AD #1275 – GM to Gut Holden, Honda Teases New Ridgeline, Porsche Cayman S in 3D

December 11th, 2013 at 11:57am

Runtime: 8:11

- GM to End Production Down Under
- Honda Teases New Ridgeline
- NACTOY Finalists
- Porsche Cayman S in 3D
- Catch Me If You Can
- Autoline Executive of the Year


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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. Here’s today’s news.

And we start out with a report that we hate to see happen. While the rumors have been swirling around for months, now it’s official. General Motors will stop building cars and engines in Australia at Holden by the end of 2017. GM will also significantly reduce its large engineering center there. However, it will keep the Holden brand and maintain its global design studio there. That makes me wonder where GM will move production of those cars? My guess is that it makes the most sense to move production to North America. This is a huge blow to Australia. Earlier this year Ford announced it too was halting manufacturing in the country. That leaves Toyota as the last manufacturer in Australia, and now we have to wonder how long it will continue to do that.

The Honda Ridgeline never came anywhere near the sales volume the company hoped to hit with its first pickup truck in the U.S. market. But it’s not giving up. Honda just released a teaser sketch of the next Ridgeline, even though it’s still two years away from hitting the market. And now you know as much about it as we do. Sales of the current model are up close to 30% this year but the numbers are puny, barely 16,000 units. Even so, I admire Honda for not giving up on the vehicle, when most other automakers would have thrown in the towel.

Yesterday I gave my predictions for the North American Car and Truck of the Year finalists, and managed to get 5 of the 6 correct. The Car of the Year finalists are the Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac CTS and Mazda3. On the Truck side they are the Chevrolet Silverado, Jeep Cherokee and Acura MDX. I guessed the Range Rover Sport would make it instead of the MDX. Now I want to know, which one you think should win the award? So, if you’re not already at our website,, head over now and click on the survey icon in today’s show to submit your picks. Last year we asked you to do this, and I have to tell you the Autoline audience nailed it, correctly picking both winners before the results were announced.

Would you like to customize your very own Porsche? Sorry, dumb question, or course you would. Well the possibility of that just got a whole lot more affordable, as long as you have access to a 3D printer. The German automaker has just released 3D printing data to produce your very own Cayman S. The only bad news is you won’t be able to drive your creation after you’ve finished, but at least it won’t cost you thousands if you make a mistake.

Hollywood has taken an interest in racing this year. A few months back Ron Howard’s Rush hit the theaters which told the story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda’s epic battle for the 1976 Formula One Championship. And now Leonardo DiCaprio is teaming up with Venturi Automobiles to launch a team for the Formula E Championship, a full-electric racing series that kicks off next year. Venturi Automobiles builds high performance EVs and currently holds the world land speed record for an electric vehicle with a speed of 307 MPH. The team plans to build its own Formula E car powered by its electric powertrain starting in the second season. It’s cool to see so much interest in Formula E but I’m still skeptical about its chances for success.

Oh my gosh, did you read Peter De Lorenzo’s latest piece on the Autoextremist website? Make sure to go to the website because he launches a broadside against outgoing GM CEO Dan Akerson, accusing him of humiliating Mark Reuss in meetings at General Motors and even insulting Mark’s father Lloyd Reuss, a former GM president himself. Could all this be true? How does Peter know this? Make sure you join us tomorrow night for Autoline After Hours, starting at 6 pm eastern time, because this is going to be the Number One topic of conversation.

Coming up, we’re going to take a look at the next executive on the short list to potentially become the Autoline Executive of the Year.

As you probably know, I’ve put together a blue ribbon panel of automotive experts to choose the one executive who we think has stood out this year above all the others. So far I’ve reported on two of the execs who made our short list, Akio Toyoda and Tom Doll from Subaru. Today I want to put the spotlight on Martin Winterkorn, the chairman and CEO of the Volkswagen Group.

Now 66 years old, he’s also on the board of Audi and Porsche. But he actually started his career getting his doctorate in metallurgy. From there he went on to the supplier side of the business, working at the Robert Bosch company. He joined VW in 1993 working on quality assurance, but spent most of the rest of his career in product development, and is credited with convincing then chairman Ferdinand Piech to bring back the Beetle.

Under his leadership VW set a goal of becoming the largest and most profitable car company in the world by 2018. And he’s committed the group to spending over $113 billion between now and then in new plants and products to achieve that goal. He also embarked on an ambitious program to build all of the groups vehicles off several highly-modular systems, mainly known as MQB and MLB, that could slash costs by billions of dollars a year.

