Episode 420 – Grand Cherokee Styling Tour, Government Motors No More? Ferrari Dumps M/Ts

June 24th, 2010 at 12:10pm

Runtime 9:25

General Motors lays the groundwork for an initial public offering in an effort to shake the “Government Motors” stigma. Ferrari decides to leave manual transmissions in the dust. More details of the Hyundai Sonata Turbo are here and they are impressive. All that and more, plus we get a personal styling tour of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

It’s Thursday, June 24, 2010 and here’s the news.

General Motors is laying the groundwork to do an IPO, an initial public offering, to start selling stock again. The Detroit News reports that GM will hold a big financial summit next week with bankers, analysts, and investment firms. Bloomberg reports GM wants to sell at least 20 percent of the warrants the U.S. government holds in the company, taking the government’s ownership under 50 percent. Here’s my Autoline Insight. GM desperately needs to drop the derisive “Government Motors” nickname that many critics use to describe it. Many consumers still will not buy a GM car because the government technically owns the company. Also, President Obama needs this to happen going into the fall elections. He needs to convince those skeptical voters that the bailout was a good move that’s paying off for the government.

When Ferrari first introduced digital gauges on some of its cars back in the 1980s, enthusiasts were horrified. They though it was nothing but heresy that Ferrari would use anything but big analog gauges. And this next announcement will make them cringe in horror. Ferrari is going to drop manual transmissions in its cars going forward. Bloomberg reports that this is a trend amongst other supercar manufacturers. The reason is that dual-clutch automatics are just getting so good, more people prefer them.

Ford will build a new manufacturing plant in Thailand despite all the political turmoil there. Construction of the $450 million factory should be finished in 2012. It’ll be a flexible facility, able to assemble a wide variety of products, but it will start by building the upcoming Focus. Initial annual capacity should be somewhere around 150,000 units. Up to 85 percent of its production will be for markets outside Thailand.

Automakers are constantly tinkering with their minivans trying to broaden their appeal. Nissan introduced the Quest as the minivan for people who hate minivans. Pontiac did a version of the Trans Port minivan called the Montana, trying to give it a Marlboro man image. Toyota is doing a series of hip-hop videos of the Sienna, calling it the Swagger Wagon. And now the Wall Street Journal says Chrysler wants to make a macho man version of its next-generation minivan. Here’s my Autoline Insight. Nobody aspires to own a minivan. People buy them because they need them, not because they lust after them. Minivans are just the most practical vehicle there is for a family. And all these attempts to make them macho, or tough, or cool are not going to work, because they never have.

Hyundai is really coming on strong these days, delivering one solid product after another. When it introduced the 2011 Sonata a few months back it took a big risk by NOT offering an optional V-6 engine – this sedan is four-cylinder only. But with up to 200 horsepower on tap the base powerplant is perfectly fine for most people. For those who want a little more oomph though, the company is offering a turbocharged four with 274 horsepower. We’ve known about this for a while, but now we have some more numbers to report. According to Autoblog, the Sonata 2.0 T will deliver up to 34 miles per gallon on the highway – that’s 7.0 liters/100 km – AND it’ll launch from zero to 60 in 6.5 seconds! That’s sports sedan territory people! Making the car even more enticing, it does it all on regular-grade gasoline.

In related powertrain news, Motor Authority reports that Hyundai’s working on a 5.0-liter version of its Tau V-8. The current motor – already a Ward’s 10-Best Engines winner – delivers 385 horsepower, but the enlarged model is expected to put out 429 ponies. Hmmmm … 5.0-liters … that number sounds familiar. Didn’t another automaker just introduce a 5.0-liter engine? … Oh yeah, Ford did. Its reborn 302 just came out in the Mustang – too bad though, it only delivers 412 horses. I wonder if the new V-8 will fit in the Genesis Coupe. Look for it in the Equus sedan around March of next year.

HYUNDAI HYBRID (subscription required)
In still more Hyundai news, Ward’s reports that the company is planning a dedicated-hybrid vehicle similar to Honda’s Insight. It’s unclear whether this new model would use the same powertrain as the Sonata hybrid, but that would be an obvious starting point. No introduction date has been given.

