Episode 807 – Peugeot Out of Le Mans, Kia Reworks Stop/Start System, Toyota Cleared

January 19th, 2012 at 11:52am

Runtime: 8:11

Europe’s financial troubles are starting to hurt automakers, forcing them to cut costs wherever they can. Peugeot just announced that it’s dropping out of the 24 hours of Le Mans this year.  Kia is going back to the drawing board to improve the stop/start system in its Rio and Soul models.  As we told you when the story first broke a couple of years ago, Toyota’s problems with unintended acceleration were largely due to driver error, and now the National Academy of Sciences concluded the same thing.  All that and more, plus John answers your questions in the “You Said It” segment.

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This is Autoline Daily for January 19th, and now the news.

Europe’s financial troubles are starting to hurt automakers, forcing them to cut costs wherever they can. Peugeot just announced that it’s dropping out of the 24 hours of Le Mans this year. Probably a smart move considering the company recently announced it would axe 6,000 employees. And yet, PSA’s other brand, Citroen, will continue racing in the World Rally Championship.

And staying in France for the moment, Renault just introduced refreshed versions of its Scenic and Grand Scenic minivans. The styling was reworked to give them a sportier look. These are the first Renaults to be equipped with the Visio System which includes a lane departure warning system. The Scenic and Grand Scenic are on sale this month in Europe and will be introduced in 40 other markets throughout the year.

General Motors Research and Development challenged students at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel to come up with a way of keeping back-seat passengers – particularly children – entertained. The result is called Windows of Opportunity. This project turns automotive glass into interactive displays. Passengers can pinch, zoom and swipe right on the window, which acts like a display screen. A variety of different applications are available ranging from a music-streaming service to one that allows passengers to look through another user’s window in real time. All of this sounds a little pie-in-the-sky . . . because it is. GM has no immediate plans to put the system into production.

Kia is going back to the drawing board, sort of. WardsAuto reports the company is delaying availability of its stop/start system on the Rio and Soul models until the second-quarter of this year. They’re tweaking the technology after receiving feedback from the media – that’s code for us journalists bitching up a storm. There’s a shudder that runs through the car as the engine restarts. This is interesting. More and more automakers are offering or will offer stop/start systems, and some of them have nailed it while others haven’t. The 2013 Chevy Malibu is a great example of stop/start done right. You can barely feel it. But other, much more expensive vehicles fare a lot worse. The BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid comes to mind. Despite its top-rung price it doesn’t deliver a very good experience.

As we told you when the story first broke a couple of years ago, Toyota’s problems with unintended acceleration were largely due to driver error. Yes, there were problems with floor mats jamming the gas pedal, and with sticky has pedals, but the main cause was drivers hitting the gas instead of the brake. That wasn’t just us saying so, that was the conclusion of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And now the National Academy of Sciences concluded the same thing. Even so, the National Academy of Sciences says NHTSA needs to improve its understanding of automotive electronics. That may be true, but I would point out, once again, that the problem with unintended acceleration has been around for decades, well before electronics were ever used in cars.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now it’s time for some of your feedback!

LS Ford saw our report on that camper that you can attach to a Toyota Prius and says, “Prius pop up camper??? WTH!! This is from the ‘I cannot believe they made that’ department . . . oh wait, I know what the Prius add on is. It’s the dust buster docking station!!”

LS, I thought it looked like a port-a-potty bolted onto the back of the car. That thing puts the “ugh” in “ugly.”

Jerzjt wonders if boosting production of the Jeep Wrangler is the smart thing to do. “Can you run another 100 Wranglers off the line per day without sacrificing quality?”

Yes, you can do it without sacrificing quality. That works out to about six more vehicles an hour for a two-shift operation. And that can be easily handled with a few extra people, or a little bit more overtime.

Cwolf saw my interview with Jim Farley talking about using social media and was not impressed. “Farley really succeeded using social and digital media to promote the Fiesta didn’t he? Just look at the terrific sales numbers- NOT!”

Last year 68,000 Fiestas were sold in the American market. And I agree that’s not a very impressive number. However, the Fiesta outsold every other car in that segment except the Nissan Versa, which is pretty good for the first full year the Fiesta was on sale.

