Episode 703 – Vehicle Population Explosion, Two Chevrolet Milestones, 365 Days of A

August 16th, 2011 at 11:05am

Runtime: 7:27

The global vehicle population hit 1 billion units, an impressive figure.  Chevrolet is celebrating two important milestones this year: its 100th anniversary and the 100 millionth small-block V-8, which debuted in 1955.  Saab is circling the drain. Unless it can pay suppliers some $620,000 TODAY, Sweden’s Debt Enforcement Agency will come banging on the door.  All that and more, plus an interview with a man that’s made it his mission to drive a vintage car as his only transportation for an entire year.


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This is Autoline Daily for August 16, 2011. And here’s what’s going on in the world of the automobile.

GLOBAL TRAFFIC JAM (subscription required)
And I should say a world full of automobiles. Ward’s reports the global vehicle population has hit 1 billion units, yes that’s billion with a “B.” The number includes cars, light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses, but not off-road or heavy-duty vehicles. Even though registrations in the U.S. only went up by 1 percent last year, it’s still has the largest vehicle population in the world with just under 240 million units.

Speaking of big numbers, Chevrolet is celebrating several significant milestones this year. First off, this is the 100th anniversary of the brand, which was started by Louis Chevrolet in 1911. Next, Chevy is going to announce that sometime this year it will build the 100 millionth small block V-8, which debuted in 1955. Even though that first generation was superseded by the Gen II and Gen III versions, production of the original small block continues in Mexico for the aftermarket. I knew they’d sold a lot of them, but I had no idea they’d sold 100 million.

And the numbers look bleak for Saab.  Unless it pays two suppliers $620,000 today Sweden’s Debt Enforcement Agency will come banging on the door. And Autoblog.nl reports the company will not attend this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

And speaking of car companies in trouble, Aptera may be next on the chopping block.  It’s taking forever for them to get this electric car that looks like an airplane without wings on the market. TheDetroitBureau.com reports Aptera is in financial trouble – something it denies.  It’s refunding some 2,200 deposits it received for the all-electric three-wheeler.  A spokesman says the company’s credit-card system will not allow it to hold on to cash advances for longer than six to 12 months.  He also blames the U.S. Department of Energy for dragging its feet on a loan that would help get production rolling.

But BMW is not dragging its feet on electric cars. It’s already officially revealed its i3 and i8 models, the first of its new “i” sub-brand.  If you remember, the 3 is a pure-electric – the 8, a plug-in hybrid. The i3 is scheduled to hit the market in 2013.  Well ahead of its launch, one of them was caught on video in Chicago.  According to Autoblog, it was apparently being shot for a commercial . . . silently rolling down Wacker Drive.  What is it about this car that sort of reminds me of the Chevy Volt? Is it the blacked-out window surround?

Coming up next, could you survive a whole year driving a classic car as your only transportation?  One man is doing just that.  More right after this.

Could you drive for an entire year without an automatic transmission?  What about air conditioning, power windows or even headrests?  Today’s vehicles come standard with so many features it’s hard to remember how basic cars used to be.  Autoline Daily Correspondent and RoundAbout Host Craig Cole recently interviewed one man who’s ditching all of these modern amenities for an entire year in a project he’s calling 365DaysofA. Check it out!

To find out what else Jonathan did to get his Model A road-ready and to learn more about his year-long journey, hit the link in today’s show notes at AutolineDetroit.tv to watch the rest of this fascinating interview.  Also, he appeared on the RoundAbout show a few weeks ago, which you can listen to right here.

And then, don’t forget to join us Thursday night for an unforgettable Autoline After Hours, LIVE from the Woodward Dream Cruise, the biggest car show in the world. We’ll be at the gigantic Mopar display, who will be our Signature sponsor for the evening. And we’ll be using the amazing LiveU technology to bring you all the action from the stage to the street. That’s this Thursday on Autoline After Hours.

And that wraps up today’s show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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

38 Comments to “Episode 703 – Vehicle Population Explosion, Two Chevrolet Milestones, 365 Days of A”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    A Toyota Speculation ;

    First to all my detractors , this is SPECULATION pure and simple .

    Thinking about the SCION article I posted this morning , as well as everyone from pedro etc legitimate criticism of the new Corolla ;

    Could it be that Toyota’s long term plan is to phase out all its entry level cars , shifting them over to its SCION brand , therefore not updating the Corolla being a way to gradually shift the general publics focus away from Toyota for the less expensive models and towards SCION ?

