Episode 461 – More Changes At GM, 2011 Jeep Wrangler, Ambient Light Makes Drivers Feel Safe

August 20th, 2010 at 12:08pm

Runtime 7:28

Chevrolet’s marketing chief, Jim Campbell, has been reassigned and was replaced by Chris Perry, the former VP of Marketing at Hyundai. Chrysler released new details about the 2011 Jeep Wrangler which went into production earlier this week. A new study says ambient light makes drivers feel safer behind the wheel. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit with Lewis Booth, the Executive Vice President and CFO at the Ford Motor Company.

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This is Autoline Daily for Friday, the 20th of August, 2010. I’m Scott Burgess, Auto Critic at The Detroit News. John needs a little break from all the Dream-Cruise fun he had on Wednesday night when Autoline After Hours went LIVE from Woodward Avenue, so he asked me to fill-in for him today. With that, here’s what’s going on in the automotive world.

First up, GM is continuing its management shakeup. As my colleague Rob Snell at The Detroit News reports, Chevy’s – sorry, Chevrolet’s marketing chief, Jim Campbell, has been reassigned. He’s now the vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. His replacement is Chris Perry, the former VP of Marketing at Hyundai. Like a game of musical chairs this is Campbell’s third move in less than a year. In December he was named General Manager of Chevrolet. Then, in March, he was moved into the marketing position. Even though the bow-tie brand is GM’s largest division AND its sales are up nearly 28 percent for the year, its growth is lagging behind the numbers posted by Buick, Cadillac and GMC. This is likely the reason for this latest shakeup at the company. GM says that Campbell’s involvement in this is not because of that stupid memo that leaked out a few months ago suggesting Chevrolet dispose of the word Chevy.

Yesterday Chrysler shared new details about the 2011 Jeep Wrangler. It also released some photos of the off-roader to help whet our appetite. The Wrangler gets an all-new interior with a redesigned instrument panel and center-stack that makes its controls easier to use. It also features new storage areas, upgraded materials and a new premium, body-color, hard top. Production of the 2011 Wrangler began earlier this week.

And speaking of new product, Land Rover just released details about the 2011 Freelander 2 available over in Europe. The front end has been restyled with a new bumper and grille, plus new color options are available. A 2.2-liter turbo diesel is available which can be mated to a six-speed manual or automatic transmission. It will include Stop/Start technology as well. Four-wheel drive models will be available when it goes on sale next month and beginning next year two-wheel drive models will be optional. Pricing for the Freelander 2 starts just over $33,000.

FORD REUSING SCRAP METAL (subscription required)
Ford is finding a clever way to reuse scrap metal. According to Ward’s, when the company manufactures doors for its F-150 pickup there is a large chunk of steel left over from the stamping process. Rather than sending these pieces out to be melted down and recycled, they ship them to a nearby supplier that fabricates them into noise-dampening fender baffles for the 2011 Explorer. Ford estimates that reusing this metal saves some 119 TONS of carbon-dioxide emissions per year. The company is looking for other opportunities like this to reuse material in other vehicle lines.

A new study done by BMW engineers and the Lighting Engineering Group found that ambient lighting makes drivers feel safer behind the wheel. According to Wired magazine, researchers found that ambient light made the interior feel more spacious, the design more attractive, and the controls easier to use. Researchers tested a dozen lighting scenarios and positions. Interestingly, increasing the brightness did not help but led to more complaints of glare. Even though people felt safer behind the wheel it didn’t do anything to improve the driver’s performance on the road.

And don’t forget to check out Autoline Detroit this weekend. Ford’s Executive Vice President and CFO, Lewis Booth, pays his first visit to the show to talk about Ford’s comeback, paying down that huge debt and, in the following sound bite, how the Blue Oval and Mazda are getting along since Ford had to sell-off majority control.

Don’t forgot, that’s Lewis Booth on Autoline Detroit this weekend. Check it out on our website, AutolineDetroit.tv. Coming up after the break . . . it’s Hot August Nights After-Hours Style. We’ll be back right after this.

Hey, if you didn’t catch it, the Autoline crew and friends put on a great show two nights ago when they went LIVE from historic Woodward Avenue to celebrate the annual Dream Cruise – the largest one-day automotive event in the world. John and the gang were kind enough to invite me down to Royal Oak, Michigan, to participate. Here’s a snippet of my chat with Peter De Lorenzo, talking about one classic car I recently drove and how it compares to modern vehicles.

You can read my complete review of that ’66 Mustang on DetNews.com, just follow the link in today’s show notes. You can also check out the Detroit News coverage of the Woodward Dream Cruise here. And you can also watch all of our Dream Cruise coverage on AutolineDetroit.tv.

