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Episode 784 – GM Swaps Battery Suppliers, EV Stations Outnumber E-85 Stations, Luxgen5 Revealed

December 9th, 2011 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 9:17

General Motors is going to change battery suppliers. It had been buying batteries from LG Chem, now it will switch to batteries from A123. A new study shows there are now more electric car charging stations in the United States than there are gas stations that sell E-85 fuel. Taiwanese automaker Luxgen revealed its latest car, the Luxgen5. All that and more, plus a look at Hyundai’s funky looking new car, the Veloster.

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This is Autoline Daily for what they call December 9th, I call it Friday. And here’s some of the latest developments to hit the automotive industry.

GM CHANGES BATTERY SUPPLIER
In a story that refuses to go away, the latest news with the Chevrolet Volt is that GM is going to change battery suppliers. It had been buying lithium-metal-oxide batteries from LG Chem. Now it will switch to lithium-phosphate batteries from A123. The lithium-phosphate batteries are less likely to catch fire if damaged, but they hold about 10 percent less energy, so that could impact the Volt’s pure-electric driving range.

TESLA DOWNGRADED
In related EV news, Tesla’s stock was downgraded yesterday by Morgan Stanley, which cut its target price for the stock by 37 percent. This is significant because up to now Morgan Stanley had been a rah-rah cheerleader for Tesla and EVs in general. It previously predicted that electric cars would hit 8.5 percent of global sales by 2025. Now it is cutting that forecast to only 4.5 percent. It says EVs are just not ready for prime time, something we’ve been saying on Autoline Daily for years.

EV STATIONS OUTNUMBER E-85 STATIONS
And yet, a new study shows there are now more electric car charging stations in the United States than there are gas stations that sell E-85 fuel. This, despite the fact there are only a little over 16,000 electric cars in the country, compared to 7.6 million vehicles that can run on E-85. And folks, that’s the kind of imbalance you get in the marketplace when the government tries to pick winners and losers.

TOYOTA’S THAILAND TROUBLES (pdf file)
Toyota has slashed its net-profit forecast for the next fiscal year. The Japanese giant cut its earnings estimate by more than 50 percent to roughly $2.3 billion. It revised the figure because of what’s going on in Thailand. Widespread flooding has had a HUGE impact on the auto industry. Who knew Thailand was such an important manufacturing center for Toyota? I sure didn’t. In fact, this flooding may have a bigger impact on Toyota than the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March.

LUXGEN5 REVEALED
Taiwanese automaker Luxgen revealed its latest car, the Luxgen5. This thing may be a sedan, but it’s by no means a sports sedan given what’s available in the engine compartment. A 1.8-liter four is the base powerplant, serving up 150 horsepower. A 2.0-liter turbo is the up-level offering, but don’t get excited. Horsepower is a measly 170. But what it lacks in on-road performance it makes for with technology. Luxgen partnered with handset maker HTC to develop the car’s Android-based infotainment system called THINK+. To learn more, hit the link in today’s show notes on our website, Autoline.tv.

BMW BEGINS EXPORTING OUT OF CHINA
In another sign of China’s growing influence in the auto world, BMW just began exporting long-wheel base versions of the 5 Series out of China to the Middle East. BMW builds the car with its joint venture partner Brilliance. This is very significant. BMW is the first major automaker to export luxury cars out of China. Mark you calendar, folks. This represents a big step for China.

PANG DA FIRE SALE
And yet, while one part of the Chinese industry takes a big step forward, another takes a big step back. Pang Da, one of the nation’s largest dealer networks, is offering huge discounts ranging from 10 to 30 percent. Here’s my Autoline Insight. Car sales are slowing down in China, so you can expect some discounting to happen. But 30 percent? That shows they’re in a full-blown panic. Remember, Pang Da was one the company’s investing in Saab. It bought $63 million worth of cars, which also got it a 25 percent stake in the company. It then committed to sink another $150 million into it. We don’t how much it did put in, but it is going to lose all that money. My bet is that Pang Da desperately needs cash right now, and that’s why you’re seeing these massive discounts.

HYUNDAI VELOSTER
The Veloster caught a lot of attention when it was revealed earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show. But interestingly it was another type of motorized vehicle that inspired its design.

And highlighting the funky design is a hidden door for passengers to get into the rear, but good luck trying to get into the back seat if you’re tall. I’m 6 foot 1 and I didn’t even attempt to squeeze back there.

Powering the Veloster is an all-new 1.6-liter four-cylinder with direct injection which can be mated to either a six-speed manual or dual-clutch transmission. Fuel economy is 28 MPG in the city and 40 on the highway.

The Veloster is also available with Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, a navigation system with a back-up camera and a number of safety features.

Hyundai hopes to attract a new generation of buyers with the Veloster, and says it’s intended to be a halo car. But not in the traditional sense.

Hyundai’s been on a roll lately, so it will be interesting to see if the Veloster can continue the company’s success and be the reverse halo Hyundai wants it be.

Thanks for that report Seamus. The starting price is just over $18,000 with the manual, and just over $19,000 with the automatic. You know, I especially like the styling on the Veloster. It’s a very interesting combination of shapes and lines, and looks alone are going to attract people to this car.

Hey, have you heard of “Dungeons and Dealers”? It’s the new gameshow the RoundAbout crew developed where you get to manage your own dealership. Craig Cole has all the details over at RoAb HQ.

