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Episode 544 – Toyota Turnaround Years Away, Hyundai Plans Fuel Cell Production, Dodge Durango

December 20th, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 8:21

An analysis of Toyota by Goldman Sachs Japan predicts the automaker will lose global market share. Hyundai plans to start commercial production of fuel-cell cars by 2015. Volkswagen says it wants to be No. 1 in electric-vehicle sales in China by 2018. All that and more, plus a look at the new vehicle that shocked everyone by ending up as one of the finalists for the North American Truck of the Year award.

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This is Autoline Daily for December 20, 2010. And now, the news.

TOYOTA TURN AROUND YEARS AWAY (subscription required)
Looks like Toyota is going to be facing problems for some years to come. An analysis of the company by Goldman Sachs Japan predicts the automaker will lose global market share. Part of the company’s problems stem from the ongoing weakness in its home market of Japan, where Toyota is posting an operating loss. Europe and India are cited as other problem areas for Toyota. The report says that Toyota will not start to turn around until it comes out with the next-generation Camry in the American market next summer, and with a new entry-level family car in China in two to three years’ time.

RARE-EARTH MINE REOPENS IN U.S. (subscription required)
Here’s a story we’ve been following quite a bit on Autoline Daily. You all know how China slashed its exports of rare-earth metals, which are needed to make hybrids and electric cars, as well as all kinds of electronics and military equipment. Well, the Wall Street Journal reports the United States is going to reopen its rare-earth mine in California. The U.S. used to be the prime source of rare-earth metals until 2002 when the mine was closed for environmental reasons. But the new owners of the mine say they can solve these environmental issues, and environmentalists seem to be willing to go along with them. China says it’s cutting back on its rare-earth exports because of environmental issues.

VW AIMS FOR No. 1 IN EV SALES IN CHINA
And speaking of China, rare-earth metals and electric cars, Volkswagen says it wants to be the No. 1 electric-car maker in China. According to Bloomberg, VW is already the largest foreign automaker in the country and wants to be No. 1 in EV sales by 2018. VW will spend more than 10 billion euros over the next five years in China to help boost production.

MERCEDES LEASING FUEL-CELL CARS IN U.S.
Even though electric cars are getting all the headlines these days, automakers have not given up on fuel-cell cars. Mercedes-Benz is now offering the B-Class F-Cell for lease to California residents. But because of the extremely scarce number of refueling stations, Mercedes is conducting its own vetting process to decide who can lease one. Powered by an electric motor, the F-Cell uses a fuel-cell stack to generate electricity and a lithium-ion battery to store it. Mercedes says it has a range of 240 miles.

HYUNDAI PLANS FUEL-CELL PRODUCTION
And speaking of fuel-cell cars, Bloomberg reports that Hyundai plans to start commercial production of fuel-cell cars by 2015. The model will be an upgrade of the Tucson IX, a fuel-cell SUV introduced in 2008. The range of the new car is more than 400 miles which is more than a 50 percent improvement from the previous model.

FORD REVEALS NORTH AMERICAN C-MAX
But electrics and fuel cell cars are facing a moving target. Today’s conventional cars just keep getting better. Take Ford’s new C-Max, which was designed and engineered in Europe. The company just revealed the North American version of this compact people mover. Ford is billing it as a “five-plus-two,” that is, it’s designed for five passengers with room for two children in the third row. As with other recent Fords, the C-Max comes loaded with technology. It gets active park assist, the company’s MyFord Touch user interface and a really cool hands-free liftgate. With the keyfob in his or her possession all a driver has to do to open the hatch is wave their foot under the rear bumper. It’s great for when you have an armful of packages. Under the hood it gets either a naturally aspirated 2.5-liter powerplant or a 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine, which I got to test a few months back. It’s AWESOME. Look for the North American version of the Ford C-Max to make its formal debut at the Detroit Auto Show next month.

CRASHVERTISING
Car accidents are – at least for the time being – an unavoidable fact of life for drivers. They’re dangerous, wasteful and above all aggravating, but one group is looking to capitalize on them. “Crashvertising,” as it’s called, aims to combine advertising with accidents. Here’s how it works. When a car crash gets reported on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter, a team of “crashvertisers” is dispatched. At the scene of the accident they hold up banners, setup special safety triangles and give away SWAG to advertise companies and products to the motorists who are trapped in the traffic bottleneck. Now, before you blow a head gasket keep in mind this is just satire, it’s not for real. But I wouldn’t be surprised if someone does use “Crashvertising” in the future.

