Episode 775 – Chevy Volt Under Fire, Toyota GT 86 Revealed, Daimler Will Axe Maybach

November 28th, 2011 at 11:50am

Runtime: 8:25

Further crash tests on the Chevy Volt by NHTSA found that the battery could catch fire in certain circumstances. Toyota finally revealed its new rear-wheel-drive sports car, called the GT 86. Daimler announced it will drop the Maybach brand since it was unable to turn a profit in nearly a decade. All that and more, plus a look at the new BMW X3.

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This is Autoline Daily for November 28, and here’s what’s going on in the wonderful world of the automobile.

Electric cars are coming under stricter scrutiny from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or more specifically, the Chevrolet Volt is. As we reported earlier, a Volt caught fire three weeks after NHTSA conducted a crash test on it. Further testing showed the battery could catch fire in certain circumstances when the cooling system and battery are damaged, allowing the battery to get too hot. But this is really a story about how to handle an EV battery after it’s been involved in an accident. Emergency responders and tow-truck drivers should read NHTSA’s report on what to do, and you can check our show notes to get that link.

The AFP reports the European Commission has decided to take Germany – yes, the whole country – to court. Apparently Deutschland is behaving badly. No, it hasn’t attacked France; it was supposed to get rid of a law protecting Volkswagen from corporate takeovers, but it did not. The back story to all of this is a bit confusing. Niedersachsen, the state of Lower Saxony, owns about 20 percent of Vee Dub, and the law in question gives it veto rights on any takeover deal. The European Court of Justice initially ordered Germany to ditch the legislation back in 2007. But nothing changed because lawmakers basically ignored the court’s decision. Now, Germany could face some stiff penalties. A fine of 31,000 Euros per day has been proposed from the date of the FIRST ruling, and nearly 300,000 Euros from the date of the yet-to-be-announced second ruling. Of course, all of this depends on the EU judges.

Toyota’s new rear-wheel-drive sports car, the one that’s been shown as a concept about 27 times already, is officially official. And as we’ve reported about 27 times, it was developed in conjunction with Subaru. In Europe the Toyota version will be called the GT 86, in Japan, simply the 86. It will be powered by a 2.0-liter boxer four-cylinder engine delivering 197 horsepower. Interestingly, it features both port and direct fuel injection. A six-speed manual or automatic transmission will be available. At least in the UK, the GT 86 will arrive at dealerships next June.

Subaru was kind of screwed when Toyota bought part of the company. That’s because China will not allow foreign automakers to have multiple joint ventures in the county. And Subaru wanted to do a joint venture with Chery, but since it’s partly owned by Toyota the Chinese said no. But they came up with a solution. Subarus will now be sold as Cherys and Chery will run the sales network in China.

Besides partnering with Subaru, now Toyota is teaming up with BMW to share engine technology. Toyota will provide BMW with hybrid technology while BMW will share its diesels with Toyota. This shows you just how expensive it is to develop this kind of technology when two companies like Toyota and BMW get together to split the cost.

And it’s even more expensive when nobody wants to buy the car you come out. We already reported this was likely to happen and now it’s official. Daimler will drop the Maybach brand. Bloomberg reports that it has not turned a profit since it was reintroduced in 2002. And only 200 Maybachs were sold last year.

Coming up next, a look at the new BMW X3.

Thanks for that report Craig. BMW is counting on the X3 to propel it to the top of the luxury segment all around the world.

Autoline After Hours is back this Thursday night and we’ll be exploring the engineering and design culture in Detroit. Is it alive and thriving, or did the big collapse damage it for good? Join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, for the best insider discussion of what’s going on in the auto industry, this Thursday night starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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45 Comments to “Episode 775 – Chevy Volt Under Fire, Toyota GT 86 Revealed, Daimler Will Axe Maybach”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I think maybe Toyota should have “eighty six’d” the 86; already a pretty heavily populated segment, the front end is way-too busy, which leads me to my impression that it’s just plain ugly.

    The X-3 looks like a winner. Again, a pretty heavily populated segment (but it looks like it will bring a lot to the party).

  2. Lex Says:

    Good Work Craig Cole. That BMW X3 is a well proportioned vehicle.

    I can see that the sporty coupe is making a come back. The styling of the Toyota GT 86 makes it look more like a Mazda than a Toyota.
    Why Not Bring back the Supra or Celica nameplates?

    The Kia GT at the 2011 LA Auto Show is more for me if you exclude those front end wings. That Kia GT reminds me of the Volvo P1800.