Well, I have to say, if you haven’t heard of Dungeons and Dealers, you haven’t been watching enough RoundAbout! We’ve teased and teased you, but finally it’s here. We’ll be playing it tonight, with guest panelist Chris Sawyer from TheVirtualDriver.com. And his VIRTUAL dealership is “Imperious Motors.” You can tune in to find out what bizarre lineup of cars he’ll be selling, plus all the weird and cool car news of the week. Join us at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.tv.

And that’s wraps up our reports for this week. Thanks for tuning in, we’ll see you back here on Monday.

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

101 Comments to “Episode 784 – GM Swaps Battery Suppliers, EV Stations Outnumber E-85 Stations, Luxgen5 Revealed”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    E/V STATIONS OUTNUMBER E85 ???

    Horsefeathers ! Who the heck cam up with this ridiculous statement/statistic ? I see tons of E85 from MO to CO and have yet to even lay my eyes on a solitary E/V Charging Station .

    E/V stations outnumbering E85 !

    Yeah right , in your dreams and when Monkeys rule the World

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    You can’t really blame the government for the lack of E85 stations. There is no reason anyone would want to buy E85, at least from the few places I’ve seen it. The cost per mile is higher than for regular gasoline, plus you have to fill up more often.

    On the other hand, if you are one of the few people with an EV, you need places to charge it.

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ditto here in So Fla I’ve seen more ethanol-free pumps than EV charging stations. EV charging stations, “Build them and they won’t come” what’s with all these motorcycle inspired bullcrap? before it was “Look of motion standing still” Now is the damn motorcycle look, what’s next no roof or windows, rain-gear optional.

  4. tj Martin Says:

    Alfa Romeo .. Alfa Romeo …. Where fore art thou Alfa Romeo ?

    http://community.evo.co.uk/users/Richard-Porter/blogs/index.cfm/2011/12/9/RICHARD-PORTER-Is-Alfa-okay

    This will put a damper on any remaining Alfa Romeo enthusiasts hope for a US comeback , not to mention those horrific ChryRomeo’s Marchionne wants to dump on our doorstep , masquerading as Dodge and Chryslers

  5. Phoenix Mark Says:

    EV vs E85
    EV charging stations and E85 vehicles are both a result of government interference. Car companies got better gas mileage credits for E85 vehicles and sold them everywhere. I think Phoenix has two E85 stations open to the public, yet E85 vehicles are sold here.

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The only E85 station near me in Florida is on a military base that requires a badge to enter. The closest one to my home in Indiana is about 25 miles away, and I’m in a big corn growing area. It sounds like there are a lot more “out west.”

    As far as EV charging stations, they are mostly in CA and in the north east. There aren’t any around where I am either.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, E85 vehicles are the result of government doings, or there wouldn’t be “flex fuel” vehicles, or there would be very few of them.

  8. tj Martin Says:

    REVENGE of the E/V SCORE CARD

    Lets see here ;

    Aprtera – Gone

    TESLA – Down for the count and losing pulse rapidly

    FISKER – Never had a pulse , so its not a factor

    VOLT – TKO being a possible career ender

    SPARK- Possibly already DOA or at least headed that way

    Revenge of the E/V’s ?

    More like the Revenge of Common Sense

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Damn Automotive Rattling Turd The new Dodge Dart, coming to a Dodge dealer near you in summer 2012 just in time for summer fun!!

  10. HtG Says:

    Sharon Terlep of WSJ reported that GM has gone outside the company to develop carbon fiber lightweight parts with Chinese firm, Teijin. GM said it didn’t have the tech ability, in house. Teijin’s process requires only about a minute rather than the 10 to 45 minutes to form a part needed by other processes.(I assume by forming, that Terlep means baking, which is a big cost factor)

    Here’s a quote from Terlep on GM’s expectations…

    “The auto maker said it aims to start using the components in its vehicles by 2015 and expects their use to reduce vehicle weight by 20%, which would significantly improve fuel economy.”

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The Veloster inspired by motorcycles; (I sure don’t see it). Where are they going to market this ploy, Fantasyland. It’s not that I dislike the design (it’s okay) but if it were really inspired by a motorcycle (I have been a motorcyclist owner/enthusiast for years) I shouldn’t have to be told (it should have been evident), which it wasn’t (to me at least).

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    @pedro #3,
    What brand are the ethanol-free stations in So. Fla.? There has only been one near me, a BP outlet at a convenience store, but they no longer have ethanol-free gas.

  13. tj Martin Says:

    IF !!! There was no Government interference in the Automotive Market place there’d be either none .. or a whole lot less of ….

    E/V’s

    FlexFuel

    Hybrids

    E85

    …… cars to be seen

    Lets face facts . The only thing launching and propping up the sales of these things is the Government Tax Credits , Rebates along with all the Tax Payers dollars being dumped into the production of the things !

    Same goes for the EU as well as they do the same with the addition of some pretty stiff pressure as well as draconian penalties for those full scale manufactures that don’t want to get into the E/V – Hybrid game

    Just ask BMW , Porsche and Mercedes

  14. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #12
    Kit, here’a website: http://www.buyrealgas.com/Florida.html

  15. tj Martin Says:

    # 10

    Funny they could of gone to McLaren Road Cars or Gordon Murray Design and gotten the very same technology ……. Only unlike the Chinese version it’d work ;-)

    Sheesh !

    India Built ( complete M/C’s heading to a US dealership near you ) Harley Davidsons

    Now partially Chinese Corvette’s

    What’s next I wonder ?

