AD #1466 – Ram Ups Production, Korean Nissan Rogues Shipped to U.S., Free Parking for EV Owners

September 26th, 2014 at 11:47am

Runtime: 8:34

- Ram Boosts Truck Production
- Renault Samsung Ships Nissan Rogues to U.S.
- EV Owners Offered Free Parking in Germany
- Ride Sharing Secrets Revealed
- Autoline Garage – Hybrid Battery Replacement

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Welcome to Autoline Daily. In today’s show Nissan ships Renault built Rogues to the U.S. and Canada, Germany wants to help out EV owners and I take you back inside the Autoline Garage. But now let’s get to today’s news.

RAM BOOSTS TRUCK PRODUCTION
Sales of the Ram 1500 are red hot in the U.S. and to keep up with demand, the company is boosting production of the pick-up at its Warren Truck Assembly Plant. But instead of hiring more workers or adding another shift, the company has reconfigured most of the work stations to operate more efficiently. Changes include correcting processes that could cause injury and improving ergonomics and other build processes. The plant can now build around 100 more Ram 1500’s a day which translates to more than 28,500 a year.

RENAULT SAMSUNG SHIPS ROGUES TO U.S.
And in other production news, Nissan is now shipping Rogues built by its alliance partner, Renault Samsung, to North America. Sales of the crossover are up over 20% this year in the U.S. and to keep up with demand about 4,000 Rogues built at Renault Samsung’s plant in Busan, South Korea are, at this very moment, making their way to the U.S. and Canada for sale in October. In addition to satisfying demand in the U.S., this is also being done to help establish Renault Samsung as the Asian hub for the Renault group. This is an interesting move because the Rogue is already built in the U.S. at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee plant.

EV OWNERS OFFERED FREE PARKING
Sales of electric vehicles aren’t just sluggish in the U.S., they’re also struggling around the globe. That’s why Germany is proposing to offer EV owners free parking. Bloomberg reports that fuel cell vehicles and plug-in hybrids will also be included in order to spur sales of those vehicles. The country wants to have 1 million EVs on its roads by the end of the decade, however it’s got a long ways to go to reach that goal. At the beginning of the year there were only 21,000 EVs in Germany.

UBER BIG SECRET
We’ve reported on Uber calling in false rides for Lyft drivers so they potentially miss out on real customers and the money that comes from the ride, but according to a technology columnist who interviewed nearly a dozen drivers from both companies around the country, there’s a good chance they’re working both sides of the fence anyway. Drivers often work for both Uber and Lyft to reduce downtime and to keep the rides coming in, and they’re not violating any regulations by doing it either. Some of the other juicy secrets are that if drivers hit it off with passengers they’re likely to party down with them if asked, some have even heard of other drivers that end up having sex with passengers, but don’t ask them for drugs because they’re not carrying any, even though it sounds like a pretty frequent request and while ride-sharing services can be blocked from picking up passengers at airports there’s a way around that too. Just click the headline in today’s transcript to find out how and learn other secrets of the trade while you’re at it.

Coming up next, a story that hybrid owners aren’t going to want to miss.

AUTOLINE GARAGE
Due to the high cost of a new replacement battery pack for a hybrid, would you have thought buying a used hybrid vehicle was a bad idea? Well thanks to some new options it might not be too bad to consider one after all.

The first owner of a hybrid vehicle usually gets rid of it before the warranty is up. For some, the worry is having to replace an expensive battery pack. That can be an even bigger concern for the second or third owner. If it does need to be replaced, some experts believe that over 95% of owners go to the dealer to get it replaced with a new pack. But now that modern hybrids with NiMH batteries have been around for about 15 years there are other alternatives to going to the dealer and getting a brand new battery pack. And it’s important to note that this report is in reference to only NiMH battery packs.