012345 saw our report that a number of automakers in Europe could be hit with fines for exceeding CO2 limits, but he asks, “Mr. McElroy, why is Daimler the only major European manufacturer in that list facing a probable fine? It can’t be because of Daimler’s truck division, they’re not the only major car manufacturer in Europe that also makes trucks.”

Great question 012345. It comes down to this. Mercedes can’t offset its high-emitting cars with enough low-emitting ones. That’s what the smart brand was supposed to do, but as you know, smart is a sales disaster. Meanwhile, BMW is using the successful Mini brand to help offset its big cars, while Audi gets averaged out with all the other brands in the Volkswagen group. This is why Mercedes desperately needs to figure out how to dramatically boost sales at Smart.

ATSV4ME was sorely disappointed in our coverage of the Detroit Auto Show. “nothing on Tesla again…biased reports from John/AutolineDaily/Detroit.” Well, Tesla had absolutely nothing new at the show. And that’s where our bias shows. If you have nothing new to show, we don’t report on it.

Thanks for all your letters and comments. We love going through them all. In fact, get your questions ready for Autoline After Hours tonight when our guest will be Karl Ludvigsen, one of the greatest automotive enthusiasts I’ve ever met in my life. He’ll be joining us from London tonight, so join me and the Autoextremist Peter DeLorenzo for the best insider information in the industry.

And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, well see you tomorrow.

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

89 Comments to “Episode 807 – Peugeot Out of Le Mans, Kia Reworks Stop/Start System, Toyota Cleared”

  1. HtG Says:

    Toyota unimpeded acceleration: PICNIC, problem in chair, not in car

    (that’s right old ladies, talking to you)

  2. GPL Says:

    Re: Peugeot leaving Le Mans

    So the French surrendured to the Germans. Who would have expected that? :)

  3. Rafi N Says:

    Everyone, please call Congress to let them know that you do not support PIPA and SOPA. That bill is created to limit and destroy the internet. I just made the call and it was super easy to do. All I had to do was click the link on top of Wikipedia’s page and after entering my zip code, found the contact info to my Representatives and Senators. Please do the same!

  4. 012345 Says:

    Thank you Mr.McELroy for answering my question.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m sorry to see that Peugeot pulled out of the series; you need competition in a racing series to make it interesting. I’m not surprised that they pulled out, though. I doubt that Le Mans racing is very cost-effective advertising for the mainstream, front drive cars that Peugeot sells.

    Citroen’s remaining in Rally might be a different. The Rally cars are at least a little like production cars, and are based a lot more on production cars than NASCAR’s “stock” cars.

  6. Autos101 Says:

    Pedro (#49 from yesterday)

    I am not a good example, (of why the US auto industry is in trouble, as you claim, because although I can afford it, I don’t buy new) since in my case it makes zero sense to buy new, given I only need to do a couple thousand miles a year with each of my cars, on average.

    I am at one extreme of the miles/yr spectrum, and maybe Cwolf is at the other extreme, and you are much closer to him than me in miles/year, and for both of you it makes a ton of sense to buy new, go one size smaller if you cannot afford it

    But even if I bought new, these is almost NO Detroit offering that attracts me now.

    I would probably not buy another 7, or even another BMW, if I bought new. It has been great, but I want to experience other cars too, Mercs, maybe an LS Lexus, or a Prius C, V etc.

    But if new Tech is developed that produces vastly superior cars safety-wise, not available in used cars, I sure would buy new again.

  7. tj Martin Says:


    The Dodge Edition

    ( asking the question ; Can the folks running Dodge really be this clueless ? )

    So awhile ago in an attempt to revitalize the Pro Stock Class the NHRA put out requests to the Big Three to submit their offerings for new body styles for its Drag Racing silhouette class .

    Chevy – Submits the Camaro :o

    FORD – Submits the Mustang 8)

    Yeah Baaaaaby ! Shades of Grumpy Jenkins , Sox & Martin , Dandy Dick Landy , Dyno Don etc . its looking like 1969 and the Classic Pro Stock wars all over again ! Yeee Haaaw !

    But wait . There’s one more invitee to the party . Could be the fly in the soup here ……

    Dodge – submits …………… THE AVENGER :(

    So in answer to the above question ?

    Why yes they are . Utterly , completely and totally CLUELESS


    Rafi N – The Internet is in dire need of some regulations and rules before it destroys even more lives / credit ratings etc then it already has .

