October 23rd, 2013 at 11:50am
Peugeot is considering ending its alliance with GM. Ford is idling its Michigan Assembly Plant for two weeks due to rising inventories of the Focus and C-Max. Mazda will reveal a CNG version of the Mazda3 at next month’s Tokyo Motor Show. All that and more, plus a look at why bigger wheels can cost you a lot of money.
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. Let’s get to the news!
VOLVO’S CHINESE SALES PLOY
Li Shufu, the former peasant farmer who is now a billionaire, and who owns Geely and Volvo, has come up with a novel way to market the Scandinavian brand in China. Speaking at the Global Automotive Forum in Wuhan, he points out that Volvo’s have carbon filters that clean up the air coming into the passenger compartment. He says he wants his Chinese customers to feel like they’re stepping into Northern Europe every time they get in their Volvo. He brags that the air inside a Volvo is twenty times cleaner than the outside air. Specifically, he says the filters trap 90% of the smallest 2.5 micron particulates that can cause cancer and are a big concern amongst the Chinese people. And if you ask me, he’s just come up with one of the greatest ways to sell cars in China’s smog choked cities.
ANOTHER GM DIVORCE?
In early 2012 Peugeot and GM announced a partnership they claimed would save $1 billion a year by 2016. But earlier today the French automaker said they may never reach that goal and it’s now considering ending its alliance with GM. Peugeot is now in talks with its Chinese partner, Dongfeng, about selling it part of the company as well as a part to the French government. As we’ve reported from the beginning, this alliance made no sense to us. GM has already had to write off the $400 million it invested in PSA, so it hasn’t saved a penny. And we wonder what gave GM the idea that this would work after all its failed alliances in the past with Isuzu, Suzuki, Toyota, Subaru and Fiat.
FORD IDLES MI PLANT
Uh-oh hopefully this isn’t a sign of bad things to come. Ford announced that it’s idling its Michigan Assembly Plant for two weeks due to rising inventories of the Focus and C-Max. The Detroit News reports that the company has built more than 35,000 C-Max’s this year but has only sold around 23,000 of them. This is the first time since the Great Recession that Ford has shut down a plant in the U.S.
MAZDA GOES CNG
There has been a rash of CNG powered vehicles coming out recently. Honda, of course, has had a CNG powered Civic for a while but Chevrolet just announced a bi-fuel version of the Impala and both Ford and Ram have CNG versions of their pickups. Now Mazda will be joining the mix. The company will be showcasing the Mazda3 SKYACTIV-CNG Concept at next month’s Tokyo Motor Show. Like the Impala, the concept is bi-fuel, meaning it will run on both gasoline and CNG. Here’s my Autoline Insight. If this shale bonanza continues to play out, it could start to affect the sales of hybrid and electric vehicles.
HONDA’S TOKYO LINEUP
And speaking of the Tokyo Motor Show, Honda is showing off the vehicles it will have on display there. The two vehicles that caught our eye are the S660 Concept and the N-WGN. The S660 is a small open-top sports car that looks like it could take on the likes of Mazda’s MX-5 Miata. The 4-door N-WGN is the 4th model in the N Series of mini-vehicles and looks like it seats up to 5 passengers. The boxy-looking vehicle kind of reminds us of the Scion xB. The Tokyo Motor Show opens to the public on November 23rd.
CHEROKEE DELAYED NO MORE
We have been keeping you informed on all the production delays of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee, but happily now we can give you the news that Chrysler has begun shipping the vehicles to its dealers.
For the last couple of days we’ve been asking you to fill out a survey to help us make Autoline even better. And we’ve been overwhelmed by the response. We were originally going to run those promos for two weeks, but we hit our response target in only a day and a half. Now we have to sift through all the responses we got, and we’re working on that right now. We’ll give you a full report on your feedback when that’s complete. Also, a few of you complained that we were asking for too much personal information, such as your name and what company you work at. Some of you thought we’d be using this for data mining. I can assure you that is not the case. We simply needed to quantify who was responding to the survey. For those of you who still would like to submit suggestions, just shoot us an email and send it to email@example.com. We promise you complete anonymity and we’re always welcome to good ideas.
OK, coming up next, a look at the way wheels keep getting bigger and bigger on cars, and why that can cost you a pretty penny.
AUTOLINE GARAGE – BIG WHEELS
(Today’s Autoline Garage is only available in the video version of the show.)
In tomorrow’s show we’ll have another installment of the Autoline Design Handbook with Jim Hall, with his explanation of why wheels keep getting bigger.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching.