Episode 1009 – Maserati Plans to Grow, Focus Dominates China, Used Car Prices Soaring

November 7th, 2012 at 11:58am

Runtime: 8:26

Maserati plans to boost sales over 8 times the current amount by 2015. Could the new Quattroporte help to reach that mark? Ford is bucking the trend in China. Sales were up nearly 50 percent thanks to the new Focus. Hurricane Sandy drives up used car prices, but may help overall sales. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in today’s edition of You Said It!

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Hello and welcome to post election edition of Autoline Daily. If your candidate won last night congratulations. If not, wait till next time. Now let’s get to what’s going on in the world of cars.

Maserati leaked out pictures of the new Quattroporte, which is going to debut at the Detroit auto show. You can see how they dropped the leading edge of the hood down lower, and how the car features crisper lines than before. They extended the DLO rearward, and wrapped the tail lamps into the rear fenders. Is it me or are these taillights inspired by Audi’s styling? And look how beautifully they’ve designed the engine cover, and yes the car still comes equipped with an engine built by Ferrari. Last year Maserati sold a little over 6000 cars. But the company plans to boost that to 50,000 a year by 2015. In the US market the Quattroporte starts at just over $127,000.

Hyundai and Kia will pay a hefty price for overstating fuel economy claims. Moody’s Investors Service estimates that reimbursing customers could cost the automaker $100 million a year. The automakers market share in the U.S. is also expected to fall slightly next year because of the controversy and due to no new models being launched. But in somewhat good news for Hyundai-Kia, Moody’s says the incident won’t hurt their credit ratings.

Ford is bucking the trend in China. Overall, car sales are slowing down in the market but thanks to the new Focus, Ford sales were up nearly 50 percent in October compared to a year ago, to about 60,000 units. According to China Car Times, the Focus accounted for over half of Ford’s October sales in China, totaling more than 33,000 units. The company is in the midst of a big push in the country, and could be benefitting from Chinese consumers turning away from Japanese brands.

Used car prices are expected to rise after Hurricane Sandy destroyed thousands of vehicles. The National Automobile Dealers Association, or NADA, is predicting that prices of used vehicles up to 8-years-old will increase from 0.5 percent to 1.5 percent. In 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit used car prices rose about 3 percent, but that was a much larger storm. This should boost to the auto industry because a large portion of damaged vehicles will have to be replaced.

Have you ever wanted a McLaren F1 like driving experience? Well that is what one man told Trinity Motorsports Group of Lima, OH he wanted from his Porsche 911. The company reconfigured the standard 2-plus-2 layout into single-center-seat that you see here. The hardest part of the build was trying to keep the dash as factory looking as possible said Shawn Bayliff, owner of Trinity Motorsports Group. But the company does carbon composite work that made some of the fabrication easier. The total cost of the build was $85,000 not including the original purchase price of the 911. Now Trinity is building a coupe version of the car with a manual transmission that should be finished in the next 30 to 45 days.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!.

A lot of you have a lot to say about what Toyota should do with the redesign of the Prius. Steve Ashley says: “There are two types of ugly in this world, 1.ugly and 2. BUTT UGLY!!! The ’70s Datsun F10 comes to mind. Toyota needs to scrape the current Prius styling and START OVER!”

I think he means scrap the current Prius styling, but since they’re going to have to scrape clay maybe he’s got it right.

Lex is on the other end of the argument. He says: “What’s wrong with the current design of the Prius? Let it remain the same as the iconic VW Beetle remained the same for decades.”

Kit Gerhart heard me say that one of the things that makes Volkswagen so successful is that it’s vertically integrated. He asks: “GM got away from vertical integration largely to get lower cost parts from low wage, non-union suppliers. Does VW pay their in-house parts suppliers the same wages as the assembly and powertrain employees, etc.? I don’t know, but I’m curious.”

Kit, my understanding is that they do pay them the same. But there’s not a huge wage difference as there was in the United States. Remember, just five years ago the total labor cost for a UAW worker was $75 an hour, whereas suppliers had a total labor cost of about $30 an hour. So what was a no-brainer to outsource all that work to suppliers.

Well thank goodness the election is over because Mitt Romney sure confused a lot of people about where Jeep production is going to take place. Don Bronn wants to know, “With Jeeps going to be made in China why should Americans buy them? JEEPS ARE AMERICAN! Americans won’t buy them anymore than they bought the new GTO made in Australia several years ago!”

