August 24th, 2011 at 12:00pm
Toyota takes a major risk by sticking with “safe” styling on the new Camry. GM has a new painting process that reduces emissions using fire. Mazda’s Skyactiv-G engine improves fuel economy with an incredibly high compression ratio. How’d they do it? All that and more, plus John answers your comments and questions in another edition of “You Said It!”
This is Autoline Daily for August 24, 2011. Here’s the latest.
Toyota officially launched its redesign of the Camry yesterday. The car is better than the one it replaces by every single measure, except one. More on that in a minute. Depending on the model, Toyota reduced the prices anywhere from $200 to $2,000, except for the base model, which is nearly $2,000 more than before. The standard four-cylinder engine delivers slightly more power and fuel economy, the V-6 also gets slightly better fuel economy, while the hybrid version gets a 30 percent jump to 43 MPG in city driving. That’s 5.4 l/100 km. Even though this is a carry-over platform, Toyota managed to reduce the weight slightly and improve the interior packaging for more room. I got a chance for a brief test drive, and the Camry is impressively smooth, quiet, and roomy—the very characteristics that have made it one of the best selling cars in the world for years. But to my eye the styling is too conservative, especially when you look at the side profile. Most people will not realize this is a new car, and that will make it harder for Toyota to attract new buyers. This is a car that will look especially dated at the end of its design cycle four years from now. By trying to play it safe with the styling, Toyota has actually taken a very big risk.
GM’S NEW PAINT PROCESS
GM has come up with a more environmentally friendly way to paint plastic parts. Called a flame-surfacing process, it’s good for the environment and the bottom line. It eliminates the need for primer, which saves time by cutting a step out of the painting process, plus it dramatically reduces the use of solvents, cutting emissions. Paint shops are the number one source of noxious fumes at automotive plants. Like its name suggests, the flame-surfacing process treats plastic pieces with a robotically controlled torch. This prepares the surface of the parts for painting without requiring primer. Right now this technology is being used on the Chevy Cruze, Sonic and Volt. GM estimates that using flame surfacing on the Cruze can reduce air pollutants from 810 tons per year to just 80! The company also estimates it can reduce paint-related waste from 25 tons annually to almost zero.
MAZDA SHOOTS TO THE SKY (subscription required)
Downsizing, forced-induction and direct injection are some of the hottest automotive fads right now. But Mazda thinks there’s more than one way to skin the fuel economy cat. The company’s new Skyactiv-G gasoline engine features an incredibly high 13:1 compression ratio. That’s practically diesel territory! A high CR is good for efficiency and power output, but bad for other things, like knocking. Engineers managed to deliver this in a mass-market engine that does not run on high-octane fuel with a four-into-two-into-one exhaust manifold. This free-flowing design reduces backpressure, keeping hot gasses from being forced back into the combustion chambers. It also has special piston cavities and a shorter overall combustion cycle. All told, the 2.0-liter version of this engine should deliver 155 horsepower with 148 pound-feet of torque, plus around 40 miles per gallon on the highway. Look for the Skyactiv-G to debut on the 2012 Mazda3.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
Chuck Grenci sure is puzzled over why Ford would team up with Toyota to make hybrid systems for trucks.
“Why would Ford share their superior lead in full-size trucks? I wouldn’t think Ford would want to give the Tundra any ‘traction’ in the last bastion of strength still held by the U.S. automakers.”
Chuck, this is all about splitting the cost of developing a hybrid system. There’s plenty of reason to suspect these things will not sell very well, so why not split the cost. They’re not going to share truck platforms or anything like that, just the hybrid system.
Salvador G. didn’t like everyone criticizing the Cadillac Ciel concept car.
“What’s wrong with you people? That is a wonderful design, very classy looking car, very nice.
And obviously, it is Not going to be built.”
Actually, Salvador, they tell me that concept is going to be very close to the flagship sedan that Cadillac is working on which will be out in about three years.
john787 has a question about the name of the Caddy.
“I thought the French word Ciel meant heaven, not sky. Correct me if I’m wrong.”
John787, depending on the context of how its used, ciel can mean either sky or heaven.
602goliath saw that demonstration of the worker with the leaf blower showing how quiet the interior of the new Buick Verano is, but he has a good observation.
“I’m really liking how sound proof that Buick is. Do you know if you can still hear emergency sirens from the cabin of the car?”
Nope, 602goliath, it would be really hard to hear any sirens. Especially if you have the radio on. You raise a really good point. Automakers need to get a warning system inside their cars that tell you where and when an emergency vehicle is barreling down the street.
HtG learned that Bob Hall, brother of Jim Hall, who made appearances last week on Autoline Daily, Autoline After Hours, and RoundAbout, played a big role in the design of the original Mazda Miata.
He writes, “Picture this Bob and Jim. Today my favorite on-ramp was repaved. You enter downhill, 90 degree right in 2nd gear, exit for a straight and go into 3rd, flat out till the banked left, short straight leading into negative camber 40 degree right, trail the throttle and get back on it so you enter traffic at 70+mph. If you did all this in my 96 Montego Blue Miata with the tires squealing (and I mean it), you just want to shake Bob Hall’s hand and never let go. Bob, you will live forever, even if it’s only as spare parts.”
Join us tomorrow night for Autoline After Hours, when our guest will be Mark Trostle, the new head of design at Roush.
And that’s today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.