AD #1158 – Chrysler Blinks Before NHTSA, China Production Ramps Up, GM 4.3L Gets EPA #’s

June 19th, 2013 at 11:59am

Runtime: 8:50

After originally refusing NHTSA’s recall request, Chrysler is now caving and will inspect the affected Jeep models. Both GM and Ford ramp up production in China. GM’s all-new 4.3 liter V6 gets its EPA estimates for the company’s full-size pickups. All that and more, plus host John McElroy responds to some of your questions and comments in this week’s edition of You Said It!

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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. Here’s some of the latest of what’s going on int he global automotive industry.

CHRYSLER BLINKS FIRST
Chrysler fought the law and the law won. A few weeks back, the company refused NHTSA’s request to recall 2.7 million Jeep’s over fuel systems that potentially could catch fire in rear-end collisions. But now Chrysler is caving to the agency. The company will inspect the affected Jeeps and if necessary will install a trailer hitch assembly to help protect the gas tank. Here’s my Autoline Insight. A number of Jeeps that did catch fire were rear-ended at over 60MPH, adding a trailer hitch won’t help in that situation. I think Chrysler realized it would cost more to fight NHTSA than it’s worth, even though the company believes the recall isn’t necessary.

DON’T DRINK THE WATER OR BREATHE THE AIR
Automakers continue to ramp up their production in China. General Motors just opened new plant there with the capacity to build 160,000 Cadillac a year, though the company did not say which models will be built at the plant. And Ford announced it’s going to double engine production in China to 750,000 motors a year. It will build the three-cylinder 1.0 liter and a four cylinder 1.5 liter in the plant. Meanwhile, the city of Shijiazhuang, announced it’s going to restrict new car sales to 100,000 units a year. In two years they’ll reduce that to only 90,000 year and use a lottery to determine who can buy those cars. It’s all got to do with the horrific air pollution and traffic congestion that is bedeviling China. Shijiazhuang which is located in Hebei province has some of the worst air pollution in China.

AHH, NOW THAT’S LIVING!
On the heels of Fiat introducing the 500L to the U.S. market, it’s bringing out a stretched version in Europe with seating capacity for seven passengers, thanks to an extra 8 inches in the overall length. They call it the 500L Living. Fiat describes it as having “all the charm of the 500, the agility of a city-car, as compact as a mid-size car, the comfort and contents of a C-segment station wagon or saloon, the space and the versatility of an MPV.” It goes on sale in Italy next month.

TESLA EMBRACES BATTERY POLYGAMY
A few weeks back Better Place went belly up. That’s the company that wanted to set up a network of stations where EV owners could swap a depleted battery for a fully charged one. Better Place might be dead but the idea isn’t. Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that the company will demo a battery swap tomorrow night with its Model S. Interestingly, Elon also later tweeted that Better Place founder, Shai Agassi got the battery swap idea from Tesla, which was already working on the idea.

IT’S A NUMBERS GAME
When Chrysler came out with its all-new V6 engine for Ram, it posted 17 miles-per-gallon in the city and 25 on the highway. Not to be outdone GM introduced an all-new V6 for its Sierra and Silverado full-size pickups. Today we get proof that it is a very capable engine as well. The 4.3 liter gets an EPA estimate of 18 miles-per-gallon in the city and 24 on the freeway for two-wheel-drive models, while four-wheel-drive drops those numbers slightly to 17 city and 22 highway. The V6 also offers a payload rating of over 2,100 lbs. and tow rating of 7,200 lbs., both of with are the highest available. The trucks will be on sale this summer with a starting price just under $25,000.

MOTORCYCLE HELMET WITH NAV.
Drivers have been using mobile navigation on heads-up displays in cars for years, but it has not been an option for motorcycle riders, until now. A Russian company named LiveMap has developed a helmet that uses augmented reality to project important information onto the visor. The system uses a microphone, light sensor, earphone and a micro display that is controlled by voice commands. The company is currently looking to raise money to make a working prototype of the lithium-ion powered helmet, which could cost customers about $2,000. I hope they do raise the money because I would love to test one of these helmets out.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

Rick Wakefield wants to know, “Why don’t more manufacturers go with Heads Up Displays instead of bigger center console displays units?” Because up to now HUDS have been considerably more expensive and require special kind of windshield to reflect the display. But the latest versions that are about to come out are far cheaper and you’ll start to see them showing up just about everywhere.

