Episode 753 – Chevy’s Z-Spec Screamers, Ford to Restore Dividend, Thailand’s “Dryways”

October 25th, 2011 at 11:30am

Runtime: 7:06

The bowtie brand prepares to make a big splash at SEMA with its Z-Spec small cars. Ford inches toward an investment-grade rating. Thailand highways turn into parking lots, literally. All that and more, plus a look at how BMW is merging high performance and high fuel economy with the new Z4.

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This is Autoline Daily for October 25, 2011, and now the news.

Chevy is making a big splash at SEMA. The bowtie-brand is showing off a new lineup of customization options for the Sonic and Cruze small cars. These so-called Z-Spec options are being evaluated for production. They include styling, personalization and performance enhancements – things like ground-effects kits, body graphics and unique wheels. Inside it includes new trim, unique seats and sport steering wheels. High-flow exhaust systems and upgraded brakes are also available for real driving enthusiasts. These upgrades should add some sizzle to GM’s B- and C-segment offerings.

Ford’s Boss 302 Mustang has had its share of controversy. The muscle machine is in trouble with the California Air Resources Board over the TracKey, which uncorks its 5.0-liter engine for maximum performance. Now, according to Autoblog, if owners opt for the magic key they will see their warranties dramatically shortened. Ford backs up the powertrain with a five-year, 60,000-mile guarantee, but rumor has it that could fall to just three-years and 36,000 miles if Boss owners go with the TracKey. Additionally, ANY bolt-on performance modifications will COMPLETELY VOID the warranty. Naturally, Ford spokes folks say there are no reliability issues to worry about. You’ve been warned.

Speaking of Ford, Bloomberg reports that it’s getting ready to restore its stock dividend, and that in itself could pay additional dividends for the company. It puts Ford one step closer to earning an investment-grade rating, and that will put it back on the list for many portfolio managers who are not allowed to invest in stocks with less than an investment-grade rating.

NAFTA CAR MARKET GROWS STRONG (subscription required)
For automakers and suppliers, the NAFTA region is a hugely important market. While the United States market gets most of the attention, the Canadian and Mexican markets provide a critical mass for almost everyone in the business. So far this year, sales in the NAFTA region are up more than 9 percent, with 11.3 million vehicles sold. While the Mexican market is the smallest of the three, it’s actually growing the fastest. And while the Canadian market is only up modestly this year, that’s because the Canadian economy has been strong for several years and sales never fell off that much. And I point this out because outside of the car companies and suppliers, people seem to lose track of just how big the NAFTA market has become.

Highways can turn into parking lots if there’s a crash or other problems, but right now in Thailand their motorways are literally turning into parking lots. In an effort to stay high and dry, drivers are parking their cars on highways to avoid the flooding that’s devastating the country. According to The Bangkok Post, around 500 vehicles were illegally stopped on an elevated stretch of road in the capital city.

Coming up next, a look at the new BMW Z4, but especially its new powertrain and what it means for the rest of the BMW line-up.

BMW is the ultimate driving machine, but these days you can’t have your performance without getting good fuel economy, and Seamus McElroy reports on one of the ways that BMW is doing this.

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

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

49 Comments to “Episode 753 – Chevy’s Z-Spec Screamers, Ford to Restore Dividend, Thailand’s “Dryways””

  1. Ron Paris Says:

    I wonder if Shamus verified that 29MPG claim on the Z4 or just accepted the car’s computer display reading. I’m always amazed how much faith people put in these electronic calculations. My admitedly limited experience with them leads me to doubt their accuracy.

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I wonder whether BMW flirted with the description of their engine enhancing features to: uberEcoboost. (tongue firmly inserted into cheek)

  3. Tony Gray Says:

    Seamus is living the life!

  4. MJB Says:

    Hmmmm… Let’s see now…

    The 3,252lb 2012 BMW Z4 roadster with a twin-turbo 4-cyclinder engine + 8-speed automatic got Sheamus a tad over 25mpg highway.

    My 3,585lb 1993 Lexus SC400 normally aspirated 8-cylinder + 4-speed automatic gets me 25mpg highway…

    Hmmmm…. Someth’n just don’t sound right here folks.

    How in the world does an 18-year V8 with a 4-speed match the highway mileage numbers of a brand new 8-speed twin-turbo 4 that weighs less???

