Episode 5 – UN Criticizes Biofuels, GM & Chrysler Pursue Merger, Honda’s New Odyssey

October 20th, 2008 at 12:00pm

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GM and Chrysler pursue merger talks, but both are having problems raising money to make it happen. The United Nations criticizes biofuels due to food security.  Honda introduces the new Odyssey in Japan with a host of different technologies. All that and more, plus journalists gather in Hell, Michigan, to test drive finalists for the 2009 North American Car and Truck of the Year Award.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. GM and Chrysler pursue merger talks. The United Nations criticizes bio-fuels. And Honda introduces the new Odyssey in Japan.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, October 20, 2008. And now the news.

More drama in the possible merger of General Motors and Chrysler. Over the weekend pressure built on both companies to put a deal together quickly, but the Wall Street Journal reports that both companies are having problems raising the money to make it happen. The plans are to cut 40,000 jobs, with the vast majority of them being Chrysler jobs. And that would take billions in buyouts and severance packages.

In what I believe is related news, German transmission company Getrag announced that its deal with Chrysler to build dual-clutch transmissions in the United States is off. Chrysler sued Getrag over financing to build the plant and I guess the German company decided that enough was enough and called the deal off. Chrysler has developed the habit of suing suppliers ever since the private equity firm Cerberus took over the company.

September auto sales were terrible and it looks like October won’t get any better (subscription required). Ward’s is forecasting U.S. October sales of a paltry 1 million vehicles. This equates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of only 12.6 million units. If the trend continues, this would make September and October the first consecutive months with below 13 million SAARs since July and August of 1992.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says that developing Bio-fuels threatens global food security and that it won’t help as much to reduce emissions as was previously thought. The FAO wants biofuels policies and subsidies to be reviewed in order to preserve world food security, protect farmers, promote rural development and ensure environmental sustainability.

Honda announced that it’s started selling a completely redesigned Odyssey minivan in Japan. The van features a 2.4-liter four cylinder engine and a body design that emphasizes a low center of gravity. Honda is offering a host of different technologies on this redesign of the Odyssey. Things like a double-wishbone front suspension, a CVT transmission and adaptive cruise control are either standard or available as options.

Luxury car brands are taking a beating as the U.S. market continues to falter. The Wall Street Journal reports that over the last few years, sales of luxury vehicles grew at an unprecedented rate. The market even took on an hourglass shape as sales of low-priced cars and luxury brands soared while brands in the middle stagnated. This isn’t the case anymore. Luxury automakers are really hurting as the economy continues to slide. Johan De Nysschen, head of Audi’s U.S. operations predicts that the market will contract by another 15 to 20 percent in the next 18 months, but slowly stabilize after that.

Coming up next, our feature story looks at the voting for the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. We’ll be back, right after this.

And now for today’s feature story.

There are a lot of car awards in the car business, but only a few that are chosen by an independent organization of journalists. In the North America that organization is called the North American Car and Truck of the Year award. Last week members of the jury met in Hell, Michigan at the Hell Creek Ranch to test-drive the 2009 cars and trucks that are up for the award.

All they have to do is pick up the keys on the table and start driving what ever they want, from subcompacts, to exotic sports cars, to crossovers and pickups. And the journalists find it a very valuable way to compare cars.

The voting for the North American Car & Truck of The Year will take place in December and the awards to the winners will be presented at the next North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, but don’t forget you can get podcasts, transcripts and a whole lot more on our website, AutolineDaily.TV. Thanks for watching; we’ll see you tomorrow.

8 Comments to “Episode 5 – UN Criticizes Biofuels, GM & Chrysler Pursue Merger, Honda’s New Odyssey”

  1. Chuck Vergetis Says:

    Would it be possible to publish the winners of the Car and Truck of the Year. i always enjoyed the Show, but usually found out in the Newspaper or TV shows who actually won.
    Chuck Vergetis
    Fountain Hills Az

  2. Alan Adler Says:

    Hey John,

    We both know that GM is a strong supporter of sustainable biofuels — and communicating that support is what I do — so I appreciated your comment that the UN is “the anti-biofuels lobby” but I was surprised that a 2-week-old story (Oct. 7), makes the top headline of Autoline Daily. The UN showed far more restraint this time around, yet the “UN Criticizes Biofuels” headline screams that there’s something new out there. As you said, it is hardly new. But its placement suggests otherwise.

