Episode 376 – More Financial Results, The “Perception Gap” Is Closing, 2011 Infiniti M Tech

April 22nd, 2010 at 12:18pm

Runtime 7:34

Hyundai and Volkswagen released some very promising financial results.  Alfa Romeo is expected to build several next-generation vehicles off a rear-wheel-drive Chrysler platform.  A recent survey indicates that the Detroit Three have closed the “perception gap” with their Asian competitors.  All that and more, plus a look at some of the new technology in the 2011 Infiniti M.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Volkswagen doubles its profit. Hyundai triples its bottom line. And for the first time in a generation, Americans say Detroit makes the best cars.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, April 22, 2010.   And now, the news.

More car companies are announcing their first-quarter financial earnings and the numbers are very encouraging. Bloomberg reports that Hyundai posted a $1 billion net profit, three-times what it earned a year ago, and is significantly higher than analysts were forecasting. Volkswagen AG almost doubled its net profit to $633 million, but analysts had expected the company to do even better. The company has a goal to beat Toyota in sales and profits by 2018, but the way things are going it may have to set Hyundai in its sights, not Toyota.

Yesterday we reported on Fiat’s first-quarter earnings, now here are the numbers for Ferrari and Maserati. Ferrari pulled in $550 million in the first three months of the year, down 6 percent from the year before. It made a profit of $52 million, a drop of 15 percent. Maserati pulled in sales of $169 million, up 10 percent, and a profit of $5 million, up 1 percent

In other Fiat news, Autoblog reports that the next-generation of the Alfa Romeo Spider and Giulia will be built on a rear-wheel-drive Chrysler platform, presumably an updated version of the Chrysler 300 platform. The Lancia and Chrysler brands are going to be almost fully integrated, but from a product standpoint those brand names will remain separate.

The Big Three have been battling a perception gap for decades – that is, people perceive that their cars aren’t as good as the imports. But for the first time in a quarter of a century, that perception is finally changing.  A poll from the Associated Press and Gfk conducted early last month found that 38 percent of Americans rated American cars the best.  Only 33 percent favored Asian vehicles.  Rewind the clock to December 2006 and the numbers were quite different.  46 percent preferred Asian vehicles and only 29 percent voted American. Why the change? Part of it comes from all of Toyota’s recall problems. The rest comes from the fact that the quality of the Detroit Three has improved quite a bit.

Shell is really trying to “clear” things up when it comes to engine oil.  According to Autoblog, the corporation had this commercial produced to show off the benefits of its Helix lubricant.  No, you’re not “seeing things;” that really is a life-sized Nissan 370Z made completely out of clear plastic.  The company that built this “eye-popping” prop nailed every detail.  You can watch oil circulate through the engine as the pistons move up and down and the crankshaft rotates.  Let me be completely “transparent,” this is amazing and something that you truly have to “see” to believe.  I’m done now.

You may remember this one, Autoblog is running the story.  Last October a woman had a little mishap with her BMW X5.  She tried to run over another car in the parking lot of her fitness center – yes, I said run over.  After her bonehead move, she stupidly thought she could just drive away, but luckily the whole thing was caught on tape, and the cops caught up to her. Fast forward to Tuesday and she pleaded guilty to failing to report a collision, and was issued a $500 fine.  But here’s the kicker.  She’s banned from driving between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.  Too bad she didn’t drive a Toyota instead of a BMW. She could have just blamed it all on unintended acceleration.

Coming up next we’ll take a look at the lane departure warning system that Infiniti is using in its cars. It doesn’t just beep at you; it will actually actuate the brakes on one side of the car to get you back in your lane.

Infiniti, the luxury arm of Nissan, is at the forefront of the new technology the company is putting in its cars. Here’s a look at how Infiniti does lane departure warnings differently from other automakers.

If you want to learn more about some of the other groundbreaking tech features on the 2011 Infiniti M, swing over to the John’s Journal page of our website at AutolineDetroit.tv and check it out.