Jim Bielecki has been watching the episodes of Design Handbook with Jim Hall. “Gotta ask. Why should I care what Jim Hall says about styling?” Because Jim knows more about the topic than just about anyone I’ve ever met. He attended the Art Center school of design and it runs in the family. His brother Bob actually developed the original concept for the Mazda Miata.

Kit Gerhart wants to know, “Are supercharged cars really increasing in numbers? Does anyone sell them, at least in the U.S., other than Audi, and a few very low volume ‘special’ Mustangs?” Kit, supercharger sales are booming. GM offers them on the Corvette, the Camaro, and the Cadillac V-series. Outside of the U.S., Nissan offers a supercharger with its 1.2 liter engine in the Micra and on the hybrid version of the Pathfinder. Stay tuned you’re going to see a lot more applications in just a couple of more years.

Philip says, “I was taking a hard look at the 2013 E-Class AMG wagon to purchase. But before I knew it they switched over to the new 2014, and I have to say I don’t like it style wise. That front end is too… sharp, razor looking. Looks like a concept for a Batman movie car, and the center dash is now more busy looking.” Philip you’re not the first one to say they don’t like the styling on the new E-Class.

Lex notes that, “John McElroy has reported in the past about the increasing sales growth Subaru has enjoyed in recent years. I believe the demise of Saab played a major role in this increase Subaru is enjoying, especially in the Northeast.” I think you’re right Lex. This suggests to me that Subaru has an opportunity to move upscale.

C-Tech saw our story that Bosch supplied 100 percent of the powertrain in the Fiat 500e. “Perhaps Bosch should get a ‘Powertrain by Bosch’ tag the way GM used to put ‘Body by Fischer’ tag on some GM vehicles.” Maybe they should, but I’ve never seen a supplier’s name ever go on the outside of any vehicle.

David Lopez has an interesting question. “Do you think Chrysler is gearing up to get rid of the Dodge badge name as it has been suggested by other auto news sites?” No David I don’t think this is going to happen at all. I think Dodge is at the bottom of its product cycle right now and that you’re soon going to see more new models coming into the brand. I’m actually far more worried about the future of the Chrysler brand than I am for Dodge.

Thanks for all your comments and letters, we truly love getting them all.

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

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50 Comments to “AD #1158 – Chrysler Blinks Before NHTSA, China Production Ramps Up, GM 4.3L Gets EPA #’s”

  1. Brett Says:

    Maybe they ought to relocate the fuel tank to a really safe place. Like that telephone pole over there…

    I walked around a new Dodge Dart the other day. It made me think that the designers responsible for the LH platform vehicles and the Neon have wrested control away from the folks who designed the current 300, 200, etc.

    It really looked sort of dated as a result.

  2. kurt w Says:

    Good show! Note: Subaru offered an LL.BEAN variant of its Forester (mostly interior trim modifications), and put exterior labels on the vehicles to let folks know about it.

  3. Enn Norak Says:

    I don’t have a problem with the styling of the 2014 E-class but I do have a problem with the V-8 version in Canada being offered only with the dreaded panoramic sunroof. Panoramic sunroofs can shatter too much glass in a roll-over and, if made of plastic, they will eventually yellow in the sun. Add that to recent media reports of some makes of sunroofs exploding and the negatives outweigh any positives especially for someone like me who never uses the sunroof anyway.

  4. David Sprowl Says:

    John,

    You never seen a supplier’s name on the outside of a vehicle???!!! you never noticed that Ram trucks sport the Cummins logo on the front fenders?

  5. GM Veteran Says:

    John,
    I think you didn’t go far enough back in your memory bank on the supplier badge statement. How about the Cosworth Vega? I believe Lotus was credited with a badge on the outside of an Isuzu model when they helped with chassis tuning, (1988 Impulse according to Wiki). How about the Hurst Olds? And I believe early versions of the Ford Taurus SHO carried a Yamaha badge. There are probably more but I will let others contribute from their memories.

  6. HtG Says:

    Surely, John was merely trolling the internet about the supplier badges.

