Toyota profits hammered, OnStar can track your kids, and Ford trucks may actually lead to fiery death

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1st Gear: Toyota reported a quarterly operating loss today due to Japan's biggest earthquake on record hammering production and the yen's rise hit profits on exports. The automaker made an operating loss of 108 billion yen ($1.4 billion) in the April-June quarter, compared with a 211.7 billion yen profit a year earlier. The result was better than the average loss estimate of 190 billion yen in a survey of six analysts by Thomson Reuters.


2nd Gear: Ford will recall more than one million pickup trucks, including the F-150, the top-selling vehicle in the United States, because straps that secure fuel tanks to the vehicles may corrode and cause the tanks to fall. This may, of course, actually lead to fiery death. The recall includes 1.1 million trucks from the 1997 to 2004 model years, including the 1997-2003 Ford F-150, 2004 Ford F-150 Heritage edition, 1997-1999 Ford F-250 (with a gross vehicle weight rating under 8,500 pounds), and 2002-2003 Lincoln Blackwood.


3rd Gear: Parents will be able to track the real-time location of their teenage drivers under a pilot program unveiled Monday by General Motors Co.'s OnStar unit. The service will give family members the ability to monitor the location of others by logging on to a GM website to view a map with the vehicle's exact location at any time or by getting text messages and email alerts, the company said Monday. GM will initially invite about 10,000 active U.S. OnStar subscribers to take part in the pilot program for the Family Link service. A GM spokeswoman told the Detroit News that the pilot program is focused on GM owners who are parents with teen drivers. Well, that makes sense. Because if they don't have kids, that would be kinda creepy.


4th Gear: This is the new Mazda CX-5, the third addition to the Japanese car company's SUV line-up after the CX-7 and CX-9. It's a rival for the Freelander, Kuga and every other compact SUV out there, and will be officially unveiled at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show in September. It's the first production car to feature Mazda's new Kodo design language, showcased by the Minagi (a thinly veiled concept of the CX-5) and Shinari show cars. Mazda has only released a few photos so far, but what's your first impression?


5th Gear: Ford's labor chief said the U.S. automaker hopes to avoid a strike in its talks for a new labor deal with the United Auto Workers union, which officially began on Friday. "The last thing we want to do is incur a strike," said Marty Malloy at the kickoff ceremony at a Ford truck assembly plant in Dearborn, Michigan. "We work great with the UAW." Well, except when they strike... and Ford tries to take away benefits...and...


6th Gear: As emotional praise for Chrysler's "Imported From Detroit" ad poured in from around the world after the Super Bowl commercial first aired earlier this year, the automaker wanted to brainstorm: Where else can we take with this thing? Where they could take it was a higher plane, and what they conceived that day is at last going public: A stirring gospel version of Eminem's "Lose Yourself," performed by Selected of God choir, will be released Tuesday on iTunes and Amazon. Sale proceeds, including song royalties, will be funneled by Chrysler and Eminem's song publisher to three Detroit nonprofit groups. Watch the trailer for it here.


⏎ 2012 Jeep Wrangler Rated at 21 MPG Highway. [Kicking Tires]

⏎ Could We Lose the Auto Industry Again? [Huffington Post]

⏎ Ad-covered rental cars offered for big discounts. [USA Today]

⏎ Chinese carmaker JAC to build factory in Brazil. [BBC News]

⏎ New Ford Focus in short supply in Australia. [GoAuto]

⏎ China Revs Up BMW's Sales. [Wall Street Journal]

⏎ How to Build a Car that Gets 54.5 MPG. [Forbes]

⏎ Chevy Volts hit the streets today as part of the NYPD's alternative-fuel fleet. [Twitter]


⏎ GM's Sonic subcompacts begin rolling out in Orion. [Detroit News]

Today in Automotive History:

On this day in 1987, in the fastest race in Indy car racing at the time, 24-year-old Michael Andretti wins the Marlboro 500 at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, with an average speed of 171.490 miles per hour. [History]


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