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AutoLine: Episode 280 – Sweden’s Automakers In Turmoil, Nissan Working On New Battery, New Mustang Engine

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New developments in regards to the future of both Saab and Volvo. Nissan said its working on doubling the range of its lithium-ion battery for electric vehicles. Ford announced that the Mustang will get a brand-new base engine for 2011. All that and more, plus a look at Volkswagen’s redesigned Golf.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

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Here are today’s top headlines. Sweden’s automakers are in enormous turmoil. Nissan has a new battery that will double the range of its electric car. And the Mustang will get a new engine to battle the Camaro.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, November 30, 2009. And now, the news.

The people in Sweden must be sitting on pins and needles. The news is coming fast and furious in regards to the future of both Saab and Volvo. Saab, as we reported last week, is on its deathbed unless a last minute deal is put together. The AP reports that Saab’s CEO Jan Ake Jonsson is in Detroit today to confer with General Motors about potential new bidders who might buy the car company. Bloomberg reports that BAIC, the Beijing Auto Industry Corporation says “stay tuned.” It may put in another bid. And there are several private equity firms that are interested as well. We should know more tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Geely has reached a deal with Ford (subscription required) to get the intellectual property rights to Volvo. That includes access to key technology related to safety and the environment. And that seems to remove the last impediment to the Chinese automaker taking control of the iconic Swedish brand.

Nissan said its working on a lithium-ion battery that will nearly double the power of the one that will be used in the Leaf. According to the AFP, the new battery can power an electric car for 190 miles or 300 kilometers on a single charge. Nissan said it would like to use the battery by 2015 and that it will cost about the same to produce as other lithium-ion batteries.

Car sales in the U.S. may finally be turning the corner. According to Bloomberg, November sales are expected to come in at a higher rate than last November. The seasonal annual adjusted rate is predicted to come in at 10.5 million vehicles up from 10.2 the prior year.

Mustang enthusiasts rejoice, today Ford announced that the iconic ponycar gets a brand-new base engine for 2011. The 3.7-liter Duratec V-6 six delivers 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque – 95 more ponies than the ANCIENT 4.0-liter lump it replaces. Available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, the company estimates that it’ll get up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Looking at the numbers, they’re all over the new Camaro’s, which delivers 304 horsepower and 29 miles per gallon.

With flocks of Tata Nanos about to descend on roads all over India, two companies have teamed up to offer buyers customization options for the tiny car. Autoblog reports that Carnation Auto and DC Design will launch a range of body kits sometime next year. The custom designs for the Nano are still under development, but judging by the pictures they’re really trying to make a statement. With one of these kits you won’t lose your Nano in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

Coming up next, a look at Volkswagen’s redesigned Golf, we’ll be back right after this.

Recently Volkswagen invited us to Germany to test-drive the new, sixth-generation Golf. You heard right, I said Golf. The company dumped the Rabbit name AGAIN in North America, and is going back to calling the car what the rest of the world knows it as.

The Golf comes in a couple different flavors. The two-door hatch is the value leader starting around $18,000, including shipping and handling. The four-door is a little pricier, starting around $20,000. Don’t think these entry-level models are bare bones though. They come standard with amenities like cruise control; power windows, locks and mirrors; and complimentary “Carefree” maintenance for the length of the factory warranty. It covers things like oil changes and tire rotations.

Under the hood, buyers can opt for either a 2.5-liter five cylinder engine or a 2.0-liter TDI diesel. The gas-burning I-5 delivers 170 horsepower and up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. The turbocharged diesel offers 140 horsepower, but can smoke the tires with 236 pound-feet of twist.

Both engines have plenty of power, but the five-cylinder sounds gruff when you rev it up. The TDI is definitely the one to get, delivering tons of torque and better fuel economy to boot – 30 in the city, 41on the open road.

As for transmissions, a five-speed manual or a six-speed automatic are available with the five-cylinder. The diesel offers either a six-speed manual or a six-speed DSG – Volkswagen’s fast-shifting, dual-clutch gearbox.

Venturing out into the German countryside, and later the Autobahn, the Golf impressed us with its solidity. It’s capable on twisty roads and handles triple-digit speed with ease. On the highway, it’s totally comfortable up to about 110 miles an hour, beyond that though it starts to feel a little nervous, as does the driver.

The redesigned Mark VI Volkswagen Golf sports fresh exterior styling that gives it a little more edge and an updated interior. It should be available at dealerships right now.

This coming Wednesday we’ll be webcasting live right from the floor of the LA Auto show, from 11:30 AM Pacific Time to 1:30 PM. That’s 2:30 to 4:30 Eastern time. And then on Thursday we’ll be live with Autoline After Hours from the LA show in its normal time slot.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950



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