February 10th, 2012 at 11:40am
Tesla just unveiled its electric crossover, the Model X, which is basically a taller version of the Model S sedan. Mitsubishi is set to reveal a new version of its Outlander SUV at next month’s Geneva Motor Show. And speaking of Geneva, Chevrolet will unveil a station-wagon version of the Cruze at the show. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week with Volvo’s new president in North America talking about how they’re going to be taking the brand more upscale.
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, February 10th. And here’s what’s going on out there.
TESLA MODEL X
Product, Product, PRODUCT! It’s the engine that drives this industry, and we’ve got several new offerings coming down the pipeline. First up, Tesla, which just unveiled its electric crossover dubbed the Model X. As we predicted, it’s basically a taller version of the Model S sedan. This seven-passenger, all-wheel drive CUV comes with gull-wing doors, though Tesla calls them falcon wings. Since there’s no internal-combustion engine the Model X actually has TWO trunks. It should be a real performer, too. The zero to 60 sprint should take just 4.4 seconds. The starting price will be around 50 grand after tax credits. Production should kick off late next year.
MITSUBISHI REVEALS NEW OUTLANDER
Mitsubishi . . . yep, they still make cars . . . just not in the Netherlands any more. Anyway, the triple-diamond brand is set to reveal a new version of its Outlander SUV at next month’s Geneva Motor Show. Look for a 2.0-liter gasoline or a 2.2-liter diesel engine under the hood of European models. A variety of driver-assistance features will be on the menu including adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warning. The Outlander’s “outlandish” grille is standard.
CHEVY CRUZE WAGON
Speaking of Geneva, Chevrolet is set to unveil a station-wagon version of the Cruze. Per usual, the U.S. is getting left out in the cold. The company has no plans to offer this model in ‘Merica. European buyers will have a wide array of gasoline and diesel engines to choose from and almost 53 cubic feet of luggage space with all of the seats folded down. That’s about 1,500 liters. Australian buyers will feel the love as well. Holden is going to offer a version of the Cruze wagon down under.
UAW CELEBRATES SIT-DOWN STRIKE
The UAW is celebrating the 75th anniversary of its Flint Sit-Down Strike against GM that led to its first national contract and sparked labor movements across the country. Workers protested working conditions at the plant by sitting down and refusing to move. This prevented GM from bringing in strikebreakers and moving equipment to another factory. Workers clashed with guards, local police and even the Michigan National Guard was called in by the Governor. But GM finally relented and signed the contract with the UAW. This led to other sit down strikes at other companies and industries.
FORD MANAGEMENT SHAKE-UP
Ford announced that two of its top executives are going to retire. One of those was sort of expected. The other kind of comes as a surprise. Lewis Booth, the head of finance at Ford, and Derek Kuzak, the head of product development, will be leaving Ford at the end of March. Lewis Booth, 63 years old, is close enough to the traditional retirement age of 65 that it was sort of expected. But hearing that Derek Kuzak, 60 years old, will retire, comes as a surprise. Here’s my Autoline Insight. Ford has deep bench strength and will easily replace them. But clearly the company felt the need to inject new blood into its management ranks. That tells me Ford recognizes the easy part of its turn-around is over, and it’s throwing in fresh troops for the next phase of the battle. The company also named Jon Huntsman to its board of directors. Huntsman was running for President of the United States on the Republican ticket, but his campaign went nowhere. He’s also the former ambassador to China, and undoubtedly Ford is looking for some expertise of how to weave its way through the Byzantine maze of Chinese politics. Ford, as you know, has a lot of catching up to do in China.
JEEP BEER: JUST FOR MAN
Last week we showed you rip-offs of the Ford F-150 and Chevy Colorado from Chinese automaker JAC and now a Chinese brewing company has ripped off the Jeep name for its suds. Its official name is the Hubei Jeep Brewery Corporation and one of its labels features a picture of a Jeep. The company even offered a Jeep Compass to the distributor who could sell the most Jeep beer as an award. Sure would like to know if it’s any good.
Coming up next, Volvo’s new president in North America talks about how they’re going to be taking the brand more upscale, and why.
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
On Autoline This Week we’ve got a smorgasbord of interviews including Klaus Busse, the head of interior design at Chrysler talking about the 700C concept vehicle that was shown in Detroit. We have Max Wolff, the head of design at Lincoln talking about the new MKZ. We have Fred Diaz, the CEO of the Ram Brand, as well as Ludwig Willisch, the new president of BMW North America. But we also have John Maloney, the new president of Volvo Cars North America, and in the following clip he talks about how and why they want to take the Volvo brand more upscale.
By the way, you can watch that entire show right now at Autoline.tv, or check your local public television listings because Autoline can now be seen on many public TV stations across the United States and Canada. And be sure to tune in tonight for another episode of Roundabout starting at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
And that wraps up this week’s automotive reports. Thanks for your interest in the automotive industry, we will see you on Monday.