AD #1362 – C-MAX Sales Get C-, Mustang’s Electronic Line-Lock, Formula One Changes

April 23rd, 2014 at 12:03pm

Runtime: 9:42

- GM, Ford Earnings Down
- C-MAX Sales Get C-
- Mustang’s Electronic Line-Lock
- Toyota Gives Yaris New Facelift
- Green Car Study
- GM Management Changes
- Formula One Changes

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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily, where we are already half way through the work week.

GM and Ford will report their first quarter earnings tomorrow and Friday and analysts are expecting earnings to go down. At GM, the reason is obvious. Earnings are going to get clobbered by the charges for all these recalls, and by restructuring and currency exchange charges. Even so, Merrill Lynch has a “buy” on GM stock, forecasting it will hit $43 a share, about $10 above where it is today. Meanwhile, Ford is also expected to post weaker earnings because of a ton of model changeovers, most notably with that aluminum F-150. It’s also expected to post weak earnings in Europe, South America and the Asia Pacific region. Ford is currently trading at $16 a share. Merrill Lynch sees that going to $20.

Sales of Ford’s C-MAX are falling sharply in the American market and the automaker’s chief of the Americas, Joe Hinrichs says he knows why. Ford had to chop the fuel economy rating by 10% because of a consumer backlash when the C-MAX did not deliver real-world results. Hinrichs is right. If you look at sales of the Fusion Hybrid and MKZ Hybrid, whose MPG ratings were not lowered, they are actually up compared to a year ago. So, I would not be surprised to see more incentives being offered on the C-MAX or at least more advertising dollars spent.

We’re getting more info about the brand new Mustang. One new feature is an electronic line-lock, that’s standard on all Mustang GT’s, to help drivers at the drag strip. When the brake pedal is released, the hydraulic control for the stability control system keeps the front brakes locked while releasing the rear brakes. When sitting in the burnout box, the driver can hit the accelerator to spin up the rear wheels to warm the tires for maximum grip. And it’s not necessary to keep one foot on the brake and the other on the gas, or install a mechanical line-lock. So when the tires are properly warmed up, drivers can pull up to the line, start launch control, and get a clean start.

Toyota is showing off the refreshed version of the Yaris that’s due to hit streets later this year. It gets a whole new fascia out front and new LED taillights and diffuser out back. Customer feedback prompted key changes to the interior, like adding more colors and equipment, using better looking materials and increasing the feeling of roominess. Toyota also re-tuned the suspension to improve comfort, handling and noise levels.

Research firm Experian Automotive just released a new study comparing the difference between people who buy hybrid and electric cars. Researchers expected them to be the same but that’s not the case. EV buyers are younger and more affluent. But the most interesting part of the study to me was the amount of money being financed and how much people are paying for these things per month. These kinds of payments are what people are paying for luxury cars.

More management changes at General Motors due to this ignition switch disaster. The company is essentially splitting its Engineering department into two separate organizations run by two different executives. Ken Morris will become the vice president of Global Product Integrity. Ken Kelzer will become the vice president of Global Vehicle Components and Subsystems. John Calabrese, who was the vice president of Global engineering, but who saw this position eliminated as part of this restructuring, elected to retire from the company. In announcing the change, Mark Reuss, head of product development at GM was effusive in his praise of Calabrese, so it’s not as if he’s being pushed out the door. I can see why he’d leave after the job he had was being split in two. Even if he stayed on he would be taking on a job with less responsibility and so after 33 years with GM I can understand why he’d step down. GM says it needed to get rid of the organizational silos within its engineering organization, and needed better cross-system analysis and that’s why it split it in two. I would add that by splitting the organization it’s going to reduce complexity for each of these new appointees. Both Ken Kelzer and Ken Morris will report to Mark Reuss, Autoline’s 2014 Executive of the Year.

Coming up next, we want to take you inside, quite literally inside, the fantastic world of Formula One technology.

As you may know, Formula One completely revised its rules for 2014, especially in the powertrain area. Now the cars are running V-6 turbocharged engines, but with a lot more electric assist. Red Bull Racing put out a video with Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo explaining what the new cars are all about. What I especially like about this video is that it is a spectacular example of how good computer generated animations have come to be. Take a look.

(Today’s look at Formula One rule changes is only available in the video version of the show.)

For the last three seasons the Red Bull team dominated Formula One, but so far this year the Mercedes team is emerging as the dominant team. Mercedes seems to be getting more power and better fuel economy out of its engines, while the Renault engine used by Red Bull is struggling to keep pace.

How would you like to commute to work in an original Ford Model T? That’s what David Liepelt is known to do. He also raced his T against a Tesla Model S from Michigan to Long Island as part of an article that Car And Driver did. And he’s our guest on Autoline After Hours tomorrow night. So join me and Gary Vasilash for some of the best insider discussion in the business starting at 6 pm eastern time right here at

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

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37 Comments to “AD #1362 – C-MAX Sales Get C-, Mustang’s Electronic Line-Lock, Formula One Changes”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    The updated Yaris looks a lot like the Aygo that is sold in other parts of the world, I don’t know how I feel about that X design up front, it looks like a new styling gimmick that I hope stays where it is.

