Episode 436 – Another Honda Strike In China, Nissan Quest, Lamborghini Studies Carbon Fiber

July 16th, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:40

Honda is being hit with yet another strike in China because workers want more money. Nissan shows off photos of the new Quest which will make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this year. Lamborghini has opened its own carbon-fiber research center at its headquarters in Italy. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit about the UAW and its new president, Bob King.

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | Zune | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, July 16, 2010. And now the news.

HONDA HIT BY ANOTHER STRIKE IN CHINA (subscription required)
Uh-oh. Here we go again. Honda is being hit with yet another strike in China because, you guessed it, workers want more money. This time it’s a supplier that makes gear-shift levers for Honda’s plants in China. The Wall Street Journal reports that production hasn’t been affected so far because those plants have enough inventory on hand. But sales have been affected. Last month Honda’s sales in China fell 3 percent, while the rest of the market jumped by 23 percent. Here’s a bit of my Autoline analysis. Making sure you have plenty of inventory on hand to keep on making cars in case of a strike may now become a necessity for car companies operating in China. But that sure goes against the practices of lean manufacturing and just-in-time production, and is going to make those facilities less competitive.

When Nissan came out with the minivan called the Quest it wanted a highly styled van to appeal to people who don’t like minivans. And while that concept didn’t exactly catch on, Nissan is sticking with the idea of a highly styled van. The new Quest will make its debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this year, but here are some photos that Nissan released. You’ll notice the very pronounced grille on the front of the vehicle. And note the chrome accents that outline the DLO of the window area on the side of the van, which carry all the way around the rear. And even the interior of the van has a rather dramatic flair to it. We’ll have more details on the new Quest as they become available.

There is more and more interest in using carbon fiber in the auto industry. Recently BMW announced it will build a carbon fiber plant in the state of Washington, and now Lamborghini has opened its own carbon-fiber research center at its headquarters in Italy. According to Autoblog, engineers and technicians are developing components of various sizes and shapes and they will build prototypes and production tools, and develop optimized production technologies. In addition, the researchers will also simulate manufacturing processes and carry out crash-tests on the structures.

First it was GM, then it was Ford, and now the supplier company Eaton says it too is going to use battery cells from Compact Power. Eaton, which makes hybrid systems for commercial vehicles, announced it will buy lithium-ion batteries from LG Chem, which owns Compact Power. According to the Detroit Free Press, unlike GM and Ford which will use the batteries for passenger vehicles, Eaton will use them to help electrify commercial vehicles. Analysts expect it to be a popular market for electrics because commercial vehicles are regularly scheduled for use and maintenance, so they’ll get recharged every night.

Ward’s reports that supplier company Magna expects global demand for all-wheel drive systems to grow. It estimates that by 2015 sales will surge 10 percent, largely because of the feature’s popularity in Asia. Volkswagen Tiguan sales in China seem to support this claim. The automaker estimated that all-wheel drive would have a take rate of 20 percent; instead it’s running at 50 percent! Demand for all-wheel-drive-equipped vehicles is also strong in South Korea. And it’s gaining popularity in North America, too. In 2001 the instillation rate was 1.3 percent of all vehicles. Last year it was nearly 4 percent!

Yesterday J.D. Power and Associates released its latest APEAL study, which rates vehicles on a variety of factors – from interior and exterior design to fuel economy to how well the HVAC system works. The organization surveyed 76,000 buyers and lessees to see how they liked their 2010 models during the first 90 days of ownership. The big news here is that for the first time since 1997 Detroit automakers as a whole surpassed the imports. Porsche was the top-rated brand for the SIXTH consecutive year with Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover rounding out the top five spots. Ford captured five segment-level awards, more than any other manufacturer. Overall, the S-Class Mercedes was the highest-rated vehicle of any model. Hit the link in today’s show notes to learn about more highlights from the 2010 J.D. Power APEAL study.

Hey, who is this guy Bob King who just took over as president of the UAW? Do you know anything about the union’s new leader? They say he’s really going to rile things up, and we’ll take a look at that right after this.

