Autoline This Week - Video

Oct 14 2020 24 mins 182

Autoline This Week is the first stop for auto executives, insiders and consumers looking for the latest automotive news. Each week John McElroy, one of the deans of the Detroit automotive press corp, brings his expertise and analysis to the issues and interviews driving the automotive world. He moderates a panel of automotive journalists as they discuss the week’s news and interview top industry newsmakers

Autoline This Week #1606: Smile - Part 1
Feb 03 2012 26 mins  
It was a masterwork in the making that suddenly became the Rip Van Winkle of records. That project was Beach Boy Brian Wilson's 1967 composition "Smile" which was finally released just a few years ago. Given the global economy of late, It's not surprising that car shows have endeared a similar soporific stage. With the auto industry riding a strong wave of creativity and sales throughout the decade, suddenly the 2008 economic meltdown shook the industry to the core -- something that not even auto shows could avoid. Iconic showcases like the North American International Auto Show became mere shadows of what they were just a few years earlier. While some manufacturers offered striped down exhibits, others didn't show up at all. But fast forward three years to the 2012 show where the NAIAS is once again at the top of its game and "Smile" is what manufacturers and the world press were doing as they viewed all the new product. Joining John McElroy on Autoline This Week from the floor of the 2012 Detroit Auto Show are three auto executives who are all smiles indeed. Jim Farley is the Group Vice President of Global Marketing for Ford which has been on a roll with its EcoBoost technology, Reid Bigland is the president and CEO of the Dodge Brand which unveiled its hot new Dodge Dart at the show and Mary Barra, GM's Senior VP of Global Product Development whose products have helped the company regain the title as the world's number 1 automaker.

Autoline #1515: Two Triple Cheese
Apr 08 2011 26 mins  
Two Triple Cheese What would prompt you to pull off the road while driving? Well, for Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen -- you know, the "Hot Rod Lincoln" guys -- it was the mere thought of their favorite food which they sang about in the '70s culinary classic, "Two Triple Cheese Side Order of Fries." But 30 years later no one seems to be pulling off the road for much of anything. Certainly not for eating evidenced by the galaxy of restaurant drive-up windows; not for phone calls thanks to cell towers & electronics; and now not for the latest eye-averting activity -- texting. These days distracted driving appears to be running rampant. It used to be that your biggest distraction was lunging for the radio whenever that "Titanic" song came on. Instead, today drivers of all ages are multi-tasking behind the wheel leaving one to ask just when did piloting 3,000 pounds of metal at 70 miles per hour become a second or third thought, and is there anything we can do about it? For answers to those questions and more tune into this week's Autoline where John McElroy and his panel tackles the issue that's confronting everyone on the road today, distracted driving. He's joined by three experts who have had an impact on the issue in different arenas. Louis Tijerina is a safety engineer with Ford while Paul Green is with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. John's third guest, Buzz Thomas, is a former Michigan State Senator who had a hand in crafting an anti-texting law in his state.

Autoline #1509: Blipvert
Feb 25 2011 26 mins  
Blipvert Remember the computerized character MAX HEADROOM? In the fictional future that he called home, television corporations, not governments, ran the world. And what ran television was advertising. In fact, a high-speed, super concentrated three-second dangerous version called blipverts. Well, despite its continuing influence on our 21st Century culture, television isn't quite the ogre as the show's creators imagined. Plus advertising is still viewed in manageable 15, 30 and 60-second doses. But what they didn't miss was the ongoing symbiotic relationship of the two. A relationship that goes on display to the world's largest television audience each year during the NFL's Super Bowl. So far there have been 45 Super Bowls played which means 45 sets of advertisers as well. Over the years the auto industry has played a major role in both creativity and content. In 2011, nine separate automotive manufacturers populated the game with nearly 20 different ads spending in excess of $50-million dollars. On this week's Autoline, John McElroy and his panel of advertising experts examine the Super Bowl and see if the automakers got their money's worth. But in addition to our Super Bowl ad discussion, John also has his panel look at what the OEMs and their agencies were doing in the months leading up to that big day. With so many automotive accounts having changed hands last year, there's a lot more than just new creative driving these campaigns. Joining John McElroy on his advertising panel are Jean Halliday from AutoAdOpolis, David Kiley of AOL Autos and Advertising Age and Gary Topolewski, an award-winning advertising creative director.

Autoline #1508: The DC Dance
Feb 18 2011 26 mins  
The DC Dance If recent history is any guide, many Americans believe that the easiest way to reform our government is to attend a couple of town hall meetings, kick some politicians out of office and wait for the inevitable change to come. However there's a flaw in that formula, and it has nothing to do with the three branches of government, the Fourth Estate or the voters themselves. The formula simply doesn't account for three little letters that spell out the powerful acronym NGO. Non-governmental organizations have a mighty hold over how Washington works. Their influence blankets everything from monetary policy to drug laws to environmental edicts. And whether they're called think tanks, foundations or associations, these organizations are the pipeline through which much political influence travels. The kind of influence that molds many of our laws, especially those that effect the auto industry. That's why, on a recent trip to the Washington Auto Show, John McElroy made it a point to catch up with two of these DC insiders, along with a California outsider, to talk about our all-around federal automotive policies. Daniel Weiss is a Senior Fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress while Fred Smith is the president and founder of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute. Both card-carrying members of the Washington NGO fraternity. Meanwhile, rounding out the panel is Ron Cogan, the editor of Green Car Journal and, a leading outlet for green transportation information. And though it's based on the west coast, most of its content is driven by what happens in Washington. So check out this week's Autoline and see why the auto industry, at times, looks a little dizzy thanks to the DC Dance.

