AD #1120 – Honda Disses Fleet Sales, Toyota ME.WE Concept EV, Audi TT Goes on a Diet

April 25th, 2013 at 11:51am

Runtime: 9:37

Honda gets a little bit sensitive about how well two other Japanese cars are selling in the American market compared to the Accord. Earlier in the week Nissan unveiled the Friend-ME, today it’s the Toyota ME.WE. Audi shows off a lightweight version of its TT, called the TT ultra quattro concept. All that and more, plus we look at how the Taxi Nissan’s Tomorrow can now accommodate a wheelchair.

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Welcome to Autoline Daily if you’re new here. If you’re a regular, welcome back! C’mon, follow me, let’s get to the news.

As you know, Volkswagen is on a quest to become the number one automaker in the world. Yesterday we reported that the company’s net profit plunged in the first quarter. So to offset those losses, VW says it’s going to unleash 60 new or refreshed models this year around the globe. This year! That includes all brands under the VW umbrella, but even so, that’s a lot of new models.

Honda is getting a little bit sensitive about how well the Toyota Camry and Nissan Altima are selling in the American market compared to the Accord. So it’s pointing out that the Accord actually kills the other two if you only count retail sales, and do not count fleet sales. Mike Acavitti, the senior vice president in charge of sales at Honda says fleet sales only account for about 1.4 percent of total sales of the Accord, compared to 36 percent for the Camry and Altima. Asian automakers always sneered at fleet sales, which were traditionally dominated by the Detroit Three. So it’s highly unusual to see two Japanese companies criticized by yet another Japanese company over how many cars they sell to the fleets.

Earlier in the week it was the Nissan Friend-ME, today it’s the Toyota ME.WE. The company just introduced this EV concept in Europe. It’s built on a tubular aluminum frame and weighs just over 1,600 pounds, or about 20 percent lighter than a traditional B-segment car with a steel frame. It also features interchangeable body panels, made out of polypropylene, that can be personalized. The ME.WE is powered by electric motors mounted in each wheel and the battery is packaged under the floor to maximize space.

Chevrolet is bragging that its Spark EV sets the industry benchmark in retail electric vehicle efficiency. It gets an EPA-rated range of 82 miles when fully charged and a combined 119 MPGe. It will be the first vehicle to use a recently approved DC Fast Charging system. And after you drain the battery, it can be recharged up to 80 percent capacity in about 20 minutes. Chevy says it is one of the most fun EVs to drive. Its permanent magnet motor produces 130 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. torque, which propels the electric to 60 mph in under 8 seconds. The Spark EV goes on sale this summer in California and Oregon.

Audi is showing off a lightweight version of its TT, called the TT ultra quattro concept. It only weighs 1,111 kilograms or 2,449 lbs., which is a cool 661 lbs. lighter than the production version. The concept uses carbon fiber in the rear end, center tunnel, B-pillars and in the roof. Magnesium components were also used in the floor and as hinge reinforcement. This TT boasts a power-to-weight ratio of 3.6 kg/hp or 7.9 lbs/hp and can jump to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, nearly three-quarters of a second faster. While no official plans are in the works for this concept, the company says usage of these technologies is conceivable for future small-batch series.

Whoops, look like a copy writer over at BMW’s ad agency forgot to use their spell checker. The company is starting to roll out print ads touting its all-electric Megacity i3, using the tagline “Born Electric. Naturally Intellegent.” Only one thing. They misspelled intelligent. There is supposed to be an i after the two l’s, not another e. And we have to thank our eagle-eye viewer Will Slate from New Haven, Connecticut for spotting this one. You know Will, you sent this in, I’m looking at it thinking, ‘What’s the big deal?’ and then it finally dawned on me that they misspelled intelligent. And I’m a pretty good speller, so kudos to you for picking right up on that.

Nissan got worldwide headlines when it announced its NV200 van was selected as the Taxi of Tomorrow for New York city. But it was also crucified by advocates for people with disabilities because the Taxi of Tomorrow could not accommodate a wheelchair. Well,they got a fix coming and we’ll show you that right after this.

Nissan recently rushed a new version of its Taxi of Tomorrow into production. It’s a modified version of the NV200 that can accommodate a wheelchair. Nissan produced this pseudo news report of what it’s all about. Take a look.

(NV200 Mobility Taxi can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

Now we’ll have to see how many of these wheelchair accessible taxis are actually purchased by any of the taxi companies.