Bob King is the new president of the UAW and in just a couple of weeks he’s already making himself a lot more visible than the past three presidents of the union. So what’s this guy all about? Well that’s one of the topics that we tackle on Autoline Detroit this weekend. Joining me for that discussion are three labor experts: Robert Chiaravalli from Strategic Labor & Human Resources LLC; Sean McAlinden from the Center for Automotive Research; and Joe Szczesny from The Oakland Press. Here’s part of that discussion.

You can see that entire discussion, and it’s a good one, on our website at AutolineDetroit.tv.

And that is it for the most important news in the global automotive industry. Have a great weekend, we’ll see you back here on Monday.

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

21 Comments to “Episode 436 – Another Honda Strike In China, Nissan Quest, Lamborghini Studies Carbon Fiber”

  1. Michael Shipley Says:

    Google ” Sundoxford steam engine” or try the link I will attempt to send, and check out this opposed piston engine. I wonder if Peter Haufbauer got any ideas from this engine.


    Thanks, Mike Shipley
    Ridgely, Maryland

  2. Grant Fisher Says:

    Misspelt word….
    In your report about JD Powers APEAL- should be spelt Appeal.
    I know we have different spelling of words in Canada vs U.S. (ie cheque vs check) but I think you off on the spelling of “APEAL”.
    Grant Fisher, Mississauga Ont. Can.

  3. Robert Petrach Says:

    APEAL is an acronym for Automotive Performance, Execution, And Layout.

  4. Tom Geauvreau Says:

    APEAL is correct.
    It stands for Automotive Performance, Execution And Layout.

  5. Chuck Grenci Says:

    While I think that every vehicle should have a nice appealing design, the Nissan Quest departed from handsome to foolishly stylistic in their last two interations; this is a family mainstream segment fellas. What in heck are you thinking?

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    Chuck: it’s the French influence from Renault. Notice the Versa has a similar theme

  7. Roger T Says:

    The new Quest seems to me very similar to the new Honda an Toyota minivans, inside and out. Disagree with the “French” influence, I think it screams “Japanese” from every angle. Actually I see it as departing from quirky to mainstream “nicely appointed”, which is appropriate for people that look for vehicles that are above all practical.

  8. Alex Kovnat Says:

    >… Demand for all-wheel-drive-equipped
    >vehicles is also strong in South Korea.
    >And it’s gaining popularity in North
    >America, too. In 2001 the instillation
    >rate was 1.3 percent of all vehicles.
    >Last year it was nearly 4 percent!

    I hope people realize that an all wheel drive system will inevitably weigh more than a front-only or rear-only drivetrain. The added weight is in itself a detriment to fuel economy.

  9. LEX Says:

    The front of the New Nissan Quest looks good but it does not resemble any of the other vehicles in the Nissan line up. It has an almost KIA Motors look in the front end like the Sorento. The rear of the New Nissan Quest reminds me of the GM “Dust Buster” flex body paneled minivans of long ago. My Opinion is that Automotive Designers should keep the side view mirrors off the sheet metal and attached the at the leading edge of the front door glass frame. This is to prevent costly body work repairs in the event the mirror is smashed off. This Minvan still does not have the weight behind it to go toe to toe with the Sienna and Odyssey!

    What I would like to see is a Hyundai / Kia Minivan with the front and sides of a stretched Sorento with the tail of a Rondo to replace the elderly Sendona. It should include AWD as an option. It could be called the “Nirvana”, i.e., A state of happiness for the driven or driving soul.

    John when are you going to get Carlos of Nissan on AAH? I would love to submit a question to him on a All Rapid Fire edition of AAH. Let him hear directly for the automotive public.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    I wonder if these “organized” Chinese workers will stop with the Japanese companies or also hit GM and VW next, maybe now that they learned all they could from the foreigners, they want them out of there so only the Chinese brands will be available.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    So AWD is a hot item. I guess I never “went with the flow” in selecting cars. AWD’s being mandatory is exactly what has kept me from even considering anything Subaru sells. If AWD really is gaining in popularity, it sounds like car buyers need a lot of education. AWD hurts fuel economy and adds to complexity, and it is totaly un-needed, even where it snows.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If Nissan wants to offer something different in minivans, what they should do is sell, well, a minivan, about the size of the original “short” Caravan/Voyager. Let Toyota, Honda, and Chrysler sell their 4500 pound “minivans,” and offer something different, like maybe a rebadged Renault Espace, or something like that.

