Episode 378 – VW Bets Big On China, Toyota Still Going Strong, Bill Nye Praises EVs

April 26th, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 8:16

Volkswagen just announced it will pour an additional $2 billion into China to launch new vehicles and build two new plants. Toyota shrugs off the bad news and puts in some positive results. All that and more, plus Bill Nye the Science Guy sings the praises of electric cars.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. VW ups the ante with its big bet on China. Toyota shrugs off the bad news and puts in some positive results. And Bill Nye the Science Guy sings the praises of electric cars.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, April 26, 2010. And now, the news.

VW DOUBLES DOWN (subscription required)
In its bid to become the largest automaker in the world, Volkswagen just announced a huge investment in China. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company will pour an additional $2 billion into the country, a 50 percent increase over its previous plans. It will spend a total of $8 billion by 2012, including launching new vehicles and building two new plants. VW believes the auto market in China will grow 75 percent by 2018.

Of course, to hit its goal of becoming the biggest car company in the world, it will have to surpass Toyota, and that won’t be easy. Despite all the recalls and problems that Toyota has been going through lately, the AFP reports that the company’s sales surged 26 percent worldwide in March. And obviously it expects the good times to keep on rolling, because it sure is building a lot of cars. Toyota’s production is up 82 percent. Put it all together and the company is expected to return to profitability when it reports its results next month. Analysts expect a half billion dollar profit for the fiscal year.

Ford’s global purchasing chief, Tony Brown, says there are too many suppliers and that more will go bankrupt this year. According to the Detroit News, he says that there is still too much overcapacity and that if he could he would take it out. Ford is cutting back on the number of suppliers it does business with, about 850 this year compared with over 3,000 in 2004. And in the future the company would like to cut that number to 750 suppliers.

HERTZ BUYS THRIFTY/DOLLAR (subscription required)
Talking about consolidation. Now it’s happening with the daily rental car companies. The Wall Street Journal reports that Hertz plans to buy Thrifty/Dollar for $1.27 billion in cash and stock. Hertz wants to increase the number of non-airport locations it has, expand its business in Europe and improve its fleet usage rate. On weekdays the company uses about 95 percent of its fleet but only 30 to 40 percent on weekends. Thrifty/Dollar on the other hand has a higher usage rate on weekends.

In the advertising world this next report probably wasn’t unexpected, but it sure is a shocker. The AP reports that Chevrolet is dumping its advertising agency Campbell-Ewald, which has handled Chevrolet’s advertising since 1919, and came up with campaigns like Dinah Shore signing “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” in the 1950s. And the “Like A Rock” campaign for Chevy pickups. The Chevy account will now move to Publicis Worldwide, which is already doing the advertising for the Malibu and Equinox. Campbell-Ewald will still be the agency for OnStar and GMC.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you combined a Ford Mustang and an old Bentley? Neither have I, but that hasn’t stopped designers at Mitsuoka Motors from doing just that. Autoblog reports that this off-the-wall Japanese car company has grafted a Bentley front-end on a drop-top Mustang to create the Galue Convertible. And just in case the results weren’t hideous enough, it slapped what looks like a mid-‘90s Cadillac DeVille posterior on the car for good measure. Check it out if you’ve got a strong stomach and you’re near the Beijing Auto Show.

Coming up next, we pay a visit to Bill Nye the Science guy and get him to tell us what it’s like to live with the electric version of the Mini, the Mini-E.

To paraphrase the great William Shakespeare, some people are born explorers and some people have exploring thrust upon them. But as Autoline’s Chip Drake tells us, then . . . there are the pioneers…

Join us tomorrow when Bill Nye takes Autoline Daily for a ride around LA in his electric MINI E.

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

17 Comments to “Episode 378 – VW Bets Big On China, Toyota Still Going Strong, Bill Nye Praises EVs”

  1. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    I find it interesting that people would not think twice about having a car (the Mini-E) that tells you DO NOT GET RID OF YOUR OTHER CAR BECAUSE WE DON’T HAVE THIS FIGURED OUT YET!!!

    If an other maker would try this they would be ridiculed beyond belief.