Don, don’t worry. You’re not going to get a chance to buy a Chinese made Jeep any time soon, if ever. Yes Chrysler is going to make Jeeps in China and that’s exactly were those Jeeps are going to be sold. Chrysler will continue to make its entire Jeep line in the United States and will sell those vehicles to Americans.

Paul Kourie is curious about autonomous cars. He says: “I would like to know who you think will get there first? I don’t like to speculate but your knowledge of the industry I feel gives you a unique perspective on the next great automotive race, the race to autonomy.”

Paul my perception is that Audi is in the lead when it comes to autonomy. BMW is showing a lot of interest as well. And Ford has admitted that it’s working on it, too.

gmveteran says: “I too am mystified as to the lack of EV sales in Europe where petrol is so much more expensive than the States. Could it be that their electricity is also much more expensive and so the financial advantage is not strong enough to overcome the higher prices and lower range of EV’s?”

gmveteran, I think it’s that, and the fact that so many people in Europe live in apartments. So where do they plug-in their EV? Even though there are some public charging stations around they may be blocks away and that just makes an EV that much more inconvenient.

Thanks for all your letters and comments and keep them coming.

Hey before we go a quick reminder about tomorrow night’s Autoline After Hours. Our special guest will be Sandy Munro who has developed the software and methodology to calculate the cost of manufacturing a car. He’s got some eye-opening information on the true cost of making the Chevrolet Volt. So join me and the Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo for the best insider information in the business.

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

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21 Comments to “Episode 1009 – Maserati Plans to Grow, Focus Dominates China, Used Car Prices Soaring”

  1. ColoradoKid Says:

    So I see now Marchionne’s Fairy Dust Magical Thinking has filtered its way up to Maserati as well . Considering the fact that Maserati’s sales have been in the gutter for decades : along with the fact that the company hasn’t made a solitary dime of profit in its entire existence : just what is Marchionne basing his unfettered optimism on ? 50,000 Units a year indeed ! I doubt Maserati could ‘ give ‘ away 50,000 units a year : never mind sell them . Oh wait . Let me guess . Marchione is deluded enough to think the upcoming JEEP GC based Maserati SUV will sell that many ? Methinks perhaps its about time either the Elkann’s place Marchionne on the redundancy roles or at the very least Marchionne put the Grappa down long enough for reality to set in before the man brings all of FIAT SpA along with Chrysler and JEEP to a prolonged and very painful demise ;-)

  2. W L Simpson Says:

    Having intimate relations w/the Maserati V6 in my
    Citroen SM a few years back, precludes my giving a tinkers dam about Maser’s success, or failure.
    Had a couple of early Buick v6′s too. They were also skipping 8′s

  3. cwolf Says:

    Is Maserati’s lower leading edge a result of new european pedestrian safety law? All cars will have to reduce the heights of their front ends if true. I can’t put my finger on it, but the eye catching front grill on the Maserati,which Ford has adopted,reminds me of a bottom feeder fish mouth…carp-ish!
    And the brand will increase sales over eight fold, to 50k units, as soon hell freezes over! Geesh.. maybe if they hire Hyundai to over state sales someone may believe it! Or.. Or.. they could pay Maserati dealers to take turns buying the same 6000 cars over and over and over…. until sales hit 50,000!!!

  4. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Take all those ‘tridents’ off that Maserati and I’m looking at a pretty good looking (high end) Buick; I’d call it a ‘Riviera’. I believe, then, that we would have a 50,000 vehicle sales target that could/would be reached. (just thinking outside the box)

  5. cwolf Says:

    Sign me up!,Chuck, for one of them thar Buicks. I could even afford to buy the extended warranty which would be a must have.

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That Maserati looks pretty good, to my eyes, but I can’t imagine many people buying it at that price, Maranello engine or not. As far as selling 50K units, the GC thing could get them sales. The VW-based SUV has gotten Porsche a lot of sales for years. A Maserati SUV isn’t even something new. I remember seeing one in the Harrah collection years ago.

  7. Dave Marsh Says:

    There should be no raised eyebrows re the Jeeps in China – anyone who does any homework will quickly recall/discover that the XJ was made there for several years.

    Regarding the race to autonomous vehicles – I call it the race to the back seat – ’cause that’s where I’ll sit, sipping my champagne.


  8. ColoradoKid Says:

    “I too am mystified as to the lack of EV sales in Europe where petrol is so much more expensive than the States ”

    There is a simple answer to this conundrum .

