AD #1115 – German Car Sales Down, Subaru Gives Camry the Boot, Mercedes-Benz Concept GLA

April 18th, 2013 at 12:18pm

Runtime: 9:34

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.


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Thanks for joining us on Autoline Daily today, where the news just keeps on coming.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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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49 Comments to “AD #1115 – German Car Sales Down, Subaru Gives Camry the Boot, Mercedes-Benz Concept GLA”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    That GC-SRT looks and sounds like fun.For me it would be as useless as boobz on a boar,but damn…

  2. Ron Paris Says:

    Is it just me or does it seem to others that Autoline Daily features at least one story per week on Jeep products? Honestly John, is there really that much to say about this brand? And now it’s a Jeep for the track with virtually no off-road capabilities. Yes, it’s a brave new world out there in Auburn Hills!

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Hmmm…. GM Europe, which everyone on this forum is bashing so much, is doing better, or at least less badly, than the other “mainstream” brands.

  4. C-Tech Says:

    @ #2 Its a slow news day. The GC-SRT8 has been around for a while. Is it still only available in AWD? or can you finally get RWD? As I heard someone once describe it, “It’s the cool but weird uncle in the Jeep family” .

  5. C-Tech Says:

    It will be interesting to see who folds when Europe finally hits bottom. Will VW cut back brands? Will Fiat or PSA survive?

  6. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I’m one of the few people on here that not only like some GM products…I own one,and it ain’t the first and won’t be the last.

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ c-tech: Fiat will survive as long as chrysler group makes them money…

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    PSA is the second biggest car company in Europe, by sales volume. They are over-invested in Europe, though, and not global enough to balance out rough times in Europe.

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here is a relevant link that CK posted a couple days ago, regarding sales in Europe:

  10. Bradley Says:

    Subaru, Toyota, Ford, GM, VW, BMW, Hyundai, etc. Please give Autoline more opportunities to talk about your products. I have reached my Jeep Cherokee saturation point.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had a GM product before my Prius (Malibu Maxx) and may have another one some day. If they eventually sell the Cruze diesel hatch in the U.S., that would be on my shopping list when the time comes to replace the Prius. The Cruze should be especially good as a highway car.

  12. HtG Says:

    car sales in Europa

    If you read John’s link from the today’s text you’ll find this quote about sales declines,…

    ‘The reason is a massive uncertainty among customers because of the necessary reforms in many European countries to reduce their debt,” Audi CEO Rupert Stadler told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung today. Audi spokesman Juergen De Graeve confirmed his comments.’

    In the bailout of Cyprus a Euro minister gave people the impression that bank accounts were not safe above 100K. Would you put yourself on the hook for a new car if you thought your money was going to be confiscated for the greater good of Europe?

  13. ColoradoKid Says:

    How much has the State of California cost the auto industry as well as the automotive consumer over say the last three decades ?

    Thats the question I’d love to see ALD – John – PDL do some research on and come up with hopefully at least a reasonable estimate as to how much CA’s cost the industry …. with that additional cost being passed down to the consumer . I for one have had enough of subsidizing CA’s whims and lifestyles at little or no benefit to Anyone else nationwide


    Kit – Place those Opel/Vauxhall numbers into their correct context ( sales over the last five years vs a decade ago ) and things suddenly look a whole lot worse . Same goes for PSA who have not been at the top or anywhere’s near the top of the pile going on five years .

  14. ColoradoKid Says:

    Ford of Australia

    Don’t place much hope on Ford bringing in anyone new to the fold there improving much of anything . My source ( deeply imbedded ) in Australia has been adamant that over the next five to ten years ALL automotive production in Australia will come to an end …. partly because the Antipode consumers are no longer buying the cars made there ( Ford & Vauxhall ) partly because the Aussie government has ended any and all subsidies for production there ( which both GM & Ford are heavily dependent on ) and partly because of how few jobs the automotive industry there is providing


    Car Sales in the EU

    In tandem with HtG’s comment … the other reason sales are waning being everyones economy there is on the verge of tanking …. political instability in main land Europe ( especially the Benelux and Scandinavian countries ) is rampant … jobs are as rare as hens teeth with unemployment ( even in Germany ) on the rise …. and in general consumer confidence in the EU and UK has diminished massively over the last few years

  15. ColoradoKid Says:

    14 should of read Holden … not Vauxhall … silly moi … pass the coffee please :(

  16. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit: Like I said the other day,if I was into having a car,it would be a cruze diesel.I don’t care about no steekin’ mpg payback ;}>

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    PSA have been number 2 in Europe for a number of years, but well behind VW.

    I remember, though, that at one time, VW, PSA, Renault, Ford, Opel/Vauxhall, and FIAT were all within a couple percentage points of each other in market share. Now, VW has more than double the market share of second place, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Another reason Ford and Holden aren’t doing so well, is that Australians are joining the rest of the world, except North America, in wanting more fuel efficient cars. Fewer people are wanting the big, rear-drive cars that Ford and GM are building down there.

