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AutoLine: Episode 268 – Tokyo Show Hit Hard, GM Will Build Converj, Lear Exits Chapter 11

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Runtime 8:27

Attendance at the Tokyo Auto show this year plummeted a whopping 57 percent. General Motors has decided to build the Cadillac Converj concept. Automotive seat and electronics supplier Lear emerges from bankruptcy. All that and more, plus Bob Carter, who runs the Toyota division in the American market, talks about how the company is dealing with all the bad news its run into lately.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .


Here are today’s top headlines. Tokyo auto show attendance plummets. Cadillac will come out with the Converj. Lear emerges from bankruptcy. Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, November 10, 2009. And now, the news.

Attendance at the Tokyo Auto show this year plummeted a whopping 57 percent (subscription required) compared to the prior show. According to Ward’s, the drop-off was attributed to all the non-Japanese automakers that dropped out of the show and it being four-days shorter than it was two years ago.

According to the Detroit News, GM has decided to build the Cadillac Converj concept. The stylish model wowed the press and public last January when it debuted at the North American International Auto Show. The car is expected to share the same drivetrain as the Chevy Volt. A pricier Cadillac version of the extended-range electric car will help GM offset the cost of developing the advanced technology. No production date has been set, but it’s AT LEAST a couple years away.

Part of the news that came out of Chrysler’s epic press conference last week is that it’s restructured its electric vehicle development program. The company’s ENVI group has been disbanded, and absorbed into normal product development programs. Surprisingly, according to the Detroit News, the number of employees working on EVs has remained the same or gone up. The first full-electric Chrysler should be a small commercial van based on the Fiat Doblo. It’s expected sometime in 2011 or 2012.

Renault is bringing back the Gordini. Well, actually they’re just going to put Gordini labels on the Renault Twingo and Cleo. The original Gordinis were produced by an engineer at Renault named Amedee Gordini, and in the early 1960s they were fairly common on the rally circuit. Too bad it’s just a label, and not a modern day revival of the car.

With car sales surging last month by 72 percent, China has decided to raise gasoline prices, Bloomberg reports. The new price will be about $3.31 cents a gallon, or about 88 cents a liter, quite a bit higher than in the United States, but much lower than Europe. Gas prices have risen about 27 percent in China this year and the country now uses over 8-million barrels a day, almost 10 percent of the world total.

Yesterday automotive seat and electronics supplier Lear emerged from bankruptcy. According to the Detroit News, the company filed in July and shed nearly $3 billion in debt. The company says it’s in a good position moving forward thanks to the restructuring and adding new business outside North America.

According to the website Science Daily, Dutch researchers are working on ways to improve the fuel economy of heavy trucks. They’ve developed a relatively simple boat-tail attachment that fits on the back-end of semi trailers. Researchers tested the idea under real-world conditions and found that this small addition boosts fuel economy by nearly 8 percent! They say the optimum length of the boat tail is about two meters. The flat panels fold out of the way for easy access to the trailer.

Coming up next, Bob Carter, who runs the Toyota division in the American market, talks about how the company is dealing with all the bad news its run into lately.

Bob Carter is a group vice president and runs the Toyota division in The U.S. market. I recently got a chance to talk with him and asked him what the feeling was at Toyota with all the bad news that’s hit the company lately.

I’m skeptical that Toyota is the only car company that has problems with floor mats that might jam the gas pedal and asked him why Toyota is being singled out on this issue.

I also wanted to know what it was like having Akio Toyoda in charge at Toyota and what kind of changes he is bringing to the company.

Again, that was Bob Carter, group vice president and General Manager of the Toyota division.

Before we go I want to tell you a little bit more about our guest for Autoline After Hours.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, vLane, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

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