    BMW , M-B as well as Audi have been stating clearly over the last 24 months that E/V’s and Hybrid’s are at best a short term panacea with no foreseeable long term future . With M-B and BMW reps going so far as to state publicly that the only reason they’re building E/V’s and Hybrids ( using others technology ) is to satisfy a small but vocal public’s demand to be ‘ Green ‘ Add to that the fact that the EU has the diesel as an available option and the reasons behind E/V ( and hybrid ) sales lagging in the EU become quite obvious

    #6 Methinks you may be thinking of the custom built one off Jeerrari ( Ferrari JEEP mix ) that was in the Harrods collection . To my knowledge there has never been an SUV or off road Maserati ever built : factory , custom or otherwise . As to the Maser SUV having the same effect on Maser sales as the Cayenne has had on Porsche sales : thats stretching the imagination just a bit too far . Seeing as how Maser sales have never approached the level of Porsche’s : SUV’s or not . No . Simply put either Marchionne is blowing smoke up our noses or the man’s even more delusional than even I assumed .

  9. ColoradoKid Says:


    +1 :o

  10. HtG Says:

    I admit that I don’t get Masers. They’re GT cars? And Maranello’s going to make 50,000 engines? Cosa?

    These here Maseratis, I get.


  11. HtG Says:

    Off Topic. The Beeb is showing an hour long program this evening at 9pm BST on the dangers of driving while using a mobile. Also a section on autonomous cars. I’ll ‘give it a go,’ later. Here’s the program info text.

    Justin Rowlatt and Anita Rani explore how safe the roads and cars of Britain are and what can be done to cut casualties. Most accidents are caused by human error but what kinds of errors are the biggest killers on the roads? Anita Rani and Justin Rowlatt consider the dangers of mobile phones, how do they compare to alcohol consumption or lack of sleep? And are some people more prone to accidents than others? Research suggests men and women crash in different ways, likewise the young and the old. Justin and Anita get the scientists out of the lab to carry out tests on the Great British public. They use what they find out to examine current proposals: should we re-test the elderly or ban the young from driving with friends? The programme explores what’s behind the statistics through access to unique video collection of drivers caught on camera during accidents and near misses, showing the errors as they happen – including Justin and Anita’s own. Plus Anita gets behind the wheel of a car which drives itself. Could it eliminate accidents completely?

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yep, it was the Jeerrari that I saw, probably the old Grand Wagoneer body with a Ferrari V12.

    As far as EV’s in Europe, like urban areas most places, there is no place to plug them in. Not many people in Europe live in a house in the suburbs, where they can have a convenient outlet to charge a car.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Europeans are probably waiting for diesel hybrids. Today’s small engine diesels about match the mpg of the best gas hybrids, but a similar size diesel hybrid could improve on the mpg of both by about 30%.

  14. C-Tech Says:

    With about 30 Maserati dealers in the U.S., and maybe 120 or so worldwide, they will have to significantly increase the dealer network. Given how profitable the current Fiat dealers are, Mr. Marchionne may have trouble finding enough additional rich suckers.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe they should combine Fiat, Maserati, and Ferrari dealers, adding Alfa if they return to the U.S., like a lot of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep dealers have been combined.

    No, I’m not serious. It makes no sense to try to “grow” Maserati very much, but they could probably sell their few hundred Quattraportes alongside Ferrari.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Great group of photos. Thanks for posting the link.

  17. ColoradoKid Says:

    Cadillac vs Anthony Bourdain ;


    Personally I’m behind Bourdain 100% . Between this stunt and what Cadillac tried to do with Bob Dylan a few years ago in their ads IMHO Bourdain might even be a bit too restrained in his comments . Good to see there’s still a very rare few out there willing to take a stand .

  18. ColoradoKid Says:

    Apologies for the link containing a bit of profanity . Had I noticed I wouldn’t of put it up .

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    By all accounts the rich ARE getting richer so perhaps it is not a bad idea to make more cars with folks with lots of cash to splurge on expensive toys.

  20. HtG Says:

    I missed this. What did Discovery do to get under Bourdain’s potatoes?

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I don’t really get why Bourdain is so angry, and vulgar. Yeah, he could be leaving Travel Channel under less-than-amicable conditions, and yeah, TC shouldn’t have made it look like Bourdain is a Cadillac fan if he’s not, but this can’t be great for Bourdain’s rep with some people.