AD #1346 – NHTSA Mandates Backup Cameras, New Mercedes Sprinter Van, Driving a CNG Ford F-150

April 1st, 2014 at 10:22am

Runtime: 7:39

- NHTSA Mandates Backup Cameras
- Tesla Reaches Deal With NY & OH Dealers
- Model S Gets New Battery Shield
- GM Top Automotive Advertiser
- New Mercedes Sprinter Van
- Driving Impressions: CNG Ford F-150

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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily for the first of April, as another month has zipped past. Coming up later in the show I’ll let you know what is was like to test drive a Ford F-150 that can run on either compressed natural gas or gasoline, but now let’s get to the news.

NHTSA MANDATES BACKUP CAMERAS
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalized rules that will require all cars to have backup cameras. All vehicles 10,000 pounds or lighter, including buses and trucks, that are manufactured on or after May 1, 2018 must be equipped with backup cameras. The field of view must include a 10-foot by 20-foot zone directly behind the vehicle. Other requirements include image size, linger time, response time, durability, and deactivation. NHTSA says the new rule will save around 60 to 70 lives a year but as I keep saying I think using sensors that issue an audio warning is a more effective way to prevent backup accidents rather than a camera.

TESLA REACHES DEAL WITH NY & OHIO DEALERS
Tesla’s battle to circumvent the dealer franchise system in the U.S. market hasn’t been going that well but now the company’s luck is starting to turn around. Tesla and auto dealers in New York reached a pact that will allow the EV maker to keep its five stores in the state open and add new ones as well. But it’s not known how many more Tesla can open. This deal comes on the heels of a pact with Ohio dealers that will allow Tesla to open three stores in the Buckeye state.

TRIAL BY FIRE
And while we’re still on Tesla, it’s going to add a titanium-plated underbody shield to its Model S to prevent the batteries from rupturing if the car runs over debris in the road. Every car built since March 6 now has the added protection and Tesla will retrofit existing cars free of charge. NHTSA also ended its investigation into the fires. It said a defect trend had not been identified.

GM TOP AUTOMOTIVE ADVERTISER
General Motors was the second largest advertiser in the U.S. last year. AdWeek reports that the company spent nearly $1.8 billion in 2013 which is 10% more than in 2012. Procter and Gamble was the top advertiser, spending close to $3.2 billion. Toyota was the only other automaker to rank in the top 10. Overall the auto industry spent $15.2 billion on advertising last year, a 3% gain compared to 2012.

NEW MERCEDES SPRINTER
It’s no surprise that Chevy and Ford dominate the U.S. commercial van segment with almost 80% of the market. But last week Mercedes-Benz brought its new 2014 Sprinter to Detroit to remind reporters that the German luxury car maker is third on that list selling around 22,000 vans last year with over 60% of those sales going to the construction trades. To maintain that position and expand its base, Mercedes has redesigned the van by adding a ton of new technology to attract new customers in other segments like recreation.

(Clip about new technology in the Mercedes Sprinter van can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

That new 4X4 option which is a Part-Time Four Wheel Drive system will be available on the V6 Passenger, Crew and Cargo vans that go on sale early next year.

Ford recently came out with a bi-fuel F-150 and coming up next I’ll tell you what it’s like to drive it.

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS: CNG FORD F-150
The biggest challenge in owning a vehicle that runs on compressed natural gas is finding a place to re-fuel. Forget those “fuel finder” websites. They’re woefully out of date. You’ll likely find a non-working CNG pump at a gas station, or some pipes and wires sticking out of the ground where the CNG pumps used to be. Call ahead, if possible, before you travel miles out of your way to find there’s nothing there. Of course the benefit of a bi-fuel truck is that you can just run it on gasoline until you find a CNG station, and with its 36 gallon gasoline tank this F-150 can travel far and wide to find one.

When you do find a CNG station — yes they are out there — you’ll discover that there are at least two different types of nozzles. Make sure you check to see which nozzle fits the vehicle you’re driving before swiping a credit card to activate the pump, it will just save you the hassle of having to start the process all over again.

