at about 763 miles an hour. FAST, but not fast enough. According to Popular Mechanics magazine, a man in Southern California is looking to SHATTER that score by hitting 2,000 MPH! Waldo Stakes is building a rocket-powered car called the “Sonic Wind Land Speed Research Vehicle.” Piston power won’t do the job, neither will jet engines. His motor of choice is a Redstone rocket, the same system used during the Apollo program. No doubt about it, this is a bat-poop crazy idea, and all I can say is good luck and wear your seatbelt.

Hey, who is going to win the North American Car of the Year Award next week? We have three predictions coming right up.

The North American Car of the Year will be announced next week. And that’s the topic on Autoline This Week. I asked Drew Winter of WardsAuto World and Lindsay Brooke from Automotive Engineering International to give me their predictions. Here’s what they had to say.

On tomorrow’s show, we’ll get into out predictions for the North American Truck of the Year award.

Be sure to join us tonight for Open Line with host Michelle Naranjo and company. The panel will talk with Rebecca Lindland from IHS Automotive about what to expect for 2012. Hop online or call in to ask your questions. Everything kicks off at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 5:00 p.m. Pacific at Autoline.tv.  The number to call is 1-712-432-0900 and the PIN to get in is 911633.

And then, don’t forget to join us Thursday night for Autoline After Hours. We’ll have Bill Perkins the chairman of this year’s Detroit Auto Show and Rob Alberts from the Detroit Auto Dealers Association talking about all the changes they’re making for this year’s show. So join me and the Auto Extremist, Peter De Lorenzo for the best insider information of what’s going on in this business.

Well, that wraps up this show. It’s great to be back with you for the New Year. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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

60 Comments to “Episode 795 – 2012 Sales Forecast, Dodge Charger Redline, Land Speed Record Attempt”

  1. LS ford Says:

    Yep I agree with the micro car comment. Similar to my comments a few weeks ago, why buy a little fiat when I can get twice the car and the same MPG from any other car line. Smart? Made no sense to me….

  2. Tony Gray Says:

    NACTOY? A play on words or does that mean North American Car/Truck of (the) Year?

  3. Autos101 Says:

    I have a name for that rocket car that this fool wants to drive at 2,000 miles an hour ON LAND (!)

    The “Death Wish”.

    PS May I also ask this fool to buy $1 billion insurance on his carcass the day before the race, in MY name? I will gladly pay the one-day premium.

  4. Autos101 Says:

    #1. Exactly. I agree wqith LS Ford, but I disagree with the show hosts when they pontificated that $5-6 gas will cure these little POS. WHY would it? There are cars TWICE their size and weight that get far better MPG!!!!

  5. HtG Says:

    this guy’s only hope for survival is that he can’t get the thing lit.

  6. Mike Says:

    Just a random comment not related to today’s Autoline: I was in Detroit over the holidays. Things are definitely looking up. They are even building new houses in some areas like Saline. It has been a long dark winter this last 3 years, but now it is very nice to see signs of life in Motown. I hear that the remaining tool and dies shops, and plastic molders, are very busy. I saw a recent prediction of 190K new jobs coming to Mich. This is good news for everyone.

    One of the beneficiaries here is the UAW. That business of working 7 days, 12 hours was not good for the people. We’ve all heard “UAW” stories; maybe some of it was just overwork under difficult conditions. No I do not want a job putting wheels on cars.

    I also see products that would have been tooled in China a couple of years ago getting tooled here. IMHO it was never really cheaper to go to China. Poor accounting failed to recognize the logistics costs, the poor quality material supply and the difficulty of managing that long a pipeline.


  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I wouldn’t have thought there would still be any Redstone rockets around. Actually, they were from before the Apollo project, and were used for the first U.S. manned flights, the Mercury program.

    Redstone rockets had an automotive connection; they were made by Chrysler.

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Won’t the insurance policy cost $1 billion?

  9. HtG Says:

    #8 1 billion, plus the Pedro’s broker fee.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    I ain’t no broker, I’m just broke! I like the comment about VW not caring about the purists since they want the Toyota/Honda buyers, well they ain’t gonna get them and they’re gonna lose the “purist” to boot, so there: a brilliant marketing plan, if I ever saw one!

