Episode 515 – Toyota See-Saws, The Ultimate Driving Hybrid, What’s With BYD?

November 5th, 2010 at 12:10pm

Runtime 7:35

Over the last 6 months Toyota racked up $3.6 billion in profits. BMW announced it will build a sports car with plug-in hybrid technology based on its Vision EfficientDynamics. Chinese automaker BYD is delaying EV sales in China because it says the infrastructure isn’t sufficient yet. All that and more, plus a look at the Mid-Term Election results and how that will affect the auto industry.


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This is Autoline Daily for November 5, 2010. And now the news.

In a stunning announcement, General Motors says it could generate as much as $19 billion in pre-tax profits. It also says it can generate $16 billion in free cash flow. Bloomberg reports that GM slashed its hourly labor costs from $16 billion a year to only $5 billion. Of course I would add that GM is about to do an Initial Public Offering, or IPO, and wants to start selling stock again. So all this is a sales pitch. It means they could hit these numbers if everything goes perfect, it does not necessarily mean they will hit them.

But GM must be feeling pretty good about itself. The Detroit News reports that it just started chartering private jets for its executives to use as they take their IPO show on the road. GM says its expense policy allows it to rent the jets for business purposes.

Toyota reported strong profits for the first half of its fiscal year. Over the last 6 months the company racked up $3.6 billion in profits. That’s much better compared to last year, when it lost money. But it’s not as good as other automakers that have been reporting this year. And Bloomberg reports that Toyota expects it profit to plunge 77% for the rest of its fiscal year that ends in March.

BMW announced it will build a sports car with plug-in hybrid technology based on its Vision EfficientDynamics concept for sale in 2013. It’s a four seat vehicle that uses a 3 liter diesel and electric motor to power the front wheels and an electric for the rear. It’s able to travel 50 kilometers, that’s about 31 miles, on electric power only and the diesel engine extends the range to 700km or 435 miles. Fuel economy comes out to 3.8 l/100km or about 63 miles per gallon. It can go from 0-100km/h in just 4.8 seconds. Bloomberg also reports that the company will invest over half a billion euros to set up production of its all-electric Megacity car. The four seat vehicle will also go on sale in 2013.

Chinese automaker BYD had said it would start selling electric vehicles in the U.S. by the end of this year. But now that is not going to happen. In fact, according to Gasgoo it doesn’t look like BYD will even be selling EV’s in China anytime soon. BYD says the infrastructure in China isn’t ready for electrics. Wait a minute! Nobody’s infrastructure is ready. Sounds to me like some sort of excuse because their car just isn’t ready.

Our friends at Autoblog are having a field day at the SEMA show, and we wanted to show you some of the coolest cars they uncovered at the show. Check out this 1969 RTR-X Mustang from Vaughn Gittin and the video game company Need For Speed. Vaughn Gittin, as those who watch Autoline After Hours will know is a drifting champion and was a guest on the show earlier this year.

And while Pontiac may be dead, the Firebird Trans Am lives on, at least in the form of this Lingenfelter conversion based on the current Chevrolet Camaro. Looks like a pretty faithful version of the car.

And who says hybrids have to look homely? Toyota’s Conversions & Accessories group took a Toyota Prius and transformed it into this outrageous looking machine that seems to feature the ultimate in ground effects add-ons. Toyota says this shows the unlimited potential for sports car modification to its best selling hybrid.

And finally, there’s this beautiful Corvette ZO6X, built by the wizards at Pratt & Miller. It comes with a full race cage, an adjustable rear wing, and all kinds of carbon fiber bits and pieces. It’s a concept, but it’s designed to go directly to the race track.

We saw a big political shift in the United States this week with the mid-term elections. That is going to both help and maybe hurt the car industry. I’ll show you what I’m talking about, right after this.

The mid-term elections completely shifted the political landscape in the United States. So what does this mean for the automotive industry? That’s the topic on Autoline Detroit this weekend. My guests for that show are Nolan Finley, the editorial page editor for the Detroit News, and Edward Lapham, the executive editor of Automotive News.

You can watch that entire show on our website right now at autolinedetroit.tv

But that brings us to the end of another week of covering the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you on Monday.

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

30 Comments to “Episode 515 – Toyota See-Saws, The Ultimate Driving Hybrid, What’s With BYD?”

  1. Dale Leonard,Lakewood,Ohio Says:

    Hi John, Private jets for GM Exec’s,next it will be the big year end bonus. Looks like the New GM is sliding back into the old GM. Will they ever learn from the past?

