Episode 780 – Automakers Boost Production, Aptera Pulls the Plug, VW Plant Wins Green Award

December 5th, 2011 at 11:15am

Runtime: 6:40

Automakers are ramping up their production plans for the first quarter of 2012. EV start-up company Aptera announced it’s closing its doors because the company is out of money. Volkswagen’s new factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee was just rated the greenest auto assembly plant in the world. All that and more, plus a look at the new Volkswagen Beetle.

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This is Autoline Daily for December 5th. That means there’s only 20 more shopping days left to Christmas, but in the meantime, let’s look at the news.

AUTOMAKERS BOOST PRODUCTION (subscription required)
New car sales are slowing climbing back in the U.S. market, and it looks like the car companies expect sales to get even better. Wards reports that automakers are ramping up their production plans for the first quarter of 2012. They are going to boost production by 10 percent to nearly 3.7 million units, the highest production in five years. Some companies expect to do more than that. Chrysler, for example, will boost production almost 19 percent.

But as they are ramping up, one is ramping down. EV start-up company Aptera announced it’s pulling the plug on its operations. In a statement, CEO Paul Wilbur said the company is out of money. Aptera had hoped to get a loan from the Department of Energy but couldn’t come up with matching funds.

And speaking of companies that are struggling, we’re back to Saab. Yesterday Reuters reported that the Bank of China is working with Youngman Lotus to take stake in Saab and would replace Pang Da as an investor. But today Bloomberg reports that Youngman Lotus denies that the Bank of China is involved in the talks.

Volkswagen’s new factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee was just rated the greenest auto assembly plant in the world. It won LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The facility has lots and lots of insulation, it has a hydroelectric power source; the exterior is illuminated with LED lights; and they even collect rain water to cool welding equipment and flush toilets. GM has the second-greenest plant; its gold-certified Lansing Delta Township factory in Michigan.

Bloomberg reports a convoy of eight Ferraris and one Lamborghini were involved in a 14-car crash in Japan yesterday. The accident occurred when a driver switched lanes and skidded out of control. The vehicles were valued at more than $1 million. Thankfully nobody was injured or killed. A Japanese police official called the pileup a “gathering of narcissists.”

The most recent reincarnation of the Volkswagen Beetle didn’t sell very well around the world. At first it did reasonably well in the American market, but sales soon fell off, and it didn’t help that Volkswagen failed to freshen the design for more than a decade. But now, as you know, we have an all-new version of the Beetle, and here are our impressions.

I love the new styling of the Beetle. To me it almost looks as if it could have come out of Porsche’s design studio. And I’ll bet is sells a lot better in markets outside of North America.

Remember to join us tomorrow night when “Autoline” becomes “Open Line” and you can join our conversation with Bob Lutz. Visit Autoline.tv or even listen in on the phone, and you’ll have your chance to talk to the man himself. Open Line starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time and you can call in at 712-432-0900 and PIN 911633. That’s tomorrow night.

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

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123 Comments to “Episode 780 – Automakers Boost Production, Aptera Pulls the Plug, VW Plant Wins Green Award”

  1. cwolf Says:

    The new beetle is cute,but it’s way too expensive for the targeted buyer. And 24 grand for a turbo is a joke to anyone with a thread of common sense. This is a girls car where the base model will be the most desired.

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I saw a new New Beetle a couple weeks ago, and I liked it. It is less “cartoony,” both inside and out, than the old one, and I really liked the wheels. They are alloy wheels, painted black, but with trim rings and center caps to make then look kind of like the steel wheels on a 60′s beetle.

  3. LS ford Says:

    on VW…
    Customization?? Graphics, vehicle wraps and wheel options? I think when you buy one of these you are automatically set out from the crowd. How manny cars have a flower holder in them?? I think this is silly marketing, but who knows it may just work.

    As for aptera, another great idea down the drain, brought to you by taxpayer dollars and also death by those same dollars. Good idea, just lacking in all the details required to get non taxpayer funding. Maybe they should change the name to Fisker or Tesla and then they might survive??

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Even the base Beetle is $23,395 with sunroof and automatic, which is how most of the girls who buy them will want them equipped.

  5. cwolf Says:

    Production may be picking up in preparation for the first qtr. of 2012,but for how long? My company is also adding new machines to its lines. IMO,this is an encouraging sign that won’t last to the 3 rd. qtr. We have not seen the end of the worlds problems or the hurdles that lay ahead for the US. The banking situation scares the heck out of me,so my cash will stay where it is. Loosing 2% due to inflation is a lot better than loosing your shirt!

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Fisker and Tesla have something closer to real cars than Aptera. The 3 wheeled, not likely to be crashworthy, styling exercise didn’t have much going for it, even among people who like the idea of EV’s.

  7. LS ford Says:

    I agree Kit, but I do not agree that government should be supporting any of these guys. You want to make a car, find your own private financing and do it. Stop pandering the government to support your ambitions. No matter how good they are. I think Tesla and Fisker are the right idea, but I do not want to pay for someone else’s fortune to be made.

