AD #1398 – Sergio’s Successor?, Battle of the Hybrids, FPV Goes Out With a Bang

June 16th, 2014 at 11:54am

Runtime: 8:44

- Did Chrysler Name Sergio Marchionne’s Successor?
- China Car Production to Soar
- Battle of the Hybrids at Le Mans
- Michael Schumacher Out of Coma
- Car Buying with Smartphones Increases
- FPV Goes Out With a Bang
- Camaro Z/28 Nurburgring Track Tests

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Welcome to Autoline Daily. In today’s show we’ll talk about the battle of the hybrids at the 24 hours of LeMans, we’ll take a look at the last new car Ford will ever make in Australia, and we’ll learn about track testing the Camaro Z/28 at the Nurburgring. So let’s get to it.

Did Chrysler just give us the short list of executives who might replace Sergio Marchionne when he decides to retire? Chrysler just named five new members to its board of directors and they all come from within the company, including Reid Bigland, who heads up US sales, Chrysler of Canada and the Ram brand; Michael Manley, who runs Chrysler’s international operations and the Jeep brand; Michael Keegan, the head of Human Resources; Richard Palmer, the head of finance for both Chrysler and Fiat; and Giorgio Fossati, the top lawyer at Fiat. Keep a sharp eye on Richard Palmer. He seems to be Sergio’s go-to guy when the Boss wants answers.

Despite on-going reports of China’s economy slowing down, or car sales hitting a plateau, others see nothing but rocketing sales. ArcelorMittal, the largest steel producer in the world, predicts that car production in China will soar 60% over the next 8 years, from about 22 million units today up to 35 million. That would make China’s car market roughly the same size as the US and Europe put together.

At this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours the top level LMP1 class was a battle of the hybrids. Toyota led for the first 14 hours but then ran into electrical problems. Audi took over from there but had to relinquish the lead to Porsche in order to change its turbochargers. But with only 4 hours remaining, for some unknown reason, the Porsche car was no longer able to shift gears, knocking it out of the lead, giving Audi a one-two finish and its 13th victory in the last 16 races. It’s a significant development in motor racing when each of the top teams shows up with its own hybrid powertrain.

And in other racing news, former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher has come out of his coma and is no longer in the hospital. Even so, Shumi still has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

Would you ever buy a car by using your phone? That’s not the way I would do it, but eBay Motors says 14,000 people buy a car on its website every week by using their mobile phones. And it sells 831,000 car parts every week the same way. Brian Murphy, the vice president of eBay Motors for North America stopped by our studios and filled us in on automotive e-tailing and where it’s headed. You can catch my interview with him on YouTube. Just look for the Autoline Network.

With Ford stopping production in Australia after 88 years, its performance vehicle division’s last vehicle will be its most powerful road car ever. Actually this will be the last new vehicle that Ford makes in Australia. It’s a version of the Falcon, called the GT F 351, which will produce just over 470 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque from its supercharged 5.0L V8. It also gets an improved suspension from the R-spec model and Brembo brake calipers. The F stands for Final and only 550 examples will be built. Production of the more tame version of the car won’t end until 2016.

Speaking of performance, on Autoline After Hours we had Mark Stielow as our guest. He’s the chief engineer of the Camaro Z/28 and a certified gear head. He’s written a book called Pro Touring, detailing how to take a vintage car and turn it into a modern performance machine. There’s over 1,100 pictures, so it’s easy to follow his how-to instructions. We’ll be giving away one of his books every day this week, and to win it all you have to do is answer a simple question. Today’s question is: In our review of the Lincoln MKC we said it passed the 100 yard test, and then chopped that down to a shorter test. What is the distance of that shorter test? Check out the Seat Time section of our website, and then shoot us an answer via email. Send it to [email protected]

Speaking of Mark Stielow, coming up next he talks about developing the Z/28 on the Nordschleife at the Nurburgring.

Automakers have proving grounds usually located in different parts of the world to test their cars in all kinds of climates. But when it comes to performance there is one place in the world where every automaker wants to take its cars. On Autoline After Hours that track was a topic of conversation.

(Today’s AAH preview is only available in the video version of the show.)

And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching.

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22 Comments to “AD #1398 – Sergio’s Successor?, Battle of the Hybrids, FPV Goes Out With a Bang”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Good news about Michael; lots of rehab ahead of him (but it sure beats the alternative).

    Ford’s last stand in Australia: GT F 351; looks and sounds ‘wicked’ (and I mean that in a good way) and I’m not even a Ford fan.

  2. rick bradner Says:

    “Sergio’s Successor?”
    Don’t know many of the names on this list,I would suggest proficiency in Italian is a necessity at the very least…

  3. Bob Zigmanth Says:

    The Z28′s wipers still work well at 158 mph. By comparison a 2012 Corvette ZR1 ran 7:19 with a top speed of 183.

  4. Bradley Says:

    Does Audi even sell a Hybrid in the United States?

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    4, Q5, and maybe one or two others. Audi certainly isn’t known for hybrids, though.