Autoline #1439: Roman Holiday
Nov 19 2010 25 mins  
Roman Holiday It was the movie that turned a trio into stars. Even though William Holden was arguably already there and his leading lady Audrey Hepburn was well on her way, the romantic comedy "Roman Holiday" really focused the spotlight on the third star of this 1953 movie, the Italian motor scooter Vespa. As the trio whipped around Rome it sold us on the delights of small lightweight Italian transportation. Now fast forward to 2010, and small Italian transportation is poised to make a comeback here in America as the FIAT brand returns to the market thanks to its tie-in with Chrysler. Even as Sergio Marchionne has been putting the Pentastar pieces back together so Chrysler, Dodge, Ram & Jeep all have viable futures in the industry, at the same time he is ready to unleash his own brand back into the American car culture. The dealers have been chosen and they're getting ready to showcase the first FIAT product in years, the small, nimble Cinquecento better know as the 500. And the person in charge of the North American reemergence of the FIAT brand joins John McElroy on this week's Autoline. Laura Soave is well aware of what FIAT stands for. Not just from last few months of running the brand here in the Americas but from her Italian heritage and spending time growing up in Europe. She has an interesting task in front of her as she tries to resurrect a brand that disappeared from American shoes for a variety of reasons, none of them good. Joining John on his journalist panel to discuss the future of FIAT is Alisa Priddle from The Detroit News and Tim Higgins from Bloomberg News.

Autoline #1438: Innocence Lost
Nov 12 2010 25 mins  
Innocence Lost There was a seismic shift 45 years ago. And as all change goes it was unwelcome at the time. So much in fact, that in a manner of fifteen short minutes it transformed a cultural hero to social pariah, all thanks to the innocence of choice. But that's what happened on July 25, 1965 at the prestigious Newport Folk Festival when Bob Dylan plugged in, turned on and embraced the sound electric. The audience reaction was an early version of shock and awe. His fans became horrified that he had abandoned his acoustic legacy when he launched into an electric version of "Maggie's Farm." But in reality what they didn't know was that he was simply evolving as an artist as evidenced by the success of his beloved "Like A Rolling Stone," which had been recorded just days before the event. It was clear he was moving on. For more than 100 years the internal combustion engine has driven the car. And though it continues to be tweaked and improved to the point where automotive's pioneers might not even recognize today's highly-efficient ICEs, evolution persists. We've been talking alternatives for years -- hybrids, PZEVs, Natural Gas and Hydrogen have all piqued our interest, but our muse has always been electrics. So much promise, so much promised, so much never delivered. But finally like Dylan, we're starting to move on...welcome to the world of the Nissan LEAF. On this week's Autoline John McElroy travels to Tennessee -- a state that brought human evolution to the headlines last century -- to talk about the evolution of the car this century as the LEAF goes electric. John gets a deep dive on the car from Nissan Product Planner Mark Perry while marketing chief Jon Brancheau talks to him how they are rolling it out across the country. In addition, John drives the LEAF all around the city of Nashville and gives you his impressions of this first mass produced all-electric pioneer.

Autoline #1435: Champagne Wishes
Oct 22 2010 25 mins  
Champagne Wishes Celebrity and luxury have been part of our culture since the beginning. But that potent combination didn't truly take off until about twenty-five years ago when television host Robin Leach made "champagne wishes and caviar dreams" our daily mantra. Suddenly greed was good, TV cops became Armani models and we all worshiped the people and products consumed nightly on the juggernaut "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." That was the springboard that brought us to today's luxury-satiated society where even ten year olds discuss the merits of Louis Vuitton's latest. We're now undeniably smack dab in the middle of a pop culture that's in love with luxury; and don't think any of this has been lost on certain companies that make cars. The American luxury car market used to be just a few select players that came from Italy, Germany and the UK with a couple of homegrowns thrown in for good measure. Today the list of both cars and countries have exploded. But how has the market grown, who are today's players and which customer is buying what? Joining John McElroy for a look at today's luxury car market is an all dealer panel who pretty much have all the brands covered. Ken Meade of Meade Lexus is one of the brand's original dealers whose stores continue to be among the brand's top-sellers in the Midwest while Chris Consiglio is the Group General Manger of the Eitel Dahm Motor Group who handles three different high-end brands from Germany. And rounding out the panel is a man with a multitude of luxury brands to look after. Rob Kurnick is the president of Penske Automotive Group which operates 325 dealerships which nearly half could be considered luxury -- everything from Bugatti to Rolls Royce to Cadillac and more.

