AD #1152 – Eaton Auto for Sale? Volt Gets a Price Cut, Toyota’s Build-it-Yourself Electric

June 11th, 2013 at 11:47am

Runtime: 7:27

Reports say the Eaton Corporation may sell off its automotive components group to concentrate on areas outside the industry. Honda and Nissan slashed their EV prices recently and it was only a matter of time before Chevy followed suit. Later this week at the Tokyo Toy Show, Toyota will debut a new battery electric vehicle. All that and more, plus a closer look at Lexus’ 3rd generation IS.

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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. Let’s get to the news!

Bloomberg reports that the Eaton Corporation may sell off its automotive components group to concentrate on electrical power and lighting outside of the automotive industry. Management believes the company’s stock could trade at much higher multiples if it exits the automotive business. But you can be sure there will be a long line of buyers. Eaton’s automotive group has a virtual monopoly on the global supercharger business, which is booming. It’s also into valve trains, differentials, gears and a lot more. But the sale would not include Eaton’s heavy truck transmissions. The automotive components group is expected to sell for about $1 billion.

Nissan and Honda cut the cost of their EVs so you knew it was only a matter of time before Chevrolet had to respond. Sales of the Chevrolet Volt are sinking and it currently has over 140 days of inventory. So starting today you can get rebates of up to $4,000 on the Volt. That brings the price down to about $35,000, but that’s still about $6,000 more than a Nissan LEAF. The company really needs to clean out the remainder of its 2013 lineup to make room for an updated version coming for the 2014 model year.

To boost hybrid sales in Malaysia, Honda is slashing the cost to replace the batteries in four different models. For example, the nickel-metal hydride battery in the Insight now costs about $1300 down from about $2500. The lithium-ion battery in the Civic Hybrid costs about $1780 compared to $3700 before. WardsAuto reports Honda was able to cut the price because of the weaker yen and greater scale due to growing global hybrid sales.

And speaking of batteries, Daimler is trying to figure out what to do with a joint venture it has with Evonik Industries to make batteries for electric cars. According to Bloomberg, the joint venture could be sold or a new partner could be added. Daimler calls the battery market “challenging.” Let me translate. That means the battery electric market is a disaster because EVs are selling nowhere near what most people thought they would and automakers can not make a return on their investment.

At its own developer’s conference, Apple debuted its iOS for cars. It can mirror what an iPhone can do on the car’s in-dash screen. 95 percent of new vehicles already work with iOS devices for music and playback control, but with this feature that will expand to include phone calls, maps and messaging. Apple currently has 12 different automakers ready to integrate the system into their vehicles by next year.

When was the last time you heard of a concept car making its debut at a toy show? Meet the Toyota Camatte57s, which will be shown later this week at the Tokyo Toy Show. The idea is to have parents assemble the car with their children as a way to bring families closer together. It comes as a rolling chassis with an electric motor and battery, and has body panels that are easy to attach and allow for customization. Even kids can drive this neighborhood electric. We all know that young Japanese people are not that interested in cars. Could this be Toyota’s way to try and get kids interested in cars at a very early age?

Coming up next, a look at the new Lexus IS. We’ll be back right after this.

One phrase we have been hearing a lot from automakers lately is “fun to drive.” And Lexus is no exception. But the company feels its 3rd generation IS has been reworked to really give it that feeling.

(Clip of Lexus IS can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

And because it’s a Lexus, it had to be made more comfortable to ride in, right?

(Clip of Lexus IS interior can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

And the driver was really taken into consideration with the 2014 IS. A new dash theme was implemented to help the driver concentrate on the road.

(Clip of Lexus IS dash can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

The 2014 Lexus IS is on sale this summer with a starting price of around $37,000.

We have a great Autoline After Hours coming up Thursday night, with two of the top designers from Lincoln coming on the show. Susan Lampinen and Janet Seymour are two of the top interior designers in the business. Unfortunately I will not be there because I’m headed to Germany tonight to go take a peek inside the R&D operations at the Robert Bosch company, but join Jim Hall and the Autoextremist himself, Peter De Lorenzo, for the best insider information in the business.

That wraps up today’s report, please check back in with us tomorrow.

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30 Comments to “AD #1152 – Eaton Auto for Sale? Volt Gets a Price Cut, Toyota’s Build-it-Yourself Electric”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    It seems to me that GM has not been able to convey strongly enough the fact that there is no range anxiety with the Volt as there is with all other EV’s Even the Prius plug-in has been a disappointment, most likely due to its hefty premium over the normal Prius. So much for: “If they build it, they will come” or buy!

