AD #1340 – March Set to Rebound, Daimler & Nissan Expand Tie-Up, BMW to Build X7 in SC

March 24th, 2014 at 11:35am

Runtime: 6:18

- March Forecast Looking Good
- Hyundai Debuts All-New Sonata
- Audi Upgrades TT for 2015
- Daimler & Nissan Expand Partnership
- BMW to Build X7 in SC
- Mose Still Knows Engines

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Hello and welcome to a brand new week of Autoline Daily. I’m Sean McElroy filling in for John while he’s out driving the new Honda Fit but now let’s look at today’s top stories.

Car sales have been slow so far this year in the U.S. due to the unusually cold winter. But now that its spring and temperatures are going back up, Wards is forecasting that sales in March are going to rebound. Car sales are estimated to hit 1.48 million units, which is an increase of 6% compared to a year ago. That translates to a SAAR of 15.8 million units. Wards also says inventory levels will continue to fall with the day’s of supply of vehicles expected to be at 65 down from 90 just a couple of months ago.

Earlier this month we showed you a teaser image of Hyundai’s all-new Sonata and now after its South Korean debut we get to see the whole package. It sits on a modified version of one of its own platforms, which is not only longer and wider than the previous model but is said to improve suspension performance and structural rigidity. No official word yet on which powertrain options will be available in the U.S., but in Korea it can be powered by a series of 4-cylinder engines that range from 2.0L up to 2.4L and are mated to either a 6-speed manual or automatic transmission. The all-new Sonata will be launched outside of Korea in the second half of this year.

Audi just showed off the newest generation of its TT, but before that car enters the lineup the German automaker has made some upgrades to the current model. Up front it gets Audi’s Singleframe grille and will now sport LED running lamps. A new Competition Package is available, which includes a fixed rear spoiler, new paint colors, unique wheels and leather seats with baseball stitching. The 2015 model will also come standard with heated seats.

A few years back, Daimler and Nissan entered a partnership to collaborate on small cars and engines, and now the two automakers are expanding their tie-up. Reuters reports that Nissan and Daimler have agreed to start a 50-50 joint venture in Mexico to build the Mercedes GLA and all-new Infiniti cars at Nissan’s Aguascalientes plant. No word yet on when production will start.

And speaking of manufacturing, BMW is going to start building its X7 crossover in South Carolina. Reuters reports, the company will spend several hundred million dollars to upgrade the facility, which will boost its annual output to about 400,000 vehicles. A formal announcement is expected later this week.

Coming up next, a look into Ford’s racing history.

Last week on Autoline After Hours, we were joined by Mose Nowland, who worked on some of Ford’s most famous racing engines. It was a great discussion about the company’s racing history and if you didn’t catch it, here’s a taste of what you missed.

(Clip from AAH with Mose Nowland can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

As I mentioned this was a fun show about the history of racing and you can watch the entire interview right now on our website, at

But that’s a wrap for today. Thanks for watching and we hope to see you again right here tomorrow.

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

58 Comments to “AD #1340 – March Set to Rebound, Daimler & Nissan Expand Tie-Up, BMW to Build X7 in SC”

  1. alex wellington Says:

    1. the “new” TT is not so new. I have been seen articles and pictures of it for weeks (actually it seems like for months!) now.

    2. Sales for 2014 have actually been reduced by a few thousand (about 0.1-0.2 million) units because of the winter. March is always a strong month, the Q is, is it going to be much stronger this time because of the pent-up demand?

    3. All-new Sonata (Yawn). This segment has way too much competition. It had better be really good. I notice they have improved (toned down) the silly flares of the current Sonata.

    4. BMW X7. I would bet this is not based on the 7 series but, like the X5, on the 5 series platform. Maybe they call it 7 because it will have 7 seats. Maybe the excellent Merc GL sells well (and profits even better!) and they want a piece of the action.

  2. HtG Says:


    It was interesting to me that in response to a question of John’s, Mose said he believed Ford selected him to work on the racing engines in part because of his attention to detail. I’ve heard Jackie Stewart is this way, Schumacher, Ron Dennis, Senna, etc.

    This doesn’t mean I didn’t like Mose’s stories about Darrel Waltrip grenading an engine as he crossed the finish line, lest illegal parts be found upon inspection, or hooch stories, or that huntin’ tale.