Autoline #1431: Predictive Power
Sep 24 2010 25 mins  
Predictive Power Ensconced in the ivy-covered halls of universities around the world are men and women who spend their days looking for answers. Answers to questions that might not even exist called "Unknown Unknowns." Many recognize this function as engaging in scientific theory which, over the years, has led to accepted works like Einstein's "General Theory of Relativity." But before his or Newton's or even Darwin's research was accepted, their theories had to generate testable predictions otherwise known as Predictive Power. Predictive Power appears on Autoline Detroit but not in the guise of any ground-breaking theories. Here, as is the case with this week's show, we divide the phrase and spotlight one word at a time. For instance take "power." Who better to talk about it than an executive of McLaren Automotive, the British manufacturer of high performance vehicles? And what better vehicle to talk about than its first sports car developed for those who don't wear fire-retardant suits, the MP4-12C. McLaren's Tony Joseph not only talks to John McElroy about the company and its move into production cars for consumers but also takes him for a walkaround the car that you won't want to miss. Then as far as "predictive" or in this case "predictions" go, we turn to Jeremy Anwyl, the CEO of This 45-year-old firm along, with its sister sites, gather automotive information and distribute it to largely a consumer audience. Mr. Anwyl and his team keep their eyes glued to the OEMs do and analyze everything from production to sales to the executives who run the organizations. He stops by Autoline to give John a look at the automotive world from the Edmunds' perspective.

Autoline #1424: B Driven
Jul 02 2010 25 mins  
B Driven You can see it, can't you? The slow-motion black and white shots of sweaty sinewy muscles inter-cut with close-ups of a certain athletic footwear and a simple closing graphic. Of course you could "IF" this really were the next iconic brand message from Nike. But this "B Driven" headline references the tsunami of new compact cars that will soon engulf America. And though the Bs lead the list, this week on Autoline Detroit we look at several new cars, trucks and crossovers either out now or poised to hit the marketplace soon. Joining John McElroy for this new vehicle smorgasbord are two of his fellow voters on the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, Tony Swan from Car and Driver and Michelle Krebs of Throughout the show they'll be discussing many of the potential award-winners that could come from virtually any segment including luxury entrants like the CTS Coupe from Cadillac or the latest XJ from Jaguar. Of course performance cars are always in the spotlight especially with new products such as BMW's 5 Series and Ford's iconic Mustang with not one but two all-new powertrains: a V-6 and, finally, an honest-to-goodness 5-Liter. And of course there are crossovers as well like the Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sorento and Infiniti QX56 to talk about. But without a doubt, the largest group of important cars coming out this year are indeed the Bs: Ford Fiesta, MAZDA2 and Chevrolet Cruze -- to name three of the bigger volume models -- will be getting the most attention from critics and consumers alike. So join John and his NACTOY panel for a look at the latest and greatest coming to dealer lots this week on Autoline Detroit.

Autoline #1420: Elbow Room
May 28 2010 25 mins  
Elbow Room Like it or not, we're all fast becoming neighbors. As the world's population continues to boom and more and more people congregate in urban areas we've created a phenomenon known as megacities. These are metropolitan areas around the globe with populations that exceed 10 million. New York and Los Angeles are the U.S. flagbearers in this urban Olympics which includes places like Tokyo, Mumbai, Shanghai and 20 others (so far). The development of these small population nations has a unique set of challenges in which 'movement' is perhaps the most vital. No matter how you cut it whether it comes to work, food, education or entertainment, transportation or 'movement' within the megacity is the key. How does it take place now? How will it take place in the future as these megacities continue to grow? What will move people around the area and, finally, what are automotive companies designing for that eventual future? These are just some of the provocative questions that were tackled at the 7th Annual Michelin Auto Design Panel recently held at the Detroit Athletic Club and the subject of this week's Autoline Detroit. John McElroy served as the Master of Ceremonies for this Automobile Press Association sponsored event. Joining John on the panel were: Clay Dean, director of GM Advanced Design, Scott Strong, Ford's Global Interior Design Director, Phil Zak, Chief Designer at Hyundai North America and Larry Erickson, the Transportation Design Department Chair at the College of Creative Studies.

Autoline #1417: Platforms
May 07 2010 25 mins  
Platforms Like many other areas of 21st century life, the publishing world is in an upheaval. Newspapers are consolidating and closing while books are turning into digital devices and music virtually floats around the Internet for free. Yet perhaps the sector with the most on the line is the magazine; those recurrent glossy periodicals that cater to our every interest, taste and whim. The problem is that the magazine audience is getting a little long in the tooth -- to put it mildly -- yielding decreasing sales across the board. And no place is that more evident than with the automotive enthusiast magazine crowd. From Automobile to Car and Driver to Motor Trend to Road & Track, no matter the name, no matter the content, everyone is losing out to the Internet. So the multi-million dollar question is how can these grand old dames of the enthusiast set transfer the magazine experience to a new generation -- one that doesn't so much read information as it does devour it. Well, one answer may be platforms. Creating unique content specifically for a digital device. Of course that's easier said that done because then you still have to have an audience who buys it. Joining John McElroy to discuss the short and long term future of the automotive enthusiast magazines is a panel who knows the issues first hand. Csaba Csere worked for Car and Driver magazine for nearly three decades leaving as Editor-in-Chief in 2008. Eddie Alterman is charged with facing those challenges today as the current Editor-in- Chief of Car and Driver while John Neff and his popular website,, is just one of the reasons that the enthusiast crowd is looking for new workable options like platforms.

