Episode 830 – Chinese OEMs Target Europe, Teen Traffic Deaths Increase, Peugeot’s Twin Concepts

February 21st, 2012 at 12:02pm

Runtime: 7:34

Chinese automakers are invading Europe from Bulgaria to Britain to Sicily. Despite an overall trend downward, teen traffic deaths jump by several percentage points. Peugeot unveils two B-segment concepts ahead of Geneva. All that and more, plus John McElroy explains what Mazda must do to turn itself around.

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This is Autoline Daily for February 21, and now the news.

Chinese automakers are really beginning to expand in Europe. Great Wall Motor will begin production this week in Bulgaria. Geely, which owns Volvo, plans to start selling a mid-size sedan in Great Britain by the end of the year. And Chery bought the Fiat factory in Termini, Sicily last year. Chinese automakers want to get into the European market because they feel it will help improve their image and quality.

Back home, China is starting to address its overcapacity problem. According to Bloomberg, foreign automakers will only be eligible for government incentives on new factories if their plans have been approved by Beijing before January 30th. The approval process is also slowing down. This will benefit automakers with big capacity in the country like GM and Volkswagen. Smaller players including Ford and Renault will be at a disadvantage. These steps will keep more foreign companies from getting into China, but will they actually curb overcapacity? Some analysts predict China’s overcapacity will continue to get worse through at least 2015.

Even though traffic deaths in the U.S. have been declining the last several years, one age group is seeing an increase. According to a new report from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, traffic deaths for 16- and 17-year-old drivers are up in the U.S. Preliminary data shows that teen deaths were up 11 percent in the first half of 2011 even though a new report from NHTSA shows that overall traffic deaths were down nearly one percent the first half of 2011. Researchers attribute the increase to more teens driving because of the improved economy and the benefit of graduated driver licenses leveling off. But I wonder if it’s got more to do with distracted driving which seems to be a major concern to lawmakers.

You’ve probably heard us report that the average age of a car in the United States is now almost 11 years, the highest it’s ever been. That includes the used car market. But now Polk reports that even people who buy those cars new are holding onto them longer than ever, 71.4 months, or nearly six years. That’s because of economic uncertainty, longer financing terms, and that fact that cars last a lot longer these days. Interestingly, people who buy used cars tend to keep them for about four years.

Peugeot just released information on two “concept” cars it will show off at next month’s Geneva Motor Show. Both models are based off its 208 B-segment hatchback. The first of this French duet is the XY. It gets diesel power to the tune of 115 horsepower and a six-speed manual transmission. Pretty standard fare for the European market. What sets it apart though is its paint job. It supposedly changes color when viewed from different angles. To achieve this effect, the XY is finished in 16 different coats of paint and lacquer! This cannot be cheap! Next up is the sporty model, the GTi. It gets a variety of detail upgrades like Napa-leather seats and an Alcantara-wrapped dashboard. A subtle French flag or the Union Jack can be painted on the lower-grille, which actually looks kind of nice.

Mazda is a great car company that’s in deep trouble. Coming up next I’ll tell you what I think the company has to do to turn itself around.

Mazda is a beautiful little gem of a car company, but it’s in trouble, and it’s not as if there are any quick fixes that the company can turn to. It’s been losing money for four straight years and it will likely lose $1.3 billion this year, its worst financial performance in over a decade. Company CEO Takashi Yamanouchi says that Mazda is aggressively looking for a new partner after it and Ford divorced.

Mazda is reportedly considering borrowing and issuing new stock to raise $2 billion to raise capital for future operations. It is facing a credit downgrade, possibly to a junk rating, so now’s the time to try and raise that money.

