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Episode 587 – Toyota Issues Recall, VW & GAZ Sign Pact, Mazda Responds to Court’s Decision

February 25th, 2011 at 12:11pm

Runtime 8:37

Toyota is recalling another 2.2 million vehicles in the U.S. because of floor-mat issues. Volkswagen and Russian automaker GAZ will partner to build more than 100,000 VW and Skoda cars annually in Russia. Despite the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling, Mazda Vice President Jay Amestoy told Autoline Daily that it was what the Court didn’t say that’s also important. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit about automotive television advertising.

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Well hello there! I didn’t hear you come in. Please, have a seat, make yourself comfortable. Oh no, don’t worry about taking your shoes off, it’s no trouble, no trouble at all. The Show? Oh right, the show. I’ve got to get ready. That’s better! Now we’re ready to go! Sorry about that, I was just catching up on some reading. I had no idea there were SO MANY uses for liquid tungsten. Up front I’d like to apologize for my behavior on yesterday’s edition of Autoline Daily. I was definitely over the top and hope to make up for it with today’s more, shall we say, civilized episode. Anyway, this is Autoline Daily for Friday, February 25, 2011. As you probably already know I’m Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics bringing you the latest and greatest – or at least okey-dokey – news from the global automotive industry. Let’s get started, shall we?

TOYOTA RECALLS OVER 2 MILLION CARS (subscription required)
Toyota just can’t seem to catch a break. The Wall Street Journal reports the automaker is recalling another 2.2 million vehicles in the U.S. because of – drum roll please – floor mat issues. That’s right, they’re STILL battling pedal entrapment woes – be they real or perceived. This recall covers vehicles dating back to 2003 that weren’t already covered under previous callbacks. Some of the affected models include the Lexus RX and GS range as well as the Toyota Highlander. Of course the company was recently cleared by both NHTSA and NASA – funny how the space agency was involved – for potential flaws in its electronic throttle-control system. On the bright side this latest recall ends the U.S. government’s 10-month probe into the issue.

VOLKSWAGEN AND GAZ SIGN PACT (subscription required)
Da, comrade! We have news from mother Russia! According to Ward’s, Volkswagen and GAZ signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday. The two companies will partner to build more than 100,000 VW and Skoda cars annually in Nizhny Novgorod, the Detroit of Russia. Well, not really, I just made that last part up BUT this is more than just screwing vehicles together from knock-down kits. This will entail some heavy assembly including welding, painting and final-line operations. Vee Dub will provide specific tooling to GAZ as well as special training for some 2,500 of its workers. No word on what models will be built but the German automaker already assembles the Volkswagen Polo and Tiguan as well as the Škoda Fabia and Octavia models at another plant in Russia. VW says it plans to expand its model range in the country so we should expect different products from the tie-up with GAZ.

VOLVO AIMS TO DOUBLE SALES
Last year Chinese automaker Geely acquired Volvo from Ford but many wondered how a relatively small Chinese company could turn the Swedish automaker around. Earlier today CEO Stefan Jacoby laid out those plans. According to the AP, Volvo will spend between $10 and $11 billion dollars globally over the next five years to develop a new platform and powertrain as well as building new plants in China. The company also has big sales goals; it plans to double its sales to 800,000 by the end of the decade, fueled mainly from Volvo sales in China.

JAPAN SEEKS TO CUT RARE-EARTH METAL USE
And speaking of China, we’ve been following for the last several months how the government has slashed exports of rare-earth metals, which are needed to make batteries for hybrids and EVs. China controls 95 percent of the world’s supply of rare-earth metals. In response, the Japanese government and 100 companies including Hitachi and Toyota will invest $1.3 billion on facilities to reduce the country’s reliance on rare-earth metals. Bloomberg reports that Japan wants to cut its use of rare-earth metals by a third, or 10,000 metric tons a year, and is also looking to invest in other mines overseas.

MAZDA RESPONDS TO COURT’S DECISION
As we reported on Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled this week that Mazda CAN be sued for not installing shoulder belts for the middle-seat, second-row in its MPV minivans. Appellate Courts had ruled for the automaker saying the company had met all federal regulations at the time. Despite the higher court’s unanimous ruling, Mazda Vice President Jay Amestoy told Autoline Daily yesterday that it was what the Court didn’t say that’s also important.