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    If possible, GM (Chevrolet) needs to update their existing inventory of Volts to the ’14 specifications vehicle and keep the price (at the reduced 4 grand off). As with most things electric/electronic, these days, everyone wants the latest and greatest (now). This may not be feasible (the upgrade), but if it is, do it.

  3. Drew Says:

    Lexus is getting a little ridiculous with the extreme hourglass design on their front ends. The bottom portion is way too pronounced.
    Maybe it can do double duty scooping snow in the winter months?

  4. ColoradoKid Says:

    EV’s …. bad news all the way around ;

    First today … the VOLT … which came out of the gate a sales loser … remains so today …. with GM dumping discount after discount on the thing to get it out the door [ at a loss I might add ] and now GM sitting on a 140 day supply

    Next up ” Another One Bites the Dust ”

    Anther EV manufacture that is . With the DOE finally taking a stand telling ObamaClaus where to stuff his EV initiative

    Daimler dumping their EV program ( this has been in the news .. especially MBOC news for months as Mercedes is discontinuing all further EV development …. along with BMW I might add )

    And now …… Hybrid manufactures having to cut the prices of replacement batteries as reality starts sitting in with the owners

    Then yesterday the news that FINALLY EV and to a lesser extent Hybrid owners are going to be paying their fair share for road maintenance …. like the rest of us ;-)

    Yeah ….. this whole EV / Hybrid things working out real well ….. for no one ..

  5. Chuck @ GM Says:

    The Volt may be a money loser, I don’t know. What I do know is it’s a fun car to drive. It takes the mountains of W. VA, the heat and humidity of Atlanta in the summer, the plains of west Texas, the Rockies, and Death Valley in August, maybe it was September, without breaking a sweat. I sat in it for very long days while doing all that, and it was comfortable, I got out of the car at the end of the day feeling great. Technically, it’s an Extended Range Electric Vehicle or EREV. As noted by Pedro @1 there is no range anxiety at all.

  6. Buzzerd Says:

    I think the Volt is a pretty amazing car, I don’t have one but have considered it but I don’t drive nearly enough to justify it.
    In years past GM was criticized for not having fuel efficient/hybrid cars and then when they build them they’re criticized for that too.

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Now if GM makes the Volt Diesel electric and dumps the gasser then they have something.

  8. Chuck @ GM Says:

    @7 – Dude, you got diesel on the brain and running in your veins don’t you? Me too. I’d
    like to see that myself, but I am not holding my breath until it happens.

  9. ColoradoKid Says:

    #5 I rather doubt it …. in fact I can guarantee you that the VOLT is anything BUT fun to drive in the Rockies .. Fact is by all local accounts and like every other hybrid out there its a lead sled unable to get out of its own way on our Mt roads . e.g. Its an absolute dog in Colorado .

    Ad technically speaking … according to the SAE …. the VOLT is an Extended Range Plug in Hybrid and not any kind of EV what so ever


    7- Even a diesel version wouldn’t help one solitary bit


    So what might of helped the VOLT sell at least decent numbers one might ask ?

    Well … it might of helped had GM’s marketing mavens and ‘ Mad Men ‘ not lied thru their teeth from day one about the thing . First claiming it was an E/V … then swearing up and down the ICE was not directly connected to the drive train … then claiming it was out selling the Prius … now still claiming its an EREV … despite the SAE [ Society of Automotive Engineers [ saying otherwise ….etc …etc .. etc … to quote Mr Yule Brenner

    So yeah …. a bit more ‘ credibility and a whole hell of a lot less Hype & Bs might of helped the VOLT attain at least semi reasonable sales .

    Nahhh… that can’t be it . Hype & BS has been GM’s MO going on 40 years now ….. and look how well its …. errr …. served them ;-)

    Oh ….. and then there’s that price tag ( pre Tax Payer donated incentives ) As one 2011 Jetta owner so well said when we saw one in an airport parking lot ;

    ” $40,000 …. for that ? With those cheap wheels .. sorry paint job and that interior ? Heck … I wouldn’t give them $40k for that AND my Jetta “

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Volt is a great car, for a certain group of people, including a friend who has one. It IS an electric for the first 35 or so miles on a full charge. The ICE does not run, even if you floor it. Yeah, it’s kind of pricey, but is a bargain compared to pure EV’s that can’t be used on road trips.

    As far as hybrids, they are working out great for those of us who would like to use half to 2/3 as much gas as we’d use for a conventional car with similar capabilities.

    And by the way, CK, it is a HUGE ADVANTAGE that the ICE of a Volt can be connected directly to the drive train under some conditions. It helps the mpg when the battery is depleted. It would be better yet, if the ICE could be directly connected to drive train at all times when the battery is depleted, but that would make the power train more complex, and make the car even more expensive.