Coming up next, a look at the new vehicle that shocked everyone by ending up as one of the finalists for the North American Truck of the Year award.

DODGE DURANGO
I’m on the jury for the North American Car and Truck of the Year award. And I think we all knew that the Jeep Grand Cherokee would end up on the list of finalists for the award. But I think we were all shocked when the new Dodge Durango ended up there too. Yes, they are built in the same plant, going down the same line, but they are different vehicles. I was out on the media launch for the Durango, and here’s my reaction to it.

We’ll know in a couple of weeks whether the Durango gets named as North American Truck of the Year, where it’s up against the Grand Cherokee and Ford Explorer. That announcement will be made at the Detroit Auto show.

Don’t forget to tune in to Open Line tonight which gives you the opportunity to join in on all the talk of what’s going on with cars. Or just sit back and listen. But it’s the only show I know where the audience can jump in any time it wants to. Join host Michelle Naranjo tonight starting at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, on Open Line.

And that brings us to the end of today’s report on the latest news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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35 Comments to “Episode 544 – Toyota Turnaround Years Away, Hyundai Plans Fuel Cell Production, Dodge Durango”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    VW wants to be #1 in E/V sales in China ???

    What part of VW-Audi management missed out on the news over a week ago about China dropping its E/V initiative due to the realization that their infrastructure was in NO WAY ready for even the tiniest wave of new E/V’s ?

    Why do I get the very distinct feeling that VW-Audi is on the verge of implosion ?

  2. Dale Leonard-Lakewood,Ohio Says:

    Hi John, No matter what damage control Toyota does they will never regain the market share they once held. The general public has lost faith in them.

  3. HtG Says:

    Oh, the irony! All those rare earth metals from China to power your EV or Iphone/Orb come at the expense of the environment. That article John sited also explains that it was all the pollution from extraction which shut down US production. In China, shut up and work.

    H/S, do you need some Orb?

  4. Zieke Says:

    Too bad for Toyota. They were known to build quality vehicles until they decided that no. 1 in the world was more important. I believe Ford has the right idea- let their vehicles speak for themselves. Chrysler may even be going that route, but it will take longer for them to catch Ford.

  5. tj Martin Says:

    I’d have to say that Toyota’s problems are being greatly overstated by the press . Their sales are down a bit from where they were , their reliability has slipped a tad , but the simple fact is they’re still the best game in town when it comes to cars and trucks.

    Its not like Toyota are suffering the way Audi did in the 80′s with all their problems . They’re just not a solid #1 at the moment .

    In fact its Ford etc. who are still doing the catching up to Toyota not visa versa .

    One look at the mass of recalls in the last two weeks alone from the other manufactures tells the tale .

    Everybody is screwing up right now .

  6. tj Martin Says:

    HtG ;

    I keep telling everybody that E/V’s and Hybrids create more problems than they solve at this point in time .

    But who listens ?

  7. tj Martin Says:

    So an opinion from everyone else on this site if you please .

    Its been my contention for the last year that 2010 has turned out to be the worst year for GearHeads in recent memory .

    What with the rash of Self Igniting Cars , pretentious companies like TATA buying Range Rover Jaguar , this idiot Bahar doing his damndest to destroy Lotus , VW taking over Porsche , the E/V Hybrid craze by the manufactures , More Hype than Reality from everyone from the manufactures to the Automotive Press , Marchionne’s waffling ( Is He or Isn’t He ? ) Car racing of all kinds lapsing into Spectacle eliminating the Sport etc etc etc .

    Its been a steady progress for sure , but this last year for me has put the cap on ;

    An Automotive Business Gone Mad

    Any other thoughts/opinions ?

