Episode 1095 – Automakers Invest Heavy in China, Acura’s Quiet Wheel, SRT Viper TA

March 20th, 2013 at 11:58am

Runtime: 7:34

The Chinese auto industry has been growing by leaps and bounds the last several years and as a result automakers are investing heavily in the country. Acura has some cool new technology in the RLX that will make the ride inside the car quieter. SRT pulled the wraps off its track edition of the Viper, called the TA, which stands for time attack. All that and more, plus Autoline Daily correspondent Seamus McElroy takes a look at the 2014 Chevrolet Impala.

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Hello and welcome to a brand new Autoline Daily. It’s Wednesday, March 20th, 2013. I’m Michelle Krebs from Edmunds.com. Let’s get to today’s stories.

As you know the Chinese auto industry has been growing by leaps and bounds the last several years and as a result automakers are investing heavily in the country. A new report from the University of Windsor says that car manufacturing investments was over nine billion dollars in China last year which is close to 60 percent of the total investments globally. And with sales continuing to grow the researchers expect the trend should continue for quite some time.

Well, you know you have a quality issue when the Chinese are complaining about your cars. Bloomberg News reports that Volkswagen is recalling a record number of vehicles from its largest market thanks to faulty gearboxes. China’s Quality Inspector — I guess it’s their version of NHTSA — announced on its website that VW will be fixing nearly 385,000 units at a cost analysts suggest could be as high as $600 million. This recall covers 21 vehicles types produced from 2008 to the present including such models as the Scirocco and Passat.

Sticking with China for a second, Bloomberg also tells us things are a little brighter over at Geely. China’s largest automaker, and of course owner of Volvo Cars, beat the street predictions as net income rose 32 percent on the strength of the doubling of exports. And that seems to be on track with the company’s stated goal of achieving 50 percent overseas sales by 2015. And in related news, Volvo just won approval from the Chinese government to start building cars in the country. This will allow it to avoid being slapped with import fees for selling cars in the country.

Automakers are coming up with new ways to reduce the amount of noise that seeps into the cabin with things like noise-reducing audio systems, noise-reducing glass and more acoustic material. A quiet interior gives the impression that the vehicle is more luxurious. One automaker that is keen on boosting its luxury image is Acura. On a recent trip the Autoline crew drove the all-new RLX that now boasts noise-reducing wheels. Yes the wheels, not the tires. They feature four resonators that are press fitted into a channel that runs the entire circumference of the inside wheel surface. The result is reduced noise resonance of the air column inside the wheel, which can drop noise levels by as much as 7 decibels. An Acura engineer said that a tire can be removed and re-mounted like any other wheel. We just wonder if the inside channel weakens the structure of the wheel and if it is more likely to bend when it hits something, like a pothole.

SRT pulled the wraps off its track edition of the Viper, called the TA, which stands for time attack. Some of the upgrades to the package include bigger Brembo brakes, a carbon fiber aero package and standard two-mode remote reservoir shocks. The TA reaches 60 miles-an-hour in 3.3 seconds, which allowed the folks at Motor Trend to beat the lap time that the Corvette ZR1 set at Laguna Seca. But we don’t think the folks at GM will let that stand. Look for the Viper TA to make its debut at the New York Auto Show.

Coming up next, a look at the 2014 Chevrolet Impala.

(Video and interviews for the 2014 Chevy Impala can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

Before I go I want to remind you to check out Autoline After Hours this Thursday night. With John out of town, the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo will take control of the show. Joining him is John Manoogian, a former designer at General Motors. So join us for the best insider discussion in the business, tomorrow night starting at 6PM Eastern Time at our website, Autoline.tv.

And that’s it for today’s show, once again I’m Michelle Krebs from Edmunds.com, thanks for watching and please join us again tomorrow.

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56 Comments to “Episode 1095 – Automakers Invest Heavy in China, Acura’s Quiet Wheel, SRT Viper TA”

  1. Todd T Says:

    Acura’s noise reducing wheel not a first, Lexus introduced something similar a year ago on the new LS. The Lexus solution seems more durable as well.

  2. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    Oh boy the all China show. When are you guys going to statr handing out little red books?

    Regarding the investment story… NO DUH! Of course automaker’s have invested a ton in the country. There are over a 1 billon people there and they want cars. Why do I even watch this show? If i want news I can just go to blogs and get fresher news thats actually interesting.