  11. tj Martin Says:


    Well folks I’s back a bit earlier than expected , fully recovered and well ……..

    I’ve come to a conclusion when it comes to the Automotive Business from both sides of the Pond and that is….. SSDD Point blank

    The big three continue to try an sell us garbage in the guise of economical cars

    Some idiot is always trying to do a DeLorean , shoving some new ” Save the World ” technology that neither works , sells ( without government subsidies ) or in fact solves a single damn problem while causing more than it pretends to solve

    There’s always a raft of Fools/Early Adapters that’ll rush to buy the Techno junk without ever considering the consequences

    There’s always some pretentious Big Gun ( VW this time around ) that’s convinced its invincible , trying to be the biggest and the baddest , when in fact they’ll get swallowed up by their own excessive goals

    Marchionne’s & Bahar’s are in truth a dime a dozen

    American car companies continue to put out trash , the Japanese with the exception of a hiccup or two maintain quality , the Germans , with the exception of VW continue to build the class of the field , the Brits/French continue to toss out slick looking garbage that in fact does not work , and the Koreans keep throwing out their Xeroxed versions of everyone else’s cars without either the quality or reliability of what it is they’re copying

    There’s always some clueless Vapor Ware expert on each and every site that wouldn’t know a fact if it smacked him/her over the head

    SSDD and in fact I’ve tired of it all and there’s better things to waste my time on

    And anyway career calls . LOUDLY !

    So its Hasta la bye bye to ALL the Automotive news sites for 2012 , along with those folks I’ve gotten to know over the years .

    Enough is enough . Basta !

    My final advice that I’ve come home from CH with from the Grey Phantoms I’ve been hanging with is … in plain English ;

    Financially … THE WORST IS YET TO COME

    You can take that one to the Bank .

    Arreviderci ! TJ has left the building 8)

    ( HtG / pedro / cwolf etc . Stay safe mien freunds . And do DUCK ! Financially speaking that is )


    @ Mike

    And what planet are you living on pray tell ? The latest from Detroit is in fact even more home abandonments/ repo’s . Anything being built are from old contracts being fullfilled but with zero new sales . And no new jobs to speak of .

    NONE !

    Detroit is in fact , from a financial perspective , closer to DOA than New Orleans

    Sad but true :(

  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Sonic brake-less story did not make the webcast today, not important??, or what’s the story??, I saw my first Sonic today, I steered clear of it, just in case.

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    Vibrolla almost left me stranded today, limped my way to mechanic who discovered water got into the wires and plugs from the windshield washer fluid hose that had broken and squirted water all over the place, except the windshield. Cars, don’t we just love them?

  14. W L Simpson Says:

    Rockets are for space, jets are for flying , land speed should be WHEEL driven.
    Waldo Stakes is going to be DOA

  15. MJB Says:

    VW seems to have garnered the accolades and respect of all you guys (Johnny Mac), but MY GOODNESS, what AWFULLY BLAND STYLING that thing exhibits!!

    If no one else will step up to the bullhorn and say it, I certainly will. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a single Accord or Camry that looks as bland as that new Passat.

    Where’s the ‘love’ VW?

    Oh, I know. I think it was John who said it, “VW has created a true American car here” (or something to that effect.

    Yep… They sure have. Because we all know that American’s are just plain SUCKERS for boring, middle-of-the-road styling as long as it’s wrapped around safety, reliability and great gas mileage.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I agree 1000 per cent.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC reports that the upcoming Lexus ES will be the quietest car in the class by a wide margin, beating out the current champ Buick Lacrosse, I guess quiet in “in”, will someone tell Honda.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Where in the middle of all that debris field is Waldo? will be a series of new children’s books for the macabre child in the family.

  19. MJB Says:

    @#14 – YES +1

    Is it just me, or does anybody else think that non-wheel driven land-speed record attempts are akin to professional atheletes who use roids?

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    AP story about woman suing Honda for her underachieving Civic hybrid, not only mpg were far less than advertised, the battery went kaputz prematurely as well, I have met 2 clients with Civic hybrids whose battery also came to an early end, unlike the Prius which rarely has any such issues.