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    VW , why don’t you take a hint from Toyota’s woes and give up on trying to be #1. Look where it got them and they have the luxury of being tops in reliability surveys while you cannot make any such claims, so I can only imagine where you’ll end up, right down there with Yugo and Fiat.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    TJ the economic conditions and the Feds not cutting back on neither safety nor CAFE demands is forcing automakers into a hole by having to raise prices thus driving more and more folks out of the new car market. We really have no room here for crappy Chinese cars or the 21st Century Yugo (Tata)

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    tj Martin Says:
    December 20th, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    “So an opinion from everyone else on this site if you please” “Car racing of all kinds lapsing into Spectacle eliminating the Sport etc etc etc.”

    I agree with most of what you said in post #7, but, in ways, it was a historically good year for racing, F1 in particular. Most years, the F1 championship is locked up aven before the last race starts. This year, there were 4 contenders going into the final race. Yes, the racing itself could be better, but the fight for the championship was one of the best ever.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    So let’s see, environmentalists closed down US rare earth mining and prevented US nuclear power plants, now their descendants demand EV’s which require rare metals for the batteries and the electric power to charge them.

  12. HtG Says:

    If you’re selling luxury cars in China, it was a very good year.

    If you’re driving next to somebody texting it was not a very good year.

    If your Toyota brand lost its halo, you did not have Hyundai’s very good year.

  13. HtG Says:

    Kit, do you think next year’s rules will make for better racing? Will pit strategy still be so decisive? Take out Vettel and Webber colliding or Webber running over Kovalainen, and all the points excitement would have been Not So Much.

  14. tj Martin Says:

    Kit & HtG

    F1 2011 is going to be a transitional year what with all the changes in store for 2012 , so I doubt much will change with either the racing or who are the top contenders for the year .

    2012 may just bankrupt more than a few of the bottom feeders , as well as convince another manufacture ( or two ) to walk away from the series , what with all the new 4 cylinder engine development costs etc.

    Sport wise Bernie seems damned and determined to turn F1 into NASCAR for Really rich folks , so more Pro Wrestling scenarios , faked controversies etc.

    Also the rumors are rife that another top driver or two may jump ship from F1 to another series .

    And just where are the F1 teams going to keep getting sponsorship $ in light of a Financial World gone ultra mad ?

    Austin in 2012 is looking less appealing by the minute for me which is a shame .

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The big change for 2011 seems to be the “official” end of the ban against team orders. The racing probably won’t improve much.

    I’m looking forward to change to 4 cylinder turbo engines. Everyone will be “starting from scratch” with the new engines, and it will be interesting to see how things turn out. I just hope enough teams, and engine builders, can afford to stay in the series.

  16. HtG Says:

    I thought double diffusers would go away,and that KERS would return. At least energy recovery technology has some real world value, viz. Porsche developing their hybrid car for GT races. (here’s hoping they drop the 918 on Detroit)

  17. Chuck Grenci Says:

    John, I would like to know how you would compare the 1.6 Ford Ecoboost 4 to the Cruze’s 1.4 turbo engine; is the Ford enough better to make a difference or is it just good Ford marketing that gets another chance to use the word ‘Ecoboost’. What’s my point, well, the hemi got a lot of mileage with its name (even though they had a lot to back it up) but remembering the engine competition from Ford and Chevy, of the era, were arguably just as good and sometimes better.

  18. dcars Says:

    California was miss guided and irresponsible concerning electrical energy. They came up with the idea to “deregulate” the electrical power industry. Bad idea that opened the door to a lot of scam artists and got rid of the excess capicity that protected the users and supported industrial growth. As noted earlier they literally shutdown building new generators putting a huge strain on their existing infrastructure and giving new meaning to the word “rolling brown outs.”

  19. dcars Says:

    GM was great at building cars for the masses and marketing to them. They knew how complex it was to engineer so many different cars for so many different markets. Toyta got a nasty taste of being number one, I wonder if VW is truly up to the challenge.

  20. dcars Says:

    Fiat has really stepped up to the plate and is turning Chrysler around. They seamed to have succeeded where M&B had failed. I didn’t like the old Durango it seamed to me that it was poorly made, inefficient and badly engineered. Good for them.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    Dcars: both the new Cherokee and Durango have been in the works for a long time, before Fiat took over, perhaps they, along with us taxpayers, did infuse the money needed to make this happen, but remember they are both based on Merc underpinnings whic also explain their many accolades. Chrysler engineers are not the problem, it was management, same with GM and Ford.