So, let’s start off with what you’re probably most interested in because I’m sure a lot of you didn’t know there were alternatives to getting a new pack. If the current pack has gone bad the least expensive option is to have it reconditioned. The pack is first removed from the vehicle, then put through a test to determine its current, at that moment, state. If the battery is a candidate for reconditioning the modules of the pack, which are actually groups of cells, and just for reference the current Prius has 28 of them, are completely discharged and then recharged at 1/2 amp of current, which may be done a few times in an attempt to re-balance the pack. If it does work the battery should be restored to about 95% of its original performance. The shop has to buy a roughly $1500 machine to do this, so it’s going to be up to them what they want to charge for the process and depending on the vehicle it’s going to take about 2-4 hours of labor. Some places that do this report a success rate as high as 80% but I have no idea how accurate those numbers are. Plus if you try it and it doesn’t work you’re still left on the hook for a repair bill of hundreds of dollars. So, there’s a little uncertainty in going this route.

I think the best option is to get a re-manufactured battery pack. There are tons of used modules that are still good out there either from vehicles that were wrecked in a crash or packs that were swapped out for a new one. Those used good modules are then tested and grouped together based on the same characteristics of conductivity and energy flow. So, the pack as a whole operates as efficiently as possible, which is why I recommend this route. There are several manufacturers of re-manufactured battery packs out there and one of the most well known is Dorman. In some cases the re-manufactured pack carries a longer warranty in both years and miles than a brand new one and it’s cheaper too. Not cheaper than reconditioning but at least there’s less uncertainty if the process is going to work out in your favor. And because these packs are made up of already existing modules it’s actually the greener route to go than buying a freshly minted battery.

When it comes time to repair a hybrid vehicle most owners go to the dealership. My guess is most people think hey these are the guys trained by the people that make the darn things, so they must be the most knowledgeable. But now that hybrids have been around for a while and there are options other than just slapping in a new pack, more and more techs are getting the necessary training. One place that I have come across and really like is a place called fixhybrid.com, which is the website for a training company that specializes in hybrids and EV’s. They also have a tab on the left side of the screen called Hybrid Shop Finder and once a ZIP code is entered a map of qualified shops pops up. And I know a lot of people don’t like the dealership experience, so here’s another option for those that may have felt like they didn’t have another one.

As for all you hybrid owners out there hopefully this will help ease some of your worry about having to buy a brand new expensive battery pack.

For Autoline Garage, I’m Sean McElroy.

But that wraps up today’s show. Thanks for watching and have a great weekend.

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16 Comments to “AD #1466 – Ram Ups Production, Korean Nissan Rogues Shipped to U.S., Free Parking for EV Owners”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Ram idea is a risky one, quality may suffer because of it, Sergio, ever heard of the GM X-cars? They sped up production and the rest is history.

  2. Brett Says:

    I think there’s a bit of nuance involved in improving efficiency compared to merely speeding up the line.

  3. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Offering free parking is a perk, however, so are energy rebates, free charging, HOV lanes when traveling solo, etc.; what needs to happen is that the electric vehicle stands on its own two-feet and perform on par or superior to the gas engine vehicles it proposes to replace. Factoring increased environmental concerns with battery production, increase green house gases due to the extra drain on the power grid and recycling of the used batteries (at the end of their lives) all somewhat outweigh the positives of ‘electrics’. If you build it (properly), they will come, until them, this ‘feel-good’ warm fuzzy is more politics than science.

  4. C-Tech Says:

    My problem with ev’s is that most of them are ugly. There, I said it. The only exception are the Tesla S and sports car.

  5. C-Tech Says:

    Sean your report is spot-on. The problen is still the FACT that I AM going to HAVE to buy this BATTERY if I an the 2nd or 3rd owner. Not interested in a well used hybrid for that reason.

  6. C-Tech Says:

    If you are still accepting entries for the nail polish names may I suggest these for VW Baby Blue Beetle, Jet Black Jetta, and Passion Purple Passat.

