Episode 908 – Turbos Charge Ahead, VW Considers Navistar Stake, Viper GTS-R Track Test

June 11th, 2012 at 11:40am

Runtime: 9:39

BorgWarner, one of the largest supplier of turbochargers, says 80 percent of all passenger vehicles in the U.S. will have a turbo by 2020. Volkswagen is discussing whether to take a stake in commercial truck-maker Navistar to help it compete with Daimler in North America. The 2013 SRT Viper GTS-R racecar just completed its first on-track test. All that and more, plus a look at the all new 2013 Scion FR-S.

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Welcome to the beginning of another week of Autoline Daily. I’m John McElroy and here’s the latest news.

Forget hybrids and electric cars. The fastest-growing technology in automotive powertrains is the turbocharger because sales of those small-displacement, boosted engines are growing like weeds. WardsAuto reports that turbocharger sales hit nearly 7 percent of the U.S. market last year. That’s up from less than 3 percent the year before. BorgWarner, one of the largest suppliers of turbos, says in five years 40 percent of all passenger vehicles in the U.S. will have a turbo. And that will jump to 80 percent in 2020. Honeywell, which owns Garret Turbochargers, and Continental, which is just getting into the turbo business, will also play a big role in the turbocharger market.

Speaking of growing by leaps and bounds, Volkswagen could be about to get bigger. According to Reuters, VW is discussing whether to take a stake in Navistar to help it compete with Daimler in North America, which owns Freightliner. VW owns Swedish truck maker Scania, which is not that big in the U.S., and it owns German truck maker MAN, but competes mainly in Europe and other emerging markets.

“Click and Clack, The Tappet Brothers” are going to retire this fall. The radio program “Car Talk” has been a staple of National Public Radio for 25 years, hosted by the wisecracking Magliozzi brothers, Tom who is 75 years old, Ray who is 62. “Car Talk” is the highest-rated program on NPR with over 3 million listeners. But the program will continue in reruns, and with 25 year’s worth of material, it could go on for a long time.

Honda introduced a new minivan in China called the Elysion. It’s powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. It’s built on the same platform as the Accord and can seat up to seven people. At a starting price of about $45,000 the Elysion costs more than the Odyssey, which starts at $36,000 in China. The Elysion has only been sold in Japan since 2004 but now that it’s in China, could Honda be looking at selling it other markets as well?


The 2013 SRT Viper GTS-R racecar has just completed its first on-track test. Luckily for the entire SRT team everything appears to have gone according to plan. Look for the 2013 Viper GTS-R to compete in the GT class of the American Le Mans Series later this year.

Potholes are the bane of every motorist. If you live in a northern climate, especially Michigan, you’re all too familiar with these wheel-cracking, tire-flattening, strut-bending divots. Autoblog reports students at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio have come up with a new temporary fix for chuck holes. They’ve figured out a way to fill them with liquid. Normally this would just make a puddle – and a big mess – but the students have created a special Kevlar bag that gets topped off with a non-Newtonian fluid. What’s that? Well, they’re materials that are liquid under normal conditions but behave like solids when force is suddenly applied to them. They can flow to conform to the shape of a pothole but they immediately stiffen up as a vehicle rolls over them. So far it appears the fix works quite well and the cost is similar to a conventional repair. More testing during different seasons is needed, but still, this is a brilliant idea!

(Today’s Scion FR-S review is only available in the video version of today’s program.)

Sales of the FR-S, and its cousin, the Subaru BRZ are just getting going. But so far, Subaru is doing a better job of selling them. Last month the Subaru BRZ wracked up 271 sales in the American market, while Scion sold 86 FR-S’s.

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

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

64 Comments to “Episode 908 – Turbos Charge Ahead, VW Considers Navistar Stake, Viper GTS-R Track Test”

  1. HtG Says:

    Uh, John? I don’t want to see anymore gloating about your journey coming up this weekend. Don’t make me call the TSA, and maybe get you bumped from your flight.

    Nice and calm. Act like you’ve been there before.

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    For those unaware, John, is going to the 24 Hours of Le Mons. Have a fantastic time (wish I were with you). Go Corvette.

  3. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Quick spell check; make that Le Mans. (or 24 heures du Mans)

  4. Ron Paris Says:

    Click & Clack: No great loss. Never understood why this show was so popular, but then I have never been an NPR fan. Always seemed to be an auto-related show for the non-gearhead and/or people who didn’t really give two hoots about cars. Often full of misinformation.

  5. NannyState Says:

    Re: Navistar/VW tie up…Fiat along w/Carl Ichan are also interested parties!

