Episode 410 – Never Say “Chevy,” Chrysler Goes for 8, A Ride in the Audi e-tron

June 10th, 2010 at 12:03pm

Runtime 8:45

GM–whoops–General Motors’ brand management police say you should never say “Chevy” again. Chrysler will start building 8-speed transmissions in Kokomo, Indiana. If you eat while you drive, you could be at higher risk of food poisoning. All that and more, plus we go to Brazil for a drive in Audi’s all-electric e-tron.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, June 10, 2010. And now, the news.

Now I am sure that General Motors has completely lost its mind. The New York Times is reporting that a memo went out to all Chevrolet employees to never again say “Chevy.” It only wants them to say Chevrolet. I’m dead serious, I’m not making this up. The reason for this diktat is that Chevrolet wants consistency in how it markets the brand, and it says that consistency is what makes a brand more recognizable to consumers. I would point out that Chevrolet never came up with the name Chevy. That was a term of endearment that America bestowed upon one of its favorite brands. Banning the word Chevy from our vocabulary is absolutely the most bizarre development to come out of GM, ooops, I mean General Motors, as it struggles to market its cars.

The European Union is bullish on bio-fuels but it doesn’t want to see the continent deforested in the process. Bloomberg reports that the European Commission issued guidelines to prevent forests, wetlands and nature reserves from being converted to grow crops for bio-fuels. And in related news Ward’s reports that a major research effort is underway in Canada to mass produce fuel from algae. The National Research Council in Canada is specifically looking at algae from North America to pick the best strain. And it wants to grow that algae using CO2 captured from the Alberta oil sands and from coal-fired power plants. The research council says commercial production is still 5 to 10 years away.

BMW is trying to keep itself on the top of the sales charts for luxury brands in the American market. And it is counting on the new X3 to pad its lead over Lexus and Mercedes. Autoline Daily ran into Jack Pitney, the head of sales and marketing for BMW North America, to explain why this is so. (SOT)
When the X3 was made in Austria the currency conversion made it very expensive in the American market, and BMW diverted most production to other global markets.

Chrysler announced that it will build 8-speed automatic transmissions at its Kokomo plant in Indiana. The company will invest $300 million to upgrade the facility to produce the transmission which it will license from German supplier ZF. Production will begin in 2013 but the company didn’t say what vehicles it will be used in. Also as part of the agreement Chrysler will purchase transmissions built by ZF.

If you eat while you drive, this next story may convince you not to. According to the Daily Mail, a report says eating in the car can increase the risk of food poisoning. Scientists swabed the inside of cars and found bacteria on things like door handles, gear shifters, and the steering wheel. Nearly 70% of people surveyed say they eat in the car but only half clean the inside of their cars at least once a month. Food is the main culprit but bacteria is in soil, so shoes or paws from pets can track it into the car as well. The researchers recommend that you should clean the inside of your car at least once a week. Once a week? That’s how often I brush my teeth!

What’s it like driving around in Audi’s e-Tron? We’ll give you an up close look at one of the most exotic electric sports cars coming out, right after the break.

When Audi first introduced its electric sports car it was just an electric version of the R-8. But that was just a teaser. Audi then went out and designed a full electric car from scratch, the e-Tron. And while it has some resemblance to the R-8, the e-Tron is a unique design unto itself. Autoline Daily just got a chance to take a ride in the car. Take a look at this report.

When major automakers like Audi do beautifully turned out EV’s like this one, the folks at the start ups like Tesla and Fisker better be on their toes. The big OEM’s might be late to the party but make no mistake, they are fashionably late.

Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tonight – but not at the normal time. Tonight we’re starting an hour earlier. This one-off change is because we’ll be at the Henry Ford Museum where they’re opening a new racing exhibit. This is an event that is not open to the public. Only you will see what it’s about and who shows up. We should have some great guests from the racing community. That’s Autoline After Hours tonight, starting at 6PM Eastern Time.

