Episode 355 – Attorneys Discredit Toyota, Daimler Gets Nailed for Bribery, Japan Gets New Automaker

March 24th, 2010 at 12:09pm

Runtime 6:40

Plaintiff attorneys ramp up the PR blitz to discredit Toyota’s electronic throttle controls. Daimler gets slammed with a mega fine after a Chrysler employee uncovers evidence of Bribery. Yet another contender steps into the EV ring as Japan gets a new automaker with an unusual pedigree. All that and much more, plus a ton of hot car unveils and one very ugly one.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. The plaintiff attorneys discredit Toyota’s electronic controls. Daimler gets nailed in a bribery case. And a new car company is about to get started in Japan.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, March 24, 2010. And now, the news.

The plaintiff attorneys are cranking up their PR blitz to discredit Toyota’s electronic controls in its cars, the Detroit Free Press reports. Yesterday in Washington in a press conference moderated by Joan Claybrook, the former head of NHTSA in the Carter Administration, lawyers and electronics experts charged that Toyota’s electronics are deficient because they don’t detect problems that could lead to unintended acceleration. The effort is being led by lawyer Tom Murray, who has been suing automakers for 20 years over this issue.

Meanwhile, the Detroit News reports that Toyota is putting enormous pressure on other automakers by coming out with the most generous rebates it has ever offered. Toyota’s incentives have jumped from an average of $1500 before the unintended acceleration mess started to more than $2700 right now. Other automakers are being forced to react to Toyota’s move and it’s expected to hurt their profitability.

Even though the media in Europe and the United States have largely panned the Honda CR-Z hybrid, car buyers in Japan are snapping it up at a rate that greatly exceeds Honda’s sales expectations. The company had expected to sell 1,000 a month. But it already has 10,000 orders on hand. Honda is benefiting from generous sales incentives in Japan for hybrids, and from all the bad publicity that Toyota has run into.

Daimler will pay a fine of $185 million to the U.S. government over bribery. The company paid tens of millions in bribes to officials in at least 22 different countries. The Detroit Free Press reports it was an auditor at Chrysler who discovered a secret set of books at Daimler to handle bribes, and he blew the whistle. It says Daimler paid bribes from Greece to North Korea and even to Saddam Hussein under the oil for food program.

Japan is about to get a new car company. Nano-Optonics announced it will start building electric cars. What makes this so interesting is that it’s a company that makes high-tech telescopes for deep space exploration. According to Bloomberg, the company will build 1,000 units starting next year and hopes to increase that 100,000 but no time frame was announced.

BMW is looking at several sites to build a carbon fiber plant in North America. According to MotoringFile, the company is looking at a site in Washington state and an unnamed Canadian city. The carbon fiber material will likely be used for its upcoming electric vehicles. BMW is looking to move some production to North America because of cheaper material and labor.

Kia is being sued over a song it used in an ad during this year’s Super Bowl. According to The Car Connection, Drive-In Music is suing Kia for using a song called “How You Like Me Now” by The Heavy in its Kia Sorento ad. Drive-In claims the song is a rip-off of a song called “Let a Woman Be a Woman, Let a Man Be a Man” by Dyke and the Blazers. The suit seems like a nothing more than a money grab because the NFL and CBS are also being sued as well.

Coming up next, it’s time to take a look at a lot of cars that will warm the hearts of all enthusiasts.

Car nuts, enthusiasts, aficionados, lend me your eyes. Here are a number of new performance cars that are making their debut. Autoblog says that Panoz will unveil its new sports car, the Abruzzi at the 24 Hours of LeMans this June. It will replace the Panoz Esperante.

Ford is holding the press launch of the new Mustang in Southern California right now, and Autoline Daily will have more on the car as soon as the embargo comes off next week. But Autoblog is running this shot that shows what happens when you drop a V-6 with 305 horsepower and 280 pound feet of torque in the car.

We all drooled over the Mercedes SLS when it was unveiled and now we better tie some bibs around our necks. AMG just came out with this race car version of the SLS that Mercedes will sell to customers. As you can see there are all kinds of cool carbon-fiber add-ons to enhance the car’s downforce.

And finally, Fast Lane Daily scooped everyone with this picture of the Ferrari 599 GTO. They’re talking about a 700 horsepower V-12 and 0-60 times of 3.9 seconds. Only 500 will be built, and it will carry a price tag of $400,000.