Be sure to tune in to Autoline After Hours tonight. There’s a rumor swirling out there that David Welch from Bloomberg, who used to be one of the regulars until he moved to New York will be joining us tonight. Gary Vasilash will also be here and of course, the Autoextremist himself will be in the house. So join us for some of the best insights you can find as to what’s going on in the wonderful world of cars and the people that make them.

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

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37 Comments to “AD #1120 – Honda Disses Fleet Sales, Toyota ME.WE Concept EV, Audi TT Goes on a Diet”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    That Toyota concept should be called the Me Wee or Me Weep cause that is what I felt like doing when I saw it. Not making their cars available for rental fleets is one of those things that gave Honda its aura of exclusivity, but when you can rent just about anything nowadays, I wonder how smart that idea is today!

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC reports that GM will most likely bring stateside Chinese built GM vehicles, I wonder if they had announced that b4 the bailouts, they’d still be in business?

  3. ColoradoKid Says:

    Two thumbs up to Mazda – Their profits despite the weakening Yen are up


    Two thumbs down to the Feds – They’re doubling their Hybrid fleet ( nice waste of our money despite the Sequester thank you very much )


    Toyota Me-We-EV – Either its a take off of the ” This Little Piggy ‘ childrens story …. or a direct result of the SNL skit with Steve Martin and Chevy Chase..e.g. …. ” What the ___ is that ? ”

    Better yet … Why the _____ is that ?


    Audi TT Ultra Quattro … that isn’t … and will never be – Two big thumbs down ……They could of taken the brilliant ( the only Audi I’d consider ) TTRS … put it on a diet .. bumped the power up a notch and built the damn thing . But No ! Instead they dump another in a long line of fictitious vaporware concepts that’ll never see the light of day

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    More hybrids, but curtailed TSA coverage at airports, makes so much sense, I am beyond words!

  5. Chuck Grenci Says:

    On Toyota’s concept I flashed back to one of the old Saturday Night Live shows in which they were touting the “Adobe”(a parity); especially when seen with the orange color scheme. :)

    Also looking forward to seeing David Welch again; he always brought a lot of insight to the automotive industry from his view from “Bloomberg” and always a good input (to the discussions) on AAH.

  6. ColoradoKid Says:

    Pedro – #2 Thanks for putting that up . With all the criticism I’ve been getting lately here I was hesitant to do it myself .

    Yeah …. real nice …. aint it . Chinese built Chevy’s for the US market … Just what we as well as every GM employee wants to hear

    But hold on a second …. cause all bets are before the end of the decade … assuming Marchionne’s still running the show …. it’ll be Chinese for the American Market built JEEP’s ( including the JK and/or its replacement ) for us ( US )

    Then again …. considering FIAT/Chrysler/Dodge/JEEP’s abject lack of quality and reliability ….. that might just be an improvement

    Hey Pedro … in light of the oncoming Chinese onslaught …. I’ve got a brilliant business idea for you … watching Bourdain the other night he was featuring Korean/Mexican hybrid food saying its going gangbusters in LA etc .

    So hows about a Chinese/Cuban hybrid for the East Coast ? Think about it . We could become richer than Uncle Zonker will be ( Doonesbury ) :o

  7. ColoradoKid Says:

    Chuck Grenci – #5 – Brilliant freaking catch . I’d completely forgotten about that one ….. still laughing … heres the link for everyone else ..

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    CK they got you beat already, there are few restaurants in Miami that mix Chinese/Cuban Chinese/Peruvian as well (delish btw) Re the Chinese GM cars, I had an uncle who was a mechanic in Cuba, loved the American iron, despised the iron curtain crap as he called it, he must be turning in his grave upon that prospect.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    #7 I wonder if California will build a Hemp mobile anytime soon, it should still pass the strict state inspection even if it smokes.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    I got rid of my spare months ago and today I get a flat, no big deal, just a tiny nail, I whipped out a can of fixaflat and my compressor, had to use 1 1/2 cans and put some extra air and the damn thing did not work, I had to get rescued and to think some OEM’s are not including spares in their new cars, you get a can and a compressor, what is this world becoming?

  11. Sean Sweeney Says:

    Anything new on the 2015 Mustang…the trail is getting cold…need something.

  12. T. Bejma Says:


    At least with GM vehicles, they are covered by complimentary roadside assistance for 5 years/100,000 miles which includes flats…

  13. C-Tech Says:

    Honda may well want to get on the fleet sales bandwagon or get used to being #2 (or 3, maybe 4?).