  3. Zieke Says:

    Boy, those Impalas are getting pretty pricey. Not much of a “price leader” brand anymore.

  4. HtG Says:

    Could next week hurry up and get here, already?

    G.A., your thoughts?

  5. Bradley Says:

    Maybe this is remnants of something that was lost in translation with the creation of Fiasler.

    As TA means something completely different too me and I bet 95% of those in a random survey would agree with me.

  6. ColoradoKid Says:

    Recall Update

    Cadillac’s turn

    26,000 + SRX’s …. for ….. self shifting

    Hmmn . Self igniting . Self starting . Self braking . Now self shifting ? Nuts if’n you ask me ;-)


    GM in India – Taking a serious drubbing e.g. sales and financially speaking ( TTAC )


    HtG – Alright …. so what’s so bloody wonderful about next week that you’re looking so forward to it mien freund ?


    Admiral Ackbar – +1 …. but give it time ….. the Piper’s Bill is in the Outbox … about to be mailed ( doing business in China ) and brother its gonna be a steep one when all is said and done . Don’t …. be terribly surprised if more than one automaker doing business in China bites the dust when the proverbial ______ hits the fan .


    Chevy Impala – More of the same from GM I’m afraid …. a bit over priced and …….zzzzzzZZZZZZZZ

  7. 12345678 Says:

    Re the “beast” (aka Obama’s limo bunker), why did they have problems if they used Diesel fuel? I thought the 15,000 lbs or so vehicle is Diesel powered!

    Re the “Impala”. The previous model was inoffensive, not ugly, but crude and unrefined. The new one looks very similar on paper (dimensions, and even the engine is a carry-over from the previous model).

    I am not impressed. Even if I was restricted to domestics only, and to a size larger than the great looking Fusion, I’d choose the Cyrysler 300, eyes closed. This is a proper large sedan, complete wtih RWD and a very fuel efficient 8-speed auto tranny.

  8. ColoradoKid Says:

    #5 – As in Trans Am ? Yup … you got that right 8)

    I’m surprised despite closing Pontiac’s doors GM is letting this one slip by their legal beagles

    Oh well . Marchionne’s Madness Marches Ever Onward


    Hey …. come to think of it …. the little emperor hasn’t been in the news now for weeks ! Ahhhh… give him time . He’ll find another way to stick his foot in his mouth before we know it

  9. HtG Says:

    6 You mean you don’t know about next week, CK? :) Next week I, among others, I will be going to the NY autoshow. Whoever wants specific photos of cars, people, or whatnot, can let me know. Plenty of time left, as I said before.

    anybody know what’s up with those VW gearboxes? How do you say ‘VW fade’ in Mandarin? Looks like the fix is almost $500 per car.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    This is the way to buy the Impala:


    $30,760 MSRP with the V6 and everything you need, and then some.

  11. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG – In all honesty its gotten to the point where all the auto shows have lost their appeal : so I barely pay attention anymore as to when they are , what they’ll be showing .. never mind who might be going

    Having said that …. have fun anyway ….. but I’d of passed personally

    BTW you might be interested in the next bit


    Porsche’s Not Playing Nice !


    Seems they may be taking customer service lessons from their new owners of late ….. namely VW-Audi

  12. 12345678 Says:

    #10 No thanks.

    Even if somebody clicked at all the possible options ands gave it to me for free,it would not have “everything I want”. Not by a long shot.

    In such a big sedan, with more than adequate power, it should never be FWD, but AWD.

    Again, I’ll pass and look at the 300, which looks far more handsome too.

    But if you want to buy an Impala, be my guest.

  13. 12345678 Says:

    #12 oops, I meant it should be RWD, not AWD. AWD could be an option I would refuse.

  14. Bradley Says:


    IMO, that would be the #2 answer on Family Fued. The #1 would be a combination for the inspiration that named the Grand Tetons and the second part is used for sitting.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I wouldn’t buy it, or any other sedan. I buy hatches and wagons. All I’m say is that, for those who would consider the Impala, that seems the sensible way to buy it.

    As far as the 300, I like the car. Comparably equipped it is a little pricier than the Impala, but is a much more “interesting” car. It’s too bad they dropped the Magnum wagon.

