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Episode 810 – Russia Overtaking Germany, Opel Looks East for Profits, Battle of the Bulge

January 24th, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:18

It’s predicted that in four or five years Russia will be the largest car market in Europe – beating out Germany.  General Motors is putting enormous pressure on Opel to finally become profitable again, and now the company is in talks with SAIC to sell cars in China.  Automakers fight for every ounce of weight they can take out of their vehicles. Today’s bulky and bloated lead-acid batteries are prime, low-hanging fruit that’s ready for pickin’.  All that and more, plus a look at the new 2012 Honda CR-V.

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This is Autoline Daily for January 24th. And now, the news, which today is dominated by what’s going on in Europe.

RUSSIA OVERTAKING GERMANY (subscription required)
The financial crisis in Europe has a lot of people worried, but according to WardsAuto, the head of Ford of Europe is not one of them. Stephen Odell says the debt crisis “won’t put the brakes on the world.” Ford analysts predict European car sales will decline slightly from 2011. But in a fascinating side note, Steve Odell also predicts that in four or five years Russia will be the largest car market in Europe – beating out Germany. Demographics are on Russia’s side. It’s home to around 143 million people, Germany has about 82 million.

OPEL LOOKS EAST FOR PROFITS
General Motors is putting enormous pressure on Opel to finally become profitable again. Now Bloomberg reports that Opel is in talks with SAIC to sell cars in China. SAIC already has a joint venture with GM, so this is a logical step. But Opel is talking about exporting cars from Europe to China, where they’ll be slapped with a 25 percent import tax. And while Chinese car buyers will happily pay higher prices for imported Mercedes, BMWs, Audis and Porsches, it’s not likely that Opel is going to enjoy that level of acceptance. And besides, Opel’s real problems are with excess capacity. Until GM addresses that problem, nothing is going to make Opel profitable.

BATTLE OF THE BULGE: “LARD-ASSID” BATTERIES (subscription required)
Automakers fight for every ounce of weight they can take out of a vehicle. Today’s bulky and bloated lead-acid batteries are prime, low-hanging fruit that’s ready for pickin’. Paving the way for their demise, WardsAuto reports Germany’s VDA just adopted a 48-volt standard for vehicles with electric assistance – AKA mild hybrids. French supplier Valeo is working on a new type of lithium-ion battery for the job and it weighs just 11 pounds. Lead clunkers tip the scales at around 44 pounds – or more! It’s interesting; the industry has been talking about abandoning the 12 volt system for 20 years or better. But it’s no surprise automakers are dragging their feet. Look how long it took for them to switch to 12-volt technology. Cars still ran on 6-volt electrical systems well into the 1950s.

FOUR-DOOR VOLKSWAGEN UP
Volkswagen is showing off the four-door version of the up! before it goes on sale. It has the same engines, trim levels and dimensions as the two-door model. It will be first made available in Germany in March and then will be launched in the rest of Europe by early summer. Pricing for the four-door up! in Germany starts around $13,400 which is just over $600 more than the two-door model.

SAYONARA, SAAB
Well, it’s official. Saab’s North American operations will be liquidated. Earlier this month, 80 percent of the employees were laid off and the headquarters will be closed next month. Currently the company is trying to sell its U.S. parts distribution business and dealers are expected to decide this week if they will file for bankruptcy or wait for the final liquidation.

DART TO BUILD ON GIULIETTA’S SUCCESS
As you know, the upcoming Dodge Dart is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. And now Alfa is bragging that the Giulietta is the best-selling hatchback it’s ever offered. Last year Alfa sold 80,000 Giuliettas in Europe, with about 45,000 sold in Italy. The Dodge Dart will be replacing the Dodge Caliber and last year only 35,000 Calibers were sold in the American market. Now, that doesn’t mean the Dart will sell as well as the Giulietta, but it’s got to be a good omen.

This is the 4th generation of the CR-V which gets a new look, both inside and out.

The seating position is lower and more sedan-like than the previous CR-V but I actually prefer the old setup which is more SUV-like.

Under the hood is an updated 2.4 liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is 23 MPG city and 31 highway for the two-wheel-drive model, and 22 MPG city and 30 highway for AWD. That’s an improvement of 2 MPG in combined driving for both versions. Currently the AWD model makes up 65 percent of sales, and the company expects that to be the case with the new model.

Other new standard features include Bluetooth, Honda’s i-MID display and a multi-angle rearview camera. And it’s also equipped with electronic power steering for the first time.

Like the new Civic it’s hard to say that the 2012 CR-V is significantly better than the outgoing model. It’s in a growing and competitive segment, so we’ll just have to wait and see if the CR-V’s improvements are enough for it to remain on top.

2012 HONDA CR-V
Thanks for that report Seamus. The 2012 CR-V just went on sale. Pricing starts at just over $23,000 and the top-trim model with navigation and AWD begins at over $30,000. The CR-V was one of the finalists for the North American Truck of the Year award.

A programming note here. We’re going to be webcasting LIVE from the Washington D.C. auto show starting at noon on Thursday. Some of the guests that I’ll be interviewing include Margo Oge, who runs that part of the EPA that oversees all vehicle regulation, Roland Hwang, an environmentalist with the Natural Resources Defense Council, Phil Mutaugh, former GM executive now with the electric car manufacturer CODA and Jake Jones from Daimler Benz. And you can help me interview them. I’d love to get the questions that you’d like to ask these people. Go to our website Autoline.tv. Go to the John’s Journal section of the website, scroll down to where it says submit your questions to our Washington D.C. guests and click on the link to submit your questions. I’ll bet this will be a lively discussion.

