Episode 695 – Sergio’s Succession Plan, Aston Martin Pinching Pennies, Rental-Car Rebate

August 4th, 2011 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:28

In a speech he gave at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne announced he plans to stick around until at least 2015 . . . and maybe longer.  Aston Martin is feeling the squeeze.  Without the backing of a major, volume brand it doesn’t have the resources to compete with other high-end automakers.  Budget Rent A Car has come up with an interesting way to save drivers money.  All that and more, plus a look at Chrysler’s new SRT8 lineup.


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This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, August 4, 2011.  I’m Christie Schweinsberg from Ward’s Auto, bringing you the latest news from the world of cars.

Today’s top story, Sergio Marchionne announced he plans to stick around until at least 2015, and maybe even a year later.  Speaking at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan yesterday, the Fiat-Chrysler CEO also announced his successor will LIKELY come from within the company.  Any bets as to who it will be?  The Detroit Free Press also reports during the presentation he sounded off on electric vehicles, calling them “overhyped,” and saying they can’t be the only solution going forward.  Hopefully this means some of Fiat’s cool diesel and natural-gas technology from Europe will make its way to the Americas.  Hit the link in today’s show notes on AutolineDaily.com for more info on his candid and wide-ranging speech.

Fiat recently became the majority shareholder in Chrysler, but CEO Sergio Marchionne says it’s going to be a while before an initial public offering of its shares will be made available. According to Reuters, he originally said an IPO could happen this year.  Later he said it would likely happen in 2012.  Now he’s saying an IPO won’t take place next year.

Aston Martin is feeling the squeeze.  Bloomberg reports the privately owned luxury automaker plans to introduce new models built on an architecture that’s already eight years old.  Without the backing of a major, volume brand it doesn’t have the resources to compete with other high-end offerings like Rolls-Royce, Bentley or Lamborghini.  Mercedes-Benz for instance plans to spend some $7 billion this year on research and development.  That’s more than eight times Aston Martin’s total revenue for the year ending in May!  This situation means the company has to be careful.  It can’t afford to go after every vehicle segment or waste money on products that won’t sell.

HYBRID HUBRIS (subscription required)
Earlier in the week I was at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan which is more than 200 miles from our offices outside of Detroit. We decided this was a perfect opportunity to compare MPG numbers between the recently released Kia Optima Hybrid and the non-hybrid Optima. And to our surprise, the hybrid barely won. The rules were, the windows and sunroofs had to be closed the whole trip, the AC set at 72 degrees with fans on low, and we couldn’t go over 75 MPH. I drove the non-hybrid while my colleague, Drew Winter, drove the fuel-sipper. After 236 miles I averaged 33.9 miles per gallon, not too shabby, while Drew averaged 34.5 MPG, just six tenths better. There was about a $5,000 difference in price between the cars we tested, and this just shows paying the premium for a hybrid isn’t always worth it.

Saab announced it WILL be able to pay its white-collar workers. According to Reuters, the company issued 5 million new shares, which are being acquired by an investment fund, GEM Global Yield Fund, giving it a 17 percent stake in Saab. The move is expected to generate just over $9 million. That’s enough to pay workers, but not enough to get production restarted at its plant in Trollhattan, Sweden.

Want to save some major coin on your next car rental?  Budget may be able to help.  According to USA Today, the Atlanta, Georgia-based company is turning some of its vehicles into rolling billboards by outfitting them with vinyl graphics.  So far the only company implementing this new advertising strategy is a maker of energy supplements.  If you don’t mind the stickers you can save.  One driver paid just 88 bucks for a multi-day rental that should have cost 400.  This sounds like a great idea . . . as long as I don’t get stuck with a car pushing “Preparation H.”

Chrysler’s Street and Racing Technology group has been promoted to a full-on division within the company, and it’s now headed by design superstar Ralph Gilles.  But not only has the SRT brand and its management been upgraded, so has its all-important products.

Remember to watch Autoline After Hours tonight. John McElroy and Peter De Lorenzo will talk to David Snyder, an artist who specializes in painting cars in their natural environment. Of course, the guys will also get into the news of the week and take your questions in the Rapid Fire segment.  Tune in tonight at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, 4:00 p.m. Pacific at AutolineDetroit.TV.

