AD #1447 – VW’s Plan to Boost Sales, Buick Envision Revealed, First Impressions: Acura TLX

August 29th, 2014 at 11:52am

Runtime: 7:25

- VW’s Plan to Grow U.S. Market Share
- Buick Envision Revealed
- Equinox Production Moves to Mexico
- Is the Acura TLX a Turning Point for the Brand?
- Can You Identify This Car?
- Are New Cars Becoming too Expensive?

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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. The new Acura TLX could be a turning point for the brand, Buick reveals a brand new SUV and we need your help identifying a classic car. But now let’s look at today’s top stories.

At a press conference yesterday Volkswagen’s President and CEO of the Americas, Michael Horn, acknowledged VW’s poor performance in the growing American market but he did lay out his plan for clawing back market share. The company will invest $7 billion in North America between now and 2018. $900 million of that will go to its Chattanooga plant for a new mid-size SUV in 2016, which we already knew. Volkswagen will also put some of that money into its other operations as well as its dealer network. The next step will be reducing its product life cycle by 2 years. Vehicles will now be refreshed after 3 years and a new one will come 2 years after that. We’ll have more on new and refreshed Volkswagens next week.

For the last month or so, Buick has been teasing its new mid-size SUV for the Chinese market. Called the Envision, it will slot between the Encore and Enclave. But we don’t have to wait any longer to see the whole car because yesterday Buick unveiled it in China. It’s powered by a 2.0L direct-injected turbocharged four-cylinder that’s mated to a new six-speed automatic. That setup offers a combined fuel economy of 8.8 liters per 100 kilometers or about 26 miles per gallon. It’s the first GM vehicle equipped with a new intelligent all-wheel-drive system that can send all the power to the front or rear wheels if needed. And it’s the first vehicle in China to offer standard active noise cancellation technology. As we speculated when Buick first teased the Envision, it wouldn’t surprise us if it’s eventually sold in the U.S. and other global markets.

Earlier this week General Motors and the UAW boasted about moving Cadillac SRX production from Mexico to Spring Hill, Tennessee. But now we’ve learned that some production of the Chevy Equinox, which is built in Spring Hill, will go to Mexico when it gets redesigned in 2017. Here’s our Autoline Insight. The Chevy is obviously priced lower than the Cadillac. So if GM makes it in Mexico where labor costs are lower, it can improve its margins. And since the Cadillac has a higher price, GM can still get decent margins, even when making it with more expensive UAW labor.

I just got a chance to test drive the new Acura TLX this week and came away with two impressions. First, this car could represent a turning point for Acura. The TLX truly comes across as a premium car, with formidable technology. If all the cars that follow are as good as the TLX, Acura is going to become a serious competitor in the premium segment. Second it’s amazing to see how Honda is essentially turning Acura into a US based operation. All global business planning for the brand is now run by Erik Berkman. Mat Hargett is the vice president of R&D for Acura and Dave Marek is the head of design. All the design, engineering and manufacturing took place in the U.S. We also know the new Acura NSX is being developed in the U.S. And I find it fascinating to see Honda place so much capability in its American operations.

We’ve had a tough time trying to stump the Autoline Faithful in the past with “guess what vehicle this is,” and we need some of that vast knowledge to help us out. Friend and colleague Henry Payne of the Detroit News sent us this picture of a classic car that he wasn’t able to identify. We’re wondering if you can figure out the make, model and year because we’re not sure either. One interesting tidbit to note is that the vehicle is right-hand steer.. Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Coming up next, will the average household be able to afford a new car in the not too distant future?

The average MSRP for a new car in the U.S. is close to $34,000. And that’s going to go even higher with all the expensive fuel saving technology cars have to be equipped with to comply with CAFE standards. So is the average household going to get priced out of the new car market? That’s one of the topics discussed on Autoline This Week and here’s what my panel had to say.

(Today’s ATW preview is only available in the video version of the show.)

As always you can watch that entire show right now on our website, or you can download the podcast on iTunes.

