Episode 985 – Toyota Matrix Bows Out, Traffic Fatalities Rise, Bikes Overtake Cars

October 4th, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:35

Toyota will no longer sell its Matrix hatchback in the United States. The move will free up capacity to build more Corollas. Traffic deaths in the U.S. have been declining for the past several years but that trend has reversed this year. Things are bad in Europe but in Italy sales of bicycles have actually overtaken cars! All that and more, plus a design walk around of the new 2014 Jaguar F-TYPE.

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Welcome to another episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Wednesday, the 12th of September, 2012. We’re sure glad you decided to join us for this limited-time engagement. I’m Jim Hall with 2953 Analytics. Let’s get started, shall we?

MATRIX SENT OUT TO PASTURE (subscription required)
Toyota will no longer sell the Matrix, hatchback brother to the Corolla, in the U.S. According to WardsAuto, the 2013 model will be the last one because of a big drop off in sales. In 2002 nearly 67,000 were sold. But so far this year just over 3,000 Matrixes have been sold in the United States. Toyota has decided that Matrix capacity at the company’s Cambridge, Ontario is better used by its broader-appeal Corolla sedan.

Speaking of ‘Merica, traffic deaths in the U.S. have been declining for the past several years but that trend has reversed this year. Reuters reports they’ve gone up 9 percent in the first half of the year to just over 16,000. It’s too early to know what’s leading to the increase but it could be because more people are driving now that the economy is improving.

In an effort to get more compressed natural-gas vehicles on the road, a coalition of 22 states say they are willing to purchase CNG-powered vehicles… if automakers build more. According to the Detroit News, Colorado’s Governor, John Hickenlooper says the group wants to purchase up to 10,000 natural-gas vehicles a year. Instead of converting its fleets, the governors would rather purchase CNG cars built at a plant because they say it’s cheaper. Honda is the only automaker that currently sells a natural gas-powered car in the U.S.

Now over to Europe. The economy is pretty bad over there right now, but the scary thing is it shows no sign of improving anytime soon and some analysts say things will get worse before they get better. Of course the crisis has hammered the auto industry, and the situation in Italy is particularly troubling. The boot-shaped country is taking cues from it neighbor across the Adriatic Sea, Greece. The Detroit Free Press reports new-vehicle sales have fallen so far they’re being outpaced by bicycles! That’s right; bikes are outselling cars for the first time since the Second World War! Hammered by recession and with some of the highest fuel prices in Europe it’s no wonder Italians are shunning car.

Never, ever, ever count Toyota out. The Japanese juggernaut is regaining steam after last year’s devastating earthquake/tsunami combo. The company is doing so well it’s catching up to Ford in the U.S. sales race. According to the Detroit News, the Blue Oval topped the Capital “T” by a mere 3,066 units last month. This is Ford’s smallest margin of victory over Toyota since it regained the No. 2 ranking in the U.S. back in April of Twenty-Ten. Still, Ford is leading the race for the year by about 113,000 units. A likely reason it stumbled in September is that inventory is running short on some key models including the Fusion and new Escape.

Downsizing and turbocharging are the latest fads… no, make that TRENDS, to sweep the automotive industry as OEMs race to meet ever-stricter fuel-economy standards. On the frontline of this trend is Honeywell, one of the largest turbo manufactures in the world. Business is booming and the company estimates the number of vehicles equipped with exhaust-driven blowers will increase 80 percent by 2017. That works out to around 36 million units, or 40 percent of the new light-vehicles sold. For some perspective, that figure was only 25 percent last year. And remember, these numbers include both gasoline- and diesel-fueled engines.

Sit tight, whatever that means . . . because after the brief interlude we’ll take a peek at one of the most highly anticipated cars that was revealed at the Paris Motor Show.

One of the most anticipated debuts at this year’s Paris Motor Show was a little two-seater from Jaguar. The distinctively styled F-TYPE is a thoroughly modern take on the traditional British sports car. Doing things properly, the car features rear-wheel drive and a variety of engine choices. At the show John ran across Wayne Burgess, Jaguar’s production studio design director. In the following interview he talks in depth about what it took to develop this exciting new vehicle.

And another sign of that enthusiasm is what’s under the F-TYPE’s hood. Several different engines are offered, including a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 with either 340 or 380 horsepower. There’s also a force-fed 5.0-liter V-8 with up to 500 ponies. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board.

And by jove that’s the end of today’s progrum. Crickie, it sure went by in a hurry! But if you’re hankerin’ for more news from Paris check out tonight’s episode of Autoline After Hours. McElroy and ‘Renzo are out of town BUT we’re rebroadcasting our LIVE coverage of the auto show. It all starts at the usual time, 6:00 p.m. Eastern on Autoline.tv. Give it a look-see. And with that, I’m Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics signing off, à tout à l’heure!

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24 Comments to “Episode 985 – Toyota Matrix Bows Out, Traffic Fatalities Rise, Bikes Overtake Cars”

  1. bwob Says:

    God, what happened to you voice Jim? PLEASE don’t tell me you need the larynx transplant already…

  2. Bradley Says:

    There is only one requirement for a British sports car. James Bond has to drive it.

  3. Chuck @ GM Says:


  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    Too bad Toyota did not pay any attention to the Matrix, in a way it was the father of all these CUV’s now in the market, but they did nothing to push it, most people were not even aware it existed.

