Episode 811 – Yazaki Hit with Record Fine, Audi R8 Stretch Limo, Saab Museum Saved

January 25th, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:19

Japanese auto supplier Yazaki was hit with a record fine from the Japanese government over a bid-rigging scheme involving wire harnesses. Limo Broker, a British limo company, is making a stretched version of the Audi R8. The city of Trollhättan, Saab AB and The Wallenberg Foundation have shelled out more than $4 million to buy and preserve Saab’s official museum. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in the “You Said It!” segment.

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This is Autoline Daily for January 25. And now the news.

In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama said the U.S. auto industry is back. And he’s right. But there’s more to the story than just the U.S. The entire NAFTA region is back. Ward’s reports that new car sales in Mexico jumped more than 14 percent last year to 2.6 million vehicles. They were up nearly 2 percent in Canada (subscription required) to nearly 1.6 million vehicles. And they were up 10 percent in the U.S. (subscription required) to about 12.7 million. All told, sales in NAFTA hit nearly 17 million units. And that’s getting close to the size of the Chinese market.

Japanese auto supplier Yazaki was hit with a record fine from the Japanese government over a bid-rigging scheme involving wire harnesses. According to the Mainichi Daily News, Yazaki must pay about a $125 million fine, the highest penalty for a single company under Japan’s anti-monopoly law. Sumitomo, Fujikura and Furukawa were the other companies involved. Sumitomo and Fujikura were fined, but Furukawa escaped punishment because it told authorities about the scheme before they started investigating. The bid-rigging started in 2000 and determined who would win wire harness orders from Japanese automakers.

Riding around in stretch limos is all about getting people to look at you. So Limo Broker, a British limo company, is making a stretched version of the Audi R8. It can seat up to eight people and comes with the 5.2-liter V-10. And man, does this thing scream “Look at me!”

Autonomous cars keep coming closer to reality. In Europe, a program called SARTRE, or Safe Road Trains for the Environment, envisions platoons of cars autonomously following a lead truck as they drive down the freeway. Proponents of autonomous technology envision road trains where the cars travel much closer together to gain an aerodynamic advantage, just like drafting in NASCAR.

Well, here’s another nail in Saab’s coffin. After its official museum came under threat by the pending bankruptcy proceedings, a group came together and purchased the whole shootin’ match of 120 cars. The city of Trollhättan, Saab AB – the aeronautics division – and The Wallenberg Foundation have shelled out more than 4 million bucks to buy – and preserve – this historic collection, which includes the company’s first car. Great move guys!

Mark, one of our viewers, wrote in asking about a story we did last week on an iPhone case Nissan is developing. It features the company’s self-healing paint. He wanted to know which Infiniti and Nissan models featured this technology. Well, we got in touch with the company’s PR department and here’s the skinny. Currently NO products in the U.S. utilize Scratch Shield paint; however, the Murano, 370Z and Xtrail in the UK feature it. We’re also told Infiniti products in Europe have it as well. It’s a pretty fascinating technology. The clear coat features a soft resin that actually allows scratches, which are tiny indentations, to “pop” back up after a little time. Hit the link in today’s show notes at Autoline.tv for a more in-depth explanation of how Scratch Shield paint actually works.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now it’s time for some of your feedback.

G.A. Branigan says his lady started looking for a new car, and found out that when equipped the way she wants one, every automaker seems to have the same price. “She asked me why are the prices all pretty much the same and I replied ‘I don’t know.’ Is that price fixing?”

No, that’s not price fixing, that’s the auto industry learning what the market will pay for its products. Price them too high and you lose sales. Price them too low and you lose profits. They’re all trying to find that sweet spot. One more thing. There can be a big difference between the price on the window and what you actually pay for the car.

Jonathan has his hair on fire over the news that the New York Auto Show will be moved out of Manhattan and into Queens. “PLEASE DO A STORY ON THIS NEWS!!! Jamaica Queens is a real pit and the NY auto show needs to stay in NYC.”

Jonathan, I could not agree more. We all want to go to the New York show because we love to be in the Big Apple. It’s like going to the Paris auto show. Who cares about the cars? We get to go to Paris!

David Sprowl is ticked off that Nissan claims the Leaf is a zero emission vehicle. “Really? Since 60 percent of this country’s electric generation comes from the burning of coal, it is a bit disingenuous to suggest that electric cars are zero emissions. That’s like me claiming that Hostess Twinkies are zero calories…so long as they remain in the wrapper.”

