February 20th, 2012 at 11:30am
Hyundai and Kia are being sued for patent infringement with their hybrid technology in the Sonata and the Optima. Mini is showing off a utility version of the Clubman called the Clubvan before it premieres next month at the Geneva Motor Show. February car sales in the U.S. are expected to be near 1.1 million units, which translates to a SAAR of 14.3 million units. All that and more, plus a look at a sports car that’s coming out of Mexico called the Mastretta MXT.
This is Autoline Daily for February 20th, as we kick off a new week of covering the latest news and developments in the global automotive industry.
PAICE SUES HYUNDAI-KIA
Hyundai and Kia are being sued for patent infringement with their hybrid technology in the Sonata and the Optima. A company that Autoline Daily viewers should remember, Paice LLC, filed the lawsuit. Paice is seeking cash compensation and wants to prevent the companies from using the technology without permission. As you may remember back in 2010, Paice made millions on a settlement with Toyota after an eight-year battle for hybrid patent infringement. You can use the search engine on our website, Autoline.tv to find an interview I did with the executives at Paice some years ago.
Another day, another Mini. The premium small-car maker is set to premiere a new model at the Geneva Motor Show next month. Called the Clubvan, it’s a utility version of the Clubman. It features a partition behind the front seats and a flat floor stretching all the way back to its split rear doors. Based on the pictures, this thing looks production ready. But given Mini’s upscale reputation, is the Clubvan something it really needs in its lineup? Are buyers going to pay for a high-end work vehicle? The company is targeting fashion designers and gallery owners, not masons and general contractors, but still, wouldn’t a vehicle like a Ford Transit Connect be a more cost-effective option?
The learning curve for in-car navigation systems can be steep. Every manufacturer has its own interface, which can make things confusing. How do I change the map to make north up again? Things would be a lot easier if you could just use your smart phone. After all, you’re intimately familiar with how it works. Well, this is just what one company is doing. Devium has created a double-DIN receptacle for the iPhone 4 and 4S. Called the Dash, it allows drivers to access a variety of things on their phones — from maps to music and more. This project is being funded on Kickstarter. Units are expected to start shipping in June.
STRONG SALES IN FEBRUARY EXPECTED
Car sales in the U.S. are expected to come in strong for February. Ward’s Auto is forecasting that sales will be near 1.1 million units this month. It predicts that will translate to a seasonally adjusted annual rate or SAAR of 14.3 million units, the highest since the economy crashed in 2008.
REPUBLICANS BASH BAILOUTS
Speaking about that crash . . . one of the issues that had risen to the forefront in this years’ Republican primary for the Presidency of the United States is the bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. Front runners Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are claiming that both automakers would have been better off it the government had not bailed them out. Even more perplexing is that they claim GM and Chrysler could have found the money to continue operations even if the government had not come to the rescue. I don’t know where those guys were living in 2008 and 2009, but everyone else on planet Earth knows those two companies collapsed because they couldn’t get any more money. In fact, the global credit market choked up, something that the world still has not yet recovered from. The proof that GM and Chrysler couldn’t get the money they needed is how Ford is being hailed as brilliant for going out and borrowing all the money it needed before the credit markets froze up. I wish the Republican candidates would get off this notion, but my guess is, the polls show that bashing the bailout plays well to their core constituencies.
Vamos amigos, andale, arriba! Coming up next, we’re going to take a look at a sports car that’s coming out of Mexico.
Mexico is a car-crazy country with a well-established automotive industry and has also produced some terrific racecar drivers. And now, a company called Mastretta is also trying to make Mexico known for its hand-built sports cars, with a model called the MXT.
The Mastretta is a pretty decently turned-out car. The development prototype I drove had a stumbly engine that wasn’t fully calibrated, but I could still appreciate how this thing could be a barrel of fun to drive, especially at a track. I wish these guys well, but the history of the auto industry is littered with little companies that tried to break into the market.
And that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.