Episode 1108 – EcoMotors Gets Partner, Focus is Top Seller, Bird Flu Threatens Auto Show

April 9th, 2013 at 11:49am

Runtime: 8:56

EcoMotors announces a Chinese supplier will make an investment to start building its opoc engine. A new report from Polk says Ford had the best selling car and truck in the world last year. A new strain of bird flu in China threatens to shut down the upcoming Shanghai auto show. All that and more, plus we take an up-close and personal look at the new Chevy Impala.

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Thanks for joining us on Autoline Daily as we report on some of the most important developments taking place in the global automotive industry.

Back in 2010 we had a guest on our Autoline After Hours program named Peter Hofbauer. He was a former engine designer, the father of the VR6 and VW’s first diesel engine. And he brought with him a new engine design called opoc, which stands for opposed piston, opposed cylinder. It has half the number of parts of a typical piston engine, and could be built at nearly half the cost. It also improves fuel efficiency anywhere from 15-40 percent depending on the application. We’ve been following Eco-Motors closely and today they’re announcing that a Chinese automotive supplier named Zhonding, will make a $200 million investment to start building the engine next year, with an annual volume of 150,000 engines. We need to keep a close eye on how this goes because the opoc engine could be a very disruptive technology, and could turn the engine world on its head. Long-time industry observers will recognize two of the top officers at Eco-Motors: Don Runkle, formerly of General Motors and Delphi, and John Coletti who ran all the engineering operations at Ford’s SVT 0perations.

There’s really good news for Ford today. A new report from Polk says it had the best selling car and truck in the world last year. The Ford Focus took the top spot overall with 1.02 million sales, beating out the Toyota Corolla which came in just under 873,000 in sales. The F-Series was the third best seller overall and the best selling pick-up with over 785,000 in sales.

The auto industry is one of the few bright spots in the U.S. economy, and a new report from the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association and IHS shows why that isn’t much of a surprise. Motor vehicle parts suppliers, including OE, aftermarket, heavy duty and remanufacturing, are the largest employers of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. The industry directly employs over 734,000 workers and generates close to $355 billion in Gross Domestic Product, or GDP.

Former Head of Marketing for Volvo cars, General Motors, Allstate Insurance and former Autoline After Hours guest, Mark LaNeve was just named president of the agency that is responsible for Lincoln’s advertising. He will also continue on as COO of Team Detroit, which oversees Ford advertising. LaNeve will have his hands full with Lincoln as it has had a slow start to the year, due to delayed delivery of its all-new 2013 MKZ.

A new strain of bird flu in China threatens to shut down the upcoming Shanghai auto show. Flu outbreaks in the city and its surrounding areas have risen to 24 people, including 7 deaths. That’s causing some car fans and journalists to consider staying away from the show that boasted 7 million attendees in 2011. Many of you may remember the 2003 bird flu outbreak, which forced the Shanghai show to close 3 days early.

Did you see our Autoline After Hours two weeks ago with Todd Pawlik, the chief engineer of the new Chevrolet Impala? If you did, you got a major league download of what that car is all about. If you did not see that show, sit tight, we’ve got the Cliff Notes version of it coming right up.

(Designer walk around with the Chevy Impala can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

I still have not had a chance to test drive that new Impala and I can’t wait to see what it drives like.

When automakers go to boost an engine, What’s the best way to go? With a turbocharger or a supercharger? That’s going to be the topic on Autoline After Hours this Thursday, when our guest will be Grant Terry of the Eaton Corporation, the largest supplier of superchargers. It’ll be a good discussion, so join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, for some of the most leading edge technologies in the automotive industry.

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

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

68 Comments to “Episode 1108 – EcoMotors Gets Partner, Focus is Top Seller, Bird Flu Threatens Auto Show”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    If the new Corolla looks anything like the Furia concept, the Focus #1 status will surely be short lived.

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    What could LaNeve possibly do with the current Lincoln line-up? this is like the Marlins announcers attempting to talk up the horrible team they work for, as they’re getting their buttocks kicked by other teams.

  3. HtG Says:

    the new Lincoln crossover concept is fine looking, Pedro. Let’s give ‘em a chance to show off the car and treat customers well. Also, at the NY show the PS was making sure everyone knew that Lincoln was giving a $50 dollar cash card to people that test drove the MKZ; they’ll get the concierge treatment at the dealership, presumably. It’s really nice inside MKZ as well.

