April 20th, 2012 at 12:00pm
Honda is going to appeal a small-claims case in California in which the company was hit with a settlement of less than $10,000. Mercedes-Benz is going to tweak the way it names its vehicles to make it less confusing . . sort of. Alfa Romeo just trademarked the 4C name in the U.S. which is scheduled to go on sale by the end of 2013. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week about whether performance brands like Porsche and Lamborghini are making a mistake coming out with SUVs.
Hallelujah, it’s Friday, April 20th! I’m John McElroy and here’s Autoline Daily.
BACK-UP RESIN SOURCE FOUND
Automakers around the world are scrambling to find other sources for a resin to make brake and fuel lines. And it looks like they’ve found a few. As we reported earlier this week, a fire at a supplier company in Germany threatened to slow global automotive production. But in the U.S., at least, DuPont and a company called Invista say they have some capacity they can devote to making the resin. But it’s unclear if that’s enough. In Japan, automakers are looking at using alternative resins. Analysts warn there is a looming shortage and we’ll probably know in a couple of weeks just how serious it is.
HONDA APPEALS SMALL-CLAIMS CASE
Honda is going to appeal that small-claims case in California in which the company was hit with a settlement of less than $10,000. Doesn’t sound like much for a $100 billion corporation, does it? Ah, but it’s the precedent that terrifies the company. Honda was sued by Heather Peters, the owner of a Honda Civic hybrid, who says it came nowhere near its promised 50 miles per gallon. She opted out of a class action lawsuit in which the plaintiffs would only get a couple of hundred bucks and a coupon to buy a new Honda if they won. But if all the plaintiffs did what Heather did, it could cost Honda nearly $2 billion. And that’s why the company is appealing that decision.
MERCEDES’ ALPHABET SOUP
Mercedes-Benz is going to tweak the way it names its vehicles to make it less confusing . . . sort of. According to Automobile, Mercedes will still keep letter names but from now on G is for SUVs and crossovers, C is for coupes and convertibles, and SL is sport cars. But the upcoming four-door coupe based on the architecture from the A- and B-Classes will no longer be badged CLC. The second C refers to model range, so under the new scheme it will be the CLA. Boy, I sure am glad they simplified that! And if you’re still scratching your head, click the link in today’s show notes to try and make sense of it yourself.
CHERY UNVEILS TX CONCEPT
The Beijing Auto Show kicks off next week and to get a head start on the festivities, Chery revealed an SUV concept called the TX. Supposedly this was designed in-house and if you ask me, it looks pretty good. The TX is powered by a turbocharged, direct-injection, gasoline engine that’s mated to a CVT.
ALFA TRADEMARKS 4C IN U.S.
Now for some exotic-car news from Italy. First up, Alfa Romeo. It just trademarked the 4C name in the U.S., where it hasn’t sold cars for nearly 20 years. Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the 4C will go on sale in the New World by the end of 2013, all part of his master plan to double annual sales to around 400,000 units by 2014.
FERRARI EYES SOUTH KOREA
Meanwhile, Ferrari has its eye on South Korea. The country’s economy is growing at a healthy clip and there are a lot of customers who aspire to own supercars. After that, it wants to get into Vietnam, where the number of high-net-worth people jumped 33 percent in 2010! Ferraris are also red hot in other Asian markets including Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
LAMBORGHINI SET FOR BEIJING REVEAL
And while we’re on the subject of Italian cars, Lamborghini will finally debut its high-performance luxury crossover at next week’s Beijing Auto Show. The company hasn’t pre-released any official shots of the vehicle, but here’s a possible rendition of what looks like an SUV with the front end of an Aventador. They’re going to call it the Urus which probably sounds better in Italian than it does in English.
Speaking of performance brands like Lambo and Porsche coming out with SUVs, is it possible they’re making a horrible mistake? That is coming up next.
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
On Autoline This Week my guests are analysts John Murphy from Merrill Lynch and Joe Philippi from Autotrends Consulting, as well as Automobile and GQ columnist Jamie Kitman. One of the topics we cover is whether performance brands like Porsche and Lamborghini are making a mistake coming out with SUVs. Yes, they’ll make a lot of money right now, but could it hurt their brands in the long run?
You want watch that entire show right now on our website at Autoline.tv, and check your local television listings because Autoline This Week is now seen in over 40 markets across the United States as well as coast to coast in Canada.
It’s Friday and you know what that means: another RoundAbout is in the offing! Host Craig Cole has all the details.
Quick question — what has the powertrain of the future, car-to-car communication and the design of a Tupolev Tu-144? It’s the tractor trailer of the future and we’ll tell you about it tonight and some of the other unusual auto new bites of the week at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Our guests are Colin Bird from Cars.com and Christiaan Conover from WheelSpin.tv. You already know where to find RoundAbout and tons of other great automotive content: Autoline.tv.
And that wraps up another week’s worth of Autoline. Thanks for watching, we will be back here on Monday.