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AutoLine: Episode 274 – Chinese Target Saturn Stores, IIHS Top Safety Picks, One Sweet Porsche

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Saturn stores may have Chinese cars on their lots by next summer. Ford really cleans up at the IIHS safety awards … well sort of, but not really. And an unexpected reveal of the sweetest Porsche you’ve ever seen. All that and more, plus John answers your questions about Porsches, footwear, reptiles and more in You Said It!

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. A Chinese automaker is interested in Saturn stores. Volvo tests a hybrid garbage truck. And Ford sweeps the IIHS safety picks…well, not exactly.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news that explain those headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, November 18, 2009. And now, the news.

Several Saturn stores may have Chinese cars on their lots by next summer (subscription required). According to Wards, a few Saturn dealers have agreed to sell Brilliance cars. The Auto-Kam Automotive Group is the official franchiser and distributor of Brilliance cars in the U.S. and says it has over 30 locations to sell vehicles including the Saturn ones. Brilliance says it will sell cars in the American market next year as long as they pass safety testing.

And speaking of safety testing, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced that 27 vehicles – 19 cars and eight SUVs – won its TOP SAFETY PICK award. To win, vehicles have to perform well in front, side, rear and rollover tests, and they must have electronic stability control. Subaru and Volkswagen/Audi each had five top picks, Chrysler won four. Ford walked away with six, but four of those wins were Volvos, the other two, were the Taurus and MKS–built on architecture borrowed from Volvo.

In other safety news, Autoblog is running a video of a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG crash test. It’s painful to watch the beautiful coupe crumple against a barrier. Interestingly, the gullwing doors have explosive charges built into them. I never thought about it, but if you were in a rollover accident you couldn’t get out of the car, so engineers designed them to pop off. The explosion isn’t too spectacular – there it is right there – but it’s cool to watch nonetheless.

Back to Volvo for a moment, but in this case Volvo truck, not Volvo cars. It’s testing a new hybrid garbage truck in London. It’s equipped with an electric motor, and a diesel engine which can be used separately or together. Volvo says the trucks use 30% less fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 30% as well, but thanks to the economic downturn, production is delayed until 2012.

General Motors is getting a half billion dollar tax credit from the state of Michigan to keep its headquarters in Detroit. But the Detroit Free Press reports the state is stipulating that GM keep a staff of at least 2,500 people in its headquarters, which is a requirement that GM was not expecting. It’s no secret that GM would love to transfer as many people as possible to its Tech Center in Warren, Michigan where it has a lot of empty office space. But if GM were to move its headquarters out of Detroit it would be devastating to the city. It would also be politically embarrassing to the Obama Administration. That’s why I think GM will maintain its headquarters in Detroit even if there’s only a skeleton staff there to run it.

To help celebrate the holidays, a Porsche dealer in the Netherlands completely covered a 911 Carrera S … in CHOCOLATE! According to Autoblog, it took 175 kilograms, or about 385 pounds of chocolaty goodness to do the job plus a couple kilos of white chocolate to detail the headlamps. The car will remain on display until Christmas. Now that’s a SWEET ride.

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 comments on your comments and questions.

Earlier this week we did a story of Porsche suing Crocs, the shoe company, for naming one of its shoes the Cayman. I mentioned that I loved the story since it allowed me to use some of the pictures I took on my vacation, which prompted a bunch of you to wonder which pictures I was referring to, the Porsche, the shoe or the actual cayman?

I got a kick out of Salvador G.’s comment when he wrote in to say, “I’m going to give the benefit of doubt to JohnMc. and assume he took the pictures of the Porsche Cayman -not the actual animal cayman -nor the shoes cayman… He did take the pictures of the shoes didn’t he??? oh- the humanity.”

Salvador, I did take a picture of the animal cayman, and since you all seemed so interested in my vacation pictures, let me show you some more. Here’s a Brazilian tamarind monkey, this one looks like an ostrich but in Argentina they call it a nandu, this is a cute one they call a carpincho, and this is a giant frog.

HtG wrote in to say, and we think HtG stands for Hermann the German, but he asks, “So GM is going to start making quarterly debt payments to the US. It’s going to pay off Merkel for the Opel loans. When can I buy stock in this new company?”

Well HtG, just because they’re paying off loans isn’t enough to convince me to buy GM stock when it goes public. I still really disappointed that after going through bankruptcy, after getting rid of tens of thousands of employees, after dumping thousands of dealers, after closing all kinds of factories, after walking away from most of its debt, after slashing salaries, and getting rid of retiree healthcare, that General Motors is still losing money. Don’t even think of buying GM stock until it looks like it can make money again. And then maybe you ought to buy a lot of it.

Hey, don’t forget to vote for Autoline Daily for the podcast awards. Just go to podcastawards.com, scroll down to the business section and vote for Autoline Daily. Then check your email to verify your vote, and that will earn you our eternal gratitude.

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, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

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