Even so, more capital and a new partner are not going to turn the company around. Here’s my Autoline Insight as to what’s crippling Mazda and what the company must do to straighten out its own house.
Mazda’s problem is similar to the one that destroyed the Detroit automakers before the Big Collapse. It makes too many different models in too many plants. Mazda makes 13 different models, including a bunch of different passenger cars, crossovers and vans. And yet, its global sales are about 1.3 million a year. That averages out to 100,000 sales per model, with some far above that and others well below it. That’s too many models. Mazda probably needs three passenger cars: small, medium and large, and three crossovers based on those platforms. Then it needs to choose: MX-5 Miata or RX-8? You get to do one, not both. That means three mass market platforms and one specialty. That’s it.

Mazda also makes its vehicles in 13 assembly plants around the world, mainly in Japan, China and Thailand. But it also includes small CKD plants in Colombia, Equador, Zimbabwe and South Africa. For its level of sales Mazda really only needs 5 assembly plants. It should not be building new plants, including the one coming in Mexico, unless it closes similar-sized facilities in Japan.

One of the great advantages that Mazda has is that most people have a favorable impression of the cars and the brand. The problem is that not enough people buy them. But the Zoom Zoom campaign resonates everywhere in the world. Mazda needs to build on that to become the Alfa-Romeo of Japan. With the proper styling, not the goofy grinning grille, I believe it could pull that off.

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

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67 Comments to “Episode 830 – Chinese OEMs Target Europe, Teen Traffic Deaths Increase, Peugeot’s Twin Concepts”

  1. tj Martin Says:


    I was hoping ALD would finally catch up with this story

    So whats the deal ? One minute we hear that less and less teenagers and 20 somethings are driving and now ….

    … we hear , despite that fact …that even more are dying ?

    Could it ? Could it possibly be that …

    The ADD Dyslexic Hummingbirds are in fact too DISTRACTED by their Smart/Cell phones/ MP3 iPods / laptops / Smart Pads etc to be paying attention to their driving ?

    Why yes it could . And in fact ….. IS !!!!!

    Yet these idiot carmakers wanna put even more junk to distract you in their new models

    Brilliant !

    If Population Control is in fact the new agenda ;-)

  2. tj Martin Says:


    Well part of their problem was letting FORD do all their development over the last few years and then severing the relationship ( why would I buy a MAZDA that is in fact a FORD when I could go right up the road and get the FORD for usually less money ? )

    So I’d say blatant laziness has gotten MAZDA into this current pickle .

    How to fix it ?

    In this economic climate that may not be possible . Even in good times ( wait till y’all see my afternoon post ) it might still be too late .

    MAZDA as the new SAAB ( sob) story ?

    We’ll see

    I hope not …. but ……….

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The rise in traffic fatalities of teens sure points to a texting/talking problem, it would seem.

    John, are there 13 Mazda models in the U.S., or world wide? Either way, it’s way to many for a total volume of 1.3 million, for a non-premium brand.

    They need to keep the Miata, for sure. The RX8 sells in such low numbers, that they should have dropped it years ago. As far as I’m concerned, they should keep the Miata, 3, and 5, and drop the rest of what they make. I guess some of their “crossovers” sell pretty well, though.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I just found a couple sites saying the the RX8 has already been discontinued.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    Don’t get Mazda’s problems cannot be quicly resolved, they need world-wide platforms, to be used EVERYWHERE, a small city car, a subcompact the 2, a compact the 3, a midsize the 6 and then keep the variants under control, why the 5 now? they need to consolidate and quickly, they need a Mullaly in there!

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    It’s obvious that they know how to make good cars, the 3 gets accolades all over, their long time weakness has always bee the 6, cannot really compete with either the Camry or the Accord and now the domestics are eating into that segment, not to mention the Koreans as well.

  7. HtG Says:

    Is it the yen that’s hurting Mazda, or the lineup?

    Perhaps Sergio will consider flying a few of his aces over to Hiroshima.

    Kit is right about the RX8 being cancelled, though I think they can still be bought. They get only up to 23mpg though, which won’t do.

