AD #1343 – Honda’s Packaging Magic, New Autonomous Test Track, Peugeot Teams w/ IBM

March 27th, 2014 at 11:47am

Runtime: 8:55

- 2015 Honda Fit: Packaging Magic
- China Loses Rare-Earth Ruling
- Volkswagen to Build Low-Cost Car
- UofM Builds Autonomous Test Track
- Michigan’s Connected Car Fleet
- Peugeot Teams With IBM
- You Said It!

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Hello and welcome to a brand new Autoline Daily. Coming up later in the show I’ve got answers to your comments and questions, but now let’s get to the news.

I just got back from the media launch of the new Honda Fit. A lot of that information is still embargoed for another week and a half, but here’s one take-away I can report on. This thing is a packaging masterpiece. It’s impressively roomy inside, especially in the back seat. And yet there’s still plenty of cargo room behind the back seat. The Fit is significantly bigger inside than any of its competitors like the Nissan Versa, Ford Fiesta or Chevy Sonic. And yet it’s lighter than them and will probably pass the small overlap test, which those others do not. Want to know one of the packaging secrets about the Fit? The gas tank is mounted underneath the front seats, not the rear seats like most other cars.

A few years back China started limiting exports of rare-earth metals which are used in batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles. China produces most of the world’s supply of the materials its trade policies are driving up prices. That prompted the U.S., Japan and Europe to challenge the export limits with the World Trade Organization and yesterday the WTO said China’s limits do violate trade rules. China has 60 days to appeal the decision.

Speaking of China, Volkswagen is reportedly going to develop a low-cost vehicle for emerging markets. The brand already has the less-expensive UP!, but this new vehicle would slot in below it. Prices would likely start in the $8,000 to $11,000 range and it would be built in China. There is potentially a huge market for cars priced in the $8,000 range, but only in developing markets. These cars will never pass the crash standards required in developed markets. Otherwise you could never get the cost down that low.

The University of Michigan wants to be the hub for connected car and autonomous vehicle research. The school just approved designs to build an area to test the vehicles. The University will create a simulated environment that covers 30 acres and include approximately three miles of concrete and asphalt roads with intersections, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, roundabouts, simulated buildings, streetlights and other obstacles. Construction of the facility will cost about $6.5 million and will be completed by the fall.

And in related news, currently there are 3,000 connected cars driving around Ann Arbor, Michigan, as part of a research project by the University of Michigan and the Department of Transportation. The goal is to see how cars and infrastructure can communicate with each other wirelessly. And now the Ann Arbor News, reports that the University wants to triple the number of V2V cars to 9,000 to get a better understanding of the large-scale use of connected cars. The goal is also to become the first city in the world with a fleet of autonomous vehicles.

And in one more related story, Peugeot and IBM are going to collaborate on connected car technology. Information gathered from the automaker’s in-car sensors, along with info from the traffic infrastructure and smartphones, will be put through IBM’s data analytics. The idea is to make a more network-savvy vehicle with better web services and driver apps. And we want to thank HtG who posted a link in our comments section and spotted this story even before we did.

Speaking of getting great tips and information from you, our viewers, coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

Gerry P thinks he has a solution for the lens getting dirty on those backup cameras. “Just mount them behind the back window glass… If you really want to get tricky, you can always have a hydrophobic coating put on the glass. Mounting the camera high in the back window will also give you a nice look-down angle to see everything behind you.” Gerry, that might work with some kinds of vehicles, like SUV’s, crossovers and minivans. But on sedans it will not. Even if you mount the camera high on the glass it will not be able to see immediately behind the car below the trunk line. And that’s where little kids are getting killed when people back over them. And hydrophobic coating or not, snow, dirt and rain can still cover up the camera lens.

DanChester says, “John, you keep harping on styling as the reason the Silverado is not selling up to expectations. IMHO, they really need to take a hard look at the advertising. The TV stuff for Silverado, force fit under Chevy’s “Find New Roads” campaign theme, doesn’t communicate the truck’s newness very well, and, it fails to sell product advantages strongly enough compared to the more macho campaigns long run by Ford and Dodge. In contrast to Silverado there is continuity in the Sierra campaign, and that should make for some interesting analysis within the halls of GM. What works for cars doesn’t always work for trucks.” Good observation DanChester.

