Episode 34 – Toyota Cuts Bonuses, Details of Big 3 Plans Emerge, BMW Gets Touchy-Feely

December 2nd, 2008 at 12:00pm

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More details emerge on the plans the Big Three will present to Congress for a bridge loan. Toyota is going to cut bonuses for top management by 10 percent. BMW and Microsoft introduce new technology to help showroom shoppers configure their Bimmer. All that and more, plus a look at how GM is helping disabled veterans learn how to drive again.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. More details of the Big Three bailout plans emerge. Toyota to cut bonuses for top management. And BMW intro’s new technology to help showroom shoppers.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, December 2, 2008. And now, the news.

The Big Three’s plans to present to Congress for a bridge loan are becoming clearer. Ford is considering selling Volvo, GM selling Saab, and maybe consolidating other brands, says the Wall Street Journal. Our media partner WWJ Newsradio 950 reports the UAW is calling all national leaders to its headquarters in Detroit to consider opening up the labor contract and giving more concessions, specifically eliminating the Jobs Bank. Ford says it will pull plans forward to introduce an electric van by 2011 and a plug-in hybrid by 2012. The Journal says Ford CEO Alan Mulally will drive to Washington in an Escape hybrid, GM CEO Rick Wagoner will drive a Chevy Malibu hybrid.

November car sales for the U.S. market will be out later today, and they’re expected to be terrible. That could complicate the Big Three’s efforts to get a bridge loan. If, for example, General Motors shows another 45 percent decline like it did the month before, critics in Congress may argue the company can’t be saved. On the other hand, Big Three supporters could use that data as proof the American automakers need that loan to get through the global economic crisis.

To combat the downturn in the industry, Toyota is going to cut bonuses for top managers in Japan by 10 percent. According to Reuters, the company also plans to cut production at two plants in Japan for a few days this month. Car sales in Japan, fell nearly 30 percent last month to the lowest level for November in nearly 40 years.

And speaking of production cuts in Asia, Hyundai has cut production at all seven of its plants in South Korea (subscription required) by an average of 13 percent. According to WardsAuto.com, this will reduce output by about 20,000 vehicles monthly. Hyundai’s global sales in November slipped nearly 2 percent and sales in Korea sank 35 percent.

The big problems facing the auto industry have finally reached Brazil. New car sales in the South American country have been red hot, but they dropped 20 percent last month (subscription required). According to Wards, high interest rates and low consumer confidence are to blame for the downturn. Just like the rest of the world, Industry analysts are very pessimistic about 2009.

OK, enough of all the doom and gloom. BMW and Microsoft teamed up to make buying your next ‘ultimate driving machine’ easier than ever. Called Product Navigator, it uses Microsoft’s Surface touch screen computer. It’s designed to make configuring your Bimmer fun and easy. Buyers use the interactive, multimedia touch screen to change vehicle specifications like color, wheels and more. BMW is the first automaker in the world to use this technology commercially.

Coming up next, a look at how GM is helping disabled veterans learn how to drive again. We’ll be back right after this.

The road to recovery has just gotten a little smoother for wounded veterans after the Army, General Motors and other partners teamed up to build a driving simulator. The goal is to get wounded soldiers not only their driving skills back, but also their independence.

To assist in the project, GM donated a Chevy Colorado to the GM Automotive Service Education Program, which teaches students to be mechanics. The students took the vehicle apart, removed the engine, brake lines and any fluids, so it could then be fitted with electronics for the simulator.

While rehabilitating, soldiers are able to work with physical and occupational therapists on the simulator as an assessment tool to identify any problems in driving.

Soldiers are able to use the simulator to practice getting in and out of a vehicle, driving with adaptive controls or relearning how to drive in normal, everyday situations.

GM has already donated another vehicle for a simulator and two other facilities, with tentative plans for 6 more next year.

Don’t forget, if you sign up for our free e-mail newsletter you’re automatically entered for a chance to win an awesome prize. This week we’re giving away a limited-edition 1:18 scale model of the new 2010 Ford Mustang. This die-cast replica is one of only 4,000 made to celebrate the unveiling of the redesigned ponycar at this year’s LA Auto Show. Remember, all you have to do to enter for you chance to win is sign up for our free e-mail newsletter. Just visit our website, AutolineDaily.com and sign up now. I’ll be announcing the winner this Friday on “Autoline Daily” so don’t delay!

Anyway, that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

2 Comments to “Episode 34 – Toyota Cuts Bonuses, Details of Big 3 Plans Emerge, BMW Gets Touchy-Feely”

  1. Alex Kajdi Says:

    Dear John,

    You told viewers that General Motors has donated a vehicle to help disabled veterans regain driving skills, and therefore their independence.

    I believe many Americans would love to be able to show their appreciation to our returning disabled veterans. I understand that General Motors has a GM Mastercard which allows users to accumulate credits for the future purchase or lease of a General Motors Vehicle. If General Motors would allow these credit card users to donate a portion, or all of their accumulated GM Card Credits to help these disabled veterans, in their area, purchase or lease a new General Motors vehicle, that would be fantastic! The credits could even be used to help purchase add-on disability accessories for returning disabled veterans who already own a late model General Motors vehicle.


    Alex Kajdi

  2. pedro Fernandez Says:

    John: everytime I read about the gloomy outlook for the Detroit 3, I can not help but think back to the last time you had Bob Lutz on your program, and how he sat there all smug and sure of himself, saying that Americans would never stop buying big trucks and suv’s.While the imports were planning for small cars and crossovers, Gm did nothing. Well Mr. Lutz your outlook was sure BADLY mistaken and now your boss has to go in front of the senate and beg for welfare. If I was one of the legislators I would play back that interview