Episode 890 – Big Brother is Watching, America’s Economic Engine, Hyundai in Scandinavia

May 15th, 2012 at 11:55am

Runtime: 7:13

Watch out, this year’s annual transportation bill has a section mandating that every car in the U.S. must have a black box – what’s formally known as an event data recorder. The automotive industry is the engine driving America’s economic recovery. Hyundai just inked a deal with a Norwegian battery-recharging company to supply the country with hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. All that and more, plus a walk around the brand new 2013 Nissan Altima.

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This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, May 15, 2012. I’m John McElroy, and here’s the news.

This year’s annual transportation bill has a section mandating that every car in the U.S. must have a black box – what’s formally known as an event data recorder – by 2015. According to Car and Driver, the Senate has already passed the bill and the House of Representatives is expected to do the same when it votes. The bill more clearly specifies the owner of the vehicle owns the data in the black box and that authorities will have to get a court order to retrieve data. It also states that data collected must be related to vehicle safety. This may sound like Big Brother, but most new vehicles are already equipped with black boxes anyways.

With more stringent fuel economy rules on the horizon, even supercar makers have to adapt. According to Bloomberg, Ferrari plans to replace the Enzo with a hybrid which will use technology it developed in Formula 1. The car will be powered by two electric motors mated to a 12-cylinder gasoline engine that the company says will produce the most horsepower of any Ferrari ever, while slashing fuel consumption by 40 percent. The hybrid will go on sale next year and is expected to cost more than the $850,000 Enzo.

General Motors announced it will add an all-new small SUV called the Trax to its global line-up. The vehicle, which will debut in September at the Paris Motor Show, will be sold in 140 markets, but not the U.S. due to overlap with the Equinox. The Trax will first go on sale in Canada and Mexico at the end of this year.

The global economy is finally starting to dig itself out of recession, and in the United States at least, the automotive industry is engine driving this growth. According to Bloomberg, vehicle output contributed to half of our 2.2 percent economic expansion in the first quarter of the year. HALF! The SAAR has topped 14 million units every month this year, the best it’s been since 2008. To keep up with demand, the Detroit Three are adding shifts at assembly plants, hiring more workers and raising sales forecasts. Analysts say the auto industry is helping boost consumer confidence AND more importantly, spending. Everyone that says manufacturing is outdated or irrelevant can shut their mouths now.

While things are looking up in the U.S., there are storm clouds on the horizon in the UK. According to The Daily Mail, British motorists could face a 50 percent duty hike on fuel in the coming years! There’s supposedly a 13-billion pound deficit in the works. The hole is blamed on drivers switching to more efficient vehicles. Currently, the fuel duty is 58 pence per liter – about 93 U.S. cents. In the future, it’s estimated a hike to 87 pence would be needed to fill the budget hole. Isn’t it ironic? By saving the planet people are wrecking the economy.

In more international news, Hyundai is expanding its collaboration with Scandinavian countries. According to The Korea Herald, the automaker just signed a memorandum of understanding with a Norwegian battery-recharging company to supply hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles across the country. Hyundai already has business relationships with the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland, and now it’s moving into the private sector. It wants to ink MOUs in the rest of these countries as well as in Germany.

Coming up next, a look at Nissan’s redesigned family sedan, the 2013 Altima.

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

On next week’s episode of Autoline we’ve got a very special guest, Dr. Walther Kiep, who’s been on the Volkswagen supervisory board longer than anyone else. He’s just written a fascinating book about his life in business and politics called “Bridge Builder.” We’re giving away three copies to three lucky viewers. If you’d like a chance to win one of these books, send us your name and address to contest@AutolineDetroit.tv. We’ll announce the winners on Monday.

Thanks for watching. We’ll see you tomorrow!

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29 Comments to “Episode 890 – Big Brother is Watching, America’s Economic Engine, Hyundai in Scandinavia”

  1. MJB Says:

    Wow. That new Altima seems to be really packing a punch for the money.