    I get a sense VW is about to unleash a whole of refresh, not renew.

    # @2 TTAC actually spoke to the production guy in China who thinks, maybe, ahh why not, bring China Buicks to the USA. It is not a firm plan and the writer did not speak to anyone at the RenCenter. In this case, its NOT TTAC. Now Chinese Honda Fits’ are already in Canada.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yes, but Honda did not ask for US bailout money so they could keep Americans gainfully employed.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Guys, the whole idea of the bailouts was to keep jobs here, not Mexico or even Canada, much less China, their middle class doesn’t need any more help, it’s growing well enough, thank you US shoppers.

  16. Mike Shipley Says:

    Maybe the ‘E’ in Intelligent in the BMW ad was on purpose to signify ‘Electric’.

  17. ColoradoKid Says:

    Pedro – 16 – AMEN mi amigo !!!! … +1 and any other positive accolades I can bestow upon that comment

    You’d think at some point the head in the sand American consumer/tax payers would get those little details into their thick heads …. but they don’t … and here we are ….

    ChinoCubano fusion food trucks and restaurants Pedro . Heck … if we can’t beat em …. lets join em and beat em at their own game I say ! Here’s a moniker idea ; JuanXing’s ;-)

  18. ColoradoKid Says:

    C-Tech – 13 – the VW comment – You hit that one right on the head ….

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    CK I happen to enjoy Chino/Cuban fried rice lots, not the soggy, MSG laden crap you get from just about any run of the mill Chinese take out place in America (Chinatown, NY SF) excluded of course!

  20. ColoradoKid Says:

    Pedro -10 – Well at least one OEM recognizes the need . My Benz not only comes with a Spare ….. but a built in electric air compressor also . Standard ! ( which can also be used away from the car with an included extension chord to help a fellow motorist in need .. as well as fill a bicycle tire if needed as it goes up to 100 lbs )

    Now Thats an OEM that ‘ gets it ‘ ..

  21. ColoradoKid Says:

    19 OK .. lets bring it to the Rocky Mt region then …. mmmmmm … dang that sounds good !

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    When I visited NY, went to China Town and in a hole in the wall eatery, full of locals, everything we ordered was incredibly good, come here and just can’t get the same quality ANYWHERE, I’ve just about given up, can’t afford a 5 star restaurant. Why can’t a poor guy get a decent Chinese meal here?

  23. C-Tech Says:

    @ #20 The built-in compressor idea is not new, and not an M-B original. I had a 1994 Pontiac Transport (Dustbuster) minivan which had a spare and a built-in compressor. I also had a 1987 Pontiac 6000 STE (the Audi wannabe) which also had the built-in compressor. I agree that its a great idea and more useful than a built-in vacuum cleaner that the Honda Odyssey has.

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    #23 yes, but skipping the temporary spare?????? C-Tech I happened to like the Pontiac STE, I have a cousin who had one and I liked it a lot!

  25. ColoradoKid Says:

    Subprime Auto Loans

    Its about fricken time someone seriously started addressing this financial disaster in the making


    C-Tech – 23 – I know its not new … nor a M-B original idea … but in this day and age it sure is rare as hens teeth to see an OEM equip a car properly for normal issues that may arise on the road …. especially in light of the fact that the Benz also comes with Lifetime ( as long as I own the car ) FREE Roadside assistance … anywhere in the US …. and CDN as well as long as I register my travels there with MBUSA in advance

  26. cwolf Says:

    #3 Mazda profits are up BECAUSE of the weakened yen.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    #25 First homes, now cars, what’s next? Big flat screen TV sets?

  28. gary susie Says:

    Didn’t all auto reporters rip The big three for selling fleet cars. Oh i guess its ok it the japanese do it. Nissan also beat the pontiace aztek out for ugliest cat with the Juke.

  29. focus2003svt Says:

    Hey John….. Just a bit currious about the New York Taxi from Nissan. Will this be an IMPORT or will it be built here in the USA???

  30. C-Tech Says:

    @ #25 C.K. the sad thing is that the built-in compressor is such a good idea in an suv or minivan you who think it would standard by now (with or without a spare tire).

    Pedro why did you remove the spare?

    Does anyone have figures on the number of subprime new car loans?