  21. HtG Says:

    So long, tj Martin. Be sure to post something if your grapevine produces more of the good stuff.

    MJB, have you seen the Passat on the road? I agree it doesn’t photograph well, but the one I saw benefits from all the long creases in the body work. The interior is smart, too, I think.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    TJ you really don’t mean that, do you? at least do an Andy Rooney once in a while, will ya?

  23. HtG Says:

    land speed record. I can argue in favor of jet and rocket power on two grounds. People have been trying it for forty years, and the current record comes from a jet car. And going so fast entails car like problems of keeping a powerful vehicle stuck to the ground using aero and steering.

    But really, I think it’s silly to try to go so fast in the thick air at the earth surface. Where’d this guy get the number 2000mph? Jets fly high up for a reason.

  24. Cozy200 Says:

    John, Speaking of MPG’s, did you report in one show that the EPA test cars with 100% gasoline and the rest of us chumps get to use E-85 or E-10? no wonder nobody is getting the window stick numbers! thanks Cozy

  25. Chuck Grenci Says:

    While it can be probably said that the Passat’s design is not ground breaking, one ‘could’ argue that the design is ‘handsome’; when you are building a vehicle (for the masses) you tend not to want to offend, and VW has achieved this. They (VW) are going to sell a bunch of Passats (not to me, mind you) but I predict a winner for V-dub. And probably the NACTOY winner as well.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    Hyundai has sold a bunch of new Sonatas despite its take it or leave styling, it’s also the value and reliability that has allowed that car do so well.

  27. MJB Says:


    Nope, HtG, I have not yet ‘noticed’ one on the road. Though I am absolutely certain that I have been in the presence of and even ‘seen’ plenty of them over the past year.

    It’s just not at all an attractive, pleasing, nor handsome design to me. And especially not in that boring silver that VW loves showing off all their cars in. The front facia and grille of that car alone put my to sleep. Can a car be more bland?

    Sorry, but that’s just my take. Different strokes for different folks.

    And I get that there may be a bit more detail that images don’t pick up on. Stuff I’d need to see in person to really “get it”. But I’m going to go on a limb here and say that there’s no amount of body panel creases and in-person nuances that could transform this cars design from un-inspiring to interesting for me.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Will this rocket powered vehicle roll on wheels? I’d think tires would do funny things at Mach 3.

    The FIA have a bunch of different classes for land speed records, but, to me, the one that counts is the class for wheel-driven cars with piston engines. The current such record is about 416 mph for a supercharged car. The naturally aspirated record is only about 1.5 mph slower.

    A wheel-driven, turbine powered car has gone 470 mph.

  29. Autos101 Says:

    “Kit Gerhart Says:
    January 3rd, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    Won’t the insurance policy cost $1 billion?”

    NO!!!! The amount I RECEIVE will be $1 billion (minus Pedro’s fees, of course), BUT, if you read my post carefully, i ask to start the policy one day before the try, so I will only have to pay one day’s premium. How much would it be?

    And if I have to pay for six months, (a bigger problem!) like in my auto insurance, I’ll get the 179 days back as a REFUND, right?

  30. Autos101 Says:

    The PASSAT has EXCELLENT Styling, NO-Nonsense, NOT ugly like Subaru or even the most recent CAMRY or even the Accord from some angles. For serious adults, not junior high driver wannabes who might prefer the Sonata-ELantra school of flames..lol

    ALSO, it is not cheap inside, you may be thinking about the new Jetta…LOL

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    After following so soon after the “Americanized” Jetta, I expected to Passat to be disappointing, but I was pleasantly surprised. To me, even the base Passat has a decent interior, though I’m not as particular as a lot of people, as long as the seats are comfortable for me.

  32. HtG Says:

    Agree, Kit. My own luxury scalar was quite satisfied by what I saw. And the owner I talked to yesterday was very happy with the 19K he paid, not wanting to take the higher level of trim to get the diesel. It was a light gold car.

    wheels at speed. I heard a story from Vic Elford about testing the Porsche 917, wherein the car wasn’t going as fast as the engineers had calculated. What they found was that at high speeds the tires were expanding a couple more millimeters than they had expected, thus increasing frontal area. Are you telling me this guy Stakes knows what’s going to happen at zoom factor zebra?

