AD #1134 – GM to Sell Rebadged Nissan, NSX Gets Production Home, ACLU Suing LA Police

May 15th, 2013 at 12:02pm

Runtime: 7:22

General Motors takes aim at Ford with a rebadged version of Nissan’s NV200. Acura announces it will build its supercar at a new Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio. The American Civil Liberties Union files a lawsuit against LA’s two major police departments over data collecting scanners. All that and more, plus the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, shares his thoughts on Jaguar’s new marketing plan.

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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. I’m Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, filling in for John again. In the second half of the show I will share my thoughts on how Jaguar’s got its marketing all wrong. But now. The news!

Americans are driving fewer miles nowadays and while the recession is part of the blame, a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group says the average miles driven has been declining for 8 years. Miles driven per capita peaked in 2004 and the average American currently drives the same number miles as they did in the mid 1990’s. The decline is likely to continue because Baby Boomers are retiring and Millenials are driving the fewest miles of any age group – and they love their electronic devices more, which is giving the auto companies nightmares. The report concludes that the government needs to focus on repairing existing roads and bridges instead of expanding and building new roads.

Earlier in the year, Cadillac announced it will offer a new twin-turbo V6 for the CTS. And now the company says the same 3.6 liter engine will be offered in the 2014 XTS as well. Good news. It cranks out 410 horsepower to go along with 369 pound feet of torque when mated to the XTS’s six-speed automatic transmission.

And in a somewhat surprising partnership, Nissan will build a rebadged version of its NV200 for General Motors called the Chevy City Express. The small cargo van will be sold in the U.S. and Canada starting in the fall of 2014. This is clearly GM’s response to the Ford Transit Connect, and they needed to do something quick so they went with Nissan. Pricing for the Chevy City Express will be announced at a later date but the NV200 has a starting price just over $20,000.

We just got one step closer to a production version of the Acura NSX. The company announced it will build the supercar at a new Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio. The $70 million facility will employ approximately 100 workers. The NSX’s hybrid powertrain will be built not too far away at Honda’s engine plant in the state. Expect to see the new NSX sometime in 2015.

Two years ago South Korea lowered tariffs on European car imports and now German luxury makers are reaping the benefit. According to Bloomberg, in the first quarter of this year, BMW, Audi and Mercedes’ sales were up 25 percent while Hyundai’s luxury sales fell almost 5 percent. Koreans see Hyundai’s luxury cars as overpriced gas-guzzlers so they’re turning to Germans cars because of better quality and cheaper prices. And this is a huge problem for Hyundai because it relies heavily on profits from luxury sales in its home market.

In a story we will have to keep our eye on, the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit against LA’s two major police departments over information collected by electronic license plate scanners. The departments have used the scanners for years, which continuously scan license plates and check them against criminal databases. But the ACLU has no problem with that, they claim that the information collected and stored by the scanners could invade people’s privacy. The data can be stored for upwards of five years and is not available for public records because it is deemed investigative material. The union thinks the departments should quickly erase information on cars and drivers not connected to any crime. According to a report, 71 percent of police departments in the U.S. use the scanners.

Coming up next… Jaguar marketers travel to the Planet Tedious.

We all know Jaguar, right? Classic British car company. Fantastic historical relevance with its beautiful D-Type racers and the vaunted XK 120 sports car. Responsible for one of the greatest cars of all time – the timeless and fabulous E-Type – but doomed to producing wildly inconsistent production cars ever since. Bought and sold by Ford, now owned by the Indian industrial conglomerate Tata, they’re now ready to capture the imagination of the consumer public once again with its expressive F-TYPE sports car.

But that’s not what will happen, because the strategic thinking behind the marketing is so wrong on so many levels I hardly know where to begin.

Jaguar’s marketing brain trust have anointed the new F-TYPE as, are you ready for this? “The baddest boy on the block.”

Really, they’re going to spend $20 million to say that?

It gets worse.

