Episode 560 – Chrysler Announces Hybrid Plans, Mazda MINAGI, Dana Settles Case with Toyota

January 19th, 2011 at 12:50pm

Runtime 11:30

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne says the company is going to offer hybrid versions of the 300 and a minivan by 2013. Mazda will show off a compact crossover concept called the MINAGI at this year’s Geneva Motor Show that highlights how the company plans to evolve its vehicles in the future. Auto supplier Dana will pay Toyota $25 million for Tacoma frames it supplied to the company that rusted out. All that and more, plus guest host Jim Hall shares his favorite reveals from last week’s Detroit Auto Show.


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Ah ha, It is I, Jim Hall testing out the latest in Svardian cloaking technology. How’s she work? I bet you couldn’t even tell I was there! Anyway, where were we? Oh, right, this is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, January 19, 2011. As I just said, I’m Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics bringing you the latest and greatest news from the global automotive industry. Let’s get started, shall we?

Chrysler is taking a mulligan when it comes to hybrids. After the electrified versions of its Durango and Aspen SUVs were dropped in 2008 it hasn’t been active in the green segment, but that will soon change. The Detroit News reports the company is going to offer two hybrid models in the near future plus it will introduce other fuel-saving technologies. It plans to sell an electrified version of the 300 – due out next year – and a hybridized minivan in 2013. CEO Sergio Marchionne said the technology was developed in house, but didn’t go into detail about it. A nine-speed, yes NINE-SPEED automatic transmission is also expected to debut in 2013 on the replacement for the Dodge Caliber. Chrysler’s finally getting back on its feet after years of mismanagement courtesy of two incompetent owners. Let’s hope fuel prices don’t spike before they can get these efficient new models on the market.

Here’s a shocker! According to The Detroit News, drivers of vehicles that perform well in side-impact crash tests are less likely to die in accidents. Whoa! Did I just blow your mind? Apparently the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety studied crash data for vehicles equipped with side airbags. Taking into account driver age and gender as well as vehicle type and weight, they found that drivers in cars rated “good” for side impacts were 70 percent less likely to die than those in vehicles rated “poor.” 78 percent of today’s vehicles tested by the IIHS have “good” side-impact ratings, which is up from just 17 percent in 2003.

Mazda will show off a compact crossover concept called the MINAGI at this year’s Geneva Motor Show in March. It features Mazda’s SKYACTIV technologies and its new design theme known as KODO, which means “Soul of Motion.” The SKYACTIV technologies include efficient gas and diesel engines, automatic and manual transmissions and a lightweight body, all with the goal of improving fuel economy. The features on the MINAGI concept highlight how Mazda plans to evolve its vehicles in the future.

Auto supplier Dana will pay Toyota $25 million for Tacoma frames it supplied to the company that rusted out. According to Reuters, in 2008 Toyota had to extend the warranty on Tacomas built between 1995 and 2000 in the U.S. Then, in 2009, Toyota was forced to recall over 100,000 Tacomas in cold-weather states because road salt used to melt snow could corrode parts of the frame.

Earlier this month Consumer Reports ripped Ford’s MyFord Touch infotainment system saying it’s too complicated. Perhaps in response to that review, the Detroit Free Press reports Ford dealers plan to give lessons on how to use the system to customers who buy vehicles equipped with it. Some dealers are also hiring dedicated specialists to answer questions about the system and other Ford technologies. The company says it plans to offer MyFord Touch in 80 percent of its vehicles by 2015.

Now for some under-the-hood news; and you can take this with a grain of salt. Autocar reports Porsche has confirmed it’s working on a new four-cylinder gasoline engine. The alleged boxer powerplant will probably be used in the company’s new baby roadster and the Cayman. It may even find its way into the 911. But the big question is, will it be a VW-group inline or a Porsche-produced flat four? DUN, DUN, DUN! We all know what it should be.

Coming up after the break we’ll take a look at some of my favorite reveals from last week’s Detroit Auto Show. Back right after this.

After spending five days at the North American International Auto Show last week, which is chock-a-block with neat-o stuff, I realized I had six favorites that are new . . . or at least relatively new for the U.S. market. I am going to go through them in alphabetical order as to NOT show any favoritism. Sorry Zastavia.