Eric Brunner says, “I was taught to hold onto the steering wheel at 9 & 3 and I find that to be the best position for complete control as well as minimal interference to your arms and wrists if the air bag is deployed. Looking at your feature on the Audi A3, I was reminded that I still don’t understand why the car companies keep profiling the steering wheel for a 10 and 2 positioning.” Well, I think 10 and 2 is the most comfortable. What do the rest of you think? What’s the best position for holding the steering wheel? I’d like to know what you all think.

MJB says, “Hey, Volvo, don’t stop at collecting vehicle info in the cloud for icy patch road warnings. Track the feedback from the struts (vertical wheel travel) and report potholes to the state road commission.” Did everyone hear that? I think MJB has a fantastic suggestion.

Alex Wellington has a question. “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?” I believe so. In fact I said before that I think sales in the U.S. market will be up very strong this spring. We’ll know next week, we should have a full sales report next Wednesday.

XA351GT has obviously seen the pictures of the new Hyundai Sonata. “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.” I agree XA. The new look may help sales of the Sonata in Korea, but it’s going to hurt it in other markets. The new one is just going to blend in, not stand out.

Thanks for all your comments and questions, you help keep us on our toes. And speaking of getting your input, get your questions ready for Autoline After Hours tonight when our guest will be Ralph Gilles, the head of design for Chrysler and the head of the SRT brand. We’ll get going live at 6 pm eastern time, but remember you can always watch it later on our website or our YouTube channel, or listen in the comfort of your car on your daily commute since you can stream it in there as well. Hope to see you tonight, and that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching.

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76 Comments to “AD #1343 – Honda’s Packaging Magic, New Autonomous Test Track, Peugeot Teams w/ IBM”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    John, I thought there was a report (a while back) that said that the western United States (California) used to be ‘heavy’ producers of rare earth metals. Well, with the shortage and I’m thinking the pricing on these elements (rising), I would think that they could be harvested (in the United States) and done economically and also being environmentally friendly. Maybe it is just too ‘dirty’ a process but I’m thinking with a higher pricing that the environmental impact could be minimized (with new methods).

    And put me down for ‘ten and two’ too.

  2. Tony Gray Says:

    10-2; 9-3; 8-4. Maybe sometimes my left wrist drapes over the top of the steering wheel, hand dangling down, while my right hand grips the Hurst Competition Plus shifter connected to my mighty Muncie M-22 Transmission! Bring on spring!

  3. Mike Says:

    So VW is going to knowingly build cheap, unsafe cars that will kill people? I bet third world countries have lawyers too!

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The packaging of the current Fit is great, and the new one may be even better. The downside of the current one it that it’s kind of noisy, and the manual transmission is a 5-speed with a too-short top gear for relaxed highway running. The new one will have a 6-speed manual and a CVT.

    Also, the current Fit is light, almost 700 pounds lighter than a VW Golf, and 400 pounds lighter than a Sonic hatch. I suppose the new one will gain weight, but I suspect it will still be lighter than most competitors.

  5. alex wellington Says:

    1. The Awesome Fit. No surprise at all! Even its previous versions were Ingenious in their optimal use of interior space, among many other virtues. It is absolutely laughable to have the resident semi-employed GM shill actually say, with a straight face no less, that the hapless SONIC (!!!) is the best vehicle in this segment, a cramped interior that can’t even pass the safety tests? LMAO! Some people spend most of their time with colleagues parroting the same party line, and probably after they hear it a dozen times, they believe it is a “Fact” (LOL!!!!!)

    2. March Sales. I respectfully disagree with John. As I explained a few days ago, I expect March sales in the sunbelt to be good, but in the snowbelt to be still not as high as last year, so the total will probably not be as good as last year. In a few days we will see whose prediction was most accurate.

    3. See my latest comments yesterday. Lots of news there. In addition, the family mid-size sedan competition will get even stronger, not because of the refreshed Sonata (it’s a has been) but because Almighty TOYOTA, the Empire Strikes back! I heard in the news today that the expected refresh of the Camry for 2015 model year will NOT just be an ordinary refresh but a MAJOR Improvement. Toyota has taken the threats to the Camry (bestselling car for many years in the US market until 2013) very seriously. The excellent new Accord, the best-selling for 2014 Altima, and the always strong new Fusion are threats Toyota will respond to soon!

  6. Lew Says:

    UofM buys 30 acres???
    Detroit has many acres with streets, lights, buildings. Etc. Empty and ready to use.