  5. LS ford Says:

    Boss Mustang Track Key

    Do we really think owners of a 42k+ mustang are really concerned about warranty? I think that if they go for the track key (whole point of the Boss) they are not too concerned about MPG and warranties.

    if this was a B segment car that a performance key was issued, it might be a bigger issue.

  6. tj Martin Says:

    VW / Winterkorn

    Ahhhhhh…. just when Kaiser Winterkorn is once again pronouncing VW will be #1 ……..

    This little Tid Bit hits the news


    I’m telling you ( and HtG con confirm it ) when it comes to the German Economy in general and VW specifically , they’re both playing a very Crafty Shell Game Worldwide

    Question is ;

    In spite of Marchionne and FIAT/Chryslers seeming insurmountable lead , will Winterkorn and VW still manage make it to the Finish Line ( financial disaster ) in First Place ?



  7. tj Martin Says:

    @ LS ford

    Couldn’t agree more ! (#5)

    You don’t buy a Fire Breathing , Asphalt Destroying , Euro Kicking Muscle Car for its Warranty and MPG

    You buy the BOSS302 cause its the Baddest Boy on the Block , you’re planning on kicking some tail ( Euro and otherwise ) and most of all because …….

    IT’S FUN ! 8)

    Nuff said .


    @ MJB

    in light of the fact that my GLK is getting 21.5 mpg according to my calculations ( computer says its better ) ….

    #4 is a _______ good question !

    Seems either someone miscalculated with the BMW ……. or ….
    BMW messed up !

  8. Jon M Says:

    @ #1, Ron Paris

    I compare my vehicles caluculations against what each of my two vehicles calculate and have done so for each vehicle I have owned that displayed that info. By and large, the results are usually within a few tenths of what I get. Of course that can very form vehicle to vehicle, so my obersvations may not be similar to what others might say. Nevertheless, I would say that overall they are pretty accurate; although I still figure the MPG on my own.

  9. HtG Says:

    MJB, what Seamus isn’t going to tell the BMW PR people is that he put the top down and bent the go pedal for a hundred miles. You don’t have to tell them, Seamus. They already know.

  10. HtG Says:

    On Suzuki. When Suzuki says that VW, “significantly disparaged Suzuki’s honor,” it isn’t just business anymore. Somebody’s going to have to bow deeply to fix this one.

  11. HtG Says:

    the thought of the BOSS with a track key, makes me want to run into a wall and bite something. Not exactly the right stuff for sitting at a desk, nor is warranty coverage the issue here.

  12. Jon M Says:

    Undoubtedly, Ford anticipates that buyers who opt for the trackey will surely take advantage of the added power on the track, street, or both, and that such wringing-out of the car will increase wear and tear in the short-term, as well as increase the potential for breakdowns. Therefore, if Autoblog’s claims are true, then Ford is just proactively reducing their potential warranty expense based on the aforementioned perception. But of course, the company will publicly state that buyers have no worry of reliability issues, they’ll just forget to mention that it is only if you drive “responsibly” and with due care. But what does anyone expect? Besides, if you can buy one and opt for the trackey, a warranty is probably the least of your concerns.

  13. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Seamus’ final destination average was 29 mpg (end of the report, stated); makes a little more sense at that level. Without the mountains and (probably some extra spirited driving) will easily top 30 hwy.

  14. tj Martin Says:

    BOSS 302 revisited ;

    To continue with HtG’s thought ;

    The thought of a BOSS 302 under my seat , Track Key in hand makes me wanna go hurt someone ( ego wise )

    Liker eerrrmm …… the guy up the street with the very nice BMW M3 …. or say the clown down the road with the Hemi new Charger who keeps peeling out down my street ……. or the Dodo with the Dodge P/U thats convinced he’s somehow top dog …. or that obnoxiously modified E30 3 series that can’t seem to resist stomping on the Go Pedal at each and every light ….. Coffee Can Muffler flagellating all the way

    Yup . The very idea of the BOSS 302 makes me wanna go all Neanderthal/ Postal towards the local Racer Wanna Be crew .

    Now aren’t you all glad I didn’t buy one ? ;-)

    I’m sure if they knew , everyone within 100 miles of me certainly is !

    Now if only Hertz would place the BOSS 302 in their lineup

  15. tj Martin Says:

    NJ F1

    Announcement to be broadcast on Speed TV 2:00 pm EDT

    I’ll post the details ( assuming that HtG fellow doesn’t beat me to it ) as soon as its done

  16. tj Martin Says:

    F1 NJ

    Its real !