The decision poses a big problem for all automakers because it leaves them open to lawsuits even if they meet all federal regulations for their cars. As the case moves forward we’ll keep an eye on it for you.

After the break find out what we’ve got in store for this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit. Fun times!

THIS WEEK ON AUTOLINE
Dear Leader John McElroy may have flown the coop but he still managed to make it in this week’s episode of Autoline Detroit. Joining him in the studio is a trio of advertising experts including the ever-knowledgeable David Kiley of AOL Autos and Advertising Age. We also have the charming Jean Halliday from Autoadopolis as well as Mr. Gary Topolewski, a genuine advertising creative director. We brought these specialists in to analyze and dissect the state of automotive advertising on television. Here’s a sample of what that show has to offer.

As always you can watch this entire episode of Autoline Detroit right now on our website AutolineDetroit.tv . . . imagine that.

And tha-tha-that’s all, folks! No really, Autoline Daily is finished, FOR TODAY. But before we go away for the weekend I’d like remind you about a few things, like RoundAbout, the latest show to join the Autoline family of fine programs. It’s a car-themed podcast that takes a look at some of the strange or under-reported news from the past week. I highly recommend it. In fact, I like it so much I was even a guest on it a couple of months back, which was a lot of fun. Speaking of guests, Nina Beckhardt from The Naming Group is the star tonight. She’ll be talking all about what she does for a living and how she came up with the controversial name for the new Chevrolet Sonic. Should be a good show. You can watch it live on our website, AutolineDetroit.tv or on RoundAboutShow.com. It starts at 6:30 p.m. Eastern time. You can also subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or the Zune Marketplace . . . if you use a Zune . . . which no one does. Anyway, I’m Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics. Thanks for watching and I’ll catch you later.

Hall out!

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

28 Comments to “Episode 587 – Toyota Issues Recall, VW & GAZ Sign Pact, Mazda Responds to Court’s Decision”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    EPA 35.5

    Anyone read through this one yet ?

    Multiply X x Z Divided by W + Q – 150309 + T = Z2 = Got Ya !

    Damn ! And by the way the numbers you’ll be reading on the EPA sheet may have nothing to do with the actual model you’re buying as all figures have been adjusted to reflect the Manufactures Carbon Credits , A/C efficiency etc. etc. etc.

    e.g. You won;t have a bloody clue what any of it means .

    Talk about Bureaucracy BS at its finest .

    Computer Security Code Breaking would be easier to comprehend !

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    The commies never made a quality, reliable car, it’s only fitting that VW should be their partners.

  3. Michael Says:

    My dad’s got a Zune.

  4. tj Martin Says:

    Toyota Recall ;

    If you read the detailed reports , the problem is that Dealers and Repair Shops are incorrectly re-installing the Floor Mats ( as well as the owners ) which now our wonderful Government has decided Toyota is responsible for .

    Next : If you crash your Toyota while Stone Cold Drunk , Toyota will be liable for that as well .

    This crap ( see Mazda’s woes also ) has reached the point of being Ludacris .

  5. tj Martin Says:

    VW + GAZ = even worse reliability than VW-Audi already has

  6. HtG Says:

    Ah, but Comrade Fernandez, remember that quantity is a quality all its own.

  7. HtG Says:

    Has anyone else seen the Buick Regal going down the road yet? I followed one on the highway for a while, thinking “I wonder how it would look side by side with a 5 series.” When in my left mirror a saw a 5 series coming up. The Regal looked great. It is very sharp at speed.

    (It wasn’t the new 5, and looked very busy compared to the taught Buick)IMHO

  8. Bob Koval Says:

    Jim, I love youe style, wit and honesty. Don’t apologize.

  9. tj Martin Says:

    HtG;

    Style wise I think the new Buicks are pretty darn good looking . Hell the Buick look more like a new Jaguar than the XJ and the XF do ( should of seen the furor that statement would make on the UK site I “was ” on ). Now if they’d ( Buick ) just get their power trains and suspensions to match they’d have a serious contender .

    BMW 5 Series; You’d have to go back away’s to get to the ones I find good looking .