  8. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    Without reading your comment to Autos101 yesterday , let me reply as to why the US Auto Industry is in such a mess .

    It Is by their own doing , not because folks like myself refuse to buy anything they make

    I tried / rented / drove every damn offering the Big Three had on the lots that even vaguely appealed to me and the Mrs ……… wishing …… hoping ….. with all my heart to be able to keep my $$$ on Home Soil … yet absolutely Nothing stood up to even a second test drive , never mind a consideration of purchase

    The simple reality as to why the Big Three can’t get mine and folks like my selves $$$ is not because I didn’t want them to , but rather because everything ( at least what I drove ) was at best mediocre …….. and at worst ….. crap !

  9. Autos101 Says:

    I frequently praised the Prius V, a wagon with 50% more space than the already roomy Prius, and still a FANTASTIC 44 EPA MPG

    Now I just read that in two short months, the Prius V ALONE sold more units than the (insert stupid, failed, Lutz’s folly, or whatever) Volt sold in the whole year:

    “LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) — Toyota Motor Corp. scored a quick victory in 2011 as U.S. deliveries of its Prius v wagon in 10 weeks topped sales of General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Volt plug- in hybrid that was available all year.

    Toyota sold 8,399 of the hybrid wagon, which didn’t arrive at U.S. dealerships until the last week of October, said Carly Schaffner, a spokeswoman for the company. GM delivered 7,671 rechargeable Volts in 2011 and 7,997 in the model’s first 13 months on the market. The Japanese automaker hadn’t distinguished Prius v sales from those of the original one.

    “Prius v is off to a great start,” Jim Lentz, president of Toyota’s U.S. sales unit, said in an e-mail statement on Tuesday, without elaborating. The hybrid wagon starts at $26,400, Toyota said on its Web site. The Volt starts at $39,145 and is eligible for as much as $7,500 in federal tax credits.”

    Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20120118/OEM05/120119828#ixzz1jvh7QRnj

  10. Chuck Grenci Says:

    John, one of your advertisers (Bosch) says that clean diesels are expected to double in the next couple of years (2014); could you give us (me) the percentage break-down of gasoline, electric and/or hybrid and diesels if it’s not to hard to extract those numbers. Just wondering if those diesels are at, below or above those of the hybrid/electrics (which I think I remember you saying are at around 3%).

  11. tj Martin Says:


    Why is the Champs de Elysees in Paris lined with trees ?

    Because the Germans prefer to march in the shade

  12. tj Martin Says:


    Whoopdee Do !

    Seriously HTH cares how many dweebs , geeks and early ( well now late ) adapters , Green Weenie Wanna Be’s , Hollywood Copy Cats and clueless consumers buy the Pretentious Prius with its over exaggerated Milage Claims

    Just goes to prove PT Barnum’s adage ;

    ” There’s a sucker born every minute “

  13. Autos101 Says:

    DOn’t be a DAMNED FOOL, Martin.

    The PRIUS is the ONLY Hybrid that is an AWESOME VALUE AND the Prius V is something they should have done TEN YEARS AGO.

  14. Autos101 Says:

    And watch its sales SKYROCKET next time gas is above $4. Not that it will not do GREAT regardless of gas price levels.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here’s a report on a “big three” car that Autoweek’s writers seem to love:


  16. GPL Says:

    “Dodge – submits …………… THE AVENGER”

    Avenger? Seriously? OH MY GOD!
    I…I…I’m speechless.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Obviously, they want to try to help Avenger sales a little, thus calling the Pro Stock entry Avenger.

    Pro Stock cars are even less like real cars than NASCAR machines, so the name has no meaning on any of them.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Gentlemen: Having midsize “family sedans selling for over 30k cannot help the sales situation in the US market either, that used to be the price of a minivan just a few years back, and we all know how much more desirable those are to growing families. BTW why can’t Daimler use its resources and redo the Smart from the ground up?

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    101 you’re not alone in this, I have also met many scholars who have more important things to do than shopping for a new car that either keep their old ones running or buy used as well, they’d rather use their hard-earned money to enjoy other facets of life, traveling, eating out etc.