    Here are the top ten vehicles in Australia for 2012:

    1. Mazda3 – 44,128
    2. Toyota HiLux – 40,646
    3. Toyota Corolla – 38,799
    4. Holden Commodore – 30,532
    5. Holden Cruze – 29,161
    6. Hyundai i30 – 28,348
    7. Toyota Camry – 27,230
    8. Nissan Navara – 26,045
    9. Toyota Yaris – 18,808
    10. Ford Focus – 18,586

  19. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I think the average north American wants more fuel efficiency in their vehicles.I know I do.It is happening too Kit.Our domestics are becoming very good in the mpg dept,with constant improvements.And it seems that the oem’s are really (finally) getting serious about America’s 1/2 ton market.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Americans say they want more fuel efficiency, but they don’t demonstrate it very much, as they continue buying large SUV’s and pickups that, in many, or most cases, they don’t need.

    Yes, the fuel economy is getting better for all types of vehicles, but do “empty nest” couples really need an Expedition to drive to WalMart for groceries? I don’t think so. I see a lot of that going on, though.

  21. ColoradoKid Says:

    JEEP ( not so ) Grand Cherokee – Yet another M-B ML in JEEP drag who’s quality no doubt will once again be ” Lost in Translation ” ……zzzZZZZZZZZZ

    Mercedes Benz GLA – I could be wrong about this but I’m guessing this’ll be a step too far ( down market ) that’ll bite Mercedes square on the tail


    18 – No Kit …. according to my Antipode insider they’re buying those other cars not because they want better mpg ( after all the Hilux is #2 and both Ford and Holden offer higher mpg cars ) but specifically because ALL the products on offer from Ford and Holden Australia have been absolute crap for going on 15 years and the Aussie consumer has had enough !

    G.A. – With as little as SG and I drive in a year (including trips cause we rarely fly anymore ) the constant up and downs of gas prices – fluctuating demand for higher mpg cars etc ….. well ….. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll buy what ever the heck suits my overall needs and bank account(s) the best and to _____ with mpg !

  22. ColoradoKid Says:

    20 The whole World ( especially France and the UK ) are now buying SUV’s … in droves to the point of them outselling every other segment …. and every car maker world wide in a rush to put out new ones … especially in the Luxury segment ( see GLA )

  23. ColoradoKid Says:

    Look who else’s auto sales are now in decline ;

    This gets uglier by the story

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’d think car sales in India might plateau fairly early, even without a weak economy, given the population density of the country. Most of India, putting it mildly, is not a very car-friendly place.

    Of course, maybe these plants are being built to export cars to, for example, the U.S., but they aren’t telling us that.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    SUV’s are outselling D-segment cars, considered “large cars” in the UK, but are not outselling B- and C-segment cars which have been, and continue to be the high volume segments of the market there.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Actually, the super mini is the largest segment in the UK, with 35.6% of the market in February,according to the BBC at:

  27. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 20: I tend to buy what I need,and use.I would prefer a diesel midsize pu,and I’m hoping that GM comes through on this next year.Do I actually need the diesel option….no I don’t.But I will buy one none the less.I don’t care about how many years till payback on mpg or whatever it’s called.This is going to be my last rodeo for the dept of pickup trucks dept and I want what I want.

    Ive said this before,people don’t need ferrari’s either,but they buy them don’t they.Same same with all of the cars in the highend category imo,which means squat.They are all gas hogs too.How many rollers do you see down there where you live? Or big buck luxo barges? Are they actually needed?Get over the ‘pickup truck-not needed in many or most cases’ thing.

    Unless you follow them around 7 days a week all year long you don’t know what they use their trucks for.You don’t like being behind pickups you once said.Buy a bigger car then so you ain’t afraid to be behind them then.

  28. cwolf Says:

    I’m surprised there are not more larger SUV’s in Germany, given the fact they have much more vacation time than we do. A few years ago I met a German engineer on holiday at Kanab,Utah. He said most everyone he knows do out-door things for a week or so several times a year. Maybe they rent a larger vehicle when there is a need.

  29. T. Bejma Says:


    “ALL the products on offer from Ford and Holden Australia have been absolute crap for going on 15 years and the Aussie consumer has had enough !”

    That is why the Commodore is #4 in sales. Right…

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I don’t see Ferraris where I am, only on my occasional trips to south FL, but there are some Corvettes here. Also, there is a Mustang GT 500 at my condo, which is almost never driven.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I know what several people in Indiana use their trucks for, since I know the owners. They use them to go out for breakfast, go grocery shopping, go to work at a factory, etc. Yes, I realize that some people need trucks, and you, G.A., are one of them.

  32. cwolf Says:

    TB, When the Cruze diesel arrives will it have a spare tire since std equip has 215/55/17? And I assume it won’t have the Jetta timing belt that needs replaced every 100K. In short, I want to begin estimating the how long it will take me to break even driving 50-60K miles/yr, including the routine maint. costs above and beyond a gas engine. Try to tell me what you can. Thanks!