I could not discern any difference driving the F-150 using CNG mode or then switching to gasoline. Not even starting the vehicle in cold weather or by flooring it at highway speeds. I even switched back and forth from one fuel to the other while cruising down the freeway and there was no perceptible difference.

I paid $2.64 for a GGE of CNG. GGE stands for gasoline gallon equivalent, meaning the equivalent amount of energy that there is in a gallon of gasoline. I averaged 18.3 miles per gallon using CNG, and that’s exactly what the EPA label promised: 18 mpg combined, whether you use gasoline or CNG.

With a base price of $37,075 including destination charges the bi-fuel F-150 is considerably more expensive than a gasoline-only version. The more miles you drive, the greater the fuel savings will be. I figure if you drive 15,000 miles a year, you’ll save about $2,000 a year in fuel costs. So in time the extra cost of the conversion will pay for itself.

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

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68 Comments to “AD #1346 – NHTSA Mandates Backup Cameras, New Mercedes Sprinter Van, Driving a CNG Ford F-150”

  1. Tony Gray Says:

    Wow! This episode came out EARLY!

  2. Bob Petrach Says:

    John, On backup cameras, I’d agree with you. Sensors make more sense, assuming they are always active and preferably activate the brakes. Of course the system should have an override in case you are trying to hit the obstruction. But neither cameras nor sensors are placed correctly. Neither views what is directly behind the tires, which is where you want to look for a fallen person. The other problem with backup cameras is that they do not show the view behind until after the vehicle is in reverse. I always check the perimeter before entering the vehicle, then the mirrors and am looking into the windshield mount rear view when I shift into reverse, but the camera doesn’t come on until after the shift to reverse, by the time the camera is active, the foot is already moving down on the accelerator. If the system would turn on in anticipation of shifting into reverse, it might be useful. (of course there need to be multiple cameras to cover the front tires as well) I found the rear view screen (in mirror) on my Equinox to be so distracting that I turned it off. The larger screens in the dash are really nice for general backing up or hooking up to a trailer, but again there’s no warning of what is happening in the entire area, what may be moving into the danger zone and the driver focus may be in a different area of the screen.

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I have both a backup camera and the sensors,and I still have a rear view mirror and two sideview mirrors.That is more then enough to look at while backing up.

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sensors, backup cameras, mirrors, all fine and dandy but it won’t make any difference if people are still using their phones and not paying attention to their driving!

  5. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Yeah Pedro your right,but this whole thing is getting kinda stupid.How about back up alarms for cars? Warning apps on smart phones that give the pedestrians a shock when they are walking behind a vehicle backing up…. Where does it end?

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Regarding rear view cameras, and sensors, I don’t much want either one. They add cost, and the camera will require a monitor that will take up space that could be used for something else. Yeah, the monitor is already there for the “infotainment” system, but I don’t want that either. I guess I’m old fashioned, but I’m okay with looking out of windows.

    4, Exactly

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect most of these CNG/gasoline dual fuel trucks will get most of their CNG at the owner’s home or business, and will burn gasoline when going on road trips. The dual fuel setup makes sense, because it covers all types of trips. CNG-only limits usefulness, about the same as with a pure electric car.

    Honda, are you out there? You really need to turn that CNG Civic into a dual fuel car.

  8. Mike Says:

    Isn’t it unprecedented to actually name the name of the Engineer responsible for signing off on the switch for the Cobalt? The relationship between GM and Delphi, (Ford and Visteon too) has been testy, but gee it seems unusual to see someone being thrown this publicly under the bus.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    I remember when I went to driving school, they taught me to turn around, left hand on the wheel, foot on the brake and face backwards, DO NOT rely on mirrors, too many blind spots, this is a matter of people 1)getting lazy 2) getting too fat to turn around. Why not back into a space at a shopping center and then driving right off whey you leave?

  10. dcars Says:

    CNG is a great alternative to gasoline. A lot local truck delivery companies are changing to this fuel and saving money.

  11. MARSHALL Says:

    I feel that back-up cameras will end up causing more accidents. People are lazy, and will just look at their back-up screen instead of turning their head around to look in both directions. They may see it is clear behind them, but will totally miss the person or object that is approaching from the side.

