Episode 393 – GM Announces Earnings, Daimler Wants Off NYSE, Europe Car Sales Down

May 17th, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:38

General Motors announced its earnings for the first quarter and it posted a net income of almost a billion dollars. Daimler announced that it wants to stop trading shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Car sales in Europe dropped in April. All that and more, plus a look at the newest show from Autoline, called Open Line.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Welcome to Autoline Daily! Here’s what’s happening in the auto world for Monday, May 17, 2010.

General Motors announced its earnings for the first quarter and it posted a net income of almost a billion dollars, based on sales of $31.5 billion. In North America, GM earned $1.2 billion before taxes and interest, a massive turnaround from the third quarter when it lost $3.4 billion. GM lost half a billion in Europe, but made $1.2 billion in the rest of the world. GM also generated $1 billion in free cash flow from operations, bringing its total cash and cash-equivalent holdings to $35.7 billion. Here’s my Autoline Insight. These are pretty good results. Not as good as Ford’s first-quarter numbers, but this is going to shut up a lot of the critics who said GM could not be saved. If the company can improve on these numbers, it’s going to assure its long-term viability.

Daimler announced that it wants to be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. According to the AP, Daimler said low trading volume led to the decision. But here’s my Autoline Insight. If you’re listed on the NYSE you have to follow U.S. accounting rules, and Daimler no longer wants to file all that paperwork. You can still buy Daimler shares through exchanges in Frankfurt and Stuttgart.

Car sales in Europe are slowing down. According to Bloomberg, sales fell nearly 7 percent compared to a year ago. Registrations last month hit 1.17 million down from last April’s 1.26 million. Leading the way for the drop in sales were Volkswagen, Ford and Fiat.

The Washington Post reports Toyota wanted to develop a public relations campaign to discredit some of the government’s key witnesses that testified before Congress about its unintended acceleration problems. Namely, it planned to go after Sean Kane, a Massachusetts safety consultant who sells data information to plaintiff attorneys, and David Gilbert, an auto technology professor, who figured out a way to rewire Toyotas to create unintended acceleration. Sort of reminds me of General Motors hiring detectives to investigate Ralph Nader back in the 1960s.

OK, we all know the economy is bad, and here’s a stat that proves it. Autoblog reports that fraudulent insurance claims from staged accidents are up 46 percent from 2007 to 2009! The numbers come from the NICB, or National Insurance Crime Bureau, which released a report on the issue last week. According to the data, Florida tops the list in staged accidents by a HUGE margin, with 3,006 taking place in 2009. New York is next with 1,680, followed by California, Texas and Illinois. Interestingly, legitimate claims are down slightly because fewer people are working which means fewer people are driving.

If Saab is ever going to get back on its feet again, it’s going to have to do something bold and unexpected, and that’s precisely what it wants to do. If you caught our interview with Victor Muller, the new owner of Saab on Autoline Detroit this weekend, you heard him say that he wants to bring back the Saab 92, the car that launched the company over half a century ago. After we were done taping the show, Muller showed me drawings of a modernized version of the 92 he wants to bring out. I sure wish I could show you those drawings but Muller wouldn’t let me. All I can say is that it looks a lot like the original, but with better bumpers, bigger wheels, and more modern headlamps. I hope Muller can bring back the 92, I think it would do for Saab what the Mini has done for BMW, bring in a new generation of buyers that really boosts sales.

Hey, have you heard about the newest program we’ve started here at Autoline? It’s called Open Line, and it’s hosted by Michelle Naranjo on Monday nights. More about the show after the break.

Hey, have you heard about the newest program we’ve started here at Autoline? It’s called Open Line, and it’s hosted by Michelle Naranjo on Monday nights starting at 8 p.m. Eastern. Earlier I had a Skype conversation with Michelle about the program. Let’s go to that right now.

Remember, that’s tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern. You can join in on the conversation or just sit back and listen. You can get more information at our website. Or call the phone number tonight: 218-936-6581 and the PIN is 25058.

