Episode 720 – Court Rejects Saab, Subaru Can’t Build in China, New Cars Launched in India

September 9th, 2011 at 12:07pm

Runtime: 8:07

A Swedish court rejected Saab’s request to be protected from creditors over liquidity concerns. Subaru can’t build cars in China because it’s partly owned by Toyota. Toyota already has two joint ventures in China, the maximum the government will allow. Mahindra, Renault and Toyota launch new vehicles in India. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week, with master car spy photographer, Jim Dunne.

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This is Autoline Daily for Friday, September 9, 2011. And here’s the latest.

SWEDISH COURT REJECTS SAAB (subscription required)
Yesterday things weren’t looking good for Saab. Today, it looks even worse. A Swedish court rejected Saab’s request to be protected from creditors. The court also questioned the viability of deals Saab has with two Chinese companies to invest in the company. It’s also concerned Saab can’t fix its liquidity problems and continue production. Saab says it will appeal, but it’s hard to see how that will make any difference.

Just when we thought the Volkswagen/Porsche tie-up was a done deal, it turns out it isn’t. Two years after the German automakers agreed to merge, legal battles are blocking it from happening. And it may not happen at all. According to Bloomberg, the two won’t completely merge. Instead, Porsche’s auto-related business could become part of the VW group, while Porsche’s holding company, which owns over 50 percent of VW’s shares, would remain independent.

Looks like Subaru is getting the shaft in China. It wanted to form a joint venture to make cars in China with Geely because that’s the only way China will let automakers build cars in the country. But Chinese authorities won’t let that happen because Subaru is partly owned by Toyota and Toyota already has two other joint ventures in China, one with FAW and one with Guangzhou. China says it will not allow any car group to have more than two joint ventures, and that leaves Subaru out in the cold. By the way, Daihatsu, which is also owned by Toyota, can’t get a joint venture in China, either.

Have you ever heard of a car company called Eterniti? Well, we hadn’t either until they sent us these pictures of the SUV they’re going to unveil at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Meet the Hemera, a hand-built 4×4 with 620 horsepower and a claimed top speed of 180 miles an hour. Now you know as much of it as we do. We’ll learn more next week. And don’t forget to watch our LIVE webcast from the Frankfurt show next Tuesday morning. It will start at 10 a.m. Eastern Time and we’ll be using a LiveU pack so we can wander the floor and show you what’s there.

India has been one of the hottest car markets in the world right now. But now sales are cooling off. Last month they dropped about 10 percent. Even so, automakers keep bringing new vehicles to market. Toyota introduced a diesel-powered version of the Etios (subscription required), which is available as either a hatchback or a sedan for about 12 grand. Renault introduced its Koleos SUV (subscription required) for about 50 grand! It’s designed to compete with the Mitsubishi Outlander and the BMW X1. And Mahindra is bringing a more expensive version of its Bolero SUV (subscription required) to the market. It’s about $14,000, U.S.

The Huffington Post reports a family on vacation in Lake Tahoe, California awoke to the sound of a car horn. Turns out a bear had somehow got inside their Prius, and was shredding the car to ribbons. But that’s not all. Somehow the bear knocked it into gear, took off down the driveway and smashed the car into some rocks. Then it ran away. The owners claim there was no food in the car. I guess it just wanted to go for a drive.

Let’s say you want to become a spy photographer. How do you get into that business? Well, coming up after the break we’re going to learn some of the tricks of the trade from Jim Dunne, the master at spy photography.

My guest on Autoline This Week is Jim Dunne, the author of the book “Car Spy” and the guy who practically invented the spy photography trade in the automotive business. In the following clip I ask him how he was able to get inside companies, how he could get past guards and receptionists? Jim tells me it was all about his attitude and a simple kind of disguise he would use.

There’s more to that story that he’s telling, but you’ll have to catch the rest of it on our website, or check out your local public television listings. Autoline is now seen in more than 30 markets in the United States and all across Canada. Also joining me on the show are Michelle Krebs from Edmunds and Jim Hall from 2953 Analytics.

And don’t forget to check out the LIVE broadcast of RoundAbout, tonight! The show starts at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Of course if you can’t make it, you can always download it later from iTunes or elsewhere fine podcasts are found.

And that, my dear friends, is the end of this week’s series of shows. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you Monday.

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22 Comments to “Episode 720 – Court Rejects Saab, Subaru Can’t Build in China, New Cars Launched in India”

  1. ItsmeBill Says:

    Why did the bear steal the Prius?

    Because it was in no hurry.

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That bear driving the Prius story sounds pretty far fetched. Assuming the electronic “key” was left in the car, after the bear got in the car, it would have to simultanously step on the brake and push the “start” button, before putting the car in drive. It sounds pretty fishy to me.

  3. HtG Says:

    @2 good points all around. How do we know that this ‘bear’ was not in actual fact a teenage Sasquatch? How do we also know that the Prius’ interior wasn’t suffused with the luscious aromas of spilled In-n-Out burger lunches? Lots more to this story.