In their minds they’re going to go up against the new Corvette and the new Porsche 911.

Even in its brief heyday when the E-Type was the talk of the automotive world, Jaguar was never even remotely the “baddest boy” on the block. It was sleek, sophisticated, beautiful and sexy, yes, but there was never a hint of “badass” associated with it. And for good reason too.

And nothing has changed. Despite its many missteps Jaguar has managed to retain a shred of integrity all of these years, but clearly there was no one involved in this project with a modicum of sense, or history, or context, or hell, I don’t know, even a hint of a clue.

It gets even worse.

Jaguar has also announced a deal to have the Playboy Playmate of the Year pose in front of an F-TYPE for a cover wrap on the June issue. Repeat that to yourselves, please, s-l-o-w-l-y. No, I’m not kidding. I would imagine the Hooter’s sweepstakes giveaway is right around the corner, wouldn’t you? I mean if you’re going to go down in flames you might as well blow the whole thing to smithereens while you’re at it, right?

For the record, the ad campaign for the new F-TYPE is supposed to seduce alpha male types “who love fast cars and sports” and make at least $150,000 a year. Wow, that certainly narrows it a bit.

If you’re getting the picture that Jaguar marketers have traveled to the Planet Tedious, you would be correct.

I won’t bore you with a description of the advertising, but needless to say the stewards of Jaguar have decided that they will use the launch of the F-TYPE to reinvent the brand so as to appeal to a whole new hipper audience.

In the process of doing so they will likely turn the brand into a recurring joke.

In other words, it’s a double-shot of Not Good with room for pathetic.

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.

Before I go I want to remind you to watch Autoline After Hours this Thursday. My guest will be Jordan Lee, who’s in charge of GM’s small block engines. Also joining me for that show is Gary Vasilash of Automotive Design and Production and Scott Burgess from Motor Trend. So tune-in for the best insider discussion in the industry tomorrow at 6PM Eastern at

But that’s it for today’s show, once again I’m Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, thanks for watching.

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43 Comments to “AD #1134 – GM to Sell Rebadged Nissan, NSX Gets Production Home, ACLU Suing LA Police”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Should have hired a skinny, ugly broad instead so you want to see the car and can see the car (minimal blockage)

  2. Bradley Says:

    GM chasing after their competition in each segment, sounds like status quo to me. Once again another sign, GM will eventually deflate again.

    Badge Engineering = Bad. Especially for the company that has done it so poorly in the past.

    Jaguar-Yes, that is horrible. However, they have been irrelevant for quite sometime.

  3. HtG Says:

    My new honking technique is to wait approximately 0.25 seconds after the light turns green, if the millenial ahead of me is first in line but not yet through reading their precious text. Nearly everyone has their heads down at lights. The recent top DB prize went to the gal in her RangeRover who didn’t even look up until she was going about 15mph. You tell me Peter, why should I still give a damn?

  4. G.A.Branigan Says:

    “planet tities”? Sounds like the breast place to vacation.Meanwhile back on planet earth,here’s a link that I just posted on yesterdays board just a bit ago,so I’ll post it again so all can see.

  5. HtG Says:

    XF it

    The one I saw at the NY show has got me on the ledge, as it looks like a cross between Charlotte Rampling and Alex Karras. The government numties have so forced the designers into making thick waisted, high foreheaded bars of soap that it’s just not possible to do catlike.

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    G.A. yesterday I went to a local shop where they bring back to life Trans Am and a couple of Gran Nationals were also there. It was like going back in time to the 70′s seeing these immaculate rebuilt muscle cars, of course the big attention getter was the Smokey special with that huge 6.2 monster under the hood.

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I have a friend of mine in Oklahoma that drag races his Gran National,and he’s very successful at it too.Beautiful car.

    The ‘smokey special’,yeah they were popular back in the day.Not sure about now though.I’m trying to remember what they bring at Meecums or Barrett-Jackson.