In many respects VW is on a roll. It’s emerging as the largest automaker in China, the largest market in the world, it successfully manages 10 different brands of cars, commercial vehicles and motorcycles.

However, my blue ribbon panel also pointed out that Volkswagen is stumbling badly in the U.S. market, with sales down in a strong market. One member of the panel is particularly miffed at the way VW is now dictating to Porsche how and what it must do.

Even so, it’s hard to argue with success. VW is extremely profitable and could be on its way to becoming the world’s leading automaker, and that’s why Martin Winterkorn made it to our short list for the Autoline Executive of The Year.

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

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54 Comments to “AD #1275 – GM to Gut Holden, Honda Teases New Ridgeline, Porsche Cayman S in 3D”

  1. Bradley Says:

    I think the Ridgeline could find a niche if they applied a shrink ray to it. ;)

    GM was successful with announcing the new CEO Mary Barra parallel to the Government taking a 10 Billion loss. As most of the evening news focused on Mary Barra.

    Learning more about her, I am a little skeptical.


    GM doesn’t need someone that only knows the auto industry from a Detroit perspective and GM doesn’t need someone that only has worked at GM as the CEO.

    Sure she breaks the gender mold, but I doubt this will demonstrate that GM’s culture is anything different than it was before the collapse.

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Is PDL going to be on AAH tomorrow? If so, it should be very interesting, especially if you have Mary Barra as a guest :-)

  3. G W Groovey Says:

    A friend who owns multiple dealerships, foreign and domestic, was very positive about Mary Barra’s appointment as CEO of GM. He was especially impressed that she came from the engineering side of the corporation, not financial. She will be under intense scrutiny over the next few moths and only with her the very best.

  4. Ron Paris Says:

    Formula E? Hey Leo, didn’t they already do that thirty or forty years ago? I think they call them “slot cars”-Yawn!

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Unless these formula E races are very short, the teams will find a way to very quickly change batteries.

    4, Slot cars don’t carry their batteries on board, but R/C race cars do, and the races were typically 4 minute duration when I did R/C racing years ago. We were using NiCad batteries then. With LiPo batteries, 10 minute races should be feasible, on one battery or charge.

  6. Richard Tait Says:

    I just read Peter De Lorenzo’s article on the Dan Akerson departure and all I can say is BRAVO! Peter nailed it good and proper. I have been saying for months what Peter has said. Dan Lackerson is the biggest embarrassment to GM since the Pontiac Aztek. Under his stewardship GM has made some incredible mistakes (misguided and soon-to-be financially impotent Peugeot purchase, luke-warm Silverado/Sierra trucks, disastrous Malibu launch, etc etc) that will likely cost GM dearly. Good riddance to Lackerson and may his era be remembered by all with the scorn it deserves.

  7. Steve Weintraub Says:

    Re: The Holden. I would expect if the name is continued it will be made in South Korea. Closer proximity and lower costs than North America.

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’d think the smaller, front drive cars would be made in Korea, but if they continue the big, rear drivers, they might make them in North America. If they make a complete line of rear drive cars, to compete with Charger, based on the SS, the volume would probably be higher in NA than anywhere else. Also, if they build these cars in America, more police departments would buy them than are now buying the Caprice from Australia.

  9. RumNCoke Says:

    You know, if GM wins the car and truck of the year, Captain Dan is going to take the credit. It would be great if GM won both categories but I don’t think I could stand the smugness from the sidelines.

  10. jack878 Says:

    So Peter knows something about Akerson that the general public does not know. Peter, are you going to knock Akerson till the day he leaves GM? You’ve call him names from the first day he became CEO. Why would you or anyone do that before even knowing how he’d performed as a CEO? I think he’s done a pretty darn good job, just by looking how GM is doing today. According to what you’ve been preaching, that should have never happened from his so call poor leadership.
    Peter, maybe life has been hard on you and you need to pick on someone.

  11. Adam Says:

    The CTS really is a very good ‘merican car, but the Stingray just has to win.
    The Jeep is hideous and does nothing to advance the make. The MDX brings some impressive technology and necessary innovation, not just gimmicks.
    Why on Earth the Silverado is even considered escapes me — it’s a vehicle that hasn’t improved in a couple of years. Then again, nor has the F150 so I wonder why the RAM isn’t top of the list.