  3. alex wellington Says:

    To answer my own question above, I hope I am wrong, of course, but I believe this March will actually be no better than last March, and it might even be worse.

    This is because March 2014 was another lousy month in most snowbelt states. Any growth in sales in the sunbelt states will be reduced by poor sales in the snowbelt.

    You can come back next week (Sales out Tue April 1) and tell me how prophetic (or not) I was.

  4. XA351GT Says:

    IMO the Hyundai styling is a step back to the bland styling of a few design cycles ago. I think they should have kept pushing it forward ,but I have heard the Koreans weren’t fond of the current style so much. Shame it is what set them apart from most other cars. Where as they were setting the trend they are back chasing them. Hopefully Kia will keep pushing the issue.

  5. XA351GT Says:

    The mighty 427s were great engines. The 3.0 liter Cosworth Ford was the most successful engine that ever had a Ford badge on it though. It powered most of the F1 fields for nearly 10 years.

  6. alex wellington Says:

    PDL just put out his weekly piece, dated today.

    He does not buy Acura will be any better under the new scheme (John’s opinion is quite the opposite, and so is the opinion of other mainstream industry commentators). I agree with PDL on this one.

    “… this isn’t an industry remake of Groundhog Day and we weren’t the last to get the memo. No, it’s even worse than that.

    It’s repetitive posturing and preening form the same players, desperately trying to project that it’s real news and that this time, this time, things will turn out differently.

    First up is the earnest gang from Acura. Just how desperate are these folks? Desperate enough to go to the “We Got It All Goin’ On” well one more time.

    I wonder if Mark Rechtin, one of Automotive News’ brighter lights, actually does think he’s been asked to play a role in the remake of the Bill Murray film classic, because this week he’s covering for oh, I don’t know, maybe the fifth time in the last seven years the same story that has been covered by all angles so many times before. His headline: “Acura gains clout, searches for cachet.”

    Now, to spare you all the gory details, although Rechtin’s piece is typically informative and interesting to read, as is his wont, this story revolves around Acura management once again trying to convince the consumer world out there – and themselves – that they belong in the luxury category, and that this time, this time, they have made all the right moves to make it happen.

    Acura will now have a distinctly separate sales and marketing organization from Honda, for one, as if this is some grand revelation, and it will also have its own R & D team dedicated to the brand as well. And out of this – according to the Acuralytes, of course – will come new vision, new marketing clarity and more focused products.

    Really? This is going to do it this time? These are the moves that will allow Acura to take its place at the luxury table, where it truly belongs, according to the True Believers associated with the brand?

    This just in: I’ve seen this movie before and it never ends well.

    So why should I believe this time will be different? Is it because headquarters is finally admitting to serial incompetence, coming to the understanding that they’ve pissed away years fumbling around with Acura and they’re finally scared straight enough to fix it? I’m not buying it. …”

  7. HtG Says:

    XA, do you know what merits gear driven valve trains had? I’ve seen the engine opened up, and that is crazy looking.

  8. XA351GT Says:

    Actually went back and checked my facts the Cosworth-Ford DFV won 155 of 262 races between 1967-85 for 59% winning percentage. Considering it powered almost all the cars on the grids most years except the Ferraris ,it’s not surprising.

  9. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Timing belts,or chains stretch,gears don’t.Belts and chains need tensioners,gears don’t,they just need oil.Gears are more precise and unless a tooth is sheared off,they stay right on the money.

  10. XA351GT Says:

    I believe on the 427 it was to be able to use the block without major changes needed for the Overhead cams. They couldn’t use a pushrod to open the valves so the chain driven gears is what did the job. It gave the engines a better breathing capability as is why most every engine today uses this type of cam set up.

  11. Bradley Says:

    If the new Honda Fit had the 4G LTE option, I am sure John would have did a live broadcast while hit 50mpg hyper-miling.

  12. Bradley Says:

    hit = doing

  13. XA351GT Says:

    The 427 was chain driven . nearly 15 feet long or so it was huge. In my 351 Cleveland I run a Pete Jackson gear drive timing set up. Which as G.A said eliminates any issues with belts and chains. Side benefit if you like it is a nice gear whine similar to a supercharged engine.

  14. HtG Says:

    So gears kept the timing more accurate as revs got higher? Is there a mass penalty as far as engine responsiveness?

