AD #1161 – Acura Goes BIG, Car Sales Set to Surge, GM Executive Jumps Ship

June 24th, 2013 at 11:37am

Runtime: 6:47

Acura aims the biggest ad campaign in its history at women… and chooses a perplexing tagline. June car sales are expected to surge to the highest level in years. One of GM’s most prominent executives jumps ship after 27 years with the company. All that and more, plus another edition of the Autoline Garage in which we explore the consequences of an absent spare tire.

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Hello and welcome to a brand new week of Autoline Daily. We have another installment of the Autoline Garage coming up later in the show, but before we get to that, let’s get to the headlines.

CHINA TO PHASE OUT EV SUBSIDIES
It looks like China isn’t that bullish on electric vehicles anymore. Gasgoo reports that the country will likely phase out subsidies for purchasing an EV by the end of the decade. One government official says the incentives are only a short-term solution and that automakers should not count on them to survive. China will instead focus on supporting automakers R&D efforts with EVs rather than with subsidies for buying one. And, it’s going to put more emphasis on using more efficient internal combustion engines.

U.S. CAR SALES SURGE
Car sales continue to be one of the bright spots in the U.S. economy. WardsAuto forecasts that this month’s SAAR will hit 15.8 million units, the highest rate since 2007. Sales are expected to come in at 1.39 million units which is over an 8 percent gain compared to last year.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
U.S., Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has once again delayed his ruling to mandate back-up cameras on all vehicles. LaHood is getting a lot of push back from automakers who say it is not a cost effective rule. As I keep pointing out, it’s a dumb rule. Back-up cameras are not the best solution. The lens on the camera can get covered in dirt, dust, rain, snow and ice, and, as I discovered this spring, it can also get covered with pollen, which makes the camera largely useless. Also, at night, a lot of cameras don’t really give very good visibility. This is the fifth time this mandate has been postponed and this is the fifth time that I’ve said the Department of Transportation should mandate ultrasonic sensors that are cheaper and more effective.

PERSONNEL MOVES
Some personnel moves to report here. Longtime GM marketing executive Susan Docherty announced she is leaving GM after 27 years with the company. In her current role she was running Chevrolet and Cadillac in Europe. Docherty says she’s leaving to spend more time with her family. And Ulrich Hackenberg has been reassigned to head up product development at Audi. He replaces Wolfgang Duerheimer who had the job for less than a year. Reports out of Europe say Duerheimer was trying to cut costs by getting Audi out of building sports car engines and not fighting for Audi programs hard enough within the Volkswagen Group. Hackenberg, is also going to take over all product development for the VW Group, not just Audi.

ACURA’S BIG AD BLITZ
Acura is a brand that has never really caught on with the car buying public in the U.S. So it’s launching the biggest ad campaign in its history for the all new Acura MDX. The ad blitz will show up on national and local TV, it will make a major online presence, it will saturate social and mobile media, will get plastered on out-of-home venues and will appear on the pages of upscale print magazines. With the tagline “Made for Mankind” it will primarily be aimed at women, which makes me wonder why they didn’t come up with a more gender-friendly tagline?

Coming up next, the Autoline Garage looks at how the auto industry’s push to cut cost and weight could cost you a lot more money the next time you get a flat tire.

It’s time for another installment of the Autoline Garage, which is all about providing design engineers in the auto industry some feedback on what it’s like to live with their designs in the real world.

(Sean McElroy’s Autoline Garage commentary can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

Did you know that those tire repair bottles expire in about three years and that it costs $30 to replace them? I never knew that and I’ll bet most motorists don’t either. And while those compressors are pretty cool to have, they cost about $70 to replace. I can’t remember the last time I had to fix a flat, but I sure do see a lot of cars running around with those mini-spares on, so flat tires are still a common enough occurrence.

And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, please join us again tomorrow.

