February 14th, 2013 at 11:47am
GM reported its net profits for 2012, and lets just say they’re not very good. Chrysler is holding back the introduction of its mid-size pickup and small commercial van. Michael Dunne is one of the foremost experts on the Chinese automotive industry and he’s predicting some pretty wild developments. All that and more, plus Autoline Daily correspondent Seamus McElroy has the report on the 7th vehicle in MINI’s lineup, the 2013 Paceman.
Happy Valentine’s Day, you Autoline car lovers you! Results of this week’s poll coming up later in the show, but now, the news
GM PROFITS PLUMMET
General Motors reported that its net profit plummeted nearly 36 percent last year. Not unexpectedly the company’s losses in Europe more than doubled to nearly $1.8 billion. What is a unexpected, however, is that its profits in North America fell to just under $7 billion. But GM did see an impressive 15 percent improvement in its International Operations which include China, and it turned a loss into a profit in South America. Overall, GM sold almost 9.3 million vehicles, up almost 3 percent. But its revenues grew only 1 percent to $152 billion. And its profits dropped by $2.7 billion to $4.7 billion. In my book this is not a very good performance, especially when you compare GM’s numbers the growth at Ford or Chrysler.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
Uh-oh, here we go again. Another battery company that got U.S. government money is in trouble. Recently A123 Systems, which supplies batteries for the Fisker Karma, went into bankruptcy and was bought out by a Chinese company. Now a new report from the Department of Energy says LG Chem misused its $150 million grant. The South Korean company used the money to build a battery plant in Michigan but so far it has not built one battery cell. Instead, its still importing cells from South Korea. I’ve been saying this for a couple of years now, this is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re going to see more EV related plant closings in the near future.
A correction here. On Monday I said that GM, Ford and Chrysler gave $50 billion to the UAW for its VEBA trust fund. The UAW contacted us to remind us the VEBA is run as a completely separate entity from the UAW. So the UAW did not get that money, the VEBA did.
DON’T HOLD ME BACK, BRO
Chrysler is holding back the introduction of its mid-size pickup and smaller commercial van. The unit-body pickup was set to replace the Dakota that was discontinued in 2011. Now Chrysler is unsure if it will even be a unit-body design because in markets like South America and Asia, where small pickups are popular, they don’t like unit-body, they want pickups with frames. Chrysler also delayed the Doblo commercial van, about the same size as a Ford Transit Connect. It was slated to be on sale now but has been pushed back to late 2014.
YUP, LOOKS LIKE A FORD
This grainy thumbnail-size image of the redesigned Ford Edge was part of a company presentation to some bankers. But someone Photoshopped it out for us, so take a look. The design makes it look lighter and more athletic. The grille is reminiscent of the Taurus and the raised crease that runs down the side is similar to the Escape. This next-gen Edge should be available in the 2015 model year.
WILL GEELY DUMP VOLVO? SAIC BUY BUICK?
You may remember when we had Michael Dunne on Autoline This Week. He is one of the foremost experts on the Chinese automotive industry and he’s predicting some pretty wild developments in the Year of the Snake. In an article that ran in the Wall Street Journal, Dunne predicts that Chinese automaker Geely will dump Volvo, because Volvo sales are going nowhere. After three years of owning Volvo Dunne says Geely has absorbed all the technology it needs, so he believes it will keep the brand but dump all of Volvo’s operations in Europe. He also predicts that Chinese automaker SAIC will end up buying Buick, since 3 out of 4 Buicks are now sold in China. I’m not sure I agree with his predictions, but just in case they turn out to be true, remember that you heard it here first.
Now it’s time for the results of this week’s poll question. We asked if you would consider a diesel for your next purchase, excluding heavy duty pick-ups. And the results were decisive. Almost 80 percent of you said you would consider buying a diesel. About 22 percent said no way. Wow, I’m blown away by these results. It may not be a scientific poll, but I think this bodes very well for diesel sales, especially in the American market.
Coming up next, let’s take a look at the latest from MINI.
MINI continues to grow in the U.S. Last year the company sold over 66,000 vehicles in America, a record for the brand. And that number will likely keep going up due to the company adding more dealerships. Plus MINI is set to launch the seventh model in its lineup, the Paceman. Here’s Seamus McElroy with a look at what this new model is all about.
2013 MINI PACEMAN
(MINI Paceman can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)
The Paceman is based on the same platform as the Countryman, it’s not as tall or wide but it’s slightly longer. It’s a two-door model, unlike the four-door Countryman and it doesn’t offer a bench seat in the rear, so it can only seat up to four people. But MINI believes the Paceman slots nicely into its line-up.
The Paceman is powered by a variety of 1.6 liter four-cylinder engines that can be mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. Your choices are a naturally aspirated version with 121 horsepower, the turbocharged Cooper S with 181 horsepower and the John Cooper Works model with a turbo that cranks out 208 horses. The Paceman is also the second MINI ever to offer all-wheel drive. We drove the turbo with all-wheel drive and an automatic. It’s fun to drive and handled very well on small twisty roads and didn’t disappoint when you need that extra oomph to pass slower cars.
While there’s no mistaking the Paceman as anything but a MINI, it does have its own unique styling elements.
Pricing for the Paceman starts just under $24,000, the Cooper S with all-wheel drive starts just under $30,000 and the John Cooper Works model is priced just over $36,000. The Paceman goes on sale in the middle of March while the JCW follows in April.
We’ve got a great Autoline After Hours tonight. Our guest is John Davis, the chief engineer on the Ford C-Max Energi. As you know that vehicle has been criticized for not delivering the kind of fuel economy that the label says it will get. We’ll get to the bottom of that tonight, so join me and the Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo for the best insider viewpoints in the industry.
And this wraps up today’s show, thanks for making Autoline a part of your day, and please join us again tomorrow.