AD #1280 – China Drops U.S. Import Tariffs, Honda Gets More Fits, Mazda Tops MPG Chart

December 18th, 2013 at 11:58am

Runtime: 6:53

- China Drops U.S. Import Tariffs
- Honda Gets More Fits
- Don’t “Skip This Ad”
- Mazda Tops MPG Chart
- Gas Power to Dominate In 2040
- Autoline Executive of the Year

Visit our sponsors to thank them for their support of Autoline Daily: Bridgestone and Dow Automotive Systems

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | Zune | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher | YouTube

Welcome to Autoline Daily, where we cover the latest stories in the global automotive industry and the back story to why they’re happening.

This could be fantastic news for sales of the Ford Mustang and the Jeep Wrangler and other American cars in China. Two years ago in retaliation to the United States placing tariffs on Chinese-made tires, China slapped tariffs on imported cars from the U.S. with engines 2.5-liters or larger. Even BMW’s and Mercedes-Benz’s that were made in the USA and exported to China were hit with those tariffs. At the time, China claimed U.S. carmakers were receiving government subsidies and were dumping cars in China. But earlier this week China’s Ministry of Commerce decided to let those duties expire because it did not receive any applications from Chinese automakers to keep those tariffs in place.

Yesterday Honda showed U.S. journalists the new redesign of the Fit, but it embargoed all pictures of the car until tomorrow. But since the Fit is already on sale in Japan, where it quickly became the best selling car in the country, we can show you what it looks like. The new one is a lot bigger than the current car, and Honda will start making it at a new assembly plant in Celaya, Mexico. Honda sells about 50,000 Fits in the U.S. market every year, and says its been capacity constrained. The Mexican plant will eliminate those constraints. That plant will also build a CUV built off the same platform. In Japan it’s named the Vezel and Honda will reveal more details about it tomorrow.

Are you like me whenever the “skip this ad” icon pops up on a video you immediately click it? But as an automaker, how do you get people to really pay attention to the ad? Well, that’s why Acura hired comedian Jerry Seinfeld to write the ads for his webcast called Comedian’s in Cars Getting Coffee. Seinfeld wrote the ads which were directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, who also directed the movie Men in Black and are a spoof of the kind of television advertising you might have seen in the 1950’s or ‘60’s. As of right now they will only be running on that web series but Acura is considering using them on national television as well. The only problem? Honda’s Senior Vice President Mike Acavitti tells Autoline they’re not sure which one would be the most effective. So they’re trying to figure it out right now. To me, these ads could do for Acura what those Ron Burgundy ads did for the Dodge Durango.

More and more emphasis these days is placed on fuel economy, but which automaker has the best fleet average? According to the EPA, Mazda tops the list at an average of 27.5 miles-per-gallon with Honda close on its heels at 27 MPG. Chrysler was the worst at 21.6 with GM and Ford only slightly better. But here’s my Autoline Insight. Companies like Mazda don’t make commercial vehicles, full size pick-ups, SUV’s or vans. I mean, c’mon, Mazda sells 7 models compared to nearly 40 for General Motors. This kind of comparison is what feeds the misperception that the American automakers are behind the ball when it comes to fuel economy. It is worth knowing which car company is in the lead. But you need to understand the reasons behind the rankings.

We keep hearing more and more about advanced batteries and fuel cell cars and some day they may dominate the automotive market. But the U.S. Energy Department predicts that by 2040 nearly 80% of all cars and trucks will still have internal combustion engines fueled by gasoline.

Coming up next, I want to introduce you to the next member of my blue ribbon panel to name the Autoline Executive Of The Year.

Last week and this I’ve been talking about Autoline choosing the one automotive executive who stands out above all the others. The execs who made the short list include Mark Reuss from General Motors, Alan Mulally from Ford, Tom Doll from Subaru Of America, Martin Winterkorn from Volkswagen and Akio Toyoda from you know where.

I put together a blue ribbon panel of automotive experts to help me choose which exec stood out above all the others. I’ve already talked about Maryann Keller and Dr. David Cole. Today I want to talk about Neil De Koker.

