AD #1467 – September Sales Surge, Kia Reveals Diesel Hybrid, Euro Cars Pollute More Than Expected

September 29th, 2014 at 11:57am

Runtime: 7:22

- September Sales Surge
- Kia Reveals Optima Diesel Hybrid
- New Kia Rio
- Euro Cars Pollute More Than Expected
- Chevy Colorado & GMC Canyon Driving Impressions

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Kia to intro a diesel hybrid in Paris, cars in Europe are dirtier than they’re supposed to be, and test driving the newest mid-size pickups from GMC and Chevrolet. But now the news.

We’re going to get the sales numbers for September in the American market later this week, and analysts are already breaking out the bubbly. Ward’s expects the SAAR to hit 16.7 million vehicles, up almost 7% compared to a year ago on a daily selling rate basis. By the way, Joe Hinrichs, who runs Ford’s operations in the Americas says that next year sales will top 17 million vehicles in the US market. And that bodes well for anyone associated with the automotive industry.

OK, now to some previews of the Paris auto show. First up is a diesel-hybrid concept of the Kia Optima. Its 1.7 liter turbo-diesel is paired to a small electric motor and a 48 volt lead-carbon battery. It’s also equipped with an electric supercharger to help boost torque and engine response, especially at low speeds. Fuel economy and performance numbers aren’t available yet and Kia says it hasn’t made a decision to put this car into production. But you know they didn’t go to the trouble of developing this powertrain just for the fun of it.

The new Rio is also making its world premiere in Paris. The car’s “tiger nose grille” has been updated along with the front and rear bumpers. Inside it features a new center stack, chrome trim around the air vents and a new infotainment screen is available. It goes on sale in Europe early next year.

By the way, Autoline will be at the Paris show and we’ll be posting the most important new car intros almost every hour. Make sure you don’t miss these posts by subscribing to our daily email. It’s free, and you can find the link to subscribe on our home page.

Despite Europe’s green image, it turns out that cars over there are far dirtier from an emissions standpoint than they should be. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, a European lobby group, European cars are putting out 38% more CO2 than they’re supposed to. And that costs the average consumer 450 euros or about $570 more each year in fuel. Here’s my Autoline Insight: well, duh! We’ve been saying for years that the European fuel economy test standards are way easier than here in the U.S. That’s why you keep hearing about these fantastic fuel efficiency ratings in Europe. It’s an old test that does not represent today’s real world driving conditions.

Coming up next, what’s it like to drive the new mid-size trucks from Chevrolet and GMC? We’ll put you in the driver’s seat.

The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are classified as mid-size pick-ups. They compete with the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. The Chevy starts at just under $21,000. The top of the line Z71 starts at $35,000. The GMC starts at just under $22,000, while the top line SLT starts at nearly $38,000. Both trucks come standard with a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 200 horsepower or a 3.6 liter V-6 rated at 305 hp. A 2.8 liter diesel will be available within a year. The 4-cylinder in a 2WD truck gets a combined 22 miles per gallon. With the V-6 it’s rated at 21. With all wheel drive, they deliver one less mile per gallon.

First let’s get to the best part, driving them. The driver’s door shuts with a chunk, enclosing you in a quiet cabin. As you roll down the road, you’ll immediately notice how smooth the ride is, how little the chassis vibrates, how well it steers and especially how confident the brakes feel. Back to back test drives between the GM trucks and the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier make these comparisons all the more poignant. The Japanese brands have a lot of catching up to do.

That’s especially true with the 4-cylinder engine. GM’s 2.5 is noticeably quieter and smoother and has a lot more guts. Amazingly, the V-6 delivers 5 more miles per gallon than the Tacoma’s V-6. That’s the kind of number that will get Toyota loyalists to start reconsidering their next purchase.

I didn’t get a lot of off-road testing, but the little I did was impressive enough. The 4×4 versions scrabble up and down steep hills comfortably. Like many other vehicles that can travel off-road, they also offer hill descent control. But I’ve never experienced hill descent in Reverse! With the cruise control on! Yep, you can get up to 20 miles an hour with the cruise set in hill descent.

GM calls these mid-size trucks but you’ll be surprised how big they are. The biggest crew cab version can stretch out to a 140-inch wheelbase with a 6’2” box. With the V-6 the top payload rating is 1,590 pounds and 7,000 pounds of towing. Yowza, that’s awfully close to most full-size trucks. And therein lies a danger. More than a few GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado owners are going to seriously consider downsizing, especially considering they can save anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 for a comparably equipped truck that gets better fuel economy.

GM says, “No worries.” It believes these new trucks are going to significantly grow the mid-size segment, not cannibalize its big ones. We’ll see if that’s what actually happens. My guess is that if GM can grow its total pick-up sales by 125,000 units or more it will declare victory. And if it does, how long can Ford and Ram afford to sit on the sidelines?

