Episode 183 – Germany Concerned Over Opel, Toyota May Close NUMMI, Viper Survives

July 13th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:46

The German government is denying a report that it’s worried about a dependence on China if Beijing Auto gets Opel. Toyota is considering closing the NUMMI plant after GM dropped out of the joint venture. Chrysler is not getting rid of the Viper. All that and more, plus a look at new safety technology from Daimler.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Germany worries about the Russians or Chinese getting Opel. Toyota talks about closing NUMMI. And Dodge is going to keep the Viper.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, July 13, 2009. And now, the news.

The sale of Opel is worrying General Motors because of the potential technology transfer to Russian or Chinese automakers. The Wall Street Journal reports that GM is concerned about the kind of access that Russian automaker GAZ may get if Opel is sold to Magna (subscription required) and its finance partner, Russian bank Sberbank. But it’s also concerned that Beijing Auto, which is also making a bid for Opel may get its hands on GM’s technology. And maybe this all gives a bargaining advantage to RJH, an investment company that’s also interested in acquiring Opel.

In fact, the AFP reports that the German government is denying a report that it’s worried about a dangerous dependence on China if Beijing Auto gets Opel. The German newspaper Bild is carrying details of a government report that warns that Opel would become dependent on China. But the German government denies any such report exists.

Last week we reported that a judge would allow more bids for auto supplier Delphi. The deadline for any new bids was Friday, and according to the Detroit News there were no new offers. This means Platinum Equity, which struck a $3.6 billion deal for Delphi earlier in the year, will become the new owner.

The AP reports Toyota is considering closing the NUMMI plant after General Motors dropped out of the joint venture. The California plant builds the Corolla and Tacoma for Toyota and production of the Pontiac Vibe will end in August. Or is this just a bargaining ploy to get concessions out of the UAW. NUMMI is one of the few transplants that is unionized.

In a surprising development, Chrysler is not getting rid of the Viper (subscription required). Production of the high-power Dodge was slated to cease this December, but the company has given the legendary two-door a stay of execution. There’s something else going on here. During Chrysler’s bankruptcy the company claimed it couldn’t find any buyers for Viper, even though an investor group offered to buy it. My guess is that the Automotive Task Force wanted Chrysler to get rid of the Viper, so the company said it would close it down, then waited until it got out of bankruptcy to announce it would keep the Viper.

Automakers like to use natural materials to boost their green image and reduce their environmental impact, but this may be going too far. Autoblog reports that taxies built in the Philippine town of Tabontabon feature bodywork fashioned entirely out of bamboo. Making their carbon footprint even smaller, their engines run on coconut oil-based bio-diesel. Talk about environmentally friendly! But, I’d love to see how this thing performs in one of NHTSA’s head-on crash tests!

And speaking of crashes, coming up next, a look at new safety technology from Daimler.

Recently we reported on a concept version of the Mercedes S400 Hybrid equipped with several innovative safety features. We just got more info on that

One of the devices, called a Braking Bag, is basically an air bag made of a high friction material, mounted underneath the car. If sensors detect a crash is imminent the bag is deployed to help stop the car.

The next system protects people during a side impact crash. Called Pre-Safe Pulse, the side bolster of the seat inflates and pushes the occupant closer to the center of the vehicle. It doesn’t look like much but Mercedes claims it reduces the amount of force acting on the torso in a collision by nearly a third.

One of the most unique features of the concept not only reduces weight but also provides greater safety. The side-impact beams are made out of metal that can inflate. To help save space, the inflatable structures are folded-up, but when an impact occurs, a gas generator fires, expanding the metal section, giving it greater stability and crash protection.

Several airbag improvements are featured as well. In a collision the airbags will inflate according to the size of the passenger with the aid of sensors that detect seat position and the weight of the person. And to further reduce injury during an accident, the seatbelts in the rear are equipped with an airbag. When deployed the width of the seatbelt increases which helps dissipate pressure on the chest.

The vehicle is also capable of communicating with other vehicles on the road by using ad hoc networks and WLAN radio technology. The car receives and transmits warnings to other vehicles on the road if any obstacles, bad weather or even the police are near.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget, we’re doing a story about hypermiling and we need your help. Tell us the techniques you use to eek-out the best fuel economy possible. You can leave us video or audio comments on our website. Just click-on the link in the right sidebar of the Autoline Daily page, or follow it in today’s transcripts. We look forward to hearing from YOU. Anyway, thanks for watching today’s show, we’ll see you tomorrow.

25 Comments to “Episode 183 – Germany Concerned Over Opel, Toyota May Close NUMMI, Viper Survives”

  1. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Considering California’s finacial mess, it would be wise to exit that old plant and build the Corolla and the Tacoma in one of their less used facilities,(Tundra-Sequoia) to save on labor and taxes. As far as the Chinese stealing technology, doesn’t GM share technology when they build Buicks over there?, What’s the diff?

  2. Tony Gray Says:

    Boy, maybe “Maximum Bob” Lutz will take a cue from Chrysler and announce that Pontiac isn’t going away after all.

  3. Episode 183 - Germany Concerned Over Opel, Toyota May Close NUMMI … | news ohsiam Says:

    [...] See the original post:  Episode 183 – Germany Concerned Over Opel, Toyota May Close NUMMI … [...]

  4. Don MacConnel Says:

    It’s about time that GM and others realize that technology transfer to foreign manufacturers is short sighted and just plain stupid.

    A while back I got our CEO red faced when I objected to selling the Japanese some avionics technology for a few million. His response was that is was over ten year old technology. Mine was that the Japanese were thirty years behind us and were getting twenty years of R&D for peanuts.

    I didn’t get redlined and the CEO got his incentives for short term performance. It’s the American way I guess.

