Episode 371 – Fiesta Sales Skyrocket, No More RX-8s For Europe, Ford Mustang Review

April 15th, 2010 at 12:29pm

Runtime 10:22

The Ford Fiesta is selling at a staggering rate in Europe — nearly 69,000 last month!  The Mazda RX-8 can’t be sold in Europe because its rotary engine doesn’t meet emissions standards.  Former Delphi CEO J.T. Battenberg III is going to trial for allegedly cooking the company’s books.  All that and more, plus a review of the 2011 Ford Mustang.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. The Ford Fiesta sells at a staggering rate in Europe. The Mazda RX-8 can’t meet European emission standards. And former Delphi CEO J.T. Battenberg is going to trial.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, April 15, 2010, the day that Abraham Lincoln died, the day the Titanic sank, the day your taxes are due, and the very day upon which I was born.

How the mighty have fallen. J.T. Battenberg III, the former Chairman and CEO of the supplier company Delphi is going to have to stand trial for securities fraud. Bloomberg reports that just before Delphi filed for bankruptcy, it sold off a bunch of inventory for more than a quarter of a billion dollars, booking that as a sale, which inflated the company’s earnings for the year 2000. The following quarter it bought that inventory back for the same price. Back when Delphi was the largest supplier in the world, J.T. as everyone calls him, sort of appointed himself as the lead spokesman for the entire supplier industry – and he acted the part. Steve Miller, the executive who replaced him, accused J.T. of cooking the books.

Bill Ford, Jr., the chairman of the company that bears his name says the U.S. government needs to provide subsidies for electric vehicles, Bloomberg reports. Bill Ford says that other countries, like China, are heavily subsidizing electric cars and batteries and that American automakers will be left out if the U.S. government doesn’t do the same. Failure to develop a battery supply base would be a national security issue. Up to now, the Ford Motor Company has received $5.9 billion in government loans to retool plants for plug-ins and more fuel efficient vehicles.

Ford was the No. 1 brand in Europe last month. Sales were up over 16 percent from a year ago, hitting 192,500 units in sales. The Fiesta led the way with nearly 69,000 sold which is the best month for any Ford model ever in Europe. Just to put that in perspective, that is nearly 30,000 more units than the sales of the Ford F-Series pickup in the American market last month.

And speaking of Europe, Mazda can’t sell the RX-8 there anymore. We found it on The Truth About Cars, but Auto Motor und Sport reports that the car can’t meet Euro-5 emission standards due to its rotary engine. A replacement for the engine won’t be ready until 2013 because of cost and time issues. So no RX-8s in Europe until they get that fixed.

North Korea is purchasing Chinese vehicles to give away as gifts to government officials. According to Gasgoo, North Korea has purchased more than 250 F3 and F6 models from BYD for more than $2 million. The vehicles are being given away to mid-level officials at North Korea’s Prosecution and State Security Agency.

Audi spilled the beans on its latest high-performance two-door.  The RS 5 Coupé packs a wallop with 450 horsepower from its 4.2-liter FSI V-8.  That should be enough to blitz from zero to 100 kilometers an hour in 4.6 seconds, although that’s probably a conservative estimate.  The engine is paired with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and the latest version of quattro all-wheel drive, which features a new center differential and torque-vectoring.  Audi’s also pushing fuel efficiency, saying the car should average around 11 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, or roughly 22 miles per gallon.  The RS 5 Coupé should be available around the middle of the year with a base price of 77,000 Euros.

Move over Octomom, NASA is really making news, especially with the auto industry.  Yesterday we reported that the space organization had partnered with Chrysler for technology sharing; it’s also looking for electronic glitches that might be the cause of Toyota’s unintended acceleration issue; and now it’s sending “Robonaut 2,” a robotic astronaut to the International Space Station.  The 300-pound humanoid was co-developed with GM and features moveable arms and hands.  R2 as he, or maybe she is called, should be ready for lift off in September aboard Space Shuttle Discovery.

Coming up next, we’re taking a look at the 2011 Ford Mustang.

Ford is desperate to knock off the Chevrolet Camaro, which is handily outselling the Mustang right now. Last year Ford restyled the car. This year it’s adding a number of other improvements. Craig Cole filed this report.

Thanks for that report, Craig.

By the way, the Power-to-Weight Ratio for the V-6 Mustang is a very impressive 11.4 lbs/hp. The Mustang GT V-8 comes in at 8.9 lbs/hp, which explains why this car is blindingly fast.

Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Our guest will be Walter McManus of the Transportation Research Institute from the University of Michigan. Walter has a ton of interesting information as to where the auto industry is headed. That’s tonight at 7:00.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry.  Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, Car Chat, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

39 Comments to “Episode 371 – Fiesta Sales Skyrocket, No More RX-8s For Europe, Ford Mustang Review”

  1. Art Greenberg Says:

    Happy Birthday, John. Thanks for all you do.

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    Mazda should just get rid of that rotary engine in all markets, I don’t get why the Camaro is outselling the Mustang, I know if I was in the market for that kind of car, the Mustang would be my choice hands-down.