Autoline #1415: Just Do It
Apr 23 2010 26 mins  
Just Do It For more than two decades those three words have branded Nike into the public consciousness helping make it the success that it continues to be. Of course having great product didn't hurt, but really, the Wieden and Kennedy advertising team who developed the famous tag line, and subsequent media campaigns, are as responsible as anyone for putting Nike into homes and locker rooms around the world. That's why behind seemingly every successful consumer goods business is an ethos of creative energy -- a team if you will -- that helps sell that product to all of us. The auto industry is no different. Its storied advertising history is not only well-documented but ingrained in our memories. The problem with that is the "history" part. Some experts believe that automotive advertising sort of flies under the radar these days trying to attract but not offend leaving the pubic many times with nothing more than a milquetoast impression. The question becomes is that the result of an overall strategy or is there something else at work? Are brand issues, globalization or perhaps the financial tumult responsible for this change of style? This week on Autoline Detroit John McElroy and his panel of experts tackle the ever-changing world of automobile advertising. Joining John to discuss what's been going on and where it all might be headed are advertising journalist Jean Halliday, former ad man turned commentator David Kiley with AOL Autos and an award-winning advertising veteran who is still on the front lines Gary Topolewski.

Autoline #1413: Habits
Apr 09 2010 25 mins  
Habits They're defined as acquired behavior patterns that are uniquely involuntary. Known to most of the planet as habits, they come from two camps. Some can be bad if it's a personal glitch or foible while others might be good if it leads to a desired end product. Especially if that product is quality. After all, it was the Greek philosopher Aristotle who was first to recognize some 2,300 years ago that "Quality is not an act, it is a habit." Unfortunately, during the late 20th century, American car makers weren't reading much Aristotle, or so it seemed. Today we're not sure if the Greek Philosopher has become required auto industry reading or not, but we can say with certainty that U.S. quality numbers are up and up significantly. And on this week's Autoline, one of the executives in charge of that change joins John McElroy and his panel to tell us how they're doing it. Bennie Fowler has been on the front lines of this issue for more than three decades. From his days at General Motors in the '70s and '80s into his early years at Ford, he observed the mistakes, the lack of quality, the bad habits if you will, that the American OEMs had eased into. For the last four years he has been in charge of reversing that trend at Ford. And if you look at the numbers, he, and many others in the company, appear to be doing just that. Joining John on this week's panel are Brent Snavely with Detroit Free Press and Bryce Hoffman of The Detroit News.

Autoline #1412: Knots Landing
Apr 01 2010 25 mins  
Knots Landing When it comes to television dramas since the '70s, few have been more consistent than life within the California cul-de-sac called Seaview Circle. And when it comes to automotive drama over that same time frame who has been more compelling than Auburn Hills-based Chrysler? On the precipice of bankruptcy one moment, onto salvation and success the next, then through a merger, a sale and then back to bankruptcy; if this had been a show on CBS it would have an armoire of EMMYs. Instead, today it has a mercurial Italian owner and a dubious future. And that's the GOOD NEWS! Welcome to the "new, newer, newest" iteration of Chrysler, the smallest of the historic Big Three. The challenges of this company are too numerous to list here, but obviously one of the biggest is building quality cars and trucks. And these days you're not going to do that without good suppliers. But with the way that community has been treated by the last two regimes, you sometimes wonder who would still want to do business with Chrysler. Enter Dan Knott, 20-year veteran of the Chrysler culture, and the new head of Purchasing. Mr. Knott joins John McElroy and his panel to discuss the new way of doing business with Chrysler. One that he hopes takes them back to the pre-Daimler days of strong vendor relationships and great Chrysler products. Joining John on his panel are Eric Mayne from and Daniel Howes, columnist from The Detroit News.

Autoline #1408: Tiger Woods or Tylenol
Feb 19 2010 25 mins  
Tiger Woods or Tylenol A dizzying number of consumer products have been introduced over the last thirty years. And though thousands have succeeded over that time few have achieved the Mount Olympus of brand recognition that translates into the multi-million dollar world of annual sales. And even fewer from that list have survived a potential public relations nightmare that backed the brand into a corner. For the last three months we've been watching the Tiger Woods brand undergo such scrutiny, while 28-years ago Johnson & Johnson faced an even greater disaster with its Tylenol over-the-counter medication. Tylenol, by all accounts, became the gold standard of resuscitating a brand with great corporate public relations. The same can't be said for the Tiger Woods brand though the entire story is yet to be written. Meanwhile Toyota, long one of the most solid brands throughout the world, is currently at a similar crossroads. For the last six months the company has experienced one bad story about its products after another. Accelerators, brakes, cars and recalls have contributed to the public waterboarding of this once proud seemingly indestructible brand. And it doesn't help that the hits keep coming. So going forward from today, what path will the company take? What are the challenges it faces in public relations, in marketing and with the automotive world itself? This week Autoline hosts three experts from these disparate fields to talk turkey to and about the Toyota brand, the Toyota company and the Toyota bottom line. Joining John McElroy to do just that are Maria Leonhauser from the world of public relations, Paul Haelterman an authority in auto analysis and Christie Nordhielm who gave us "The Big Picture," literally, with her book on marketing challenges and solutions for companies like Toyota.