But that brings us to the end of today’s show. But a quick programming note before I sign off. There won’t be a new Autoline Daily on Monday because of the Labor Day holiday. So thanks for watching, have a great weekend and we’ll see you back here next Tuesday.

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82 Comments to “AD #1447 – VW’s Plan to Boost Sales, Buick Envision Revealed, First Impressions: Acura TLX”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Re VW, not a word about improving reliability and until they do, many people won’t even consider buying one, every time I meet an owner, they tell me hos they would not another one due to its poor reliability and expensive repairs.

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    On the Barn find:
    I think the emblem looks like a Willys Overland; year and model I haven’t a clue. I will certainly yield to other identifications.

  3. Lex Says:

    The Buick Envision would be great competitor for the BMW X3 in North American market. I hope the Envision will be the basis for the redesigned Equinox and Terrain.

    It makes economic sense to build the High Margin – Low Volumn Cadillac SRX at the UAW Plant in Springhill Tenn. The Chevy Equinox which is a Low Margin – High Volumn vehicle in Mexico to maximize profits. I just hope the build quality on the Equinox is not harmed in the switch.

  4. Lex Says:

    What model year will all GM products be switched over to keyless entry which Mary Barra said once at a news conference due to the ignition switch disaster?

  5. Lex Says:

    The waves of undocumented people flowing into our southern states through Mexico from Central America should set off an alarm regarding investing huge amounts of capital into the Mexican automotive and manufacturing industries.

  6. Todd C Says:

    Hi John, my best guess is a circa 1912 Overland, possibly Model 59, thanks for the great show!

  7. motorman Says:

    when the mrs worked at the dealership the first question was “how much a month”. this determined if the customer bought or not.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    #7 so now I suppose they’ll come up with 7 yr auto loans to keep the monthly payments down?

  9. Bradley Says:

    VW -
    Stop changing your cars to be over sized vanilla ice cream sundaes.

    I own a 2013 VW Sportswagen TDI. I love the car and so does my wife. So far, with 10k miles it has been trouble free.

  10. MIKE MASON Says:


  11. MJB Says:


    Got some news for you pedro, they already have.

  12. Drew Says:

    In the Spring Hill vs. Mexico decision… if you start with an assumption that there is demand for all of the products to basically fill the capacity at both plants, then you will make a corporate decision (not a nameplate-specific decision) to put the products with the higher labor time in Mexico. The only time you want to deviate from that strategy is if the inbound freight into Mexico for the higher content vehicle has higher cost penalties than the labor savings.

  13. HtG Says:

    8 Now there’s even subprime lease. Can the car adjust its residual value to your credit score, now? Where’s the sensor at?

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    7 yrs? most likely the loan will outlast the car!!If you need 7 yrs to pay for a car, you can’t afford it!

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    9, I agree. People who buy VW’s in the U.S. want VW’s, like the Golf and Sportwagon. They also want the only “affordable” car diesels sold in America.

    VW needs more and better dealers, not less reliable Camry clones.

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Hyundai CEO acknowledged years ago that their cars had to get better and more reliable and he made it happen, I don’t hear anything of the sort from the VW chief.

  17. Marshall Says:

    Regarding moving Chevy Equinox production to Mexico, here are my thoughts. Is GM nuts? When I think about the making of quality automotive products, Mexico is nowhere on my list. Don’t they already have enough of a nightmare when it comes to product recalls, and image problems when it comes to build quality?

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Actually some decent cars have been coming out of Mexico, it’s not the country, its the manufacturer, Honda and Toyota were making some pretty good US-made products at the same time Detroit was in the dumps.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    #14 a co-worker has a Diesel Jetta and it has been bulletproof.

  20. MJB Says:

    #13. But, the sad reality is, most people CAN’T (afford a new car). That’s just it.

