Episode 912 – NHTSA Investigates Grand Cherokee, GM Trademarks “LTS”, VW Posts Strong Sales

June 15th, 2012 at 11:05am

Runtime: 7:19

NHTSA is expanding its investigation into fuel-tank fires in Jeep Grand Cherokees. Looking back now to the early 1990s. GM just filed for trademark of the name LTS. Could this be what the long-awaited Cadillac flagship will be called? For the first five months of the year, worldwide VW Group sales hit 3.65 million units, an 8.4 percent gain compared to last year. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week with Paul Ingrassia the author of the new book “Engines of Change.”

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Welcome to Autoline Daily for Friday the 15th of June, 2012. I’m Rod Meloni, Business Editor at WDIV Local 4 News, Detroit covering for John who’s livin’ it up in France right now at Le Mans.

We don’t tend to spend a lot of time here talking about recalls or safety actions, but this one is too big to ignore. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expanding its investigation into fuel-tank fires in Jeep Grand Cherokees. They’re looking back now to the early 1990s. That’s a universe of more than 5 million vehicles. Sometimes these kinds of investigations lead to recalls and this would be in the top 10 all time should NHTSA pull the trigger. NHTSA says it has nearly two dozen complaints of rear-collision fires. Chrysler says it’s done extensive testing and found the risk of fires in rear collisions is equal to any other SUV on the market. The original investigation started back in 2010. The largest recall of all time was the infamous Toyota sudden-acceleration sticky-pedal investigation.

Speaking of Toyota, its Lexus brand has been the top-selling luxury automaker in the United States since 1999, but last year it lost the crown to BMW. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company sold just shy of 200,000 units in 2011, about 50,000 fewer than its German rival. You can blame inventory levels for the shortfall. But this hasn’t taken all of the wind out of Lexus’ sails. The company is gunning to sell a quarter of a million vehicles in the U.S. this year, 25 percent more than last year. It’s counting on new and refreshed products to take back the No. 1 spot – cars like the GS and ES plus a redesigned RX crossover cannot hurt sales.

In other luxury news Cadillac has been taunting us with the idea of a rear-wheel drive flagship sedan for some time. Its stunning Ciel concept pushed all the right buttons with us. If they’d only build it! Well, the company may be in the thick of development because according to a report on CarandDriver.com GM just filed for trademark of the name LTS. Could this be what the long-awaited Cadillac flagship will be called? It would certainly fit in with ATS, CTS and XTS.

European car sales continued their slump in May. Just over 1.1 million vehicles were sold last month, a decline of 8.7 percent and it’s the eighth month in a row sales have fallen in the region. Only the United Kingdom posted a sales increase last month. Overall sales are down close to 8 percent for the year.


But despite falling sales in Europe, Volkswagen continues to post strong results. For the first five months of the year, worldwide VW Group sales hit 3.65 million units, an 8.4 percent gain compared to last year. And last month sales were up close to 8 percent for the group. Gains in North America, Asia and Eastern Europe helped fuel the growth.

Here’s another case where drinking and driving don’t mix. According to Sports Illustrated, IndyCar’s August race in China has been cancelled because of a beer festival. IndyCar had a deal in place last year to race on a new street circuit in the city of Qingdao but new government leaders don’t want to run the race at the same time of the city’s international beer festival. Now IndyCar is scrambling to find a new venue to replace the China race.

After the break, who is John interviewing on the latest episode of Autoline This Week? Stick around to find out . . .

(Today’s Autoline This Week preview is only available in the video version of the show.)

So what are those 15 cars in Paul Ingrassia’s new book? Did the Model T make the grade? What about the Volkswagen Beetle? Well, you’re going to have to watch the rest of this week’s episode of Autoline to find out. Check your local public television listings to see if Autoline is broadcast in your area or head on over to Autoline.tv. I should also mention John is joined in the studio by Drew Winter from WardsAuto World and Todd Lassa of Motor Trend magazine.

Hey, it’s Friday and that means another episode of RoundAbout is on the docket. This week host Craig Cole will discuss the auto news you might have missed with Michelle Naranjo from Autobytel and that Corvair Captain, Scott Burgess of AOL Autos. Tune in for all the fun at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time on our website Autoline.tv.

