September 27th, 2011 at 11:21am
Honda is rolling right along with a brand-new, global engine for its scooters: a liquid-cooled, four-stroke unit displacing 125 cc. Last week OnStar announced it would track customers even after they cancel the service and that the company reserves the right to sell the information it’s gathered. Not surprisingly, this caused a bit of an uproar. In order to celebrate its new partnership with the LEGOLAND theme park in Florida, Ford created an Explorer out of . . . you guessed it . . . LEGOs! All that and more, plus a review of the BMW 550i.
This is Autoline Daily for September 27, 2011. And now the news.
Government subsidies for developing fuel-efficient cars just survived a close call in the U.S. Congress. Republicans wanted to cut $1.5 billion from that program to pay for hurricane disaster relief. Democrats wanted both the money for disaster relief and to keep the green-car funding intact, and that’s exactly how the vote came out.
ELECTRIC VEHICLES: ALL TALK, NO ACTION
But a study by Carnegie Mellon University, Arizona State University and the Rand Corporation says subsidies for electric cars are not an effective way to reduce oil consumption or CO2 emissions. It says hybrids and plug-ins are a better way to go. But here’s my Autoline Insight. How can hybrids be a better way to go when they’re such a sales disaster? With the exception of the Toyota Prius, hybrid sales are negligible. Even with 28 different models of hybrids they only account for about 2 percent of the American market.
TESLA NEEDS MORE MONEY
And now Tesla, the electric-car maker, is asking the U.S. government for more subsidies. It’s already received $465 million in taxpayer money, but now it needs more. Autoblog reports the company will not publicly say how much more it needs, at least not yet.
HONDA SCOOTS WITH NEW ENGINE
Now for some two-wheel news. Honda has developed a new engine for scooters. It’s a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, single-cylinder unit that displaces just 125 cc. The company claims it delivers up to 25 percent better fuel economy compared to a conventional engine of the same size. It’s also supposed to be quieter and more durable than the unit it replaces. To boost its efficiency, Honda focused on optimizing the design and reducing friction as much as possible. The new engine will be offered on a variety of scooters around the world starting next year.
FORD CANS CONTROVERSIAL AD
Ford pulled that controversial “press conference” TV commercial, the one that featured a supposedly real person named “Chris,” who railed against automakers taking federal money. I’ll give you two guesses which ones they are. Here’s the interesting reason why it got pulled. According to The Detroit News, the Obama administration apparently raised questions about the commercial, so Ford pulled it. The last thing the President needs is to draw attention to the bailouts, especially as an election year draws near.
ONSTAR IS WATCHING YOU
Last week OnStar announced it would track customers even after they cancel the service and that the company reserves the right to sell information it gathered. Not surprisingly, this caused a bit of an uproar. U.S. Senator, Charles Shumer asked OnStar to reverse its policy and even asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. OnStar responded by saying it wouldn’t keep gathering data if customers opted out and that it has never sold any info it’s gathered. Here’s my Autoline Insight. It’s not well publicized that the Department of Homeland Security and OnStar have a close relationship. After Hurricane Katrina, the agency asked OnStar to track customers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Department is behind this latest request. Kind of gives new meaning to Government Motors doesn’t it?
In order to celebrate its new partnership with the LEGOLAND theme park in Florida, Ford created an Explorer out of . . . you guessed it . . . LEGOs! It took 22 designers and over 2,500 hours to build it. More than 380,000 LEGO pieces were used and it weighs over 2,600 pounds. The LEGO Explorer will be featured at the new park, which is the largest in the world and contains over 50 million LEGOs for its exhibits.
Coming up next, a look at the BMW 550i.
Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours this Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, for the best insider information of what’s going on in the world of cars and the people who run the companies that make them. And you can find that at our website www.Autoline.tv
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But that wraps up this show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.