  31. HtG Says:

    Here’s a section from a recent Reuter’s piece, C-Tech.

    “At car dealers across the United States, loans to subprime borrowers like Nelson are surging – up 18 percent in 2012 from a year earlier, to 6.6 million borrowers, according to credit-reporting agency Equifax Inc. And as a Reuters review of court records shows, subprime auto lenders are showing up in a lot of personal bankruptcy filings, too.”

  32. C-Tech Says:

    This is how the subprime situation will possible breakdown: most subprime loans are for late model used vehicles, not new vehicles. This props up used car prices. If the subprime bubble bursts, the first to feel the crunch will be the dealers who earnings are significantly from these types of loans. These dealers will fold first. The affect on the manufacturers will be from a drop in demand for used cars, lower trade-in values, and a reduction in new car sales of certain models. The upswing may be in lower cost used cars.

  33. Stu Says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but can that wheelchair accessible taxi accommodate more than one passenger? With needing to fold up the seat it sure looks like there will not be enough room for anyone but the disabled passenger, meaning multiple taxis for them if they are travelling with someone.

    Surely they could have made a long wheelbase version where they don’t have to eliminate the passenger seating…

  34. ColoradoKid Says:


    Actually this is how the Subprime situation is playing out

    Those loans via GMAC – Chrysler Financial – Ally Bank etc are in fact going towards Brand New off the dealers lots cars … not used one …. and most often for lengths up to 64 months promoted by the manufactures to make up for lack of sales ….. including and especially Cadillac dealerships …. if you dig a little deeper

    The first to feel the Crunch therefore will be the financial institutions themselves as the dealers will already have their money in hand ( Thats how financing works good sir ) … the second will be the massive ‘ Trickle Down ‘ which will in fact be a cascading waterfall that’ll effect/affect each and every financial institution associated with those banks etc handing out those loans ….. e.g. Mutual Funds -401K’s – Annuities IRA’s etc … e.g. yours and my back pockets

    Here’s a little logic to consider . Subprime loans on Real Estate … which can and many times does Appreciate ….. bit us on the butt big time …. in fact we’re still paying for that little debacle and have barely felt 60% of the negative and destructive effects coming down the pike .. ( 2.4 million homes currently await repossession )

    Whereas …. Automobiles ….. always Depreciate …. so consider for a moment how bad this one ( which will happen as subprimers at almost 98% will fail to make payments ) will be when the proverbial _____ hits the fan

    Ugh ….. I mean seriously C-tech … no insult intended .. and in most areas you have my ultimate respect … but ….. as I said to someone else recently ;


  35. C-Tech Says:

    @ #33 Once again you are not moving with facts but fiction CK. 1.)Your only truth is that the financial institutions will feel the pinch first, however unlike the real estate bubble the assets WILL BE RECOVERED and resold quickly. THIS IS NOT REAL ESTATE. 2.) You still have NO EVIDENCE that GM/Cadillac is beefing up sales this way so stop telling that lie. 3.) The dealers rely on that financing stream to sell cars – no sale, no earnings, no dealership, its not that complex. 4.)If the Wall St masters of the universe get burned this time, it will be a smaller mess and more quickly cleaned. This bubble will mostly effect dealers, and manufacturers inventories on certain models. Sorry CK, faulty analysis with limited facts is not your road I wish to follow.

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ctech so I could move stuff into the spare well and accommodate a sub that used to belong to my son, but anyways I can’t take the rattling, so that already came out and I left out the spare for the weight savings ( no change in MPG’s) Spare going back in, bad experiment!!

  37. Andrew Charles Says:

    There’s no real prospect of Chinese-built Chevy’s, Buicks or Cadillacs in the US for the forseable future. Unlike many Chinese manufacturers running at 0-20% capacity, GM’s Chinese plants are running at 110% capacity or more, as often as they can. They are adding 4 more plants in the next few years, just to meet Chinese demand.

    Even for the Middle-East and Asian markets, GM is building Chevy branded Chinese vans locally (in Egypt and India) because a) The auto industry is the last to realize that building where you sell allows you to do more with less capital and saves a host of other headaches; and b) they don’t have the capacity in China for anything but incidental export volume. There was a company importing some of GM’s Chinese Wuling vans into the US, but only for off-road use (i.e. industrial and academic campuses), and they apparently folded in 2005. Their primary competitor, Tiger Trucks, switched to manufacturing (assembling?) their trucks in Oklahoma in 2008.