February 24th, 2010 at 12:00pm
Akio Toyoda takes the hot seat today in front of Congress and it’s not looking good. Hyundai gets Toyota fever and recalls 47,000 of the brand new 2011 Sonatas. And, the Hummer deal with Tengzhong looks like it’s dead. All that and more, plus John McElroy answers your letters about Toyota and journalistic integrity.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Akio is in the hot seat today. The brand new Hyundai Sonata is recalled. And the Hummer deal looks like its dead.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, February 24, 2010. And now, the news.
Well as I’m sure you all know, Akio Toyoda is taking the stand today at the congressional hearings in Washington. And judging by the media reaction to yesterday’s testimony from Toyota executive Jim Lentz, it’s not going well for the world’s number one car company. Political grandstanding in an election year from politicians who no nothing about how a car works spells trouble for the auto industry.
Congressmen seized on Jim Lentz’s admission that the floor mat and gas pedal fixes that Toyota is implementing will not eliminate all sudden acceleration occurrences. Lentz gingerly tried to raise the issue, got close to the issue, but never really addressed the issue of driver error. Back in the days of Audi’s unintended acceleration, NHTSA proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that driver error was the cause. Why isn’t this issue being sanely and soberly addressed in these hearings? Because in America, nothing is your fault. It’s the fault of the party that you want to sue.
Perhaps being hyper-sensitive to what’s going on right now with Toyota, Hyundai announced it will recall about 47,000 2011 Sonatas. According to Reuters, the recall will take place in South Korea and the U.S. to fix faulty door latches. Hyundai was seen as one of the automakers that could benefit the most from Toyota’s woes, but my guess is this won’t hurt Hyundai at all.
Yesterday we reported that the sale of Hummer could be done through an offshore investment group. And that’s probably the only way it could happen. Bloomberg reports that Chinese company Tengzhong won’t get government approval to buy Hummer, and probably will not be allowed to sell Hummers in China either. We’ll know for sure what’s going on this weekend though, the AFP reports, Tengzhong will make an announcement about its bid for Hummer.
But it’s not all bad news for former brands General Motors is trying to sell. Yesterday Spyker and GM finalized a deal for Spyker to acquire Saab.
An one last GM-related item.The Chevy Aveo has always been a cheap car that looks the part. But Autoblog is running these shots of the next-gen Aveo, and what a step forward. Both inside and out these pics depict a good looking car. In fact, maybe it looks too good, at least compared to the Chevy Cruze.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It! And it’s all about Toyota.
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
Ken Stadden wrote in to say, “John, Your eye-opening take on ABC’s less-than-professional reporting should be forwarded to every car owner in the U.S. Anyone who knows the automotive industry is plenty weary of seeing the mainstream press getting it all wrong on cars, especially when there are ratings to be had. Thanks for the genuine journalism.”
Ken thanks for the compliment. And believe me, I have a lot more to say about this situation. What’s going on with the media coverage and Congressional hearings is bad for the entire auto industry, not just Toyota. The industry is going to face a lot more unnecessary regulation because of this.
Pedro Fernandez watched the hearings yesterday and says: “South west airlines will use this Lentz lynching as a promo for their wanna get away commercials.”
Pedro, you have a wicked sense of humor, but you made me laugh.
And HyundaiSmoke Says: “John, As the responsible Journalist you are, why don’t you replicate the ABC experiment? If they are wrong you’ll bust them plain as day, if they are right then there is a definite wire contamination, problem that needs to be taken care of TODAY, like Today, now!!!”
HyundaiSmoke, I would love to be able to replicate the experiment that Dave Gilbert conducted for ABC News. But we don’t know what that experiment was. I’ve tried contacting Mr. Gilbert, but he certainly hasn’t responded to me. He has not published anything about the specifics of his experiment and neither has ABC. Toyota has replicated his experiment, but so far it hasn’t shared the specifics of that publicly. But I suspect we’ll have more answers on tomorrow’s show.
Joins us tomorrow night for Autoline After Hours when our guest will be Bob Boniface, one of the top designers at General Motors, and the guy who headed up the team that designed the Chevy Volt. That’s tomorrow night at 7PM eastern. Get ready with your questions for Bob Boniface.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.