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Since the wording of the ‘black box’ legislation stipulates that the data is the ‘owners’ property, I can foresee a court battle (referring to the 5th amendment and self incrimination. Big Brother indeed.

    And hopefully, I say this tongue in cheek, that congress has written themselves out of this legislation (as they have in others) in which it would be beneficial to be excluded.

  3. buzzerd Says:

    those new numbers really show you how important the auto industry is to the economy, I guess that’s why both governments worked so hard to help them out.

  4. Todd T Says:

    Black box is less about big brother and more about fraud prevention. We can thank those who will not take responsibility for their own actions for this. Remember? All those lovely folks that claimed their cars accelerated like possessed demons, even though they were stepping on the brake pedal? They did this to avoid responsibility for an accident, THEY caused.

  5. HtG Says:

    The answer is simple. Make old ladies drive sticks, and block their twitter feeds.

  6. Chuck Says:

    Was John saying that *all* cars, new and old, need to have a “black box” installed, meaning someone will have to retrofit one into their 1965 Mustang?

    Or does the bill say only all new cars produced by 2015?

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m sure it is only new cars, or at least I hope so.

  8. Lex Says:

    What is with Chevrolet not offering product in the good old U.S.A.? Canada and Mexico get the other CUV offerings from Chevrolet. First no Captiva, now no Trax. All we got is the stupid Daewoo Sonic! I hope Chevrolet has a new Equinox in the wings that will knock my socks off! Those guys waste too much time on Corvette, Impala and Malibu. The Malibu and Impala are Opel/Buick Clones while we were the last to receive the Cruze Sedan only! Poor Product Planning by Chevrolet!!!

    When are we going to get a 200hp Cruze? I hate the dumb fabric on the dash and doors of the Cruze. Why not use one of those special processing techniques to create a richer look inside the Cruze as discussed on Autoline this week?

    Why does the new Altima look so good and rich while the Versa look so crappy and cheap?

    I was sorry to hear about the passing of a true Automotive Legend Mr. Carroll Shelby.

    Congratulations to Hendrick Motors on their 200th Win!

  9. Jim Thykeson Says:

    If you don’t change to a new fuel there won’t be a planet to save…not that one you’d wanna live in anyway! Norway & Europe, plus the Asian countries can go forth to that brave new world, cause they don’t have to ‘cow-tow’ to ‘big-oil’. Again, don’t blame the car cos. Hell, they’ll build you a car that’ll run on compressed air if need be! Raise them dammed taxes and get done with this B.S.!

  10. HtG Says:

    A chart of gas prices around the world.


  11. Earl Says:

    Sounds like Nissan is going to become aggressive in that class like Hyundai. I hope the Altima doesn’t have a CVT. I haven’t heard a positive comment yet about those CVT’s that a lot of people refer to as rubber band transmissions.
    I predict that the Sonata will be the first car in that mid size class to have an 8 speed automatic followed by that 200 Chrysler that still has a lot of DNA from the Sebring.

  12. C-Tech Says:

    The new Altima looks great and the standard features on the SV model sound great. I hold their reliability numbers go up too.
    Given the info on fuel taxes in the UK, will there be a problem in the U.S. as well? Many states rely on fuel taxes as a “stable” part of their tax revenue.
    A Ferrari hybrid (LMAO!)
    @ #8 Lex, the U.S. is better off with the Equinox/Terrain. They are more reliable.
    Will the new Trax (why the bad spelling from GM marketing?) replace the Captiva?

  13. Marsh Says:

    The government mandates ‘Black Boxes.’ Ya, and I have a pair of wire cutters :)

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    #8 Lex don’t you dare call the Sonic a Daewoo or you will be lambasted by GM fans who will be pointing out that the Sonic is made here by Americans using mostly US parts and technology, The new Daewoo Sonic, now at your local Chevy dealer.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    GM marketing has had a spelling problem for a long time, with Ciera, Savava, PriZm, Cruze, and now Trax. I’ve probably forgotten a couple.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Altima has used CVT’s for years, and it seems that the people who hate CVT’s are mostly those who don’t drive them regularly.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    But Kit the Prius has a different type of CVT, does it not?