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #10 Kit, nice post; now we’re getting someplace.

  12. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ #8,Chuck @ GM: yeah,I’m guilty.Until something a whole lot better comes along,diesel,in my way of thinking,makes sense and could solve a lot of problems using bio diesel etc etc etc….thanx Yul..

  13. ColoradoKid Says:

    10 – Yes … to a very small point I’d agree …. but I’ll still contend GM shot themselves and the sales of the VOLT square in the foot by lying about it from day one … and still continuing to do so to this very day . IF there’s any Range Anxiety concerns with the VOLT GM created them …. by claiming its an EV

    And in case this slipped by you [ again ] Kit . My comment on the ICE connecting to the drive train to PROPEL the VOLT was not a critic of the system … but rather to point out one more of GM’s ongoing stream of lies when it comes the VOLT

    As far as being a bargain ? On what planet ? According to Obamanomics or GM’s ‘ New Math ‘ perhaps ? The fit / finish and quality of materials alone do not add up to a $40k car . Your idea of a ‘ bargain ‘ Kit … is questionable at best . And … ITS NOT a friggin EV so don’t even try that futile comparison . Jeeze thats pathetic when people try that !

    And again …. according to the SAE ( you DO know who they are do you not Mr Engineer ? ) The VOLT IS an Extended Range Plugin Hybrid . Period … end of sentence … so put the pretense of the Volt ever being an EV of any kind aside .

    As far as any personal experience you may try to make claim to ? Personal experiences against cold hard facts are meaningless . Period !

    Hybrids ? First … do take notice Hybrid sales are on a major downturn worldwide … because of course they work so well and are such a ‘ bargain ‘ Second – We’ve been down the Hybrid road many a time and its one you continually come up snake eyes on so whats the sense discussing it with you any further ?

  14. Chuck @ GM Says:

    @9, I know this won’t even sway you but just for the record you can’t guarantee any such thing. Is Pike’s Peak Colorado Rockies enough for you? The car will run the whole way up at the speed limit, in both electric and ICE. And while running electric, not needing air, it can scream up the road. In every other mountain range in and out of Colorado, it does just fine, whether you use mountain mode or not. Mountain mode just makes it that much better.

  15. Chuck @ GM Says:

    @13, You may be right about SAE’s definition, but GM defined the Volt as EREV before SAE got into the electric business, as I recall.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I said that a Volt is a bargain COMPARED TO PURE EV’s that will go less than 100 miles, and then you need a flat bed. I didn’t say it was a bargain compared to a $24K MSRP Prius, or a base Focus hatch for under $20K.

    I don’t care what the SAE calls a Volt. I know what it is, and how it works. I don’t think you do know how it works.

    Hybrid sales go up and down with gas prices. The inventory of Priuses is down at the dealer near me in Indiana, since gas recently went to over $4/gallon. I was there a few days ago, and they had ZERO Camry hybrids in stock. The other big market for Prius is Japan, and sales there have been stable. Hybrids never sold well in Europe, because they have all of those relatively affordable, high mpg diesel hatches and wagons.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Oh, and CK, the Volt IS an EV until the battery is depleted. As I said, while you know what some organizations call it, you don’t seem to know how it actually works.

  18. Rick Wakefield Says:

    Why don’ more manufacturers go with Heads Up Displays instead of bigger center console displays units.

    I worked for a GM dealership for a short amount of time and experienced some of the HUD they offered in certain vehicles.

    Granted, their vehicles had nothing but problems, but I’m sure others could do much better than with the technology available these days.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had a ’98 Grand Prix, which I factory ordered. It had head up display available, and I didn’t order it. I just didn’t like seeing anything in the windshield.

    Actually, the HUD they had in those cars worked pretty well, for those who wanted it. You could dim it way down for night driving, etc. I just didn’t want it.

  20. ColoradoKid Says:

    Mr Gerhart – 17 – So now you know more than the SAE ? interesting . Kit Gerhart is smarter than the entirety of the SAE . Of course you are Kit . And I’m Eric Clapton … have more money than god and more cars than Jay Leno . Just where did you pick up this self inflated view of yourself that suddenly you’re the center of the Universe and everything you say is correct ? Delusions ? Extra curricular activities ? Old age taking over the mind ? Wishful thinking ? Talk about shooting your credibility smack dab in the foot ;-) See Mr so called Engineer …. just because an item behaves like an X occasionally .. does not make it an X … as any educated and bonafide ‘ engineer ‘ .. would know .

