AD #1277 – GM Dumps PSA Stock, VW Replaces U.S. Chief, Automated Ford Fusion Hybrid

December 13th, 2013 at 11:50am

Runtime: 8:10

- GM Dumps PSA Stock…
- …And Does the Same with Ally
- VW Replaces U.S. Chief
- Strickland Leaves NHTSA
- Ford to Hire in U.S. and Asia
- Automated Ford Fusion Hybrid
- Taking It to the Street
- Autoline Executive of the Year

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Hello out there in Autoline land, it’s Friday! Thanks for joining us today as we bring you the latest developments in the auto industry, and the backdrop behind why they’re happening.

Yesterday we told you the GM-PSA alliance was falling apart. Well today the news is even worse. GM announced it’s selling off its 7% share in Peugeot. That caused PSA stock to plummet 12%, a big one day drop. And it’s dropped over 20% just this week. GM claims the alliance is still in place to jointly develop new products and share in purchasing parts. But it seems that GM is just trying to put on a brave face. Despite the best of intentions, this alliance is not going to produce the kind of savings they told us about a year and a half ago. This has been a major distraction from getting on with the job of turning Opel around. And don’t be surprised if its Chinese automaker Dongfeng that moves in to take a stake in PSA.

In fact, GM was in a selling mood yesterday. Bloomberg reports it sold off all its stock in Ally Financial, formerly known as GMAC. Curiously the company did not report the sale on its media website, and its PR staff would not comment on the sale, but it did put out a terse statement This sale suggests that GM is one step closer to getting its own in-house captive finance operation, something that could definitely help it sell more vehicles, especially in the US market. I keep saying that GM is competing with one arm tied behind its back by not having its own captive finance house. So as good as the company is doing right now, it still has a lot more upside potential.

But that’s not the case at Volkswagen. it just announced it’s replacing the head of its U.S. operations, Jonathan Browning, with Michael Horn, who is currently in charge of Global After Sales at VW. After Sales refers to all aftermarket activities, including parts and service. While the press release says Browning is leaving for personal reasons, I think it’s safe to say he’s being pushed out because of poor sales results. Overall the U.S. market is up 8% but VW’s sales are down 5% compared to last year. Kia and Volvo are the only other carmakers whose sales are down for the year. And we saw a big shakeup at Volvo just a few months ago.

And speaking of people leaving their positions, the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, David Strickland is stepping down. His deputy, David Friedman, will take over on an interim basis, then the Obama Administration will have to make a new appointment. Strickland had been pushing for mandatory backup cameras in cars. That effort will likely be delayed with his departure.

With 23 new global models heading down the pipeline, Ford was facing problems keeping up with production. But the Dearborn automaker just announced that it will hire 11,000 new employees in the U.S. and Asia next year. 6,000 of those jobs are headed to Asia to fill Ford’s 2 new facilities in China, while the remaining 5,000 jobs are for the U.S. to keep up with the 16 new vehicles heading to North America. Ford is on pace to sell 6 million vehicles globally this year and will need those 11,000 new workers to make all those cars.

And one day those workers will be making autonomous Fords. It’s developed an automated version of the Fusion Hybrid in collaboration with the University of Michigan and the State Farm insurance company. The Fusion is equipped with driver assist technologies that are currently available plus four LIDAR sensors to help detect objects around the vehicle. Not a whole lot of details were shared but Ford hopes to use the technology from this project in its vehicles in the future.

Americans buy over half of Harley Davidson’s motorcycles but the bikemaker wants to change that. So, it just introduced a slimmer and cheaper bike called the Street, which is headed to developing markets. The Street is aimed at urban environments with a frame and suspension designed for tight turns and quick moves in traffic. It comes in either 500 or 700-cc variants and will carry a price tag a little over $8,000. The Street will be built in India, where sales of motorbikes 500-cc and above are expected to grow eightfold over the next decade.

Coming up next I’ll be talking about the next executive who made it to our short list for the Autoline Executive of the Year.