  8. tj Martin Says:

    # 1

    +1 . The new ‘ New Beetle ‘ looks to my eyes as if the Jolly Green Giant : in a fit of anger over VW’s lack of reliability , went over to Der Vaterland and promptly SAT his massive bulk upon the old ‘ New Beetle ‘ … squashing its roofline in some pathetic and pastiche like attempt to ‘ Mimic the looks of the American ‘ Chop Top ‘ styling

    Saying this little travesty is in any way resembles ANYTHING from theDesign Studios of Porsche … or Porsche Design is an INSULT to the company


    APTERA ? Like Herman Cain . one less pretentious piece of junk to chose from with the likes of TESLA and Fisker soon to follow : then the VOLT pulling up the rear in E/V’s mad lemming like dash for the cliffside .

    Hint to all E/V manufactures – One word . Seppuku . Its quicker , cheaper and will save the Tax Payers billions ;-)



    Nice to know we’re not the only ones with the ‘ More Money Than Brains ‘ crowd prowling the streets in exotic cars , that though they can afford them , have ZERO clue as how to drive the beasts .

    FYI -This being the perfect description for the majority of Ferrari owners , especially here in the US

  9. HtG Says:

    Now, I’m pissed! Would somebody please explain to me why a Ferrari pile up has narcissism written all over it?

  10. tj Martin Says:


    +1 x 10

    I’ve had it up to my ears with these pathetic travesties of automotive manufacturing ( E/V makers ) riding on the backs of the American Tax Payer , who by the sales figures of the (re)VOLT(ing) & Leaf (it) alone have PROVEN irregardless of what Mr Paine(InTheNeck) professes in his films that they DO NOT WANT


  11. tj Martin Says:


    Errrrr Owning a Ferrari , or ANY exotic in Japan and you still need to ask that question HtG ?

    I’m terribly disappointed in you mien freund . Terribly disappointed :o

  12. cwolf Says:

    For as much as I drive,I never see any exotic cars. An occasional 911 and a Maserati traveling to a rich burge outside Toledo. And this fella drives it like an ol’lady going to Sunday Mass.

  13. Zieke Says:

    If you can afford a Ferrari or a Lambo, are you in love with yourself?? What a stupid cop. Maybe he should have called the pileup “a gathering of lousy drivers of supercars” Most of those folks driving those kinds of cars will not admit that the vehicles will readily out perform them.

  14. HtG Says:

    You guys think Lutz is going on Openline with Michelle Naranjo to try and put out the fire over the Volt?

    I’ll try to ask about some other matter, related to ‘Car Guys.’ What will tj ask?

  15. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    # 14

    Tj’s not speaking to L(p)utz any more what with his incessant support of E/V’s and the (re)VOLT(ing ) in particular

    Tj’s vellee vellee Ocate with Mr Lutz these days !

    @ Zieke – # 13 – In fact I’d have to say ( having been an ‘ F’ word owner and club member myself ) in answer to your question …….. 90% of the time the answer is a resounding YES !

  16. cwolf Says:

    On a different E/V tangent,I wonder why we hear little about owners in Northern (cold/snow) climates? Ya’d thaink someone in Canada would have some comment to share.

  17. tj Martin Says:


    In KC tons of 911′s from basic to GT2′s to Ruf modified ones . An inordinate amount of Maserati’s . A few Ferraris and quite a few Bentley/Rolls roaming about . For a Midwest town KC’s got quite a car culture going on here , both new and classic

  18. HtG Says:

    17 One word, Kaufman. Aren’t there a few trading firms around you, tj? You should see what happens to the Porsche percentage when you cross into Connecticut. Also, if you were wondering where all the Saabs are….

  19. RS Says:

    another vote for #7

    If government needs to support “green” initiatives, they should set a standard and force applicants to exceed that standard in order to qualify. That way, the best technology could come from any fuel source, not just from our soon-to-be-overloaded electricity grid. Very shortsighted (but typical of the four-years-in-office crowd).

    We need to remove the letter “B” from their vocabulary – as in “B illions”. A billion is a HUGE amount! A billion seconds ago it was around 1980 and the world was a very different place. Politicians seem to throw around the word billion with no recognition of the impact of their actions.

  20. cwolf Says:

    For the past few weeks a growing number of M/B’s of varying models have been noticed ,while driving the pike. Appears that $100K is the limit spent aroud here.

  21. Dave Says:

    @17: Ooh hey that’s got to be a first — an American asking for Canada’s opinion! :-P I don’t have a pure EV so I can’t comment specifically on battery range, but I do have a Camry Hybrid (07) which has a full EV mode. It still works fine in the Canadian winters (Kingston, Ontario, about two hours north of Syracuse, NY to be specific), overall a very decent winter car. Though the economy does suffer a little bit in certain conditions (city driving in heavy traffic on a cold day) because the gas engine stays on until it’s up to temperature and comes back on when it gets too cold even when not needed for propulsion (I think they’re trying to avoid an excessive number of cold starts). I’m seriously considering the 2012 Camry Hybrid this spring so I’ll be curious to see if it behaves any differently.

  22. cwolf Says:

    Oh pedro,where are you? Seems like there is one in every family! My kid brother bought a Dodge Journey. He always asks for my advice,but never listens. I told him to buy used…..,but nooooo!

  23. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Two words actually . Add in Bloch ( as in H&R Block )

  24. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Oh and add in Kemper to the mix as well .

