Episode 49 – Fusion Hybrid Gets 41 MPG, Toyota’s Pres. Stepping Down, 30,000 Mile Oil Filter

December 23rd, 2008 at 12:00pm

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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.

29 Comments to “Episode 49 – Fusion Hybrid Gets 41 MPG, Toyota’s Pres. Stepping Down, 30,000 Mile Oil Filter”

  1. Tony Gray Says:

    No Autoline Daily until January!?!!

    I can’t believe how addicted I have become to my daily dose of John’s news.

    This reminds me of how I felt when 24 went on hiatus. Hurry back John and happy holdays!

  2. Art Greenberg Says:

    Regarding “…something to think about,” I don’t know how it is in Detroit, but around here, each octane grade has its own pump and hose. No possibility of dilution with a lower octane fuel.

  3. William R. Walling Says:

    “Happy Holidays to ALL at Autoline Daily and parent Autoline Detroit!” :-)
    Kindly observe Mr. Toyoda’s elevation coincides with TOYOTA achieving GLOBAL #1 status within a depressed transportation industry.
    (Remember, called this outcome six months ago!)
    Regarding FORD doing’s, ‘time will tell this tale’!

  4. Howard Remeta Says:

    Biggest prediction: GM will go into bankruptcy. No matter what Obama does, the UAW will not concede much. The vast public opinion is that the UAW is getting raises and lifetime healthcare. Everyone is jealous. Public opinion will demand they give up a lot of their benefits most people do not have. They won’t so the government won’t give GM more money. The UAW will shoot themselves in the foot. After a “Controlled” bankruptcy, the UAW will be screwed.

  5. the Sun Says:

    Remember John, spf60 for you!

    Happy Holidays

  6. Dan Clemons Says:

    Hi John:

    I think gas prices will remain low in 2009 and some of the best buys in cars will be hybrids. The UAW will renegotiate their contracts so the big three can stay in business. If the union won’t participate in restructuring, the American auto companies will fail.

    I enjoy your show and watch your video every day.

    Dan Clemons
    Grants Pass, OR

  7. Merv Peters Says:

    John, have a great holiday. Look forward to hearing from you in the New Year.

  8. Joe Hanzes Says:

    I don’t think Chrysler will make it.

  9. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Happy Holidays to you John,and thanks for all the great timely info.After listening to Herr Dr.Schmidt,and your report on the new Fusion Hybrid,I believe I will postpone my planned Subaru purchase and wait and see what Ford actually puts into the showroom.
    I have been impressed with the much higher quality Ford has been putting into their vehicles,and am waiting now to see where they put the Eco-Boost engine.Hopefully the 4 cyl EB will be put into a new Ranger/F100?I am in no hurry so I have the time to research out who has what,and what they do,and how they do it.

  10. Lew Says:

    Autoline daily was a great addition in 2008. John enjoy your time off. I hope to catch up on some other e-mails until you return.

    Prediction: The new Fusion hybrid will save Ford (w/o my money) GM will only survive if they cut back on models offered and hang tough with the unions.

  11. Dan Busch Says:

    I will miss you – have a good Holiday!

    BMW: iDrive, steerable rear wheels, active suspension, night vision, high beam assist – sounds like my granddaughter should be applying for a license at 8 years old. Why don’t we just slow down in inclement weather, stay off the internet and cell phones and learn to drive?

    50 years from now what will be worth collecting – assuming that we all do not have a clean room in our basements so that we can “cook” replacement chips.

  12. Roger Tocchetto Says:

    John, thanks for the auto daily dose, it’s quite addicting.
    My predictions for 09:
    1. Ford will be the winner among the big three. Quite happy to see Ford finally bringing competitive products to the market.
    2. GM will have a tough year, but they too have great new products; it sounds that Lutz, not Wagoner will save the General.
    3. Despite its history of turning the game around, I sadly don’t see Chrysler surviving in 09 on its own. I predict Cerberus will eventually write it off at a big loss, liquidating its brands to other makers. Also, I see unlikely automakers making the move to acquire Chrysler brands, such as (wealthy) VW and Hyundai. Do you see yourself test driving a Jeep with a Hyundai 6 cyl engine under the hood?

    Happy holidays.

