Episode 92 – Toyota Needs Finance Help, Geely May Buy Volvo, News from Geneva

March 3rd, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:51

Toyota Financial Services approached the Japanese government asking for a loan of about $2 billion. Geely is likely to put in a bid next week to buy Volvo from Ford. Opel and Infiniti unveils and other news from the Geneva Motor Show. All that and more, plus a look at some research Volvo is doing to improve safety.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Toyota seeks government help. Geely may buy Volvo. And lots of news from the Geneva auto show.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, March 3, 2009. And now, the news.

A sign that the global financial crisis is getting worse. Toyota Financial Services, the finance unit of the world’s largest automaker, approached the Japanese government asking for a loan of 200 billion yen, or about $2 billion, the AP reports. Toyota Financial Services does 70 percent of its business in the United States. Nissan is also considering asking the Japanese government for financial aid.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Chinese car maker Geely is likely to put in a bid next week to buy Volvo from Ford. Geely has roughly half the revenue of Volvo, nearly half as many car sales, and only one third as many employees. Geely might move some production of Volvos to China. But the Journal also reports the Chinese government is warning its automakers (subscription required) it will be very difficult for them to acquire struggling foreign automakers and try to turn them around.

Lots of news from the Geneva Motor Show. General Motors unveiled the Opel Ampera, and even though it’s equipped with the Voltec system that powers the Chevy Volt, they don’t resemblance each other. The boomerang shaped headlights especially standout. The Ampera is a hatchback that seats four passengers. GM says production of the Ampera will begin late 2011.

Infiniti unveiled a wild new concept car called Essence. Autoblog reports that this rear-wheel-drive, two-seat coupe is 4.7 meters long – that’s 15 and a half feet! It sports a hybrid drivetrain with a combined 592 horsepower – 434 from its 3.7-liter twin-turbo V6 and another 158 from an electric motor. For power, it uses a lithium-ion battery pack that’s mounted in the trunk.

Mitsubishi and PSA will collaborate on electric vehicles based on Mitsubsihi’s i MiEV. Mitsubishi will build the car, but PSA will sell them in Europe under the Peugeot badge, while Mitsubishi will still sell them with its own logo. The companies are targeting late 2010 to early 2011 to launch the vehicle. In related news coming out of Geneva, Nissan and Portugal agreed to study the possibility of building a lithium-ion battery plant in the country. Last year, Portugal was the first European country to sign an agreement with Renault-Nissan to build an electric charging infrastructure.

And back in the ‘States, the advertising push for the 2010 Ford Fusion kicks off tonight, featuring a new tag line, “We speak Car,” and it highlights the Fusion’s strengths compared to its rivals.

The base Fusion starts at a hair less than 20 thousand dollars, while the hybrid version comes in at right around 28 thousand – both INCLUDE destination and delivery charges. Those MSRPs are very competitive with its arch rival. Pricing on the 2010 Toyota Camry hasn’t officially been announced yet, but 2009 models sticker at about 20 grand for base versions and roughly 26 thousand for hybrids, EXCLUDING delivery charges, which is an extra 720 dollars. Along with aggressive pricing and marketing, Ford is also trumpeting the Fusion’s fuel efficiency. The base four-cylinder model achieves a best-in-class 34 miles-per-gallon on the highway while the hybrid hits 41 in the city – eight MPGs better than the Camry Hybrid.

Coming up next, a look at some research Volvo is doing to, not surprisingly, improve safety, we’ll be back right after this.

Volvo is conducting a large-scale research project that looks at how drivers react in traffic situations.

To learn as much as it can about what people do behind the wheel, it fitted about 100 cars and 50 trucks with a battery of video cameras.

By monitoring everything a driver does behind the wheel, researchers aim to develop new safety features.

This project will last for three years and is part of a larger safety research study called EuroFOT. With these findings, Volvo aims to build cleaner and more efficient cars, but as usual, safety is a driving force behind everything it does.

Cars that don’t get in accidents would go a long way to help the company reach its biggest goal of all. By 2020 it wants no one to get hurt or killed in a Volvo vehicle.

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.

9 Comments to “Episode 92 – Toyota Needs Finance Help, Geely May Buy Volvo, News from Geneva”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Ampera?Man the designers of that one were smoking crack.It is pure ugly.It’s too bad that Ford couldn’t keep Volvo.I don’t believe that the chinese will did it justice at all,jmho.FORD:yes you do “speak car”,how about speaking some truck…..like the antique RANGER.Ya’ll need to do something there boys.

  2. Alex Kovnat Says:

    >By 2020 it wants no one to get hurt or
    >killed in a Volvo vehicle.

    All well and good. But what will Volvo do when they (like other automakers) are squeezed harder and harder on fuel economy, especially if California gets its way and cars sold there are required to attain 43 mile per gallon CAFE?

  3. John Says:

    John McElroy,

    Is Volvo losing money?

    Why is the only bid from the communist Chinese?

    As Alex asks, how will the California Co2 and CAFE affect Volvo?

    Do you think Volvo cars still hold the huge safety advantage over their counterparts as they once had?

    Will a Chinese acquisition of Volvo Technology come back to bite Ford and others?

    Would it not be better for a few companies to buy Volvo and split it up to keep the technology from going to Chinese low cost predator manufacturer?

  4. Julius Lambert Says:

    Read Steven Pearlstein-s article today in the WP.Heading-Asia,Europe find their Supply Chain Yanked.Beware of the BACKLAIt is in the OPINION sect.When you digest it ,hold onto your EQUALIBERIUM.Think of LBJs Great Society scheme when it soakes in.

  5. pedro Fernandez Says:

    John: Ford is taking a gamble in bringing European models here, they were less than succesful with previous efforts: Mondeo, Merkur and Cougar, most recently. Also Ford reliability has been less than stellar in Europe just above Fiat, any thoughts?

  6. John Says:

    Here is some more about Volvo.

    March 3, 2009 14:10 EST


  7. Jude Says:

    John, how can you say that the Ampera looks totally different? The only difference I can make out is the front bumper fascia/grille combo. The actual headlights themselves – if you look closely – are identical to the Volt. They just have ‘boomerang’ extensions beneath them!

    The profile is basically identical to the Volt, as well, while the only differences at the rear are the taillight inserts, the chrome header bar, and the rear bumper fascia.

    The external differences between the Chevy Tahoe and the GMC Yukon are greater! At least the entire front clip (hood, fenders, bumpers, and fascia) is different for both vehicles.

  8. Chris Rhodes Says:


    At the rate they are going…and with a possible Geely purchase…there may be NO Volvos in which to be hurt or killed by 2020!

  9. Toyota Financial | Trendy Net News Says:

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