Episode 963 – Global Car Sales Up, GM Cancels Large Hybrids, Race Car Made with 3D Printing

September 4th, 2012 at 11:40am

Runtime: 7:09

Automakers sold more than 6.5 million vehicles worldwide in July, an increase of more than 7 percent compared to last year. General Motors is shutting down its hybrid program for full-size pickups and SUVs. Engineering students in Belgium working with an automotive supplier called Materialise have made a body for a formula racing car using a stereo lithography machine. All that and more, plus a look at the new 2013 Nissan Sentra.

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Hello and welcome back to Autoline Daily. It’s now September 4th, and here’s the news.

GLOBAL CAR SALES UP (subscription required)
Forget all this talk about car sales being in trouble around the world. According to WardsAuto, automakers sold over 6.5 million vehicles worldwide in July, an increase of over 7 percent compared to last year. And all regions except for Europe recorded gains. Through the first seven months of the year, global sales hit 48 million units, an increase of 6 percent. But much of the gain is due to Japanese automakers recovering from last year’s earthquake and tsunami which crippled production.

It was probably inevitable. GMInsideNews is reporting that General Motors is shutting down its hybrid program for full-size pickups and SUVs, what it called its two-mode hybrid. In the Silverado, it delivered about four more miles per gallon than a base V-6 with a four-speed automatic. But the base price of a Silverado hybrid was almost $40,000, or about $17,000 more than a base non-hybrid version. For the first seven months of this year GM sold only 1,378 two-mode hybrids in the Silverado, Sierra, Escalade, Yukon and Tahoe. No matter how you want to look at it, it’s been a sales disaster.

Hyundai’s South Korean workers are back on the job. They narrowly approved a new contract, which brings the company’s costliest strike in history to a close. Production lost was $1.5 billion dollars. Two big sticking points for the union were wages and work hours. Hyundai agreed to increase average compensation by some $24,000 over the life of the contract and to end overnight shifts. Here’s a fun factoid: Since the union was founded back in 1987, workers have gone on strike 21 of the last 22 years.

Jaguar Land Rover is considering a new manufacturing plant in Saudi Arabia. Reuters reports the company is looking at placing the plant next to a new aluminum smelter, to seemingly take advantage of using aluminum parts in its vehicles. Ratan Tata the Chairman of Tata, which owns JLR, says that in the long-term an assembly plant with a large press shop next to a plant that can make aluminum body parts creates an interesting business case.

First they called it stereo lithography, then it was referred to as rapid prototyping, now mostly it’s called 3D printing. But whatever you want to call it, it’s the future of manufacturing. It’s about using lasers to solidify plastics, or to sinter metals, into a product. Now some engineering students in Belgium, working with an automotive supplier called Materialise, have made a body for a student formula-racing car using a stereo lith machine. 3D printing allows you to make any kind of design you want, on the fly. One of the greatest revelations in my career was when I saw rapid-prototyping machines making parts to make other rapid prototyping machines. Not only can these things make products, they can make the factories and machinery needed to go build any product in mass production.

Nissan is on a roll right now. Every time you turn around is seems to be coming out with a new model. After the break we’ll take a look at the new Sentra.

While many of us enjoyed a relaxing holiday weekend, Nissan used its tie-in with college football to kickoff coverage in Dallas, Texas for the all-new seventh-generation Sentra – its second biggest-selling car – and an important player in the competitive compact-car segment.

The new Altima is already in dealerships. A new Pathfinder and Sentra are set to join it this fall. And Nissan has two more new models coming next year.

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

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43 Comments to “Episode 963 – Global Car Sales Up, GM Cancels Large Hybrids, Race Car Made with 3D Printing”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    GM’s decision to put an end to the overbloated full size ‘hybrids’ is a no-brainer.Why they think people will pay big money for what amounts to marginal fuel savings on land yachts never made any sense to me,and apparently the buying public didn’t think so either.A small clean diesel would have been a big seller imho,but diesels are a four letter word in this country.

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If they hadn’t cost so much, those GM truck hybrids would have made sense for a small group of people, those who actually need big pickups and SUV’s, and who drive them in a lot of stop-and-go driving. Four mpg savings is a lot of gas, when you are starting at 12 or 15, but it doesn’t sound very impressive compared to the 50 mpg ratings of some hybrid cars.

