March 26th, 2010 at 12:42pm
A consortium of attorneys say that if Toyota does not settle its lawsuits it will likely go bankrupt. Porsche lobbies the Obama Administration for its very own CAFE standard. Even though it’s owned by Spyker now, GM will continue to build vehicles for Saab, but which ones? All that and more, plus the winner of this week’s Autoline Trivia Challenge.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Plaintiff attorneys threaten that if Toyota doesn’t settle their lawsuits it could go bankrupt. Porsche wants its own separate fuel economy law. And GM is going to continue building cars for Saab.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, March 26, 2010. And now, the news.
Plaintiff attorneys are cranking up the pressure on Toyota. The AFP cites Tim Howard a Law professor who is leading who leads a consortium of plaintiff attorneys as saying Toyota will settle these cases rather than fight them. He says if they don’t settle this could force them into bankruptcy.
As you may recall Steve Wozniak, one of the original founders of Apple, went very public in saying that he experienced unintended acceleration because of the cruise control in his Toyota Prius. He blamed it on a software problem. So did Toyota get a hold of his car to find out what the problem is? It won’t say. Toyota tells Autoline Daily that it did reach out to Mr. Wozniak but that “the nature of those matters and conversations are between Toyota and the customer.” Rather odd that he trashes them publicly, but then they want to keep the whole thing quiet.
Bloomberg reports that Toyota is denying a report coming out of Japan that it is going to supply hybrid components to Mazda. The Nikkei English News says Toyota will start supplying Mazda in 2013. Toyota says nothing has been decided. I say, this is yet another example of the unraveling relationship between Ford and Mazda.
You may recall we’ve been tracking the progress of an American company called Paice that holds four of the key basic patents for all hybrid systems. It’s been suing Toyota and in fact won a lawsuit where Toyota had to pay it royalties. But Paice claims that Toyota continues to infringe on its patents and took its case to the U.S. International Trade Commission. It wants to block Toyota from importing hybrid vehicles into the United States. If Paice can prove it has an industry to protect it could win. But so far Paice is not manufacturing a hybrid system, nor has it licensed anyone to do so.
Last week we reported that Geely’s chairman said the negotiations to buy Volvo were going poorly and blamed Ford for the problems. But now it looks like things have changed. According to Bloomberg, the company says talks are going very well, and they expect to sign a deal with Ford next week.
But not everyone is happy over the Volvo sale. According to Reuters, its union members aren’t backing the deal and want answers about how the capital needs of Volvo will be met, which investors are backing the deal, and the composition of the management of the company. The union can’t block the deal but it won’t make the transition easy if there’s tension between the two sides.
In other Geely news, the company says it will hold off selling hybrids and electric cars in China due to a lack of demand. According to Bloomberg, the company says it’s ready to sell them but that Chinese consumers don’t seem to be that interested in them right now.
Most automakers have supported the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules that are on the books, but not Porsche. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company is lobbying the Obama Administration to allow it to meet easier targets. Porsche argues that it would have to boost its fuel economy more than any other automaker and that it would have to dramatically alter its cars to meet the requirements.
And as if that weren’t bad enough, Bloomberg reports that the new Mercedes SLS AMG is stealing customers away from the 911 even before it has reached dealers. Mercedes says orders have already been placed for the $237,000 vehicle and that its taking a lot of customers away from Porsche.
But it’s not all bad news for the company. This year it will celebrate 60 years in the American market. And according to a survey done by Kelley Blue Book, Porsche won three of its Brand Image Awards, including Best Performance Brand, Best Exterior Design for a Luxury Brand, and Coolest Brand in the U.S.
And speaking of “cool” cars, California has decided to scrap its “Cool Cars” proposal that would require windows to have a glazing on them that would keep the interiors cool. According to the Detroit News, the state caved under pressure from law enforcement and other groups who said the glazing could degrade signals from cell phones or criminals wearing ankle bracelet monitors.
Did you realize that General Motors is going to continue to build vehicles for Saab? In fact, it’s going to build them in Mexico. And we’ll be back in half a minute to tell you what that’s all about, and show you the vehicle GM will make for Saab.
On Autoline Detroit this week we have Mike Colleran, the president of Saab Cars USA on the program. He talks a lot about all the new products that Saab has coming out. And he talks about how General Motors is going to continue building products for Saab. Here’s part of that interview.
You can watch that entire interview on our website, AutolineDetroit.tv. And by the way, joining me on that show are Jeff Bennett from the Wall Street Journal and Todd Lassa from Motor Trend magazine.
Well, it’s Friday and you know what that means. It’s time to answer this week’s trivia question. We asked you to identify what car this iconic hood scoop is from. And the correct answer is it was available on the Plymouth Road Runner. And the winner is Brad Wandrey from Kouts, Indiana. Congratulations Brad, you’ve just won a Autoline Detroit coffee mug.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.