Episode 239 – Toyota Issues Huge Recall, Fiat Dumps Magna, Tokyo Sneak Peek

September 30th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:07

Toyota is facing a recall of over 3-million vehicles, it’s biggest recall ever. Fiat won’t renew a contract with Magna to build Chrysler vehicles in Europe. A peek at some of the concept cars coming to the Tokyo auto show. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions in the “You Said It!” segment.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Toyota launches a safety recall involving floormats. Fiat dumps Magna-Steyr. And a peek at some of the concept cars coming to the Tokyo auto show.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, September 30, 2009. And now, the news.

Toyota is facing a recall of over 3-million vehicles, it’s biggest recall ever, involving some of its most popular Lexus and Toyota vehicles. The recall involves floor mats which can get caught on the gas pedal and force the car into full acceleration. A tragic accident in California last month killed four family members who’s Lexus hit 120 miles an hour before it crashed. One of the people in the car had called 911 saying the floor mat was caught under the accelerator. I’ve had this happen to me, where a floor mat got stuck. Here’s what you do: push on the brake pedal. No matter how high the engine is running, no matter how fast the car is going, the brakes will always bring the car to a stop. If the mat is bunched up under the brake pedal, put the car in neutral, or, turn the engine off. For now, Toyota is advising customers to remove the driver’s floor mat.

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne announced that it won’t renew a contract with Magna-Steyr to build Chrysler vehicles in Europe (subscription required). According to the Wall Street Journal, production will move to Bertone, which Fiat purchased in August. Fiat will invest 150 million euros or nearly $220 million in the plant over the next three years. Magna builds the 300C and Jeep Grand Cherokee for European markets.

Chrysler also announced that its VP of Manufacturing, Frank Ewasyshyn, will go on temporary medical leave. He will be replaced on an interim basis by Scott Garberding. The company also announced that Dan Knott, will become the Head of Purchasing on an interim basis. Speaking of management shake-ups, the Detroit News reports that GM’s Executive Director of Global Vehicle Engineering for Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries, Bob Kruse, has left the company. Kruse led a team that focused on testing, designing and integrating the battery into the Volt and he also worked on GM’s long-term EV strategy. Kruse is leaving to start his own consulting firm.

Recently Hyundai announced that the Equus is coming to the U.S. Now, the automaker is building a stretched version of its flagship sedan (subscription required). The Stretch Equus gets an optional 5.0-liter V8 with 395 horsepower. Pricing starts at about $113,000, but the company says it is not coming to the U.S., and yet it made sure that reporters here got pictures of this car.

Even though many automakers have bowed out of this year’s Tokyo Motor Show, there are still some interesting reveals planned for the event. Subaru will show off a concept called the Hybrid Tourer, which looks kind of like a minivan but with huge, gull-wing doors. It features a hybrid-electric drivetrain with a turbocharged boxer engine, two electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack.

Honda has a handful of unveilings planned for the show, too. And just like Subaru, it will show off a minivan-esq concept vehicle. The Skydeck is a hybrid people mover with some weird doors. Inside, it offers an open, airy cabin with configurable seating.

The tiny EV-N concept looks like an old Honda 600. It sports an electric drivetrain plus some wacky features. The seat fabric can be swapped, and the door panel has integrated storage for the company’s U3-X electric unicycle.

Honda will also debut a third hybrid vehicle, the CR-Z hatchback. It should have a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine and possibly even a six-speed manual transmission. Of all the company’s reveals this one looks the most production ready, and it looks like it might actually be fun to drive.

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!” which gives me a chance to respond to some of your questions and comments.

A number of you saw our report on how Nissan is consulting with musicians to come up with a noise for its electric car, the Leaf, so that pedestrians can hear it coming. I made some snide remark that I want my electric car to sound like a 16-cylinder radial engine at redline, and we showed a clip of a B-17 firing up. That prompted several comments.

Ken Stadden wrote in to say, “Of course by now you’ve probably been reminded ad nauseum that four-stroke radial engines always have odd numbers of cylinders per row!”

Well, I have to admit that I was not aware that radials only came with odd numbers of cylinders per row.

And Tom Tyson wrote in to say, “The B-17 that was shown was powered by a Curtis-Wright R1800 nine-cylinder radial.”

All I can say is that I love the fact that our audience is so knowledgeable.

Finally, amer1cancer2753 saw our report on how Hyundai is dropping V-6 engines in the next-generation Sonata, which comes out next year and asks: “Will the Hyundai Sonata have a 2.0-liter turbo like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe or will it just have a high-displacement four-cylinder?”

Good question, and Hyundai isn’t saying, at least not yet. But it would make sense to offer a turbo as an option in the Sonata as a replacement for the V-6. However, my test drive of the Genesis Coupe shows that 2.0-liter turbo has some real NVH issues. NVH is the industry jargon for noise, vibration and harshness..

That’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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28 Comments to “Episode 239 – Toyota Issues Huge Recall, Fiat Dumps Magna, Tokyo Sneak Peek”

  1. Nick Stevens Says:

    John’s advice is 100% correct re the Toyota recall.

