February 8th, 2013 at 11:50am
Nissan just reported its earnings for the first nine months of its fiscal year, and it’s a mixed bag, but generally disappointing. Autoline gives a look at a few of the vehicles that were unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show. MINI just introduced the fastest car it has ever made, a souped up version of the Hardtop. All that and more, plus we find out why Chevrolet is really bullish on selling diesels in the American market.
Welcome to the Friday edition of Autoline Daily. We’re almost through the week, but there’s some interesting things going on in the auto industry that we want to get to right now.
SALES UP, PROFITS DOWN AT NISSAN
Nissan just reported its earnings for the first nine months of its fiscal year, and it’s a mixed bag, but generally disappointing. The company sold 3.2 million vehicles, up 4 percent. And that boosted revenue by a whopping 21 percent to almost $84 billion. But clearly costs were skyrocketing because the company’s net profit dropped 12 percent to just under $3 billion. Analysts say this is because of the problems that Nissan ran into in China last year, when consumers boycotted Japanese cars. I say, how odd that Toyota and Honda faced the same problems but they did not see this kind of drop in profit. In other Nissan news, at the Chicago Auto Show yesterday the company unveiled a Nismo version of the Juke and officially kicked off its NV200 commercial van.
UAW TARGETING NISSAN
Speaking of Nissan, it’s in the UAW’s cross hairs. Yesterday in an op-ed piece in the Detroit News, UAW president Bob King praised former Brazilian president Lula da Silva. Lula, a former autoworker himself, spoke at a labor conference in Washington DC, where he promised that Brazilian autoworkers would support the UAW’s efforts to organize Nissan’s assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi. At the end of his editorial Bob King says Lula not only promises his support but will use his leverage in “one of the fastest growing markets in the world.” It’s unclear if he means Brazil, but last year Nissan was the fastest growing car brand in Brazil, and the company is investing $1.3 billion there for a new assembly plant in Resende. As a former president of the country, Lula could cause a lot of problems for Nissan in Brazil, and that will definitely provide a lot of leverage to the UAW. Bob King ends his editorial by saying, “Stay tuned.”
NIP AND TUCK FOR THE TUNDRA
Toyota unveiled the all-new Tundra at the Chicago Auto Show yesterday which has been redesigned both inside and out. It’s a good, clean, modern looking update. Mechanically the truck is pretty much the same as before, but new features include a Blind Spot Monitor, a standard back-up camera and standard Bluetooth. The Tundra was styled at the company’s CALTY design center in California, engineered at it’s tech center in Ann Arbor, will be built in Texas, and goes on sale in September.
KIA’S FULL-SIZE CROSSOVER
It looks like Kia wants to step into the full-size crossover market. Yesterday at the Chicago Auto Show it pulled the wraps off its Cross GT concept. The CUV is actually 1.6 inches shorter in overall height than the Kia Sorento but has a wheelbase that is 15.7 inches longer, which makes room for its suicide doors. It comes with a 3.8 Liter V6 hybrid mated to an 8-speed automatic. Kia says it produces 400 horsepower and 500 foot-pounds of torque while still being able to travel 20 miles in full-electric mode.
2013 MINI JCW GP
MINI just introduced the fastest car it has ever made, a souped up version of the Hardtop called the John Cooper Works GP. It’s powered by a specially tuned 1.6 liter four-cylinder that cranks out 211 horses and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The GP is 67 pounds lighter than the Hardtop which helps it reach a top speed of 150 mph and move from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. Even so, it averages 29 mpg. It includes several aerodynamic improvements, adjustable suspension and a special traction control program. The back seats were ripped out, sport seats were added up front and red trim runs throughout the interior. That rear bar in the back isn’t to increase chassis stiffness, it’s mandated for cargo. The GP goes on sale in early March with a starting price just under $40,000. But if you want one you better act quick, only 2,000 will be built and only 500 will be sold in the U.S.
WHICH ONE OF THESE IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER?
After running our story of the 2014 Kia Forte a lot of you noticed how it bore a stunning resemblance to the Dodge Dart in side profile. As a matter-of-fact, some of you thought the picture on our homepage was the Dart. So we here at Autoline just want to do a little side-by-side comparison of the two vehicles to show how similar they really are. And wow, are they ever.
Chevrolet is really bullish on selling diesels in the American market. More on that, after this.
CHEVY CRUZE GETS A DIESEL
(Cruze diesel can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)
On Autoline After Hours last night, Josh Tavel from Chevrolet filled us in on a lot of details about the diesel engine they’re going to sell in the U.S. market. Here’s a clip from the show.
You can watch that entire episode on our website right now because there is a ton of great information about this diesel engine.
But that wraps up this week’s reports. Thanks for watching and I hope to see you back here again on Monday.