Hey, don’t forget to watch Autoline After Hours tonight.  Our guest is Doug Fehan, the GM Racing Program Manager for Corvettes in the American Le Mans Series. Again, that’s tonight starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

And we’re trying something new after the show tonight. Michelle Naranjo of MissMotorMouth.com will host an open phone line. Anyone can call in to continue the automotive discussion or to talk or where ever else the conversation may go. Check it out tonight, after Autoline After Hours.

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, Car Chat, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

40 Comments to “Episode 376 – More Financial Results, The “Perception Gap” Is Closing, 2011 Infiniti M Tech”

  1. Ralph Kercheval Says:


    Someone take the pills,knives guns and explosives away from Nick and HyundaiSmoke.

    American cars better than Asian and European cars?? Any by such a large margin.

    A sure sign the end is near!!!

    Sorry I just had to take the shot…..

  2. dave Says:

    A study by the “AP”..oh ya I trust them…Most people I talk to still do not want a “american”, most made somewhere else,car. Trucks are diff.

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    This survey must have been taken where minorities still have separate facilities because the great majority of people I talk to, tell me they would never buy American again, If they have the bread they buy European, if not Japanese.

  4. Nick Stevens Says:

    Look at how happy Ralph is… LOL…

    Nice try to put me in the same category as the Smoked Hyundai.


    The Surveys (BOTH OF THEM) show how IGNORANT and Automotively ILLITERATE the average JOE is in the US.

    Those who KNOW anyuthing about cars know that it has always been the GERMANS, NOT the US NOR the Japanese, that build the BEST CARS IN THE WORLD.

    And now that BMW bought ROLLS ROYCE and vastly improved it, and VW boguth BENTLEY, the above is more true than EVER.

    But how can the average one-toothed redneck, who has not even driven a VW, mush less a PORSCHE, have a CLUE?

    these surveys are largely ridiculous, they do not prove a dam ned thing. The only thing they indicate is that the Auto illiterate, who thought the Japanese cars were the best, now think that the US cars are th ebest.

    No serious person would agree with them THEN, OR NOW.

  5. Nick Stevens Says:

    “But here’s the kicker. She’s banned from driving between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Too bad she didn’t drive a Toyota instead of a BMW. She could have just blamed it all on unintended acceleration.”

    Exactly, John!

    And Mr. Bean (aka our clueless porkmeister the sec of Transportation Ray LaHood (what a name!!) would extort another $16.4 million from Toyota for that one!

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    This survey just shows that most Americans are gullible to whatever they hear or see in the news or advertising. There’s been a concerted effort by most in the auto news media to shove down our throats that American cars have gotten so much better overnight, that they’re now even better than Toyota and Honda (Ford), and folks are just repeating this. Except for TAC website, most auto media just act like parrots and repeat whatever they hear. Even DeLorenzo won’t admit that Cadillac has reliability issues, even though CR, JD Power and even David Welch has said on the show that Cadillac needs to address this problem.

  7. Jim Haines Says:

    All you on can slam me if you want but all the european cars I have ever had to deal with no matter if was working on or just friends car they are mostly unreliable and over rated, then to top it off way to expensive to fix and maintain, I know I have only been working on cars for thirty five years so you can dismiss me as a fluke

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    Most German car problems are related to electronics, not mechanical problems. This is what I hear form owners of most of these vehicles, they just love the driving dynamics and are willing to put up with this to a certain extent, until it becomes a nuisance and they end up going to a Japanese brand, or in many cases they lease and then lease again when the term is up. BMW has had a great idea to include all services, it has brought them a lot of customers that may have otherwise gone for MB

  9. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Even DeLorenzo won’t admit that Cadillac has reliability issues”

    Peter, with whom I agree on 99% on his Autoextremist self-called “Rants”, has a sentimental link to GM, his father was a manager there and he grew up with all the greats, Ed Cole etc. He is rooting for them, and his bias is understandable.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    I wonder if these lane departure systems can be overcome by simply using your turn signal stalk when you want to change lanes, or are they NOT connected?

