1st Gear: On a day when stocks on Wall Street plunged with their sixth-largest one-day point drop, the auto industry wasn't spared and, in some cases, fared worse than market indexes. Investors shed auto stocks as Standard & Poor's decision on Friday to downgrade the long-term U.S. credit rating, compounded with sluggish unemployment figures and potential increases in interest rates, may slow the industry's recovery, analysts said. As the markets closed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 635 points to 10,809, down 5.55%. General Motors stock plunged 6.6%, Ford Motor Co. was down 8.4% and AutoNation Inc. fell 6.5%.
2nd Gear: U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to improve fuel economy for heavy-duty trucks will probably aim to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by about 20% by 2018, said Glen Kedzie, vice president at the American Trucking Associations. The standard will probably set a 6% engine-efficiency improvement target, said Kedzie, who is also environmental counsel at the Arlington, Virginia-based industry group and has been briefed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The efficiency goals should help trucks improve fuel use to 7 or 7 1/2 miles per gallon by 2018, he said. "Over the last 20 to 25 years, we've been flatlining at 6 1/2 miles per gallon, and that's not a good way to go," Kedzie said in a telephone interview. "This is going to really help the industry overall. Everyone will move ahead and move on. We'll get used to it." Obama was scheduled to announce the first U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions rules for trucks today in Springfield, Virginia — but he cancelled the event — along with all public events today. Instead, it'll just be a conference call.
3rd Gear: Automotive News reports that the cost of raw materials such as steel, resins, rubber, copper and aluminum are rising, typically 10 to 20% from a year ago. According to a survey of 110 suppliers by IRN Inc., a consulting firm based in Grand Rapids, Mich.
4th Gear: Ford was reported yesterday to be pushing back the full launch of the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, according to a message posted on a Focus Forum from Ford marketing. That also explains some new material from the company which says, "2012 Focus electric; coming spring 2012." Originally, the Focus was supposed to launch in 19 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Seattle. Now it'll just be New York and LA by 2011 — which, according to USA Today — was part of the original plan.
5th Gear: Honda Motor Co., Japan's third-largest carmaker, said it may revise its full-year profit forecast when it announces first-half earnings in October, depending on how long the current market turmoil lasts. A prolonged drop in U.S. equities will lead to a decline in consumption and delayed car purchases, Honda Chief Financial Officer Fumihiko Ike told reporters in Tokyo today. The company is also concerned the yen may strengthen to the low 70s against the dollar, further hurting earnings from exports, Ike said.
6th Gear: Two years ago, Car Magazine published a list of BMW codenames. And with the launch of the new 1-series, what better excuse to update Munich's future model plans? Historically, each BMW has carried an E project number — standing for Entwicklung, or development. The numbers have then risen progressively up to triple digits, at which point F numbers have taken over. So browse the BMW codename list and scratch up on your knowledge. And ponder what could have been; there are numeric gaps which we can only imagine were stillborn projects or new cars that never saw the light of day. Here's the UK buff book's research into all the different BMW E and F codenames — a handy guide to explaining the future product lineup for BMW — all in one handy list.
⏎ Sammy Davis Jr.'s Rolls up for auction. [UrbanDaddy]
⏎ NHTSA investigates 120,000 BMW 7 Series from 2002-2008 over rollaway concerns... which could, of course, lead to fiery death! [NHTSA]
⏎ GM rolls out new brand in China, targets small cities. [Reuters]
⏎ Mazda Next-Gen Sky-D Diesel: Cleaner Than VW TDI? [Green Car Reports]
⏎ Recording Industry Chairman Named to Lead Automotive Trade Group. [New York Times]
⏎ Michigan Leads U.S. in ‘Clean' Car Jobs; Ohio No. 2, Study Says. [Bloomberg]
⏎ Limited-edition Fiesta launched. [Autocar]
⏎ How all those old GM plants and properties will get sold... or scrapped. [Automotive News]
⏎ Euro fuel price shock. [Auto Express]
⏎ AutoNation Pay Freeze as Company Excels Shows No Inflation. [Bloomberg]
⏎ Build and price your own 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe with their just-unveiled configurator. [Mini]
⏎ Three new Infinitis coming? [Automotive News]
⏎ US Retail Gasoline -3.7C In Week To $3.674/Gallon. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ Lincoln's getting its own design studio? They didn't have one before?! [Autoline]
Today in Automotive History:
On August 9, 2000, tire manufacturer Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announces that it is recalling 6.5 million of its model ATX, ATX II and Wilderness AT tires; the move comes two days after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration linked hundreds of accidents and at least 46 deaths to problems with the tread on the tires. [History]
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