September 20th, 2012 at 12:10pm
Transmission maker ZF is rockin’ and rollin’ as demand for its gearboxes booms. The Volkswagen Passat has passed its previous sales record, which was set in 2001. Prices for red-hot rare-earth metals are finally starting to cool off. All that and more, plus a first drive of the 2013 Ford Fusion and a look at one of the best ads to come out in years.
It’s Thursday, September 20, 2012. Welcome to another episode of Autoline Daily from “The D.” John’s still wandering around in the wilderness. But hey, you got me at least. I’m Peter De Lorenzo, the one and only Autoextremist, bringing YOU the latest news. And like a jelly-filled doughnut today’s show is loaded with fun so let’s get rolling.
Transmission maker ZF is rockin’ and rollin’. Demand for its eight-speed gearboxes is booming. The German company projects its sales will grow by 10 percent this year to 17 billion euros. To keep pace it will ADD about 35-hundred employees to its payroll by the end of 2012, bringing the total to more than 75,000. Demand for its products will likely remain strong once its new nine-speed automatic transmission hits the market.
PASSAT PASSES PAST RECORD
The Volkswagen Passat has turned out to be a solid midsize entry in the most competitive segment in the U.S. market. It is spacious, competitively-priced and offers an array of engine choices. Handsome styling – although bland for my tastes – and a nice interior don’t hurt, either. These factors and others have contributed to the car’s success. As of yesterday the company sold a tick more than 77,500 Passats in the United States this year. That tops its previous record, which was set back in 2001. That’s a strong showing for Vee-Dub, but it’s still miles behind the segment-leading Camry. Through August Toyota sold more than 280,000 of them.
Speaking of midsize sedans, Autoline Daily’s Isaac Bouchard is out on the West Coast test-driving one of the newest. With more, here he is.
Nice work, Isaac. That Fusion drives as good as it looks.
RED-HOT RARE EARTHS COOL OFF
There’s some good news for automakers. As you know, the prices of rare-earth metals, which are used in hybrid and EV batteries, skyrocketed the last couple of years because China, which controls the majority of the world’s supply, limited exports. But now Reuters reports prices are plummeting. A speculative bubble burst for the materials, which drove down the price. New mines were opened which will boost the supply and China is expected to start exporting more due to weakening demand.
GOING, GOING, GEFCO
As we’ve been reporting, PSA, the parent company of Peugeot and Citroen is in a lot of trouble. In an effort to reduce its debt, the company just agreed to sell a 75 percent stake in its logistics unit Gefco to OAO Russian Railways for just over one billion dollars. Gefco transports cars and parts in Europe, Latin America and China. The agreement still needs regulatory approval but the two companies hope to close the deal by the end of the year.
Coming up next, I’ll talk about a bolt out of the advertising blue that will make you smile…
Every once in a while a piece of advertising comes along that makes you sit up and take notice. And no, I’m not talking about Eminem or Clint. I’m talking about an auto manufacturer with the vision to do something completely unexpected and frankly, damn-near genius.
The folks at VW decided we all needed a break from the endless barrage of political advertising we’re being subjected to for the next seven weeks. And boy, are they right. So they’ve come up, or I should say their advertising agency – Deutsch, Los Angeles – has come up with a wonderful 30-second TV commercial that doesn’t show one car. Not one. Instead it shows a variety of real people across all age groups smiling and laughing, closing with a tag line that says simply, “It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them. That’s the power of German engineering.”
Sound corny? You have to see it for yourself. It’s far from that. It’s probably the most compelling piece of advertising – auto or otherwise – to come along in ages. Kudos to VW and its advertising agency for having the guts to do something completely different. It’s simply wonderful.
Hey, have you checked out the latest game from RoundAbout? See if you can guess what’s being described in this clip from “Cartegories.”
There’s much more where that came from and you can check it out right now by clicking the RoundAbout channel on Autoline.tv.
By the way, if you spotted Mark Phelan in that video, you get bonus points. Mark will also be joining me on Autoline After Hours TONIGHT along with that other guy, John McElroy. We’ll have Mike Cairns from Ram Trucks in studio and we’ll see if we can squeeze a massive Fifteen-Hundred in the building as well. Get your AAH fix starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.tv – it’s the best automotive discussion in the business. Don’t you dare miss it!
And that’s the end of the road, for now at least. I’m Peter De Lorenzo, THE Autoextremist. Thank you for watching and I’ll see you later tonight.