    And when they (the experts) say that cars have “always been expensive”, that’s simply not entirely true. If you’ve only been alive for 20 year then yes, for you cars have always been expense. But it use to be that a single income middle-class household could afford a car, home, vacations, etc. Now it’s become a challenge for dual income households to manage that same standard of living. Cars are not as cheap (relatively speaking) as they used to be.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    #19 in 1976 this girl I knew got a Chevette from her dad for about $6k brand new, not the best car in the world, but it was new and clean and it got her from point A to point B, now the cheapest car is approaching $20k and no, wages have NOT kept up with such lofty prices.

  22. Buzzerd Says:

    2017 for the new equinox! that seems like a long time to leave the equinox between redesigns.

  23. CBB Says:

    Perhaps a Pope-Hartford or one of the other Pope variants, circa 1910?

  24. cwolf Says:

    I cannot dispute John’s comments to move some Equinox production to Mexico. However, it would have been given more clarity to state,” ALL labor in the American auto industry is more expensive than in Mexico. I sense a bit of bias. Furthermore, the Equinox made south of the boarder could be sold in the lower America markets for transport or tariff costs.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    20, I had an ’83 that cost around $6000. In today’s money, that is about $14,000. That 14K will buy a new Nissan Versa. The Versa is on the crappy end of today’s cars, but is a much better car than a Chevette.

    A bigger problem than the price of cars, is that all of the middle income jobs have gone away. In 1983, there were about 16,000 well paid factory workers in Kokomo, Indiana who could afford to buy new cars, and not just Chevettes. Now, there are about 4000 factory jobs in Kokomo, and we are lucky to have that many. Also, the jobs, even the UAW jobs don’t pay as well relative to the economy as they once did.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    #23 Indeed, just about everyone I knew back in Jersey worked at some kind of industry,whether it was textiles, tools, automobiles and other machinery and they all made a decent living, all those jobs don’t exist today, Walmart and such just don’t cut it.

  27. Earl Says:

    I was of the opinion that most a Equinox/Terrain’s are made in Ingersoll,Ontario. A plant that has a good reputation for trouble free output.

  28. XA351GT Says:

    Okay unless GM does their margins brand by brand and not the company as a whole that would make sense. However if they go as a company including all brands that theory is a push. Whether you have a Mexican built SRX with a huge margin and a US built Equinox with a modest or minimal margin or a US SRX and Mexican Equinox with similar margins it is the same result overall as a whole. Example : Mexican SRX -8 US Equinox -2 or US SRX – 5 and Mexican Equinox – 5 end result is both add up to 10.

  29. buzzerd Says:

    Earl- they do make a pile of them and I would think most, my brother in law has worked there for 20ish years.They have been pretty busy the last 4 or so years.

  30. Danny Turnpaugh Says:

    #23, yes Kokomo, In has lost many good paying jobs, and all the new hires at the local Kokomo transmission plant get paid about 1/2 what the more senior workers get.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Everyone is making at least some of their cars in “low cost” locations like Mexico, including Mercedes-Benz and BMW. As far as GM, if they are going to make some of these CUV’s in the U.S. and some in Mexico, it makes sense to make the cheaper ones in Mexico, and the expensive ones in the U.S., just for PR value. I’d think people might be more inclined to buy a $30K car made in Mexico than a $55K one, even though the quality of the one made in Mexico might be as good.

    As far as the “buy American” crowd, though, several I know don’t have a clue. One person I know wanted to buy an American car made by a company that wasn’t “bailed out,” namely, a Ford. Until I pointed it out, she didn’t have a clue that her Fusion was Mexican, and has lower U.S. content than much of the competition, including from foreign nameplates. It has been a good, reliable car, though. It’s a 2011, the previous generation Fusion.

  32. HtG Says:

    Funny how the least informed people enjoy the greatest certainty.

    Hey, how many times can a car be leased before someone has the means to buy it?

    New Business Models

    A petit observation from the gym parking lot. I’d been wondering who drove the Challenger with the racing stripe and the USA flag license plate frame. A young Russian guy, checking to see who notices him getting into his car. Immigrants, we’re all alike.