  3. Jeffrey S. Brookstein Says:

    I love your show and I miss it on the Speed channel. This is great to be able to get you online.

  4. John McElroy Says:

    Our source for the UN anti bio-fuel story comes from WardsAuto.com which is one of our media partners for Autoline Daily. Ward’s posted the story just this weekend. Even if it is from an earlier date, which I was not aware of, it was worth covering. Except for hard-core bio-fuel experts I think most people were unaware of this report.

  5. Ed Kemmerer Says:


    Love the daily updates, keep up the great work.

  6. Tom Calhoun Says:

    Hi John,

    Given the impact of any Chrysler/GM deal and what that represents, it would be very nice to hear a panel of your “expert observers” weight in on the subject. And I sure would like Delorenzo to be a part of the discussion. Keep the news and commentary coming! BTW, I too miss the show on Speed……any chance you’ll pop-up somewhere else on cable?

  7. Ted Krygier Says:

    That comment by Jim Kenzie about the new Ram sums up why I think he is an awesome automotive journalist!
    Your great too John! I really like the daily vesrion of your show, as well as the weekly!

  8. Gerard.Belle Says:


    I,m surprised after 44 years livin in Canada.and
    traveling thru beautifull U.S.A…and CANADA manny times
    and now at my young age of 71 .People are still waisting monnies at Fancy European sport-cars .
    I lived the first 25/26 years in Holland and we had French, Deutsch , English, American and Japaneese cars,even Dutch cars on the road .eh!

    we knew the body metal for cars were the best and the thickest .like .6 mm (6/10ts of a mm.) for German cars ..hm the best ..only .4mm ( 4/10ts of a mm.)for the french cars.
    the asian cars hmmm..flimsy right.!

    The German cars-bodies were well made and strong
    .I own a (1976 mercedes 450.SLC…)and the motor .WOW..and a (1997 GM Tahoe truck )and a (Toyota-Avalon,car( 2000.) _and a week ago I sold my 1991 Buick Riviera .hm!

    The American cars were also strong ! and had big V-eight motors ,or six cyl motors .well buildt I believe..I know.!

    I still love my (blue 55 chevy -bell,air.).I gave away when I got married in 1969.

    To day the Ford,and GM’s.cars and truck’s are better.and……………..

    well buidt.
    and The japaneese and Asian, ones are growing bigger than The Candian and the American buildt ones.
    But today here in Canada and the U.S.A I know they use new welding methodes .like Palsma welding and friction welding technic’s..for building cars and truck’s right.?

    but seldom are these good features mentioned by the industry or by You..?..?..?
    To day all the asian car,s are made from plastic and styra-foam. well the bumpers.

    I believe we schould put an extra import tax on these cars that come in to our country”s
    ,and use these monnies for our road repair.and bridges repair,

    and Also I wish the American car manufacturing plants would start makin just plain standard models- simple ones ..I just,dont
    need (back up )camera’s or seven or ten air bags
    or heated and cool seat’sand or DVD T.V screens. rivrigerators in the glove box for beer. boomboxes that aproches the pain border etc etc…and the OLDER I get all these bright lites in these Bimmers and Mercedeses and .Acura’s .and truck’s.
    I come to a point I need sunglases at nite to protect my skeleton. my goodness,lord.

    All these fast lane cars ..no wonder the young and fools are dying…driving plastic bumper cars.Its like gooing bunjee-jumping.with a line thas toooo long. and hope fore the best..hm.
    .My air bag will save me O.K.
    noooooooooooooooooooooooooo man ! wrong…..!

    Driving beats walking but every one today is in a hurry.and showing off. ha ha ! ..how to die..?

    Why is there no standard for bright lites or a standard for trucklites ..too high bumpers from truck’s not the same hight as a car..?

    On the highway
    Trucks drivers should always drive in the very ..most right lane at all times ..and
    in Europe they have circuits (rond circles .) no trafic lites for letting trafic flow and saving ennergy..(gasoline,.?.? )well lit and very good trafic dirctions- boards.(big signs.)
    well in the cities there are trafic lites ofcourse.

    we should be educating our,- the bungee jumpers..? Yes.?
    I see some here in Victoria.BC.Canada.now.!
    maybe there is hope.?

    You winn some and You loose some ?eh!

    all for now.

    Gerard Belle I.S.V.
    tel 250 598 6720