January 29th, 2010 at 12:00pm
America’s lawyers and politicians line up to take on Toyota. Car sales in China could hit 15 million this year with help from government incentives and rising incomes in the country. Volkswagen will establish its own high-performance division like Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M. All that and more, plus a preview of t his week’s Autoline Detroit about whether or not the government should be picking winners and losers when it comes to alternative cars and energy, or if it should be the market making those decisions?
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. America’s lawyers and politicians line up to take on Toyota. Car sales in China could hit 15 million this year. And VW starts a new line of performance cars.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, January 29, 2010. And now, the news.
As Toyota broadened its recall, America jumped into action. American politicians and lawyers, that is. The Wall Street Journal reports that plaintiff attorneys are lining up to file class-action lawsuits to sue Toyota (subscription required) over lower resale values that owners are likely to face. And to recover the cost of getting alternative transportation while waiting for their cars to get fixed. Then, over in the House of Representatives, Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is going to hold hearings to find out why it took Toyota years to respond to unintended acceleration reports that NHTSA was getting.
Here’s some good news for Toyota. Yesterday we reported how GM and Ford were offering special incentives to Toyota buyers to lure them into their showrooms. But Hyundai says it is not going to do anything like that.
And Ford is stopping production of the Transit in China because it uses the same kind of pedal that Toyota is recalling, even though Ford has not received any complaints involving those vehicles.
Last year the U.S. Department of Energy approved a loan for Nissan to build the Leaf, its electric car in Tennessee. But now, according to Ward’s, the automaker won’t be getting as much as it initially thought. Nissan will get $1.4 billion (subscription required) instead of $1.6 billion from the government. During the loan process, efficiencies were found that resulted in the lower loan. The company declined to say what those were. All I can say is can you imagine the Japanese government giving over a billion dollars to an American company, for anything?
China’s auto sales are expected to slow from last year’s pace but will still see significant growth this year. According to the Wall Street Journal, a Chinese official says sales could hit 15 million this year (subscription required) with help from government incentives and rising incomes in the country. That’s about a 10 percent increase from 2009 sales which were nearly a 50 percent jump from the year before.
In related news, five Chinese automakers hit sales of at least 1-million units in 2009. According to Gasgoo, SAIC led the way with sales of 2.7 million vehicles, FAW came in second with 1.95 million, that was followed by Dongfeng Motors with 1.89 million units, fourth went to Changan Auto with 1.87 million, and rounding out the top 5 was Beijing Auto with sales of 1.24 million. The top-10 automakers in China accounted for 87 percent of sales last year.
Bloomberg reports that Fiat technology could improve Chrysler’s efficiency by up to 18 percent. Two big innovations that can cut fuel consumption include a dual-clutch automatic transmission – which is said to launch later this year on a redesigned, midsize Chrysler sedan – and an innovative valve-control system called Multi-Air. CEO Sergio Marchionne aims to increase the fleet-wide efficiency of Chrysler vehicles 25 percent by 2014.
Edmunds.com Inside Line reports that Volkswagen will establish its own high-performance division like Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M. Called “R” or “R GmBH,” it’s said to be an extension of VW Individual, a European catalog of aftermarket parts. According to Inside Line, the R Division of the company’s Wolfsburg factory will build high-performance models from the ground up. Already we’ve seen a 266 horsepower Golf R with 4-Motion all-wheel-drive and the Scirocco R with 261 ponies. Look for an official announcement at the Geneva Motor Show in March.
Coming up next, should the government be picking winners and losers when it comes to alternative cars and energy, or should the market make those decisions?
As you may know we were in Washington DC earlier this week and we shot Autoline Detroit there with Daniel Weiss, with the very liberal Center for American Progress, and with Fred Smith from the very conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Ron Cogan, of Green Car Journal, kind of in the middle. Here’s a sound bite that ought to get you to want to watch the whole debate.
That’s this week’s Autoline Detroit which you can watch at our website at www.autolinedetroit.tv.
Ok, it’s Friday and you know what that means. It’s time to answer this week’s trivia question. We asked you to identify the term for one of the key principles of the Toyota Production System, or Lean Manufacturing, that’s used to match the pace of work to the average pace of customer demand. And the correct answer is it’s Takt Time. As always we randomly selected this week’s winner from all the right answers. And the winner is Tom Stuart from Jamestown, New York. Congratulations Tom, you’ve just won an Autoline Detroit coffee mug.
And that’s it for a week that was heavy with a lot of breaking news. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.