  8. tj Martin Says:

    MAZDA 3 = FORD Focus

    MAZDA 6 = FORD Fusion

    No FORD . No 3 or 6

    End of story

    And yes the RX8 was discontinued last fall

    FYI the LAST thing MAZDA needs is an over paid Cult of Celebrity CEO like Mullaly ;-)

  9. tj Martin Says:


    ” Perhaps Sergio will consider flying a few of his aces over to Hiroshima ”

    Jeeze HtG and here I thought you liked MAZDA !

    Whatsa matta you ? The MX5 giving you fits maybe and you’re looking for a vendetta or something ? 8)

  10. HtG Says:

    Let me make it up to tj. Here’s your psychotic lunch video, served hot.


    Mazda, actually I wonder what they’ll do with Skyactiv, besides rename it.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    Come on guys, Mazda does make good cars, just because their advertising is dumb. dumb does not take away from their products, TJ I beg to differ, I think it was the other way around, Ford benefited from that union, the Fusion was good because it was based on the 6, not the other way around, the answer will come with the new Mondeo-based Fusion, then we’ll see if they can keep that better than average reliability status. BTW most reviews I’ve read put the 3 ahead of the Focus and it’s cheaper as well.

  12. Car Concepts Says:


    Mazda has many challenges, and your prescription is very well considered. Fewer plants, fewer models but I’d also add a return to what made the company successful in the first place: building vehicles that were unique and more interesting (read a little odd) than other Japanese offerings and offered more value. Price is only one part of that, but they were also feature rich, for the money. Finally, in Mazda’s heyday, they were the number one Japanese brand in Germany. That tells us something about the character and DNA of the brand, and what aspects of DNA they need to leverage. So maybe, less Alfa and more VW. Finally, I’d make the following adjustments to your list of models: Small and Midsize car with various door and body style configurations. Small and Midsize crossovers based on those cars, but following the recipe described above (unique, more along the lines of the Mazda 5, than CX?, for global appeal)one sports car, AND a compact pickup–this vehicle is critical in many global markets. Consolidate engines: Kill the rotary, and have ONE 4-Cylinder engine family with gas and diesel, focusing on turbo charging.

    All the best, Todd

  13. dcars Says:

    Great job on the Mazda segment. I remember when they and ford announced their split. It seamed to me that the Mazda folks were gloating about their new freedom from the inept Ford folks. I wonder if they feel so lucky now?

  14. Aliisdad Says:

    John is right on about Mazda…I have always liked their cars,except for that void grill, and the Miata is still great…Hopefully, they will be able to rise up on their own without Ford…
    I was also reminded in today’s show about Peugeot and their sometimes quirky cars…When did the pull out of the US? Was it mid-eighties or so?? That kind of a small car with a diesel would be pretty nice if petrol continue to rise…Their cars always kinda added something interesting to the automotive scene…Maybe someday they will return to the US…

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    #13 Peugeot makes very nice cars, I don’t know how well they would do here. They were probably waiting to see how Fiat works out, which of course, we already know the answer. The Japanese drove a lot of Eusopean brands out of the US when they move in with better quality and rock bottom prices.

  16. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I have to go along with John’s assessment on the Mazda brand. And with that big grin, you’ve got to either hate it or love it; could it be just that simple (styling). Pedro’s right, Mazda does make good stuff (but design sells, and lack there of may be enough to put off buyers); hate the ‘grin’.

    One quick addition to accident investigation would help in the above report (about teen accidents, and all accidents for that matter); how many cell phones were found (in and about the vehicle’s cabin), not in a pocket or put away in some other fashion. While not definitive, I’m guessing there might be a strong correlation.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like Peugeot and Citroens, as rentals in Europe, at least the B segment cars with diesels, but I don’t know that I’d want to buy one, if they were sold here. I could be wrong, but I’d expect them to replace Land Rover at the bottom of all the reliability rankings.

    Part of why Mazda doesn’t sell more cars in the U.S., is that they have a very limited dealer network.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Not to mention that silly grin!