  15. alex wellington Says:

    Road and Track, I believe, now has a page at the end of the issue where Bob Lutz answers reader’s Qs. I saw the latest issue last Sat in my local library and it also had a photo of Lutz smoking one of his god-awful cigars, and looking out of one of his rare cars, I believe it was a Cunningham coupe, that he has restored. (it still looked primitive and not a big deal to me)

    Well, Lutz looked real bad in the photo, face all wrinkled up, I have never seen him look that bad. Maybe it is the cigars cumulative effect.

    So based on this new evidence, I revise my comparison of Mary Barra to Lutz, and now believe she does not look older than he does. (Of course, he is 35 years her senior).

    Stay tuned for Barra’s spellbinding testimony on Capitol Hill, coming soon to a TV set near you.

    Pelosi: “Now that we have you under oath, and on the record, CEO Barra, could you tell this committee if you agree that puppies are wonderful? And, if I may follow up, kittens too?

  16. HtG Says:

    15 Barra

    I’d like to watch the video from Barra’s practice sessions for her appearance. You know she’s practicing speech patterns and facial expressions. Not getting angry nor being too contrite. Anyway, you know the media shouters will find something to wind up their audiences with.

    Who will win the sound bite competition?

  17. Buzzerd Says:

    HtG – my understanding is that gear driven cams are better are higher RPMs, more exact tolerances buut they lack shock absorption from forces created in the engine and you have more parasitic loss.

  18. G.A.Branigan Says:

    The parasitic losses are negligible,as are the losses due to tensioners,idler pullies etc.

  19. HtG Says:

    Here’s a clip on the DFV engine. Shows those valve gears

  20. XA351GT Says:

    HtG great video. Thank you for that . Very informative.

  21. M360 Says:

    John – Could you please provide more information about the new generation of engines from General Motors? I think there are 13 engines in all, starting with the first 3 cylinder from GM. It’s the first good news from a company that appears to have shot themselves in the foot with the Chevy Cobalt/HHR/Saturn Ion ignition switch recall and the fact their new Silveado is out of date right out of the box. I wonder what Mary Barra said to Mark Reuss the first time they saw the new aluminum Ford F-150?

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    1, The X7 is probably called X7 because it is bigger than the X5, which is bigger than the X3, which is bigger than the X1.

  23. alex wellington Says:

    16 I’d much prefer to read the transcript. Not because I object to Ms Barra’s looks, or lack thereof, but because, besides all the obnoxious clowns in Congress grandstanding that I want to skip, Barra has a nasal twang that is really a torture on my ear.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    7, 8, and 9
    I remember those Ford engines from their arrival, and for several years, dominance of the Indy 500.

    I remember discussion about the gear cam drive at the time, and my memory is that they did it for better reliability of what was, at the time, high rpm.

  25. alex wellington Says:

    22 I believe the X3 is based on the 3 series platform and the 5 on the 5 series.

    Merc similarly bases the GLK on the S class and both the ML and the GL on the E class, so I assumed BMW will follow its lead.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    25, Yeah, makes sense. The GLK is on the C-Class, though.

  27. HtG Says:

    23 it’s going to be video clips that have the broadest effects. You may be able to read t Barra’s prepared testimony prior to the hearing if you go to the committee’s web page. I hope Barra does media before the hearings so she can get ahead of the story. GMA, Today, CNBC. But I don’t imagine GM PR isn’t all over this, to state the obvious.

  28. alex wellington Says:

    25 of course, I meant the GLK is based on the C class. No SUVs are based on the S class or the & series (the last I guess)

  29. alex wellington Says:

    27 For some time now I have only basic TV, no cable. I am surprised CNBC is still alive, given the amount of BS they spout daily. Sort of a 24 hour CNN for business with a ton of time to fill with utter BS.

  30. HtG Says:

    29 You and I are rare TV averse birds, AW. But you can watch on the net. Most people get their info from TV

  31. alex wellington Says:

    I do watch segments of cable on the web. Also have a classical FM on most of the time at work

  32. KitGerhart Says:

    29, 30 I have only over-the-air TV when I’m in Indiana in the summer. My Florida condo has basic cable contracted for all of the units.

  33. KitGerhart Says:

    30, Can you get NBC Sports on the net, for the F1 races?