  33. T. Bejma Says:

    “SOME” production of the Equinox is moving to Mexico…

    A portion of the large Equinox/Terrain requirements have been built in Oshawa and Spring Hill in addition to the MAIN plant in Ingersol, Ontario. With the announcement that SRX is moving to Spring Hill, it only makes sense that the excess Equinox production has to move out. Ingersol will still continue running over capacity to meet Equinox requirements.

  34. DH Says:

    Ford Fusion may be built in Mexico, but 80% of the purchase cash still goes to Detroit to support engineers, technicians, managers, and stockholders.

    Similarly 80% of your cash to buy an Ohio-built Civic goes back to Honda HQ in Japan.

    Better to buy the Fusion than the Civic.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Please explain. If the Fusion is assembled in Mexico, and has much lower U.S. parts content than the Civic, how does 80% of the “purchase cash” of the Fusion go to Dearborn, and 80% for the Civic goes to Japan? A lot more U.S. employees are involved in the manufacture of the Civic, including engineers, managers, and techs at the Ohio plants, who even end up spending their money in the U.S. Just asking.

  36. Peter Says:

    I listened with interest to your story on VW. Although I respect anyone like Michael Horn that has risen to the hieghts in the Auto industry as he has, I really don’t get his comments. I’d buy one, maybe two brand new VWs tomorrow if I could have a Tiguan with a diesel, the new Golf Sportwagon with 4Motion and the diesel or the Golf GTD 4Motion.
    All are available TODAY in Europe. Those vehicles have to be a much faster boost than anything in the future product pipeline.

  37. C-Tech Says:

    The 3 things VW must do to improve sales in the U.S.: 1.) Currently you offer a small and medium suvs, add a true 7 passenger suv and improve the small and medium suv’s you offer. Give them names we can pronounce without straining. 2.) Add more dealers, somehow you have to get with 20% of Toyota outlet numbers. We cannot find VW in some markets. 3.) Add a small or mid sized truck. That market is wide open and you most likely could sell 50,000-100,000 vehicles if built well and thoughtfully.

  38. HtG Says:

    I see so few VWs. But so many small SUVs. Personally, and not to play pontiff, I’m scared of VW reliability. But who knows what someone who only wants to lease a car thinks.

    Labor day weekend is upon us. Which means lots of accidents. Yesterday, I see a messed up barrier on the highway, with a fancy aftermarket wheel propped against it and other detritus. That’s why cops are pissed off. Also, Obama is in Westchester, NY, messing with traffic.

  39. HtG Says:

    Air traffic is also restricted, not just streets.

  40. HtG Says:

    It’s pretty quiet though. So, thumbs up, Mr. President!

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    #33 the same can be said for Camry and other variants of the same platform, I bet most parts including the drive train come from the US not Japan, why not mention Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger/Challenger, engine comes from Mexico and it is assembled in Canada, where is the US involved in any of this?

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    38, Yep, Camry is one of the most “American” vehicles in the US market.

  43. HtG Says:

    Maybe there’s something to this 3D printing?

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m familiar with making intricate shapes using 3D printing, but not with high temperature, high strength materials. That’s impressive.

  45. HtG Says:

    Kit, NASA has a twitter feed where they regularly post all manner of coolness. That’s where I got the 3D link.

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks. I’ll check it out.

  47. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I’m going to take a leap of faith (after more research) on the identification of the ‘barn find’; how about a Overland Model 82 Touring (1915). My guess accompanied by this photo:

  48. C-Tech Says:

    Pedro the “U.S.” money out of the LX Chrysler cars comes from the transmission (Kit’s neighborhood of Kokomo, In.), V6 engines (Michigan), and a variety of supplier parts (axles, interior, suspension) come from U.S. suppliers. Its worth noting that U.S. suppliers provide parts for a variety of worldwide vehicles. BMW X5 and Z4 sports car interiors are made by Lear (based in Southfield, Mi.) and supplied to BMW’s South Carolina plant.

  49. C-Tech Says:

    Ok fellas, need some suggestions for a replacement vehicle. My girlfriend/better half, Wheelwoman was hit by a sleeping driver at 60-70mph in the I-4 construction zone near Daytona, Fl. Her BMW X5 flipped 4-5 times and landed on the driver’s side in the median. She has a broken should and ribs but is alive along with her mother and sister, thank God and BMW engineering.

