Episode 916 – Quality Gap Shrinks, Audi Names New U.S. President, 2013 Chevy Malibu

June 21st, 2012 at 11:00am

Runtime: 8:09

The gap in quality among carmakers continues to shrink according to J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Survey. Audi just announced that Scott Keogh will replace Johan de Nysschen as President of the company’s U.S. operations. Chevy just announced the base price for the 2013 Malibu is just over $23,000, which is a small increase over the current Malibu. All that and more, plus a look at the all-new Ford Escape.

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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily for June 21st. It’s the summer solstice and the first day of summer for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, and the beginning of winter for those of you below the equator. But enough of that, let’s get to the news.

J.D. Power released the results of its Initial Quality Survey. This measures the quality of cars from a year ago, where owners in the U.S. are surveyed after the first 90 days of ownership. J.D. Power says quality continues to get better. Indeed, from Lexus which is at the top of the list, to smart, which is at the bottom, the difference is only 0.78 defects. That shows how good quality is in cars these days, when best to worst is measured in a fraction of a defect.

A while back I pointed out how much of a family business the automotive industry is. Families still hold an enormous interest in Ford, Fiat, BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen and Peugeot. And now the Peugeot family wants to see the CEO of the company, Philippe Varin, given the heave-ho. They don’t like the direction the company is headed in, and presumably selling a big stake in Peugeot to General Motors didn’t sit well with them. But that prompted the board of directors to issue a statement that they fully support their CEO.

Audi just announced that Scott Keogh will replace Johan de Nysschen as President of the company’s U.S. operations. Keogh was Chief Marketing Officer for Audi of America the last six years and starts his new position immediately. de Nysschen left Audi to become the head of Infiniti.

Yesterday we reported that WardsAuto is sticking with its forecast of 14.5 million car sales in the U.S. this year but Citi Investment Research & Analysis cut its sales forecast from 14.3 million units to 14.1 million due to slow economic growth. Citi also cut next year’s forecast from 15 million units to 14.5 million.

Chevy’s latest midsize sedan is primed and ready. Base price for the 2013 Malibu sedan is a hair more than $23,000, INCLUDING destination and delivery charges. That’s a small increase over today’s Malibu but the new version does come with more standard equipment. Also, the company reduced the price of the range-topping LTZ model, which will be powered by a 2.0-liter turbo, the first turbocharged engine ever offered in a Malibu. And going back to the J.D. Power story, the 2012 Malibu just won top-honors in its segment.


On the electric-vehicle front, Honda will begin recycling rare-earth metals along with other materials used in hybrid batteries. It’s all part of the company’s green initiative, but it’s also an important strategic move. Japan – and the rest of the automotive industry for that matter – is dependent on China for rare-earth metals. China has about 30 percent of the world’s deposits of these materials but it accounts for 90 percent of global production. Recycling is a great way to reduce this dependency.

Coming up next, Craig Cole test drives the 2013 Ford Escape.

(The Ford Escape review is only available in the video version of today’s program.)

I really do like the styling on the new Escape.

I want to invite you to join us tonight for an online party as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of Autoline. Autoline After Hours is going to be a part of the party, and our party is going to be part of After Hours. We’re inviting everyone who’s ever been on any of the Autoline shows to come on over and help us celebrate, and that’s going to give me and the Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo an amazing collection of guests to talk with. That’s tonight starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.tv.

And that wraps up today’s reports, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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

20 Comments to “Episode 916 – Quality Gap Shrinks, Audi Names New U.S. President, 2013 Chevy Malibu”

  1. Brett Says:

    Yesterday was the summer solstice. Leap year and all that.

  2. Earl Says:

    I think Ford has a mighty fine vehicle in that new Escape. Those EcoBoost engines have Ford two to three years ahead of some of its competitors. The styling is great for the most part….I like the rear but up front like the Focus it looks like its already been in an accident.
    My wife has a RAV4 that we’re going to replace and after looking at the new Escape she was impressed. Unfortunately the colour she likes means a black interior and that’s a no no. The alternative is a stone colour but the exterior choices are limited.
    May have to talk to dealer to see if he can have Ford make a change. Ford is accommodating that way he says. I can’t get over how people like a black exterior and a black interior too.I guess everyone to their own

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Don’t expect to be able to get an exterior/interior color combination not shown in the brochure from Ford, or anyone else, except Rolls-Royce and such.

    In the 60′s, you had a choice of about 8 interior colors in most cars. Now, you have a choice of light grey, dark grey, or tan, and a lot of restrictions on what interior you can get with a given paint color. There are almost no free-standing options either; everything is in a package. It really takes the fun out of ordering a car, compared how it once was.