That’ll do it for this installment of Autoline Daily. Thanks for making us your first stop for the latest news and analysis in the auto industry. We’ll see you again tomorrow, same time, same place.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, Car Chat, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

65 Comments to “Episode 393 – GM Announces Earnings, Daimler Wants Off NYSE, Europe Car Sales Down”

  1. Nick Stevens Says:

    The real-life michelle looks NOTHING, not even remotely similar to that cute graphic of some young woman (I assume it was supposed to be her?) on the video

    To me, 7 hours looks like a LUDICROUS waste of time. I wonder who in the world would have so much free time, and even if they do, why would they waste it on this chat.

  2. tj Martin Says:

    John ;

    Some of the drawings of the ” New Saab ” 92 have shown up on saabsunited.com Whether or not they are the ones Mr. Muller showed you I can’t say . But never the less they are on the Saab site .

    Nick Stevens ;
    We’ve got to get you off that Hot Dogs and YooHoo NJ diet there my friend . You’re starting to sound more like me than me .LoL

  3. Nick Stevens Says:


    I never understood why people eat hot dogs. Usually you can choose between them and hamburgers, which at least have SOME resemblance to meat! Not to mention Soyburgers!

    PS I sure never tried YooHoo and the only reason I know it exists is that Letterman used to mention it for laughs in his show.

    I am not nutritionally illiterate!

  4. Nick Stevens Says:

    I am more of a wine and smoked salmon kind of guy, but i will try pizza and a beer once or twice a month.. or year..

  5. Ed Usewick Says:

    Are the GM numbers believable? After all the bankruptcy was essentially a surprise as the numbers leading up to it did not look like a total train wreck. And what happened to the Opel deal? Is the US taxpayer paying for the Opel bail out too?

  6. Fred Cherney Says:

    GM’s investigation of Nader is one of the few of their decisions I heartily support. The videos of his tests proved he doctored results to nail the Corvair. I just can’t stomache a cheat like him!

  7. tj Martin Says:

    Nick ;
    I wasn’t intimating that you were ( nutritionally illiterate ) Just scrounging for an explanation of your NJ countenance . I thought like myself you had to be born there to have it.

    Mystery Meat in a Tube in a Bun . Why ? Well just because they’re sooooo darned tasty ( when its a good one ) And as Anthony Bourdain would say . ” If you don’t eat a little Tasty Junk now and again how boring life would be ”

    The three Hot Dog holy Grails in NA ? Pinks in Hollywood . Papaya Dog in NYC . JapaDog in Vancouver BC !

    So Nick a question . Has the Smoking Hyundai given this site his lecture on how Subaru is the ” New Saab ” yet ? Thats one not to be missed ( if you’re in need of a good laugh )

  8. tj Martin Says:

    Fred Cherney ;
    Well now you’ve ruined my whole day reminding me of that Idiot Nadar and his wholesale condemnation of the Corvair . Every time I see a new Porsche it just grates me to think what the Corvair could have evolved into had Nadar had an ounce of sense and GM had the ability to Evolve it .

    Now where’s that beer and a Pizza Nick mentioned ?

  9. Nick Stevens Says:


    I do have a colleague here who is both from NJ and a typical NJ-ite. Maybe he rubbed off me. He was diagnosed with high cholesterol decades ago and eats very carefully.

    There sure are great tasting sausages in the world, but hot dogs, no matter what you do to them, or any german frankfurters that seem to be made from the same uniform stuff inside, are not them. The good ones are country sausages made locally, spicy, with non-uniform insides (don’t know how else to describe them) and not in assembly line production by giant companies.

    I don’t normally read H-S’s stuff, but when I read other’s posts replying to him, I may see some of them by accident and reply to them. I don’t think he’d cut it in Stand-up comedy, BTW.