And with that we’ve crossed the finish line for today’s show.  I’m Christie Schweinsberg from Ward’s Auto signing off, for now.  Thanks for watching, I’ll see you later.

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

72 Comments to “Episode 695 – Sergio’s Succession Plan, Aston Martin Pinching Pennies, Rental-Car Rebate”

  1. john787 Says:

    Big news and no mentioning of today’s GM 2nd quarter huge profits? That’s big news! Are you bias or not?

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    What, no mention (or analysis) of the ‘Generals’ 2.5 million reported profit. The news reported seems weak today, the profit report would seem to have some merit here (especially since it was headed by North American sales).

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    With my luck I’ll end up with a Budget Sebring wrapped in a Depends undergarment ad.

  4. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Not surprised by John’s report about the hybrid vs a lowly regular ice,LOL.An even bigger mpg improvement would be to add a comparable diesel in the mix.BUT….given the aversion to common sense,not to mention the diesel option is cheaper then a hybrid,we’ll never see it.Oh the loss of common sense in this country just boggles the mind.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If you want to compare hybrid and conventional versions of the same car, you need to drive them in city driving driving with stop and go. That’s what hybrids are all about, except ones like Prius and Insight with low drag bodies that help highway mpg. The hybrid version of that conventional bodied Kia would not be expected to do much better at 70+ mph than the non-hybrid.

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    Right on Kit, this lady should know better, hybrids are best in city or local driving, not long distance trips, besides HK has made advances in engine technology, just a few years ago, they lagged behind the Japanese competition, in refinement and fuel consumption.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeh, a diesel, properly done, would get about 30% better mpg at 75 mph.

  8. tj Martin Says:

    NO IPO

    Shame on you Christie , as well as every other automotive and US financial Journalist for missing the REAL reason why FIAT will NOT be offering an IPO anytime soon .

    The reason is simple .

    FIAT abjectly refuses to open its ledgers to anyone outside the company

    Therefore ;

    Every Market WorldWide has refused ( Marchionne has tried both with FIAT and Ferrari IPO’s ) to accept an IPO from any and all of the FIAT Empire .


    And I’ll second # 1&2′s complaint about the missed GM News as well .

    At least the FIAT thing you’d have to be pretty darned informed and sophisticated to know about .

    As the GM news has been on the wires since 6:50 am this morning , for that one you have no excuse !

  9. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit & pedro

    Its about ALL AROUND driving , not the miniscule arena Hybrids are good at ( City Town stop&go )

    Fact is in the real World All Around should be the ONLY stats that count .

    Unfortunately in the rush to HYPE Hybrids ( oh.. did it again ) its that Miniscule Hybrid Happy Arena thats getting all the attention with real world driving being pushed to the rear .

    You should watch a Prius trying to get up the mountains on I-70 in Colorado . Oh uphill they’re flying until the first corner hits and then the uphill where they drag to an almost standstill .

    Real World driving gentlemen . With the emphasis on REAL

  10. tj Martin Says:

    #9 should of read ” downhill they’re flying “

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    tj re. #9,
    You seem awfully well informed about Priuses, considering YOU DON’T HAVE A CLUE. I own a Prius, I’ve driven it in mountains, and it climbs just fine. There are always those big SUV’s blocking the passing lane and slowing my progress, but that’s another topic that has to do with drivers more than vehicles..

  12. HtG Says:

    If I may argue Ms. Schweinsberg’s case. Doesn’t everybody already know about GM’s good news? I want to hear stuff I haven’t known for 6 hours. And I do wonder about that KIA comparison; was she comparing highway miles, or more all around?

    tj, did you hear your Cuz talking down EVs? Think you’ll let your boot off his neck just a little?

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    I believe the total hp output of the Prius is 134, that should be more than sufficient power to go up and down hills and mountains. After all, the Prius is a light car. My Vibrolla had 120hp at one time a long long time ago and it did ok in hill climbs.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    I had not heard of GM’s news, I count on Autoline to keep me informed on industry news.

  15. tj Martin Says:


    Horsefeathers Kit !

    I watched seven Prius’s drop like a stone on I-70 , unable to keep up with traffic and in fact holding up traffic in the lane they were in . Including one of the 2011′s !

    Fact is on I-70 driving into Denver from the East every Prius dropped dead on each and every hill .