But that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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

99 Comments to “Episode 810 – Russia Overtaking Germany, Opel Looks East for Profits, Battle of the Bulge”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    A ) Alfa Romeo claiming the Giuletta is their best selling hatchback is like TESLA claiming their Roadster is their best selling model ever

    Totally and completely MEANINGLESS . Look at Alfa’s sales figures in comparison to their competition

    DRECK !

    I cannot believe ALD would fall for such blatant intentional mis-information from Marchionne and FIAT

    ——-

    B) RUSSIA – and all the BRICS . The sales of extremely high end cars are still on the rise , while middle class and econo boxes are sitting on the lots unsold by the millions .

    Which says to those who have eyes to see that the Middle and Lower classes are in fact NOT growing ; and in fact are losing ground whilst the Elite continue to rake/steal /con all the monies the BRIC’s are supposedly making

    Which is to say either Mr Odell is either a damn fool , delusional or all of the above . With OPEL’s head following closely in his footsteps

    The BRIC’s are all but played out , financially , economically and politically

  2. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Off Topic

    Guess where the Mrs and I are going Wednesday ?

    Blasted a hole in the schedule and off we go ;-)

  3. HtG Says:

    2 OT

    grrreat! I had to let you know. Listen for how “quick” his Ruggeri is!

    and he does an encore after the JB

  4. Autos101 Says:

    John McElroy

    Is it possible to not have this pathetic looking red Dodge Dart with its silly gaping
    mouth on Every day’s show photo?

    Today’s red Dart has the unfortunate fate to be pictured next to its FAR FAR better looking clone, the Alfa Giulietta…

    Thanks.

  5. dcars Says:

    I can’t believe that Opel will have any luck at selling in China and I also don’t believe that GM would let them do it anyways.

  6. Autos101 Says:

    EPA’s Margo Oge is the very WURST of all clueless, harmful, destructive, useless Government Buereaucrats

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Recently my lady and I started looking at a replacement for her 08 civic.She wants a smaller suv,escape/crv sized etc.She knows how she wants it equipped too.All through the selection process by the time she configured the said vehicle the way she wanted it,it was around 34-35k.This went on for all of the vehicles she spec’d out.Then she asked me why are the prices all pretty much the same,and I replied I don’t know.

    Is there a reason they all price out close (very close) to the same?Is that ‘price fixing’?Even non-union auto makers in our country are still priced the same as full union American builders.Am I seeing this right? Just where is the competition?Maybe I’m just too far out of touch,but I did notice the same thing a year ago when I spec’d out my chevy truck vs everything the same size/options etc.Hmmm….

  8. Autos101 Says:

    No surprise why the CR-V does so well sales-wise. The new one builds on the old’s success.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Autoline daily, brought to you by: “The New Dodge Dart, Italian bastardization at it’s finest”

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    Who won the cold war, again?

  11. tj Martin Says:

    @ G.A. Branigan

    And here I thought it was just me when I was car shopping last year . Even amongst the higher end ( Volvo , Infiniti , Cadillac ) it was the same . You think being in a _______ dealership would get you a better price for the comparably equipped _______ But NO !

    Funny that it was only BMW and M-B that came out competitive , beating all the others back with a better price … and dare I say it … better cars as well

    To be honest though I hadn’t though about it in ” Price Fixing ” terms , but now that you mention it , the shoe does fit .

    Subversive Price Fixing perhaps , but it does make one wonder doesn’t it ?

    —–

    @ HtG – Got it ;-)

  12. tj Martin Says:

    #10

    Ummmmmmm… Errrrrrr ….. Ahhhhhhh …..

    …… hmmmmn ……..

    China ?

    DODGE DART

    Heard the latest plans from Stronzetto for the Alfa Whatsamatta platform ? Yup ! A JEEP and another ( ewwwwww) Avenger that …. get this …. in Marchionne’s own words ;

    ” … will combine the handling of a sports car with the off road capabilities of a JEEP ”

    Damn good trick considering the POS Giuletta has neither attribute in its quiver .

    Marchionne’s Madness Marches Onward !

    ( with our Tax Dollars of course ;-) )

  13. tj Martin Says:

    We gotta help ALD drum up some Non Automotive Manufactures Advertising so’s things can get back to being a bit more …

    Dare I say it ….. ?

    Neutral !

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    We may have won the cold war, but from my POV we lost the economic one! CRV at over $30k???? for that I’ll take the Traverse, more of everything for almost the same price. TJ that GLK looks more and more yummy all the time!

  15. HtG Says:

    OT tj, please be discrete, Wednesday. I may have overshared some stuff with you, and I’d be in trouble

  16. Autos101 Says:

    HTG: It’s “Discreet”, “Discrete” etc is a branch of mathematics. Just a heads up, hope you don’t take it personally like TJ.

  17. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    #1 Chances of me meeting him are next to zero

    #2 Even if I did how do I explain to him who I am and why I know you ?

    #3 And even if #1&2 were to happen .. to quote Sgt Schultz ;

    ” I Know nussing !!!! ”

    e.g. This is the professional ‘ Real ‘ world we’re talking HtG , Not some Blogaholic Lets all ____ at the car manufactures website . Anyways I need to stay on good terms with the HJ for reasons I’m not free to disclose at this time ;-)

    So … no worries ! :o

  18. Autos101 Says:

    #7: I do not find it at all surprising that prices of like vehicles are similar. WHy shouldn’t they? in a competitive market? It would make no sense to have prices for similar products be far apart!

  19. Lex Says:

    The 2012 Honda CR-V is great looking form the front, however the rear is really bad looking!
    I understand that Honda wanted to maximize interior cargo space but at what cost to good styling? It seem to me that Honda only thinks things half way through. The New 2012 CR-V is a perfect example. The front half is good, the rear half is bad. The same is with the 2011-12 Odyssey and it’s Lightening Bolt rear window and huge door handles. The Front of the Odyssey is great while the side and rear views are OK. The Lightening Bolt rear window need to go. What about color keying the extension over the rear window to match the rest of the minivan?

