Episode 925 – Hertz to Offer Panamera, Chevy & Chrysler Incentives, Biofuel Breakthrough?

July 11th, 2012 at 11:40am

Runtime: 7:56

Rental car company Hertz announced it’s adding the Porsche Panamera to its fleet. Chevy and Chrysler are offering new incentives to try and boost sales. Researchers at Michigan State University have come up with a new biofuel production process that produces energy more than 20 times higher than existing methods. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in “You Said It!”

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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. I’m John McElroy, this is the 11th of July, and here’s the news.

Rental car company Hertz announced it’s adding the Porsche Panamera to its fleet, becoming the first major rental company in the U.S. to offer Porsches. Unfortunately the company will only offer the Panamera in California, Florida and Nevada. The cost? $250 for a weekend day. Hertz will also sponsor the 2012 Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge and the JDX Racing Team which competes in the American Le Mans Series.

Automakers are rethinking the way incentives work. In the bad old days they’d pile a bunch of money on the hood to move the metal. This, of course, takes a huge bite out of profits. Now Chevy is launching its Confidence Program, where buyers can return a car after 60 days if they don’t like it. And it offers no-haggle pricing, just like Saturn used to do. This will probably generate a lot of buzz, but more importantly, very few people will ever return their vehicle. It’s just too much of a hassle, plus then you’ve got to buy another car! So this kind of incentive is a lot cheaper than putting money on the hood.

A related story, Chrysler just introduced a new offer that lets buyers defer payments for the first 90 days of ownership. This national promotion applies to all of its vehicles and runs through the end of the month.

Auto production is growing in the United States and Mexico but in Canada it’s going down. According to Wards, in 2007 the country had the capacity to build 3 million vehicles, now that’s down to 2.5 million and will fall slightly next year. There are several reasons, but it’s mainly because of the strong Canadian dollar. GM CEO Dan Akerson recently said Canada is the most expensive country to build vehicles.

So it’s no surprise to learn that CAW President Ken Lewenza is seeking commitments from the Detroit automakers to build new vehicles in Canada. According to the Detroit News, the union’s contract is up in September and it wants investment from the automakers in future product. The Detroit 3 wants the CAW to accept profit sharing deals like American workers instead of benefit and wage increases.

Though the Chinese car market is slowing down, it’s still growing. So which automakers are doing the best job of appealing to Chinese car buyers? As the latest sales figures show, General Motors, Volkswagen and Nissan dominate the top ten list of passenger vehicles.

We haven’t heard much about cellulosic ethanol recently, but researchers at Michigan State University have come up with a new biofuel-production process. They claim it produces energy “more than 20 times higher than existing methods.” Special microbes break agricultural waste down into ethanol, and then a second strain of bacteria feeds off of waste products from the fermentation process and actually generates electricity. But don’t think they’re charging car batteries with all this juice. They’re using the power to produce hydrogen! This boosts the recoverable energy to a whopping 73 percent! It’s all very complicated but this could be the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now it’s time for some of your feedback.

Jesse is pretty ticked off about that guy in California who is suing Hyundai because he says the advertised 40 miles per gallon on the Elantra is misleading. “Any idiot who has even half his or her eyesight can plainly see in big numbers the combined mileage in an Elantra is 33! It’s 40 mpg on the highway and down below on the sticker is actual mileage between x and z. Leave it to those air heads in la la land to waste the courts time and taxpayer dollars!”

Amen, I’m with Jesse on this one.

Josu heard us report that Cadillac had the best sales gain of any brand last month in the US market and says, “You can bet that Cadillac will keep on growing in the next months. Look at what they have. In June they added the XTS. When the ATS gets into the market, Cadillac probably will grow much, much more. Those guys will triple their car offerings in a year.”

Cadillac desperately needs that new product. Audi has now caught up with Caddy and only new product will keep the brand competitive. Look for a new CTS and Escalade in the next year or so.

A lot of you sure liked that new ad for the Dodge Dart because we got a lot of responses about it. Some of the typical responses include InsurgenceRX who says, “Dang! Chrysler always makes the best ads.” And trapneck says, “I love the, ‘kick out the finance guys’…lol”

But while you liked the ad, will enough people actually buy the new Dart? Pedro Fernandez points out that, “Consumer Reports released an article where they pick their recommended American vehicles by class and none of the new small Detroit offerings is recommended because of their reliability issues. Seems like more that things change, they stay the same. You could have been reading this same article from 10, 20 or even 30 yrs ago, and it would have applied as well.”

Yep, despite all the improvements they’ve made the automakers in Detroit still have a perception image to overcome, especially in small cars.

Thanks for all your letters and comments we sure appreciate getting them.

Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tomorrow night for the second annual fantasy draft. I’ve got a group of colleagues who are coming up with their own fictional car companies and we’re all going to choose which executives in the auto industry we would want running our car companies. It’s a great way to learn who are the top executives in the global automotive industry, and that’s tomorrow night on Autoline After Hours.