With that, we can wrap things up. Again, I’m Scott Burgess, Auto Critic at The Detroit news. Thank you for watching, have a wonderful weekend and we’ll see you on Monday.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

29 Comments to “Episode 461 – More Changes At GM, 2011 Jeep Wrangler, Ambient Light Makes Drivers Feel Safe”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    The dash on the 2011 Jeep Wrangler looks like an 80′s refuge boom box………major fail.Hey Jeep,where’s the diesel?

  2. Enn Norak Says:

    Disagree with Branigan about dash as instruments appear to be a vast improvement. Fully agree with Branigan’s diesel comment. Alternatively, I would be happy is this vehicle gets the new Pentastar engine for 2011. True non-removable hardtop is welcome news. I hope that height is under 71″ as I live in an older condo building with a lower garage door height.

  3. dcars Says:

    The diesel is attached to a chain, in the creek directly behind the vehicle. ;}
    Sorry I couldn’t resist.

  4. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ dcars:That’s probably as close to a diesel wrangler as I’ll see in my lifetime.Or any other jeep model.Too bad for us American customers who have been wanting one forever.It’s weird how diesels here are almost a taboo,or so it seems.

  5. tj Martin Says:

    dcars; Too funny ! And as G.A. Branigan said all too true .

    Lets see . Jeep – Diesel ? Nope ! Reliable ? Nope ! Practical ? Barely ! Safe ? Nope ! Reasonable MPG for its size and weight ? Nope ! Reasonably priced in light of what it offers ? Nope !

    So would I like one ? Yup ! Would I Buy one ? That would be a big , definitive and explicative ……. NOPE !

    Oh but wait a minute ! That Marchionne fellow has something in the hopper for us . The …… ah………. Alfa Romeo Stelvio which will be based on one of the Jeep platforms .

    Will thats get my money ? Again . NOPE ! Sorry Macaroni . Ima no interested !

  6. tj Martin Says:

    And what the Devil is going on at GM/Chevy ?

    In the restaurant business there’s an adage that says when you see the menu and direction of any restaurant changing faster than you can change your shoes ; That restaurant is a hairs breath away from bankruptcy .

    So I wonder if that same line of thinking can be applied to CEO/CFO’s and major corporations . Because if it does it seems to me GM is heading straight down the tubes .

    By the way for anyone interested NYTimes.com has an interview on the Business page with Whiteacre today explaining why he decided to leave when he did . Either he’s the all time master of the Spin or there’s more to GM than meets the eye .

  7. dcars Says:

    I feel the same way about Jeeps, I’d love to have one, but would never buy a Jeep.

  8. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I love jeeps,I’m on my third one…..and my last one until they offer us a diesel.capable…yes,safe…yeah but off road it’s up to the driver,reliable…kinda (see off road),would I buy another?I will not trade a gasser for another gasser…..no more-done.That goes for any other manufacturer that doesn’t pony up a diesel whatever.Cafe….go piss up a rope for once.It’s easy to dictate or mandate mpg goals,to get there is another story without diesels.

  9. Jim Says:

    I think real Jeep owners would be much happier if they had replaced the boat anchor 3.8 instead.

  10. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Jim: Yup,us 3.8L owners are pretty much disgusted with the whole jeep-cheap crap for power.Tired of all the excuses why we can’t get diesels etc.Instead they upgrade the dash of the 11 wranglers and make it look like 80′s/fugly.In truth I don’t really much care anymore.Once mahindra launches their anemic diesel pickups and they sell,(which they will)the major players will come out with quality compact/mid size 4×4 diesel fun.I’ll wait…

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Jeep guys,

    Other than being gutless and thirsty, how is the 3.8? Is it also unreliable, or does it hold up ok?

  12. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Exhaust manifolds crack around 30k miles,several reports on 2010 fuel injection leaks,auto trans overheats and flows out the vent tube onto hot exhaust.6 spd manuals are junk,throwout bearings being replaced,4 wheel drive cable clips break extremely easy,and depending on model of wrangler,there are more problems.Overpriced junk,and don’t let anyone tell you it’s a jeep thing,that’s a crock.

  13. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Re: AAH#68

    John, Your show was a class act.

    I believe that Subaru WRX Turbo that said hi to Peter By Reving up will be an integral part future Woodward Dream cruises, along with those Modern day Muscle cars.

    Hey, those Japanese cars are part of American life now. Like it or not, they will eventually be celebrated by Gen Xers in the future.

  14. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    They will celebrate the Glory days of Japanese cars, while New and recently used: American, Korean, German. Chinese, and Indian cars zoom by them.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    This Jeep reliability problem does not seem to affect the old Cherokees, or the bigger Jeep SUV’s I know people that own them and are very happy with their vehicles.

  16. HtG Says:

    Did anyone take a look at the McLaren? The chassis does all the work of structural rigidity, while the body is only there to control aero. This means that if the Woking boffins so chose, they could not only make a convertible, but omit a windscreen since its frame isn’t necessary to increase rigidity. Recall that McLaren/Mercedes just made a car for Sterling Moss that also had no windscreen.


