Episode 417 – Eco-Motors Concept, Adults More Distracted Than Teens, New NCAP Rules

June 21st, 2010 at 12:18pm

Runtime 9:35

Eco-Motors expects there will be a concept car out later this year using its opposed-cylinder, opposed-piston engine. A new study says adults and teens are equally likely to send texts while driving but adults are more likely to talk on their phones while out on the road. New NCAP guidelines for crash-test ratings will soon go into effect and safety-star ratings are expected to go down for most cars. All that and more, plus a look at the Subaru Legacy.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

This is Autoline Daily for June 21, 2010, the first day of summer for those of you above the equator, and the first day of winter if you live in the bottom half of the hemisphere.

ALUMINUM SHORTAGE EXPECTED
The price of aluminum fell by nearly a third in the last two months, but we could be headed for a shortage, Bloomberg reports. Thanks to rapid expansion in China, and a recovery in the United States, demand for aluminum is expected to climb strongly. And it is that imbalance between falling prices and surging demand that could lead to a shortage. Automakers could be hit hard because the transportation industry is the largest user of aluminum. But, Bloomberg also warns that analysts have been wrong about predicting shortages in the recent past.

CONCEPT USES ECO-MOTORS’ ENGINE (subscription required)
No doubt you remember Eco-Motors, the opposed-cylinder, opposed-piston engine that supposedly can deliver 50 percent better fuel economy in a conventional car. We had Don Runkle as our guest on Autoline After Hours talking all about it. Well, Ward’s reports that Eco-Motors now expects there will be a concept car out later this year using the engine, and that it could be in production by 2013. No word yet on which automaker may use it but a month ago Zhongding Holdings Group of China and Global Optima LLC of Monroe, Michigan, invested $18 million in the technology.

ADULTS MORE DISTRACTED THAN TEENS
Oh those terrible teenagers, we all know they should not be texting when they’re behind the wheel, right? Well, a new study suggests that adults are just as careless. A study done by the Pew Research Center, says adults and teens are equally likely to send texts while driving. The findings estimate that a little over a quarter of adults and teens in the U.S. text while driving. But adults are more likely to talk on their phones than teens are while out on the road.

NO 4-CYLINDER FOR ODYSSEY (subscription required)
According to Ward’s, Honda will not match Toyota feature-for-feature in the minivan market. The company’s redesigned 2011 Odyssey – which is due to arrive at dealerships this fall – will not offer a four-cylinder engine like the Toyota Sienna. The only powerplant available will continue to be a 3.5-liter V-6, but Honda estimates the big six will deliver 19 miles per gallon city and up to 28 highway – that’s about 12 L/100 km and 8 L/100 km, respectively. That’s better than the fuel economy Toyota gets with its four-cylinder. An interesting footnote, the Odyssey was 100 percent designed and developed in the U.S.

FORD’S ALLERGY-TESTED INTERIORS
Air quality is a concern for anyone living in densely populated areas. For at least the last 40 years governments have pushed automakers to cut emissions, and now some of them are starting to focus on air quality INSIDE vehicles. According to a press release from Ford, it is the only carmaker globally to carry and meet the official TÜV allergy-tested interior certification. TÜV is a German product safety and testing organization. Currently eight of Ford’s European models – some 4.2 million vehicles on the road today – carry this seal of approval. To earn the certification, vehicles are equipped with high-performance cabin air filters PLUS they’ve been engineered with as few allergy-inducing materials as possible – things like latex, chrome and nickel. Also, everything that has prolonged contact with skin – like seatbelts and steering wheels – is dermatologically tested. Altogether these features are designed to make life a little easier for allergy suffers.

NEW NCAP GUIDELINES (subscription required)
New guidelines for crash-test ratings will soon go into effect in the U.S. and safety-star ratings are expected to go down for most cars. According to Ward’s, the new NCAP rules will require tests for small adults, for neck and femur injuries, and chest deflection, or crush. Stricter rules for side-impact tests will also go into effect. Supplier TRW expects that automakers’ fleet ratings will drop from an average of five stars down to three stars.

