Episode 212 – Wiedeking Under Fire, BYD Ramps Up EV Plans, BMW’s Most Efficient Car

August 21st, 2009 at 12:08pm

Runtime 8:24

Wendelin Wiedeking, the former CEO of Porsche, is under investigation for insider trading on stock options. Chinese automaker BYD plans to enter the U.S. market next year, a year ahead of schedule. BMW is set to introduce the most efficient version of the 3 Series at the Frankfurt Motor Show. All that and more, plus a look at how Ford managed to get the Fusion hybrid to deliver 41 miles per gallon.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Porsche’s CEO is under investigation. BYD could beat everyone else to the market with an EV. And BMW comes out with its most efficient car, ever.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, August 21, 2009, and here’s what’s happening in the auto industry.

In a shocking development, Wendelin Wiedeking, the former CEO of Porsche, came under investigation for insider trading on stock options (subscription required). The Wall Street Journal reports that Porsche’s former chief financial officer Holger Haerter is also under investigation. Porsche denies the allegations and points out both executives are cooperating with investigators. And what I find just as interesting. Both executives are still on the payroll as consultants to Porsche.

Speaking of stock trading, much of the media today are wringing their hands over the fact that some investors are still buying millions of shares of General Motors, the old General Motors, the one in liquidation. Some commentators worry that some investors may be confused and not realize what they are getting into. But I say these people know exactly what they’re getting into. For one thing, this stock is not even called General Motors. It’s called Motors Liquidation. And its trading symbol is not the letters G and M. It’s MTLQQ, and you can’t buy it on any major exchange. Besides, there is tremendous volatility in this stock, its price, which stood at 85 cents yesterday, can fluctuate more than 50 percent in one day, which is how you can make a lot of money on a stock. Besides, look at the stock of Delphi, GM’s former parts company. It’s trading at 4 cents a share and yesterday nearly 4 million shares traded hands.

Hyundai’s Chairman Chung Mong-koo has promoted his son to Vice Chairman of the company. According to the AP, Chung Eui-sun, who had been a president at Kia, will not be in charge of sales and planning at his new position. Here’s the part I don’t get, he’s one of six Vice Chairmen at Hyundai. I guess the title of vice president just doesn’t seem good enough any more.

Chinese auto company BYD plans to enter the U.S. market next year (subscription required), a year ahead of schedule. According to the Wall Street Journal, BYD plans to sell a few hundred of its all-electric e6 model in a select region of the country next year before it expands its lineup. BYD says the car will be priced slightly above $40,000. But that means it could be the first major automaker with an EV ready for sale.

If you’re thinking about cashing in on cash-for-clunkers, you’d better get a move on. According to the Detroit Free Press, the U.S. CARS program is set to expire next Monday at 8:00 p.m. By that time, the sales stimulus scheme is expected to have burned through the $3 billion allocated for it. Overall, it’s been a smashing success, helping move almost 700,000 cars in less than a month. Initially, it was expected to deliver only 250,000 sales over THREE MONTHS. But it’s not all rainbows, puppies and sunshine. The Feds have only reimbursed about 8 percent of the money dealers are owed, so GM and Chrysler are advancing cash to dealers.

BMW is set to introduce the most efficient version of the 3 Series at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The 320d EfficientDynamics edition is expected to deliver a fuel economy figure of just 4.1 L/100 km! For us ‘Mericans, that’s about 57 miles per gallon! CO2 emissions should total a measly 109 grams per kilometer. That’s less than a Fiat 500 DIESEL! The new Bimmer is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-diesel with 163 horsepower, which should be enough to power the car from 0 to 100 kilometers an hour in about 8.2 seconds.

Coming up next, a look at how Ford managed to get the Fusion hybrid to deliver 41 miles per gallon. Don’t go anywhere, we’ll be back in 15 seconds.

On last night’s Autoline After Hours our guest was Nancy Gioia, who runs all of Ford’s EV and hybrid programs. A question I was dying to ask her is how Ford was able to get the Fusion to get such a surprising fuel economy number. Take a look at this clip.

You can find the entire show with Nancy Gioia on our website right now.

And now it’s time to announce the winner of this week’s trivia question. Jim Hall, who filled in for me last Friday, came up with this brain-buster. He challenged you to identify the longest-running nameplate, as in what car currently sold in the U.S. has been continuously produced the longest? And the correct answer is, the Chevrolet Corvette.

And we can thank Jim Hall for that trivia question.

And this week’s winner is Jason Colt of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Congratulations Jay-man, you’ve just won this charming Eyes on Design poster. Across town and around the world, that’ll do it for this week’s top auto news. Have a great weekend, we’ll see you Monday.

27 Comments to “Episode 212 – Wiedeking Under Fire, BYD Ramps Up EV Plans, BMW’s Most Efficient Car”

  1. Tony Gray Says:

    Hmmm. I thought the Suburban was the longest running, but it must have taken a break.