  20. HtG Says:

    16 I knew that looked wrong, A1. Thanks, reading on the net, plus lowered standards at news sites, is messing up my own spelling and grammar.

  21. HtG Says:

    Isn’t the price fixing happening at the supplier level?

  22. Lex Says:

    I forgot to also mention that the 2012 CR-V is way over priced! North of $30k for the fully loaded EXL model with AWD, shame on Honda!

  23. HtG Says:

    22 I keep in mind that the Yen/Dollar is killing the Japanese, and that maybe Honda knows you know that the resale will be pretty good.

  24. tj Martin Says:

    #16

    Ahhhh Mr Pedantic , who nine times out of ten can’t even be bothered to complete a sentence , never mind use correct spelling etc comes to the fore with another of his attempts at correcting others while in fact making no such efforts with his own posts .

    Hmmmn

    FYI ; Autos101 I didn’t take your critique personally at all , why would I in light of your multitude of grammar , sentence structure , punctuation , spelling etc etc errors ?

    Like today , I’m only pointing out the Hypocrisy of your feeble attempts at correction .

    Though I will admit your posts over the last day or two have improved slightly , there’s still no room on your part to be playing Teacher here Autos101

  25. Autos101 Says:

    Hondas are always overpriced compared to Ford and esp GM equivalents, and dealers used to be very stingy with discounts.

    The Cheaposkates at Honda also never sell to fleets, to avoid the discounting.

  26. Autos101 Says:

    MARTIN:

    I only make TYPOS. DO you STILL not understand the difference between YOUR errors of IGNORANCE and my TYPOS?

    jeez!

  27. Aliisdad Says:

    Sounds like Opel is about to make a blunder in China…Hope they find success in some way though since I have always had a soft spot for them since the ’60′s models here in the US…One of my best friends in high school somehow got one from that time that did not run, and he fixed it up in the high school shop and two of my older cousins had Opel Rallyes..
    Anyway, seems to me that GM needs to be one brand and not compete with themselves, especially in Europe…They continue to try to make POS Chevy sell there, but they already have Opel in Europe…
    In my “perfect world”, GM would be Opel, Chrysler would be FIAT…I am sick of seeing their good, competetive stuff in other countries but giving us CRAP here in their home country…Anyway, hope they don’t pull another SAAB with Opel,too…

  28. Autos101 Says:

    “16 I knew that looked wrong, A1. Thanks, reading on the net, plus lowered standards at news sites, is messing up my own spelling and grammar.”

    Now this is, TJ, how a NORMAL person would respond, instead of, like thin skinned YOU, lamely try to make false charges against me.

  29. tj Martin Says:

    DISCRETE = Separate , not connected , distinct . ( Webster’s )

    DISCREET = very cautious , able to keep a secrete
    ( e.g. separate ) ( also Webster’s)

    So in HtG’s case , either word would be appropriate

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fNY0JuATpQ

    Leave the teaching to the Pro’s Autos101

    ;-)

  30. tj Martin Says:

    No thats ( # 29 ) how a REAL person would react

    And need i remind you Autos101 of that apology you still owe me for YOUR blatant misunderstanding for which you called me a fool ?

    Seems both on Intellectual as well as Manners & Behavior issues a Teacher you are not . Least not a qualified one

  31. Autos101 Says:

    #29

    RIDICULOUS.

    Not even HtG would buy this pathetic attempt.

  32. Autos101 Says:

    #29

    Your sorry excuse of an argument above was, with apologies to Lincoln,

    thinner than a soup made from a shadow of a pigeon who had died of starvation.

  33. HtG Says:

    Blooperberg haz dis article on the developmint of brite colorz for carz.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-20/how-auto-shows-sparked-a-color-revolution-echoes.html

  34. Aliisdad Says:

    Come on, guys…Let’s focus on cars, here…Tj, not trying to be rude, but it seems like you are almost always involved in every fight on this site…Hopefully, we are all “good folks” and most of us don’t want to read fighting messages…I am not trying to be rude, but I want to hear what you think about automotive stuff…Thanks

  35. T. Bejma Says:

    #30

    Speaking of waiting… ;-)

    Still patiently waiting on my answer from you tj…

    Here’s a reminder, if you forgot the question:

    What rear wheel drive Opel is the ATS based on that received luke warm reviews in Europe?

  36. bob e K Says:

    In ref: to # 27 aliisdad…I find it very disturbing that you would call the Chevrolet division of GM a POS … they have been # 1 brand for many years…and they continue to make a GREAT American owned product, I have owned several over the years, & the overwhelming majority have been trouble free, I currently drive a 2010 Malibu 2LT with 58K trouble free miles…no rattles,squeaks, nothing…buy American owned vehicles…

  37. tj Martin Says:

    #31 & 32

    How pathetically and feebly interesting Autos101

    So now your Wisdom & Knowledge supercedes that of an

    ESTABLISHED Dictionary ?

    Really ???

    Seriously Autos101 don’t go blaming me for the fact that ;

    A) You didn’t know the definition or the uses of the word

    B) You’re either too lazy , arrogant or stupid to look it up

    and

    C) That I’d take the time and effort to correct your misinformed corrections

    Nope . Blame and Shame is all on your virtual shoulders there 101 . All on you

    So take your medicine like a good little boy and go bother someone else

    FYI ; Why would you even bother to try another round of an Insult match with me 101 in light of the fact that every time you’ve tried it in the past , both as ‘ Bob’ as well as your multiple ‘ Sock Puppets ‘ you always came out on the short end ?

    Don’t you know Einstein’s definition of Insanity yet there 101?