  22. cwolf Says:

    There is almost too much to comprehend over the last year or two. The turbo/ecoboost and 4 cyl. seem to be the attension grabber. Everbody is adding an array of twists to larger sized suv types,but I feel gas prices will have the overall say of the winner. How do you pick who’s the best with limited productions?
    VW’s goal to be #1,IMO,is a losing gamble for them. In my eyes their talent was in jetta sized cars:perfect size, great interiors,lots of cargo area/size and the diesel. Now that even their best car has been cheepened and bigger,VW nolonger has a winning identity.
    Hyundai has never had my respect. Simply put,they are copy cats of design and technology. Throw in all the bells and wistles from the money saved from copying, they have extra for r&d of their own. I believe their down fall will be that they want to be everything to everybody in all auto/truck sectors; and you can’t if you are a copy cat!
    My Milan has a 4 cyl.,and even though it has been problem free, I don’t think anyone knows of long term endurance in a larger vehicle. Larger gear ratios are the savior of fuel economy and turbo’s take up the slack; but can 4 cyls. prove themselves in the long run?
    I truely believe the 4 cyl. has not edged out the 6 cyl. in mileage and longevity in many cases. After all the negagatives about the Impala,it’s 6 cyl cast iron block engine has HWY averaged 32mpg in every car I rented and it had guts the 4 didn’t. Fix the plastics and rear seat, it may reach Malibu sales.
    My pal has a small merc with a 6 and gets 36 on the hwy.
    I’m not 100% sold the 4cyl.is the cure- all for all things to come.
    The c -max has potential. Copy the folding seats of the chry and add a diesel and you have one in our driveway.

  23. cwolf Says:

    Auto makers can fuel cell and EV themslves to death and the only place viable is Hawaii. Forget California because they are on a completely different universe where the even the rich can’t afford their self created eden. As far as I am concerned, these A…HOLES can walk to work or to the spa! Give us DIESELS or give us death!

  24. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    About Crashvertizing: Not New

    Children in 3rd world country use any slow down or stoppage in traffic to sell gum and other stuff. I know because I was one of them and it was a great after school gig.

    So, Crashvertizing is not new and actually what third world country kids do is real (not a joke) and they deliver real product, not just advertisement.

  25. dcars Says:

    I found it interesting that cerbus was blamed for a lot of Chrysler’s problems and not M&B. Cerbus had them only a year.
    Now after M&B has been gone for a long time, but we are giving them credit for the good things coming out of Chrysler.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems that people still have this unfounded idea that 4 cylinder engines don’t hold up. It’s time to join the world as it now exists.

    I have a friend with a much-maligned Pontiac Sunfire with the 2.2 pushrod engine. The car has 170K miles. It runs perfectly, it uses very little oil, and the only repair it has needed in 170K miles, other than a battery and a brake job, is replacement of a motor mount. If we are to believe the hype, a Honda or Toyota should do much better than this Sunfire. Still, if my friend’s Sunfire completely self destructs tomorrow, it will have done much better than the V-8 powered cars of not too many years ago.

  27. Wayne Says:

    I hope Ford has done a better job with the latest incarnation of the C-Max. I drove one in Germany in 2006 and was not very impressed. It drove and handled okay and the interior was acceptable but the interior noise level at autobahn speed was unbearable. There obviously was not enough sound deadening insulation installed in the vehicle. Once over 150 Kph you could not have a regular conversation with passengers. The rental company actually had the nerve to put the C-Max in the same class as a BMW they offered (but had very limited numbers of!).

  28. Bob Says:

    # Kit Gerhart Says:
    December 20th, 2010 at 10:18 am

    “Bob,
    A minivan drives like a truck, sucks gas like a truck, and if you fold or remove the seats, will haul stuff like a truck. It is not a car”

    (Leftover nonsense from last episode)

    deleted the graytuitous attacks and misrepresentation of my EMPHASIS When I use CAPS into “shouting” and will go to the meat of the above pile of errors and misinformation.

    ALL, I repeat ALL, Minivans are CAR BASED. They are biult on CAR PLATFORMS. They are NOT Body on Frame, which all TRUCKS (REAL TRUCKS) are.