  13. Darrell Dean Says:

    Predictions: “Green Jobs” is relatively dead in the first four years of the Obama administration as President Obama works to get the economy stabilized and back in the right direction. Gas prices will remain relatively low in the first half of 2009 and will probably spike back to $2.99/ Gal by late spring/early summer
    GM CEO Rick Wagoner will be replaced by the Board of Directors in an effort to appease the masses and Congress for more bailout money
    Ford Motor Company will capture market share by 3-5% with rising concerns with GM and Chrysler
    And the biggest prediction of all…Integrity Automotive in conjunction with ZAP industries will have their factory in KY near completion and production will begin on their all electric vehicle lineup by Fall 2009
    Love the show John and it would be great to see you do a special on the changes that Stephen Wynne at DMC is making in bringing the DMC-12 back into production with some interior changes…hint hint.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  14. Bill Solomon Says:

    AmSoil has been offering extended drain interval ability for over 20 years. In fact, there current filter is so efficient, that when combined with using there synthetic oil, you can go up to 25,000 miles between complete changes (oil & filter)! I bet that this new-fangled ‘green’filter also requires the use of synthetic oil to achieve the 30,000 mile claim. Conventional oil, no matter how good, can not maintain it’s structure for that many miles.

  15. Tom Martin Says:

    I concur with all the above.

    Ford won’t take a government loan so it won’t need to dish out warrants or something else to the government.

    The Camaro will sell well, but Mustang will still be number 1 in pony car sales.

    Late in the year, there will be a waiting list for a 3.5 liter eco-drive Mustang GT with around 350 hp and about 150 lbs less weight.

    We’ll start seeing real hybrids from GM.

    We won’t see much change in the Chrysler lineup.

    HD Radio will become more common and navigation systems will drop a few hundred dollars in price.

    People will still look for fuel efficient cars, but hybrids will be discounted.

    The Obama administration will propose increasing the tax on gasoline, but implementation will be delayed several years.

    Weird looking electric cars will become more common.

    The F-150 will be the number one selling vehicle in the U.S. — again.

    The corporate mpg will be unchanged during 2009. However, in 2010, there will be about a .5 mpg increase with most manufacturers.

  16. John K Gallagher Says:

    BMW 7er’s as well as 5er’s have hade A-arms for, well, forever. 3er’s have traditionally had McPherson struts but went to an A-arms derivative for this latest generation.

  17. Doug Greenwell Says:

    Chrysler will fold.
    Jeep name will be sold to Hyundai Motor America.
    GM will cut 40% of USA plants.
    GM will release plans to build new plant in China.
    Ford will not take bailout money.
    Ford will be the only car company in USA to return a profit in 4th Qt 2009.
    GM will release plans for an electric Camaro in 2011.

  18. pedro Fernandez Says:

    In my opinion Chrysler has to go, They don’t even have a small or midsize car to compete against anyone else’s product. Look at the new Fusion and Malibu, even the Koreans have better products. I think Ford has the best chance of surviving. They are really putting out good stuff, unless they screw it up with quality issues again, then they are in trouble, as far as GM it depends on how much they can shrink and cut way back on expenses.

  19. Tom Martin Says:

    I predict that the recession will be greater and last longer than expected. We’ll continue seeing a decline for two more years, and then see slow improvements.

    As a result, gasoline prices will stay below $2 for a couple years, new car sales will stay at current levels, and used car prices will increase. Rather than buy a new car, consumer will by 2-3 year old cars.

    The U.S. dollar will continue to decline in value in comparison with major currencies as the U.S. tries to spend its way out of the recession.

  20. JIm Thykeson Says:

    Its amazing how American workers have been brain-washed. Has it ever occurred to any of these working folks that the other guys (Asians and Germans) provide ‘Legacy-costs’ fancy word for retirement benefits like the ‘Big-3′ do? I’m sure that guy building a Nissan in Tenn. would like to be cared for just like his GM counterpart, especially when he retires! Instead of kicking the home-team in the ass, why not demand the other guys pony up or go back to country of origin.

  21. TWD Says:

    I have thought about the diluting effect when filling up my motorcycle with Super Premium, that’s why I try to fill up at a Shell station in my neighborhood that has three hoses (one per blend). If I’m away from the hood, I wait till my tank is as empty as possible.