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    The first and second gen Passat have remained fresh looking despite all the years gone by, ditto for Acura Legend an others so-called bland designs, while the Hyundai “flowing” design is wearing thin already.

  34. HtG Says:

    33 I can’t take the Sonata or Elantra anymore. Those creases look like puff pastry before Trump eats it.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    nyuk, nyuk, nyuk. that is what happens when you create a “looks like it’s moving when it’s standing” design.

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    Autos 101 from yesterday’s question, these street legal golf carts don’t come cheap, I’ve seen them used for almost $10k for a regular 4 seater and up to the 20′s+ for a three row, family hauler. I think I’d stick with a car.

  37. cwolf Says:

    I would have never guessed that McElroy would have picked the Elantra!(pun)

    I heard on the BBC their predictions of annual car sales. They state about a 7% gain and a large portion from the US. In their predictions,they also included China with Europe in the sales down-swing. I guess someone thinks we’ll be replacing alot of our 10-13 yr old cars!

    To hedge the bet on the rocket man,besides wanting in one the insurance policy,is to include a demand for royalties,if the guy survives,for referencing Auto101 in the name of Waldo’s car:”The Sonic Wind…!” Just thinking of your best interests Auto,Bob,Thor.

  38. GPL Says:

    The creases on the recent Hyundais remind me, especially when viewed from the rear 3/4 view, of the “muffin top” of a chubby girl from her too-tight fitting low-rise jeans.

  39. cwolf Says:

    @ T.Bejma: If you look in.

    I read your yesterdays post and found your honesty and sincerity about the Volt refreshing and with a positive whisp,for a change. I am also seeing the result of the Sonic packaging snafu at my work place. I noticed a couple engrs. re-examining the containers,from Mexico,holding the partial spindle assemblies for GM. All is well! Knowing you work on the supplier side,what are your thoughts of the hubs and spindles you recieve from the Sandusky supplier?

  40. Tom Says:

    Not 2000 MPH, but, the great Craig Breedlove is back in the game! He is planning on trying for 800 MPH on the 50th anniversary of his breaking of the 400 MPH mark. That was in 1963, so, the attempt will be in 2013.


  41. cwolf Says:

    Once again I heard that Hyundai is intensionally slowing its output to focus on Quality. This has to be a monumental undertaking on Hyundai’s behalf because quality is something that cannot be copied!!

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    #41 That’s right, just ask VW chief Winterkorn if his superior Nazi descendant engineers have been able to match the Koreans in the quality dept?

  43. cwolf Says:

    #42 I don’t think VW believes they have a quality problem and that in itself is a problem.
    The Hyundai situation brings back a memory from grade school. If the teacher caught another pupil copying,they would be reprimanded,given a zero,and/or was told to do it over again. I guess in buisiness,it’s considered “good buisiness” as long as it is profitable. You can bet your boots that what ever was copied isn’t near as good as what was copied from! Perhaps my ol’school morals are a thing of the past,but not to me. And from my perspective, Hyundai gets a big fat zero!!

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    Cwolf did you catch the video of Winterkorn praising the Hyundai at the car show for its effortless, quiet adjustable steering wheel mechanism?

  45. cwolf Says:

    I did. I thought it wierd that something seemingly so simple could stump all the great German engrs of VW! Maybe they went out to lunch with those Chry fellas that day.

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    As far as the silently adjusting steering wheel, that is something that falls in the “who cares” category with me.

    If it rattles while I’m driving the car, that is different, but if there is some sound when I adjust it, as with both my MINI and my Prius, I don’t really care. Of course, I guess I’m not picky about some things. I didn’t mind the hard plastic door panels of my Malibu Maxx, but a lot of people harp on such things.

  47. Alex Kovnat Says:

    Re the Mach 3 land speed record proposal:

    > His motor of choice is a Redstone rocket,
    > the same system used during the Apollo
    > program.