    Where- Weehawken NJ ( kudos HtG)

    When – June 2013

    What – Road course around the area including elevations of the Pallisades w/ spectacular view of Manhattan ( film shows it ) said by Steve Matchett to most closely resemble Monaco

    How – Full Public Transportation access from NJ and NYC

    And best of all IMHO

    ZERO SUBSIDIES from NYC , NJ or the town and County of Weehawken . ZERO Tax Dollars spent . ZERO State revenues to be used .

    Are you listening Elon Musk , Henrik Fisker etc etc ?


    NJ F1 2013

    Be there or be Square

  17. HtG Says:

    what is Formula 1′s fee for the race? It seems to me Bernie needs this, too.

  18. HtG Says:

    most of the tourists will stay in NYC

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well aware of that area in NJ since I used to live there, Boulevard East where I assume the race will take place is a winding, hilly, challenging roadway and the residents will appreciate the fact that they will need to repave the road surface which I hear from friends who still live there needs help with potholes and such.

  20. tj Martin Says:

    NJ F1 epilogue

    With the announcement today of the NJ GP needing again , ZERO SUBSIDIES from Federal State County or City governments/tax payers , to put on the race , pay Uncle Bernie’s fees , promote it , build the facilities etc …

    We’ll all have to assume that the grand total combination of Silicon Valley ( Elon Musk & Friends ) GM ( with the VOLT ) as well as a burned out Automotive Designer ( Henrik Fisker ) and the City of Austin and its GP owners ( who’ve taken massive amounts of State funds to finance the race ) …..

    Do not have either the Business Acumen , Financial Capabilities nor the Organizational Skills of a few Jersey Boys and their NYC compatriots .

    The West may think they’re the best …

    … But the East is THE Beast ( when it comes to business )

    Eat your hearts out CA , Austin , Indy etc . The Jersey Boys are here …. and will be showing you all the way .

    ( FYI you can take the Boy out of New Jersey , but you can’t take the New Jersey out of the Boy . But you guys knew that …… didn’t you ? :-) )

  21. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    New Jersey IS the second definition of PotHoles

    NYC being the primary one .

    Right HtG ?

  22. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    According to the Official F1 website .. $40 million is Bernie’s cut per race event

  23. C-Tech Says:

    The Chevy Z-spec items look great but what always hinders their sales is the high price at the dealership. If GM can somehow get these items reasonable priced, they will be ahead of the curve.

  24. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    So HtG is you coming ?

    I know its a bit off but I’ve already called the family to let em know I’ll be there .

    The only question is … do I stay with family ( Mrs and I have privacy issues so I doubt it ) or book a nice hotel in NYC and treat the wife to some Broadway as well as show her my old haunts in Hells Kitchen etc

    Me thinks the later . Then the rest of the week either at Cape May or a jog up to Martha’s Vineyard .

    Hmmmmn . The more I think about this the better it gets


    Little dinner time etc w/family

    F1 Race

    Martha’s Vineyard and a little beach time .

    Yup !

    Thats a winner for all involved

  25. HtG Says:

    cost. if 100K people pay 363 for the weekend then that’s 36M. If the F1 fee is 40M/year, then I can see how the books might balance.

    course. I like the diversity of the layout. the uphill will test the motors. The curves going along the palisades will put a premiu on getting your rhythm right, like Suzuka. Good seats where the cars go left than right; that’s what intrigues me.

    Hell’s Kitchen. I dont’t think the Minnesota strip is what it used to be. NY is very different than only a few years ago.

  26. Steve Says:

    Ron @ #1 In general, the mpg indicated on your vehicle is pretty accurate over a tank or 2. It averages the most recent several hundred samples. As your driving conditions change, for instance you go from freeway to stop and go, obviously it doesn’t change instantaneously, but it would be very accurate for the freeway, and if you reset it for the stop and go, and for the most part, over a tank or two. If you check your manual, it will probably tell you how to best utilize your particular vehicle’s algorythm.

  27. HtG Says:

    Of course, now I will have to go drive the course.

  28. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Aww heck HtG . I knows that NYC…. even in its former deepest recesses have been for the most part … well and good Gentrified

    Kind of a shame in some respects . Maybe not in some others .

    I will ( and do ) miss those family Deli’s and ethnic restaurants that have been pushed to the wayside though .