  4. HtG Says:

    Does anybody think Toyota is having much trouble with pesky spy photographers? Maybe they should get some of their own, and make sure to point them away from the boys at Honda.

  5. Andy S Says:

    Dateline September 9, 2011 Lake Tahoe Nevada (AP) – Law suit has been filed against Toyota for unintended acceleration by plaintiff Mr. S. T. Bear. Plaintiff is represented by Edward S. Hands, esq. Toyota spokesperson says “Mr. Bear was not in the car as the claw marks appear be caused by scissors in effort to cover-up real cause of accident (a vitamin defficiency – vitamin IQ). Where there is smoke, there is fire.”

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    A fun Autoline Detroit this week; Jim Dunne, spy photographer extraordinaire, was a fun romp of seeing how and where those photos come from.

  7. ItsmeBill Says:

    #3 @HtG- In-n-Out BURGERS?!?

    In a Prius?

    Bear is addicted to tofu.

  8. Chuck Grenci Says:

    While I wouldn’t go “gently into that good night” either (I refer to Saab), better companies have fallen, i.e. Oldsmobile, Pontiac and dare I say Saturn; Saab, you’re just out of time.

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    re. #7,
    “Bear is addicted to tofu.”

    Stereotypes, stereotypes….

    I drive a Prius, but don’t eat tofu. My favorite dinner is steak, salad, and a baked potato.

  10. Lex Says:

    I still do not understand why Mercedes Benz does not offer the B Class here in the US.
    They sell it in Canada. I guess the Canadians are richer than us since you can get a home mortgage at around a one percentage interest rate.

    The President’s Tax Breaks to us will be siphoned out of our pockets in the form of higher fuel prices this coming winter – mark my words!

    We better put people back to work producing corn based ethanol and bio fuels to stop OPEC from holding us over the barrel. If we could harness all this rain fall and place it in reservoirs to produce Hydro-powered electricity it would be a step in the right direction.

  11. Ed Says:

    If a bear —– in a prius, does Huffington have a way to blame it on a republican?

  12. Andy S Says:

    @ Lex #10; I’d speculate the M-B B-Class is not sold in the US because it does not meet US regulations. Remember, the US is the only country in the entire world that has requirements to protect an unbelted driver and front passenger (FMVSS 208).

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    MB could make the B-Class meet U.S. specs, just as they did with smart, but, so far, they don’t want to sell the B here. There are rumors, though, that they plan to sell the next generation B-Class in the U.S.

  14. GPL Says:

    I’m not sure about the Prius, but the interlock on some shifters is an electric latch mechanism on the top side of the shifter assembly just under the trim. I think I read elsewhere that the bear damaged the shifter. In doing so it may have damaged the interlock allowing the shifter to move freely.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The “shifter” of a Prius, at least the current one, moves freely all the time, but doesn’t do anything unless you have your foot on the brake. Before any of that matters, though, you have to press the “start” button while holding the brake pedal down. To make the car do anything at all, you need to have the electronic “key” inside the car. The idea of a bear opening the door and pushing the “start” button and then moving the “shifter” while keeping feet on the brake sounds a bit far fetched.

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    Since it picked a Prius, must have been Smokey the Bear, environmental pioneer of the woods.

  17. GPL Says:

    The Prius pictured looked like a first gen car to me. Those had a “shift lock release”.

  18. XA351GT Says:

    That Bear story sounds like someone was behind in their payments to me. Or Darrell Dogooder had a few too mamny and had a whoops he needed to cover up.

    SAAB for the love of Pete just hang it up already. Even by some miracle you pulled out of this who in their right mind is going to buy your cars thinking you’ll go away at a moments notice? The extremely chubby lady is singing.

    The Eterniti, really do we need another 180 MPH SUV ?? Especially from a company no one has ever heard of ,not even those in the business(John)?

  19. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:


    In Arabic, this is a female donkey. Too bad, because it would have been just right for the Arabian Gulf countries.

  20. cwolf Says:

    Did ya know the CEO of Tata Motors quit today due to mutual differences. And of course the stock market took a hit by it!

  21. KEVIN Says:


  22. Andrew Charles Says:

    Unless my eyes deceive me, the Eterniti is a customized Porsche Cayenne. They give it a new interior, modify the exterior, and maybe tune the engine. The only unusual thing is that they do it in the UK rather than Germany where regulations recognize companies such as RUF and Gemballa as “manufacturers” rather than “customizers” or “tuners”.

    Daimler doesn’t “sell” the B-class in the US, but they will lease you a B-Class fuel-cell vehicle. So far however there are even fewer of these around than there are Honda FCXs, and there are more of GM’s Equinox fuel-cell vehicles on the road than both generations of FCX and the fuel-cell B-Class combined.

    Forster quit as CEO of Tata Motors a few days ago due to “personal reasons”. He will remain as a consultant (like Bob Lutz), but can’t devote the time to continue as CEO. Apparently he wanted to spend more time with family in Germany (for whatever reason) than being CEO of an Indian company allowed.