October 3rd, 2012 at 11:40am
Car sales in the U.S. continue to grow, hitting nearly 1.2 million units, an increase of 13 percent compared to last year. Infiniti wants to expand its relationship with Red Bull’s Formula One team. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is pushing to sell Jeeps in India. All that and more, plus a look at Opel’s new small car, the Adam.
Hello and welcome to another episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Wednesday, the 3rd of October, 2012. I’m Christie Schweinsberg from WardsAuto.com bringing you the latest news from the automotive beat.
SEPTEMBER SALES STRONG
Well, the figures are in, the numbers have been tallied and results are good. September was a banner month for new-vehicle deliveries in the U.S. According to the mother ship, WardsAuto.com, sales hit nearly 1.2 million units. That’s an increase of about 13 percent year over year. This strong showing pushed the SAAR to 14.9 million, the highest since March of 2008. Small, fuel-efficient cars stole the show, increasing 44 percent versus September 2011. Sales of midsize sedans were up almost 18 percent. They could have done even better had there not been inventory shortages for some models. However, pickup trucks, SUVs and crossovers fell about 7 percent. As for manufacturers, Toyota charged up the sales charts, leading the industry with a 41.5 percent year-over-year increase in September. Take that tsunami! Honda and Volkswagen/Audi were up very strongly as well. Ford sales were down nearly 1 percent, largely due to shortages of the Fusion, which is in sell down right now. The company also lacks inventory of the popular Escape. Chrysler was up double digits. Let’s hope things continue to improve like this and that the auto industry can continue to drive the country out of the economic doldrums.
DEFENDER TO RETURN TO U.S.
The Land Rover Defender hasn’t been sold in the U.S. since 1997, but the company says it will return at some point. The head of Land Rover in North America confirmed to the CarConnection.com that the next-generation Defender will be sold in the U.S. Even though it will be sold around the globe, the company says it will be engineered with U.S. sales in mind. Last year Land Rover showed a concept version of the Defender called the DC100, but it’s not known if it will become the production version.
2014 MAZDA3 DETAILS
Details about the 2014 Mazda3 are leaking out. According to Car and Driver, like the new 6, the 3 is expected to shed hundreds of pounds of weight, thanks to the company’s Skyactiv platform. It’s expected to be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine. A diesel is also under consideration for the U.S. The turbocharged MazdaSpeed 3 may also return. The 2014 Mazda3 is expected to go on sale late next year or early in 2014.
INFINITI WANTS TO EXPAND IN F1
Until recently, the Infiniti brand was primarily sold in the U.S. and Japanese markets. But now it wants to go global. In fact, Infiniti recently moved its headquarters out of Japan over to Hong Kong. And since Formula One racing is so global, Infiniti wants to get more involved with it. It’s sharing technical information with the Red Bull team on its hybrid and battery technology. And Infiniti hints that it would like to supply engines to the team. But it goes beyond that. Infiniti says Red Bull is one of the most high tech marketing firms in the world, and it wants to leverage that know-how so it can sell more cars globally.
JEEP HEADS TO INDIA
In more global news, the American automaker run by an Italian has plans to expand into India. WardAuto reports Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne is pushing to get Jeep into the hugely important Asian market. These rugged off-road vehicles are already sold in some 120 markets around the world. Through August global Jeep sales were up 58 percent compared to the same time last year.
NISSAN SUED OVER LEAF BATTERIES
Last month we reported about tests that show the battery in the Nissan LEAF degrades in hot climates. Now TopClassActions reports the company is being sued over the loss of battery life and vehicle range. The suit alleges there’s a defect in the battery and that Nissan tried to conceal the problem. The class-action lawsuit asks that the company remove and replace the car’s battery system, reform its battery warranty, cover the loss of battery capacity under warranty, and reimburse any repairs made. Nissan says it’s aware of the lawsuit and that it lacks merit.
After the commercial break we’ll take a look at Opel’s BIG reveal at last week’s Paris Motor Show. Stay tuned . . .
We recently ran into Martin Golka, the mini car product manager for Opel, who explained the basics of what the new Adam is all about and what it means for Opel.
To distinguish itself from the competition, Opel offers an amazing number of ways to configure the Adam.
So how is Opel going to handle all the complexity of offering 30,000 build combinations?
We asked Martin Golka about the kinds of customers that Opel expects to buy this car.
While other small cars like the Mini and Fiat 500 went with a retro design, that’s not the way that Opel went.
Opel may be in deep financial trouble, but a key way for it to fix its problems is with new products, especially ones like the new Adam that get the company into a segment of the market where it has not competed before.
And that brings us to the end of today’s broadcast. I’m Christie Schweinsberg from WardsAuto.com. Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next time.