    I wish everyone in this country had to undergo the extensive driver education program like they do in Sweden before getting a license, and then be retested every couple years. Traffic accidents would be greatly reduced!

  12. Lex Says:

    IMHO Dan Akerson, former CEO of GM, was a very clever man to leave GM when he did. I wonder if he knew that this trouble was brewing and made his way to the doors just in time to preserve his legacy at GM? Did Akerson pick Mary Barra as his successor to reward her or punish her? In either case I believe Mary Barra is doing the right thing in ordering these recalls, acknowledging GM’s past mistakes and apologizing for GM’s past practice of cost benefit analysis before customer / peoples lives! She might become the pivotal CEO in GM’s long history to finally turn the tide and save GM’s from itself.
    Good Luck Mary Barra!

  13. marshy Says:

    I think that one of the soft benefits of CNG is that it is a cleaner burning fuel and results in less carbon and other particulate build-up.

    This may be less of the case now with better gas combustion management, but 10 years ago the guys who commuted with propane in their pickups would state that the oil looked the same coming out as going in when changed. That’s got to have some serious long-term fleet durability benefits.

  14. Lex Says:

    I agree with John McElroy regarding backup sensors over backup camera’s. Drivers should be constantly scanning the visible areas around their vehicle by turning their heads and using their mirrors. These backup cameras are very nice but they will make drivers even more lazy than they are today. They will focusing their attention toward the dash screen and not be scanning around the vehicle with their eyes.

    What about older vehicles. I would like to see a wireless rear license plate bracket with built-in backup sensors that uses the rear license plate light bulb outlet as a power source to power such a safety unit. This enhanced license plate bracket would connect wirelessly to a sound and flashing diode module plugged into an unused power outlet within the vehicle. Easy installation and the vehicles is now retrofitted.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Also most modern vehicles have been designed in a way that makes seeing out the back very difficult and of course here comes the sensors and cameras, sacrificing safety for the sake of looking “stylish”

  16. shan Says:

    Hmmm, wonder what MPG a aluminum F-150 will get with a ecoboost 6 banger? and the cost of a base model surely will not be 39k, seems like fuzzy logic to me….

  17. alex wellington Says:

    #10 CNG is a great fuel ONLY for commercial applications such as delivery trucks that 1. Do ton of miles every year and 2. Have the space to sacrifice in their vehicles to install the big CNG tanks.

    CNG is NOT a good fuel at all for private vehicles, especially for that silly, overpriced, no trunk Honda Civic CNG.

    In the F-150, a third of the truck bed is wasted for the stupid tank. Plus the price of the CNG truck is MUCH higher than that of the simple F 150. I bet for 99% of private truck owners will not make sense to install it, either because they do not do that many miles, or they don’t want to sacrifice 33% of their cargo volume, or both.

    #12 Akerson may have shrewdly jumped off the ship when he did, but Barra was no innocent outsider, she was a high up GM VP and knew damn well the whole fiasco with the faulty switches.

    I think a huge scandal at the beginning of Barra’s tenure as GM CEO will work in her favor, since she starts with GM in shambles, at the bottom, and can claim credit when and if it turns around.

  18. Lex Says:

    I drove propane powered forklifts in my youth. They were wonderful machines for use in an indoor warehouse environment. Clean running with only a slight odor to signal that there was a leak. The problem is that as more vehicles consume CNG or LPG the price will increase (supply and demand).
    I would love to be able to give my fuel from and landfill in the future.

  19. marshy Says:

    Alex Wellingtong wrote:

    “#12 Akerson may have shrewdly jumped off the ship when he did, but Barra was no innocent outsider, she was a high up GM VP and knew damn well the whole fiasco with the faulty switches.

    I think a huge scandal at the beginning of Barra’s tenure as GM CEO will work in her favor, since she starts with GM in shambles, at the bottom, and can claim credit when and if it turns around.”

