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Episode 1012 – Inventory Levels Jump, VW Chairman Stays Put, China Loves Raptors

November 12th, 2012 at 11:36am

Runtime: 7:08

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.

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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.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

59 Comments to “Episode 1012 – Inventory Levels Jump, VW Chairman Stays Put, China Loves Raptors”

  1. HtG Says:

    Sandy.

    I spoke to someone at a large insurer who relates that tons of cars on Staten and Long Island are total losses. This insurer is paying off the cars at retail value, so customers have every incentive to turn them in, rather than trying to re-sell or fix them. They’ll be off the streets.

  2. Philip Says:

    My problem with the Prius has always been the dash. I don’t like the layout. This car like a few others (Mini) has the speedo in the center of the dash halfway between the driver and passenger. DUMB ARANGEMENT. To check your speed you half to turn your head away from the road in front of you, instead of simply glancing down with your eyes to look between the spokes of the steering wheel.

    Bad design, more dangerous. Same reason I eliminate cars from consideration that don’t have dials or buttons to control the radio and climate controls. Touch screen controls don’t work reliably, you have to look away from the road, and forget using them with gloves on. Hundreds of millions of dollars spent designing these things and they screw up on basic tactile design.

  3. HtG Says:

    More Sandy

    It may be that damage to the greater NY oil infrastructure is worse than we’ve heard. I’m now reading that storage tanks and pipes will take weeks to fox, and that our political leaders are just getting their minds around this problem. I had believed that they were just staying stumm about may have occurred in the Arthur Kill behind Staten Island. So I said nothing, thinking the govt didn’t want to panic people. But go open up your google earth and follow the Arthur Kill from the Goethals bridge southward. I’m not even going to talk about the pipelines(whose plans I saw years ago) lying between SI and LI, but keep in mind that the raging waters also move around the seabed(ask me how I know).

  4. HtG Says:

    ‘fix’ not ‘fox’

    Sorry

  5. cwolf Says:

    Since pick-up trucks are one of todays news items, I thought it interesting Ford Ranger sales in S. America are hot,hot,hot,yet discontinued here in the US. Knowing Ford likes to build stuff in Mexicana, I don’t know why the Ranger can’t still be shipped north of tacco country. Could this be a union thing?

  6. Enn Norak Says:

    What to do with Prius? For me, there is only one answer: make the car a little larger and replace the current propulsion system with an economical turbo diesel. By the way, I never did like the name Prius from day one but it’s too late to change that now.

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    But HtG what about those lower income folks who may had an older running car that got wasted, no insurance money coming in, limited used supply at a higher cost and basically they’re screwed. This Cuomo guy has turned out to be a big stiff, nothing like Christie who has been on top of things since day 1.

  8. cwolf Says:

    HtG, is this oil infrastructure problem the responsibility of the oil companies or do you think the Govt is at fault?

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Re the Coral Gables ordinance, these idiots should have done this years ago when trucks were really more popular and selling better than now. Kind of late for the folks here.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    These inventory levels should drop once the vehicle replacements begin in the area affected by Sandy and also junkyards will be working overtime to crush all these totaled vehicles and unscrupulous used car brokers and dealers will be trying to unload some damaged crap on unsuspecting buyers.

  11. cwolf Says:

    Chrismas shut-down could be another reason for the higher inventories.

  12. HtG Says:

    8 What struck me last week when gov Cuomo spoke was that he said the local infrastructure was private, with many different pieces operating independently. Cuomo seemed perturbed, but I wasn’t able to tell if all this was news to him. I did infer that he considers it intolerable that the whole metro area can be laid low so easily, and that government barely knew what was going on initially.

  13. Rumblestrip Says:

    No reason to sell the F150 in China, when you have the new Ranger being built in S.E. Asia, AND it just won the best truck in the “rest of the” world last week

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    Bedbug Bloomberg was all cocky the first couple of days and then realized not every New Yorker is a billionaire like him, that plus the marathon embarrassment, shut his yap for a while.

  15. Bradley Says:

    Honestly…what percentage of car people are Mercedes lovers? Mercedes = Yawn…or maybe Yanny?

  16. cwolf Says:

    I did see the part where Cuomo was pissed,but I was/am in the dark of the whole situation. If Cuomo believes this an initial design or lack of maint. problem, I’m sure he would be head hunting. Going after the oil companies may be rather an impossible task if they claim damages were a result of mother nature or uncontrolable circumstances.

