December 21st, 2010 at 12:00pm
The U.S. federal government socked Toyota with another fine, this time for its tardy handling of recalls and other safety issues. Chrysler just released pictures of its redesigned 300, which should start arriving at dealerships in the first quarter of next year. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is one of four trade groups that’s asking a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling by the U.S. EPA that allows gasoline blends with 15 percent ethanol. All that and more, plus John shares some of his thoughts on the Ford Focus RS 500 he recently drove.
This is Autoline Daily for December 21, 2010. And now, the news.
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER FINE
Toyota was hit with another fine in the U.S. in regards to its tardy handling of recalls over safety issues. According to the AP, the company will pay $32.4 million to the U.S. government, that’s in addition to a $16.4 million fine the company paid earlier in the year in a related investigation. The penalty settles investigations over how the company handled recalls over sticky accelerator pedals and steering relay rods that could break. Even though Toyota agreed to pay the fine the company doesn’t admit it violated any U.S. laws.
2011 CHRYSLER 300 REVEALED
A couple months back Dodge revealed its overhauled 2011 Charger, and now it’s Chrysler’s turn. It just released shots of its redesigned 300. In keeping with some of its other recent updates, this rear-wheel-drive, four-door gets new bodywork, but the silhouette still looks pretty similar to today’s version. The front end gets a redesigned grille with wispy horizontal chrome bars, while the daytime-running lights are comprised of a string of LEDs. The windshield has been raked back three inches, which actually requires quite a significant sheetmetal change. But the interior is where Chrysler really went to town. Everything looks elegant, soft and luxurious. The gauges and other controls light up with sapphire-blue illumination, while the center stack is dominated by a huge 8.4-inch navigation screen with the company’s Uconnect Touch infotainment system. Expect it to be powered by either a HEMI V-8 or the brand-new Pentastar V-6. Look for the 2011 Chrysler 300 at dealerships the first quarter of next year.
THE RED PILL OR THE BLUE PILL?
GM’s Cadillac division is getting a new voice. Award-winning actor Laurence Fishburne will lend his mellifluous tones to the brand’s upcoming television advertising. The campaign will launch during the Rose Bowl game that will be telecast on New Year’s day.
SUNNY DAYS IN CHINA
Is this a sneak peek at the next Sentra? Nissan unveiled an all-new global sedan, called the Sunny, at the auto show in Guangzhou, China. The vehicle will first go on sale in China next year and then will be shipped worldwide. The model will probably replace the Sentra in the U.S. It comes equipped with a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that’s mated to its next-generation Xtronic CVT. The Chinese version has a starting price of $12,400.
MORE ETHANOL DRAMA
Four automotive trade groups are asking a federal appeals court to overturn a ruling by the U.S. EPA that allows gasoline blends with 15 percent ethanol, or what they call E-15. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is part of the challenge, Bloomberg reports. I find that interesting because GM, Ford and Chrysler are part of that group, and they’ve been the biggest proponents of Flex-fuel vehicles that can run on E-85. They also make vehicles for sale in Brazil that can run on anything from E-22 to E-100. So why are the Detroit Three all of a sudden against E-15? Here’s my Autoline Insight. They get very generous credits that apply to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for every flex-fuel vehicle that they make. But if all of a sudden ethanol starts showing up in higher concentrations in all gasoline, like it would with E-15, they could be in danger of seeing those flex-fuel credits go away. I don’t know how the Detroit Three can say with a straight face that E-15 could damage their engines.
IS CARB TOO FAR AHEAD? (subscription required)
Interesting article from Ward’s. It reports that automakers worry that California’s strict emissions regulations may be getting out way in front of what customers will really buy. For example, the California Air Resources Board is pushing to get 1 million plug-in electric cars on the state’s roads in the next nine years. But it took Toyota 12 years to sell 1 million Priuses all around the world. It quotes the California New Car Dealers Association as saying they don’t want to see a bunch of green cars just sitting on their lots because not enough people want to buy them.
MORE DISTRACTIONS, FEWER ACCIDENTS
And speaking of government and regulations, the Secretary of the Transportation Department, Ray LaHood wants to ban truck and bus drivers from using cell phones while driving. Reuters reports this would affect 4 million drivers who are already banned from texting while driving. It’s an effort by the secretary to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving. And yet, traffic accidents and fatalities in the U.S. are at a historic low. They’ve dropped dramatically. In fact, you could argue that, statistically, the more that electronic gizmos show up in cars, the lower the accident rate has become. I wouldn’t make that argument, but you could do it.
Coming up next, a look at the highest-performance car Ford sells in Europe, the Focus Rallye Sport.
FORD FOCUS RS500
Ford makes a fantastic version of the Focus in Europe known as the RS, which stands for Rally Sport. Here’s what I thought about the car.
I promise you that we’ll have full driving impressions of the Focus RS in an upcoming edition of Autoline Daily.
And that brings us to the end of today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.