AD #1135 – Honda Returning to F1, Small SUVs Fail Overlap Test, Laservision Softstop

May 16th, 2013 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:38

Honda returns to Formula 1 racing after leaving in 2008. Of the 11 small SUVs tested in the IIHS small overlap crash test, only one received a good rating. A company called Laservision invents a unique solution to warn truck drivers of low-hanging overpasses. All that and more, plus how a three-time racing champion is helping Infiniti develop its cars.

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Hello and welcome to a brand new episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Thursday, the 16th of May. I’m Drew Winter from, let’s get to today’s top stories.

Honda left Formula One back in 2008 but now the automaker is returning to the series. The automaker is teaming up with McLaren and the two will start racing in 2015 under the new McLaren Honda team name. The Japanese automaker will develop and build the engines plus an energy recovery system while McLaren will develop the chassis and manage the team.

And in other racing news, Renault just signed on as a technical partner with Formula E, a new racing series for electric vehicles that is sanctioned by the FIA. Renault will work with Spark Racing Technology, the company that will assemble the race cars, and help with the EV system. The series is scheduled to start next year and race in 10 cities.

Cyber security is a hot topic these days in Washington and now it’s got the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Bloomberg reports that the agency has created a new office to make sure cars can’t get hacked. NHTSA and other lawmakers are worried that the increase of electronics and other connected technology in cars will make it easier for someone to remotely access and disrupt the car.

And in other safety news, the 2014 Subaru Forester was the only small SUV to pass the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s new small overlap front crash test. The agency added the test last year in which 25 percent of a car’s front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall barrier at 40 mph. Last year, out of the eleven mid-size luxury cars the IIHS tested, only two received Good ratings. And in the most recent test of 11 small SUVs, only the Forester received a Good rating and the 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander was rated Acceptable while the rest received Poor or Marginal ratings.

By now most of us have seen the interior photos of Mercedes’ 2014 S-Class as well as a leaked photo of the exterior. Now the company is giving us more pictures to scan over and the details on all the technical bits. The car will offer four different powertrain options in its first year; two hybrid versions, a gasoline engine and a diesel. It also uses cameras to scan the road for imperfections for adjusting the suspension, has 300 LEDs in the interior that can be set to seven different colors and even has five different fragrances it can emit.

Apparently Australian truck drivers ignore warning signs for low-hanging overpasses. So one company called Laservision came up with a solution it calls Softstop. If a driver with a truck that is too tall ignores a series of flashing warning lights, the Softstop system is put into action. A wall of water cascades down with a giant stop sign projected on it. Another plus to the system is that it will not damage a vehicle if driven through and can be used to safely stop traffic if a problem lies ahead.

Coming up next, a look at how Formula One Champion Sebastian Vettel is helping Infiniti develop its cars.

Earlier this year, F1 driver Sebastian Vettel was named Infiniti’s Director of Performance. While that may sound like an empty title, the three-time world champion’s role is much more than ceremonial. Take a look.

(Video of Infiniti’s Director of Performance can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

We’re less than one week from North America’s only conference dedicated to the automotive interior. The WardsAuto Interiors Conference is next Wednesday, May 22 in Dearborn, and if you’re involved in interiors, we’ve designed this event just for you.

You’ll hear keynote speeches from design leaders at Ford and Mercedes, check out an exhibition of displays from many top interior suppliers, and attend panels focusing on the hottest topics in interiors today.

Panelists include a who’s who from the interior teams of major OEMs and suppliers. A few names include: Ryan Vaughan, Lead Interior Designer, Performance Cars at General Motors, Robert Walker, Chief Designer – Jeep Interiors for Chrysler, Robert Gelardi, Design Manager – North America at Ford, Julien Montousse, Interior Design Manager for Mazda Design Americas and Eric Clough, Director of Cadillac Interior Design Studio, at General Motors.

So join WardsAuto next Wednesday at the Henry Hotel in Dearborn to meet, network and find out the latest trends and technologies that are shaping today’s and tomorrow’s auto interiors.

There are just a few seats left, so register now to reserve your spot at

And I also need to remind you to watch tonight’s episode of Autoline After Hours. Joining the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo is Jordan Lee, the guy in charge of Chevy’s small block engines. That’s tonight at 6PM Eastern time at our website,

But that’s all folks. Once again I’m Drew Winter from, thanks for watching and please join us again tomorrow.

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39 Comments to “AD #1135 – Honda Returning to F1, Small SUVs Fail Overlap Test, Laservision Softstop”

  1. Ron Paris Says:

    Slow news day? Tune in here for a 3 minute promo spot from Infiniti. How enlightening!