    Yeah Kit . Like I said before . You GM types .. past ,present … or pretend … are all alike . So steeped in GMs culture of lies you wouldn’t know the truth if it hit you … and so utterly incapable of critical thinking – original thought – or discernment in the slightest degree that you’re too blind to see … once again … when you’ve been so properly set up ….. again

    BTW Kit ol bean ! According to all the best and latest estimates … it’ll take some 25 years before you’ll so much as break even with the Volt [ ten years with the Prius oh wise and all knowing one ] which makes both anything but …. a Bargain !

    Oh … and then theres that Carbon Footprint issue that I’m sure goes right over your ‘ engineer ‘ head that I won’t pursue as discussing such a topic with the likes of you is an exercise in futility .

    Tell you what though Kit . This is getting too easy … and I really don’t feel like paying for your operation [ pulling your foot out of your mouth ] So I think it best we ignore each other here in the future . But .. out of pity and charity … I will offer to send you a case of the BBQ sauce I’m so fond of from KC ( Blues Hog ) … to make that foot of yours go down a little easier after todays little confrontation …. cause deep down inside .. when not dealing with the likes of you … I really am a pretty nice guy

  21. ColoradoKid Says:

    Kit – One last Mr Engineer . An EV is defined as a vehicle who’s sole source of power and motivation comes from electricity … and electricity only . The minute an ICE is involved in any way , shape or form .. the vehicle becomes a Hybrid . Mr Engineer . Toot toot !

    Seriously … the BBQ sauce offer still stands

  22. ColoradoKid Says:

    BWTM Kit – Indiana is anything BUT the center of the Universe … e.g. What happens in Indiana … no one really cares about . But the fact is its Nationwide and Worldwide Hybrid sales I’m talking about . You do know what the term Worldwide & Nationwide mean now … don’t you Mr Engineer ?

  23. W L Simpson Says:

    When batteries become smaller, lighter & much , much safer & efficient , then EV’s time will have come.
    Over complication is interfering with EV
    acceptance , my vote is for full time micro
    ICE/gen & minimal batts.
    This olwrench’s driving impression of the volt—–overwired lead brick.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    20, 21, 22
    Here is a pretty good explanation of the Volt’s powertrain, for those who are interested. CK, I’m sure you are not.

    The SAE categorizes things, including types of powertrains in cars. Perhaps they want to limit things at some point. They would classify Fusion hybrid and Insight both as hybrid cars, even thought the powertrains are quite different. The same applies with Volt/Prius plug-in/Fusion Energi. SAE calls them all plug in hybrids, even the the Volt is substantially different from the other two. A major way the Volt is functionally different, to use your terminology, is that ITS SOLE SOURCE OF POWER AND MOTIVATION COMES FROM ELECTRICITY until the battery is depleted. With Toyota and Ford plug-in hybrids, that is not the case. The engine will run at any time if you “step on it” very hard. You probably can’t understand the difference, though.

    …and who said Indiana is the center of the universe, and what does that have to do with anything? The Prius was recently, and may still be the THIRD BEST SELLING CAR IN THE WORLD, behind only Corolla and Focus. No, I don’t have any data more recent than a year ago, so yeah, it may, or may not have dropped to 4th. or 5th. in the world.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    …and you think it takes 10 years to break even with a Prius? It is more like, you break even the day you buy it. The closest non-hybrid available in the U.S. market is a Focus hatch, and by the time you get the features a Prius has standard, the Focus will cost almost as much, and the Focus will depreciate faster. If you want automatic temperature control on the Focus, it will cost more than a Prius which has ATC standard.

  26. C-Tech Says:

    I don’t understand the emphasis on break even for the Volt or other hybrid and elec. vehicles. No one mentions break even on a Mercedes, Lexus, or Ferrari. Consumers choose the type of vehicle they want to drive, not based on strict economic theory.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Break even calculations apply most directly where the same car is available as hybrid or non-hybrid, and where the same car is available as diesel or gas. Even with cars like Camry or Fusion hybrid, one has to estimate resale value for the time they plan to keep the car, and such guesses for 6 years down the road are, well, guesses.

    I can see hybrid ownership becoming sort of a hobby with some people, as the cars near their end of life. People will be buying batteries from wrecks, and replacing individual cells, etc., to cheaply keep them going a little longer. I plan to keep my Prius for the 5 or 6 years I normally keep my primary car, so I won’t be dealing with that kind of stuff.

  28. Brett Says:


    It’s just a handy tool to justify your prejudices when you don’t have anything else. :)

  29. T. Bejma Says:


    So, if a Volt is not an EV, how does it qualify for the full amount of government rebate (same amount as the Leaf, Tesla, etc.) while hybrids, do not?

  30. T. Bejma Says:


    +1 Billion squared LOL ;-)