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

34 Comments to “Episode 410 – Never Say “Chevy,” Chrysler Goes for 8, A Ride in the Audi e-tron”

  1. diffrunt Says:

    brushing once a week means that you,re soaking
    them every nite in a glass of water<g

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    “Chevy”……if they don’t like that name I have another that I usually use when talking about that brand…..and it begins with an “S”.

    Chrysler..still a day late and a dollar short for their more-then-4 speed auto transmissions.Way to go sergio,your still “not getting it”.

  3. Roger T Says:

    Is Coca Cloa dropping Coke??? Never!
    This Chevy story only shows the kind of people leading the company through this crisis… Airheads.

  4. Tony Gray Says:

    I will continue to call my Chevrolet a Chevy, just as I call my BMW a Bimmer, my GTO a Goat, and drink a Coke that I get at the drive through at MickeyD’s while riding a Harley.

    Completely asinine. I usually go easy on marketing types, trying to give them a break, but this deserves somebody’s immediate reassignment to the mail room.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    Re: the Chevy memo, this is what Whitacre comes up with while he waits for the Viagra to take effect.

  6. Jon Says:

    Please, please, please upgrade your video player-on my 19″ display, all i can watch is an Iphone sized image? You need to install a “full screen” button, as have all other video sites. This is especially important with all the new product you show, detail is lost on the small display.

    2ND REQUEST, no answer the first time…..

  7. Brian Says:

    So bye, bye, Miss American Pie, drove my Chevrolet to the levrolet but the levrolet was dry . . .
    Hmm. Loses something in the translation, no?

  8. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I was thinking the opposite. They should get rid of the Chevrolet name unofficially, by marketing the cars only as Chevys.

    For Business purposes the Brand should still be called Chevrolet, but for marketing and branding purposes it should be called Chevy-Only!!

  9. Tony Gray Says:

    I should have said riding a HOG, but you get the point.

  10. Kate McLeod Says:

    No one is dumb enough to try and take the emotional connection out of a product. So I immediately figured Joel Ewanick and Goodby Silverstein purposely started a campaign to create a consumer uprising–a buzz plot. Ewanick is smart enough to do that but since GM has put out another mea culpa memo, perhaps a buzz plot is too smart.

  11. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Unless this has something to do with how close the name is to Chery, and nobody is spilling the beans. Sure Chevy was there first, but GM is trying to remake its image and having a name close to the name of a widely known and controversial Chinese Car Company, well…, you figure it out.

    Maybe some enterprising journalist who facetiously claims he brushes his teeth once a week should ask that question?

  12. HtG Says:

    See? Joel Ewanick is a genius! Consistency consistency consistency is/not the hobgoblin of an asinine mind. What does Joel think they’re not calling him down at the Tubes?

    While I’m on a roll, how bout that Audi engineer calling the car a ‘weehicle’? You think he can’t pronounce it right? Nein, auch ein anderer marketink Genius!

  13. RonE Says:

    John, “Drove my Chevrolet to the levy” just doesn’t get it.

  14. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Worrying about whether to use the name Chevy vs. Chevrolet is like treating a pimple on a person who is dying of cancer; let’s get some priorities straight.

    As far as the story on germs in your car, ALERT, there are bacteria everywhere. Bacteria per se don’t make you sick (unless the bacteria are a pathogenic variety and are in a number that can overtake your natural immune system. Food poisening, while caused by bacteria, is usually caused by the toxin that the bacteria create; this can only occur when left for a long enough time for them to reproduce and the toxin to accummulate. Casual ingestion of bacteria (no matter what the source) is ubiquitous in life and many of the strains are what are called ‘normal flora’.

  15. dcars Says:

    Didn’t Hyundai and KIA do something similar with their names? GM will get a lot people talking about their name with this issue.

  16. LEX Says:

    I agree with by fellow Autoline Daily Viewers:
    Roger T. & Tony Gray about dropping the Chevy name.