    My old technique of finding the best Jewish Deli in any greater NYC neighborhood ( wait outside any Synagogue and follow the Rabbi’s to where ever they go to lunch ) having long since become obsolete .

    snif :(

  29. XA351GT Says:

    I’ll bet BOSS owners will let their warranties naturally expire then grab their trackey and kick butt.

    Those Zspec Chevs look cool but how cheap is the car once your done adding 4K worth of crap to it. By then you at the price of a v6 Camaro or Mustang. Everyone knows what will have the better resale value and it won’t be a Sonic or Spark.

    This kind of reminds me of a segment on Gearz . Where the host sings the virtues of the Ram 1500 Express pick up. For it’s V8 power, manual tranny, No options and Low sticker price and then proceeds to put nearly 7K in add ons. Now it’s 30K and the same price as if you had bought all the options already on the truck.

  30. HtG Says:

    I can’t say much about food, but these cellphones have changed the street life in a bad way. You don’t share space with other people when they’ve got headphones on, and are looking at their gadget. Too many chainstores have come in too(they even took DwayneReade upscale), H&H went BK due to non payment of back taxes, no more Coliseum books, lower east side went hipster, some great new buildings like Gehry’s apartments downtown, new MOMA, meatpacking district full of galleries and shops. A very different place, NYC changes all the time. It’s like Fran Leibowitz says to ‘the tourists,’ “do you like it? We made it for you.”

  31. tj Martin Says:

    @ XA351GT

    # 29

    + 1 with an exclamation point

    Why buy an inline four wanna be when you could a had a V6 Really Is for the the same price , not to mention as you said the resale value down the road

    Not to mention the Mustang V6 is a heck of a good handler and for a few dollars more ( cue in Ennio Morricone ) you can hop the thing up enough to turn it into a V8 chasing road monster .


    #30 Remember NYC was my old stomping grounds in my twenties ,I’ve come back on many occasions , so I’m familiar with how things change there etc .

    But thats OK , NYC is still NYC at its core no matter how much the surface junk changes over .

    e.g. they can build all the Gehry buildings they want . import as many Metro Sexual Hipsters as they can ( in case you wondered what MS meant yesterday ) cram as many Chain Stores as the neighborhoods can hold

    At its core its still NYC . The attitude , the posture , the whole nine yards .

    Trends come and go there but its essence forever remains

    ( that was a Fran L quote paraphrased and extended BTW )

  32. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    re; walking in NYC

    Personally , electronic do dads or not , I’ve never found New Yorkers to be the most accommodating individuals when it comes to street manners etc …… resorting to the time honored NYC ” Get the ___ out of my way or I’ll run your ____ over ” attitude when toodling around the City . ( implied by actions not stated BTW )

    Of course being 6’4″ doesn’t hurt , but i’ve found that attitude comes in handy in other Cities world wide as well .

    I’ll cue the Mrs in when I’m about to adapt that ‘ attitude ‘ by simply saying ” Its NYC time honey … just follow me ”

    Amazing how well it works when needed .


  33. HtG Says:

    better make sure you get to the curb when you want to cross, because too many of these punters don’t know the old ways. So many tourists just standing there. The walking was always my thing. Will you and Lady tj be dining at Gray’s Papaya?

  34. Rafi N Says:

    Something just isn’t right about the new BMW vehicles. First, the nomenclature on new Bimmers is confusing. It used to be that a 325i was a 3 (series) 2.5 (liter) i (inline 6). Now, a 2.0 I4 Turbo is called the 328i. What’s the logic in that? Second, if the new fuel-economy numbers are right for the turbo 4, then BMW made a huge mistake replacing the silky-smooth I6 with this engine. Years ago, my 1999 Accord (with a 5-speed manual and 2.3 liter I4) got 26 mpg around town. Now, the 13-years newer, lighter, 8-speed BMW gets worse gas mileage on the freeway. However, I do like the styling of the new BMWs and I hope they are still fun to drive, but you just can’t ignore those points that I mentioned, or can you?

  35. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Oh dear oh me oh my !

    You’ve struck upon my Culinary Weakness as well as my bad ( being a bit of the foodie gourmet )

    Mystery meat in a bun . Yum ! Much as I may cook some of the finest you’ve eaten . Much as we may go to some of the best restaurants in the US ( Kelly Lichen in Vail CO is our 2011 # 1 most likely not to be beaten )

    I’ll walk a mile for a really good Hot Dog .