    Thereby have

    SCION= Entry level
    Toyota = Mid Level
    Lexus = Premium brand

    Could it also be , that like Honda , their plans have been somewhat put askew by the Tsunami /Earthquake ?

    Once again , pure speculation on my part .

    So a reasonable speculation ? Yes

    A plausible strategy ? Yes

    A reasonable possibility ? Only time will tell .

    FIAT 500 News ;

    Well this can’t bode well for the company .

    FIAT is still unable to open all its planned Dealerships , and Stock is still in VERY short supply …. yet …

    FIAT is already announcing Limited Editions ( Gucci is the first ) of the car

    Usually you announce limited editions when you’re trying to sell off current inventory to make room for the new models .

    Marchionne’s Madness Marches On !

    SAAB Story – Death is knocking at SAAB’s door , but someone’s forgotten to answer it . Never mind , Death has a way of breaking closed doors down in time :( Sad !

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    TJ your theory could be true but remember that Scion was made to be the car for the youth, even though I lost count of how many geezers I’ve seen driving every Scion except the tC, even the xB has been turned into old folks transport darling for its excellent room and ease of entry not to mention gas mileage. So unless they’ve given up that idea and want to turn Scion into the entry model, I eve read a couple of years back that Toyota was thinking of making the next gen Corolla from the same chassis as the Yaris and extending it a bit and adding the 1.8 instead of the 1.5.

  3. HtG Says:

    Hey mister know it all, tj. Yeah talkin’ to you. In a quiet place?(wow, being a jerk is easy!) I personally questioned a product specialist at the New York Autoshow about Scion. So relax, and listen up for a change, sunflower(see?). They are hoping to raise the age demographics on Scion by bringing out the FRS. Currently, their sweet spot is with little boys, or the ‘prepubes’ as I suggested during the ‘interrogation.’ Scion are hoping to get to their demos up to the 30 year olds. Learn something? Didn’t hurt a bit, huh?

    (in the words of the master, cwolf, ‘I’m just funnin’ ya,’ tj. But yeah, that’s what the guy said to me.)

  4. Tony Gray Says:

    I gotta hand it to the guy going to drive that Model A as his sole transport for a year. I love driving my old cars (and they are MUCH newer and more advanced than his Model A), but living without all the comfort, performance and handling amenities of a new car would be a bit much to endure.

    Yup, I have become soft, since my old cars USED to be what I USED to have as daily drivers…back in the day.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC has a good write up on the upcoming Cruze diesel and how it will now become the engine of choice over the turbo and the plain-jane 1.8. This may be the car to open the door for other diesels to enter the US market. Also a good chart on subcompact sales for July 2011, and sorry TJ but the Soul and Accent are in the lead.

  6. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG


    First I is in MO not KS ya dad burned idgimat !

    Second – If you think about it for a minute , what the SCION guy told you at the NYC Auto Show may just be confirming my speculations , because if you shift all the Corolla based Toyota’s over to the SCION floor space ( Corolla Matrix Rav4 ) you’d automatically be dragging all the old timers like Pedro and myself ( for mrs Tj ) over with them .

    Hmmn . The plot thickens ! PS; Smart Acre :(

    @ Pedro – #5 – Saw the list . I guess H/K has to be good at something ( Selling cheap POS subcompacts to an unsuspecting public )

  7. SalvadorG. Says:

    Could you survive a whole year driving a classic car as your only transportation?
    - Yes
    - I think we’re being called wimps.
    - To be PERFECTLY Fair… Is not like he got also to live in the same conditions as people did in the late 1920′s.
    - I too could manage a whole year, as long as I can keep my cellphone, home heating, my home cable, etc, etc, etc.

    (Now drive a Ford Model A for a whole year, yes that is very cool)

  8. HtG Says:

    @6 I guess that you’un found the nutritional content in the cow patty I tossed at ya, tj?

    Wise Acre. I like how that sounds.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Geez. Ive been driving most of my life cars without power windows or locks, manual transmissions for half my life and I really don’t mind it at all, so there!

  10. HtG Says:

    The thing that bothers me about having roll up windows and manual door locks is other people. Anyone new getting out of the Civic needs to have the concept of locking the door and holding the handle as you close the door, explained to them. I do however mind not having power mirrors. So soft.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG if you’re the only one driving the car then it should not really matter if you have power mirrors or not, ditto for power seats, I like these “sports” with 8 way power and vibrating and heated seats, gimme a break.

