Episode 396 – Akio On The Hot Seat, Ford Wants Suppliers To Cut CO2, VW May Buy Italdesign

May 20th, 2010 at 12:09pm

Runtime 8:42

An influential journalist in Japan with close ties to Toyota is calling for the resignation of CEO Akio Toyoda. Ford wants to create a plan for its suppliers to reduce their carbon footprints. Volkswagen may buy Italdesign. All that and more, plus a look at the Galpin Motors dealership and why they decided to sell Spyker exotic sports cars.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, May 20, 2010. And now the top news in the automotive world.

An influential journalist and commentator in Japan with close ties to Toyota is calling for the resignation of company CEO Akio Toyoda. The Associated Press reports that Masaaki Sato is sending letters to the editors of major U.S. newspapers including the New York Times and Washington Post where he criticizes Akio for surrounding himself with yes-men, bungling all the recent recalls, and pulling back on the company’s pell-mell rush into global expansion. If you ask me, sounds like this guy is a front for the executives who got Toyota into trouble in the first place. The very executives Akio is trying to get rid of. Another thing that sounds fishy to me: why is this Japanese journalist sending letters to the editors of American newspapers?

Ford has said it would like to cut its vehicle emissions 30 percent by 2020 and now it wants its suppliers to reduce their carbon footprints. According to Bloomberg, Ford wants to create a carbon management plan for suppliers to study energy use and carbon emissions from its top 35 suppliers. It’s voluntary, but none of its suppliers have objected to the study. Ford says this will help them become more efficient and use less energy. I would add that 70 percent of all the parts and components in a car are purchased, so the only way Ford can achieve its goal of CO2 reduction is by getting suppliers to do the same.

Have you ever wished for famous voices giving you directions from your nav system? Well, me neither. But now TomTom, one of the largest the nav makers, is offering downloads of the voices of race car drivers Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Juan Pablo Montoya. Or, you can download Darth Vader to guide you through your journey. Don’t worry, if you don’t want to go to the Dark Side, the voices of C3PO, Yoda, and Han Solo will be available later in the year. May the Farce be with you.

Chrysler just released this video of the upcoming 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The luxury SUV offers a choice of three different four-wheel-drive setups plus what they call a Quadra-Lift Air Suspension and Selec-Terrain system. The base 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 delivers up to 23 miles per gallon on the highway. Towing capacity is up to 7,400 lbs. Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne doesn’t believe in showing vehicles before they’re ready to go on sale, but the redesigned Grand Cherokee is just about to hit dealerships. Production at the company’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit is scheduled to start tomorrow afternoon. We’ll have some driving impressions of the newest Jeep in the coming weeks.

Autoblog reports that Volkswagen may buy Italdesign. The marriage of German engineering and Italian passion could be a match made in heaven since the two organizations already have a long history of working together. The first-generation Scirocco and Golf were both styled by Italdesign, which was founded by Georgietto Giugiaro, a man who was voted by his peers as the “Designer of the Century.” You know, I had a chance to meet Giugiaro and complimented him on predicting that one-box designs, like minivans and crossovers would become so popular. I said to him “Mr. Giugiaro you were so right when you predicted 20 years ago that the one-box design would become so popular. And Giugiaro looked me right in the eye and said, “NO, you’re wrong. I said that 30 years ago.”

Last week we had Victor Muller on the show. He’s the new owner of Saab, but he got into the car business by building the Spyker, his own design for an exotic sports car. And we’ll be taking a look at those cars and why one of their dealers signed up for a franchise.

It’s one thing to build an exotic sports car. Lots of people have done that. The key is selling those cars once they’re built, meaning you better have a distribution system. Spyker cars managed to do just that. Chip Drake filed this report on Galpin Motors and why they decided to take on the Spyker brand.

It sounds like Beau’s got a lot of confidence in Victor Muller…and why not? In just ten years this lawyer has created one car company and saved another. We’ll keep our eye on both as let you know how they’re doing.

By the way, if you’d like to see and hear what it like to drive one of those Spyker supercars, check out John’s Journal. Galpin’s Stuart McIntosh gives the Autoline camera a ride around the San Fernando Valley… so hold on!!

Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time for some of the best in-depth discussion on cars, the companies that make them and the people that make it all happen. That’s tonight at 7:00

And that’s all we’ve got for today’s show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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19 Comments to “Episode 396 – Akio On The Hot Seat, Ford Wants Suppliers To Cut CO2, VW May Buy Italdesign”

  1. Don B. Says:

    GPS voices, a few year ago it was request that Majel Barrett, Star Trek’s Nurse Chapel and the voice of the Enterprise computer do a voice over for GPS. That would be so cool to have the enterprise computer directing you.
    Tom Baker’s voice,one of the Doctors fron Doctor Who, is the ’411′ voice in England.

