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0:07 Nissan Steps Off A Cliff
0:47 Mercedes-Benz Has Carbon Dioxide Problems
1:42 Mazda Is Still Pushing Diesels
2:55 Lexus Takes Rear View Cameras to Europe
3:51 Hyundai Teases New i30/Elantra Gt
4:23 Aston Martin’s Vantage Rag Top
5:27 IIHS Announced Top Safety Pick Plus Winners
6:39 Detroit Automakers Ignore Total Costs
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
NISSAN STEPS OFF A CLIFF
Nissan reported its latest financial earnings and the numbers are cause for concern. Sales of vehicles fell 8%, revenue dropped 12%, and its net profit dropped 88%. That’s a profit margin of only one half of one percent, and it prompted Nissan to eliminate its dividend. This is a company in deep trouble and it’s only going to get worse. Japanese companies operate on a fiscal year that runs from the end of March to the end of March. That means there’s one more quarter to go and none of these numbers reflect the impact of the corona virus on Nissan’s Chinese operations.
MERCEDES-BENZ HAS CARBON DIOXIDE PROBLEMS
As we reported yesterday, Daimler’s financial earnings in 2019 were alarming. Sales were flat and it posted a huge drop in net profit. But that’s not the only thing the company has to worry about. Daimler’s CEO, Ola Kallenius, says it will be a challenge for the company to meet European CO2 targets this year and next. That means the German automaker faces big fines. But one thing Daimler won’t do is discount its electrified vehicles in an attempt to boost sales to hit its CO2 targets. Kallenius said “It is very important to achieve adequate prices on these cars and not to destroy pricing levels.” Did you get that? Daimler would rather be fined for not meeting emission goals than losing money on its EVs, because once you cut prices, car buyers come to expect them to stay there.
MAZDA IS STILL PUSHING DIESELS
Is the Mazda6 finally going to get a diesel in the U.S. market? It sure looks that way. The California Air Resources Board posted a certification for the model recently. After promising it for nearly a decade, Mazda added the Skyactiv diesel to the CX-5’s powertrain lineup last year. And now it looks like Mazda6 will get it but we don’t know when. The CARB document shows that the diesel in the 6 will be a 2.2L four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic. According to Autoblog, the company will only offer it on the top Signature trim, which currently costs more than $36,000 with its standard 4-cylinder gasoline engine. The diesel in the CX-5 costs about $4,000 more than its gasoline counterpart, so the Mazda6 diesel will probably be priced around $40,000.
LEXUS TAKES REAR VIEW CAMERAS TO EUROPE
Using digital cameras instead of rear-view mirrors is illegal in the U.S., but not in Japan or Europe. Lexus started using them in Japan over a year ago and will now start using them in Europe on the ES 300h hybrid. The cameras are mounted outside the A-pillars, just like today’s mirrors, but they’re much smaller and thinner. The video feed is displayed on monitors inside the vehicle that are mounted at the base of the A-pillars. The cameras improve aerodynamics and reduce wind noise, plus they get rid of that big bulk hanging off the sides of a car, which designers hate. They also display an extended view of the area alongside and behind the car, when the car is in reverse, to help eliminate blind spots. Lexus will display an ES 300h with the Digital Side View Monitor at the Geneva auto show next month. The system will be available in select European markets in March with the rest of Europe following by the end of the year.
HYUNDAI TEASES NEW i30/ELANTRA GT
And speaking of Geneva reveals, Hyundai will debut the new i30, which is called the Elantra GT in the US market. The company released this teaser shot of the front end of the N Line model. As you can see it features new styling, with a sharper looking grille and LED headlights. The rest of the car also gets updated design and the interior features a new digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch display. We’ll get more details when the i30 debuts next month.
ASTON MARTIN’S VANTAGE RAG TOP
Aston Martin is expanding the Vantage lineup. The Coupe was launched in 2018 and now it’s introducing the convertible version, the Vantage Roadster. It’s powered by a 4.0L V8 and an 8-speed automatic transmission from ZF, which helps move the car from 0 to 60 MPH in just 3.7 seconds. The car is also capable of hitting 190 MPH with top raised even though it only weighs about 130 pounds more than the Coupe. Impressively, the cloth top can be lowered or raised in under seven seconds at speeds up to 31 MPH. If you have $161,000 burning a hole in your pocket, hurry down to your local Aston Martin dealer because they’re taking orders right now.
IIHS ANNOUNCED TOP SAFETY PICK PLUS WINNERS
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced the winners of its Top Safety Pick Plus and Top Safety Pick award for 2020. 64 vehicles earned the award, 23 of which won the coveted Top Safety Pick Plus award. To qualify for that, a vehicle must earn good ratings in each of the six crashworthiness tests. And they must have good or acceptable headlights and available front-crash prevention that earns advanced or acceptable ratings in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian tests. We don’t have time to list all of the vehicles but here are the highlights. Mazda had the most Top Safety Pick Plus winners with five and Hyundai, including Kia and Genesis, had the most winners overall with 17 vehicles earning either award. On the opposite end, FCA and Mitsubishi didn’t earn any awards. Ford, Volvo and BMW didn’t earn any top awards. No minivans or pickups qualified, but the IIHS says that could change if automakers made mid-year changes. Let’s hope they do that.
DETROIT AUTOMAKERS IGNORE TOTAL COSTS
Did you see the recent Autoline This Week with Laurie Harbour? It’s a great show that looks at the pressures on the U.S. tool & die industry. Laurie says there are 100,000 jobs tied to the tool and die industry which are under threat. She says a big problem is that GM, Ford and FCA don’t look at the total cost of the tooling they buy, only the purchase price. So they’re buying a lot of tooling for China, even though it often needs rework and changes which can cause scrap and longer lead times. She says the U.S. tooling industry would be doing a lot better if the American automakers looked at total cost. Laurie really lays out what they have to do, and you can watch that entire show on our website and YouTube channel.
Then later this afternoon, don’t forget to join us for Autoline After Hours. We’ll be learning about General Motors’ new electronic architecture. Can General Motors finally catch up to Tesla with over the air updates and data processing? Gary Bandurski from GM will take us through the system and what it can do. Join us today at 3PM eastern time for the kind of insights into the automotive industry you’re not going to get anywhere else.
But that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching and please join us again tomorrow.
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John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.