David, the latest figures show that coal actually generates 43 percent of electricity in the U.S., but your point is spot on. In fact, I call EVs coal cars.

Rob Grosse takes issue with us dissing that camper add-on for the Toyota Prius. I said it put the “ugh” in “ugly.” “Ugly or not, we need some environmentally friendly campers on the market. I am glad to see that Prius RV for sale. The days of average income families being able to cross the continent in 8 MPG monoliths are pretty much behind us.”

Rob, I agree. We need environmentally friendly RVs, but they don’t have to make them ugly.

Last week Dave saw Autoline This Week with China expert Michael Dunne, who noted that in China the nick name for Cadillac is bao gen, which means dumb and heavy. “Dumb and Heavy?? We in the U.S. have words we use to describe goods from China, but I can’t say them here.”

Thanks for all your letters and comments, we love to go through them all. And while you’re thinking of writing to us, we’d love to get any questions you’d like to pose to the people I’ll be interviewing at the Washington D.C. Auto Show tomorrow, starting at noon. We’ll have Margo Oge from the EPA, Roland Hwang, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Phil Murtaugh with CODA and others. Go to the John’s Journal section of our website and scroll down to where it says submit your questions to our Washington D.C. guests.

And that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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58 Comments to “Episode 811 – Yazaki Hit with Record Fine, Audi R8 Stretch Limo, Saab Museum Saved”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Autonomous caravans Really??? have these people ever come across a deer or some other animal crossing the road? or road debris such as an exploded truck tire? I guess not, ever heard of a train or a bus? you can get on the internet on either of those, and be a lot safer!

  2. MichaelWine Says:

    Why doesn’t Nissan sell the newest paint technology in the US? Are we supposed to be satisfied with second rate paint technology?

  3. tj Martin Says:


    NO !!! Obama is in fact W-R-O-N-G and so is ALD

    Sales numbers ( cars sold ) are up . Profits are DOWN ( CNBC )

    Way down , especially in China/Mexico/Russia/Brazil etc

    GM has yet to pay back the TARP funds and in fact has borrowed/stolen even more Tax Payers dollars

    We are in FACT G-I-V-I-N-G Chrysler to FIAT with nary a dime changing hands

    JOBS and the Economy in Detroit are in fact at best stalled and according to the NYTimes . CNBC etc are declining even further , with new jobs barely keeping up with jobs currently lost , ever mind the multitudes that have been lost


    You know , honestly , if the Media and the Politicians would just for once in their existence , be straight up with the American Public and put forth the Genuine FACTs instead of the Propaganda they keep feeding us …..

    ….. We’d all be in a better position to ;

    A) – Deal with the situation as it affects our personal lives


    B) – Be better equipped/informed to make decisions that might help REMEDY the situation , rather than wandering about Blind and Mute not knowing what might Help or Hinder the Situation

    But …. as long as the Media and Washington continue to follow the ‘ Mushroom Principle ‘

    ( keeping us all in the dark and feeding us a lot of manure )

    What will happen is the current downward spiral will continue to gain Steam and we will find ourselves in the same position the British Empire did : first after WWI and then set in Stone after WWII

    ( never mind the Roman Empire , the British Empires collapse is a much more recent warning to be heeded )

  4. tj Martin Says:


    +1 times 100 ;-)

  5. tj Martin Says:


    Anyone out there paying attention to what the Insurance Industry as well as the Safety Watch Dogs opinions about Autonomous Vehicles are ?

    To a number they are all saying


    With the Insurance Industry claiming that IF autonomous vehicles do get into the general public , our insurance rates will JUMP anywhere from 20 – 45 % due to the Extreme high risk of computers crashing GPS failing etc etc etc .

  6. 012345 Says:

    Has anyone ever had to put down your dog or cat, maybe it was hit by a car and you take it to the doctor, and the doctor says to you that, the injury is to severe and that putting your pet to rest would be the merciful thing to do, well; Can’t we do “the merciful thing” to this Audi R8 Limo? and stop its suffering.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    This Nissan paint technology sounds cool, but how will it hold up compared to “regular” paint in other ways, like standing up to 20 years of Florida sun? I would not be surprised if there are compromises involved in this “self healing” paint.

  8. Autos101 Says:


    Maybe that A8 will finally look somehow different from a little A4 or a midsize A6!