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I wonder why the Mustang needs a line-lock; if I’m not mistaken, if you are drag racing with street tires, a burnout really doesn’t do any good. That’s my understanding anyway (could be wrong); any knowledgeable drag racers out there.

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Chuck G: Kinda true.because street tires have tread,traction off the line is inherently better….to a point.The reason for slicks needing the burnout is to get the rubber warm enough to get some traction,and to clean off the tires.Street tires will still hold pebbles and some debris in their treads so a burnout is again almost unnecessary,but are fun,and a fan favorite.

  4. Brett Says:

    I suspect that the more committed amateur drag racers may have a set of mounted, DOT-legal drag “slicks” that they throw in the trunk before leaving for the strip and swap ‘em on when they get there. That’s what autocrossers do.

  5. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Brett: Depending on where they are running,and the events they participate in,they might not be allowed to run them without being bumped up in class.Some events are strictly for stock street tires etc.

    Factory line loc: WOW!!! That is awesome…good show Ford!!

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG did you take a close look at the MB GLA? TTAC has a scathing piece on just how poorly put together the one at the NY auto show was, reminded the writer of something out of the malaise era of the 70′s.

  7. C-Tech Says:

    Wow electromic line-loc for the Mustang GT! It will be interesting to see how the warranty dept. handles these claims if you use your line-loc to go racing and something breaks is that pricey powertrain part still covered? Usually racing failures are not covered.

  8. Brett Says:

    It would depend upon the rules. The link below references a DOT-approved, street-legal drag slick. If it meets both those criteria, would it require a bump in class?

  9. Lex Says:

    How does the Chevy Volt fair in the Green Car Study? What changes if any will be done to the Volt? Is GM going to simply refresh the exterior and interior with no major modifications to the electric drivetrain? What engine will replace the current ICE powerplant in the Volt? Will we see a smaller ECO Tech three cylinder with a turbo charger? How will GM compete against the Tesla Model S and uncoming Model X?

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    Tuners must be laughing at Ford for their attempts in trying to upstage their work.

  11. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Brett: Again,it would depend on what class they want to run in,or can run in.We used to call those ‘street legal slicks”,’cheater slicks’.In a street racing scene,that means on the street illegal drag racing,you can run anything you want,there are no rules.On a sanctioned drag strip,there are rules that have to be adhered too.For example,back in the day I had a 65 Mustang K model,289 hipo and a top loader,with factory detroit locker,3:89 gears.That would have put me into a specific class…BUT,I also had factory 3/4 length traction bars which according to the NHRA rules,would have put me in a class I was hopelessly out gunned in.Same same with running cheaters,or anything else that isn’t in your class that you want to run in.

  12. Rumblestrip Says:

    The most interesting item in that Red Bull video to me was that that they are using an electric generator that is set up like another Turbo, i.e. taking hot exhaust gasses to spin up the motor.

    I also hope that the engineers at Ford have put a lot of thought into the materials going into the IRS of the ’15 Mustang. With Line Lok, and Launch Control, it will be interesting to see how many broken half shafts there are once people put on Slicks or Drag Radials. Will they honor warranty claims, or will this be another boondoggle, like offering BOSS 302 intakes as dealer installed items, then denying engine warranty claims, even if the change in intake had nothing to do with the problem.

  13. Speedracer2007 Says:

    What a FANtastic job on the Formula One rule changes. Informative & entertaining piece. Gene Haas, F1′s newest licensee and also an American would be a great guest to have on the show to discuss his entry into that racing discipline.

    Also, Brenda Priddy, the world’s most famous automotive spy photographer would be an interesting interview as she is taking a group of auto enthusiasts to Cuba this October to meet with the car clubs and discover their love for the American automobile.

  14. RumNCoke Says:

    Re: Model T – Is that the same fellow who you profiled some time ago and was going to drive one whole year with the T as his main vehicle? As I recall, all he did to update it was radial tires and a safety glass windshield. Now that’s commitment!

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    #13 If you lived in a place where buying any new automobile is not only prohibited but also out of reach for 99% of all citizens, you would also love your American iron from the 40′s and 50′s.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    He’d definitely need to avoid tailgating, given that a Model T didn’t even have brakes, as we know them. It had a cloth band that dragged on a drum in the transmission, and the braking was through the differential.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The C-Max didn’t achieve those inflated original mpg ratings in real world driving, but it still gets great mileage, especially in city driving. In CR’s city test, the C-Max gets Prius-like mileage, and more than twice the mileage of Escape and CR-V. It is nearly as tall as CR-V et. al., so if they made it longer and lower, it could get great highway mileage too. I guess Ford doesn’t want to be seen as copying a Prius, though.

  18. Eduardo Guerrero Says:

    John, great to see F1 content on the show. As you mentioned the Mercedes engine has an advantage over Renault and Ferrari so far this year, did you know part of it is because they actually split the turbo in two?