Neil started his career at what was then called the General Motors Institute, and today is known as Kettering University. He enjoyed a great career path, working in various parts of General Motors and was ultimately selected to be part of the 100-person team that did all the strategic planning for what became the Saturn Corporation. De Koker later spent time at the giant Canadian supplier Magna and ran the Automotive Manufacturing Parts Association, the organization of Canadian suppliers.

Realising that no such organization existed in the United States, he went out and started the OESA, the Original Equipment Suppliers Association. Let me tell you, the car companies did not like the idea of suppliers banding together and speaking with one voice.

But today the OESA is recognized as a vital and important part of doing business in the automotive industry. Neil just retired as CEO of the OESA and that’s why I jumped at the chance to add him to the blue ribbon panel. And on Friday I’ll reveal who the panel chose as the Autoline Executive Of The Year.

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

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

55 Comments to “AD #1280 – China Drops U.S. Import Tariffs, Honda Gets More Fits, Mazda Tops MPG Chart”

  1. Lex Says:

    That Honda CUV based upon the Fit is will probably be the Honda Urban Concept which was shown at the New York Auto Show last year.

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    CR just named their worst 5 new-car values, including a couple of Caddys, Jeep wrangler and the BWW 7 among the top 5 they include the Prius, Forester and the often overlooked and slammed Scion xB and surprise, surprise: VW Golf made it to the top 5

  3. T. Bejma Says:

    I don’t see the Caddy’s Pedro

    “Here’s a look at the winners and losers in each of the categories:

    - Compact /Subcompact Cars: Best, Toyota Prius Four; Worst, Volkswagen Beetle 2.5L
    - Midsized Cars: Best, Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium; Worst, Nissan Altima 3.5 SL
    - Large Cars: Best, Toyota Avalon Hybrid Limited; Worst, Ford Taurus Limited
    - Luxury Cars: Best, Lexus ES 300h; Worst, BMW 750Li
    - Sports Cars/Convertibles: Best: Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring; Worst, Chevrolet Camaro convertible 2SS (V8)
    - Wagons/Minivans: Best, Mazda5 Grand Touring; Worst, Chrysler Town & Country Touring-L
    - Small SUVs: Best, Subaru Forester 2.5i Premium; Worst, Ford Escape SE (1.6T)
    - Midsized SUVs: Best, Nissan Murano SL; Worst, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
    - Luxury/Large SUVs: Best, BMW X1 xDrive28i; Worst, Nissan Armada Platinum
    - Pickups: Best, Honda Ridgeline RTS; Worst, Ford F-250 Lariat (6.7L V8)”

  4. Jon M Says:

    I might have mentioned this before, but on the topic vehicle power-plants, I believe the switch from gas/diesel engines to alternative powered (advanced batteries, pure E/Vs, fuel cells, etc) will happen similar to the much talked about convergence from U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) to international financial reporting standards (IFRS). In other words, it won’t happen. And just like the FASB and IASB update standards to try to achieve convergence, some alternatively powered vehicles will be out there, but the tried and true, much despised I/C engine will soldier on. Needless to say, I agree with the U.S. Energy Dept.’s prediction.

  5. ColoradoKid Says:

    3 – You don’t see … cause you don’t wanna see .. ;-)

    But err … did ya notice aint nary a Cadillac on the top o’ your pile either ? No Chebbies … in fact .. no GM what so ever [ though deservingly so the Camaro did make it as worst convertible ... the only convertible made with more blind spots than the blind spot infested coupe its based on ]

    But .. err … if its any small source of comfort to you son …. they rated the Honda Ridgeline as the best P/U .. which for all intensive purposes negates and discredits everything else they’re saying about all the cars on their list

    Consumer Report … irrelevancy at its finest


    WHAT ????

    No freaking Stu Hilborn tribute ?

    Damn ! Thats just wrong IMO !

  6. ColoradoKid Says:

    4 – Freaking brilliant … and a great analogy to boot !

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    TB, the list if for the worst and best values for your money, taking into consideration many factors, the Escalade (a dinosaur) and the XTS (another dinosaur) hopefully the latter will just go away! Hey look I really like the ATS and the CTS a lot!

