Episode 982 – Nissan Offers LEAF Discounts, Greece Subsidizing F1 Track, Europe’s Capacity Woes

October 1st, 2012 at 11:30am

Runtime: 7:42

Nissan is offering huge discounts for the Leaf in the U.S. in an effort to boost sales. The Greek government is subsidizing the construction of a Formula One race track despite the country’s financial woes. Analysts say Europe needs to take out at least 5 million units of capacity. All that and more, plus we’ll take a look at why the Dodge Charger got to be as good as it is.

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Hello and welcome to a brand new month of Autoline Dailies since today is October 1. I’m John McElroy and here’s the news.

Makin’ cars ain’t easy. Meeting safety standards, hitting fuel economy targets, delivering quality, is an enormously difficult AND EXPENSIVE task. Tesla has come farther than most startups, but the EV-builder is facing a cash squeeze. It wants to sell as many as 8 million shares to raise as much as $225 million. Meanwhile it lowered its 2012 revenue target by $200 million and cut production of its Model S. The company blames suppliers. So far Tesla has built 255 Model S’s.

Workers at a LG Chem battery plant in Holland, Michigan are on rolling furloughs. According to MLive, that’s because of low sales of EVs. The plant is supposed to be making batteries for the Chevy Volt but hasn’t produced a single battery since its groundbreaking in 2010.

And in other EV news, Nissan is offering huge discounts for the Leaf in the U.S. in an effort to boost sales. Nissan is offering the Leaf for only $219 a month with $3,000 down for 32 months. That’s down from $250. At the end of August the Leaf had a 114-day supply and only 4,200 have been sold. Nissan hoped to sell around 20,000 Leaf’s in the U.S. this year.

If you want to know why the economy in Greece is teetering on the brink, here’s a primo example. The Greek government is subsidizing the construction of a Formula One race track! The total price tag for the circuit is 95 million Euros and the government is kicking in nearly 29 million! I don’t get it. They’re having riots in the streets because of financial irresponsibility and they decide to spend money on a track? The last thing the world needs is ANOTHER F1 track.

If you caught our live coverage of the Paris auto show, you saw Peugeot’s concept car, the Onyx. But in case you didn’t catch us live, take a look because this supercar was my favorite of the show. It’s a hybrid V-8 powered mid-engine supercar, but that’s not what caught my eye. Instead it’s the combination of copper doors and fenders juxtaposed against satin-finished carbon fiber that make this car so attractive. We haven’t seen this much bright work on a car since the end of the brass age a century ago. Even though the copper panels are bright and shiny, Peugeot says the idea is to let them naturally turn green over time, to acquire a historic patina and to show this is a living vehicle. I doubt this car will ever go into production, but I hope it inspires the auto industry to use exterior materials in new and novel ways.

The Onyx will probably never go into production, because Peugeot is in deep trouble. In fact, the entire European industry is in deep trouble. Most automakers are wailing that they are going to have to cut production capacity. Analysts say Europe needs to take out at least 5 million units of capacity. That’s about 20 assembly plants, 10 engine plants, 10 transmission plants, and thirty stamping plants. And that translates into at least 115,000 workers. So far almost none of these cuts have happened, and the industry is wracking up billions in losses. In fact, every day they postpone the Day of Reckoning, the more money they lose, the weaker they get, and the easier they make it for the Chinese automakers to waltz in later this decade. Make no mistake, the Day of Reckoning is going to happen. Europe, we need you to be bold, because you lose by waiting. Anyway, that’s my Autoline Insight.

Coming up next, we’ll take a look at why the Dodge Charger got to be as good as it is.

(Today’s look at the Dodge Charger is only available in the video version of the show.)

Earlier in the show I said it ain’t easy building cars. Well, it ain’t easy doing stand-ups, either. And that’s why Craig was so happy he nailed that take.

A programming note here. There will not be an Autoline After Hours this Thursday since both me and that Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo. will be out traveling. But we will be back the week after this.

And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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24 Comments to “Episode 982 – Nissan Offers LEAF Discounts, Greece Subsidizing F1 Track, Europe’s Capacity Woes”

  1. HtG Says:

    Just focus, John, once the building starts on the new track in Greece, they can halt all work so the archaeologists can excavate all the historical treasures below. But this only happens when the necessary graft permits have been sold, which allowed for the track to have been located through the backyard pools of all the no tax paying millionaires running the country. What’s not clear to you? That’s how Hellas rolls.

  2. Bradley Says:

    Like the Camaro, I think the Charger is inflated in size. 10-15 percent smaller would make all the styling fall into place a lot better.

  3. Tony Gray Says:

    I rented a Charger V6 for a trip to Indy in May. I was impressed. It got great gas mileage (over 30 on the highway), comfortable to ride and was pretty well screwed together.

    Plus it looked like a patrol car so nobody bothered me!

  4. Jim Taylor Says:

    Imagine coming out from a store to find someone had ripped the body panels off your car for the (perceived) copper. If they’ll cut a 12″ section out of a supply line to the restroom sink at the local fast food place, they’ll do it to a car (or heck, just take the whole car).

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    I also rented the earlier V6 rental Charger a few years ago and it had dismal performance, we were in a hilly area and at times it felt like a 4 cyl under the hood, the pessimist in me sees the Western world saturated with cheap, crappy Chinese cars in a dozen years or so! Hey how about the C.C.C. car company our of China

  6. M360 Says:

    Hey, John – We will miss you and Peter this Thursday night! AAH has become the “thing to do” on Thursdays.