Anyway, that’ll do it for today, and conveniently the week as well. Again, I’m Rod Meloni, Business Editor at WDIV Local 4 News, Detroit. Thanks for watching and I’ll see on Monday.

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

31 Comments to “Episode 912 – NHTSA Investigates Grand Cherokee, GM Trademarks “LTS”, VW Posts Strong Sales”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Beer and racing don’t mix? I guess these Asians have never heard of NASCAR! Lexus will rise again when all these BMW buyers come to see their service advisers more often than their significant others.

  2. Brett Says:

    Clearly a slow news day…

  3. Chuck Grenci Says:

    LTS = Luxury Touring Sedan?? Perhaps…… though I had high hopes that Cadillac would ‘name’ there upcoming ‘flagship’; oh well. (it’s not cast in stone………………yet)

  4. Jon M. Says:

    @ #3 Chuck Grenci

    I agree with you. They put a car like together and then call it an LTS!?! How pathetic would that be? It doesn’t fit in with the rest of the codified Cadillacs either. But I better stop there before more of my opinion of it’s maker comes out.

  5. C-Tech Says:

    Somehow I suspect IndyCar did not make the correct tributes or there is Chinese displeasure with something the U.S. has done causing this cancellation.

    If the Grand Cherokee is recalled there may be other SUV’s recalled for similar issues.

    @ #3 I agree with you Chuck and hope someone high enough in marketing will give this car a name, not a number or letters.

    If the GTO, Grand Cherokee, Mustang, and Mustang are not on the list then start over.

  6. C-Tech Says:

    @ #5 Sorry that should GTO, Grand Cherokee, Mustang, and Beetle are not on the list, then start over.

  7. HtG Says:

    Anybody got a need to read? Here’s a piece from the UK on proposed traffic enforcement. Officer Bob, hard at work.


  8. HtG Says:

    Did you ever wonder if you weren’t in charge of the world? Here’s an opinion piece on why Syria matters, beyond being the ancestral home of one Steve Jobs.


  9. Chuck Grenci Says:

    This week’s Autoline Detroit is Paul Ingrassia’s book; this was the topic of one of the AAH shows as well. He had some good picks but I thought some (were not so good); pretty subjective IMO. Watch the show and make up your own mind. (nobody is real wrong on this one, I think)

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I thought all the cars on Paul’s list were signicant in some significant way, except maybe the La Salle. I haven’t seen/heard his rationale, though. i just saw the list in print.

    It kind of struck me that I have had four of the cars on the list, and currently have two. I think I’ve at least briefly driven all of them, except a ’59 Eldorada and a La Salle.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I did a little research on the La Salle, and it looks like its significance is that it played a big part in launching Harley Earl’s carreer as a designer. That is significant.

  12. cwolf Says:

    Friday shows have been lacking for the past couple of weeks and if it weren’t for the regular’s tangent comments it would be a real snoozer.

    Not long ago,talk about how good hyundai was doing became common place and now,so it seems,that VW has become a dominant subject of note. BUT,not so fast! VW is/was banking on Brazil,China and the US to wheather the European crisis. Sadly,sales in all 3 are dwindling. Let’s just say,the bigger you are the harder you fall! Remember ,the state has a20% stake in VW and the workers of VW just got a raise. That’s two strikes and one more……well we will see very soon the outcome.

    Now something fun to share: Did ya know that Poland is Germanys largest European reciever of their exports? Poland is doing remarkablely well,with a GDP of a strong 6-3%! I suspect the Poll’s are beginning to create jokes about us!

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    How many UAW workers does it take to screw in a window crank? 3, one to actually screw it in, one to bring him the materials and one to supervise the whole thing!

  14. C-Tech Says:

    Sadly Pedro since you probably have only seen the inside of a factory on TV, and probably bad FOX TV at that, your joke makes little sense.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    I was responding to cwolf’s comment right above mine, the last sentence? did you ever hear the one about the 3 Poles needed to screw in a light bulb? I guess not.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    What do Poles call Americans in their jokes, Amerocks?