As you know, I’ve been talking all week about those executives who made the short list for the Autoline Executive Of The Year. I’ve put together a blue ribbon panel of automotive experts to help me choose the one automotive executive who stood out above the others this year. So far we’ve covered Akio Toyoda, Tom Doll from Subaru, Martin Winterkorn from Volkswagen and Alan Mulally from Ford. Today I want to talk about Mark Reuss.

The son of former GM President Lloyd Reuss, Mark has had a stellar career at General Motors. An engineer by training, he came up the ranks on the car side of the business. But he’s also demonstrated that he understands the business, and not just the cars. That’s why he was given GM’s North American Operations to run, the biggest, most profitable part of the company. Mark is the guy who gets a lot of the credit for the spectacular products coming out of GM today, helping the company nab 3 of the 6 finalist positions for the North American Car & Truck Of The Year awards. No automaker has ever done that before in the 20 year history of the award.

Yes, he did just get passed over for getting the top job at GM. The CEO position as you know just went to Mary Barra. But that move actually plays to Mark’s strength. He will now be in charge of all product development at GM, with Purchasing reporting to him as well. That could be a very powerful combination and will ensure GM’s amazing product resurgence is not a flash in the pan.

And that’s why my blue ribbon panel decided Mark Reuss should be on our short list for the Autoline Executive Of The Year. So now you have all the finalists. Akio Toyoda, Tom Doll, Martin Winterkorn, Alan Mulally and Mark Reuss. Next week I’ll introduce you to the members of my blue ribbon panel. And one week from today we’ll reveal who we chose as the one executive who’s stood out above all the others.

But that wraps up today’s report, go out and have a great weekend and please join us again here on Monday.

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74 Comments to “AD #1277 – GM Dumps PSA Stock, VW Replaces U.S. Chief, Automated Ford Fusion Hybrid”

  1. Clem Zahrobsky Says:

    Could the reason the auto companies are pulling out of Australia be the fact the minimum wage there is $16+ ??

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    What??? No mention of sergio macaroni?? I’m shocked/appalled/I’m over it now ;}>

  3. Brett Says:


    You have issues with people earning a living wage?

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Harley Street will be built in the U.S., for the US and Canadian markets, and India for other markets, according to Cycle World.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Australia is an expensive place to built cars, mostly for reasons other than the minimum wage, and it is a small market, with a total population of about 20 million. That is why the auto companies are stopping production there.

  6. M360 Says:

    In MHO, Mark Reuss is a good pick for the Autoline Executive of the Year. He knows where GM has been and where it needs to go in the future.

  7. Buzzerd Says:

    speaking of Harley, they is another example of government picking sides with positive out comes. The US government enacted heavy tariffs on motorcycles over 700cc’s in the early 80′s with Harley edging closer to bankruptcy. The tariff was almost exclusively on Japanese motorcycles to boot. Jump ahead 30yrs and Harley has become a very successful company once again, although they are almost an apparel company that also sell motorcycles.

  8. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 7: AMF owned harley,and it was failing.In 1980 the employees and willie davidson etc decided to buy back the company.However they needed to design an all new bike and engine,and needed the time to do it so they asked for 4 years to develope what they needed.

    The heavy tariffs on the large displacement bikes was to give the ‘new harleys’ a chance,after they developed the new ‘Evo’ engine,and the first softail frame.Interestingly though,the new Evo engines were advertised as the ‘new squishead’ technology,which btw was used on the XA that they tried to get the army into back in WWII.

    When in fact,they were still hemis under the shiney valve covers,lol.

  9. Lex Says:

    I hope Dan Ammann in his new role at GM will keep the company from making any more hair brain money losing alliances with other auto makers. What he should do is recommend that GM pay the US Treasury back the $10.5BN is lost on the GM Stock Sale. He does not have to pay it all at once. A good repayment plan would be 5-10 years with interest to forever remove the stigma of “Government Motors”. IMO that would be a very honorable deed.