Subaru has been performing spectacularly lately. It’s like someone forgot to tell the little Japanese company that there’s a global economic crisis going on. What’s the secret to their success? We’ll take a look at that right after this.

Subaru is on a roll these days, and the key to its success is its products. Craig Cole took the Subaru Legacy on a test drive and here’s his report.

So far this year Ward’s reports that Subaru’s sales are up nearly 40 percent in the American market and sales of the new Legacy are up more than 65 percent. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is really impressive.

Don’t forget to call in to Open Line starting tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern. Last week’s conversation went on for seven hours! And while you may not be die hard enough to join the conversation for that long, you may want to listen in to hear what it’s all about. We have a recap from the host, Michelle Naranjo, of last week’s program on our website at AutolineDetroit.tv. And you can get all the info on how to call in there as well.

And that brings us to the end of today’s latest 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, Car Chat, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

32 Comments to “Episode 417 – Eco-Motors Concept, Adults More Distracted Than Teens, New NCAP Rules”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Well,it looks like that guy from Jeep (Manley)had it wrong on Jeep pickups too.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2010/06/21/report-jeep-eyeing-entry-level-pickup-market/

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Question for John…..that Eco-motor,is it a 2 stroke by any chance? It looked like it had ports instead of valves is why I’m asking.

  3. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Yes, it is a two stroke (though they say that they can meet 2016 emmisions). I’d like to see it in action before I make a judgement. I looked up Ecomotors and found some videos of OPOC engine (working); looked like an engine with the dry-heaves. I don’t know if this is the same type engine or not (opposed piston engine/Doxford).

    If it is, here’s a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKWOi0C-sak

  4. Mike Shipley Says:

    You may have answered this as I’ve seen that stock footage on your show before, but what is that blue Ford convertible in your story about in car air quality. (TUV ratings)? Thanks

  5. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Chuck: Thanx for the link,it answered my question.Interesting to say the least,looks extremely prone to undo vibration though.I’m not sure what the overall benefit of that engine design would be compared to “normal” engines with a fixed cylinder(s).

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There is a cutaway picture of the ecomotors engine at:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2009/08/02/ecomotors-opposed-piston-opposed-cylinder-engine-ups-power-den/

    It would seem that it must use a blower to get the air into the cylinders, like the GMC/Penske diesel.

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    $35k for a stick Legacy? I don’t get how Subaru is doing so well even with it’s mandatory all wheel drive system, that $35k is in BMW 3 territory and they’re not even in the same universe.

  8. Derek V. Says:

    Glad to see Subaru on Autoline Daily – again with positive news. Yes, I am a Subaru junkie and love the new products they have out. I understand there is more serious though going into bringing the diesel to the US market either in the legacy/outback but apparently now in the Impreza STi – very interesting. I’ve driven the Legacy 2.5 Turbo and the 3.0 CVT and both are impressive. Its sort of a shame my 02 Outback Sport runs so damn well as I’d like to have the excuse to get into a new one.

    Speaking of Subaru, I think the Eco-Motors engine would be a perfect fit with Subaru. Critics of Subaru constantly question two things – necessity of AWD and MPG. The Eco-Motors low profile (similar to the Subie H4 and H6) and its more efficient performance could really put the before mentioned points of contention to rest.

    I really hope Eco-Motors fairs well and I hope you stay on top of what and when those concept cars debut. Now, what I’d really like to see is a 2012 concept Subaru WRX Rally car running an algae fueled Eco-Motors engine.
    :-)
    (a guy can dream right)

  9. GPL Says:

    “…what is that blue Ford convertible in your story about in car air quality.”

    That is a Focus.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    …if only Subaru sold a basic Legagy wagon, with a diesel, and without that AWD that almost no one needs.

  11. HtG Says:

    Attention Gear Geeks!

    Since I didn’t knowingly bump into you at the 100 years of Alfa Romeo opening at the Simeone Foundation in Philadelphia, I will offer a little report.