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    it’s a couple of local Mickey Mouse outfits called Tom Thumb and it is located in an area where there is a lot of farming and agriculture and I believe that those machines need ethanol-free gas, and it goes for about 60 cents more than even premium.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If there was no government interference in the automotive market:

    We wouldn’t have seat belts.

    The cars would be belching nasty fumes, so you would get gassed if in a big city.

    The cheaper tires would be blowing out constantly, like in the “good old days” when I had my ’57 Chrysler.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Does the Veloster require the driver to wear a helmet?

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #14,
    Thanks for the link.

  20. HtG Says:

    17 when/if there is an oil shock, we’ll have the infrastructure available to meed consumers’ needs. That stuff takes years to build up.

    Also, without govt interference the whole f’ing planet would ruined due to bankster evil. There’s trillions of govt market distortion going on now. Demand for oil would be nil, but supply of the stuff would be constrained because the USN wouldn’t be making sure it was able to get to market.

    free market joke

    Rant /off.

  21. HtG Says:

    Rant /on

    You don’t like govt interference Detroit? Remember 2008/9?

    You like the govt

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #16,
    The last vehicle I had that need ethanol-free gas was an old BMW motorcycle. It had carburetor floats coated with shellac, which is dissolved by ethanol. You could get brass floats, and with those, the bike was fine with E-10.

  23. steve Says:

    #13 those are mostly the things driving alternate fuels, you need to include the environmentalist who want them.

  24. GPL Says:

    @10 & 15 Teijin is Japanese, not Chinese.

  25. HtG Says:

    24 thanks GPL

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    google is dead. I’ve been trying to search some things for 15 minutes, and it will not connect, at least where I am.

  27. tj Martin Says:

    #17

    Seatbelts , Safe tires and lower emissions provide a benefit

    All E/V’s Hybrids E85′s and FelxFuel cars provide is a quick way to get into the Tax Payer /Consumers back pockets , based on fraudulent hypothesis and pretentious Science , as well as give their early adapter owners a false sense of moral superiority that would be rapidly crushed if the Governments weren’t working so hard to suppress the facts !

    Apples and Oranges again Kit . Back to that line of reasoning eh ? Like it ever works

  28. HtG Says:

    Here’s an extract from an ExxonMobil report on future energy. I excerpt the transport paragraph…

    In transportation, the second-fastest growing demand sector behind electricity generation, ExxonMobil sees advanced hybrid vehicles accounting for 50 percent of the cars people will drive in 2040, compared to about 1 percent today. This, plus improved fuel economy in conventional vehicles, will cause demand for energy for personal vehicles to remain essentially flat through 2040 even as the number of personal vehicles in the world doubles.

    The link,http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/exxonmobil/index.jsp?ndmViewId=news_view&ndmConfigId=1001106&newsId=20111208005025&newsLang=en

  29. tj Martin Says:

    #20

    And just who do you think it is thats been protecting those admittedly evil bankers , oil sheiks , robber barons etc ?

    As well as who is it thats been instituting unsustainable levels of Socialism and Govt handouts especially in the EU ?

    But lets not go there .

    My whole point in #13 ( bit of irony don’t you agree ? ) that Kit seems to have so conveniently missed out on is that the one place the Government has no business mucking about is trying to force a product down its peoples throat ….. at the peoples expense none the less THAT THE PUBLIC NEITHER NEEDS NOR WANTS in order to fill its Old Boys networks pocket books with American Tax Payer /Consumer dollars

    There’s a wide chasm between a Government instituting enforceable Safety Regulations ( which BTW in most of the lower 48 and Alaska they are not . Try calling in the EPA on your local polluting factory/business and just see how much help they’ll give . Bunch of neutered little lemmings that they are ) and trying to manipulate the Market Place to its own and only its own Benefit

    Rant Over .

    For now ;-)

  30. tj Martin Says:

    # 28

    How nice . Exxon . The most trustworthy corporation in the US playing Smoke & Mirrors with the Greenies .

    All those that believe them … raise your hands
    .
    .
    .
    .

    Thought not !

  31. tj Martin Says:

    Speaking about Governments ( slightly off topic )

    The new issue of ” The New Yorker ‘ currently on the news stands has a great article on Sarkozy specifically , along with an in depth look at the total LACK of Government across the EU ( Belgium etc )

    The overall conclusion by the Author as well as Philosopher Mssr Levy is that most if not all of Europe is completely broken and for the most part running amok …….

    ….. along with the French counting the days till they can vote out Sarkozy .

  32. HtG Says:

    good points tj. Let’s see what happens. I will stand by the acceleration of tech through govt investment. As a former prof you know how much research is supported by them Feds. Hi MIT! Hi Stanford!

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    As far as govt trying to ram these EV’s down our throats, Just say no to them, that’s all!

  34. HtG Says:

    33 don’t buy one. I did the math on a Prius, and said not for me. If I want to save gas I limit my driving by combining trips. There’s lots of ways to save before you EV. But it’s not like having a Miata as a second car is the most rational thing I’ve ever done.

  35. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #18 pedro says, “Does the Veloster require the driver to wear a helmet?”

    That made me smile………………..nice

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #34,
    If I were in Europe, I wouldn’t have bought a Prius, given all the efficient diesel hatches and wagons, and diesel fuel being cheaper than gasoline. Unfortunately, we don’t have nearly the choice in efficient hatches, so, for me, the Prius almost made economic sense, even at today’s gas prices. The more expensive gas becomes, the better the “numbers” on the Prius.