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit why do you suppose the Europeans are so much more tolerant of less than reliable vehicles, they seem to place driving dynamics over reliability, which is why the Japanese have not done as well over there as they have here.

  20. HtG Says:

    As much as I like my 96 Miata, the recent designs are pretty off putting. But the newer design language is much better, with the next Miata rumored to be far different. As far as driving Mazda’s, driven at the limits at a performance driving school, they certainly are sweet. (except for the RX8 which SkipBarber sets up with little rear tires, toed out, and worn to nubs; that there is an evil bitch, but fun if you can tame her)

  21. tj Martin Says:


    Since I’m guessing I’ve a hell of a lot more experience on that question ( having lived in the UK/EU , relatives there and the Mrs having lived there as well ) than anyone here other than perhaps HtG , I’ll butt in

    Its quite simple .

    Every damn car ( Germans excepted ) they’ve built for the last …. well since day one … be it Italian . French ( oh my god the French ) English , Swedish ( lets face facts … SAAB and Volvo both had lousy reliability since day one ) has been an unreliable undependable pile of parts waiting to hit the road

    At ANY Price I might add ( RR Bentley included )

    So of Course they’re used to unreliable DRECK

    Thats all they’ve ever known

  22. Brett Says:

    I strongly considered a Protege5 back in the early 2000s to the point of taking a test drive, but we already had a taut, sporty front-driver with a sweet engine; our 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse GS. I saw no point in having two such similar vehicles. I liked it a lot, though.

    I drove one of the 3s at that driving competition Mazda had when it was introduced. Very nice, but I’d already bought the Crown Vic LX Sport by then. I’d considered the 6 sport wagon prior, but I couldn’t get excited about the value proposition for the size vehicle.

    I do find the 2 to be an appealing little spud for a city car, though.

    I sorta think they ought to dump that CX9. They can’t be selling many compared to the CX7 and that new CX5 should sell pretty well. That’s a popular segment and their brand should fill a niche.

    Alfa Romeo of Japan? Nah, I think Mitsubishi would be a better one for that title. I picture Mazda as more a potential BMW of Japan. The BMW of the 2002tii and original 3 series, though, not the bloated, techno-lux barge BMW of today.

  23. buzzerd Says:

    No doubt that cell phones have at least some impact on collisions with young drivers but haven’t some recent studies shown that graduated licensing doesn’t really save drivers from getting into collisions but merely delays the time when they happen. With a lot of states and provnces having gone to the graduated system are we now seeing those “delayed collisions”.

  24. 012345 Says:

    About Mazda, I do agree with most of your assessment (Mr.McElroy) but, “The AlfaRomeo of Japan” Well; slap Mazda around and called it the MG of Asia too, Oh! don’t get me wrong; I get that you meant that as a compliment to Mazda, but Alfa-Romeo seems like the SAAB of Italy to me.

  25. tj Martin Says:

    Well since I’ve work to do I’ll send up my post now rather than later

    Class is in Session


    Many here in discussing the bailouts have made claim to the horrors we’d of faced had Chrysler or GM gone under . To that I say … HorseFeathers and pure unadulterated Politically motivated Rhetoric

    A bit of History if you please .

    First a tad of background . Be reminded that the 50′s – mid 60′s was a period of the greatest Economic Boom this country has ever , and may well ever see .

    So during this time of great Economic boom , how many Automakers do you think we lost , due to their own incompetence , lack of competitiveness etc ?

