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AutoLine: Episode 269 – VW Passes Toyota, No IPO For GM Next Year, Woman Finally Gets License

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Runtime 7:42

Volkswagen has overtaken Toyota as the number-one automaker in the world. GM’s chairman Ed Whitacre doubts the company can go public next year, even though management has been saying it would. A woman in South Korea gets her drivers license…after 950 tries. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions about Toyota’s floormat problem in the “You Said It!” segment.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Volkswagen passes Toyota to become number-one in the world. GM may not do an IPO next year after all. And a woman in South Korea gets her drivers license…after 950 tries. Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, November 11, 2009 – Veterans’ Day and Armistice Day – and now, the news.

The Wall Street Journal reports that GM’s chairman Ed Whitacre doubts the company can go public next year (subscription required), even though management has been saying it would. Instead of taking the company public, he’d rather see it start paying off the government loans first. I think if GM could start paying the government back next year, it would instantly improve the automakers’ public perception. Whitacre also questions management’s projections for total sales in the American market next year of 11.5 million units, since unemployment is still rising and credit is tight. But he praised management for boosting sales and market share last month.

Peugeot is showing off a hybrid three-wheel scooter concept called the HYbrid3 Evolution. The two front wheels are equipped with electric motors powered by lithium-ion batteries and the rear wheel is powered by a 300 cc gasoline engine. There are no mechanical connections between the front and rear, everything is controlled electronically. It can run on either the gas engine or in electric-only mode or a combination of the two. Fuel economy is 2.0 l/100km or 117 MPG.

Volvo just released photos of the all-new S60, which will make its official debut at next year’s Geneva Motor Show in March. Production of the vehicle is scheduled to start next summer. It will also be equipped with the pedestrian safety technology, which we showed to you earlier in the week.

German auto supplier ZF has come up with a clever design for a simple, lightweight axle assembly. It features a transverse fiberglass leaf spring that you can see in green in this picture. The design eliminates the need for stabilizers, bearings, two tie rods, transverse control arms, and conventional helical springs. So it cuts cost and improves fuel economy, and that makes it clever enough to make it on this show.

Volkswagen has overtaken Toyota as the number-one automaker in the world. According to the Guardian, the German automaker has built 4.4-million vehicles so far this year, outpacing its Japanese rival by nearly half a million units. Vee-Dub has been on fire in China and it’s benefited heavily from government subsidies in many European countries. Toyota’s decision to cut production by 50 percent earlier this year also helped push Volkswagen to the top. In related news, Bloomberg reports that VW aims to sell 130,000 copies of its NMS, or new midsize sedan, in the U.S. per year. That’s a HUGE number. In 2008 the BRAND sold 223,000 vehicles in the U.S.

Talk about perseverance. If you remember, earlier this year we reported on a South Korean woman who failed her driver’s test 771 times! Well, we have an update. Autoblog, says Cha Sa-soon has finally passed the written portion of the exam. How’s that saying go? 950th time’s a charm? After 950 attempts she finally made it. It’s not like the test is ungodly hard, you only need a 60 percent to pass. This accomplishment only took her four years and cost of five-million won – about $4,200. Now all she has to do is complete the road test.

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 to comment on your questions.

Ralph Kercheval wrote about Toyota’s floormat issue and says, “It seems that there is unintended acceleration related to the ECU and electronic throttle by wire system that Toyota uses.”

I don’t buy that Ralph. They tried to find a similar excuse when Audi had so-called unintended acceleration. NHTSA proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that unintended acceleration is driver error, caused by people who had their foot on the gas, even though they swear it was on the brake. No matter how fast a car is going, even if you keep the gas pedal floored, the brakes will always bring a car to a stop.

Sean Walsh, wrote in on the same issue. He says, “What’s your take on the ABC News investigation of the Toyota acceleration issue and the claim it’s more than the floor mats. Do you think they have something or are they trying for a sensational story to boost ratings? My wife has a 2004 Camry and is very nervous now.”

Sean, tell you’re wife to relax, this is just more sensationalist reporting that has no basis in fact. This is the same crap we got from “60 Minutes” on the Audi unintended acceleration story back in 1987. The story is bogus, NHTSA proved that. In fact, the shift-lock mechanism on every car today, where you have to put your foot on the brake before you can shift out of Park came right out that investigation. I’ve driven every Toyota model there is over the last 30 years. And every Lexus. And Scion, and I’ve never had this problem happen and don’t know anyone who has. This is just another example of America’s struggle with accepting personal responsibility. It seems like whenever we have a problem we want to find out who we can blame and who we can sue.

OK, enough pontificating already. Here’s an important message…from me.

Thanks John! 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, and WWJ Newsradio 950

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