    The Redstone rocket was NOT used for the Apollo project. It was however, the “candle” that when lit, propelled the late Alan Shepard 115 miles into space on America’s first space flight on May 5, 1961.

  48. Holt63 Says:

    Does anyone think GM is going to let Dodge get away with the use of “Redline” in a model name? Remember, this was used to identify a sport trim level on multiple vehicles in the now gone Saturn brand. You know how these companies get?!?!

  49. XA351GT Says:

    I agree with the comment that even $5-6 @ gallon won’t put people into a small car if it doesn’t deliver BIG MPGs . Why buy a Smart, 500 or IQ when the Cruze,Focus,and other much bigger cars do as well or even better . It makes absolutely zero sense.

    Had to love the irony , today on my local news they said that for the 1st time ever the US EXPORTED more refined fuels(gasoline and Diesel) than it imported. Yet when I drove past a Sunoco station this morning it was 5 cents higher than saturday and 3 more cents up 12 hours later on the way home. How the hell does this make any sense at all except that the oil companies are ready to rape the consumers again.I know the standard answer is instability in the middle east. Well here is the rub with that Sunoco supposedly doesn’t get any of it’s oil from the Mid -East. To me it’s just another example of the oil companies manipulating the prices to maximize profits knowing that no matter how much we bitch we are helpless to do anything about it.

  50. XA351GT Says:

    John had better pick the Hyundai , they may decide to take their advertising dollars elsewhere.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Also Gus Grissom on the second Mercury flight.

    The Redstone was made by Chrysler.

  52. T. Bejma Says:


    Thanks cwolf, glad you got see those, for a while they were “Pending Moderator Review” or something like that, when they used to go straight to published. Looks like John Mc was not kidding about keeping things more civil around here and monitoring posts. Good thing tj is leaving ;-)

    As I said, chassis isn’t my commodity so I don’t know much about any particular supplier. I think that it is good that there is a second look at packaging based on the Sonic issue though, always good to spread the knowledge.

    I have to chime in about the Passat. All I see on here is how great the diesel is (which it sounds like it is), how cheap it is (which it is), how tasteful the interior is (which I don’t agree with, but I hate plain German interiors), how good the exterior looks (I like the CC MUCH better), but no one ever talks about how it drives. I can tell you this, all of the money they shaved was all in ride and handling! I wanted to like it, but when I side by side tested it at Milford Proving Grounds against it’s competition, it fell on it’s face! Its not a nice firm European ride you expect from a German automaker. It IS a mushy, but still uncomfortable cheap feeling ride. I don’t see how anyone here that calls themselves an enthusiast can sing the praises of a vehicle that doesn’t even ride well… Isn’t that why we drive? I know it is for me. Mileage and value be damned!!!

  53. HtG Says:

    51 Agreed, TB. When I spoke to a dealer last year about the Jetta, he told me that the lower grade suspension was something that would be evident only at the limit. It was like he was trained for the question, and I guess most people don’t care. But I still fondly remember the Golf I blasted on the highway a decade ago; one nice chassis.

  54. HtG Says:

    John McElroy said on Openline that he picked the Elantra for NACTOY. For truck he didn’t take the Evoque or CRV, but I can’t recall the other choice.

  55. Kit Gerhart Says:


  56. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit #43 if the VW chief thought it was important, he knows about the business a bit more than we do, I suppose that it’s an insignificant issue but peraphs engineers have been trying to fix it for a long time and have not been able.

  57. Autos101 Says:

    Dec sales are in this morning

    Chrysler Corp and VW up HUGE (37% and 36% or so)

    Ford up about 10%, GM 5%

  58. pedro fernandez Says:

    That is just unbelievable, specially the Chrysler news, what do people see in that line-up, except for the Jeep Cherokee and the 300, I see nothing worthwhile there!

  59. Autos101 Says:

    Pedro: It is not due to the failed Fiat 500 for sure, but it is also not just the excellent 300 and all the Jeeps, the new Durango is also much better than the awful old one.

  60. pedro fernandez Says:

    I just don’t see many new Durangos around here, I see a lot of 200′s because of the rental car business.