  12. ColoradoKid Says:

    VW Combi/Micro Bus /T2 era comes to a close

    Today the last T2 rolled off the assembly line in Brazil … bring the production of the ubiquitous VW Micro Bus to an end . The T2 having served well over the decades of its existence and appealing to a wide customer base …including ; Hippies – Surfers – Musician – Tradesmen – Families – Adventurers – Outdoorsmen – Military ( yes Military ) and even serving in a highly modified form as the chase vehicle for Porsche when developing the 959

    The T2 being the longest lasting production vehicle [ 70 years ] in automotive history … remaining .. other than a body mod or two and a later conversion to water cooled … true to its original design and intention … being the result of the unlikely partnership of a British Corp of Engineers Officer / Dutch car salesman … and a German business man

    The T2′s days coming to a close as Common Sense / Simple /Reliable / Easy to Repair transportation is pushed aside by Over complicated / Safety Nanny / InfoTainment laden dreck

    But … lest ye think the T2′s days are over .. think again … with multitudes of restorers etc the T2′s days carry on in earnest .. and just have a look at the current prices for a Synchro Westfalia conversion to bring the point home

    So … keep on Truckin … T2 … keep the freak flag flying [ yeah ... I know some o' y'all been there ] … and as the Grateful Dead so well said ” What a long strange trip its been ” … and will continue to be … with a ” Touch of Grey ” of course … but carrying on regardless

    An appropriate soundtrack to close this minor essay ;

    BWTM – Next time the roads are clogged and traffic is at a standstill .. blocked by the current multitudes of ginormous gas inhaling Motor Homes and coaches … remember … there was … and is an alternative ;-)

    And finally on a similar note … if I may digress …. a fond farewell to Teacher / Mentor and Friend … Jim Hall

    While all others were trying to make me change … it was Jim who had me stay the course …

  13. ColoradoKid Says:

    The NACOTY and NATUOY nominees


    Not a single one deserving any such honor … not a single one !

  14. HtG Says:

    Losing Holden production may not be the blow for Oz that you might think. In the last election, the winning candidate promised to stop subsidizing auto production.

    12 which Jim Hall, CK?

    Peter D

    Can this guy write, or what!?

    “Unctuous prick” – I’m stealing that

  15. HtG Says:

    More Merriment/Mewling about Mary

    Last year Fortune did this profile of Mary Barra…

  16. Bob Aubertin Says:

    In response to comment #7, lower costs means two things; No Quality & Cheap products.

    Honda should give up the idea of playing in the Big Leagues with Ram,Ford & Chevy/GMC.Toyota and Nissan have failed miserably, get the message!

    Part of the enjoyment of attending races is the Smell of Racing fuel,burning rubber and the Sound of Horsepower coming alive, get the message!

    Always enjoy your show John!!!

  17. Bob Aubertin Says:

    Well done Peter, “The whole truth and nothing but the truth”.

  18. HtG Says:


    I can’t pick first places, just thirds. Of course I will be available for corvette and Silverado extended test drives.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Ram is not on the list, because it is not “new” for the 2014 model year. It won last year, when it was a new design.

    The Cherokee is much better looking “in person” that it was in photos, at least to me, and the interior is among the best it its class. My concern is reliability, but we won’t know about that for a while.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I was surprised to see new looking T2s when I was in Brazil about 15 years ago. Until that trip, I thought they stopped production before the Beetle, but I learned different.

    They wouldn’t be good in a crash, but are about the most space efficient vehicle ever built, and what a history.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I stopped by the local Cadillac/Nissan dealer this morning, and took a look at the new CTS. It’s a nice car, with a very nice interior, but the one in the showroom had an MSRP in the mid-60s. There are a lot of cars I’d rather have for that money, including a C7 Corvette, for $10K less.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    15, Quite a different take on Mary, than PDL’s.

  23. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Peter condemned Mary (before the trial); now that’s what I call bad juju.

    Diatribe on the ‘Microbus’, okay, but the Suburban, I believe, has the all time uninterrupted record of production.

    NACOTY: Good representation of this year’s crop; C7 and Silverado are my votes.

  24. Lex Says:

    I agree with some of my fellow followers of Autoline Daily. GM / Dan Akerson should repay the US Tresury the $10.5BN is lost on the sale of GM Stock. This just might ungarnish GM’s image in North America!

  25. Lex Says:

    Honda should down size the Ridgeline to the former Ford Ranger portions or bring back the Element in a less boxy edition.

  26. Lex Says:

    If GM is going to Gut Holden than they should do the same with Opel and Daewoo/Chevy. These brands are not global. GM needs to reconsider how it brands it’s vehicles. This cloning they have practiced for more than 60 years is a waste of time, resources and money. Two or three brands is all an OEM needs to be successful. Toyota has itself, Lexus and Scion case in point.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    CK’s point on the microbus, is that it was produced for about 70 years, in pretty much its original form. Today’s Suburban is only slightly more like the original Suburban, than today’s Corolla is like the original Corolla.