Thanks for watching and we’ll see you tomorrow.

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33 Comments to “Episode 925 – Hertz to Offer Panamera, Chevy & Chrysler Incentives, Biofuel Breakthrough?”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Hey thanks Hertz but I’d rather take that $500 and spend a weekend getting pampered at a 5 star beachfront resort in Marco Island, Fl having great meals and wonderful drinks in a tropical setting and I’ll get there in my Crapola, I’ll just self-park!

  2. Todd T Says:

    Yeah, I’d just love to make Jesse’s wish come true. Califorina suceeding from the Union would be much more damaging to the union than to California, no matter how you spell it.

    The watchdog group that has spearheaded this nonsense lawsuit is called consumerwatchdog.org, they are a bunch of self-serving wackos who don’t reveal where their funding comes from, who’s founder pockets millions of dollars every year. It runs a complex scam that funnels fees from the California Department of Insurance to it’s coffers. Fee’s that the founder made possible my inserting a provision into Prop 103 an auto insurance reform proposition that was written by none other than the founder of this organization. What’s next? Suing GM for calling the Volt and electric car? Only if Nissan pays them to do it…do you see how it works now?

  3. T. Bejma Says:

    pedro – Doesn’t CR require a vehcile to be in production for a minimum of 5 years before they give it a Recommended Buy rating? Then it would make sense why none of the new small car offerings are on the list.

    I can tell you from a Warranty perspective that all of the new small GM vehicles have exceptional reliability, which definitely helps to explain the success on the sales floor, no matter what CR says…

  4. C-Tech Says:

    The great thing about the USA as opposed to other countries is that WE DO have a court system where you can take your disputes. We don’t take our arguments to the local tribal leader. You don’t (usually) have to bribe a clerk to get your (sometimes trivial to other people) case into the court. We should all be grateful for that. As to this this person’s complaint, it will probaly be dismissed in a hour if Hyundai doesn’t screw up!

  5. C-Tech Says:

    @ #3
    The concern I have with the way CR and some others “rate” a vehicle for reliabilty is different today from 10-20-30 years ago is the definition of “reliability”. When Ford gets downgraded for reliabilty because the “Sync” system does not pick up and display your text messages correctly, well that is far different than being unreliable because of breakdowns, random stalling, or non-starting issues. 30 years (or 20 years) ago the latter were major issues in American cars.

  6. C-Tech Says:

    @ #1
    Great for Hertz. Pedro I am afraid your Corolla and my GMC Jimmy will be directed to employee parking in the way beyond parking lot.

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    I got that covered, got myself a “This car is NOT abandoned” bumper sticker.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    The CR list was their top American picks in each category, and none were picked for the small class, none were worthy to be picked, maybe next year.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    #3 Cruze and Fiesta have not been viewed very well, not by JD Power, CR or TTAC’s True Delta, btw all these are based on surveys NOT opinions of auto journalists, I belong to the True Delta survey and used to belong to CR’s when I was a subscriber. Every month they send out an online survey to ask if any repairs or issues have come up with my 2 listed cars.

  10. Marsh Says:

    “Jesse is pretty ticked off about that guy in California who is suing Hyundai because he says the advertised 40 miles per gallon on the Elantra is misleading”

    Excuse me guys but I believe the guy is suing Hyundai over their TV ADS. Unless you have a super large tv, say a 60″ HD unit it is impossible to read the tiny disclaimers at the bottom of the screen. The guy has a valid point.

  11. Josu Says:

    Thanks John for considering my comment is worth for your “you said it” section thanks, by the way I forget to said my comment is from Spain.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks for saying, maybe more clearly, what I said in a post yesterday. It’s the TV ads that bring this about. You not only need that big HD TV, but you need to be a speed reader.

    In the end, you should certainly know what’s going on with the ratings if you look at the window sticker before buying a car. More and more people are buying car via the internet, though, without even visiting a dealer or looking at stickers. Yeah, they might be expected to be uninformed on some things.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Speaking of Pedro’s “not an abandoned car” sticker, a few year ago a friend up north had a sticker proclaiming”Only 3 More Payments” on a rusted out Dodge Dart. I thought it was pretty funny.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sue. sue everyone, I’m gonna Toyota for not getting 30mmpg any longer on my Corolla, the manual does not say that mileage decreases with age, so there! BTW I am having a bumper sticker made that says: “I survived C4C”

  15. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Valid point?………………No, I don’t think so. Is the guy suing because he had to actually go to the dealer and read the EPA sticker; quite a few car ads mention the highway figure (without reserve). Frivolous (to the max).

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    yeah, the law suits are ridiculous, but so are the tiny, mile-a-minute caveats that cross the TV screen during the ads.