  2. lawrence Says:

    Are they really serious? BYD’s EVs have absolutely no track record in China or anywhere. Why would they want to make Americans the guinea pigs. There’s so much to lose in those first impressions.

  3. Thor Says:

    The Suburban, as well as many other names (Impala etc) obviously did take breaks.

    That BMW 320D sure is impressive with 4.1 lt/100 KM. I bet this is average fuel efficiency too, not just highway, but in Europe the numbers are more inflated than our 2008 and later EPA averages, so I would not be surprised if it got less than 40 MPG average here, see how low the EPA claims the Jetta Diesel is! (very unfairly, IMO, and that’s why VW went to third party testers who came up with well above 40 MPG for the Diesel VWs sold here)

    But I bet BMW will NOT import the 320D here, they chose to import the performance dieseland put it in the 3 and the X5 only. I wish my 7 was NOT fitted with the over the top 4.4 gas V8 but with the excellent 3.0 D available in Europe, it would then do far above 30 MPG highway, and not the 22-25 tops it does with the 4.4.

    This is a complaint I have of all of them, Merc and BMW and Audi, they never import the fuel efficient motors that are far more sufficient for the snail-paced 70 and 80 MPH limit US highways than for the Autobahn, where they ARE offered!!!!

  4. Thor Says:

    And on top of that, sell the chinese piece of junk EV for $40,000 are they gone totally mad??? Only some deranged, semi-literate (and auto illiterate) Hollywood so-called celebs will buy one.

  5. Thor Says:

    Here is a car from the late 50s and 60s, styled like a 3/4ths 56 chevy, but sold as an OPEL (Olympia Rekord) in Germany, from the latest Autoweek I got yesterday:

    1.2-1.5-1.7lt engines, making only 40-54 and maybe 60-65 HP for the 1.7;

    2,756 lbs wt for the 1.5lt, and about a tall Corolla in size. (four door sedan)

    The 1.5 54 hp could get 60 MPH in third gear.

    WIth today’s engine, the 1.2 could easily get twice the 40 HP, and save some wt for new systems, airbags etc. With the 80 HP, and still below 2,800 lbs, the car should easily top 90-100 MPH, which is sufficient for most secretaries and small families that are not speed maniacs but just need an appliance. And it would easily get 40 MPG with gas, 50-60 with diesel, and make gas cheaper for all the rest of us who do not want to drive such a car.

  6. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Chinese electric car:Chinese time bomb, when these batteries start overheating and catch fire in parking garages, tunnels, drive-thru restaurants. We will be importing a new type of terrorist.

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I hope the batteries are of a good quality.I have experience with chinese lipo batteries and they tend to blow up if your not careful.In fact they sell a special bag to put your battery into when charging.

    I hope between BMW,and VW,and the upcoming Mahindra diesels do well so the american companies can give us the long awaited diesel option.I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that one.

    John,excellent show last night.Nancy Gioia was/is very informed and extremley intelligent.One of the best guests yet.It’s easy to see why she has the position she has.Ford has some top talent for sure.Too bad GM execs aren’t as astute.

  8. Thor Says:

    G.A.: mentioning the primitive MAhindra in thhe same sentence as VW and BMW would probably cause BMW and VW exefs to choke on their food. (and BTW Pedro, India is even more socialist than China, in economic matters, that’s why they are more pitifully poor than the even some of the darkest dark africa fourth world nations.

    I cannot believe that there were total fools in the US that spent millions to develop a Mahindra dealership. This is not like the Japanese in the 60s, or even the Koreans in the 80s. We are talking serious backwardness, vehicles that would never pass any serious safety inspection, that look like 50s vehicles too. Mahindra explicitly stated that it wanted to aim their trucks (which will NOT be even cheap, as much as one would expect, but sell above 20k!, for a truck smaller even than the Ranger, let alone the F150) at very destitute, backward US regions like the Ozarks, Apallachians etc. But few there could afford the $20k. So I predict RUIN for Mahindra, a well deserved fate too. They should export their POS to third world nations. The chinese have a far greater chance to succeed in the US than socialist Indian fourth world crap.

    BTW, the (also indian) Tata Nano subcompact ultra-cheap $2,000 four door is a totally different story, it was developed far better than any other indian product and is ideal for conditions in India (but also not for here)

    As for Goia, I had great expectations for last night’s Autoline aFter hours. I agree she is smart and has a handle of the issues, but John and Co raised many important points that are huge challenges to the EV case. In any case, very few of these cars will ever be sold, and as she correctly said, fleets are far better suited for them than private drivers. “Range Anxiety” is something she correctly pointed out for EVs, it is a far bigger issue than cost and MPG or equivalent, and those that can fork over the $40,000s to get one of these POSs obviously do not do it for any savings but because of conviction and for the fun of it.