    PS Only in America, infested with bloodsucking lawyers, would a top automaker like AUdi be brought to its knees in the 80s after the hatchet job the auto illiterate idiots in 60 mins did over the very similar “unintended acceleration” problem Audis had back then. TOyota learned the lesson from the Devastated Audi of the 80s, and did not take any chances.

    This 100% “STUPID DRIVER” problem will now be seized by the Import (and especially TOyota) haters all over the web…I have already seen the first gems of nonsense fired at it…

  2. Jim Sachetti Says:

    Nick: Fully agree with your points.

    On another news item today, I especially liked the Honda Hybrid WAGON-ish design. Honda has one last opportunity to do well in Hybrids, so far it has failed. And it needs to sell the hybrid wagon BEFORE Toyota brings a PRIUS Wagon eventually to the market.

    Honda used to have wagons, both Civic and Accord, and it was a very unfortunate decision for the consumers that it dropped both, forcing Honda fans to buy the heavier, more expensive, and unnecessarily so, CR-V (that sells a mind-boggling number of units for its body style) and the Element and all these other POS with much worse MPG than the wagon, and esp, the HYBRID wagon, will fetch.

  3. Thor Says:

    “Nick Stevens Says:
    September 30th, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    John’s advice is 100% correct re the Toyota recall.

    PS Only in America, infested with bloodsucking lawyers, would a top automaker like AUdi be brought to its knees in the 80s after the hatchet job the auto illiterate idiots in 60 mins did over the very similar “unintended acceleration” problem Audis had back then. TOyota learned the lesson from the Devastated Audi of the 80s, and did not take any chances.”


    You hit the nail 100% on the head.

    This is SO Silly. Only in America, with its god damned lawyers. We are indeed going to hell in a handbasket, if these clowns can basically blackmail manufacturers to recall 4 million PERFECTLY FINE VEHICLES just because their RETARDED, AUTO ILLITERATE Drivers can’t replace (or just put out of the way of the gas pedal) their stupid mats!!!!

    Despite fully knowing we are in a litigious society, I STILL can’t believe this is actually happening, and the silly conspiracy theories I read in some far more populous websites than this one (you must have noticed my recent absence… LOL) are even harder to believe.. But in 300,000,000 people you will find thousands that believe in all kinds of nonsense, UFOs included.

  4. Thor Says:

    Where’s everybody else? Did Paul Stewart’s team of shrinks remember to open a few holes in his box? Hope so..LOL.

  5. PaulStewart Says:

    Sorry larsweenie aka thor unlike your current round of Psycotherapy and please I don’t care for your man-love term of Lots Of Love applied my way, lawyers are a needed lot in society though abuses do occur. If your ever in Michigan I’ll be happy to have a polite discussion in the Wayne or Oakland county area. I promise it would be polite and done in a gentlemen – like manner. John records his show in Livonia, that might be a nice area.Up to you.

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    John is correct that the brakes will hold back even the most powerful cars, and, with today’s cars with rev limiters, you can even take them out of gear without blowing the engine in a few seconds.

    That said, it looks like Toyota can learn something from GM. My ’06 Malibu has floor mats with hooks going through grommeted holes near the rear of the mats, so they cannot slide forward. I assume Toyota did not do this in the recalled cars.

  7. Thor Says:

    LOL.. see how fast that sick, pathetic creature rose to the bait…

  8. Thor Says:


    it is not the mat’s fault. GEEZ! It is the STUPID DRIVER’s fault,

    and the only reason TOyota recalled them is the GOD DAMNED LAWYERS and 60 minutes goons who would not resist an opportunity to drag toyota thru mud to line their worthless pockets, and for sensationalist TV ratings.

    And you got it 110% BACKWARDS. It is GM that has 1,000s of things to learn from Toyota, and had three decades to learn them, and failed miserably, basically WENT BROKE, after losing Home games to the Japanese Imports, and, more humiliatingly, losing home games in the Luxury segment to German Imports mostly, every year for 30 years.

    And now you and I will have to shell out $100 billion to keep these arrogant losers employed… Sickening.

  9. JerryG Says:

    At full throttle there will be no vacuum to brake booster. If the car is already going over 60 when throttle sticks wide open it would be difficult for someone with not real strong legs to stop that car. Putting the car in neutral first is the best way to get it stopped.

  10. Alan Says:

    Wait a minute! All car makers have floor mats that can come loose, but none get lodged underneath the accelerator like in the Toyota. The issue is not the floor mat, but the floor mat fix is the band-aid to the real problem. It ain’t the lawyers in this case.

  11. Jim Sachetti Says:

    it IS th estupid lawyers, and it is NOT just Toyota. many other makers have mats that intrude in the gas pedal, and all mats will do so if not securely fastened with wither clips or velcro. The ones that had the accident are called “MORONS” in other websites, such as the very popular “The Truth about Cars”, and this by people that are experts.

    Cars are not Televisions, they are lethal weapons, and auto illiterates, morons or both should NOT so easily be allowed to drive them.

