AD #1441 – China Considers CARB Regs., Corvette’s New 8-Speed, 3D Tech. Make Hondas Safer

August 21st, 2014 at 11:50am

Runtime: 7:15

- China Considers CARB Regulations
- Ford Going After Prius… Again
- Buick Getting a Drop-Top?
- Corvette Adds Gears, Drops Weight
- Honda’s 3D Crash Simulator

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

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

In today’s show, Honda is using amazing 3D technology to improve the crash structure of its cars, GM’s new 8-speed is lighter than it’s 6-speed, and Buick is considering getting a drop-top.

China is seriously considering adopting the emissions standards set by the California Air Resources Board. Up to now China has been following Europe’s standards, though it lags by several generations. While Europe is moving this year into Euro 6 standards, China is still at the Euro 4 level. But according to Dr. Fuquan Zhao, with the Automotive Strategy Research Institute at Tsinghua University, Chinese authorities are holding serious discussions to adopt CARB regulations. Many automakers say privately that the CARB ZEV program, or zero emission vehicle program, is a regulatory nightmare. But they’re all scrambling to meet it. And if China adopts CARB’s mandate that means one state-level agency is in effect setting emissions regulations for most of the world. By the way you can catch Dr. Fuquan Zhao with his appearance on Autoline After Hours from two weeks ago.

The Toyota Prius is the king of hybrid vehicles but it’s about to face more competition. Reuter’s reports that Ford will introduce a new gasoline hybrid in 2018. The model will be an exclusive hybrid vehicle not a modified version of an existing car. The hybrid will be built on Ford’s new global compact platform, which will also be used for the next-gen Focus and Escape. Of course, the Ford C-MAX was supposed to be the car that would go after the Prius. But it hasn’t worked. So far this year Ford sold about 16,000 C-MAX hybrids in the U.S. market, down 28% from last year. Sales of the Prius stand at 104,000, down 13%. This does not include the smaller Prius C, which also outsold the C-MAX.

Buick may have had its dealer’s yelling out the new tagline “it doesn’t look like a Buick” with a vehicle it showed them last week. And that’s because it’s an Opel. According to GM Inside News, the brand showed its U.S. dealers a Opel Cascada convertible and said it plans to bring the car across the pond as a 2016 model. The car rides on the same platform as the Verano and its said the styling won’t change too much. There’s still some debate as to which engine or engines will be available but the details are still a bit lacking at the moment.

We knew that when Chevrolet announced that the Corvette Z06 was getting an 8-speed automatic transmission that it wouldn’t be long before it showed up in the rest of the Corvette line-up. And sure enough, now it’s happened. Called the 8L90 it replaces the 6-speed unit that was in there before. GM designed the transmission in-house and did an pretty impressive job with it. Despite adding two gears, the 8-speed is lighter than the 6-speed unit it replaces. And GM claims that this traditional torque converter transmission upshifts 8-hundredths of a second faster than the DCT in the Porsche 911. We criticized Cadillac a little for its switch to this 8-speed in the Escalade and CTS because, on paper, it didn’t offer much of a fuel efficiency gain. But Chevy is reporting that the 8L90 drops the zero to sixty time by a tenth of a second and highway fuel economy bumped up 3.5% to 29 MPG, thanks to a numerically lower rear end gear ratio and a 8% drop in RPM at 70 miles per hour.

On Autoline After Hours we’re going to show you the technology Audi is using to revolutionize how techs at its dealerships will work on cars. It’s all about bringing the right information to the tech as he/she works on the car. Tune in tonight at 6PM eastern time, or you can always watch later at your leisure on our website or our Youtube channel.

Coming up next, a look at new 3-D crash simulation technology that only Honda has.

Honda owners out there will be the first ones to tell you that it’s no accident that the company ranks at the top of the safest vehicle lists year after year. And much of that comes from the commitment by the company to invest in a variety of tools that its engineers use to design safer cars. Tools like its new groundbreaking 3-D crash simulation technology.

We’ve all seen Insurance Institute test footage like this. This is the end product of the engineering that goes into making a car or truck safe.

One of the steps that Honda has recently taken is to upgrade the traditional Computer-assisted Engineering simulations by combining it with high-end 3-D visualization technology, first developed for animated films you see in the theaters, with the result being this.

Just look at this crash animation… it looks so lifelike you almost do a double take thinking it’s real footage.

This was developed by Honda and its partner 3DXCITE which had been discussing this type of animation for about 7 years before it did its first in-house render a couple years ago. And one of the big improvements this style of simulation gives Honda engineers is the ability to add light and shadow to these vehicles allowing their eyes to pick up subtleties that they would’ve missed on those old 2-D animations. And the place that the engineers pick up those subtleties is not on some small 13-inch computer monitor but rather on what Honda calls its 20-foot by 10-foot Power Wall at its Ohio facility. I’m sure that helps seeing just about everything.