  25. HtG Says:

    So here’s what happened in Japan. Some time ago I was driving on the highway when I looked in my mirrors and saw a Viper coming. Then a modified Vette, and then some Fcar. They were weaving through traffic, and when they came by me they were going about ninety(I sped up). Does anybody not think that those dingnuts in Japan were doing something like that? And that one guy made a mistake? Or that someone they were closing on did something they weren’t expecting? Maybe that’s what the cop meant by narcissists.

  26. cwolf Says:

    @21 Dave; Don’t get your nickers in a bind! I asked about over-all comments,not opinions! You’re still a Canucker and own a hybred. A third strike and your out in the cold forever! Just funn’in

  27. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    You and pedro think you got clueless car buying relatives ?

    At least yours . though buying unreliable heaps are buying cheap ( in comparison ) unreliable heaps

    After my uncle in NJ sat with me for hours drilling me on my advice as to whether to buy a Jaguar S or a M-B E class ……. what does he go out and buy ?

    The Jag . This site isn’t larger enough for me to post all the problems he’s has since he got it . He bought it new BTW ( I even tried to talk him into th Lincoln LS , showing him it WAS the Jaguar S without the body style and Lucas Prince of Darkness Jaguar electronics )

  28. cwolf Says:

    tj,where did you,pedro and I go wrong! If every piece of sound advice goes in one ear and out the other,it’s like,…why bother?

  29. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Probably a little jealousy (by the Cop in Japan); name callers in every nationality I suppose. Not that some of the rich aren’t, but it’s always dangerous to generalize on such a wide-open subject (in this case vehicle ownership). Not to mention the quip about old guys (60, old, really?) The guy who crashed definitely made a bad mistake but it was a comedy of errors that happened to take out the whole group of them (got a Prius too) :)

  30. Chuck Grenci Says:

    And agree on some of the earlier posts (about the Beetles being expensive); entry level was just shy of 20 grand. It’s all up from there, and there are just too many better vehicles, for that kind of money IMO. But if you gotta have one, well, Volks will sell you one.

  31. tj Martin Says:


    Slightly off topic , but not really ( this will affect the auto industry )

    Anyone read the details of Kaiserette Merkel’s proposals for saving the Euro ?

    For all intensive purposes she’s demanding every other EU Country surrender their financial autonomy , as well as several other areas of decision making . To who else ? Well Germany of course ( seeing as how their financial problems have yet to surface ) Even Sarcozy , who technically would be the other Country in charge is balking at the idea .

    So I guess the Kaiserette has taken the viewpoint that if Germany can’t overrun Europe by force they’ll do it financially instead

    Not accepting the Euro Currency standard is turning out to be the smartest thing the UK has done in the last fifty years

    And any country that gives into Kaiserette’s demands are a bunch a fools .

    Better to suffer short term loss from the demise of the Euro than to hand your country over , Lock , Stock & Barrel to Germany or any other country for that matter .

    Funny also , in light of the Billions in Aid the BRICS have received from the EU over the decades , that not a Single one is stepping up to the plate to offer any financial relief to the EU .


    Well gentlemen , IF & When Kaiserette Merkel starts making comments like ‘ Master Race ‘ etc , you’ll know when to start ducking here in the US as well . Now where’s that NRA membership card ?

  32. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG – Sorry my minds not up to snuff today . Add in the Halls ( as in Hallmark ) to the list as well

    @ cwolf – Nobody ever listens ! To anyone even if they’re the ones asking for the advice .

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    Soon, the EV1 will have company in EV heaven.

  34. tj Martin Says:


    Yeah that was the one positive in the accident ( nailing the Prius with a bunch of high dollar , gas sucking Exotics ) There’s something both Ironic and vaguely Poetic in that if you ask me


    ( Kit’ll hate me for that ….. but hey … he hates me anyway so … )

  35. Chuck Grenci Says:

    To John McElroy: did Wards mention which models were going to see the increase in production next year; remembering when it was ‘lesson learned’ not to overproduce so as to keep demand/price at profitable levels. (They, the auto companies couldn’t/wouldn’t have forgotten the lesson they supposedly just learned already). I say that last statement with tongue firmly inserted in cheek.

  36. HtG Says:

    34 Who wants to bet the Prius balked the Ferrari? Who wants to bet the high self-regarding Prius driver did it on purpose?

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    #22, Cwolf, maybe he should bring the Journey to a priest so he can sprinkle some holy water on the thing and tell him to keep a sharp ear for any brake issue that will most likely pop up. These people don’t want to listen to us car gurus, shameful waste of talent and knowledge

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    #34 maybe they thought they were playing Playstation games.

  39. cwolf Says:

    tj, the Euro situation has no good solution. If the Euro is dumped,the chosen dollar values of countrys,like Greece,will be so devalued,they will never be able to afford the assistance needed to get the slightest foothold on their financial problems. Because Merkels idea is frowned upon,all monies will be divied out by the IMF which is backed by guess who? We,the US, will pay dearly. As I said before,give it another 6 mo. and our auto industry will no longer be able to be the only identity keeping our economy a float.