  10. Jon M Says:

    It’s kind of interesting to see an insurance company collaborating on an autonomous car project. Autonomous cars take the driver risk out of the equation for insurance companies. If cars can do the driving and communicate with each other to virtually eliminate accidents, then rates should do a free fall. But on second though, nah, insurance companies can always find a reason to raise rates. “Your due for accident” is my favorite reason. Nationwide gave this as the reason for increasing the rates on my parent’s claim-free policy and spotless driving records.

  11. Ivan Sears Says:

    While the list can never satisfy everyone, your comments about Mark Reuss beg recognition of Mary Barra. Interesting you picked Reuss, but not Barra. Both make sense for your Exec of the Year.

  12. Jon M Says:

    @ 9, Lex

    “… GM pay the US Treasury back the $10.5BN is lost on the GM Stock Sale.” That’s a good one, Lex. Thanks for the comic relief on a busy Friday!

  13. Lex Says:

    Chinese automaker like Dongfeng might move in on PSA caused by the vacuum of GM cutting ties.
    I can see the Chinese OEM’s cherry picking those automotive OEM’s that are near or in trouble as a White Knight from the East.
    Gary Vasilash mentioned this last night on AAH.
    I believe Gary is right, maybe even in Austrialia if they can get government incentitives to keep those job. A Chinese OEM might just setup shop with the blessings of the Austrialian Government and consolidate the former GM and Ford factories under one ownership.

    This will give the Chinese Automotive Compnies the technology and plants without putting pen to paper or stovels in the ground.

  14. Lex Says:

    @ Jon M

    Insurance, Oil, Electric & Gas, Telephone & Cable and others major companies can find a reason to raise rates to their customers. There is always an excuse like 911, Hurricane Katrina, Super Storm Sandy and the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a way to line their pockets and keep their stockholders happy and pass the cost onto the consumer. Our Federal Government should be protecting us the taxpayers from these practices. Instead the IRS Code has chapters in it written specifically to protect each of these industries. How is that for comic relief!

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    HD seems to have a lot more apparel stores than motorcycle stores, including one about a mile from my place in Florida. That one is associated with an actual motorcycle store, which is about 30 miles away.

  16. ColoradoKid Says:

    #1 .. No … its because the Australian government and its citizens unlike us … has cone to the very correct conclusion that Subsidizing – Offering tax breaks and incentives – bailing out – as well as financing Auto Makers is tantamount to throwing money down an endless Black Hole

    Someday we’ll wise up as well hopefully …. but don’t bet on it

  17. Bradley Says:

    Autonomous Cars +1

    John do you know who manufactures the LIDAR sensors Ford/Wolverines are using?

  18. ColoradoKid Says:

    The ubiquitous Harley Davidson ‘ Street ‘ … coming to a dealership nearest you as well . ‘ Manufactured and Assembled in India for all other markets …. manufactured in India … but ‘ assembled ‘ in the US for the NA market ( H-D doing the ‘ dirty covering that little detail by saying its ‘ built ‘ … in the KCMO plant )

    All early reviews saying its pretty much a cheaply made – over priced poor imitation of a Harley Davidson ( RideApart ) and not worth the price of entry

    Cynical marketing on behalf of ‘ The Motor Company ‘ . not to mention a whole lot of jobs once again lost to overseas ‘ outsourcing ‘

    Nice job Harley !! Glad to know you’re ‘ America’s ‘ Motor Cycle company ;-)

    And … just wait and see what’ll happen should that PAFTA ( Pan Asian Free Trade Agreement ) agenda in the works of ObamaClaus and his minions goes thru

    Suffice it to say …. there’s good reason he just brought in the New / Old guy into his inner circle

    Truly … for the sake of each and every blue collar working man/woman in this country ( especially in manufacturing ) … I hope to god this one fails miserably ….. but … it probably won’t

