November 14th, 2012 at 12:31pm
Ford is flooding the media with information about electrics, plug-ins and hybrids, because it wants to beat GM to the punch about its electric plans. Speaking of General Motors, it has halted talks about a deeper tie-up with PSA. Chesapeake Energy, General Electric and Whirlpool are developing a relatively inexpensive appliance that will allow natural gas cars to be filled up at home. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in “You Said It!”
Thanks for joining us for Autoline Daily. Later in the show we respond to your questions and comments, so stay tuned for that. But, on to the news! Or maybe I should say on to the Blue Oval news because there sure is a lot going on about Ford today.
FIRST LOOK AT FUSION PHEV
The company partially unveiled the plug-in version of its Fusion hybrid yesterday, called the Fusion Energi. I say partially unveiled because the company will not say what its fuel economy rating will be, except to say it will be well over 100 miles per gallon equivalent. This plug-in will travel 21 miles and can run at speeds up to 85 miles an hour. That’s 34 kilometers and 138 kilometers an hour, respectively. I got to drive a handful of Fusions yesterday at Ford’s Dearborn Proving Grounds. A 1.6 liter EcoBoost with an automatic transmission delivered an indicated 23 miles per gallon on a 5 mile loop. The plug-in version delivered a very impressive 69 mpg’s.
TRANSIT CONNECT GETS A MAKE-OVER
And staying with Ford, yesterday it also unveiled the redesign of the Transit Connect. It now comes in two wheelbase versions for 5 and 7-passenger configurations. The base engine is a 2.5 liter four, with an optional 1.6 liter EcoBoost, and both are mated to a 6-speed automatic. Ford claims it can carry 1,200 pounds of cargo and tow up to 2,000 pounds when properly equipped.
C-MAX MEDIA LAUNCH THIS WEEK
It’s interesting that this week Ford is also holding the media launch for the C-Max hybrid and the plug-in version of that vehicle. Last week Ford held a big media event to brag about the flexibilty of its Michigan Assembly plant which makes the C-Max and Focus, including the electric, hybrid and plug-in versions.
FORD PR OUTMANEUVERS GM
So what’s going on here? Here’s my Autoline Insight. Ford is flooding the media with so much information about electrics, plug-ins and hybrids, because today General Motors is holding a big media event in California to tell its story about where it’s going with electrification. Ford wanted to beat GM to the punch with three major stories all designed to dominate the headlines before the GM event even gets started. Just goes to show folks the competition in the industry goes well beyond just putting new models in the showroom.
GM NOT GOING ANY FURTHER WITH PSA
Earlier in the year General Motors announced a partnership with PSA, the parent company of Peugeot and Citroen, that left many analysts scratching their heads. Now Reuters reports the two companies have halted talks about a deeper tie-up. GM is concerned about the French government bailing out PSA, and is afraid it won’t allow plant closings and layoffs that would be necessary for a deeper tie-up. Reuters is also reporting that PSA is talking with Tata about a potential partnership if its deal with GM falls through.
IT’S A GAS!
Chesapeake Energy, General Electric and Whirlpool are collaborating on developing a $500 appliance that will allow natural gas cars to be filled up at home. The device would fit in a garage and be hooked up to a natural gas line for vehicles to fuel up. The Wall Street Journal reports that it is not known when the appliance will be made available. As we reported yesterday, natural gas is expected to be the primary energy source in the U.S. by 2030.
Now it’s time for a new segment that we’re calling “Barn Finds,” all about some of the hidden automotive gems that you, our audience, send our way. As we all know, some names from Japan can, well, just seem wacky to us Westerners. And, as viewer Sanford Paul found out on a recent trip to the country, car names are no exception. Based on the badges he snapped, there are a few recurrent themes to Japanese vehicles. “MOVE” and “RUSH” sound like not-so-subtle suggestions to other drivers in gridlocked traffic. Other marques like “Freed” and “WingRoad” aspire to some higher plane of existence. Then again, you could let your mind wander toward activities you’d rather be doing: “Daihatsu Naked” anyone? Thanks to Sanford for sending us these pictures. By the way, you can see several other quirky nameplates he shot by visiting our Facebook page at Facebook.com/AutolineNetwork.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
YOU SAID IT!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback!
cwolf says: “Several car mags have reviewed the hyb. Fusion. I remain stupefied that the 47/47 mpg claim was conducted at 61 mph! In my world hwy speeds are 55, 65 or 70. So why do regulators allow this or at least set a realistic standard nationwide?”
cwolf is referring to the EPA fuel economy testing. It’s a long story as to how the test procedure evolved over the years, but suffice it to say that the EPA adds what I call fudge factors that end up in a fairly accurate combined fuel economy number. As long as you don’t have a lot of steep hills in your daily commute, or live at high altitudes, or drive with a lead foot, you should come very close to that combined number.
Kit Gerhart says: “What the automotive world needs, is non-hybrid cars shaped like the Prius. A Prius body with a VW TDI and a little taller gearing than the Jetta and Golf, would get really exceptional highway mpg, without the hybrid powertrain.”
Yes it would. And if it adopted the Prius’s low-rolling resistance tires, its lightweight materials, and its lower performance it would do even better. Kit makes a good point, it’s not just the hybrid technology that makes the Prius such a fuel economy champion.
gmveteran wants to know: “Given the circumstances that have made pickups such a fixture here in America, (wide open spaces and lots of construction), it is strange that full size pickup trucks are not big sellers in China.”
GM, the Chinese look at pickups, like we did 40 years ago, as commercial vehicles. They’re not aspirational to them. That’s why the Detroit Three should test market the King Ranch F-series, the Longhorn Ram, or the LTZ Silverado. A lot of Chinese consumers are into bling, and those trucks would paralyze traffic in any Chinese city.
pedro fernandez notes thats: “Honda released photos of the “improved” 2013 Civic to the media with no interior shots at all, which is ironic cause the biggest complaint of the 2012 was indeed its interior quality. Reminds me of a bad movie that does not get previewed by the critics.”
Pedro, I think the backstory is that all automakers want to milk any debut as much as they can. They’re releasing exterior photos now, a little bit later they’ll do the interior, after that all the engineering changes and at some point after that they’ll release the prices and fuel economy ratings. It’s public relations 101. And we will play right into their hands by reporting that information as they spoon it out to us.
Hey, thanks for all your comments and letters, it’s fun figuring out how to answer them all.
Before we go, another plug for AAH, where the chief engineer for the Fusion, John Jraiche will be joining the Autoextremist and myself tomorrow night starting at 6 pm eastern time at Autoline.tv
That wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.