    I’m talking altitude and real mountains , not those pathetic little foothills you drive in to and from Florida .

    It is a fact Kit , much as you might try to ignore it , that the Prius , due to its weight and lack of HP is vastly underpowered for a car its size and weight .

    Even in the MINI I despised every single Prius I ran across on the Interstates and highways as the majority of its owners ( hopefully not you ) tend to hog the left lane because they can go down the hill quickly and then remain there in spite of no longer being able to keep up on the uphill

    And you really don’t want to hear what all I know about Prius’s Kit . Ownership does not imply knowledge .

  16. HtG Says:

    One does wonder if it’s the thin air in CO that trips up the ECU. Do you find Priuses having a hard time even in KC area, tj?

  17. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    Prius ? Light ? On what planet ? Try 3115 lbs for the 2011 .

    That aint light pedro . Thats mid weight

    Chevy Cruze 3130

    Honda Accord 3285

    Honda Civic 2810 ( now thats light )

    Toyota Corolla 2850

    Toyota Camry 3385

  18. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Yes on all the highways and interstates as its hilly ( not mountains ) here . Read my comment about running across Prius’s in the MINI #15 paragraph 5 . All in KC,MO/KS KC-Lawrence KS etc

  19. HtG Says:

    would you say Prius drivers compare to Volvo drivers on the impacted scale? A big job, verily.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    Really 3115 lbs? Wow, I see America really has a weight problem with people and cars as well ,my lowly Corolla weighs in at 2400 lbs and even so I have removed the spare, wheel covers and whatever junk I had in the trunk to lighten the load even further.

  21. HtG Says:

    On auto ads. A few years ago Red Bull had a local car all done up, with even a giant can clipped to the roof. I could never take my eyes off it, or stop shaking my head. I’d put a JETS sticker on my car if I weren’t sure someone would bash it.

  22. HtG Says:

    @20 I’m working on lowering the power to weight ratio of my cars. It involves backing off the starches and booze.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Ok, tj. We all know you have a very deep hatred for Priuses. You need to keep in mind that it’s just a car, but one that goes about its business much more efficiently than most others.

    FWIW, I am one of the last people you will ever see “hogging the left lane,” whether I’m driving my Prius, my MINI, or somthing else. You seem to be thinking of something other than Priuses, if you want to stereotype a certain vehicle as “hogging the left lane.”

  24. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG -Good question . If you’re saying what I think you’re saying ( that the majority of Volvo owners are a menace and to be avoided on the road, especially if you’re on a bicycle , at all cost due to their inert superiority complex ) then a definite YES .

    I especially despise the typical ( God I hope this doesn’t describe Kit as I do like the guy ) Prius owner in the city that due to his/her superiority complex , jumps every light , drives like a lunatic until the car hits its limit , rushing from stop light to stop light like a rabid dog in heat ( bet that does wonders for their mpg )

    @ pedro – A little perspective . The MINI Countryman only weighs 3305 and has 184 hp ( S ) which even Kit admits is too little power for the car

    The Prius at 3115 has only 134 in full hybrid mode ( which assumes you’ve not run the charge down ) That put things into perspective a bit more ?

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A Prius has more than adequate power to weight for normal driving. It will do 0-60 in about 10 seconds. That’s about 2 seconds quicker than the 1.9 TDI Jetta I had a few years ago, and the Jetta had plenty of power.

  26. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit

    Well I assumed/hoped you wouldn’t fit into the category , but the fact is the overwhelming majority of Prius owners unfortunately do .

    They like far too many Volvo owners seem to gain this unrealistic sense of invulnerablity for what ever reason , taking on the airs of moral superiority when it comes to acting in a responsible and considerate way towards their fellow drivers .

    Fact is the only other type of vehicle I noticed ” Hogging ” the left lane on our recent trip was the ever present RV . which rule that category ( left lane hogs )

  27. tj Martin Says:

    # 25 Highways Kit we’re talking about Highways( and hills ) . 0-60 isn’t the test . 50-75 is .

  28. HtG Says:

    I’m sure somebody out there hates my guts, too. When I go topless on the highway, I’ll be getting passed all the time by newer, bigger cars. You just don’t need to go that fast in an open car. But please don’t get in front of me before an exit ramp, because I’m going to take it at 70 if there’s any banking.

    tj, so you also know what a ‘Volvo roadblock,’ is? Volvo drivers pretty much self identify.

