January 28th, 2009 at 12:00pm
Toyota recalls more than 1.3 million vehicles globally and reports discouraging sales numbers. Europe treats its auto industry much better than the U.S. does according to GM’s top executive in Europe. Elena Ford gets a big promotion at a certain car company, and I’ll bet you can guess which one. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions about the Chrysler/Fiat alliance in the “You Said It!” segment.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Toyota gets hit with more recalls and other bad news. Europe treats its auto industry much better than the U.S. does. And Elena Ford gets a big promotion at a certain car company, and I’ll bet you can guess which one.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, January 28, 2009. And now, the news.
Earlier today Toyota reported its sales and production results for last year and for last month and the numbers are very discouraging. For the record Toyota built 9.2 million vehicles last year, including production of small cars from Daihatsu and heavy trucks from Hino, which the company owns. That represents a drop of only 3 percent from the year before. But its results from last month tell the story of what’s going on right now. Worldwide sales fell 23 percent, and exports out of Japan fell 28 percent.
Toyota is recalling more than 1.3 million vehicles globally to fix a defect in the seatbelt, a component in the exhaust system, or both. Reuters reports the company is recalling more than 500,000 Vitz, Belta and Ractis cars in Japan built from 2005 to 2008. It will also recall another 830,000 Yaris and Belta models exported to Europe, North America and other markets.
Fascinating interview at Wardsauto.com (subscription required) with Carl-Peter Forster, GM’s top executive in Europe. He says Europe values its auto industry much more than the United States does. He points out that European automakers are getting aid from the European Union without all the tongue-lashing the Big Three got from Uncle Sam. The same goes for the arguments over CO2 emissions in Europe-it’s a lot less acrimonious than in the U.S. Carl-Peter Forster attributes that to government policy on high fuel taxes and tax credits for low-emission vehicles which puts consumer demand in line with the vehicles automakers have to sell.
Bentley will reveal its fastest and most powerful production car ever at the 2009 International Geneva Motor Show. Not much info yet, except for this crummy photo. Bentley hasn’t even released the name of the car, but it does say it runs on biofuel. This is the latest trick from the exotic car companies. They’re going to base their CO2 claims on using E-85 when next to no one who buys these cars will ever use it.
Nissan is shaking things up in the U.S. It’s closing four of its 11 regional sales offices around the country and it’s shuttering its production design studio in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Nissan says the facility, will be used for ‘other purposes,’ which probably means gathering dust. In total, both of these moves result in a loss of 110 jobs, about 10 of those in Farmington.
Elena Ford, the great-great-granddaughter of old Henry is moving up the ladder. She’s been promoted to director of the company’s global marketing, sales and service operations; recently she’s been the vice president of marketing for Ford Motor Credit. She’ll report directly to Jim Farley.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
This is “You Said It!” Every day we get dozens of comments and questions from you, our viewers. “You Said It!” gives me a chance to respond.
Jerry Flint, one of the best journalists to cover this industry, writes in to say:
“What does Chrysler get from the Fiat deal? It would take two to three years to apply Fiat engines, transmissions and platforms to U.S. production. Does Chrysler have the time? And money? And Chrysler needs an Accord/Camry size car. What does Fiat have in this class? It has small cars-500 and Punto-not engineered for U.S. standards. Hmmm. Maybe the idea is to look busy for the auto czar.”
And R. Rufty wrote in with another comment.
“Chrysler and Fiat, now that is laughable. What were the two car companies back in the ’50s that merged and the merger was described in the press as ‘two drunks trying to hold each other up’?” Ouch! There’s a biting comment.
Along these lines, pavilion1985 left a comment on YouTube for us aksing:
If the Chrysler/Fiat deal works, how long before we see Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep-branded Alfas and Fiats in the U.S.? Will Chrysler build some of these products here, and will Fiat sell Chryslers abroad?
Well pavilion, like Jerry Flint says, it’ll take two to three years before we see Fiat products in Chrysler’s dealerships, but Chrysler products will probably show up in Fiat dealerships faster than that.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget, you can get podcasts, transcripts and a whole lot more on our website, AutolineDaily.com. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.