    And of course it is the damned lawyers, if not for them, TOyota would have never bothered to do the very expensive recall of 4 million PERFECTLY FINE Autos, instead of telling the above clueless people to JUST THROW THE dRIVER’S SEAT MATS Away. (It already told them exactly that, but due to the effing, damned scum of the earth lawyers, it HAD to recall them too!) Here, problem solved.

  12. PaulStewart Says:

    Once again the subpar comic-book non-hero has spoken.He only has short hair beneath the waist. Well, when you grow a pair talk like a man.It’s time to grow up and look in the mirror and be proud of your own family name.

  13. Scott Colf in Ypsi Says:

    The B-17 engine is 1,820 cubic inches,(r-1820) btw. You said 1,800. I love the the show!!!

  14. motorman Says:

    my 2008 corvette has the floor mats anchored to the carpet by built in plastic clips to prevent the mats from moving.this system has been used since 1997 when the C-5 corvette came out

  15. Dan Keefe Says:

    I agree the Toyota floormat problem is only a problem for the galactically ignorant, but why is the Toyota Tacoma frame rust problem allowed to go unreported? Tacomas are rusting away due to a manufacturing error, and although there have been no known crashes that I’ve heard about, Toyota has been able to keep this under the radar of the popular press. This affects close to 1M vehicles in Toyota’s estimate, and a lot more if you read web accounts of people with even 2000 & 2001 model year Tacomas with the problem. Toyota has a real problem here.

    Toyota is paying off people who can show rust perforation, but holes in the frame or not, it has reduced the residual value of the vehicles.

  16. Dan Keefe Says:

    BTW, I LOVE the Honda CR-Z hatchback. It brings back fond memories of my ’90 CRX Si.

  17. volt230 Says:

    This just in: GM to close Saturn, talks with Penske collapsed.

  18. toyotaman Says:

    Well, Saturn is also going bye, bye. Anyone surprised by the news?

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Penske has pulled out of the Saturn deal. See:

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    re. Saturn, also see:

  21. Blucat2000 Says:

    Wow some very strong reactions to the idiots driving cars out there. Is everyone an idiot? The accident caused the loss of 4 lives. SHame on you to call them idiots. When you’re cart locks into full acceleration you might anic in the right environment. That vehicle has a design problem. Nothing located near that pedal and not securely bolted down should ever not be considered in the control engineering of the car. And to echo another writer, thank god we have attorneys to help settle these problems. Imagine if that was your family.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Thor” wrote:
    And you got it 110% BACKWARDS. It is GM that has 1,000s of things to learn from Toyota, and had three decades to learn them,”

    Every car company can learn things from every other car company, and I pointed out an area where GM did a better job than Toyota in one area. Forget recalls and law suits, it is nice to have floor mats that don’t move forward when you’re driving.

    Now, GM has more to learn about making money than about making cars. My Malibu Maxx has been a very good car for the money, and the new Malibu is even better, except that they don’t have a hatchback any more. Cadillac’s current offerings are competitive with similarly priced Lexi, and the new Buick LaCrosse competes well with the Lexus ES.

  23. Jonathan Says:

    Dan Keefe wrote: “Toyota Tacoma frame rust problem”

    Toyota has always have a frame rot problem on thier boxed truck chassis. I owned 1983 and 1984 pickups, and both frames rotted in 10 years. I worked as a mechanic in the 80′s and 90′s, and used to see Toyota trucks break in half from frame rot. It was ashame because they were the best mini-truck of their day.

  24. Thor Says:

    If you remember, I strongly questioned the wisdom of PEnske’s sticking his nose in Saturn, and was told that he was very successful in everything he did so far (as if I did not know..), but I replied that even the smartest (or allegedly smartest) people make big mistakes, see Napoleon invaded Russia!

    It turns out Penske was wiser than that. GM will not close doen Saturn, one of its greatest, silliest blunders, and one that resulted in Oldsmobile, a brand with over 100 years of history, be closed down so that Saturn would survive with its pathetic offerings and most recently with its copycat rebadged Opels.

    Good riddance to bad rubbish!

  25. Jonathan Says:

    I agree that GM should kept Olds in favor Saturn. They should have learned from the rebadged blunder formally know as Geo. Olds had some great history, like GM’s remaining marques. I thought that GM should have offed Buick and kept Pontiac, but if my GM history memory dosen’t fail me. Buick was the first brand that Billy Durant formed into GM, and that Louis Chevrolet raced Buicks for Durant before they partered and he stole Chevrolet’s name.

  26. David Says:

    I’m good with Bridgestone tires, but could you get them to do another ad. Very, very tedious after the 1000th time.

  27. Nick Stevens Says:


    Far better brands than Saturn, Buick and even Pontiac have died in the first 100 years of autos. Packard in particular was as upscale as a ROlls Royce, the choice of Heads of state both in the West but even in the FSU! ANd of course the unbeatable uebercar, the Duesenberg…

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Jonathan wrote:
    “I agree that GM should kept Olds in favor Saturn. They should have learned from the rebadged blunder formally know as Geo.”

    Geo was to Chevy what Scion is to Toyota, another name used for marketing purposes, but fully understood only by marketing people. Probably Geo made a certain amount of sense at the time, and, like Scion, it didn’t cost much to have it as an extra sub-brand.