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    yep fer sure that’s a healthy way to lessen the load on the old Rolla, lose some weight by ironically driving less and walking more. Mazda 2 is the lowest weight car (practical) available at just over 2300 lbs.

  30. HtG Says:

    that’s their philosophy, Pedro. To get more performance through light weight, rather than more grunt.

  31. HtG Says:

    from the Department of Cry Me a River, comes this story of hardship exemptions on airbags for certain precious darlings.


  32. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    No respite for the Stronzetto by the way . Not from me at least .

    Volvo’s ( and now Prius’s ) The bain of bicyclist worldwide .

    An interesting perspective on Volvos ? When i was shopping and considering the XC60 I did the Insurance Quote thing $165 per half year more than the GLK . $100 per year more than the X3 M-package I considered .

    When asked why they sent me to their HQ where one of the big wigs stated ” Its because Volvo owners have more accidents per capita than the other two cars ”

    Very telling . But no surprise . The only auto vs bicycle near misses I ever had were with Red Necks in P/U’s and Volvo’s w/Volvo’s being the majority . Considering where I’ve lived thats really telling

  33. HtG Says:

    tj, have you ever once come across a driver in the states who understood what a flashing left turn signal meant if it came from a car following in the left lane? Not me.

    I got to lay off the Coke. Posting too much, today.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The non-S Countryman is lower power/weight than a Prius, not what you want for a car that perports to be “sporty.” To me, the Countryman should us more displacement to get the 180 hp of the S. They are probably working that 1.6 turbo too hard in the “truck of MINIs.

    I drive the Prius the same as any other car. I accelerate with the normal traffic flow. It there is no one else aroind, I sometimes accelerate a little slower to improve fuel economy, but with that car, you can “just drive it” and consistantly get mid 40′s mpg. Driven the same way, I only get mid-30′s with my much smaller, 600 pound lighter MINI. The MINI, though, is more fun, except when I’m feeling lazy and like the everything automatic nature of the Prius.

  35. tj Martin Says:

    # 31

    Now thats just plain not fair . Why shouldn’t a 1.1 million dollar car get an airbag exemption . Just paying that amount should be considered a hardship :o

    Funny though that when Horacio announced the new Pagani he claimed he’d built it in every way to meet all US safety and EPA regulations so it could be sold immediately here .

    Wonder what happened between claims and applications ?

  36. HtG Says:

    @32 I knew it! Volvo drivers suck at driving and are scared shitless, and want to scold everyone into obeying their lowest kinetic energy domain. Pieces of shit. I knew it.

  37. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit

    Like I said I assumed you weren’t one of the Priudiots

    I may argue with you on some points till the cows come home but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect or assume the best of you

  38. tj Martin Says:


    Thats it HtG !


    You are over the top :o

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A Prius has similar acceleration in all speed ranges, and similar quarter mile times to other cars with similar 0-60 times.

  40. HtG Says:

    I got mouthed off at today by some woman as I drove into a farmers’ market. She was trying to enter traffic from the driveway, and seemed to think I should have started signalling my left a few seconds earlier. She spent the next minute or so looking a for a sufficient gap in traffic(there wasn’t much traffic), had to back it up so her nose wouldn’t get smashed, turned all red, and finally got free. Guess what brand? It starts with a V.

  41. Aliisdad Says:

    It is looking to me like some applications are good for hybrid tech while it is not always the answer for high mileage and cost savings…Having had a Honda Civic and Honda Insight in the family, they seemed to be a great compromise between price and fuel savings…Although the Insight has been pretty well “beat up” by the automotive “experts”, it seemed like a pretty neat little car to me…It did not get quite the mileage that our neighbor’s last generation Prius got, but it was much higher than EPA ratings…It also had lot’s of space when the seat was down to haul things…I also drove my dad’s Civic hybrid, and while a nicer finished car, I thought it did great, too…So, is a hybrid always the answer, probably not for all cases or everyone, but they are worth considering…By the way, the only reason for trading the Insight was to buy a larger “family” size sedan…But again, it was good what it did…So, I still think there are many people who should at least try hybrids and see if it is good for their needs before just writing them off…