  7. HtG Says:


    State Farm recommends 9-3 rather than 10-2 so that a deploying airbag doesn’t impact arms and fling them around

    I don’t imagine this means much to Tommy Lee!

  8. alex wellington Says:

    #4. Yes. The Fit is the truest heir of Honda Greatness of the past decades, when a 1875 lb 3-door hatch Civic could carry 3 bookcases 3X(8 foot by half a foot by 1.5 feet) from IKEA (in boxes), with just the passenger seat and the right back seat down, and the driver AND his passenger seated behind him. In a similar way, the BMW 1 and 2 series is a truer heir to the legendary 2002. Plus they look so much better, tighter etc than the 3 and 4 series.

    #6. Frankly, my dear, I… never really noticed where my hands are on the wheel. I believe I use different configurations when I cruise relaxedly in the Spring-Summer-Fall as opposed to when I travel in the winter, with snow falling at the same time, and the road so slippery, you feel the car sliding even when you just change lanes! (as it felt back on Sunday Jan 26 when I traveled to Wash DC, for the first time trying the non-toll roads thru west Virginia for the scenic drive, and ended up arriving 2 hours late and eating my dinner alone, with my hosts watching and only joining me in the red wine.

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    3, Everyone who wants to sell cars in emerging markets builds “cheap, unsafe” ones for those markets. That may not be the way things should be, but that’s the way it is.

    For years, and maybe still, VW were building generations-previous Passats in China, many of them used as taxis in the cities. Those wouldn’t be as safe, or as efficient as the newer designs, but they were pretty good compared to the locally designed Chinese cars.

  10. HtG Says:


    My only criticism of the current Fit is that big plastic dumpster lid they call a dashboard. And the font seat gas tank position is intriguing; what does that do to seat height and handling agility?

  11. alex wellington Says:

    #3, #8

    1. These cars are also fine for the US and any other developed market, as long as they are used in CITY traffic at fairly low speeds. The Fit – Sonic etc are also mostly city cars, as was the original, tiny CIVIC of the 70s and 80s, hence its name is most appropriate!

    2. #3 Your comment reads like a cheap shot at VW. However, VW was the designer and producer of the original BEETLE, which, save for the COrolla, is the best selling car of all time, even compared to the Ford model T, AND which original Beetle was 100 times less safe than ANY of these current cheap small cars, and especially the excellent VW “UP”
    discussed today. I think you should really reflect on the above.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    9, Having the weight in the middle should be good for handling, and maybe there is wasted space under the middle of the car. If they raise the floor toward the front of the front seats, it shouldn’t make any difference, but if raised near the back of the front seats, it could cost rear passenger foot space. In any case, I suspect they have it figured out ok.

    The current Fit has an unusually small gas tank, 10.6 gallons, so if that stays about the same, they didn’t need to find as much space as with most cars.

  13. HtG Says:

    AW, how do rate the safety of UP in the city, when it shares space with big SUVs?

  14. alex wellington Says:

    #9 The original Fit in the US suffered from looking just like the Chevy Aveo from some angles. Its FWD, nose heavy design did not help, but once even I got fooled thinking it was an Aveo while it was in fact a Fit. The Second Gen Fit was much improved in the exterior looks dept. The third one looks even better and is much bigger than the original etc etc. The only Q is the price. I expect it will not be cheap, and the cheapskate dealers will not give you a good discount, as always.

    #8 I used these old Passat Taxis extensively in Shanghai, and none of their three passenger seats was comfortable for my 6′ 1″ frame. The driver was enclosed in a plastic bubble that left little elbow room up front, and leg room in the back was atrocious. But the drivers wore classy white gloves, and for most rides, you paid less than $2 (10-15 yuan, which back then were $1.25-$1.75)

    It is really ironic that many Western makers today offer EXTRA long versions of compact and mid-size luxury cars in CHina ONLY, and not in the developed world!!!

  15. HtG Says:

    Fit’s tank

    10.6? Wow doge. My Civic has 16.5 I think.

    Such compromise

  16. alex wellington Says:

    #13 I would not worry about it, as most collisions in the city are mere fender benders. And let’s not think that the “UP” is some Corvair Unsafe at any Speed!! Actually, it is not true they are sold only in developing markets, I saw a ton of them in Europe.

    And as I replied to Mike’s comments, the original Beetle was probably 100 times less safe than today’s “UP!”