  20. Autos101 Says:


    THIS, the 53 MPG EPA, $19,000 (!!!) Prius C will be a far bigger SMASH HIT than the excellent Prius V. Read why, above.

    Kit: I believe you wrote that the C will have less MPG than the regular prius, that’s 100% wrong. it will be significantly above it. I expect real MPG to be far better than the 53, above, because in the Japanese Cycle it got in the 90s MPG and the regular Prius much less (low 80s?)

  21. W L Simpson Says:

    Why not in car wi-fi & touch screen tablets for passenger, not driver, entertainment?

  22. Autos101 Says:

    19: Pedro, again, most of my colleagues do a whole lot more miles than I do and they typically buy new. One of them who lives 30 miles from work has had a series of Jetta Diesels and is happy with them, although another colleague (who always buys domestics but fixes them himself!) claimed that that Jetta had costly repairs. Still, if you put 20-40k miles a year, a few repairs are not unusual for any car.

    If I drove 20-40k miles a year, buying new would make sense. WHen I drive each carr less than 2,000 miles, it does not.

    That does not mean that you should do what I do, you have a totally different miles/yr situation and I believe a Prius C would be perfect for your needs.

  23. Autos101 Says:

    BTW yesterday I thought I saw a Prius V leave the parking lot but when I got closer it turned out to be a Pontiac Vibe-Toyota Matrix, it has a similar profile-esp if you have not yet seen a V.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I read that the “C” would have less HIGHWAY mpg, 46, than the regular Prius at 48, but 2 mpg better city, at 53.

    I pointed out in my post that it was no big deal, though, because the C is being marketed as a “city car,” thus the “C” in its name.

    We’ll see what the EPA numbers are in a few months.

  25. HtG Says:

    So who’s this guy then, A1? About two hours ago I drove behind an MB SLS, AMG edition. Just gorgeous from any angle, and the cigar fumes the guy was expelling were very very. If that’s a poseur, he’s winning.

  26. Autos101 Says:


    I’d expect a car that is one size smaller than the Prius (it is yaris-based), lighter, and also has a smaller engine, should be superior MPG wise both city and highway.

    Note that these EPA numbers are not official but “alleged”, while in the Japanese Cycle, the Prius gets 32 KM/liter vs the 35 KM/liter of the Aqua-Prius C. That’s on average 9% better than the Prius, and both numbers are Awesome.

    The Ads for the Prius V continue at full speed whenever I turn on the TV, and are some of the very, very few ads about cars that I actually enjoy, most others are 100% BS.

  27. Autos101 Says:

    #25 It’s always hard to decipher your posts, HtG. Who do you mean, your Landsman Bertell Schmitt of TTAC? He used to report on China sales, he had a job there (I think with VW of China) He is an unathletic looking dude, judging from a pic of his I’ve seen.

  28. Discotea Says:

    Are you sure about the Toyota Sudden acceleration. Nasa just published a study that in a few of the defective parts they found tin wiskers that could of caused the sudden acceleration.

    There’s also a 30 page presentation from Nasa in the article. I don’t buy that it’s all old people’s fault.

  29. HtG Says:

    27 I was wondering who you thought would be driving such a high end car.

    And I just checked the local Toyota dealers to see about the Prius V. Out of three closest to me, only one had the V. They seemed to have 5, but you had to call for pricing.

  30. GPL Says:

    “Obviously, they want to try to help Avenger sales a little, thus calling the Pro Stock entry Avenger.”

    The car blogs been reporting that the Avenger is getting the axe. Why try to help sales of a car you’re going to kill? Or kill a car that you’re trying to promote? Perhaps left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing or they just can’t make a decision and stick with it.

    But aside from that, where’s the logic? What kind of sales boost would you expect from promoting a FWD sedan to drag racing fans? That’s your Challenger or Charger demographic.

    Worse, if I were a Mopar drag racing fan and saw the Avenger chosen to represent the brand against the Camaro and Mustang, I’d be pissed! I’m pissed, and I’m not even a Dodge faithful. It’s just my opinion, but that was a bad idea.

  31. Autos101 Says:

    29: I still have no clue, are you asking me who would be driving the Merc SLS YOU saw? I have no clue what other “high end car” u would be referring to.

