February 24th, 2012 at 12:00pm
Volkswagen just posted record financial results for 2011. Its earnings before interest and taxes were up 58 percent to $15.1 billion. Panasonic announced it will supply lithium-ion batteries to Ford for its hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Mercedes-Benz could be toying with the idea of a four-door SLS. Sketches of one popped up in a German patent application. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week with the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood.
Hello again and welcome to Autoline Daily. It’s Friday, the 24th of February, 2012. John is out this morning so you guys are stuck with me for the duration today, but sit tight because we’ve got a boatload of interesting news to report.
VW POSTS RECORD PROFITS
And first up, Volkswagen. The company just posted record financial results for 2011. Its earnings before interest and taxes were up 58 percent to 15.1 billion dollars. 15 Billion! Revenue was up 26 percent, exceeding 213 billion dollars. All told, the company sold close to 8.3 million units last year. VW wants to become the largest automaker in the world before the end of the decade, and we think it can declare victory right now.
FIAT MAY CLOSE PLANTS IN ITALY
As McElroy has said many times before, Chrysler is keeping Fiat afloat. We all know things are getting tough in Europe, and Reuters reports the Turin-based automaker may have to close two more plants in Italy if it doesn’t start exporting vehicles to the U.S., where demand is actually increasing. This is referring, of course, to the Alfa Romeos its American dealers desperately need. Fiat has already shuttered a factory in Sicily and it looks like more are on the way.
GEELY, VOLVO TO SET UP CHINESE JV
Chinese automaker Geely just announced it plans to set up a joint venture with Volvo in order to create its own brand for the Chinese market. According to Gasgoo, the two companies have already sought government approval and hope to announce details in the next few months. Even though Geely owns Volvo, it’s still considered a foreign brand by the government, so it must set up a joint venture before it can produce cars in the country.
VOLT PRODUCTION RESUMES
Great news for all you EV lovers out there. Tj Martin and Pedro Fernandez, this one’s for you guys. GM has resumed production of your favorite vehicle. Yes, the Chevrolet Volt is once again rolling down the line in Hamtramck, Michigan. According to The Detroit Free Press, GM hasn’t built any since late December. The car is now being offered with a special low-emissions package for – surprise, surprise – the California market. Buyers in the Golden State will be eligible for an additional 15-hundred dollar rebate beyond the 75-hundred dollar federal tax credit. They’ll also have access to the state’s prized carpool lanes. Maybe electrics aren’t so bad after all.
PANASONIC TO SUPPLY BATTERIES TO FORD
In somewhat related news, Panasonic announced it will supply lithium-ion batteries to Ford for its hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles. SANYO, which was acquired last year by Panasonic, had been supplying nickel-metal hydride batteries to the company since 2004. Panasonic’s li-ion packs will be used in the Ford Fusion and the C-Max Hybrids as well as the plug-in versions of both models
FOUR-DOOR SLS AMG?
The high-dollar, high-performance SLS AMG is a pretty sweet ride, and its gullwing doors only amplify the coolness. But more is always better, right? According to Autoblog, Mercedes-Benz could be toying with the idea of a four-door SLS. Sketches of one popped up in a German patent application. They show the vehicle with a small back seat and a matching suicide doors, in addition to the gullwings. Guys, put down your pencils and back away from the drafting table. Those little doors bring to mind the Saturn Ion quad coupe.
After the sponsor message John sits down with the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood. Stick around . . .
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
As I mentioned before the break, John’s special guest on Autoline This Week is none other than Ray LaHood, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. In the following bite, John asks him about distracted driving.
Fascinating discussion. And as always, you can check out the whole magilla right now on our website, Autoline.tv. It’s definitely worth watching.
Anyway, that’s a wrap for today and this week. But before I sign off, please check out RoundAbout tonight starting at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time. We’ve got two hilarious guests lined up – Al Vinikour and Chris Sawyer, in addition to MissMotorMouth herself, Michelle Naranjo – you won’t want to miss it. And with that, thank you for your time, have a great weekend and we’ll see you on Monday.