  4. Wine Geek Says:

    John is a difference of over 10% ahead of the Corolla “just eeking out” a win as the best selling vehicle? 10%+ seems like more than eeking to me…

  5. Bradley Says:

    The new Impala looks great. It is too big of a car for my tastes, but I believe it shows GM is getting the message. I drove a rental LTZ last summer from Salt Lake City to Yellowstone and back. The car fit the need, but didn’t leave me with a single memory.

    The Impala sums up to a “me too” effort. The Detroit brands, especially GM, have to bring stuff to the table that force the other car makers into the “me too” category.

  6. Drew Says:

    Pedro, if the new Corolla is anything like the hideus Furia, Focus will continue to out sell it. And others will pass it by – Elantra, Civic, Sentra, and Cruze. I recognition of baseball season, Toyota has not has a base hit in terms of styling in a very long time. I’ll give the new Avalon credit for a base hit, but Toyota hasn’t had a styling homerun for as long as I can recall.

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    For boosted non-diesel street use,I say that supercharging is the way to go.Yes it has parasitic power reduction but for me that minor ‘thing’ is well offset by the lack of under hood heat involved with turbos,no turbo lag,therefore no need for twin turbos either.Then there is the oiling of said turbos that continues to be a problem,which is no problem with superchargers that I’m aware of.Now that you all agree with me (lmao),which style of huffer? Roots or centrifugal? I prefer roots style….just sayin’.

  8. HtG Says:

    Drew, have you seen the Furia in the flesh? You still don’t like it? I thought the photos I saw online really distorted the lines compared to what I saw in NY. Lenses be tricky

  9. HtG Says:

    6 GA, do you know if there’s a difference between the compressors when it comes to high altitude duty?

  10. Drew Says:

    HtG, yes, I saw it in person. They had to paint it a loud color to take your attention away from the poor surfacing and overall uninspired theme. Apparently, Toyota’s shell game has snared a few impressionable souls. Not this one.

    The only thing the Furia does well is separate the design language between the Camry and Corolla, but it does move the next Corolla closer to the Scion tC.

  11. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ HtG: If your referring to cars/trucks at the higher altitudes I would say,as a guess they just might be equal if they start off producing the same amount of boost.But,I would give a slight edge to the SC.If your talking ice aircraft,then check ‘C’,all of the above.It was common during WWII that aircraft were both turbo and supercharged.Btw,the superchargers for said aircraft were two speed,(hi & low).

  12. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I have never really been a fan of turbo charging as I see the heat problems and the lack of oil once the engine is shut down.Very few are fitted with an external oil tank/cooler/feed-return pump.Whereas the modern roots style and centrifugal superchargers have a built in oil bath.PLUS,you don’t have hot exhaust gases to increase the heat problems either.The parasitic drag for any SC is negligible,and throttle response is instantaneous.

  13. M360 Says:

    Sure, the NEW Chevy Impala looks fresh. Almost any new design looks that way. The problem is, GM has a habit of leaving the design untouched for years and it goes stale long before they refresh it again. Just look at the last generation of the Impala. It ran from 2006 to 2013 and it became a fleet car, the “Impala Classic” in 2014. It’s the perfect way to kill your own brand – GM style.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It looks like I will need to test drive an MKZ, if they will pay me $50. A couple years ago, Toyota paid me, as I remember, $25 to test drive anything they had. I drove a then-new Prius C.

  15. Lex Says:

    I walked away from the NY Auto Showing feeling that Acura is about to destroy the MDX image. The New 2014 MDX looks like every other large SUV on the road. The Jeep Cherokee front grill is hideous and what Toyota is going to do to the 2014 Highlander is a big mistake.

    Honda’s Urban Concept looks good but how does it drive in the real world?

    I do not think changing the oil in my vehicles at 3000 miles is a waste of either oil, money or harming the environment when you look at what the Exxon Valdez and Deep Water Horizon oil spills have harmed the environment!!!

    I look at it as preventative maintainance for my vehicles to avoid more costly repairs in the future. The Long Maintenance intervals by GM which caused premature engine failure in some of their vehicles is another example of boostful engineering over common sense. I had a 2001 Oldsmobile Silhouttee Premier which blew it’s head gasket at just over 60,000 miles and five years of service. I always followed the maintenance schedule on my vehicles but GM builds crap! The moral of this story is don’t let other tell you how to spend your hard earned money.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    No wonder Ford sells so many Focii. In most of the world, they offer a zillion power train choices. In the UK, there are 15. See:


  17. HtG Says:

    14 I was indeed talking to you about the test drive thing, Kit. Lincoln wants people in the show room. I remember at last year’s DC show that GM was doing the same thing with Caddillac. I vaguely recall Ford doing it also.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I don’t know how today’s turbos will hold up for 300K miles, but my experience with even older turbos has been good. My ’89 minivan has one, and I’ve never had any trouble with it, but I only have 70K miles on it. When I bought the van, the 2.5 turbo/5-speed manual power train got good mpg compared to the V6 automatic with similar power, and the very rare manual transmission made the van more “interesting.” Still, I would not buy a turbo, unless it offers some advantage. In the case of most of Ford’s “ecoboost” turbos, I don’t see it. In both EPA numbers, and, especially, CR’s testing, non-turbo competition from Honda, Nissan, and others beats the Fusion turbos in mpg, and beats them in acceleration in CR’s tests.

