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GM, Ford in Overtime with 4-Cylinder Cars
Sales of small 4-cylinder equipped cars have surged as gas has risen. That's good news for carmakers, but there's a problem: They don't have enough of them
by Jim Henry
BusinessWeek

2008 Chevrolet Malibu 4-cylinder engine


Inspired by the success of the Prius, many manufacturers added hybrid models, including some big hybrids from GM, such as the GMC Yukon Hybrid SUV, increasing the scarcity of batteries from a limited number of suppliers. GM's vice-president for North America vehicle sales, service, and marketing Mark LaNeve said, "We have a long way to go, in terms of an adequate battery supply,".

Meanwhile, four-cylinder gasoline engines are the mass-market fuel-saving method of choice, far outselling the more expensive hybrids.

GM said four-cylinder models accounted for 40% of its total retail sales in June. That's nearly double a 22% four-cylinder mix in the year-ago month, and despite the fact that most GM trucks are six or eight cylinders. "We have dramatically shifted our mix as quickly as we can," says LaNeve. For instance, GM is making more four-cylinder engines, and building more vehicles in growing car and crossover segments, even as it cuts production of trucks and SUVs.

GM announced on July 1 it was increasing overtime or adding Saturday shifts at the plants that build the Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn Aura, and Pontiac G6 cars, which share a common architecture.

"We ran out of some car lines," in June, LaNeve says. Specifically, he says dealers were low on the Cobalt, and Malibu.

General Motors estimated it could have sold an additional 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles in June if it had better availability of four-cylinder models. "For the last 120 days at least, with higher availability we could have sold more vehicles and had higher market share," LaNeve says. "With more inventory, more selection, the dealers do more business," he says.

At Ford, the company said four-cylinder variants of the Ford Escape accounted for almost half of June sales for that model, up 13 percentage points from the year-ago month. Four-cylinders accounted for about 70% of Ford Fusion sales, up from 57% a year ago, the company said.

Jim Farley, Ford group vice-president for marketing and communications, said the presence or absence of a four-cylinder variant within a particular model lineup has become an important purchase consideration. "The customer is motivated by power-train choice as much as they are by segmentation," he said in a July 1 conference call. Segmentation is how the auto industry breaks different models up into a set of logical competitors. The usual considerations are size, price range, body style, luxury vs. non-luxury brands, etc.

"Where the consumer has a choice between four and six cylinders, we have certainly seen significantly lower days-supply for fours," he said.

Ford is having trouble building enough of the redesigned Ford Focus. George Pipas, Ford U.S. sales analysis manager, says Focus production this year should be 245,000, the first time in more than five years the Focus has passed 200,000. That 2008 target is a 28% increase from 2007. Next year, Ford expects to build 280,000 Focuses, he says.

Ford had a 39-day supply of the Focus on July 1, up from only 24 on June 1, Automotive News said. The industry benchmark is a 60-day supply.

Full Uncut Article: http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/jul2008/bw20080717_015732.htm?campaign_id=yhoo

GMI Flashback (1/2007): http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f32/gms-hybrids-hydrogen-plug-ins-great-but-43359/

 

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Now if only GM has a good small 4-cylinder. The Aveo is a joke and the cobalt doesn't even hold a stick to the Focus.
 

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GM, Ford in Overtime with Small Cars
"We ran out of some car lines," in June, LaNeve says. Specifically, he says dealers were low on the Cobalt, and Malibu.

General Motors estimated it could have sold an additional 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles in June if it had better availability of four-cylinder models. "For the last 120 days at least, with higher availability we could have sold more vehicles and had higher market share," LaNeve says. "With more inventory, more selection, the dealers do more business," he says.





Full Uncut Article: http://www.businessweek.com/lifestyle/content/jul2008/bw20080717_015732.htm?campaign_id=yhoo

GMI Flashback (1/2007): http://www.gminsidenews.com/forums/f32/gms-hybrids-hydrogen-plug-ins-great-but-43359/




So why the $1,500.00 rebate on Cobalt and HHR?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
So why the $1,500.00 rebate on Cobalt and HHR?
Isn't that just the old built-in from day 1 "sweeten the deal" rebate? I know a lot of GM models do that right out of the gate (shocking us enthusiasts), and then the dealer adds their own discount to the MSRP on top of that!