What do you think of the way the new Jeep Grand Cherokee looks? A lot of people seem to like it. In just a moment we’ll take you on a styling tour of the vehicle, with one of Chrysler’s top designers.

When Daimler split from Chrysler, almost all of the Germans working at Chrysler packed up their bags and went home. But not all of them. Klaus Busse stayed with Chrysler. He’s the head interior designer at Chrysler and we just got him to give us a styling tour of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee.

The Grand Cherokee is already in production and should be showing up at dealerships very shortly.

Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tonight when our guest will be Kathleen Ligocki, who has an incredible amount of experience and insight into the auto industry. A former top executive at Ford, CEO of supplier companies, working with the Mexicans and Chinese. Has she got a lot to talk about. Get your questions ready for Rapid Fire and then join us tonight LIVE, starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time for Autoline After Hours.

And that’s it for the 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, Car Chat, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

35 Comments to “Episode 420 – Grand Cherokee Styling Tour, Government Motors No More? Ferrari Dumps M/Ts”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    Ferrari now dropping the manual transmission option . Thats beyond sad . Yes i know the new technology semi auto transmissions are faster , more efficient etc. etc. etc. But try as i might i just can not get over the whole Flappy Paddle Shifty Thingy syndrome .

    I enjoy stirring the shifter around , feeling the gears engage , manipulating the clutch etc. But then again I’m one of those that prefers a Book to an iPad . A Fountain Pen to a keyboard . And a Boars Head Brush Shaving Soap and a Razor to an electric shaver .

    All I can say is I’m glad I got my owning an Italian Sports Car/GT fetish out of the way back in the 70′s and 80′s . Because between Computer Geek Electronics , to Flappy Paddle Shifty Thingies as well as way too much traffic and the ongoing crisis with Oil it just isn’t fun any longer chasing the Ferrari dream .

    As far as the Supercars of toady are concerned . As Jim Morrison so aptly put it ” No one here gets out alive ” Or maybe a better JM quote would be ” This is the End “

  2. Glen Dugan Says:

    Looking at the new jeep from the rear I thought it was an x5! Glen

  3. HtG Says:

    Some of you may want to read about how I saw someone get busted by Smokey this morning.

    Looking in my rear view mirror I spotted a new BMW X5 weaving through traffic. Keep in mind that I am doing 70, and the X5 is fast approaching, and this is a 55 limited three lane highway. In my Miata I ride my mirrors out of fear and courtesy, so I moved to the left side of the middle lane and prepared for the X5 to come by me on the right, and prepared a route for him to get past a Prius ahead in the slow lane. But as the X5 switched into the right lane, it was then I saw another SUV, a Ford, following it and driving just as vigorously. ‘Oh snap!, road racers!’ thought I, but just then I picked up on some extra equipment on the Ford. Police equipment. And stickers on the side saying DEP Police. Here in NY, DEP is the Dept. of Environmental Protection.

    The X5 driver had been getting shadowed through traffic at about 75-80 without the guy in the Bimmer noticing that he was being turned into toast. Just as the duo passed me and came into the middle lane ahead of me, the Ford switched on its ‘Gotcha Lights’ and the X5 tried to pull over in front of a car in the right lane that it had just passed. This would have been easier if the ponce in the Prius had had the sense to slow down or switch lanes in order to let them slow.

    Pulling away now, it appeared to me the X5 was about to be busted and the Prius wasn’t going to wet itself either. That’s going to be a fine for reckless driving and excess speed for X5 Man.

    Remember, watch your mirrors and when you role down your window say, “I’m sorry Officer.”

  4. James Ko Says:

    Motor Trend put the 2011 5.0 Mustang on a dyno and the numbers they got make them think Ford is understating the engine’s real output. IIRC, the actual output is something like 435 bhp.