    GREED onces again trumping our National Interest no doubt

    e.g. YOU … do not matter … to … them ! ( DC )

  19. ColoradoKid Says:

    #4 – Ahhhh … you fell for it … just like ‘ The Motor Company ‘ was hoping you would

    ‘ Assembled ‘ = ‘ built in H-D lingo ;-)

    And folks wonder why after having H-D’s in the family since 1926 …. NO one in the family now … immediate or distant will even so much as walk into a dealership

    Yeah .. like good ole G.A. said in #8 we gave H-D a ton of well needed advantages to get them back on their feet … with H-D now kicking us all straight in the arse for doing it … all while taking the money outta our back pockets … mostly for Chinese- Vietnamese – India- Indonesia- Bangladesh manufactured clothing and tchotchkes

    Aint it just loverly how once bailed out – salvaged – saved by the US tax Payers …. each and every company in the end winds up sticking it to us in spades once back on their [ temporary ] feet ?

  20. ColoradoKid Says:

    Tom Doll – Subaru … hands down … no contest !

    Heck … from Tom Doll to the Marketing/ Advertising right on down to the copy editors …. Subaru’s been coming up Aces and deserves all the accolades we can bestow upon them

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The story of the Harley Street is pretty much described at this link, which I also posted earlier:

    It has a 60 degree, liquid cooled V twin, which is not very Harley-like, except for being a V twin. According to Autoblog, it is a smaller version of the Porsche designed engine use in the V-Rod.

  22. Jon M Says:

    @ Lex, 14

    I’d say that’s about what one would expect. I’ve always said if insurance fraud is illegal, then every ins. co. executive should be sitting in jail. But the law always goes after the consumer. And not that its a bad thing to go after people who file fraudulent claims, it is just that it is one-sided with respect to insurance fraud.

  23. ColoradoKid Says:

    Bradley -17 – This’ns just for you :o

  24. ColoradoKid Says:

    21 – No … that article is the worst example of blatant H-D propaganda … read RideAparts per production reviews as well as their genuine ‘ investigative journalism ‘ that dug into the ‘ facts ‘

    Not to mention the former KCMO white collar neighbor I had in KCMO spilling the beans

  25. cwolf Says:

    CK’s got this one: Tom Doll, calculated,targeted and methodical. Sometimes the tortoise wins.

    I thought a main reason the Aussies nolonger want to play the susidy game is because their dollar is so strong,the price of imported products is taking a bit out of everyones pocket books. The result is not enough moola to throw away and get little in return.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The RideApart article says that the CBR250 and Ninja 300 are less expensive, and have better quality than the pre-production Harley. Is that a surprise? Those two little Japanese bikes also cost less, and probably have better quality than the expensive Harleys.

    No, I certainly wouldn’t buy a Street 500 or 750. The bike I DID buy, which has a current MSRP about $200 lower than the Street 500 is a Kawasaki KLR650.

    For those who are interested, the RideApart article is at:

  27. G.A.Branigan Says:

    But wait…..there’s more, once harley had secured the big bike trade once again,the evo was a big hit bla,bla,bla…..then came the war against the ‘core riders’ and the very ‘outlaw’ shops that kept harley(amf) alive since 69.Little to no msm coverage about them sending in their ‘gestapo’ looking for old harley signage etc.Confiscating such on the spot with passages read to use from their legal ‘book of threats’.I love harleys,have had 30 or more over the years,but would only own/build a shovel (amf).One of the many tats on my arms is a tombstone with ‘RIP,harley davidson,died of greed’.

  28. Brett Says:

    Newsflash: Harley Davidson invents the metric cruiser…

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    27, Yeah, all of the Harley stores are now “boutiques,” more than anything else.

    There are still a lot of small shops, though, that fix Harleys, from the oldest ones, to those just off warranty, and sell accessories. There is such a shop in my home town in Indiana. It was started in the ’40′s by a former sidecar racer, who had an actual Harley dealership for a while, and later Yamaha and BMW. By the late 70′s, BMW wouldn’t have any part of a shop like his.

