February 28th, 2013 at 12:00pm
Reports are out that several hundred of Nissan’s factory workers in Smyrna, Tennessee met with the United Auto Workers this week at a local hall. GM is boosting plug-in production as it believes that demand for its extended range electric vehicles is going to grow this year. After 75 years in the automotive business, Toyota marks the milestone with a fully interactive timeline. All that and more, plus we take a look at Visteon’s vision of what cars and the technology they’re equipped with will be like in the year 2020.
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. Later on in the show we’ll share the results of our latest poll about whether diesels or hybrids will sell better. But before we get to that let’s get to the news.
UAW MAKING INROADS AT NISSAN
The Detroit Free Press reports that several hundred of Nissan’s factory workers in Smyrna, Tennessee met with the United Auto Workers this week at a local hall. The union very much wants to organize that plant. In fact, it wants to organize all of the foreign owned transplants, but it has been spectacularly unsuccessful even after trying for 30 years. So the fact that it attracted several hundred Nissan employees to attend a meeting could be a significant development. Check out the link in today’s show notes. There’s an interesting video posted by the newspaper, The Tennessean, with comments from some of the disgruntled workers who want the union to organize the plant. This is a story we’ll have to keep an eye on.
GM BOOSTS PLUG-IN PRODUCTION
General Motors believes that demand for its extended range electric vehicles is going to grow this year. It’s going to build 36,000 Chevy Volts, Opel Amperas and Cadillac ELRs for sale globally, which is 20 percent more than in 2012. Last year, GM sold about 30,000 Volts and Amperas. Even with the boost, that’s not a lot of cars. But the good news is, sales are going up. Speaking of electric cars, we’ve got a great package coming up in the second half of the show about a heavily modified Nissan LEAF that is unlike any LEAF you’ve ever seen.
FIESTA ST PRICE
Ford released pricing for the new Fiesta ST and it starts at just over $22,000. Powered by a 1.6 Liter EcoBoost inline four-cylinder that’s matched to a six-speed manual, it cranks out 197 horses along with 214 lb.-ft of torque. A few weeks back on Autoline After Hours, we had John Davis, the Chief Program Engineer for the Fiesta, Focus and C-MAX and he said he actually prefers the Fiesta ST over the Focus ST, because the Fiesta is lighter, nimbler and eminently more tossable.
TOYOTA’S 75-YEAR TIMELINE
After 75 years in the automotive business, Toyota marks the milestone with a fully interactive timeline. It has information on every Toyota ever made and perhaps more info than you ever needed or wanted to know. Your journey starts out by choosing either make, body type or year and from there the searching is left up to you. The timeline may seem a little daunting at first, but give it a try and I’m sure you’ll be impressed. Oh, and by the way, happy anniversary Toyota.
FILL ’ER UP
Gasoline prices have shot up in the American market and they’re also going up in China. So what do Chinese consumers have to pay to fuel up their cars? Right now a gallon of 93 octane gasoline is going for $5, 97 octane is $5.41 a gallon, 98 octane is $5.71. Not many Chinese consumers buy vehicles with diesel engines, those go mainly into commercial vehicles. But maybe some automaker might want to start pushing diesels. A gallon of diesel fuel costs the same as regular, $5 a gallon. Considering that diesels typically get 30 percent better fuel economy, car buyers would be coming out way ahead.
Speaking of diesel engines, we’ve got the results to our latest poll, and there was a definite clear-cut winner. We asked, by 2020 which powertrain do you expect to sell better in the U.S., diesels or hybrids? And you our viewer choose diesel as the more likely powertrain to succeed. 70 percent of people picked diesel compared to 30 percent for hybrids. This is a fascinating results, but I guess we are going to have to wait a few years to see how the results come in.
Coming up next, a look at one supplier company’s vision of what cars could be like by the end of the decade.
VISTEON’S e-BEE CONCEPT VEHICLE
(Our full report on Visteon’s e-Bee concept vehicle can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)
Automotive supplier Visteon recently took the wraps off a concept vehicle called the e-Bee. It represents the company’s vision of what cars and the technology they’re equipped with will be like in the year 2020. The e-Bee is based on the Nissan LEAF but the exterior styling is about the only thing that is similar. Inside it’s a completely different car.
In addition to moving the HVAC system, the airbags were relocated to the headliner. Not only does this create extra space, it also opens up more options for designers.
Personalization is another key feature of the e-Bee. The screens in the vehicle are reconfigurable, are able to display Cloud-based content or content from smartphones or tablets. Plus multiple devices can be connected to the vehicle, giving each passenger their own unique space within the car.
But another reason the e-Bee is highly customizable is because it was created with car-sharing and short-term rentals in mind.
Obviously you will never be able to buy this vehicle and some of the technology is still being developed. But there are a number of features Visteon says are either application or production ready right now.
We’ve got great show on Autoline After Hours tonight. Our guest is Pietro Gorlier, the head of Mopar, who is bringing the new Mopar ’13 along with him. So tune in tonight for some of the best insider information in the business, or catch the podcast later on at your own convenience. You can get that here at the Autoline site, or at the iTunes store, or on our YouTube channel.
But that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.