Episode 274 – Chinese Target Saturn Stores, IIHS Top Safety Picks, One Sweet Porsche

November 18th, 2009 at 12:10pm

Runtime 7:06

Saturn stores may have Chinese cars on their lots by next summer. Ford really cleans up at the IIHS safety awards … well sort of, but not really. And an unexpected reveal of the sweetest Porsche you’ve ever seen. All that and more, plus John answers your questions about Porsches, footwear, reptiles and more in You Said It!

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. A Chinese automaker is interested in Saturn stores. Volvo tests a hybrid garbage truck. And Ford sweeps the IIHS safety picks…well, not exactly.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news that explain those headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, November 18, 2009. And now, the news.

Several Saturn stores may have Chinese cars on their lots by next summer (subscription required). According to Wards, a few Saturn dealers have agreed to sell Brilliance cars. The Auto-Kam Automotive Group is the official franchiser and distributor of Brilliance cars in the U.S. and says it has over 30 locations to sell vehicles including the Saturn ones. Brilliance says it will sell cars in the American market next year as long as they pass safety testing.

And speaking of safety testing, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced that 27 vehicles – 19 cars and eight SUVs – won its TOP SAFETY PICK award. To win, vehicles have to perform well in front, side, rear and rollover tests, and they must have electronic stability control. Subaru and Volkswagen/Audi each had five top picks, Chrysler won four. Ford walked away with six, but four of those wins were Volvos, the other two, were the Taurus and MKS–built on architecture borrowed from Volvo.

In other safety news, Autoblog is running a video of a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG crash test. It’s painful to watch the beautiful coupe crumple against a barrier. Interestingly, the gullwing doors have explosive charges built into them. I never thought about it, but if you were in a rollover accident you couldn’t get out of the car, so engineers designed them to pop off. The explosion isn’t too spectacular – there it is right there – but it’s cool to watch nonetheless.

Back to Volvo for a moment, but in this case Volvo truck, not Volvo cars. It’s testing a new hybrid garbage truck in London. It’s equipped with an electric motor, and a diesel engine which can be used separately or together. Volvo says the trucks use 30% less fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% as well, but thanks to the economic downturn, production is delayed until 2012.

General Motors is getting a half billion dollar tax credit from the state of Michigan to keep its headquarters in Detroit. But the Detroit Free Press reports the state is stipulating that GM keep a staff of at least 2,500 people in its headquarters, which is a requirement that GM was not expecting. It’s no secret that GM would love to transfer as many people as possible to its Tech Center in Warren, Michigan where it has a lot of empty office space. But if GM were to move its headquarters out of Detroit it would be devastating to the city. It would also be politically embarrassing to the Obama Administration. That’s why I think GM will maintain its headquarters in Detroit even if there’s only a skeleton staff there to run it.

To help celebrate the holidays, a Porsche dealer in the Netherlands completely covered a 911 Carrera S … in CHOCOLATE! According to Autoblog, it took 175 kilograms, or about 385 pounds of chocolaty goodness to do the job plus a couple kilos of white chocolate to detail the headlamps. The car will remain on display until Christmas. Now that’s a SWEET ride.

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!” where I get to comments on your comments and questions.

Earlier this week we did a story of Porsche suing Crocs, the shoe company, for naming one of its shoes the Cayman. I mentioned that I loved the story since it allowed me to use some of the pictures I took on my vacation, which prompted a bunch of you to wonder which pictures I was referring to, the Porsche, the shoe or the actual cayman?

I got a kick out of Salvador G.’s comment when he wrote in to say, “I’m going to give the benefit of doubt to JohnMc. and assume he took the pictures of the Porsche Cayman -not the actual animal cayman -nor the shoes cayman… He did take the pictures of the shoes didn’t he??? oh- the humanity.”

Salvador, I did take a picture of the animal cayman, and since you all seemed so interested in my vacation pictures, let me show you some more. Here’s a Brazilian tamarind monkey, this one looks like an ostrich but in Argentina they call it a nandu, this is a cute one they call a carpincho, and this is a giant frog.

HtG wrote in to say, and we think HtG stands for Hermann the German, but he asks, “So GM is going to start making quarterly debt payments to the US. It’s going to pay off Merkel for the Opel loans. When can I buy stock in this new company?”

Well HtG, just because they’re paying off loans isn’t enough to convince me to buy GM stock when it goes public. I still really disappointed that after going through bankruptcy, after getting rid of tens of thousands of employees, after dumping thousands of dealers, after closing all kinds of factories, after walking away from most of its debt, after slashing salaries, and getting rid of retiree healthcare, that General Motors is still losing money. Don’t even think of buying GM stock until it looks like it can make money again. And then maybe you ought to buy a lot of it.

Hey, don’t forget to vote for Autoline Daily for the podcast awards. Just go to podcastawards.com, scroll down to the business section and vote for Autoline Daily. Then check your email to verify your vote, and that will earn you our eternal gratitude.