    Unfortunately, there are people who have hobbies of filing this kind of law suits, costing society billions, and there is nothing to keep them from doing it.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    You need to TIVO the ads so you can replay them, pause and then read the fine print with a magnifying glass, provided you have a good HD TV BTW TTAC has a report on the over use of the term “GT” to describe some cars and low and behold there was a Yugo GT also.

  18. HtG Says:

    maybe it’s just a publicity stunt shakedown. This guy is getting lots of publicity, and I wonder if there’s an ulterior motive. Is he suing in small claims like the other creep? Probably lots of people are surprised they don’t get the manufacturers numbers.

  19. HtG Says:

    BTW, the technical term for little weency print is mouse print.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “low and behold there was a Yugo GT also.”

    …and a Vega GT. Don’t know about a Pinto GT, but there may have been one.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit I don’t think there was an “official” Pinto GT, there were owner-added stuff which included some faux GT badges but not really a factory model. Now a Yugo GT is as ridiculous as a Smart GT, I suppose.

  22. Robert Jones Says:

    I’m sure you can’t air this comment, as it isn’t flattering to one of your sponsors, but it really insults the intelligence of your readers.
    Bridgestone’s add for corporate good-citizenship is ludicrous…”using natural rubber, researching ways to improve its quality and performance…” REALLY? Every tire manufacturer in the world does that, no kudos warranted there. And they’re “making their factories more environmentally friendly, producing products that save on fuel and emissions, and some that can be reused again.” Every manufacturer across the entire transportation industry is doing that every day! Reusing spent products, what an original approach by Bridgestone! “One Team, One Planet” oh brother! Not one word in that ad suggests that Bridgestone is doing even one thing superior to other companies, so why run it at all? The ad shows a small girl viewing a pop-up book. That’s about the only audience that might be impressed by that ad’s claims. Surely 5 year old girls are not your target audience, are they?
    Why don’t you ask Bridgestone to provide you with an ad that YOUR audience demographic would appreciate?
    Thanks, love your show. Miss it much every weekend and holiday.

  23. Alex Kovnat Says:

    Re biofuel breakthrough: I am not enamored with hydrogen. If you’re going to use any light gas as fuel for your vehicle, natural gas makes more sense. The hydrogen produced by that process developed at Michigan State U., could be used for various purposes. But not motor vehicles, unless perhaps fuel cells.

  24. cwolf Says:

    The Big 3 won’t budge an inch to the CAW for future contracts untill they accept a package like the UAW’s. What the CAW hasn’t accepted is the fact that,even though their health care is gov. funded,US wages are lower and retiree health car is funded by the union. The CAW has no choice but to cave in!

    Now this bit of union news breaks my heart. The union representing Hyundai/Kia accepted a strike vote. It will not effect US operations,but still, 46% of the product is made in Korea and I could’nt be happier for Hyundai!

  25. cwolf Says:

    Mi Amigos, did you read on several other sights about the Vauxhall Adam and see the pix? It looks like a spitt’in image of the Abarth and a Mini combined. I must say,even the Chinese couldn’t have copied any better!

  26. cwolf Says:

    T Bejma
    Where have you been and will you be looking in more regularly? The ATS remains on my short list,but due to the price,I will be limited to the std engine or maybe the 2.0 turbo. I would like to know your opinion of the 2.5 in the ATS,if it performs well enough and it mpg’s vs/ the turbo for hwy travels.

  27. cwolf Says:

    Explain this to me ,fellers. US gas consumption has been in decline for some time, prices for a barrel of oil varies between $82-85 barrel and,due to auto down-sizing and efficiency the demand for oil will tread along the downward spiral for some time to come. So why is there now a shortage of diesel fuel? Regaurdless of any excuse or resaon by the oil companies or by market influences,clearly this shortage is totally profit motivated. This is why we need an alternative fuel source and a means to provide it.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Is the refining capacity too heavily weighted toward gas, thus a diesel “shortage”?

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    The powers that be don’t want diesel passenger cars to be as popular in the US as they are in other areas, why? who the hell knows, but that is a fact that cannot be denied.

  30. cwolf Says:

    Kit, I’m sure that is the case,but Bloomburg Radio did not expand upon their statement. But should this be reason for not being able to prepare for market demand? Me thinks they know darn well their intensions.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’d think they would be able to fairly easily and quickly adjust the mix of gasoline vs diesel/jet fuel coming from refineries, but I don’t know much about oil refineries. In any case, I suspect car companies would want some expectation that diesel prices would be stable, relative to gas prices, before offering many more diesel cars in the U.S. market.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    Any thoughts on the video of the Jeep rolling over during the so-called moose test?

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    Almost rolling over, I should say, what happened to the safeguards put in to prevent this sort of thing from happening, and this could happen in the real world, it happened to me twice on a long trip, one was a tire on the middle of the road, the other one was some kind of animal crossing the road