  10. dcars Says:

    I’ve been involved in building engineering and if you simply followed the code you might have created an unsafe installation. Saying you’ve met the code usually is not a good defense.

    Hmmm so Jim’s a Sith?

  11. JT Lambert Says:

    The Regal is coming out with a GS soon.It has a bad ass 3.6 turbo all wheel drive and ralley suspension.Remember the Regal originated in Europe.

  12. tj Martin Says:

    @dcars ;

    According to the NYTimes and AutoWeek articles on Toyota’s newest recall : the fault lies in the hands of the technicians/repairmen/owners .

    Not in the instructions/code from Toyota .

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    A couple of days ago, an old lady crashed her RAV4 into a store front, but she was honest enough to admit she had mistakenly stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake.

  14. tj Martin Says:

    @JT Lambert ;

    Every US article I’ve read about the Regal says wait till the GS gets here .

    But then when you read the EU/UK reviews of the Regal’s Opel/ Vauxhall counterpart you do begin to wonder . Its not much loved over there at all .

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Toyotas of late have a hook on the floor on the driver’s side and the mats have a hole, you need to put the hook through the hole to keep the mat from moving forward, I guess you need ASE certification in order to properly perform that complicated procedure.

  16. tj Martin Says:

    @pedro ;

    Yeah I’ve wondered about that as well ( HTH do you miss that rather obvious hook and eye feature on the floor mat ? )

    Another case of this era’s inability to DO anything . Oh they can think/blog/twitter/discuss etc . But ask them to DO something manual and most people look at you like ;

    ” What ? Can’t I hire someone to do that ? ”

    Including the guy you ” Hired ” to do that !

    Read ” Shop Class as Soul Craft ” sometime . Very revealing .

  17. dcars Says:

    I know I’m going to get myself in trouble here but didn’t NHTSA’s acknowledgement of electronics issue simply eliminated one possible fault while other faults were real and did exist. Human factors in engineering are a real items that need to be addressed. In other words if the factory supplied floor mats that slip and hold down the accelerator thats an issue for the car company. My car’s floor mats are held in place by hooks and extend beyond the pedals so it does not effect the cars mechanicals. Toyota has built some great cars and has showed the world that it can produce world beating vehicles; however, they can make mistakes.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    I also blame people that make a living washing cars for not properly putting back the mats after they get vacuumed, they’re too busy to get to the next car.

  19. Tom L Says:

    WHY do cars need floor mats??

  20. rick Says:

    why no you-tube version?

  21. dcars Says:

    so the floor mats wear out and not the cars carpeting

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’ve always used heavy duty, rubber mats with no hooks or holes and never had a problem, but of course the accelerator pedal has at least 1 1/2″ clearance from the floor.

  23. RPMMAN Says:

    To a devout car critic, touting “Made in America” for BMW probably does seem wrong.
    However, for American buyers, it means jobs returning to America.
    It makes me more open to a BMW purchase.

    RPMMAN.

  24. Andrew Charles Says:

    The US Regal GS is a different car than the European Opel Insignia OPC. The former is a 260 hp 2.0 Turbo (GM’s old DI twinscroll unit, probably updated for E85), the latter is a 325 hp 2.8 V6 turbo with Saab’s trick awd system. In the US GM is dropping the 2.8 Turbo—it’s heavy and thirsty—which about says it all. The 2.0 is old and needs work to improve it’s efficiency as well, but I’d be surprised if the GS can’t get the same mileage as the standard 220 hp turbo. As for output, more Irmscher has pushed it to just over 300 hp, and GM has said the old iron block could be pushed to over 370 hp—that’s about the same limit as the 2.8 Turbo, so don’t be surprised if the V6 goes away real soon.

  25. f500 Says:

    The Regal GS is 255 hp and FWD. It is not going to be AWD.

  26. Rick Says:

    Anyone have any idea why not on youtube?

  27. Rick Says:

    as a side not, even the tamed down Jim Hall cracks me up. That guy would be hilarious to grab a beer with.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I don’t like the decision that Mazda can be sued for not having center shoulder belts in the vans.

    That said, I suspect there is solid legal precedent for the decision. It was, after all, a unanimous decision, unlike these mostly political 5-4 outcomes such as the “corporations are people” decision a couple years ago.