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Autoline Daily

Episode 106 – Abu Dhabi Invests Big in Daimler, China Sees Solid Growth, Nissan May Cancel Diesel

March 23rd, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:11

An investment firm in Abu Dhabi just bought $2.65 billion of Daimler stock, that will make it Daimler’s largest shareholder. China is planning for 10 million in production and sales of automobiles this year. Nissan is rethinking its plans to sell diesel-powered versions of the Maxima and Titan in the U.S. All that and more, plus a close up look at the new Chevy Camaro.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Abu Dhabi takes a big stake in Daimler. China expects car sales to stay strong. And a close up look at the new Chevy Camaro.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, March 23, 2009. And now, the news.

At a time when many automakers are begging for money, Daimler just got a major infusion of cash (subscription required) reports the Wall Street Journal. In this case, an investment firm in Abu Dhabi just bought 9.1 percent of Daimler stock, a deal worth $2.65 billion. That will make Aabar Investments PJSC the largest shareholder in Daimler. Before this, Daimler’s largest shareholder was the emirate of Kuwait. Lots of Middle-Eastern interest in Daimler.

More on the GM bailout, and GM bondholders are not happy. The AP reports bondholders say GM’s turn around plan is too optimistic. They worry about getting paid in GM stock, because if GM eventually ends up going into bankruptcy that stock will be worthless. The irony, of course, is that if GM can’t get a deal with its bondholders, it will go into bankruptcy. We can expect this drama to intensify as we get closer to the March 31 deadline for GM to present its viability plan to Congress.

The auto industry may be melting down around the world, but China is planning for 10 million in production and sales of automobiles this year. According to Gasgoo.com, China also expects 10 percent growth in production and sales for the next three years. The numbers are based on the country’s restructuring and consolidating efforts of its auto industry.

Hans Demant, the head of Opel, suggests they could close plants in Germany in an effort to save the company. According to the AFP, the company is looking at cutting departments and jobs and reducing pay as a way to cut costs but hinted that closing plants is a possibility too. Opel wants to save over a billion dollars in staff costs.

Earlier this month we reported that GM is canceling plans to put a new 4.5-liter engine into light-duty pickups. A few months earlier Ford also postponed its small truck diesel. Now, it’s Nissan’s turn. Ward’s reports that Nissan is rethinking its plans to sell diesel-powered versions of the Maxima and Titan (subscription required) in the U.S. The Maxima was scheduled to arrive in U.S. showrooms in April of next year. The Titan was expected to share hardware with the Dodge Ram since it will be built by Chrysler.

Freightliner is coming out with an advanced type of cruise control designed to boost the fuel economy of its heavy trucks. Autoblog reports that the system calculates the most efficient speed for a truck to travel at based on the slope of the road that it’s driving on. The technology is called RunSmart Predictive Cruise and it uses GPS map data to make its calculations. The system is an available option on the company’s Cascadia model truck.

Coming up next, a look at the brand-new Chevy Camaro, we’ll be back right after this.

Chevy’s reborn Camaro is about to give the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger some serious competition in the pony car segment.

Base cars get a 304 horsepower V6 engine that’s good for 29 miles per gallon on the highway, or 8.1L/100 km. It comes matched with either a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. The auto is smooth and offers push-button controls. The Aisin-built stick on the other hand is very clunky to shift.

There are no complaints about the manual in V8-powered cars though. They get a much more satisfying unit from Mexican company Tremec. Unfortunately with either gearbox it’s impossible to heel-toe because of the placement of the pedals.

Stepping up from the base car, SS models get a 6.2-liter V8 that delivers up to 426 horsepower. From a standstill 60 miles an hour can be yours in only 4.7 seconds!

Underpinning the Camaro is a fully-independent suspension that Chevy did an excellent job tuning. It keeps the car firmly planted on the road, even when driving over washboard surfaces.

The Camaro concept was a show stopper when it debuted and so is the production car. The aggressive exterior draws a lot of attention, and unfortunately so does its no-frills interior. The retro theme is stylish, but the dashboard and doors are all made of hard, hollow-sounding plastic. Something soft-to-the-touch would be nice.

Chevy is billing the Camaro as a 2 + 2, but its backseat is tiny. I’m only five-foot-eight, and with the driver’s seat adjusted to fit me there was no room for passengers in the rear. Speaking of small things, the trunk is a decent size but its opening is tiny. Loading it is like trying to squeeze your luggage through a coin slot.

These downsides are all pretty minor, and none of them matter when you’re behind the wheel. All versions of the Camaro are fast and deliver a great driving experience. V6 cars can run from zero to 60 in only 6.5 seconds. SS models are absolute rockets

The 2010 Camaro should start arriving at dealerships this week with prices ranging from $23,000 for an entry-level model to upwards of 40 grand for a top-of-the-line SS.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, except for this announcement.