    If not, I’d suggest you look it up ;-)

  38. tj Martin Says:

    T. Bejima

    I made it quite clear in light of our previous encounters that I would no longer bother to ‘ Correct ‘ you on your GM Dogma as you’re obviously so entrenched in said Dogma as to make any attempts at arguing etc with you on said subject an Abject Exercise in Futility .

  39. tj Martin Says:

    @ T Bejima

    But ….. what the _____

    For your edification

    The Alpha platform is in fact nothing more than a modified Kappa platform ( slightly ) which was the basis of not only the Solstice etc but their OPEL equivalents … all of which on both side of the pond received mediocre reviews at best .

    Soooo …. in light of that little tid bit which I had to get permission from the source to put up here … care to remind me how exactly the Alpha platform is in any way shape or form ANYTHING new ? Or WTH any of us should look forward to it ?

    And would you care to have me expound on how many other Cadillacs are also built on nothing more than a modified Kappa platform ?

    Gotcha !

    ( speciall thanks to my GM insider for allowing me to let loose with that one )

  40. T. Bejma Says:

    #39

    You didn’t “GET” anything except some misinformation from your “GM insider”…

    “the new rear-wheel-drive General Motors platform, Alpha, designed for the 2013 Cadillac 3 Series-fighter, also will underpin the 2014 CTS and 2015 Chevrolet Camaro. The platform is proving flexible enough to serve as the basis for expensive Cadillacs as big as the next CTS, which we expect to grow to about 195 inches long, plus a smaller Chevrolet and/or Buick sedan, as well as the next-generation Camaro”

    Read more: http://www.motortrend.com/features/auto_news/2010/112_1003_gm_flexes_alpha_platform_options/viewall.html#ixzz1kPAoJnzd

    Solstice = Camaro/CTS????? That’s a lot of modifying…

    “Contrary to popular belief, Alpha is not yet considered a “global” architecture. A vast majority of the development is taking place in North America, with GM Europe having a little involvement in some of the testing”

    The big difference in the Alpha from any other platform is the weight savings…

    “Cadillac’s all-new compact sport sedan, the 2013 ATS, is already shaping up to be exactly the BMW 3-Series fighter for which we were hoping. That’s if you consider its thoughtful, attractive design and layout; its performance claims; and its lean, built-from-scratch ethos”

    Built from scratch, hmmmmm, that doesn’t sound modified…

    “We started on this product five-plus years ago—all-new architecture, started from scratch,” explained Masch. “We benchmarked every one of our competitors—the BMWs, the C-Class, the A4, Lexus—and then we actually spent time with owners of the competitive cars, in their cars and in their homes, to find out what they liked and didn’t like about their cars as well.”

    http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1071678_2013-cadillac-ats-why-its-lighter-than-the-bmw-3-series

    You might want to try to use a more reliable source than Fairfax assembly workers as your insiders…

  41. Aliisdad Says:

    #36, I stand by my what I have said about GM based on my experience…I have owned a lot of cars over the years, and I have had nothing but trouble with American makes, especially GM..
    What I really don’t understand is how they build quality, competitive models in other markets but do the what they sell here on the cheap…Have to say, though, that One Ford may be on the right track, now…
    I have fallen for their “this time, we have changed” stuff a number of times, and purchased one of their cars only go be sorry…My American cars spent time and time again in the shop, pieces fell off, electronics failed, and on my 2010 Dodge the wipers sometimes came on when you turned on the key(not because they were left on in the rain!)..I have ended up trading every one(except my current Jeep)of my domestic cars only after a year or so, at a loss, because the quality, workmanship, and time in the shop…No more!!
    I have to admit that I am angry about the money that I have spent on their poor quality cars…The problem is, in my opinion, that they try to cut corners too much on light duty parts/designs, and the assembly is really bad..A lot of their designs are great, but they are ruined by quality.
    Today, we have a Mercedes, Subaru, and Jeep…Mercedes has been in the shop once, Subaru never, Jeep quite a few times…I will confess, though, that both Jeeps that I have owned were pretty good except or “little things” like trim pieces..The Jeeps were pretty good mechanically..
    Of course, I want to see American companies be successful, but I will not be giving them another chance…It is a shame how they have lost the market of “foreign” producers…Should have brought in the good stuff they were building abroad, and this situation would have never happend..Too much “screw the customer now and make a short term profit” while the competition was looking at the long term..I honestly do hope they will be able to change and compete, but it is probably too entrenched to change now…
    Anyway, good luck with your GM car; but I will never take another chance on another one…I can’t afford to waste my money!!

  42. tj Martin Says:

    T Bejima

    My insider is upper management ( which is why I had to ask )

    What’s your status ?

    MotorTrend ? Yippeee . They’re just buying into the mis-information GM is passing around

    Motorauthority – Same as above with all buying into Cadillac/GM’s BS !

    To put it simply Bejima , GM has in the past and continues to relabel old platforms with new Monikers and then pass them off as something completely different : when in fact said platform is nothing more than a Modified version of itself with a new name tag

    FACT is Bejima : no matter what YOUR superiors are telling you to say , the Kappa platform has and will be in fact Cadillacs on personl hunk of Taffy …. being pulled this way for one model and stretched that way for another and YOU KNOW IT !

    BMW said it , plain and simple at the NAIAS , and in fact Cadillac and GM have done nothing to deny that ;

    ” All Cadillacs are nothing more than Rebadged Living Rooms ”

    Fact is T. Bejima , i was trying to avoid embarrassing both you and Cadillac in public … as well as keeping a confidentiality intact … but since you insisted … there it is

    Welcome One and All to the All ( not so ) New OPEL GT errrr Pontiac Solstice errrrr ……. not that can’t be right …. oh yeah

    The ALL NEW Cadillac ATS
    ( that in fact isn’t )

  43. tj Martin Says:

    SAAB Story update

    Your SAAB sitting in the driveway in need of repairs anytime soon ?