  6. Rumblestrip Says:

    China’s population is 1.35 billion people, the U.S. is 314 million, that’s over 4 times the population. Throw in Europe at 743 million people and China still has 30%+ more population. Even with an economy that is “slowing down” that is a lot of people to sell to, especially with more than half the population in “under-developed” areas of the country. It will be decades before that market finds a true plateau.

  7. Bradley Says:

    Those of you considering the $76k Camaro Z28, might want to consider my 2009 Yaris.

    I will sell it for $75k.

    I wish GM luck with their buffet of high dollar low volume cars. Call now while supplies last.

  8. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Pretty sure that the Z/28 will be a sellout; it’s a track car (that can be driven on the street) and there is a market (for it). The Vette is doing quite well also; halo cars work (for the most part).

  9. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Here’s an idea (and maybe I’m way off-base); take the Alfa Romeo 4C, get rid of the ‘Alpha’ nose (smooth it out some) and re-badge it as a new Ferrari Dino. I believe it already has a Ferrari engine (it does look pretty good), but for me, it would have more panache as a ‘Prancing Horse’. JMO

  10. Drew Says:

    @9 – Chuck, isn’t that a similar formula for making hte Ferrari California?

    I have read lots of criticisms on these pages about shared platforms from volume brands to premium brands – Lexus ES and RX from Toyotas, Acuras from Hondas, Lincolns from Fords, Audis from VWs. Well, everyone does it in some form or another, including Ferrari, BMW, and M-B.

  11. Bradley Says:


    Yea, I am confident there is a small market. The question is what will GM do when the baby-boomers are gone.

    In general, the younger generations are not drawn to the pony cars and Vettes at the level the Boomers are.

  12. XA351GT Says:

    The FPV is particularly sad for me being a owner of a Aussie Ford. I really think that Ford missed their chance to save the Aussie market and the falcon name plate by refusing to sell it in NA. A LHD version would have given them a much sought after RWD platform that is not a Mustang or truck. It would probably hurt 2 existing models though and one of the reasons why they did not do it. It would have in my estimation hurt both the Mustang and Taurus. If they had been clever they could have badged it as a Lincoln performance sedan . Also they missed the chance to bring the Ute over as a replacement for the Ranger. sadly it wasn’t to be and the entire Aussie car production has headed straight down the crapper. Talking to friends over there ,when the government dropped high tariffs low cost imports flooded the market and killed the local companies . A lot of jobs are now gone with Ford ,Holden and Toyota ceasing production there. All the companies that supplied to the industry are also going under. Which if not for the bail out may have happened here.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    12, I agree that it is sad that the Australian is going away, but it is understandable. The total number of cars sold in Australia is about 1M/year, and large, rear drivers are not the sales leaders.

    Ford and GM would need a large export market to have any chance of making Commodores and Falcons profitably. According to this article, Falcon is doing very poorly, with 1/5 the sales volume of Commodore. I don’t know if it is the cars, or something else. I’m pretty sure it was know by then that both Commodore and Falcon would be “orphans” in the not-too-distant future.

  14. w l simpson Says:

    Union greed is at the base of Aussie car collapse. A historically common event

  15. cwolf Says:

    The FPV has already sold out and anyone having an Aussie Ford is a lucky “Joe.”

    Union greed the cause of the Aussie collapse? Got any validation Mr. simpson? Don’t think you do.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    You can’t profitably sell mainstream cars at Ford Australia’s total volume of 15,000 a year, even if the workers were unpaid. In this day and age, it takes about 20 times that volume to run an efficient assembly operation. There is a lot more reason than union issues leading to the Aussie car manufacturing going away.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    You can’t profitably sell mainstream cars at Ford Australia’s total volume of 15,000 a year, even if the workers were unpaid. In this day and age, it takes about 20 times that volume to run an efficient assembly operation. There is a lot more reason than union issues leading to the Aussie car manufacturing going away.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    12 @XA351GT
    I read that the Aussie Falcon has been selling at about 1/5 the rate of Commodore. Do you know why the Ford sales volume is so much lower than the Holden. The article I saw was Feb. 2014, and I think it was “official” by then that both cars would be “orphans” in the not-too-distant future.

  19. C-Tech Says:

    Hi. Saw a Maloo on the street in Orlando. I don’t know how it got imported. It did have a regular FL plate. Looked really cool.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    17, The owner may have gotten it “federalized” to legally register. A guy had one of the last of the pre-BMW Minis at a Cocoa Beach show a couple years ago, and somehow got it done. He didn’t give many details, but said it was an involved and expensive process. It was an LHD car originally sold in Germany.

  21. Brett Says:

    Union bashing gets rather tedious… just like worshiping free trade and the “invisible hand” of the free market.

  22. HB Says:

    Funny I thought buying a car by phone, Then I remembered 5 years ago. I went to look at a 66 Ford truck and it was on ebay. We made a deal, he set the buy it now price and on the way home, my Wife purchased it using her phone. Not as weird as it sounds.