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

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

27 Comments to “Episode 274 – Chinese Target Saturn Stores, IIHS Top Safety Picks, One Sweet Porsche”

  1. Hau Says:


    When I read the “You Said It” section I thought for sure you were going to publish pictures of Enio’s red Croc shoes!!


  2. Ron Paris Says:

    Interesting that neither Autoblog or Autoline Daily mentioned that the chocolate-dipped 911 was shrink-wrapped prior to the dipping (see picture on Autoblog’s site) so as not to destroy such a valuable asset.

  3. Jeff Cunningham Says:

    “A sweet ride”? How do you know it was not covered in “Bitter” choco?

  4. Alex Kajdi Says:


    You are so right! GM Leadership wants the Obama Administration out of Detroit so bad that they will cut off their left hand to do it. No body in there right mind would ever buy stock in the NEW GM! Once the Chinese invade the North American Car Market, say bye-bye to GM! The Chinese OEM’s will under cut GM and be in a heated battle for market share with the Germans, Japanese, Koreans and Italians (FIAT/Chrysler). Ford will survive by way of it’s partnership with Microsoft. It is ironic that Saturn was GM’s Import Fighter Brand, and now those dealerships will be selling Chinese imported vehicles. I do not blame the Saturn Dealers because they need to survive.

    I know Americans who avoid buying anything stamped “Made in China”. I believe the backlash against the Chinese Automakers will be short lived due too our short memory span.
    Once Americans realize the affordibility of these Chineses built vehicles they will be here to stay.

    GM invested Billions in China. I only hope that the Chinese OEM’s invest Billions in the USA, like the Japanese and Koreans. This will be the “Ultimate Financial Bailout”, and the Chinese language will become mandatory in the our educational system.

  5. Jeff Cunningham Says:


    Your rant is mostly Xenophobic garbage.

    it is not worth my time to rebutt every piece of nonsense you mention,

    But it is interesting that you expect the (even higher wages than in the USA!) German and Japanese Importers to continue to thrive against your imaginary CHinese Juggernaut.

    How come?

    Why are you assuming that the Detroit 3 are so incredibly incompetent that they will continue to lose home games to the luxury imports for another 35 (or much more!) years, and blame everybody but themselves for it? (and preferably the Chinese and the Long Suffering American Consumer, for the continued Detroit Woes).

  6. Jim Sachetti Says:


    I think I can safely assume you were mighty glad to see that demagogue clown Lou Dobbs have his butt kicked off CNN? I sure was.. LOL.

  7. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    John, I want to park that Porsche in front of a weight watchers meeting place. I would like to think Chinese cars won’t do well here, with all the problems they’ve had with some of their products, but then I remember the Yugo and the original Hyundais and the Smart and oh well, the temptation of a new car for less money that we have seen here for many, many years might be too tempting for some folks to resist.

  8. HtG Says:

    Sie haben recht, Johannes!

  9. Nick Stevens Says:

    Recht ueber was? Johann hat ueber vieles gesprochen

  10. Frank Nelson Says:

    I am reasonably sure that people would buy Chinese-made vehicles. It is hard to find many items in a Wal-Mart that are not made in China, and people are snapping them up. If it has reasonable (read comensurate) quality for the price, it will sell. I know of few people that are that adamant that any item they buy is produced in the U.S. Value for the money will carry the day.

  11. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Question for all participants: would you buy a new Chinese car? unknown quality, if the price is right.

  12. Salvador G. Says:

    1. On the Volvo’s garbage truck = that’s the kind of idea I like to ask… Why didn’t anyone think of it sooner? diesel/electric hybrid- Now, I know there are a lot of companies converting their fleet to hybrids like Fedex and the Postal service who are planning to change their fleet to hybrids, but you realize that this are efforts made by individual commercial and delivery companies, and are not from commercial trucks making companies.

    Example: The Ford Transit Connect, -Did Ford offer a Transit with a diesel/electric engine?? and why not?? (I think it only offers one type of engine, but I may be wrong – haven’t check)

    Trucks that have to make constant stops during a work day, shouldn’t be that much of an EURECKA moment, they are an obvious choice for hybrids -Diesel/electric hybrids.

    2. What Porsche should had done, is dip that 911 in gold paint and try to sell it, hopefully that way Porshe can pay it’s debt.

    3. GM is getting 1/2 a billion on tax credit, O-ok -Can GM count that as profit considering the 250 million profit that they claim made this year so far???

    4. You know Mercedez is going to come up with lunch seats one of this days. I wonder if we can even called a Merc. A car? is it still a car??

    5. Pedro, even I know there was a time in this country when people asked… Would Americans buy a Japanese car of unknown quality and the right price?

    Finally, To JohnMc; you know the funny thing about your vacation is that everyone here guess right… You were in South-America, you sly-dog you.