  12. tj Martin Says:

    OK , guilty as charged . The Benz is definitely turning me into a softy , what with driver adapting auto tranny , auto headlights and rain sensor wipers , every kind of TC imaginable along with AWD ( that’s RWD biased ) a stereo that adapts the volume to your speed , expanding sunvisors , adjustable everything on the seats w/4 driver settings etc etc etc . Not to mention Dealer service that goes way beyond the normal definition of good .

    So yup …… I’s becoming a Softy . But what a luxurious softy life it is . And truth be known , I’m lovin it !

    But …… I still think its fairly cool of this guy to go bouncing around for a year in a stripped down form of car . Though honestly I know plenty of Hot Rodders w/ their cars that have been doing the same for decades on end so Big Deal !

  13. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Funny about accessories and gadgets; before you had them, you didn’t need them, once you’ve experienced them it’s hard to go back (to not having them). But, in the long run, you do what you have to do, and use what you have to use. “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try real hard, you just might fine, you get what you need” (and this from someone who detests the “Stones”. ;)

  14. HtG Says:

    my only criticism of this A driver would be that he has modified the car in important ways. Like he replaced the plate glass with safety glass. Put in seat belts. Has radial tires. And a new engine. He’s talking about adding overdrive, too. He’s kind of acknowledging that cars that old might not be so wonderful.

    I know when I look at cars without headrests, I just cringe.

  15. HtG Says:

    what in the world are expanding sun visors? Driver adapting auto whaty?

  16. W L Simpson Says:

    Model A’s choke rod is to the passenger’s side as it pokes out from under the dash/gas tank. The rod twists for fuel metering adjustment. When ever I & my cousin rode with “Pop” , one would distract the driver while the other slowly reduced fuel flow..

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    Not to mention lap only belts and 4 wheel drum brakes. Hey TJ you missed not getting a car with self-parking, the ultimate lazy-ass “convenience” feature. I can’t believe they ut it into the Focus!!!

  18. dcars Says:

    In the words of Navin Johnson, “All I need is this ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, and this magazine, and the …..”
    Funny how we “need” certain things now, but when they cost extra or they weren’t available, we didn’t need them so much.

  19. HtG Says:

    I go a little batsh*t driving in a car that I don’t have to do a lot to go down the road. Do you like having so many conveniences, tj? Does that Model A also have advance and retard?

  20. HtG Says:

    dcars, I don’t know about you, but I’m young enough to have not understood a few of the jokes in that movie.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    The you-tube video of the Cruze diesel demonstrates that the diesel engine is barely audible inside the cabin, making the car feel like it’s more upscale than it actually is. No wonder the Camry continues to be a top seller. We just like our cars to be quiet. While even lowly H/K is making their cars quieter, Honda seems to be heading the other way.

  22. W L Simpson Says:

    The Aptera is a novelty, no more, no less, & the only reason it got notice came from being so early in the game.

  23. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro – I don’t need no stinkin Auto Park . That’d freak me out to be honest . The Auto Stop on the Volvo was bad enough !

    Fact is I don’t ” Need ” any of the goodies the Benz came with ( HtG adaptive tranny adjusts the shift points to your driving style and the expandable sunvisor does just that , expands to cover the full side window when you’re using it in that position )

    Fact is though , now having them I enjoy it . Do I miss them when a friend loans me his Beck 550 Spyder for the weekend ? Heck no . But do I appreciate them when I’m back in the Benz . Oh Yeah Baby

    A friend of mine’s ( film director based in Vancouver BC ) daily driver , in fact his only means of transport other than his BMW GS M/C , is an early Caterham 7 complete with Cosworth Ford I4 Dual Weber 2BBL etc. No heat , no A/C , takes 5 minute to put the top up , leaks like a siv when it is etc. Drives it 365/24/7 rain snow or shine . His attitude towards the ladies ( no wonder the sod is single ) is ” If you want to spend time with me … deal with it ”

    Know what his response was when I told him what I’d purchased ?

    ” Its about _____ time one of us bought an adult car ”

    So Soft or Smart . Either way I’s a happy fella ! :o

  24. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG


    I do now !

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    If that transmission addresses the problems of so many autos where you accelerate to pass or something and you get: “I’m working on it, give me a few seconds” Which really pisses me off, then I give it a hearty 2 thumbs up!!

  26. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG et al

    re; Quiz Question answer ;

    Steamboat Sprgs , CO with the Colorado 1000 being based there for three of the 7 days we’re staying for . Probably one of the best Classic Car events of the year in the US .

