April 18th, 2013 at 12:18pm
We get the latest new car sales from Germany and they’ve dropped a lot. Subaru boosts production in the U.S. to end the shortage of vehicles at its dealers. Mercedes pulls the wraps off its Concept GLA ahead of its Shanghai debut. All that and more, plus Autoline Daily correspondent Seamus McElroy takes us for a deep dive into the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.
Thanks for joining us on Autoline Daily today, where the news just keeps on coming.
CARMAGEDDON COMES TO EUROPE
And we start off with bad news. We just got the latest new car sales from Germany and they’ve dropped a lot, down almost 13 percent. Up to now Germany has been a powerhouse keeping the European auto industry from really going off a cliff. Not anymore. Every single major automaker saw its sales plummet. Ward’s reports that PSA dropped 32 percent, Ford was down 29 percent, Nissan 28 percent, Toyota 23 percent, VW Group 17 percent and GM 16 percent. Even BMW and Mercedes were down.This is coming in far worse than automakers had forecast. They thought sales would only drop 5 percent. Remember, Germany accounts for one out of every four new cars sold in Europe, so this hurts more than sales dropping in France or Italy. And I’ve got to tell you I hate seeing this. This is going to impact the worldwide supply chain. Let’s just hope this turns around in the second half of the year.
NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME
Fisker is back in the news again. A bankruptcy judge just approved a settlement between it and the company’s former battery supplier, A123 Systems, which reduces Fisker’s claims against A123 by 90 percent. Or I should say B456. Yes that’s right, A123’s name has been changed to B456 now that the company is in bankruptcy. The lawyers don’t care what the name is, they just want to expedite the process as quickly as possible. Remember, Chrysler’s name got changed to Old Carco during bankruptcy and GM was renamed the Motors Liquidation Company.
SUBARU GIVES CAMRY THE BOOT
In Tokyo today Subaru says it’s going to boost production in the U.S. to end the shortage of vehicles at its dealers. Subaru is running on only 36 days of inventory, the absolute lowest in the industry right now. And in what I believe is a related story, Toyota is going to announce tomorrow that it’s expanding its production in Georgetown, Kentucky by 50,000 units. Why do I say it’s related? Because Subaru builds 50,000 Camry’s a year at its plant in Lafayette, Indiana under contract to Toyota. The fastest way for Subaru to build more of its own cars it to git them Camry’s out of there. Voila! for just about zero capital investment it gets 50,000 more cars a year.
THE DESIGN WIZARD OF OZ
The head of Ford’s exterior design in North America, Joel Piaskowski, was just promoted to design director for the Asia/Pacific region, based at the company’s Product Development Center in Australia. This bodes really well for Ford’s operations in Australia because a lot of people were questioning the company’s commitment to Australia. Piaskowski will be designing new products for Australia as well as leading design teams in China and India. Joel started at General Motors, then moved to Hyundai, had a cup of coffee at Mercedes and then got scooped up by Ford.
LET’S GO TO THE MOVIES!
Meet the concept GLA from Mercedes-Benz. The compact SUV has a turbo 4, a 7-speed dual clutch automatic and all-wheel-drive. It also has laser front headlights that not only light the road better, but can also be used to project pictures or films. And it has two cameras mounted in the front roof rail that can even be removed and fitted, to say, a car hood to film an autocross lap, which then can be projected by the headlamps or on the screen inside the car. The exterior of the concept GLA has that classic SUV and Mercedes styling to it, but proportionately it’s got a vibe that reminds us of the VW CrossBlue or Lincoln MKC.
10 HOURS BETWEEN FILL-UPS
With a starting price of just over $26,000, including destination charges, the Chevy Cruze Diesel has good value. And now that GM has released the EPA-estimated highway mpg numbers, that value has gone up. The Cruze Diesel will get 46 mpg on the freeway, which equates to nearly 700 highway miles per tank full. It will be available in certain U.S. cities this spring and nationwide and in Canada by early fall.
Remember that Autoline After Hours will have a one-time change today. Instead of our normal 6 pm live webcast, we’ll be going live at 3:30 pm ET. Our guest is David Johnson from Achates Power with their radically different engine design, so get your questions in early. And be sure to join me and the Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo for some of the best insights into what makes this auto industry tick.
And don’t go away just yet, we’ll be back in a minute to take a deep dive into the SRT version of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee.
DEEP DIVE: 2014 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE SRT
Jeep recently introduced the new 2014 Grand Cherokee and that also included an update to the performance SRT version. The styling for the two models are similar but the SRT has a more sporty design. Things like a black background for the headlights give it a more distinct look.
Inside the SRT has its own unique features as well. Perhaps the most noticeable is an all-new racing inspired steering wheel. Other unique interior features include carbon fiber trim for the front doors and instrument panel.
Like the Grand Cherokee, the SRT gets a new 8.4 inch touchscreen but unlike the Grand Cherokee, it includes what the company calls Performance Pages. It displays things like 0 to 60 and track times plus lateral acceleration.
And yeah that things got a HEMI. A 6.4 liter V-8 that’s mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission that cranks out 470 horsepower and 465 lb.-ft. of torque. The SRT flies from 0 to 60 MPH in just 4.8 seconds. But not surprisingly the fuel economy is sacrificed for that performance. It’s rated at 13 MPG in the city and 19 on the highway.
And because it isn’t for the traditional Jeep crowd it doesn’t have the same off-road capabilities. It’s built more for the track than the rocks. And one feature that makes that clear is the new launch control button.
The company says the Grand Cherokee SRT is helping attract customers from other premium brands. And that is definitely reflected in the price, it starts just under $64,000. You can find the Grand Cherokee SRT in dealerships right now.
Cool car, can’t wait to drive it. And that wraps up today’s show, and remember, we’ll be right back here again tomorrow.
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