  8. M360 Says:

    GM selling a rebadged Nissan as a Chevrolet shows GM knows very little about building a brand. What they are really saying is “We don’t know how to build a van like that, so our customers might as well go to Nissan and buy theirs. We at Chevrolet are too slow and stupid to build something like that quickly and affordably, so we will just sell the Nissan and call it a Chevrolet.” Well, then, maybe their customers might as well look at the Nissan Titan instead of the Silverado and maybe the Altima instead of the Malibu while they are at it. Why be loyal to Chevrolet when they don’t even expect you to be loyal themselves? Selling a Nissan van as a Chevrolet is like copying your neighbor’s homework because you didn’t have time to do it yourself last night.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Folks with deep pockets are willing to pay top dollar for these cars, guess they couldn’t afford them then, or maybe never had the chance to do so.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    Spending too much on R/D on any vehicle that is not gonna sell millions is not a good idea, that is why Ford brought over the Connect from India and Dodge used to sell the MB Sprinter, I see nothing wrong with that.

  11. gary susie Says:

    Nearly all companies at one time or another have sold rebadged cars or trucks. If you don’t have the money right away to spent on developing a new one right away. Also if you are going to say your the baddest boy on the block you better be the baddest or be ridiculed.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    To me, selling the rebadged NV200 makes a certain amount of sense. It’s a small market; Ford isn’t selling that many Transit Connects, but it would be good to have a smaller van to get people in the dealerships. If GM doesn’t already have something like that, it wouldn’t make sense to develop one. It shoulf be a good deal for both Nissan and Chevy. Total sales of the van will increase, because Chevy has dealers a lot more places than Nissan.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Speaking of rebadged vehicles, this morning, I saw a Mitsubishi Dakota, whatever they called it.

  14. Bradley Says:

    I don’t see too many “residential” sales of the NV200 or GM(NV200). Even if there were, a large percentage of car buyers are much more aware of badge engineering.

    Why wouldn’t you just buy the Nissan? Bow Ties mean nothing..

  15. Duke Says:

    #12 Kit, The Transit Connect is selling at around 35,000 units per year, The ’14 MY is supposed to be in the 30 mpg level.

    They are all over the place here is SE Fla – a big commercial seller and Ford recently announced that there will now be a ‘wagon” consumer model – also for MY ’014- which IMO makes the Soul and others look like a contrived beat-up shoe box. Of course, that is totally subjective, but I suspect that they will sell a lot of them.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    One good reason to buy the Chevy is that, for a lot of people, the Chevy dealer is just around the corner, while the nearest Nissan dealer is 50 miles away

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    At 35K, they are selling more Transit Connects than I realized. It makes a good work van for a lot of businesses, and I’m glad people are buying them as an alternative to big vans, if they don’t need the capability of the big ones.

    As far as the Soul, to me it is a cute, small wagon which sells at a good price. They are selling like hot cakes in my area. I don’t see any connection between the Soul and the TC. A passenger version of the TC will look like a taxi van designed for another part of the world, which is what it is. There’s nothing wrong with that, though. I enjoy the special “atmosphere” of riding in similar vehicles when on vacation various places. Anyway, if the price is right, the passenger TC should sell well in the U.S., and it’s something I might consider, if I didn’t already have my ’89 Caravan.

  18. W L Simpson Says:

    Always wanted an E coupe—–till I got one.
    Lucas, The “Prince of Darkness” was the main reason for selling.

  19. T. Bejma Says:

    Sure hope the NSX is MUCH better than Acura’s lame attempt at a compact luxury car, the ILX. Shouldn’t they have at least tried to make it better looking than the Civic??

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I thought the E type was one of the best looking cars ever made, at least since the “classic era,” but the one person I knew who owned one had a lot of trouble, yeah, mainly electrical. Luckily, there was a dealer nearby with a good tech or two who could fix it.

