AD #1540 – Ford GT Headed North, GM Gearing Up For CVTs, Dealers Rank Lower Than Independents

January 22nd, 2015 at 11:55am

Runtime: 7:22

- Ford GT Manufacturing Headed North of the Border
- GM Gearing Up for CVTs
- A Look at the Land Rover Discovery Sport
- Independent Shops Preferred Over Dealers
- JCI Envisions an Autonomous Interior

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50 Comments to “AD #1540 – Ford GT Headed North, GM Gearing Up For CVTs, Dealers Rank Lower Than Independents”

  1. G.A.Branigan Says:

    If they can build a strong enough cvt for light duty trucks,that will really improve mpg’s.I have no problem with having a cvt providing it is strong enough.

  2. Brett Says:

    Tambour doors have been around forever on roll-top desks and bread boxes. I’m trying to recall who used one in the center stack for a storage cubby, but am drawing a blank.

  3. Jim MacMurdo Says:

    Regarding the comments on CVTs, it doesn’t surprise me one bit. I’ve rented a variety of midsize cars over the past several years and consistently use their on-board trip computers to see how they do. Nissan Altimas consistently delivered in the low 30′s [mpgs] overall, Toyota Camrys in the high 20′s to low 30′s, Chevy Malibus in the mid 20′s, and Ford Fusions (usually with the 1.6 or 1.5 Ecoboosts) in the low 20s. I have yet to drive any vehicle with a turbocharged engine that got anywhere near it’s EPA ratings, be they city, highway, or combined.

  4. Jon M. Says:

    While I am by no means fan of the idea of autonomous vehicles to any degree, I have to say it should either be fully autonomous or not autonomous. Does anyone really believe “drivers” of semi-autonomous vehicles will ready and waiting for the vehicle to switch to non-autonomous mode? Semi-autonomous would, after all, require “driver” attentiveness in order to be ready to take the wheel when the auto-pilot shuts off, and that would not be fun for anyone who wants to leave the driving to the machine.

  5. Marshall Says:

    The people hate CVT’s. All the auto magazines have derided then also. Why not just use a 7 or 8 speed automatic?

    We used to own a 1997 Subaru Outback. We loved that ride. We considered getting another Subaru but found they all now use a CVT. We won’t buy one.

  6. Miad (mee-odd) Says:

    Hey John, love the show each day. With the industry moving quickly towards autonomous operation, it seems that the concept demonstrations leave an important factor out of the discussion. That being occupant safety. Of the concept videos that I’ve seen, “drivers” appear to be lounging around the cabin in all sorts of orientations. The interior design concept from JCI focused on storage and didn’t feature any restraints or airbags. How will these vehicles be crash-tested and meet NHTSA/NCAP regulations without a consistent H-point? Maybe you can get a safety expert or two on a future AAH to discuss this topic and also the FMEA of autonomous operation components.

  7. Lex Says:

    I totally disagree with CR recommendation of independent auto repair facilities! The independents have always tried “raking me or a family member over the coals for repairs”. My Uncle when to one of these independents that offered a $19.99 Oil Change. The next thing he knew the independent was telling him that he needed new brakes and struts all around. My Uncle told him forget about the oil change and when on his merry way. This was an independent trying to take advantage of a senior. I only have the Dealer service my vehicles. I will admit to an occasional visit to one of the Big Chain Oil Change Franchise if a coupon is available and I am short on time. I watch them service my vehicles like a hawk.

  8. HtG Says:

    4 I want to understand how someone reading at night on a screen or paper will be able to adjust their eyes to any exigency on the dark road. Either I have to pay attention to traffic or I don’t.

    Dealers-I’ll take the dealer thanks. They have OE parts, techs that see the car day to day, and it’s so easy to get discounts. Dealers are always sending flyers and if you go to their websites you’ll find 10% discount coupons. Of course, my dealers are only a short drive away. That’s a biggie for many people. (Dirty little secret? Dealers are scared pantsless that customers will give them a less than stellar evaluation with the OE. This is part of their compensation. “9′s and 10′s please, 8 means failure.” Seriously, that’s what it said on a recent service receipt) Be nice-talk to the dealer about any problem

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    5 People who don’t drive CVT’s regularly hate them. People who DO drive them regularly like them just fine. My sister got a new Forester about a year ago and likes the CVT. The only downside she mentioned early on, was difficulty in starting smoothly from a stop. That is probably throttle mapping, more than the transmission, and she has gotten used to that, probably just using a lighter foot on the pedal when taking off.