  13. paulstewart Says:

    Jim Sachetti, yes I should have typed 1972 not 2002. But Nixon who, yes was A Repbulican if not in economic policy was still a Republican. And yes he began the ever so slow thaw of the relation.

  14. paulstewart Says:

    I’ll be more than happy to buy you lunch in Livonia Mich where John’s studio is and talk like Gentlemen. Honest.

  15. Max Christensen Says:

    @ Pedro

    “Question for all participants: would you buy a new Chinese car? unknown quality, if the price is right.”

    If it were obviously a POS (such as you could see with Yugo’s or early Kia’s), no. But if it looked like it had decent quality built into it, absolutely YES.

  16. John V Says:

    Salvadore G.
    to point 1: The EPA and Eaton did think of it about 5 years ago. Except their hybrid garbage truck (tested on the hills of San Francisco, CA) used hydraulic storage. Not only did it save about 40% in fuel, but it saved over $14,000 per year in brake repairs that normally go with the start/stop duty cycle of a garbage truck. The add on was about 500 lb, but that was not that significant in the trucks.

  17. jeff mohr Says:

    The possibility of China etc. taking over the USA auto industry is real bad. The knowledge lost from the enormity of the business itself and the generational learning machine created from working at a manufacturing plant is beyond imagination. cant replace it with any degree.

  18. Dave Says:

    And the way the US goverment works they will the China vehicles to be sold here with very low taxes and import fees. And they will not force China to do anything to help our companies. “free trade” ya right

  19. Salvador G. Says:

    Thanks John V, and probably Eaton technology is in that Volvo garbage truck, but my point more being the fact that it is not American car/commercial truck manufacturers who develop this technology and it is in fact companies like Fedex that made the smart decision to convert their truck fleet to hybrids using this technology develop by Eaton.

    Which is why…
    Example: Ford Motors Co. who sells the Ford Transit Connect, did not develop or offer a hybrid diesel/electric engine for the Transit Connect… so WHY can’t Ford Motors Co, can’t think of something like this?

  20. Andrew Charles Says:

    I think the standard 1 and 2-star safety ratings would discourage most people.

  21. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The first 2 years of the Ford Focus had more NHTSA recalls than the Yugo and Hyundai Excel in their first 2 years here put together, believe it or not. Little Known Fact.

    Anyway, the Chinese makes will make it here, as well as the Indians. MG started to sell special order cars in the US in 2002. So, if you want to get technical about it, the Chinese are here already.

    If the Koreans in the Beginning destroyed the used car market, the Chinese will destroy Public Transporation, as eveybody will be able to afford a brand new car that’s a little more reliable than a used car, and gets 50 MPG in a Focus Sized Body.

  22. Jim Sachetti Says:

    “paulstewart Says:
    November 18th, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Jim Sachetti, yes I should have typed 1972 not 2002. ”

    You did not, it was me that mentioned 1972 vs 2002 to emphasize that in 1972, Chine was useless as a trading partner, and that Nixon shrewdly exploited the Sino-Soviet differences and made friends with the Grotesque Murderer of 65 million, Mao, only for geo-political reasons and not for trade or economic ones.

    I could care less if Nixon was a republican or not, in economics he was to the left of the Dems when he inmposed his idiotic, failed, Wage and price controls. Ask any economist.

  23. Jim Sachetti Says:


    Even if no one in this group of people that know far more about cars than the average Joe, (and especially than the average Jane!) would consider buying a chinese car, especially before their reliability and durability is proven,

    that does not mean that millions of others would not either.

    I have no reason to believe that the Chinese cannot be as successful as the Koreans 20 years from now, or even 10, if they learn fast. It took Hyundai at least that long.

  24. Jim Sachetti Says:

    As of today, China is a huge market for cars made in China or ABroad, even bigger than the shrunk US Market this year! But their exports are TINY, even India, a much, much smaller economy, exports more cars than CHina does.

    It will take decades for China to satisfy its own thirst for cars and export them instead.

  25. Jonathan Says:

    HyundaiSmoke Says:”The first 2 years of the Ford Focus had more NHTSA recalls than the Yugo and Hyundai Excel in their first 2 years here put together, believe it or not. Little Known Fact.”

    I was a mechanic when these cars where first intruduced in the country. The Hyundai was basically a Dodge Colt in disguise with Mitsu drive train. Except for the crappy materials, it was not a bad little car. Rust wise it was not far behind the Jap cars of the day. The only thing really wrong with the Yugo was it was a total odd ball, and never seen a car depreciate like they did. A 2 year old car could be had for $500.

  26. Nick Stevens Says:

    The Yugo was not some exotic car, it was an old FIat Design. Those of you that have high hopes that Fiat will save chrysler, have that in mind. Fiat can barely save itself…LOL

  27. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    You got a point Johnathan.

    Well Nick the FIAT Grande Punto, now called Punto is the least reliable subcompact in Europe. Even the Chinese rattletraps that are sold in some European Countries are more reliable. FIAT Punto=Dodge Hornet