We’ll have more about these trucks posted in the Seat Time section of our website.

And that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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29 Comments to “AD #1467 – September Sales Surge, Kia Reveals Diesel Hybrid, Euro Cars Pollute More Than Expected”

  1. T. Bejma Says:

    John Mc – Nice job on the Autoline After Hours on the Colorado Canyon. Great questions and great insight. We are very proud of these trucks and appreciate you sharing your impressions!

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    When do I get my diesel Colorado…. ;}>

  3. Ron Paris Says:

    John: Please be sure to report on the 2016 Mazda Miata from Paris. Rumor is, Mazda may release drivetrain info there which was noticeably absent from the Sept. 3 worldwide unveiling.

  4. Mike Nassour Says:

    So when do we get a SMALL truck? These things are useless for city-dwellers who need both carrying capacity AND the small size we USED to have.

  5. XA351GT Says:

    Well Ford has a perfectly capable new Ranger available to compete if they chose to. As you said John, that these mid size trucks are so close to the full size that the line begins to blur between them. Only Toyota still offers a regular cab model and those are what I like. What I want though is a true mini pick up . The size of the old Courier/Rangers and LUV/ S10s. They were like having a sports car with a huge trunk. I wish someone would realize not everyone wants or needs a mammoth truck do what they need on for.

  6. T. Bejma Says:


    Less than a year from now G.A.

    I’m waiting for one also ;-)

  7. Jon M Says:

    “Amazingly, the V-6 delivers 5 more miles per gallon than the Tacoma’s V-6. That’s the kind of number that will get Toyota loyalists to start reconsidering their next purchase.” Well, that’s good, but as for me, no chance! But competition is a good thing, so I’m anxious to see the response from not only the Japanese brands, but from GM’s domestic and half domestic brethren as well.

  8. Mike Says:

    I see that you can get a full size F150 (6 cyl, 3.7 L, Automatic 6-spd, Regular Gas) with a combined fuel economy of 19 mpg compared to the 4 cylinder Colorado/Canyon at 22 MPG. I was hoping for a better delta. We’ll see what the diesel offers and how much more it costs. A couple of downsides relative to the S-10/Ranger concept offered by #5. Those vehicles did not make money for Ford/GM so why re-invest? Also, they were not home run hitters in the crash test ratings. I think the Ranger rated 3 stars at a time when there were a lot of 5 star ratings out there (i.e. before they changed the rules)

  9. RS Says:

    I can’t see how sales of the mid-size pickups will not cannibalize sales from within their own brands – Silverado and Sierra? Ford and RAM will not be affected much.

    I could not find the link on the AutoLine home page to sign up for email notification from the Paris Auto show. Anyone know wher to find it?

  10. HtG Says:

    It would be great if Autoline tweeted links to new clips from Paris.*

    * No romantic Croque Monsieur pics s’il vous plait.

  11. Brett Says:

    I hope they cannibalize big truck sales.

    I’m of the opinion that GM, Ford, and Chrysler all made a calculation that if they dumped their smaller trucks, the majority of those buyers would grumble and buy a full size because they had no other choice. Whatever losses they might incur from those customers who refused would be easily offset by the extra profit from the sale of the larger trucks and cost savings from dropping a product line.

    That was a business decision that did not put the customer first and, IMO, makes them deserve whatever punishment they receive in the marketplace because of it.

  12. HtG Says:

    When I look at Silverado’s mileage figures of 16/23, it looks like high volumes of the better mileage Colo will have a good effect upon fuel consumption. That’s because there are more gains from improving low mileage vehicles over already high mileage ones. The current CAFE system is too complex for me, but I sense small trucks are a good thing.

  13. Bradley Says:

    It sounds like GM hit the target with the new Midsizes. Here are my comments:

    1. GM’s largest hurdle with non-GMers is proving they can stick with it. GM has a long history of getting a few things right and then walking away.

    2. Yes, the Tacoma is 10 years old..but I like its styling better..It looks more nimble and athletic. The GMs are trying to hard to look BIG.

    3. My 1994 Nissan XE 2.5 4cylinder with 5 speed manual received a constant 23mpg. Granted these Midsizes are bigger and heavier…but 21/22 mpg isn’t anything special. Granted the Tacoma has this same deficit.

  14. Chuck Grenci Says:

    John, your “well duh” comment was right on the mark; tired of seeing the Europeans getting ‘carte blanche’ much of the time. They’ve got good stuff, we’ve got good stuff (but we always seem to never get the nod).

