March 13th, 2012 at 11:52am
Nissan will race the revolutionary DeltaWing car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Car sales are on the way up, up, up, but a lack of car haulers and other supply chain issues will prevent sales from hitting their potential. Audi is in talks to buy luxury motorcycle manufacturer Ducati. All that and more, plus Craig Cole has his first impressions of the new Toyota Prius c.
Welcome to Autoline Daily, today is March 13, and here’s the news.
LIQUID FUEL TO DOMINATE FOR DECADES
ExxonMobil just issued released its forecast of energy usage in the U.S. through 2040. It predicts that liquid fuels will be the dominant fuel source for cars for the next thirty years. Despite all the government incentives and regulations to get us into electric cars, ExxonMobil believes that gasoline and diesel will still power 90 percent of all the vehicles that will be on the road in 2040. It all comes down to energy density. Liquids hold far more energy than energy stored in chemical form in batteries. For example, ExxonMobil calculates that one gallon of gas could run your smart phone for the next twenty years.
CAR HAULER SHORTAGE
Car sales in the American market hit a 15 million SAAR rate last month, prompting some eager analysts to predict it could hit 16 million by the end of the year. But suppliers say that’s not going to happen because of constraints in the supply chain, especially with car haulers. They took out an enormous amount of capacity when the auto industry collapsed in 2009. Right now there is such a shortage of trucks and trains to haul cars from the factories to the dealerships. That shortfall stands at 1.7 million vehicles. One reason that Class 8 semi-trucks are selling so well right now is because car haulers are buying them as fast as they can. Even so, they are far short of capacity.
NISSAN TO POWER DELTAWING
This just in. Nissan will be racing the DeltaWing race car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year. The radical design uses a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 300 horsepower. That’s not a lot of power at this level of racing, but the car is half the weight and has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional racer. The DeltaWing was designed by British designer Ben Bowlby, it was built by Dan Gurney’s All-American Racers team and will be raced by Duncan Dayton’s Highcroft Racing. The car will first hit the track on Thursday in preparation for the 12 Hours of Sebring. To me, this is the most exciting technological development in motor racing in more than 40 years.
AUDI TO BUY DUCATI
Audi is in talks to buy Italian luxury motorcycle builder, Ducati. The German automaker is looking to buy the brand for around $1.1 billion. Ducati sold 42,000 bikes last year and saw its revenue rise by 20 percent. This shows just how independent the different brands are within the Volkswagen group. And it is this autonomy that explains why VW AG can successfully manage so many different brands, while GM and Ford could not.
VW, SUZUKI SUIT A YEAR AWAY
Speaking of VW, its spat with Suzuki won’t get settled until next year. A few years ago, VW bought close to a 20 percent stake in Suzuki. But that deal went sour, with both accusing the other of breaking the agreement. It was supposed to give Suzuki access to VW technology and provide VW with greater access to the Indian market where Suzuki leads the field. Suzuki filed for arbitration in a London court to end its relationship with VW. But there will be no court decision until next year.
(Our report on the Toyota Prius c only available in video version of today’s program.)
Great report, Craig, I can’t wait to drive that car myself.
A programming note here. Autoline After Hours is moving ahead one hour with the Daylight Saving Time change. We’ll be starting the live show at 6PM this Thursday, one hour earlier. Be sure to join me and Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, for the best insider information in the business. And joining us on this Thursday is reporter Bryce Hoffman from The Detroit News who’s just written a book on all the inside info of what’s been going on at Ford. That’s this Thursday starting at 6PM Eastern Time, or 22:00 GMT.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching we’ll see you tomorrow.