    #12 I really hate small cars that have small tanks, any fuel effiency evaporates in a short range. Even the Prius, which is not small, has a tiny gas tank, and with 47 MPG or less actual HWy miles, its range should be well below 500 miles (actual, with a gallon left in the tank)

  17. Lex Says:

    I have a problem with the gas tank in the New Honda Fit being mounted underneath the front seats, not behind the rear seats like most other cars. What have been the results of side impact studies on the New Honda Fit? A compact vehicle of that size and weight involved in a side impact with a much larger vehicle IMHO spells trouble.

  18. HtG Says:

    Wrong, loser!

    My Civic only has a 13.3 gallon tank. It centered below the rear seats.

  19. HtG Says:

    To be clear, I am calling myself the loser

  20. alex wellington Says:

    #15 I’d b e very surprised if any Civic has a 15 gallon, let alone a 16.5 tank.

    I guessed 13.5 at best, and I just googled it. It is actually even less, 13.2. (official specs for a 2002 coupe, which I believe is like yours?)

    MY 1990 Coupe 5-speed Accord had a 17 gallon tank, but I never used more than 16 gallons of it.

  21. Brett Says:

    I learned a long time ago that the most accurate steering is accomplished by pushing up from below the steering wheel centerline than by pulling down from above the centerline.

    When drifting aimlessly along the Interstate, I tend to have thumbs hooked at the top of the airbag module. Yes, I’m preprogrammed to extract my thumbs in an emergency situation.

    When in the twisties, I do drop to the 4-and-8 position. It’s just more accurate that way.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    14, I didn’t remember the Shanghai taxis being particularly uncomfortable, but I’m only 5-10, but I do remember the white gloves. Especially, I remember that nearly all of the drivers were very good at driving the 4-speed manuals smoothly, and economically. They matched revs well, and used the highest possible gear without lugging the engine. The drivers must have had training that included specific skills with manual transmissions.

  23. rick bradner Says:

    10 & 2 is more comfortable but 9 & 3 is optimum for safety.
    It allows the greatest leverage, & separation for emergency manoeuvres without “crossing over”
    is maximized.

  24. Lex Says:

    I believe the vehicle crash standards should be globalized. I agree with Mike # 3:

    “So VW is going to knowingly build cheap, unsafe cars that will kill people? I bet third world countries have lawyers too!”

    If I rented one of these subpar vehicles and was injured in a crash outside the US I would be out for blood!

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    20, The official spec capacity for the current Civic is also 13.2, as for a MINI Cooper. Car companies must like that number.

    With the MINI, it seems that they mean Imperial, rather than U.S. gallons. More than once, I have put more than 13.2 gallons in my MINI, even before the gas gauge was showing that threatening red flashing bar.

  26. alex wellington Says:

    #22 I normally hate using taxis, but they were bargains. in 2006, the Shanghai Metro was great, because they announced the stops in legible English, and the fares were quite rational and proportional to the distance, about 1 yuan between two consecutive stations then.

    I used the excellent Metro and walked when possible, and even the Maglev once on my way back to the airport (a combination taxi and Maglev ride from my hotel.) The 400 KPH Maglev only made 300 KPH (about 209 miles), but it really did not feel ‘fast’ at all.

    In contrast, most taxi drivers did not speak much English, and you had to have a business card of the address you were going to, in Chinese, to give them to understand where you wanted to go.

  27. HtG Says:

    U of M study

    What I’d like to find out about connected cars is if there is a critical density of such cars(N) above which overall traffic patterns are affected. What I mean is, if 10% of cars are making algorithm based decisions, does that influence how the others move around? If that’s true then the future may get here faster

  28. Bradley Says:


    That is interesting about the new Toyota Camry.

    The new FIT looks good, the #1 thing I look for in a car like that is the MPG. Show me the MPG!! :)

    I am probably a 10 and 2 driver.

    This AM I maneuvered my Yaris around a Sonic that didn’t stop. Driving a Sonic must be like riding a moped. You want to roll through as many stop signs as possible.

  29. alex wellington Says:

    # 23 I strongly disagree. if you impose the same standards on INDIA that you impose on the USA, the result is millions of lost cars sales and a depressed Indian economy.

    At the same time, Indian traffic patterns really do not need cars as safe as in the US highways, since traffic even in modern Indian Highways usually proceeds at a snail’s pace, and as we discussed here before, you have actual HOLY COWS, tons of pedrstrians, and cars (as an afterthought) sharing the same lanes at 5-10 MPH!