    I was also one of the supporters of the smaller sized pickup (S-10 size), but seeing the new Chevy and GMC, I’ve acquiesced somewhat and see that they seem to have brought their “A” game and have a premium vehicle to add to the truck market; cannibalize sales maybe (some), but if they do occur I’m guessing they will be coming from all the manufacturers in addition to conquest sales from other genres.

  15. William Says:

    Tiger nosed grille?

  16. RonE Says:

    #14: Bradley, I too had a ’94 Nissan XE, 5spd. That truck was bullet proof. After I retired in ’04, I decided I didn’t need the truck anymore so I gave it to my son. He sold it a couple years ago and now I wish I had it back. I kick myself every time I go to Lowes. I drove my truck 28 miles to work every day and averaged 27mpg Hwy. The Nissan single cab was perfect size. The new Chevy and GMC trucks are very nice and I hope they sell well but they don’t interest me. Too big!

  17. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Wasn’t there a mention somewhere that Nissan is looking to reintroduce a compact pickup based on an older design? I read it somewhere a few months ago and now I crs.

    As for the new GM twins cannibalizing full size sales,sure,it’s gonna happen to a certain degree.But nothing,I think,to worry the oems about.

    I have been without a truck now since 2012.I desperately need one,but all the fullsize are way to big,and extremely diffecult for me to access the bed,even with the new mansteps on gm trucks.By watching the test drives done by tfl trucks,I could see that I could easily access the bed from the side of the truck.I haven’t been able to do that since my 95 silvey 1500.Even my wife is anxious to get the new diesel Colorado.With that endorsement,all I have to do is wait just a bit longer.

  18. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Oh,I forgot to add,the only mod I will do to my new truck is add an AirDog to clean the fuel.Then I be done.

  19. Bradley Says:


    Yea, I traded it in on a 1999 Tacoma Extended Cab PreRunner. My wife and I loved the Tacoma, but Toyota offered to buy it back last year because of frame corrosion. Hard to turn down and offer that allowed me to own the Tacoma for almost 15 years, put 170k on it and only cost me $1200.

    True..Compact Trucks..that will make people pay attention.

  20. Victor West Says:

    In So Cal there are a lot of lawn care people driving older small trucks who don’t want or need a full sized truck. A lot of potential buyers there.

  21. HtG Says:

    19 Is the drought helping the lawn care industry?

  22. RonE Says:

    @20, I saw on the news where a fellow in Cal is painting lawns and can’t keep up with the demand.

  23. cwolf Says:

    The Tacoma was about the only game in town, as a mid-size, but it had its faults. Toto just recalled about 7000,000 2005- and newer trucks for faulty leaf springs. They may look nice, but the Japanese really don’t know how to make good trucks. Same for VW’s try at it.

  24. cwolf Says:

    I’m hearing some really good rumors about the new Volt or Jolt hatch-back. My so called pals won’t share much, but say I’ll have a real surprise in store for me. What’s does that mean?

    More from the rumor mill: The UAW will be aquiring a southern drawl sooner than later! A lot of support is from the two VW union groups to press acceptance. I can’t say much about MB unionization efforts, but feel assured the odds are in the UAW’s favor. And do you remember the 5 VW anti-union workers, backed by Sen. Corker and financed by the Koch bros.,who have tried to start a new representative worker group?; Well they have been side-stepped,if not clothes lined. I guess the middle class still has a chance.

  25. XA351GT Says:

    Mike @ #8 , I would find it hard to believe Ford didn’t make much on the Ranger. Seeing as the truck remained virtually unchanged for nearly 20 years. They sure weren’t spending money on new tooling or platforms. No Doubt a bigger vehicle gives you the ability to add more content therefore profit. Many people however would be interested in a no frills small truck that is a utilitarian workhorse and not a show pony that 75% of trucks have been turned into today. If any of the manufacturers would take a chance they may find a real niche to fill. Subaru would be a good choice or maybe Honda since the Ridgeline seems to be going no where.

  26. Don LaCombe Says:

    I look at those GM trucks and think-OK, where did that $4 to $10K cost save come from. They may also be exposed on the mileage issue with Fords new aluminum truck on the horizon.

    GM seems to be getting desperate with the sales response to their full size trucks. This will not help because the substitution will probably be a lot higher than they expect it to be.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    As people on this site know, I’m not a “truck person,” but the pickups I like best are the ones that look like pickups, meaning they are regular cab. The Taco is the only “smaller” one that you can even get that way. Will that change, TB?

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    #19 Ditto in So Fla with the courier and pool cleaning crowd.

  29. Rafi Jaan Says:

    Is it just me or does the GMC Canyon look like it’s a lot lower in front and higher in the rear than the Colorado? I thought they only had different sheet metal and that the suspension and everything else was the same!? That said, I think the Colorado looks better with fresher styling than the Canyon, which looks too much like its bigger (not by too much) brothers.