    Budget is around 20K, and of course she is partial to another X5.

  50. C-Tech Says:

    ….that should be “shoulder”.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Glad they came out that well. It sounds like a nasty crash.

    If she liked the X5, and you can afford to keep one running, another one might make sense. There are a lot of other similar size SUV/CUV’s to check out, though. If she wants German, there are ML’s which should be in the same price range, used, as X5′s. Also, what does she think of the CK-mobile, GLK? I kind of like it, for a CUV, but if you need much rear seat space, it’s not too good.

  52. C-Tech Says:

    @ #48 Funny, I like the smaller (and less thirsty!) GLK, X3, or even the Caddy CTS wagon. She preferred the X5 (the last 1 was an exceptional deal). No, the extra space is not needed, but what does a man know?

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    She was not lucky being involved in the crash, but is very lucky having all of those SUV/CUV’s to choose from, compared to hatch/wagon fans like myself. I’d be in heaven if car shopping in Europe, though.

  54. HtG Says:

    Wow, C-Tech. I’m so relieved she isn’t more hurt. That’s a horrifying crash. Please be sure you guys pay attention to other possible injuries that show up later. When I got rear ended by a hydroplaning CrownVic at 40+ it took a few days for nerve twitching to begin on my face due to the headrest striking the back of my head. I was in a CT scan machine pronto.

    As to car choice? The lady likes the X5.

  55. Kit Gerhart Says:

    They are advertising the crap out of the GLA on the US Open broadcast. Does it exist yet?

  56. cwolf Says:

    C-Tech: I’m glad to hear your other half is alright. Given the fact that the X5 may have saved her life, I wouldn’t give a second glance at any other. I bet your chore list has gotten a whole lot longer until she recovers. Take good care of her!

  57. HtG Says:

    52 what in the world is Federer wearing, anyway? Can I get a GLA painted that way? Does it void my warranty? He looks like a wiring harness.

  58. cwolf Says:

    Since selling my new Verono before it was in my posession, my dearest wish was to find a lower end ATS during the end of year sales; No such luck, unless you like black on black. My wife hinted at the MKZ, but I had to give the Regal a fair shot, since many variations were more available. That Regal is really a nice car in many ways, but I found the seats too hard for my fanny. Between the rebaate, Z-plan and another thousand for trading in my brother wreck of a Malibu, a MKZ sits in our driveway. For being a no frills guy, I have adapted to most of the amenities rather quickly.

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    55, Is it the hybrid, or the bent six? Do they sell them any other way, like with the turbo four?

    As far as the ATS, the way to get a low end one in the desired color is to order one and wait a few weeks. The dealer near me has a bunch of ATS’s, all of them over $40K. About a year ago, they had a very basic one for a day or two which I drove, and liked it pretty well, even with the 2.5 engine. MSRP was ~$34K.

  60. cwolf Says:

    Kit, Ford and GM stopped taking orders on 2014′s a month or so ago. It’s is, then, understandable why there remain numerous cars on the higher priced side. The number of less expensive models dwindles quickly. And often what remains are ho-hum colors and alot of white(ish) interiors and everything seems to have a sunroof.
    I would have had to order a new ATS as basic as possible. My only want was the 2.0 turbo with the European looking red leather seats. They look “killer!”
    I chose the turbo 4 on the MKZ. One can “feel” the six’s power, but the turbo felt just as quick and powerful. The differnce in mpg’s is significant.

  61. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks for the info, cwolf.

    Yeah, one would need to order a 2015, and there wouldn’t be as big of rebates, at least for a while.

    The EPA mpg on the turbo is considerably better, but you’ll need to be fairly gentle with the right pedal most of the time, or your actual mileage might not be so good. Driven normally, it should get good mpg, while having good power for passing, etc. Did you drive the hybrid to see what it was like?