    Two of the sons are now running the business, and seem to be doing well, fixing Harleys and Beemers, and changing tires, etc., on all brands.

  30. HtG Says:

    Is it me to blame, or Friday?

    Why do I get suspicious about the timing of GM getting out of PSA and Ally at about the time the US sold off its last shares? Could there have been some pressure brought to bare on Girsky or Ammann over the last few years. Remember, Ally has been held up by DC for the last few years.

    And I have to agree with CK about the reason for GM ending manufacturing in Oz. The end of state subsidies. Definitely blaming Friday for this one.

    OK John, 72 hours for your report on Toyota’s coming deal to end a mass of lawsuits for sudden-you-know-what. Hint, LATimes
    Exec of the year

    I’ll be getting to know the judges next week, and then I’ll say which exec gets the award.

  31. HtG Says:

    A little known rule of the road

    For the second time I’ve had a horn blared at me as I came through a left hand bend. On both occasions I had gone wider right in order to late apex the corner. It must appear to oncoming traffic as though I’m headed right at them, because those people seem scared of me little Civic.

    So, to dick or not to dick with people?

  32. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ HtG: As long as you ain’t breaking the law with your driving,ROCK ON !! Remember this,the one(s) your scaring might not try to text while driving cause there’s another maniac on th’ road they gotta watch,lmao ;}>

  33. cwolf Says:

    Pick-yer-brain time: My 69 MGC has 2 vacuum assist units on my brakes. Can these be rebuilt,if they don’t work properly? Seems to me, it is the right thing to do considering the age. Healy’s don’t even have them and the brakes work fine. MGB’s only have one. I assume the extra weight from having a 6 cyl. rather than a 4 cyl. was the reason. I think it strange the healy didn’t use an assist,yet my motor is actually a Healy in MG clothing. What’s the difference and how much is gained? Thanks for helping.

  34. Jesse W. Henry Says:

    #32 G.A.Branigan – +1

    I got a good laugh out of the last sentence.

    Thanks to John and the Autoline staff for continuing to put out a great automotive news program.

  35. HtG Says:

    33 cwolf, maybe you check out this shop…

    What’s the idea behind a double booster?

  36. gary susie Says:

    Just a note to the naysayers about auto bailout, it saved over one million jobs has brought in over 112 billion in taxes and as we all see created a lot of new jobs. We probably would have gone into a depression if it hadn’t happened. Even the imports didn’t want to see them go under because it would have taken down all of the parts supplyers.

  37. cwolf Says:

    Thanks HtG. I also found another place in Toledo (15 min. away from the shop)that had done old roadsters. Even as a kid, I never had a reason to tinker with them,so I’m in the dark for now. I know they are vacuum assist,but don’t know the reason for having two…..But I will know! I’ll share my findings.
    I just signed the deed over to the new owners this A.M. and have to be out by the 30th. Though on vacation since the 3rd.,its been a real whirl wind around here! Maybe I’ll know something after I return from the new house this weekend. I’m trying to make one more haul with the trailer before the snow storm hits! Thanks again.

  38. XA351GT Says:

    I have a lot friends in Australia. The reason that Ford and Holden are going going almost gone is cheap competition from Asia. After Australia lifted certain import rules it opened the flood gates on cheap built Sh*t Boxes as they prefer to call them. This is a preview of what will happen here if the Chinese can ever crack the emissions and safety barriers in the US market. If the US does not protect the companies here now from Cheap Chinese crap being dumped at under cost to get people to buy them It will spell the end of the car market as we know it.

  39. T. Bejma Says:


    That makes sense. A lot more sense than just that the people don’t want the auto industry there. Just like in the US, the Australian automotive industry creates a lot of well paying jobs in the middle class. I feel sorry for the Australian citizens. Losing your manufacturing base is tantamount to killing your economy. What could possible replace auto manufacturing in Australia?