    Too bad , so sad , you’re SOL :(

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/saab-pulls-the-plug-on-repairs/#more-427934

    Jeeze thats a cold blooded maneuver on behalf of the remains of SAAB

  44. tj Martin Says:

    @ Alliisdad

    First off to post # 41

    Amen !

    Second , in case there’s any misunderstanding on your part I do not and will not own ANY GM product , in fact I spent some ten days with Cadillac’s competitor ( SRX ) and absolutely hated the SRX after a mere three days ( it was rented )

    Suffice it to say I purchased a 2011 M-B GLK 350 4Matic .

    Just to be clear on that .

  45. Kit Geerhart Says:

    By dropping the naturally aspirated in-line six, BMW will be allowing the ATS to compete with the 3 series sedan in every way. I’m hoping they will eventually have other body styles for the ATS, in addition to the sedan.

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    By dropping the naturally aspirated in-line six, BMW will be allowing the ATS to compete with the 3 series sedan in every way. I’m hoping they will eventually have other body styles for the ATS, in addition to the sedan.

  47. Cozy 200 Says:

    John John, there is a new CR-v in my driveway right now and it costs $29,795 for the EX-L with Navi as they say. the $810 freakin dollar delivery charge takes it to $30,605.00. I have no idea how to get it to 35K unless you are buying gold plated bikes racks and a lot of them.

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    We may have won the cold war, but from my POV we’re losing the economic one! CRV at over $30k???? for that I’ll take the Traverse, more of everything for almost the same price. TJ that GLK looks more and more yummy all the time!

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The CRV doesn’t HAVE to cost 30K, but I suppose a lot of people will load it up that much. There will be only one engine, and probably only one transmission. The only power train choice will be FWD or AWD.

  50. Mike Says:

    John,

    Wish you wouldn’t use terms like “low hanging” fruit” MBA bullspeak in my opinion.

    I saw a really neat presentation put on by Paul Nicrasti of Ford a few years ago. He showed an electrical connection. with 12 volts and 5 amps. They used a micromotion device to slowly pull the connection apart. Nothing happened other than the circuit opened. He did the same at 42 volts, and it struck an arc that badly burned both terminals.

    The deal with 42 volts is that the whole electrical system and it’s terminals would need to be re-designed and upgraded to make it work and still be reliable. Even today at 12 volts, some 20K+ cars catch fire and burn per year. I don’t have the exact number.

    Not only that, but all the electrical accessories (radio, center stack, powered sensor systems etc) would have to be redesigned. Who’s paying for that?

    My point is that such a change is not low hanging fruit. It will take major investment in re-designed wire harnessing and terminals(and accessories) to make 42 volts as safe as 12.

    Mike

  51. pedro fernandez Says:

    Note: Beetles had 6 volts till 1964 or 65, I remember I had a 64, at night if I wanted bright headlights, I could not use the radio!

  52. HtG Says:

    I saw my first Beetle in the wild today. That is one smokin’ toad. You wouldn’t want to order yours in dark green with spots.

  53. cwolf Says:

    @tj: Putting your many facets aside,you’ve always walked a rather straight line that I also try to follow. I no little of the Kappa platform or how it may differ from the Alpha,but will look into it soon. My gut tells me,whatever platform the ATS is built upon,the car,itself,will show it’s true colors over the next year. Again,maybe you should’nt toot your horn so loud until then. I’m sure your source is credible,yet don’t put all your eggs in one basket or yolk may get on your face. Caution my friend on this one.

  54. cwolf Says:

    Most of you know my heriditary preferences,but I have always liked the CRV for it’s perfect size and utility for my needs. I examined the new one last weekend and was not as pleased as I expected. The seats were too low,still too much plastic,esp in the back. The controls were my favorite. And I’m not sure the est. mpg’s will deliver. A person at work has last years model and only gets 27 mpg hwy and road noise still remains. I wonder how the new Escape will compare?

  55. pedro fernandez Says:

    Today I met a professional who had a 5 series and got tired of high payments, high maintenance and at trade in time he fondly remembered his 1996 Accord that he got right out of the university and went back to Honda for another one, a V6 with the goodies and claims he does not regret the move down from the 5!

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The new CRV is moving in the right direction. It is a little lower, and, as a result, the gas mileage is about 10% better. Now, if they would just make a STATION WAGON that size, the mpg would be about 25% better.

  57. Kit Gerhart Says:

    On this higher voltage electrical system thing, I remember when everyone was going from 6 to 12 volts in the 50′s. The advantage of 12 volts was that you could use smaller wire. The disadvantage, was that light bulbs were more vibration sensitive.

    Now, in the near future, light bulbs will not be an issue; all lighting in cars will be LED’s. Still, for non-hybrid/light hybrid cars, I don’t see the point of 40+ volt electrical systems. There will need to be numerous regulators to lower voltage for sound systems, computers, etc., which normally do not run on high voltage. On a conventional car, the wiring to a 48 volt starter would be cheaper than for a 12 volt starter, but the many-cell battery would be more expensive, and all the down-regulation would be needed for many of the systems.