  10. Chuck Grenci Says:

    GM: good news
    Daimler: Doesn’t want to play with us anymore; can’t blame them.
    Europe car sales: They’re crawling out of a recession like we still are.
    Toyota’s PR: Have to weigh the benefits to the consequences of that plan.
    Insurance fraud: hurts everyone; hope than can catch some of these embezzlers.
    Saab 92: Wasn’t cute then; they got a lot of work to do on that one.
    Open Line: No thanks; I agree with Nick on paragraph two but he needs to shutup on paragraph one. (The ‘golden rule’ can go a longway)

  11. Richard S Says:

    Fo GM to post a profit is interesting. That it is only $1B is also quite telling. Ford reported a higher set of figures even though they are carrying more (not sure how much) in legacy costs.

    I wonder if the transaction prices are a little leaner for GM and possibly that means they are finding it difficult to attract buyers? Also, they may still be looking for efficiencies.

    Another way to think of this is that GM is still poking their irons in more fires than Ford – hoping to come up with great earnings in future quarterly reports.

    The jury is still out as to whether GM really understands its new smaller footprint.

    As for Saab, lots of luck! They were always quirky and always on the fringe of auto reality.

    I would expect Toyota to bounce back as strong as ever. It would take several years of poor quality results from Consumer Reports to catch up with them. Just look how long took the “Big Three” to deteriorate.

  12. Nick Stevens Says:

    I still got pizzas in my freezer but I drank my last beer yesterday.. I don’t know if I’ll bother buying more of them before I leave for overseas in less than a month. And that’s another thing that is so much tastier in the old country.. BEER!

    (what does American beer and canoes have in common?

    ans-they are both bloody close to water)

  13. tj Martin Says:

    Nick stevens ;

    When not tracking down a tasty hot dog I’m more of a gormund myself as well . Both eating as well as cooking . That Spinach Mint Basil Risotto I whipped up last Friday for the wife and I was to die for ( yes I had some actual training )

  14. Nick Stevens Says:


    YOu are right, it takes decades to lose your good name, and will take decades more to regain it (for the domestics) if at all. If they have the right product at the right price, and Consumer Reports approves, people will buy it.

  15. Nick Stevens Says:

    TJ: I used to make spinach pie with my own dough two decades ago..very healthy, made two pans and invited two couples over and the six of us would eat one on the spot..only used two eggs, olive oil and low-fat feta cheese. Still enjoy eating it and spinach in other forms too (with salmon and rice too)

  16. tj Martin Says:

    Nick Stevens ;

    American Mass Market beer I’d agree . But even my Brit and Belgian friends are claiming our Artisanal Beers are as good if not better .

    A parody ad for a Colorado Mass Market Beer who’s name I shall not mention .

    On a hot day I just love ta wrap my lips around a tall sweaty can of Bear Whizz Beer .

    Bear Whizz Beer . Its in the water son . Thats why its Yeller .

  17. Nick Stevens Says:

    “I agree with Nick on paragraph two but he needs to shutup on paragraph one. (The ‘golden rule’ can go a longway)”

    Not at all. Even Stalin’s portait artists did not make him so unbelievably better looking than he actually was!

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Nick: are you saying that the graphic looks nothing like the real person? and 7 hours is way too long; by the way the reason Fl leads in accident fraud is that my people may have not invented it but they have really jumped on the bandwagon and have got the body shops in cahoots with the estimators ripping off the insurance companies for what ever they can get. I think it sucks, it brings up the costs for everyone.

  19. Nick Stevens Says:

    TJ-sure there are good domestic beers from small breweries but, like imports, they cost an arm and a leg. Overseas, they are as cheap as the most watery domestic stuff.

    The Czechs have the best beer in the world, and there is one Polish brand that is almost as good, and it IS the water, both of them use water from the Tatra mountains that belong to both nations.

    I know Germans that would fly the Czech Airlines because of the excellent beer!

  20. Nick Stevens Says:

    “pedro fernandez Says:
    May 17th, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Nick: are you saying that the graphic looks nothing like the real person? ”

    Yes, the graphic looks much better, and it is not just the different hairstyle.

    “and 7 hours is way too long; ”

    Yes, I almost feel sorry for her to lie awake until 3 AM (it starts at 8 PM) for this!