Autoline #1334: Mamma Mia
Oct 09 2009 24 mins  
Mamma Mia Sweden has never had an export like the band ABBA. And it's not just that first ten year run ('73-'83) of success it enjoyed with all those famous top ten singles. What's most amazing about ABBA is how the band morphed into a brand that has continued to score financially even twenty-five years after the original members officially called it quits. A business plan that Sweden's other major export Volvo can only lust after. A fact not lost on this 82-year old automaker nor its parent -- at least at this point -- Ford Motor Company which put the Swedes on the block in one way or another over two years ago. And now as its stay in Glass House comes to a close with two bidders fighting over the "Volvo For Life" pedigree, the company is preparing to not only change addresses, but to change face as well. New products linked with a new strategy are, the company hopes, leading the way to new customers. At least that's the plan for this mid-luxury brand according to Doug Speck, president and CEO of Volvo Cars North America. Mr. Speck joins John McElroy and his panel to talk about some of the new products like the well-received XC60 CUV and next year's new flagship sedan the S60 and how he expects they will match up against the competition. He also updates us on the Volvo mantra -- safety -- and how the company intends to stay a step up on everyone, especially since safety plays such a big role in almost all of today's vehicles.

Autoline #1331: Alphabet Soup
Sep 18 2009 24 mins  
Alphabet Soup "What's in a name?" When William Shakespeare wrote this question for Juliet Capulet in "Romeo and Juliet," it was a vehicle to release the characters from the bondage of their family names. While that undoubtedly worked as a theme in this classic tragedy, good old Bill didn't publish the work untitled because he knew how important a name really is when trying to draw patrons into a theater, customers into a store or buyers to a product. That's why a name in today's high pressure retail world has never been so critical. With a cornucopia of seemingly endless products and advertisers blanketing a consumer's every waking moment, you've got to machete through the clutter to make a name memorable. This is where some critics believe many of today's automakers have fallen short. From the "alphabet soup" of certain luxury brands to the head-scratching monikers of some midsize fare, customers sometimes don't know if they're buying a car or a croissant. So this is where a company like Namebase, Inc. comes along. This New York firm specializes in designing a name to a product so they fit in a variety of ways. It has clients in a number of industries and has named everything from goods that you wear, to products you consume, and most importantly for this show, those that you park in your garage. Joining John McElroy on this week's panel to discuss the auto industry name game is Nina Beckhardt, the president and creative director of Namebase, Inc., Jean Halliday from Advertising Age and Peter De Lorenzo of

Autoline #1310: The Button
Mar 27 2009 24 mins  
The Button iPhone this. Touch screen that. Today we find ourselves in the middle of a design metamorphosis. The conventional button, which used to be king from kitchen to computer to car, is increasingly becoming the 21st century's version of the dinosaur replaced by so many touch pads and Sof-touch photoelectric switches. But this week's Autoline spotlights two men and their organizations who are bringing the button back into vogue, at least in the car. The first is that little blue button on the rearview mirror of so many General Motors vehicles which, of course, is for OnStar. OnStar is the subscription-based communications service that caters to a car and its driver in a variety of ways. Chet Huber, the company's president, sits down with John to discuss the technology, services and as well as its budding competition. Meanwhile, there's a button that's changing car audio as we know it and it belongs to someone named "Bongiovi." No, not the rock star Bon Jovi but his second cousin who kept the original family name and became a famous record producer in his own right. After nearly forty years in the music business, Tony Bongiovi is brining his engineering prowess to the car with a revolutionary breakthrough that uses software to transform the standard radio in a car into a premium sound system. He talks to John about his new product which you can also see and hear work in a short demonstration in Autoline EXTRA. And to hear more about Tony Bongiovi's fascinating journey through the music industry of the '60s and '70s with Motown, Record Plant, Media Sound and his own Power Station studios, click on Autoline EXTRA.

Autoline #1309: Fork in the Road
Mar 20 2009 24 mins  
Fork in the Road It's one thing to sing about electric cars like Neil Young is doing on his new concept album (Fork in the Road), it's another to actually design, build and sell them like Tesla motors is doing. Started from scratch six years ago, this small California startup is producing one of the few road-ready electric car currently available to the public -- its luxury two-seater roadster. That car will soon be joined by not only a sport version roadster but also a new more affordable sedan called the model S. This week on Autoline Detroit meet the team behind Tesla. During January’s North American International Auto Show John McElroy sat down with the braintrust of this electric car company to find out what it was like to create a car company, especially one with such a specialized and dare we say "expensive" product. Joining John from the Tesla stand at N.A.I.A.S. are Chairman & CEO Elon Musk, Executive Vice President and former Chrysler honcho Mike Donoughe, Senior VP of Global Sales/Marketing Michael van der Sande, as well as Chief Designer -- by way of GM & Mazda -- Franz von Holzhausen. Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla’s VP of Business Development joins John on Autoline Extra. Meanwhile, for an insider's tour of Tesla’s Northern California campus including its headquarters, sales showroom as well as the final assembly point of its luxury roadster, join Isaac Bouchard on Autoline Extra as he reports from Menlo Park, California.

Autoline #1245: Emotional Rescue
Dec 23 2008 23 mins  
Emotional Rescue "I will be your savior, steadfast and true." It's pretty safe to say that the Rolling Stones and George W. Bush have little in common. But when it comes to the Big Three bailout, these Mick Jagger-penned lyrics sound like a sentence that might've come from the Oval Office as the President approved the $17 billion bridge loans. Ahhh, everyone in Detroit breathes a huge sigh of relief. But how much of a rescue -- emotional or otherwise -- are the loans? As they say, be careful what you wish for. On this week's show we take a look inside the bridge loans from three different perspectives: players, participants and partisans. We start the conversation with Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, a suburban Detroit Republican who had to balance ideology and reality throughout the crisis. Then John talks to a couple of automotive reporters, David Welch from BusinessWeek & Jeff Bennett of Dow Jones Newswire, who watched as Detroit nearly crumbled these last couple of months. We'll hear how the companies dealt with the ever-changing situation and explore their plans going forward. And speaking of plans, as part of the loan language the Big Three will have to restructure. What exactly does that mean? Joining John is an expert in the field, Bill Diehl who is the President & CEO of BBK, a company that specializes in doing just that. Who would've predicted a few weeks ago that these late '70s Mick Jagger lyrics would seem appropriate? With the long-awaited news from the White House last week, this line might've seemed natural coming from the President as it did when it was originally sung back in 1980 by the Rolling Stones.