  32. Autos101 Says:

    29 I bet they are charging more than list price for the V?

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Whatever actual EPA numbers the Prius C ends up with, they will be very good. The C has a little higher drag coefficient, .28 vs. the Prius at .25, but maybe the C is enough narrower and/or lower to make up for that in actual drag at speed.

    Between the C, the Prius, and the V, it will boil down to how much room you need, unless the C is substantially noisier, or something like that. I doubt that it will be, given that it is a ~3 year newer design.

  34. tj Martin Says:


    The Reality Fix



    @ Autos101 – Unlike you I have a Toyota insider , that WORKs for the company , who assures me the ONLY way ANY Prius can realistically attain 50 mpg or better is ;

    If a Jockey is driving one / with no passenger / no luggage etc / 1/4 of a tank of gas or less / 35% humidity or lower / on a slight downhill / with a 5 mph tailwind / 50 – 62 degrees F

    e.g. Absolutely Perfect conditions

    Also if you’d ACTUALLY ever driven a Prius , you’d know the cars handling is atrocious , its ride is rougher that the Matrix / Yaris or even my former MINI , its brakes are someone’s idea of a truly bad joke and the interior for a car its price is a pathetic amalgamation of the cheapest materials Toyota can conjure up

    So remind me there ‘ Bob ‘ Just what is it that makes the Prius such a good bargain ? Other than being a bit of Green Weenie Automotive Jewelry that’s a potential image booster for when you show up at your local Sierra Club meeting .


    @ HtG- The SLS . So now you’ve seen one in person . Heck of a head turner … isn’t it .


    @ Kit Gerhart – Obviously you know nothing at all about NASCAR and/or NHRA Pro Stock ! NASCAR’s current Car of the Future doesn’t even resemble any production car whereas Pro Stock at least requires some similar dimensions and design …. beyond a few painted on details .

    Also if you had even the slightest CLUE , you’d know that Dodge , by submitting the Avenger POS as their Pro Stock contender , when in fact the Challenger is in dire need of an image boost . against the likes of the Camaro and the Mustang has to be the biggest Marketing ( Bleep ) up of the 2010′s

  35. tj Martin Says:

    @ GPL

    Molto Grazie

    Good catch !

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The last time I looked at cars at the nearby Toyota dealer, they had a $2K add-on to the stickers on the three V’s they. I suspect you could negotiate most of that away, now, at least, but if gas prices go up substantially…

  37. HtG Says:

    tj, it was a light grey convertible with black ragtop. Do you know the way to Sprezzatura Way? I can’t get why the SL has to have so many cuts in the sheetmetal and general business when the SLS is so clean.

    I’ve spied to gullwings in recent months as well.

  38. HtG Says:

    sh*t, two gullwings. Come on!

  39. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Sprezzatura I know the term but not what you’re implying

  40. GPL Says:

    A guy that works in my building drives an SLS, so I see it almost daily. Sharp car. (understatement)

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, the dimensional rules of pro stock are another reason they might use the Avenger. It is probably narrower than the Challenger, closer to the width of a Mustang.

    I have a Prius and a MINI. Yes, the handling of the Prius is so-so, but it’s good enough. The ride of the Prius is substantially better than the MINI. I know, since I have one of each. There is some non-linearity in the brake feel at transitions between regenerative and mechanical braking, but they are not bad, and you quickly get used to it.

    Also, it is VERY EASY to get 50 mpg with a Prius if you try to get good mileage. I don’t do that, I “just drive it,” and still get in the mid-40′s almost no matter what. I do get 50 for most tanks of summer driving in Indiana, where I’m mostly going not over 55, and the “city” driving doesn’t have too many stops.

  42. tj Martin Says:

    # 37

    And actually having seen two …. I like the new SL quite a bit and am even coming to grips with the new SLK’s looks … which at first I did not like .

    Here’s hoping you get the shot at driving an SLS … roadster or gullwing . Sublime .. in the absolute definition of the word .. would be my best description

    PS ; Don’t you just hate the lack of an editing function sometimes ?

  43. HtG Says:

    39 I was implying that the convertible SLS has a great image, and elevates the space around it.

  44. tj Martin Says:


    Yeah yeah and Frogs fly south for the winter , Obama is the best president we’ve ever had and Ron Paul isn’t a racist

    Seriously … just because DisneyWorld is up the road doesn’t mean you live in the Magic Kingdom

  45. HtG Says:

    yes we need a f8c?ing edit function.