    Here is a 2013 type 2 built in Brazil:

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Opel/Vauxhall are much higher volume than Holden, and those brands are “local” in continental Europe and the UK, respectively. At one time, Opel and Vauxhall products were different, but they are now the same, model for model, except for badging, and the UK cars being RHD. Toyota entered Europe as Toyota, while Opel and Vauxhall were acquired by GM many years ago. To me, at least, it makes sense to keep those names.

    As was announced a few days ago, GM are going to drop the Chevy name in Europe, except for the very low volume sales of Corvette and Camaro. It never made sense to use the Chevy name in Europe for cheap, Korean imports.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Actually, the type 2 will have been produced only 63 years, not 70, but that’s an amazingly long run for a vehicle to stay so much like the original 1950 version.

  30. cwolf Says:

    I hope it is becoming evident GM’s stride to become more lean is a positive move. Exiting the EU, AU and a 20% reduction in Korea tells me more focus will be places in the US.

  31. M Campbell Says:

    Instead of swapping batteries competitors will use two chassis during a Formula E race, swapping to the second during a pit stop.

  32. dcars Says:

    If I’ve learned anything from Bosses that fear knowledgeable underlings, it’s they will do and say anything to embarrass them as often as possible.

  33. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Kit, and my point is the Suburban is still in production, still has the same functional niche and although it has evolved somewhat more than the Microbus it is just semantics as to the amount of changes that have occurred in both vehicles. The Microbus has had many iterations while still looking the same. Under the skin I’m sure it has progressed, meeting the 21st century in good form. Not looking for an argument just expressing some thoughts. I take both your and CK’s statements in kind.

  34. HtG Says:

    Even if the last microbus has rolled off the line, at least they’ll be on the roads in meaningful numbers for the next twenty years.


  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The microbus got bigger engines over time, and the latest ones are probably even liquid cooled, but the vehicle is very similar to the original. It would not be even close to meeting US or EU safety standards.

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    You can probably build one from Brazilian and reproduction parts, but you’d need a US VIN for it to be legal here. When these 2013 Brazilian ones are 25 years old, we should be able to import them.

  37. HtG Says:

    Maybe the rise of autonomous driving will make crashes impossible, and VW will be able to bring back the M’bus.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Today, I saw a Chevy Spark here in Florida with Illinois tags. Not many people would want to drive that car 1200 miles on a road trip from Illinois, but it would be pure luxury compared to a microbus, or the beetle I drove all over Europe when I was in the navy.

  39. cwolf Says:

    Toyota is feeling the squeeze and thinks it has no choice but to exit Australia. It will be interesting to see the impact upon the AU economy in time, then see if any of us feel differently about how we managed our situation.

  40. Mike J Says:

    Is this site going to start embracing tabloid journalism, who cares what beef Peter has with and Exec. Is he now the news instead of the automotive industry?, if this is where you guys are headed you have lost your way, plan and simple.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Regarding Suburban, (and Corolla), there is something to be said for the value of keeping the same name forever. The Suburban is the “longest continuously produced vehicle on the market,” never mind that the early ones were basically non-woody two door station wagons with a Stove Bolt six, and we know what today’s Suburbans are.

    The Corolla has bragging rights as the “best selling passenger car in history,” but today’s Corolla bears little resemblance to the early, rear wheel drive ones.

    If Ford had continued using the “Model A” name from 1928 to the present, on their highest volume car at the time, they would really have a lot of bragging rights.

  42. ColoradoKid Says:

    The NACOTY and NATOTY awards

    Yeah … its becoming real obvious whats going on with both

    Its become the year of FEEL SORRY FOR GM AND SUCK UP TO CHEVY awards and to hell with being the ‘ best ‘

    Voting the same as it ever was Silverado that Chevy can’t even give away and the rehashed C6 now calling itself the C7 who’s sales will fall into the abyss about five minutes after the Corvette faithful have had their fill

    Irrelevant is being far too kind when it comes to the NACOTY NATOTY awards .

    An utter abject and worthless exercise in futility might come a little closer


    Mr Gerhardt – 41 – re; Suburban – WRONG … again ! Wake up and smell the ragweed . Todays Suburban doesn’t even so much as resemble the original Suburban of yore . Fact is the original wasn’t even sold to the general public … so yours is a claim in total error . Revisionist GM history perhaps … but completely and utterly false .