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

56 Comments to “AD #1161 – Acura Goes BIG, Car Sales Set to Surge, GM Executive Jumps Ship”

  1. Rumblestrip Says:

    “Leaving to spend time with family” code for “shown the door”.

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    My nox has both a backup camera,and the sonar array,and two sideview mirrors and a rear view mirror.It’s funny,I still use the mirrors with an occasional look at the camera.And yes,the camera does get dirty and blurry at times.Rumor has it a squirt with some windex and a wipe with a paper towel will effectively clean the little bugger ;}>

  3. HtG Says:

    flats

    A service manager tells me that those run flat systems are the great bane to his existence, mostly because they need to be reset if the temps go down. Now he’s got this sealer crap coming at him, too?

    But I wonder how many average motorists ever check the pressure of their spare? I’m guilty right now of not remembering the last time I checked, and I’m a hard on sometimes.

    —-
    Note on position of Earth relative to the Sun

    John, it’s summer now, let’s see some of your light jackets. Think of the children.

  4. David Sprowl Says:

    So If the pump is 30-70 and the sealer is 30, then why not just put in the spare and the jack and find the weight elsewhere?

  5. HtG Says:

    narts

    Of course I meant ‘tire pressure monitoring systems’

    Jacket comment still stands

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I’m with you, John, the sonar makes more sense; I have the sonar on one of my cars, and I like the audible beep when encountering an obstruction (gets a fast beep when it gets even closer). With a camera, if you don’t look, it’s like you don’t even have it (a camera); with the beep, if you don’t look, you still get a warning.

    And thanks for another good Autoline Garage; anything more than a nail (puncture), say a cut (or big puncture), guess what, your stuck. A spare and jack, while not used often (or ever) sure brings some piece of mind.

  7. David Sprowl Says:

    I just don’t share John’s issues with back up cameras. Your windscreen gets dirty too, but you clean it. As far as night vision goes, They appear to work fine if the back up lights are functioning.

  8. G.A.Branigan Says:

    John would love backup cameras if they were on autonomous cars,lol.

  9. Bradley Says:

    #7

    Few drivers keep their windscreen appropriately cleaned, and my guess is even fewer will keep their camera clean.

    Sonar sensors allow you to do the exact same driving habits, plus added safety. Backup cameras actually complicate the process as you have one more thing to look at.

    Acura NSX, Integra and the origninal TSX have been success stories. The NSX is a bit unique and still technically a success. Why Acura felt the need to kill both the Integra(RSX) and TSX through over eating and removal of their souls-is beyond me.

  10. Jon M Says:

    I get your point about the Acura tagline, John, but at least they didn’t go the politically correct route. But more to your point, I think in general they could have come up with a better tagline. Then again, I’m certainly not a marketing maven.

  11. Buzzerd Says:

    I have the sonar and camera on my Avalanche and tend to like the sonar more. I’m used to driving large vehicles with no rearview mirror so I generally use just the mirrors but the other two help in tight situations. One problem with the sonar and camera is that they don’t alert you until something is already in your way where as you should be able to see things coming with your mirrors… most of the time.

  12. RonE Says:

    Two years ago I was looking at buying a Chevy Cruze and was surprised the spare tire was a $100 option. After watching the Autoline Garage installment, the $100 spare tire would be a bargain.

  13. G.A.Branigan Says:

    This is just an observation on my part,so take it fwiw: The weight savings that the lack of a spare tire is negligible at best because the OEM’s keep making any given vehicle (mostly) bigger and that equals more weight.I don’t get it. If you start off making a small car,why do they end up making it bigger?

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like using windows to see out when backing up.

    This spare tire discussion has me curious about something. Would the (full size) spare of my van still have enough OEM air left to hold the car up after 24 years? I guess I could check its pressure. I’m pretty conscientious about checking the tires on the ground, but not spares.

  15. Bradley Says:

    #13

    In my opinion, car companies take model XYZ and keep making it bigger because that works as a selling point.