    Great show!

  22. 14 rear motorcycle wheels | Digg hot tags Says:

    [...] Vote Episode 49 – Fusion Hybrid Gets 41 MPG, Toyota’s Pres. Stepping Down, 30,… [...]

  23. Tom Martin Says:

    I don’t think it would be a good thing to close foreign factories in the U.S., tell foreign auto makers to go home, and lay off maybe a million workers (counting suppliers).

    In the 1980′s with countries like Japan having high tariffs on importing U.S. cars to Japan, the U.S. put a limit on the number of cars that Japan could import to the U.S. This forced Japan to build cars in the U.S.

    I don’t know if the limit still exists today, but we need to create more jobs in the U.S., and not send more jobs overseas.

    That said, if the big three keep their high costs, they will never be competitive with autos built outside the U.S., even if the transplant factories pay higher wages and benefits. For example, this would not impact the price of Prius or Lexus automobiles since they are not built in the U.S.

    The big three need to build viable business models. They may not need to reduce wages, but it appears to me that they need to fix unemployment, benefits, vacation, and retirement practices. The U.S. companies also need to improve quality. Ford and GM have been doing this over the past five years or so.

    I believe that the U.S. auto companies will build viable business models, and we’ll see price reductions and quality improvements in regards to their vehicles.

  24. DTV Says:

    Chrysler: will have it tough, but the minivan will save it again by way of Volkswagon selling them and the promise of an plugin hybrid model by 2010.

    Ford: will survive and be noted as the American company to have best prepared itself for the economic slide. The biggest boost will come from a plug hybrid Fiesta to be announced late in the year

    GM: will go bankrupt but not fall off the grid all together. They will stop production (except for Corvette orders) all together – similar to what Chrysler has done, until the inventory sitting in storage lots are sold. Aftermarket parts suppliers for GM will happy as many folks look for the cheapest way to keep their GM product alive until they can afford another car. No more Chevy’s in NASCAR, no more Corvettes in Le Mans, and GM will pull all corporate race team sponsorships. Volt will be (to my great disappointment) just another SSR.

    Porsche: Develops its resurrection of the 914 into an all electric Tesla competitor in an effort to meet European CARB requirements. The Panamera will exceed its sales goals similar to the Cayenne which will lead to a hybrid version in 2010 or 2011.

    Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Subaru, Mazda, etc. will all find ways to make it through. Each will advanced the development hybrids while only a couple will pursue full EVs.

    The Progressive Automotive X Prize Winner will pre-sell 10,000 vehicles by the end of 2009. And, othewise, breath life into an industry when it so desperately needs it. I’m hoping Persue Mobility (formerly Venture Vehicles) will get their act together and be a viable contender.

    But I’m no expert – and I’d be surprised to see if I’m anywhere close to being correct.

  25. DTV Says:

    Chrysler Additional Note: Dodge will be dropped and Jeep will get a pickup again.

  26. Tom Martin Says:

    Your projections appear on target with one exception. I concur that all auto companies will pull back support for racing, but I can’t believe that there will be no more Chevys in NASCAR.

  27. DTV Says:


    Thanks for the reply. I might have gotten a little carried away with that statement. I guess a more realistic statement would have been more along the lines of “if Chevy pulls out of NASCAR, we’ll really know just how bad it was”.

    I also wanted to note that I do not think Mercury will last either. I think Ford has already played around with the idea, but I think it will be given more serious consideration in 2009. I think Ford will realize there aren’t enough 40 to 60 year old people interested in their cars anymore, even with Oldsmobile and Plymouth long gone.

  28. Tom Tyson Says:

    The new 2009 BMW 7-Series will demonstrate class-leading engineering, and this new car will surely set the standard against which other luxury cars are compared. Moreover, thank goodness BMW has chosen not to waste engineering R&D on the silly “Intuitive Parking Assist” option capability of the Lexus LS460! Toyota has squandered precious engineering dollars on this ludicrous option that could have been spent improving the road performance of this otherwise excellent car.

  29. Grace Says:

    Did Gm deserve the bailout? You Ask me I would say NO.. why? When Honda and Toyota were out inventing new cars, GM was busy boasting about its pride and Showing off its hungry hungry Daughter the Hummer