    ‘Do you know the way to Sprezzatura Way’ I also was hoping you’d catch the Do you Know Way to San Jose beat, tj.

  46. tj Martin Says:

    # 43

    Thats what I though , but preferred to confirm .

    AGREED ….. 100%

  47. tj Martin Says:


    Gotcha and yeah I missed that one .

    Hmmmn :(

  48. HtG Says:

    47 Don’t worry, I’m also unclear in the real world. Except when it comes to making a certain govt. agency my B78ch!

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pro Stock uses tube frames, totally non-stock V8′s, bodies that only superficially resemble real cars, though they do have lights, unless that changed recently.

    Also, Pro Stocks have CARBURETORS. Even NASCAR has joined the 1980′s, and is using fuel injection for 2012.

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    In the past 2 weeks I’ve seen 3 Leafs driving around, yet I have not seen one single Volt, I saw one at a Chevy dealer a month ago and that is it!! I guess like a cold front, it doesn’t make it all the way to So Fla.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “tj,” you who know so little, and think you know so much. Do you still think inline 5 engines are smoother than inline sixes?
    You really need to go check out the new Passat with the base engine. You will absolutely love the base engine.

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I haven’t seen any Volts or Leaves, either one, since I got back to Florida about two months ago. I drove through the Nissan/Cadillac dealer a few days ago and didn’t see any Leaves there, but I wasn’t really looking.

  53. pedro fernandez Says:

    Both Leaves were being driven by 50 plus old women, doing their shopping or errands I guess.

  54. Autos101 Says:


    I have never heard anybody or read anything suggesting that this long-in- the-tooth inline 5 of VW, which will soon be replaced by a far more efficient powerplant, is any good-until I read your post above.

  55. Autos101 Says:

    Nissan is probably not yet selling Leaves in MI. this is Volt country, but you see 100 Cruzes for each Volt.. if not 1,000.

  56. Autos101 Says:

    (I have never seen a Leaf in the flesh (or in the odd-shaped metal and plastic, more accurately)

  57. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The 5 is going to be replaced by a 1.8 liter turbo 4, based on the current 2 liter. I haven’t read if it will be direct injected like the 2.0 used in GTi, A4, etc., but as a base engine, it probably won’t be.

  58. pedro fernandez Says:

    To all those here who are wiser than me re: VW/Audi quality issues: do they NOT acknowledge it, or do they not care or are they not able to address it, or are they satisfied with status quo? From everyone I talk to, I get the same, “I would buy VW but I don’t trust their reliability”

  59. Chuck Grenci Says:

    To some that say that the Caddy ATS won’t be a contender, I say, I don’t think the competition should ignore it either. Motor Trend link: http://www.motortrend.com/auto_shows/detroit/2012/1112_2012_detroit_2013_cadillac_ats_first_look/#13269879984071&188,shopper

  60. Chuck Grenci Says:

    darn-it, ‘should’ should be ‘shouldn’t’

    p.s. another vote for edit function (on our blog here)

  61. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had a VW as recently as ’04, and the quality seemed decent. I didn’t keep it long for two reasons. First, it was TDI which worked well and got great fuel economy, but you couldn’t get the “approved” oil except at a dealer. Secondly, I encountered someone who really wanted the car, a Jetta TDI wagon with manual transmission, and they were willing to pay me almost what I paid for it.

    I would buy a VW now, even though their reliabiliy is not the best, because it is “close enough.”. I wish the dealers would improve, though, and I wish there were more of them.

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    More to your question, I think they are probably trying to improve quality, and I think they have, up to a point, but they have a long way to go to catch up with Toyota and Honda.

  63. T. Bejma Says:


    Chuck, that can’t be right, the ATS is just a re-badged Opel that got very luke warm reviews in Europe. You’re silly…

    Right tj? ;-)

  64. Autos101 Says:


    Why don’t you tell us how much just the batteries cost on the Volt? Is it $30,000, or did you get a good discount?

    PS Remember the Cimarron and, far more recently, the Catera? I just hope the ATS is not the same overpriced, bland, unreliable POS.

  65. T. Bejma Says:


    I do not know how much just the batteries cost on the Volt. No “first to market” vehicle, or anything else, makes a profit. It takes competition to drive innovation and cause prices to come down. That’s basic Business 101.