  40. HtG Says:

    27 The only explanation I have for an uncle choosing a Jag over a MB is that there’s just too many Benzes around NY. You don’t see a Jag at every corner. Otherwise, I would have thought the decision was a no brainer. Seriously, I see a Jaguar, I think, ‘whoa, check it out.’

  41. cwolf Says:

    pedro, I’ll jokingly advise my brother to join the “Rotery Club” and I bet this will be the time he listens!

  42. cwolf Says:

    @40 HtG: We must share part of the same wave-length,my friend,except for a few added words. When I see a new Jag,I think,”whoa,check it out…it’s still running!”

  43. HtG Says:

    42 No, you about hit it, cwolf. I just left those thoughts out of my post. I always wonder what the owner is putting up with.

  44. tj Martin Says:

    HtG – Number 36

    Heeheeheehee :O

    #40 – that was his reasoning ( same in NJ )

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    Call me loco, but on Sat I inadvertently filled up with premium (dumbass) and I’ve noticed the Vibrolla is less so, and seems to get me to my desired speed with less bitchin’and moanin’ even though every thing I’ve ever read says taht getting 93 oct for a car designed to run on 87 is a miserable waste of money. I did read the manual and it says: “use gasoline with minimum of 87 octane, not less”

  46. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    #39 – We already are my friend ( the Federal Reserve handing out billions into EU countries since the bailouts of the late 2000′s )

    And ANYTHING is better than handing over your autonomy over yo ANY other country than your own

    I’d prefer abject poverty over having the likes of Merkel overseeing my personal Bank Accounts never mind my countries

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Regarding the Beetle, people will buy it, not because it’s a good value, but because they “like it.” A base Beetle is about the same price as a base MINI. Neither is a good value compared to, say, a Versa hatch, but I bought a MINI, and people will buy the Beetle.

    I suspect the new Beetle will have better “staying power” than the first New Beetle, especially if the quality is better. Also, the TDI will help sell the Beetle when it becomes available.

  48. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf & HtG

    re; Jaguar

    Old ( my era ) Gearhead axiom

    ” Got a problem with your car that neither you or any mechanic you know can diagnose ? Take it to a competent Jaguar mechanic”

    ” If he can fix a Jaguar , he can fix ANYTHING “

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If your car is actually running better, it could be that your pistons and/or cylinder heads have deposits of carbon that have raised the compression, and/or created hot spots.

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    @Dave, #21
    Does the affect of cold weather on your fuel economy seem to be about the same as with a non-hybrid, or is it greater (or smaller)?

  51. pedro fernandez Says:

    I remember my local Jag dealar had one guy there whose one and only job was to tune those old Jag V12′s before the advent of electronic ignition. He compared his work with that of a Swiss watchmaker.

  52. tj Martin Says:

    # 47

    At least the MINI is

    A) Fun to drive
    B) Gets lots of attention


    C) Is built on a bespoke platform , unlike the Badge engineered VW new ‘New Beetle ‘ which shares its platform with how many VW-AG platforms is it right now ? At least ten that I can come up with .


    VW ( truth in advertising ) Ad

    Yes sirreee Bob . Step right up you clueless and mindless hordes … to buy the new ‘ New VW Beetle ‘ which is in fact the VW Golf with a pretentious body that will neither handle nor perform any better than the Golf that its based on for …… has less interior room and is half as practical ……

    A mere $2000 + extra

  53. cwolf Says:

    pedro,pedro,pedro! You are driving a car that is ready for the bone yard. Using high test to make the lil’gal run a tad better is kind like she is giving you a clue that her engine ain’t upta snuff no more…don’t cha think? Use regular and drive her till she dies. You might consider buying now, while you still can drive the Vibrolla on/to a dealers lot. You’ll prolly get $400 and won’t have to have it hauled to the salvage yard a your expense!

  54. tj Martin Says:


    Higher octane gas would cure neither of those ills without the help of some FI cleaner etc

    It runs better because ………….

    Its higher octane gas , therefore burns more efficiently , thereby increasing the power output

    Didn’t you ever stuff AvGas into your muscle car back in the day Kit ?

  55. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf – #53

    Naaahhhh . I say load the little beast up with the highest octane gas you can get ahold of and run the little SOB into the ground !

    For all the good service its provided Pedro over the years the little car deserves to go out with a BANG (Maybe literally 8)) not a whimper .

  56. tj Martin Says:


    Just checking

  57. pedro fernandez Says:

    The use of premium was a mistake, I was paying attention to the senorita with J.Lo type derriere pumping gas next to me and pushed the damn wrong button on the pump, gas pump that is! I have read that unless the engine has a higher compression ratio, premium goes to waste.

  58. HtG Says:

    57 That was your id, choosing the high life for you, Pedro.

    So what’s it going to take to pry that car out your stable?

  59. cwolf Says:

    For sure,putting more $ into pedros car is out of the question. The REAL question is: How much long is the lil’beaty going to last? Any seers?

    tj, You’re too logical!I’m guessing at this point,but I don’t think leaving the Euro for absolute poverty is an alternative…at least in a political sense. Our gov’t and others will continue to kick the can down the road because it is the easiest solution. I don’t care if one is a democrate or republican,there is no solution. Regardless of party,they can’t afford to wait at least 6 yrs. for Europeean countries to re-establish their own currencies while remaining in doubt of the out-come. Guessing at all the possibilities is just too risky at this time.