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    Also the Fit has really good resale value since there aren’t that many available, no rental fleets, people love and keep them, so this is one car that makes more sense to buy new than used. Now why can’t Honda transfer that same greatness to the Civic, the Fit does remind me of the Civic of long ago

  31. HtG Says:

    28 my theory is that the US and Europe will use high safety standards as a kind if soft trade barrier against the Chinese carmakers who don’t have the needed engineering expertise. Hence cyber spying by Beijing

  32. alex wellington Says:

    On fuel tanks:

    How much is actually saved (in weight or $) by having a 2-3 gallon smaller fuel tank?

    For a fuel efficient econobox, 3 gallons mean 120-150 hwy miles! Even for a large Diesel like the Passat, you do 50, 52 even, actual HWY miles per gallon!

    The benefit is considerable.

    The cost increase should be trivial. Whether your tank is a can that can hold 12 or 15 gallons, (all the rest of the gear being the same for both!), what’s the diff? $5? At most.

    The space requirement for an extra 3 gallons is really trivial. It is less than 12 liters. In a car like the prius, there is a ton of cargo room still, so they could have easily provided that, and had a HWY range of 625 instead of 475 miles!

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    27, The EPA numbers of the current Fit are so-so, 27/33 for the manual, and 28/35 for the automatic. The new will no doubt do better, with the CVT and the 6-speed manual.

    CR got good mileage in their tests, 33 overall for the manual, and 30 for the automatic. Those results are as good as, or better than some competitors with higher EPA numbers.

  34. J Hundertmark Says:

    Input on Hands/Wheel position – While mine does vary with the season, driving environment, etc., agree with 10 & 2 as the most frequently used. Hands do tend to cover the area from 9:30 to 10, and 2 to 2:30.

    #5.1 – Do not understand why Mr Wellington finds the need to start his posts by bashing another individual, especially when individual he is bashing has not even posted anything today for Mr Wellington to disagree with. Perhaps starting with a little kindness for your fellow humans might even improve your day.

  35. Mike Says:

    10 and 2

  36. Mike Says:

    As for steering wheel hand position, Bob Bondurant teaches 9 and 3 for many good car control reasons, and my high school driver’s training, 1977, preached 10 and 2 – you decide :-)

  37. MJB Says:

    10 & 2 is fantastic four handling, but I guarantee if you Google “de-gloving” you’ll second think that position as well as the ever popular single-handed, top-of-the-wheel cruising style.

    Gruesome stuff for sure! And ask because peoples hands were in the wrong place when the air bag went off…

  38. alex wellington Says:

    #6 The segment did NOT say that UM “buys 30 acres”, but that it will build the test track in a 30 acre site, and given the map, I believe it is land it bought dirt-cheap from Pfizer, along with a ton of buildings in it.

    UM is hardly rational or successful in its financial decisions, mind you, and neither was Pfizer.

    A decade ago, UM bigwigs decreed that the U should be a powerhouse in the “Life Sciences” discipline, and built, at huge cost, a ton of modern buildings downtown to house the offices and labs of all the bigshots they hoped to attract.

    However, the big names did not like to move in the Midwestern desert or snowbelt. Most of them stayed in sunny Southern CA, or Northern CA, or Boston or Princeton and Yale near NYC.

    So the new buildings were half-empty, many years after they were finished.

    At about the same time, Pfizer decided to build a HUGE, expensive complex of dozens of buildings next door to us in North Campus. And, unbelievably, after only a couple years, they ABANDONED them and left, causing a huge drop in real estate prices in the area, and T-shirts saying “You are PFired!”

    Enter the lucjy dogs of the U once again, they were the only interested party to buy all these brand-new buildings and expensive land. ANd they got them for PEANUTS.

    Now, #6, why in the world would they go buy land 60 miles from here, in that basket case, bankrupt war zone called Detroit????? When they had it already, and for free, within WALKING distance from their offices?

  39. alex wellington Says:

    33 You need to study the THREAD of the all kinds of unfair and irrelevant insults hurled at ME before you criticize me.

  40. pedro fernandez Says:

    this AM I put $15 of gas into the Sentra and now it’s half full, I am amazed at how little gas this thing sips in around town traffic.