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    You probably know this, but there is an MG forum that could be useful.,678286,678316

    Good luck with your project.

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    Service and tourism just like it was supposed to work here, it hasn’t really turned out too well, has it? just this week another report stating that the rich are getting richer, the poor poorer and the lower middle class is now joining the poor. But the apologists keep on saying this is BS!

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    38, 41
    I used to accept the “general wisdom” that protectionism was almost always bad, but I’m now having my doubts.
    Manufacturing, especially car manufacturing is what created the American, and probably the Australian middle class. We need only so many doctors, web page designers, and computer engineers. Everyone going to college is not the solution to our disappearing middle class, and widening disparity of wealth.
    Most “service industry” jobs just don’t create middle class income. Servers in nice restaurants can make decent money, but they are the exception.

  43. HtG Says:

    Australia is a major exporter, particularly from mining. China is a central customer.

    But yeah, when they opened up the country to imports that hurt the home team. One must still respect the democratic process that chose against continuing subsidies for the industry. This new govt is conservative.

    As far as free trade in the pacific, it looks like it may be ever more liberalized, if you’ve peaked at the Trans-Pacific-Partnership(TPP) draft.

  44. HtG Says:

    An ABC(australia) report on the value of the auto industry.

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Exporting raw materials brings wealth into a country, but mostly wealth for the few. The number of jobs created by gold and coal mining is pretty low, compared to the value of the commodity.

    I see Australia’s biggest export market is China, which sounds like a good thing for Australia.

    Yeah, it looks like trade is pretty “free” in Asia/Oceania, with Chinese cars being sold everywhere there, including in Australia. It looks like they have a ways to go, though, with the product.

  46. T. Bejma Says:


    Nice article HtG, thanks for that.

    I bet that the same can be said about ANY country that subsidizes the auto industry during it’s down times. The key is helping to put in place permanent reform that keeps the good times (like we are having in the US) good and prevents the problems that cause the downturns.

    I am not confident that can ever be done with the current controlling powers that be.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #44, 46
    With Ford and Holden gone, the local suppliers will collapse, and Toyota will probably soon leave Australia, and it’s unlikely they will ever return. Ditto regarding any other “transplants” coming to Oz any time soon.

    I don”t know much about Australian politics, but it sounds like they put their “tea party” in power, and a lot of people will pay the price for a long time.

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    They say that a car is just a bunch of parts put together, if that is the case and from recent personal experience plus my conversations with my mechanic regarding Chinese parts, these incoming Chino mobiles should be pretty crappy and should break down quite often and quickly.

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Chinese cars will start out really crappy, as did the Japanese, and later the Korean cars, but will get better over time. Otherwise, they won’t sell.

    As far as replacement parts, it seems that there is no control. They can send us anything, and parts distributors and repair shops will buy them, purely on price.

  50. ColoradoKid Says:

    Harley Davidsons Govt Assistance [ the basics ]

    1) Back when Willy G and Co. were buying H-D from AMF the Japanese M/C manufactures were on a mission of ‘ dumping ‘ ( selling below cost ) M/C’s worldwide . Having already decimated the UK M/C Industry and all but Ducati and Moto Guzzi in Europe they’d aimed their sites at eliminating the remains of H-D as well ( best way to beat your competition is to eliminate them )

    2 ) So Willy G and Co. went to DC …. not asking for bailouts – subsidies – incentives etc … rather requesting the Govt place everyone on an equal footing by upping the import duties/taxes on all the Japanese manufactures

    3 To H-D’s credit … once they’d gotten back on their feet and had their first successful IPO … they then petitioned the Govt to drop the excess duties etc on the Japanese M/C makers … which DC dutifully did

    Making H-D by far the single greatest comeback story in US business/manufacturing history … perhaps only equalled by Apple’s comeback upon the return of Steve Jobs

    Which is IMO why H-D’s current tactic of manufacturing bikes overseas and then ‘ assembling ‘ them here … claiming them to be ‘ American ‘ M/C’s is such a total afront and insult upon the American M/C public