  9. Autos101 Says:

    I don’t need no autonomous vehicle, but if my car had a horn or a bell whenever I doze off and inadvertently change lane, it would SAVE MY LIFE, and that is a GOOD THING, and there is NO need to drive a 500,000 mile, unsafe at any speed, poor MPG coffeemaker from the 70s to make enough racket to keep me awake.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    #9 101 you’re not referring to my Vibrolla, are you?

  11. HtG Says:

    The Big Question is if an autonomous car will take the thrill out of getting a, er, well, you know.

  12. HtG Says:

    Isn’t that right, nerds?

  13. Lex Says:

    @ #3 tj Martin

    You are totally correct! I also want to point out that the US gives out Billions in foreign aid all around the world at the expense of our own Education, Manufacturing and Agricultural Industries! We need to invest in our own people and land. What do you thing the Chinese are doing now. They are investing heavily in there own Education, Manufacturing and Agricultural Industries! If the United States and it’s allies like The United Kingdom do not gather together we will all face a future world where we will be a second or third rate Super Power.

  14. Phoenix Mark Says:

    Autos101 you are mixing up the R8 sports car with the A8 sedan. Two very different cars.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    # 11 Driving is kind of boring to begin with, so if you don’t steer or use the pedals, what the hell are you in a car for, as a passenger? please, the whole idea is stupid and pointless.

  16. Phoenix Mark Says:

    Believe me that we are in the minority on the autonomous car thing. We are the ones that come to sites like this to feed our passion for all things automotive. My wife could care less about the car, as long as it turns on and gets her where she is going in relative comfort. There are a lot of 16 year olds not getting their driver’s license, some waiting 2 or 3 years before getting it. This in Arizona where there aren’t good public transportation alternatives. And with all the entertainment options for passengers, young people think they are to be entertained when are in a car. What do you mean I have to pay attention ALL the time when I am driving?
    I have asked the questions before about autonomous cars. If you are in an accident (while in autonomous mode) is it the computer’s fault? If you are in an accident (while not in autonomous mode) are you at fault because you didn’t use it? Let’s assume that someone turned in front of you, and you had the right of way.

  17. HtG Says:

    I look at all those old SAABs, and think, man did they used to make some funky looking cars. But then you look at the A pillers; so skinny. With all the safety and mileage regs and human heffers to haul around, it’s a wonder designers can make attractive cars at all.

  18. C-Tech Says:

    Before totally dismissing the SARTRE technology, I pose the question could this be useful in areas and roads where drivers normally make long (say 10 miles or more) commutes? Some areas already have special lanes for commuters. As for the items unexpected that show up in your lane, would that chain reaction accident be any different with SARTRE?

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    #16 Just the legal ramifications on this subject is enough to keep this technology from coming through, exactly WHO do you blame, the software people, the hardware folks, mother nature, god almighty? I mean really!!! do you have to hire a robotic lawyer as well?

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Most of us will never live long enough to see any of this autonomous stuff. Competitions to drive multi-million dollar autonomous vehicles on roads with no other vehicles have produced, well, unimpressive results.

    Like others here, I don’t want an autonomous car, but I won’t live long enough to have to share the road with them.

  21. tj Martin Says:

    @ Lex

    # 13

    BWTM !

    Forgot to add in my two rants today that according to CNBC , Bloomberg TV as well as an overwhelming amount of the Financial Pundits as well as Tj’s cous’s ….

    45-65% of the current reported gains in Retail – Auto Sales etc are in fact Government subsidized and in no way a viable indicator as to the actual realities of our Economic health … not to mention being unsustainable ( govt subsidies ) in this current economic climate


    @ HtG – Off topic – Slight mishap with the paw ( the critical paw of course ) – minor surgery in 2 hrs – gave the tickets to a young couple at the conservatory – snif

    Thats all the wounded paw will take today


  22. tj Martin Says:


    +1 and i hope you’re right on this one

  23. HtG Says:

    There could always be a waiver for certain kinds of liability. Govt might also balance the benefits of improved traffic flow, economic impact of owning the navigation technology, etc., against the risk that a child will get clobbered chasing after a ball in the road. There would also be federal/state law conflicts to worry about. I know I wouldn’t be happy driving behind a three lane barricade of autonomous cars going the speed limit on the highway, but I prolly won’t be consulted.

