AD #1363 – GM’s Q1 Earnings, Electric Motorcycles by Yamaha, Please Refer to Owner’s Manual

April 24th, 2014 at 11:46am

Runtime: 7:00

- GM Earnings Slump
- Citroen CX-R Concept
- Survey Shows Test Drives Down
- Yamaha to Make Electric Motorcycles
- Mustang Nail Polish
- Choosing the Right Fluids

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

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

Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily.

Well we knew that GM earnings were going to be down, and they were. But on a global basis the company did worse than expected. First let’s look at the numbers. GM sold 2.41 million vehicles worldwide, up 2.3% from a year ago. Revenue came to $37.4 billion up only $1.4%. On an operating basis, GM lost over half a billion dollars, versus a nearly $1 billion profit a year ago. GM’s net income was $280 million, down sharply from the $1.1 billion is earned last year. Of course the big drops can be attributed to the $1.3 billion charge the company took for the ignition switch recall, and over $400 million for restructuring and currency exchange charges. Drop that money to the bottom line and profits would have been up versus a year ago. But on a worldwide basis there were other problems as well. Losses in Europe and South America widened, and the profit from its International Operations, which includes China, dropped. This shows that GM still has plenty of work to do even once it gets past its recall problems.

Citroen introduced a new SUV concept in Beijing called the CX-R. This is the first SUV developed by the French automaker and its Chinese partner, Dongfeng. The company says the CX-R is a contemporary take on the segment. It’s equipped with Citroen’s THP160 gasoline engine with start/stop technology and matched with an automatic transmission. The company didn’t say when or if it will go on sale but as you can see from the pictures it looks close to being production-ready.

A new study from DME Automotive shows that car buyers aren’t that interested in test drives before buying a new car. Nearly half of the people surveyed said they test drove one or no cars before making their purchase. And surprisingly, used car buyers were less likely to take a test drive than a new car buyer. The survey also had bad news for dealerships. About 70% of people said they visited two or less dealers when shopping for a new car and only about a fifth said they consider salespeople trustworthy. As you’ve probably guessed, car buyers are comparing prices and checking dealer inventory online, then heading to the dealership after their minds are made up. If you want to learn more about the survey just click the link in today’s show notes.

Japanese automakers were at the forefront of battery technology in cars, so it should not be too much of a surprise they’re doing the same for motorcycles. Yamaha just announced that it will be bringing a pair of electric bikes to market by 2016. One is a sport bike called the PES1 and the other a off-road bike called the PED1. Both are powered by a brushless DC motor with a lithium-ion battery pack.

We’ve all seen people wear jackets, hats or T-shirts that matches the color of their car. Well now Ford and nail care supplier OPI have come out with nail polish to match the paint on your favorite Mustang. The lacquers come in 6 different shades and have names like Girls Love Ponies and Angel with a Leadfoot. Look for the colors on store shelves by July.

Have you gone to the parts store recently to buy some kind of fluid for your car only to be overwhelmed by all the options that are available? That report is coming up next.

These days automakers offer or recommend all different kinds of fluids for the systems in their vehicles. But are they necessary to use and how do you know which is right for your vehicle? Here’s Sean McElroy with that report.

When was the last time you had to change fluids for the cooling system, transmission or even the differential on your vehicle? If it has been a while, it may surprise you that you can’t just run out anymore and buy a bottle of that green or red stuff and pour it in.

You know that note you see on the radiator cap or dip-stick that says to refer to the owner’s manual? Well it’s now more important than ever to follow that advice. Most manufacturers today have specific fluids that they recommend or even have fluids with their own proprietary blends. And those fluids have a wide range of colors, everything from red, orange, green, yellow and even blue. Not to mention they can be considerably more expensive than a premium version from an aftermarket supplier.

And the claim is that these fluids were designed specifically for the vehicles they’re put in, will last longer and outperform generic fluids. Now that’s all fine and dandy, but it’s not like the service intervals have increased for the systems these fluids are used in nor do they appear to be lasting longer than before.

Don’t get me wrong there are times a specific or proprietary fluid is necessary, but it just seems like manufacturers could do a better job of determining those instances and allowing a generic fluid the rest of the time. Although I would rather have the option to choose what fluid I want in the first place.

Thanks for that report, Sean. Before we go don’t forget that Model T expert David Liepelt will be joining us tonight. He’s the guy who raced his T against a Tesla Model S, and who’s been known to commute to work in his Tin Lizzie. So join us tonight for Autoline After Hours starting at 6PM eastern time.