    And I bet it is not a toll free call, is it?

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    Speaking of beers, I’ve always been told that beers get watered down when they come here, is that true. I have a friend who lives in the Dominican Republic and says El Presidente over here is too watery. Incredibly, in Germany even kids and teens drink beer like it’s no big deal.

  22. tj Martin Says:

    Pedro Fernandez ;

    It all depends on the Beer and the distributer . Some beers are altered for US ” Tastes ” ( which means the real beer lover will hate them ) and some some over just as they are . All do suffer a bit from being traveled though . Which is why once the Micro Brew thing got going i stopped buying most overseas beers . With the exception of Belgian Trappist , Lambic and german Berlinerwise. Which cannot be replicated here due to the airborne yeasts .

    Nick ;
    I’m a bit more on the darker side of Beer tastes myself so the Czech etc. just don’t do it for me .

  23. tj Martin Says:

    So why is no one asking the obvious question here ? Which is ;

    If GM is doing so darned well when the heck are they going to pay back all the tax payers dollars they’ve got stashed away ?

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    But tj, they claimed they already paid back the govt loans!! At least that’s what Whitacre said in those ads.

  25. HtG Says:

    OK gentlemen, here’s my two cents. Beer is bad in the States because it’s intended for a mass audience. I took the Budweiser tour in St. Louis, where it was explained that locating on that spot on the continent was deliberately done because of the ability to widely distribute the product. They make over a dozen types of beer brands, all looking to make money in a market segment. It’s nothing at all like Chimay(sp?) brews in Belgium where local yeasts and oddball mixing creates peculiar goodness/weirdness. Another reason your beer tastes queer is that you’re tasting aluminum if you drink out of the can. Pour it in a glass please.

    OK that’s more than two cents worth.

    Somebody please explain how Nader unfairly criticized the Corvair.

  26. Victor Ceicys Says:

    Many of the US microbrewery beers are the best in the world that includes comparison with the
    Cz, UK, German, and Aus beers. In fact many of the IPA’s brewed in the US have no comparable quality IPA’s anywhere else on the planet

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    Any of you guys Sam Adams fans?

  28. dcars Says:

    I perfer Yuengling and Sam Adams, a Samual Smith Nut Brown Ale is also good. I try to drink the home team brew when possible so for give me for the Samual Smith on occasion. Good for GM. I hope they can keep the good news rolling

  29. len Says:

    I rented a new, first series Corvair 4dr & was haulin wife & 3 kids to a tourist attraction on a fairly new US 19 north of Tampa On the open road, @ 64 mph , I entertained my kids by (briefly) showing how I could turn tha wheel a 1/4 turn left or right w/o affecting the direction of the car. We were flying!
    The last model 2 dr hdtop still has some of best lines of any gm ever built

  30. dcars Says:

    I also like hot dogs and fries! I’ve had Carlsberg and Stella in Europe and other places and it tastes the same to me.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nader had somewhat of a case against early Corvairs with the case of the swing axles “tucking under.” The thing is, it was much easier to make it happen with a VW Beetle, but Nader had it in for GM while he ignored VW.

    The sad thing is that, properly equipped, the ’65 and later Corvairs were great enthusiast cars at a bargain price, and Nader cut short the life of the car. A high school friend had a “tuck under” wreck with a ’63 Corvair which put him in the ditch with minor injuries. He replaced the ’63 with a ’66 Corsa which was a great handling, fun car for that time.

  32. LEX Says:

    GM could have been more profitable already if the Cruze and Volt were available in North America. I would quess GM wanted to sell off the remaining inventories of Cobalts to the Public instead of dumping them into Fleet Sales.

    I believe GM still needs to integrate GMC into Chevy and Buick into Cadillac. Four Brands is still too many for the New GM in North America! GM needs to project strenght as it did with the “Solid as a Rock” campaign used by Chevy Trucks. GM needs to tell the motoring public that it will stand behind it’s vehicles with the same level of protection that Hyundai is currently using.