  17. Bradley Says:

    correction Yanny = Yanni

  18. Lex Says:

    Your piece on “A Lot of Lot Cars” might mean that European (i.e. German)OEM’s are enjoying a higher take rate than other OEM’s. Mercedes Benz, especially the 300 C 4Matic and both BMW’s 3 & 5 Series are well represented in my neighborhood.
    The Lease Deals seem to be extra generous.

  19. C-Tech Says:

    Here are some pictures of the Winter Park Fl. Concour’s
    Flickr.com/photos/ctech

    Perhaps this inventory increase is a buffer to take advantage of end of the year sales by having a better selection for customers

    Given the roads and forecasts of growth in China, by the time the plant is built and running, the market may change for full-sized pick-ups.

    I would love to see if the Paris bicycle program model would work in U.S. cities? Perhaps motorized bicycles

  20. C-Tech Says:

    Being at the Concours’ this weekend it was very interesting to see the wrangling for customers from the Mercedes and BMW booths. Neither booth had the normal low-key salesmen, these guys were ready to make deals – NOW.

  21. Lex Says:

    I believe Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will be one of the chosen candidates in the Democratic Party to succeed President Obama in 2016. He is doing some muscle flexing at the Utility Companies in the wake of Super Storm Sandy to show he is looking out for the people of New York. If it was not for our friends from Pike Electric and Hydro Quebec we New Yorkers would still be in the dark due to ConEd, LIPA and NYSEG. It is not the workers fault at these companies, it’s the lack of improvements to the New York Electrical Infra-structor which is old and 30 years out of date. That is why Gov. Cuomo is sending these companies management a wake-up call. If they do not do everything in there power to restore power their certifications and licenses to do business in New York can be revoked.

    Remember Katrina in New Orleans was a Cat 5 Storm, Sandy was only a Cat 1 storm. Look how much damage the northeast received from Sandy. If Sandy was a Cat 5 Storm like Katrina she would have killed thousands and it would take Trillions of Dollars to repair the area.

    I would also not be surprised to see Gov. Chris Christie jump from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party once his term as Governor of New Jersey is over.

  22. HtG Says:

    Lex, I heard a caller to WNYC saying that on LI people were relying on road crews for info. She said that crews were standing around for 2 or 3 hours waiting to be told where to go next. LIPA is a mess, with high debt having delayed modernization and even pole maintenance.

    Oh, and one thing we know about Cuomo, he one nasty boy. Wasn’t he Mario’s enforcer in campaigns?

  23. stas peterson Says:

    Hmmn… another “unexpected” bad result reported by our media, after the election, when the news was well known on November 1st.

    WSJ and FD are now saying we are going into, or are already in, a new Recession only a few days after the election, more “unexpected” news,alll based on information available in October or earlier.

    If I didn’t know better, I would think it was an “unexpected” suppression of detrimental news by our mass media.

  24. cwolf Says:

    It’s good to hear from the perspective of you New Yorkers and area. Clearly the infrastructure across the nation has been in neglect for many many years. This can no longer be seen as a political problem ignored by one and favored by the other to deal with it. Investing in the entire infrastructure may be now ripe to create good jobs if only our electorate would work colectively together for the common good of the people. My heart goes out to those who continue to suffer.

  25. HtG Says:

    C’est it ain’t so.

    Paris will exclude old polluting cars, trucks, and bikes from the City of Light by 1914.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/9672713/Old-bangers-and-classic-cars-to-be-banned-from-Paris.html

  26. cwolf Says:

    Recession?—naah! The banks have regained fluidness, industries have a stock pile of cash, the auto and home industry is maintaining an up-swing momentum and the markets are positive about the near future for the US. The sky is not falling- Yet.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    Re the old, decrepit infracstructure: the stimulus was supposed to have been used to help remedy that, instead it went to pipe dream green companies that squandered the money and now are gone or soon will be, Fisker and Tesla included.

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    Honda released photos of the “improved” 2013 Civic to the media with no interior shots at all, which is ironic cause the biggest complaint of the 2012 was indeed its interior quality, reminds me of a bad movie that does not get previewed by the critics.

  29. C-Tech Says:

    @ #23 Do you mean the WSJ owned by Faux News?

  30. HtG Says:

    Please gents, this is the time for the right to fight. Dems can just stand aside. I’ll post a relevant link afterhours for my friend Pedro.