  7. Nathan Friedland Says:

    John, this morning you stated that you never saw the name of a supplier on the outside of a vehicle. Cummins Diesel is clearly displayed on the side of Dodge Ram Trucks. OOPS, you missed this one.

  8. ColoradoKid Says:

    GM to go head to head with Audi in China ;

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/gm-shut-off-production-data-delivery-whas-there-to-hide/#more-492531

    Yeah right ! And I’m gonna sell more CD’s & Downloads than Justin Bieber .

    Note to GM ;

    China does not want / like or desire Cadillacs .

    What they lust/ desire / aspire to is BUICK’s .. ( because of the last Emperors love of the brand )

    So quit wasting time & money trying to sell a brand to a people who do not want it …. rather instead INVEST in re-bodying and re-badging Cadillacs as high end BUICKs

    Nahhh…. makes too much sense

    ————

    The end of the Caravan ?

    That seems to be the news coming out across the web today . The King of the Minivans … seems to be about to meet its demise .

    Yet another strange bit of Marchionne’s Madness in action IMO

    —–

    NAV M/C helmet … Brilliant . Now we can distract M/C riders as well as automobile drivers with Infotainment garbage .

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    NAV helmets, more money to be made, that’s all!

  10. Jon M Says:

    I’ll be real interested to see NHTSA’s reaction, if any, to Chrysler’s solution. It’s a half-hearted effort at best by Chrysler to stave off any drawn out matters with NHTSA. I would say Chrysler is definitely confident in the safety of their vehicles if they think a stubby piece of steel protruding from the rear bumper will offer any bit of crash protection, at least not any significant speed. Surely they’re saving up for contingencies though. You know, just in case.

  11. HtG Says:

    7 I was about to troll you, CK, but then I saw this article about Cadillac’s use of Brad Pitt in a commercial. Evidently, having Luscious Locks drive around in a white car reminds the Chinese of funerals.

    http://www.brandchannel.com/home/post/2013/03/13/Brad-Pitt-Cadillac-China-031313.aspx

  12. ColoradoKid Says:

    China – An interesting side note . In the news China is placing stricter limits than ever on the number of cars allowed within city limits . All while housing prices soar ( despite a 100% vacancy rate in some cities ) … and their automakers ramping up production .

    Hmmmmn … yup …. all the ingredients are in place ….. can you say ….. Bubble …. then followed by ….. Crash ?

    So far the BRIC’s are 3 out of four failing ( with Brazil now in flames … literally ) … clocks ticking down for China to make it an even four

    ——–

    And ahh OT …. and on the subject of surveillance …. errr … that cool little plane circling constantly overhead might nor be one of …. errr … Kits R/C planes …. ( no offense intended )

    http://gizmodo.com/confirmed-the-fbi-is-spying-on-the-us-with-drones-514322947

  13. ColoradoKid Says:

    10 – Jeeze ! GM really is quite clueless when it comes to the Chinese market … at least on the higher end … aren’t they ;-)

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    Chairman Mao must be saying : “I told you so” how long before the Mao hardliners take over?

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Brad Pitt pitching cars in China? that is one dumb idea!

  16. HtG Says:

    11 FBI may have an eye in the sky, but they’ve got a tens of millions of ears in our pockets. Those smartphones? When was the last time anyone took out the battery? Nuff said ;)

  17. Chuck Says:

    I gotta agree with “GM Veteran” and Mr. Sprowl. GM also uses an Allison logo some versions of their light and medium duty trucks. While the transmissions are arguably not as good as their competitors and not actually built by Allison anymore, they still bear the logo on the truck for marketing sake as the Allison name is well know in the commercial truck market.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The idea of battery swapping is nothing new. It has been done for 40 years, that I know of, with fork lifts.

  19. Lex Says:

    If China is suffering such bad air pollution then why in hell doesn’t the government promote the increased use of mass transit? I truly understand the freedom that automobile ownership gives however at the cost of your health!

  20. Michael K Says:

    @David and GM, there is also the Shelby name that has been on the Mustang for years.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    China’s air pollution problems are from coal fired power plants, 2-stroke motorbikes, and ancient diesel buses, not from modern cars. But yeah, they need good mass transit in the cities, just as we do in the US.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There has been optical spying for decades, using piloted aircraft and satellites. If drones would be a cheaper and better to watch the borders, rtc., it makes sense to me.