  58. KEVIN Says:

    MAY SAAB OF NORTH AMERICA REST IN PEACE . TOO BAD THE 94 X WAS NICE LOOKING SUV BETTER THEN THE 97 X /TRAILBLAZZER . WHEN I SAT IN IT AT THE NY AUTO SHOW LAST YEAR . WHONEW THAT WOULD BE THE LAST SAAB I EVER WILL SIT IN EVER . I WOULD BUY THE LAST SUV FROM SAAB . BUT I WISH THEY WOULD HONOR THOSE WARRENTIES AND NOT MAKE OVER $40 TO $50 GRAND . OH WELL I GUESS YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR . REST IN PEACE SAAB

  59. Autos101 Says:

    Our AUTOEXTREMIST Today sees through the FISKER CRAP, and gives it FOUR thumbs down (his max possible award to BS)

    “In Mark Rechtin’s excellent piece in Automotive News this week, along with taking us on a path of discovery of what Fisker the company is and where it’s at in terms of actual viability, he delves deep into the Henrik Fisker mindset…

    After basically absconding with a $529 million Department of Energy loan, which was basically gifted under false pretenses so that Fisker could resurrect a shuttered ex-GM plant in Wilmington, Delaware

    (hey, isn’t that Joe Biden country?)

    so he could then indulge his John DeLorean fantasies to his heart’s content –

    which means building a luxury car for the discerning few, or at least the few who are hell-bent on making the hippest-of-the-moment green statement they can possibly muster, anyway – while promising a “mass produced” vehicle to come, Fisker is basically dead in the water.

    Read Rechtin’s story carefully and you see a man in full, or rather so full himself that he can’t possibly be thinking clearly. He has a seamless response and explanation to every question posed to him by Rechtin, but the underlying missing link in all of it is the fact that no one is actually going to buy anything he makes at any sort of a volume level to justify the investment in the whole damn enterprise whatsoever. Not even close in fact. It’s just notgonnahappen.

    … All of this, and let me be crystal clear here, all of this is because Fisker wants to play in his own sandbox and build the kinds of cool cars (at least in his estimation) that he deems appropriate for public consumption.

    And he wants everyone else – including the U.S. government and the U.S. taxpayer – to pay for it while he’s at it.

    My bullshit detector pegged itself long ago with this Fisker thing, and I just wish more people would open their eyes and see exactly what this guy is up to. Not Good doesn’t even begin to cover it. – PMD”

    ANd there is much more of it in Peter’s today’s “ON THE TABLE”

  60. Autos101 Says:

    pedro fernandez Says:
    January 24th, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    “Today I met a professional who had a 5 series and got tired of high payments, high maintenance and at trade in time he fondly remembered his 1996 Accord that he got right out of the university and went back to Honda for another one, a V6 with the goodies and claims he does not regret the move down from the 5!”

    Pedro,

    I hope you and everybody else understands that this is ONE isolated case and not some king of an AVERAGE.

    Although I do have a theory that those who buy the more expensive 7s drive them and maintain them better, due to their extremely high price and the fact that they are more conservative, the 5 (as well as the E class rival) is an Excellent, Solid car.

    Regulars here know that I Also had a Honda Accord as my daily Driver before I got the 7, and kept the Accord for another 3 years as a city car while I drove the 7 on all highway trips, but then I donated the rusted out, decrepit Accord (barely drivable at the end) and used the BMW full time, winter summer, snow and ice, for another 4 years, for a total of 7.

    Given the dozens more complex systems the 7 has over the Accord, AND all the negative press and Cons Reports telling me to avoid the 7,

    I am AMAZED how trouble-free it is!!!

    AND in many cases it is far superior in RELIABILITY to the Accord, like in its excellent Exhaust system that never fails, while the Accords needed parts and labor every 2 years!!

  61. Autos101 Says:

    PS if your friend’s Accord was in the Sunbelt (BIG difference), maybe it held a little better-at least it will have no rust!

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, $80K cars have stainless exhaust systems, but it’s only if you have very short trips up north that exhaust systems on other cars fail in two years. My commute up north was about 5 miles, and, once leaded gas was gone, I never had to replace exhaust system parts in 5-6 years with the mostly GM cars I had at the time. Were Hondas worse than GM in that regard?

  63. Autos101 Says:

    I Always have short trips on a daily basis, since my commute is 3 miles (both ways!) and in the winter it is too cold to walk usually, plus no time.

    I think the Accord WAS worse in that regard than even the Pontiac 2000 econobox 5-speed I bought new in 83. That one needed maybe one or two visits to Midas, vs the… 8 or so by the Accord over 11 and 14 years respectively.

    And the exhaust was not the only problem of the Accord, at the end the gearbox was acting up, the starter had to be replaced at 15 years (understandable), but the fuel pump, idiotically placed in the gas tank, was a $620 job I had to do because it happened on my last day of a fellowship in Southern Cal and as I was going to drive cross country, and had to be done at a non-dealer place. ANd it probably was not the problem, since the car kept acting up and by the time I reached Kansas, the local Honda Dealer declared it was the Distributor (another $600 or so!!), and that fuel pumps on Accords rarely fail.

  64. Autos101 Says:

    And before I bought the Accord, the first owner put 68k highway miles over only 3.5 years, so it was pampered in that regard (exhaust)

  65. Autos101 Says:

    The conclusions from all these individual stories about reliability are

    1. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. NO car is perfect reliability wise, and with the possible exception of Audis and Exotics (probably NOT including Porsche), most cars have similar levels of reliability in terms of both frequency and cost of failure. And those who think that just because they will get a Toyota or a Honda, the cars will never fail, are grossly misguided.

    2. The flip side is, if it sounds too BAD to be true, it usually is too. If Mercs and BMWs are as terrible as some portray them to be, reliability wise, why are they selling like crazy, esp. BMW these days, the top luxury-performance seller in the US, despite their current very high prices.

    3. Reliability is NEVER the ONLY criterion when people buy cars. it is just ONE of DOZENS of owner’s requirements! Exterior Styling and interiors are also very important, who wants to drive around in an AZTEC, and even pay for the POS! THAT explains why AUDIS are still very successful sales-wise, they still have beautiful exteriors and the best interiors allegedly) in the business!

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    People I knew who had similar cars to mine up north, but very short commutes sometimes needed mufflers in 4-5 years. An advantage I had over many others I worked with, as far as rust, is that I parked my salt covered car outside, rather than in a semi-heated attached garage which would accelerate rust, both on the car body and the exhaust system.

