November 26th, 2012 at 11:56am
Hyundai and Kia could be starting to feel the repercussions of misrepresenting fuel economy, but this problem may have deeper implications beyond the Korean automakers. Aston Martin is looking for someone to take a stake in the company. See who’s scrambling to place their bids. General Motors takes the wraps off its new Chinese EV, the Sail SPRINGO EV. All that and more, plus John McElroy talks with Ashley Denmead from Carbon Revolution, a company that has figured out how to make wheels out of carbon fiber.
Hello and welcome to a brand new week of Autoline Daily. We’re glad you’ve joined us, and now let’s get to the news.
A SHIFTY DEAL
General Motors is looking at selling its giant automatic transmission plant in Strassbourg, France. The plant makes rear-drive 6-speed automatic transmissions. ZF and a company called Punch International, a contract manufacturing services company based in the Belgium are interested in buying the plant. Interesting backstory to the Strassbourg facility: when it first started building 6-speed automatics, GM didn’t even use them. They sold them to BMW. In fact, BMW still accounts for roughly half the output at that plant.
ASTON MARTIN ON THE BLOCK
Aston Martin wants someone, anyone to take a stake in the automaker. According to Bloomberg, Investment Dar Co., the Kuwaiti based firm that owns the iconic British luxury carmaker, has received several bids for Aston. Investindustrial, a European private-equity fund, offered over $400 million, but that offer was topped by Indian automaker Mahindra. The winning bidder will receive 50 percent of the voting rights and 40 percent equity stake.
INFINITI HEADS TO BRAZIL
Well we knew it wouldn’t take long for former Audi executive Johan de Nysschen to start making changes at Infiniti once he took over there. Now Infiniti will be expanding its sales efforts to Brazil. The brand will launch with the FX crossover and a yet unnamed sports sedan. Sales will not start until the end of 2014 and will be limited to Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, but will be expanded after that. And talk about expansion! Infiniti is in the process of moving into Singapore, Chile, Dominican Republic, South Africa and Australia, and Hong Kong which is where the Japanese brand now has its new headquarters.
MPG LABEL PROBLEMS
Looks like Hyundai and Kia are getting dinged for misrepresenting their fuel economy. Edmunds reports a decline in the purchase intent of consumers searching for new cars on its website. And it says purchase intent correlates well with how sales will perform over the next three months. But I think other automakers could be in trouble over the fuel economy their cars deliver in the real world versus what the EPA fuel economy label promises. In my test drives of the latest hybrids from Ford and Toyota, they don’t come anywhere near the EPA label. In fact, small turbocharged gasoline engines with automatic transmissions don’t seem to do well in real world fuel economy. I think this is going to become a much bigger issue in the weeks to come.
GM’S LATEST EV IN CHINA
GM just unveiled an electric vehicle in China called the Sail SPRINGO EV. The car, which was developed in China, has a range of 130 kilometers or about 80 miles, and its top speed is about 80 MPH. It takes 7 hours to charge using a 220 volt connection. The Sail SPRINGO EV goes on sale in the first half of next year with a starting price of around $41,000.
Say, have you seen this carbon fiber wheel yet? It’s very impressive and coming up next I’ll be sitting down with the guy who figured out how to make it.
Carbon Revolution is the name of an Australian company that’s figured out how to make wheels out of carbon fiber. Ashley Denmead is the design director of the company and he recently visited our studios.
(John McElroy’s interview with Ashley Denmead from Carbon Revolution is only available in the video version of today’s program.)
Denmead tells me that the wheels use machined aluminum valve stems from Germany that work with tire pressure monitors, no special tire mounting equipment is needed, though they ask that touch-less machines are used as with any high-end wheel to avoid scratches or damage. And the wheels are balanced using lead weights with adhesive backings.
Before we go, don’t forget that we’ll be webcasting live from the LA auto show on Wednesday, starting at 1PM Pacific Time, which is 4PM Eastern Time. We’ll be doing interviews with the top executives at the show (SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS HERE) as well as showing you the latest cars being unveiled there. Put it on your calendars so you don’t miss the latest developments at the LA show.
And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching we’ll see you tomorrow.