  41. Cybercycle Says:

    9 & 3 is best for me. I’m not alone either…I’ve attended 2 driving schools and a Grand Prix Racing School and they all teach a 9 & 3 hand-hold on the steering to maintain optimum control. I find it frustrating that manufacturers today make it almost impossible to use that position with their encroaching steering wheel buttons and switches.

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    31, I’d like a bigger gas tank in my Prius, but even with the one it has, 11.9 gallon official spec, it has more range, even highway, than a lot of cars. I suspect they decided on a compromise between making the tank larger, and having that under floor storage space in the back as large as it is.

    The Prius is a special case, though, with the big battery and electronics to package, while trying to maximize cabin space. I’m still amazed at how well they did, given that a similar size non-hybrid Focus hatch has less usable space than a Prius, even though they didn’t have that big batter to package.

    When I ordered my ’89 minivan, they offered a bigger gas tank as an option. I got the big tank, which is 20 gallons. It would be nice if car companies did that now, for those who don’t enjoy going to gas stations more often than they have to. With most cars, they could find a way to make the tank bigger, at reasonable cost.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pedro, it sounds like you have come to like that Sentra, at least the gas mileage. I don’t know how they hold up after 250K miles, but it sounds like it works well enough, just for getting around.

  44. HtG Says:

    If a smaller gas tank in the Fit means the seats can fold down like in John’s video, it sounds like good deal. Did you guys see that front seat back go down flat?

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    38, I like 9 and 3 too, but yeah, most cars, including my MINI, have spokes in the way of doing that.

  46. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’ve driven an old Sentra and this is so much better in everything, even the mpg, despite its much larger size and weight. Automotive technology has indeed come a long way since the 90′s.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    41, Front seats folding down like that is great. The passenger seat in my Malibu Maxx folded flat going forward, which also worked well, but the one in my Prius does not. Toyota, if you are reading this, you should fix that in the next generation Prius, if not before.

  48. HtG Says:

    Hands on the wheel

    If I may shine my finger nails a bit on my driver’s suit, the ability to whip the steering wheel up to 360 degrees in a blink of an eye isn’t really dependent on where you’re holding the wheel. In my own Miata and the MX5 cup car I drove, keeping both hands on the wheel so undulations of the car didn’t cause your arm’s mass to steer, and making sure to check where the little colored marker wrapped onto the top of the wheel was before putting down the hammer, makes all the difference.

  49. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Pedro, while you seem to be smitten with your new ride, your rental (glad to hear it), there are probably dozens of other cars that might give you similar results; any other considerations if the Toyota ‘bites the dust’?

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    Nah, the Corolla WILL be saved, my buddy and I got a campaign going on right now which will include videos on Youtube on how this will be done. I will have many folks to thank in the coming weeks, some of which I don’t even know personally. #Save the Toyota

  51. HtG Says:

    Oh this is awesome, Pedro :)

  52. alex wellington Says:

    49 Fat Chance. if you really believe that those junky Nissans, whose reliability is no better than the domestics, will ever come close to the Almighty Toyotas, you are sadly mistaken. And Pedro is nowhere close to abandon 30 years of Excellence to a piece of Junk just because it does get good MPG.

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    50, 51 Keep us informed.

  54. pedro fernandez Says:

    We are gonna be doing a couple of videos including an ad for a service that matches needed parts with people who have parts to sell, sort of an Ebay for salvage parts. Instead of paying for the ad with cash, they will pay with parts and the labor will be paid by the guilty party’s insurer (I hope)rather than declaring it a total loss.

  55. pedro fernandez Says:

    Imagine Pedro and his old lady in a Youtube video, this may be the end of the internet as we know it!!

  56. alex wellington Says:

    If Pedro can fix it for a small amount, it makes sense. Otherwise, a used Prius or even another used corolla or Yaris is his best bet. All animals (or econoboxes) are equal, but some are more equal than the others! LOL.

    Back on the gas tank topic:

    While I believe the Prius is optimally designed, I am sure that in such a large vehicle, finding another 12 liters of space in its considerable cargo bay (or wherever), and note 12 liters, or more than 3 gallons, are a mere 0.012 cubic meter, 1% of a cubic meter, would be a breeze. In addition, the extra cost would be trivial, as I already explained, and the extra weight would be also a very tiny fraction of the car’s curb weight.

    Just because many econoboxes (other cars too) have small tanks and lousy ranges, and the prius beats them, does not make its HWY (not city!) range satisfactory. And I am yet to be convinced that Toyota could not have increased the tank from 12 to 15 gals with little cost in space, weight or $.