  7. C-Tech Says:

    By the way, cheap nail polish in bright colors are great for marking the timing belt / chain marks when assembling an engine. Yes I use Wheel Woman’s nail polish when I have those tasks.

  8. HtG Says:

    Works on the chipped paint on my bike, too. Thanks ladies, for your yen for blue nail polish.

  9. Brett Says:

    Contemporary EV and hybrid power packs are certain to last longer than the average engine in a 1960s Detroit automobiles.

    Imagine how much farther contemporary energy storage systems could drive a vehicle if it didn’t have to be built like a bank vault because it won’t crash thanks to autonomy.

  10. M360 Says:

    John – After watching AAH last night, I must ask what are the price points for the new GM mid-sized trucks, the Canyon and Colorado? In that regard, I can’t wait to see the prices of those trucks in relation to the new aluminum Ford-150. I read that Ford is going to modestly increase the price of the XL and XLT and put most of the increase in the up-level models in the F-Series line-up. If that is true, could it be that the new F-150 XL / XLT will have price points approximately equal to the Canyon / Colorado? Imagine a full-size F-150, with the new 2.7L V6 for the same money as a smaller mid-sized truck. The Ford might even give better MPG with a bigger truck for about the same money. Sounds like we will have to wait and see, but it is possible Ford could do with ONE truck what GM is trying to do with TWO full-sized trucks, plus TWO mid-sized trucks.

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #10 M360
    You can go to the Chevrolet and GMC websites and “Build your own” (with MSRP); you can see that the prices are lower than the full size trucks. Now whether they are low enough (time will tell), but for sure, if you’re looking for a somewhat smaller truck, they just may be what you are looking for. With Ford adding the aluminum bodied truck (and the price increases expected) the new midsize, GM offerings, will be at an even bigger price advantage. And especially if you are comparing to the Tacoma and Frontier, you are getting a modern truck (light years ahead) technology wise superior to them.

  12. HtG Says:

    Firsts!

    I saw my first Ferrari California on the road. That’s incredible in itself, but it was painted light cream.

    And the first Merc GLA. Oh boy, winner

    Plus the crowd of GMC Acadias. Seriously, where’d they all come from?

  13. Bob Wilson Says:

    #5, We agree that Sean did a great job on hybrid battery pack replacement. Just I wanted to point out the Prius traction battery is really just part of its automatic transmission and the repair costs and risks are a wash. Drive a Prius like a lead-footed, street racer and the traction battery will be at the same risk as an automatic or the clutch of a manual. But there is a suble difference.

    There have been three generations of Prius battery modules and each has been substantially better than the last with better terminal seals and lower internal resistance. So in 2009, I upgraded my working pack for a rebuilt using the newer modules, $1,700, and never looked back. I kept the old modules and only one failed last year when I checked.

    Seriously, an excellent review!

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville, AL

  14. SageBrush Says:

    Regarding failed hybrid pack repair, an alternative not mentioned is to buy a new, OEM pack from a Toyota parts distributor and install oneself. This semi-DIY approach requires more involvement than dropping the car off at the dealership and heading to the donuts, but a LOT less expertise than opening the pack. Prices for a new pack in Sep 2014 vary but on the low side with some online snooping are about $2000. I try to keep track of vendor prices of new pack prices here: http://priuschat.com/threads/new-traction-battery-cost-start-shopping-here.144954/

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    13, Bob, don’t you have a first generation Prius?

    9, The NiMH batteries have a very good track record in Priuses, but I suspect the jury is still out on the lithium batteries used in the newer hybrids, and in all of the pure EV’s. I wouldn’t place any big bets on the battery in a Leaf lasting, say, 8 years and 100K miles. Maybe it will, but then again…

    Based on my experience with lithium batteries in laptop computers, I’m glad my car has “old tech” NiMH batteries.

  16. marshy Says:

    Sean,

    Excellent Garage today. Lots of detail and facts. Well done and thank you.

    Dave