    If you bought model XYZ and five years later were looking for a new car. In my opinion, the American consumer would discredit XYZ for remaining the same size. Therefore they increase the size as a way to get the owner of XYZ to buy another XYZ.

    It is dumb.

    My Yaris is very similar in size to an early 90s Camry.

  16. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Bradley: But…..if they are tired of xyz,or out grown it,why not just step up to the next model size? In other words,you have the sonic for a while and even though it has been updated you need bigger,go to the next size up from whatever brand and leave the sonic,(or whatever) the same size? It seems they keep on trying to reinvent the wheel by designing and building yet another compact car only to repeat the up-sizeing. Makes zero sense to me at all.

  17. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ T Bejma: In between the haunted house and the teacup ride,lol…..check this out.Izzit close?

    http://www.holden.com.au/cars/colorado

  18. Phoenix Mark Says:

    #6

    You are correct any flat that can’t be “fixed” with the goo will leave you stranded. My son had a flat in a remote area of NE Arizona and without a spare he would have been stranded for hours. I will always pay of the option of a spare tire.

    Also, just like replacing the batteries in your smoke detectors when you (except AZ) change your clocks it is a good time to check the presure in your spare tire.

  19. Phoenix Mark Says:

    The Honda Fit is bigger than the Civic I had in the late 70′s. I don’t get the whole make it bigger thing either. Now with the MPG demands maybe the designer will reverse the trend. (I don’t really think this will happen).

  20. Bradley Says:

    #16

    I agree. I wouldn’t be surprised if there is data that shows that to accommodate growing families, growing waistlines, etc. people will be lured to a larger vehicle a little sub-consciously if XYZ is still stuck on the side.

    Another reason, it is also the reason Cadillac went crazy with the Escalade and Ford with the Excursion.

    The bigger a vehicle gets, so does the profit margin. The base costs to make a vehicle don’t change, only material cost. The increase cost is multiples below what the consumer will pay for this larger vehicle. As the consumer perceives more bang for the buck by going BIG.

  21. cwolf Says:

    It sure seems that the growing auto sales means an up-tic in our economy, but as Bloombyrg reports, this may not be a true indicator. It is believed the many oweing on their mortgages/rents are still buy cars and other large items. Foolish people just never learn!

    Including a full sized spare tire into the rotation sequence is too much of a pain, so the doughnut spares are a good alternative for me. Adding goop inside a tire is just too risky. Did ya ever “break” a tire apart from the rim when loaded with this stuff? What a mess!! Poor C-Tech.

  22. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Bradley: Another thing I don’t believe is the oem’s blaming us,the consumers for the decline of the compact,and all but two midsize pickups.The decline of the compacts/midsize was because of the lack of attention by the big 3 oem’s in updating/upgrading what they were building.

    The ford ranger went virtually unchanged for years.GM dropped the very popular S-10 line,then they built the midsize twins that were the worst GM could offer in terms of quality etc.That’s why they disappeared after a very short run (for any platform).Dakota got over designed and over bloated and soon fell by the wayside.

    Consumers aren’t as dumb as the oem’s like to believe we are.The Taco hasn’t seen much of a real upgrade in almost 10 years and still sells good,but in reality,it’s the only game in town.The nissan frontier doesn’t have a quality rep,and came to the game too late,and as usual,hasn’t seen a serious update that I’m aware off.

  23. cwolf Says:

    By the way; has anyone noticed the plung in the markets? Just watch the auto sales numbers now…it aint gunna be pretty! People spend way too much and save too little and now they are going to pay for living beyond their means.

  24. Buzzerd Says:

    vehicles are bigger partly because of gov mandated safety rules which require bigger and heavy structure. Models tend to creep up in size, ie “minivans” which aren’t very mini, because the competitors make their van 1 inch bigger than yours so you have to make your van 1 inch bigger than theirs, and on and on. Also North Americans certainly aren’t getting any smaller, with so many obese people. Sure the Taco hasn’t got any bigger but how many people eat just one?