    Soapbox over … for now

  51. ColoradoKid Says:

    49 – Sorry to have to disagree again Mr Gerhart … but the record shows the first Japanese cars to hit our shores were in fact more than quite good … and in fact were a hell of a lot more reliable than anything the US was manufacturing back then …. and only go better over time [ though of late they are admittedly slipping ]

    Which …. is why from almost the get go .. despite being so small in the American publics eye …. they kicked our entire auto industry’s butt for years to follow


    # 50 line 1 should of read … ‘ all but Ducati Moto Guzzi and BMW M/C’s … mea culpa

    Which … is to say … No Excuses for either the Korean or Chinese auto manufactures … None what so ever

  52. ColoradoKid Says:

    Ack !!!!! … sorry … part of the Chinese thing got mixed into the #50 correction !!!

    Oh but for an ‘ editing ‘ function …. someday …… maybe

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yes, I am sure you are so “sorry” to disagree with me.

    The first Japanese cars to hit our shores rusted out in about two years, and that was before they salted the roads nearly as much as they do now. Also, they weren’t that great otherwise. My sister had an early Honda Civic, which had constant drivability problems which the dealer couldn’t fix. A friend had an early Accord which had head, or head gasket problems. You must not have been around the early Japanese cars, or you’d know they weren’t that great, but yeah, you will never agree with me about much of anything.

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    53, continued.
    …and my 1974 Plymouth Duster was very reliable. I drove it about 80K miles, and the only problem I had was a tie rod end wearing out. That was a clear defect, though, as the tie rod end in question wouldn’t “take grease” through the fitting.

  55. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Japanese bike companies had a partial solution for the “Harley tax” on machines larger than 700cc. Several 750s were de-bored to 700cc, including a friend’s Honda Sabre.

    By the time of the Harley tax, Honda were building Gold Wings in Ohio, so they avoided the tax.

  56. G.A.Branigan Says:

    After WWII the Japanese of course were decimated,both economically,and the infrastructure etc.Gen MacArthur noted that cheap reliable transportation was needed for the defeated Japanese people so he petitioned washington,to petition Harley Davidson to give the licensing,and tooling to the Japanese to manufacture their very first motorcycles.The venerable WLA’s,45inch flatties.They were named Ricci.

  57. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Make that RIKUO motorcycles……duh.

  58. XA351GT Says:

    An addition to the Harley storyline. Not only did the Jap bike companies dump their bikes ,but also had a all out assault on Harley in the magazines for their lousy quality and reliability under the AMF regime. Worse though was how they went on and on about the Harley V twin being a dinosaur and should be scrapped. Funny how when that failed and Harley roared back under new management that they all came out with V twin Harley clones and still do.

    Also like Kit said the big knock on Jap cars in the early 70s were their ability to rust on the show room floor. They were pretty good on reliability ,but if something did go wrong it took forever for the correct parts to arrive to fix it. Once they had their parts supply under control rust was the main issue.

    If you sell something cheap enough people will take a chance on it. If the Chinese come over with a new car for under 10K people will buy it ,instead of spending 10K on a 7 year old car. Remember people bought Yugos and they were about the worse piles on wheels you could get. I remember sitting in the Ford dealership when I bought my 89 GT Mustang . I read a report one of the magazines did about repair costs from crash damage. They compared the escort, the Yugo and couple other cars as well. In 5mph crashes , from head on to a wall, back into a wall, front 1/4 into a wall and rear into a pole . All at only 5 mph, the Yugo sustained over 5K in damage. It cost only about 6500 new. So any crash would surely total the car and probably you also. But people still bought them. My brother opted for the Hyundai Excel. It cost nearly $500 more but was a better buy. He owned it 20 years before a low speed crash killed it,a guy in a Caddy sideswiped it at a red light . It still ran fine ,but the Insurance money was twice what it was worth by a long shot and he let it go.