  2. Drew Says:

    Honda’s re-entry timing into F1 is curiously similar to the timing for the Acura NSX launch.

  3. Chuck @ GM Says:

    Besides making cars safer (not that that is a bad thing) driving additional cost to make us safer does what for our insurance bill?

    And it’s a good thing it’s only the NHTSA looking at cyber security for cars. If the IRS gets involved I am outta there.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect Honda is re-entering F1 at this particular time, because everyone is “starting from scratch” with engines, since they are switching from naturally aspirated V8′s to turbo V6′s next year.

  5. Chuck Grenci Says:

    That was my guess too; clean sheet of paper for engine design. Honda’s first foray in F1; not that impressive. We’ll have to see how it all shakes out with the new engines (at all the manufacturers).

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Honda was an engine supplier to some F1 teams in the 80′s and early 90′s, and was very successful, but their most recent effort as a constructor was not so successful.

  7. Bradley Says:

    Good for Subaru, but I think IIHS is chasing smaller and smaller pieces of the statistics in safety.

    How many accidents in the last 30 years involved a car hitting a stationary concrete like barrier at 40mph and 25% frontal contact?

  8. ColoradoKid Says:

    Seb Vettel

    Don’t be too terribly shocked if Herr Vettel’s shilling for ….. errr … Honda/Acura in the not too distant future . Rumors are rampant that Red Bull may be following Mclaren’s lead and switching to Honda as well .

    #2 Drew – The McLaren switches to Honda story’s been in the news for well over a month … with everyone within the F1 community knowing it was a done deal … whereas AW just broke the NSX story earlier this week …. but …. you’re right ….. Honda timed the ‘ mass media ‘ confirmation of their partnership with Honda to the tee to coincide with the NSX announcement ;-)

  9. C-Tech Says:

    Since is seems autonomous cars are going to come, cyber security for these vehicles will have to be a high priority. Otherwise autonomous cars could become rolling bombs. You thought drone strikes in the U.S. scary?

  10. C-Tech Says:

    Honda in F1, that’s cute, wake me when they come to NASCAR.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Renault engines seem to be doing just fine now. Are your rumours saying that Red Bull thinks their turbos will not be up to par? …or is it just that Honda will give them money, or something like that?

  12. Chuck Grenci Says:

    So is F1 lowering the displacement (to 1.6 liters/turbo-charged) to slow the cars down? That’s a lot to ask an engine to do, i.e. durability/reliability/etc. I also see they will be limited to 15,000 rpms (currently limited to 18,000); wondering what they will sound like.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The engines will be quieter, and a lot lower pitch, but it will be interesting to hear the difference. For a while, it sounded like they would go to turbo fours, which would REALLY be lower pitch than the current engines.

  14. HtG Says:

    Honda F1

    One does wonder what opportunities there will be for Honda to distinguish its powerplants, given how restrictive F1 rules are. ECUs will be commonly supplied by McLaren and engine revs will be capped, so Honda may be hoping to see benefits for the training of their engineering staffs.

    I’d also like to know what Vettel had to tell those poor Infiniti engineers that they didn’t already know.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Where might I read about these “rampant rumors” that Red Bull are going to use Honda engines? I’m finding nothing to that effect, but I did find one site saying that Torro Rosso would join Red Bull Racing in using Renault engines.

  16. G.A.Branigan Says:

    F1…snooze fest. nascar….left hand snooze fest.Drag racing…….awesome non snoozefest,over in seconds then the next round comes up.Engines don’t sound like a hyperactive bees nest(F1) and the cars don’t all look alike(nascar).Oh yeah…no Damaca Patrick pissin’ and moanin’….

  17. HtG Says:

    15 people who know people.

    Though according to the rules, if another team wants to contract for Honda power, then Honda must supply at least one team beyond McLaren. Then there’s the whole chess game of teams needing some leverage in their negotiating prices with suppliers like Renault, who are asking a premium compared to others.

    The old men of the sport never want to give up their own scheming.

  18. HtG Says:

    16 Yup, car racing has got itself into a technological death spiral. I can go on and on, but I’d put myself to sleep. BTW, nothing beats the NASCAR race in Arizona for putting me to sleep: Oh wait, any Indycar race not being raced in Indianapolis.

  19. HtG Says:

    whacha gonna do, gtrslngr?

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    What I’m finding is that Williams is the most likely current Renault team to use Honda, for financial reasons, followed by Lotus,

  21. HtG Says:

    20 Or Sauber, if I read your link above correctly, Kit.

    The machination melodramas of F1 are less and less deserved these days, if you ask me. Do the engines really matter? And what to make of Luca di Motezemolo’s statement that F1 was Ferrari’s advertising? I thought selling cars was done to support the racing; horse goes before the cart, no?