  3. tj Martin Says:

    E/V Battery Fires

    Anyone assuming for even half a minute that ANY Emergency responders and especially Tow Truck drivers will either give a Rats pituty , never mind READ anything having to do with dealing with an E/V fire is deluding themselves . heck 60% of them can hardly read thru the Sunday Funnies , never mind some technical papers dealing with a subject they’ve ZERO interest in

    TOYOTA GT-86

    The new Supra that in fact is not . Being more pretentious RWD Subaru than Toyota . A bad idea I think both Subaru and Toyota will pay dearly for in the end . We’ll see

    BMW X3 -

    From one who knows ;

    1) Too big
    2) Too heavy
    3) Too rough ( its ride ) with little discernible increase in handling
    4) Too expensive
    5) Too many blind spots
    6) Too many reliability problems
    7) Too ugly

    With this BMW X3 ….. Just Say No !


    BMW & TOYOTA sharing ;

    Very baaaaad idea . BMW’s reliability of late has been down the tubes , what with flaming turbos , crashing onboard computers and lousy follow up with its dealerships repair departments .

    Just what Toyota DOES NOT need in a technological partnership

    FYI THE ONLY reason BMW is doing this is because they DO NOT want to waste the time and engineering on a Technology the entire company does not believe in

    e.g. HYBRIDs !


    Bad form there Craig Cole . You’re both late to the party ( Maybach news ) and off base in your analysis .

  4. tj Martin Says:


    This little VW tid bit is only the surface ( the pigeon guana on top of the tip of the Iceberg ) when it comes to Germany’s Day of Reckoning .

    Believe me ( and HtG ) its only gonna get worse as the EuroCrisis wears one .

    To paraphrase Ricky Ricardo ;

    ” Ju gotta a lotta splainin to do Angela Merkel ”


  5. MJB Says:



    Good riddance to that Maybach. It was always an ugly duckling.

    Great job Cole, as always.

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    You do emergency responders a great disservice with your categorical denunciation of their skill, dedication and dare I say bravery (maybe even for you someday). While I am sure, all endeavors of livelihood, have their dunces, no generalization should be made here. They already know their job is dangerous; a gazillion volts (with the amperage to make it stick) will give them the motivation to follow proper procedures (once learned).

  7. SlimJim Says:

    Why do people think that just because Toyota is launching this small sports coupe, that they won’t also rebirth the Supra? The Supra would be larger, more powerful and considerably more expensive… It would likely also have a hybrid powertrain… The sports car at Toyota will not end with the 86. There will be more to come.

  8. MJB Says:


    I hope they do re-launch the Supra (sister car to mine). And when they do, it had better look nothing like thsi 86, nor have any of that aesthetically gaudy, nastiness that overpowered the designers of the final generation Celica.

    The Supra deserves better than to be made into the next hot boy-racer car. It’s too mature for those bottom-feeding design cues.

  9. HtG Says:

    whoa, harsh reception here for the 86. Over at Autocar they compared its handling to the Boxster. Time will tell if fun or numbers sell cars.

  10. Todd Says:

    I love it… maybe Germany could just tell the European Courts that they’re not going to bail out any more countries in the EU. So much for being a sovreign nation.

  11. MJB Says:


    I’m sure the 86 can hold it’s own on the track. My gripes are with its aesthetics only.

  12. HtG Says:

    the concept car was pretty snazzy in my well informed opinion(sarc). But this production piece is quite different judging from the photos. The hood is inflated, the rockers sucked in, and the nose less sculpted. Still, you gotta see it on the road. My first impression of the photos is pretty meh too, however.

  13. jesse Says:

    Unless the thing weighs in at 2000 lbs or so,what’s 197 HP going to do??Is this the Jap version of the Sky/Solstice?

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    The GT-R has not sold well despite all the accolades, why should this one do any better? Th last gen Supra did not sell well either, maybe the market for Japanese sports cars here is very weak. Pony cars are back in vogue.

  15. W L Simpson Says:

    Long ago , during one of my 2 am bar closing wrecker calls ,the battery in a late model Firebird decided to short out on the way home. Carried cable cutters after that. I admit that disconnecting batteries was SOP, so I paid the price of carelessness.

  16. LS ford Says:

    Anyone having resolution issues? ALD seems to be horrible quality the past two weeks….

  17. John McElroy Says:

    @LS ford: Make sure you’ve selected Hi-res on the video player instead of Lo-res. Once you’ve made the selection the first time, the video player remembers your preference. Hopefully this solves your problem!

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Not here, LS, John looks as handsome as ever.

  19. HtG Says:

    dresses even better than Saddam!

