Episode 530 – Porsche Cajun, Radar-Gun Bomb-Detector, Chrysler Wants Eight-Speed Automatics

November 30th, 2010 at 12:04pm

Runtime 8:13

Porsche’s made boatloads of money off of its Cayenne, and now the German automaker is coming out with a smaller SUV called the Cajun.  Naval researchers have figured out how to modify a radar gun to detect suicide bombers . . . and underwire bras!  Chrysler is joining the “ratio race” by announcing plans to introduce an eight-speed automatic transmission.  All that and more, plus a review of the brand-new Volvo S60.

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This is Autoline Daily for the last day of November, 2010. And now, the news.

A LITTLE MORE SPICE FOR PORSCHE
Even though Porschephiles were mortified when the company came out with an SUV, the Cayenne proved to be enormously successful. They made boatloads of money with it. So now Porsche is coming out with a baby Cayenne that will be called the Cajun, Bloomberg reports. And one of our sharp-eyed readers shot these pictures of the Cajun while it was undergoing testing in Colorado. Our thanks go to Boris Gunjevic. He says it resembles an Audi Q5, and you can see that it is smaller than the Hummer H3 it’s parked next to. Now that VW owns Porsche, it wants to nearly double sales to 150,000 vehicles a year, and the Cajun will play an important role in hitting those sales targets.

RESEARCHERS BUILD BOMB/BRA DETECTOR
Here’s an unexpected twist. Naval Researchers have found that by tweaking a radar gun, the same kind of radar gun the police use to nab speeders, they can detect suicide bombers. Autoblog reports that the radar gun can pick up the patterns of wire loops used to wire suicide vests. They say it detected volunteers in replica suicide belts 85 percent of the time at a distance of 33 feet, about 10 meters. However, it also gives off a high number of false alarms, like with jewelry and underwire bras. So they’re hoping to fine tune it to overcome those problems.

CHRYSLER JOINS THE “RATIO RACE” (subscription required)
Most automakers are embracing direct injection for engines as a way to help reduce fuel consumption, but not Chrysler. According to Ward’s, the company says it will invest in advanced transmissions to boost fuel economy because it’s not as expensive as direct injection. The company recently announced an $840 million-dollar investment at its transmission facility in Kokomo, Indiana to build an eight-speed transmission developed with German supplier ZF. Even though Chrysler likes lots of gears, it does plan to use direct injection as well.

PRIUS “WARRANTY ENHANCEMENT”
Toyota’s in the news again for defective parts which it says it will fix, but just don’t call it a recall. According to the AFP, the company is offering to replace an engine coolant pump on 650,000 Prius models worldwide which can lead to overheating if it’s not working properly. Toyota has not received any complaints about the problem but says it will “voluntarily” replace the part. The problem could arise in Prius models from 2004 through 2007.

DEFECTIVE AIR BAGS
And speaking of defective parts, Bloomberg reports that Land Rover is recalling nearly 3,000 LR2 vehicles in the U.S. because the driver’s air bag may not go off in a crash. The recall is for model years 2010 and 2011.

ROLLS-ROYCE HOT IN CHINA
Rolls-Royce is getting ambitious in China.  According to Bloomberg, the super-luxury nameplate plans to sell some 800 cars there next year.  That’s an EIGHT-FOLD increase compared to 2009!  Through the first 10 months of this year, the brand moved about 500 cars in China, so its target of 800 doesn’t seem unreasonable.  What is amazing though is the price they’re asking for a Phantom, 6.6 million Yuan, nearly $1 million!  Of course the smaller Ghost is much more affordable at a paltry 4.1 million Yuan, only $620,000.  China is getting more affluent by the minute.  The country has about 875,000 millionaires, 6 percent more than last year, a statistic that can’t hurt Rolls-Royce.