  31. Sprinkler48602 Says:

    How much is one of those faux Porsche emblems gonna cost me?

  32. gmveteran Says:

    John,

    Given the circumstances that have made pickups such a fixture here in America, (wide open spaces and lots of construction), it is strange that full size pickup trucks are not big sellers in China. Perhaps Chinese regulations don’t permit the sale of this type of vehicle in that market?

    GM Veteran

  33. RonE Says:

    A while back the space shuttle Endeavour was moved to a museum in LA. Below is a link to the Toyota video that shows their Tundra pickup pulling the shuttle. Interesting video IMO.

    http://www.toyota.com/tundraendeavour/?srchid=google%7cTundra_Endeavour%7c%252Bspace_%252Bshuttle

  34. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    It is sad to see so many folks standing in line with red plastic cans to buy their solar panels and windmills. So many bumps in the road to recovery. Most don’t look like they are thinking about which new car to buy.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #2,
    In addition to the “retro” speedometer in the middle of the dash, a MINI has a digital speedo right in front of the driver, in the lower part of the tach housing. If the center speedometer was the only one the car had, I probably wouldn’t have bought a MINI.

    While the displays in a Prius are not “normal,” to me, they are pretty user friendly. While the big, digital speed readout is not exactly in front of the driver, it is only a little to the right, and well left of the center of the car, and is very easy to read. That is the case, at least in the current Prius that started with the 2010 model year, which I have. I don’t know about earlier ones.

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    When you consider that either you hands or the steering wheel can block the instrument panel, having them in the middle did not seem awkward the few times I drove my son’s xB, I took to it easily, what I cannot stand is vehicles with poor side and rear visibility such as my sister’s Journey CUV.

  37. HtG Says:

    An interesting NewYorker piece, Pedro, on the importance of the hispanic vote in Texas and the US.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/11/19/121119fa_fact_lizza

  38. XA351GT Says:

    cwolf,
    Ford has this BS reason that it is because the Ranger isn’t all the smaller than the F150 . I think the real reason is they don’t want to steal sales from the F series and lose their status as most sold vehicle in the US. Here is my suggestion , call it the F100. That way the sales would still count towards F series and we could have a smaller truck .

  39. Ckernzie Says:

    cwolf / XA351GT Don’t get me started on the Ranger although I still expect Ford to relent and bring it to N.AM. Here in Canada dealers have been pleading with Ford to get their hands on it. I like the idea of calling it an F100 and maybe they could even use the Ranger name as a model of the F-Series like it used to be once upon a time. I’ll take it in a diesel thanks!

  40. ColoradoKid Says:

    Mr Bond ? James Bond ? Your car company is in a ton of trouble . Again !

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/report-james-bonds-carmaker-for-sale/?ref=automobiles

    Poor David Richards . Since his Subaru WRC days the man simply cannot catch a break ! Oh . And errrr Mr Bond ? You may want to consider another auto maker for any future purchases . My gut says this may just close the doors on Aston Martin .

    Paris Bicycle Program . Several US cities have implemented similar programs . To little or no avail . Unfortunately . Seems us ‘ Mericans ‘ are afraid to get off our bums and out of our cars . Well , that and the fact that most cities here are anything but Bicycle Friendly .

    #23 Technically speaking we’ve never exited the current recession we’re embroiled in up to our necks . Its the Media / Politicos / Retailers and Manufactures that keep trying to say we’re out of the woods .

  41. ColoradoKid Says:

    Ford Ranger

    Methinks there’s a simpler explanation as to why Ford refuses to give all of us the Ranger back .

    That would make too much sense ! And God Forbid anyone these days dare to make even a modicum of sense . This might just be a rumor , but I hear tell Common Sense is about to be outlawed once and for all :o

  42. cwolf Says:

    The Ranger I speak of are the earlier and smaller models. Like the Escape and most other models over the years, they have become larger for each re-fresh and call it improved. Bull fritters! I owned early models of each with out any major problems over the 200K+ miles driven. I found the size perfect for me.

  43. cwolf Says:

    Did ya catch the nightly news stating there are now more women having drivers licenses than men. Smaller, friendlier and more mpg’s are the predicted future preferences to be placed upon the auto makers. Hope yer get’in ready for make-up vanity lighting on the vissor flip side,pretty interior colors and,of course special compartments for lip stick and other cosmetics. Vrooom-Vroooom!!!

