October 18th, 2012 at 11:55am
Find out how Europe’s continued financial woes are lowering gas prices in the U.S. See who is at the Ford-front of in-car technology. Chrysler and Fiat expand their partnership in unique way. It’s a first for them since they joined forces in 2009. All that and more, plus John looks at Ford’s hot new BOSS 302 Mustang.
Hello to all you automotive industry enthusiasts, welcome to Autoline Daily. We’ve got some good updates on new cars, new technology, and the latest news.
2 IF BY SEA
As the European car market continues to melt down we’re seeing some strange things happen. Mercedes is heavily discounting cars, an average of 12 percent, and offering nearly $4,000 more on trade-ins. BMW is shifting tens of thousands of cars it meant to sell in Europe over to the U.S. On top of that, gasoline refiners in Europe are going to start shipping excess gasoline to the U.S. Bloomberg reports that 19 oil tankers have been booked to ship gasoline just for the last week of October. The U.S. could get over 800,000 barrels of gasoline a day from Europe, and that should start driving down prices. I saw gas for only $3.33 this morning, nearly 50 cents cheaper than it was just a couple of months ago here in Michigan.
CASCADA: SPANISH FOR WATERFALL
Cascada is Spanish for waterfall, but in automotive parlance it translates into Opel’s latest convertible. This midsize drop-top is roughly the same size as an Audi A5. Inside it has room for four passengers and a raft of premium features to keep them comfortable – things like heated and cooled front seats, Nappa leather and an adaptive suspension system. The fabric roof can be tucked away in just 17 seconds – less time than it takes to listen to this story. As for performance, the Cascada’s base poweplant is a one-four turbo that should be familiar to you Chevy Cruze owners out there. A 2.0-liter diesel is offered as well. But the top engine is a 1.6-liter turbo gasser with 170 horsepower. Manual and automatic six-speed transmissions are available. Pricing and a sale date have not been shared. To my jaundiced eye the Cascada really seems more Buick than Opel. I wonder if they’ll offer it in the ‘States.
With its SYNC system the Blue Oval has been at the Ford-front of technology. The company is pushing these high-end features down to mass market vehicles, which would’ve made Ol’ Henry proud of this technological populism. The move is part of CEO Alan Mulally’s push to make Ford more Silicon Valley and less Rust Belt. AppLink, a feature of SYNC, currently offers motorists 13 different apps they can use in the car, including things like Pandora, Twitter and Yelp. More are in development. Naturally, the challenge is to make these features easy and SAFE to use while driving, which has not been an easy task.
FORD MIMICS GAMER INDUSTRY
Ford has implemented marketing strategies like teasing the new Explorer on Facebook or giving away 100 Fiestas to social media members before it went on sale. But where did they get these strategies from? Chief of Marketing at Ford, Jim Farley, confirms that he took inspiration from the video-game industry. He’s using what the video-game industry calls a “slow-burn approach,” which teases a vehicle well before it’s on-sale date. Farely notes that 20 percent of Ford’s marketing budget is for pre-launch projects.
MOPAR PUSHES TO GO GLOBAL (subscription required)
Mopar, Chrysler’s in-house parts supplier, will be jumping on a ship to Europe. For the first time since the Fiat-Chrysler partnership was formed a Fiat vehicle, a small CUV called the Panda will feature Mopar parts and accessories. Mopar has had a growing presence in Europe since the Fiat-Chrysler merger in 2009. The CEO of Mopar, Pietro Gorlier, says that sales of original equipment parts and accessories in the U.S. have doubled since then. I find it fascinating that Fiat is using Mopar and it shows how they really want to grow that brand globally.
Recently I got a chance to test drive the Boss 302 Mustang. You can get my instant impression right after this. Plus, we have some fun things to announce about tonight’s Autoline After Hours.
WHO’S THE BOSS?
That car is not only a blast to drive, it just sounds so good. Yes, there may be something old fashioned about the internal combustion engine, but when they’re done right they sure can give you a good gut feel.
On Autoline After Hours tonight we have a great enthusiast joining us. Hau Thai Tang is not only one of the ultimate gear heads in the industry, now he’s the head of engineering for Ford’s global product development. He’s also bringing some die-cast models of the new Focus ST to give away, so make sure you learn how you could win one of them. Plus, my super outrageous Autoextremist co-host, Peter De Lorenzo has come up with a trivia quiz so that a few lucky viewers can win an Autoextremist t-shirt. Now that’s something that even I would want to win. So tune in tonight starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and if you can’t make it at that time, don’t forget you can always catch it later at Autoline.tv.
Anyway that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.