  5. TLW Says:

    A macho mini-van? That ought to appeal to the majority of mnoms who drive them! I used to drive mini-vans exclusively when my kids were small. What did I want? I wanted the necessary gadgets to make traveling and hauling toys and sports equipment easier. It is a family utility vehicle, plain and simple. As long as it gets the job done, why try to make it something it is not?

  6. dcars Says:

    I agree on the macho mini vans, it’s all about utility. Just don’t make them too ugly.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I still like the looks of my first generation Dodge Caravan. It’s styling makes no pretense of being anything other than what it is, a utilitarian box on wheels.

    My particular van has something that is no longer available on Chrysler minivans, or Ferraris, a manual transmission with three pedals.

  8. HtG Says:

    I’m OK with Ferrari dropping the manual box. Their cars are so ‘precious’ these days, I want to know when their owners park them in a lot or on the street. Just take it to the track and let the engineering make you look good. At least this way Ferrari saves warranty costs that come with the rich poorly using the machinery. These cars are a whole other thing which allows mortals to prance around with 500hp.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit: isn’t it true that the first gen. Chrysler minivans were the most reliable, durable of the bunch and then they got cheap with gen 2 and the quality ratings went down and started losing market share to the Japanese? By the way, Enzo must be turning in his grave!!

  10. Salvador G. Says:

    HYUNDAI’S 5.0 V-8
    - I got to say, I’m becoming quite a fan of Hyundai. They seem to be all about kicking ass and taking names.

    JohnMc, as long as they don’t actually use the Macho Man song from the Village people, I say -we will be ok.

  11. Mark Says:

    I expected to hear something on Hiromu Naruse, Toyota’s chief test driver who was killed yesterday in Germany.

  12. G.A.Branigan Says:

    “Thai Schtick” John?? You stoner you…

  13. John V. Says:

    John, I agree, utility is what mini vans are all about.
    Those commercials are silly. Toyota and Honda should focus on their strengths – reliability and fuel economy.
    As long as Chrysler keeps the Stow ‘n Go middle/rear seats while making quality improvements, I’ll keep some variant of their vans in my garage. There must be an easy way to get the seats out of the way when hauling the big stuff. The bins in the floor when the seats are up are good for concealing my wife’s suitcase – er, handbag when we leave the car.
    Prior to owning Chrysler/Dodge vans I had a GM “Dustbuster” style minivan because I could easily remove any or all of the 5 back seats which weighed about 35 lb.
    Don’t mess with utility.

  14. Todd J. Says:

    Wow… no manual transmissions in Ferrari??? What is this world coming to? I understand the technological sophistication of the Ferrari, but part of what makes a Ferrari… a Ferrari… is being “one” with the vehicle. The more detachment from the road a car gets, the less pleasurable it is to drive. I honestly feel more “one” with the road in my 73 VW Bus than I did in my 2006 Pontiac Solstice.

    Sigh… I’ll just have to save up for a 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB…

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:


    The first generation Chrysler minivans would have been the most reliable compared to the competition at the time. When the Toyota and Honda vans came along, the Chrysler ones were less good in comparison. Chrysler had notoriously bad problems with their early 4-speed automatics which were used in some of the later gen one vans.

    My van has been in “two passenger” mode for virtually the entire 21 years I’ve had it. I use it mainly to transport model airplanes to the flying field.

    I really like the “stow and go” seating in the new ones. It is a great setup for people who want to carry both people and stuff.

    I definitely would not go for a “macho” minivan. Heck, the pickup trucks I like best are the ones that are least macho looking, like the generation of F-150 that was kind of rounded off, and had the box that blended into the cab.

  16. dcars Says:

    What no manual transmission????? thats the last straw, I will never buy another Ferrari.

  17. dcars Says:

    I also like the older generation Ford and Chevy trucks, the high hips of the new ones are just to big.