  33. cwolf Says:

    Is it really that important to concern oneself with ones needs of P/U’s and esp. exotics? The avg. number of miles put on them in a year has to be miniscule, don’t ya think? I think boat engines would be a better target than a Ferraris which is driven very little and in the shop most of the time!

  34. ColoradoKid Says:

    Ferraris … Suffice it to say the average ownership of a new Ferrari is 10 months or less … with the average milage per annum being well under 2k … seriously ! ….’ Till Tuesday ‘ gentlemen ;-)


    cwolf – According to TTAC it’ll take 18 years of average annual mileage to break even with the Cruze diesel …. So from there you can suss out the rest … here’s the article for the details ;

  35. ColoradoKid Says:

    29 T Bejma …. Seriously ? I’d hope if you’ve any inclinations towards marketing in the future .. you’d know better than to make a silly uninformed comment like that

    And errr … must I once again remind you ? This time about the ” Holden is Losin Ground ” post I put up the other day ?

  36. ColoradoKid Says:

    T Bejma ( bwtm )

    Class is in session T ;

    Question ; When are sales ever an indicator of quality or lack there of ?

    Answer ; Never

    Quiz next Tuesday T . Study hard ;-)

  37. ColoradoKid Says:

    T Bejma ( and everyone else )

    To sign off on a positive note …wouldn’t this be a hoot and a half to own/drive ?

  38. HtG Says:


    I drove alongside a Tesla S on the highway this evening. Very nice looking, those flush chrome door handles are something new. The driver was a 40ish Asian woman. That’s the second Tesla I’ve seen in the last week, and the third total. They’re out there.

  39. cwolf Says:

    Even if I were a politician or a GM ad man, no matter how hard I tried to justify the purchase of a Cruse diesel, I couldn’t come up with enough fibs. If there were a $.50 difference between fuel costs/gal, driving 42K mi./yr, the cost between them is the same. Considering how many low miles/yr. were put on a small P/U, even a diesel in one of these can not be justified even to my standards of normal! Big diesel P/U’s hauling a trailer have advantages for different reasons besides mpg’s.
    Sorry TB, If I can’t justify a diesel Cruze no one can!!!!!!!!

  40. HtG Says:

    42mpg@65mph with the AC on in my Civic, cwolf. Tell me a rational and reductive reason to get a new car. Emotion? That’s differnt

  41. Todd T Says:

    Dunno if the conclusion can be drawn that Subaru will kick out Camry. Seems the 50K production bump at Georgetown is for Lexus ES production, not Camry.

    #18 Is the GLA further downmarket than the C-Class hatchback M-B sold here for several years? Now that car was downmarket, and with abyssal quality as well. The only examples seen now are wheezing, tattered, abused, having assumed “disposable” status. Just goes to show some brands can pretty much get away with anything, in small doses.

  42. cwolf Says:

    HtG, Adding in the extras like urea and oils a diesel requires paints a different picture, eh? Cars, like your Civic just can’t be beat! I’m sure many are driven by emotions…., surrounded by stupidity.

  43. pedro fernandez Says:

    #35 Thanks CK I feel vindicated, I have been saying the same thing about diesel powered cars for a long time, diesel had its time here when the fuel was always CHEAPER than reg gas, but then the govt gets involve and BOOM! it’s even higher than premium, so it just doesn’t add up at the end unless you’re gonna keep it like me for 15 yrs and pile on over 300k miles, but no guarantee the diesel engine will last that long or that the car won’t fall apart. It is a Daewoo after all!

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    #37 you mean there’s hope for my Crapola? mate it to a MR2 maybe? or a Supra if I wanna go real fast.

  45. HtG Says:

    Please John, how about a feature on this week’s SAE meetings you were involved with?

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Diesel cars tend to over-acheive in mpg relative to their EPA numbers. This is the case with the VW’s, and the Benz E-Class diesel. That being the case, any calculations of break even using EPA numbers would be longer than reality.

    Still, it would seem that the main reason to buy the Cruze diesel would be just because you like it, or because you want to have a longer range per tank of fuel. As a commenter on the TTAC article said, the break even is much shorter for VW TDI’s, but only because the standard gas Jetta and Golf are gas hogs compared to a gas Cruze.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pedro, you’d want the engine from the last generation Celica GT-S. It is a high rpm, naturally aspirated 1.8, with about 180 hp. To work well, you would need a 5- or 6-speed manual instead of your 3-speed autobox.

  48. G.A.Branigan Says:

    So now,unsprung weight doesn’t mean as much?

  49. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Well, that’s what the man said; I’m sure some allowances need to be made and modifications to the ‘component’ (as he said) so I’m sure they could make it work. After-all, that huge rear axle (differential, axle shafts, limited slip components, etc.) are all unsprung and would be eliminated with the in-wheel motors.