Honda says it’s the first OEM to use this type of 3-D animation in its research though it hasn’t actually used this technology on a car launch just yet. That’s coming soon, but it hasn’t named the model.

Pretty cool stuff, and we like being the first showing you this kind of technology. Anyway, that wraps up today’s show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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

39 Comments to “AD #1441 – China Considers CARB Regs., Corvette’s New 8-Speed, 3D Tech. Make Hondas Safer”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    John, did Chevrolet lower the rear-end gear ratio (for the zero to 60 times) and then through the transmission add a more higher overdrive ratio to increase drive shaft speed to compensate for the lower rear ratio? Or did you mis-speak and mean a higher rear gear (that was compensated through the new transmission extra gears and ratios to effect the gain). I got a little confused with the description.

  2. Lex Says:

    Forget about the Opel based Buick Converible!
    What about bringing the Buick CUV Envision to North America?

  3. Bradley Says:

    The Prius is a solid product. In addition, the 15 year run of the nameplate also helps. Plus, the fact a Gen1 Prius definitely shares styling DNA with the current generation. Once again, another example where Toyota knows how to create a product and a brand around that product.

    Ford probably should drop C-MAX, where did that name even come from?

    If Ford really wants to turn heads and get a head start, they should release a Hybrid Compact Pickup. Heck, even make it a Hybrid Diesel Compact Pickup.

  4. Lex Says:

    Ford and other OEM’s need to re-introduce a compact MPV with dual sliding side doors for those buyers with elderly or wheelchair bound family members.

  5. Bradley Says:

    How many Buicks sold today do not share DNA with an Opel model?

  6. Bill Murdock Says:

    Maybe the reason the 8-speed in Cadillacs doesn’t produce better gas mileage than the 6-speed is that Caddy didn’t do a very good job of choosing gear ratios. This is assuming that each division has some autonomy in things like choosing ratios in an otherwise corporate product, which this new trans appears to be. You could use the same ratios as the 6-speed for gears 2 through 7, and add a numerically higher ratio for first gear for better acceleration, then a numerically lower ratio for 8th gear for better highway mileage. A bit oversimplified, perhaps, but that’s why I can’t understand why adding a couple more gears wouldn’t improve both acceleration and fuel mileage. I definitely agree that the 8-speed being lighter than the 6-speed is quite an accomplishment.

  7. John McElroy Says:

    @Chuck The previous 6-speed automatic Corvette had a 2.56 final drive ratio. The new 8-speed comes with a 2.41 final ratio. It uses the extra gears for better launch and for lower RPMs on the highway.

  8. HtG Says:

    strapping on my cynic’s hat

    Any chance mandarins in China are using the CARB standard as a political tool to kill off some of their many automakers and weaken rivals?

  9. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Thanks John; 2.41 is a higher gear. Numerically lower but higher ratio.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I posted this link yesterday, but will post it again for those who want to know more than most of us care about the 8L90 transmission.

  11. HtG Says:

    Here’s a link to a vid on a digital tech helmet for motorcyclists. From Skully

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If Ford wants to try to compete with Prius, the place to start would be a Focus hatch, with a few aero tweaks to lower drag.

    Using the C-Max power train, it would be quicker than a Prius, and if they get the aero drag down, it should come fairly close to a Prius in highway mpg. They’d need to keep the price competitive, and offer it without MFT.

    Of course, by the time Ford plans to sell their new hybrid, the bar will be raised, because the next generation Prius will be out there.

  13. Mike Says:

    I’m sure that it is probably a good thing that the Chinese are willing to take some steps with their automotive pollution. That said, the elephant in the room is those soot spewing soft coal fired electric power plants. Those and the equally evil steel mills. A lot of what is being called profits over there are really unpaid pollution abatement costs.

  14. Mike Says:

    Yes, I probably should have included 2 stroke motorcycles; tens of millions of them.

  15. shan Says:

    C-Max is just fugly, ungainly looking

  16. shan Says:

    Buick still looks like cars for granddaddy and grandma, they just don’t understand younger buyers, loose the fake side vents and the plastic chrome grill, OMG

  17. HtG Says:

    Suddenly, acceleration

    Here’s a story from last week’s EETimes wherein Honda is recalling 175K hybrid cars in Japan due to software causing unintended acceleration. (Did I miss this story last week on the internet?) The author, Junko Yoshida adds that Toyota is still in talks to settle its own issues; she’s important because she was all over the Oklahoma verdict against Toyota last fall.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yep, at least in the cities, those two strokes really create a lot of smelly, blue haze. For the most part, they export the power plant pollution, at least from Shanghai, where I have been.