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    I think there’s no comparing the Prius to the Volt, think of the Corolla vs the Cobalt, the Camry vs the Lumina, the Sienna vs the Uplander of whatever the hell it was called, it just follows the pattern. Superior engineering, planning and execution.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    37,
    The Prius, in its current form, is certainly developed to the point where it is a mainstream car, and it’s been the biggest selling car in Japan recently. The Volt is a niche product, for those with spare money and want something different. That will be the case, even if the fire stuff blows over.

    While I wouldn’t consider a Volt, even without the fire issue, I am surprised at how well developed it turned out. It actually drives like a real car, rides ok, wind noise is decently suppressed, etc. It’s more than I would have expected in refinement. It still doesn’t make sense at today’s gas prices, and with the car costing $40K.

  39. john787 Says:

    It looks like Toyota has found another excuse why their sales are on the decline. Now, it’s because of the floods in Thailand, not because the defects with all the recalls. Toyota has been Teflon coated for too long! In my book their credibility is very low and I would not believe any they say.

  40. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Well,here in southern Oregon,we seem to lack both ev charging stations as well as no E-85 pumps for at least a 200 mile radius.I’ve been wanting to try a tank full of e85 to see the high performance aspect of running it.Oh well,looks like I’ll never know.

  41. GPL Says:

    I wonder if the Volt has any margin in the price. If it is following the Prius business model, it would be sold at a massive loss initially and become profitable with volume, but adding up the cost of the parts (a Cruze plus a big battery pack). It looks like it might be at worst at cost. If that’s the case, I think they severely overestimated their ability to convince the public to buy their “new tech”. Price sells.

  42. MJB Says:

    I’ve seen that Veloster on the road several times now. it’s definately got a unique presence to it. I like it.

    Is it just me, or does anybody else think that our guy Seamus has been moonlighting as a tv commercial stand-in? Go back and check the guy standing there with the record player and headphones in the Hyudai Elantra spot that runs during the AutoLine break. LOL :)

    GOTCHA Seamus!

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #30,
    I agree that Exxon-Mobil is not the most trusted corporation in the world, but what they say makes a lot logical sense, including the comment about hybrid vehicles. Yes, we know tj hates hybrids, but the best of the current ones use barely over half as much fuel in city driving as similar size non-hybrids. What’s not to like about that, and they will only get better, and cheaper. A lot will happen with technology between now and 2040, just as a lot happened in the previous 29 years, since 1982.

    It is unlikely that the hybrid cars of 2040 will be much like today’s. They may replace batteries with supercapacitors. They may replace electric energy recovery with a compressed air system. Who knows what will happen in 29 years? None of us, but Exxon’s predictions may be as good as what anyone else has to say.

  44. Phil in Burlington, Ontario Says:

    John,

    Just curious…is Seamus your son or nephew or no relation at all?

    Thanks,

    Phil

  45. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Still wondering what will become of the expired Prius batteries. They still have the uniqueness of being new, and for the most part, not used up to the point of needing to be replaced on a grand scale. Just wondering whether they will become an environmental problem down the road (pun intended). Part of the solution?, maybe; part of the problem?, maybe.

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #45,
    Toyota gives a “bounty,” I think $200, on Prius batteries, and says they will properly recycle them. Since there are ~2 million now on the road, at some point, this will be a sizable operation.

  47. john787 Says:

    It’s obvious John McAlroy you do not like EV’s. As for them not catching on till much later depends on some factors. Price of gas and price of electric vehicle. We have to start somewhere. The price of flat screen TV was ten time higher when they first came out and with mass production, look at it today.

    If those two factors become favorable in the near future, the sale of electric cars will take off. Can you imagine how much gas we can save with EV? Almost everyday near DC, I see cars on I95 bumper to bumper wasting gas while idling. EV hardly take any energy while idling in traffic. The best thing of all, we could tell the Mideast to keep their oil, and then this country could start becoming great like it used to be, w/o having all those billions of dollars going to them and dragging us down.

  48. Kit Gerhart Says:

    ” Almost everyday near DC, I see cars on I95 bumper to bumper wasting gas while idling. EV hardly take any energy while idling in traffic. ”

    That is where hybrids really shine. When stopped, and creeping, the gas engine is off most of the time. With the “serious” hybrids, the A/C is electric, and will run for an extended period if you are stopped in traffic before the gas engine needs to run to put charge in the battery.

  49. HtG Says:

    Question. Are any of you people like me? Today, I am driving on the highway when I look in my rear view mirror and see the new Evoque about 50 yards back. Do other people scan the roads, noticing anything new? Any odd car zings my eye; I’m not even paying much attention. I caught a glimpse of something today that I can’t ID, and it’s going to bother me.

    BTW The Evoque was black and I only got a better look at it when I exited the highway. It was going real slow in the right lane. My impression was that the wheels make a very strong statement.

  50. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    #49

    I’m always keeping an eye open for the new , the exotic , the odd , the unique when driving as well as biking and walking ( not that I get to do much biking in KC ) But then again methinks thats just an aspect of the creative mind , always paying attention to things that stand out a bit

    Saw an Evora the other day and was amazed how anonymous that car is when placed in traffic . In photos and on the lot/track its a stunner . Put it in traffic and it all but disappears . Hmmn .

    Ugh ! But you had the displeasure of coming face to face with the evocative Evoque . Eeewwwww. You have my sympathies mien freund .A MINI on MAXI Steroids , Silicon and Botox if’n you ask me IMHO

    Sorry but for me the Evoque is less than pathetic . The only thing more so is the people that’ll shell out that kind of money for a re-badged FORD owned by a Third World EconoCar manufacture who in fact is losing money faster than FORD ever did when owning the company .