    Maybe You and Peter De Lorenzo could invite the head of GM Advertising onto Autoline After Hours for a frank discussion and tell him hear first hand from your audience during the “Rapid Fire” segment.

  33. Nick Stevens Says:

    “HtG Says:
    May 17th, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    OK gentlemen, here’s my two cents.Beer is bad in the States because it’s intended for a mass audience ”

    In europe, beer is intended for an even larger audience (make it double the US size because they have it for lunch too, instead of the gawdawful ice teas and soda we have here), is cheaper than mainstream US beer (not micro) and tastes far, far better in any Euro nation than in the US.

    Tj: I used to like dark beers too (Guinness extra stout, I liked it back then but recently it tasted like no big deal to me)

  34. Nick Stevens Says:

    When i was in China, it was Tsingtao heaven, they had big 640 ml (24 oz?) bottles of the stuff for FOURTY US CENTS, could barely finish one over lunch, and over here they sell a little bottle with HALF the beer inside for twelve times as much!

  35. tj Martin Says:

    Pedro Fernandez ;

    Boy how did we all get off on the Beer thing ? Oh yeah . Cars . Guys . Beer . Nix that question .

    On Sam Adams beer . When I can’t get my hands on a really good local Micro Brew Sam Adams ( along with Fat Tire ) are my failsafe goto assuming I’m in a gotta have a Beer : or thats what goes best with the meal mood .

    Comparing Budwieser to the Micro Brews is like comparing a Hyundai to a BMW . Well H/S might but the rest of us here know better . Seriously . Get your paws on some of the better craft beers available . If you can find it ( mainly in the Pacific NW ) Black Butte Porter is to die for . ( Nick ; It makes Guinness taste like brown water . At least the Guinness we get here )

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There are some great beers from Indiana, especially Three Floyds.

  37. dcars Says:

    The mini business model is eroding rapidly. With so many Mini “me to’s” the market is going to be over saturated.

  38. Salvador G. Says:

    1. JohnMc. I really wish the NICB could have been more especific with that report, it doesn’t mention year by year increases, type of claims, the brands of cars and such… I think I like to know how many of those claims were for Toyota Un,Acc.

    2. Is there anyway to find out -WHO?? is consulting Toyota, they seem to go from bad PR decisions to really bad.

    3. JohnMc. Is it wrong for me to throw a guess -that the Muller plans the new SAAB 92 plan is within 4 – 5 years?? considering Muller plans SAAB to be profitable in 2 years first, come up with a brand new platform (SAAB platform) engine and all. Thats basically what he said- Am I wrong??

  39. Jim Thykeson Says:

    John: Its not surprising that GM and many other companies are turning around after the bank’s fraudulent manipulations. I feel that it was the banks that shocked the economy into this crash. The sad thing was, many of this countrie’s companies wern’t really that sick, but the bank fraud was so severe that it rippled throughout the world markets.

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    As Nick has said, the Mini is a niche car, or as some call it, a “boutique” car. So far, Mini sales are holding up, and the Fiat 500 is unlikely to change that. At some point, the market for cars like Mini might be saturated, which is why they bring out new models like the upcoming Countryman.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Also, Mini has a lock on the North American market for those who want a British car with a French engine and a German transmission:-)

  42. dcars Says:

    I don’t think the mini has a lot of competition yet. The 500 and the Saab 92 sound like their targeting the Mini buyer, but what will the market support? Kit your right that BMW should introduce new models like the Countryman to maintain the brand.

  43. pedro fernandez Says:

    SAAB does not have the resources to develop their own platform and drive train, they need to buy it from someone unless they can merge with another company, even Ford got most their platforms from Mazda, Volvo and that’s one of the reasons they have done so well.

  44. RonE Says:

    Is this site still called Autoline Daily or is it now Food and Beer Line Daily?

  45. Jim Thykeson Says:

    Ron E.: Its a wonderful auto related blog led by a consummate insider named ‘Johnny Mac’ who allows the all of us to interact with him and the rest of the industry professionals. This blog should be treasured, if your interest is the auto industry.

