Bottlenecks are bad things to experience. Around 70,000 years ago, the Toba supervolcano eruption reduced humanity to anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs — thus creating a genetic bottleneck — alongside a global cooling event concurrent with the Last Glacial Period.
For automakers in the United States and their North American supply chain, their Toba event is coming.
After taking a sales hit due to tsunami-related production woes, Lexus has been trying to regain their mojo with a new product offensive. Things started out with the new Lexus GS sedan that Jack Baruth and I loved on and off the track, followed by a revised RX. With the redesigned IS, the bulk of their lineup has been overhauled. Initially, I was a little concerned that the Lexus IS sedan would receive nothing more than a new nose and some LED lights for 2014 but the Japanese 3-Series fighter came out swinging when we were invited to the launch event earlier in the year. I came away impressed with the IS 350′s road manners, but most buyers will be shopping for the less powerful IS 250 and it’s taken us this long to get our hands on one.
Speaking to Tesla enthusiasts at a Tesla service center in Germany, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk insisted that batteries made more sense for powering electric vehicles than hydrogen fuel cells, calling them “bullshit” and saying that hydrogen isn’t safe to use as an automotive fuel.
After months of intense lobbying, Germany has convinced European Union environmental ministers to keep 2020 new car carbon dioxide emissions standards at 130 grams per kilometer instead of the proposed, stricter 95g/km standard. The German government argued that the tighter regulations would cost jobs and hurt German automakers. BMW and Mercedes-Benz produce larger and heavier cars than other European car companies like Fiat and Renault and they would have a more difficult experience trying to meet the new CO2 standards.
After lobbying by Germany, the governments of the European Union have for the third time delayed implementation of carbon dioxide emissions targets for Europe’s new cars. The proposed limits would have been reduced CO2 emissions from new cars to 95 grams per kilometer.
The regulatory and verbal war between France and Germany over Mercedes-Benz’s refusal to switch to the R1234yf air conditioning refrigerant has escalated. After a French court ordered a 10 day stay, lifting that country’s ban on R134a equpped A Class, B Class, CLA and SL cars made since June, Daimler expressed confidence that the French government would abide by that ruling. That confidence was apparently badly placed because the French government has now invoked a “safeguard procedure” of the EU that allows member countries to act unilaterally to avoid a serious risk involving the environment, public health or traffic safety, reinstituing the ban. Daimler promised that it would continue fighting to allow the sale of those cars in France. It claims that the new refrigerant is dangerously flammable and toxic. (Read More…)
Suzuki and VW don’t seem ready to officially call it quits just yet. The two companies are still talking, with both sides continuing to see positives in what was to be a partnership on small cars and Suzuki’s domination of emerging markets.
Senior management from both sides, including Osamu Suzuki, are currently in talks to revive the partnership as it could help Suzuki spread their R&D costs over multiple products and give them access to VW technology. Volkswagen wants a greater foothold in India and China, where Suzuki has been wildly successful, a stark contrast to their presence in North America. If talks fail, the courts have some decisions to make.
Members of the media are still speculating why Audi’s R&D chief Wolfgang Dürheimer was sacked and replaced by Volkswagen’s engineering rock star Urlich Hackenberg. Today, the market delivered the reason: With BMW in the passing lane in China and America, global sales of the roundel brand keep rising faster than those of Audi and Mercedes. (Read More…)
1,200 BMWs are sitting at German dealers and cannot be repaired. The reason: Missing parts. After a software change in BMW’s German parts distribution system, supply with needed parts has become sporadic and unpredictable, Automobilwoche [sub] says. BMW works council chief Manfred Schoch blames cost cuts by BMW’s management:
“There were other solutions, but they wanted to save money. Now it will be getting three times as expensive.”
BMW has started to provide customers with replacement cars. Even that cause problems. “If people want to go on vacation in a Touring, and they are given a sedan, they won’t be happy,” a dealer told Automobilwoche.
A BMW spokesman confirmed the backlog to Reuters, but said the situation is improving.
GM wants to move Opel upmarket (again,) to allow more breathing space for Chevrolet in Europe, Reuters reports. Frustrated Opel dealers say GM needs to declare what it wants, and stick with it for a change. (Read More…)
With Mercedes cranking out AWD versions of their AMG products and Audi finally bringing their AWD “RS” products to America, it was only a matter of time before BMW have in and added some front-wheel motivation to their M5. Just kidding. BMW maintains that the M5 will forever retain RWD. This means the M5 will focus on dynamics and not acceleration. BMW’s answer to this deficiency since 2010 comes in the form of the X5M and X6M cousins.
The fight over the flammable refrigerant takes a new twist. France refused to register Mercedes A-Class, B-Class and SL cars assembled since June 12, even though German authorities have approved them, a Daimler spokesman told Reuters. (Read More…)
GM’s ailing Opel hopes to enter the American and Chinese markets, and through that for a speedier recuperation. It wants to do that under cover: Made in Europe Opels, sold abroad as Buicks. This according to a report in Opel’s hometown paper Mainzer Allgemeine Zeitung. (Read More…)
In Germany, Europe’s largest car market, sales were down 4.7 percent in June. In the first six months of the year, sales in Germany were down 8.1 percent. Opel’s June sales were down 10.1 percent in Germany, Chevrolet’s sales plummeted 17.1 percent, but those of Ford rose 8.7 percent. Peugeot sales plummeted 26.5 percent.
Mired in the same overcapacity crisis as the rest of Europe’s auto makers, the founding family of PSA is reportedly willing to give up control of the company that owns Peugeot and Citroen in exchange for a fresh infusion of capital from GM, which currently owns 7 percent of PSA.