Episode 31 – Motor City Hopping Mad, Krafcik Now CEO of Hyundai America, Ford Tops IIHS List

November 25th, 2008 at 12:00pm

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The Motor City is hopping mad over Congress’ approval to give billions to Citigroup. John Krafcik gets a big promotion at Hyundai. Ford beats out everybody in crash safety with 16 models winning a TOP PICK award from the IIHS. All that and more, plus a look at the fuel cell-powered Honda FC Sport.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines, The Motor City is hopping mad. John Krafcik gets a big promotion at Hyundai. And Ford beats out everybody in crash safety.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, November 25, 2008. And now, the news.

There’s a lot of anger in the Motor City right now. Yesterday Congress approved $20 billion to save Citigroup and promised it would provide another $275 billion on top of that. But unlike the Big Three automakers, none of the Citigroup executives had to attend hearings in Washington or get lectured about how to run their business. With so many automotive jobs at stake, The Wall Street Journal reports that Michigan Congressman Thaddeus McCotter says this shows Congress cares more about people who wear Gucci’s than Levi’s.

There’s trouble in auto show land. Nissan just announced its pulling out of the Detroit and Chicago auto shows. Mitsubishi dropped out of the Detroit show last week. My own staff reported that the LA Auto Show last week looked dead. Media attendance was way down and automakers scrimped on their displays to save cost. Remember, most of the media gets flown to the auto shows by the automakers. And the car companies are cutting way back on their PR budgets.

Hyundai America announced that John Krafcik has been promoted to Acting President and Chief Executive Officer of the company. Krafcik joined Hyundai in 2004 and most recently served as Vice President of Product Development and Strategic Planning for Hyundai. Before all that he worked for Ford. Congratulations John, and it sure is great to see a PD guy go to the top of the company!

Portugal and Renault-Nissan (or is it Nissan-Renault?) announced a partnership to develop an electric vehicle infrastructure for the country. Renault-Nissan will start selling EVs in 2011 and Portugal will be responsible for charging stations and incentives for EV customers, both for individuals and fleets. Nissan-Renault has similar partnerships with Yokohama, Tennessee, Monaco and Sonoma County in Northern California.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives Ford more top safety-rated vehicles in the U.S. than any other manufacturer. The IIHS rated 16 Ford’s with a TOP PICK in its crash tests. Honda came in second with 13 models. In all, 72 vehicles won an IIHS TOP PICK safety award for 2009. That’s double the number of 2008 models and three times as many that got the award in 2007.

Coming up next, a closer look at the fuel cell-powered Honda FC Sport. We’ll be back right after this.

While plug-in hybrids seem to be the R&D rage these days, Honda is not backing off one iota in its commitment to fuel cell cars.

We’ve seen that with the FCX Clarity — Honda’s hydrogen-powered sedan — being leased to a handful of drivers as well as other products under development.

So maybe the press shouldn’t have been surprised that with no advanced word last week, Honda unveiled the FC Sport at the LA Auto Show. This hydrogen-powered three-seat sports car got a lot of attention as concepts do, but no production commitment — though the company is considering which of the car’s elements may lend themselves to design features in future Honda’s.

The FC Sport concept came from the team at Honda’s advanced design studio in Pasadena, California. If you’d like to take a quick tour of this fairly secret design facility, we invite you to check out our visit to Honda earlier this year during our special series “Autoline in LA.” You can find it the archive section on our website.

And don’t forget; sign up today for your chance to win an extra-special prize. Tomorrow we’re giving away a deluxe Black & Decker in-car power inverter. It’s perfect for powering any 110 volt appliance, from laptop computers to circular saws. All you have to do is sign up for our free e-mail newsletter on our website, www.autolinedaily.com. I’ll be picking the winner tomorrow on “Autoline Daily” so sign-up now!

Anyway, that’s it for today’s show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

7 Comments to “Episode 31 – Motor City Hopping Mad, Krafcik Now CEO of Hyundai America, Ford Tops IIHS List”

  1. Dr. Julius J Rim Says:

    Letter to President-Elect Obama
    Nov 25 2008
    From: Dr. Julius J Rim, e: dieseltrap@aol.com

    Automotive Plan: Clean Diesel Car vs. Electric- Hybrid Car

    “Until automakers show us the plan, we cannot show them the money” this is what House Speaker N. Pelosi described the current auto-industry bail-out. The big-3 CEO’s plan to drive Hybrid cars to DC to turn in the PLAN by Dec. 2nd. A Michigan inventor offers the solution based on Dieselization which will trigger the sales boom for clean diesels as in Europe.

    Clean diesel car plan is proposed as the only solution practical for the US automotive industry to survive and create jobs in Michigan and the US.

    In the US, diesel cars failed, and diesel became a dirty word. It was because exactly 25 years ago, GM abandoned diesel car production for the lack of diesel particulate filter (DPF) technology. Diesel car in the US has disappeared with a negative image on diesels still alive among American consumers.
    In Europe, however, clean diesel cars (retrofitted with DPF technology) are hot selling. More than 60% of new car sales are clean diesels. Europeans consider clean diesel car as a fuel efficient and environmental car of the future, because it offers 30% higher efficiency and 20% less global warming gas.