    1) I heard second hand that Marchione of FIAT Chrysler doesn’t know what to do with Alfa in the states. FIAT and Maserati cars, they do know what to with.

    2) crawling around three 30s era Alfas that raced in Le Mans and the Mille Miglia, I learned that even in those days they had adjustable suspensions. The cars had a black dial on the dash that would either loosen or stiffen the shock absorbers so the car would handle the cobblestones of the town or the higher speed surfaces of the open road, respectively. Eighty years ago! The youngest car even had brake intake scoops to the drums, plus a transaxle!

    Apologies for what a geek I must be.

  12. Derek V. Says:

    @Gerhart

    I’ll agree with you on the diesel and basic Legacy Wagon but I don’t think you get AWD. Sure, its “not for everyone” so I wouldn’t debate that. But I would, however, suggest that more people need it than want it. In fact, I would go as far as saying, ideally, every tire that rolls on pavement should have power behind it – for handling (safety, cornering, accelerating, etc.) – it is far superior. So, we actually need it, most people just don’t see the benefits and therefore don’t want it.

    Anyway, the Legacy Wagon offered overseas is a very nice looking product. But Americans have this idea about station wagons and diesels that they just can’t let go of. Hopefully that will change in the nearer future.
    :)

  13. Derek V. Says:

    @GPL
    Looks like a Focus CC which I understand stands for Coupe-Cabriolet since its a hard top (coupe) convertible (cabriolet).

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    If AWD came with no strings attached, then whoopee!! let’s all have AWD. But unfortunately, it comes with a price, and extra mechanical things to go wrong. I lived in the snow belt for 23 yrs and only a couple of times I wished I had it. Because I should have stayed put and not ventured out. Now, ABS on a slippery down hill, ABSOLUTELY YES!

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Derek V. Says:
    June 21st, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    “So, we actually need it, most people just don’t see the benefits and therefore don’t want it.”

    The benefits of AWD are small, very small for those who don’t drive in ice and snow, and don’t even come close to justifying the waste of fuel over the life of the car, IMHO. Even those who drive in wintery climates don’t even come close to needing AWD. I spent about my first 20 years of driving in rear drive cars in Indiana. I got by just fine. There aren’t many AWD cars where I lived, but a lot of 4WD pickups and SUV’s, which tended to often run stop lights and stop signs, sometimes causing crashes, because the drivers hadn’t learned that while you go better with power to all the wheels, you don’t stop better.

    Everything I’ve said changes when talking about high-powered sporty cars, like the WRX and Mitsu Evo. Cars like like that benefit a lot when driven aggressively, compared to high-powered FWD cars.

  16. HtG Says:

    Lord save us from aggressive SUV drivers. On those days when its raining or snowing, and the roads are otherwise slick, it is as though drivers decide “now!” is the moment when their AWD is going to be used. The level of driving aggression and excess speed I see on the roads is scary. People are driving their SUVs in a rage it seems. I just watch my mirrors and get out of the way, and prefer to stay off the roads if I can. And I promise you, I am a spirited driver in just about all conditions. But angry people in AWD SUVs? Not my party.

  17. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I remember the days when the subies had to be put into 4wd with a counsel mounted shift lever.Then,it engaged the rear wheels.I believe 1990 was the first year of non-selectable awd,but was easily disabled in the summer by removing a fuse then put it back in come winter.Maybe they should go back to the good old fashioned way of engaging awd.My first subie (1979)GL wagon only had front drive,and did extremely well in the long cold snowy winters in upstate ny.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    A guy I had business dealing with took me to lunch in his Subaru wagon circa 1985, it was the first time I ever got in a Japanese car and shortly after that I was hooked. I never forgot how secure it felt driving through the snow and icy roads back home. But because I did not want AWD I went for a Toyota instead of a Subie.

  19. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Its official, New Pre Mullaly Ford (Honda)is an American company. They can do a 6 better than a 4, yep that proves it.

    For a car that gets the same MPG as a truck, 65% sales increases are astonishing. 29 MPG from a car with a 2.5? What a joke.

