December 23rd, 2008 at 12:00pm
The Ford Fusion hybrid breaks 41 miles per gallon on the highway, 8 MPGs better than the Toyota Camry hybrid. Toyota’s president may be stepping down and could be replaced with the grandson of the company’s founder. A new kind of oil filter could extend oil changes to 30,000 miles. All that and more, plus a look at the technology in the all-new 2009 BMW 7 Series.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. The Ford Fusion hybrid breaks 41 miles per gallon. Toyota’s president may be stepping down. And a new kind of oil filter that could extend oil changes to 30,000 miles.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines
This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, December 23, 2008. And now, the news.
Yesterday we reported on the new Ford Fusion hybrid and how it was rated at 39 miles per gallon in the city and 36 on the highway. Well those were preliminary numbers. Ford executives told me they were going over every inch of the car, massaging the aerodynamics, recalibrating the engine controls, altering the algorithms. They desperately wanted to break the 40 mpg barrier. And man did it work! The Fusion will be officially rated by the EPA at 41 miles to the gallon in the city and 36 highway. That’s 8 miles to the gallon better than the Toyota Camry hybrid, a huge number. And while Toyota will probably come roaring back with its next generation Camry hybrid this is a very impressive accomplishment for the Ford Motor Company. Oh yes, for our metric viewers 41 miles per gallon is 5.7 liters per 100 kilometers.
On the news we reported yesterday that Toyota is going to post an operating loss in this fiscal year and the next, reports out of Japan, say the company is also going to replace its president. The Asahi Shimbun says Katsuaki Watanabe will be stepping down and will be replaced by Akio Toyoda, who is the grandson of Kiichiro Toyoda, the company’s founder. It’s been 14 years since a Toyoda was running Toyota.
The next time you’re buying gas here’s a little something to think about. The hose that runs from the pump to the nozzle always holds a little bit of fuel in it. According to the American Petroleum Institute, it’s usually about a third of a gallon. So what happens if your car takes premium and the guy that used the pump before you only bought regular? You end up diluting your gas a tiny bit. But suppose you’re filling up a motorcycle. Bikes are usually less tolerant of low octane fuel. This is partly because they have higher performance engines and partly because their gas tanks are much smaller. The amount the fuel dilutes, even in a motorcycle, is probably so small that it’s unnoticeable, but this is just something to think about the next time you’re pumping gas.
A company called SOMS Technologies has created a new kind of oil filter. Actually, it’s two in one. Inside it has a standard filter element that catches big stuff, and a micro filter for much smaller particles. It’ll catch stuff down to two microns. The company claims engine oil can be kept fresh for way longer than normal, up to 30,000 miles. The filter gets replaced at every other oil change and the oil level topped off.
Swiss tuner and automaker Rinspeed will debut a new concept vehicle at the Geneva Motor Show next March. Called the iChange, it’s a single-seat sports car that can transform into a three-passenger people mover. To make the switch, the car’s backend literally extends outward to make the interior roomier. It also features a light-weight, aerodynamic body and is powered by a 30 kW electric motor.
When you mail a letter you pay based on how much it weighs. If you buy ground beef, you pay by the pound. Why shouldn’t car insurance be the same way? Well, OnStar and GMAC are saying people that drive less should pay less. If your GM vehicle has OnStar, there’s an available feature that could save you a lot of money. The low-mileage discount program tracks how many miles you drive, and if it’s fewer than 15,000 per year, you’re eligible for discounts. There are two caveats though. You have to have car insurance through GMAC and you have to live in one the 34 states that the program is offered in. To enroll, you can call GMAC directly, you can sign up online, or you can push the OnStar button in your car and tell the operator you want in.
Coming up next, a look at the technology in the all-new 2009 BMW 7 Series. We’ll be back right after this.
It’s not every day BMW redesigns its 7 Series flagship. In fact, the last overhaul was six years ago.
Back then it made a big splash introducing the company’s controversial new styling. For 2009, designers may have toned down the looks, but one item the company certainly didn’t skimp on is technology.
One of the new features is a night vision system that’s specially designed to detect pedestrians. Another is a lane departure warning system while active rear wheel steering is also available. That allows the back wheels to turn up to three degrees for a tighter turning radius at low speed and better handling on the highway.
It’s clear that BMW was also listening to its customers since, with this new model, it has overhauled the complicated iDrive system. Engineers simplified the menus and put a group of buttons around the control knob for easier navigation. They even integrated the owner’s manual into the iDrive, which should save a lot of space in the glove box.
Like every BMW, the new 7 series makes driving fun a priority. Emphasizing this fact, it has a suspension setup that’s never been used on a BMW car before — a double A arm. Other BMW cars have struts. This setup makes it easier to fine tune how the suspension moves so the car can have better driving dynamics.
Beyond these items, there are countless other features on this new flagship – from active roll stabilization, to high beam assist, to brake standby to active support seats. The list goes on and on. There probably aren’t enough hours in the day to cover them all.
Pricing on the 2009 BMW 7 Series hasn’t been announced yet, but it should start in the low $80,000 range. Look for it to go on sale in the first quarter of next year.
And that’s it for the top news in the global automotive industry for this year. To celebrate the holidays, Autoline Daily is going to be off the air until January 2nd.And when we come back I’ll be giving you my predictions for the coming year. I’ll bet you can come up with some predictions of what will happen in the auto industry. I’d love to hear them, and we could end up using some of them on the show, so let me know what you think will happen.
Anyway, from all of us here at Autoline Daily we’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah, a happy Kwanza or whatever else you happen to celebrative a great new year because that’s when I’ll see you next, in 2009.