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Why doesn’t GM (and the other oems) put an lpg/cng option on the table for the big vehicles?In my part of the state we have no cng available but there sure is lots of places to fill up with propane.Cleaner burning,excellent mpg,and fewer oil changes.Just sayin’….

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    These hybrids made no sense at all, good thing they did not wait 10 yrs and hundreds of meetings and discussions before ending the damn thing, concentrate on your core vehicles and please GA and bring some damn affordable diesel midsize trucks to market, will ya?

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yep, smaller diesels would save a lot of fuel for lightly loaded pickups. Dodge should have easy access to a bolt-in for the Ram. The last I knew, Cummins made a 4 cylinder version of the six they are now using.

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve heard/read that Dodge will have one soon. I think it will be CNG/gas dual fuel.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Unfortunately, they DID wait ten years. The hybrid pickups started in 2004, and there will be 2013′s.

  8. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Cummins has developed a V-6 diesel that MIGHT end up as an option for the Ram 1500 ( 1/2 ton).

    @ Pedro: I know I keep gripping about the lack of diesel options on our trucks/cars etc and I apologize for always bringing it up.BUT,the advantages are readily apparent once you get to drive one.That is especially true for us folks that live in the mountains.Diesels or lpg/cng just makes more sense in the long run.

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    GA, how big is that rumored V-6?

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    GA I feel your pain, brother, I agree that diesels should play a major role, in both economy cars and midsize trucks and Jeep-like vehicles, Kit I had no idea it was actually 10 yrs already! I was giving too much credit to GM, sorry there Bejma, but seems old GM habits are hard to get rid of.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe the current GM management is on the right track after all, or the hybrid trucks might have been around another 10 years.

  12. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Here Kit,


  13. G.A.Branigan Says:

    One more link for ya,

    I will not be buying a pickup,diesel or any other.With the improvements jeep has made in quality etc,I will wait for a diesel wrangler.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks, GA. It sounds interesting. It looks like they plan to replace the current i6 with a V8 made on the same architecture as the V6.

    The V6 is still too big to save much fuel in a lightly loaded vehicle, but maybe Americans think they “need” 270hp.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The alpar article says they are selling a Lancia badged 300 with a VM diesel, and it handiliy beats the E-Class diesel in fuel economy. That would be a cool car.

  16. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I personally think the ‘diesel horsepower wars’ are stupid.A 4cyl diesel with 150 hp and 400+ ft.lbs. of torque speaks volumes to me.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    On the subject of diesels, I just saw a Youtube report on the UK Fiesta diesel which gets incredible MPG’s in the high 50′s and we’ll never see here, too bad, it would give the Fiesta an advantage over its US competitors.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I agree. They would have to do a decent job of quelling vibration, but that shouldn’t be a problem. They are putting 4 cylinder diesels in big Benzes and BMW’s sold in the rest of the world, and people buying those would expect them to be smooth, and quiet.

  19. G.A.Branigan Says:

    The 05 Libert CRD I bought for my wife back then had the VM Motori (sp) 4 cyl diesel.It was smooth at all rpm’s and gave us excellent mpg.The modern diesels are no way like their older counterparts.They are very refined.

  20. C-Tech Says:

    I need to do my homework on 3D printing.

    Given the complexity of the full-size SUV / Truck hybrid, it is a surprise they survived this long. Someone correct me if I am wrong, the system that GM used was shared with Chrysler (prev. generation Aspen/Durango) and BMW’s X5. I think GM was the last Mohican in trying to sell this system. The heart of the system was built into the transmission which made it terribly complex. The added weight of an A/C system which would run even when the engine was off, battery cooling, etc. just piled on the expense. Good luck getting parts and service, most dealers only had 1 maybe 2 techs trained on the system.

    The Sentra is looking pretty competitive, watch out Corolla, you might slip to #3

  21. dcars Says:

    #3 I agree with this, we have cng filling stations and lots of trucks that use it. I hope to see more CNG vehicles running around. GM use to run tests their new gas engines with it.

  22. G.A.Branigan Says:

    We were once slated for a cng pipeline not too far from where I live but I think the tree huggers won out so no pipeline.

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    #20, last sentence, Why? Sentra always has and will continue to be 3rd banana to the Civic/Corolla among the Japanese makes.