  6. HtG Says:

    Did anyone get a look at the two stirring straws that Viper was breathing through? The engine restrictions at ALMS make me wonder what I’m watching. Let’s not even get started with Pirelli1 racing we saw from Canada this weekend.

  7. Tony Gray Says:

    I’m glad to hear the FR-S is something we have been clamoring for…a fun to drive, not overly optioned, low cost machine.

    OK, so maybe I’m a bit old for the demographic, and I am now able to spring for more, er, upscale machinery, but this new ride might reignite driving passion among more of the younger set…something akin to the Pontiac GTO of 1964.

    And as for the pothole fix, while I applaud the invention to help fix the symptom of our bad road policy, I still think we need politicians with the guts to make the calls to fix the CAUSE of our highway maladies. By that I mean the constant underfunding, misappropriation or misapplication of our road funds. On one hand they say that we don’t have enough money to repair our roads (in many northern states), but they don’t have the political will to adequately find the resources to fix the problem. Then when they DO raise gas taxes and fees, a lot of it gets siphoned off for projects not directly related to repair and rebuilding of our crumbling infrastructure. Look, I am NOT a big tax and spend, mega government guy, but an effective and efficient transportation system is (IMO) a core function of government, much like defense, and should be treated as such.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’m surprised the Viper did not spring a coolant leak in its tests, FRS being beaten by Subaru because Scion is pissing off their customers by adding on a lot of money to the selling price, something Scion is NOT supposed to do.

  9. HtG Says:

    Potholes. Perhaps the problem is that we built more roads than we can support. Since the fifties this country has created an interstate system and its ancillary miles of asphalt, which are quite pricey. Oop, did I say subsidy?

  10. Eric Says:

    The reason Scion only sold 86 FR-S’s in May is that those were sales for the “First 86″. June 1 was the official on sale date for the FR-S

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    ….more roads, and no political will to come up with the money to maintain them, if it would mean raising gas tax a penny a gallon.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Car talk was meant to offer humor, in addition to actual car information. There is not much misinformation, at least compared to a couple “local” car shows I’ve listened to in Florida.

  13. Jon M. Says:

    Is the disparity between the Scion & Subie due to supply or demand? In the past week I added to the SAAR at my local Toyota/Scion dealer, where the only one FR-S was getting much attention. I didn’t see if there were any BR-Zs at the Subie dealer right next door, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into a supply issue. I’d guess demand, since Toyota is not known of late for anything especially sporty–including the Scion brand, while Subaru at least has WRX models with a more inspired reputation. Perhaps that might explain the sales gap.

    And while I’m sure it’s a marketing decision, I still think they should have sold the FR-S under the Toyota brand name. But that’s just my opinion.

  14. gmveteran Says:


    When I was in high school and college, a Japanese company marketed the BRZ/FRS. It was very attractive, had great handling, medium power from a unique engine and a very affordable price. Back then it was called the RX-7.


  15. Derek V Says:

    Sorry to hear The Tappet Brothers are hanging it up – I guess they finally paid off that boat payment!

    Personally, Subaru should have been the only one to offer this car – but I “understand” why Toyota put it where they did – something has to keep Scion at least treading water. Although the point has been beaten like a dead horse, I still think the BR-Z should have been all wheel drive.

    If I were Navistar, I’d be careful about that hand shake – VW just seems to be stretching itself a little to thin. Maybe they realized that buying everyone out is the only way they could have their name next to the “No. 1 World Car Manufacturer” title. Soon, they’ll be based out of New York City and turning into a true Yankee (wink, wink).

  16. HtG Says:

    Based on my own reporting, I can opine that the BRZ is aimed at empty nesters that already have a Subie, and the FRS is an attempt by Scion to raise the average age of its owners and luster-afters(kids).

    How do I know? I have this technique of getting info which I call, ‘listening.’

  17. aliisdad Says:

    #7, Wow, that is an interesting thought about the Subie/Scion becoming the new GTO…That would be great!! We need something to get younger people interested in cars as something to be enjoyed as opposed to just another appliance…
    Although there seem to be more and more car shows in even small towns during the summer months, it seems to me that most of the people are at a good forty-five or above…Since cars have been a part of many of our lives since we were young, we know the true fun of cars and the car community…Anyway, the idea about a new “GTO” might be just what the hobby needs, and this might be just the car to do it…Great thought!!!