OK, now we need all you enthusiasts to close your eyes. Close them tight. Here’s General Motor’s vision of the future, its answer to an overcrowded planet. They call it EN-V, short for electric, networked vehicle. This is actually the evolution of GM’s PUMA concept, an all-electric, fully autonomous, 2-seater, commuter car. It weighs 500 kilograms and can travel 40 kilometers on a charge. GM unveiled the EN-V in Shanghai this morning, where it potentially sees a big market for this kind of vehicle.

And 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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29 Comments to “Episode 355 – Attorneys Discredit Toyota, Daimler Gets Nailed for Bribery, Japan Gets New Automaker”

  1. dcars Says:

    I guess Daimler paid the wrong guys! Seams like sweet revenge for Chrysler. The real problem with M&B’s ownership of Chrysler was bad management laced with large doses of arrogance.

  2. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Meanwhile, the Detroit News reports that Toyota is putting enormous pressure on other automakers by coming out with the most generous rebates it has ever offered. Toyota’s incentives have jumped from an average of $1500 before the unintended acceleration mess started to more than $2700 right now.”

    By omitting that Gm and Chrysler and probably Ford too were offering Far bigger rebates BEFORE Toyota was forced to offer its above MODEST rebates, the reader may get the wrong impression.

  3. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Even though the media in Europe and the United States have largely panned the Honda CR-Z hybrid, car buyers in Japan are snapping it up at a rate that greatly exceeds Honda’s sales expectations. The company had expected to sell 1,000 a month. But it already has 10,000 orders on hand. Honda is benefiting from generous sales incentives in Japan for hybrids, and from all the bad publicity that Toyota has run into.”

    John, again you ommitted the most important info, which is that Honda hopes to sell only 45,000 of these models a YEAR, which makes it utterly insignificant and not able, by itself, to provide any serious cash to Honda, as can the million-a-year (worldwide) Civic, Accord, and even the CR-V in the US.

  4. Nick Stevens Says:

    “They call it EN-V, short for electric, networked vehicle.”

    I call it a cheap vacuum cleaner, it looks like the smaller of our two vacuums. And the range of 40 claimed KILOMETERS is LUDICROUSLY small, given that most elecrics have a REAL life range which is HALF the claimed one.

    Try again, GM, and cut the silliness this time!

  5. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Fast Lane Daily scooped everyone with this picture of the Ferrari 599 GTO. They’re talking about a 700 horsepower V-12 and 0-60 times of 3.9 seconds. Only 500 will be built, and it will carry a price tag of $400,000.”

    The race to 1,000 HP? But wait, the Veyron is already there.

    And at $400k each, a run of 500 is plenty.

  6. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS the porsche Turbo has MUCH lower acceleration 0-60 with barely 500 HP than the Ferrari has with 700 hp, AND costs half the price of the Ferrari or less.

  7. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS If max needs help with his counting, I got 6 of the first 7 posts, ie about 85% of the total!

  8. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Wow, Ferrari does it again. (eye candy with the guts to back it up)

  9. Nick Stevens Says:

    The USEFUL acceleration of diesels:

    http://www.windingroad.com/articles/reviews/third-look-changing-minds-with-the-bmw-x5-xdrive35d/?src=Nextscreen

    “…The passengers, neither of whom was very familiar with diesel technology, were shocked at the outright speed of such a big vehicle.

    The fact that at 65 miles per hour, the throttle can be nailed and 425 pound-feet of torque were almost instantly accessible blew them away.

    Both are driving enthusiasts, but are so used to rowing their own gears and having to drop down for highway passes, that they couldn’t believe how eager the big Bimmer was to get up and go…”

    While Kit’s Consumer Reports numbers for 0-60 and 0-30 acceleration may be correct, and the gas version gets slightly better results than the heavier diesel, do serious drivers on the street need THIS kind of acceleration in everyday life, the 0-60 and 0-30 jackrabbit starts, OR do they need the all-important acceleration when they MERGE in a highway and need to go from 50 or 60 MPH to 70 or 80 or more?

    0-30 and 0-60 is for the track, not the street.

    But when you really need it, the Diesel, even with much less HP than the Gas version, gives you HUGE merging and passing power, without needing new tires every 5k miles!

  10. John V. Says:

    EN-V, ENVI. Does someone have ENVI envy?

  11. ML Says:

    I am sure that there is bribing going on at MB at the lower levels (Tool and equipment suppliers) so I am not surprised that it happens at the higher levels. Evidently this is an accepted way of doing business at MB.