    All time Favorites

    Pinks CA
    Jappa Dog Vancouver BC
    Biker Jims Denver CO

    and of course Papaya Dog

    So in short . Yup . At least once ! Its a MUST

  36. HtG Says:

    When my cuz moved on W72nd, I introduced him to Gray’s. Afterthat, he was addicted. My small contribution.

    (did you mean Papaya King, tj?)

  37. tj Martin Says:

    NJ F1

    Here’s the NYTimes article with details and a map

    Hee Hee the Jersey Boys are already talking Trash on the Austin event !

    God I miss that sometimes ,talking trash and the attitude , not living in NJ or NYC any longer 8)


    @ HtG- Sorry , in my mind its always been stuck as Papaya Dog . Who knows why . Just one of my foibles .

    Papaya King Papaya King Papaya King ………… ( doing my penance )

    As to the cuz , I mean really …… after one bite who wouldn’t be ?

    I’ll also admit to a weakness for a Nathans Dog with the works

  38. HtG Says:

    F1. sometimes the NYT is just so ‘stick and ball,’ as PDL says it. So Hendry is private equity. The finance on this will be interesting, and there will be a title sponsor apparently. Guesses?

  39. cwolf Says:

    Chevy’s Z-SPEC’s should look pretty nifty,but not much emphasis was put on exactly what performance enhancements were to be had. A turtle with a race stripe is still a turtle.

    tj: You must have read the CR evaluation of your new toy. I’m curious of what was found to deserve such a bad rating.

  40. pedro fernandez Says:

    TJ, just read that Jersey City Mayor Healy does not want race to take place, citing environmental issues, there’s always got to be a party pooper in the bunch. The words Jersey and environment should never be in the same sentence, anyways. You need a gas mask to drive on the NJ Turnpike.

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    This CR reliability study is surely baffling, Jeep moving up while Ford and GM down? I find that hard to believe and very disappointing to see that the Cruze is not doing well in reliability results. I still would never, ever buy any Chrysler product.

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    Scion is 100% made in Japan by a Toyota supplier, and that explains why they keep doing well, Mazda has improved maybe because of the Ford split up?

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Jeep had nowhere to go but up.

    The results on Cruze were disappointing. The worst “trouble area” was squeaks and rattles, not as bad as blown engines, but something that can be quite annoying.

    I would probably buy any car in the U.S. market if I really liked it, regardless of CR or J.D. Powers data. The best and worst are not that far apart. I’ve had a couple fairly recent VW’s, always at the bottom of these ratings, and they were ok. I’d buy Chrysler too, if they had what I wanted.

  44. HtG Says:

    That’s how they do it! The land around Port Imperial is for sale. The coming F1 race will raise property values. Leo Hendry is private equity. The F1 race will finance itself by selling real estate rights to investors, so Imperatore can get out. That’s why Hendry was remarking upon a restaurant in the area he’d like to buy. What a relief. Found the course on Google my fat ass.(sorry John, Gordon’s again)

  45. Robert Morrison Says:

    I cannot understand that you missed the passing of a big news story. The passing of the Crown Victoria Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car
    1979-2012 R.I.P
    10,000,000 sold the plant it was made in closed but also made some great cars including the Falcon, Maverick, Pinto/bobcat, Fairmont/zephyr, Escort/Lynx Exp/LN-7.
    Not a mention of the passing of one the most recognizable vehicles around.
    Maybe a small eulogy in you said it?
    The auto world has a void in it now!!!!!

  46. HtG Says:

    F1. Port Imperial is owned by Arthur Imperatore, who also owns the surrounding flat lands by the Hudson. Here’s a company history, the reliability of which I can’t verify.

    “But Imperatore’s vision for the property was grand and ambitious: he wanted to build a new, privately managed Venetian city, complete with townhouses, hotels, banks, schools, and churches, as well as an observation tower inspired by Leonardo da Vinci. He would call it Port Imperial, and it became his obsession. The estimated price tag was $5 billion.”


    This project for F1 in Weehauken may be a big real estate deal. Imperatore also owns the NJ Devils, so it’s not hard to see how the YES Network’s Leo Hendry and the Imperatore group come to know each other. We’ll see.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Isn’t that old news? I thought they built the last Crown Vic in mid-September.

  48. HtG Says:

    sorry, bad info. Imperatore doesn’t own the NJ Devils anymore.

  49. dcars Says:

    I think the real question is weather NJ can put up with the influx of all those Europeans for an entire week.