    Well, that is certainly taking the positive view. I hope her “handlers” are telling her that too! :)

  20. Lex Says:

    @ 17 I agree Alex Wellington,

    I hope Mary Barra can turn it around. GM needs to focus on a smaller core product line built with proven engineering, latest technology and the highest quality materials. GM will suffer in the short term but safety must be first.

  21. T. Bejma Says:

    #9 #14

    The backup cameras show places behind the vehicle that you can not see unless you get out of the vehicle. You could walk around and make sure that you do not see anything around, but then you get in the car, and your infant son or daughter decides she wants to go with Daddy and then crawls behind the car outside of the view of ANY mirror or head cranking. Then what? Assuming all of these deaths were caused by laziness is just foolish thinking.

  22. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ AW: How many senior VP’s does GM have? Do they all share the same knowledge irrespective of their particular divisions? I doubt it,you just don’t like Ms Barra,that is very clear.

  23. T. Bejma Says:

    For older vehicles without cameras…

    http://www.amazon.com/High-Definition-Rear-View-Parallel-Universal-Waterproof/dp/B009NVXGAI/ref=sr_1_2?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1396372054&sr=1-2&keywords=backup+camera

  24. alex wellington Says:

    22 Barra was not just any old VP, she had the Job that Mark Reuss has now. Product Czar! Before she became CEO.

    I don’t know her and in any case my personal opinion of her and whether I like her or not is UTTERLY Irrelevant. I sure believe that if she was a male with the same exact qualifications and accomplishments, HE would have NEVER been made CEO.

    And in fact that above Mark Reuss SHOULD have been made CEO, he was far superrior to Barra but was passed over.

    It is interesting however that another poster marchy, # 19) believes I took an OPTIMISTIC view of the scandal and her success.

  25. Bradley Says:

    Ugh! My day is ruined…no Bridgestone ad?!? :)

    The 2013 VW Sportswagen in the US didn’t come with a backup camera. In other countries it was available, so I bought the goods and installed it myself.

    Is Ford selling these CNG/Gasoline F150s? A third party or is it an add-on anyone can buy?

    An aluminum Ford Ranger with CNG bi-Fuel would be a great reason to trade in my Yaris.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    17, Yeah, the CNG Civic doesn’t make much sense, but I know someone who has one, and likes it. He fuels it at home, and uses it for a ~100 mile round trip commute. For his purposes, losing most of the trunk doesn’t matter.

    I doubt that it will pay for itself, though. The car was expensive, for a Civic and, as I remember, just the fueling setup cost a few thousand dollars, even though the plumbing was easy, since there was already gas in the garage for a furnace and water heater.

  27. alex wellington Says:

    26 aaaah.. those Betamate structural adhesives. Did they at least mention those?

    Back to the CEOs in general. If an intelligent Alien looked at the World Auto industry, he or she or it would be very surprised at the huge disparity of CEO pay, and even more surprised that the most SUCCESSFUL CEOs, such as those of Toyota, Honda, Subaru etc, earn barely a TENTH of what all the UNdeserving CEOs, such as the long line of GM CEOs that ultimately bankrupted the company. From Roger Smith to Wagoner and now to the $15 million a year Barra (and that before she even had her first year’s performance review!)

    These companies have 10,000s or 100,000s of employees, NOT just the CEO. But when they do well, it is the CEO that gets all the credit in the US, even though most of the success of the company may have been due to many others instead.

  28. alex wellington Says:

    26 I agree, it won’t pay, but if he has fun with it, who am I to complain.

    I also know some people who actually have a small fleet of Civic CNGs, they are actually a bunch of nuns that wanted to be environmentally conscious. Seen a video about them I forget where.

  29. HtG Says:

    Cspan will carry the recall hearing at 2 eastern, or go to the Energy and Commerce committee website to watch.

  30. RumNCoke Says:

    OK. This may sound really Machiavellian, but I still think the Old Boys at GM knew this was coming and they needed someone to take the fall. Mark Reuss might have been deemed too valuable to lose and so Mary Barra was tossed into the meat grinder. First female CEO of an automaker is a really big deal. I hope she wasn’t set up to fail.

  31. alex wellington Says:

    30 She is crying all the way to the bank with her utterly undeserved $15 million a year (Plus benefits!). My heart goes out to her.