  5. T. Bejma Says:

    Tony Gray – Bob did say that the G8 was going to stay as the new Caprice… Hmmmm…. You might be right!

  6. Dan Busch Says:

    Welcome news regarding the Viper. I assume that it makes money for Chrysler – it certainly helps their image…………Now if they would only put a diesel in the Grand Cherokee with the Viper’s 3.07 rear, so that those of us that need a large box, but do not tow, might get 26-28MPG.

  7. Episode 183 - Germany Concerned Over Opel, Toyota May Close NUMMI … | China Today Says:

    [...] More: Episode 183 – Germany Concerned Over Opel, Toyota May Close NUMMI … [...]

  8. G.A.Branigan Says:

    The transfer of automotive technology to both Russia and China is a big mistake.All that tech could easily be used for their military.
    @Pedro: you have a good point there,what is being done about the tech for the buicks being built in China.Is it different then what is used/sold here?Hmmm….

  9. paulstaewart Says:

    The Viper has a stay of Execution, NOT a pardon. It’s a Matter of time.

  10. Salvador G. Says:

    1. I’m glad for Viper
    2. Burn Opel, Burn, (they didnt want FIAT, they got CHINA/or Russia)
    3. I can’t believe they made a car out of Bamboo and coconut oil… WHEN they start making one out of Hamburgers- someone call me.

    4. JohnMc.
    After watching that Merc. video, I wonder… What are the chances of that breaking airbag causing neck whiplash???


  11. Bill Fisher Says:

    GM has stated they will not sell Pontiac but do not intend to continue the brand. With the financial position that GM is in I would think a defunct brands value will never be higher than it is now. The longer it’s gone, the less interesting it becomes. Anyone think re-birthing the Oldsmobile would be a wise move? That’s my point. GM needs cash. Why take it from the taxpayer when they have a commodity whose value will do nothing but decrease and is no longer a part of the plan? Wise up GM, that’s how you got where you are.

  12. Alex Kovnat Says:

    Regarding the Braking Bag installed on the Mercedes-Benz S400 hybrid car, my comment is: very ingenious! If this is what any given person wants on his or her car, power to them.

    What I object to, is having my own car weighted down (and the price tag increased) by yet another mandatory safety device just to satisfy the emotional and ego needs of self-appointed consumer advocates for more and more safety devices on other people’s cars.

    Particularly in light of demands for more and more fuel economy, I would rather that people be offered a choice as to whether or not to have any or all of the safety features developed by Daimler-Benz for the Mercedes S400.

    We should remember that the kind of person who’s in the market for that car, is wealthy enough that they can afford to have it all. This is of course not true for most of us, especially with the economy the way it is.

  13. pedro Fernandez Says:

    You gotta love these auto makers, first they put a crapload of distracting electronics on board and because we get distracted by it, they come up with a bunch of expensive safety equipment, even Volvo has this braking system that applies the brakes in case your texting interferes with your driving. The buying public should just shun all these so-called innovations and just buy simpler vehicles even if it means doing away with all this “luxury”

  14. Salvador G. Says:

    Alex K.

    Not that I’m disagreeing with your ingenuous comment but, just remember that the Merc. S400 is just a concept and knowing Mercedes – they probably wouldn’t bring the S-class to America, just like the European version of the E-class.

    My concern with the airbag (to put it in better words) is that the car actually lift hard upon the airbag fully inflating and that should not happen.

  15. diffrunt Says:

    Most of the money spent on safety devices would be better spent on serious driver training & retesting. If we knew just how many inept,unqualified, downright dangerous drivers there are out there, we would be afraid to leave our house. Cars & guns don,t kill, people do!

  16. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Hey, laugh all you want at the bamboo taxi, it’s still safer than the Ford Pinto. Bamboo is a pretty hard wood, and it will never rust, but the rest of the car seems to be made from straw, note to self: if ever in the Phillipines don’t take a taxi.

  17. Episode 183 - Germany Concerned Over Opel, Toyota May Close NUMMI … | Germany today Says:

    [...] See the original post: Episode 183 – Germany Concerned Over Opel, Toyota May Close NUMMI … [...]

  18. John Says:

    China wants our technology to destroy us with it.

    Wake up.

    see: “US charges four in China espionage case”


    Selling auto technology to the communist chinese is MORONIC.

  19. Devin Says:

    Leave it up to toyota to abandoned it’s only uaw plant just becuase GM pulls out. Toyota is a joke that is one of toyota best performing plant’s. GM will make a come back and be strong and celebrate a nother hundred year’s. And no matter what toyota lovers say about my comment don’t forget that toyota is not doing so hot and is taking out almost a billion from the U.S. government to retool their foregin owned plant in Indiana.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Bamboo, used properly, is a very good structural material. When in Shanghai in 1994, I saw a construction scaffold made completely of bamboo surrounding a 7 or 8 story building which was being restored. The bamboo scaffold seemed to be working well. I also saw some woven bamboo hard hats being worn by construction workers. I doubt that they would work as was as some other materials, but they looked cool.

  21. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Wonder what that brake airbag does on an icey road.That would be fun…..ya think?? LMAO

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe the brake airbag is studded for icy roads.

  23. sam zuech Says:

    Chrysler may still be building the Viper but
    I thought they stopped developing the next
    generation months ago. What gives? Are they
    working on a new model or is this the end of the line.

  24. David Says:

    Ever had a Bamboo sliver.. Ouch.

    That said, I’m all for a Bamboo based textiles or composites.

  25. Frank Says:

    bamboo taxi going too far? it’ll just be use in a small village, it’ll fit their needs. it’s light and flexible…it’s a good idea.