December 10th, 2012 at 11:43am
A Chinese company bought battery maker A123 Systems, which is good news for one EV manufacturer. Japanese automakers are still having trouble in China due to anti-Japanese sentiment. Daimler AG is investing $100 million in its Detroit Diesel plant. All that and more, plus a look at Ford’s 1.0 Liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine in the 2014 Fiesta.
Welcome back for a brand new week of Autoline Daily. We’ll have the results of our latest weekly poll later in the show about the right-to-work law in Michigan and how that might impact the UAW. And we’ve got more information about Ford’s 3-cylinder engine and how they plan to sell it. But now let’s take a look at what’s happening elsewhere in the automotive industry.
EVERYBODY WANXIANG TONIGHT
This is good news for Fisker. A123 Sytems, which makes batteries for Fisker’s plug-in, stopped production when it filed for bankruptcy two months ago. But a Chinese company, Wanxiang, bought A123’s assets in bankruptcy court for $256 million. Wanxiang had even offered more money, $465 million before A123 went into bankruptcy. But several Republican congressman objected to it being sold to the Chinese because A123 also had military contracts. But that part of the company was sold off separately, and Wanxiang outbid Johnson Controls, Siemens, and NEC.
DISCOUNTS BOOST CHINESE SALES
Sales in China have been cooling off this year but they’re starting to pick back up again. They hit 1.46 million units last month, a gain of nearly 9 percent and that’s the highest monthly total in almost two years. Dealers in the country are offering big discounts to try and clear inventory for the end of the year.
JAPANESE OEMS FACE MORE PROBLEMS IN CHINA
But despite the jump in sales, Japanese automakers are still having trouble in China. Reuters reports that Toyota is delaying the launch of a new production line at one of its plants in the country because the company expects sales to decline for the foreseeable future. And Gasgoo reports that a number Chinese dealers are considering dropping Japanese brands altogether, because they’re afraid future protests could cripple sales again. One dealer says that sales of Japanese brands at his outlets have dropped by a third.
BMW SURGES AHEAD
Audi, BMW and Mercedes are expecting record sales this year, despite the problems in Europe. But BMW is expanding its luxury-car lead over the others. It’s been able to maintain growth by tapping the U.S. and Chinese markets, where the X1 SUV saw a 37 percent sales increase and the 3 Series climbed 36 percent. BMW deliveries jumped 26 percent in November, while total deliveries increased 11 percent.
DAIMLER INVESTS $100M
Daimler AG is investing $100 million in its Detroit Diesel plant. This will expand production, add new technology and jobs. The plant currently has 2,300 employees and builds four major engines, rear axles and 12-speed transmissions. This investment will allow Detroit Diesel to be the first heavy-duty manufacturer in North America to offer a fully integrated powertrain (engines, transmissions and axles) from one production facility. Daimler says it can design each system to work more effectively with each other.
Well we’ve got the latest results from our weekly poll. We asked you if Michigan’s right-to-work law will help, hurt or not make any difference at all to the UAW. And you overwhelmingly believe it is going to hurt the union. 83 percent of you said it will hurt the UAW. 14 percent said it would not make any difference at all. And 3 percent of you said it would actually help the UAW.
FORD’S 3-CYLINDER ECOBOOST
(Ford’s 3-Cylinder EcoBoost can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show)
That one liter engine has surprisingly good low-end torque. But since it’s only offered with a 5-speed manual that is going to limit the engine’s appeal. And if Ford charges too much for it as an option, it’s going to limit it even more.
Speaking of turbocharged engines, our guest on Autoline After Hours this Thursday night is John Morton, who heads up the turbocharging efforts for motor racing at Borg Warner. 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, please join us again here tomorrow.