  24. HtG Says:

    21 Off topic, I hope it’s not a Nadia Salerno Sonnenberg injury, tj.

  25. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Kudos to Nissan for offering the self healing paint (even if not for U.S. models), but after looking it up for some background, found that it was developed in the good old U.S.A. by scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi; sad that our own companies don’t have the vision to be the first ones (on the block) to offer these ground breaking products. And since it is 99.99% polyurethane, I would think that its durability would be equal to current paints (in the market). Here’s a link to the rest of the article; http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29663741/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/self-healing-car-coating-repairs-scratches/#.TyBQbqVPt2A

  26. Robert Jackson Says:

    Something that really bugs me is–

    Car companies should put whatever adjustments are on the drivers seat on the passengers seat or should I say my spouses seat. The 2011 Toyota Sequioa is prime example .
    $60,000 + and no tilt or lumbar on the passenger seat. All car companies need to wake up to this.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    Something is fundamentally wrong when our inventions are being used by companies outside the US, this is true in electronics as well, I am sure govt meddling has a lot to do with this problem. I-phones are selling like hotcakes and yet they get build in China for all the reasons Steve Jobs told Obama before he died last year. another example I became aware of, when Subways wanted to manufacture convection/microwave ovens for their stores to copy Quiznos, they could not find one single American company that could get it done on time and on budget, so guess where they had to go to China, of course, they got it done with no issues, and it makes sense, while they took over 5 yrs and way over budget to build an addition to the Miami airport, a brand new one was built in Singapore from the ground up in one year. Just look how long it has taken to complete ground zero?

  28. Autos101 Says:


    This has actually happened to me twice, the first time the noise from the side of the road (ribbed surface) woke me up, the second I changed lanes almost in my sleep, recently too. Adding the option of a bell or whistle to tell you you are inadvertently changing lanes would SAVE PEOPLE’s LIVES and do not need us to drive some loud coffeemaker instead.

  29. tj Martin Says:


  30. Autos101 Says:

    After seeing that MONSTROSITY the A8 limo, I agree with McELroy,

    this “thing” screams “look at me!”

    but that is half the story.

    The full quote is

    “Look at me! My designer is a damned fool, and the manager that approved me to be made is an even bigger damned fool!”

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    Now they’re playing politics with the Volt as well, oh please where the hell are we heading???

  32. HtG Says:

    Here’s an interesting quote from the NYT piece on the Volt hearings.

    “Mr. Akerson said the first fire occurred after the agency completed its normal procedure, which included rotating the wreck in 90-degree increments and holding it in each position for five minutes. That let a conductive coolant leak out unto a printed circuit board, resulting in a fire three weeks later, his prepared testimony said.”

    So you not only have to impale the battery, you have to turn it upside down afterwards. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!!!!

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    All stretch limos are mis-proportioned, and look that way. This is not unique to the A8.

  34. cwolf Says:

    While many of you continue to fault the Volt and the Li-ion battery,new ways to use the technology continues to grow in the auto industry. In fact,Hyundai offers a life time replacement warranty. Perhaps you guys should “give it up” because it is here to stay.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yes cwolf, we admit that it is a very “hot” item right now, that is why dealers are demanding more Volts in their showrooms.

  36. cwolf Says:

    pedro,come on man…you have to be smarter than that! The real issue is Li. battery future developement and use. The Volt is plagued with a whole array of different issues,price and hand-out monies for example, that has made it the convenient whipping boy.

  37. C-Tech Says:

    @ #26 Robert, Manufacturers used to have the the same adjustments on the front passenger seat as the driver’s seat. In and around the years 1998 – 2000 manufacturers started to de-content their higher end vehicles by removing the extra motors or simplifying the passenger seat. It’s all about profit.

  38. cwolf Says:

    @ tj:

    I sure am glad you stated yesterday
    that you would be voting for noone,except for Zappa. After reading your words of wisdom I may have mistaken you for an extreme right winger! Regardless of any reported lack of real profits,the Big3 faired rather well for the year,I’d say. The return of 160,000 auto jobs must be an illusion,as well as the vehicles that have returned to US plants. Most certainly,any and all meager economic gains that has occured thoughout this presidency has to be due to those of a greater brilliance who signed and pledged themselves to the tea party oath rather than to reflect the beliefs of the people. To hell,I say, to Obama for not doing a better job to deal with the debt crisis created and left behind by the republican party, but now fail to claim no part of it. Give the wealthy even more breaks because business creates jobs! Unfortunately they already had billions in reserve and did nothing but to pull the republican puppet strings to try to convince the public they need even more. Let the people think that having a job at a “Staples” store is a good middle class job!
    Acctually any movement in a forward direction and anything gained was without the cooperation of the republican party despite their feverish and ongoing attemptes to futher demoralize the middle class.

