News: May 2012

Industry

  • 27/5:By 2014, the Russian new car market is expected to be the biggest in the European region, growing 28 per cent to 3.4 million units a year. (4wheelsnews)
  • 19/5: Diesel is cheaper for annual mileages of 15,000 or more. Otherwise, petrol is cheaper. (Glass’s)
  • 19/5: Facebook’s clickthrough rate is half that for ads on the internet. Google’s clickthrough rate is 4 in 1000. (Automotive News)
  • 19/5: Employee-owned ‘grey fleet’ cars account for 4m vehicle son UK roads. Four out of five businesses do not measure the CO2 of such fleets. (Fleet News)
  • 5/5: Ford CEO Alan Mulally took home $29.5m in 2011. Sergio Marchionne earned nothing from Chrysler – but took $22m from Fiat. Dieter Zetsche earned $11.4 million. Martin Winterkorn earned $23 million. (Auto News)
  • 5/5: Van sales (generally considered a barometer for the state of the economy) fell 20 per cent in April, the fourth monthly slide in a row. Ford is market leader with 24 per cent market share: Volkswagen has 14 per cent, Vauxhall has 13.4 per cent. (Car and Van News)
  • 2/5: There are around 300k daily rental vehicles operating in the UK. (Green Motion)
Aston Martin
  • 7/5: Aston Martin will mark its 2013 centenary with an “entirely new” sports car. It will be a mainstream Aston and won’t be a ‘centenary edition’ version of a model such as the DB9, said Aston CEO Ulrich Bez. (Car Advice)
Audi
  • 19/5: Audi has trademarked a series of new car names: Q6, Q8, R6, S2, S9, RS1 and RS8. (4wheelsnews)
  • 5/5: Audi’s Q1 profit margin was 11.4 per cent.
Bentley
  • 8/5: Bentley CEO Wolfgang Durheimer and Volkswagen head of marketing Luca de Meo are rumoured to be moving to Audi: Durheimer will become head of development and de Meo will become head of sales. (Auto News)
  • 5/5: Bentley is conducting a feasibility study that could see it return to Le Mans – in the GT class rather than the complex LMP class. This would open up the possibility of selling customer GT3 cars. (Autoweek)
BMW
  • 27/5: The BMW F80/F82 M3 will get an in-line six-cylinder turbo engine. A V6, derived from the current M3’s V8, was considered but ruled out. (F30post)
  • 26/5: BMW is the world’s most valuable car brand. WPP says its value has risen 10 per cent: Toyota, which topped the survey last year, has fallen 10 per cent. (Autocar)
  • 26/5: There are rumours BMW could hedge its bets on its i EV programme, due to delays in national governments rolling out a recharging infrastructure. Engineering and tooling remains on schedule but  BMW is also said to be considering contingency plans, which also surround the future of other BMWs. (Automobile)
  • 19/5: The BMW 3 Series coupe will become the BMW 4 Series in 2013: the BMW 1 Series coupe will become the BMW 2 Series in 2014. (4wheelsnews)
Chevrolet
  • 14/5: Chevrolet will reveal a new mini SUV called Trax at the Paris Motor Show in September. It has been co-developed with Vauxhall/Opel, whose model is called Mokka.
Citroen
  • 20/5: Citroen has introduced a bespoke styling department for the DS line, which will open on June 1 and be managed by Thierry Metroz. Alexandre Malval (Citroen DS5, C5) will manage C line styling. (4wheelsnews)
Dodge
  • 9/5: Dodge Dart production has started at the firm’s Belvedere, Illinois plant. Deliveries to dealers are expected from June. Demand is already so high, the plant’s usual two-week summer shutdown has been cancelled. (4wheelsnews)
Ford
  • 27/5: Between 2013-2016, Ford will launch the most new or facelifted cars in the US: it plans to replace 26 per cent of its range. GM will replace 25 per cent, Toyota will replace 24 per cent and Nissan will replace 23 per cent – the latter figure is the industry average. Chrysler and Honda will replace 20 per cent of their range. (4wheelsnews)
  • 20/5: Ford holds 2 per cent of the Chinese passenger car market: GM brands Buick and Chevrolet outsold it 5 to 1. The firm will now invest $4.9bn to build eight factories and introduce 15 new Chinese models by 2015. CEO Alan Mulally wants one-third of Ford sales to come from Asia by 2020. (Auto News)
  • 7/5: Ford posted a Q1 loss in Europe of $149m: it expects full year losses to be between $500m-$600m. (BBC)
GM
  • 19/5: GM CEO Dan Akerson would trade being the world’s largest car maker for being the world’s most profitable. (4wheelsnews)