  7. HtG Says:

    Sadly, I guess I’ll be drinking alone this Thursday.

  8. C-Tech Says:

    @ #5 Pedro you hate Chryslers. I rented a prev. generation (2010) Charger with the 3.5L V6 for my girlfriend (she had to drive her 87 yr. old mother to Charlotte – no fun in a Mitsu Eclipse!). She enjoyed the car then, and her only complaint was the size (too big for the garage). I drove a new Charger and it is great. It makes me wonder why GM and Ford have pretty much abandoned this market to Chrysler?

    The Onyx – Too many beautiful cars, not enough money. Story of my life.

    The fat lady may be warming up for electric cars!

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    No it was the smaller V6, the rental car’s 2.7 engine, 178 hp on hilly terrain?? come on man, not every one lives in flat as Twiggy Florida, that engine should have never been put in such a heavy car, you end up wasting more gas cause you gotta nail the gas all the time. Reminds me of the wimpy 4 banger in the Mustang 2, most pathetic POS I have ever driven.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, the 2.7 was not the right engine for the Charger, but a few years ago I saw a customized Magnum wagon at a car show. It had most of the trim removed, a 300 front end, 20 inch wheels, and a 2.7 engine. I guess some people just don’t care about performance. I am obviously not a performace freak, given that I drive a Prius, but in those rear drive Chryslers, you got extra performance with essentially no loss in mpg by getting the 3.5 over the 2.7. The new 3.6 is, of course, much better than the old 3.5.

  11. gmveteran Says:

    Formula for Disaster: Greek government subsidizes new F1 track, employs some Greeks in its construction, due to poor economy very few Greeks can afford to attend races, F1 abandons this venue, government forecloses on the track, track closes but continues to cost government money in maintenance and property taxes. I wonder what other economic stimulus proposals the Greek government is considering?

  12. Chuck @ GM Says:

    @11, Don’t you mean Formula 1 for Disaster?

  13. Brett Says:

    Nah, cause Bernie would sue him for trademark infringement, Chuck! :)

  14. C-Tech Says:

    WHO is going to bold in Europe is the question? The German makes (VW, BMW, Daimler-Benz) are not going to throttle back on production. The French makes (PSA, Renault) probably should, but the government won’t let them. The Italian makes (basically Fiat, etc.) are not going to throttle back alone. There will probably be more historic names falling by the wayside in the next 5-10 years in Europe.

  15. cwolf Says:

    The Germans are down 8% and dwindling,so they may have no choice but to slow their future production. Only in the US will there be any measurable future gains. The Germans and the Brits will feel blessed if they can come close to maintaining the sales they have. I don’t see China as a Euro threat as much as the Koreans in the years ahead.

    I also see Fiat wants to strengthen ties with Mazda if and when Ford lets go of their 2% stake in Mazda. As I sense this almost a done deal, I wonder if Ford has the intent to do their own design work in Detroit again. Ya know it was reported that more and more tasks exported during the crisis is now returning at a faster pace than ever! If all the other positives, like increased manufacturing,future orders,exports,increased home production and sales and increased stock gains, the US may soon see a notable up-swing once the election is over. And just my luck some republican will screw everything up!

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Ford North America is sharing more design work with Ford Europe, now that Mazda is (almost) out of the picture. That is the case with Focus and Fiesta, and I think the new Fusuon.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    Don’t understand why Honda and Toyota don’t follow Ford and to a lesser extent GM in developing one-world models like Corolla, there are half dozen Corollas all over the place, you could build them cheaper and with less quality issues if they were all the same (just change power-trains a bit) Accord US is still different from Accord all over the world, same for Civic.

  18. cwolf Says:

    I looked at a fully loaded C-Max in the dealer lot and it only cost $35K- bruppp! I still like it and may consider one….a lot less optioned. I can now express my observations as near fact; The C-max and Escape are twins. And if you didn’t look at the cars exterior while sitting inside after having had a couple 3-finger cocktails, you wouldn’t know if it were a Fiest,Focus,Escape or a C-max. All pretty much ideantical.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sticker heart attack, soon dealers will be required to have defibulators to zap shoppers back to life after they read the sticker, specially the ones where the dealers add over a grand for unnecessary crap like $600 wax job or $300 pin-striping, or $2000 adjusted market value!

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The only C.Max I’ve seen was a base car with an MSRP of 26 something. Like a Prius, the C.Max is decently equipped in base form, and that, to me, is the way to buy them.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’d sure have a lot more to choose from if there were “one world” car models. There would be a lot more hatches and wagons. Also, there would be more high mpg diesels than VW, with their suspect reliability and spotty dealer network.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    Everyone is so excited about all these new Audi models and no one questions their reliability (lack thereof) or durability, really, how many old Audis do you see on the road? None around here, tons of old Mercs however.

  23. JB Says:

    Craig certainly did nail that review of the charger!

    Only question I might ask was what is the zero to 60mph, lateral g and 60mph to zero performance?

    I’ m just nitpicking because Craig’s reviews are always top notch as are yours Mr. McElroy.


  24. Brett Says:

    I seem to recall that the common wisdom regarding Audi was that only a fool would buy one instead of leasing because Audi inflates the residual value on their leases.