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A bit of trivia. In CR’s tests, a Prius and an automatic MINI Clubman turned identical 1/4 mile times (18sec), and the 0-60 and 45-65 times were within 0.2 sec. A manual base MINI was a second quicker in the quarter mile, but no quicker 45-65.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Insight comes out bad only in comparison to Prius. The Insight is smaller, slower, noisier, and uses more gas than a Prius, but compared to about everything else in the US market, it does pretty well. If you want a high mpg hatch, and don’t want a “me too” Prius, the Insight is an alternative. Also, while MSRP of an Insight is only about 2.5 -3K lower than a base Prius, I suspect the difference is much larger in actual transaction prices.

  44. ItsmeBill Says:

    I’m waiting for the Lexus version of the Prius

  45. HtG Says:

    here’s your blushing bride, Bill


  46. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit #39

    Horsefeathers again .

    We’re talking hills and highways Kit , not test tracks where the Prius can be pampered into reasonable performance . e.g. the Ral World Kit . Not the magical mystery wonderland of the Hybrid Hyperbole

    Have a look if its still available at AW’s assessment of the Prius and in fact all Hybrids . It aint good .

    And if what you’re saying is true , then why do all those Prius’s drop like a stone every time they even sniff a hill , never mind a genuine mountain .

    Simple fact

    Hybrid in City Very Good

    Hybrid in towns – Pretty good

    Hybrid on Freeway , Abysmal

    Hybrid in the mountains – A Joke

    Conclusion ; Hybrids work very well within a very narrow range of driving , but in Overall driving are vastly overwhelmed by an equal or lesser ICE . You should see what Mr’s Tj’s Matrix does to a Prius in the mountains and on the highways , maintaining the Speed Limit and no more .

    Forget CR for any performance numbers what so ever Kit . their test drivers are lethargic when it comes to any reasonable performance car and excessively biased towards their own prejudices .

    Finally and one more time

    The 2011 Prius

    3315 pounds . 134 HP on a good day and under the right circumstances ( read optimal, which is rare ) Thats a Lead Sled being towed by a single Husky thru a Mud Bog in Louisiana .

  47. MJB Says:


    “…many people who should at least try hybrids and see if it is good for their needs before just writing them off…”

    I think the “write off” comes primarily from the several thousands more over a non-hybrid that people will have to pay just to get one. Cost will always be the strongest deterrent.

  48. RAFI N. Says:

    Hey Bill (comment 44),

    This one is also based on the Prius. Enjoy!

  49. tj Martin Says:

    From the looks of the Stock Market today , our disagreements about Hybrids and Cars may not matter one slender bit .

    This aint good folks and methinks it aint getting better anytime soon .


  50. tj Martin Says:


    My ” write off ” on Hybrids is based on two family members ownership ( both Prius and both bad ) spending the day in a 2011 Prius ( the term ” Made of Wood with Brakes to match “comes to mind ) as well as two other family members that are engineers warning me off them as well .

  51. HtG Says:

    I thought talking cars was a way to escape the real world, tj


  52. pedro fernandez Says:

    Been watching the car show with Carolla and company and it’s enjoyable and fun to watch as we get to see car stuff, the American Top Gear is just unwatchable, these guys have the personality of a slug.

  53. vrmchris Says:

    hello to all,

    i believe that sergio marchionne is a decent leader, but relies too much on himself. who would be his successor? for that matter, is he grooming one as i speak?

    aston martin. they have done very well with the vh platform courtesy of ford. however i have to concur that without access to a consortium of banks, they will have a very hard time getting funds to replace that platform.

    svenska aeroplan atkiebolaget. i have said this before on openline and afterhours. saab needs 2 billion dollars per year for 10 years to do everything it needs to do. the only way to get such funds is to have a consortium of banks to do that. and there is no way viktor muller will be able to do that in this risk adverse environment.

    hybrids. i have to agree with comment #46. hybrids make the most sense in stop and go driving. not so much for the interstate. as far as diesels go, the regulations for north america and europe are coming closer. so i believe that more of them will be coming here in the next five years due to homologation costs coming down, and more demand for diesel cars in north america.


  54. pedro fernandez Says:

    BTW Re: Prep H, don’t knock it until you try it!

