May 31st, 2012 at 11:45am
Ford is facing a happy problem – it cannot keep up with demand for its vehicles. Yesterday Chrysler was in the news for announcing the Town & Country minivan is going away, today more product information is out, including plans for another SRT model. Freightliner just debuted a super efficient new big rig called the Cascadia Evolution. All that and more, plus John McElroy test drives the 2012 Audi TT-RS.
Greetings, salutations, hello! I’m Murray Feldman from FOX 2 News, Detroit. Welcome to another episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Thursday, the last day of May, 2012. John is still out of town, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any news to report. There’s plenty going on.
First up . . . Ford is facing a happy problem. The Detroit News reports the Dearborn-based automaker cannot keep up with demand for its products. CEO Alan Mulally said they will continue working throughout the year to build more vehicles. They’re adding shifts at various plants and adjusting work schedules to turn up the wick on manufacturing. Supply-chain trouble is one of the main issues holding production back, at least in the short term.
CASH ON THE HOOD
Despite having a relative scarcity of hot-selling models like the Focus and Explorer, the company actually raised incentives this month. According to Bloomberg, spending was up more than 7 percent compared to April, but its incentives are still in line with the rest of the industry – about $2,600 dollars per vehicle. The reason for the increase is that it drastically cut discounts in April so it’s correcting for that.
And speaking of Ford, Its products are better and the company is making money. But it still has a nearly $50 billion dollar pension liability that could hurt its bottom line. Reuters reports that the company is getting ready to offer voluntary buyouts to nearly 100,000 former white-collar workers beginning this summer. Ford will offer retirees the option to take a one-time payment in exchange for their monthly pension checks. Ford’s U.S. pension liability has grown by 50 percent since 2000 and at the end of last year its global liabilities were under funded by over $15 billion.
CHARTING CHRYSLER’S CHANGES
More Chrysler product news. Yesterday we reported the company is dropping the Town & Country minivan. Now Sergio Marchionne has stated the Jeep Compass and Patriot models will continue to be assembled at the company’s plant in Belvidere, Illinois through 2014. After that the Compass will be replaced by a new, unnamed vehicle. The reborn Dodge Dart – also built in Belvidere – made headlines, too. An SRT version of Chrysler’s latest C-segment car is reportedly in the works. Marchionne said they’re currently debating how big of an engine to put in it. I say go HEMI or go home.
FREIGHTLINER CASCADIA EVOLUTION
Daimler Trucks North America revealed a new big rig yesterday. The Detroit News reports the 2014 Freightliner Cascadia Evolution will be up to 7 percent more efficient than its predecessor. That’s a huge improvement in fuel economy. Aerodynamic changes and a new Detroit-built engine are responsible for these gains. In controlled testing at an independent track the Cascadia Evolution delivered almost 11 miles per gallon.
AUTOLINE AFTER HOURS TONIGHT
It’s Thursday and that means it’s time for another episode of Autoline After Hours. With McElroy away the Autoextremist will play. Peter De Lorenzo is at the helm tonight and he’ll be joined in the studio by Scott Burgess from AOL Autos and Gary Vasilash with Automotive Design & Production. Check out the LIVE webcast starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.tv.
BETWEEN TIGUAN AND TOUAREG
The head of Volkswagen of America, Jonathan Browning says the company needs a midsize utility vehicle in the U.S. According to the Detroit Free Press, Browning says the company needs a vehicle to slot between the smaller Tiguan and the larger Touareg. The new midsize SUV could be built at its new assembly plant in Tennessee but there’s no time frame on when it may come out.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
And speaking of Volkswagen, the company just agreed to a pay raise with German union IG Metall. According to Reuters, over 100,000 workers will get a 4.3 percent pay raise over 13 months. This could mean it will be tougher for General Motors to get concessions from Opel workers. GM is trying to restructure the German automaker after years of losing money.
After the break John takes a hot new sports car for a spin. Stay tuned . . .
2012 Audi TT-RS
(This feature is only available in the video version of today’s program.)
I LOVE that color. The sparkly blue really pops in the sunlight.
Hey, before we go today here’s a heads up about some special programming. Next Friday, June 8, we’ll be broadcasting a special Hall vs. Hall edition of RoundAbout. Jim Hall will grapple with twin brother Bob Hall in all things automotive, so tune in to that at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time next week Friday. But, we also want topics for the Hall brothers to debate – you know, what’s the best “this”? Who built the worst “that”? E-mail all your ideas to RoundAboutShow@gmail.com. Once again, that’s RoundAboutShow@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.
And that’s the exciting conclusion of another episode of Autoline Daily. Once more, I’m Murray Feldman, FOX 2 News Detroit. Thank you for watching and I’ll see you later.