    Here’s the list ;

    Henry J
    International Harvester ( 1980)
    AMC ( 80′s )
    Willys ( the car )
    Checker ( 1982 )

    ( the ones that died in the 80′s began their demise in the early 60′s which is why i counted them in )

    And just for kicks ;

    Indian Motorcycles

    Missed them ? I doubt it

    Great economic impact ? Not really

    Were ALL the gaps left plugged by other automakers ? Why yes they were

    Now let me be clear . As I’ve said before , bailing out one of the two I could of and would still agree with . GM being the OBVIOUS choice

    But … by bailing out both , we’ve lost billions – are handing over Chrysler to FIAT , in essence ANOTHER bankrupt company – for Zero $ – neither GM or Chrysler despite what the press may be saying has in any way recovered ( if Chrysler were gone GM would be on much more stable ground ) etc etc etc

    And in all honesty , given a few years… the memories of Chrysler would be amongst the pile I’ve listed , especially considering this is the 4th Time we’ve bailed that miserable and uncompetitive mess out

    So how’s about a little History and accepting the FACT that companies have and will continue to Come and Go and like the Rocky Mt Titmouse we DO NOT need to be saving each and every one from their own self induced Demise

    Especially NOT on the Tax Payers dime

    Class dismissed . Quiz on Thursday .

  26. tj Martin Says:


    ” but Alfa-Romeo seems like the SAAB of Italy to me ”

    The perfect analogy . Couldn’t of said it better myself

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    #20 yes I agree, but then why are those Europeans so acceptable and instead turn to the more reliable brands, much like we did here and thus force their own brands to get better at it? I have to chuckle every time I hear the UK Top Gear guys use the term “great British engineering” BTW I believe the old Volvos were as well made as Daimler back when.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Most of those merged, and were then absorbed by someone else. Nash and Hudson became AMC,and were then bought by Chrysler with Renault involved along the way. The ones that closed completely, like Studebaker, were much smaller than Chrysler, not to mention GM, so their going away didn’t have that much effect.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    And Kaiser and Henry J. don’t really count as car companies. They were built on a whim, because Henry J. Kaiser, of aluminum fame, thought it would be cool to build cars. The cars were only made for a few years, and there were never very many.

  30. Lex Says:

    John McElroy:

    I agree with you completely. Your Advise to Mazda is worthy of them becoming a major Autoline Sponsor. I always saw Mazda’s as Japanese versions of Ford models. The Mazda 6 has the only pleasing design which the rest of the models should adopt.

  31. shan Says:

    Whoever at Mazda…. designed that “smiley” grill, i.e. front fascia needs to be tarred and feathered. It’s my opinion that this one element alone has swayed potential buyers away to more conservative models. I used to love Mazda cars until i seen that awful grill starring at me like a possessed demon lol. Just sayin’

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    #30 I’ll bet he and the Acura front end guy went to the same design school located in Poor Taste, Okinawa, Japan.

  33. Ash Says:

    Good god there are a lot of Iignorant comments here about MAZDA…their financial issue has NOTHING to do with sales, in fact on average market share has improved on most continents, the issue IS the YEN..FULL STOP..they can’t make any money when 90% of what they sell is made in Japan…13 models!!, Mazda does not make 13, half of that so called 13 is made by other manufacturers like Nissan and Suzuki,…Mexico plant not a good idea?!, it is a fantastic idea, cheap labor makes cheaper cars, without Mexico plant Mazda will go broke…Wait until you see all new CX-5 and then all new Mazda 6 known as Takeri.

  34. cwolf Says:

    Mazda model worth keeping:
    mazda5 and
    Mazda7(new model in diesel)
    The rest are nice but have limited sales or would require a seperate assembly line.
    Of course,loose the smile,low profile and 20″ tires.

  35. cwolf Says:

    I like the Peugeot shown. However,matching and blending in the paint color after a fender bender would be IMPOSSIBLE!

  36. cwolf Says:

    China seems do do anything it darn well pleases reguardless of any agreement or policy. I find it humiliating that the only thing the US can do is to drop our pants with an agreeable smile,bend over and grab our ankles!

  37. tj Martin Says:


    Feel free to despise this bunch as the article suggests ;


    And you thought that Banker wanker up the road was a spoiled SOB !