  67. Autos101 Says:

    I also have to park my cars outside at work, all the time, and overnight I have an unheated garage but do not park them in there unless it is really cold out (below 25 or so overnight). That did not help the Accord much..LOL

  68. tj Martin Says:

    OBAMA’S STATE OF THE ONION ( spelling intentional for those short of humor )

    His statements on the US car industry ;

    What a pant load !

    On the US Economy ;

    Nice to see Magical Thinking has now invaded the White House :(

    On Alternative Energy ;

    Delusions and Magical thinking galore

    What a complete and total waste of time , energy and money .

    I can sum it up in one sentence ( sic )

    Blah blah blah blah and more blah .

    ( Free !!! Massive truckloads of fertilizer currently available outside the Capitol for any interested individuals and or corporations , Chrysler/FIAT, TESLA , Fisker and GM have already picked up their share , to be spread amongst the US automotive press and consumers )

    ;-)

    ——–

    A very accurate quote ;

    ” A liberal is ten steps to the left when things are good and he’s doing well . But he’ll be ten steps to the Right the minute things go sour that affect him directly ” Phil Ochs

    Describes Obama and the entire Democratic Party to a tee at this point in History

    To say the least I’ll be holding an Apolitical stance in this years elections . e.g. I aint a votin fer nobodies ! Unless of course Frank Zappa’s corpse is suddenly on the ballot as a write in 8)

    ————

    REUTERs statement yesterday

    Most valuable Tech company in the World

    Cash ( yes C-A-S-H ) reserves exceeding $100 Billion

    Most successful and profitable company in the US

    And who might that company be , pray tell ?

    A-P-P-L-E

    Class dismissed . Lessons to be cont. at a future date .

  69. Autos101 Says:

    The Accord had an Achilles heel rust-wise, it was far more prevasive behind the rear right wheelwell, and even when my front right fender was hit in a hit-and-run job at the work parking lot, and the metal exposed, that place did not rust for 7 years after it happened (I did not bother fixing it)

  70. Autos101 Says:

    #68 I congratulate myself for NOT listening to the Choreographed BULLSHIT called “the State of the Disunion”, instead I went to bed early and got my fill of sleep (9:30, say I fell asleep at about 10 PM to 6:30 AM).

    When I woke up, CSPAN had the excellent response of Mitch Daniels, who, despite his very short stature, and unlike what I read that clown Obama did, delivered a serious, rational speech.

  71. Autos101 Says:

    G B Shaw said that if a politician robs Peter to pay Paul, he can count on the vote of Paul.

    Obama and his minions have figured that out, they target a small minority and demonize it, then rob it blind and give the proceeds to the other 99%. It is a no-brainer that, if people have one vote each, and they vote with their pocketbook, the corrupt demagogues would have no trouble getting re-elected.

  72. HtG Says:

    Please Gentlemen, I’m still screwing up the effort to read the SOTU. One more cupa Joe oughta do it.

  73. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Mitch Danials is largely responsible for the budget deficit. He was manager of the budget, and orchestrated the irresposible tax cuts, even as the idiotic Iraq invasion was getting underway.

  74. tj Martin Says:

    The REAL Reason people buy BMW’s ( 3 series specifically )

    First , a simple fact . The BMW 3 Series is the mainstay of BMW’s sales success . No 3 , no numbers . Period

    Second . 99.999% of ALL 3 Series buyers ( M3′s included unfortunately ) no NOTHING about the car they’ve purchased ( eve as to which wheels are being driven ) Even less about the companies long and storied History …

    And in FACT only care about the STATUS they feel owning a BMW affords them

    Have any doubts ?

    Look at the sales of Range/Land Rovers in the US and the UK where it continually comes out at the bottom of every survey ( reliability , quality etc )

    e.g. Its a pile of Junk . Everyone knows it , but because of it being a major S-T-A-T-U-S symbol they sell em like funnel cakes at the county fair

    Summation ;

    Trying to make ANY sense of consumer buying habits is truly an exercise in abject frustration and cause for multiple cases on Excedrin to be purchased . Either that or multiple cases of JD 8)

  75. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    I’ll be sending over a case of Excedrin ALONG with a case of JD

    You’ll be needing them both after reading that pile of dribble .

  76. Autos101 Says:

    #73

    You have NO CLUE what you are talking about.

    It is irresponsible to OPPOSE Tax cuts, and instead to TAKE MONEY AWAY FROM THE ECONOMY in the form of ADDED TAXES,

    Which will only EXACERBATE the GREAT OBAMA RECESSION AND UNEMPLOYMENT.

    COMMON SENSE tells you that people will spen d their OWN MONEY FAR MORE WISELY than ANY government EVER WILL.

  77. Autos101 Says:

    “tj Martin Says:
    January 25th, 2012 at 10:22 am

    The REAL Reason people buy BMW’s ( 3 series specifically )”

    as.. opposed to… MErcedeses and LExuses?

    YOU UTTER, BIASED, PARTISAN FOOL:

    Stop behaving like an immature 12-year old soports fan rooting for your team(s).

    IF ANYTHING, People buying a PERFORMANCE LUXURY car like a BMW or a PORSCHE are buying far more SUBSTANCE than the people buying a poorly performing barge LEXUS-BUICK and shelling out $10k more to $35k more (!!!) than its IDENTICAL TOYOTA.

  78. Autos101 Says:

    HtG Says:
    January 25th, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Please Gentlemen, I’m still screwing up the effort to read the SOTU. One more cupa Joe oughta do it.

    Why do you punish yourself today? I can’t even bear to hear the sound bites from the worthless clown show.

  79. HtG Says:

    78 when The One makes an important speech I don’ t want to hear what the media or He says. I will read it. Now, whether this SOTU was important….