  60. pedro fernandez Says:

    RE My Vibolla, Lottery, (hardly), raise, (even less likely), some long lost relative leaving me money, (don’t know of any), so I guess I’ll keep chugging along. Or I could auction it off at a nympho website where I’m sure it will fetch a good sum, enough for a down payment on a newer model.

  61. tj Martin Says:


    1) For shame Pedro , you being a married man and all :o

    2) Hope she was worth the extra cost of High Octane

    3) Not entirely true ( higher octane benefitting only high compression engines ) Any motor will benefit from a higher octane gas due to its more complete burn etc . I have the wife keep 91 in her Matrix during the winter months and the differences during the cold are measurable over her usual ( medium grade )

    The difference is that in an older higher octane mandated engine you’ll do damage to the motor running a low octane gas in it , whereas the new high tech ones like my Benz will recalibrate the entire electronics if it senses lower octane , so all you’ll notice is a slight decrease in HP and MPG

    And I still say ( unless you’re sick of it ) drive it till it drops Pedro . It deserves an ‘ Honorable ‘ death

  62. tj Martin Says:


    My wifes 92 Corolla is still running strong in the wilds of VT ( so extreme weather ) for its new owner , with some 225,000K on the odometer , so I’ll guess unless Pedro’s has some unforeseen problem it’ll do the same in a heartbeat .

  63. tj Martin Says:


    Trust me on this one cwolf

    NOBODY wants Germany running their finances . Nobody .

    Just hold onto your hat , cause the storm is a brewing and when Germany’s **** hits the fan you’ll know why I’m saying this

    Anyway read what all the pundits in the Economist – NYTimes etc are saying about what will happen should the Euro collapse

    There’ll be a couple or two rough years and a little sacrifice , but over time it would all iron itself out and in fact will probably be a whole lot better in the long run . Them folks in the EU are all too different to get along ( in fact even Italy doesn’t get along with itself between all the regions ) and in truth the Euro has been masking a whole lot of good and bad that independent economies would of revealed .

    This is a case of deal with the pain and discomfort Oral Surgery , but heal down the road vs getting your lower jaw amputated . And thats not overstating the case a bit


  64. tj Martin Says:


    Looks like Honda is vying to become the ‘ New Toyota ‘ when it comes to recalls

    Two Wheels or Four Honda can’t seem to catch a break of late


    F1 NEWS

    Forgot to post this one

    Ferrari and Red Bull Racing have pulled out of FOTA ( Formula One Teams Association ) This doesn’t bode well for the future of F1 anywhere , never mind the US

  65. cwolf Says:

    pedro,it would be interesting and informative to have a compression test done to your engine. If the compression is still reasonable,perhaps any number of inexpensive methods used for a duration to remove any carbon buildup would remidy the ailment. Heck,using high test for awhile may work! But I have seen,in my friends shop,people using an agressive amount of additives in old,ailing engines. It sure removed any build-up, but did such a good job the engine lost considerable compression,as a result. At least by June,you will know.This is my prediction.

  66. tj Martin Says:


    Here’s the full explanation of the accident


    Good call HtG . It was the Prius at the focal point of the crash Hee Hee . Poetry I tells ya . Pure Ironic Poetry .

    But … overall it was once again a bunch of underqualifified over zealous more money than brains Ferrari owners ( driving in pairs on a narrow road ????? ) that caused the whole thing

    Seriously ( and I’m not the only Ferrari owner , past or present to say this ) there should be some sort of very intensive drivers coarse and test before anyone , regardless of funds is allowed to buy any high performance exotic

    There’s far too many Idiots driving around in 150 mph + cars on public roads these days .

    Actually : and I know its gearhead heresy to say this , sometimes I think they should flat out ban exotics from the public roads all together .

  67. cwolf Says:

    I’m not doubting a thing you say,tj,about Germany or the fait of the Euro. My eyes are on our banking system and what is to come of the major player’s credit rating being lowered last week. There just isn’t enough moola to go around reguardless how the banks twist and over manipulate the numbers. Keep an eye on the price of gold over the next many months. This may be the only safe haven for long term investors.

  68. HtG Says:

    66 The problem with teaching rich dooshes how to drive is that then they will realize that there’s little call to have so much performance on public roads. Once you can understand and drive on the limit, what can you do with 500hp and 285 width tires? No, let’s keep the fantasies going.
    When I got passed by that line of super cars, I carefully positioned the Miata in my lane so as to give them a wide path to get through traffic. If the stories are accurate and the fast cars were driving ‘coupled,’ then maybe one Ferrari tried to slip ahead of the other before they reached the Prius. Going around that bend meant they had less time to get it done. Maybe the Prius saw them coming, and switched out of the fast lane so as to let them pass. But, alas…, this meant closing the door.

  69. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Pedro, if your Vibrolla has a knock sensor, and as previously mentioned, your engine has carbon deposits, which can raise compression and bring about detonation, your engine might have dialed back the timing (reducing power). The higher octane may have inhibited the detonation and allowed your timing to once again set at optimal levels providing you the power your engine once had (or closer to it) when new/newer.