  18. Salvador G. Says:

    pedro fernandez Says:
    June 24th, 2010 at 1:40 pm
    … By the way, Enzo must be turning in his grave!!
    Why??, Ferrari is the most famous name in racing – the most winning Formula 1 racing team, the name Ferrari alone its worth BILLIONS – and for a company that Ford Motors try to buy for less than 20 Million dollars over 50yrs ago… Why exactly would Enzo Ferrari roll over, because of paddle shifters; sure HA! Don’t bash them unless you try them.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In a few weeks, I’ll be seeing a friend who has two Ferraris, a Testarossa and a “beater” 308. It will be interesting to see what he thinks about the 3-pedal Ferraris going away. I don’t think he had planned on buying any more Ferraris, but I suspect he will still have an opinion.

  20. stas peterson Says:

    The day of the ‘stick’ is done.

    I’m sure that there was similar crying when the other ‘stick’ was done away with. When did the last manual throttle control ‘stick’ disappear.

    Dual Clutch automatics are faster and safer than any manual. Only the most unusual shift like 6-4 or 6-2 are ‘slow’. As ‘slow’ as a fast conventional manual.

    Ferrari will keep paddles to control their dual-clutch manual automatics.


  21. Gary Paul Says:

    John…are we certain that this possible dropping of manual trans options with Ferrari isn’t due to the fact that they may be able to generate valuable fuel efficiency gains by using sophisticated computer algorithms combined with a modern 6,7, or 8 speed a/t (let alone the possibility of improved CVTs) instead of the relatively less efficient, sloppy, shift-for-yourself, generated mileage figures? As we know, with government mandates on reducing emissions and increasing mpg gains threatening, there is intense pressure to improve these figures…

    In addition, we have a lot of folks in this country within the baby boom generation some of whom have the cash and interest yet may not want to shift for themselves–even in a Ferrari–Don’t laugh!–Recall the alarms raised when Porsche planners decided to offer sedans and sport-utility type vehicles?–Yet people seemed to accept them (even though Porsche has indicated they wish to cancel the Panamera and possibly other vehicles that are not pure sports cars! I thought that meant they had to have a stick!).

    This reminds me of when GM first offered solid and beefy (truly heavy duty) 3-speed automatics back in the 1967 model year and how impressed reviewers were with the way they shifted, often indicating opinions like this: “who needs a manual with a big torque engine and an automatic transmission that bangs out shifts like this!?”

    In addition, there is evidence that today’s most advanced automatics can shift more adroitly then the most talented drivers, thus allowing Ferrari to also claim that they are making this move to increase performance! I think any loss of all manual shifting options in these vehicles is atrocious, as it is so integral to the feel of the car yet we may witness this …What do you think?

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There is little doubt that Ferrari’s dual clutch automatics provide better performance than a manual. Also, they would provide better gas mileage than a manual driven the way most people drive a manual, not that people who buy $300K toys care much about gas mileage.

    Still, I would think a sizable number of Ferrari buyers would want a manual. How can you blip the throttle and hear the wonderful sound of that V-12 between gears without a manual?

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    You forget these exotics are mostly used for FUN and weekend driving, NOT the daily schlep we all have to endure with bumper to bumper traffic and using a stick is just part of the thrill of driving one of these babies. Make the manual optional, at least.

  24. HtG Says:

    The appearance of paddle shifters has made racing boring. It takes skill to shift quickly whether up or down. When one driver follows another and tries to put pressure, both have to brake and heel-and-toe-perfectly. Forcing your opponent into and error is part of what made racing exciting; also the knowledge among the fans that what was going on in the cockpit was a truly desperate dance.

    But no more. It’s easy to brake and shift into a turn these days. It’s also boring.

  25. Gary Paul Says:

    Regarding the upcoming 5.0 liter in the Hyundai, this is good news as it keeps the performance wars on the boil. However recall that Ford drive-train engineering is finally on the warpath after so many years of inadequate development and too much outsourcing of performance upgrades. And I have heard through the grapevine that the Ford V8 has some considerable potential for power increases still lurking in the shadows…( can you say “direct injection” boys? …perhaps perfect for an upcoming (2012?) “Boss 302” model to offer a normally aspirated 5.0 Liter that boils with 440-50 hp…) Who needs a GT500 with this kind of firepower?! With the Camaro adding 8 hp to its V6 for 2011 models (even though apparently only a more accurate recalibration of the engine), the addition of the Z28 (for the 2012 model year), & the 2011 Challenger V6 pumping out 290hp or more, it really does look like we got us a real live horsepower war a brew’in…