  46. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Well all I have to say is that the latest Hyundais sure look better and more opulent on the outside than the latest BMWs. The Genesis Interior is better layed out, and a better place to feel home in. The Equus Interior is better layed out than the 7 series.

    Plus, who wants a $70K car that looks as cheap, bland, and undertated as a Toyota on the outside except for the Wheels and the Badge?

    Im not saying that the Hyundai is better. Of course we still cant match what the M Division can offer yet, but Value per dollar the Hyundais are a better buy than the Non M 5 and 7.

    Thats the point Hyundai has been making.

  47. First On Race Day (FORD) Says:

    Nick, not sure how to take your comment about Michelle. I beleive she is exactly like I would expect, vivacious, energetic and smart. I could not ask for a more perfect choice to host an open line. Great job, John. It takes an outgoing temperment, like Michelles, to host an ongoing group for that length of time. You go girl. Best of luck.

  48. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Hyundai only Benchmarks premium brands for now on everything from Accent on up. They benchmark a premium brand and then beat their standard (non performance division) powertrains. This way they will have the edge against premium branded cars with standard powertrains, and kill the non-premium brands.

    New Accent=MINI/A-Class Benchmark
    New Elantra=B-Class Benchmark
    Sonata=C-Class Benchmark
    Azera=3 Series Benchmark
    Genesis=5 Series Benchmark
    Equus=7 Series Benchmark

  49. dcars Says:

    Cheers to McElroy! for introducing new talent, trying differnet technologies and being open to new ideas. Good work.

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Will the retro Saab 92 have a two stroke engine like the original?

  51. jeff mohr Says:

    all this beer talk—i must get one right now—dont care what kind it is!!

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Has anyone tried to get on the “open line with Michelle Naranjo” thing? I tried a couple times, but it didn’t work.

  53. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just saw a report on you tube where Ford had a test rive comparison of the Fiesta against the Fit and Yaris. Everyone ripped into the Yaris for being inferior, duh! it’s in a different category, just look at the price. The Yaris is about three thousand cheaper that the other 2 and of course it’s gonna have cheaper materials and feel. I hope Toyota doesn’t make the mistake of raising its price and putting it out of reach of many buyers who can have an alternative to the costlier competition.

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Yaris gets bad press, even from Consumer Reports, but I’ve driven one and didn’t think it was that bad. It is a little “rough around the edges” by today’s standards, and has goofy center mounted gauges, but it drove ok. I’m skinny and fit the seats well, but I think “wide” people might not be comfortable in a Yaris. In any case, the Yaris is due for a redesign in a year or two.

  55. Andrew Charles Says:

    Ford makes money in Europe selling a gazillion Fiestas, and they make more money on NA selling a gazillion F150s etc. Not much is going to change that, no matter how good GM’s sales and marketing improves. GM needs strong sales and high transaction prices for the Cruze in NA; NA-production for the Regal to cut production and logistics costs; a highly successful new Malibu; an out-of-the-park smash hit Tracker to replace the HHR; and a 5-door version of the Cruze to tempt Europeans.

  56. Nick Stevens Says:

    “First On Race Day (FORD) Says:
    May 17th, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Nick, not sure how to take your comment about Michelle. I beleive she is exactly like I would expect, vivacious, energetic and smart.”

    I did not comment on many of the above attributes. Since you brought them up, I would agree that she is the first two and may even guess she is smart too, in some way, although I have never heard her comment on anything, just from how she looks.

    My comments were 100% clear. I only commented n the significant disparity between her very cute sketch on the ads fro her program, which does not a whole lot like her photo. That was all. Not much harm done.

  57. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Andrew Charles Says:
    May 18th, 2010 at 2:36 am

    Ford makes money in Europe selling a gazillion Fiestas, and they make more money on NA selling a gazillion F150s etc.”

