May 10th, 2010 at 12:00pm
Ford announced that it will build its first hybrids for the European market at its assembly plant in Spain. Hyundai could be working on a full-size truck for the American market. A camouflaged BMW X3 prototype caused a bomb scare in New York City. All that and more, plus a look at the brand new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
This is Autoline Daily for Monday, May 10, 2010. And now, the news.
FORD’S FIRST HYBRIDS FOR EUROPE (Login Required)
Ford announced that it will build its first hybrids for the European market at its assembly plant in Valencia, Spain. It’s going to make hybrid and plug-in versions of the 5-seat C-Max starting in 2013. The company is also going to export the 7-passenger version, called the Grand C-Max to the U.S. market late next year.
PAICE SUES FORD OVER HYBRIDS
But Ford could be running into problems with its hybrids. Bloomberg reports that an American company called Paice, which holds some of the basic patents on hybrids, is suing Ford for using that technology without its permission. Paice successfully sued Toyota over patent infringement, and is currently seeking to prevent Toyota from importing hybrids into the American market.
BIG THREE RATE WELL WITH SUPPLIERS
Ever since U.S. automakers got rid of their legacy costs last year, they’re not relying on beating up their suppliers to cut costs, or at least not as much as they did before. As a result, suppliers say that doing business with the Detroit Three is a lot better than it used to be. In fact, the latest supplier survey by Planning Perspectives shows that suppliers all reported significant improvements in how they rate Ford, GM and Chrysler at the same time they reported that relations with Toyota, Honda and Nissan are going down. Automakers with the best supplier relations tend to produce the highest quality at the lowest costs.
CHRYSLER REWARDS ITS DEALERS (Subscription Required)
Chrysler is putting its money where its mouth is. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company plans to reward about three quarters of its stores with financial payouts of as much as $200,000. The scheme is part of a new program geared toward improving customer satisfaction. Nearly 1,800 dealerships will receive a bonus based on evaluations of their operations by Chrysler and three outside companies that used “secret shoppers” to rate how well the dealers treated them.
HYUNDAI CONSIDERS A PICK-UP
Could Hyundai be working on a full-size truck for the American market? We found this story on Autoblog courtesy of PickupTrucks.com, which says the South Korean automaker held research clinics with potential buyers in California and Texas to gauge interest. The company used a modified Dodge Ram 1500 with a custom Hyundai grille and interior enhancements for the trials. This does not necessarily mean the two companies would partner on a pickup, but it’s interesting nonetheless since Nissan dropped out of a deal with Chrysler to build its next-generation Titan pick-up off the Ram.
TOYOTA’S INCENTIVES LOSE THEIR PUNCH
Despite all the troubles Toyota recently went through, it was still able to sell vehicles thanks to pouring on the incentives, but analysts predict as those fade out, the automaker could face a tough time selling cars again. According to the AP, even though Toyota has extended its incentives through the end of May, they aren’t as effective. Sales dropped 16% from March to April, and Edmunds.com says fewer people are considering buying a Toyota now than before all its troubles began.
BMW X3 BOMB SCARE
A camouflaged BMW X3 prototype caused a bomb scare in New York City over the weekend. According to the New York Daily News, the head of product planning for BMW North America, Martin Birkmann, parked the car in front of a museum and accidentally left the vehicle running while he went to spend time in Central Park. A woman noticed the running car and thought the camouflaged vehicle looked suspicious enough to call police, due to last week’s attempted car bombing in the city. The police learned the vehicle did not pose a problem after shutting down the area and even smashing out the window to see if it indeed was a bomb.
The E-class racks up a lot of profits for Mercedes-Benz. And the E-Class Cabriolet is an important source of those profits. We’ll be looking at the new one, right after this.
Open-air motoring has a long history that dates back to the earliest days of the automobile. Keeping the tradition alive, Mercedes-Benz, the company that invented the modern car, just introduced its brand-new E-Class Cabriolet. Autoline Daily Correspondent Isaac Bouchard reports on this luxurious drop-top.
Thanks for that, Isaac. Those look like some nice cars, provided you can afford them. Starting price for the drop-top E350 is about $57,000 while the V-8-powered E550 opens up at nearly 65 grand!
Don’t forget to tune in tonight for Open Line, our newest program that let’s you participate in the conversation. Hosted by Michelle Naranjo, Miss MotorMouth, the action gets going at 8PM ET. Check it out at our website at AutolineDetroit.tv for the most engaging talk about cars that let’s you take part in it all.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.