As for today’s show, we’re over and out.

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

30 Comments to “AD #1363 – GM’s Q1 Earnings, Electric Motorcycles by Yamaha, Please Refer to Owner’s Manual”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Seems to me that young buyers in particular are really not interested in test driving cars they may want to buy, but rather read as much as they can from internet sources and watching videos online, my son and most of his buddies never bothered to test drive their cars before buying them, I found it weird and his answer was, they mostly all drive the same, its the looks and interiors that matter most.

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Those electric bikes sound interesting, but how fast, and how much range? That would make a big difference in my potential interest.

  3. Brett Says:


    Translation: “It’s just a transportation appliance to me.” :)

  4. Jon M Says:

    Buying a car without test driving it may not be as foolish as, say, buying a Russian wife off of a pop-up website, but it’s still not the brightest idea. This is especially true of used cars. However, for a myriad of reasons it’s a study I’m sure dealerships everywhere take great delight in reading.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ll want to hear the show with the Model T guy.

    My memory of Model T’s, other than seeing them at shows, was hearing my father’s experience driving one from northern Indiana to Louisiana with a friend, the summer after they graduated from high school, in 1932. Talk about at adventure. From the stories I heard about the trip, they changed several bands, even more tires, changed the oil on the side of the road a couple times, but had no actual breakdowns. They took some spare parts, like a connecting rod, but didn’t need them.

    Probably half or more of the roads they took were still unpaved at the time.

  6. G.A.Branigan Says:

    For me I take a ‘try before you buy’ approach for my vehicles,and for wimmins too ;}>

  7. Tony Gray Says:

    Borg Warner still hasn’t updated that commercial shown at the break. It’s now the Verizon IndyCar Series! Come on guys…this is an enthusiast show…gotta keep up!

  8. MJB Says:

    2. Well, for one, I’m pretty sure you won’t have to worry about of the line acceleration, as the one thing electric motors don’t lack is ample torque.

  9. Wayne Says:

    As far as the fluids I install in my vehicles, I choose the brand I want, as long as it meets/exceeds the manufacturers specifications. There is a Federal law that protects consumers, called the “Magnuson-Moss Act” which makes it illegal for Companies to void or deny coverage under the warranty simply because you choose to use an aftermarket or recycled part, including fluids.

  10. MJB Says:

    As to the CR-X’s supposed “contemporary take” on the SUV, I take those types of boasts with an entire canister of Morton’s. Design-wise, it looks no more contemporary than any other SUV on the market. Who do they think they’re fooling?

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    Based on the few new cars I’ve driven in the past few months, I must say NONE of them drove in a manner that would keep me from buying any of them, it came to a process of elimination based on size, fuel economy, what I would need for an every day work car, for example, the Altima, Cherokee, Cadenza and the JX35 were just too much car for my needs, only the Sentra with its great fuel economy would have been a good fit, even though it is still too big for my needs.

  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    Doesn’t Honda require some special fluids for their automatics? BMW has their own oil, what a ripoff

  13. Heartag0ld Says:

    Great report on the Autoline Garage segment, as usual. I would just add one thing; If paying exorbitant prices for OE branded fluids is as upsetting to you as it is me, then look in the owners / service manual and find the SAE Spec for said fluid. Then use Algore’s inter-webs to see who makes a product that meets that spec., if anybody. Yet.

    Thanks for another great segment Sean. BTW, ever ponder how easy it would be for the OEM’s to just load the diagnostic software onto the vehicles and negate the need for a Scan Tool? Or should I say $cam tool? This may be just MY pet peeve, but it seems as though the only benefit is to the dealer($) and certainly NOT the consumer.

    Any thoughts?

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    12, It seems that about everyone now has there own fluid for automatics. At one time, it type F for Ford, and Dexron II for almost everything else. Dexron was a GM trade name from the start, but Chrysler used it, and others.

  15. Chuck @ GM Says:

    For their level of concern, the kids are probably right, it don’t matter.

  16. T. Bejma Says:


    Why do you make the fact that GM made money, even with a huge hit for recalls, sound like such a bad thing when others sources paint a different picture?

    “Surging transaction prices on trucks helped General Motors offset heavy costs from safety recalls and eke out a small profit in the first quarter.”