    Smart move … FORD dumping Jaguar and Land/Range Rover on that unsuspecting pretentious ……. ahem ………. cough ……. business man… hack … hack ! As well as ditching Aston Martin to that other _____ _____ ____ bunch .

  51. HtG Says:

    I knew what that car in my mirror was instantly. The nose is strongly Rover. Weird though, how it was dragging along in the right lane, everyone was passing as I tried to slow enough to force it to pass me. Who knows. If the low sun weren’t in my eyes when I got off the road, I’d have had a better look. Anyway, it has presence.

  52. tj Martin Says:

    Hmmn

    Another of the E/V faithful has entered the fray today I see .

    Kind of sad how many otherwise potentially intelligent folks have gotten sucked into that pretentious and totally non- viable dream .

    But ….. then again some folks still believe little Martians are gonna land in the desert and rescue them from all of this as well as others that are convinced Elvis still lives , along with another bunch that thinks car salesmen are honest and decent folks …. so I guess this shouldn’t be surprising .

    Sad of course … but not surprising

    Hey john787 if you hurry …. there’s a big Fire Sale going on at your local VOLT , LEAF and TESLA dealers … this week only …. fire extinguishers and Nomex Casual wear .. extra … but 25% off . Hurry though before its too late

    Literally ;-)

  53. tj Martin Says:

    #51

    ” …..Anyway , it has presence ”

    So does Jesse Ventura but I sure as ____ don’t want to look at him , much less have him in the same space as myself either

    If’n you get my drift

  54. tj Martin Says:

    Land/Range Rover

    And have you seen the prices of that ‘ special edition ‘ Autobiography Range Rover Sport ?

    $75,000 !!!

    WTH pays #75K for a ‘ Sport ‘ that can’t even outrun a bone stock V8 JEEP Grand Cherokee ??

    Nuts . Porsche money for that ?

  55. HtG Says:

    53 ‘it has presence’

    So you got my meaning precisely, tj

    I don’t know if you saw it, but some months ago Rover had Posh Beckham do a publicity with the Evoque. I can’t get that image out of my head, but all the waxed fraus on Rodeo Drive may have noticed the car too.

  56. pedro fernandez Says:

    my tankful of premium is almost finished and the mileage has been about the same as 87 octane,vibration is back, but I did notice a little better performance in the cool early AM air(no ticking) and a bit more torque from a standing start. Going back to good ole regular next fill-up.

  57. cwolf Says:

    After TV shopping, I swung in the near by Chevy dealer and drove a Sonic for myself. Twas the turbo manual LTZ model.No sticker,but the few others were about 18 grand. First impression: spacious,fit & finish looked ok for me. Seats very comfortable for a subby. The over-all interior and lay-out was satisfactory, but not as schnazzy as the Fiesta I drove awhile back. Soft,nimble wheel exiting the space and obsticle of surrounding cars and quiet on the inside at these low rpm’s. A little rusty using a stick,but the throws were as short as on my MG(thats short!)and traving through each gear was smooth.
    Fellas,on the city streets this SOB is a screemer! Between traffic lights I had to have come close to 60mph. Best of all,the turbo whine/noise and lag wasn’t noticable enough to even consider. It’s a deffinite fun town car!
    On the expressway, the interior remained quiet @70mph and the rpm’s were around 2000. The sonic didn’t whimper doing 80ish either. For as the steering started out in the lot,I swear it became stiffer at highway speeds: I mean it stayed where it was pointed. I sure wish I could have check the mpg’s. I departed knowing 2 things: You guys gotta drive one of these for youself and ,second, I think I like it more than the Fiesta…and I’m a Ford guy! Try one pedro.

  58. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #57 cwolf
    Your impression seems to mimic John Mc and Peter D’s driving impression (as noted on Autoline After Hours last night; seems that the Sonic has made some leaps and bounds to become a player; a lot of good cars out there these days.

  59. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf: First year American cars are very risky, gotta wait for the gremlins to be removed (at least now they get them removed rath er quickly)

  60. Jon M Says:

    They Veloster’s design is inspired by motorcycles!?! Really? If they didn’t explain that I sure wouldn’t have noticed. But even when Mr. Ramirez did explain where the inspiration came out, I still don’t see it. Not that much anyway, especially the helmet visor in profile. Sorry Brandon, try again. And the vents like a muffler? Um, the last thing…no, no…not at all what I ever would have guessed. Boy, the folks at Hyundai really think they’re the bomb at design. Pity they’re only legends in their own design studio. But when you’re a me-too kind of company, I guess that’s how you feel when you finally try something on your own. It’s not bad, but get over yourself, Hyundai, you’re not that good.

  61. Jon M Says:

    Oh, and did I mention that I saw a new Sonata sitting at a stop light the other day. It looked like it was standing still. Hyundai will probably want to buy me new glasses!

  62. Dave Says:

    The Veloster is cool, but that guy from Hyundai didn’t do it any favours! Since when is the shape of the air vents the #3 design feature in a brand new car?!

  63. T. Bejma Says:

    #37 Pedro – Getting kind of tired of your obvious, though entirely uneducated, attempts at bashing any car company other than Toyota. Several examples in the referenced post…

    “I think there’s no comparing the Prius to the Volt, think of the Corolla vs the Cobalt”

    How about the Corolla vs the Cruze?
    .
    .
    Didn’t think so.