So many automakers do it that to have nothing advertised...? My sister went looking for a car with some kind of rebate, cross shopping 4-cylinder cars across automakers. If the Cobalt or HHR had been offered with no rebate - she would have never visited a Chevy dealer. She ended up going for a 4-cylinder Aura with a good rebate and local deals (and even a special Texas government emissions trade-in rebate for an older car).
 

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Now if only GM has a good small 4-cylinder. The Aveo is a joke and the cobalt doesn't even hold a stick to the Focus.
Engine wise? I would say the 2.2L VVT ECOTEC is probably one of the best on the market now. 150 HP and fuel economy numbers that match or better the best-in-class numbers in all configurations is pretty good.
 

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Now if only GM has a good small 4-cylinder. The Aveo is a joke and the cobalt doesn't even hold a stick to the Focus.
Umm, have you seen the new Focus? It's a very old design and not all that attractive. The only thing Ford is doing with the Focus that GM is not is advertising the hell out of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Engine wise? I would say the 2.2L VVT ECOTEC is probably one of the best on the market now. 150 HP and fuel economy numbers that match or better the best-in-class numbers in all configurations is pretty good.
Yep, 2009 brings good things to GM 4-cylinders. 2010 and beyond are looking even better with the 1.4L turbo.

These aren't the days of relatively tech-lagging 2.2L Ecotecs anymore, or the GM OHV fat fours before them.

Finally GM is treating 4-cylinders like engines to invest in, not throwaway engines for unprofitable Cavaliers.
 

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Yep, 2009 brings good things to GM 4-cylinders. 2010 and beyond are looking even better with the 1.4L turbo.

These aren't the days of relatively tech-lagging 2.2L Ecotecs anymore, or the OHV fat fours before them.
Need we mention the 2.0L Turbo ECOTEC. 260 HP and a flat torque curve, and it could easily get 30 MPG with a 6-speed.
 

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True, and it should be used more extensively.

BTW, I wonder if the 4-cyl. mix doubling is applicable to the Colorado / Canyon GM trucks as well. (Assuming GM is producing them in any quantities that such a trend could be seen - or encouraging dealers to sell them)
Good point. I would love to see the 2.0L in the Epsilon cars. That would be an interesting setup.

Speaking of the 4-cylinder Colorado/Canyon. We just took delivery of a 4-cylinder Colorado Extended Cab at work. I love driving the little thing! It's so peppy.
 

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Now if only GM has a good small 4-cylinder. The Aveo is a joke and the cobalt doesn't even hold a stick to the Focus.
How hard could it be to tape a stick to a Cobalt so it could hold it to a Focus?
Screw those cup holders! GM engineers need to get to work on those stick holders!

Nothing like a good piece of hickory.
 

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Good.. now build a 300hp trubocharged 4-Cylinder and put it in the next-gen G6 Sedan GXP with XWD to do battle against the STi/Evo!!. So i can sell my Evo for an American AWD performace car!
 

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The 2.0 DI Turbo in the Cobalt SS and HHR SS is a fine motor, and arguably class leading. 2.0L making 260hp and 260lb-ft torque?

Now if GM had a small RWD coupe like the 1 or 3 series using it.... oh baby!
 

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Umm, have you seen the new Focus? It's a very old design and not all that attractive. The only thing Ford is doing with the Focus that GM is not is advertising the hell out of it.
That "very old design" handles very well, offers decent interior room and comfort, and offers a new engine/transmission since 2007. Hopefully, it will prove more reliable than the 2000-2005 model year Focus. It offers much better mileage than the previous generation car and better interior quality.

It's a different animal from the 2000 ZTEC powered car....which is proven with increased sales- even if it shares some parts. It's not my favorite small car, but it does sell.

I'd go a Mazda3, Lancer, Astra, or Civic over the Focus....but I'd choose a Focus over a Corolla or Cobalt sedan.
 
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