Episode 43 – White House Readies Bridge Loan, First Look: BMW Z4, BYD Beats Everyone With Plug-In

December 15th, 2008 at 12:00pm

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The White House readies a bridge loan for the Big Three but final details are still being hammered out. The first look at the restyled BMW Z4 that features two inline-six engines. BYD from China beats everyone to the market with a plug-in hybrid that can travel over 60 miles on electric power. All that and more, plus a look at new valve technology from Audi.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. The White House readies a bridge loan for the Big Three. The first look at the BMW Z4. And BYD from China beats everyone to the market with a plug-in hybrid.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, December 15, 2008. And now, the news.

Detroit’s automakers are sitting on pins and needles as they await word from the White House on getting a bridge loan. While the Bush Administration says help will be forthcoming, nothing has happened yet. Maybe maƱana. The delay indicates there’s some heavy-duty horse trading going on amongst all the parties involved. So look for a complete package of concessions on the part of creditors, dealers, shareholders and the UAW before they get any money.

Too bad the Big Three aren’t located in another country. They might be able to get some help more easily. The Chinese government will spend $2.2 billion to subsidize loans to its automotive industry. The Canadian government and the province of Ontario may offer as much as $2.8 billion U.S. dollars in aid. And French auto suppliers are pushing to delay paying their social security obligations (subscription required) for the next six months.

BMW released several video clips of its 2010 Z4 roadster ahead of the car’s debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January. The new model has been restyled, it features two flavors of inline-six: a 255 horsepower version, and the 300 horsepower twin turbo. A six-speed manual transmission is available with either engine, while a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic is offered with the turbo.

German magazine, Autobild unveiled the first images of Mercedes-Benz’s first electric car, called the BlueZERO. According to Autobild, the BlueZERO will be a B-Class model and production will start in 2010. Batteries for the BlueZERO will be stored in an undercarriage to free up trunk space. The concept will be showcased next month at the Detroit auto show.

In a development worth watching, Chinese company BYD beat everyone to the market with the first mass-produced plug-in electric hybrid vehicle called the F3DM. The hybrid is capable of traveling 62 miles on electric power and the batteries can be recharged by plugging into any 220 volt outlet. The car costs just over $21,000 and will make its way to the U.S. in 2010. By the way, billionaire investor Warren buffet is a big investor in BYD, which is a major battery producer.

Coming up in our feature story we’ll look at new valve technology from Audi that makes more power and uses less fuel.

One way to make a gasoline engine more efficient is to adjust how far the valves open. Variable lift systems like Honda’s VTEC have been around for years.

But now Audi has jumped on the bandwagon with its new Valvelift System. Just like VTEC, it has two separate lifts for the intake valves — a low one for slow engine speeds, and a higher one for top-end power.

At low RPM Audi’s system staggers how far the valves open. One intake valve per cylinder opens a little bit further than the other. This causes the air-fuel mixture to tumble which results in better combustion. At high RPM both intake valves open much further for freer breathing. This helps create more power.

To work, the system has a few unique parts, like special sleeved camshafts and electric actuator pins. The cam lobes are machined into the sleeves which are keyed to the cams, but slide along them. When one of the pins is extended, it fits into a spiral groove on the sleeve. As the cam rotates the sleeve slides to one side. This changes which lobe is actuating the valves. Compared to other systems, Valvelift is simpler and more compact.

Along with more power, Audi also claims this system can reduce fuel consumption by up to seven percent. So far it’s being used on two of the company’s V6 engines.

Before we go, I want to remind you that we’ll be doing a live webcast today at AutolineDaily.com. I’ll be talking about the Big Three bailout with John Neff from Autoblog, Chris Paukert from Winding Road, and Mike Dushane from CarandDriver.com. We’ll be able to take your questions, so check it out at 1:00 p.m. eastern standard time, or 1800 Coordinated Universal Time.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget, you can get podcasts, transcripts and a whole lot more on our website, AutolineDaily.com. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

9 Comments to “Episode 43 – White House Readies Bridge Loan, First Look: BMW Z4, BYD Beats Everyone With Plug-In”

  1. Chuck Says:

    So, what was the answer to the trivia contest? And the winner? Inquiring minds want to know.

  2. Bill Schultz Says:

    1914 Alpha Romeo Castagna

  3. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Wow that Chinese car looks exactly like a Corolla! But it smells like an eletric Yugo.

  4. John Says:

    BYD in the U.S. in 2010 ?

    I thought the Chinese cars could not pass the U.S. safety and crash test standards.

    Those details are not mentioned.


    The words “crash”, “safety”, and “impact” are not included.

  5. jeff mohr Says:

    Again the issue may come down to efficiency gains for federal money, the chrysler tpm(total production maintenance) system if followed would have given this company equivilant operational efficiency with a minimum 30% less manpower across the board – they never followed the very system they empowered about 6 years ago, this is the differance between toyota,honda,nissan snd the big 3

  6. William R. Walling Says:

    “Viewed your ‘Live Webcast’ today, correct the video streaming issues then DO continue!”
    Hint: Those ‘bleeding edge’ IT efforts DO leave paper cuts! :-)

  7. Tom Martin Says:

    Are you going to place an edited webcast on the website for those of us who could not participate?

  8. Mike Western Says:

    Mr. McElroy -
    Another failure of the Detroit 3 has to be the approach their public relations firms have taken. If there was ever a need for improvement in public perception, the Detroit 3 have demonstrated it. Is there a good PR firm ou there that could help?

  9. Muhammad Rafi Says:

    I love the looks of the new Z4. But if I were to spend that kind of money, I’d get myself a Vette. Not only does the Corvette cost less, but it also outperforms the Z4. I cannot wait for a head to head comparison.