August 6th, 2009 at 12:00pm
CEO Akio Toyoda confirmed that Toyota is developing an affordable sports car. Ron Bloom, who heads up the Automotive Task Force, said don’t expect the government to step in to save suppliers. A list of the most purchased vehicles under the cash-for-clunkers program. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions about the cash-for-clunkers program in the “You Said It!” segment.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Toyota goes sports car crazy. Ron Bloom tells suppliers they’re on their own. And a list of the top selling clunker cars.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, August 6, 2009. And now, the news.
Toyota has sports cars on the brain. At the Management Briefing Seminars, an annual automotive conference, Akio Toyoda, confirmed that Toyota is developing an affordable sports car, aimed at attracting Gen-Y buyers. It sort of sounds like Toyota’s answer to the Mazda Miata. Interestingly, this is a joint project that Toyota is doing with Subaru. At the other end of the spectrum, Toyota is developing the Lexus LFA, that sounds like Toyota’s answer to the Nissan GTR. Clearly Toyota is out to change its image of an automaker that builds high-quality cars that are boring to drive.
Also at that same conference, Ron Bloom, who heads up the Automotive Task Force, said don’t expect the government to step in to save suppliers. He said just as GM and Chrysler had to reduce their manufacturing capacity to realistically match up with sales, now suppliers have to do the same. Bloom said GM and Chrysler could not get the financing they needed to go through bankruptcy. The government had to step in. But now that those automakers look likely to survive, private capital is willing to finance the bankruptcies of suppliers.
A report by CSM Worldwide says that global auto sales will begin to recover next year. But don’t get too excited, according to the Detroit News, those sales will start to rebound in places like South Asia, Latin America, China and other emerging markets. The study predicts that sales in Europe and the U.S. won’t recover for another five years. Survey says: global sales will come in at nearly 53 million this year and 75 million by 2015.
Union workers at Ssangyong Motors finally agreed to end their strike. According to the AP, management and workers reached a deal to reduce the number of jobs it had originally planned to cut. Union workers have occupied a plant in South Korea since mid-May, ceasing all production. Riot police have spent the past week raiding the plant to try and end the occupation, which often ended in violent clashes with workers.
Vice President Joe Biden visited Detroit yesterday to announce details about the $2.4 billion federal grant program that’s designed to spur the development of electric vehicles and battery technology. Among the big recipients, Johnson Controls will receive nearly $300 million while GM is getting $241 million, the most of the Detroit Three, to produce batteries for the Chevy Volt. Nissan is another big winner in the government giveaway. It’s getting almost $100 million in federal money to jumpstart a regional electric vehicle pilot program. The company will put 1,000 of its new LEAF EVs available in five markets across the U.S., including Tennessee, Oregon, San Diego, Seattle and the Phoenix/Tucson area. Among other things, the project aims to study how electric vehicles perform under varying conditions and evaluate the effectiveness of the charging infrastructure.
The Toyota Corolla has overtaken the Ford Focus as the most-purchased vehicle under the cash-for-clunkers program. According to The Detroit News, the Department of Transportation made the announcement yesterday. The remaining top 10 vehicles purchased include: the Honda Civic … Toyota Prius … Toyota Camry … Hyundai Elantra … Ford Escape … Dodge Caliber … Honda Fit … and the Chevy Cobalt.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
This is “You Said It!” where I get a chance to respond to some of the mail that comes in every day.
Dan B. wrote in to ask, “Will there be a hangover in the new car market once clunker sales are done? I’m guessing sales will drop quite a bit.”
Dan, I agree with you, there will be a payback when the clunker money is gone. But Jim Lentz, the president of Toyota Motor Sales USA, says that most of the clunker sales went to people who would otherwise not buy a new car. And he says there’s enough pent-up demand out there that it will make up for any drop off after the clunker money is gone.
We got a lot of mail on this one, but John V saw our report on Honda stopping production of motorcycles in the US, and asks, “Does anyone know why Honda is no longer making bikes in the U.S.? Is it no longer profitable?”
John, Honda decided to consolidate assembly of all its big bikes in one giant new plant and it decided to build that plant in Japan. Motorcycle sales are down worldwide, but I don’t think that was a factor in Honda’s planning. It just wanted a centralized source of production.
And speaking of clunker money, AP Meterman asks, “I wonder how much the $4500 for the clunker is going to eventually raise my taxes? This must be getting paid with all the money that the government is currently creating with unicorns and leprechauns.”
AP, the Clunker program so far has cost $1 billion. Looks like another $2 billion will be added to that. I remember when $3 billion was considered a lot of money, but now that we’ve gotten used to saying “trillions,” the clunker bill is merely a drop in the bucket.
That’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours, tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern when our special guest will be Kurt Ritter, who runs Toyota’s advertising, and who used to do it for Chevrolet. I’m sure we’ll get some good comparisons between how GM and Toyota do business.
Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tonight, and tomorrow.