RENAULT’S MOVIN’ ON UP! (subscription required)
Speaking of up market, Renault also has its eye on the prize in China.  Ward’s reports the French automaker is trying to pull a George Jefferson by “movin’ on up,” to the Far East.  It plans to open its own dealer network in the country next year and it wants to position itself as a high-end import brand.

VOLVO’S MOVIN’ ON  . . . DOWN?
The flipside to this premium push is a report from Autocar.  It says Volvo’s new CEO, Stefan Jacoby, wants the Scandinavian car-builder to shed its premium image.  He wants it to emphasize its unique Swedishness to stand apart from the herd, and not come off as pricey. It’s funny, Ford spent years trying to make Volvo a top-tier marque and now they want to move in the opposite direction.

Speaking of Volvo, coming up next, we’ll take an up-close look at the Volvo S60.

2011 VOLVO S60
Volvo is very excited about its new S60. Not only is it a very good car, it puts the Swedish brand right smack in the middle of the volume segment of the premium market, even if the company says it wants to shed its premium image. Seamus McElroy filed this report.

It’s all new top to bottom, front to back. Let’s start with what’s under the hood where you’ll find a turbocharged 3.0 liter six-cylinder gas engine that’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. It cranks out 300 horsepower to go along with 325 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is also standard.

You immediately feel comfortable behind the wheel of the S60 thanks to the cockpit being oriented toward the driver, bolstered sport seats, and a padded leather-wrapped steering wheel. And rear passengers also benefit from more legroom.

Of course this wouldn’t be a Volvo without new safety technology. Making its debut on the S60 is Pedestrian Detection which uses RADAR and cameras to warn the driver about pedestrians and can even bring the car to a stop to avoid a collision, if necessary. We’ll take a closer look at this technology in a future Autoline Daily.

This is an important car for Volvo. Since it was introduced in 2000, the S60 has gone on to sell over 600,000 models around the globe, making it Volvo’s most-popular car. And the company has set a target of selling 90,000 units a year worldwide for the new S60.

The 2011 S60 is now on the market with a starting price of $38,550.

Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours this Thursday. Sandy Munro will join us to talk about a breakthrough in making aluminum that could usher in a new era of lighter cars. Join me and the Autoextremist, Peter DeLorenzo, Thursday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time for Autoline After Hours.

And that’s today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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30 Comments to “Episode 530 – Porsche Cajun, Radar-Gun Bomb-Detector, Chrysler Wants Eight-Speed Automatics”

  1. Jon M Says:

    Apparently, Toyota is still a favorite target of the press. The company is offering to extend the warranty on a part known to go bad. Well, that is more than GM has ever done. GM has even recalled cars during the hype over Toyotas alleged defects with little fanfare. Go figure. That Toyota is willing to do that is far better than GM’s response to me regarding an admitted manufacturing defect: “It’s your car, sir, it’s your problem.”

  2. jim Says:

    What’s the difference between an 8, or 9, or 10 speed transmission and a CVT?

    Also, despite John’s admonitions about buying the book Overhaul, I got it in Kindle format and can hardly put it down.

  3. Dale Leonard,Lakewood Ohio Says:

    Hi John, OMG…8 Speed automatics…What’s next? A 13 Road Ranger and a CDL to drive a car?

  4. Tony Gray Says:

    Seamus continues to improve.

    If he keeps this up he will be hired to save TopGear USA!

  5. Mike Dale Says:

    John,

    There has been a long discussion of how best to position yourself in the market. The high end vehicles always envy the efficiencies that come with High volume. The high volume marques are always looking at the 5% margins they get for their commodity vehicles and wish they could go Premium. Think Jacques Nassar. The bottom line is that there is no perfect place to be. Maybe the new Volvo owners are hoping that a high volume vehicle can cash out the investment others made in that high end image.

    Mike

  6. RonE Says:

    John, Didn’t a past guest on your show say that anything more than 6 speeds on an automatic transmission is just for bragging?