  21. HtG Says:

    Long ago, an E-Type was spotted with this bumper sticker, ‘But When It Runs’

    Lucas Electric, the people who brought you darkness.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    Classic example of good vs evil, Acura and Sterling, basically same car, same motor and transmission, British electronics vs Japanese, the Japanese was flawless, British, not so much!

  23. aliisdad Says:

    I am not usually a fan of Peter’s cynical and negative approach; however, I just want to say that he has been “right on” with his recent comments on marketing issues with some auto manufacturers..His recent comments about Corvette, Mercedes, and some other’s “wasting” their brand image and good customer perception just to be “cool” are very insightful; and today’s comments about Jaguar are exactly how I see it, as well…It is too bad when some old companies that have built up a great image over time throw it away so easily with a few poorly concieved marketing campaigns..Can’t quite imagine saying to your wife, “Hey honey, lets get the cool car the Playmate drives”!!! (Hope you have a station wagon or van as a second car since that will probably be you home for a while if you say that to her when looking for a new car!!!).. Good insight on the marketing, Peter…

  24. aliisdad Says:

    Current Ford Transit Connect is built in Turkey… I took one for a test drive, and really liked it.. Hopefully, the new one will still have the same “personality” but just be improved where the old one needed it..
    Of course, they are great for small businesses and the trades; however, I think the Transit Connnect would be a fun vehicle for people who like things like camping, biking, etc.. I thought it would be a good “second car” since it would haul things home from Home Deport like a small pickup and could haul four people when needed..Anyway, seemed like a pretty cool, but just a little small, vehicle to me…

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    This reminds me of Chevy Chase in Nat Lampoon’s Vacation movie, trying to impress the hot chick driving a Ferrari with his Ford family “Truckster” LOL that of course would be some kind of SUV or mini van in today’s world

  26. cwolf Says:

    I don’t care for Asian stuff, but the NSX looks pretty good to me, TB, and I really don’t find the Civic any less atractive than much of the Detroit 3 models.
    By the way, TB. Awhile back you made comment of GM’s efforts to work closer with suppliers for the sake of continuous improvement. I feel you are doing your part, but according to reports, relationships with suppliers from Asian brands have plummeted to US levels. Though US automaker marks have improved somewhat, GM remains at the bottom of the ratings. Chry only marginally worse. I find it sad for GM to resort to it’s old habits of badgering suppliers to control their costs by demanding lower prices, yet expect better product. I still believe your statement that GM doesn’t always accept a suppliers lowest bid, but I can say the trend is more of the exception than the rule. I will even go out on a limb to say it is more likely than not, GM will contact many suppliers after the first year to attempt to lower the prices further. Keep trying my friend!

  27. T. Bejma Says:


    Thanks cwolf. Some of us are trying but you are correct, there are still issues.

  28. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I rode in a 2012 transit connect just yesterday afternoon.Surprisingly big on the inside,lottsa storage,and tons of headroom.Only complaint: the rear seat isn’t as comfortable as a 2 X 12 wooden plank,or a diving board.

  29. cwolf Says:

    T Bejma, before I put this issue to rest, allow me to share what I have learned from others and my obsevations as a result of them from a supplier side perspective. I’m pretty certain of what I post, so my past record has been quite good, so this may be of some help or encouagement in your endevours.
    Get GM back into sharing the cost of retraining programs! As a result of 2008, suppliers forced out skilled ol’ timers, then hired replacements as demand grew. As a result, just enough trainging to focus on control limits were provided to those in production. Tradesmen were sometimes hired by prior employer say-so amount of experience, but is not a card holder. You get the idea? There is no doubt in my mind, it would serve you well to capitalize on this suggestion. By sharing retraining costs, the immediate potential for GM is a reduction in supplier recalls, better quality control and the added benifit of bettering relations. TB, this is the stuff I am hearing from my friends who have moved to other suppliers over the years and my plant fits their mold perfectly. Take it for what it’s worth and I sincerely wish you well.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    After a quick check of some web sites, I can’t imagine that the Transit Connect passenger wagon will sell very well. The base price is $4,000 more than a roomier, quicker, and more refined Grand Caravan. The Transit may be more reliable, or not. It seems hard to find data on that.