    But if you look at all automakers, and see which divisions have women on top, it will NEVER be the key bread-winning ones (Ford or Chevy, or even Caddy and Lincoln), but some marginal, unprofitable ones like Saturn and Hybrid/EVs (at ford, both Goia AND her predecessor MAry Ann Wright ere women, and no coincidence!) and Mercury. I am sure there are “CAR Persons” out there with far greaster credentials, whose disadvantage is they are males, esp. white males.

    And I bet Goia would not be able to explain to you in DETAIL exactly how did the EPA calculated the 230 MPG for the Volt or the … 367 MPG for that lame-ass Nissan EV the “Leaf”

  9. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    China has sent us such wonderful’ safe product like lead painted toys, contaminated drywalls and dog food and electronic devices that fail miserably after a few months of use. I know this because its happened to people I know here in Fla so a high tech device like an electric car w/o time to try it out in real world use is a big gamble. I pity the fool who puts down $40k on one of these.

  10. Andy S Says:

    As I recall, GM skipped the 1983 model year Corvette. The new Corvette came out as an early 1984 model. A few pre-production units (45) were built as 1983 models, but were not “retailed”. So, if retail customers could not purchase a new 1983 Corvette, does the Corvette really win the longest continuous nameplate contest?

  11. EAB Says:

    In spirit, the Corvette never stopped production BUT Andy S is right, the 1983 Corvette never took place. I think if we were on Jeopardy, the judges would have a tough decision to make.

    Mustang doesn’t qualify because of the Mustang II during the 70′s. Mmm…Now I wonder, if we take Corvette out of the loop because of the technicality, then what is the right answer? John, is that a question for NEXT WEEK??

    Suburban, much like the Jeep CJ and Ford F series, is not considered a car.

  12. EAB Says:

    More info…


  13. Dan D Says:

    Regarding this week’s trivia contest, those of us who answered early considered truck models in the range of possible answers because the question was originally posted as “which nameplate” has been in production longest. On Wednesday you changed the question to which “car model”. Tsk, tsk, John.

  14. Jason C. Says:

    Thanks Autoline. I was totally never expected to win any of these triva things. I will enjoy the poster. Thanks again.


  15. John Says:

    Technically the Suburban is considered a SW passenger vehicle.

  16. Tony Gray Says:

    Way to go Dan D! The MAN was putting us early answer types DOWN!

    Rage bubba!!! RAGE!!

  17. Thor Says:


    You repeated in Friday’s AL Daily the White House’s claim and bragging that the Cash for clunker’s program was a resounding SUCCESS (!!???)

    Did you bother to check the facts of the utter FAILURE of this program?

    Just one amazing stat: While, as expected, about 87% of all vehicles scrapped were DOMESTIC Dinosaurs,

    75%+ of all vehicles BOUGHT with this program were IMPORTS!

    Are you happy that YOUR hard earned TAX DOLLARS were used to subsidize largely imports?

    ANd if you bothered to look into the FACTS some more, you’d see that even the measly 25% or less of cars bought which were ‘domestic” (assuming we agree that a Mexico made Ford or a Korean made Chevy is ‘domestic”.. lol),

    WHAT kind of domestics did consumers buy?

    NOT the highly profitable, higher-priced large SUVs and Trucks, as the legislators hoped (hence the very LOW threshold they required, 22 MPG or higher, for the new ones!)

    BUT largely cheapo econobox on which GM, Chrysler and even FOrd barely make a Profit, IF ANY!!!

    Analyze this, John, and other forum members!

    (PS check my numbers, if one has more updated %s, please cite them.)

  18. Thor Says:

    Oh, and another thing, John:

    Do you really believe that those who bought new cars now with $4,500 per car subsidy from us, the long-suffering taxpayers, instead of from the companies themselves, as they used to do at the end of each model year (Aug-Sept),

    that those people will go back in the market and buy another car next year?

    All (or most) this idiotic program did, at a cost of $3 billion to the TAXPAYERS,

    was to Grab 500,000 vehicles from FUTURE DEMAND and bring it today.

    How is this any more myopic (ie, short-sighted) than paying too much attention to QUARTERLY PROFITS, as the domestic carmakers did until two of them had to go bankrupt,

    than, as TOYOTA, Honda, BMW and other Huge Success stories did, to building a SUPERIOR PRODUCT for the LONG TERM?

  19. Thor Says:

    here is today’s Detroit News, agreeing with and reinforcing my above facts

    “Toyota biggest beneficiary of clunker cash
    David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

    Washington — Detroit automakers continue to lose ground to foreign rivals in the latest tally of “cash for clunkers” sales…U.S. automakers have been hamstrung by short inventories of more fuel efficient vehicles and have boosted production…

    Toyota is the clunker replacement leader: Of all vehicles sold under the program, 19.2 percent were Toyotas. General Motors was in second place, at 17.7 percent.