  2. Dale Leonard,Lakewood,Ohio Says:

    Hey John, I’ve tried to watch last nights AAH,several times,and once it gets to the 55:12 point in the show it freezes and locks up. Need Ben to check this out. Thanks

  3. dcars Says:

    I would bet that the private jets are a signal that GM is doing well. That Sema Prius may not look homely but it doesn’t look good! The Chevy Firebird looks great! Sadly, I’m too old for a car like that.

  4. tj Martin Says:

    GM ? Learn from the past ? Never happen ! In spite of all GM’s tax breaks ( nice to know they can afford Private Jets but can’t pay taxes ) Government Bailouts etc. I still think the Race is On between GM and Chrysler as to who Falls first .

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    So the GM product planners, engineers, designers, suppliers and assembly workers are doing a decent job and here come the freaking execs with their perks and demands again. Why spoil the party, guys? Gm looks like its on the way back and you have to start with your bullshit again.

  6. tj Martin Says:

    pedro fernandez ;

    But….. they’re so damn good at it ! ( GM execs and their BS )

  7. HtG Says:

    5 bucks says the Ackerson kid takes a plane to Vegas or Miami. On business.

  8. Phoenix Mark Says:

    BMW can only get 63mpg with a diesel hybrid? That’s not impresive at all.

    As for as the GM exec renting a jet for the IPO road show that’s fine. They will have to be in several cities in only a few days to pull this thing off.

    Anyone know of a good web site for the SEMA show?

  9. TomL Says:

    GM can write the plane off there tax bill.Right?

  10. Roger T Says:

    My goodness, the Prius looks ridiculous, plain and simple. Who’s the idiot that could ever think potential Prius buyers would find those boy racer attachments ok? Obviously some idiot that has never driven one, for sure. Prius is all about efficiency, coasting and braking, nothing to do with sportiness or speed – these are Priuses enemies. Stupid.

  11. HyundaiSmoke Says:


    GM and VWAGs are supposed to have souls, so whats the deal with the 2012 Mailibu, and the New Jetta?


  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    According to the latest Forbes report, the Aveo, Sebring and the GM midsize trucks remain unreliable, underachieving POS. Now the end of aveo and Sebring is near, but what about the GM trucks, they need to get rid of them, so they can have a spotless record.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The end of Colorado and Canyon is also near. I think I read that they would be dropped after the 2011 model year.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Regarding small(ish) pickups, they are the one segment that the U.S. companies actually took back from the Japanese with the then-new S-10/S-15 and Ranger in 1982. Now, it appears that both GM and Ford are abandoning the smaller pickup market.

  15. cwolf Says:

    In the past,complaints were words of anger, feeling people would never see all the money returned. Now GM is getting faulted for doing what is necessary to get the most for their stocks which benifits everyone,even those who bitch! In my view, leasing jets for IPO purposes is what should be expected for such an important undertaking. Not much of an impression showing up in a vega and wearing blue jeans! Maybe some folks aren’t happy about nothing.Almost bet these same people moan about the poor state the US is in,but are quick to invest their cash and confidence in anything foreign!

  16. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    cwolf, this is a globalized world now. Id rather invest in a brand that builds most of the products they sell in the us.

    Guess what?






  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ford gets what? their Fiestas, Fusions and F150′s are all Mexican built and according to one of your previous rants: “Mexican made cars are crap” So what’s the story, pal? Sonatas are built here right? and they just passed all the other midsize cars in every category, So what makes a great car? design? engineering? supplier quality or assembly quality or a combination of every thing??What Hyundai needs is to hit a home run with the Elantra, priced like the Fiesta and comparable to the Civic.

  18. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Pedro you’re joking right?

    There’s actually a chance that this New Elantra wont be a Home Run?

    Talk about Baseball, this car is going to be Babe Ruth, Mark Mc Guire, and Barry Bonds all rolled up into one.

    I know the specs, but if you Baby Boomers and Gen Xers want to continue to insist on playing around with and wasting your money on your Boring Jettas, A3s, 1 Series, Corollas, and Civics be my guest.

    We actually dont want your kind around the Elantra, because any ideas you contribute could kill that car like you killed the: Corolla, Jetta, Golf, A3, 1 Series, and Civic.

  19. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The Focus is Excellent, but Hyundai has a few trump cards with this new Elantra.

  20. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    With the New Accent getting more power (2 HP)than Current Gen Elantra, just think about the power in the New Elantra. Hyundai would have to introduce a New US spec Elantra ASAP, as Accent is set to make Current Gen Elantra’s power and feature positioning Obsolete.

    Elantra would have to posess near Buick Regal Base HP to even be able to fit in between Accent and Sonata. It could, but I wont divulge those details.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    Why would I be joking? about those Fords all being built in Mexico? Well they are and according to all studies their quality is pretty good, so maybe it is not the workers but the design that’s the problem with the unreliable VW’s built there. Btw, will the Accent be able to take on the Fiesta for a lower price and just as fun to drive? Remember also the Corolla and Civic will have redesigns so the Elantra needs not only to keep up but be ready for that.