  11. Dave Marsh Says:

    My solution to blind spot detection:

    How about properly designed and adjusted mirrors?

    I guess that’s just not as sexy as computerized brakes and warnings…

  12. Salvador G. Says:

    Polls, Polls, Polls,… First off; did anyone here (Americans Only) got Poll?? or anyone you know??
    … and the words of Jerry Seinfeld – WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE!??

    JohnMcElroy. says:
    But here’s the kicker. She’s banned from driving between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. Too bad she didn’t drive a Toyota instead of a BMW. She could have just blamed it all on unintended acceleration.

    JohnMc., Are you sure thats 7PM to 7AM, because that pretty much during the night, which means She Will be allow to run people over during the day!… not to mention the fact that She still Allow to Drive over people and in what state was that??, just so I know to (keep away from).

    and Finally, I wonder what’s the top temperature you can run a plastic engine???

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sal: Americans have been getting poled by politicians for too long and ban the bimbo with the Bimmer, until she takes driving lessons.

  14. HtG Says:

    @Dave Marsh. It’s only a fantasy today, but what if everyone who texts while driving could be made to have lane departure and blind spot detection devices on their gig? What if there could be a system that detected when someone driving in the left lane was holding me up, and started shaking their steering wheel and gas pedal? I will call it “The Tapper” after the famous Seinfeld episode where George gets ‘the tap.’

  15. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Ralph I like some American cars, except Crapslers, but even their quality is slowly but surely getting better too. The FIAT Tech however well……..

    Hyundai VS VW I think Hyundai will ultimately win. That’s the real war, that’s Hyundai’s real bulleye.

  16. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I predict if VW doesnt get it together in the US market, by 2020 Hyundai will have ran them out.

    With the right products VW can surge like Hyundai is in Europe. Jus tonly a few years ago VW almost ran Hyundai out of Europe. Hyundai Euro sales used to be in the basement, and now the Hyundai Euro dealers have trouble keeping product on lots.

    So anything can heppen between now and then.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    Smoke: with all the VW profit, you would think they could invest it into improving reliability for both VW and Audi. If H/K has done without the German engineering superiority, why can’t they do it also?

  18. C-tech Says:

    The U.S. car makers have narrowed the quality gap between them and the Japanese. It should not be a surprise that this would be reflected in a poll eventually. All carmakers have vastly improved the quality of the vehicles produced. One of the areas which the European and some of the Japanese carmakers should keep an eye on is the cost of replacement parts and repairability. As people keep their cars longer, this will factor into their decisions on future purchases.

  19. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The idea of superior German Engineering is a Crock for the 21st Century. Yes they were superior. However, the advances in Technology need less weight, less size, etc….

    Simple engineering should rule the day now considering the weight of the world, and HKAG are the masters of simple engineering. With a German car you have to have a complete ASE crew ready to go for just 1 car. A Korean car, well… you can pull that thing right in your garage, a parking spot at your apartment complex or whatever and get right to work. And with minimal Automotive knowledge too. Like the way AMERICAN CARS were in the past!!!

    The Americans are getting better at it than lets say from 10 year Caviliers, but when compared to the Koreans they will have a ways to go.

    21st century Japanese engineering has become crap. Did you guys know that Current gen Civic has to get its motor lifted JUST TO CHANGE SPARK PLUGS?!! Its like a 10 year old Cavilier that thing.

    Piss poor engineering, and that’s reason #3,356,931 I REFUSE TO BUY A 21st CENTURY JAPANESE PRODUCT!!!

  20. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The Stunning looking, but Cheap for China Next Gen Accent Sedan. The US Version will be even more sophisticated.


  21. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The Stunning looking, but Cheap for China Next Gen Accent Sedan. The US Version will be even more sophisticated.


