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Episode 861 – Fisker May Abandon GM Plant, Flying Car Completes 1st Flight, 2014 Chevy Impala

April 4th, 2012 at 12:26pm

Runtime: 9:29

Fisker is looking at alternative sites to build its new model, the Atlantic, after loans from the U.S. Department of Energy fell through. Massachusetts-based Terrafugia just completed its first successful test flight of a flying car called the Transition Street-Legal Airplane. Chevy unveiled the 2014 Impala in New York yesterday. All that and more, plus John McElroy brings you the latest reveals from the New York Auto Show.

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Ah, ha, ha! Yes, it is I, Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics bringing you yet another episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Wednesday the fourth of April, 2012 and we’ve got a lot of news to cover, so let’s get started, shall we?

FISKER MAY ABANDON GM PLANT
Yesterday we reported Fisker was able to raise more than $100 million dollars recently, but it might not be enough for it to keep building in the U.S. According to Reuters, the company is looking at alternative sites to build the Atlantic, a new model it just unveiled. Fisker planned on producing it at a former GM plant in Delaware, but those plans are in doubt after losing out on a loan from the U.S. government. The company is still in talks with the Department of Energy and would like to stay in the U.S., but says it’s open to building it overseas if a foreign investor emerges. We’ll have more about the Fisker Atlantic later in the show.

FLYING CAR COMPLETES 1ST FLIGHT
While automakers are busy showing off their new cars in New York, here’s one futuristic concept you won’t see at the show. Massachusetts-based Terrafugia just completed its first successful test flight of a flying car called the Transition Street-Legal Airplane. The vehicle, which seats two people, can be driven on the road and is small enough to fit in a garage when the wings are folded up. The prototype was able to reach an altitude of 1,400 feet and was in the air for eight minutes. It has a top speed of 70 miles an hour on the ground and 115 in the air. Believe it or not, the company plans on selling the vehicle sometime next year. But hopefully they think of a better name by then. The Aerocar and Mizar both live on . . . if only in spirit.

2014 CHEVY IMPALA
Speaking of New York . . . I think, like, there’s a show going on there or something . . . Anyway, in the product department Chevrolet has some BIG news to share . . . literally! Its large sedan, the Impala, is getting a thorough redesign for the 2014 model year. And by thorough I mean absolutely, positively transformative . . .

It’s great to see Chevy stepping up its game. Today’s Impala is BARELY rental grade, but the 2014 model is stunning, and in a way, the first “new” Chevy since the ‘55 Bel Air. Reuss mentioned value and great design, but the real story behind the new Imapla is the way the car embraces the philosophy of the famous Tri-Chevies – the 1955, ’56 and ’57 models.


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AAH TOMORROW!
On the subject of New York, please, Please, PLEASE check out Autoline After Hours tomorrow evening starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time. McElroy and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo will be comin’ at you LIVE from Katz’s Deli, a Manhattan institution. DO NOT MISS IT . . . that’s an order, solider! No, seriously, I WILL FIND YOU, and you won’t like the consequences . . .

COMET RACKS UP HALF A MILLION MILES
A 93-year-old Florida woman is hanging up her keys. Rachel Veitch decided to stop driving last month because of her failing vision. Sure, that’s not really news. Most nonagenarians have trouble walking, let alone handling a vehicle. What’s so impressive here is her car, a 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente. Maybe you’ve heard of it. She’s racked up more than 567,000 miles on it over the last 48 years! Nicknamed “Chariot,” the sedan has gone through 18 batteries, eight mufflers . . . and three husbands. After nearly five decades of continuous use, trekking to Texas, California, Michigan and beyond, the Merc still purrs like a kitten. Now that’s a testament to Detroit Iron if I ever saw one! Memo to Alan Mulally – relaunch the Caliente nameplate.

Coming up next, McElroy brings us the latest car news from Manhattan.

NY AUTO SHOW REVEALS
Well, as you know John and his crew are in the Big Apple right now covering the New York Auto Show. And boy howdy is there a lot of news coming out of Manhattan this year! Even before things kicked off this morning, automakers hosted a raft of pre-show reveals. Here’s Captain Johnny with latest from the City that Never Sleeps.