    “the Camry vs the Lumina”

    What a joke! How about a car built in the 21st century? How about Camry vs. Regal/LaCrosse or even the long in the tooth Malibu?
    .
    .
    Didn’t think so.

    “the Sienna vs the Uplander of whatever the hell it was called”

    We don’t make mini vans…

    “it just follows the pattern. Superior engineering, planning and execution.”

    10 years ago, maybe. Today? No way. Step into this decade Pedro and smell the roses…

  64. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #56,
    I put regular (premium recommended) in my MINI last time, and it runs fine. I normally drive fairly gently, but occasionally wind it out in the lower gears, just for fun. The trip computer is giving similar numbers to what I normally see for mixed driving. I’m thinking BMW is saying to use premium in the non-S MINI as kind of a placebo thing, to make people think they are getting extra performance by spending an extra 8-10% on gas. I’m not convinced.

  65. pedro fernandez Says:

    What, are we suppose to ignore all the crap cars they put out year after year and suddenly THEY SAW THE LIGHT, ALLELUJAH AND 3 HAIL MARY’S and now their products are as good as anything out there, this doesn’t happen over night, it took the Asians decades to come up with good stuff, look at the Koreans, their stuff is up there in just about every category, no Mr T I am not convinced about long term reliability in most of these new cars. We’ve been hearing for years now that you can buy any vehicle and you can rest assured you can’t go wrong, well most people who have bought Dodge Journeys have been wronged, by poorly designed brakes, that keep wearing out in less than a year of use.

  66. pedro fernandez Says:

    BTW, just about every tech I run into, even those working for the competition tell me that Toyotas are the “bomb” when it comes to durability and reliability, just the other day I met a tech that has been at a Chevy dealer for 10 yrs, he’s got Toyota products at home. I guess he must be out of this decade as well. When I asked him why no Chevy? he said “maybe in a few years”

  67. Kit Gerhart Says:

    While Toyota probably has the best reliability out there, all of today’s cars, except maybe Land Rover, are good enough that I buy what I like, regardless of reliability ratings. J. D. Powers and truedelta both say MINIs are unreliable, but I haven’t had any trouble with mine.

    As far as GM, I didn’t have any problems with the Malibu Maxx I had for five years, and an Impala at my condo has gone almost 300K miles with few problems. If I planned to drive the same car 300K miles, I’d rather take my chances with a Toyota, or maybe Honda, but there is little “junk” being sold any more.

  68. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit these are techs, these guys work with different cars so I think they have a little more accurate perspective than the avg person, when my own tech offered to buy my Vibrolla even with all those miles, I first thought he was joking, but he was not, he told me I know that car pretty well and I can appreciate how mechanically and structurally sound it is. As far as the “new” stuff, I think the jury is still out on longevity and long term reliability, even though it is undeniable that they have come a long way in a short time. I don’t know about your area, but around here the number of mid to late 90′s Corollas still running around is incredible, yet I would be pressed to spot a Cavalier or Neon from the same period.

  69. Autos101 Says:

    TB correctly points out the improvements at GM (Cruze in particular), and the poor offerings from TOyota and Honda (new Camry, new Civic). I would still not buy the Cruze or the Malibu but would get an Accord (far better than the Camry, and PLEASE Pedro do not say the usual BS about the Accord being noisy, if you want a quiet, cushy ride, go get a Buick or a Lexus. Current Buicks actually look far better than either the Camry or the Lexus Camry clone ES350.

    TJ is absolutely right on EVs being a BAD JOKE, that, unlike the irrelevant plasma TVS somebody brought up, was TRIED AND FAILED in the 1900s,

    and McElroy is absolotely right to suspect that there is a WHOLE LOT MORE to the VOlt DE BACLE than meets the eye. That’s why Bejma, who works for the Volt team, is VWERY SILENT about this 21st century FORD PINTO

    “Baby, baby Light my Battery Fire”!!

  70. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Where I am in Florida, I certainly see a lot more Corollas than Cavaliers or Neons, though there happens to be a Neon owner in my condo building. I don’t know how many miles it’s gone.

    My original home town in Indiana is full of Cavaliers and Neons, because Chrysler and GM employ a lot of people there.

  71. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit Fla as well as Calif seem to be more import oriented than the middle of the country or even the mid Atlantic states, I remember when I bought my first Toyota, most of my family members were questioning my judgement and telling me I was not getting my money’s worth, for the same dough they bought Tauruses and GM A-body cars in various models and configurations and would compare and say: look we got more room we got V6 and you got only four etc, etc. I said ok, ask me in a few years, of course in a few years all those were long traded away and some of these same folk now own the same brand they so criticized me for buying yrs earlier.

  72. Autos101 Says:

    A former employee and longtime friend of mine, who used to have only utter contempt for SUVs and bought Audi A4s and A6s, (still has one of each) all the time (for their 4wd in the snowbelt), has just done a complete 180 and bought an X5, after looking at the M class, the Tuareg (which he liked) and the Audis Q5 and Q7.

    he told me the X5 held its value much better than the M class, which does not agree with TJ’s biased anti-Bimmer rants here.

    I double checked at Cars.com. (he bought an 09 X5 3.0 6-cyl with 31,000 miles for only $32k, nothing down and couple years at $1,500 a month). NONE of the 197 X5s with 30,000-40,000 miles at cars.com had an asking price less than that! Maybe they would come down.

    I also checked prices for 2009 M class with also 30-40k miles and they were also lower.