  80. pedro fernandez Says:

    The guy who switched from the 5 series to the Accord was mostly for economic reasons, half the payments and half the maintenance costs, I suppose most people have a hankering for a great car like BMW or Merc and once they experience it, like everything else, been there, done that, now let me get into something more affordable, still nice and no slouch (got the V6) with the leather, navigation and nice stereo. I can see that happening, I’ve also known people who HAD to have a boat, after the payments, the hassle, the insurance, maintenance and all, they decided they’re better off just selling it and renting one out whenever they feel like going out fishing or boating.

  81. pedro fernandez Says:

    Politics if full of BS, there is an ad running here by the Fl Attorney Gen pushing for Romney, saying the will fix not only our economic mess, but the whole world’s as well, the second coming of the Messiah, I guess?

  82. pedro fernandez Says:

    Then there is the MD who would not put up with all the complicated screens in all new Luxo cars and instead went down market from where he wanted to be just to avoid such crap. A freaking Suzuki, of all things to buy, but he’s pleased with it, at the end of the day, that is what’s important, I guess.

  83. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #76,
    The wealthy beneficiaries of the Danials/Bush tax cuts didn’t invest in jobs with their extra money. They created investment “products” like credit default swaps, and they “invested” in Florida real estate, escalating prices, so it would be more expensive for people like myself to buy a retirement place. The bulk of the tax cuts did nothing for society, but they have sure contributed to the deficit.

    Yes, 101, I know you disagree. Now, can’t we keep politics out of this forum. It gets bad enough without that.

  84. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #82,
    I know someone up north who bought a late model used Suzuki, because they made what he wanted, a smallish, AWD hatchback with a manual transmission. He got it at a very good price, and, so far, it has been trouble free.

  85. HtG Says:

    83 did someone mention synthetic CDOs? I’m curling up into a nauseated ball. Let’s do cars

  86. Autos101 Says:

    HtG Says:
    January 25th, 2012 at 10:42 am

    78 when The One makes an important speech I don’ t want to hear what the media or He says. I will read it. Now, whether this SOTU was important….

    HTG:

    The SOTU is NEVER an important speech, but PR BS.

    THIS year in particular, we KNEW in advance that it would be a WORTHLESS campaign speech and nothing else.

    If you have spare time, there are some GREAT BOOKS I could suggest instead.

  87. Autos101 Says:

    #83: what a load of crap. You are econ illiterate and oblivious to the FACTS, and Politics has nothing to do with it,

    You cannot even learn from other nations mistakes (SEE THE FSU and the EUROZONE!)

  88. Autos101 Says:

    The USA is in DIRE straits. OBAMA inherited a mere 10 trillion NATIONAL DEBT from his 43 President Predecessors and SINGLE HANDEDLY anf GROSSLY IRRESPONSIBLY rraised it to $15 trillion, or the ENTIRE US Gross Domestic Product in three short years!

    How long can he blame… GW Bush or… Herbert Hoover for his INCOMPEZTENCE?

    He makes me SICK. His is the most corrupt and incompetent administration on record.

  89. Autos101 Says:

    If this clown and his sideckick the corrupt BOZO gaffe machine Biden are re-elected, the USA will soon become another Bankrupt California, or, worse, GREECE.

    His gross irresponsibility boggles the mind, borrowing trillions and trillionms from the Chinese, WASTING IT in hare-brained failures like Solyndra, TESLA, FISKER (to go back to automotive) and the $3 +++ Billion DEBACLE known as the Stupid, Stupid Volt,

    and bequeath the mess to our children and grandchildren to pay it, while they have a fourth world standard of living.

    Great! Effing great.

  90. Autos101 Says:

    Pedro,

    Either Newt or Romney would make a far, far better president than the “Dumb and Dumber” duo we got now, but did you notice that your pal Rubio also blasted Gingrich? It seems Romney is the Rep Establishment Candidate.

  91. pedro fernandez Says:

    The GOP is more split than a pole dancer convention in Vegas and this will give Obama more ammo to go after the eventual candidate. They’re ripping each other a new orifice at every single “debate” while the Obamameister laughs at them.

  92. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #88,
    “How long can he blame… GW Bush or…”

    He can blame GWB, and Mitch Danials for the deficit for a long time, like forever, and be totally honest in doing so.

  93. pedro fernandez Says:

    Rubio has to stick up for the immigration issue otherwise he will be a one term Senator, even though I’m sure in private he stands with the conservative view on the issue, he just cannot say it.

  94. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #89,
    The money spent on EV-related stuff by Obama is absolutely a drop in the bucket, compared to what has been spent on GW Bush’s idiotic invasion of Iraq, and the money spent on EV’s hasn’t killed hundreds of thousands of people.

  95. pedro fernandez Says:

    After all he inherited a surplus from Bubba but his infatuation with Sadam is what started us on this mess!

  96. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Rubio is somewhere near Santorum on most issues, but he will have to hide that a little get win re-election.

  97. pedro fernandez Says:

    I have yet to meet one of my country men (old Cuban republicans) who can give me a good reason for going into Iraq, and what f—s me up about it is that none of their children or grandchildren were ever sent there to fight, it’s always someone else’s sacrifice to make.

  98. pedro fernandez Says:

    These are the same folks who are all for sending US marines, to dethrone the Castros, just as long as you don’t send in their kids. Funny up to a few years ago I could still see some octogenarians saying: “gimme a gun and I’ll go fight myself”, a gun and a wheelchair!

  99. Autos101 Says:

    #96 Rubio is VASTLY more likeable than Santorum (and far bette rlooking, which also matters in politics).

    Santorum is a right-wing extremist on SOCIAL values only, on economics he is as terrible an econ illiterate and pro-union and all that as the two CORRUPT Bozos now occupying (most undeservedly) the Presidency.