(Today’s feature is only available in the video version of today’s program.)

Lots of interesting stuff coming out of New York this year. One vehicle that really catches my eye is that Fisker Atlantic. It’s going to be the company’s volume car, since the Karma is just so damn expensive. But like the story we did before the break, where is it going to be built? Delaware or not, in my book it ABSOLUTELY MUST be assembled in the United States. If it’s not, Fisker stands to lose LOTS of government money, some of which the company has already received. And that makes ZERO sense from a business standpoint. Can they pull it off? That’s a tough question. You see, for startups in the auto manufacturing business the second car is ALWAYS the hardest to build because the expenses for things like distribution, marketing, warranty costs and the like have to be dealt with while burning up capital with new vehicle engineering and manufacturing costs. Second cars are usually the ones that break the backs of fledgling automakers.

Wrapping things up, I’m Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics. Thank you for watching today’s program and I’ll see you tomorrow – same time, same place. BYE!

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46 Comments to “Episode 861 – Fisker May Abandon GM Plant, Flying Car Completes 1st Flight, 2014 Chevy Impala”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    What does Fisker and that flying car have in common? they make nice toys for millionaires, that’s about it.

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    At least the flying car got under way without bursting in flames or just plain taking a dump while it was rolled out,lmao.

  3. aliisdad Says:

    The “flying car” reminds me of long ago, as a little boy, my dad took me to see a similar flying car…It might have been called the Aerocar, but I really can’t remember for sure…It kind of looked like a Fiat Multiplia with wide set wheels and a set of wings that could be on or off…Pretty fun to see this and reminded me of a good day with my late dad…
    On the new Chevy Impala, I have to say that it really looks good (as do a lot of their cars), and it would be good if it does well in the market..I hope it is actually built in a US factory, though…Like I probably say in too many of my posts, I would never buy one myself since I have spent my money too many times on new American cars that were were junk…Maybe they will be as good in quality as they look, this time, but I will never buy one again…And, YES, I am VERY angry about spending my money on new domestic cars only to find that “this time we have changed” tricked me again…NEVER again!!!
    Still, for our workers and economy, I have to hope that they do finally start producing cars that are designed and assembled right so they will sell well…While the domestics have lost about two generations of buyers, and the now have pretty bad reputations, they really need to hit some “homeruns” this time…With the economy improving and auto sales up, this is a really good opportunity; and, it is probably their last opportunity…I doubt the American people will put up with another “down time” that they are called on for more loans to companies that brought it all on themselves…That said, I do think the loans and reorganizations were probably a really good idea…

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yeah, the battery “died” during takeoff!! In Fla we get a lot of “experimental” planes crashing all the time into buildings and houses, just yesterday one crashed into a supermarket and shoppers had to run for their lives. “Attention Jose from maintenance, we got a fuel spill in aisle 3″

  5. C-Tech Says:

    I met Ms. Veitch at the Winter Park Concours in 2010. She is a really, really nice lady, and her Comet looks like it rolled out the showroom in 1964. She told the secret to the car’s longevity is “lifetime” parts. She bought a lifetime battery from – JCPenney – when they still had auto service. The contract was transferred to Firestone when JCPenney got out of auto repair. The muffler contract is from Midas. Ford show really consider buying this car and putting it on tour, hell Ford should offer her an endorsement deal!

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    You can place your order today for a Terrafugia. It’s only $279K, plus tax. A $10K down payment will put your machine in the production queue.

  7. C-Tech Says:

    So what’s the details on this new Impala? Is it rear wheel drive? Engine choices? Looks nice, but let’s roll it before declaring it the “new” tri-5 Chevy. By the way, I think Ford still outsold Chevy at that time, but Chevy really narrowed the gap.

  8. C-Tech Says:

    @ #6
    Do you need a pilot’s license and a driver’s license?

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #3,
    Yeah, it was Aerocar. There is at least one still flying.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    With a four banger, this Impala has to be FWD, there goes an opportunity for GM to ante up the segment and instead they come up with a Taurus clone wanna-be.

  11. C-Tech Says:

    What does Fisker really bring to the automotive scene? I don’t see them succeeding on a large scale, right now.