  18. XA351GT Says:

    Okay can anyone please explain the logic in creating the Trax if it is so similar to the Equinox that it won’t be sold in the US?? Reminds me of Ford’s backwards logic in not selling the new Ranger here. It’s too close in size to the F150. So why not just sell the F150 every where? Also that kind of screws with Ford’s one world policy. Sorry I just don’t get these guys.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yes, the Prius, and some other hybrids use a “power splitter” that is essentially a differential connecting a motor/generator, the ICE, and the wheels. There are no clutches, and no pulleys of varying width. The way it behaves from the driver’s perspective, though, is not greatly different from the CVT’s Nissan uses, and the one in the iQ.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    On the subject, I know you’ve driven CVT’s How do they compare to the Prius?

  21. cwolf Says:

    Gosh,I hate to admit it,but I really like the Altima previewed. I’m not crazy about the CVT because I know little about them,but even the Lincoln hyb. has one. I think the way it is programed has much to do with how well it functions. Have you noticed that Nissan,and Chry,have made a remarkable transition over the past year!

    I have a question for any of you into moter cycles. What is the advantage of 3 wheelers where the two wheels are in the front? Just seems back-assward to me!

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    21 I am not into bikes at all but I guess it has to be a matter of stability when turning, like the old 3 wheel cars with the one front wheel, I would feel it’s gonna tip over whenever you turn a little too fast!

  23. cwolf Says:

    Warren Buffett buy 10,000 shares of GM stock! Not a kings ranson for him,but for you who critisize the bailout,I suggest this is the perfect time to contact GM to see if you can get a few of your bucks back….but don’t hold your breath.

  24. cwolf Says:

    Is there a mutual benifit here or is GM just luring the German unions with a little honey? Reports say GM may shut down Koean operations and move them to Europe and then export them if it is understood costs would not increase. I say it is pretty creative thinking.And when the fish take the bait,I bet GM will be waiting to set the hook. Actually it was all Bob Kings idea!!!…Just funn’in.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve only driven CVT’s a small amount, other than the Prous, but to me, the way they act is similar. The only regular CVT’s I’ve driven are low powered ones, a Nissan Cube, and a Scion iQ. I’d like to drive a higher powered one, like an Altima V6 to see what it’s like.

  26. Bill-S Says:

    Hate to break the news to folks if they don’t already know, but most cars on the road today already have the “black box” they are talking about. You can’t just pull it out either, it’s basically the on-board computer that runs all of the elctronics, ignition, fuel, sensors, etc. today in modern cars. They’re just making it mandatory for the few cars now that don’t have it.

    The key to legislation will be who “owns” the data, and deciding what happens to it. does the driver have the final say? But what if you’re making payments on the car, does the bank own the data? Can the data be supeonaed and used against you in a court of law no matter what? Already issues out there…

    GM cars have it starting back in 1994, with most having it by 1998. Ford back to 2001. So be prepared to trade in for a lot older car from some companies if you want to go “black box” free!

    Here’s a site with more info:

    Full list of specific vehicle info:

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    An advantage of having two front wheels on a trike would be that you wouldn’t need a differential. On the other hand, you would need more complex steering. I know there are machines made both ways that work ok, but I prefer motorcycles with two wheels.

  28. Bill-S Says:

    It looks like my comment about the “black box” issue was deleted. I’m guesing becasue I had a link to a list of all the cars that already have it that is out on the web.

    But to basically sum it up without the links, which you can find easily with a simple search yourself. GM has been putting it on their cars since 1994, with it on most by 1998, all by 2002. Ford has had it starting in 2001. Lots of others have had it for a long time now too. So if you really are that worried, you will need to search for what cars don’t have it, and be prepared to get something older. There is really no way to diable it, since it’s built into the car’s computer that controls everything nowadays.

  29. Bill-S Says:

    OK, strange but my comment is now back again…

    Sorry for the repeated info, but just wanted to let folks know, it’s pretty much already out there in most cars now.