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Toyota designed the body and engineered the fuel injection system and wisely used the boxer engine whose design allows for a low center of gravity which would have been impossible to achieve with the current crop of Toyota engines.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    17 GM had the opportunity to do something with the Solstice/Sky architecture if only the had done it right, instead they screwed it up like they have most projects.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Interesting. If I want one someday, which is possible if I want a different “fun car” to replace my MINI, I’d go for whichever one I could get cheaper. By the time I’d be looking, probably the “extra dealer profit” era would be in the past.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit however used would not be a good idea I have a feeling most would be abused, unlike my son who treats his like a Duesenberg.

  22. C-Tech Says:

    Hopefully this generation of turbochargers hold up longer and are less expensive to replace than the last great prediction of “turbo” domination in the 1980′s (remember when you could almost any BUICK model with a turbocharger?)

    I grew to like Car Talk with its sometimes inspired zany and wandering hosts. I do wish them well and hope NPR tries to find new hosts rather than run incessant reruns of the old shows. There are possible new “hosts” from the participants here, or from your staff (Seamus are you listening?).

    Nice to see those science classes are paying off in the U.S. Good luck with the pothole fix. Now as for the Government gridlock fix…….

    I hope there is a growing market for the FR-S and BRZ. I hope this will inspire more entries from GM, Ford, and Dodge.

    Welcome back Viper, we missed ya!

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That’s probably especially true about them being abused, for a manual transmission car, which is what I’d want.

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    From every advice I’ve ever read about buying a used car is NOT to get anything sporty or even 2 doors, look for the granny mobile instead

  25. C-Tech Says:

    @ #21
    Pedro, I suspect there will a fair number of FR-S models bought by college educated, young (and perhaps young at heart) ladies who are interested in having a stylish personal car for themselves for awhile. Those cars will find thier way into the used car market fairly un-molested. The FR-S/BRZ may be considered an alternative to the Acura ILX, Civic coupe, Scion coupe, or Buick Regal as depending on equipment they all fall into the same price range.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I hope BRZ signals the beginning of the end of mandatory AWD from Subaru. They have had some nice, smallish wagons over the years, but my not wanting the weight and extra complexity of AWD has kept me from considering one.

  27. C-Tech Says:

    The best advice for buying a used car I ever got was “know the prevoius owner”. That way you can get maintenence (or NON-maintenence) history, plus how it was driven. I’ve seen high mileage car which people turned away from become good buys because they were well maintained by the owner (for some salepeople and couriers that car was their lifeline and office so it got anything needed!) Sometimes Grandma had to give up the car after her third accident!

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    #27 how true that is, my son traded in his 08 Xb to Carmax they gave him $10k I just saw it listed for $14800 nice profit for them,a detail job is the only thing they did to it cause they had nothing to fix or replace, even the oil was clean and the tires new.

  29. Lex Says:

    I see no need for the Honda Elysion be come to North America. I do need see the need for an AWD Odyssey in North America. The AWD Pilot is just not big enough sometimes.

    Those new pothole fixing fluid filled bags and tarps made out of Kevlar invented by students at Case Western Reserve University of Cleveland would disappear in 30 seconda on the streets of New York! The hoodlums and thieves would use the kevlar to make themselves bullet proof pancho’s for under their hoodies.

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    #29 Lex you are a very smart fellow, how right you are, but don’t limit your statement to NY any urban setting will sufer the same.

  31. HtG Says:

    29.30 I would need to see Letterman drop one of those bags off his roof before I gave my opinion. But these bags might have a purpose if you wanted a quick, temporary fix, before a proper asphalt crew came out.
    Pedro, at least your son got his money quickly, and the check cleared. Selling a used car ain’t that simple.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    I anyone thinks Lex is nuts, around here they climb very high street light poles to steal the copper and also steal the cable TV amplifiers so they can send them to So America, Comcast has had to bury them in theft proof underground fortified blocks of concrete.

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    #31 that is true about the car, the Scion dealer would only give him $9k they claimed that there is no demand for used xB’s from model year 2008-2011 the people prefer the older, smaller models.

  34. XA351GT Says:

    @#7 Define low cost to me, because 25K still is alot of money to me. Especially for a decontented car if that’s what is going on. I wonder just how many of thees 25K versions will end up at dealers? My guess not many, people want their gadgets and dealers make their money selling them to them. Put that at $17.5K and were talking.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    #34 it is not decontented, it has power windows, locks, traction control, stability control, fancy radio, abs, brake assist, bunch of airbags,cruise control std A/C all standard, If they were to skip all that I am sure it could go for $20k or so.

  36. cwolf Says:

    pedro,I read the other day that Scion put two service bulletins out for your sons car. You hear anything?

