April 18th, 2012 at 12:15pm
Volkswagen is expected to announce it plans to build an Audi factory in Mexico. GM announced that bi-fuel versions of the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 will cost $11,000 over the price of a conventionally powered truck. Ford CEO Alan Mulally says the battery used in the electric version of the Focus costs between $12,000 and $15,000. All that and more, plus Autoline Daily correspondent Isaac Bouchard takes a look at the all-new 2013 Ford Escape.
Hello again, and welcome to another episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Wednesday, April 18, 2012 – we are smack-dab in the middle of the week. I’m David Kiley, Editor-in-Chief of AOL Autos, thanks for joining us today. McElroy is still out gallivanting, but he should be back for tomorrow’s show. Anyway, here’s the latest news.
AUDI PLANS MEXICO PLANT
Volkswagen is expected to announce it plans to build an Audi factory in Mexico so the brand can better compete with BMW and Mercedes in the U.S. According to The Detroit News, reports out of Germany say the plant will start building the Q5 in 2015. The company wants to boost sales in the U.S. to 200,000 units annually by 2018. Last year Audi sold a tick more than 117,000 vehicles in the American market.
DIESEL SALES UP IN U.S.
Diesel-powered cars and trucks are starting to gain momentum in the U.S. More automakers are offering them in the American market and that’s helping boost sales. Compared to 2011, diesel sales were up 35 percent in the first three months of the year. Hybrid sales were up 37 percent in the first quarter, but as we’ve pointed out, there are far fewer diesels in the market than hybrids.
GM BI-FUEL TRUCKS AIN’T CHEAP
General Motors announced pricing for its new bi-fuel trucks and they ain’t cheap. Versions of the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra 2500 HD, which can run on both compressed natural gas and gasoline, will cost $11,000 over the price of a conventionally powered truck. But the company says customers can save up to $10,000 over three years, depending on their driving habits.
A quick comment from me on Natural Gas. Not too long ago I drove the Honda Civic CNG, the only passenger car you and I can buy that runs on natural gas. Other than a smaller then optimal trunk space, it was a pleasure to drive and a breeze to fill the tank at a public station. Natural gas prices are the lowest prices today than they have been in more than a decade. And the U.S. is practically the Saudi Arabia of nat-gas. C’mon! This is stupid. It would be nothing to build out an infrastructure at retailers to pump natural gas. And the oil companies would have real competition for vehicular fuel stock. And never mind bi-fuel drivetrains. We ought to have a whole new flock of nat-gas vehicles hitting the market in the next decade, but we don’t. And that, my friends, is just plain stupid.
Back to the news . . .
EYE-POPPING BATTERY COST (subscription required)
Aside from MSRP figures, or the cost of options on a vehicle, pricing information is a closely guarded industry secret. You almost never hear an automaker say “we have $4,722 worth of steel in this vehicle,” or “the engine cost us $1,700 to manufacture.” But the key qualifier here is “almost.” Ford CEO Alan Mulally let the kitty out of the sack earlier this week by announcing the cost of the battery used in the electric version of the Focus. Speaking at a green conference in California, he said the 23 kilowatt-hour packs cost between $12,000 and $15,000! With prices like that it’s no wonder electric vehicles are so expensive. The base price of the Ford Focus Electric is just about $40,000 before the tax incentives kick in to knock the price down.
INFINITI POWER BOOST
Infiniti may be kicking things up a notch. If the buzz on Autoblog and MotorTrend is true, the Japanese luxury brand could be working on a mega-power G-model. As it stands, the performance version of this popular car is pretty modest compared to what BMW’s M division or the folks at AMG deliver. But that could change. Infiniti may be developing a 530-horsepower, twin-turbocharged version of the G. Again, that’s 530 horsepower! The next-generation of the car is expected to come out in the summer of 2014.
The new Lincoln MKZ is pretty polarizing. A lot of people absolutely LOVE it – others, not so much. But here’s some good news if you don’t like the car’s grille. According to Autoblog – a fine member of the AOL family – Ford’s design honcho J Mays said not every new Lincoln will necessarily share the MKZ’s face. He said the overall shape will remain the same but the texture inside the grille perimeter can be different. I guess it’s kind of like painting by number.
Yesterday we gave you a look at the new Focus Electric, today it’s another new Ford. After the break, we’ll fill you in on the brand new 2013 Escape.
2013 FORD ESCAPE
Another day, another new-car launch. Autoline Correspondent Isaac Bouchard is still in the San Francisco area testing new vehicles. With the latest from the West Coast, here he is.
(Today’s feature on the 2013 Ford Escape is only available in the video version of the program.)
Like Isaac just said, the 2013 Escape looks really good and it’s loaded with technology, but it’s entering one of the most cutthroat segments in the business. Is that going to be enough for it to compete? We’ll have to wait and see once it goes on sale later this year.
And with that, we’ve come to the end of another episode of Autoline Daily. Again, I’m David Kiley, Editor-in-Chief of AOL Autos. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next time.