  22. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Pedro, Accent take Fiesta on?

    Are you kidding me. The Accent even in it’s current gen form that has been around 5 years outsells Fiesta by an average of 2K units a month. For Subcompacts that’s a big deal.

    I actually predict Next Gen Accent will have less sales than the current one. It has a polarizing look-in a good way, it has 22 more HP than Fiesta stock. It has 7 inches more wheelbase=more interior room. Plus, it’s going to be a more mature pricier product than it is today.

    The Rio will be more on Fiesta’s level with sporty dynamics. BTW, the 140 HP GDI Rio is testing and all I can say is the Fiesta is in trouble. The Accent will be a floaty highway cruiser with grand touring like characteristics.

    The Accent will be a car apart from the rest of the pack with their more sporty characteristics. In fact the Accent will have a longer wheelbase than A3 and BMW 1 Series.

    The Accent will be more Golf/A3 like than Fiesta/Mazda 2 like. The HP to weight ratio will be similar to the Sonata-which is brilliant already.

    Hyundai/KIA still might slot another smaller car under Accent/Rio, but this is more pondering than action.

    It would be nice to have the ix20 as an Accent crossover though.

    Pedro, Honda has already unveiled (either accidentally, or purposely) the Civic redesign=Blander than the current model. Just look it up. The Corolla Ive seen looks ok, but it’s no match for Forte, much less Elantra.

    Ive been doing intel on these brands, so I know what Iam talking about.

    Ford’s products are really the only things that can hold a candle to the New HKAGs, but they are woefully overpriced. It’s like Target (FoMoCo) trying to compete with Costco (HKAG).

    By the way, Walmart=China. Cheap quality goods at uber low prices that are light years behind international competition, but hey that’s all that Main Street USA can afford.

    Once Chinese cars get here, the others will be forced to totally abandon Economy cars, or build them all in China and ship them here.

    Why do you think Hyundai is going upmarket? In a way it’s to show Korea can be as good as Germany, but in another way it’s because of the threat of China. Once China gets here whats the point of buying cheap Korean. The Korean and Chinese electronics companies are years ahead of the car companies in this.

    LG and Samsung phones used to be the most cheapest POS Cell Phones you could buy. Now those same phones have grown up to become high end goods better than many industry giants, and the Chinese and Taiwanese have taken that cheapest POS cell phone spot from the Koreans while giving Japanese companies like Motorola late nights.

    The same is about to happen with cars.

    Korean in 5 years will be seen as good as German, while Chinese/Indian and others cars will be the new laughing stock cars, but have features and pricing that will keep the Hondas and Toyotas of the world up at night despite interior Chinese quality.

  23. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    inferior (typo)

  24. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    You guys may find it funny, but as a Social Worker I know for a fact that most people on Main St USA cant even afford to make their house payments much less buy Hyundais or KIAs anymore. Yet, you have the temerity to price Fords in such a manner you guys do.

  25. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    My Caseload gets busier by the day, and the people get angrier by the day as many of their problems are becoming unsolvable (I say that in such chagrin :( ). I may have to bring a weapon just to have in the car just in case.

    If this keeps up, dont be surprised if rioting is not around the corner.

  26. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    My Clients are already threatening to do things to their mortgage companies, government figures, etc… and I try to talk to them and calm them down you know….

    That’s as far as I will go with that statement.

    My caseload is getting so busy that my car enthusiast hobby is being highly curtailed at this time. However, I still try to make some time to devote to cars. Like now.

  27. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    By the way, these are the perfect Economic conditions for the Chinese/Indians and others to come into this market.

    They just need to hurry up and provide 3 star NHTSA cars, and Barely passable EPAs.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I bet the customization job on that Prius is good for a 20% reduction in highway gas mileage, and it looks really goofy.

    Something I saw that actually looked kind of cool in a way was a Prius that was painted satin black, with dark tinted windows. It had aftermarket wheels, but in the “normal” size range for the car. It didn’t look as silly as it sounds.

  29. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Phoenix Mark Says:
    November 5th, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    BMW can only get 63mpg with a diesel (PERFORMANCE NEAR-SUPERCAR) hybrid? That’s not impresive (sic) at all.”

    What’s this? A misspelled Joke? Or does somebody does not have clue one?

  30. Nick Stevens Says:

    I don’t think anybody here will be able to afford the BMW Supercar hybrid. They said it will be priced “Below their Rolls Royce models”.

    Not even below the 760 il!

    Which means, $200k++