  55. tj Martin Says:

    @ vrmchris

    1) Me thinks the reason Stronzetto Marchionne is contemplating a successor to run Chrysler et al is because his main ally , source of funds , protector Berlusconi is on his way out , which will leave Marchionne high and dry as well as in the figurative gunsights of the Elkann’s .

    e.g.The Stronzetto knows his days are numbered without Berlusconi and is trying to lay a spin on the general public to maintain some resemblance of dignity when he gets the boot . Or runs .

    I’ll guess run .

    I’ve been saying for months that Marchionne’s madness will catch up to him , but I wasn’t expecting things to start crumbling this soon .

    2) Aston Martin ? Dead man walking . Its just a matter of time and has been ever since the introduction of the pretentious Zero 77 and the hideous Cygnet .

    3) SAAB ? I’d call them an Automotive Zombie , but in their present state even thats too kind . More like a corpse that between weather and earthquakes refuses to stay buried .

  56. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    You think this is the Real World ???

    Really ?

    Nahhhhh. I know you know better


  57. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Just to add my 2p about the prius (sp),there are 3 or 4 of them around here in our valley.They seem to drive very aggressively in and around town.In all fairness I do not know these people,so maybe what they display is their normal driving habits.

  58. HtG Says:

    Well, it looks like the Trident and the Cherokee are going to be making la musica dolce, tj. We were born to late.

  59. jim Says:

    Christie, it would have been nice if you had reported the official government fuel economy ratings for these two vehicles so a comparison could be made between real world results and the Monroni sticker.

  60. tj Martin Says:


    I already reported that one ( #58 ) remember ? Ferrari and Alfa variant soon to come . Yeesh !

    Born too late though ? Maybe you , but I owned an Alfa in their heyday ( 77 Alfetta GT coupe Andretti Edition ) as well as drove a Montreal , several spiders etc etc , even a 1750 , missing out on L’Monstro because the SOB’s didn’t bring them here . Had they I might of gotten that instead of my last “F” word . I loved ( and still do ) that insane Jolie Laide ( look it up gentlemen and mods before jumping to perverse conclusions . Hint; Its French )little beast . The coupe preferably

    Hmmn . Wait till you se the Fat , Overweight and disgustingly ugly Alfa Romeo Spider based on the 300C platform Marchionne has in the wings . Think a size three bikini on a size 14 lady and you’ll get the idea :(

  61. HtG Says:

    Ahem, Mr Martin. 1972 Alfa Spyder 2000 Inizione.

    What I meant about being born too late was that I’m sorry to see SUVs brought into the fold of the sport car companies. But you’ve got to pay the bills, too.

    Jolie Laide. that’s the best. basically half of French distaff. (Whoop, gotta run)

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    To tj and you other hybrid haters,

    I drive my Prius in a normal manner in mixed driving and get almost 50mpg. I drive it on the interstate at 75mph and get 45mpg The car is much better than all these mid-size sedans for carrying cargo, while being as good for transporting 5 people.

    tj, re #46. A 2.4 Matrix will outrun a Prius, while using almost twice as much gas in city driving and 30% more on the highway. A friend has a 1.8 Matrix which will beat my Prius to 70, barely, while using about 30% more gas. The Matrix is a good car, and costs less than a comparably equipped Prius, but is much less fuel efficient.

  63. Kit Gerhart Says:

    tj, re 39 and 46,
    Look up any tests you can find, or borrow some cars and check them yourself. I don’t know what your problem is, but you are totally irrational in regard to your hatred for hybrid cars. I really don’t get it.

  64. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit Gerhart

    Why i hate Hybrids

    1) Too complicated for as little benefit as they offer
    2) Create 4 times as much pollution and eat 6 times as much energy to produce
    3) Disposal of the batteries is even more damaging to the environment
    4) The mining of the Rare Earth and other minerals to produce a Hybrid causes 3 times the damage per acre than an open pit coal mine
    5) The maintenance costs ( wait till you see the bill to replace that battery pack ) long term are outrageous
    6) It takes a minimum of ten years of use to recoup the added cost of a Hybrid with its better mpg
    7) Estimated life span of a Hybrid ( this from Toyota Honda etc dealer sheets and financing ) is 6 years
    8) A 2400 lb diesel would cost less , run better and provide vastly superior OVERALL mpg , proving more interior space , better handling and lower maintenance costs

    I could go on good Kit , but i think thats enough to make my point .