    The Cimarron was a re-badged Cavalier and the Catera was an Opel re-badged (I have always said, those were some bad years for cars in general and GM was making some of the most poor decisions with re-badging). Neither of those vehicles was a purposely built platform, so no, I do not see any similarities between them and the ATS.

  66. Autos101 Says:

    #65 We are all well aware of that, but the Volt has had such problems and is so underperforming, that it is clearly not ready for prime time yet. What would be the harm of waiting a year or two more and bringing out a much improved, lower-cost, and far more fuel efficient Volt 2.0 instead? Or are you saying you don’t yet have these necessary improvements?

  67. Autos101 Says:

    PS #65 it does not seem that GM has changed its bad habits of rebadging Opels since the Catera and selling them as something else in the US

    Like almost All BUICK cars, for example?

  68. Autos101 Says:

    (not to mention a TON of Saturns, especially the blatantly Opel Astra, which failed miserably (overpriced even by Lutz’s admission)

  69. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A big differerence is that the Regal is a pretty good car for the money. The Catera was a lousy car, at an price, and it was expensive.

  70. Autos101 Says:

    From the “Gimme a break” files. Ugly Lexus Breadvan base price $82k?

    A new Lexus LX 570 is going to set you back nearly $82k after you add $875 delivery to its $80,930 base price. The luxury version of the Toyota Land Cruiser wears a new Lexus spindle grille, one that’s big enough to make Rumplestiltskin proud, and it has revised front and rear fascias among the other upgrades that Lexus says justify its 1.9-percent price increase.”

    And it’s not even the LX!

  71. Autos101 Says:

    #69 then why are recent Buick and Cadillac sales, unlike the rest of GM (esp Chevy!) and the industry, moribound?

  72. Autos101 Says:

    #70: How much is a Landcruiser Base price? $45k? $50k tops? This is the ULTIMATE Toyota=Lexus RIPOFF, you pay $35k more for the breadvan if it has the Lexus logo and some utterly insignificant “BLING” that only convicted rappers and drug dealers would appreciate.

  73. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, they really blew it with the Astra. The one they sold as a Saturn was near the end of its life cycle, the engine they chose for the U.S. was mediocre, at best, in both performance and gas mileage. Then, they set the price too high.

  74. Autos101 Says:

    #70 I meant it’s not even the LS, not the LX

  75. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In the case of Buick, I think they still have an image problem as an “old people’s car.” Both the LaCrosse and Regal are nice cars, as is the Enclave, if you like big crossovers.

  76. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Also, Buick should have high mpg power trains available in the cars, either a serious hybrid like Toyota and Ford, or a diesel, if they can come up with a good one. A Regal with a diesel matching VW’s TDI in performance and mpg would be great in a Regal.

  77. Autos101 Says:


    One more review of the Volt. The gas engine is not only quite inefficient compared to its rivals, it is also very noisy, and not in a good sense (like my v8, or a Ferrari)

    I think a vehicle that costs twice as much as its underlying Chevy Cruze should not be sold as a Chevy. If they added only a few $1000s in interior luxury, at most, they could sell it as a Caddy and be able to justify the $45k price.

    I bet Internal GM politics are guilty of having this vehicle sold as a Chevy and not a Caddy.

  78. Autos101 Says:

    #75 I sure don’t like “big” crossovers like the Coke-bottle Enclave, which may look attractive, but is just an obese beast, 1,000 lbs overweight, and can carry far less inside than an excellent Honda Odyssey.

    Next time gas prices go over $4 (it is a matter of time, a few months really), the Enclave and the other large SUVs and crossovers will go to their final resting place.

  79. pedro fernandez Says:

    GM should have developed a generator-type engine for the Volt instead of picking one up from their parts bin, Honda makes better generators than that 1.4 Maybe they should have bought them from Honda, their generators are as good as they come and command a premium price here in So. Fla

  80. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Chevy Traverse does not look as “obese” as the Buick, yet they both come from the same platform. BTW today I met an older, well-heeled attorney who told me he never buys new, has a 94 Suburban for his fishing and an 06 Acura for his short work commute, immediately I thought of 101, same situation.