  16. HtG Says:

    11 WOWZA That Porsche settlement is a big deal. They’ll reimburse people that had Boxters of 911s that had a certain bearing failure. This issue is so sad and destructive to the cars. It’s also why you can get a circa 2000 Porsche for very little money. I wanted one, but then I learned about the problems. I thank my sister for that birthday present book.

    Autoshows. I know there’s less reason to go, but I am still interested in how the industry presents itself.

  17. ColoradoKid Says:


    Gotcha ! The proverbial T&A issue ;-) Thing is you kinda need the & in between the T and the A to make that one be the number 1 answer !

    And ….. errrr …. this is about cars … so …..

  18. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG – The Porsche recall …… yeah but did you read about all the exemptions they have on deck preventing a whole lot of owners from benefitting from this ?

    Thats the ” Not Playing Nice ” part I was referring to .

    As to buying a Boxster ( to buy or not to buy ) …. well ….. hate to be cruel here but …


    Sorry :o Couldn’t resist . Listen to your CK when he speaks of what he knows in future mien herr .

  19. Jonathan Says:

    Awesome review Mr. McElroy On the impala and thank you Ms. Krebs for a great show

  20. C-Tech Says:

    @ HtG – hopefully you’ll post a link to flicker like last time.

    The Impala seems to be aiming for the High Camry or Low Avalon customers, not the Dodge Charger / Chry 300 V6 customers.

    Can I change the answer to yesterday’s ‘ring question from Pedro now that the Viper TA is being introduced (I’m gonna die)?

    The T/A moniker was and may still be owned by the SCCA. They licensed its use to GM / Pontiac.

    How long before that recall spreads here for VW?

  21. C-Tech Says:

    @ #17 since when is T&A not associated with (fast and beautiful) cars?

  22. C-Tech Says:

    Good job Seamus, now get some sun!

  23. HtG Says:

    Porsche got into trouble late 90′s when they brought out their first water cooled motors. Disaster. But this settlement only covers a few years when a single ball bearing row version of the key timing bearing was made. The problems with the timing bearing extend beyond this class action. Wise owners get the aftermarket fix before the engine detonates; think 15-20K for a new lump, and you see why Boxsters in great shape with low miles can be had for 10K.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The transmissions in the Chinese VW’s are probably the same 4-speed manuals used in ’77 Rabbits. Those had some problems too.

    Maybe China now has higher standards than we did 35 years ago.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sorry, but I had to stop laughing after I heard the VW China news and remembered how the UK VW fanboys get pissed off when someone like me makes fun of VW “quality” reputation.

  26. ColoradoKid Says:

    #21 8)

  27. ColoradoKid Says:

    Pedro – Which UK fanboys you dealin with ?

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Do people put Subaru engines in the Boxters with the broken engines? …or hopped up Old Beetle engines?

  29. ColoradoKid Says:


    I can answer that

    Nein !

    Seriously the Porsche faithful would have your head for doing so and anyway both most likely wouldn’t fit

    Placing a VW engine in a 912 … OK

    A Subaru engine in a 356 replicar …. fine and dandy

    Even a seriously hopped up VW engine in a 356 Outlaw would be acceptable

    But either in a Boxster …… would at the very least have you excommunicated …. at worst …. well …. we won’t go there

  30. W L Simpson Says:

    This long retired Olwrench still keeps abreast of the Biz , thanks to John & several others,so I am really surprised at the VW brg thing . The mid engine Cayman was always attractive,balance/wise, but I,m with Kit on hatches.

  31. T. Bejma Says:


    HtG – Would love to see your feelings on the lightly refreshed Camaro and then a couple of new Buicks (that I don’t even know about – Cascada??) so I heard. Also, if there are any exceptional “hood ornaments” on the tables (hint, hint) wouldn’t mind seeing the pics ;-) Have fun!

  32. HtG Says:

    31 noted, TB. I find Cadillac excels ;)

    28 Subaru in Boxsters. Kit, when the IMS bearing goes the whole engine shatters. People either get a crate engine or a rebuilt. I’ve never heard talk about putting Subaru engines in; only Subies in recreations of 356 or 550 as CK says.