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    They named the Prius the best value for the money and I agree and so does Kit, cheap to run, reliable and good re-sale to boot, just don’t expect to win many races in it.

  9. Bradley Says:

    I’ll assume the US Dept of Energy’s prediction is only for the United States. I believe they are completely wrong.

    Autonomous cars (or the partially autonomous cars) will be everywhere by 2025, and this will set the stage for Electric and other non-dyno powered cars.

    I predict The whole auto industry will go through the largest change it has ever seen in the next 20 years. Internal combustion engines will still be around, but I doubt 80%…maybe if Hybrids continue to grow…maybe.

  10. ColoradoKid Says:

    Jerry Seinfeld and Acura

    First off .. his internet series … Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee … is absolutely brilliant … can’t wait for the new season

    Second … Jerry’s done a great job with the Acura ads as well … far and away better than any car ads these days … with the possible exception perhaps of Subaru’s brilliant ad campaigns of late

    Too bad though that while Acura’s ads are so good …. their cars are still plain Jane , vanilla , white bread , overly homogenized ……… boring …….zzzzzzZZZZZZZ …. oops .. dozed off there just thinking about em … Acuras that is ….zzzZZZZZZZZ

  11. ColoradoKid Says:

    9 – Sorry Bradley ….. but dreams is dreams … soon to be crushed by the hard weight of reality …

    …. and the reality is ….. ICE’s will be around long after the current Trendy Wendy technology for technology’s sake … accomplishing absolutely nothing … being more ‘ Snark Hunting ‘ in fact than technology E/V’s and Hybrids … are long dead and gone … with only Hydrogen standing a bats chance in Parma ( Ohio ) of possibly supplanting petrol and ICE’s …. and errr …. BTW …. according to BMW – Mercedes – VW-Audi – etc … that’ll be the case .. worldwide as well


  12. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Meanwhile the jeep wrangler is still consistently….junk.Transmission problems for the auto is steadily moving into the ’13 my JK’s,with the now normal electrical gremlins alive and well.Oh yeah,the head problems in the early pentastar 3.6L seems to be making a comeback too.Jeep products are exactly like computers….’garbage in—garbage out’.

  13. ColoradoKid Says:

    9 – FYI – I’ll give a much more dire prediction as to the next major ‘ change ‘ the auto industry will go thru

    I’ll bet you .. hands down … the next major revolution in the auto industry will be …..

    The culling of the dead and deteriorating wood once and for all … leaving at best … less than 50% of the manufactures still in business …. selling less than 50% of the cars they sell today .. with many of the so called ‘ Big ‘ names being the first to die out

    That … will be the ‘ next big change ‘ in the auto industry ….

  14. ColoradoKid Says:

    12 – Yup ! And don’t it just PO you to no end ? Sure does me . Every time I see a JEEP … thinking … damn I’d like to own one … with then reality smacking me square in the face and bringing me back to earth .

    Ugh ! JEEP ! Delusional purchasing personified .. yet damn if folks don’t keep buying em … like Lemmings over a Cliff … they know its there … but they just keep jumping anyway

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Per CR the Jeep is only good at climbing rocks, and I wonder how many people are gonna use a $30k vehicle to climb rocks and risk messing it up? I know a guy who like to go “mudding” and got himself a $500 Cherokee and put about $3k into it.

  16. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ CK: Yeah,I too feel the pain of wanting another jk,but refusing to knowingly buy more trouble.It does piss me off to no end.

    @ Pedro: The jeep JK is overall,a almost do anything vehicle.Unbelievably capable,and nice interiors etc.Rock climbing is just one of it’s talents.BUT……..despite the growth of sales for the jk,the majority of them will see very little off road use,but will still suffer the pangs of electrical/mechanical problems that often leaves one on the side of the road until they shut it down,wait 10 minutes then restart.There ain’t no legitimate excuses for this.

  17. Bradley Says:

    11,13 – CK

    ICE will be around in 40 years, but not at 80% in the United States.

    Autonomous will change Americans in the same way the internet did. I am not using the internet because it is the most recent example of our world changing. The average person steered away from a computer when the internet went mainstream (early 90s) and by 2000 over 80% of Americans used the internet on a regular basis.