    C&D states the Dart is a nice car,but 2 things caught my attention which I don’t care for. First,the underbody has an undershield to reduce drag. In my parts these get destroyed quick and make any type of home repairs more troublesome. Second,the turbo has a timing belt instead of a chain. I,for the life of me,can’t understand why!

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    no I have not. 2nd part, with all these new cars they don’t even want you to change the oil, plugs, filter NOTHING AT ALL !

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Why an AWD Odyssey? A front drive car, or (not so) minivan with regular all-season tires will go through through snow, up to where it is deep enough that the front of the car is trying to plow snow. Toyota sells an AWD Sienna, but not many of them, and Chrysler quit selling AWD vans because the take rate was so low.

  39. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf I just looked it up it involves the owner’s manual and some erroneous info on the airbags, no biggie, we did notice some condensation inside the tail light assembly plastic, I am sure this may be an issue in the future that needs to be taken care off, but nothing yet, they don’t even have accessories available at the dealers which is good since it prevented them from loading up the thing with useless, unneeded crap.

  40. cwolf Says:

    pedro: minor issues noted by Toyota engrs. One notice is for body panel fit. The second for condensation inside the tail lights. You are prolly good to go,but just keep an open eye out,OK?

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Honda still uses a lot of timing belts, not that it means Dodge should. I like chains better, since they generally last the life of the engine, but, as long as the engine is non-interference, belts aren’t terrible. It is a maintenance item “down the road,” though.

    I’ll probably be learning about these drag reducing under body covers in about a year. I’ll probably do the next oil change in my Prius myself.

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    #38 I agree, I used to drive a Dodge minivan with snow tires up front for traction and I would plow through snow like nothing in NJ. No need for AWD. Waste of money and gas and additional mechanical expenses down the road

  43. pedro fernandez Says:

    scolf have not seen any body panel issues, it is a Subaru after all and there have been reports throughout the years of Subies and their body panels, but I guess all samples are not affected, first year models usually have some start up issues.

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    I meant cwolf above

  45. HtG Says:

    Who wants a Lindsay Lohan update? I know I do.

    TMZ reports she lied to cops about not being the driver of the car. Her assistant says she was driving, and other witnesses said that she had gotten out of the Porsche passenger side after the crash. So, this answers the question, why would anyone rent a 991 to this Accident Waiting to Happen? Because she had promised not to drive it, but rather to be driven by the assistant.

    I don’t think the insurance company is going to be cutting that check so quick.

  46. cwolf Says:

    Kit,I don’t know if the Dart’s turbo is non-interference,but just knowing it has to be changed rings dollar signs to those who keep their cars. It may be a way to reduce initial costs.

    pedro,as I recall the number of cars having these issues are very few in number and Toyo’s way to show their quality initiative. I’m sure your car will meet your expectations.

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    Cwolf it is built by Subaru at one of their factories, at least the ones we get over here, as a matter of fact, the front fenders have SUBARU engraved on the top just inside the engine compartment. Turbos as a rule, are not a good idea for everyday, non-sporty cars. long term costs and reliability issues wipe out whatever benefit may be had by having it in the car.

  48. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The current crop of high-volume turbos from Ford and Chevy seem to be getting kudos for driving better their N/A counterparts, but the mpg is only marginally better. I have a high years, low mileage turbo in my ’89 Caravan. It has about 70K miles with no problems. I hope it stays that way, or I’ll wish I had sold it, rather than keeping it to drive about 300 miles a year.

  49. cwolf Says:

    I guess what makes one doubtfull about turbos is the lack of information of current models. There have been so many inprovements in metalurgy,brgs,an controls of them,yet new enough not to have historical data. Time will tell.

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In the case of the Ford turbos, there is also direct injection, another question mark “down the road.” Since I tend to not keep my primary car a long time, I’d buy any of them if it was what I really wanted, but I would not recommend a Ford direct injection turbo pickup to an electrician friend who would want to keep it 12 years and 150K miles.

  51. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit sounds like you’re not too keen on all this technology

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I guess I’m keen on technology that buys me something, like the Prius powertrain, but not direct injection turbos with the same power, but only slightly better mpg than simpler engines in the same vehicle. When I bought my van, it was the quickest, and highest mpg version of that vehicle, except for the really slow non-turbo four. Also, I was a lot yoinger when I bought it.

  53. HtG Says:

    Kit, would you recommend such an engine if it were made by Toyota/Honda?

