February 22nd, 2012 at 11:50am
It looks like two European losers could be getting together to keep each other afloat. Ford’s Tourneo Concept gets previewed ahead of its Geneva debut. The new Lexus ES is spied hanging around in China sans camouflage. All that and more, plus John McElroy responds to your comments and questions in You Said It!
This is Autoline Daily for February 22, and now, the news.
PSA AND GM TO SHACK UP? (subscription required)
Reports out of Europe today say that PSA and General Motors are in talks about partnering up. PSA, which includes Peugeot and Citroen, is in deep trouble, with rumors floating out of Europe that it could be facing bankruptcy within two years. GM, of course, is looking for ways to turn Opel around. Here’s my Autoline Insight. Putting two losers together could be a disaster, unless the combination allows them to slash platforms, slash investment and reduce overcapacity. Even then, there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to pull it off. But unless both companies take drastic action, the future looks pretty bleak for them.
FORD’S TOURNEO CUSTOM CONCEPT
Speaking of what’s going on in Europe, Ford sells two versions of its Transit van there, a front-drive, one-ton version, and a rear-drive, two-ton version. At the Geneva show next month, it’s going to unveil a restyled version of the front-drive one. Called the Tourneo Custom Concept, this 8-passenger van, signals that Ford will push harder into the passenger van segment and not just the commercial carrier segment. It will offer SYNC, Lane Departure Warning, and a stop-start 2.2 turbo diesel mated to a 6-speed manual. The production version of this van will be sold worldwide, except in North America. In 2013 Ford will start building the rear-drive version of the Transit at its Kansas City plant in the US. At that point production of the E-series, or Econoline vans, will begin to phase out. The current body style of the Econoline has been around for about 36 years.
NOT A STELLAR PERFORMANCE
Fiat has big plans to boost sales of Jeeps in Europe, but it’s just hit a big stumbling block. The Jeep Compass received disappointing results in the most recent Euro NCAP crash tests. It only scored two stars because it tested poorly in side pole tests and pedestrian protection. Interestingly, the U.S. Department of Transportation has not conducted those tests on a Jeep Compass and neither has the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
EURO DEBT CRISIS BOOSTS US CAR SALES
You know, just when I think I sort of understand what’s going on in the complex world of economics, something comes along that completely contradicts what I thought I knew. While everyone is worried about the debt crisis in Europe, Ford’s chief economist, Ellen Hughes-Cromwick, explains that it actually has helped boost car sales in the American market. (This content only available in today’s video.) You can listen to that entire interview on our website at Autoline.tv.
CAUGHT! NEW LEXUS ES IN CHINA
The new Lexus ES will debut at the Beijing and New York Auto Show, but one was spotted in China before it makes its premiere. China Car Times has these spy shots of the car and as you can see the front end is similar to the GS with the same hour glass fascia. Powering the car is a 2.5L V6. Not much else is known, but you can be sure we’ll have more info about the car when it makes its official debut.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
A lot of you are wondering about the latest status of the bailout of GM and Chrysler. Ed K says, “What’s the straight scoop on the loans that the USG gave to GM and Chrysler? I’ve read that GM paid some cash and gave the USG the rest in stock, but haven’t heard how Chrysler paid theirs off.” Ed K, Chrysler paid off all its loans to the US and Canadian governments last year, six years ahead of time. GM doesn’t have any loans to pay off. The USG is still sitting on some GM stock, waiting for the price to go higher before it sells.
Buzzerd has something to say on the subject as well. “I continually hear some people complain about the money the Canadian and US governments loaned/gave to GM and Chrysler to which I always ask, ‘Why is it OK to give the imports money to build plants, or Fisker and Tesla? What is the difference?’” I guess the only difference is that Chrysler and GM would have gone out of business without the money to get them through bankruptcy while the loans to Nissan, Fisker or Tesla are for retooling plants to make electric cars. But at the end of the day it’s still taxpayer money going to car companies.
Pedro Fernandez is wondering about the market for electric cars. “When I read the main story about EVs not selling well in Europe, my first thought was: Where are they selling, period?” Good question Pedro. EVs are not selling well anywhere in the world despite very generous incentives to buy them.
Kit Gerhart saw our report that Mazda makes too many models in too many plants and asks, “John, are there 13 Mazda models in the U.S., or world wide? Either way, it’s way to many for a total volume of 1.3 million, for a non-premium brand.” Kit, that’s 13 models worldwide, though some of them are only sold in Japan.
HtG is deeply upset by what’s going on in Formula One this year. “John, paisan, how could you miss the ‘cry on your amici’s shoulder’ news that for the first time since 1970 there will not be an Italian driver on the Formula 1 grid? Jarno Trulli lost his seat at Caterham to Vitaly Petrov of Russia. You wonder how big the check was. Basta, I cannot go on.” Wow, I guess I had missed the fact that there would be no Italian drivers in Formula One this year. It doesn’t seem possible, and I think that Formula One is the poorer for it.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.