Audi A7
• Swoop-du-jour styling that’ll wear far better than the new Mercedes CLS
• Weird mix of new A6 and A8 components
• 300HP supercharged V6
• I want an S7 . . . no, take that back.  I want an RS7

BMW 1-Series M
• 335 horsepower inline six
• Cool-looking bodywork
• Alcantara is king inside
• All-aluminum suspension components poached from today’s M3

Chrysler 300
• Too conservative? Pfah! It looks like a NEW, more substantial 300
• Interior is good but still needs work
• 292HP base V-6 is one fine engine
• That said, give me the Hemi V-8. Should be good for 370 horsepower or thereabouts

Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca
• Great example of more (and less) . . . for more!
• More power – up 27 ponies to 440 horsepower
• More gauges and aerodynamic thingie-bobs
• Fewer seats. No back seat and in its place is a painted structural X-Brace. It really should be aluminum, though.
• Available in any color you want. As long as you want to drive a circus wagon.
• Come on, coral-orange and white? Coral-orange with black?

Hyundai Veloster
• Weird and wonderful multi-function sports coupe (does anybody still use that term?) with three real doors
• 138 horsepower direct-injection inline four
• Two six-speed transmissions – one with a single clutch and a pedal that you have to shift yourself, the other with two clutches and no pedal that shifts faster than you can
• Is this the successor to the Scion tC for an even younger generation?

Land Rover Evoque
• Becomes a real vehicle with four doors
• 240 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four should work for something this size
• Looks cooler than any other smaller premium SUV/Crossover and such. But that’s because it has a really low roof

There you go, now you know. And I should mention that none of these cars are my favorite pick I would want to own from the Detroit Auto Show. I won’t mention any names, but a 551 horsepower station wagon is exactly what I need . . . and WANT!

And that’s a wrap for today’s show. As usual, I’m Jim Hall, Managing Director of 2953 Analytics, your one-stop shop for all the . . . well, for all the analysis you could ever want.

Before I say farewell, I need to remind you to tune in to Autoline After Hours tomorrow night. We’ll be broadcasting LIVE from the Chrysler design dome in Auburn Hills, Michigan. McElroy and Peter D. will be joined by Joe Veltri, the company’s head of product development. You can watch it in real time on our website, AutolineDetroit.tv starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time. Of course, if you can’t make it for the LIVE broadcast you can always download the show as a podcast. Just subscribe to Autoline After Hours on iTunes or the Zune Marketplace . . . if you’re one of the dozen people that has a Zune.

Anyway, thanks to all of you out there watching and listening, I’ll catch you next time.

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

60 Comments to “Episode 560 – Chrysler Announces Hybrid Plans, Mazda MINAGI, Dana Settles Case with Toyota”

  1. Adam Says:

    WOW a autoline daily that lasted more than 3 minutes!

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Jim, I’ll agree with your pick for the ‘Wagon’ if you meant 551 lb/ft torque with 556 hp, that’s the CTS-V Wagon, if you speak of something else, well, nevermind. :)

  3. HtG Says:

    Jim, can I eliminate February 9, 1953?

    I really need to drop this.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The 300 would seem to be an ideal candidate for a diesel, if FIAT has one that could be federalized, or if they could buy engines from BMW or M/B.

  5. bob Says:

    “Jim, can I eliminate February 9, 1953″?

    That’s a better guess than mine, I thought both hall and the qwife wer eborn in 53, hence the 2953..

  6. bob Says:

    That’s a FAR better guess than mine,

    (I thought both Jim Hall and the wife were born in ’53, hence the “2″953)

  7. HtG Says:

    I think you had the other thread there, bob. Jim Hall has a twin brother. So two people with one birthday, just siblings.

  8. dcars Says:

    I’ve always liked the 300 in an odd way, its a car I would never buy I’ve always thought it was a nice looking car. The Italians have made it look even better.

  9. dcars Says:

    Landrover were always cool, but I like the old ones, they’re rough go any where heritage is interesting.

  10. Phoenix Mark Says:

    Fiat has very little to do with what Chrysler is coming out with now. It will take a few years for their influence to be seen.

  11. Phoenix Mark Says:

    As for Porsche, it better be a flat four, not a warmed over VW engine.

  12. Carroll E. Gant, JR. Says:

    Hmmmmm…. I don’t like the new/old grills on all the chryslers now, they are way too big and do nothing for styling.

  13. dcars Says:

    Hard to say what is store for Porsche under the thumb of VW. Will Porsche turn into the VW’s Pontiac? VW makes lots of four bangers.

