AD #1403 – Dealer Profits Surge, Dow Fights New Car Smell, Valeo’s Low Cost Hybrid

June 23rd, 2014 at 11:50am

Runtime: 6:41

- Dealer Profits Surge
- Dow Fights New Car Smell
- Valeo’s Low Cost Hybrid
- Recalls on the Rise
- Ford Develops New Airbag
- Diesel Emission Cost To Drop

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Hello and welcome to a brand new week of Autoline Daily. In today’s show we’ll talk about a new type of low cost hybrid, why GM isn’t the only one facing big recalls, and how the cost of meeting diesel emission standards is about to come way down.

Car dealers in the US market are minting money. Wards reports that the top 500 dealerships earned $54 billion in sales last year, up an eye popping $4 billion compared to 2012. The average dealer did $41 million in sales. Not only have car sales practically returned to normal, remember, there are now several thousand fewer dealers in the country who were forced to close as part of GM’s and Chrysler’s bankruptcy bailout. And that leaves more customers and money for all the survivors.

Don’t you just love that new-car smell? Everyone does. But did you know that smell comes from fumes emitted by the plastics, foams and glues used in cars? And that some of it is not exactly healthy for you? In fact, automakers face emission requirements for the interiors of cars. That’s why Dow Automotive has come out with a polyurethane foam it calls SPECFLEX Activ which can meet tighter emission and odor requirements. Dow is testing the foam with car seats but it can be used for other applications as well.

Hybrid cars are common enough, but have not exactly gone mainstream. In the US market, they account for less than 3% of all sales. One reason is their cost. Converting a car to become a hybrid can add $3,000 to the cost, mainly from the battery and additional electric motor. That’s why French supplier Valeo has come up with a low cost 48-volt hybrid that uses an ultracapacitor to store energy and uses the Belt-Starter-Generator to start the engine and provide power assist. Valeo claims what it calls Hybrid4all, is half the cost of other hybrids. It provides stop-start, engine assist and can even run briefly on pure electric power. Valeo says the system can boost fuel efficiency by 15%. We’re starting to see more interest in ultracapacitors in hybrids. Toyota is using the technology on its hybrid race car, the TSO40 that it just raced at LeMans.

GM is making all the headlines for the record number of recalls it announced. But it’s not the only one. Now NHTSA is looking into Ford Explorers for it potentially leaking exhaust into the passenger cabin. Last year most of the major Japanese automakers announced recalls for a defective airbag from supplier Takata and have announced even more because not all of the affected units were included the first time around. Toyota is recalling almost 2.3 million vehicles, and now Honda, Mazda and Nissan have added nearly 3 million vehicles to that list.

And speaking of airbags, but this time on a more positive note, the 2015 Ford Mustang will help to save your knees in an accident. It will come standard with a new airbag that packages into the glove box door. It consists of an injection molded plastic bladder, rather than the traditional fabric, mounted between the inner and outer glove box door panels. The system is 65% lighter with a 75% smaller inflator.

We just told you how converting a car to be a hybrid can add up to $3,000 to the cost of the car. Guess what? That can be what it costs to get a diesel engine to meet US emission standards. But coming up next we’ll show you why the cost of diesel emission systems is about to come down.

On Autoline After Hours last Thursday, our guest was Oliver Schmidt, the general manager of Engineering and the Environment at Volkswagen of America. In the following clip he explains why the cost of emissionizing diesels in the US is about to come down significantly.

(The AAH preview is only available in the video version of the show.)

Also on that show are my co-host Gary Vasilash and Mark Phelan from the Detroit Free Press. By the way you can watch that entire show on our website right now, and it’s a good one.

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

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

13 Comments to “AD #1403 – Dealer Profits Surge, Dow Fights New Car Smell, Valeo’s Low Cost Hybrid”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well there goes another reason for buying a new car vs a used one, no more new car smell. “Oh, honey, but I love that new car smell” out the window, baby!

  2. Patrick Says:

    I want to see Oliver on more Autoline After Hours in the future. What a great guest. Excellent insight.

  3. Chuck Grenci Says:

    And for all us old (I mean mature) members of our blog: like no one hasn’t taken a big ‘whiff’ of those mimeographed copies (when in school). I don’t think emitted vapors (fumes, if you will) has killed anyone; okay, maybe some people of sensitive nature can complain, but for the most part: love those nasal stimulants.

  4. C-Tech Says:

    I believe there is a company that sells “new car smell” in a spray. It gives used cars that new car smell again.

  5. C-Tech Says:

    Is it just the cost of building the hybrid version or concerns about repairs of hybrid vehicles holding back buyers? If you notice, most hybrids have less trunk space which may be a consideration in the family-sized hybrids such as a Camry or Fusion.

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    CTech I have tried it and it does not smell anything like a new car, if it did, people would not buy said car.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    3, I you mean Ditto, the purple ones, the fluid was methanol, which is highly toxic, but a few whiffs probably didn’t hurt us.

  8. Roger T Says:

    John, what’s the fuss about people getting cars to run on fuel fumes, claiming terrific MPG figures, is this for real?

  9. blueovalblood Says:

    John, where did The auto Extremist run off to. Is he ok?

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Peter is still ranting away on his own site.

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #7, Yeah, I stand corrected; I always thought they were synonymous. I looked it up and, though similar, different inks used. It appears ditto went the way of the dodo (bird), ‘mimeo’ still survives (somewhat) today.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    11, Mimeo probably survives, but barely. Ditto had the “ink” as part of the master, and made a very limited number of copies. With mimeo, you make holes in the master when you type or write, and print through the holes. The masters would wear out, but you could probably get a few hundred copies.

  13. Bob Wilson Says:

    Whether called “Belt-Starter-Generator” or “Belt ASsisted” or even the “Integrated Motor Assist”, all of these suffer the same problem, permanent engine drag. Honda got it ‘most right’ by using the motor to fill in the weak torque of a small engine especially at low engine rpm. Universal engine drag makes electric-only operation, a hybrid characteristic, impractical for this dead-end approach.

    Now there is merit in this approach IF it eliminates the traditional, low voltage starter and hunk of lead battery . . . a true drop-and-replacement solution. Not trivial, it could be done but not with ‘brain dead’, bolt together engineering.

    Bob Wilson