February 25th, 2010 at 12:12pm
Authorities around the world raid the offices of Japanese automotive suppliers. Honda admits that it expanded too fast and quality suffered. Fiat prepares to launch a 2-cylinder engine. Alfa Romeo gets ready to launch the Giulietta and Porsche will show the new Cayenne at Geneva. All that and more!
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Authorities around the world raid the offices of Japanese automotive electronics suppliers. Honda admits it too expanded too fast. And Fiat gets ready to launch a 2-cylinder engine.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, February 25, 2010. And now, the news.
And the big news, as you all know, was Akio Toyoda’s testifying in Congress yesterday. In fact, his appearance made worldwide headlines. He gave a heartfelt apology and bravely withstood the badgering he got from an outwardly polite but decidedly hostile group of Congressmen. So did we learn anything new at these hearings? No nothing at all. The only thing we can be sure of is that all this is going to lead to more regulation of the auto industry, but it will not lead to less unintended acceleration.
Reuters reports that at a press conference in Japan yesterday, Honda’s president Takanubo Ito said that all car brands suffer from unintended acceleration, including Honda. But he also says that when Honda switched from mechanical to electronic throttle controls there was no noticeable change in the number of cases of unintended acceleration. Ito added that they bombard their cars with electromagnetic interference that goes way beyond what the law requires, and says EMI is not the culprit. And so we can add his voice to the chorus of automotive executives who say electronics are not the cause of unintended acceleration.
Ito also admitted that, like Toyota, Honda also expanded too fast in the 1990’s and started seeing quality problems and recalls. He said they focused too much on expansion and not on customers. But as the complaints came in, Honda got back to basics, and largely put those problems behind it.
In other Honda news, the company announced the price for the CRZ in Japan. The car will be priced at $25,400, which is probably close to what the price will be in the US and Europe. That’s kind of pricey for the small two-seater, and Honda seems to know that too. It’s sales target is only 40-50,000 cars a year, worldwide.
Here’s yet another story related to Japan, and this one is a bombshell. A worldwide investigation into Japanese automotive suppliers, especially suppliers to Toyota, was launched yesterday. In the United States, the FBI raided the offices of Denso, Yazaki and Tokai Rica. In Europe, authorities raided a number of unnamed suppliers, the Wall Street Journal reports. And in Japan the offices of Yazaki, Sumitomo and Furukawa were raided. These are sealed investigations, meaning authorities are not saying why they’re doing this. But the Journal says this has nothing to do with the Toyota unintended acceleration cases. Instead, authorities are trying to bust up an anti-competitive cartel in automotive electronics. American and European suppliers have complained for years about how difficult it is to become suppliers to Japanese car companies, especially to Toyota.
Oh boy, there’s still a lot of news left. Coming up next, a look at the new Alfa Romeo Giulietta, the new Porsche Cayenne, and a 2-cylinder engine that Fiat is coming out with. Back in a matter of seconds.
Alfa Romeo will unveil the new Giulietta at next month’s Geneva show. The car will showcase the company’s “compact” architecture that will be used in future vehicles. The underbody is made of high and ultra-high strength materials. It features a new suspension and a new electric power steering system that is integrated with the active safety systems. It’s a flexible structure that can be used for multiple wheelbases for a family of vehicles.
Porsche will also show the new Cayenne at Geneva. It’s longer than the previous model. And it’s offered with 5 engine choices: a V6, a V8, a diesel, a turbo V8 and a hybrid. The hybrid gets around 34 MPG, that’s about 8.2 l/100km. All engines except the hybrid have the option of a 8 speed transmission with start/stop technology. The new Cayenne goes on sale this May in Europe with a starting price of 46,400 euros.
And last but not least, Fiat will show off a two-cylinder engine at Geneva. The 85 horsepower, 900cc engine will be shown in a Fiat 500, the first model it will be introduced in this September. It features Fiat’s Multiair system. Power for the new family of two-cylinder engines ranges from 65 to 105 horsepower and can reduce CO2 emissions by 30%.
One last news item, and you could consider it a gift for car thieves. A new device called the Electronic Key Impressioner, allows the user to copy car keys just by scanning the lock. Popular Mechanics reports that the device electronically maps the inside of car locks and then provides the key code within seconds via USB cable connection to a computer. So far it only works for Ford vehicles.
Joins us to night for Autoline After Hours when our guest will be Bob Boniface, one of the top designers at General Motors, and the guy who designed the Chevy Camaro Concept, the Sequel Concept Car and the Chevy Volt. That’s tonight at 7 PM 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.