  54. cwolf Says:

    Kit: As I understand,older engines with DI did not have the design needed to deal with carbon build-up. It was said,some DI engines are better than others. Audi was said to be more problematic than Ford. A Ford 3.5L Ecoboost was dismantled at an auto show after a grulling 160000 simulated miles and showed little build-up. As injection/timing calibrations continue to improve,it was concluded,carbon build up will become a thing of the past. I would be reluctant to throw away my bottle of carbon cleaner additive and dred having to use premium fuel if’n I were to keep one for many years. It is often hard for us ol’folks to stop thinking of the past and to accept that some things do get better with age.

  55. HtG Says:

    54 Definitely true about getting older. I am very aware of having views on cars which were formed twenty years ago.

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I probably wouldn’t recommend a DGI turbo from any manufacturer to someone who planned to keep it a long time, unless it had a bigger fuel economy advantage than the current ones. For those who never let their cars get off warranty, I’d recommend anything, if they like it.

  57. Brett Says:

    After you’ve replaced a couple timing belts yourself it really is no big deal.

    We’re coming up on 60K on the 2006 Outlander and I’ll be changing it’s belt between 60k and 70k. You can buy kits off eBay for < $200 that have a new water pump, belts and gaskets to do the job.

  58. Johndoe1 Says:

    Since Diesels continue to be persecuted by the clueless, damned fools in the EPA in this country,

    while at the same time the Euros are actually RELAXING their far more lenient Diesel Emissions regulations,

    It is no surprise at all that automakers are scrambling to meet the much higher EPA MPG CAFE Rules by having a turbo in every second vehicle they make.

    Turbos today, as most entire cars overall, are more reliable than turbos 20-30 years ago.

    Audi turbos will of course be less reliable. Audi anythings are always so.

  59. Johndoe1 Says:

    “During my week with the Toyota Prius c I averaged about 62 miles-per-gallon.

    To understand how AWESOME this is, my 125 HP Accord 5-speed 1990 averaged 28 MPG, and a very lightweight 5-speed Civic Hatch 1991 I still drive in the summer low miles and looks like new, 35 MPG!

    “On my standard suburban run to the kids’ school, the trip computer once reported 82 mpg, and topped 70 mpg a number of times.

    But drive the Prius c “normally” with the A/C on, and the gas engine gets a little noisy and fuel economy “plummets” into the low 50s,”

    Chorus: “Aw, the Humanity!!!!!!” …LOL

    as attested by the trip computer for my wife’s stints in the car and by the EPA (53 city, 46 highway, 50 combined).

    How come Toyota does not sue the EPA for grossly underestimating its Prius C MPG? VW SHould also do so about ALL its Diesel Models!

    The Above quotes, in case you missed it, are from the excellent review of the Prius c by Michael Karesh:


    How do you spell “Humongous Home Run for Toyota?”

  60. cwolf Says:

    There is really nothing wrong with any Prius or attempting to maximize fuel economy. There is often a problem with “hypermilers” when they affect the normal flow of traffic. Following a hypermiler in city traffic is worse that getting behind a “near-sighted ol’fart” on a Sunday drive! Unfortunately they sometimes use the outside lanes to screw up traffic even more.

  61. Kit Gerhart Says:

    From my experience with a regular Prius, the EPA didn’t “underestimate” its mileage. I averaged about 47 mpg calculated from fill ups for ~10K miles, vs an EPA “combined” rating of 50. The gas mileage display by my trip computer is about 5% high.

    From my experience, though, the EPA system sure does underestimate diesels. I had an ’04 1.9 VW TDI Jetta Wagon, manual transmission, and averaged about 44 mpg for ~8000 miles of mixed driving, and would get over 50 on tanks that had a lot of moderate speed highway. The EPA rating using the “new” system which started in 2008 is 35 combined. With the older system, the rating was closer to correct for my driving with a combined rating of 41.

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Also, from my experience, the EPA numbers underestimate what you get with a manual transmission, base MINI. The EPA combined rating of my car is 32, but I averaged about 38 for the first few tanks on the car. I don’t have as much data as on the Prius or VW, though.

  63. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Being retired, and having a little spare time, I figured the gas mileage of my Prius for the first 17904 miles of my ownership. I used 380.6 gallons, for an average of 47.0415 mpg. I guess not much changed after that first 10K miles. This driving includes about 5-6K miles on the interstate, mostly at about 5 mph over the posted limit. The rest is a mix of short trips at low speed, stop and go driving, and moderate speed highway driving.

  64. Brett Says:


    I think the EPA learned a lesson somewhere, finally, about managing expectations.

    Would you like your margin of error to leave people pleased or pissed? :)

    People purchasing a car for it’s combined MPG of 35 would almost universally delighted to receive an actual combined of 44 MPG.

    The old, “under-promise and over deliver” game.