    Enjoy your car.

  62. cwolf Says:

    I have driven several Ford hybred models. I didn’t notice any differnces between an ICE, except perhaps when a turbo model kicks in when passing. The hybred has very impressive fuel economy over the others, esp in city driving. I chose not to have one because of the loss of usable trunk space and my uncertainty about the battery pack over time.

  63. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve driven a 2011 Fusion hybrid which drives pretty well, but yeah, it has a smaller trunk. Also, you lose the fold down back seat. I guess that is the case with the new ones too.

  64. T. Bejma Says:


    Remember this Kit?

    “Why do Chrylser, Ford and GM contribute so much more to our economy? Because they conduct the bulk of their engineering, manufacturing, marketing and finance work here. Four out of 10 Chrysler, Ford and GM employees are based in the U.S. At Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai/Kia, BMW, Mercedes and VW (the seven largest foreign automakers), only five in 100 employees are based here. That eight-fold difference translates into millions of U.S. jobs and tens of billions of dollars in parts sales, R&D and capital investment each year.”

  65. HtG Says:

    Totes, TB. I’ve always had trouble thinking only about where corporate profits for shareholders go. Where are the good jobs located? Those people redistribute their wealth locally and inculcate a respect for education. I want that engineer job to be near me.

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    61, I’ll read the article later, but that’s a lot more difference than I realized, as far as the employment numbers. To be meaningful, it needs to be converted to number of employees per car sold in the US, but I suspect GM, Ford, and Chrysler would “win” by that measure too.

  67. Kit Gerhart Says:

    61, 63
    I checked it out, and see that the “Detroit Three” do, in fact, employ a lot more people per car sold in the U.S. It would be interesting to see this broken out by company, but that info might be hard to find. I suppose there might be an individual company or two that would detract from the point the AAPC is making, but overall, the U.S. based companies contribute a lot more to our economy, and society.

    It’s too bad none of them make the type cars I like. Maybe that could change, if I decide I want a high powered sports car with 8 cylinders, and more up to date than the one I have.

  68. HtG Says:

    How many hours until the MX5-Miata reveal? 48 49?

    Such a nerd.

  69. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe only 40 hours or so.

  70. cwolf Says:

    I hear the Miata will offer a couple engine choices. In a cople years, a hard top may replace the folding hard top. There should be a couple more two seaters which may give us roadster guys more to ponder over.

  71. HtG Says:

    Here’s the countdown clock…

    (so embarrassing. I’ll be lifting weights in the morning on Wednesday, I guess)

    ((wish I didn’t care, but I do))

  72. cwolf Says:

    An older gent like you lifting weights? Send pics when you start looking like “Arnold”. I also read where Caddy has thoughts of another two seater. Maybe “T” has more poop. As a “truest”, I believe these cars should be only natually asperated and not turbocharged, plus only in a manual.

  73. Kit Gerhart Says:

    67, A turbo 3? Probably not yet, but maybe sometime.

    I drove a new MINI triple a few days ago, and it worked pretty well. The car itself is quieter and more refined than my 2010, but the new motor fit it well. It had better low rpm pull than mine, was reasonably smooth, and sounded decent, not weird.

  74. HtG Says:


  75. HtG Says:

    guess not.

  76. HtG Says:

    If anyone would like to see a gallery of photos from this weekend’s LimeRock festival,…

  77. HtG Says:

    OK dokey, one more try…

    Some photos’s from this weekend’s Lime Rock festival,…

    Nope. Facebook won’t play nice.

    cwolf, 73 is my reply to old guys lifting

  78. Kit Gerhart Says:


  79. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Hmmm Something I tried to post must have had a forbidden word, but I have no idea what it was.

  80. cwolf Says:

    74 Oh, I get it. You’re toning up because you want to get a pool in your back yard! :>)

  81. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Damn,I was hoping that the ‘build your own’ feature on the chevy website for the Colorado would have been put up this past weekend…..not.Sigh…

  82. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Build your own is not up for the 2015 ATS either. TB, you need to fix this.