    Another indicator that people who actually have CVT’s like them, is that the CVT equipped 4 cylinder Accord, recent Corolla, and most Subarus did well in CR’s recently published owner satisfaction survey results. Most E-CVT hybrids also have high owner satisfaction.

  10. ukendoit Says:

    #2, I know some mid-80s Chrysler products had center stack tambour doors on their storage bins (not sure if anyone else used them). They had a clean look and were easy to use with no latches or hinges to raise costs or malfunction. I was surprised they went away and was wondering why. Maybe they will make a comeback.

  11. RumNCoke Says:

    #2 – My ’68 Cougar has that tambour door in the console. So it’s not a new idea!

    Congratulations to local heroes Multimatic. Those guys have a long and successful history in racing. Too bad the Ford GT is such a low volume car. It’s not going to help us much when GM Canada decides to shutter Oshawa in a couple of years.

  12. Lex Says:

    The first person killed in or by an autonomous vehicles will generate a firestorm of lawsuits.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    6, 7 I’ve had generally good experiences with independent shops, but I’m sure they vary all over the map. The most major work I’ve had done at one was a fuel pressure regulator on my turbo minivan, and they knew what they were doing.

    With newer cars, I generally go to the dealer, especially when they are competitive on price, as with oil change specials, etc. The last oil change I had for my MINI was done at an independent shop that “specializes” in European cars. They charge almost as much for an oil change as the dealer, but they are 3 miles away, while the dealer is about 50 miles away, and you have to use toll roads to get there.

  14. dcars Says:

    I’ve always found the independent shops better than dealerships. They work on a varity of brands and have a better knowedge base.

  15. Buzzerd Says:

    @Lex- wouldn’t it cause just one lawsuit as it would be for the ” first person killed”?
    I’m sure people said the same things about – cruise control, power steering, power brakes, GPS, airbags ……

  16. Joe Says:

    My ’85 dodge Shelby Charger has a tambour door in the console.
    Dealers are generally better because the techs are factory trained, use O/E parts and see the same vehicles (and mechanical issues) over and over, making them experts with that particular brand.

  17. Phil Says:

    My 1978 Airstream is full of tambour doors. Even my 2007 Civic has a tambour door in the centre console.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’ve driven 4 new cars recently, two had CVT’s and got excellent mileage out of them, one had a DCT and also had great MPG’s plus very responsive performance, the third had a 6 speed traditional auto and got so-so mileage,but it did almost as well as the DCT in performance. Dealers just charge too much and their work is not always perfect. I use an independent guy, owns his own place and does not charge by the hour, I find that a rip-off, they always put more hours than they really need.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect that, for most people, the thing they might find “wrong” with CVT’s, and DCT’s is if they break. It’s probably too early to know about the Honda and Toyota CVT’s, and the Ford DCT’s. Nissan and Subaru have been using a lot of CVT’s for several years, and they seem to have ok reliability. The VW DCT’s, not so much.

    I like the idea of what Mazda is doing with their “skyactive” transmissions, if I understand it right. I think they are using a torque converter from breakaway, which gives smooth starts, and the converter locks up as soon as you are moving. The transmission itself is fairly conventional, with planetary gear sets and clutches. If I am wrong on how it works, someone please correct me.

