AD #1181 – Toyota Ups Highlander Production, Japan Boosts EV Chargers, Daimler Sues France

July 29th, 2013 at 11:56am

Runtime: 6:20

Toyota announces it’s boosting Highlander production in the U.S. A group of Japanese automakers team up to increase the number of EV charging stations in Japan. Daimler is suing the French government over it stopping the sale of some new Mercedes models that use a banned A/C refrigerant. All that and more, plus guest host Frank Markus shares how the all-new Z51 Corvette made him feel like an awesome driver.

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Hello and welcome to a brand new week of Autoline Daily. It’s Monday, July 29th. I’m Frank Markus from Motor Trend filling in for John while he’s out of town. In the second half of the show, I’ll share my thoughts on something that’s bound to make you jealous, but first let’s get to the day’s top stories.

Toyota announced it’s boosting Highlander production in the U.S. The company is investing $30 million dollars at its plant in Indiana to increase production of the gasoline version of the SUV by 15,000 units a year. Toyota also plans to export Highlander’s made in Indiana to Russia and Australia. With this latest investment, the plant will have a production capacity of 365,000 units by the end of 2014.

And speaking of Toyota, it’s teaming up with other Japanese automakers to increase the number of EV charging stations in Japan. Bloomberg reports that Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi and Toyota will share the costs to build 12,000 charging stations in Japan, of which, 4,000 will be fast chargers. Currently Japan has 4,700 charging stations. The companies didn’t release a timeframe for the project.

DAIMLER SUES FRANCE (Subscription required to view article.)
German automaker, Daimler is suing the French government over it banning the sale of some new Mercedes models that use R134a A/C refrigerant. The EU banned the use of that refrigerant in new vehicles earlier this year because it contributes to global warming. And now France won’t lift the sales ban until Mercedes conforms to EU rules; but Daimler is one of several automakers that said it won’t use the replacement refrigerant, HFO-1234yf in its vehicles due to fire risks.

Last week on Autoline After Hours, Rich Bartlett, the Chief Engineer of the new Cadillac Twin Turbo V6 stopped by the studio to tell us all about the engine. In the following clip he shares some of the details that went into its development.

(Clip of the details that went into the Cadillac Twin Turbo V6 can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

If you want to learn more about that engine you can watch that entire show on our website right now.

Coming up next, I’ll share my driving impressions on one of the most anticipated cars to come out this year.

Corvettes have always been adept track stars, with top models capable of near-supercar performance. Maintaining a close relationship with a successful racing team has assured that. But its slightly brutal handling demeanor, down-market interior, and unsupportive, uncomfortable seats have conspired to keep it out of the pantheon of supercars.

The new C7 generation needs to put all of that right-to tame the beast, without neutering it. So, can this new car still lay down hero numbers while coddling the hero and keeping him from soiling his pants?

In a word, yes. The new interior is enough better that I’d wager anyone who still complains about it is doing so out of force of habit. I recently sampled a new 7-speed manual Z51 with the power-enhancing performance exhaust and the magnetic suspension. Together, these options give the car performance that pretty evenly splits the difference between the Grand Sport and 427 models of the predecessor C6: 0-to-60 in 3.9 seconds; the quarter mile in 12.2 seconds at 117.3 mph. That’s stout performance for under $58,000, made all the more impressive by its 29-mpg highway fuel economy number.

But what really impressed me was how awesome a driver the car made me feel like I was, after twiddling through the many Drive Select and Performance Traction Management programs. By controlling the shock response, variable-lock differential, brakes, throttle, and more, the sophisticated electronics were happy to deliver precisely as much or as little tail-happiness as I demanded. Switching everything off revealed me to be the mere mortal driver I always was. I got the same sensation the first time I switched everything off in a Ferrari 599. Three-cheers for trickle-down technology!

Check out my full road test at, and stay tuned for the inevitable comparison tests against Porsches, GT-Rs, GT-500s and anything else we can get our hands on.

And that wraps up today’s show. Once again I’m Frank Markus from Motor Trend, thanks for watching and have a great day.

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22 Comments to “AD #1181 – Toyota Ups Highlander Production, Japan Boosts EV Chargers, Daimler Sues France”

  1. HtG Says:

    Be Afraid

    Here’s a Reuters* piece on white hat hackers who will release a white paper** detailing how to take control of a car. They’re not going to show how to do it wirelessly.

    * is there an apostrophe in Reuters. This bothers me.

    ** see what I did?

  2. HtG Says:

    An ArsTechnica piece on hacking cars. A long piece, but I noticed the implication that if the wrong silicon device like a kid’s USB memory stick gets stuck into a port, you may be toast. Remember that you are already able to buy a whole system on a stick for just a few bucks.

  3. M360 Says:

    Thanks, Frank! Great job.

  4. T. Bejma Says:

    Corvette driving impressions…

    Felt the same way when I drove one the other day (performance between GS and 427). Pretty impressive for the base model. The upper models should really scream!!

    Cadillac Twin Turbo…

    Haven’t had a chance to drive one yet, but talking to some that have and they indicated it was “impressive”.

  5. G.A.Branigan Says:

    And I’ll bet some of you thought I was being paranoid about people messing with all the electronic shit they have stuffed in our rides.Just wait till the autonomous crap hits our roads,not to mention the traffic computers that they’ll use to mess with folks.I can see the land sharks droolin’ already…….

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    GA seem like only you and I are the ones that want no part of all this electronic auto crap, give me a direct, mechanical link between myself, steering, propulsion and braking.

  7. Bradley Says:


    Do all GM employees get to drive all the cars? That would be great!