  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    If you claim to have a flying car, most life ins companies won’t touch you with a ten foot pole.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #7,
    It’s front drive. AW says it’s built on the same platform as the Cadillac XTS.

  14. C-Tech Says:

    @ #10
    It doesn’t have to be fwd just because it has a 4 cyl. Volvo made fine 4 cyl., rwd cars for years. It just has to be right.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Engines for the new Impala will be a 4 cylinder, the 3.6 liter V6, and an “eAssist” mild hybrid.

  16. HtG Says:

    Hall and Reuss’ comments about Chevy overdelivering matches with what I felt at the DC show. You sit in these things and they make you feel rich. I also thought Buick and Cadillac were super.

  17. Lex Says:

    The 2014 Chevy Impala looks great. I am so glad that Ed Welburn got rid of the Chevy Split grill. I hope this new grill carries over to the 2014 Mailbu, Cruze, Spark. Noe you see the family resemblance between the Volt and the 2014 Impala.

    I wish the Ford Transit Connect had been choosen at the Taxi of Tomorrow. Maybe if Jim Farley had put more power ports and USB connectivity into the Transit Connect Ford would have won the Taxi of Tomorrow competition in the Big Apple?

  18. howard2lease Says:

    John,

    Mr. Hall does a great job subing for you…
    Not only does he deliver the news….but boy it’s funny, entertaining, and news worthy…

    Keep up the good work!! Maybe he should be a regular on Fridays!!
    Regards,
    Howard2lease

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    Those Volvo and Merc 4 cyl had as much displacement as some modern V6′s

  20. HtG Says:

    Here’s a NYT article about cyber espionage by China.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/opinion/how-china-steals-our-secrets.html?_r=1

  21. MJB Says:

    A 1964 Comet, and only 500+K miles? She must have lived close to her job.

    That new Nissan New York City Taxi needs some wheels (as opposed to those steelys)

    Was that the tail end of the outgoing New York taxi cab I saw molded into part of Land Rover’s off-road display right behind McElroy as he stood outside the New York Auto Show?

  22. C-Tech Says:

    It sure did look like the tail end of a Crown Vic in the Rover demo area.

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    #20 and nothing will be done about it, they’re our bank, can you mess with your bank?

  24. T. Bejma Says:

    #7

    GM’s market share in the 50′s was over 40% compared to Ford’s at about 25%, so Ford was far from selling more vehicles that GM in the tri-5 era…

  25. RS Says:

    Until the late 1980s, I believe Ford outsold Chevy only in 1949 and 1957. Since the Taurus, Ford has never looked back. It would be great to see several different manufacturers hunting for the top spots in the sales races for the different vehicle classes. Competition keeps the industry healthy.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC reports that Acura is bringing back 4 wheel steering, am I mistaken or was that a big doodle over nothing a few yrs back? I just wondered how many people flocked to the Acura dealers to buy one of these cars? Funny how the sport sedan handling champions don’t bother with such complicated crap, I spoke to a tech once and he hated doing alignments on those.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    They used 4ws on some Chevy trucks to. It seems like a very complex, and un-needed gimic, except maybe on some fire trucks.

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    yeah I remember those too, but they were done with the idea of making turning circles smaller especially with the long wheelbase version of such trucks, the Acura was just for handling improvements.

  29. HtG Says:

    26+27=ahem, you wan’t rear end steering? I got that for you down there on the gas and brake pedals.

  30. cwolf Says:

    Must say,the Impala is pretty slick looking. “Left Lane” more info on the offerings. Est.to be a tad over 30 big ones sounds rather high,but who knows if it’ll be worth it. I’ve rented several on our trips West and enjoyed them and the mpg’s. I just hope they raised the height of the back seat cushion,so it does’nt feel like you’re sitting on the floor.

    That Comit was cool to see again! My inlaw had one his senior year in HS;I must have been in my mid-teens. He had a reverberator(?)in his which tickles my fancy to this day. Any of you have one in you’re younger years?

  31. ludovico Says:

    Re 2014 Impala: now THAT’S one Chevy I’d like to see the USA in! As for Nissan Taxi: in terms of ease of entry/exit and passenger space, looks like the Checker has been re-inCARnated!