  13. LEX Says:

    @ Kit Gerhart

    Nissan should take a look at the VW Brand SEAT which has a MPV / Small Minvan called the Alhambra. This would be a great vehicle for Baby Boomers who now need to transport Parents and / or Grand Children around. This even works for Young City Dwellers who need family tranportation for weekend adventures to the suburban malls or grandma’s house in a more compact size vehicle. This vehicle has a great look but a horrible name!

  14. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I think the flat roof on this thing needs to go, but other than that this is excellent for an emasculatory transport device (Minivan).

    The roof needs to be slicked back, the grille is fine, and the sides are fine. Its the roof that kills the whole look.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    LEX Says:
    July 16th, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    “This vehicle has a great look but a horrible name!”

    The name Alhambra fits with with the SEAT brand. Alhambra Castle in Granada is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain.

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Mazda MPV has the right size in my opinion, but sold poorly here and got yanked, seems people who shop for a minivan want more room for those family vacations.

  17. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Im hearing in many places now, that this Toyota “Driver Error” Story is BS.


    Damm I cant believe I was starting to fall for this Crap.

  18. Nick Stevens Says:

    Every fool hears what he wants to. Even the Flat Earth Society has a “LINK”. Guess what it proves. (Ans; NOTHING)

    Just like with the excellent AUDIS of the 80s who failed in the markets 100% because of the dishonest media campaign of the 60 mins PHONY sudden acceleration issue, and when it was TOO DAMNED LATE it was 100% VINDICATED by the NHTSA report that PROVED it was 100% STUPID, PANICKED DRIVER ERROR, 25 years later, TOYOTA lost billions because of the same DISHONEST LYING CROOKS like the clown in that fourth rate U in Indiana and, much worse, the criminals at ABC news and especially the EXECRABLE, Dishonest BRIAN ROSS who peddled the lies and slanders on his show.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:


    No big deal, but the U in question is in Illinois, not Indiana. It’s called Southern Illinois University.

  20. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit, thanks for the correction, I thought so too, but a few days ago I reasd it somewhere as an IN U and thought I was wrong, apparently my original belief was correct.

    Here is the Editor of “Automotive News”, the “bible” of the Autro industry, on the issue:

    “It looks like Toyota’s the victim this time
    Keith Crain

    In 1986, CBS’ “60 Minutes” ran a scathing piece on problems with Audi, a fast-growing German import brand that was selling close to 75,000 units a year in the United States.

    The broadcast took a look at reports that Audi 5000-S sedans with automatic transmissions were apt to accelerate at high speed from a dead stop when drivers shifted from park into drive or reverse. There were many reports of “unintended acceleration,” and Audi almost went off the face of the Earth.

    Unfortunately for Audi, CBS was wrong — although it never apologized. Many years later I was on a panel with (the late?) Ed Bradley, who had been the reporter on the segment. Bradley still would not admit that CBS had made a mistake.

    Well, it looks like Toyota is the victim this time. Toyota says that most cases of crashes involving unintended acceleration in which drivers said they were stepping on the brake were caused by driver error, the same phenomenon that led to Audi’s problems so many years ago.

    Apparently, the drivers had their foot on the accelerator when they thought it was the brake. The faster they went, the more they pushed on the pedal, not realizing it wasn’t the brake. They believed they were depressing the brake pedal, but they were wrong.

    This time, however, there is a big difference. The black boxes that are now in many vehicles, including Toyota’s, have reportedly demonstrated to the federal government that there were cases in which there was no pressure on the brake, only the accelerator.

    Since the Audi problem of decades ago, the auto industry has spent tens of millions of dollars installing a safety device that requires your foot to be on the brake before you can put the vehicle into drive. It would appear that simply doesn’t work once you are under way.

    Sure, Toyota could have put the brake and accelerator pedals farther away from each other, but the bottom line is that drivers had their foot on the wrong pedal.

    It’s going to be up to the federal government to promote the findings. It probably won’t be a great idea for Toyota to blame its customers. But with the black boxes, the facts seem undeniable. The overwhelming evidence points to the driver.”

    Not that the Resident Toyota Hater Hyundai Groupie would register any of the above…

  21. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    We’ll see guys, but like I said this story is coming out and more investigation is needed.