  8. ColoradoKid Says:

    Corvette C7

    Driving impressions … or Driving misrepresentations …. big deal …. the on site GM apologist….. and the single least credible after AW of all US automotive publications rants and raves about the C7 after a few uninformed momentary twists & turns of the wheel and we’re all supposed to be so utterly impressed . Yeah right …. and I’ll be buying my next audio set up based on CR’s reviews as well . e.g. When pigs can fly

    Fact is … regardless of how the thing drives ….. it looks like the South End of a North bound Mule designed for the terminally adolescent at heart ( and maturity ) Fact is …. its looking worse with age …. and every new view … not better .

    Now if we could only get a genuine , truthful …. and unbiased review of the car …. or any car these days for that matter from the automotive press . Fact is …. with the way the current ‘popular ‘ automotive media is financially manipulated today …. hell will freeze over first


    #4 Of course in your mind it was ‘ impressive ‘ . Everything GM does in your opinion is ‘ impressive . But lets face it …. thats because your ‘ baseline ‘ / reference point is pretty low along with your built in bias blinding you as to the facts .


    @ Bradley – # 7 – Yeah aint that nice the way GM wastes ‘ our ‘ time and money ?


    #’s 1,2 & 5…. well ….. you’re both spot on ….. but errr …. guaranteed you both still don’t know the half of it …. ;-)

  9. ColoradoKid Says:

    A reminder of the state of the current ‘ print ‘ media …. of all types ;

    Synopsis ; Magazines do not ‘ sell ‘ themselves to you . They do in fact sell YOU to their advertisers seeing as how your subscription rates barely covers the cost of shipment these days

    No insult intended or implied towards todays presenter mind you …. just a clear statement of the way things are … unfortunately

  10. Drew Says:

    “Houston, we have a problem.” Some ALD commenters have flunked kindergarten — they have forgotten how to play NICE with others.

  11. T. Bejma Says:


    No Bradley, not all. You really have to “know” someone to get into one the more desirable vehicles. There is a fleet of pre-production vehicles that are evaluated for any initial problems and if you know someone that has one, and they let you, you can drive them.

    We do also have a fleet of former “test” vehicles and company cars that every employee can have access to for a week once a quarter. Take it home, learn about it, show your neighbors. It is a good way to get a no hassle test drive and also to learn more about our vehicles. It is how I got a Z06 Carbon with track pack and a CTS-V Coupe for a week. Also the way I sold my neighbor on a new Enclave and another into a Camaro Convertible.

  12. cwolf Says:

    TB, this is how I get to take a spin in the new models. Many visiting GM’ers know what I want when they see me coming.
    I was surprised by the number of new Vette owners during my trip to Detroit last week. All raved about the car and two said it was the nicest vette they owned. It seems all the mags share the same sentiment. It may not gain all the merits of the top of the line German brands,yet one has to remember the Vette is half the cost or more,costs less to maintain and spends less time in the service dept.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    When I was at the electronics division of GM, we had some company cars for testing our products, and some “motor pool” cars that were used for company business. There were no “extended test drives” for employees, but I guess there were such programs at facilities closer to where they actually built cars.

    Upper-middle managers got company cars for personal use, esentially as part of their pay. The cars were made available for purchase by employees at predetermined prices after a few months of use.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That same link was posted here when it was closer to being news, more than two years ago when it was published. Yes, we all know that advertising is what keeps most magazines going, with CR being a notable exception.

  15. HtG Says:

    14,9 If I’m not wrong, one thing that John does not do is allow third party trackers to jump onto our browsers when we come to this site. Most sites load you up with such leaches, and that’s one reason Autoline loads up so fast. I also appreciate that some of the days when John has a substitute host it’s because he’s off finding companies that might support the show. Also, Peter D.’s website is free of ads, so we benefit from a ‘lively’ and informed opinion.

  16. C-Tech Says:

    @ #7 I don’t know about the manufacturers but almost all of my test drives are from dealers (new off the truck) or customers (towed by the truck for repairs).

  17. Jonathan Says:

    Cool review Mr Marcus…especially enjoyed the c7 driving impression. As an owner of a beautiful c6 z51 that I’ve put over 60k miles….I’m racing to add on more miles so the inevitable need to buy yet another new corvette z52 comes to pss…

    Awesome sports car that I’d line up as z51, MRC, NPP and maybe the competition seats to still Rollin under 60 large..

    Seven speed manual no lift shift up and rev matching down shifts are the way to go…

    I expect corrected 1/4 mile numbers at 11.9 @ 119 mph from corvette enthusiasts who learn the car a little more over time……maybe reaching 121 traps…but that’s not the point of this new corvette…

    The total package is….and as you say …it’s well done at 60 large..

  18. HtG Says:

    17 Frank M is also a mechanical engineer(Chrysler). Call me crazy, but I car what these guys think.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    I don’t get Toyota increasing production of the Highlander at all with gas ever increasing in price and the move towards smaller, more fuel efficient small cross overs like RAV4 and others.unless they plan to export most of the new production to the “losers” of the cold war, who are now beating the crap out of us economically.

  20. ColoradoKid Says:

    So why is it the rest of the world gets these ( in street guise of course ) and we do not ?


    19 – Pedro .. Cause we ‘ Mericans dont give a fig about gas prices . Just look at whats still the largest seller for the ( not so ) Big Three . Full sized … V8 powered … and usually over optioned Pick Up trucks

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    It seems we don’t get a lot of the good stuff the rest of the world gets, frankly I am tired of it, this used to be a place where you could just about get anything and others envied that fact, now the tables are turned, by govt bull$hit, corporate manipulating and controls and general apathy from the public who seems to be more concerned about following celebrities than to raise their voices and demand what they deserve.

  22. jesse Says:

    I’m sure the C7 will perform as it should,which is better then the C6,without a problem.However,it will have a tougher time getting over the UGLY factor built into every angle.What were they thinking?