  70. cwolf Says:

    I cannot fathom why the Japanese would desire a Ferrari. Assuming they are as hindered as I am,being short on one end,I am wondering how they could see over the dash! Many years ago,I drove a dealer’s used Ferrari. I recall wishing I had the wooded blocks my dad put on by bike,so I could touch the peddals! This is also why I don’t care to own a Vette. Short legs!

  71. pedro fernandez Says:

    #69 thanks that could explain why when the car was new, or almost new, I did not feel any diff by using a higher octane, and now I did feel it, like when you get a tuneup with new filters and such, you “feel” more power

  72. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Higher octane gas would make it run better because, with carbon on the heads and/or pistons, the engine would have higher compression than designed. Generally, higher compression is why engines need premium.

  73. cwolf Says:

    Kit,you identified the symptoms,so the solution is?

  74. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Exactly. That’s what seems to me is probably happening.

  75. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Given that the car is “up in age,” I’d just drive it until time to retire it. If it run noticeably better, and gets better mpg on premium, it might make sense to use premium, but I doubt the mpg would be enough better to pay the ~8% extra.

    I would not use additives to try to remove deposits off the head or pistons. If they work, the particles swirling around could cause other problems.

  76. cwolf Says:

    Sorry Chuck. You diagnosed well and Kit hit the best solution right on the head! If the deposits in pedro’s engine are substantial,removing them could quickly turn his Vibrolla into a piece of scrap metal. You guys are good!

  77. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a Five Foot nothing Japanese guy trying to drive around in his Ferrari F40 . I have and let me tell you its a hoot and a holler .


    @ To all involved

    re; pedro;s vibrolla

    Knowing Toyota’s and especially the Corolla line up as the wife had a 92 until 2007 and now has a Matrix Corolla I’d seriously bet against any carbon deposits unless Pedro’s been sticking 7-11 bottom feeder gas in the thing and driving it in City traffic only .

    Also , unless i’ve missed something I’ve not seen pedro mention any ‘ knocking ‘ with the car .

    My guess is though the car is getting a bit old , even a new Corolla benefits from 91 octane fuel and therefore pedro’s Vibrolla is just plain happier on a higher octane diet .

    Anyway diagnosing any car problem via internet posts is like a doctor prescribing a cure over the phone for symptoms you’ve only described , not confirmed by testing etc

    So ….


    @ Pedro – Have you taken the Vibrolla in lately for a complete diagnostics testing ?

    If not you should both for ;

    A) To get a clearer idea what shape the car is in , therefore what you should and should not be doing to maintain it

    B) To get a better idea what its projected lifespan from this point on may be

    Because in truth there may be some major problem lurking underneath there , or something so simple and stupid as to only take a couple of $$ to fix

    e.g Ignore all and take the little bugger into the Car MD’s

  78. pedro fernandez Says:

    Every where I’ve read, they tell you NOT to use any kind of internal engine flush or even flush the brakes, only thing you should flush is the tranny and the cooling system. If I see better mpg’s I will continue the premium, if not back to reg or maybe mid-grade.

  79. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    FYI The ONLY reason i was able to assist you with your Fiddle problem Online was because the answer was so blatantly obvious to anyone with any Luthier knowledge at all, otherwise I’d of told you to take it in for a diagnoses

    e.g. Your problem was obvious , simple and had only one possible fix

    BTW how’s it sounding now that its back ?

  80. pedro fernandez Says:

    My tech tells me it’s just peachy and he asked me to sell it to him whenever I’m ready, despite all of the miles, because he knows what kind of shape it’s in. Last service was the replacement of the oil pan gasket that was leaking and so was the valve cover gasket so he got a good look inside and found no nasty deposits or blackness. I do change oil every 3k miles always. Of course inside the cylinders could be another story.

  81. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    The only additive I’ve ever used in older cars with FI has been B&G Fuel Injection cleaner which comes highly recommended ( even though they don’t sell it ) by the best Independent Toyota mechanics on the CO front range

    But mostly I use top tier gas in all our cars .

  82. HtG Says:

    77 Manhattan, years ago. East side in the thirties. Giant S class Benz. One short, bald driver. With glasses. Boyhood dreams come true.

  83. HtG Says:

    80 why not pull a spark plug and take a look?

  84. tj Martin Says:


    That’d seal the deal for me

    If your tech wants it , keep it . Its a good one !

  85. tj Martin Says:


    I’ll bet his tech has

  86. tj Martin Says:

    @ Htg

    # 82

    So what would you call a 6’4″ slightly balding Salt & Pepper , no glasses except some Persol sunglasses on his beak , driving a White GLK w/AMG appearance package then ?

    ( this’n I gotta see )

  87. tj Martin Says:

    #86 cont…..

    add in a rather well defined and trimmed goatee S&P as well

  88. Kit Gerhart Says:

    NO car benefits from higher octane gas than it takes to prevent pinging and, in the case of today’s cars, keeping the knock sensor and hardware from backing of the timing.

    It is extremely likely that any car with 300K miles has combustion chamber deposits. If Pedro’s car runs better on premium, it is because deposits have increased the compression ratio or provided “hot spots” causing pinging, and the knock sensor is backing off the timing in response. 87 octane gas sold at 7-11 is functionally the same as 87 octane gas sold anywhere else.