    I dont have the same problems with Subaru like most people do. I like their quirkiness, and their designs arent the best but they look different, hence better than the Cattle Pens many other companies offer.

    Subaru’s MPG is my problem. How is it that Hippies drive these cars, yet think its ok to get truck fuel economy?

    They arent Real Hippies, they are Hypocrites instead.

  20. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    According to a Classified Source. Toyota plans to drop prices by 30% globally.

    I can not disclose my source, as the last time I disclosed this source, well… You figure it out. Just say it was not pretty.

  21. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Some rag will probably pick it up in a few days.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “For a car that gets the same MPG as a truck, 65% sales increases are astonishing. 29 MPG from a car with a 2.5? What a joke.”

    The Subarus get a lot better mileage than the Ford Explorers that were traded in on them.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    G.A.Branigan Says:
    June 21st, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    “Well,it looks like that guy from Jeep (Manley)had it wrong on Jeep pickups too”

    That Jeep concept looks pretty good, for a pickup truck. That would be pretty cool if they could build it and sell it for around 20K with some sort of Fiat/Iveco four cylinder diesel.

  24. tj Martin Says:

    Hyunadai Blowing Smoke Again !

    The last time I had any experience with you discloing your sources on the UK sites I’ve run into you on you stuck your foot so far down your throat as to come out the other end .

    What is it going to take to convince you that both Continents are well and good familiar with your uninformed / biased and pathetic comments and for you to once and for all move on to some sad little blog or Twitter where someone might actually be impressed with your high level on manure spreading ?

  25. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit: Believe it or not it will still have the VM Motori 2.8L CRD that is still being used by Wranglers for export.There was some talk about an Iveco but I guess they are staying with motori.BTW,the V6 that was discussed for the Ram was of Fiat (Iveco)origin,or so I was told.

  26. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit: Then there is this:
    http://www.dieselbombers.com/latest-automotive-industry-news/11841-dodge-1500-diesel-ram-diesel-durango-diesel-dakota.html

    I wish they would make up my mind…

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I hope they can get better fuel economy with the VM Motori CRD than it got in the Libery a few years ago. A manual transmission would help, or maybe that 8 speed auto we’ve been reading about.

    The only available power train in the CRD Liberty was a four speed automatic, and 4WD. Maybe it was geared too short. In any case, the fuel economy was disappointing.

  28. G.A.Branigan Says:

    We bought a brand new 06 libby crd limited.It had a 5 sp auto,and regularly got 32 mpg.Tons of power too.Down side,it was the most god awful uncomfortable vehicle we ever had,and the trail rated badging was a complete joke.It would drag it’s belly on the mildest gravel roads,very disappointing.I just wish I could have kept the engine/trans combo…..excellent.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Looks like I was wrong on the trans in the Liberty CRD–thought it was a 4-speed.

    Anyway, a co-worker of mine had one and only got about 20 MPG, but that was mostly short trips. He liked the “feel” of the engine, though. I don’t think he ever left paved roads, so the “trail rated” part wasn’t an issue.

  30. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Whatever, tj grow up dude.

    Ive been trying to ignore your crap, but dont push me.

  31. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# pedro fernandez Says:
    June 21st, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    $35k for a stick Legacy? I don’t get how Subaru is doing so well even with it’s mandatory all wheel drive system, ”

    It has cornered the Northeastern and Midwestern Anal retentive market… those who falsely believe that FWD is not fully adequate for most snowbelt locations. Hell, I had zero problems all winter long with my satrictly RWD 740iL since 2005!

    “that $35k is in BMW 3 territory and they’re not even in the same universe.”

    And be carfeful what you wish, even if the AWD was FREE, you would pay for it dearly in much lower MPG (it drinks gas like a v8 and worse!!) and you really do not need AWD in… Florida!

  32. Nick Stevens Says:

    Why are subarus so damned UGLY? Why are their lines mismatched? in soime cases they look as if they were in a fender bender! Are butch lezbos so powerful a market group?