    @ cwolf – China certainly does do what ever it damn well pleases and as long as we ( and now Europe ) keep begging them for money , they’ll keep on keeping on . As always .

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well, we keep reading every day how the rich get richer and the poor stay poor and the middle class is joining the latter.

  39. HtG Says:

    35 actually tj, the GWU campus is right next to the World Bank. Irony? How about the soup kitchen my BiL’s friend runs in the same neighborhood. But let’s not leave out American U. where I followed a pimped to the hizzie AMG as it rolled along the main scoping street. DC is weird, some serious money.

  40. cwolf Says:

    tj,glad you’re still here. The odds of Greece defaulting are almost a sure thing. They just can’t break the habit of living off borrowed money and have’nt the means to pay their daily expenditures,for Gods sake! And the cut-cut monitary policy has only put them deeper in the hole. Do you have a clue to what will happen next or of expected Euro alternatives?

  41. cwolf Says:

    Cont: who are those buying Greek bonds knowing every dollar will only be worth 25 cents in 5 or 10 years? Are they nuts or just that desperate?

  42. cwolf Says:

    I thought Cubans were republican,as you explained to me weeks ago! Your #36 comment will not get you a ticket to the next tea party my friend.

  43. C-Tech Says:

    @ #33 and #34 – I concur.
    Mazda styling needs improvement. perhaps a trip to Pinifarina is in order.
    Since BMW does not have a dance partner yet, perhaps their could be some co-op ventures should be considered.
    The rotary engine was a lot of fun in the RX-7 models, too bad they could not find a way to expand its uses in other models.

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf I happen to be independent, but my statement has no party affiliation it’s just the facts, I see it in my everyday life as well!

  45. HtG Says:

    cwolf, you may enjoy this article about Greece more than I did. oop, here comes that nausea


  46. Gary Paul Says:

    Mullaly is certainly overpaid–and it is THE major criticism I had of the Ford CEO from the start. An it wasn’t just about the pay level itself but the fact that the FORD ship at the time he was hired, was still floundering in the water and EVERYONE was supposed to be sacrificing–and this should have included the top dogs, as a source of added inspiration –top dogs who by the way–would be richly rewarded IF Ford was steered in the right direction into a profitable & well-managed automaker powerhouse again as it has been in the distant past. Besides, i thought you were supposed to place the log on the fire and then get the reward of heat.

    Overall, however, many had been hoping for an executive like this who, when he began at his post, indicated that Ford is an American institution worth saving and that the reality was that Ford was in deep trouble, —so it was past time to focus on core goals and roll up the sleeves to achieve them. I think Mulally has done a solid job at his post thus far. Lets see now what occurs with Lincoln, as it’s finally on the BIG MAKEOVER Table.

    Would he make a good CEO for Mazda in some imaginary scenario? Hmm. It seems Mulally would prefer a bigger steak to trim and cook on his platter if he ever ran another company. But his operating principles of focusing on simple core goals could certainly help, as I agree Mazda has some good genetics (engineering) with too many models weakening advertising and marketing impact. And hey–wasn’t this the problem with Mazda about 20 years ago—indeed it was. Hmmm. You mean that automotive companies make the same mistakes over and over? Gee i would have never thunk it. :-)

  47. C-Tech Says:

    @ #18 Pedro I would beg to differ with #20. Europe has more stringent inspection standards than the U.S. (just check out the 8-10 year old cars with bald tires, worn brakes, and leaking fluids flying down the freeways at 70+ mph), so some the problems from lack of maint. in the U.S. does not happen in Europe. The Volvo’s and Saab’s were pretty solid and reliable vehicles up until the late 80′s. Volvo had its missteps with the PRV V-6 (never get a used V-6 7 or 9 series Volvo, never share an engine design with Renault) and the first attempts with a FWD transmission. They have since gotten better at it. The last great Saab was the 900 (imho) pre-GM.