    Also, if a new Corolla benefits from 91 octane fuel, there is something wrong with that particular Corolla, like the knock sensor setup working incorrectly, etc.

  89. HtG Says:

    87 It’s a scene from a Stella Rimington spy novel. Unfortunately, you won’t escape.

  90. tj Martin Says:


    Uh Oh !!!!

    Looks like the whole VOLT schlamazel is getting even uglier !


    And to think some here were trying to blame the NHTSA for the VOLT’s problems when in fact they may have been concealing them

    Which ……… may just have something to do with all the government intervention and censorship thats been going on when it comes to E/V’s . Which is ( ahem ) one of Obama and the Democrats pet projects .

    Hmmmnnnn . Yup . Getting mighty ugly out there .

  91. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Sure, if you can get diagnostics done cheaply, why not. Maybe the knock sensor or mixture control is not quite right, and you could find out.

  92. tj Martin Says:

    # 88

    Horsefeathers ! ( and believe me I’m being nice saying it that way )

    You’re needing a little revamp in your mechanics 101 Fuel and Fuel Systems class there me bucko !

    The Wife’s Matrix gains a good 2 mpg running 91 over 88 , not to mention better performance etc

    So you’ve answered the question Kit

    You never have stuffed AvGas into your muscle car when heading for a night at the drags ( yes I cheated then so sue me )

  93. cwolf Says:

    @#86:A too tall,aging white guy who looks like Mitch Miller,driving a car that should be in my garage!

  94. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit

    Let me promise you one thing and this is no reflection on you personally , but rather on the complicated state of modern cars

    Without a complete diagnostic survey on todays cars you are completely clueless as to the inner workings of the car and what may or may not be wrong with it . All the old rules do not apply This from a guy who did 90% of the work on his Ferrari(s) Alfa Romeo as well as built his own muscle car back in H.S .

    Like a current example ?

    Twice over the last couple of weeks right after starting the GLK a huge puff of greyish looking smoke billows out of it

    First thought ; Rings , Valve Guides/Seats or gasket

    Right ?

    WRONG !

    Took it in and to my chagrin its SOP for Mercedes to from time to time blow out ( so to speak ) the exhaust and catalytic converter .

    Simple fact is Kit we don’t know bupkiss when it comes to todays cars and like I said ; Diagnosing a cars ills over the internet is the game of wanna be experts and wishful thinkers

  95. tj Martin Says:

    # 93

    I like HtG’s better but yours is funnier :o

    But think more Fransesco Quinn than Mitch Miller . Seriously .

  96. pedro fernandez Says:

    The life of a car depends on how it’s driven, my late mom’s 94 Sentra had just 12,000 miles when I sole it in 2008, the guy I sold it too, had to replace a bunch of things, besides the expected rubber and gasket issues, there was the alternator, fuel pump a couple of injectors stuff you would not expect such a low mileage car to have, but the way it was used, made the difference, short trips every couple of weeks, never had any highway use, I believe this affects the life of any given car, for example the local high school has a fleet of Escort learner cars that never leave the parking lot, only for gas or service. They have spent their whole life crawling around the parking lot at a snail’s pace, braking a lot and not getting a chance to “stretch them legs” Those are used cars I would not buy at any price, despite their miniscule mileage.

  97. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    Kinda pretty close to this


    But damn ! The guy passed away ! Heck and i liked his acting

  98. HtG Says:

    Or this, tj?

    José Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintrón

  99. cwolf Says:

    Yep,got the fiddle back and she sounds super! I believe my wife and son would have agreed my playing is on par with the best,except that they always leave the house when I pull the case out of the closet. Actually the Luthier and I hit it off right from the start. It was obvious the cost of repair was greater than the value,but he understood the importance and my desire/interest to try something new,for an aging commoner. On the flip side,the MGA in his garage was something familiar to me and within my ability to help him contact the right people to get it on the road. I took him to the guy restoring my MGC. After that we really connected,and helped him haul it to the shop the following week. As a result, the repair was free and a new pal was made. Kinda “harmonic” wouldn’t you say?

  100. cwolf Says:

    Sure,tj,you resemble francesco-quinn MY ASS! And I am a 5’6″ George Clooney!

  101. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Kit, you are absolutely right (concerning the octane debate); while it could be other things, on a high mileage engine (as Pedro’s), the most likely cause is as you (and I) have described carbon deposits raising the compression ratio.

    There are many factors in choosing (or being directed to use certain octanes) as described in the owner’s manual. A manufacturer may recommend a certain octane or require a certain octane; big difference. (And most manufacturer’s recommend using Toptier gasoline; these gasolines have been certified to contain the proper amount of cleaners and other chemicals the manufacturer deems required for proper performance) Note, toptier does not address octane because octane is (as described in these topics earlier) there to inhibit detonation and is related to air/gas flow and or compression ratio. Some non toptier gasoline can/will perform just as well as certified products (they just may have not gone through certification due to cost or for whatever reason).

  102. cwolf Says:

    tj,..you are indeed a true hoot of a pal,but when I looked up the word,”narcissists”,in the dictionary,your name was referenced I love a person who did it all has it all!