    All car and truck diesels are now turbocharged. You absolutely need turbocharging for diesels to work decently.

  19. C-Tech Says:

    I will have to look more closely at the OPOC engine. There have been so many other revolutionary designs which have not panned out, remember the Orbital 2-stroke?

    For $50 I’ll test drive a tank!

    Good luck to Mr. LaNeve. Don’t underestimate the power of a great ad.

    Its still surprising that the F-series is a top seller year-over-year. Ford is in tune with their truck customer base (I know G.A., they still need a light-duty Diesel).

  20. C-Tech Says:

    @ #18 You are so right Kit, about turbodiesels. I test drove an older Chevy Blazer (1984) with the 6.2L non-turbo diesel and the response compared to a modern Diesel feels super slow.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Where will someone pay me $50 to test drive a tank? That sounds like fun. Heck, I might pay them for such a test drive.

  22. W L Simpson Says:

    There is super , there is turbo & then there is this—http://www.treehugger.com/cars/electric-supercharger-boosts-torque-50-and-reduces-co2-by-20.html

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    There is a place in the Carolinas, I believed, featured in Motorweek where for a fee, you can indeed operate an armored personnel carrier, personally I’d rather take a few laps in a proper sporty sedan on a race track.

  24. HtG Says:

    23 Pedro, for about 2600 bucks you can spend three days in racing school at Sebring. For a limited time only at SkipBarber.

    (I don’t work for SB but they should comp me the three day course, I think)

  25. Earl Says:

    When is Lincoln briinging out that new SUV that was on display at the Detroit show this past Jan?

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I called the Lincoln dealer and asked about the $50 test drive. They didn’t know anything about it. I guess it must be a regional thing, or else the dealers are not very well informed.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I wouldn’t want to pay very much to test drive a tank, but it would be interesting to see what it is like. The Skip Barber thing would be a lot more fun.

  28. HtG Says:

    27 It’s a ton of money for SB, but if you are going to do some racing I’d say it’s a no brainer. They also do a one day racing experience program for about a grand. You bet this stuff is fun. Insane

  29. C-Tech Says:

    Do you have to provide the racing suit, helmet and accessories for Skip Barber? I am planning my lottery winnings

  30. HtG Says:

    29 SB provides all the equipment you need, plus food and drink. First class operation. There are two problems, though.

    1 If you don’t listen to the instructors, you’ll waste your time repeating your own bad driving. Men don’t listen as well as women.

    2 If you learn a lot, then you’ll find that driving on public roads is rendered nearly totally tedious. That excitement you used to have driving was really just incompetence.

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG for that money I can make the needed repairs on my Crapola so it can continue to operate b4 a catastrophic breakdown which I think it’s gonna happen any day.

  32. C-Tech Says:

    @ #31 But Pedro, 3 days of fun vs. boring reliability? C’mon!

  33. HtG Says:

    You’re right Pedro. But for about 700 bucks your son can do the one day school and get the most out of his FRS.

    What’s your plan for the saddest day any Crapola can suffer? I know I’m at a loss over what to do if my Civic gets whacked and totaled.

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    After watching Ben Hur the other day,when the engine finally dies, I got the idea of removing all the drive-train and other excess weight and getting a trio of strong horses to pull me around, after all it is already FWD so how difficult could it be to make the transformation?

  35. ColoradoKid Says:

    Cadillac ATS

    ( read between the lines and the view don’t look so good )


    Combine excessive incentives with sub prime loans and ……

    Well ….. me thinks y’all get the ( full ) picture . Just another round of GM’s Smoke & Mirrors …. sigh …. :(

  36. ColoradoKid Says:

    Pedro – re; The son -To heck with SB and all the rest …. One word . Gokarts … have him take one of the many racing courses on offer … all equipment included .. he’ll learn ten times as much …. for a ____ of a lot less …. if its good enough for every F1 and major international racing star ….. its good enough for Fernandez Jr 8)

  37. ColoradoKid Says:

    pedro – heck for $700 son can do a whole season of GK racing !!