  48. victor ceicys Says:

    Interesting comparison of Mazda with Alfa. Our most recent Mazda was a 2000 MPV, the best part of the MPV was the Ford 2.5 V6 and transaxle sourced in Ohio. The body of the Mazda rusted away like an Alfasud within 8 years. My wife’s MX6 suffered a similar fate with the tin-worm. Ford is probably better off not having the “Japanese Alfa” in its portfolio based on our experience.

  49. pedro fernandez Says:

    C-Tech I really don’t see the connection between more stringent inspections and reliability. Perhaps over there people drive shorter distances, and thus less miles and do indeed more maintenance on their vehicles, also I doubt they keep them as long as we now do over there

  50. C-Tech Says:

    @ #47 Regular maintenance (and inspections)catches a number of things which will send you to the side of the road unexpectedly. For example, a faulty crank or cam sensor will turn on the check engine light before total failure. Many people drive ignoring the light (especially when out of warranty) UNTIL total failure. If you have to get an inspection before renewing your plate, as in Britain, you are forced to address the problem. By the way, a quart of trans fluid will accomplish the same as Marvel Mystery Oil as far as cleaning the oil system in your car.

  51. pedro fernandez Says:

    I had no idea the inspections over there were so strict, the ones in NJ where I lived, were mostly safety related, tires, brakes, lights, exhaust. Here in Fl they did away with inspections and now you see atrocities out there incl. removal of cats from lots of “tuner” cars. Many yrs ago I knew this dude who kept his Galaxie 500 running on mostly MMO in his engine.

  52. C-Tech Says:

    Seen recently at E-Z rental car, a fleet of Saab 9-5′s. Apparently they got a great deal from a closed Saab dealer and bought them with no warranty. Carmax sells Saabs and offers them with their own warranty plan.

  53. RS Says:

    Many years ago I had a friend (a Brit) who owned a BMC (when they were still selling them here) Knowing its less than stellar reputation for reliability, I asked him how he liked it. His answer was “I LOVE it! And do you know what I like best about it? There is always something wrong!”

    OK…there is something really wrong about that line of thought – but it does resonate with some of the posts today.

  54. C-Tech Says:

    If your car is smoking due to worn piston rings, then the same can be accomplished by switching to a thicker oil. Straight 30W or 40W will do fine.

  55. C-Tech Says:

    @ #51 – From a mentor of mine who was also a Harley-Davidson mechanic: “How do you know when your Harley’s out of oil? When it stops leaking!”

  56. TeS Says:

    Great insight John. A few additional thoughts on Mazda. They droped the RX-8, I herd it to be like the camero, bring it back better than it was before. I work @ a Mazda dealer, and I am a Ford Fan. When Mazda was bought they were losing money, Ford turned them around like Jag, Volvo and Land Rover.
    Why Mazda got Mad @ Ford ( my opinion ) is ford kept all the eco boost and other importent tech to itself and Told Mazda you r on ur own.
    Sky active is what eco boost in a bright blue wraper, and took mazda a year or so to develop and install. Just drove a CX-5 AWD w/skyactive home.
    Over 40 miles amd combine MPG is 33.
    Maybe Mazda could by the saab chassies that are setting somewhere for the new Mazda 6?

  57. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect today’s European cars are not THAT unreliable. If they were horrible, people would buy more of the Asian transplants. The Citroen C4 that I rented drove well, road well for a car its size, got excellent fuel economy, and didn’t break down during the ~2 weeks I had it.

    Anyway, it seems the Europeans may be more nationalistic than Americans, as far as car brands. You see a lot of French cars in France, Fiats in Italy, and German cars everywhere in Europe. Most of the German cars are VW’s, but Benz and BMW sell a lot of cars in Europe that are more “mainstream” than what they sell here, so their numbers are higher, as are Audis.