  32. Alex Kovnat Says:

    > FLYING CAR COMPLETES 1ST FLIGHT
    > While automakers are busy showing
    > off their new cars in New York,
    > here’s one futuristic concept
    > you won’t see at the show.
    > Massachusetts-based Terrafugia
    > just completed its first successful
    > test flight of a flying car
    > called the Transition Street-Legal
    > Airplane.

    I am not enthusiastic about flying machines in everybody’s driveway or garage. We’ll become addicted to the mobility they’ll offer, and you know what that will lead to: Tens of thousands of people killed every year in accidents, billions of gallons of fuel consumed every day to keep them flying, and billions of dollars needed to support a huge air traffic control infrastructure. We need to remember that with all the loose talk about our society being “addicted to oil”, our real addiction is to the mobility the automobile as we know it, offers.

    If flying machines such as that described above become reality, sooner or later government will demand they be loaded with so many hundreds of pounds of crashworthiness requirements and safety doodads, it will make it impossible for them to get off the ground. And then too, such machines will be burdened with more and more stringent fuel economy requirements as well.

  33. C-Tech Says:

    @ #31
    This would be a really cool rant if it were done at the introduction of the Model T.

  34. C-Tech Says:

    @ #24
    So how vehicles were sold just under the Chevrolet nameplate vs. how many under the Ford nameplate in the 50′s? Did Ford outsell Chevrolet?

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    HTG any ideas about TJ’s whereabouts?

  36. cwolf Says:

    For those eying a Merc diesel,like in a GLK, did you know dealers are charging $32/gal for urea crystals and that it has to be refilled every 1500 miles? Yet,it was reported discount places will offer the stuff for $5.20/gal,but Merc warns D.I.Y’s that the crystals can solidify if not done correctly. So….,will the car still run if the crystals are not used? Heck!….this stuff adds up to $.47/gal of fuel or up to $450/yr. and this does’nt include the inconvienence of refilling every 1500 miles!

  37. HtG Says:

    34 I’m hoping he’s just got better things to do with his time right now, Pedro.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #31,
    I suspect this new flying car will be about the same as the Aerocar of the 50′s-60′s. They will build about 10 of them, and that will be it.

  39. pedro fernandez Says:

    Or less if one crashes and people die, so will the company!

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #33,
    I’m pretty sure that Chevy nameplate outsold Ford nameplate every year of the 50′s, except ’57.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #39,
    Correction…. According to:

    http://hughwilliamson.hubpages.com/hub/The-Ford-vs-Chevrolet-Rivalry-Post-World-War-II

    Ford outsold Chevy two years of the ’50′s, 1954 and 1957.

  42. Jim Haines Says:

    Tell Fisker I want my money back that the government threw out the window for NOTHING and now they are threating so they can get more money for NOTHING.

  43. MJB Says:

    @#32 LOL +1

    But I must agree with #31s last paragraph though.

    And someone please correct me if I am wrong, but (in response to #31s claim about fuel consumption to keep these car/planes flying) doesn’t it take less fuel to fly a mile than to drive it?

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #42,
    It takes about the same fuel to fly a small airplane a mile as to run a large SUV a mile.

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    These “flying cars” are, and will always be an expensive toy for people who want to be able to drive you own machine to an airport, fly a few hundred miles, and then have your own way to get around after you arrive at a destination.

    You need a pilot’s license to fly them, and they are not a very good car, or airplane. This new one is a much better car than the Aerocar of the 60′s, and maybe a little better airplane, but for what it costs, you can buy a good Cessna 152 and rent a lot of cars at the airport.

  46. Broge Says:

    THE LEGEND OF FISKER IS HOW THEY ROBBED AMERICANS $530 MILLION courtesy Obama,Biden and Al Gore. The never intended to product the car in Wilmington Delaware. Only demolition going on there past years and never any Fisker employees.
    I live near there and talked to those working on demolition. Perhaps the media should send over some reporters to get some facts. Here’s some photos from 6 mo ago.
    https://plus.google.com/photos/102988372928778833247/albums/5653313297397985633?banner=pwa