  23. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Manned silent surveillance aircraft were developed and used extensively throughout Vietnam,and later used here for certain things.I believe it was the yo-1 or something like that.

  24. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG – 15- Yup .. btw …. SG says to tell you there’s a mustard stain on your left lapel .. the socks are mis-mateched today and you’re in desperate need of a haircut …. :o ( humor intended ) .. oh …. and the choice of tie is a bit ….. errrr … questionable as well

  25. M360 Says:

    John – Have you ever thought that the Chevrolet brand would become irrelevant? GM is pushing the Cadillac brand in China, as you reported today, and Cadillac is enjoying a resurgence in the US in regard to performance vehicles. What’s in store for the Chevrolet? Is it just a cheap car for the masses?

  26. ColoradoKid Says:

    19 – It aint just the borders they’re watching Kit . Thats ICE’s job , not the FBI’s … the FBI’s using them to watch over you … and I … and everyone else

  27. W L Simpson Says:

    GM’s orig 4.3 has been a life long fav , having put over 300k on a series of vans & trucks. My 02
    Sierra has 105k, could pass for a much younger one. Almost zero repairs (brakes), minor mtce.

  28. HtG Says:

    GM at the top of JD Power initial quality survey.(OK, Porsche was tops, but still) The article says that cars today are built very well indeed, with customers marking down models for how easily certain things work.

    http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130619/RETAIL/130619840/gm-tops-benchmark-quality-study-for-the-first-time#

  29. ColoradoKid Says:

    Ya gotta love an American success story like this ;

    http://www.autoweek.com/article/20130619/CARNEWS01/130619826

    Not to mention … what might this guy accomplish at Mazda seeing what his involvement with Audi’s current success was .

    Oh but that lost opportunity VW had to recreate the MicroBus … that one still hurts …. snif … :(

    ———

    HtG – 28 – Initial Quality Survey … e.g …… meaningless trivia for the masses

  30. HtG Says:

    29 ‘meaningless trivia?’

    Let’s see how this plays out.

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    If you read this JD Power thing it is silly putty, things like the computer not able to recognize your voice commands and things that scuff easily? I would like for them to put emphasis on what’s really important, the engine, transmission and long term reliability.

  32. T. Bejma Says:

    #31

    Basically Pedro, the quality gap between the makers has got so small that having a reliable engine and transmission is included in the price of admission. You can drive almost any vehicle off the lot and expect it to be trouble free at least through the first 100,000 miles.

    Now it’s the little things that make a difference, like how the entertainment system works.

    Also, keep in mind, this is an “INITIAL” Quality survey so engine/transmission problems will always be low.

  33. G.A.Branigan Says:

    It’s funny,I’ve been buying new vehicles every 2-4 years for decades and I have yet to ever see a JD Power ‘initial quality survey’,or any other kind of survey for that matter.

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    As cars have become more and more complex, the amount of problems with new cars have diminished as well, it used to be that just about every new car had to be “finished off” at the dealer and the customer sort of became the final inspector and the dealership tech became the final assembly line worker. Even my brand new 86 Camry had to go back for leaks and vibrations, while the Corolla did not visit the dealership once while it was under warranty neither did the 08 Scion.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    Initial quality and long term durability are 2 completely different horses, in the case of these Ford turbos and double clutch transmissions, I’d be willing to bet that they will give their owners problems down the road, especially those folks whose idea of maintenance is to add fluid to the window washer tank.

  36. HtG Says:

    I’ll be interested to see what GM does with this JDPower survey. I do doubt that most buyers are aware of the difference between quality and reliability, Pedro. And if you’re leasing?

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    If they lease, they would care 3 craps about these surveys, as long as they don’t have to keep bringing the car back over and over again, if so you got the “lemon laws” in most states

  38. C-Tech Says:

    Just to add to the supplier nameplate discussion, remember the Cosworth Mercedes, and AMG was not always a part of Daimler. I also believe the Dodge and Freightliner Sprinters had a badge that said “Powered by Mercedes”.