    Again, Barra had Reuss’ job before she became CEO and was fully aware of the scandals. I doubt she was forced to become CEO against her will.

  32. alex wellington Says:

    32 Actually after wasting 5 minutes with the stupid CSPAN sites, I found that the live Barra testimony is on CSPAN 3, now!

  33. Ckernzie Says:

    Back-up cameras can be useful but like many other safety nanny features on today’s cars they make people lazy and good driving habits will disappear as people rely more on the technology instead. “my blind spot detector did not warn me officer” “I didn’t see the car because it wasn’t in my rear view camera” “my accident avoidance radar didn’t warn me so I didn’t stop” “my adaptive cruise control must have been off and that’s why I rear ended that car”

    We are producing legions of poor drivers dependant on technology.

  34. Brett Says:

    #33

    We started producing poor drivers when the electric starter was perfected.

  35. w l simpson Says:

    Cameras & screens are in the process of displacing ALL mirrors.

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    34, Ooooo. Something else to blame on GM :-)

  37. HtG Says:

    36 no good deed, eh Kit?

    —-
    I thought Barra was very well disciplined.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    TB do we know the country of origin of these questionable Cruze axles?

  39. T. Bejma Says:

    #38

    Cruze axles are made by Nexteer Automotive in Michigan.

  40. GaryPaul Says:

    this is long so Please scroll and skip if desired!

    #6; I’m with you Kit—I like the simpler easier to understand and less technologically advanced in many instances yet I do give in and fully accept some technological advancements as time and technology advances and makes the tech so dependable…Like I love hd solid axles–even on a performance car like my Mustang (less expensive to fix; no 4 wheel alignment; rugged; easy to work on; simple). But I am ready and agree that the time has come to move to the IRS on the new 2015 model…
    In the same way here is my take on
    BACKUP CAMERAS AND REAR-VIEW MIRRORS:

    ELECTRONIC DEVICE FOR SENSING CATS SLEEPING UNDER YOUR TIRE

    THE LIMITATIONS OF SIDE VIEW AND REARVIEW MIRRORS:
    Yes i am fine with traditional side and rear view mirrors—as long as I am sitting in a vehicle with plenty of windows and almost no blind spots and with big trailer-type mirrors (you know–the huge mirrors that swing out from the door and are slightly lower so they don’t block any forward vision and can be manually swung inward when needed)—I had all this on my old FORD Ranger regular short cab /long bed. And in that Regular cab Ranger pickup, which almost no homeowner seems to buy anymore, & without a cap on it, there was a pretty darn clear view all around–best view I ever experienced and virtually no blind spot . In that type of vehicle you don’t need anything but mirrors –except for the area right under the truck and up to 15 feet behind the truck where I suppose the neighbor lady could place her cat for a nap right under my right rear tire. So I can see some usefulness for sensors and cameras to see areas where you just cannot see… but I have a different take on this whole scenario…

    Yes the bigger factory side mirrors offered as standard on today’s trucks and cars are much better than the single tiny round mirror that you used to have to order on your 1964 Plymouth Valiant! (usually it was not even standard on typical 60s cars!) Recall how the round shape used to increase the blind spot area? Do you all remember how your Dad or Grandpa used to swing his whole head and torso around to check a blind spot–not just when backing up but also when changing lanes on the highway! Wow! Even in the 90s my 1993 Town Car had mirrors way too small! So today’s mirrors seem way way better, BUT, the REAR END of the vehicles –including homeowner unfriendly pickup trucks with their ridiculous 5 foot high bedsides that you cannot easily access unless you are Wilt the Stilt— are making mirrors less and less useful for backing up or changing lanes, regardless of their increased size.

    And there are other factors—Yeah it is great when no adults are sitting in the back seat of a vehicle with lots of windows & I want to see the view through the rear view mirror, but what about when people with heads sit back there? Or what about when I fill the back of my truck with stuff and the rear view mirror becomes blocked?

    EVOLVING INTO MORE THAN JUST BACK UP CAMERAS AND SENSORS!

