November 12th, 2012 at 11:36am
Vehicle inventory levels jumped nearly 25 percent last month in the U.S. market. See which companies top the list. VW shareholders voted to keep 75-year-old chairman Ferdinand Piech, but it could be longer than anyone expected. Should Ford sell the F-150 in China? Sales of one special-edition F-series show they should. All that and more, plus a look at how one major city leads the way in public bicycle use.
Hello and welcome to a brand new week of Autoline Daily, I’m John McElroy. Later in the show we’ll review the results of our weekly Autoline Poll, but first the top news in the auto industry.
A LOT OF LOT OF CARS
Inventory levels jumped nearly 25 percent last month in the U.S. market. On average there are now 73 days’ worth of new vehicles sitting in rail yards or on dealers’ lots, up from 59 days’ in September, as reported by WardsAuto. European automakers have an average of 58 days’ supply, Japanese automakers have 62. But Ford is at 78, Chrysler is at 83 and GM is at 98 days’ supply. Proper inventory levels vary by season. You expect them to go up in winter time. But to see such a big jump across the board, especially at the Detroit Three, is completely unexpected.
WHEN THEY PRY MY COLD, DEAD FINGERS OFF IT
Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech could be around for a lot longer than anyone expected. Shareholders voted to keep the 75-year-old as chairman through December 2016. But Piech told a German magazine and I quote “A new model of the Golf usually comes out every 5-7 years. At least that long I will cover Winterkorn’s back as chairman.” Of course he’s referring to VW’s CEO Martin Winterkorn. That means Piech could stay at Volkswagen until he’s 82 years-old.
BUILT FORD TOUGH
Last week we reported that Ford’s sales in China were way up thanks to the Focus. But the company has another hit on its hands in China. The Detroit News reports that the SVT Raptor is selling for up to $160,000 in the country. In the U.S. it sells for $43,000. The Chinese slap huge tariffs on American vehicles, and Ford doesn’t sell the SVT Raptor in China so consumers must buy it outside of authorized dealer networks. I still say Ford should test the Chinese market to see how the F-150 would sell, even if it means building it there.
KEEP ON TRUCKIN’
And just to show you how attitudes have changed about pick-up trucks, residents of Coral Gables, Florida, a very upscale neighborhood, just voted to end a 50-year-old ban that prohibited residents from parking pick-up trucks in driveways overnight. What used to be considered declasse is now a symbol of upward mobility.
BADGES? WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ BADGES
The Porsche emblem is iconic and unmistakable. Now you can get a reproduced emblem from Porsche Classic for a early 911 or 356. And the work that goes into the reproduction badges is extraordinary. They are making sure the colors are true to the originals, using special tools based on original drawings. The silver and gold plating is applied using the same technique as the original. They have even gone as far as to test the emblems in a ballistic firing range. Lets just say they pass the tests with flying colors.
BACK IN BLACK
Mercedes-Benz has released a video of the lighter, stiffer and faster SLS AMG Black Series. The SLS Black is set to make its debut at the LA Auto Show later this month. Until then we will just have to watch this video for the 622-horsepower coupe.
AUTOLINE DAILY’S POLL
In the latest Autoline Poll, we asked you how Toyota should go about designing the next Prius. And once again Autoline viewers are just about split down the middle. 45 percent of you said Toyota should go for a radical overhaul. The other 45 percent of you said they should just evolve the design. And 10 percent said, don’t touch a thing, just leave it exactly as it is. And this may show why Toyota is struggling over what to do. Just what does the public want?
Gridlock and congestion are the bane of every big city in the world. Even public transportation can be a hassle to use. And that’s why public bicycles are becoming hugely popular in major urban areas. Coming up next, we’ll take a look at how Paris is leading the way.
PARIS’ PUBLIC TRANSIT
(Paris’ public transit can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show)
Public bicycles are easy way to get around a big city. You just go to a public bicycle stand, pay a modest fee, unlock a bike and ride it wherever you want, then leave it at another public bicycle stand. When we were in Paris recently, here’s what we found.
In Paris they even have electric cars that you can use under the same system, called Autolib. In rainy or cold weather it offers a great alternative to the Velib.
Don’t forget that this Thursday night on After Hours, our guest will be John Jraiche, the chief engineer on the new Ford Fusion. Here’s your chance to learn everything about that car and how Ford went about engineering it. So join me and the Autoextremist for the best insider info in the business.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.