  81. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In my limited experience with driving a Volt, the battery ran down while I was cruising at about 65, and while it was certainly noticeable when the engine cranked up, it was less conspicuous than I expected. When you slow down, the engine noise is more “there” because all the other noise goes away, but, again, I would have expected there to be more engine sound. The engine’s almost constant rpm, once it starts, is certainly “different,” though.

  82. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’ve read that a Honda-type generator would not be able to keep the Volt’s battery going to maintain speed, I don’t get it, after all, a medium sized Honda gen is enough to keep a small house or apt juiced up in case of a power outage.

  83. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Land Cruiser base price is $69,120 MSRP.

  84. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The biggest Honda generators sold for home use are not nearly as big as the ~100 hp setup in the Volt.

  85. Kit Gerhart Says:

    From Honda’s web site, the largest Honda generator set sold is 6.5 KW. The engine driven generator of a Volt is 55 KW.

  86. pedro fernandez Says:

    I rode a Land Cruise once when their prices were down to earth and it was quite an experience, very solid, well-built vehicle. Best in class IMHO. I guess Toyota then introduced the Sequoia and the highlander and had to price the LC out of reach of most buyers. But they still sell in third world countries pretty stripped down.

  87. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My sister had an “old” Land Cruiser, I think a ’74. It was a very serious off-road vehicle, but was very crude and rough riding. The engine was a near-clone of a Chevy “blue flame” six. She never took if off road, but got it (used, several years old) because it was “cool.” It had a removable fibre glass top, but the top was heavy, and it was kind of tricky getting the seals back in place to keep it from leaking when you put the top back on. You could also remove the doors easily, like with a Jeep CJ or Wrangler.

    The old Land Cruiser was the inspiration for today’s FJ Cruiser.

  88. GPL Says:

    It is puzzling how the Volt can be so much less efficient in gas only mode compared to other hybrids. It essentially has the same parts – ICE, generator, motor, battery. I don’t know all that much about electric motors and generators. Is there just that much more loss in the conversion from mechanical to electrical and back to mechanical energy than there is in a transmission? I would have thought the difference would be relatively small and that cycling the ICE at optimal efficiency would more or less offset that. I guess they thought that too, and we were both wrong.

    If that’s the case, maybe GM should really rethink thier philosophy and maybe release Volt 2.0 with a reconfigured powertrain as a more conventional plug-in hybrid. I think it is a good thing that they tried something different. It is good for the industry. It is good for the tech. Everyone learns from everyone else’s successes and failures. But ultimately it has to perform at least as good as the competition or it will fail.

    I hope they’re working on SOME kind of improvement. TB, do you know if there is an improved Volt 2.0 on the way?

    Either way, I think they should come off the price. At this price it probably IS going to fail, period, and become a total loss. At a lower price they would lose money on each unit, but might increase their volume enough to mitigate the losses until economies of scale and falling tech prices make it at least break even. That’s what everyone else has done. I think it took Toyota seven years or so to get the Prius into the black. It was a calculated risk, but it was a smart decision.

  89. T. Bejma Says:


    I believe there are continuous improvements going on with the Volt. Biggest focus is getting the cost and weight of the batteries down.

    Curious what you mean by: “a reconfigured powertrain as a more conventional plug-in hybrid”

    Isn’t the Volt the first (and only at this time), plug in Hybrid? We have other “conventional” hybrids at GM(i.e. – regular ICE car with an electric motor that sometimes runs on its own, but mostly just helps the ICE). What GM did with the Volt is go a step further than full electric with a back-up generator. The big problem that I see, is that we thought the range anxiety issue would be bigger than it turns out to be (based on the sales of the Leaf). It makes sense that people don’t want to be stuck somewhere if they can’t find an outlet, but apparently that is not the case.

    As far as the engine efficiency, I would expect that running the Volt entirely on the generator would not be as efficient as if it had a conventional ICE connected directly to the drivetrain. Remember, only in very limited situations, is the ICE even driving the wheels. Otherwise it is driving a battery charger. You need to think of the Volt’s ICE as more of an insurance policy that you are not stranded on the side of the road. It’s intention was always to be a commuter car that you could run on 100% electricity but if you wanted to go on a trip, or if you could not plug in somewhere (because of the lack of a plug in infrastructure) then you would not be stuck.