  14. HtG Says:

    Porsche will make a boxer 4. Here’s the quote from Autocar.

    Outgoing head of R&D Wolfgang Durheimer said at the Detroit show: “We have a four-cylinder boxer engine under development.” He admitted that the unit “can be applied” to the Boxster and Cayman.

    boxer. Also, if it weren’t a boxer, how would you economically get it under the boxster/cayman?

  15. cwolf Says:

    I heard on public radio on the way home that Chry. has plans to use hybred technology in its vans that doesn’t utilize batteries. Instead, they will, in some fashion,utilize energy stored in a hydraulic fluid when under compression. Said to be 30% more efficient than std. version. I’m sure one of you fellas will explain how this concept works.
    I think the Mazda Minagi could be a next vehicle candidate if offered in a diesel. To me, it kinda looks like Fords replacement of the Escape. Wonder if they are of the same skin and if it,too,may be offered with diesel?

  16. C-tech Says:

    Mr. Hall, the CTS-V Coupe did not make the cut?

  17. Jim Hall Says:

    Yeah I glunked-up the CTS-V’s horsepower and torque numbers. I’m so used to turbo/supercharged engines making more of those torque thingies than horsepower, I blew it. My bad.

    Now, regarding 2953, it isn’t a date. Although that is a good (and rather popular) guess. It IS automotive related.

    And the CTS-V coupe didn’t make the cut because it’s been on the show circuit for so long and on sale since mid-Summer. Not all that new for NAIAS IMFFHO.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve heard of a system that stores compressed air which drives pneumatic cylinders which are connected to hydraulic cylinders which help power the car using hydraulic “motor/generators” of the type used for construction equipment and lawn tractors.

    I’ve read that hybrid systems using this technology are being tested on larger vehicles, especially those used in severe stop-and-go conditions like rural mail delivery and garbage trucks.

    From what I’ve read, these systems work, but tend to make vibrations and noises that need to be eliminated or isolated to be acceptable in a mainstream passenger vehicles.

  19. bob Says:

    Hybrid minivans are a no-brainer. For years I wondered why nobody came up with one. They can really use the hybrid feature, when a big heavy van full of people waits to load or unload kids to different events etc.

  20. bob Says:

    Apart from the Odyssey with cylinder deactication, which yielded 28 highway for this 4,600 lb van with a v6 (200+ lbs heavier than my 740, but with a 4.4 lt v8), when I get 22 hwy (at fairly high speeds admittedly)

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    Speaking of Odyssey, the original one continues to be one of the most desirable used vehicles ever, yet they tell us Americans don’t want wagons. This Odyssey was basically a wagon with extra long rear doors. Around these parts used ones are at a premium, selling for top $.

  22. bob Says:

    “Edmunds.com Chief Executive Jeremy Anwyl told Dow Jones Newswire that the seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) for the month was looking “very strong” at 12.8 million vehicles as of last week, and was higher than December. That is a surprise: January sales typically are lower than December sales.”

    Predictions are not always correct, but if this is, it is great news. I am curious to see which models win and which lose

  23. bob Says:

    The civic-based Odyssey? These are more than 12 years old now, I believe. They could not fetch more than a couple thousand bucks?

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    Actually it was Accord based and 4 cyl uber reliable and gets good mpg’s and sits 5 plus luggage, who could ask for anything more?

  25. bob Says:


    I am pretty sure thagt the first small Odyssey was CIVIC based, it is the CURRENT and all large ones that are Accord based.

  26. bob Says:

    Actually, Pedro is right, Wikipedia says that even the first gen Odyssey was based on the Accord! Despite the fact that it was a much, much smaller vehicle than the full size 2nd gen Odyssey, which was more than a foot longer and half a foot wider and probably 500 lbs heavier.

    But there were many families that the firs Odyssey was just not big enough, hence its sales were not nearly as good as the sales of the full size version from 1999 on.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    Bob, per Wikipedia: built off Accord platform in Japan, 4 cyl only and optional third row seats, only built from 95 to 98 amazing to see how many of them I still see around. Which goes to show just how good these Hondas were made back when, they were second to none IMO at build quality and durability.

  28. bob Says:

    Of course the Accord of 1994 on which the small odyssey was based was much smaller than the accords of 1998 and 2003 and 2007 on which later Odysseys and Pilots and all kinds of Acuras were based

  29. bob Says:

    Oh, it was the Japanese Accord platform? Non-US accords in 94 were even smaller than the already modest US accord.