    Of course, Merc has a GREAT full-size SUV the GL class, which I would consider seriously if I was in the market for a big SUV. 3 rows and the Diesel of course, if I bought new. Used, diesels (both BMW and Mercs are VERY expensive, so you got to do 100,000s of miles to recover the price diff)

  73. Autos101 Says:

    I live in an U town full of old Civics and Corollas, Camrys and Accords and Subarus, driven by students and faculty.

    I have noticed recently a HUGE number of Cruzes, maybe it is an illusion, but everywhere I drive, there are more and more Cruzes, and only ONE or TWO new Ford Foci and Fiestas.

  74. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here’s an interesting article about car longevity, and some data about percentage of older cars still “on the road.”

    http://www.desrosiers.ca/2007%20Update/Documents%20and%20Reports/2007%20OBS/Trends%20in%20Vehicle%20Longevity.pdf

    This is from Canada, but I’d think data for the U.S. should be similar. It is worthwhile to read the article, as well as looking at the charts. Toyota is the top non-luxury brand for longevity of 11-15 year old cars.

  75. pedro fernandez Says:

    Interesting article, though it is Canada, where cars die sometimes premature deaths due to the climate, we don’t have this issue here in the sunbelt, you would think the heat would do most cars in after a few years of driving in the oppressive heat and humidity of So Fla but this is not so damaging as the cold and the sometimes short driving distances of certain Northern areas, I remember back in Jersey in the 70′s a car approaching 100k miles was at the end of its life, if not death by engine failure, it was so rusted it became useless and unsafe.

  76. HtG Says:

    71 Interesting link, Kit. I wonder what the results would look like if Detroit’s overproduction of cars compared to the imports has an effect on peoples’ decisions on whether to junk their cars. If the factory is feeding fleets just to keep the lines running, it kills the residuals. Also, I wonder how many of these older cars are being driven regularly; did you see the figures for Porsches? Those are in the garage mostly.

  77. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The article had this to say about luxury cars’ long life expectancy”

    “Demographics also play a key role. Luxury vehicles are often purchased by older, wealthier consumers who highly value these vehicles. They are maintained more diligently and driven less frequently. Longevity and dealer loyalty seem to run hand-in-hand. The brands topping our longevity list are arranged in virtually the same order as the dealer loyalty leaders. This correlation should be noted by all OEMs as it does shed light on the long term value of positive dealership service experiences.”

    The article didn’t really go into the big difference between Toyota and Honda, at the top of the non-luxury brands, and Ford and Chevy, near the bottom, but I think you have to assume that Toyotas and Hondas, at least from the ’91-’95 model years, did hold up better than Fords and Chevys of those years. There were a higher percentage of 21 and 22 year old Chevys on the road than Hondas, though.

  78. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Also, for those who didn’t look at the article, Hyundai was way down there, with only Isuzu, Suzuki, and Lada being lower. 33% of 11-15 year old Hyundais were still on the road, as opposed to 54% of Fords, and 78% of Toyotas.

  79. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit those are the old Hyundai models, being referred to, the new ones will do much better I am sure.

  80. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #76
    Yeah, the data was from ’06, so these would be ’91-’95 cars. I suspect the new ones would be much better, and that might also be the case with GM and Ford.

  81. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just read a piece on TTAC reminding everybody MT’s 1995 car of the year, the Cirrus??? Jeez who the hell is in charge of this meaningless award? They did it again with the Volt for 2011.

  82. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Other notorious winners were Vega and Renault Alliance.

    Actually, the first generation Cirrus wasn’t a bad car, when new. My parents had one, and it looked pretty good, and was reliable while they had it. They must not have held up very well, though. I don’t see many first generation “cloud cars” on the road, and the last of them are only 12 years old.

  83. cwolf Says:

    The remark that Hyundai was at the bottom of the list of a Canadian article about longevity should be no surprise. The German article we shared the other day also pointed out how Hyundai couldn’t pass muster,esp long term. Combine these 2 pieces of info from different countries and it should be rather clear that Hyundai is nothing more than an interestingly designed piece of crappola! Some of you guys should know better than to allow yourseves to be hood-winked by an overload of advertisements. Tisk…Tisk!!

  84. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf you starting to sound like TJ, you give these poor Koreans zero credits for their improvements in the past few yrs. Look I think Daewoo is still back in the 80′s even with all the GM money, but H/K have made great improvements to their vehicles, with that 10 yr warranty, they could not have survived if the quality was not there. Saw Motorweek’s review of the Evoque and no mention of the lousy visibility out of this thing, it’s amazing the things they skip just to give positive reviews to something they like and not point out their shortcomings like the brand’s horrible reputation for quality.

  85. DonC Says:

    I think the idea that GM is thinking of replacing the LG Chem batteries with A123 batteries is simply wrong. A few months ago GM announced it was using the A123 batteries in the Spark, probably because of cycle life and specific power. At the time they made clear the Volt was not affected. For performance enthusiasts this might not be a good thing since the A123 batteries have A LOT more power and a motor can run at several times its rated output. Can you spell ROCKET?

    The next gen Volt batteries will probably use the new technology licensed from Envia and the DOE not the tech from A123 and UT.

  86. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In the time frame of the cars in the Canadian report, Hyundai was still selling Excel, a substandard car, even for that time. Also, the early Sonata used some of the same not-too-stellar Mitsubishi engines that Chrysler used. We’ll have to wait, but I would expect today’s Hyundais to at least be up with Ford and Chevy when they are 12-15 years old.