  24. aliisdad Says:

    Wow, the new Sentra looks nice…It reminds me of a “baby” Maxima…This weekend, I noticed an Elantra and thought it was a Sonata until I got up next to it.. It looks like this might be a trend, and maybe it will help more people accept moving into a little bit smaller models…
    On GM leaving the “hybrid” business in larger vehicles, it seems too bad that once again they spend needed money on something that did not sell too well…It seems that the demand for large vehicles is soooo good, right now, that customers will buy without too much regard to gas mileage..However, the mileage has been creeping up, anyway, without hybridization (Is that a word??)..

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    #24 well it would certainly save money on design, just make a smaller version of the largest vehicle like Hyundai has done, Sonata came first, Elantra, Accent sedan shrunk versions of the former.

  26. T. Bejma Says:


    GM does already produce CNG trucks…


  27. T. Bejma Says:


    Actually it started in 2005, but regardless, the real world use, I am sure, has paid for itself in the development of the very good eAssist system (37 mpg and V6 performance in the Malibu and LaCrosse) and other Hybrid technology.

  28. cwolf Says:

    Truck and large SUV hyb. don’t make much sense. My father purchased a suburban only because the number of family members to haul. We did tow an aluminum boat and motor on vacations,so it served us well back then. But for the many who use a vehicle like this today, the Flex would be much more practical. A diesel would be a good option, but would a truck/suv geared for hwy driving and light utility,like my dad used his, also be an option? Just a thought!

  29. C-Tech Says:

    @ #27
    I believe this system was initially developed by Bosch, further costs of development split by Chrysler, and BMW, so GM probably did not take too bad a hit.

  30. T. Bejma Says:

    cwolf – The perfect replacement for your Dad’s ‘Burb is the Chevy Traverse. 3 Rows of seats, 24 mpg highway and can tow 5,200 lbs.

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    That’s why you got diesels, I don’t think hybrids make sense in large delivery trucks either!

  32. C-Tech Says:

    Does anyone have any info on the Natural Gas / Propane Diesel? Several (questionable) internet sources have already talked about the “special breakthrough injector” which makes it possible.

  33. cwolf Says:

    As I predicted and still believe, Nissan is determined to be a serious player in the auto industry. I am still reluctant(un-informed) about CVT’s,but Nissan is doing marvelous things with them that keeps them on top of the heap of the race for mpg’s. pedro,you might consider the Sentra as third banana to your Corrolla and the Civic,but they may lead you before you take your eyes off the rear view mirror! Ya’ll know I’m not a foreign guy,but Nissan is hot to trot!!!

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A minivan might be the ideal vehicle for your father.

  35. cwolf Says:

    T. Bejma- Nice suv,but not my cup of tea. The suburban was ideal to haul the 8 of us,the dog and a very large load.

  36. cwolf Says:

    Kit,my dad is now 90 and think he has become adjusted to his scooter chair for the brunt of his travels! Let me just say, I have a soft spot for the Suburban; it’s size,height and sooo many other good feelings from having owned/driven one makes models like substituting the Traverse a joke. I only referenced my dads suburban to suport my thought.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Hybrids make a lot of sense for trucks that really stop frequently, like garbage trucks that stop every 50 feet. Hydraulic/pneumatic technology, rather thn electric seems to be the direction they are going for those applications.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    re: hybrid garbage trucks, see http:


  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I messed up that copy/paste on my phone, but you can make it work if interested.

  40. pedro fernandez Says:

    This county seems to over spend on vehicles while taking wages and benefits from workers, always buying new police cars, replacing those which are still capable and recently a local TV news uncovered a large number of brand new, unused vehicles sitting in a county garage, that had been purchased years earlier and were left there to collect dust.

  41. Todd McGlynn Says:

    Does this mean that Chrysler will not build the Ram 1500 version of the 2 mode hybrid that I think they co developed with GM and BMW.

  42. C-Tech Says:

    @ #41
    Todd I don’t know for sure but I would not hold my breath. The GMC Sierra hybrid was a dismal failure. I thought the construction trades would like it because it really could act as a power source for tools when at a job site. I guess a regular truck and Honda generator was still cheaper and easier to maintain.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I looked up some stuff on the GM truck hybrids, and it sure sounded complicated. No wonder it was/is so expensive.

    Yeah, at construction sites where regular power is not available, a regular portable generator would be cheaper. It would also probably use less gas than the round about way the truck would produce 120vac using its big engine.