  17. HtG Says:

    …probably something about cowboys and prairie oysters.

  18. C-Tech Says:

    Hold on to your day jobs guys

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    how many UAW workers does it take to put wheels on new cars? 6 including the spare one and the Union Rep.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG today my son was watching a video of a Scion FR-S being driven around a race track and wanted to know how to do it, I’m like ok, turn off traction control, find and empty track (good luck) and expect to replace your expensive tires sooner than later, I guess that changed his mind about it.

  21. cwolf Says:

    pedro,you knew I am UAW,so your yuk was at me: I like it!

    Did ya hear gas prices may reach $3/gal in a year or so? I’m a pessimist about this stuff,but it may have a bit of truth to it: Iraq may double its oil output beyond pre-invasion level @ 6M barrel/day and,due to world economy and more semis going NG,the demand just isn’t there. Good for the pocket book,but bad for hybreds,eh?

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    They want to derail any alternative fuel initiative and then they raise the price again, it’s a yo yo world of oil prices.

  23. cwolf Says:

    I saw a new Escape at the dealer near my plant. They say it is larger than the old one,yet the way it is styled makes it look smaller. I’m going to try to sneak a peek in the window before I head home. If’n there is anything worthy to share,I’ll report later.

    Happy Fathers Day!

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    Same to one and all.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    When gas prices go down, it’s a good time to buy a high mpg car, and to sell a gas hog. There are enough short-sighted people to make things that way, even though everyone should know that, in the case of gas prices, what goes down, will soon go up.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    Very astute on your part there Kit, however most experts believe that you’re better off buying a compact instead of a subcompact, including the Prius instead of the Prius C, you get a lot more car for the money and the mileage is very close as well, I believe you have also expressed this on various occasions.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    What I meant was that when gas is (relatively) cheap, it’s a good time to buy any small car, hybrid, or even a mid-size like a 4 cylinder Camry, and it’s a good time to sell a Suburban or Excursion, or a big pickup truck that you have no need for.

    As far as subcompact vs compact, yep, there isn’t much difference in mpg, and if you need the room, or even want a little better ride, the bigger one makes more sense.

  28. cwolf Says:

    The new Escape I looked at was a loaded,4wd and had the 2.0 turbo. Well… the fit and finish inside and out was very good. I thought the wide at the bottom a-pillar would become a distraction,but it’s easy to overlook. A prior owner of a 2003 XLT,4wd,6cyl, the new Escape did reqiure me to be more open minded because the differeces are like night and day. The new Escape’s interior is soooo much like the Focus,if one sat inside each of them,you couldn’t see any differences. I wish there were a more distiction. And the seats didn’t look accomodating for big butts. Yet the inside is nice with the many paddes surfaces,layout and seating position. The roof taper inhibits hauling very large cubical items. My 2003 was better suited for this. The 2.0 turbo it had goes well with the towing package it had,but this goodie cost an extra $1000.00 and lower mpg’s to 28 with the 4 wd. This left me a tad bewildered because my old Escape’s 6 got 27 mpg hwy all day long and I enjoyed the fact I sat higher off the ground. Once I accepted the fact that this cute SUV has become much more car-like,I think this is something I could become happy with.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Vehicles like the new Escape seem to be what we get from companies that want to make a car-like wagon, but can’t bring themselves to make a wagon version of a regular car. Only VW seems willing to sell one of those in the U.S. these days, except for a couple very pricey ones, also from German companies.

    The new Escape looks nice, for those who like that sort of thing, and should be one of the quicker machines in its class with the 2.0 turbo.

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit do you think that old fashioned would sell like they used to? remember, the minivan practically killed that segment and with these cross overs people get the idea that they’re “tougher” than the sedans from which they’re based.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect the car companies know what they are doing. I like the Jetta and 3 Series wagons, but a lot more Americans seem to want CRV’s, RAV4′s, X3′s, etc. As long as fuel costs half as much in the U.S. as in Europe, and with relatively low highway speeds in the U.S., actual car-based wagons will not be big sellers in America.