Autoline #1244: Pure Imagination
Dec 19 2008 23 mins  
Pure Imagination When Gene Wilder first sang "Pure Imagination" in the 1971 movie classic 'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,' he was strolling amid Chernobyl-sized eatable candied plants and a river of liquid chocolate -- obviously fictitious creations from the fertile minds of movie magicians. Some 28 years later, when it comes to the equipment we're seeing in today's automobiles compared to the early '70s, you almost shake your head in disbelief as we did when we first saw Wonka's Candy Factory: works of pure imagination, indeed. In this week's show we talk with three executives from three different companies and discuss not only some of these incredible products but just how they are being developed for today's cars. We start with Anne Asensio from Dassault Systemes, a French firm that creates products for its client base in the virtual world. Ms. Asensio says that today, more than in the past, design has become an extremely collaborative effort that involves everyone in the food chain -- from the very top to the customers themselves. Meanwhile, one of the products coming out of this collaborative effort, in this case from our second guest's company iBiquity, is HD Radio. Bob Struble heads this supplier which produces digital receivers that allow you to listen to all those restricted local AM & FM radio stations that are now being broadcast only on Hybrid Digital bands. And speaking of restrictive broadcasting, let's not forget about the Internet. Chrysler sure hasn't. It’s working with a firm from Silicon Valley that's bringing the Internet to its cars and trucks in the not too distant future. Jennifer Applebee from Chrysler joins John to tell us just how far away this technology is and what will be available with it once it's in the vehicle.

Autoline #1239: Starman
Oct 24 2008 23 mins  
Starman Too many channels, not enough listeners, pools of red ink -- welcome to the world of satellite radio. Despite its myriad of advantages and incorporation into many new cars and trucks, both Sirius and XM Radio seemed more hooked to financial life support than to fleets of vehicles the last few years. It was as if the business was crying for, as David Bowie put it, "a Starman waiting in the sky" to supernaturally save the service. Well, that celebrity executive landed at Sirius some four years ago in the form of Mel Karmazin with a resume that included running Infinity Broadcasting, CBS Radio and as well as the entire CBS Corporation. Since his arrival he has not only increased subscriptions but more importantly brokered a merger between the two services believing that one strong company can prosper in this less than predictable economy. This week Autoline welcomes Mel Karmazin, CEO of Sirius XM Radio. Host John McElroy along with panelists Neal Boudette from The Wall Street Journal and Jeff Gilbert of WWJ Newsradio Detroit talk to this Hall of Fame broadcast executive about his survival plans for Sirius XM and the important role the auto industry plays in the process. And don't forget you can catch more with Mel Karmazin at our website ( in our Internet-only segment, Autoline EXTRA, as well as our brand new global automotive newscast Autoline Daily as soon as you see this e-mail. So if you'd like to know what the "Starman of Sirius XM" plans for the media in your car or truck, check out this week's Autoline.

Autoline #1238: Watt's Next?
Oct 17 2008 23 mins  
Watt's Next? Even as oil prices continue to drop, everyone from consumers to the cognoscenti understand that the genie is finally out of the bottle: fossil fuels are not the future. The question becomes, what is? We all know the roulette wheel of options, but at this point everything is a gamble and manufacturers are wondering where to put their chips. Well Chrysler, which has been quiet up to now, is betting on electric which some consider a surprise. Despite the fact that for more than a decade it has owned an electric car unit that builds neighborhood vehicles, the company sent shock waves through the industry when it recently unveiled three electric prototypes. That's because few experts considered Chrysler a major player in the electric game. Joining John McElroy on this week's Autoline are the two men leading the electrical charge at Chrysler. Lou Rhodes is the President of ENVI, a special team within the company that oversees the R & D of alternative drivetrains, while Bruce Coventry is the CEO of GEM, the makers of those neighborhood electric vehicles. Among the topics these executives tackle are Chrysler's electric strategy, the models and options they're working on, and when they expect it all to be delivered. And don't forget that you can watch this latest edition of Autoline along with our Internet-only segment Autoline EXTRA as well as our brand new global automotive newscast Autoline Daily at our website right now by clicking here ( So if you're looking to get a charge out of some provocative television, tune into Autoline and its lineup of automotive information.