    For those who consider the Soul and Transit Connect to compete with each other in any way, the Soul is almost #10K less expensive than the TC wagon.

  31. C-Tech Says:

    @ #13 Kit that rebadged Dakota is called a Mitsu Raider.

    Why all the hubbub over another rebadged vehicle. The Vibe was a rebadged Matrix. The Honda Passport started out as a Isuzu Rodeo. The Eagle Talon = Mitsu Eclipse.

    Smart move for GM to test the waters with the NV200 before investing millions in what may be a small market. Perhap they should have kept buying Honda motors for their small suv’s (Saturn Vue Redline)?

  32. Lex Says:

    I have been seeing several automotive TV commericals which target specific competitor current leasee with attractive additional cash rebates… I find this completely wrong! If Toyota is going to specifically attack rivals like Nissan then what about a non-Nissan leasee who will be turned off when seeking to lease or purchase a new Toyota because they are not entitled to the cash rebate. This is a bad business practice.

  33. Lex Says:

    @#31 C-Tech,

    I agree with you 100%. Unfortunately for Nissan the Chevy version of the NV200 is far more handsome then the Nissan version.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks. I should have remembered Raider. The Eclipse/Talon had another version, Plymouth Laser.

    Chevy will be able to point out that, unlike the Transit Connect competitor, its version of the NV200 is American. OK, the south of the border part of America, but that’s closer than Turkey.

  35. Don B. Says:

    why is GM rebadging other peoples cars when they can bring over a bunch of Vauxhalls here and help the euro plants stay open? Will the Vauxhalls pass safety testing? Is GM that lazy? It’s not like the nv200 has a track record, at least when they rebadged the Toyota corolla to a Malibu there was a good rep for the car. I don’t understand,” I have steak in the frig but I’m to lazy to Cook, let’s go to burger king it’s the same thing .” If GM has no pride in there work why should I buy their cars?

  36. C-Tech Says:

    @ #33 I agree, it does look better.

    Just happened to see the new Impala commercial and the new MKZ commercial run back-to-back. GM 1 Lincoln 0. The Impala commercial makes you want to know more about the car. The MKZ commercial makes me think why is this putz driving this car?

  37. C-Tech Says:

    @ #34 Wheel Woman has owned 3 generations of the Mitsu. A Plymouth laser, and 2 generations of Eclipse. The 4th generation did not inspire her.

  38. C-Tech Says:

    @ #35 Does Vauxhall build a small van like the Transit Connect? I think you meant the Corolla that was rebadged as a Nova, not Malibu.

  39. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    Re, rebadged vehicles: My 1980 Dodge Colt/Mitsubishi Mirage 8-speed manual (4×2) was a great little car for us. 137k miles on it before my son t-boned a 240Z. We called it our “doomsday car”. (That was when everyone was buying silver, gold and German marks, and Howard Ruff wrote about the coming world end.) It was a good little car except for annoying carburetor lean surge at cruise.

  40. Don B. Says:

    To C-Tech,
    Yes they build several different vans.even a panel car that could replace the discontinued HHR.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Even though GM Europe has small vans, it would be much more cost effective to work out a deal with Nissan for a van, rather than federalize one from Europe, given the low volume.

  42. Kate McLeod Says:

    Well, there goes Jag’s class and elegant speed, right down the baddest hole. Jeez Louise.

  43. Spadeodogax Says:

    フィルタでいでは、ぜ 二十歳前後、フィルムうのは。いまの小学生が知らないと若い女性がをフィルムで撮り、 そのうち其、その時にいまう色調は、好きではない見られるん写真に入り込めないんですよ。