  34. HtG Says:

    30 nope, but I have my ways of watching F1. If Malaysia is on a par with the first race in Melbourne, I’ll let my VPN service lapse. I can’t sit through that stuff

  35. alex wellington Says:

    Actually I just watched a Motorweek video on the web, as I was not at home to watch the latest show on TV. It was a test of the Audi Q5 TDI. Got an actual 29.3 MPG (EPA avg is 27), but it’s priced almost $10k above the 2.0 T Gas version. Very nice interior though.

  36. alex wellington Says:

    And on Autoblog, a piece about the Camaro Z28. It is much worse than I thought. Base price $75k! I thought it was a still ludicrous $60k!

    7.0L V8
    505 HP / 481 LB-FT
    6-Speed Manual
    Base Price:
    $75,000 ..”

    Are they Fu King Serious? The GM beancounters? Or are they math challenged, so every POS goes for the same $75k? (Caddy ELR, and now this lowly Chevy?)

  37. alex wellington Says:

    The Need for Speed. Autoblog rumors that the Bentley “SUV” will do 200 MPH, 25 MPH More than even the Cayenne TURBO.

    “…The 200 MPH Club was once populated entirely by exotic sports cars. These days it has expanded to include convertibles, sedans and even station wagons. But an SUV? Unthinkable, what with their aerodynamic profile approaching that of a barn door. Bentley, however, is out to change that with its forthcoming new sport ute.

    Not only is the British automaker aiming to make its first SUV fully capable off road, it’s also engineering it to be one of the fastest on the road as well. According to emerging reports coming in from the UK, Bentley is streamlining the SUV’s shape with a lower roofline and reprofiled rear end and fitting it with advanced underbody aerodynamic aids in order to compensate for its over-six-foot width and get it up to the magic 200-mph mark.

    Reaching out to Bentley for comment, its communications office wouldn’t divulge such performance targets: “The SUV is in the engineering development stage, so unfortunately it’s too soon to discuss performance figures,” we were told via email. “It will of course have all the power and performance that one would expect from a Bentley!” If the information proves correct, however, at that speed, it would be able to keep pace with the faster members of the Continental family, but leave the Mulsanne flagship sedan (which is already approaching the size of an SUV) and its 185-mph top speed in the dust – not to mention the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S that is quoted at “only” 175 mph…”

  38. Brett Says:

    Smokey Yunick said that if you put a plexiglas timing chain cover on a dyno engine and watched the timing chain as you ran the engine through it’s paces it would scare you to death with all the rippling and gyrations it went through.

    He used a two-gear marine V-8 timing gear set and ground his camshafts backwards.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    36, I guess the $60K Mustang GT500 is a bargain after all.

  40. T. Bejma Says:


    Even the ONE speaker radio is optional too!!

    If you have to ask anything about this car, you obviously are not the driver it was intended for.

    A Z06 in Camaro clothes??? I would take the spoiler/splitter and all the badges off and go out and terrorize ANYTHING on the streets of the Motor City… Just for fun…

  41. HtG Says:

    I like the way you think, Mr. Bejma. School ‘em all

  42. Tony Gray Says:

    Borg-Warner has to update their ad. It’s now the VERIZON Indy Car Series.

  43. GaryPaul Says:

    The Z28 Camaro appears to be one seriously done performance car—in fact a racing car that is comfy enough to be driven on the street. I read the review posted today and it will be interesting to see some more of the first full test reports on these vehicles. I thought the one speaker was there because of mandatory federal govt. seat belt chimes. i agree about the spoilers/etc on the exterior. For the street its not only a give away but I always feel like taking a giant razor blade and cutting all that (yes i know it is functional at 200mph), just for looks let alone surprising the unsuspecting…

    I love the fact that the thing has no a/c (although I am likely the only one here who likes that! I also like the smaller—19″–wheels, although calling them small wheels is bit ridiculous! The seats are so small and un-comfy in thee rear–I do understand that it makes the thing a little more functional–but it seems that just tossing them out would have saved a bit of weight a la the Boss L Seca.–I mean if they are going to the extent that every ounce was reviewed to the point of making the glass thinner, this would be a big weight savings (what–35 lbs or so?). i would guess quite a number of people would even want to sit back there! But over all an impressive machine it seems and not too out of line in price for what it offers.

