February 4th, 2013 at 11:46am
New U.S. car sales figures are out for the month of January, and they look very strong. Red Bull Racing inked a four-year deal with one carmaker to become the Vehicle Performance Partner of the team. At a labor conference in Washington D.C., UAW President Bob King and former Brazilian President Lula da Silva urged union members to get more active in politics. All that and more, plus host John McElroy gives his driving impressions of the 2014 Subaru Forester.
Welcome to a new week of Autoline Daily. We’ve got the results from our latest poll, where we asked you to vote on the finalists that the automotive designers chose for the best production and concept cars at the Detroit auto show, but first let’s get to the news.
U.S. CAR SALES START 2013 STRONG
New car sales in the U.S. market came in very strong for January. Just over one million new vehicles were sold, up nearly 10 percent from a year ago. The seasonally adjusted rate suggests that sales for the year would come in at 15.2 million units, up from last year’s January SAAR of 13.9 million. The top selling automakers were Porsche, up more than 26 percent, followed by Toyota up nearly 22 percent. Jaguar Land Rover had a terrific month, but it was all thanks to Land Rover. Ford and Subaru rounded out the top five. The bottom five start with Mazda, which saw sales plummet almost 15 percent. Mitsubishi and Suzuki were down, no surprise there. However, it was a surprise to see Nissan drop 2 percent and BMW and Hyundai/Kia drop by almost that amount. Overall, the Detroit automakers picked up a point and a half of share, they now have 45.7 percent of the market. Asian automakers collective lost a point and the Europeans lost half a point. If the American market keeps growing like this everyone ought to have a good year.
INFINITI GRABS RED BULL BY HORNS
Well it’s the time of the season where the Formula 1 teams show off their newest race cars. McLaren, Ferrari and Force India have all pulled the covers off their latest designs. But perhaps the most intriguing introduction comes from Red Bull Racing, which inked a four-year deal with carmaker Infiniti to become the Vehicle Performance Partner of the team. Infiniti believes that moving technical staff through the F1 environment will benefit those people, their own new-car development process and their technology. I love seeing car companies using motor racing to improve their capabilities.
THE UAW IN POLITICS
At a labor conference in Washington D.C., UAW President Bob King and former Brazilian President Lula da Silva urged union members to get more active in politics. During the conference King points to Lula, a former auto worker, as an example of how far one can go. As for fighting for workers rights, President Lula says, “[it] is a job for the workers.”
On Friday, we gave you the list of finalists for the EyesOn Design Awards that are given at the Detroit auto show. The jury is made up of about 28 car designers from around the world who walk the show and vote on the best new production car and the best concept car. Their finalists for production car included the Audi RS7, BMW M6 Grand Coupe, Cadillac ELR, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. And you voted for the Corvette. Interestingly, the designers chose the Cadillac ELR. The concept car finalists included the Ford Atlas pick-up, the Hyundai HCD-14, Lincoln MKC and Nissan Resonance. You chose the Hyundai HCD-14. The designers tied. They awarded the Ford Atlas and Nissan Resonance. Thanks to you who participated in the poll, we love getting your input.
Coming up next, I’ll give you my driving impressions of the newly redesigned Subaru Forester. Here’s a hint. I really like it.
2014 SUBARU FORESTER
(John McElroy’s full driving impressions of the 2014 Subaru Forester can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)
And a key reason it drives so well is that Subaru strengthened the body to where it’s now one-and-a-half times stiffer than the previous one, even though they chopped 24 pounds out of the body in white. Thanks to a significantly retuned suspension, this SUV is feels rock solid, and combined with a great seating position for the driver, you feel properly planted. That too makes a huge difference in how a vehicle drives.
The base 2.5-liter engine, mated to a CVT, feels a bit underpowered if you really need to floor it and get going. But the 2-liter turbo, with 80 more horsepower and 84 more foot-pounds of torque provides more than enough get up and go. In fact, now the turbo becomes its own trim line, not just an engine option. And Subaru says it did a much better job of integrating the turbo, instead of just bolting it on the engine. Also, notice how they got rid of the hood scoop, which cleans up the styling.
For truly hard core drivers, though I’m not sure why the hard core would buy a Forester, there are switches on the steering wheel of the turbo models that give you three different driving modes, each more aggressive. They call it SI-Drive for Subaru Intelligent Drive which provides quicker throttle response. It also sets the CVT to mimic a six or eight-speed automatic. Even though Subaru let us drive the Forester on a track, with nearly nine inches of ground clearance, this ain’t no track vehicle. Even so, I could really hustle it around the track.
If you want more info on the pricing, fuel economy, interior layout and overall view, you can check out the other reports that we’ve already done on the new Forester. But overall I give it two thumbs up.
And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for joining us and we’ll be right back here again tomorrow.