    As far as Daewoo, they have come a long ways too. All indications are that the Sonic is a competitive car in its class, unlike any previous Daewoo-designed products.

  87. cwolf Says:

    Actually I dislike Hyundai with a passion and with an intensity far greater than tj’s. Their interior noise and bone-jarring front end is a depiction of the intensional sub-standard mechanicals. Hyundai uses these cost cutting savings to load the vehicle with sub-par goodies and a long warranty that faulsely make budget minded buyers believe they are getting a real deal. If the Hyundai buyer only could get into their head that nothing comes for free: not the goodies or the warranty….it’s in the price. Buy one ,pedro,and see how long it takes for you to wish you had your old vibrolla back.
    Many people like the body styles over the past couple years,but a gift-wrapped turd is still a turd! Sorry, but I have no respect for ANYTHING Korean.

  88. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, Daewoo was a big failure over here, as you recall they had this crazy marketing thing going, then when they realized that was not working out, they decided to set up some kind of dealer network, but their cars proved to be even worse than H/K and so they went bye, bye; all their cars were then sold under other nameplates and Chevy began selling them under their brand when GM bought into them and for the most part they were inferior. Even the much maligned Aveo was bad into its last year, a sore thumb in GM’s otherwise pretty decent model line up, I just don’t see how they can all of a sudden turn it all around with either the Sonic or Spark! One thing is to test out fine, but show me the data after 4 or 5 yrs.

  89. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pedro, time will tell about the Sonic and Spark. The power train of the Sonic is the same as for the Cruze. They work pretty well, but it remains to be seen how well they will hold up.

    Before the Aveo, there was the Pontiac LeMans, known as “Daewoo Racer” in Czechoslovakia when I was there for a model airplane world championship in 1992. I think that one was largely an Opel design, but with worse quality when Daewoo got ahold of it.

    I kind of like the Sonic hatch, but certainly wouldn’t want to buy it the first year on the market. I won’t be in the car market for a while anyway.

  90. T. Bejma Says:

    No need to fear the first year bugs anymore, at least at GM. We are launching cars now with a better quality score than current production. And if it isn’t there, we hold the launch. With the Sonic you also have to realize that the same exact car was launched in Korea a year before we launched here in Michigan so there has been time to get the improvements in. It’s even better to buy the first year because usually the content starts to go down for cost savings.

  91. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well then how come JD Powers reports that the Cruze has had its share of mechanical issues? Are they not to be trusted as well as CR, that has been criticized a lot lately for being inaccurate.

  92. HtG Says:

    Bernie Ecclestone’s daughters are spending the money for him. NSFW

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2072654/Bernie-Ecclestone-Petra-Tamara-squandering-childrens-inheritance.html

  93. cwolf Says:

    pedro,I think I see your point,yet Bejma comment has some validity. Most of the cars of this size reviewed were given an average rating. I believe Bejma is correct in the fact that cars,all cars pretty much,have become much better at launch. Since many buyers are buying smaller cars,I wonder if their initial lower ratings aren’t influenced by the fact that they are comparing it to the Larger car they traded.

  94. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #88,
    That’s kind of funny. Just what did Bernie expect? If someone gave me $4 billion plus, I’d be extravagent too, and I’m not even a 20-some year old girl.

  95. Kit Gerhart Says:

    JD Power didn’t give the 2011 Corolla as good of ratings as I would have expected. See:

    http://www.jdpower.com/autos/Toyota/Corolla/2011/Sedan/ratings/

  96. pedro fernandez Says:

    No, they report on repair issues that forced them to bring the car back to the dealer. This has always been, first yr models have their growing pains, part assembly issues, part supplier quality issues, once they get all taken care of the following years have less of these problems.

  97. pedro fernandez Says:

    Even they are screwing up now as well. Let’s face it, the golden years for the Japanese brands are long past.

  98. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Corolla still got a fairly high “4 ball” predicted reliability rating from Power, but Civic got 4.5 balls. Cruze, and GLK tied at 3 balls. MINI was 2.5, but they don’t separate the base MINI from the S model, which they should.

    I looked around a little for a car with 5 ball predicted reliability, but didn’t find one. Lexus LS was only 4.5, but looked fantastic in the other categories. See:

    http://www.jdpower.com/autos/Lexus/LS/2011/Sedan/ratings/

  99. cwolf Says:

    A lot of the cars mensioned have been around awhile,thus have become more refined. I don’t think style or the looks should be included in the survey because these factors are in the eye of the beholder. And I still place more credit on initial reliability and quality,etc.,ect. on new introductions for they have become much improved. I wonder just how many visits were a result of simple correction,tweeks and re-programming.For example ,duel-clutches;as DeLorenzo stated,they work the way they are supposed to and nothing is wrong,except that the US buyer is not use to them,so they were re-calibrated to satisfy,not correct.

  100. jesse Says:

    The VELOSTER is still selling very well!I Delivered 1 yesterday and another in a few minutes.The only other one on the lot is also going out today.They are hard to get and we sell everyone we do get in a hurry!It’s geared for the current techy generation and is a pretty cool little car!Turbo is around the corner to give it some added (and needed)power!

  101. Buzzerd Says:

    Veloster
    I’m also 6’1″ and I did fit in the back just fine considering this is a small car. I wouldn’t want to go on a long trip sitting in the back but for short commutes it would be fine.
    Reliability pretty much ALL the new cars perform amazingly well, the least reliable car today is better than the most reliable from only a few years ago