    “GM’s average transaction price in the United States rose by about $2,000, on average, to $32,794 a vehicle in the first quarter. Average U.S. transaction prices for GM’s light trucks rose by about $5,000 to $38,675…”

    “9 percent profit growth amid record sales in China and better results in Europe, excluding restructuring costs…”

    “GM’s profit in China rose 9 percent to $605 million, driven by record sales of 934,000 units.”

    “In Europe, GM lost $284 million, nearly double the $152 million it lost a year earlier. The first-quarter loss included nearly $200 million in restructuring costs related to the wind-down of operations at a plant in Bochum, Germany.”

    “Excluding those expenses, GM’s European losses would have decreased by nearly $100 million, Stevens said, adding that both GM and the industry overall are performing “better than we expected.”

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    Why should the current GM have to pay the costs and the consequences of mistakes made by the old GM, it’s not fair, specially since they were making good strides towards a complete recovery.

  18. MJB Says:

    17. I usually steer clear of such debates, but if “the new GM” doesn’t pay, who else will?

    I could be wrong, but I don’t think these are the same types of (largely) baseless lawsuits that were filed against Toyota over unintended acceleration. We have a dozen lives lost over as many years of cover-up.

  19. T. Bejma Says:

    Toyota was responsible for even more deaths…

    “Unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles may have been involved in the deaths of 89 people over the past decade, upgrading the number of deaths possibly linked to the massive recalls, the government said Tuesday.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that from 2000 to mid-May, it had received more than 6,200 complaints involving sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles. The reports include 89 deaths and 57 injuries over the same period. Previously, 52 deaths had been suspected of being connected to the problem.

    Toyota Motor Corp. has recalled more than 8 million vehicles worldwide since last fall because of problems with gas pedals, floor mats and brakes. The Japanese automaker paid a record $16.4 million fine for its slow response to an accelerator pedal recall and is facing hundreds of state and federal lawsuits.”

    See how soon people forget…

  20. MJB Says:

    19. Well, in my case, it’s not that I forgot. That there is simply intel I never even knew.

  21. J Hundertmark Says:

    #17 – Even if the current GM is able to duck the liabilities of the “old gm” on a legal basis, they need to consider public opinion, & what impact that opinion has on future sales. Aware of some previous recalls that while the OEM could have fought on strict legality, they went ahead with recall. Consider it marketing expense.

    #14 – Prior to Dexron, GM, Chrysler, & others used Type A ATF. Primary difference was to work with the different friction materials used on the transmission clutch pack plates.

  22. cwolf Says:

    Off topic: I’ve been wondering what the next model Volt would look like. A 1.0 L hatchback….and maybe room for three in the back. I know it will be based upon the Cruze and share many parts, as well. So here is what I think it will look like:

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    Looks a lot cleaner than the current US version, the current one just looks WEIRD!

  24. cwolf Says:

    I agree, pedro. That flat black stripe under the side windows was always a head scratcher for me. Greencar also has another SUV like version allowing seating for 5 and ridding itself of the T-shape battery. Concept looks OK, but the Chevy grill has to go.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf the current one just seems like they tried too hard to make it stand out like the Prius, it would have been better served if they left it looking like the Cruze but with the required changes needed to make it more aerodynamic.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    25, It needed to be a hatchback for me to have considered it. Does that mean it had to “stand out like a Prius.” Not necessarily. There are enough Priuses now that the car is clearly mainstream. Those who still think that people buy them to make a statement are hallucinating. A Prius works well for transporting both people and stuff, and it gets exceptional mpg. Volt needed that utility, to the extent they could get it, given that it needed a bigger battery than a Prius.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit I thought that the Volt IS a hatchback!!

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Volt is a hatchback, but if it were like a US market Cruze, it wouldn’t be. It would be a non-hatch sedan.

  29. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The new Cruze looks pretty good (I like the old one too); only thing I’m not too crazy about (with the new one) is that Bentley hook crease they put in the rear fender area, i.e., the Lacrosse, the Impala. I’d rather it had a ‘running’ crease, as in, the XTS or ELR (or most others currently featuring this type design-line).

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It would seem that the Volt could get by with a much smaller gas engine. Assuming the generator/battery charging, etc. are reasonably efficient, it would seem that 50-60 hp should be enough to keep some reserve charge in the battery for accelerating and climbing, while having enough power to maintain highly illegal cruising speed. Weight saved in the ICE would allow for more batteries, giving more electric range. I suppose a too-small engine, working harder, might be less efficient, though. Also, the ICE in the current Volt is quite unobtrusive. A smaller engine with fewer cylinders, turning a zillion rpm might make its presence known too much.