    Hence ; Boots & Bugattis . This year featuring the original Ferrari 250 GTO . Ahhh back when men were men , Ferrari’s were Ferrari’s and the likes of Marchionne and Montezemolo were still in diapers . Should of kept them there !

    Slackers :(

  27. HtG Says:

    Eat your heart out, tj. Lime Rock Park Classic Weekend, Sept 2-5. Vintage races, concourse, hundreds of classics on the track on Sunday. Bwahahahaha!(except for all the wicked RedSox accents)

  28. HtG Says:

    Over 700 cars to be on display along the track. Four from Dr Fred Simeone include Aston Martin DBR1, Jaguar D type, Alfa Romeo 8C, MG K3.


    Why you a cry, piccolo bambino tj? No cry.

  29. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    # 27&28

    Less cars maybe @ the Colorado 1000 but the difference is you only get to look at them ( hint hint ) Thppppppppt

    ( now who’s eating his heart out ? )

    FYI John keeps the virtual Kleenex in the right hand closet .

    I’ll be thinking of you while flying down a high mountain pass in a streak of red ( hint hint )

  30. HtG Says:

    Let me be perfectly clear, tj.


    Ooh wait. You mean you will be driving something red. With the horsey?

    Which closet did you say?

  31. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Upper right hand corner . Probably shouldn’t do this to you but there might be a streak of blue involved as well ( assuming I’m smart enough to learn the odd pedal set up ) Ahhhh friends and the friends of friends .

    FYI there’s extras ( Kleenex ) in the back storage if you need more than a box or two .

  32. tj Martin Says:

    Jeeze ….. I can be so cruel sometimes .

    Shame on Me :(

  33. HtG Says:

    center gas pedal,tj? blue? horseshoe radiator?

    oh, that is cruel

  34. Hardly T Whipsnade Says:

    Bad Tj Bad ! Get back in your cage and leave the poor HtG alone !

    Sorry folks . I try and keep him in line , but he’s an ornry critter and always escaping his confines .


  35. XA351GT Says:

    Driving just a old car for a entire year . Yeah that’s definately doable. For maybe less than 1% of the population. Most people couldn’t do it because they’d have to pay attention to their driving ( novel thought there) . Older cars are waay inferior to the new ones in safety , but they make you a safer driver knowing that the only thing coming out of the steering wheel is the chrome plated horn ring. maybe all new drivers should have to drive a car built before 1965 for year so they would respect the vehicle as the weapon it can be in the wrong hands.

  36. tj Martin Says:

    # 34

    Amen !


    Alas a note from my keeper ; Hardly T Whipsnade

    ( Baad Tj Baaad ! Back in your cage you ornry varmint ! Leave the nice HtG alone ! Baaaad ! GET BACK in your cage ! Sorry folks I tries to keep the critter in line but he’s a nasty piece o work , breaking out of his cage and all . I’ve tried to get the Zoo Master to trade him in for a pair of Wolverines and a Tasmanian Devil , but you know how these Zoos are . Always wanting the rarest end most exotic , no matter how dangerous . Keep yer distance from the critter though , he’s a dangerous one . Bit the leg right off his trainer , ate a whole dad burned Grizzly Bear fer lunch and even took on a Rhino just fer fun .

    Baad Tj ! Baaad . Dad burned nasty little monster ! Sheesh I gotta get me a new job . This uns too much work )

  37. HtG Says:

    Here’s something you might try, tj.


    Notice I avoided eye contact here, folks.

  38. Andrew Charles Says:

    The i3 is not a “pure” electric—like the Volt it has a small “range-extender” engine, like the Volt concept a small 3-cylinder. Speaking of 3-cylinder engines, GM now has a sub-1.0 L 3-cylinder diesel, offered first in the Indian-market Chevrolet Beat (the new Spark in other markets, as GM India still sells the old Spark as well).

    Expect the Cruze diesel sold in the US to be a more advanced version of the new 2.0 L recently introduced in other markets. GM will upgrade the engine in most markets to the “Euro 6 LEV” standard (lower emission than Euro 6, in tis acse US EPA requirements) at the same time, and improve fuel economy (driven by market pressure and fleet-CO2 requirements rather than emission regulations). There’s always the possibility that it will produce more power as well (a 200+ hp version would be needed for a competitive Euro-market ATS). It will use advanced EGR and catalytic NOx reduction, rather than urea injection usually required by larger engines.