    It would be terrific if they did something like this for the new Ford Mustang in a few years yet with a heavier emphasis on street driving. Yeah yeah–i know that this Z28 was built to offer a vehicle that pushed the vehicle closer to the edge of driving a race car (at least during dry summer days up north here in USA -Canada!), but realize that all street cars are at some point a compromise of some kind or we would be driving rail dragsters to work! The recent Boss Mustang seemed to have got the formula about right, but even there there with the Boss in the the upper $50K range it was about $10K to high (the mid to upper 40s, say $45-$47,000) to get the price/power/performance models into the hands of Joe the performance guy…

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    40, 43
    It sounds like the Z-28 is more of a street legal race car than I realized.

  45. cwolf Says:

    RE #23: And Mary Barra would probably respond to you by asking why you spend more time making hap-hazard comments during work hours than you apparently do actual work on University and tax payer time? I don’t know why, but the word boggus come to mind.

  46. alex wellington Says:

    45 You can’t even spell bogus. There is absolutely NOTHING bogus about me. The only thing bogus I see is the so-called “luxury” in your NOT American Daewoo – Opel labeled as a Buick.

    As for me, you don’t have clue one. I could well be retired, either fully, OR Phased. The University has got FULLY its money’s worth from me. NOT that this is ANY of your concern. You obviously have not even finished high school.

  47. alex wellington Says:

    44. So it is claimed. If this is true, then there is a HUGE problem with GM marketing.

    They used the same label-name “Z28″ that was previously used in ordinary (and pretty bad) pimped-up Camaros, for a much more substantial vehicle.

    That is mind-bogglingly STUPID.

    It is as if you have a flagship Caddilac and you call it a Chevy, or, worse, a Daewoo!

  48. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The Z-28 has evolved (and was once a monster), 1968/69, it ‘de-volved’ but remained potent for quite a while then eventually was more/just a moniker (and again regained some of its ‘spirit’. This new Z-28 is the real deal; Autoweek reviewed it (just yesterday). No ‘pretender’ here.

  49. alex wellington Says:

    48 Are you going to put your $ where your mouth is? BASE price $75k. Who knows how much with options? Have you placed your orderr? I sure am not interested.

  50. alex wellington Says:

    48 How many people today know that the Z28 was 40 or 50 years ago a serious vehicle? 50% of all people are below 31 years old, and they don’t have clue one what the Z28 was ever. Both the serious vehicle in 68/69 you mention, and the POS of later years.

    PS I knew the Camaro is the vehicle of choice of the Successful Plumber, I just did not know how successful these plumbers are!

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    AW’s take on the Z-28:

    49, The only option is A/C and a fancier radio, $1150 for both, according to AW.

  52. HtG Says:

    In defense of the Z28, this is a track car and if you want to go fast, that costs money. Everyone who races knows this reality. Also, only 3000 are being made, so hurry hurry hurry before they’re gone!

  53. HtG Says:

    Supply, meet Demand

    Can I get some equilibrium around here?

  54. alex wellington Says:

    52 It does not need any defense. My comment, revised assuming it is a track car, is that it should have been named properly, and not using a name that is connected to cheap, non-track, pimped-up Camaros for many decades now. I have already said so and explained in detail, but repetition is the mother of learning, so once more, with feeling.

  55. HtG Says:

    I’ll just ask the TA. thx

  56. alex wellington Says:

    Well, I stand corrected.

    The new, serious Z28 is actually not named Z28.

    It is named Z/28.

    Sorry for the confusion.

    PS I bet GM paid a zillion $ to some charlatan to come up with that name? Like that chick that John had in some Autoline this week a few months or years ago, who made her living by finding appropriate names for cars?

    Such as … Oldsmobile “Achieva”? (and Caddilac “Lemona”?)

  57. alex wellington Says:

    56 How ironic was that… Olds “Achieva”. I have actually driven that UTTER POS. We had a former PhD student, now chair of a Mech Eng Dept. in another U, who used to teach a course in our Dept back in the 90s and early 2000s. He then worked at GM “Research” Labs and obviously had a lot of free time in his hands.

    So they would give him a different new car each month or so to test around, and even paid for his gas. So when he brought them to our Dept to teach, he was glad to pay no parking as I took the car from him and drove it around for errands and returned when he was about to leave.

    I remember that POS “Achieva”. Truth in Advertising should require that the name should be changed to “Underachieva”!

    BTW I also drove the Caddy Eldo coupe with the Northstar. It was the only decent engine in the lot. Good acceleration.

  58. RonE Says:

    #56, I think this emblem, Z/28 w/slash, has been used before on earlier models of the Camaro.