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just like Tacoma takes sales from Tundra, since the former has gotten as big as the father of the Tundra the T 100

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well, HtG it used to be important in Fl as well but since the incompetent election officials are incapable of running a proper voting system w/o needing 3 days for the final results. like some 4th world rat-hole, Fl will no longer matter in crucial elections. As far as the Cuban vote, my in-laws are GOP, anti-Kennedy die-hards, my wife and I are independents and my son is Democrat, he shuns the GOP cause of the social conservatism they embrace.

  46. HtG Says:

    Lots of division over here too, Pedro. Yeesh

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    I filled up today at $3.27 regular, I wonder how long this will last, until the manure hits the fan in the straits of Hormuz, I guess!

  48. C-Tech Says:

    To lighten the political mood, take a look at the cars from the Winter Park Fl. Concours’. No voting problems here.

    Flickr.com/photos/ctech

  49. cwolf Says:

    Wow, it’s another electric!
    Motor Trend chose the Tesla Model S as car of the year. Hope the award does more for the Model S than it has the Volt.

  50. cwolf Says:

    I was reading how Ford has already delivered and sold more than 2,500 B-Max in the E/U during the first 6 weeks. Thats swell, but within the report I found something just as interesting. Ford used its configuration site,before release and as a promo,to evaluate customer appeal. Would’nt that be grand if a car company would allow one to select desired options,from simplistic to high tech,during the design stages? Maybe Ford has been eying their configurator all along,but they should take it a step further.

  51. pedro fernandez Says:

    Anyone with any love for the automobile should cancel their Motor Trend POS subscription immediately, it is an insult to the car guys around the world to put 2 loser, barely a blip on the map vehicles back to back as their Car of Year. Are they really serious?.

  52. Brett Says:

    I expect that the folks at Ford ran the numbers and concluded that between the people who would buy an F-series pickup if they couldn’t buy a Ranger and either the money they’d save either closing the St.Louis plant or using it to build something more profitable, they’d be ahead of the game in some incremental fashion if the Ranger was killed off.

    I cannot see something like the rent-a-bike concept catching on in the average American metro area. The distances are too great, the traffic environment too dangerous, and the potential users generally too ignorant of proper cycling etiquette to be feasible.

    If it were attempted, I suspect that a large portion of the target customer base would be killed off before the first year was out.

    I’ve ridden nearly 400 miles this year in and around the Daytona Beach area on my bicycle and the number of fools I’ve witnessed on bikes and in cars is disconcerting.

  53. cwolf Says:

    I have no doubt the Ranger was killed off because of money. But now Ford plans to assemble a van from the Tranit Connect. I’m not sure the number of vans sold will be any greater than Ranger sales. The shared platform is the only thing making it worth while.

    pedro, all MT evaluators unanimously voted for the S for its tech. anvancement and for becoming a great car to drive. Everyone must be from Calif.,but I thought the new hemp law was just passed? They have to be growing their own!

  54. pedro fernandez Says:

    52 But the Feds say they won’t allow it to be grown due to federal laws so I guess it will have to come from China or better yet, Mejico, si senor, would you like some MariJuana to go with your tequila? Cheech Marin is quitting show business and go into the MariJuana import business.

  55. Kit Gerhart Says:

    John, maybe Ford, as you say, should test the market for F150 in China, but it might not be such a big hit there. It is quite possible that people in China, unlike Americans, realize that it is really silly to drive a gas hog, ill-handling pickup truck to move one person around town.

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I thought it was perfectly reasonable for MT to name Volt as car of the year. While it is expensive, and doesn’t make economic sense for many people, the Volt at least works pretty well, and could serve as an only car for a lot of people.

    While the Tesla S actually drives pretty well, according to C & D and others, naming it car of the year seems pretty silly, given its really long shot chances of being around any longer than DeLorean. It does appear the the model S is a more fully developed package than the Karma, though.

  57. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well, MT gave the Vega car of the year, so what can you expect from them?

  58. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Other notable MT cars of the year:

    Mustang II
    Volare/Aspen
    Chevy Monza (the upscale Vega)
    Citation
    Renault Alliance

    They’ve made some good choices along the way, but not very consistently. They’ve always liked cars that were “new and different,” as they named Corvair and the bent-driveshaft Tempest as COTY in ’60 and ’61.

  59. RonE Says:

    MT influenced my decision to buy a ’76 Toyota Celica GT liftback after they made it import car of the year. It wasn’t a very good car at all. I did like the looks of it at that time though.