    Whereas the T2 and all its variants remained true to their roots from day one from top to bottom with only a few ‘ revisions ‘ here and there

    e.g It aint about the pretentious name on the grill … its about whats underneath …. and on that one the T2′s the All Time Winner … hands down … its now in the history books .. argument over … 70 years and true to the original .. Too bad Chevy / GM were never able to create anything that long lasting and iconic ;-)

    Sheesh ! You GM’ers … past and present are all on the exact same deluded wavelength … so what is it ? Brainwashing ? Chemical additions in the drinking fountain ? Something afoul in the air ?

  43. ColoradoKid Says:


    EVERYBODY is exiting Australia …. for one plain and simple reason ;

    That being …. unlike the US … and the EU/UK ( though those two are rapidly coming to the same conclusions ) Australia has come to grips with the reality/fact that subsidizing and funding Automotive manufacturing is in fact a LOSING proposition … for the country .. its tax payers … as well as its workforce

    Doing so spending more than it’ll ever recoup … not to mention WASTING valuable resources and cash that could of been better used elsewhere .. including creating more and better jobs !

    Question being …. when’s the US of A gonna finally wake up and smell the Ragweed ?

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    WTF are you arguing with me about this one? YIKES!!

    I fully agree with you on something, which is rare. There is no similarity between the first Suburbans, and today’s, except for the name, and they can carry passengers. I basically said that in post 41.

    Yeah, the very first Suburbans weren’t sold to the general public, but by 1935 or so, they were.

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    …and regarding the T2, you are mostly right, CK. except that 1950-2013 is 63 years, not 70 years.

  46. ColoradoKid Says:

    Htg – re; Which Jim Hall ?

    Errr… seriously ?

    Well …. ok …. this Jim Hall ;

  47. ColoradoKid Says:

    45 – Wrong again good sir .. try the first rolling off the assembly line in ……

    1948 [ the T2 was part of the British rebuilding of Germany program and immediately followed the reintroduction of the T1 . eg. the ' Beetle ' ] .. but yeah .. 65 years … not quite 70 ..

  48. ColoradoKid Says:

    44 – OK .. so I took your posts the wrong way .. mea culpa …

  49. ColoradoKid Says:

    The T2′s ‘ 70 ‘ years

    Aha ! I was stumped as to why the author I was reading was claiming the T2 was 70 years old … but a bit further reading gave the answer

    The T2′s original ( and forever ) platform was created in 1943 ( in reality a modified T1 Beetle platform which dates from the 30′s ) as an in factory transporter during the war ( sans body work … just a drivers seat and a cargo bed )

    So though its more legit IMO to call the T2 65 years old… technically it is 70 … hmmmn

  50. Bradley Says:

    Pedigree is very important, as I have always stated.

    The Detroit brands have always harnessed a “bubble gum” pop culture type attitude towards car models. This has hurt them, as it makes the brand confusing.

    The constant inflating of car size needs to stop, as it hurts the ability to maintain pedigree. Granted, there is a little value in the Camry being so much larger than the original. As someone that shunned a Camry in 1985 can obviously see it isn’t the same car today.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    …and most VW collector groups consider 1950 to be when the T2 began, because that is when volume production began in Germany. No matter which “starting point” you use, those things are by far the most ubiquitous vehicles of their type. Almost everyone, of any age, would recognize one.

  52. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The first Suburban was based on the 1/2 ton pickup truck, the latest iteration the same; seems pretty continual to me. Not falling for flimsy semantics (there’s always something that can be said one way or the other). And while I am one of the GM faithful, some here are just the opposite.

    I’m just giving some opinions on Chevy’s legacy, and don’t forget the Corvette; any others to claim the longest running sports car tittle?

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In the ’30′s, 1/2 ton pickups had basically the same frames as cars, in width, standard wheelbase, and ride height. The early Suburbans were about the same height as cars at the time. That is not the case now, or even close.

    Yeah, Chuck, I understand that there is a certain amount of continuity, but that has mostly to do with keeping the same name for a long time. As you know, I am one of the “GM faithful,” but let’s face it, a 2013 Suburban is not much like a 1940 Suburban, but a 2013 VW Type 2 is very similar to a 1950 Type 2, or the earlier one-offs that CK mentioned.

  54. Bobby Sharpe Says:

    I reall truly think that honda has advanced it’s technology far better than that of GM’s. I have owned both and I rely on stability and reliabilty, and for me honda has both.