Autoline #1237: Change
Oct 10 2008 23 mins  
CHANGE Synopsis: Change seems to be a popular theme these days. Some say it began with the political season but those in automotive know better. In fact, it's been on the horizon for a while. Big Change. The kind that will reshape American manufacturing for years to come. The last time we saw something like this was in the mid-20th century with World War II. And though the factors leading this retooling aren't quite as dire, they are just as dramatic led by a massive shift in consumer preferences, the technological challenge of reducing CO2 emissions at the same time as dealing with the booming developing markets. How will OEMs execute what some are calling the "Greatest Peacetime Manufacturing Conversion?" What will the effect be on their Suppliers? And what about the labor force -- how much will it diminish? These are just a few of the questions that John McElroy has for our two manufacturing experts. Offering insight from the OEM side is Joe Hinrichs the group vice president of global manufacturing for Ford Motor Company. Joining Mr. Hinrichs with an analyst perspective is Jay Baron, the president of CAR, the Center for Automotive Research. And don't forget you can watch the latest edition of Autoline right now at our website ( along with our Internet-only segment Autoline EXTRA as well as any of our archived shows. So for a look at the changes in store for 21st Century manufacturing, don't miss this week's Autoline with John McElroy.

Autoline #1236: 5-4-3-2-1
Oct 03 2008 22 mins  
5-4-3-2-1 For most observers, the word "launch" conjures images of rockets and echoes of countdowns from the space race forty years ago. However, if you happen to be a member of the automotive press "launch" means something totally different. To many in that crowd it means "Pay Attention" because a manufacturer is about to invite you to an exclusive activity surrounding its newest vehicle. This is one of the major ways stories and reviews of the latest cars and trucks appear in your local newspaper, favorite television shows or popular websites before or as that vehicle arrives on local dealer lots. And depending on the importance of the vehicle and the number of media invited, manufacturers can spend more than they care to think about to shine a brief spotlight on this newest product. On this week's program an Autoline Exclusive -- John McElroy takes you "behind-the-scenes" of a new car press launch. From the international phone calls to developing the drive routes to building vehicle displays and much, much'll be right there with the media learning and experiencing everything about this brand new vehicle. And the vehicle or vehicles that you'll see "launched" are Mercedes-Benz new 50 State Clean Diesel SUVs. And don't forget to check out Autoline EXTRA, available on our website ( where you can catch every interview we did for this documentary in its entirety 24/7. So join John, a number of his media colleagues and the Mercedes-Benz team as we go "Behind-the-Scenes" in Manchester Village, Vermont for the 50 State Clean Diesel Launch this week on Autoline.

Autoline #1235: "Mass" Exodus
Sep 26 2008 23 mins  
"Mass" Exodus Each time a dealer makes a sale and a car drives off the lot, along with it goes a few thousand pounds. And depending on the number of sales, those pounds can add up. But imagine losing one and a half billion pounds. Crazy? Well, that's just what America's largest automotive retailer AutoNation does every year. The company with nearly 250 dealerships across the country sells more than 500,000 units each year, which means more than 1.5 billion pounds of vehicles drive off its lots every twelve months. When it comes to the automotive retail world, all three of those numbers are staggering. On this week's Autoline, AutoNation Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson joins John McElroy to talk about the industry, sales and how they're both reeling amid the economic disaster that is 2008. After that, they'll turn their attention to product. As a retailer who deals with nearly every OEM selling almost every kind of car and truck, he has unique insight into each manufacturer, its performance and its products. Plus, with dealerships throughout the United States, there isn't a demographic or geographic group he doesn't know or sell to. Joining Mr. Jackson and John McElroy on the panel are Bill Vlasic from The New York Times and Steve Finlay from Ward's Dealer Business. As a reminder, you can now watch the latest Autoline immediately after receiving this email. Just click the link, and you'll find yourself at our website where you can watch this week's program, Autoline EXTRA or any of our archived shows 24/7. So if you really want to know what's going on behind the curtain at your local dealer, check out this week's Autoline for the inside scoop.

Autoline #1234: Natural Number
Aug 29 2008 23 mins  
Natural Number The number three has a unique heritage. From time, to matter, to grammar, for years humans have naturally divided elements and categories into three. That may be because it's a natural counting number or the first odd prime number. Then again it may be as simple as sets of three, for whatever reason, just feel right. Take this week's Autoline for instance. John McElroy interviews three separate guests discussing totally different topics related to today's auto industry. The first, Tim Leuiliette the new CEO of auto supplier DURA, offers his observations on the poor state of business for everyone automotive these days, especially the Detroit Three. He even dares to mention the "B word" as in bankruptcy and how that may be a factor in the near future. Meanwhile, joining John to discuss the new spinoff from ArvinMeritor is its President & CEO Designate Phil Martens. Arvin Innovation, as it is called, takes over the company's light vehicle systems business and will be looking to grow its existing 2.3 billion in sales (2007) in a U.S. market that hasn't had much positive news for OEM or supplier alike. Finally, as we pass the one-year anniversary of Cerberus buying Chrysler, John talks to private equity expert Frank Dunne from the national law firm Dykema. Mr. Dunne, a long time General Motors veteran, chronicles the movers and shakers from these high stakes financial groups and shares with John his impressions for the future of Chrysler and if private equity as a whole is getting what it wants out of auto. And remember, you no longer have to wait to the weekend to view this latest episode of Autoline. Just click on our link, , and you can watch it immediately at our website along with our Internet-only Autoline EXTRA segment and any of our archived shows.