    For example, the Odyssey is biult on the ACCORD platform, the older small Odyssey was buil;t on the CiVIC platform (!!), the SIenna on the Camry, etc etc. A

    ANd Gerhart of all people should KNOW that his own POS Chrysler minivan is nothing but an execrable K CAR WAGON!!

    And we all remember what utter POS vehicles the K-cars were, unbelievably PRIMITIVE designs inside and out.!

    REAL SUVS are ALSO Body on frame AND also TRUCK based. FAKE SUVS are UNIBODY and car based.

    ANd GErhart has obviously NEVER driven even a HALF DECENT Minivan as the Oddyssey, because IF HE HAD, he would KNOW that it drives NOTHING like a TRUCK, but instead drives like a long wheelbase wagon that it IS.

    I don’t mind the unprovoked attacks on my person, but I DO mind the lies and the misinformation and the Automotive illiteracy spread here.

    FOr ex

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    There are 2 things to consider regarding Chrysler, one is financial the other is product or engineering, obviously Cerberus had nothing to do with the latter, but if these 2 new acclaimed vehicles are derived from MB platforms, who else can you give credit to? Besides the Chrysler engineers who made the end product as good as they did.

  30. Bob Says:

    And PS, Minicans sure DO NOT “suck gas like a Truck”. Gerhart has really NO IDEA what he or she is talking about, you can get a 4,600 lbs Odyssey with cylinder deactivation and it is rated an OUTSTANDING 28 MPG Highway EPA 2008, which means it does FAR BETTER in ACTUAL MPG as all hondas I have ever owned.

    AND while we are at it, another clueless attack on me by Gephart5 was when I CORRECTLY pointed out that the Fusion Hybrid is priced the same as the Non-hybrid BECAUSE THEY ARE VERY DIUFFERENT CARS, trhe Hybrid having a lousy 4 cylinder AND the non-hybrid the V6. (Despite that, I’d buy the Hybrid every time).

    Gephart tried, lamely as always, to dispute even the above OBVIOUS FACT by stating that the3 acceleration of the V6 vis “ONLY” (LOL!) 1.7 or 1.3 WHOLE SECONDS lower than that of the Hybrid, as if that PROVED ANYTHING. IT DOES NOT, and even 1.3 seconds is a SIGNIFICANT acceleration difference. There are even cars where 0.2 seconds is significant!!!

    Had Enough, GEphart? Now go away, I got things to do.

  31. Bob Says:

    I wonder when Honda will turen around and repeat the excellent sucesses they had in the 80s and early 90s with their ultra-reliable, fun to drive, Fuel Efficiency CHAMPIONS Civic Hatches and Accords and all kinds of other great vehicles they made then.

    2010 was a huge opportunity for them, due to TOyota’s problems, but they missed it, while HYUNDAI took advantage of it big time.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    Minivans are indeed car based, always have, but not all are created equal, I have driven Caravans and Siennas and the latter rode more like a car and the Caravan drove like a sloppy barge, it reminded me of the full size work vans I used to drive

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Bob,”

    I recently drove a 2009 or 2010 Sienna. Going around curves, it does not drive like a car, at least not like today’s cars. It drives well for what it is, a non-so-micro microbus.

    As far as gas mileage, a Sienna has EPA numbers of 18/24. I don’t have the numbers handy for the Odyssey which would be a little better, but both use a lot more gas than most of today’s cars.

    Whether you think it or not, MKZ V6 and hybrid are still the same car, but with different power trains. Whether 1.5 seconds in 0-60 time makes much difference in normal driving is in the eye of the beholder, I guess, but to me, it doesn’t make much difference.

    Also, if an SUV has to be body-on-frame to be “real,” there aren’t many “real” SUV’s these days.

    I hope you have calmed down a little, and I really don’t understand the HATE that brings out your angry, typo-filled responses.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Old Caravans like mine drove well for what they were, when new, but are very crude by today’s standards. In ’84, the Chrysler vans road and drove better than the then-competition, Aerostar and Astro/Safari. By the end of its life, Astro/Safari were improved in ways that made them much more refined than the early ones.

  35. GPL Says:

    Hey Bob,

    The Jeep Grand Cherokee has always been unibody, as was the XJ Cherokee before it. So I guess they are fake SUVs.