    Why because it made their lives easier? Autonomous will do the exact same thing, and it won’t just be for the rich.

    Why own a car when you can summon (via smartphone) an autonomous taxi to take you anywhere? You don’t even have to clean it or maintain it. Yellow-Robo-Cabs…

  18. G.A.Branigan Says:

    As for me,I still prefer to do my own driving,in my own vehicle.However,I can see where the majority of the population would opt for the ‘easy way’ and either spring for a autonomous vehicle or the handy-dandy yellow-robo-cabs….sigh.

  19. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I just read a couple of threads on a jeep forum concerning 2013,and now two 2014 JK’s with the auto trans.It seems that whenever they feel like it,when you put it in drive from park,it won’t engage.The temporary fix? Disconnect the negative battery terminal for about 10 minutes to reset the computer.That’s quality for ya…….

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    If these automakers would not depend so much on electronic doo dah’s to do the tasks that were until recently done manually, this crap would not occur, like the electric button to release the glove box lid and the trunk as well, found on some cars. Does anyone know if this is also used to release the gas filler door on any vehicle now?

  21. Bradley Says:


    I do!

    My Sportwagen requires the key FOB to be within a certain proximity for the filler door to open. It appears to be an electromagnetic lock, so unhooking the battery would also work as a fail safe.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    @TB they got a discussion over at TTAC about the upcoming Volt and how GM is trying to get 200 miles of electric only range, my question to you is this: when the Volt was first announced, the ICE was gonna be used to charge the battery when it dropped below a certain level, then we hear that the ICE would actually propel the car when the battery could not, why did GM do this? I bet this raised the cost of the car quite a bit and added complexity and cost to the drive train.

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    So if you lose electric power, you can’t even gas up your car? I rest my case! My sister’s Journey does not have a release button for the hatch. so if the electric lock breaks, it has to be fixed.

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    GM Korea (Daewoo) is “retiring” a bunch of workers on the heels of Chevy (Daewoo) pulling out of Europe, another brand the General has killed off in the past 2 decades.

  25. HtG Says:

    We’re busting on electronics, but aren’t they actually more reliable than mechanical solutions, at least in some cases? Plus, you can change the functions just by rewriting software.
    You guys may want your JK, but daddy wants a Boxster which is in reality the crazy chick whose oil you know better than to check.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    #25 Gee, HtG what is happening to you? my crank windows and manual door locks as well as manual trunk release have been providing 15 yrs of uninterrupted, reliable daily service where I have seen power windows and locks on cars belonging to people I know fail after just a few years of use.

  27. HtG Says:

    Yeah, I’ve got the manual stuff too, Pedro, but I read how electronics have an advantage ‘in some cases.’ For instance, electronic steering lets the manufacturer design a system once and then use it in different cars, just tuned differently. And it doesn’t’ use as much energy as the hydrolic ones. I think the whole equation works better, even if personal I like rolling my own.

  28. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Earlier this year I had to replace the electric window,(regulator and motor unit) on my wife’s 08 CRV.Only have about 40 or 50k miles on it.

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sister’s Journey hatch fails to unlock 80% of the time, making loading stuff through the back door kind of a pain in the a$$, but dealer wants too much money to fix something that would not be an issue if they had put in a manual latch with a freaking key hole.

  30. T. Bejma Says:



    The only time the Volt ICE actually drives the wheels is when you are above 80 mph, under that, the ICE is sending power through the battery to the electric motors.


    Every vehicle with the electric actuator for the fuel door, also has a manual release, usually in the trunk, to prevent the problem of not being able to open it if you loose electricity or the actuator dies.

    As far as changing from manual to electric functions, it isn’t the automakers driving it, it all comes down to making vehicles lighter (mpg requirements) and safer. Don’t blame the automakers, it is the government (as usual) driving these advances.

  31. Bradley Says:


    So without Government rules, car makers wouldn’t want to give consumers high MPG cars?

  32. Bradley Says:

    If my car doesn’t have power, it doesn’t matter if I can open the filler door. It isn’t going to start without power.

