April 6th, 2011 at 11:45am
Saab stopped production again because of another dispute with suppliers over payments. Toyota and Microsoft will team up to develop smart grid technology to use electricity more efficiently and harness power from renewable sources. Yesterday we reported Ford was raising prices because of the rising cost of raw materials, now automakers in India are doing the same. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in the “You Said It!” segment.
This is Autoline Daily for April 6, 2011. And now, the news.
SAAB SHUTS DOWN PRODUCTION AGAIN
More problems at Saab. The assembly lines in Trollhättan are silent because Saab stopped building cars in another dispute with suppliers over payments. It’s a very troubling sign when an automaker can’t raise enough cash to build its products. But some analysts say that all Saab needs is a couple of big investors to step forward and take a big stake in the company. Russian billionaire Vladimir Antonov says he’s ready to buy nearly one-third of the company. But a cash infusion will only help the company if sales of Saabs really start to pick up.
TOYOTA & MICROSOFT TEAM UP
Toyota and Microsoft are making a big announcement today, with Akio Toyoda and Steve Ballmer representing each company, respectively. According to PC World, the two companies will team up to develop smart grid technology to use electricity more efficiently and harness power from renewable sources. The joint collaboration will include work on software that can monitor battery life and log the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources.
SAFETY EQUIPMENT W/O SAFETY BENEFITS
Automakers have all kinds of safety equipment on their cars, some of it government-mandated, some of it not. But you might be surprised to learn that some of that safety equipment hasn’t done much at all to improve safety. Here’s Louis Tijerina, a senior technical specialist at Ford, who’s appearing on Autoline Detroit this weekend. Even though the statistics can’t find any safety benefits in anti-lock brakes, I still want them on my car.
WOMEN PREFER FOREIGN BRANDS
Detroit’s automakers have made a lot of progress in the last couple of years, but a survey from RL Polk shows that they have a lot of catching up to do to appeal to non-Caucasian women in the U.S. The survey shows Asian women are more likely to buy an Asian car and if they don’t it will more than likely be a European model. African American and Hispanic women are the only groups to include domestic cars in their top 10 choices but even still they are more likely to choose an Asian or European brand to drive. The top-five list among all groups is dominated by Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai. Caucasian women were not included in the survey, but it’s probably safe to assume their buying habits are similar to the other groups.
NOT SO SLICK TIRES
Cooper Tires is taking “bling-bling” to a whole new level . . . sort of. The company commissioned a one-off set of diamond-encrusted racing slicks! It did this to help celebrate the diamond anniversary of its partnership with the British Formula 3 series. Understandably these tires DID NOT see any time on the track. These slicks are the work of a London jeweler who affixed the glittering letters to the tires’ sidewalls with a “strong adhesive.” Hopefully they used something better than hot glue. No word if these babies will ever make it to market, but I’d bet similar tires will show up in rap music videos very soon.
PRICES RISING IN INDIA (subscription required)
Who called it? That’s right, I did. Yesterday we reported Ford was raising prices in the U.S. because of the surging cost of raw materials. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports automakers in India are doing the same. Suzuki is bumping prices on its vehicles and in the next few days Hyundai is going to follow suit.
MASERATI OPENS DEALERS IN INDIA
In related Indian news, Maserati plans to open seven dealerships in the country by 2015.
CRICKET PLAYERS RECEIVE FREE HYUNDAI (subscription required)
Also, cricket is hugely popular over there and the Indian team just won the sport’s World Cup, so Hyundai, which is a sponsor of the group, is giving each member a 2011 Verna RB, which a subcompact car. I say, good show, chaps!
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
A lot of you sure loved those tags to put on car doors when drivers take up two spots when they park their car. Ron Paris says, “Boy, can I think up a million possible uses for those door tags! How about one for the jerk who parks a foot away from your driver’s door or, worse yet, dings your car in the process? Sort of a kinder, gentler alternative to keying the b&#^@&d’s paint!”
I was also amazed at how many of you commented on Formula One driver Kimi Raikkonen coming to NASCAR. But I liked Salvador G.’s comment the best, “Finally, this country is getting something else than furniture from the Finns.”
Chuck Grenci saw our story on a smart phone app that first responders can use to know where to cut into hybrids or electric cars so they don’t get electrocuted. He says, “It wouldn’t be that difficult or very expensive to have a main battery-disconnect located in a predetermined spot on all electrified vehicles. Our rescue squad people shouldn’t have to worry about getting electrocuted in their performance of duties.”
Chuck, that’s a terrific idea. You know most racing series require all racing cars to have a cut off switch mounted where rescue personnel can get to it fast and easy.
Ali from the Bronx wonders, “Are any of the U.S automakers jumping into the luxury compact sedan segment? It seems like they are letting foreign automakers run that part of the show.”
Yes Ali, Cadillac has a rear-drive compact luxury car called the ATS that should be out by the end of this year.
Steve heard me talk about how to get off OPEC oil but he’s not buying it. “Yeah, stack crap in one hand, hope in the other, then let me know which one fills up first.”
Well when it comes to getting off OPEC oil, for me, hope springs eternal.
And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global auto industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.