    HAve you seen pickup sales lately? From 80,000 a month, the F-150 barely sells 40,000 these days. Do you really believe Ford can make a significant profit selling half the F150s it used to sell? What’s the break even point? 5,000 a month? LOL… (In fact, this is no joke, the Explorer used to sell 40,000 a month, and now barely sells 5,000!!)

    Ford sure sells a ton of Fiestas in Europe, a huge number last month, but the US market is nothing like the overpriced Euro market when one can sell a tiny fiesta-sized car for 15,000 Euros and make a profit. 15,000 Euros are at least $20,000, BTW, even with today’s fallen euro. Remember the Fiesta is Yaris sized, and probably smaller than the $10,000 Base Versa!!!

  58. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Kit Gerhart Says:
    May 17th, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    The Yaris gets bad press, even from Consumer Reports,”

    It’s a small tinny car with few options, gets good city mpg because of its featherweight. The even smaller Aygo, sold in Europe as either a toyota, a peugeot or a VW, and made in Eastern Europe, is even worse, but some BMW and M-B owners I know over there bought one to use as a city car, esp. since it is one of very few tiny cars in Europe offered with an auto transmission.

    ” and has goofy center mounted gauges, but it drove ok.”

    Speaking of that “Mother in law special”, you mentioned that the mini, which also has a huge center gauge, has a.. French engine? what is it? A peugeot maybe? They should have bought the Diesel, Peugeot makes some really nice ones!

    ” I’m skinny and fit the seats well, but I think “wide” people might not be comfortable in a Yaris. ”

    The yaris was not designed for the US market but for Europe and Japan where they have narrow streets and also “narrow” people… or at least not as obese as some I see on the streets here.

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Once Ford adjusts to the changed sales numbers of F150, as in closing some of the production facilities, they will continue to make money on them. If they are now running all the plants with a string of temporary layoffs, they can’t be making money on the trucks currently.

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The engine in ’07 and later Minis is Peugeot. It is called “Prince” and is used in Citroen C4 and similar size Peugeot models. I don’t know if there are any differences between the engines used in Minis and the PSA cars, but I suspect any difference is small.

    I’d love to have a Peugeot diesel in my Mini. The engine in the Citroen C4 rental I had a two summers ago would be great.

  61. Kit Gerhart Says:

    As I remember, the Yaris I drove didn’t have a “redundant” speedometer display in front of the driver like my Mini. I’m not sure I would have bought a Mini had the “mother in law” display been the only speedo.

  62. Nick Stevens Says:

    Automotive Excellence is appreciated by the buyers.

    Especially when you really get a seven series for the price of a five, as in the new 5 series:

    BERLIN (Bloomberg) — BMW said orders for the revamped 5-Series have “considerably” exceeded the carmaker’s own targets.

    Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100518/ANE/100519854/1286#ixzz0oIA3d7EB

  63. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I wish Mr. Muller luck with Saab, but it is hard to see how it would be possible to make money building multiple car models, with a total volume of less than that of one modern assembly plant, unless you are building Ferraris or Rolls-Royces. Somehow, I don’t think people are going to pay Rolls-Royce prices for Saabs any time soon.

  64. Zieke Says:

    Boy, this site seems to be really going downhill with folks talking of hot dogs and beer. Isn’t this still about automotive subjects? Or have people just run out of something interesting to say and are showing their need for a life?
    Anyway it looks like Toyota is causing themselves alot of headaches with the publicity they are generating. If they go about their business quietly and get the problems solved, it seems the effect should tone down. They’re going to need all the luck they can muster to get out of this predicament.

  65. Nick Stevens Says:

    Muller was a very likeable guest, but the really important, big question that John did not ask him is, how much of his own considerable wealth is he putting on the line in his huge, high risk bet with Saab? Is it even 50% of his own $? is it even 10%? or is it practically zero, and he is gambling with only the money of long suffering taxpayers and others in Sewden and all over the world??

    BTW, I don’t think there is a chance in hell they will go over 80,000 units (he claimed they could break even at that no.), much less his target 125,000