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    I think Volvo is doing the only thing they can do to try to attract more customers since they really cannot compete with the likes of the Germans and Lexus, perhaps as an entry level semi-luxury alternative to more run-of-the-mill Asian brands.

  8. W L Simpson Says:

    A truly quiet cabin would outsell all the gadgetry in the world.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Are people really asking for all the gadgetry or are the manufacturers just assuming people like them? I feel a real driver DOES not want all the electronic gizmos and just a comfortable and driver friendly cockpit.

  10. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Tony Gray: Nothing can save Top Gear USA.What a disaster that turned out to be.It’s a game show.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    WOW!! thanks GA I also saw Top Gear (the no-accent version) and found it a cheap imitation of the original and yet most reviews were positive which got me thinking I’m just becoming a hard to please cranky old fart but I know feel redeemed. They could do so much with this show, like take advantage of America’s diversity and open roads but no, instead the stupid war games and super expensive cars only the Chinese can afford to buy nowadays.

  12. XA351GT Says:

    Geez guys all this slamming against Top Gear, It’s only aired 2 episodes,does anyone know if the original was a smash out of the gate.
    Pedro,
    I don’t think the majority of drivers are asking for the gizmos ,but it all adds up to bigger profits to the manufacturers .Certain aids are great ,but some of the stuff is a bit much. Just means more stuff to go wrong in 5 years.
    Toyota’s ploy here is just another way to call it a recall with other words. They know full well if they present another recall it’ll kill them especially if it involves the Prius.

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    Toyota has never liked the word “recall” even back 20+years ago they called it a campaign and no notifications were ever sent. I had my 86 Camry brought back twice for stuff I was never notified off, one was a total replacement of the whole front suspension/brake system which they were billed over $1500 in 1988, for vibrating brakes.

  14. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The Cajun better watch out for the new X-3; will be interesting how they stack up against each other.

    And agreed, “Top Gear USA” is a real disappointment (to me). Even “Top Gear UK” would only be so-so if it weren’t for the personalities on it; something to be learned here.

    Volvo may say they want an everyman’s car but the S60 isn’t one and shouldn’t be; plenty of room for a lesser Volvo (under some other number). Don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater now do we. If you have a stronge semi-high end vehicle, go for it.

    ‘But wait there’s more’; not a mention of General Motors (in the whole show) and some feel the need to inject negative comment (for what apparent reason, I have no idea); perhaps just a little prejudice bias, but I’d call it a cheap shot.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Replace those Top Gear guys with De, Mc and Vines and then I’ll watch!

  16. XA351GT Says:

    Chuck ,
    he’s probably just pissed that the great Toyota brain wash has finally begun to wear off. For years American car mags praised Toyota and slammed US makers, sometimes justified on both accounts. The Big 3′s recalls were always front page news while Toyota hid mistakes under other names and silent recalls. So when lid blew off it opened some peoples eyes. Naturally some may not want to hear it.

  17. Chuck Genci Says:

    XA351GT

    e…x…a…c…t…l…y.

    Chuck

  18. HtG Says:

    Maybe the Prius fix isn’t properly called a recall because recalls are govt. required fixes when there is a safety issue. From what I have read elsewhere, the Prius’ hybrid system water pump can malfunction, causing the car to rely solely on its ICE. I.e., Not a safety issue.

    Still, just how far will Porsche extend its brand? Just how big will the next 911 be? Ah, the good old days.

  19. T. Bejma Says:

    The Toyota “fix”/”recall”/”Extended Warranty” – whatever you want to call it – is just exposing the true lack of Quality concern that they have developed after years of the media and Consumer Reports kissing their A#$&!

  20. HtG Says:

    T., you drive that Volt yet?

  21. Tony Gray Says:

    Pedro..you hit the nail on the head. Top Gear isn’t so much about the cars…it is the interaction between the hosts. It’s a comedy show with cars thrown in as props.

    Hopefully TGUSA will get its groove on, and quick, or it will be relegated to the dustbin of history…history channel that is.