  38. HtG Says:

    very true

  39. XA351GT Says:

    John, were those sales numbers US only or world wide sales? I guessing US/NA .

    Supercharger vs Turbocharger, That debate will rage on forever.I guess it depends on the individual. If you want immediate power then the SC is the choice . If you want no power drain on the engine then TC is the choice.

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    This is the relevant part of the TTAC article:

    ” I’m far from the only person that believes the ATS to be a superior product to the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and there are plenty of knowledgeable respected auto critics who feel that is is just as dynamically competent as the BMW 3-Series. But these two products are crushing the ATS in the sales race, undoubtedly on the strength of their respective brands. The unfortunate relaity is that most consumers don’t care about whether or not their car is The Ultimate Driving Machine; they just want a fancy badge to show off to other people. Until Cadillac’s brand is on par with the Roundel or the Three Pointed Star, this scenario of significant incentive spending and lagging sales will likely continue to play out, no matter how good the product is.”

    In other words, it’s the brand panache, not the product that sells 3 series, and especially C-Class. It takes a lot of time to change that. There is no “smoke and mirrors” involved here, if you are talking about the ATS, as a product.

  41. Jonathan Brown Says:

    That was a great show. I’m thrilled about the china connection with ecomotors. Personally I believe GM ford and chrysler missed the boat by not joining in the research and development of ecomotors….

    The chinese are ready for world domination….as far as engine technology goes……

    I do recommend an opening for autoline after hours in the future whereby you have the designer highlight the design as done in todays autoline daily.

    I watched that autoline after hours and yet enjoyed todays designer description of the style of the new Impala even more….and if on autoline after hours you could have your guest discuss the car with the panel afterward.

    Just my opinion …not because autoline after hours isn’t the best show …but because as a viewer I want it to continue to be the best as always..

    Thanks for the daily show and the after hours show…

    Your loyal listener

    Jonathan out in Old Tappan

  42. HtG Says:

    40 Peter D. has been saying for a long time that it’s going to take a decade of sustained great products to bring up the brand. Look how long it took Audi. He knows a bit about consumers. Also, I recall reading on a GM webchat that they know it’s going to take time to change perceptions. The cars I see at the show are super to my senses; it’s hard to see how people will reject them. I wish I’d had the guts to ask a PS if visitors were still giving GM a hard time about the past or the bailout.

  43. T. Bejma Says:


    Also thought this comment on the TTAC article summed it up nicely Kit…

    “You can make the best car in the world, but if you can’t get asses in leather, then there’s no point. Caddy has to take it on the chin for a while until the desired demographic shows up with thick rimmed glasses, vintage leather jackets, and baby seats en masse. That’s not going to happen at the same price point as trendier brands. After that, it’s all gravy, as independent minded trend setting hipsters do what comes naturally: whatever other hipsters do.”

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yep, go-kart is an excellent idea, it makes you a better driver cause they ain’t no electronic devices to keep you out of trouble and you get to know the cart’s limitations rather quickly w/o major consequences.

  45. HtG Says:

    I dunno. SB does a one day course where you’re taught about directing your eyes to where you want to go, practice at the limit braking, take an evil,oversteering RX8 around a wet skid pad, and then drive Miatas and sane RX8s around an autocross. This happens in small groups with race driver instructors. Go carts are a bit more capable than street cars, so the challenges of directing a lumbering 3000 pound mass are confronted in a safe environment. I’ve found that go-carts are a little too easy, as far as losing control of a car. Not being a fat ass is key to speed. (working on that)

  46. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Go cartz…..superb idea,inexpensive,and tons of fun especially for a father-son thing.

    For diesels,turbo works the best.I had several SC’d Detroit diesels (6-71′s,238hp)and they couldn’t get out of their own way.

    Superchargers for gassers folks,trust me.Today’s engines are lean burning heat machines and turbos are just too damn hot.You’ll never notice the parasitic drag on the engine cause it builds power once you add a bit of right pedal.

    PS: buckle up and hang on cause they are fun to drive.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had one supercharged car, a Pontiac Grand Prix with the blown 3.8. It worked well, in its industrial-sounding way, but was considerably thirstier than the naturally aspirated 3.8. Turbocharged gas engines don’t seem to take as much of an mpg hit. The BMW 2.0 turbo does exceptionally well in this regard.

  48. G.A.Branigan Says:

    More ev woes: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/battery-hopes-fall-flat/#more-484195

  49. guy firor Says:


  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    Now Toyota claims that Corolla is # 1 in world wide sales, not Focus as reported yesterday.

  51. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Pedro: It’s kinda like professional wrestling,there’s world champs all over the place.