    In CA and other sunbelt states, many 20 and 30 year old cars are still around (no rust) if they are reliable, incl a ton of accords, civics, corollas and camrys. Few people turned them in during the CFC program, instead they turned in their obese, narrow and rollover-prone, fyel gussling Explorers instead (and their GM and C counterparts)

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    Bob, around these parts, they’re going for as much as $5k for a good condition model with about 100k miles and down to $3500 for a high mileage sample

  31. bob Says:

    Of my two Hondas, the Civic has been in a sunbelt-like environment all its 19 years and still looks like new inside out, also has low miles, so it should last another 50 years, if it continues been driven so little (it stays in the summer home all year round), while the Accord always was in the snowbelt, has significant rust and also a hit and run.

    Mechanically, the Accord at 137.5k miles when it was donated at 18 years old, had some minor issues but was still drivable.

    I saw little difference between the reliability of the Accord and my current 740, despite what Consumers Reports and conventional wisdom says. The data on the 7 in CR are very, very small, so one cannot draw any statistically valid conclusions, I believe. But maybe i was luckier than average.

    Still, some systems in the Accord would rust all the time (mufflers and pipes, would have to go to Midas every couple years), while in the 740, NEVER.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    I am also amazed at how many early 90′s Accords I see being driven around here and how few you find at junkyards, the drawback to that is that it makes a desirable target for thieves who strip them, in my condo there are many new cars, but yet the only targets for thieves seem to be older Hondas.

  33. bob Says:


    “..Less open to debate: the new Optima’s monstrous front overhang. The headlights that extend a full foot-and-a-half into the fender can’t conceal it;.”

    Huge front overhangs are an eyesore, but they are unavoidable in most FWD cars. It is umbelievable how bad these cars look from the side, even when they are very cute overall (even the Golf and the Siesta!), but this Optima takes the cake! The thing in front of the front axle really looks like it could come off and fall on the ground! (although i doubt there is such a risk, as most of the interior of the bulge is empty space)

  34. bob Says:

    Less open to debate: the new Optima’s monstrous front overhang. The headlights that extend a full foot-and-a-half into the fender can’t conceal it; the eye can only be fooled so much. This monstrosity is puzzling. Without the need to fit a V6—only fours are offered—the nose could have been and should have been much more compact. Perhaps to mirror the headlights, the tail lights extend deeply into the rear fender. Even with this odd touch the visual mass of the rear fender makes the 17-inch alloys appear undersized. The 16s on the base trim must look puny.

    “With so many unusual details successfully vying for attention, the longer you look at the Optima the harder it becomes to perceive a cohesive whole. The primary goal was likely to make the Optima stand out, and this has been accomplished. It won’t be mistaken for a Sonata, or anything else. It’s just not beautiful. Schreyer clearly had to work with the proportions Hyundai gave him, not the ones he wanted. If only the front axle could be shifted forward four inches…”

    here is the rest of it. It seems the Optima will probably not be as successful as the Sonata, with all this styling baggage.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    I guess we’re entering the era of the protruding front ends in vehicle designs, including the ugly bass mouth design that plagues Mazda models. Any front end collisions mean big repair bills.

  36. bob Says:

    Rank Name 2010 Sales 2011 Sales?

    1 Camry 327804 320000

    2 Accord 282530 290000

    3 Corolla 266882 275000

    4 Civic 260218 300000 (new model?)

    5 Altima 229263 200000

    6 Fusion 219219 200000

    7 Malibu 198770 190000

    8 Sonata 196623 250000 (!)

    9 Focus 172421 200000 (new model)

    10 Impala 172078 150000 (if gas goes to $4?)

    Just predictions… for the fun of it

  37. HtG Says:

    When I look under the hood of the Optima, it seems the engine is sitting forward of the front wheel centerline(check out the posts in the engine compartment). Maybe this explains the big nose. Looks like Schreyer had his work cut out for him.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’m no engineer, but I believe putting the engine so far forward is not good for anything, handling, balance and expensive accident repair bills.

  39. bob Says:

    I’m an engineer many times over and besides the engineering reasons, these overhangs are true eyesores for me. Audi used to have very short wheelbases and huge overhangs too, but recently they got better at hiding them.

  40. bob Says:

    In contrast, many BMWs in particular look far, far better with their short overhangs and the styling that seems to grab the road and stick to it instead of looking like it will come off.