    Hybrids are in reality a lot of hype ! But what I hate the most is the constant Hype in almost ( notice i said almost ) all the media in spite of constant outcries from Engineers etc , making buyers feel they’re doing good , while in fact creating more damage than they can imagine .

    And again Kit , a friend loaned me his 2010 Prius to try and convince me to buy a new one for a good 4 days . I hated every aspect of it , from the excessive blind spots , to the wooden brakes , to the sloppy handling , to the cardboard seats ( his is the upgraded model ) Honestly it made Mrs Tj’s matrix feel like a Mercedes in comparison I’m sad to say .

  65. HtG Says:

    may I rhetorically retort to your rationality, tj?

    1 we americans love tech complexity.
    2 plenty of cars are energy hogs because people want more size and power than they rationally need.
    3 the high cost of rare earth metals are driving research into electrical motors that aren’t so dependent upon them
    4 bugs are being developed to absorb CO2 emissions at power factories, and to excrete fuels, which will net little CO2.
    5 most of production is filthy, especially if you look at Chinese production, whose low costs depend somewhat on their lack of clean efficient processes.
    6 personally, I did the numbers on a Prius a few years ago, and no, it didn’t make rational sense for our use.
    7 I think we’re in a transitional stage with electric drive. Stop start is coming. Battery efficiency may rise. And petroleum demand will rise if the economy grows; watch asia
    8 I believe CO2 is not the only consideration, since the US is trying to use other energy besides oil, just purely as a strategic consideration. We’re going to use more coal and gas to move stuff around.

    I agree hybrids make limited sense. But they also don’t make no sense.

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    1 Too complicated? People said that about 4 valve engines too, but the bottom line is, if it doesn’t break, what’s wrong with complexity. In one way, a Prius is about the least complex car on the road, since it has no transmission.

    2, 3, and 4. I’ve read the same stuff, and then have seen other reports debunking those reports. If 2 in your list was even close to true, a Prius would cost a lot more than $24K.

    5 So far, even gen 1 Priuses have had very little maintenance, and few battery replacements. In my case, I normally keep my primary car more than 6 years, so all that will be moot.

  67. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Estimated life span of 6 years? It’s more like 20, with one battery replacement. As far as recouping cost in gas savings, that depends on how much you drive. My overall mileage with the Prius is about 47, while the overall of the Malibu Maxx it replaced was about 24. There is real savings with the Prius, even at today’s gas prices.

    Also, while small diesels are great, they don”t get “vastly superior overall mpg” to hybrids. I had the best of the breed, mpg-wise that has been sold in the US, a manual transmission 1.9 TDI Jetta wagon. I got about 43 overall with the Jetta, vs 47 with the Prius, and diesel fuel is always more expensive than regular gas.

  68. HtG Says:

    I say it too much, Kit, but a good reason for diesel to be more expensive is that it contains about 15% more molecules of burnable carbon/unit volume than gas. I am ignoring differences in production costs. One thing I don’t understand is what happens if you put regualar gas in an engine with a compression ratio designed to work with high octane fuel. Will you get poorer mileage? That FIAT 500 engine specifies high octane, do you just not get the hp if you fill up regular?

  69. HtG Says:

    Lotus is working on a range extender for battery driven autos.


  70. Kit Gerhart Says:

    HtG re.68,
    Today’s engines have knock sensors, and if you use regular in an engine set up for premium, the ignition will be retarded under some conditions, which would reduce power and hurt mpg. In older engines without knock sensors, engine damage was possible if you used too-low-octane gas.

    They recommend premium for my MINI, and, so far, I have always used premium. If I drove the car more miles, I’d probably try some regular, and see if I could tell any difference in how it runs, or if I could measure a difference in mpg.

  71. HtG Says:

    so the 500′s mileage should suffer if you don’t use premium?

  72. Kit Gerhart Says:

    With the 500, or a MINI like mine, mileage would probably suffer a little if you use regular. If you always drive gently, you’d probably never tell the difference. Of course, with a relatively low-powered car like a 500 or base MINI, you are not going to drive all that gently, even in normal traffic.