    A free trailer hitch for the Jeep recalls? I hope I’m included, I love free parts!

    I hope the new 4.3L V6 is as reliable as the last one. Perhaps GM will offer a supercharged or turbocharged version.

  39. RonE Says:

    Re: Nameplates. The Chrysler TC had a nameplate that said, “by Maserati.”

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    33,
    While I was working, I bought a lot of new cars, and I received at least two JD Power surveys. I had two different types. One was basically, “did it break”? while a longer one asked specific questions about what you liked, and didn’t like about the car.

  41. Chuck Grenci Says:

    My two cents on the motorcycle helmet (with HUD/NAV); to me it is just more visual noise in my field of view. I went to their website and noticed that it is a carbon fiber helmet (and will meet all European, American and Japanese standards; made in Russia), with the addition of integrated hud/nav the price is probably reasonable, but it’s not for me.

    For some, they say that motorcycle riding is the closest they’ll ever get to being a fighter pilot, and I guess with a fighter pilot inspired type helmet it may push that envelope (but up in the air there is a lot more room to figure things out (plus intensive training to multitask, plus the best of the best using that technology) so I’m not sure the translation to the street is as seamless as presented.

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    41,
    Very well put. Most of the time, the closest thing that can kill a fighter pilot is the ground, which is usually thousands of feet away. On a bike, you are surrounded by things that can kill you. When I ride, I don’t want any distractions at all. I don’t even want a radio, though some, or a lot of riders do.

  43. ColoradoKid Says:

    Currency Manipulation

    The complaints on the ground today are rampant from the US automakers about Japan’s currency antics

    Allow me to offer up a subtle reminder to those complaining

    $85 BILLION DOLLARS PER MONTH

    Is the tune the Federal Reserve is singing when it comes to manipulating OUR currency

    So take your sour grapes elsewhere Big Three . Your complaints are meaningless and irrelevant . e.g. Deal with it !

  44. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG – 30 – OK … I’ll take it a step further ;

    Meaningless trivia with a definitive propaganda bent intended on manipulating the very unaware and uninformed masses

    Seriously … JD Powers credibility went out the window to anyone paying attention from the moment of their inception

    And honestly …. you need to ask what GM will do with this recent round of luke warm fertilizer from JD Powers ?

    You and I both know darn full well what GM’ll do with it . Milk it for every ounce of propaganda they can in order to sell more cars

    ——

    32 – A pleasant little myth … and one being propagated by your minders curiously ….. more than any other car maker out there . Fact is …. IF one looks … the gaps in quality between all the auto makers is much wider than the Myth would allow us to believe . Unfortunately for those promoting the Myth .. especially the media who are themselves being manipulated by the automakers … there still are a few of us out here with the ability to Discern .

    A rare skill these days to be certain . But a skill to be cherished never the less

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    32, 44,
    It seems to me that the quality gap IS fairly narrow. I had a 2002 VW, which was reliable for the time I had it. I only drove it 60K miles, but still, VW was at the bottom of the pack in most reliability studies then, as now. Also, I have a MINI which generally shows up well down the lists too, and I’ve had no problems with it.

  46. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit you have indeed been lucky, wanna try your luck with the worst one, the Land Rover?

  47. T. Bejma Says:

    #44

    “…there still are a few of us out here with the ability to Discern .”

    Please educate us on how we may obtain such clarity and insight and what the actual facts are, if you will be so kind…

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    I believe from all accounts, including techs out there in the field an working at dealerships that cars have gotten much better in recent years, long term is yet to be determined, of course. But i dare say that with all the recent “advances” and complicated systems, when they do break it will cost a hell of a lot more to repair.

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    46,
    Yeah, I probably have been lucky, especially with the VW.

    I’ll pass on the Land Rover. They don’t sell the type vehicles I like, and they cost too much.

  50. Fry Guy Says:

    In regards to the Chrysler “recall”…NHTSA might as well go ahead and request that EVERY car manufacturer recall EVERY vehicle EVER assembled without a factory installed seatbelt. Over the years, many deaths occurred before seatbelts were mandated and became standard safety equipment. That doesn’t make any of the deaths less tragic, it’s just a sign of ever changing and increasing safety standards…similarly to today’s scenario with Chrysler/Jeep.