    As for myself, I had three very dissimilar cars and they all had adequate tanks and ranges but I still would very much appreciate a longer one.

    The Accord coupe 1990 was rated (in the optimistic EPA ratings of the time) 31 HWY and I could get 32-37 depending on speed etc. The 17 gallons theoretical tank size barely gave me 500 miles in actual use, and the 740iLs 22.5 gal tank gives me a similar range at high speeds. The tiny Civic 3 door hatch has a euro-spec 45 liter tank, and it burns 5 liters/100 km, so with a 5 lt margin it can do 800 km. Surprise-surprise, that’s exactly 500 miles!!!

    (I have explained this in detail in a past post, I live 530 miles away from Wash DC/Baltimore/Philly, 600 from NY, almost 800 from Boston and would really appreciate if I could do all (but Boston) on One tank.

  57. pedro fernandez Says:

    The one thing I have noticed about this Sentra is that on ECON mode, the rpm’s hardly ever go over 2k, I can cruise at 45 to 50 at less than 2k, when I set it to normal or “sport” the engine does rev much higher until you reach cruising speeds.

  58. alex wellington Says:

    57 Do you accurately measure your MPGs in the Sentra by hand (filling the tank to exactly the same level each time, say until it makes that ‘clicking’ sound, and dividing the miles (which you easily get by resetting the trip odometer to zero after each filling), by the gallons you actually bought, or are your MPGs the car computer optimistic predictions (usually 5-10% inflated and in general inaccurate?)

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    56, Yeah, more range is better, but compared to some cars I’ve had, like my 1966 Dodge Coronet, with a highway range of about 250 miles, my current ones have good range. I’m going to want to stop within 450 miles anyway.

    I don’t know exactly where the tank is located in a Prius, but I suspect it is underneath a storage area under the rear floor, and behind the spare tire. If that is the case, they could add 3 gallons by making that storage area about 2 inches shallower.

    It seems that, with exceptions like the Passat and E-Class diesels, car companies size the tank for a highway range of between 400 and 500 miles. At least my Prius, MINI, old minivan, and C4 Corvette all fall in that range. Yes, I’m sure there are exceptions both ways.

  60. alex wellington Says:

    55 as long as we are imagining things, imagine replacing your car with Lieutenant Columbo’s Peugeot 403 Convertible Misfiring Rustbucket!

    Downside, must buy crumpled tan raincoat too.

  61. alex wellington Says:

    59 I did not say I would do the 500 miles straight, I do one or two rest stops, but I just don’t want to buy gas when I do.

    Also, there currently is a much larger number of exceptions to that 400-500 mile range rule.

    Most of them are luxury diesels, some have the same huge tanks the gas versions do. (M-B E 250 Bluetec, Audi A8, 740iL diesel. And in the bargain segment, I bet the Cruze diesel can do 600+ and the Jetta Sportwagen TDI (I saw a gleaming white specimen yest afternoon) even more.

  62. HtG Says:

    I calculate that my Civic can theoretically make it 550 miles on a tank. That’s nonstop from here, around the Washington monument in DC, and back, with 40 miles to spare. All I need is a bucket of m&ms and a big bottle of diet Coke.

  63. HtG Says:

    And tape the doors for added aero

  64. Gary Purcell Says:

    Hands on he wheel.

    Sometimes I remember trivia that drives me crazy. I remember a Ford add from the late 1040′s that promoted hands at 10 and 4. Go figure.

  65. Gary Purcell Says:

    I ment 1940′s

  66. BobinAtlanta Says:

    Gary: Working on your taxes too long???

  67. T. Bejma Says:

    From yesterday (sorry, I have been busy helping with the Colorado/Canyon build events)

    “alex wellington Says:
    March 27th, 2014 at 9:23 am
    And in the case of Mary Barrra, “GM shares are down almost 14 percent since Barra took the helm Jan. 15 through Tuesday, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has risen.” (

    I somehow had a feeling that our other avid reader and quoter of Automotive News (proudly touting it as “facts” too), would not tell you this little gem!”

    And what you and AN (which has been piling on to GM in very unbalanced fashion lately which is being noticed by even the hardest core GM bashers in the comment section) fail to mention is that Ford was down about 8% during this same time period. What is their excuse? Perhaps it is just an automotive industry reaction to the economy and sales and not strictly due to the appointment of a CEO? Nahhh… Couldn’t be.