    The Toyota Corolla remains the top-selling vehicle in the program, followed by the Honda Civic, Ford Focus FWD and Toyota Camry.

    But the Hyundai Elantra jumped to the top five for the first time, and the Toyota Prius fell to sixth.

    Rounding out the top 10 are the Nissan Versa, Ford Escape FWD, Honda Fit and Honda CR-V 4WD.

    The Transportation Department noted that 54 percent of the top 10 clunker replacement vehicles were manufactured in the United States: the Corolla, Focus FWD, Camry, Ford Escape FWD and Honda CR-V 4WD.

    (Thor’s note: but half of these are still IMPORTS, not ‘big 3′ vehicles!!!)

    Hybrid vehicles account for 4.5 percent of new vehicles purchased under the program compared to 3 percent of June’s new-vehicle sales.

    ” ‘Cash for clunkers’ is a program that has worked,” United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger said Friday.”

    Of course, it was designed for Middlefinger and his welfare queens at the UAW, as was the whole enormous waste of Taxpayer billions to rescue the Detroit 3 (or 2.5)…

  20. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    So Thor, how would YOU have handled the clunker plan? would you have scrapped it completely or made it so that for a car to qualify it had to be an American brand BUILT in The US, not Mexico, Canada, Korea, would you have used a diff MPG requirement?

  21. Thor Says:

    “# Pedro Fernandez Says:
    August 22nd, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    So Thor, how would YOU have handled the clunker plan? would you have scrapped it completely or made it so that for a car to qualify it had to be an American brand BUILT in The US, not Mexico, Canada, Korea, would you have used a diff MPG requirement?”

    I would have never approved of the corrupt, idiotic program in the first place.

    But IF such a program HAD to be in place, I would only use it to scrap really offending vehicles, and NOT perfectly clean recently produced low-mile vehicles who were barely entering adulthood, given today’s cars being good for 200,000s of miles easily (and even yeaterday i heard of a Lincoln Town car of all vehicles that had.. 450,000 miles and was still going strong!)

    I would never prohibit imports from being scrapped or bought. As I said before, this would only cause a huge outcry overseas, retaliation, and dragging the US in the World Trade Court accusing it of protectionism.

    And YES, I would certainly have NOT allowed these clunkers to be replaced with a 22 MPG POS!! This is hardly the kind of vehicle we want! But the PUBLIC did not need that stricter limit, most of them bought 30 and 35 MPG Compact and midsize cars in exchange for their Explorer 4WD (most popular scrapped POS) and F 150 (second most popular)

  22. Thor Says:

    Now if I used the program, I would sure buy a 3rd Gen Prius 2009, or a deeply discounted 2nd Gen Prius 2008, if it qualifies. Both are huge consumer bargains to begin with, seldom give incentives to move them, and they are even huger with the $4,500 check. But only if I could scrap my rusty 18 yr old Accord which I donated to charity last year, and which does not qualify since it is way above 18 MPG.

  23. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Based on the cars most purchased with the clunker money, I would say American buyers are getting wiser and not going for those behemoth gas guzzlers that Detroit counted on for so many years. Too bad the next crop of more fuel efficient Detroit vehicles was not yet available for this clunker plan, but I suspect there will be more clunker plans in the future after all they have to do s just print out more money.

  24. Thor Says:

    Absolutely. Buyers were also able to buy the large powerful vehicles they wanted back when homes were going up in value and they could get cheap credit to buy them with. Now that they have to use far smaller credit sources, and especially after the $4 a gallon scare in summer 2008, they are sobering up.

    The Detroit 3 were allowed to sell cars not yet produced, the thing the imports complained about, which is OK with me.

    But the $3 billion total program is already over. (officially ends 8 pm tomorrow monday)

    Maybe they will have another before the 2010 elections, which are now shaping up as a big defeat for the Dems and the Admin.

  25. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    For years we’ve been told that Americans liked big, roomy cars yet during this clunker period, the smaller more fuel efficient models did better than the midsize vehicles from the same manufacturers, I guess folks just want to be ready, if and when $4 to $5 gas returns. Despite media bashing, you can’t do much better than Corolla, in my opinion.

  26. Thor Says:

    If you don’t need the space and power of the Corolla, you can save more, have better MPG with the Toyota Yaris 4 door or 3 door. The Honda fit is an upscale version of the same size vehicle, better designed and better driving experience,but more expensive than the Yaris.

  27. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    The Yaris is a perfect example of the automotive media blasting a vehicle for no good reason. That’s how much people pay attention to them, despite them calling the car crap, it sells pretty well, much better than the media darling Fit. They also like to make fun of the Corolla calling it an appliance, boring to drive, etc. But people vote with their wallets, I guess.