  59. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Here is a link to what I was talking about.Although it varies greatly from the HD engineering history book that I read 30+ years ago.It couldn’t be my memory ;}>

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There was also a Japanese bike that was a near-clone of BMWs.

  61. C-Tech Says:

    CK must be enjoying the Colorado Weed if he believes the Japanese cars of the 50′s, 60′s, and early 70′s were good products. They were cheap transportation and for many an alternative to buying a used car (think Beetle). Even in the late 70′s and early 80′s if it had not been for support by the Japanese government, those vehicles would have been as expensive if not more expensive than U.S. vehicles.

  62. pedro fernandez Says:

    #61 the height of Japanese car quality came in the early to mid 90′s with bullet-proof cars such as Camry, Accord, Corolla and others. Quality you could see and feel inside and out, I remember the first time I spent a week with a rental 93 Camry, it was way, way superior than my 86 in every aspect.

  63. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Japanese rise in the US car market in the 80′s and 90′s was also due to the fact that Detroit just did not do a good job of switching to FWD platforms and Japan did, and they got it right, just like QW messed up going from air to water cooled engines.

  64. pedro fernandez Says:

    So the new Chrysler 200 will be based on the Dart platform, this is the same thing they did with the previous model which was based on an extended Caliber architecture (originally designed with Hyundai and it was their old Elantra), don’t these guys ever learn that this is a very competitive segment and once again they will come up short against the better models in the class.

  65. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah’ the 200 will have to go at it in the most competitive car segment in America, but the Dart platform isn’t that bad. The Dart got off to a really bad start, because they shipped all those not-for-America manual transmissions and dual clutch automatics. Hopefully, they will do better with the 200.

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Part of what was wrong with the Caliber is that the interior was so crappy, and that carried over with the Sebring. It got better with the 200, but overall, the 200 is still worst in class. It’s one virtue, is that it’s peppy with the V6.

  67. pedro fernandez Says:

    I saw the photo and it looks nice and modern, but it has to carry the baggage of its predecessor and that is not an easy thing to overcome unless it really stands out and the Dart just does not, it’s an ok car but most of its competitors are just better. BTW the amount of new Corollas I see on a daily basis around here is astonishing.

  68. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I saw a lot of Darts last summer, since I was in a town where Chrysler is, by far, the biggest employer, but I don’t see many here in the ‘space coast’ area. I don’t see that many Corollas, even here in FL, but that car segment seems to be unrepresented in my area. I like the new Corolla, except they don’t sell a hatch or wagon version here.

  69. pedro fernandez Says:

    This area has a lot of small, Japanese cars, not so in other areas of Fl. I recall seeing a lot of full sized American sedans in the panhandle for example and of course more trucks than you can count in the rural parts of the state.

  70. Kit Gerhart Says:

    At my condo, there is everything from new Benzes to beaters of all brands. Priuses and Lexus RXs seem to be over-represented with 4 each, that I know of. There don’t seem to be newer Corollas or Civics, though.

    As far as the area in general, there are a lot of pickups, usually empty, and “crossovers” of all brands.

  71. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit are there a lot of snow birds in your condo?

  72. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yep, probably about a third snow birds, and quite a few retirees that live here full time. The condo rules allow not more than 20% of the units to be rentals, so there aren’t many younger people who’d be more inclined to rent, than buy in a place like this. I’d like it if there were a few more younger people, to “liven the place up.”

    The complex is on east side of the Banana River, about a half mile from the ocean.

  73. pedro fernandez Says:

    Banana river would be the continuation of our own intercoastal waterway which includes Biscayne Bay and goes all the way down to the Keys. They should adopt the Banana River name for this area, after all it is often referred to as a Banana Republic anyway. Conch republic and banana republic, makes sense.

  74. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Banana River and Indian River combine about 30 miles south of me,and the barrier islands go on forever. The east side of Florida must have about 500 miles of barrier island, with an average width of about a half mile.