  17. toM Says:

    All this executive shuffle will only hurt their IPO!

  18. XA351GT Says:

    I don’t think the current Japanese cars with maybe the exception of the GT-R will be around or even remembered in 25 years. They are disposable appliances and will be treated as such at the end of their usefulness. That is the problem with most cars made today even going back to the 80s. Think about what you see from that era that is well cared for and not just being used as a beater. Corvettes ,Camaros, Trans-ams , Regal GNs & GNXs ,and Mustangs . Not much else except a particular car that the owner loves and no one else cares about.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I have two 80′s cars, an ’86 VW Cabriolet and an ’89 Dodge Caravan, both in near-mint condition. The minivan is already a “collectible” car because of its very rare 2.5 turbo/manual transmission power train. OK, the van might be collectible to someone.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    I find it amusing that people use the term “appliance” in order to put down or make light of a product that was basically designed to move people about, the best selling cars in history have been these so-called appliances.

  21. Nick Stevens Says:

    A reliable car does not have to be an appliance.

    Hondas of the 80s and 90s were both reliable and fun to drive and had decent driving dynamics and double wishbone suspensions and all that. Civic hatches were excellent, practical, intelligently designed vehicles, and a STEAL. Accord coupes were great personal cars with high quality (even if not luxurious) interiors and pleasant styling that did not require you drive them with a brown bag over your face like if you had an AZTEC.

  22. Nick Stevens Says:

    I’ve seen the new Cruze and its specs, it will probably sell for an average of over $20,000 (minus any discounts or incentives??) BUT it is a gross injustice to call it the “Cobalt” or “Cavalier” successor. It is a far superior and larger vehicle than these POS. It has more space and 300 lbs more weight than my 2822 lb, 1990 ACCORD 5-sp coupe, and more power and torque too. You can have it with a 6-sp manual, which almost NO Cars had in the 90s (except Porsches, BMWs and the Acura Legend (!)) And it looks FABULOUS and has a huge trunk. I say HOME RUN, esp. if they heap some incentives on this thing it will sell many 100,000s every year.

  23. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Smart???” DUmb and Dumber, with all time low records, worse than even the God-awful Sebring!!! And note that all this is in thwe densest URBAN areas the “Dumb” was designed for!

    “… we were totally blown away with news from CNW Marketing Research that just 8.1 percent of Smart Fortwo owners in New York would buy the car again.

    You might expect that New Yorkers, at least those living in the city, would get the best possible impression of their little urban machines since that’s the environment the Fortwo was designed for.

    It strikes us as odd, then, that 19.8 percent of owners in San Francisco say they’d buy the car again.

    While better than that of New York, that’s still an absolutely abysmal statistic.

    To put it into perspective, the lowest scoring nameplate from owners who were asked a similar question by Consumer Reports is the much-unloved Chrysler Sebring sedan, with 37 percent answering in the affirmative.”

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    Compared to something like 95% for the Prius, which by the way, it’s one of the least stolen cars as reported by a recent study. Nick are you surprised that the Cruze seems to be so well reviewed, despite the fact that it is basically a Daewoo engineered vehicle? I’m thinking Aveo!!!

  25. HtG Says:

    If I could add my deuce to the Cruze discussion, the one I saw had some of the shiniest clear coating I’ve seen. It really makes the whole car and its lines stand out.

  26. Nick Stevens Says:

    The cruze looks good on paper and great in the flesh. No comparison with the Aveo or other Daewoos or Kias. Apparently when GM had its back against the wall, it got its act together. But it is not cheap, and it is not a Cobalt-Civic -Corolla sized vehicle, but much larger and heavier. It is amazing it can get 40 MPG, and the 6 speed manual is probably responsible for much of that.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Whatever else is wrong with the smart, the thing that makes the car just, plain unpleasant to drive is the transmission.

    It’s probably not worth the bother, but if Daimler wants to give the car a new lease on life, they need to put a decent transmission it it. Better yet, they should have two available, a manual, and a good automatic, maybe a CVT.

    We all know that the car doesn’t have much room, gets worse gas mileage than a Prius that has three times as much space, etc., but if you haven’t driven one, you don’t realize how bad the transmission is, or how the car would actually be kind of fun to drive, with a decent gear box.

  28. XA351GT Says:

    I saw a Cruze at the Philly car show in feb and to be honest it was generating zero interest from the crowd. Probably not even realizing it was the savior of Chevy sitting there. There is nothing overly spectacular about it . Just another bland sedan.

  29. Nick Stevens Says:

    Apparently the Philly Car show needs to hire a better decorator and a far better photographer. I saw a Cruze at night in an empty lot and it was SPECTACULAR in its white or pearl white paint, and NO, it looked far better than most sedans of its class, incl. the civic AND the corolla and even the Jetta, and all the lesser ones.