    Essentially the argument that today’s somewhat limited cameras will always be rather ridiculous and useless and limited in their capabilities and will always be unable to be used just like a rear view mirror—well that is a fixable set of challenges that engineers will figure out for a reasonable price & they will work well in the future in combination with the truly autonomous vehicles, and probably sooner than many think…

    In fact the development of a much much higher quality set of cameras and sensors to “view” the back of the vehicle and act not just as a backup assist but as a better rear view “mirror” is actually a precursor to the autonomous vehicle and I would not be surprised at all if there is fierce developement battle going on regarding this right now especially if new regulations require it. Thus, cameras will get smaller/placement better/ multiple cameras/ software integration & enhancement/better cleaning/etc

    With all the headaches involved creating a truly autonomous vehicle it’s going to take a lot longer to create than these fool proof autonomous vehicles than these various companies have predicted–as though we will all be sleeping on the way to work in 2020–yeah right!
    But certainly when we eventually get there in say 30 years, cars will not be relying on mirrors only! Just like people were saying they refused to drive those newfangled hydraulic brakes in the 1920s—heck I will stick with a rod like on my Model A Ford they would say–the fact that my Ford brake rod on my Model A can freeze as the car sits outside on cold nights is no problem–just remember to get on your back and tap along the rod to remove the ice before you drive off! And old Henry rejected hydraulic brakes for a long time but gee people seem to accept them now… or take drive by wire—that’s ridiculous! I want a cable between my foot and the delivery of fuel to the engine. But oh wait a minute—people seem to be driving vehicles equipped with these systems.

    Right now backup cameras can be good or not so good depending on placement, quality, technology….but they are improving fast and ways will be found to improve them including keeping them clean; placing multiple cameras into place and combining them with sensors for both backing and avoiding collision…I think the day is coming when we jump into any modern car and just automatically assume the vehicle has the camera and sensor technology without any concerns…

    I am waiting to hear the first 16 year old kid, 20 years from now to get into an ancient 2000 model year car and ask—”Golly, whats this mirror for?–combing my hair?”

    ——–

  41. GaryPaul Says:

    #33: yes, but for some reason arm bone health went way up all over the country after the electric starter came out

  42. GaryPaul Says:

    #35; yep cameras and sensors are advancing fast in quality and ubiquitous-ness.

  43. RS Says:

    I have one of each – camera on one car, sensors on the other. Both good – and a big help when you are trying to judge your distance from the car behind while backing into a parking spot. About the only real advantage to the camera is that I can see cars and pedestrians approaching from the side. The sensors don’t start beeping until that car is already way too close. Pedestrians tend to move a little slower so the sensor is pretty effective.

  44. GaryPaul Says:

    PAY FOR FAILURE

    #27 ; yes the CEO pay fiasco appeared to start after the Financial Sector started rewarding its CEOs with massive paychecks and the auto industry looked out with greed and envy and essentially so many of these incompetent top execs starting working with political appointed board members who would of course support salaries that are massively ballooned and essentially so often supported PAY FOR FAILURE…

    Will Mary Barra be a failure with massive pay? Unknown. But I have seen these political type appointments (she is not there because she is the best choice)lead to trouble in the past. If she leaves Mark Reuss alone for a few years and encourages product development then it might be a fruitful (I mean AFTER this ignition switch disaster—As I call it: “The Billion Dollar Recall”—blows over. Ummm– if it blows over.

  45. GaryPaul Says:

    #12 and #17;

    yes this scenario presently being endured through GM’s own bugling may make Barra look pretty good if she can play this out right in front of the cameras—but GM WILL NOT MAKE IT BY SAYING NO MORE CRAPPY CARS–It must go father and be proactive at making the best product in each price and market sector…And that ain’t easy. Mediocre cars that are acceptably competitive won’t do it because people have to HAVE A REASON TO GO TO THE GM PRODUCT PORTFOLIO AND WANT TO BUY!!!!
    And the employees have to be energized and realize it will be a 20 year battle—does GM have the heart for this?

  46. GaryPaul Says:

    #33; Regarding good driving habits….

    Well if we are moving toward the autonomous vehicle good driving habits will unfortunately continue to wilt.