  3. Nick Stevens Says:

    For those who have a feel for the numbers, 69,000 Fiestas is a HUGE HUGE HUGE number. The highest a small car has sold in the US to date must have been the awesome 53,000 civics that dethroned the F-150 in may 2008 (and this did not happen before or after again, ever)

    That is what the US needs, a small car of excellent design that sells in SERIOUS numbers, so it can be PROFITABLE. And I saw this Fiesta here and was very impressed with its exterior styling. And at $14k, it will sell really well.

  4. Nick Stevens Says:

    Happy birthday and condolences for being born on Tax Day, Lincoln Assassination day, and Titanic day, John!

  5. Max Christensen Says:

    I think the Camero is outselling the Mustang simply because it’s a much better looking and sportier looking vehicle. And as much as I hate to say it, both of them are sportier than the Challenger as well.

  6. Nick Stevens Says:

    The Camaro outsells the mustang because it is new, while the Mustang has been around, and is priced low, and at the same time is a bigger, much heavier vehicle than the Mustang. It does not look good up front, it is almost a cartoon of the excellent 68 Camaro.

  7. Brett Cammack Says:

    I suspect that the Camaro is still selling to pent-up demand for the vehicle from die-hard bow-tie enthusiasts.

    My personal opinion is that GM fell victim to their old tendency to produce a too highly styled car that will look dated after a couple years on the market.

    They could’ve dialed it back to about 80% and had a timeless styling homage to the original. From a styling perspective, I think that’s where the HHR succeeds and the Camaro falls short.

    Happy birthday, John. I miss you on Speed Channel. (Frankly, I miss SpeedVision.)

  8. Tom Martin Says:

    The Camao has an eight-year pent up demand that is pushing sales.

    The 210 hp V6 in the 2010 Mustang also did not compete well against the V6 Camaro.

    In 2011, Mustang will again rise to the top with the two new engines, six speed transmissions, and enhanced mpg and handling.

  9. Jim Says:

    The Camaro is a much more talked about special car because the mustang crowd is always thought of as being pimple faced kids with the hat on backwards and stereo thumping.
    To add a final note if a solid rear axle is not needed for handling why don’t Indycars and F1 cars come with them. I think they maybe more worried about cost if they were to be honest as you have stated the one version is already over fourty grand which is high for what you get.

  10. Nick Stevens Says:

    “To add a final note if a solid rear axle is not needed for handling why don’t Indycars and F1 cars come with them.”

    It’s 100% the opposite, a soilid rear axle is terrible for handling, a primitive relic, but I don’t think low cost is why Ford put it on the Mustang, I read that they put it to satisfy modifiers or the higher HP versions, the solid axle could handle the extra HP.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    does anyone here think the Fiesta will do as well in the US when it’s introduced later in the year? why or why not?. I think it will depend on what happens to the price of gas.

  12. Nick Stevens Says:

    Gas is going up, and iut is not even memorial day, and it will help the Fiesta do better, but it would do great anyway, even with lower gas prices.

  13. HtG Says:

    I get so excited whenever I see the Camaro. But when I sat inside I understood what the Ford chief engineer said about visibility. The rear 3/4 view is more like a warning not to even think about parallel parking.

    And Happy Birthday Geburtstagkind!

  14. Sean T Says:

    The Fiesta can’t do as well in the US — it’s a much different market. However, it will do infinitely better than Ford’s previous B-sized car (none).

  15. John Campbell Says:

    Happy Birthday John! Looking forward to AAH tonight. :)

  16. HtG Says:

    Question for Nick on live rear axles. What are the strengths and weaknesses of this design? What happens when you go over uneven or broken pavement in a high speed turn?

  17. Max Christensen Says:

    Yeah, for as hot as the outside of the Camaro appears, it all disappears as soon as you settle into the driver’s seat! I was terribly disappointed in the dash layout, the overall look, the quality of materials, and the visibility is horrid! But if you owned one, it would still bring a smile to your face every time you looked at it.

  18. Nick Stevens Says:

    Htg: “live” rear axles? You mean ‘solid” ones?

  19. Nick Stevens Says:

    The Camaro interior is way too retro, they could have used better materials and not so slavishly aped the inefficient 60s gauges.

    If the old Focus, which is really a 15 year old design, is still selling so unbelievably well in the US (and not at… $10,000 like the Versa), the new Focus and the new Fiesta will do even better.

  20. Dave Says:

    I was not a fan of the new camaro than I sat in one and liked it. I dont like the Mustang even after sitting in it. As for parallel parking??who still does that??LOL all sport type cars area hard to see out of. Heck the charger I drive is hard to see out of. If you want to see get a larger window SUV or truck

  21. HtG Says:

    I mean the Mustang’s axle

  22. Nick Stevens Says:

    Solid rear axles such as in the Mustang are unacceptable in the 21st century, esp. in a car with spoorty aspirations like the Mustang, but even in a cheap econpobox. Too primitive, really hurts handling.