  2. LEX Says:


    I believe you are right about this Japanese Journalist being a hatchet man for the Toyota Executives who should be taking the blame for the screw-ups at Toyota. Akio Toyoda needs to come out swinging and clean house. These guys are poison! The Toyota Executives were playing under the same rules as the guys on Wall Street. Growth and Profits came first at the expense of quality engineering and safety.
    I hope Akio Toyoda survives and rebuilds consumers faith in Toyota vehicles. He should also take some English language lessons, or purchase Rosetta Stone Language Software so he is better able to speak on the world stage.

    Good Luck Akio!

  3. LEX Says:


    When is the 2010 The VW Scirocco going to hit North America?

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Regarding to the new Scirocco, probably never is when it will be coming to North America, according to Car and Driver.

  5. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Never” would be my guess too. Not worth the trouble importing it if only a few hundred a month will be ever sold. And when there are cheapo muscle cars that probably cost less and have one and a h alf times the HP etc of the Scirocco.

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I also agree with John Mc on the Toyota fiasco; Akio inherited all the bad decisions and underhanded dealings. At least he should be afforded time to see if his leadership can right the leaking ship. I’ll admit he hasn’t helped much (yet) but give the man a honest chance.

    I like Jeep and it looks as the new Grand Cherokee is a nice car but I have doubts as whether it has the potential to be a home-run (heavy competition from others and a starting price that is pretty darn high in a segment that is on the wain); we’ll just have to wait and see.

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I agree that Akio is on the bad end of a PR campaign that is run by the less-then-good execs at Toyota.They screwed the pooch and like our politicians,are looking out for themselves.

    In regards to the “new” Grand Cherokee,it should be better with the new Pentestar engine,although Jeep overall would have seen much improved sales right away if they would have also included the new mill in the Wrangler line….it sells better,makes more sense.

  8. Salvador G. Says:

    Well, I guess if the question is ‘What is Toyota biggest market?… and the answer is America – I guess that explain the whole writing for american newspaper thing -also this is the home of unintended accer. and the home for lawsuits againts toyota.
    -Yeah, I think someone whats Akio Toyoda to open his belly back in Japan.

    Now -What Akio Toyoda should do is to lunch some great product here in America like FT-86

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Salvador G. Says:
    May 20th, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    “Jeep overall would have seen much improved sales right away if they would have also included the new mill in the Wrangler line….it sells better,makes more sense.”

    I figured Wrangler buyers were “purists” who would rather have the old 4 liter in line six than any V6. At least a couple “Jeep guys” I know feel that way.

  10. dcars Says:

    The whole Toyota internal battle seems odd. Japanese executives use to readily quit in disgrace if the company was found at fault. They did it to save face for the Corporate owners. Not this time, it seams like they are out to get Akio Toyoda, and he might be the least guilty. I think it was the previous exec’s that started this rapid world conquering quest, at the expense of car quality.

  11. Salvador G. Says:

    Wow, Kit G. I almost can’t believe I said that, although; personally I prefer the Mountain model, drop it a little -make it more city friendly, V6 its ok; you stuff like that.

    -probably give it to my sister as a gift.

  12. Salvador G. Says:

    uppss!! meant… you know stuff like that.

  13. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Toyoda shouldnt resign, but there should be a ton of firings though.

  14. Nick Stevens Says:

    I don’t think that even today Toyota’s biggest market is the US. They barely sell 2 million here a year, I bet they sel more in Japan, but more importantly, in the future, CHINA will be Toyota’s biggest market. And if you put all of Toyota’s developing nations-emegring market sales together, they will DWARF those in the US.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Toyota sales by region for 2009 in millions of Yen:

    Japan 8,152,884
    North America 8,771,495
    Europe 3,346,013
    Asia 1,969,957
    Others 1,707,742

    I couldn’t find numbers separating the U.S. from the rest of North America. In any case, it looks like Toyota is doing very well in their home market. I suspect the number of cars sold would be much higher in Japan than the U.S., because they sell a lot more small cars there, and a lot fewer large, expensive vehicles.

  16. Nick Stevens Says:


    Thanks for the stats. These are even better than the usual “Number of units” stats usually available, and do prove my point.

    Even tho you do not have the US numbers, we can safely assume that Canada sales should be at least 10% of US, and mexico over 5% (I could check the no of units from the Auto news databank. In any case, US sales seem to be less in value than Japan sales, if you take 85% of your NA numbers, that gives roughly 1,350,000 mill yen, leaving the US with about 7,400,000 mill yen vs the 8,150,000 of Japan.

  17. Nick Stevens Says:

    Toyota has remarkably low sales in the big Europe market (maybe it excludes eastern europe) above, and even lower in the fastest growing markets of Asia and probably “Others” too.

  18. B. Berman. Says:

    About NAVs, I think that the NAV makers are missing an oportunity here. I think they should offer downloads for comedians giving directions. I would like to have Sam Kennison saying “re-calculating route” if you turned right instead of left. Don Rickles wuld be funny too.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I thinks it’s cool the way the female voice in my Garmin sounds a little annoyed when she says “recalculating,” but yeh, a comedian or something different would be nice for a change, especially if I used the unit more than the two or three times a year that I use it.