September 14th, 2012 at 12:00pm
Volvo is telling its Swedish suppliers they better cut their prices by 25 percent in the next two years, or else. Audi is set to premiere a performance version of its Q5 crossover at the Paris Motor Show in a of couple weeks. And speaking of Paris, BMW just introduced a plug-in hybrid called the Concept Active Tourer before it debuts at the show. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week where we take you inside the top secret design studios at General Motors.
Welcome to Autoline Daily, we’ve almost made it through another week. And here’s the latest of what’s happening in the world of automobiles.
VOLVO PRESSURES SUPPLIERS
Well, it was easy to see this one coming. Volvo is telling its Swedish suppliers they better cut their prices by 25 percent in the next two years, or else. And the “or else” means they’re going to buy more parts in China. Ever since Chinese automaker Geely bought Volvo it was inevitable it would use more Chinese suppliers, especially since it wants to quadruple sales in China and will be doing more production there.
CHINA/JAPAN DISPUTE HURTS CAR SALES
And now geopolitics are starting to play a role in the Chinese car market. Japan and China are embroiled in a dispute over a set of dinky islands in the East China Sea and that dispute is starting to turn nasty. Bloomberg reports a Honda Civic was burned in protest in front a Honda dealership yesterday. Chinese automaker BYD says it will give the protester a new Surui sedan to show support for his patriotism. Other Chinese functionaries warn that unless Japan cedes those islands to China things will get worse. Last month sales at Honda and Toyota dropped 15 percent at the same time that German, American and South Korean sales jumped by double digits.
JAPAN SET TO APPROVE ULTRACOMPACTS
Now over to Japan where the Transport Ministry is set to approve a brand-new vehicle segment: the ultracompact. If you thought kei cars were small think again. These things are so tiny they’re dwarfed by golf carts. They’re primarily aimed at elderly people living in rural areas of Japan that may not have easy access to public transportation. There’s a very similar vehicle segment in Europe. Town EV, a startup founded by a former Toyota executive is set to introduce a single seat electrically powered four-wheeler called the ZEVe. Top speed is 50 kilometers an hour, while its range is 50 kilometers – 31 miles. The car will sticker for about 800,000 yen, roughly $10,000. Naturally, Japan’s big automakers are watching this segment very closely. One Toyota executive predicts demand for ultracompacts will hit 70,000 units annually once they’re allowed on the road, which could be as early as next month.
AUDI SQ5 TDI CONCEPT
Audi is set to premiere a performance version of its Q5 crossover at the Paris Motor Show in a couple weeks. The “SQ5 TDI exclusive concept” will be hauled around by a 313 horsepower diesel. It will be the first Audi S ever powered by a compression-ignition engine. A limited production run of just 50 concept models will go on sale in the first quarter of next year. In Germany they’ll sticker for a handsome €92,000, about 121 grand. The regular version, which lacks many of the concept’s luxurious flourishes starts at a more reasonable €59,000, about $77,000.
NEW RANGE ROVER DEBUTS IN U.S.
Last week Land Rover revealed the new Range Rover in London, England. Now the luxury SUV is making its debut in the U.S. As you may recall the big news is that it’s about 700 pounds lighter, thanks to an all-aluminum chassis. The new Range Rover goes on sale in the U.S. this winter with a starting price of $83,500 and nearly $131,000 for the top model. That’s not cheap but it’s a lot less expensive than in the U.K. where the base price starts at $115,000.
BMW CONCEPT ACTIVE TOURER
BMW just introduced a plug-in hybrid concept before it debuts at the Paris Motor Show. Called the Concept Active Tourer, it’s powered by a 1.5-liter three-cylinder gasoline-turbo engine and a lithium-ion battery. Unlike other BMWs, the engine does not power the rear wheels, it drives the front wheels while the electric motor takes care of the rear. It has a range of about 18.5 miles on electric power only and its average fuel economy is 94 MPG. But that doesn’t mean it’s a slug. The Concept Active Tourer moves from 0 to 100 km/h in under 8 seconds and has a top speed of about 125 MPH.
Coming up next, we’re going to take you where television cameras have never been invited before, deep inside the top secret design studios at General Motors. We’ll be right back, after this.
AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
Maybe you caught the Autoline After Hours show where GM’s head of design, Ed Welburn, let us into the inner sanctum of GM Design. If you didn’t catch it here’s your chance to see the edited version. That’s because this week we’re presenting the television version of our tour inside GM design. And here’s a taste of what the show is all about.
You can catch that entire show on our website at Autoline.tv, or check your local public television listings for Autoline this Week. And before we go, let’s check in to see what’s in store on tonight’s LIVE episode of RoundAbout. Here’s Craig Cole.
Coming up at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time: would you sell your car to fund an operation? One man is hocking his so he can become, well, less man-ish. We’ll also tell you about a troop of British classic cruisers caravanning their way across the African continent … yikes. Mark Phelan from the Detroit Free Press and designer Jason White will join us, and we’ll get them to play another hilarious game of Cartegories. Be there for all the fun at Autoline.tv, 6:30 Eastern.
That’s it for today’s show thanks for watching and we will see you next week.