December 18th, 2012 at 11:52am
Mercedes-Benz is not only lagging behind BMW in sales, it’s also lagging in market value. The 2013 Chevy Cruze will be equipped with a new single-stage “smart airbag.” An organization called Noise Free America just chose this month’s winner of what it calls the Noisy Dozen. All that and more, plus John McElroy sits down with (pun intended) Michael Miner, the manager of product planning at Faurecia Seating to show a future seat design that it’s showing to automakers.
They used to say that the sun never sets on the British Empire. Well, it doesn’t set on the automotive industry, either. So let’s catch up with what’s going on from the industry that never sleeps.
MORE STORES = MORE SALES
Cadillac is way behind German luxury cars in China, so GM is out to boost the number of Cadillac dealerships there. It wants to add around 40 dealerships next year, currently it has 160. Caddy only sold about 27,000 cars in China so far this year. Audi sold close to 371,000, BMW is at 296,000 and Mercedes at 177,000.
THE (STOCK) MARKET HAS SPOKEN
Speaking of the German luxury brands, Mercedes-Benz is not only lagging behind BMW in sales, it’s also lagging in market value. Bloomberg reports that BMW market value is around 45 billion euros while Daimler is at 42 billion. However if you take out Daimler’s truck business, Mercedes is only valued at 25 billion euros, about half of BMW. Mercedes lags behind because it’s not as strong in China, was late getting into new segments like compact SUVs and is just not seen as a cool brand by younger buyers. One analyst says investors don’t have much confidence that CEO Dieter Zetsche and his team can turn things around.
INFINITI GETS Q MONIKER
Infiniti, Nissan’s premium brand will make it easier for customers to understand the model range by adopting Q as the first letter for each new sedan, coupe and convertible starting next year. QX will denote a crossover or SUV model. The first model up with the new name is the Q50, a sedan that makes its debut at the Detroit Auto Show next month.
WHAT’S YOUR AIRBAG’S IQ?
The 2013 Chevy Cruze will be equipped with a new ‘smart airbag.’ It is a single-stage airbag that uses one inflator to manage both low-speed and high-speed crash forces as well as flexible venting technology that allows the driver’s momentum to push air out and away. Older dual-stage bags use two inflators, one for low-speed and one for high-speed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tested out the Cruze and gave it a 5-star rating, including this single-stage technology. No doubt we’ll soon see this airbag in other GM vehicles.
An organization called Noise Free America just chose honking horns from remote key fobs as this month’s winner of what it calls the Noisy Dozen. It says two-thirds of all new cars now use the horn to signal that the doors have locked when you hit the lock button on your key fob. Noise Free America claims that Subaru and Toyota have recently changed to a soft chirping sound instead of using the horn, and that Europe mandates the use of flashing headlights instead of the horn. You know, these guys are right. We don’t need the horn to signal the doors are locked. So all you product planning people in the audience, take note. Just flash the lights.
How can you make a car lighter, roomier and more comfortable all at the same time? Well, you can come up with a completely different kind of car seat. We’ll fill you in on all the details right after this.
FAURECIA SEAT TECHNOLOGY
(Faurecia Seat can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)
Faurecia is one of the largest automotive suppliers in the world. Based in France, the company specializes in making interior components for cars, especially seats. Michael Miner, the manager of product planning at Faurecia Seating recently showed me a future seat design that it’s showing to automakers.
I would love to try that seat out in a car. It felt very comfortable in that static display, but I’d really like to experience it out on the road.
I think we’re going to have a lot of fun on Autoline After Hours this Thursday night. It’s our annual “naughty and nice” holiday version, where we hand our nice gifts to those people in the automotive industry who have impressed us this year, and lumps of coal to those who have not. Join me and the Autoextremist Peter DeLorenzo for the best insider opinions in the business. That’s Thursday at 6 pm eastern time or 2300 GMT on Autoline.tv.
That’s it for today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.