Autoline #1233: Hypernova
Aug 22 2008 23 mins  
Hypernova Experts in Astronomy have studied collapsing stars for years. The phenomenon of Hypernovas is very rare but extremely destructive since they morph themselves into light-swallowing black holes. Meanwhile, experts in the automotive industry have been watching their own collapsing star, or more appropriately, collapsing Pentastar in Chrysler. Some analysts believe that the venture capitalists at Cerberus bit off more than they could chew when it bought the troubled automaker last August. Now faced with a depressed truck market and a four-cylinder lineup that just isn't selling the way it should be in our $4 a gallon gas world, some fear that Chrysler will collapse like a Hypernova with its brands and pieces swallowed by other industry giants. That is not a fear of Tom Lasorda. Chrysler's co-President insists that Cerberus is committed to the company and believes it can be profitable thanks to a future portfolio of energy efficient vehicles built by not just by Chrysler but an international alliance of partners as well. Of course that's easier said than done. To get to that point the company must slog through the next couple years of retrenchment like every other manufacturer. Hear how he believes Chrysler will circumvent this crisis as he joins John McElroy for an exclusive one-on-one interview from the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan. And remember, if you don't want to wait until the weekend you can now watch this new episode of Autoline immediately by visiting us at . There you can also view our Internet-only Autoline EXTRA segment as well as any of our archived shows. So if you're looking for the automotive stars to stay aligned, just follow the light from this week's all new episode of Autoline.

Autoline #1232: Sign O' The Times - Part 2
Aug 15 2008 23 mins  
SIGN O’ THE TIMES - PART TWO Serendipity can strike with serendipity. Sometimes it occurs in music when the right album comes along at the right time and affects the industry as a whole with both high sales and critical praise. And then again, it can also occur in other industries, sometimes with deleterious effects. Take today's energy crisis for instance. With gasoline roller-coasting around $4 a gallon, automotive manufacturers have suddenly seen the Truck market "tank" this summer. So the OEMs have circled the SUVs so to speak, and have reforged the truck future. But as we're waiting for that future to take form, new product continues to hit dealer lots around the country. Trucks, SUVs and Crossovers of all types have been released in 2008. On this week's Autoline, John McElroy looks at some of these new vehicles like Ford's "Back to the Future" Flex Crossover, Mercedes’ new GL with its Clean Diesel technology, and Chrysler's Two-Mode Hybrid SUVs to see how they stack up when it comes to perhaps winning some "Best Of" awards later this year. Joining John to talk trucks are two of his fellow judges from the North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards. Natalie Neff is the Road Test Editor for AutoWeek while Mark Phelan is an automotive columnist with the Detroit Free Press. And if you don't want to wait until Sunday, remember you can now watch this new episode of Autoline immediately by visiting us at . There you can also view our Internet-only Autoline EXTRA segment as well as any of our archived shows. So if you're looking for a sign of times in the truck world, don't miss this week's Autoline for the best insight around.

Autoline #1231: Sign O' The Times - Part 1
Aug 08 2008 23 mins  
SIGN O' THE TIMES - PART 1 It's been twenty years since the musician Prince released what many call his greatest work. "Sign O' The Times" debuted in the shadow of the market collapse of 1987 and the presidential election of 1988, two major events that shaped America over the next few years. In an eerie irony, the title of this album couldn't be more relevant today. 2008 has had its own tumult. With our own presidential election in full swing and an energy crisis that's never been more serious, the sign of "these" times is about change...especially when it comes to the auto industry. $4 a gallon gasoline has given consumers a new fever for small cars. That's why this is the perfect time to look at some of the lineup that has been released so far this year. From small and economical like the Honda Fit to the performance-based cars like the BMW 1 series to Ford's new luxury sedan the Lincoln MKS, it's Cars and NACTOY on this week's Autoline. John McElroy is joined by two of his fellow judges from the North American Car and Truck of the Year Awards as they examine the best in cars so far this year. Natalie Neff is the Road Test Editor for AutoWeek while Mark Phelan is an automotive columnist with the Detroit Free Press. And if you don't want to wait until Sunday remember you can now watch this new episode of Autoline right now by clicking here and going to our website. There you can also watch our Internet-only Autoline EXTRA segment as well as any of our archived shows as well. So get ready for new cars through NACTOY eyes on this week's Autoline.

Autoline #1229: Auto Oracles
Jul 27 2008 23 mins  
AUTO ORACLES Trying to figure out the future has probably been a hominid passion since the first Neanderthals grunted their way through the Ice Age. And even though their "more evolved" ancestors have employed tools like Astrology, Tarot cards and Clairvoyant readings since, the future, arguably, hasn't gotten any clearer. So if it's darn near impossible to decipher if Uncle Jack is going to give you, and not your cousin, that Civil War sword you've longed for, how the heck do the auto companies, with billions of dollars on the line, accurately predict the future? With a multitude of products and a five year lead time facing them as they jostle external forces like rising steel, fuel and labor costs to name a few, this is not a job for the faint of heart. It requires the expertise of a top level engineer, a great understanding of tomorrow's consumer and perhaps even a little help from Dionne Warwick and that Psychic Friends Network doesn't hurt either. On this week's Autoline, John McElroy interviews two of today's leading Product Planners for the Auto Industry. John Smith is the Group Vice President for Global Product Planning at General Motors while Larry Dominique is Nissan's Vice President of Product Planning for North America. Both men join John to discuss the high wire walk that many Product Planners are faced with as the market changes on seemingly a daily basis. And as usual, don't forget you can catch our Internet-only exclusive segment Autoline EXTRA -- along with all our archived shows -- 24/7 at our website So if you're wondering what it's like to peer into a crystal ball and see the cars of the future, join John and the men who make it their business to know what we'll want to drive on down the line this Sunday.

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