February 25th, 2011 at 12:11pm
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.
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.