  25. Enn Norak Says:

    I disagree with detractors of back-up cameras. That option is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I have an SUV which normally attracts dirt on the tailgate due to backdraft yet I’ve never had to clean the camera lens. I go thru a touchless car wash every few weeks so the camera lens never really gets too dirty to stop being functional. A car without a back-up camera is a deal breaker for me.

    As for Acura advertising that its product is made for mankind, I can understand why that would appeal to women. It was my wife who insisted on buying the SUV. Advertisers know that women feel empowered by driving manly vehicles.

  26. Buzzerd Says:

    A back up camera should be an aid and not what you are actually relying on to see behind you but many of them are mounted low on the console which isn’t that great when panning from mirror to mirror. They also become useless in snow.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #14 re: Spare tires—Guess the pressure

    In my earlier post, I was exaggerating a little about the 24 year old air in my spare tire. I rotated through all 5 tires once or twice, so the spare has probably been checked as recently as 20 years ago, but probably not since then. I just checked it. Anyone want to guess the pressure? It’s a 195-75×14 Goodyear of some sort that came on a 1989 Dodge Caravan. It’s on a steel wheel.

  28. HtG Says:

    30psi

  29. cwolf Says:

    32psi

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s 14 psi. I was a little surprised it had that much after all those years, but tubeless tires really hold the air well.

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    I got rid of the temp spare in the Crapolla and instead got a pump and 2 cans of fixaflat spray, well, I got a tiny nail in one tire, added a can of this thing as per instructions followed by air to bring up to recommended pressure, no good, used the other can, more air, no good, finally had to take it to get patched up and the chemicals in the spray messed up the tire plus it had a bunch of white liquid inside and so had to get rid of it even though it still had some good thread left on it, I put back the temp again and no more fixaflats for me.

  32. cwolf Says:

    From my experience, the fix-a-flat goo doesn’t work on bicycle tires either. I view this stuff as “wishful thinking in a can.”

  33. HtG Says:

    It’s getting amusing how much brain effort carmakers are putting into getting weight out of the product. Imagine if America ate a salad.

    Lose your spare, get a free spare!

    (nope, they’ll just make the cars a ‘skoash’ wider in the seat and thighs)

  34. Todd T Says:

    Acura as a brand most certainly did catch on with US car buyers. The launch of the brand was enormously successful, did serious damage to brands that had up to that point defined “near luxury” Volvo comes to mind.

    No, it’s not that the brand never had a following, it’s more that Acura shot itself in both feet with a 12-gauge shotgun when they thought it was a bad thing that the Acura brand didn’t have as much name recognition as Legend and Integra had. The solution will go down in the history books as one of that most moronic decisions in automotive marketing: Kill the names Legend and Integra! BOOM…BOOM and there you have it.

  35. HtG Says:

    Let us not forget ‘The Beak,’ Todd

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The beak didn’t help, but also, if I am going to pay a big premium in price, I want something different than a fancier Honda, or in the case of Audi, a fancier VW. I don’t buy expensive cars, but if I did, it would probably be a Benz or BMW. If I wanted a true luxury sedan, Lexus LS would probably be it, but I’d never buy an ES for the same reason I wouldn’t buy an Acura.

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    Since ALL Acura are Honda based, (NSX excepted) why not buy the Honda base and pay for the leather and other niceties and save a bundle, ditto for Toyota and Nissan.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #33,
    That reminds me of a friend who used to fly competition aerobatics, and built his own airplane. He spent a lot of money, probably thousands of dollars coming up with ways to save a few pounds from the airplane, but he could have saved much more, probably at least 75 pounds, from his body.

  39. pedro fernandez Says:

    VW Audi seem to be the Kings of platform sharing w/o making it so obvious.

  40. pedro fernandez Says:

    Americans in the 40′s and 50′s are getting fatter and more immobile, just look at all the wheelchair rentals at Disney, bunch of fatsos devouring food and soda as if a famine was coming, it’s horrendous.