    And eventually, 50 years from now, may be mostly irrelevant if we have 100s of electronic nannies that will watch out for us. This is good in the sense that we should see a massive reduction in “Death on the Highway” (recall that film anyone?) as these vehicles sense each other and respond by avoiding accidents in the first place, & thus will allow people to travel regardless of driving skills and allow car-makers to explore a whole new world of styling freedom as there will be far less need to meet crash standards!

    But if the software ever fails or gets a virus lookout because nobody will know how to drive!

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well, TB. We can’t blame the Chinese communists for this one!

  48. cwolf Says:

    T.B ejma,
    I believe this is the second time the Cruze was recalled for cracks in the axles. From my experience, a second occurance would result in some hard asked questions and, maybe, a visit by GM people in effort to try to understand why this has reoccured. Do you think Nexteer is buying unfinished product, then completing the final part? Is Nexteer the only supplier for these?
    We have had similar problems at my plant with castings and the trouble became soon evident and the amount of potential defective finished product was held to a min. If the same QC process isn’t practiced by Nexteer, GM isn’t looking too hard!

  49. pedro fernandez Says:

    It is truly a shame that this had to happen, the Cruze is such a hit for Gm with a redesign in the pipeline.

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    I suspected there was some Chinese involved in this, since I experienced a double whammy of bad Chinese components late last year.

  51. HtG Says:

    Cruze shafts

    CK, dafuqq are you talking about, my friend? We know why, and it wasn’t GM that did you wrong

    …and who is that new avatar, V. Martynov?

  52. T. Bejma Says:

    #48

    cwolf, as you know if the inspection process was not extensive enough, then there is a possibility that they may have caught the big defects but missed the small ones. Being under the microscope means being extra picky if there is the slightest doubt.

    #51

    HtG? WTF???? Post in the wrong forum? Too many cocktails watching the fiasco on CSpan today?

  53. HtG Says:

    TB nope, just very precisely being pissed off. Sent a little message

  54. vincent joy Says:

    OH & NY governments and dealers are guilty of ‘Crony-Capitalism.” It is neither the government’s nor the dealers business how Tesla distributes its vehicles. This is just another example of phony dealers, who like to ‘crow’ about their belief in Free Markets, except when they don’t. My advice to consumers: grind the dealers down on sales as much as possible! These guys are NOT your friends.

  55. ukendoit Says:

    I know there were some humerless viewers that lambasted you last year for your April Fool’s edition, so I wanted to speak up and let you know that some of us WITH a sense of humor missed your fun broadcast this year. I know you can’t please everyone (damned if you do; damned if you don’t). I understand if you were too busy or skip some years, but don’t let a few sticks-in-the-mud keep you from cutting up on rare occasion. I think once a year is excuseable!

  56. alex wellington Says:

    Lots to talk about, so little time.

    1. RAM sales were for the first time higher than Silverado, by only 280 units or so, but they did it with much higher incentives than Ford or GM on their pickups. This incentive war may also partially explain why March sales overall were better than I expected.

    2. Because of the rather underwhelming Malibu (even after the refresh after the initial poor reviews), the Cruze is actually GM’s best selling car. Normally the next bigger segment has all the best sellers for each maker (Fusion, Accord, Camry, Altima)

    3. Barra’s responses were timid, uninformative, and an utter waste of time, but some of the questions, from both parties, were excellent, and the Clowns in Congress behaved. If the CEO were a male, they would have really abused him, but because it was a “lady” they were on their best behavior.

  57. alex wellington Says:

    54 Absolutely agree. BTW Tesla was for the first time included in the Automotive News Sales tables, and also in my own map of the sales, a 1000-square 40X25 map on a spreadsheet, where one square equals 0.1% market share. Tesla was above that 0.1% even on its virgin appearance on the chart.

  58. alex wellington Says:

    #57 FYI GM’s market share, despite its 4.1% overall sales increase over March 13, is now a dismally low (compared to its history) 16.7%. Maybe they are happy with that number, but normally I would not expect them to be, for a company that went from 60% to 50% to 30% to 20% and now to less than 17% market share.