  22. Kevin Says:

    Good. Job. Subaru. I. Am. Car. Shopping. Now. And. The. Forster. Is. Right. On. Top. Of. My. Shopping. List. Thank. You. Subaru. For. Also. Convincing. Me. . That. The. New. Forster. Is. More. Safer. Than. I. Thought

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    21 At one time, didn’t Marlboro pay for Ferrari’s racing? Maybe T-shirt and flag sales pay for it now.

    Yeah, it seems that the current engines are about equal, except Cosworth, and they are calling it quits after this year.

  24. HtG Says:


    I think Ferrari gets a multi-million dollar tribute from Bernie in return for not having pulled out of the sport a few years back. They also are being supported by Santander(Alonso, get it?), which is a zombie bank being supported by the ECB. They also get a few buckaroos from Abu Dhabi, who’d like to see F1 stoke our fantasies for a few more decades.(oh wait, it’s the asians who are the real targets now). You may even want to check out this firm, Aabar Investments, Kit.

    sorry, F1 can bring out my sour half

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Interesting, that Aabar Investments.

  26. HtG Says:

    It goes on and on, Kit. Their subsidiaries are supporting the Toro Rosso team.

    And look at McLaren’s ties to TAG and Mumtalakat, and Mercedes to Petronas, and Williams to Venezuela, and Shell to Ferrari. It’s amazing that RedBull’s fizzy caffeine and sugar water can play these guys.

    The high level interests that keep the sport going around the world are the real importance of F1. Watching cars competing is the means to an end.

  27. HtG Says:

    Oh wait, I left out the UBS billboards you see at the races. Need some discrete help with any illicit income you don’t see fit to pay taxes on? They promise not to snitch to the IRS(unless you make them squeel and yodel. Squeeeeeeeel)

  28. C-Tech Says:

    @ #16 So G.A. What do you really mean? You should not hold back your feelings :)

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    While I have less interest in most racing than I once had, drag racing is the one that I don’t follow at all. I liked it when local strips had “pure stock” classes based on horsepower/weight, and there was a serious attempt to keep it “pure stock” at the strip where I ran my ’57 Chrysler once. To me, the intriguing thing about today’s drag racing is that the ultimate class, top fuel, still uses engines that are near-clones of the engine in a ’51 Chrysler.

    As a kid, I couldn’t wait for May, and the month-long Indy 500 activities. Now, it’s a spec race. I still listen to part of it on the radio; it is still blacked out on the Indianapolis TV station, but no matter the pageantry, it is a hollow shell of what it once was. The best part of attending the race or pole days, is seeing and hearing the old cars that they pull out of the museum and drive around the track.

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    If I may put in my 2 cents on this topic, I kind of like off road racing, which I believe you’re going against time, only problem with that is that being a spectator is like playing Russian roulette, better off watching at home, in the safety of your couch, I also like go kart and Baja-like races as well.

  31. HtG Says:

    29 The 500 is blacked out in Indianapolis? NO WAY

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yep, it was on live one year, 1949, and the live broadcast has been blacked out ever since. The night of the race, they run the regular broadcast that everyone else saw live. The speedway apparently has had clout for a long time, and figure they’ll sell more tickets by having it blacked out.

  33. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 28,c-tech: It’s professional wrestling on wheels,all of it except the drag racing,lol.I feel the same about football etc.I gave up being a fan on the players strike back in the 90′s.Baseaball is a sleeping pill,same same ANY professional sports.A bunch of whinny millionaires.I gots mo betta things to do…. ;}>

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Correction: The 500 was broadcast live twice on Indianapolis TV, in 1949 and 1950.

  35. C-Tech Says:

    @ #33 How do feel about PINKS ALL OUT ? I thought that was one of the best reality shows on TV. I wish a major network picked it up.

  36. C-Tech Says:

    @ #34 What I don’t understand is usually the Indy 500 is sold out? (Maybe not?) Why block it locally?

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The reserved seats at Indy 500 used to always be sold out, and maybe still are, but there are alway a lot of “general admission” tickets sold. After the 1950 broadcast, the speedway managed to prevent it being broadcast live, thinking the broadcast hurt attendance.

  38. HtG Says:


    A new Chevy Impala on the highway. This was a blackish car at dusk. What stood out was the high hood and how quick the shape looks. It looks like it’s going faster than it is.

  39. JJ101 Says:

    Is the new Infiniti not going to do what you want Just like Sebastian Vettel doesn’t do want his team wants?