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    CK whenever I comment on some UK review or Youtube video on any VW vehicle and how they automatically associate them with quality and sound German engineering, like the industry standard for quality and then I express how crappy they really are and I always get that ours are built in Mexico, so now what’s the excuse? oh. they’re built in China, maybe VW should not continue to spread out so much, their quality will continue to decline.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    29, 32,
    I was mainly kidding about the Subaru and Beetle engines, but when the cars are older, and there are “beaters,” cosmetically, I would expect it to happen, at least with a small number of cars.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    VW are probably more of an “international” car company than any other, and they build cars for each market. They built air cooled Beetles in Mexico for the local, and some South American markets until about 10 years ago. When I was in Shanghai in 1994, most of the taxis were VW Santanas which, I think, were based on the B1 Passat, the one sold in the US as Dasher many years earlier. Maybe it was a version of the B2 Passat.

    Anyway, it appears that things have changed in China to where new 20 year old cars aren’t good enough any more, and VW will need to adjust. China is no longer a “third world” car market.

    As far as VW in the US, I think they have improved, both from my experience, and from CR’s reliability data. Several VW models now do ok in their reliability surveys. The New Beetle, even the New New Beetle is decidedly sub-par in the surveys, though.

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit what irks me is that in the UK VW is the mighty God of automotive engineering and quality and they compare every thing else to it, while Toyota and Honda are reliable and durable as anything but they’re so boring to drive and look at that they’re not worth your time to even consider them

  37. Dave Foley Says:

    I really like the look of the new Impala. It’s not quite as sexy as the new Fusion, but it’s still a very handsome large car.

    The only thing I’d nit pick about on the Impala is the shape of that steering wheel. It looks like its design was inspired by a flattened calzone.

    You guys are having an interesting discussion about drive wheels. I look at it like this. Considering the intended market, and the way these cars usually get driven, I really don’t think it matters which wheels drive the car. Front or rear.

    As for AWD, on a car like this I think it would just something to brag about. I don’t think it really provide tangible benefit year round. The only thing it does do year round is add costs to the sticker, to maintenance, and to fuel consumption.

    I’m not saying it never has a benefit. I’m sure it might be nice to have on certain winter days, and I’m late or impatient, but if the roads are that bad that it is a significant benefit, I should have left sooner. Even here in Canada, for most of the year, the vast majority of the roads are just fine.

    At the end of the day, a tow truck drive I know gave me a great line about the difference between AWD/4WD and 2WD. He used to say “To me, the only difference between 4WD and 2WD is about 50 foot of cable.” (when he pulls them out of the ditch)

    Nuff said. ;)

  38. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG & Kit

    Another option some do when the engine in their Boxster goes BANG !!!! assuming they’ve got the $$$ is to replace the Boxster’s motor with one out of the more recent 911′s . Its a bit tricky …. but brother when its done right …… look out !

    After driving one its enough to make one wonder why Porsche doesn’t offer the Boxster/Cayman twins with the most current 911 motor stuffed in as say a Cayman GT3 or what ever .

    Then you remember Porsche is nervous enough about the Boxster/Cayman’s taking sales away from the 911′s and it all makes sense …. sort of … well ….

    Ah ! But heres a Porsche insider scoopification .

    In the works ….. very hush hush …. is a mid engined competitor for the Ferrari 458 and McLaren MP4-12C …. for road & track ….loosely based on the Cayman ….. but shhhhhhhh ….. I could get in trouble for letting that out


    Hang on …. someones knocking at the door …. uh oh … drove up in a ……………………………………….

  39. ColoradoKid Says:

    Dave Foley

    Living in Colorado ….. driving in the Mts regularly where it can and does snow even in July …. I beg to disagree on your assessment of AWD and its overall value .

    ( in Denver it can snow from 8/25 to 5/25 )

    Sure I CAN get around in the snow and ice with RWD … I’ve done it …. in some cars that would shock you …… but why should I when I can do so comfortably and smoothly in an AWD rather than riddled with unneeded stress with a FWD or a RWD ?

    As to your Tow Truck driver friends comment . Certainly if the person behind the wheel of an AWD is driving like an idiot thinking he/she can go so much faster …. he’s correct .

    But ….. if the driver is like myself …. driving at the same speed as say a RWD or a FWD … only a heck of a lot safer and more secure w/much more control in case of an emergency ….. well suffice it to say your friend never gets any business from the likes of me ;-)

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “At the end of the day, a tow truck drive I know gave me a great line about the difference between AWD/4WD and 2WD. He used to say “To me, the only difference between 4WD and 2WD is about 50 foot of cable.” (when he pulls them out of the ditch).”

