June 18th, 2010 at 12:03pm
For the first time since its introduction, domestic automakers beat foreign brands in the JD Power Initial Quality Survey. Toyota and other Japanese companies jump into algae-based fuel research. John jumps into the seat of the new Honda CR-Z hybrid and shares his first impressions. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit with Jeep CEO Mike Manley.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
This is Autoline Daily for Friday, June 18, 2010. And now, the news.
DETROIT #1 IN QUALITY
In an astonishing development, for the first time since it ever started publishing its Initial Quality Survey nearly a quarter of a century ago, J.D. Power announced that American automakers beat all other brands in the quality of their vehicles. The Ford brand did especially well, beating out all but some of the top luxury brands. And Toyota did particularly poorly, tumbling to twenty-first on the list. All of Chrysler’s brands made modest improvements, but GM’s brands slipped. The Initial Quality Survey measures quality after the first 90 days of ownership. You can follow the link in today’s script to get the full list of how all automakers performed.
TEMP WORKERS = LOWER QUALITY
In related news, GM announced that it will not hold its traditional summer shut down where it forced everyone in the company to go on vacation for the first two weeks in July. GM sees the car market in the U.S. recovering, and it wants to keep its assembly plants making vehicles with no summer shut down. So, how does that relate to the previous story on quality? One of the key reasons why automakers like the summer shut down is they do not have to hire temporary workers to keep the lines running. Temps just aren’t as good as the people who work those jobs day in and day out, and so quality goes down. Now GM plans to hire temps to keep the lines humming this summer, and let’s just hope they train them very well.
NO DIESEL RANGE ROVER FOR U.S.
Yesterday we showed you the new 2011 Range Rover. We reported that it will get 30 miles to the gallon thanks to a new turbo-diesel that will be offered, but Land Rover’s U.S. public relations office contacted Autoline Daily to point out the diesel will not be available in the American market. But it will be available in just about every other market in the world.
TOYOTA GETS INTO ALGAE-FUEL
Speaking of fuel economy–or at least fuel–last week we reported that Canadian researchers were studying how to make fuel from algae, and now Toyota and other Japanese companies and institutions are joining in. According to Bloomberg, an analyst in Japan says there will be what he calls a tug of war between industrial nations to find a new way to develop fuel from algae and that there needs to be better political leadership in Japan to study it. There are already 75 developers globally studying algae-based fuel. In addition to studying algae for fuel, the Japanese team wants to see if it can help produce food and cosmetics.
HONDA CR-Z HYBRID
Earlier this week I got a chance to test drive the new Honda CR-Z hybrid. We’ll have more coverage on the car in the days to come, but here’s my initial impression. Honda is going out on a limb here. The CR-Z is a hybrid that does not get spectacular fuel economy, so it may not appeal to hybrid enthusiasts. It’s also aimed at performance enthusiasts, but it only has a power-to-weight ratio of 21.6 so it’s not very quick. Look for fuel economy in the mid to high 30s, or in the six- to seven-liters-per-100-kilometers range. The price in the American market will be in the low $20,000 range, unless you want a nav system, which bumps the price to $28,000, or a little over €22,000. Honda knows it’s taking a risk here. It’s only projecting that sales will hit 15,000 units in the first year in the American market. The CR-Z is already on sale in other global markets, where it hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. But the company’s internal targets are to boost sales in the U.S. to nearly 50,000 units a year by 2015.
CHRYSLER INFO APP
Chrysler is introducing the industry’s first smartphone vehicle information application. Debuting with the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the app, which is a free download, is much more than a mobile owner’s manual. It includes video demonstrations of features in the vehicle, access to customer assistance, 24-hour roadside assistance, maintenance schedules and much more. The app will first be available for the iPhone and later will be available on Blackberry and Android phones. The app, which is designed for the U.S. market, will be available in other Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram vehicles by the end of the year.
And speaking of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, it’s the first new product Chrysler’s coming out with since the Fiat takeover. So what makes this version of the Grand Cherokee worth noting? We’ll show you, right after this.
Michael Manley is the CEO of the Jeep brand, and he’s also my guest on Autoline Detroit this week. In the following clip he talks about the attributes that Jeep believes are going to bring a lot of new customers into their showrooms.
You can watch that entire interview with Michael Manley at our website, AutolineDetroit.tv. And by the way, Scott Burgess of the Detroit News and Bob Gritzinger of Autoweek are on my journalist panel for that program.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.