  22. Nick Stevens Says:

    I always believed that this clown Whiteacre at the “new” GM is a clueless charlatan and a crook… this proves it:

    “WASHINGTON — General Motors Co. repaid its $4.7 billion federal loan this week with other U.S. funds, creating nothing more than a “money shuffle,” a Republican senator said today.

    Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa cited an auditor’s report that GM repayments were coming from U.S. Troubled Asset Relief Program funds in an escrow account, rather than from GM earnings.

    “It is unclear how GM and the administration could have accurately announced yesterday that GM repaid its TARP loans in any meaningful way,” Grassley said in a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. “The taxpayers are still on the hook, and whether TARP funds are ultimately recovered depends entirely on the government’s ability to sell GM stock in the future.”

    GM received a total of about $50 billion of U.S. assistance in its bailout, much of which was converted into stock. The U.S. Treasury Department holds 61 percent of the common stock of the automaker.

    The source of funds for GM’s loan repayments “will be other TARP funds currently held in an escrow account,” the Tuesday, April 20, audit report said.

    The audit cited GM’s own filing with the government in November. GM said then the loan repayment would come from leftover funds set aside by the Obama administration to finance GM’s fast-track sale out of bankruptcy in July.

    Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100422/OEM/100429927/1216#ixzz0lvWQIRWs

  23. Nick Stevens Says:

    Salvador: The reason this 62-yr old clown was allowed to drive from 7 AM to 7 PM was so she could still commute to her job, but after that, she now has to stay at home or have somebody else drive her out.

  24. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Jim Haines Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    All you on can slam me if you want but all the european cars I have ever had to deal with no matter if was working on or just friends car they are mostly unreliable and over rated, then to top it off way to expensive to fix and maintain, I know I have only been working on cars for thirty five years so you can dismiss me as a fluke”

    Your statement and excperience is true. Nobody said that the Europeans make the best cars. it is the germans that do, and for some time the Swedes also had the same kind of quality and durability, but no more. Given that the Germans are only 1/5th or 1/10th of all the companies that make cars in Europe, I sure agree with you that most of the rest of them, Renaults, Peugeots, all the Brit makers that are dead or in a coma now, etc, are less reliable and lesser quality than US or Japanese cars.

    Pedro mentioned the electronics as being the main source of failures of German cars, this may have been true of earlier models, such as the 7 class prior to mine, which has a bad “Bus” system, but I had no electronic failures of any significance so far. I did replace the ignition switch (a $70 part) recently, which wore out and this fixed my problem of the stereo, the navigation, the cruise and the horn all stopping working. I did it at the dealer, they overcharged for labor, the total was $323 or so, but they threw in a free inspection and free blade replacements, plus a thorough hand-wash etc.

  25. Nick Stevens Says:

    “HyundaiSmoke Says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Ralph I like some American cars, except Crapslers,”

    Take cover… from Max’s response when he sees this.

    Actually I like the styling of some Chryslers far better than that of any Ford and many GM vehicles.

    Examples, the 300, even the Charger and the Challenger, and the PT Cruiser (all for exterior styling)

  26. Nick Stevens Says:

    Plus the pacifica, it does an excellent job of not looking like a minivan, while it is really based on the Chrysler vans, but is a bit less tall and wider.

  27. jesse Says:

    UM,”American” cars?? Would those be the one GM builds in MEXICO,AUSTRALIA,CANADA??Or the one’s HYUNDAI and the like build in ALABAMA,GEORGIA and parts down south???

  28. LEX Says:

    What is with GM? Still no Volt or Cruze!
    The Cobalt is based upon really old Styling Technology. When we lost Pontiac we lost the Vibe. What are GM’s Plans in the Compact Car Market? The Up Coming Buick models are clone’s of products already available in China and Europe. Aveo is a tiny tin can! GM needs to redistribute some design and engineering talent away from Muscle Cars and Overweighted SUV’s into the Sub / Compact / Midesize / Full Size vehicles the way Ford has done with their product line. The Cobalt maybe selling well right now, but that is because dealers are giving them away to make room for the Cruze in the Fall.