  52. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yep, they’re counting all Corolla-based variants from all over the world, if this was so important to them, why have they allowed it to get stale compared to the competition? Because it continues to sell very well and this way they don’t have to throw more $$ into it and thus keep the price down.

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If these global sales numbers were counted the same way for all cars, VW would “win” by a wide margin. Golf and Jetta are counted separately, even though they are basically the same car, but in different body styles. Meanwhile, Focus 3-door, 5-door, wagon, and sedan are all counted as Focii, and all Corolla body styles, and major differences by market location are counted together.

  54. pedro fernandez Says:

    yeah, man they even counted the xB in No America as a Corolla sale, I did not even realize that the xB was a Corolla variant, in that case the 1.8 Corolla engine would have been better suited for it instead of the thirstier 2.5 Camry 4 cyl.

  55. ColoradoKid Says:


    The short answer IMO having attended both Geneva and the KCMO show is …….. overall …. a resounding

    YES !

    At both Geneva and KCMO a pundit friend of mine both commented that … take the banners down …. remove the emblems from the snouts ….. and nine times out of ten you’d have no clue ( with very few exceptions ) which manufactures area you were in

  56. ColoradoKid Says:


    Sorry mein freund … but if you found GK’s too easy …. you weren’t doing em right !

    The reason GK’s are so superior a training ground is because they force you to learn the absolute minor nuances of … Handling …. because there’s nothing else to separate you from your competition .

    Take that knowledge to a car ( of any type or formula ) and you’ll find your driving skills have increased some ten fold

    As a late friend of mine ( BB and POC instructor and one of the few non- professionals I’ve known that could give me a damn good run for my money ) used to say when asked what series one should consider entering he’d say ;

    ” Gokarts hands down … for less than the tire budget of even SCCA IT you can run an entire season .. learn more about driving in an hour in a Kart than you will in an entire year in a car … as well as spend the majority of your time RACING rather than fixing and repairing ”

    Seriously 8)

  57. ColoradoKid Says:

    #55 should of read ‘ attended the 2012 …… ‘

  58. pedro fernandez Says:

    CK I’ve been saying that these CUV are getting more and more like each other, seems like Ford has been closely copying the Asians, in particular.

  59. ColoradoKid Says:

    Pedro – 58

    Any more its a ” Chicken or the Egg ” issue when it comes to who’s copying who

    BTW .. Corolla – If they’re counting Corolla platforms …. not the model specifically then there’s a whole raft of models including the RAV4 that they’re counting .

    Personally though IMO it should be ‘ Model Specific ‘ not platform based when it comes to ‘ Bragging Rights ‘

    Heck … base the number on platforms and my guess is the VW Golf would take the prize hands down what with Golf’s – Jetta’s – Tiguans – Audi A3 , Q3′s -VW Beetles – Audi TT’s – Skoda’s and SEAT’s etc

  60. HtG Says:

    56 I dunno. How are you going to learn about threshold braking, heel and toe downshifting, trail braking in a GK with a rear brake and a centripetal clutch? Are you going to twist the frame of a car like you might when you turn a GK? GKs are super quick reacting to inputs, but cars are slower to rollover and take a set. You need to be able to control the mass. I’d rather do both cars and GKs.

  61. HtG Says:

    Oh, and I may be able to move a GK faster than some. But that 120 pounder is going to beat me. (working on it)

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Even if VW counted only the ones that are really the “same car,” except for body style, Golf and Bora/Jetta, VW would win by a huge margin, without the Audi and Skoda variants, or Tiguan, etc.

  63. C-Tech Says:

    @ #61 You and me both. I can’t catch my son anymore now that he has learned to take a corner better.

  64. C-Tech Says:

    # @62 Is the Bora sold in the U.S.?

  65. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Bora name is, or was used in much of the rest of the world for what is called Jetta in North America.

  66. pedro fernandez Says:

    CR just reviewed the updated Outlander and it tunrs out it is not as good a driver as the previous one, another nail in the coffin for Mitsu.

  67. Robert R Turczi Jr Says:

    Just finnished watching the segment on the Malibu and I say say, I love how GM has decided to pay tribute to Ford by using design cues on the front facia that stongly resemblethe currant Taraus

  68. MJB Says:

    Wait, wait, wait… Did that Chevy guy actually frame his hands over the leading and trailing ends of the trunk deck on that new Impala and utter the words, “FULL SIZE TRUNK”?

    Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME! No, my man. No.

    Go back 20 years and look at THAT Impala. THAT was a “Full Sized Trunk”, my friend. This (and all these new short-lid cargo holds) are back pockets.