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    TB how much would you estimate that this feature adds to the cost of the Volt, is it worth it? how many times do people need to do 80mph, this is a “green” car after all!

  34. Buzzerd Says:

    @31 most people don’t care that much about Mpg, the car companies make what the consumer buys and the consumes want SUV’s and crossovers much more than they want fuel efficient cars. I believe about 80% of a car is mandated by the gov.

  35. Bradley Says:


    Roger..IMO the average consumer for a car just goes with the flow. The car companies assist with guiding that flow.

    For example, killing the true compact truck so more Full-size (more profitable) trucks can be sold. Is a way the car companies assist with guiding the flow.

  36. HtG Says:

    I’m reading about weight savings coming from electronics, as TB says. When all that wiring can be pared down and control for various systems coded onto a single chip, that will be something. The design tools for getting a single chip in a car to run multiple systems are being shown around right now. Prolly TB knows something about it. What amuses me is how hard carcos work to get weight out, while at the same time the population is eating and drinking itself into ever heftier comfort clothes. Imagine if the average person dropped twenty pounds; how much does it cost to take that out of a car?

  37. Bradley Says:

    Any compact truck meets 90% of truck owner’s needs. Now a lot of people “want” a BIG truck, and that is fine.

    However, if there was a real compact truck sold in this country it would sell well. As it would get in low 30s mpg easily.

    A $25k compact truck vs a $35k full-size, would appeal to a great number of people.

  38. Buzzerd Says:

    @Bradley – then why didn’t they sell well before? Why do all the manufacturers sell way more 4 door trucks than extended cabs? Why do so many people buy 3/4 tons when they don’t need them? Why because it’s got nothing to do with need it’s want.

  39. Buzzerd Says:

    Remember when Toyota released their new truck, they couldn’t give one away with the small 8, everyone had to have the more powerful 8, never my that the small truck would have been fine for most.

  40. HtG Says:

    BOOOM! (Maybe)

    EETimes is reporting that at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show(CES) Google will announce an industry consortium for in-car user interfaces and apps. The article does not go so far as to say this will certainly happen at CES.

  41. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Weight savings in cars seems to be like a dog chasing it’s tail.The oems come out with a compact 4 dr,small efficient engine,great combined mpg’s etc.Then in a few years they make that same car bigger and heavier but with the same engine/driveline combo.That ain’t the consumers fault.

    Compact pickups and their demise:Again the consumers are blamed for this,IE: lagging sales etc.Bullshit.The oems pretty much ignored the compacts,letting them fall wayy behind in available more fuel efficient engine/trans combos etc.Why? Because we bought the small pickups and used them and it didn’t cost near as much as the full size,ergo the oems didn’t realize the higher profits that the fullsize pu’s enjoy.Take a look at a 13,or 14 taco.That is a perfect example of in today’s terms,ancient technology,then look at the price.Why would people want to buy a new truck say every 5 to 8 years,yet the truck isn’t actually any different then what they already have? In short,the demise of compact pickup trucks lays right on the shoulders of the oems that made them in the first place.In other words,I believe it was contrived to get us truck buyers back into fullsize ones.End of rant….for now ;}>

  42. T. Bejma Says:


    It does probably add some significant cost Pedro, but one of the major intentions with the Volt was to make an EREV that behaves exactly like a normal ICE vehicle, and they definitely succeeded with that.

  43. C-Tech Says:

    @ #30 and #22 My understanding of the Volt powertrain is that the 1.0L engine WILL directly drive the front wheels via a unique planetary gear drive system when the battery is low and needs to recharge OR if additional power is needed at higher speeds OR higher loads (going uphill). This is from the Moter Trend article in 2010 and Bob Lutz book Car Guys vs. Bean Counters

  44. C-Tech Says:

    We will see if China creates some back-door way of taxing U.S. built vehicles. If not opens the door for a variety of U.S. built vehicles, not just from Ford and GM.

    Why doesn’t Chrysler do more in China?

  45. cwolf Says:

    When the Japanese do it they do it right! Seems like these vehicles are not any better than the Detroit 3 after all.

    Buying an American product is still the best way to go. Guess those ol’folks, like your parents, advice still has merit!