  12. len simpson Says:

    “BMW is looking to move some production to North America because of cheaper material and labor”——- Now, THAT’S a switch

  13. Jim Says:

    Over the years I would see MB cars and trucks in places were there was no way the local economy could afford or sustain the cost of that brand but now it all comes out how that was working.

  14. David B. Fishburn Says:

    John, please, when you are reporting on a story like the Kia lawsuit, turn down the audio volume of the video that you run during the story. I could not hear what you were saying while you were reporting the story. The EN-V is ridiculos, would’nt be caught dead in one. Looks like an oversized grasshopper display case on wheels. Ugh!

  15. Nick Stevens Says:

    I knew Subaru was on fore the last two years, but did not know that it was so literally!

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/piston-slap-flammable-subies-up-north-but-tennesseein%E2%80%99-is-believin%E2%80%99/#more-350222

  16. Nick Stevens Says:

    “on fire”, not “on fore”, above.

  17. First on Race Day (FORD) Says:

    EN-V for Shanghai? great. Americans will never accept somthing as dumb as this. And I thought the Smart Car was dumb. If it does comes to America, we will see someone driving it on the highway.

  18. Chuck Says:

    That GM, Chrysler and Ford have been offering bigger incentives than Toyota I don’t think that’s the point. That Toyota is offering incentives about twice the usual size is.

  19. Andrew Charles Says:

    The key to profitability at GM and Ford these days is that they have cut their incentive spending right down. If Toyota is driving huge rebates instead, then that is big news. Don’t forget that in the depths of the crisis at GM, Toyota was actually losing more money. Toyota probably still has a bigger cash horde, so if they increase incentives like this, they may be accused of adopting “predatory pricing”—selling at an unsustainable price in order to drive weaker competitors out of business.

  20. Alex Kovnat Says:

    >“Fast Lane Daily scooped everyone
    >with this picture of the Ferrari
    >599 GTO. They’re talking about a
    >700 horsepower V-12 and 0-60 times
    >of 3.9 seconds.

    So with that much power, how fast will this Ferrari go?

    The problem with 1000 HP is that when you get to 240 MPH or so, you’ve just about reached the limit to how much speed the tires can withstand.

  21. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The Japanese people like Cheap rattletraps, that are criminally overpriced. Of Course more sophisticated American, European, and Korean car enthusiasts are going to pan the car, its a given.

    I like the ideaof the car, but they destroyed it Royally. The Japanese are now just being foolish with their blind nationalism like those stupid “Buy American” activists WHO FAILED in the 1970s-1980s.

    If its crap most people are going to chuck loyalty and nationalism to the wayside for a better product, unless the market is heavily controlled.

  22. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Im so thankful that I wasnt old enough to get into that Japanese car era, or Id be pretty pissed too when I see these Korean Cars with more features and are thousands less or the same price.

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    Is that what GM has been doing with our tax dollars? creating an R2D2 clone for no one to buy, didn’t they have something similar come out last year with a lot of hoopla and went nowhere.

  24. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Are you ok John? You dont sound so good today man.

  25. Nick Stevens Says:

    “EN-V for Shanghai? great. Americans will never accept somthing as dumb as this. And I thought the Smart Car was dumb. If it does comes to America, we will see someone driving it on the highway”

    I lived and worked in Shanghai for over one month, and I would never ride-drive-or whatever this dumb POS there either. it is utterly unnecessary, as the Shanghai MEtro is truly fantastic, all stops are announced in English, and the tickets are a dime per stop, electronically deducted from your card..$10 is enough for weeks of daily riding..

    .

  26. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.autonews.com/assets/PDF/CA68987319.PDF

    Can you read this PDF? This has all the3 latest incentives.

    John was misleading in his piece yesterday because he forgot to say that, as much as Toyota increased its incentives to fight the publicity of Baloon boy bankrupt CA prius owner and its fellow crooks-idiots at ABC news,

    Toyota’s average incentives are still way below Ford, GM, and even NISSAN’s.

    All makers report big sales increases for March so far, but Chrsler is DOWN 10% over last year, mainly because they CUT their incentives.

  27. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2010/03/24/aaa-lists-top-picks-for-commuters/#continued

    Not one Toyota in the list. Really, AAA?

    A big break for the poor selling Insight Hybrid, which came up No 1!

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    I have asked a few Toyota owners about this alleged uncontrolled media and lawyer frenzy and the most heard response is: “Not worried” or “I’ll just put it in neutral if it were to happen” Only desperate Hyundai sales men are warning people of the deadly Toyotas. I’ll take a Toyota over just about any Chrysler product.

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