  • 19/5: Capacity utilisation of below 80 per cent means car factories run at a loss. GM Europe is running at 63 per cent utilization and Ellesmere Port is just 55 per cent utilised. (thetruthaboutcars)
  • 7/5: GM North America pretax profit grew 35 per cent to $1.69bn, helping offset $256m losses in Europe and post an overall $1bn profit. Lower incentive spend and higher prices drove GM’s NA performance: market share fell from 19.6 per cent to 17.5 per cent. NA revenues rose 9 per cent as a result, to $24.18bn: worldwide revenue was up 4 per cent to $37.8bn. (Auto News)
  • 5/5: GM CEO Dan Akerson $7.7m 2011. US government owns 25 per cent of GM which earned $7.6bn in 2011 and set a target of $9 million for Akerson’s pay. The firm says attracting and retaining top talent is “extremely difficult” given the government-mandated pay limits. (Auto News)
Holden
  • 8/5: Holden recorded a net profit of almost $90m AUS in 2011, on revenue of $4.3bn (2011: $4.4bn) and R&D spending of $231m ($179m). The locally built Holden Cruze and a revised cost structure helped drive the positive result – 60 per cent of Australian sales are built in Australian. GM has committed $1bn (and t to carry on developing and building cars in Australia for the next 10 years. Holden built 90k cars in Australia and exported 12k of them. (Car Advice)
Hyundai
  • 26/5: Hyundai has broken into the top 10 most valuable car brands for the first time. (Autocar)
Infiniti
  • 27/5: The new Infiniti G series, due 2012, will be launched with Mercedes four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. Infiniti sold 500 cars in the UK last year: the G series, in combination with a new front-drive Audi A3 rival, will grow it to 20k units by 2016. Infiniti aims to sell 500k cars globally by 2016: last year, it sold 145k. (4wheelsnews)
Lada
  • 26/5: Lada may lose top slot in the Russian new car market due to the expansion of brands such as Volkswagen and Ford. Its market share was 29 per cent in 2010, and may fall to 20 per cent in 2013. (4wheelsnews)
Jaguar Land Rover
  • 20/5: JLR will open a new logistics plant at Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, to support the Halewood-built Land Rover Freelander and Range Rover Evoque. It will be managed by DHL and create 300 new jobs. (4wheelsnews)
  • 20/5: JLR will up its spending with UK suppliers by £1bn over the next four years – in addition to £2bn of contracts awarded in March 2011 to around 40 UK suppliers.
  • 20/5: The Chery-JLR joint venture will begin producing cars in 2014, say sources. Initial capacity will be 130k, reaching 250k in 2020. The plant will also include an engine facility building jointly developed engines also used by the Chery Quantum Quoros. (Car News China)
Lamborghini
  • 20/5: The Lamborghini Urus SUV will be the fastest and lightest vehicle in its sector, says R&D director Maurizio Raggiani. It will not launch before 2017, will become Lamborghini’s best-selling model (c. 3k units a year) and be based on the new VW Group large SUV platform dubbed PL73 and also to be used in the new Audi Q7, Porsche Cayenne, VW Touareg and forthcoming Bentley EXP 9F. (4wheelsnews)
Land Rover
  • 7/5: Land Rover Halewood has produced the 300,000th Freelander 2. It is headed for Brazil, where Land Rover has a 40 per cent SUV market share. Freelander 2 was Land Rover’s best selling global model last year, with 52k units produced.
  • 7/5: Land Rover Halewood celebrates its 50th year in 2013.
  • 7/5: Land Rover is considering a sportier Range Rover Evoque Sport variant, as a rival to the Audi Q3 RS. (Car Advice)
McLaren
  • 22/5: McLaren built its 1000th MP4-12C in March. 40 per cent of orders were from the US, a higher proportion than expected. (Motor Trend)
Mercedes-Benz
  • 5/5: Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche wants the firm to match last year’s €9bn operating profit – and repeated claims 2012 will be a year of transition before profitability grows in 2013. In Q1 2012, the Mercedes profit margin was 8.4 per cent: Zetsche wants it to be 10 per cent by 2013 (last year, it was 9 per cent).
MINI
  • 19/5: The third generation MINI has been spotted testing. Codenamed F56, it will be longer and wider, and launch in late 2013. (Car Advice)
  • 7/5: The MINI Paceman concept-derived Countryman Coupe three-door has been spotted testing. (Autocar)
  • 7/5: The Countryman Coupe will be the first MINI not to follow a rule stating tail-lights must be vertical and surrounded by painted bodywork on all sides. (Autocar)