  46. pedro fernandez Says:

    That is why I would only buy Toyota, a co-worker’s much beloved Honda van, 8 yrs old, has had another complete transmission failure, (2nd one) this time, I think it’s bye bye, birdie, me ole girl no tranny issues at 368k and 15 yrs of daily grind.

  47. cwolf Says:

    You’ve got your moneys worth, pedro…thats for sure! My comment ,in truth, was to be provoking. I really wanted to include a phrase about buying an American car made by UAW workers, but this ol’UAW dummy ain’t look’in fer no trouble, cuz some think we’re all stupid and over paid.

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    If the Toyota/GM NUMMI plant in California was unionized, then my ultra reliable Corolla was built by UAW American workers in the USA.

  49. Bradley Says:


    IMO, that is a complex answer. However, you cannot say sales data really reflects what consumers want. There are varying reasons people choose the cars they do:

    1. a lot of them are out of lack of options.
    2. incentives
    3. marketing
    4. what their neighbor drives

    I would say less than 25% of car buyers actually do an objective analysis of wants, needs and affordability.

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yep, the Prius a great value, and a great “do everything” car for me and a lot of other people.

  51. Brett Says:


    Agree completely. Ford took the trailer towing rating off the Crown Victoria in the last decade of production so people would be forced into a more profitable Explorer or Expedition. The Vic hadn’t changed at all to merit the de-rating.

    Regarding the Ranger, I had a leased 2000 XLT. Fully-loaded 4-door, save for the 3.0L V6 instead of the 4.0L V6. First year I had it, I pulled all the panels out behind the front seats. There was no insulation or sound deadening material AT ALL back there. I put about $50 worth of aluminum-backed butyl gutter repair tape (same damned stuff Dyna-mat sells for too much $$$$) on those metal panels and utterly transformed the interior with regard to NVH.

    Yeah, Ford utterly abandoned the Ranger in a craven play for higher profits.

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    …and a Ridgeline would meet the needs of 90% of truck buyers better than the trucks they buy, but Ridgeline is not what truck buyers want. It’s not nearly ‘trucky” enough.

  53. Chuck Grenci Says:

    And if you think that the auto-makers will forsake a model to force you to choose one more to their liking, I think you are deluding yourself because the automakers make what the public wants. That’s why you see such a diversity of offering; because the public is fickle and it is a guessing game (to an extent) as to what to offer/when.

    Now saying what I just said, and saying what some others have said, this should also be said: either/both views are right AND wrong; of course there is a manipulation of models (of sort) but also known, that if a segment is ignored or abandoned, someone else may just pounce if the need remains.

  54. Brett Says:

    The automakers are charged, by law, to maximize shareholder value, i.e. profits.

    If they do the numbers and realize that very few people that would normally buy a Crown Vic as a tow vehicle WOULDN’T buy a more profitable Explorer or Expedition instead, they are going to de-rate the Crown Vic as a tow vehicle.

    Same with the Ranger. If they can profit more from the folks who would’ve bought a Ranger, but grudgingly buy an F-150 because there’s no more Ranger, then they will.

    Automakers don’t just make what the public wants, they also have considerable input into making the public buy one thing over another.

    Jeep didn’t invent the SUV class with the original XJ Cherokee because the buying public told them they were sick of minivans. Jeep led the public to realize that they were tired of minivans by presenting them with a preferable alternative.

    That’s one of the fascinating things about the auto industry, the lead times are long enough that you have to be almost prescient to succeed because if you’re wrong and the market doesn’t go the direction you thought it would, you’re toast.

  55. Kit Gerhart Says:

    22, 30 etc.
    From what I’ve read, the Volt’s ICE is connected directly to the wheels under various, steady-speed conditions, including under 80 mph. They do this to improve mpg when the the car is running on gas, after the battery is depleted. While the Volt doesn’t get Prius-like mpg after its ~35 miles on battery, it gets mileage that is competitive with similar size conventional cars.

    Still, the Volt makes the most sense for someone who will do most of their driving on plug-in power, but wants to avoid range anxiety, and who will take occasional long trips.