  20. Aliisdad Says:

    Wow!!! I really like the Toyota/Subaru GT 86!!
    However, I have to agree that it does seem a little “overstyled”…Hopefully, they will just make it an honest, cleanly styled GT…
    By the way, I am trying to type this quickly before my slobber from wanting one shorts out my keyboard!!!!

  21. MJB Says:


    Yes, but #1, the 86 is no GT-R. Wash your mouth out with Lava Boy for even mentioning that comparisson. :) #2 the GT-R is a true performance beast.

    But you are correct that American muscle is back. Only early-20s tuners are deep into the Japanese sport cars (for the most part). And that market was never able to afford the Supra when it was out.

    Me, though? I’d take that final-gen Supra over anything else in it’s class (at the time). Well, except perhaps for an Acura NSX.

  22. tj Martin Says:

    @ Chuck Grenci

    The main object of my criticism was intended at the Tow Truck drivers , though in all honesty my experience , especially in dealing with an aged relative in last stages of life , with Emergency responders and especially the companies that own them has been less than satisfactory , with many unable to speak English clearly , incapable of comprehending a situation , though common , different from the norm etc

  23. tj Martin Says:

    Toyota GT 86

    Oh dear . Depending on ol Tj to come to the rescue with the facts

    AGAIN !

    #1 The Subaru version will be the ‘ Performance ‘ version , not the Toyota ( EVO AW CAR TTAC etc )

    #2 GT-R , Supra , heck even Performance Car the GT 86 is not . Nor for that matter is the Subaru version

    #3 Unless you’re a fan of Badge Engineering and are willing to put the facts aside the GT 86 IS NOT a Toyota and is in fact a SUBARU with a Toyota body stuck on top

    #4 The GT 86 is in fact a bit of a dog , looks wise , as well as its Subaru counterpart

    My guess is from all thats been stated elsewhere that the GT 86 as well as its Subaru counterpart will in fact be well and good outperformed by ALL of their immediate competition

    GT-R indeed !

    More like gt Lite . And like Lite beer it’ll be lacking in everything that defines a GT .

    Odds on Toyota and Subaru will regret this pretentious bit of fluff dearly , unless of course the buying public lives up to its reputation so well defined by P.T. Barnum

  24. cwolf Says:

    In my eyes the “86″ brings nothing new to the table,as far as design goes. It’s also a tad on the pricey side. For the money,the Mustang GT wins hands down.

    The battery issue with the Volt has GM in offense mode; Gm announced today, if a battery failure occures they would supply a FREE loaner car! Whew !!– I feel much better now!!!
    @Chuck Grenci Re#6, I don’t think the comment made about emergency responders was meant to be disrespectful or un-appreciated, as much as the probability of being untrained. And if I were in need of one of these responders while involved in a crash in a Volt,it must be a serious one. Therefore, I doubt I would care what the heck happens to that remaining pile of junk!

  25. tj Martin Says:


    Autocar is known in the UK for their lack of informed viewpoints on anything resembling a performance car , their main criteria being how painful the car is to drive , not its actual handling capabilities

    AutoMasochist is the common moniker given to Autocar by those in the know in the UK

    e.g. Take anything they’re saying about the GT 86 with an extreme grain of salt

  26. tj Martin Says:

    CHEVY VOLT ( and all E/V ) FIRES

    Funny thing that over five years ago , when the thought of using Li batteries in an E/V – Hybrid vehicle of any type ; that to a number , scientists , engineers etc across the World gave warning that the very problems now being encountered would in fact occur

    Nobody listens . Not even to the EXPERTS .

    Hmmph .

  27. tj Martin Says:

    @ MJB

    A ‘ new’ NSX .



  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    # 21 indeed, yet it has not sold well, at least in my area I think I’ve seen only a couple of them, as far as young guys with limited $$ they buy old Japanese beaters like 240SX and install more powerful engines such as the inline turbo 6 from Toyota Off topic, today I saw a Mazda 6 wagon driving around, I did not even know there was such an animal!!!

  29. Drake Nailon Says:

    Wow…a lightweight sports coupe comes to market in two different configurations (Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ) granted they are stupid names, and all any one can do is gripe about their looks and compare them to Lame Ducks like the Solstice? These cars are not meant to be lightning fast though I’m sure they will be quick. The idea behind them, from my understanding, is a light weight RWD sports coupe with outstanding handling That can be driven at 8-10 tenths on public roads and be fun to drive. Like its fore bearer the AE86 Corrola GTS. These should be a blast to drive and be affordable to buy and own. I for one can’t wait.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s no wonder the Maybach failed. If you spend that kind of money, you want something that LOOKS special, like a Rolls-Royce, not that looks like a stretched S-Class. The Maybach was probably very good, but that’s not enough.