    The turbine side is still located at the rear of the engine, but the compressor is located at the front of the engine connected by a shaft. Pretty innovative stuff!

    Link to video explaining it in more detail:

  19. Alan C Brown Says:

    Line-lock has one great use that nobody has mentioned. Line-lock can hold the brakes on a manual transmission vehicle on a steep grade. One foot on the clutch, one foot on the brakes and one foot on the gas? I do not have three (3) feet. Heel and toe (brake/gas)with the right foot in stop and go traffic on a steep incline is not fun driving.

  20. Ziggy Says:

    Good ridance to Calabrese at GM, when I was there he was one of the main problems with the company, his sexist and often moronic comments caused more than a bit of angst for company employees and I was amazed more internal lawsuits didn’t come up under his watch.

  21. cwolf Says:

    I think the C-Max is very nice. To improve sales, Ford should increase the $1000 rebate x 3 and punctuate the fact the battery has an 8yr/100K mile warranty. When the rear seat is folded, it lays flat with the cargo area where the battery is located below ; A plus for hauling. I think the gov’t still kicks in another $1700.
    I think pedro should rent one for his trip to Cedar Point. I’d like to know the mpg’s and how gutsy it is going through the Smokies.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf do you know how many miles are from Miami to the great lakes?? I’d rather take a Boeing than a Ford on that trip!

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    19, Ford needs to point out that, even though the original 47×3 EPA numbers were ridiculously overstated, the thing still gets great mpg, especially at lower speeds.

    It would do fine in the Smokies. Even a less powerful Prius does fine in the Smokies, at least lightly loaded.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    20, I agree on the south FL/great lakes. Even my “central” FL to central IN drive is too long, even though it’s hours shorter than you are talking about.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit it is actually shorter than the NY Miami trip which I have traveled a few times, when I was younger, so much younger than today, I did not need any Help driving that distance, but now that those days are gone, I find myself needing Help in getting there!

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pedro, I normally stop for an overnight on my 17 hour trip. The last time I drove straight through was 10 years ago with a load of stuff in my now “antique” minivan. I am normally traveling alone. Would probably go straight through with two drivers.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yes I hope to bring at least another driver, if I could get 2 more we would not really have to stop to sleep till we got there.

  28. Bradley Says:

    I like the looks of the new Yaris. The chrome door openers are a nice touch.

    Awesome formula video, I had no idea so much tech were in those cars. I guess NASCAR has forced me to shun all professional racing.

    “There’s nothing stock about a stock car.”
    -Days of Thunder

  29. Tom M Says:

    Ford’s problem with the C-Max Hybrid is that it has awful reliability in Consumer Reports at 143% below average. The Prius V reliability is 44% above average. For a high tech car aimed at families, bad reliability is a show stopper.

  30. T. Bejma Says:

    Going to be doing the Michigan (Lake St. Clair) to Florida (New Smyrna Beach) drive with two pre-teens and my wife in an Equinox in June. Just can’t afford to put the whole family on a plane these days. Will just take our time and enjoy the scenery. The way down is not so bad because everyone is looking forward to getting there. The way home is the rough part. Thank God for iPad’s. Wish us luck ;-)

  31. Bob Wilson Says:

    I was fascinated by “. . . the amount of money being financed and how much people are paying for these things per month. These kinds of payments are what people are paying for luxury cars.” So I went to the report and found “$26,836″ for hybrids and “$28,835″ for EVs. Seems a little low compared to a Lincoln MKZ hybrid at just under $50,000 that I looked at last September, just before the government shutdown. But there are pickups that are over $30,000, which makes them luxury vehicles by price.

    It might help to lay out your price-scale for subcompact, compact, midsize, large, and luxury vehicles . . . if it is just price that defines the class.

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville, AL

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    27, Have fun on your trip. You are going about 65 miles north of where I am. Be careful walking and lying on the beach. They still drive on the beach at New Smyrna. Maybe that’s why you are going there?

  33. C-Tech Says:

    @ #27 Have fun and be safe. It may rain in FL. in the afternoons, but it clears up fast. Watch out for the speed traps in Ohio. Let us know how the loaded Equinox handles the hills. If you stop, after 12 hours should put you close to Atlanta.

  34. C-Tech Says:

    Pedro it is about 1400 miles from Miami to Chicago. If you are alone, it might be a 2-stop trip to be safe.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    no ctech this is one time I am glad I’m not alone,@ TB Kit is right, alcohol, driving and bodies laying on the sand is not EVER a good idea. I don’t get why they allow that in Daytona as well, it goes back to the days when they used to run the Daytona race on the sand.

  36. T. Bejma Says:


    Actually Kit (and others), we are on the part of the beach just south of where they stop driving. This is the condo:,-80.9006469,13z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x404815d47fcf3480

    We did drive on the beach last year just so my daughters could see what it is like, but didn’t stop. Definitely like our part of the beach better!

  37. Brett Says:

    Disappointed that my invitation to folks visiting central Florida drop me a line was moderated out.