  59. HtG Says:

    56.3 maybe that was her intention. She got to use Valukas’ investigation as a shield against saying more than she had to, and avoided legal risks.

    But I give Mark Reuss points for looking tough, even though only industry people would know who he is. Barra doesn’t come off like an alpha male, but she sure stands her ground

    I’m really curious about the difference between not meeting a specification and also not being defective.

  60. HtG Says:

    I will look to see how Senator Boxer slaps up Barra, this morning. Boxer may be diminutive but she’s got a great vertical leap.

  61. alex wellington Says:

    59 don’t be silly. Reuss looked like a beaten dog, and upset far more than tough. Still, he made Barra look better than she would otherwise look, by comparison.

    But watching that whole panel, with some exceptions, and the people facing them, I was reminded of the saying “Politics is Hollywood for ugly people”. Some household name or celebrity said it, so don’t pin it on me, (even tho I’d be glad to have said it and taken credit for it)

    If we could return to the wealth of serious news from March Auto sales: I just read my email with the top ten cars and trucks sold.

    Some were as expected, others were HUGE Surprises.

    The Nissan Sentra, which Pedro appreciated as a rental, did so well, it even displaced the Malibu from the top 10 cars. Sentra sold almost twice what it sold in Feb, 19k+ units. The Nissan Rogue was also very strong and fairly new to the list. The Altima did extremely well, but the Camry, thanks to incentives, got the top spot again. The Accord sold great, and may beat all of the above if you only include the profitable RETAIL sales.

  62. alex wellington Says:

    59 I quite disagree. They caught her unprepared in more than one important issue. She claimed she had not studied the material, but I am 100% sure she has studied extensive executive summaries that pinpoint the real trouble points over and over. Unless if she is utterly irresponsible or just a figurehead. She also failed to promise she will share the findings (the complete report) of the GM investigation with Congress and the public. What has she got to hide? This is terrible publicity.

  63. HtG Says:

    62 yes, it’s a deliberate strategy not to say certain things. All these QnA hearings are practiced beforehand, with Barra waiting for ‘the question’ She’ll absorb some shots if it means protecting something more valuable. This is why the Senate will be interesting, with people like Boxer now making the most of yesterday’s non-answers. Boxer can be incendiary

    ‘Politics is show business for ugly people,’ is how I heard it. I won’t name the member whom my sister said it was tough to look at while interviewing him/her, but wow.

  64. HtG Says:

    It dawns on me that Barra also managed the news yesterday by saying that Ken Feinberg had been hired. That’s stage management, as her prepared statement released the night before didn’t have that tidbit. Well done Mr Bignol

  65. HtG Says:

    If anyone is interested in watching Barra’s senate appearance, here’s a link to the subcommittee’s website where you can find the livestream…

    http://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Hearings&ContentRecord_id=878092ca-3da8-4a43-8948-6f50822a1938&ContentType_id=14f995b9-dfa5-407a-9d35-56cc7152a7ed&Group_id=02096e14-bdcc-424b-842c-d6809f3f69c9

  66. HtG Says:

    also here…

    http://www.c-span.org/video/?318610-1/gm-ignition-switch-recall

  67. Bob Wilson Says:

    The NHTSA conducted a special investigation of the backup problem (search for “810954.pdf” for the Chidester report.) Starting on page 30 is a 2005 Cadillac Escalade that backed over a 7 year old kid hitting him with the bumper mounted, sensors. Page 32 shows the taped area where the impact killed the kid.

    As for cost, cameras are so cheap as to be a commodity. If you can’t afford a backup camera, you probably can’t afford the gas needed to run your backup, blind car. Park it and save everyone the grief.

    This one piece of safety legislation that is long overdue.

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville, AL

  68. Shawn Freeman Says:

    While I don’t agree with the rule for many of the reasons mentioned, at least it was written as a performance requirements AND not another case of the government selecting the solution (e.g. airbags).

    For example of how the government destroys innovation when they pick “how” the requirement should be met, look no further than http://americanergonomics.com/ and their safer seat design.

    NOT a plug – I do not work for them.