  23. C-tech Says:

    The Camaro’s interior layout fits the theme of the car and its intended buyers. It seems they ran out of money for the interior materials choice. Hopefully they don’t make it any cheaper. I believe Camaro sales are high because of pent-up demand. It will be interesting to see what they will be next year. As far as the solid rear axle vs. independent rear suspension, it does cost more to engineer an irs especially when its costs is only shared by one other car, if at all. The Challenger has irs because its on a shared platform (LX). Does Bill Ford have a suggestion where the funding for the battery / electric car subsidies should come from? Higher income taxes? Gas taxes? Utility taxes? Hey John, happy birthday. Can someone in charge at Chrysler put a Viper v-10 in a Challenger (SRT-10) so it will put it back on par with Mustang and Camaro? I will voluntarily limit my comments to 4 or less. Thanks to the Autoline staff!

  24. Drew Says:


    The new Camaro exterior is ugly….the interior is fugly and cheap looking/feeling.

    The latest Mustang’s rear end styling is ugly and is not as nice as the previous rear end.
    The interior is improved, as well as the engines.

    Both the Camaro & Mustang are overweight whales.

  25. dcars Says:

    I also vote: neither, for the Mustang and the Camaro. I liked the lower hipped original versions. I guess I’m getting old. I thought they made them like that for safety reasons, but John reported it was a styling only decision.
    Happy Birthday John, thanks for your efforts on this show. Boy thats a lot of Fiestas, good job FMC.

  26. dcars Says:

    I think the Fiesta will sell well in the US. With gas prices creping up; it has a nice exterior and if it’s well made it will be a hit in the US.

  27. Salvador G. Says:

    Oh.. Happy Birthday John (sign of the Apocalypse) McElroy and please don’t hurt me, I’m sure Abe got it comin’

    Also, I would love to see that new Audi RS Coupe’ off the line Vs the new Mustang V8, obviously the Audi would win; but still it would be cool to watch.

    …This does beg an AAH Question for Mr.Walter McManus

    __________AAH QUESTION: for MR.Walter McManus______

    Does his work also follows car trends in Europe and how do Europeans compare with American trends???// Considering as well the number of new car models American car ocmpanies are planning to bring from Europe??

  28. Salvador G. Says:

    oops, sorry- meant American car “companies”

  29. Carroll Says:

    Now how can you put down the new Chevrolet Camaro over the Ford Mustang and its live axle over the Independent suspension and wonderful GM LS3 engine or the LSA engine in the upcoming Camaro Z28. I see no updated styling or tech in the Ford Mustang except the 5.0L engine. Low on HP and torque compared to the New Camaro V6 and LS3 SS. Oh wow… I’ll take the HP and torque plus styling of the New Camaro SS. Plus I’ve seen no feature of the new Camaro on here anyway. What about that?

  30. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The Camaro Interior is ok.

    Like John said it could use some material improvements considering the cost of the car, but it did great enough to win Ward’s Interior of the Year this year. That beat out 40 other cars, including 5 Hyundai/KIAs (A first for them to get that many cars on the list).

  31. XA351GT Says:

    The Mustang is hardly a overwieght whale. The Camaro and Challenger are both bigger and heavier. The Mustang is nearly the identical dimensions of the original . Okay I heard everyone bitch about the solid axel , but in a magazine road test of the 3 pony cars The Mustang spanked the other 2. I agree Ford screwed up the rear end styling . The interior is vastly better in materials than the Cahlly and Camaro. Although given a oppurtunity I would own any of the 3 . Unfortunately they have priced even the v6 models out of reach of me and many other buyers. I was looking at camaros this past weekend V8 SS manual 36K ,V8 SS auto 38K, V6 auto 31K OUCH !!!!

  32. Alex Kovnat Says:

    Happy Birthday John.

    As my workplace now blocks autolinedaily.com, its harder for me to participate here than before, but I’ll try the best I can

  33. David B. Fishburn Says:

    Happy B-Day, Mac! I accidently posted in the after hours comments, and wanted to say it here, as well.

  34. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Happy Birthday John!! I hope youre enjoying it.

  35. Nick Stevens Says:

    Where is the AAH video with McManus???

  36. Brett Cammack Says:

    I’m utterly baffled as to why my previous comment was not deemed publishable. It was no more than a simple observation regarding historical styling tendencies at GM, citing examples, and a birthday wish it John.

    BTW – Nick, Ford did their homework and realized that the majority of drivers that did buy a Mustang and participate in some form of amateur competition would be taking it to the local drag strip. A solid rear axle is preferable there and cheaper to help them meet their price point.


  37. Brett Cammack Says:

    Okay, now I see my original posted comment. My web browser appears to be possessed. I believe I shall pour coffee in it…

  38. Nick Stevens Says:

    Hot off the press:

    “Renault quits joint venture with India’s Mahindra
    Renault is quitting a money-losing joint venture with India’s Mahindra & Mahindra after disappointing Logan sales, and is expected to focus on other projects in the potentially high-growth market. ”

    Mahindra is the co that is also trying to import that YUGO of a truck and sell it to poor Appalachians (good luck..)

    The Logan is a stripped-down, primitive sedan Renault can sell for $5k in eastern Europe, India and other..

  39. Nick Stevens Says:

    meanwhile, in China:


    Look at this truly SUPERHighway! This is 20 effing lanes!!!