    I guess this is better than putting the car out on the market then having numerous recalls.

    This just proves the old adage “there is an A** for every seat!

    It just will not be mine!!

  2. Wes Says:

    That’s so cool that you guys got to meet Bill Nye the Science Guy. I used to watch his show growing up. He makes science fun and exiting. Cool that he agreed to show off his Mini E with you guys. I would have gotten the 250 Volt charger as well. Great show as usual.

  3. LEX Says:


    You might want to have both Ed Begley and Bill Nye on Autoline After Hours one day to discuss their experiences with electric vehicles and going Green.

    I was watching a TV Show on RV’s. Their are RV’s that have Solar Panels built into the roof of these vehicles which can generate / store and supply all the electrical needs of these RV’s. The same could be true of your EV. The Roof of a vehicle, especailly in the Sunbelt, West and Southwest is exposed to the Sun all day long. If the OEM’s incorporate Solar Technology into the roof area of EV’s wouldn’t this aid in charging and extending driving distances? This also might be a topic for use to investigate.

    Watching you this weekend on Autoline Detroit I was struck by how much your interviewing style and interaction with your guests reminds me of the Late Great Johnny Carson. Keep Up the Good Work!

  4. dcars Says:

    Bill Nye is always an interesting character. Thanks for bringing in another prospective on powering our cars with electricity.

  5. dcars Says:

    I think Chevy’s Volt is a good answer for stretching our fuel supply, if…… they can make it affordable for a large amount people

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    That weird car is still better looking than the “smart” car IMHO. I was expecting to see Bill Nye with an army of hamster and their exercise wheels in the back seat providing electric power to keep that mini going.

  7. Tom Cain Says:

    Bill Nye’s science shows are good for our kids, but, his ideas for our society don’t fit with reality.

  8. Dave Foley (not that one) Says:

    Ralph makes a really good point. What if the Volt was delivered to customers with ridiculously high lease rates, AND didn’t have the reliability worked out to the point that they had to tell customers to keep their other car handy. (!!) GM would be crucified.! All the work they did to bring their image up the last while, would be completely lost. They would never be able to retrieve it.

    Also, don’t chase Ed Begley for the show. He’s a nutbar. Bill Nye would be WAY better. Begley is an actor. At least Nye went to school and learned science.

  9. First On Race Day (FORD) Says:

    What don’t these electric chauvinist get about electricity? In some cases fossils, most likely have to be burned to get electricity. These e-cars solve nothing, it’s more of these do-gooders trying to tell us how to live our lives. Bill Nye is just another in a long line of the self righteous, starting with Thoreau

  10. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I hate Toyota and Chrysler.

  11. Mark St.John Says:

    I hope you will do a report on the Leaf too. Love you show.

  12. dcars Says:

    Hi Smoke, hate is a pretty strong word. I saw a Genesis on the road yesterday, my wife and I were impressed, pretty cool looking car.

  13. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The Grille could be fixed I think. Its needs a chrome Hexagon. Thanks.

  14. Phillip Scott Says:

    About the “Bentstang” story: Wow! What a terrible waste of a good Mustang! Let’s hope we don’t see the “Rollsmaro” or the “Cadallenger” anytime soon! Yikes!

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    FORD: if we got more electric from other than fossils I could get the euphoria, but unlike the Europeans that use a lot of nukes, we don’t. We still depend of oil to get electric power, so what’s the diff? I can understand Chevy replacing the ad people, the new young GM with young new designers and engineers, youth oriented cars, new young new ad people, but still run by a geezer.

  16. Israel Moore Says:

    If Mitsuoka is using a Mustang as its latest maodel, then it’s obvious that the company plans to set up shop in the United States. Mitsuoka is curently soliciting for dealers and distributors on its website, and using a Mustang as a base ensures that it should have no problem certifying its products for the US market. I don’t think they’ll have much of a problem finding a few customers for their products.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro fernandez Says:
    April 27th, 2010 at 7:15 am

    “We still depend of oil to get electric power, so what’s the diff?”

    It’s much worse than that, environmentally. We use way more coal than anything else.