  26. Gary Paul Says:

    John, regarding the Hyundai Sonata 2.0 T delivering 34 mpg… I have always known that relatively large engines can deliver pretty impressive fuel efficiency as they can trade off on their higher hp and toque by reducing RPM at highway speeds. As low RPM equates closely to improved miles per gallon, wouldn’t this indicate that a vehicle with a considerably larger power-plant, such as the 2011 Mustang 3.7L V6 a/t (which achieves 31 mpg on the highway and 0-60 in sub 6 seconds) could trade off some performance, and come darn close to matching the Sonata 2.0 T in highway mileage and equal its acceleration (especially if Ford employed direct injection to the V6 (as this is usually considered more efficient))? Since the Sonata 2.0 T is about 100 or so pounds less than the Mustang, perhaps the highway mileage difference would not be more than 1-2 mpg…. I wonder what an engineer might think on this… (Of course a difference of 1 mpg can be serious in this age of new-found fuel efficiency requirements.)

  27. dcars Says:

    Ok, you guys have convinced me, I’ll try the Ferrari with the paddle shifter. Can some one give me $200k to buy it? and how much is the insurance?
    I’ve only saw two Ferrari dealerships in my life. I’m fourty nine. One in London and the other was in Philly. I’ve got a better chance at buying a used red Corvette for a fraction of the price, and it’s performance will be pretty dare good.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    dcars Says:
    June 24th, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    “Ok, you guys have convinced me, I’ll try the Ferrari with the paddle shifter.”

    You can buy a used Ferrari with a manual. The Corvette would be a lot cheaper, though, but a V-12 Ferrari sounds a lot cooler than a ‘Vette.

  29. dcars Says:

    Hi Kit, thanks for the info. Truthfully I’ll probally never own a vette. I went to a lot of F1 races in my yonger days and the Ferrari’s always sounded nice, at least I can dream about these wonderful cars.

  30. Mohammad Rafi Says:

    Wouldn’t it be something if Chrysler decided to offer a manual transmission on their next-gen “Macho” mini van? And you could teach the Ferrari owners how to heel-and-toe in that mini van since Ferrari is going soft by not offering a true sports car.

  31. Nick Stevens Says:

    The things that everybody missed about Minivans is that they do NOT have to be Aerodynamically Illiterate, handle like barges and have poor MPG. That is why the professionals who test (short and long run) minivans on all Enthusiast Mags (C&D, R&T, Motor Trend and the like, as well as the sensible folks at COnsumer Reports with their much different point of view, all, year after year, have crowned the Honda Odyssey, since the year the full size version went on sale, as the King of Minivans. Excellent styling, excellent comfort and interior quality, good handling considering the 4,600 lb big box, and good MPG, especially if you get the cylinder deactivation option. And if $40k is too much, get a certified used one. And if that is too expensive, get an older vintage like I always do, and take an educated risk and its rewards!

  32. Nick Stevens Says:

    The Jerks at Motorweek did a detailed testr of the CR-V but did not bother to measure the most important quantity of this sporty hybrid, their MIXED LOOP MPG..S-holes…

  33. Nick Stevens Says:

    You probably understood that I did not mean the very successful CR-V small crossover but the new hybrid that apes the old great CRX.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I don’t know all the reasons, but Ferrari road cars, even the 8 cylinder ones, sound really special. That is even more the case with the 12 cylinder cars.

    All of today’s F1 cars sound alike, with a high pitch scream from their V-8′s running up to 18K rpm. It will be interesting to hear the much different sound that F1′s will make when they switch to 4 cylinder turbos in a couple years.

  35. dcars Says:

    The sounds of F1, I liked to listen to those Cosworth Fords, Alfa Romeos, Ferrari and Renaults running around Watkins Glen. Pretty cool stuff.