  41. HtG Says:

    I guess hanging the engine out there, reverse Porsche style, has its benefits. More passenger compartment room, and more leverage to weigh down the drive wheels. Maybe easier heat management.

    Still, when I saw the Optima at the Autoshow I asked the product specialist why it looked so different from the Forte, and he said the two cars were aimed at different demos. Personally, I think it looks like a mess.

  42. bob Says:

    Htg: the Optima is a Sonata, not a Forte, clone, that just looks a little like the Forte up front

  43. HtG Says:

    I was just comparing the exterior designs of the cars. The Optima was on a raised platform at the show, since it hadn’t been put on the market at the time. It just didn’t fit, but then don’t ask me to explain how Soul fits in.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Optima presumably uses the same power train as the Sonata. Maybe they deliberately made it ugly to make the Sonata appear more “upscale,” and help differentiate the H/K brands.

    As far as the Sonata, I like the looks of it now, but it will be interesting so how the styling “ages” over the next few years.

  45. bob Says:


    Even the pro-US biased Detroit news and Scott Burgess gives a full 4 out of 4 stars to the outstanding new odyssey that still gets 28 MPG under the 2008 much tougher EPA rules, a real feat for a 4,600++ lb vehicle. (and an excellent 18 or 19 (5 or 6 speed auto) in the city

  46. bob Says:

    I have not driven the new Sonata and I am not that thrilled by its exterior, it looks too “busy” to me, but it is a smart design that understood that there is no need for a v6 and was able to reduce the weights and sizes accordingly to get a very efficient design.

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    I believe that basic auto engineering 101 teaches that pushing the wheels out as far as possible gives the best handling, ride quality and yes even interior space. Chrysler made a big deal of this when they introduced their full size, FWD models in the early 90′s.with their cab forward design and long wheelbase.

  48. bob Says:

    true, and the car looks far better with the wheels pushed out to the edges. Chrysler claimed that, but its long models had rather long overhangs or short wheelbases or both back then, or so they seemed.

    The 300 had a good 120 in wheelbase and smaller overhangs front or back

  49. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kudos to AMC for realizing this eons ago and incorporating it into the otherwise ugly Pacer small car.

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Longer wheelbases are especially good for making back seats roomy and accessible. The Crown Vic/Grand Marquis had only 115 inch wheelbase, and a very cramped back seat for such a big car. The trunk is roomy, though, maybe an OK tradeoff for some people, like police departments.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m one of few who always thought the Pacer looked ok. I don’t understand these people who put it in the same catagory with Aztec.

  52. pedro fernandez Says:

    No doubt that a shorter wheelbase can give you a choppy, tiresome ride, while longer ones like BMW’s are more comfortable despite handling better than your run of the mill sedan.

  53. pedro fernandez Says:

    What the pacer had going for it was incredible interior room and a better than avg for its size ride, the looks were part of the reason it was roomy.

  54. bob Says:

    The Crown Vic really bugged me, what a MORONIC design! I had to take Crown Vic cabs whenever I would not drive into Wash DC and the memory of being cramped in a back seat that, in the taxi version, had less room than even a CIVIC, is still vivid! And all that from a 212 in long whale! By contrast, my 740 il is only 202 or so in, almost a whole FOOT shorter, but the rear seat is LIMO sized leg room wise, you just can’t reach the front seats, and you can sit cross legged if you want to.

    Long wheelbases plus sufficient weight is the recipe for effortless, relaxing long distance travel.

  55. bob Says:

    I guess the Crown Vic was designed from maximum trunk space.. a three-corpse trunk, as Tony Soprano would say..

  56. bob Says:

    for, not from, max trunk space

  57. pedro fernandez Says:

    Seems to me that in the good old days of car designing, cars were built from outside in with little concern for interior room, I remember a gigantic trunk on my parent’s 1970 Ply Fury and a long, empty space between the radiator and the front end, gigantic wheel wells with relatively small wheels and ridiculous overhangs all over the place

  58. Mark Says:

    Great job hosting Jim. I like your humor. McElroy better watch out!

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I thought those late 50′s to mid-70′s cars had all that space in front of the radiator to transport cases of beer in returnable bottles.

  60. XA351GT Says:

    The Pacer was originally intended to be a FWD rotary powered car , but when GM shelved it’s rotary engine they had to take that design and make it work with conventional drive train . They looked like crap , but rode and handled surprisingly well.