  19. Mike Says:

    Yes Kit. The leading market for their export of pollution is the Los Angeles Basin. I understand, or at least was told, that when the clean the stacks in Shanghai, 4-5 days later, you can measure it in LA.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    16, Buick has some decent cars, but they just can’t get past that “old people’s car” image. To me, the current LaCrosse and Regal look decent, and apparently they drive pretty well. CR just tested a Regal, and they liked it pretty well

  21. Mike Says:

    hey look at this: As of 2014 “Two stroke engines are no longer sold in China in order to make it easier to meet Stage III standards.”

    Well now, maybe that is some progress.

  22. DH Says:

    I don’t see any “styling DNA” between the current Prius (hatchback) and the Gen1 version (basically an Echo Sedan).

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    22, Yeah, the only possible styling similarity between the Yaris-based first generation Prius and the current one would be the nose, which is kind of generic Toyota on both.

    I’ve read that they are going to try to get away from the shape of the current Prius somewhat with the gen 4, if they can do so while keeping the aero drag low and the packaging utility high, like the current one.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    21, Hopefully the existing two stroke mopeds and scooters will die away quickly. Being rid of them will probably help air quality in the large cities more than any other single thing they can do, except in cases where steel mills and coal fired power plants are just upwind of the city.

  25. Brett Says:

    Funny how some of the things I recall most fondly from my youth are the things that were probably most harmful to the planet. My 2-stroke street bikes. My 5,200# two-door 429CID 1969 Thunderbird. Sigh.

  26. C-Tech Says:

    That does not look like a Buick, it looks like a Chrysler 200 convertible.

  27. HtG Says:

    Srsly, what does a Buick look like? Inside, I know. But outside?

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    25, I had two stroke street bikes too. My first bike was a Kawasaki 500 triple. I also had an RD400 and a Kawasaki Big Horn 350. A few such bikes in a sparsely populated area weren’t much of a problem, but if you have very many of them in a city, it’s not good. Also, they got lousy gas mileage. I only got about 30 mpg with the Kaw 500, even though I was riding it gently, since I was a new rider when I had it.

  29. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Buick may still have the ‘old-guy’ stigma (even more so than Cadillac had), but through the crappier than recent years, say the 90′s and early 2 thousands, Buick was arguably building the highest quality American named vehicles. I will admit that they were ‘frumpy’, but other than styling, they didn’t lose their way. Their current stuff is quite good (and while styling, is well, subjective, I’ll admit it could use some help).

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Buick needs to make wagons again, and I don’t mean SUV/CUV’s. A friend has one of the last real Buick wagons, a ’96 Roadmaster with an engine about like the one in my Corvette. It gets better mpg on the Interstate than many 4 cylinder SUV’s. Around town, not so good, with all of that weight.

  31. Bradley Says:


    Yes, there is a definite difference in styling between the Gen1 and today’s Prius. However, they are still easily recognizable and one can see the other evolved from the other.

    Real Wagon’s is everyone’s deficit. The utility of a wagon is very similar to that of a CUV, but the MPG and driving dynamics are so much better. I averaged 39mpg in the Sportswagen TDI last weekend, going 10 over the speed limit.

  32. HtG Says:

    Judging by the cars around here, CUVs have won the wagon war. Grey CUVs as far as the eye can see.

    Interestingly, the Honda Fit comes in a few exciting colors like yellow and red, as standard.

  33. HtG Says:

    When I see so many grey scale cars, ranging from white to black, it’s like color is gauche. You’re going against the grain to have a hot hue.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    32, Yep, CUV’s seem to have won the wagon war, but it’s hard to know how wagons would sell if they were actually available in the U.S. The Jetta Sportwagon is a good one, especially with the TDI, and it sells fairly well for a VW in America. BMW and M-B each sell one wagon, but both have 4wd mandatory in the U.S.

    Unless someone sells the car-height wagon version their high volume car like Accord, we’ll never know if wagons could make a comeback in America.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    33, i’m definitely an outlier on the color thing, with two red, a blue and a green. The ’89 van is silvery blue, though, tending toward grey. That was a very popular color at the time, but not now.

  36. HtG Says:

    There was a blue 3 series in my gym’s lot. Medium blue, red leather interior, and…wait for it, stick.

    Pretty cool

  37. C-Tech Says:

    I saw my 1st CTS wagon on the street yesterday. It looks great, I think better than the SRX.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like the CTS wagon, except for the price. Unfortunately, it looks like there won’t be a next gen CTS wagon.

  39. DH Says:

    >>>”Yes, there is a definite difference in styling between the Gen1 and today’s Prius. However, they are still easily recognizable”

    Not… really. The G1 looks like an Echo Sedan not a prius. I don’t know if it’s a standard, ordinary sedan or the hybrid, until I check its rear badging.