  68. Nismo-Z Says:

    I vote for the 10 and 2.

  69. T. Bejma Says:

    Steering Wheel Hand Position…

    Just 10. Right hand on the 6 Speed stick shift most of the time… ;-)

  70. Kit Gerhart Says:

    61, Yeah, most of the diesels have the same size tanks as the gas versions. I got 700 miles from one tank with the 1.9 TDI Jetta wagon I had for a while, with 550-600 more typical. Going 75 on the interstate dropped the mpg to low 40′s, and safe range to around 500.

  71. pedro fernandez Says:

    So here it goes, Geico offered to fix the car up to $1700 not a penny more, the body shop guy (don’t trust him) says he can do it for the amount allowed, new hood,paint, bumper cover, one headlight and the hood latch mechanism, however they could not pop open the hood, so we don’t know what other damage may be lurking in there. Also was offered $2500 to junk it, but I cannot get anything for that money w/o taking a risk that it may not be reliable. I could put the diff and get something newer, like the next gen 2003 for about $1500 more than they gave me.

  72. M360 Says:

    John – In regard to the most comfortable position of hands on the sttering wheel, have you noticed that it is no longer poosible to grasp the wheel at the 6 position on many steering wheels, except for trucks? Take the Chevy Volt for example, you cannot put you hand into that little slot at the bottom of the wheel. On the Chevy Sliverado you can hold the wheel in that position, however. When driving on a long trip my arms get tired at 10 and 2 or even 9 and 3, so I tend to hold the bottom of the wheel, which is no longer possilbe on many cars, even the Cadillac ATS abd CTS. Of course, this is a generalizaion, but it applies to many cars and the exceptions seem to be trucks and crossovers, such as the Cadillac SRX.

  73. Kit Gerhart Says:

    71, My MINI has a three spoke wheel with the spokes to the sides and down, so it’s not good for 3-9, or for hand at the bottom. The Prius has a hand-wide slot at the bottom, as does my old minivan. Are the car companies trying to tell us that we shouldn’t use the “6″ position when driving “sporty” cars?

  74. alex wellington Says:

    70 “..Also was offered $2500 to junk it, but I cannot get anything for that money w/o taking a risk that it may not be reliable…”

    I don’t buy this for one second! Their offer was most generous given the age and the huge mileage of your car. If you looked for another Corolla of the same vintage as yours, (is it a 1998, like my 7?) I believe you could find many that have half your 300k or so miles, for that same $2500. Or even if it is $1000 more, it is still a good deal.

    It only took me a second to go to and (I could not put $2,500 so I put $3,000) and 172 Corollas materialized, many of them much younger and with much less miles than yours:

    Eg right from the top, a 2002 with only 138k miles for $3k! “Theoretically”, as HtG wrote, you can do another 162k miles until it has your miles, AND it is 4 years younger!

    And there are many, many more. And then of course you could look at even younger YARISES with even fewer miles!

  75. alex wellington Says:

    Currently listening to that smooth talker Ralph Giles trying to present the new and underwhelming 200 as some kind of upscale looking car, fooling the yahoos they polled that it is sort of a $40k vehicle. Give me a break, Ralph!

    Ralph got the credit for the design of the Chrysler 300, and if he was indeed its key, main designer, hats off to him. But here he is showing another side, the fast-talking snake oil salesman side, which, I believe, helped him get the VP position at Fiat-Chjrysler far more than any true or assumed accomplishment of his in the design of the 300.

  76. alex wellington Says:

    From Autonews (Subscription required), Articles I bet TB will not share with you:

    1. Nick Bunkley’s research shows that — “Of the eight deaths in Chevrolet Cobalts that General Motors has said may be related to faulty ignition switches, seven occurred after April 2006, when GM says it approved a redesign of the part now being recalled, according to research by Automotive News.

    In addition, at least one of the four deaths GM has linked to recalled Saturn Ions occurred after the 2006 part change.

    The research indicates that all of the deaths involved cars built before the switch was redesigned; had GM simultaneously elected to recall the cars, repairs could have been performed before a majority of the fatal crashes happened. It also shows that only one of the 12 deaths occurred after GM emerged from bankruptcy protection in July 2009…”

    and in other news, BMW’s US factory expansion in the South, to make the new 7 seater big SUV X7, will make that factory the Biggest BMW Plant IN THE WORLD. Germany included! That is COMMITTMENT to the US market!