June 13th, 2012 at 11:40am
Automotive executives in Europe are worried about a stagnant economy and slumping car sales. Mercedes-Benz introduced a refreshed version of its GLK sport-utility vehicle. Hyundai just announced the starting price of the 2013 Elantra GT. All that and more, plus John answers your questions and comments in “You Said It!”
Welcome to Autoline Daily, I’m John McElroy and here’s the news.
EURO EXECS WORRIED
Automotive executives in Europe are sounding desperate. Reuters reports that Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn says the European car market, at best, faces three to four years of stagnation. Car sales in France are down 16 percent this year. The Wall Street Journal reports that Carlos Tavares, the COO of Renault, is calling for government support of the auto industry. And Bloomberg reports that GM CEO Dan Ackerson blames the company’s weak stock price on its money-losing operations in Europe. Here’s my Autoline Insight. Carlos Ghosn has got it right. The European car market is going to be in trouble for years to come.
DIESELS UNDER ATTACK
The World Health Organization just came out with a report saying that diesel emissions cause cancer. Of course, there’s nothing new in those findings. We’ve known that for 30 years. And it also ignores the fact that diesels are much cleaner now. In the U.S., the latest EPA regulations make diesels as clean as gasoline engines. And in Europe, regulators are so impressed with the effectiveness of particulate filters on diesels, they’re considering mandating them for gasoline engines.
NEW MERCEDES-BENZ GLK
Mercedes-Benz is introducing a refreshed version of its GLK sport-utility vehicle. It gets nearly 1,000 new parts including a bolder exterior design, a spiffy looking new interior and updated powertrains. Its 3.5-liter V-6 engine features direct injection and cranks out 302 horsepower, and gets a start/stop system. A four-cylinder BlueTEC diesel is set to arrive in North America early next year, delivering around 190 horsepower. Of course the redesigned GLK has more technology than the Consumer Electronics Show – all kinds of features like blind-spot monitoring, adaptive high beams and Active Park Assist. No pricing information has been given, yet.
2013 HYUNDAI ELANTRA GT PRICING
Hyundai just announced the starting price of the 2013 Elantra GT. The hatchback’s base price is about $18,400 without destination charges. Standard features include alloy wheels, 7 airbags, heated seats, Blue Link, and fog lamps. More details about the car will be announced later. Hyundai will also introduce a coupe version of the Elantra later in the year.
TRAFFIC JAMS DOWN IN BEIJING
Traffic jams in Beijing are way down. The average back-up is about 55 minutes compared to about two and a half hours in 2010. That’s thanks to limiting the number of new vehicles sold in the city and more citizens using public transportation. But the city is still concerned about vehicle emissions, so government officials have come up with a plan that will restrict the use of vehicles on certain days, prohibit high-emission vehicles from being driven on specific roads, encourage purchases of hybrids and EVs, and expand public transportation.
SAAB SAVED…SORT OF
OK, we’re only reporting this one because everyone seems interested. A Chinese and Swedish investment group is buying Saab and want to turn it into an electric-vehicle brand! As if they didn’t have enough trouble selling conventional cars! Good luck, guys! I give this effort absolutely zero chance of succeeding.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
YOU SAID IT!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
Bob in Atlanta saw our report that the UAW is going to try and unionize Nissan. “As an auto consumer, I wonder exactly what value is added to a vehicle by having it assembled by UAW members?”
Bob that is a question the UAW better figure out how to answer. Because right now there is no advantage whatsoever. The union will argue otherwise, but the vast majority of car buyers don’t care at all.
Ron Paris is glad to see “Click & Clack: The Tappet Brothers” retiring from their radio show, “Car Talk.” “No great loss. Never understood why this show was so popular, but then I have never been an NPR fan. Always seemed to be an auto-related show for the non-gearhead and/or people who didn’t really give two hoots about cars. Often full of misinformation.”
Ron, I always liked the show because it was for people who don’t care that much about cars. Aside from their misguided rants against SUVs, and their overly biased praise of hybrids, they are entertaining.
Eric heard us report that the Subaru BRZ outsold the Scion FR-S and had this insight to add to the numbers. “The reason Scion only sold 86 FR-S’s in May is that those were sales for the ‘First 86.’ June 1 was the official on sale date for the FR-S.”
And of course, Eric is referring to the fact that in Japan, Toyota calls the car the 86. And thanks for that input, Eric, because I did not know that.
Lex saw our report on a new way to fix potholes and says, “Those new pothole-fixing, fluid-filled bags and tarps made out of Kevlar invented by students at Case Western Reserve University of Cleveland would disappear in 30 seconds on the streets of New York! The hoodlums and thieves would use the kevlar to make themselves bullet proof pancho’s for under their hoodies.”
HtG heard me talking on Autoline After Hours that I’ll be heading to the 24 hours of Le Mans this weekend and says, “Uh, John? I don’t want to see anymore gloating about your journey coming up this weekend. Don’t make me call the TSA, and maybe get you bumped from your flight. Nice and calm. Act like you’ve been there before.”
I don’t know, HtG, I’ve been in this business for nearly 34 years. My career has taken me all around the world on hundreds of trips to some of the nicest places, and I’ve never been more excited about the trip I’m about to take to Le Mans. I’ll try to act like I’ve been there before, but it won’t be easy.
By the way, with my trip to Le Mans, Autoline After Hours will not be happening tomorrow night since I’ll be flying to France and the Autoextremist is busy as well.
Anyway, that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.