5/13: This week’s round-up of news from and around the auto industry.
Huge Gains by Ford Hybrids, Healthy Sales for Hyundai-Nissan-Toyota
When it comes to auto worker population, seems Michigan state still has the highest number. Next highest were three midwest neighbors (IL, IN, OH), and just a couple of southern states (TN and SC).
An undisclosed number of GM stocks will be sold by the US Treasury, which owns about 18% of the company. Based on recent GM share prices, the government will probably take a significant loss.
In auto manufacturer sales, Hyundai posted record sales for April. Nissan successfully hit its target for financial year 2012 ending in March, posting $116 billion net revenue on 4.914 million units globally. Toyota also had success, with 4th quarter profits up from the previous year. Lastly, Ford is poised to break records in hybrid sales for the year ending in May. It currently holds 18% of the U.S. hybrid market, up from just 3% last year.
- Photo by Left Lane News
Everybody’s Talking About Tesla
Tesla has mustered a remarkable come-back since the February New York Times review that blasted the electric car maker for battery charging issues. Stocks dipped, but have since rebounded 76% due to increased production for its first-ever profitable quarter. A closer look at the statement reveals $17M income from irregular accounting items. Based on regular operations alone the company had a net loss of $5.7M. Hope is not lost for long term profitability, however, since the company spent a significant amount on non-repeatable infrastructure such as charging stations.
Stock prices were also electrified by Consumer Reports’ review of the Model S. The magazine rated the vehicle 99 points out of 100. Strangely, this would make the experimental Tesla the highest ranked car ever by a normally stingy publication. Strengths were efficiency, quietness, and 17-inch touchscreen. Road tests had the Model S beating a BMW M5 and Viper [VIDEO]. Drawbacks were mainly related to battery charging time and energy loss while parked, also luxury pricing and resale value were obvious issues.
Cars of both Legendary Rocker (John Lennon) and Modern Popper (Justin Bieber)
John Lennon’s first car, a 1965 Ferrari, is up for auction – expected to command between $280K and $343K. Modern pop sensation, Justin Bieber, is reported receiving six moving violations by police in Dubai driving his Lamborghini.
The movie Fast & Furious 6 promises plenty of action for those who love plenty of action-packed, crash-packed goodness. Star Paul Walker is shown here out-smarting an E36 BMW police car in his rental vehicle. Alfa Romeo is happy to feature its Guilietta in the film.
Moths Drive Cars, and Cars Drive Themselves
Self-driving cars made headlines following Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk’s casual talk with Google about the futuristic technology. Google claims it could be ready in as little as three years, but Musk is more cautious and has disagreements about which technology is feasible for production. Musk prefers the term “auto-pilot” to “self-driving.” Separately, Volvo is targeting self-driving features for launch in 2014 called Traffic Jam Assist. An interestingly bizarre study showed the connection a non-human biological organism can make with mechanical device – by employing moths to successfully drive a mobile robot.
Flying Cars That Crash
Private aerospace company Terrafugia’s flying car concept was revealed this week in a promotional video. Undoubtedly a winged car sitting in a subdivision block was one of the stranger sights this week, but will consumers some day be able to fly over the highway when traffic becomes too congested? One Florida company went beyond promotional videos and actually piloted a propeller-based flying car [VIDEO] – then crashed it.