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    I meant Americans in THEIR 40′s and 50′s

  42. HtG Says:

    Carcos are never going to come out and say it; that they are engineering cars for reality. We’re getting older, wider, and less fit. Did you guys see the long piece in the NYT about how the foodcos are engineering food to get us to eat more and more? I have plenty of sympathy for the population.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

  43. pedro fernandez Says:

    We need to resist all these snacks and just buy fruits, why buy this junk, when you can go over to the produce dept and get an assortment of different fruits that are much better for you. Leave them snacks for the Super Bowl and New Year’s day.

  44. W L Simpson Says:

    Spare tires are most needed by people who try to
    squeeze too many miles out of their other 4

  45. Dcars Says:

    I put on a new set of tires about 2 months ago and got nail in one about a week ago. I prefer the spare.

  46. Dcars Says:

    It’s very sad seeing all those folks in wheel chairs around Disney. Obesity is a problem in the US.

  47. C-Tech Says:

    Note to everyone: When you take your car or truck in for an oil change / repair, ask the service advisor to check your spare. Remove the junk in the trunk to make it easy to reach. I will try to check the spare on vehicles with the tire mounted below or outside (Jeeps). Tip the young guns who change your oil (they need the money for Snap-on / Mac Tools!)

    John, Acura has done well in the U.S. Lately they have made some questionable design choices and have fallen behind the previous high standards their cars represent. I had an Acura Integra for a short while and enjoyed it.

  48. C-Tech Says:

    For those of you complaining about size creep in cars, some of you should look at and drive the cars built in the 60′s, 70′s, and 80′s. I don’t think the Fusion is larger than an 80′s Taurus. A Chevy Cruze compared to a 77 Nova? Take the Cruze. Now the Minivans, is another story. They have creeped to full-sized vans.

  49. C-Tech Says:

    For my Wheel Woman, apparently I am the jack and spare! Her belief is all she needs is a charged phone.

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    #48 but gas used to be what? 50 cents a gallon or less? no one cared about mpg’s or weight or any such thing, the overhang on some of those cars was ridiculous, not to mention trunk space, Leno made a video of a ’58 Olds he just got, the thing is massive.

  51. RonE Says:

    #50, ’58 Olds 98, King of the Chrome. The car looked like it must have weighed 12000 lbs., but ran like the rushing wind.

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    50,
    Here’s a chart of inflation-adjusted gas prices. It’s interesting, but pretty close to what I would have expected.

    http://www.inflationdata.com/inflation/images/charts/Oil/Gasoline_inflation_chart.htm

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    48, from wikipedia, which some may argue with, or not:

    1986 Taurus
    length 188
    width 71
    height 54
    weight 3050

    2013 Fusion
    length 192
    width 73
    height 58
    weight 3300–lightest version

  54. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ C-tech: I worked for a Ford dealership back in the 60′s,before I joined the Army. You missed the whole point of what we were talking about.

  55. Jonathan Says:

    Just an fyi…my c5 z06 didn’t have runflats or a spare tire. It came with a 500 dollar kit which I never used. What I did was go to k mart or target or walmart..take your pick..and buy a 20 dollar cigarette lighter powered compressor and a two dollar plug kit..

    Took me less time to fix the flat with the plug kit than to type this and cost me a buck..

    When i had time..I drove over to a tire repair shop for an inside patch to maintain the speed rating of the tire..

    20 dollars for the cigarette lighter air compressor..and 2 bucks for the plug kit (with multiple useage for many flats..

    Beats the goop and the high cost of expensive air systems from the OEM..

    Don’t ask me why the OEM’s over engineer for such a simple solution that is available..

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A lighter socket compressor is what I use for routine filling of tires. It’s kind of slow, but a lot more convenient than putting quarters in the thing at the gas station. I wish it had a longer cord, though, so I could plug it in once, and do all of the tires.