    But Pedro Fernandez is Absolutely Correct when he Says: “The Chevy memo, this is what Whitacre comes up with while he waits for the Viagra to take effect.” and when

    HyundaiSmoke Says: “I was thinking the opposite. They should get rid of the Chevrolet name unofficially, by marketing the cars only as Chevys. For Business purposes the Brand should still be called Chevrolet, but for marketing and branding purposes it should be called Chevy-Only!!”

    The Chevrolet name is so old man sounding just like “Buick”. Whitacre must be losing it to allow this memo to be circulated. General Motors should bit the bullet and convert the entire product line under the GM Banner. Keep Cadillac separate and roll Chevrolet, Buick and GMC into the “New General Motors”. Keep the model names but consolidate the advertising budgets to promote the strenght and quality of all it’s vehicles. I believe this would be a real money saver. Individual GM Dealers with multiple GM Brands would become Mega / Box GM Dealers / Stores selling all models and services. This would reduce the number of Clones like the Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave. There would be a GM version and a Cadillac version, hopefully the new Escalade.

    The Real Problem is that GM has gone through the tortures of bankruptcy just like a patient would go through psychotherapy but they are still suffering with schizophrenia and multiple personalities disorder. GM needs to speak with one voice to it’s remaining loyal customer base and hopefully attract new customers with really world class vehicles and product warranties. Case and point “Toyota – Lexus”, “Honda – Acura”, “Nissan – Infinity”!

    “Quality and Reliability Talks, BS Walks!”

  17. John V. Says:

    I like the way Jergen nearly called the Frankfurt auto show the “Audi Auto show.”

    “Worrying about whether to use the name Chevy vs. Chevrolet is like treating a pimple on a person who is dying of cancer; let’s get some priorities straight.”

    Chuck, I agree entirely!

  18. HtG Says:

    It frightens me that there are still decision makers at GM who are so stupid. Just stunning.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    This AM I heard a radio spot for the Malibu, some chick there saying she had traded in her BMW 3 series for a Malibu, “roomier, better mpg and more features”, she forgot to mention they’re in a different class altogether.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    with all the safety equipment that new cars have, no one has thought of putting a carbon monoxide detector in the cabin, seepage into the cabin from faulty or damaged exhaust can cause dizziness and even death if not detected, I should know, I had it happen to me

  21. jesse Says:

    GM says NO MORE “Chevy”.Undoubtedly the most ridiculous story of the year!The brass should be booked for a stand up routine at every comedy club in the country because this would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad!!What is wrong with these people???

  22. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Dcars, Hyundai/KIA used to be only called Hyundai Motor Company with Hyundai as a Brand and KIA as a Brand.

    It was 2 years ago they decided to change the name to Hyundai-KIA Automotive Group or HKAG.

    You Have HKAG as Mommy and Hyundai Motor Company as the older more sophisticated and refined Big Brother, with KIA Motors as the wild young cocky brash Little Brother.

    Lex you’re right. To add to that you should be able to go to a GM Store and buy Buick, Chevy, and GMC products. Have Cadillac Stores be separate.

    Forget this whole local Chevy dealer, or local Buick GMC dealer crap. You should be able to go to the GM Store. Screw this whole concept of the GM Name is tarnished. The Hyundai name is “Tarnished”, but you dont see them giving up in becoming something more.

    GM is an American Icon like Disney. I dont see anybody going to the Cinderlla Store to buy their little girl Cinderella Paraphernalia. I dont see anybody going to Cinderella World or Cinderella Land. You know why?

    Well, its because People go to Disneyland and Disney World, and to the Disney Store. Just like they should go to a GM Store if they want to buy a Buick, GMC, or Chevy.

  23. Salvador G. Says:


    -Those are the kind of decisions that usually drunks come about.

    EVERYONE – How many days you all think will go by, before General Motors put their foot up their mouths for this one???
    - I’ll go with at least by next monday.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My Chevy will always be a Chevy. I suspect there will be enough uproar over the rediculous memo that PR releases will be better vetted next time.