  103. cwolf Says:

    pedro, I forgot you take very good car of your car and do an oil change every 3K. Sudden changes don’t happen over-nite without reason. And from my experience,anything happening suddenly are often require the simplest of solutions. After having a system check performed,let us know how simple the correction was. If you use cheap brands of gas,use better stuff with a fuel additive.

  104. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Chuck, i.e. #101,
    Funny you mention “top tier” gas. When I had my ’06 Malibu, I emailed GM through their web site asking about top tier gas. As I’m sure you know, GM was one of the companies involved in the specs for “top tier.” Anyway, I received a responce that basically said, “use minimum 87 octane” with no mention of top tier.

  105. pedro fernandez Says:

    Cwolf I had not used premium since the car was new, also as the engine wears, don’t the cylinder walls develop microscopic scratches and the piston rings deteriorate to the point that some compression is lost as well, the whole theory behind this Restore oil additive, only problem there is that Restore is not smart enough to coat the cylinder walls only and goes places where it’s not needed or desired.

  106. pedro fernandez Says:

    #104 I think top tier was a very clever ad campaign orchestrated by certain oil companies to try to keep people from going to Mickey Mouse stations when gas began to rise and thus save some money. There are two diff opinions on this, some “experts” tell you all gas is the same, no matter where you buy it, others tell you brand names have more strict control, including checking the tanks for water whenever they get a delivery of fresh fuel.

  107. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Here’s a little 3 minute video on Top tier:


  108. pedro fernandez Says:

    True top tier gas should NOT have ethanol added to it, I think when they started mixing in the ethanol, the campaign was abandoned.

  109. cwolf Says:

    pedro,I have seen the internals of enginines using these”teflon-coating” like oils at my friends shop. From his perspective,they appear to work to some degree and contact with other areas seemed to be insignificant.Certainly,using these products cannot help ring wear,and cyl.wall coating requires religeous use and is in no way a “cure-all.” Replacing rings is not a tough task; it’s removing everything else that is time consumming. To pay someone to do this may not be worth it. Have the car looked at and just drive the car until then.

  110. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Top tier is alive and well (oh crap, he’s gonna link another video):


  111. Kit Gerhart Says:

    re. Top Tier gas,
    BMW, GM, Honda, and Toyota were the original members of the consortium. VW/Audi joined later.

  112. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’m reading that top tier list and holy crap the only one missing is Bubba’s home brewed fuel and moonshine in one, it seems like that list has grown quite a bit since it first came out, I just don’t see any reference to it anymore. #109 cwolf the other thing that needs replacing is a rubber seal that goes between the flywheel and transaxle that only cost about $15 but requires about 4 hrs of labor, so since it is a very small leak I’m not going to do anything about it

  113. C-Tech Says:

    Good luck Pedro, just keep driving and enjoying WHERE you Corolla takes you. Still wrenching on my girlfriend/bestfriend’s 98 Mitsu Eclipse at 250,000 miles and my son’s GMC Jimmy 2dr at 200,000 miles. If you take care of it and pick a good one, it will last whether foreign or domestic.

  114. pedro fernandez Says:

    c-tech that’s the plan, yesterday I was waiting for the green next to a Cayanne and I guess it must have had the stop/start system, because when the light turned green, I heard the car start and then move ahead, I do not like this idea one bit.

  115. C-Tech Says:

    The best advice I got for gas is to always get a receipt when getting gas. If there is a problem with the pump gas at that station, (regardless of tier) that causes engine damage you will have evidence that the problem fuel came from that station. Makes payment for repairs eaiser.

  116. C-Tech Says:

    I actually like the new beetle design, are you guys sure about the price? seems high for its class.

  117. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I looked at the VW site, and it is about $20K MSRP for the base beetle with the 2.5 litre 5 cylinder and manual trans.

  118. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If your flywheel end seal is leaking, and you have an automatic transmission, don’t worry about it, unless you are really losing a lot of oil. With a manual transmission, the oil can get on the clutch, which is a problem, but with an autobox, the oil loss is the only issue.

  119. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The gas I usually get, Race Trac is not on the list. Still, I doubt that it makes any difference.

    The only car I ever had that seemed to be picky about gas was my Spirit R/T, which needed the highest octane gas I could find to really run right.

  120. Jason G Says:

    I agree with you, John, I like the new look too. But a front-engined, fwd Beetle is not something I would buy. There are much better fwd cars in that price range. VW should go back to the original Beetle’s unique (well…unique to its price range anyway) design of rear-engined, rwd. Come on, VW! You’re the world leader in sales, you can afford to be a little different and try something new!

  121. Kit Gerhart Says:

    By the way, for those making a point of a Prius being involved in the Japan exotic car crash, a Prius in Japan is like an F150 in the U.S. It is the best selling vehicle in the Japanese market. Honda Fit is second.

  122. HtG Says:

    I just love the idea that the Prius driver intentionally wacked the Ferraris, but things got a little out of hand. How can we start this rumor, Kit?

  123. Brett Says:

    Aptera was screwed when they hired Detroit “car business” management and engineering. I knew they were in trouble when they got talked into shifting from rear to front-wheel drive and complicating the hell out of the dynamics and drivetrain.

    It WAS crashworthy! State-of-art composite construction. I am sorry that they failed.