  22. T. Bejma Says:

    Didn’t get a chance to drive the Volt today. They had a couple here at the Tech Center but the line was soooo looonnggg and I couldn’t wait. Hoping to get another chance soon. Will let you guys know.

  23. David Trumpy Says:

    Nissan reported, via an SAE paper in 1992, about testing their 8-speed transmission. Nissan didn’t get it into production. It’s been a long time coming.

  24. Jon Says:

    2nd thumbs up for Seamus! This is the first time I’ve seen him, and I must say, there is an audience younger than you or I that will like your son!…and thanks again for getting a larger viewer(youtube), makes it a lot more enjoyable-and it streams a heck of a lot better, too.

    Must be a proud Papa, about now!

  25. Jonathan Brown Says:

    Thank you Seamus McElroy for a great report on the volvo S60. I’m not a huge fan of the vehicle yet I appreciate your efforts to highlight the vehicle.

    JB

  26. dcars Says:

    I couldn’t keep watching the whole episode of top gear USA. Tanner Faust was better in other programs, maybe it needs a few more shows. I though Adam Carolla would have done a good job in that format.
    Thanks, Seamus for your review of the Volvo.

  27. Bob Says:

    Soon an automaker will not resist the bragging rights of being the first to offer a two-digit no of gears, ie a Ten Speed auto.

    We already have 8-speeds at high-end luxury sedans like the LS460 and the 7 series (and 7s in the S class?)

    Bejma: It is laughable that you would criticize TOYOTA of all brands for unreliability, given your Employer GM’s truly pitiful record on this subject (which I know first hand, the one and only car I ever bought new was a GM car and it was pitiful, it lasted half the miles my current import (not japanese, BTW) USED car had when I bought it.

    You have an obvious conflict of interest, in fact you may even be paid to cheerlead stuff and badmouth Toyota here.

    (PS I have never owned a Toyota but I recommend them to my friends that want reliable transport. I’d sure buy a Prius, though, than the inferior, super-subsidized Volt)

  28. T. Bejma Says:

    Two questions “Bob”…

    How can you base an entire company and the current (critically acclaimed) offerings on one bad vehicle from, I assume, the dark years at GM?

    How can you possibly expect anyone to take a personal recommendation from someone that has never owned the product?

    I recommend Ferrari as very fast car. Never owned or drove one but everyone says they are fast… Sheeeshhh…

    I also don’t recommend BMW. The one that I owned (a 1985 325e) had poor accelleration, rusted out and cost an arm and a leg to repair, therefore all BMW’s must be the same…

    And finally, because the government subsidizes the Volt (oh yeah, and the Prius Plug In and the Leaf) then it must be inferior…

    Blah, blah, blah, blah….

  29. Bob Says:

    Test

  30. Bob Says:

    Bejma:

    What about the words “you have zero credibility” and “you have an obvious conflict of interest” don’t you understand?

    The “dark” years at GM were NOT just 30 years or 20 years ago, they were all the way up to its BANKRUPTCY and its so-called rebirth while its old shareholders were screwed royally. I assume you also lost some 401K etc $, perhaps big time.

    Second, what do Ferarris and BMWs have to do with my comments?????

    Among the millions who consider GM vehicles, how many will cross shop BMW or Ferrari??

    Practically nobody.

    So why don’t you get serious and face your REAL competitors, FORD and HYUNDAI and Honda and even Toyota and Nissan?

    Also, I did not bring up any plug-in Hybrid, or the Prius Plug-in for that matter, I could care less about them, and very, very few people care about them either, when they actually BUY a vehicle.

    The best things the “new improved” GM has going for it are the CRUZE and the EQUINOX, BOTH not even Hybrid.

    The Cruze sold twice as many copies than the much hyped FIESTA, and the EQUINOX outsold ewven the ESCAPE in Nov, selling more than 15,000 copies! (add the E. twin terrain’s sales and you got more than 20,000!!)