    As far as the 86, it has nothing to do with a GT-R. It’s much cheaper, and slower, but with its low cg and good weight distribution, should handle well.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There was a wagon version of the Mazda 6 previous to the current one.

  32. HtG Says:

    come on now tj. The 86 is aiming at being a fun handling car for a decent price. It isn’t going to accelerate, stop, or turn as quick as some cars, but you’ll have fun steering its rear without getting killed. How many performance cars can manage without their nannies keeping them from doing a string of doughnuts into a Pizza Hut? 86 is a bit like another car I know. Hmmm, what could that be?

  33. tj Martin Says:


    I’d stick with the Miata/MX5 . That …. is a Sports Car with a capitol S , whereas the GT 86 is ……. well ……… a pretentious bit of fluff posing as a sports car . Sort of ( actually very much like ) Lite Beer tries to pose as Beer when in fact its barely colored water with a dash of alcohol ;-)

    BTW what would that ‘ other ‘ car be pray tell ?

  34. tj Martin Says:

    Nissan GT-R

    Well in fact it hasn’t sold very well anywhere in the US or Canada , partly due to price , partly due to inventory , partly due to far too many folks not really understanding what the GT-R is all about , and partly due to lousy dealer support

  35. tj Martin Says:

    #33 BWTM

    One thing that I’d bet could of sold more GT-R’s would of been if Nissan had labeled it an Infiniti instead : Americans being as brand conscious as we are

    Notice Honda monikered their ‘ Halo ‘ car an Acura ( NSX ) and Toyota ( LF-A ) a Lexus

    You’d of thought Nissan and Ghosen would of learned a lesson or two from that …. but there yo have it

  36. HtG Says:

    tj, what do you say the 86 is pretending to be?

  37. HtG Says:

    One other consideration with the 86 is that Toyota intends for owners to modify the car. Performance and visual mods may make for higher interest in the car.

    Also, 86 is quite a petite car. It surprised me, since today’s cars are so large and tall. Small, low to the ground, light. Sounds like a formula for somethin’

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit I thought I was aware of most every car out there, but really, a Mazda 6 wagon? I had never seen one, ever. When I saw the one today, I was surprised, most likely did not sell many at all, I see mostly Accord and Camry (older) wagons.

  39. HtG Says:

    Here’s the spec sheet for 86

    The tires are 215 and 225 40 R18. So this thing won’t slide around that easy.

    And the 101″ wheelbase may be a bit rotation resistant. From what I can gather, the engine sits on the front axle, so not a mid engine car either.

    But then it’s not like I’m vehicle dynamics engineer.

  40. pedro fernandez Says:

    I don’t think the new Toyota will sell very well, a lot of young people are having kids early and trading up to sedans, vans and cross overs.

  41. Andrew Charles Says:

    There’s a wagon version of the current Mazda6—they just sell a completely different car in the US with the same name.

    The problem with the 86 is demonstrated in these posts—no-one remembers the car it revives! After all the last it’s been over 20 years since the AE86 was around, and that really was just the 2.0 L version of the E8 Corolla/Sprinter coupes (A is the engine family [the latest generation is the AR series], 6 the 2.0 L version—other models had smaller engines from another engine family). Although the AE86 was famed as the last rwd Corolla/Sprinter coupe, and the combination of a relatively large engine in what was really a small body, Toyota failed to market the Corolla Levin or Sprinter Trueno outside Japan (the only generation sold widely outside of Japan was the E8 Sprinter Trueno fastback sold simply as a Corolla or Sprinter—and outside Japan both the Levin and Sprinter names were used on ordinary Corollas). People are far more familiar with the larger T-body Celica, or the A-body Supra (which remained rwd after the Celica and Corolla switched to fwd/awd). As far as a succesor for the Celica goes, there is one—the new T-body coupe is the Scion tC (Toyota’s other T-bodies are the Premio, Allion and Avensis—formerly the Corona and Carina).

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    They sold a Mazda 6 wagon in the U.S. from about ’03-’08 model years. Then, as Andrew indicated, we got the “Americanized” bigger sedan, and no wagon or hatch.

  43. XA351GT Says:

    Okay , I’m confused 1st it was a Toyota ,then a Scion ,now it’s a Toyota again or is there going to 3 versions of this car on the road , Toyota,Scion and Subaru?

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I, too thought the Toyota version was going to be sold as Scion.

    By the way, did anyone at Toyota ever say this “86″ was a new interpretation of Celica, Supra, or anything else? Is so, I guess I missed it.

  45. HtG Says:

    OT to tj. Would you repeat the name of that singer/musician you mentioned last week?