  39. XA351GT Says:

    Those autonomous road trains, how much will it cost to belong to it? I don’t see anyone paying a truck driver , paying for fuel to lead this “road train”. This won’t done out of the goodness of someones heart . Also go past a cop following someone that close and you’ll get pulled over for tailgating. How will police know yoy are part of the train and not just tail gating ? If you don’t want to drive take a bus ,cab or train . Leave the highways to those of us that enjoy the drive.

  40. RS Says:

    politics solves nothing

  41. KEVIN Says:


  42. Autos101 Says:


    Who said you can’t have it ALL?

    AWESOME perforrmance with AWESOME Economy?

    Well, in fact, you can’t. NONE of these TRULY AWESOME M odels will be sold in $3.50 gas USA. They are mainly an ingenious solution for $10.00 gas Eurozone.

  43. Autos101 Says:

    Kit Gerhart Says:
    January 25th, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    All stretch limos are mis-proportioned, and look that way. This is not unique to the A8.


    FIRST OF ALL, you should KNOW that each limo is stretched by a different amount.

    SECOND, some CADDY Limos with a modest stretch (still several feet) looked PERFECTLY Proportioned.

  44. Autos101 Says:

    #43 PS

    It is NOT just a matter of the stretch amount either.

    The Audi 8 is an AWFUL candidate for the job because its two ends look round and clash with the rest of the limo.

    In the CADDYS and even Lincoln Limos of the poast, this NEVER looked that bad.

  45. tj Martin Says:

    @ htg – off topic

    the owwww. not as bad as NSS but similar circumstances . more pain and aggravation than actual injury , but this one handed stuff is for the birds :(

  46. tj Martin Says:

    @ 101

    worst stretch ever imho

    the triple stretch hummer h2′s some jack ____ party limo company in kc,mo has in its stable

    makes the r8 almost …… look not so hideous

  47. HtG Says:

    best wishes, tj. Heal it right. (you should see me going around, violinist proofing the house)

  48. Autos101 Says:


    It may be due to the tsunami and the earthquake, maybe it will change in a few years,

    but it is still a MAJOR BLACK EYE for Lexus,

    to be outsold in its OWN MARKET by the Germans!

  49. Autos101 Says:

    #48 the big 3 Germans sold twice as many as Lexus did, in 2011, but no idividual German sold more than Lexus.

  50. tj Martin Says:

    as bad if not worse than the r8 stretch


    whats next …. a stretch pagani huayra

  51. tj Martin Says:



    can’t be done

    trust me

  52. Ali Says:

    My autonomous car is great! But for some reason, when I get into my non autonomous family minivan, I’ve been tailgating a lot lately :)

  53. pedro fernandez Says:

    So Nissan is building more plants in Mejico, soon the wall will be built to keep the Gringos out

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    ” some CADDY Limos with a modest stretch (still several feet) looked PERFECTLY Proportioned”

    As I’ve said in the past, aesthetics is subjective, and, to me, stretch limos look mis-proportioned, unless the stretch is VERY modest.

  55. Autos101 Says:

    KIT: You were wrong then, and you are wrong now.

    If you can’t understsand that there are BEAUTIFUL cars and there are UGLY ones, there is NOTHING i can say that is not an UTTER WASTE OF TIME.

    So do me a Favor and DO NOT READ MY POSTS, Anklebiter.

  56. Autos101 Says:

    my comments were 1,000% accurate on the limos. SQUARE cars like the old caddys and lincolns make EXCELLENT limos, because they are IN HARMONY with the long middle body. ALSO the lenmgth of the stretch is important, too long look RIDICULOUS, like that A8.


  57. Jesse Palinkas Says:

    Manhattan vs Queens? Parking near the Javits Convention Center is around $40 to $50. Maybe I can save some money by seeing the show in Queens.

  58. Truman Lewis Says:

    Didn’t Chrysler try the scratch healing paint ??
    They could call it the Oral Roberts Paint Healer?