    ….and the AWD’s crash harder when they rear end someone else. They accelerate better on the slick stuff, but they don’t stop any better.

  41. Alex Kovnat Says:


    Unfortunately China is waging cyber-war on us, with their constant hacking into government computer systems. China can do a great deal of good for humanity, or they can do a great deal of harm. Frankly I am concerned that China is getting to be like Kaiser Wilhelm’s Germany of the 1914 timeframe. Or, like Japan in the 20′s and 30′s, when they were well along on their trip to tragedy for themselves and the world.

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    China won’t have to attack us in the future, they’ll own everything, it’s like attacking your own property, Mandarin anyone?

  43. cwolf Says:

    If I hadn’t become accustom to FWD I’d probably choose the Impala over the Malibu. I’ve always enjoyed the vacation rentals,mpg’s,but pity anyone sitting in the back seat. Might as well sit on the floor!

  44. cwolf Says:

    Is the Cascada TB mensioned the lil’ute built off the Sonic platform, made in Korea and has 13% Chinese parts? If so, no thanks. I’d rather wait for the return of the Yugo!

  45. HtG Says:


    How’s your BP, CK? Here’s a doc on one Bernard Ecclestone. Maybe Kit and Chuck should watch it first, and say if it’s safe for us.


  46. cwolf Says:

    Kings visit to the Euro auto show is beginning to make sense to me. Is the UAW going to get a freebe, or if Ala.Nissan accepts, twofers?


  47. Dave Foley Says:

    #39 @Colorado Kid. I agree with you. Specific regions have needs because of certain periodic weather conditions and where you are at, you would undoubtedly benefit., For the rest of us living below 4 or 5000′ elevation, I seriously believe AWD/4WD in over rated.

    AWD is also good for the people that are bent on having a vehicle with EVERY option available. In full disclosure, I am pretty close to being one (I just HATE blanking plates on the dash! LOL!) But I don’t think the benefit of it really is worth it.

    I guess the biggest thing that bugs me is that some journo’s are pushing AWD as if all people actually NEED this option. I just disagree.

    But as John McElroy says: That’s why they make chocolate, and vanilla. :)

    40. @Kit Gerhart I’m pretty sure I’ve seen studies that back that up too! What I can say is that the majority of cars found upside down and in the ditch after one of our blizzards are AWD/4WD. I think for some people that extra traction gives them a sense of invincibility. The “I’m 10′ tall and bulletproof” syndrome. ummm not so much. haha.

  48. Earl Says:

    Re comments on 4 wheel drive. If you live in anyone of those White Christmas states I’d recommend 4 wheel drive over navigation and a sun roof.

  49. RonE Says:

    Re: #45, I watched the Bernie show. Very interesting. Bernie does indeed own the goose.

  50. C-Tech Says:

    @ #45 Unfortunately, the nav and sunroof comes with the AWD as a package now. At least the sunroof makes it eaiser to get the driver out after the accident :)

  51. T. Bejma Says:


    No, it’s a sexy little convert…


  52. bobek Says:

    I love the looks of the new Impala, I think it will sell a lot…FWD works great in Michigan where I live ! I currently drive a 2010 Malibu 2LT with 75K trouble free miles, another great vehicle from GM….the price is competitive with Taurus & Charger..

  53. ColoradoKid Says:

    Morning Break ( before the bad news hits )

    Mein favorite Benz


    On the bad side …. I’ll post the details later but suffice it to say Ford ( Bill specifically ) may be going off the deep end !


    Alex K – 41 – At the tune of on average 100,000 attempts per week coming just from two Chinese military bases … that we know of … cause they’re our bestest buddies don’t ya know ;-)

  54. ColoradoKid Says:


    BP’s fine and dandy thanks ….. honestly though I doubt there’s anything anyone could say about Uncle Bernie ( sarcasm intended ) that would either shock or surprise me

    I have been following F1 since 1964 … Uncle Bernie’s been part of the scene for what now feels like forever … and in all honesty … the mans always had a bit of that ‘ Grifter ‘ element about him ;-)

    Takk for the video link though .

  55. Philip Says:


    Wish there was an illustration of this. I can’t picture what this looks like.

  56. John McElroy Says:


    If you can watch it, there is an illustration of the Acura wheel in the video version of the show.