    One key technology which makes diesel engine environmentally acceptable is DPF technologies, one of which processes was invented by an independent researcher, Dr. Julius J Rim of Michigan. The patented GreenPower™ Muffler system can be commercialized now in the US. This new technology got the national recognition recently by winning the Grant Award from the Port of Los Angeles to demonstrate the technology on the vessel’s giant diesel engine. The technology makes diesel engine clean and more fuel efficient.

    Electric hybrid car-plan requires to invest $50 billions+ to retool, and also $7,000 tax credit incentive to help to sell the high-priced hybrid car. Clean-Diesel-PLAN, however, will require less than 1/10th of that investment. It is because the existing tooling for manufacturing a big car can be employed without retooling.

    American consumers will buy a larger car powered by a powerful, fuel-efficient and clean diesel engine that is retrofitted with GreenPower™ Muffler system at low price. This will trigger the sales boom for clean-diesel cars as in Europe..

    Clean-Diesel-Car Plan will succeed with a full employment of auto-workers to supply a booming market demand. Clean-Diesel-Car Plan should be the national policy by President-elect Obama for not only creating jobs, but also to achieving our national energy independence goal.

    Dr. Julius J. Rim, Inventor of GreenPower™ Muffler System,

  2. Laurence Leighton Says:

    Every person in Michigan should be mad. No matter what your opinion is of the big three
    this bias of Washington affects everyone in
    Michigan. We need to get the Message out to Washington the facts about the big 3. GM is the biggest auto manufacturer in the world, they
    build quality cars, as attested to by JD Powers
    and other research companies, they are the arsenal of democracy, they employ millions of people thru out the auto industry. Yet Fox news
    thinks the industry build junk and should be left to die. There are misconceptions about the
    auto industry in the media that cars can be developed instantly and the industry can change
    car lines overnight. They have no concept of the billions of investment in developing, and launching a new platform and how it is done. They are ignorant of the planning of designing
    a car take and how to forcast the market for that car four years from now. Who would guess four years ago we would be in this crisis. However it is no problem to bail out the banks that failed because of government not doing their jobs in regulating out mortgage system,
    and the CEO’S are not prosecuted for fraudulent
    practices causing this crisis. I think half of congress and their buddies at Fannie mae and Freddie Mac and all the other bailout banks should be investigated for criminal fraud and
    prosecuted for causing this depression……….

  3. richard eaton Says:

    First of all, hooray for portugal for their electric car incentives.
    concerning the big three-if they are in so much financial trouble and they are going to the same location,was it really necessary to fly 3 corporate jets? I’m afraid I agree with congress,come up with a reasonable plan and then they can provide them the money to retool.I can remember when GM purposely destroyed their functional battery operated vehicles probably @ the behest of the oil companies.P.S one of those inverters would be nice to have for my 11 year old ford truck.

  4. Jason Says:

    Wow, good news everyone, congress just gave citi 300 billion dollars and plans to spend 800 billion dollars to stimulate the economy. But they cant spare 25 billion to LOAN, not GIVE, the detroit automakers. Can you imagine that, wall street white collars dont even ask and they give them billions. American automakers, blue collar workers BEG and they wont even loan them money. Can anyone make sense of this?

  5. Jason L Says:

    What is just as strange was that Citibank wanted to buy, with the federal govt. assistance, Wachovia retail banks (sans securities) before Wells Fargo came in with a huge offer to buy ALL of Wachovia. BTW…Wells came in with their own money.
    Honestly, this whole whole bailout scenario is not motivating the companies to cut inefficiencies before getting help. I want GM, Ford and Chrysler to survive but they took too huge of a gamble on building SUVs without investing the money into the smaller cars that would be needed to hedge themselves for the rainy days of last Summer.

  6. JimBo Says:

    Last year GM lost nearly $32 Billion (not quite as much as Exxon made in profit). The domestic car companies have been losing Billions of dollars for several years now. It’s been hard to conceive how they can stay in business — especially when they make no top management changes. Mullaly – the one new CEO in the bunch — at Ford makes $28 Million per year, or the equivalent of more than $76,000 each day of the year. But it’s the union workers who have caused the downfall of the auto industry? The Big 3 should have been lobbying Congress over the past 20 years for nationalized health insurance so they could compete globally, but instead they only go to Congress to fight — and they’re surprised Congress won’t just hand over billions to companies with proven poor management? They spend virtually the same amount per car on advertising that they do on union wages, pension and health care. So, obviously, the advertising industry is killing our car industry. At least when Iacocca went to Congress to beg for a loan he vowed to take a salary of only $1.00 per year until his company became profitable again. Then he made out like a bandit on his company stock, as he should have. But with the current crop of CEO’s I’d look at it like this if I was in Congress: would you loan your average used car salesman any money?

  7. Barry Says:

    How are we every going to sell Diesel cars, today in Bethlehem, pa., unleaded $1.95 per gallon, diesel fuel $2.95 per gallon. why would anyone buy a diesel no matter how good it works. Plus we have no refineries that lean toward diesel production, and who wants a new refinery in their back yard? we have not built a new refinery since 1979! Bailouts, Lou Dobbs has a great idea, Have washington send us all a gift cert. for $5,000 to use to buy any new car. that would be cheaper than a bailout and it would also get all the old junkers off the roads. new cars for everyone. bdc