  5. Earl Says:

    Ford has done a terrific job selling the EcoBoost engine concept.What I have trouble believing is how Toyota and Honda have been slow to embrace turbocharging and direct injection.

  6. Mike Says:

    No wonder Toyota have discontinued the Matrix in the US: They haven’t made any available to buy, at least not in my area. Have only seen ONE on a dealer lot in the last year! For heaven’s sake, Subaru, Ford, Hyundai, KIA, Volkswagen, and even Fiat make hatchbacks for the US market! Have Toyota just thrown in the towel, or what?

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    Perhaps long term reliability issues, I keep running into people that trade in GM or Ford vehicles for Toyota or Honda products and they all tell me the same thing: after the warranty expires, all hell breaks loose and the repairs put you in the poor house.

  8. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Turbos on small displacement engines including diesels…..hell yeah it’s a great idea,although diesels that are sold here do have turbos as standard for many years now.But their gas counterparts will enjoy them.I think Ford knocked it out of the park with their ecoboost series and will be followed.

    CNG or LPG should be an option on most vehicles sold here in the USA.Why not?

    Italy:Almost 10 bux a gallon.WOW.I don’t blame them for parking their cars and buying new bicycles.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    So Chinese people go from bikes to cars while the West goes the other way, I’m sorry, who did you say won the cold war? History books will have to be rewritten.

  10. Lex Says:

    Good Bye Matrix, however Toyota should consider a two door version of the Corolla in the same way Honda has the two and four door Civic.

    Traffic Fatalities are on the increae because of this damn “Texting”!

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    It has been said before (here and other places); if you are going to report increases and decreases in fatality rates, stay with the ratio of deaths per 1 million miles driven (or some other constant). Time period is useless without consideration of whom is driving where (and how far).

  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    Speed+distractions= more fatalities, no matter how many airbags they jam into cars nowadays.

  13. C-Tech Says:

    It will be interesting to see who takes the first dip in the CNG pool. Honda’s sales for the Civic has been small, perhaps it’s not the right platform. One of the problematic challenges for a CNG car is safely mounting the tank. Trucks offer plenty of room to mount the tank, not so much for a car.

    I seem to remember a similar prediction for turbos in cars in the 1980′s. GM and Chrysler offered a bunch of vehicles with turbos. The real question is will turbo’s now last as long as the rest of the engine, or will that turbo drag down the resell value of your car?

    I will have to put an addition on the fantasy garage for that new Jaguar!

  14. HtG Says:

    I like how Burgess, Jaguar F designer says the car’s shape is good enough that they didn’t have to put on all kinds of folds in the metal or jewelry.

    Hmmm, who’s cars could he have been referring to?

  15. G.A.Branigan Says:

    If I remember it,the problem with the old turbos was with cheap bearings,and the fact that they do need a few minutes of ‘warm down’ after some hard use.I know on today’s diesel pickups,a ‘idle down’ is an option.What that does is after you shut off the key,the engine will stay running until the oil temp and turbo temp comes down to a safe shut down temp.

  16. RonE Says:

    Suicides are more common than traffic deaths.


  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    I guess more intelligent people realize there is no way out of this economic mess and we will most likely end up like most 3rd world countries, the have and the have-nots with little in between.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Increased amounts of driving might increase the number of fatalities, but also increased texting, and increasing numbers of new cars with those awful, distracting operator interfaces.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Toyota, for reasons I don’t understand, was never very interested in selling Matrices. About a year ago, a friend who was very happy with his Corolla, but wanted a hatchback, intended to buy a Matrix, but no dealers had any. He ended up buying an Elantra 5-door.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I have one of those 80′s Chrysler turbos, an ’89 minivan. I haven’t had any trouble, but it has only 70K miles.

    As far as all these new ones, there will really be a lot of them on the road, especially from Ford, and in a few years we’ll know how they hold up. I’m not convinced I’d want a turbo in a car I planned to “drive forever,” because they just don’t buy you much in gasoline engines. With diesels, turbos are on all of them, and a necessity for them to perform decently.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Some of the early turbos didn’t have cooling, other than from engine oil, and they really tended to carbonize oil in the bearings after shutdown. My ’89 van has water cooling to the bearing area, but I usually gave it a minute or so of cool down after an extended stint at 75-80 on the interstate pulling a pop-up, back when I was doing such things with it.

  22. HtG Says:

    Can we add the sun to causes of death? I nearly got collected by a car blowing a red light toward the setting evening sun.

    No points for guessing the make, but the owners make themselves out to be the top of the pile.


  23. XA351GT Says:

    HtG , my guess BMW. As I find most of them feel they own the road and us mere mortals should be so blessed they allow us to use it.
    Also I can say without a doubt that while texting is a plague ,but it pales in comparison to the people that absolutley ignore red lights and stop signs. When did they become suggestions? I have to laugh when I hear all the bitching when they install a new redlight camera and all they do is cry that it’s all about making money. Well guess what geniuses if you don’t run the lights they can’t fine you.Another product of the entitlement age I suppose.

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    Around So Fla, YIELD must mean RAM THROUGH in some foreign language because that is what most drivers do when they approach a circle with yield in all 4 corners at an intersection the county put in to avoid accidents, it’s only added more of them!