  4. Chuck Grenci Says:

    One more reason to ‘buy what you like’; referencing the JD Power survey. It just doesn’t make too much of a difference which vehicle you buy, at least not in the first year; (I suppose the three year survey numbers are more relevant though) still, I say buy what you want (not what someone else tells you is best).

    The new Malibu looks like a terrific vehicle, though somehow I like the current vehicle design better. The Malibu (current), in pearl white, is a real gem IMO; looks more classy than others in luxury segments.

    See ‘you’ tonight John (will there be cake?) :)

  5. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Kit, remember COPO (Central Office Purchase Order), like the COPO Camaro; do some of the manufacturers still do that? Maybe you can still get that mix-matched interior/exterior; don’t know.

  6. HtG Says:

    There’s Vodka and soda over here, Chuck.
    Escape. I agree with Craig C. about the interior. There’s a whole lot of visual activity.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    To my knowledge, no “mainstrem” car companies do that, except for fleet orders. If anyone knows otherwise, though, please let us know.

  8. Lex Says:

    I have noticed that the front noses on both the new Ford Taurus and soon to be released new 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport are much to similar for my taste. I would suggest that Hyundai rethink the front grill on the Santa FE to look more like the Azera or even Elantra.

    I believe I understand why GM wants to buy a large stake in Peugeot. Those Peugeot models seem to me to be very “Buick” lookin in the styling. GM figures it can sell Buick’s rebadged as Peugeot’s.

    This interior and exterior color choices are also an issue for me. I really like the 2013 Acura RDX however the interior is limited to two color choices, Ebony and Parchment. I prefer Grey. How about it Acura, why not add Grey as an interior color choice to the new RDX?

  9. C-Tech Says:

    In terms of initial quality, this is a great time to buy a new car or truck. The real test is how is it holding up after your 36th, 48th, or 60th payment.

    The Ford Escape looks good, it does look smaller than its previous model.

    The comments on getting interior and paint choices is interesting. If I remember correctly, this trend of limiting car options and packaging them together started with the Japanese companies in the 80′s. By limiting options manufacturers could, and did, improve quality and cut costs. By packaging popular options together in special editions, they increased their profit margins.

  10. shan Says:

    35k for a loaded Ford Escape is absurd and makes poor economic sense if your stupid enough to finance this puppy. It will be worth 15k within a year at best. Americans never learn to stay out of debt.

  11. RonE Says:

    John, Congrats on your 15th Anniversary of Autoline. Many years ago I discovered Autoline while waiting for F1 on Speedvision. After that it was a must see and now AL Daily is also a must. You have a great staff, wonderful guests and very knowledgeable posters.

    Keep up the good work John as you are very much appreciated in the car world.

  12. cwolf Says:

    The Peugeot seen on the show today is good looking,but I can’t see that much GM in it. If it was the 508,the new model will be offered in a diesel hybred; A 2.0 engine and the el motors drive the rear wheels and something close to 60 mpg. I’d like to experience one for myself,but to get to the other side of the pond is a heck of a ways off!

  13. jack879 Says:

    Malibu is rated high by JD Power, but CR will likely not agree and put it in the near bottom.

  14. XA351GT Says:

    I saw on TV where Toyota is having issues with fires inside the doors of camrys and other models. So will they blame this on operator error too?

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Easy to explain, smokers stick their lit cigarettes out the window so that smoke doesn’t get in the car and some ashes and sparks can fall into the door panels thru the top of the doors thus igniting the materials inside. Don’t smoke when you drive ANY car.

  16. Zieke Says:

    35 big ones for an Escape? I realize it must be a good vehicle, but plezzzze.

  17. Lex Says:

    John and the whole Autoline Family:

    Congratutions on your 15th Anniversary and many many more!

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Like a lot of cars, the new Escape will have a very wide range of prices. According to Edmunds, the cheapest one, an FWD “S” will start at $22,470, but it will be easy to load them up to where they are expensive. I’m sure it will be impossible to find a cheap one at a dealer.

  19. HtG Says:

    One thing I noticed in the Escape was the great space inside. I sat behind a guy that was 6’4″ and was comfy(I am 5’10″). I also thought Ford did a great job with space when I sat in a Taurus. But GM interiors have a richer feel, to me at least.

  20. Leo Says:

    Ford is not good helping there customers on 2008 Ford Taurus sync. Keep eyes and hands on road is B>S> to end phone call they now want you to end call on navigation screen. Sync end call on steering wheel will not work. Not what there ads on TV etc. stated