Nissan

  • 2/5: Nissan sold 1.25m cars in China last year, a 22 per cent rise. (Auto News)
Porsche
  • 15/5: The sub-Boxster Porsche has been canned, say reports – because it would risk alienating existing customers, says CEO Matthias Mueller. He also said there are no immediate plans for a smaller Panamera model. (Inside Line)
  • 5/5: 500 Cayenne and Panamera leave Porsche’s Leipzig assembly plant every day. It is 10 years old this year and, as of next year, will become a full production facility making the new Macan. The 500,000th ‘made in Leipzig’ Porsche wil be built in June.

Renault

  • The Guardian has reviewed Renault’s latest TV ad.
  • 26/5: Renault is reportedly considering a premium sub-brand based on a Mercedes E-Class platform. The new brand would be called Initial Paris and be part of a four-line Renault range: Dacia (budget), Renault (mainstream), Initial Paris (premium) and Alpine (sports). (Auto News)
  • 20/5: Renault expects the Twizy to sell at a similar rate to its regular cars: an initial target of more than 10k annual sales will grow to 50k. The Zoe will be Renault’s highest-volume EV, with sales of 150k cars a year. (4wheelsnews)
  • 2/5: Renault sold 24k cars in China last year – a 60 per cent rise but a small proportion of its 2.72m 2011 sales total. Most sales were of the Koleos SUV: the brand has recently launched the Talisman large saloon at the Beijing auto show and is awaiting clearance for a manufacturing joint venture with Dongfeng. China is considered “very significant” for Renault. (Auto News)
Saab
  • 27/5: China’s Youngman has pulled out of bidding for the bankrupt Saab. (Car News China)
Skoda
  • 27/5: Skoda India is offering free replacement badges for owners who have suffered thefts. (Autocar)

Toyota

  • 5/5: Toyota is reportedly close to green-lighting a new Supra. It would be all-wheel drive, produce more than 400hp and feature a mid-mounted 3.5-litre V6 with in-wheel electric motor hybrid drive. Current ETA: 2015. (Motor Trend)
  • 2/5: Toyota US sales rose 11.6 per cent in April. (BBC)
Vauxhall
  • 7/5: Ellesmere Port is fighting to secure its future: unions are negotiating to alter working practices and add a third shift, taking volume up to 250k cars a year (the accepted breakeven point for any car plant). That the next Astra will be a reskin of today’s car, rather than an all-new model, works in the plant’s favour: this would require less investment by GM. The plant is in competition with three German, two Spanish and a Polish plant for the next Astra. (Autocar)
Volkswagen
  • 5/5: Volkswagen is to build the Amarok in Hanover, supplying 40k cars a year for Europe. It is currently built in Argentina: 168 vehicles a day will be built at the VW CV plant (which also builds the LT). (4wheelsnews)