15 Comments to “Episode 106 – Abu Dhabi Invests Big in Daimler, China Sees Solid Growth, Nissan May Cancel Diesel”

  1. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Well, it’s satisfying to see that the Chinese and oil-rich arabs are using our money wisely instead of giving it away to banks and giant insurance companies.

  2. Drew Says:

    There is a major downside to the new Camaro. The exterior is UGLY and the interior is FUGLY!!

    It is pretty sad when GM’s pickup trucks have much better looking instrumention and material quality that the cheap plastic looking Camaro’s!

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I do not understand why the delay,or outright cancelling of the diesels.The people are waiting patiently for the arrival,I know I am.Yes it’s around a 7 year payback on the option,but well worth the asking price considering the towing power and superb fuel economy and the long term reliability.Ford,Nissan,and yes Chrysler should be rethinking this one.When will car companies start to listen to their customers?Answer:NEVER!!

  4. pedro Fernandez Says:

    John: in your opinion, the Camaro interior is not world class, correct? Yet you have had there many GM execs saying that GM interiors were going to be the best in the world, or something like that, were they lying or exagerating?

  5. Barry Says:

    there is no competition with the Camaro, no Ford guy or Chrysler guy is going to buy a GM product no mater how nice it is. so Mustang and Challenger do not need to worry. These cars will not keep the big three afloat anyway. bdc

  6. Andy S Says:

    G.A. Branigan claims diesls have a 7 year payback and criticizes auto companies for not listening to customers’ desire for a diesel. But “diesel math” does not support his claims. Diesels may get 20-25% better fuel economy of a gas engine, but diesels carry three distinct cost premiums — the initial purchase price is $1000-6000 more, the pump price is 20-30% more, and maintenance costs (e.g., oil change) are many times more than a gas engine. As the fuel economy and the pump price nearly cancel each other, the purchase price and the maintenance price cannot be paid back in 7 years of normal driving.

    Further, the laws of supply and demand dictate if the market shifts from gasoline to diesel fuel, diesel prices will rise to be a greater premium. The trucking industry will not be happy about this, nor will the rest of America appreciate the higher cost of goods. In particular, food prices will rise due to both the higher price of farm diesel fuel and the higher distribution costs.

    A more practical approach would be to educate consumers about the outstanding performance of today’s “standard” engines. Many people purchase more engine than they need. For example, most Baby Boomers probably do not realize that today’s mid-size sedan with a 4-cylinder engine has better performance than the mid-sized V8 of their youth. And there are fewer opportunities to enjoy all that performance on today’s congested roads.

  7. Barry Says:

    Diesel engines, the big problem is that we do not produce enough diesel fuel here in the USA to supply a big fleet of diesel cars. So we would just be buying my diesel fuel from Europe. bdc

  8. Tom Martin Says:

    I’m a Ford, Chrysler, and Nissan person, but I love the look, performance, and pricing of the new Camaro. I’m even surprised that GM got the weight down to about 3,700 to 3,800 lbs. Can’t wait to see and drive one in the flesh. Either my Chrysler 300 or Nissan Maxima may need to go. Who needs a back seat anyway now that the kids are gone? My 1967 Ford Mustang didn’t have much of a back seat or trunk.

  9. Don MacConnel Says:

    Camaro SS? I think I’m in love.

  10. sam Says:

    V6 cars can run from zero to 60 in only 6.5 seconds

    ?????Everyone else is reporting 5.9 to 6.1 seconds

  11. ib6ub9 Says:

    The Camaro may be great but why does it weigh so much? It’s approaching small SUV territory with that 3800 pounds it’s lugging around. And it’s only a two door! Put that thing on a diet GM and increase the performance even more.

  12. Drew Says:

    I agree about the Camaro also being overweight.
    Didn’t GM learn from the Mustang being such an overweight whale?
    The camaro should have targeted it’s weight to be under 3400 pounds. It would have been better performing (both acceleration and handling) and would have gotten better gas mileage too.

    But still….I can’t get over that overly plastic looking, childish dash and instrument layout…are they serious?!?!?

  13. C-Tech Says:

    I’m surprised at the Camaro’s weight. It looks like the Mustang will remain the King of the muscle cars.

  14. Andy Says:

    The new Nissan 370Z starts out at around $28,000 and is just as fast as the nearly $40,000 SS Camaro.

    Plus, it probably is built a little better than the chintzy, plasticy, interior that the Camaro features and it looks a lot better on the exterior.

  15. julius lambert Says:

    If GM can build 3200#Vetts,why can they NOT on the Camaros?The Base Vette is in the 40s.