  29. LEX Says:

    jesse Says:

    “UM,”American” cars?? Would those be the one GM builds in MEXICO,AUSTRALIA,CANADA??Or the one’s HYUNDAI and the like build in ALABAMA,GEORGIA and parts down south???”

    I am in agreement with Jesse! It does not matter who the OEM is as long as they use US Labor and US Supplies to build their products in the Good Olde USA they are American Built Cars!!!

    GM has taken so many jobs out of the US and is building New Plants in China with US Federal Bailout Tax Payers Money!

  30. Nick Stevens Says:

    I predict this will be a HUGE Hit.

    The brand new Porsche panamera 4-door will also be available with a modest 3.6 lt v6 which will make “only” 300 HP and 295 Lbft, pays no gas guzzler tax due to its fuel efficiency (incl. start-stop system), has the same dual-clutch 7-speed transmission as the big dogs have, and will sell at a Merc and BMW and even JAG Undercutting $74,000 !!!

  31. Nick Stevens Says:


    Both Ford and GM have been very slow, sometimes unacceptably slow, to bring their new product, and especially their product that sells very well in Europe (Fiesta, Focus) in the US Market.

    But September is only a few months away, I think the Cruze, the new Focus and the Fiesta will change the small car market big time in favor of Ford and GM.

    Until new and much improved Civics and Corollas hit the market.

  32. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Nick, I used to like chrysler the best from the styling standpoint. I think GMs have the best feel when driving out of the big 3. I like Ford’s boldness, and I think they are more likely to become Global #1 over VW.

    Why do I have a very very very bad feeling that this VW trying to be number #1 is the worst possible decision they can make right now, and the ensuing disaster this will lead to?

    Pedro you might not agree, but FIAT is a company to watch in 7-10 years if they can keep this Chyrsler thing going. They wont be a good quality company, because they make fashion statement cars and will cater to that group of people; which are a plenty in this country.

  33. Nick Stevens Says:

    Now that toyota is slowed down by all these problems, and will sure lose billions trying to fix them, VW has a chance to come closer to its ambitious goals of becoming No 1 in the world and of more than doubling its US Sales to 800,000 by some time (this is still half of what Toyota sells in the US, and less than either Honda or Nissan sell)

  34. Tom Geauvreau Says:

    About this lane departure tech from Infiniti.
    I live in Ontario Canada and during the winter many times you don’t have a full lane to drive in because of drifting snow and you’re forced to straddle the line at times.
    I’m not too sure about this idea of the brakes being applied on one side of the car in icy conditions trying force me back where I really don’t want to be.
    He said you could over-ride the system with the steering wheel, but can you just simply flip a switch and turn it off?

  35. Nick Stevens Says:


    The GMC Terrain, the twin of the excellent Equinox with the bulges, sort of a small Hummer, delivered FANTASTIC actual MPG at the Motorweek loop on PBS. Even sedans with puny 4s don’t get such high AVERAGE MPG nos.

  36. Nick Stevens Says:

    What was the deal with AAH? I tried to listen to it this morning, and all I got was the silly chat. How can one access the actual 1-hr video?

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    VW should greatly increase their US sales when the Tennessee-built cars hit the market. The Tennessee cars will basically be downgraded Passats, but if competitively priced, they should sell.

    Still, VW needs a larger and better dealer network in the US if they want to compete with the “big boys” here.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    Smoke: Fiat has been around forever and they still suck, you really think that the MIT, (Michigan Inst. of technology) educated engineers at Crapsler are gonna make any difference? The new moniker for RAM is: Repair Again Mario.

  39. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit, yes, this is the plan, they think the larger sedan will sell a lot. It all depends on the price point and of course how reliable it will be.

    PS Ram is “Repair me Again, Marchionne!”

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I have several friends in Indiana who have Ram pickups, and who like them and have not had many problems. As I’ve said before here, the difference between the best and worst in reliability of cars is much smaller than it used to be.