    Also, how is Chrysler “a day late and dollar short” with 8-speed transmissions as someone said? The only 8-speeds now sold in the U.S. market are in high-dollar luxury cars, so Chrysler may be ahead of most of their competition with them. A 300C with an 8-speed ZF-designed transmission will be a very good car, performance-wise.

    The transmissions will be built in one of the plants opened during the Daimler-Chrysler era, which is now building 5-speed transmissions for rear drive cars and light trucks. The new transmission will be for rear drive and 4wd applications, so someone must think that the truck and big rear drive car business will be around for a while. I hope they are right, for the sake of people I know who work in the Kokomo Chrysler facilities.

  25. LEX Says:

    Thank you HyundaiSmoke for agreeing with my solutions concerning this whole Chevy / GM Branding issue. Hyundai is the perfect example of what an OEM has to do to build sales Volume and Brand Loyalty. Hyundai / Kia has been steadily improving the quality and styling of their vehicles and backing them with industry leading warranties. Consumers are looking for quality and reliability from the products they buy, especially vehicles. Whitacre needs to take a lesson from John Krafcik of Hyundai in Auto Manufacturing and Marketing 101.

  26. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit:My statement wasn’t about a 8 spd auto per say,it was that they are finally going to come out with more then a 4 spd auto that is still in many of their vehicles.Yes,some do have 5 spd autos but damn few.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Some of the Chryslers, like a Toyota Corolla, still have 4-speed automatics in some versions. All of the front drives have a 6-speed available, except Caliber which has a CVT. The rear drive Chrysler products have both 4- and 5-speed automatics.

  28. C-tech Says:

    Why on earth are you people so upset over an INTERNAL memo which asks EMPLOYEES to call the cars Chevrolets? It has nothing to do with the public (with the exception of the fact they SHOULD BE SPENDING THEIR TIME BUILDING BETTER PRODUCT!)

  29. Alex Kovnat Says:

    Soon, cars will be required to have “black boxes” like airliners. May I ask how many pounds of weight, how many cubic inches of volume, and how many dollars of cost will this add to my car?

    Is there no end to the demands of neurotic intellectuals for more and more doodads on other peoples’ cars?

    Finally, regarding the matter of requiring cars to have systems to prevent accelerator and brakes from being applied at the same time, or something like that: Why should Chevrolet (or Chevy if you prefer :) ), or for that matter
    Ford or Chrysler, be punished with extra mandated design complications because of a screwup Toyota made in their cars?

  30. C-tech Says:

    Alex, much of that info (and more) is already captured by the various computer modules in your car since 1996. It is a matter of storage and retrieval. Cadillac division tried to deny some warranty coverage based on how the cars were driven in the 90′s and some insurance companies base your rate on getting that info on how you drive.

  31. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    What’s the point in a Car if you cant have fun?

    FWD Drifting-A new Sport for Small Cars.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit: there’s really no reason except for economics to still have a 4 speed trans in ANY car, it is old technology that helps neither MPG or the need for smaller engines. Honda has eliminated all 4 sp.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro fernandez Says:
    June 11th, 2010 at 6:06 am

    “Kit: there’s really no reason except for economics to still have a 4 speed trans in ANY car, it is old technology that helps neither MPG or the need for smaller engines.”

    My ’06 Malibu Maxx has a 4-speed automatic with its 3.5 liter pushrod V6. Both the old-tech engine and gear box work well enough, but I’d rather have the 2.4 liter 4 cylinder and 6-speed auto used in the new Malibu. It would be almost as quick, but get better gas mileage.

  34. Zieke Says:

    Boy o boy. You would think that GM people have something better to do with their time, like build a quality Chevy, or Locomobile, or anything else that will hold together for more than 70k miles. I would favor Am. made vehicles, but their BS at GM is too much to take. Their focus should be on building quality vehicles and selling them instead of showing their ignorance with petty crap like this.