  58. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Sky active is what eco boost in a bright blue wraper,”

    Huh? Ecoboost is a group of direct injection, turbocharged engines. Skyactive engines are direct injection, but not turbo. The other thing the Skyactiv moniker is used for, is an automatic transmission that uses a torque converter for breakaway, but the converter is “locked up” the rest of the time.

  59. Jim I Says:

    I love the show but the video quality was poor. I have seen this issue a few times before and hope it is not a trend. Maybe it is a local problem.

  60. tj Martin Says:

    @ C-tech

    In truth Volvo and SAAB have never been even close to what one could call ‘ Reliable ‘

    SAAB’s from day one had a propensity to drop bits and pieces along the road as you drove them , crap out at the most inopportune of times , overheat etc

    Volvo’s though somewhat ( marginally ) better always had the same overheating problem and lord help you should you even add the simplest of options . Their V6′s and Auto’s were abysmal , their Turbo’s horrific and their electronics could rival Lucas Prince of Darkness on any given day . The only Volvos that even approached what we would consider ‘ Reliable ‘ were the most base model I4 manual tranny 200 series .



    Another thought . Total and complete lack of innovation over the last decade on Mazda’s part ;

    Thinking back on the RX’s all of which had their problems but oh what a hoot to drive ( ever driven an RX3 in anger ? )

    That magnificent Micro V6 that somehow faded into obscurity

    The original Miata though more an update of the Lotus Elan , still a brilliant and daring car for its time

    But now …..

    Lately all Mazda has done is rebadge FORD’s , fatten and bulk up the Miata with unneeded options , create the silliest of RX’s in the RX8 with that ridiculous door arrangement and again too much weight etc etc etc

    Mazda Gets Lazy – Lets FORD determine their model line up complete with FORD engines , platforms etc – Then tells FORD to take a hike – And anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear is in the least bit surprised …. especially in light of the Japanese woes all their automakers are dealing with than Mazda may in fact now be ….

    Japan’s new SAAB ( sob ) Story :(

    Its official . Lets just hope by some miracle they don’t wind up with the same outcome .

  61. tj Martin Says:


    #1 They are ! That unreliable that is .

    #2 In the EU and the UK dealing with an unreliable car is considered a Right of Passage . You’re considered in most circles a ‘ Wimp ‘ of you’re unwilling to accept your mandatory Automotive ‘ Hazing ‘

    #3 The Asian imports have in fact been on the ascendency due to the fact that many have long since tired of that ‘ Right of Passage’

    #4 To try and dampen Asian automotive sales , heavy tarriff’s have been imposed , making them less of a ‘ Deal ‘ than they are here ( EU/UK Protectionism )

    #5 Unlike in the US it is a lot easier to get your unreliable EU/UK heap repaired making the ‘ Hazing ‘ a bit easier to swallow

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A friend’s family had a 2-stroke Saab, I think it was a ’58, and it was very reliable for a small car of that time. They had later one, the last year or two that they sold the 2-strokes. It was reliable, mechanically, but it rusted horrendously, like the first of the Japanese cars sold in the U.S.

  63. HtG Says:

    On Miatas. My maven tells me that one problem the current model has is that it doesn’t appeal as much to the purists like the original. Too big, comfy, heavy, and oh, that hardtop. And I’ll admit that part of the fun of owning an older Miata is fixing it; like when spring comes I’ll replace the tension cables for the top. BTW, an Elan will fit inside a Miata; so small.

  64. pedro fernandez Says:

    Miata is suffering from the same thing the Z suffers from, weight/girth gain, now BMW 3 also gets bigger. When will the madness stop

  65. HtG Says:

    61 pretty soon, Pedro. The public rumors are that the next miata will weigh hundreds less.

  66. pedro fernandez Says:

    I wonder what would have happened to the British roadster the Miata was originally designed to emulate, the MG, would it have gotten all fat as well?

  67. pedro fernandez Says:

    #62 Rumors?? with every new freaking car coming in heavier and bigger than its predecessor, that would be a miracle indeed!