  20. Tom Tyson (ARHPG) Says:

    13. “I’ve always found the independent shops better than dealerships. They work on a variety of brands and have a better knowledge base.” This seems like a non-sequitur to me for the very reason that independent shops try to be “all things to all people,” if you will. Their prices are sometimes lower, and this is the main reason for the good Consumer Reports feedback; I seriously doubt that the quality of independent service could possibly be superior to dealer-service. Independents have to know many different car brands, a variety of different forms of engineering and production implementation, and not concentrate on any single vendor. Who on earth is capable of doing that better than a manufacturer-trained specialist for a particular brand? I think that—with the exception of very old cars—one is better served to have a reputable dealer service a specific model and use specific parts to fix it.
    I had many experiences in the past with both independents and dealer service organizations, and a few years ago I took my daughter’s Honda Civic to be inspected, and I learned that the muffler and tail-pipe assembly were bad and needed to be replaced. The independent service shop came back with a quote to replace the parts, labor, etc: but just to be sure, I also checked with the local Honda dealer to see what they would charge for the same service. I was shocked that Honda would charge about 40% less for genuine Honda parts than the independent, who was going to supply after-market replacement parts.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I wouldn’t want to take my Prius to an independent shop for much of anything other than brakes, and since most of the braking is regenerative, the brakes will never wear out anyway. With a little luck, I’ll never need to have any kind of work on it, other than tires.

    I’d want “references” before taking my ’96 Corvette to an independent shop for brake work. I’m sure some would do a good job at a fair price, and some would not. Yeah, the same would apply to Chevy dealers.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    #21 This is true for many new vehicles, if the tech or the shop do not get updated with the latest technology plus diagnostic tools, they’re gonna find themselves unable to diag or fix any car newer than 4 or 5 yrs old, which is the time when warranties expire and most people avoid the dealers looking for a better price. I am sure my local tranny guy won’t go near any CVT or DCT or those 8 and 9 speed ZF’s

  23. Drew Says:

    The 1989/1990 Thunderbird and Cougar had sliding tam or doors on top of the instrument panel in front of the passenger side. That storage space was quickly given up to front passenger air bags as part of FMVSS 208.

  24. HtG Says:

    off topic

    Kit, today I spotted a Plymouth Scamp in purple with a white vinyl roof and body stripe. It had the number 340 or 304 on the rear fender.

    I thought you needed to know

  25. Todd T Says:

    CVT’s return fantastic fuel, with longevity that is adequate for most consumers. Turbo engine can deliver great fuel economy as well. The primary problem with turbo engines suffering in real world FE results, is they are fun to drive. People get that boost, and enjoy it, and as a result they use it. I’ve gotten low 30′s out of a 1.8T from VW, and from 2.0T from Ford…but guess what they were both manual. I’ve had a VW Golf TDI with manual beat out the DCT equipped car by nearly 25%. The EPA tests always put manual at a lower rating, yet in the real world, somehow they end up returning better fuel economy, but that is not a story you read much about.

  26. ukendoit Says:

    The dealer/independent debate is very subjective and varies greatly in specific cases. It cannot be covered with a blanket statement. I used to work for an independent shop that had some of the most intelligent and knowledgeable diagnostic techs around, as opposed to the local dealerships that had access to OE parts so they would just throw parts at the car to try to make it work. We often had confused dealerships tow vehicles to us to diagnose, then have us repair and return the vehicle or sometimes limp back for them to repair. The only blanket statement you can advise is find someone knowledgeable that you trust (through research or word of mouth) and stick with them. Coupon and deal hopping might save a few bucks in the short term, but its best to have one shop that backs up their work be responsible for all the maintenance and repairs.

  27. IanH Says:

    I had a Subaru about 10 years ago with an appalling automatic. It took forever to shift down and I found I had to keep blipping the throttle to keep it in a lower gear when preparing to pass. You couldn’t select a gear.

    Ten years later, my current new turbo Forester XT has an excellent CVT. No lag, particularly when Sport# is selected.
    For me, the CVT issue is less about the engine sound and more about quick response.

    But then, I do live in the frozen north and like the sound of snowmobiles and outboards.

  28. ukendoit Says:

    (By the way, those techs started a local mobile diagnostic service, helping confused dealerships and independents diagnose vehicle issues and have an overwhelming business that has grown to a fleet of mobile diagnostic vans.)

  29. HtG Says:

    25 another thing we don’t read about is that today’s automatics get some of their efficiency by forcing the car into high gears even at low speeds. Well, sure, I can drive at 25mph in 4th gear too. But life’s too short.

    Doesn’t seem to phase guys that want to bray about how autos are better than manuals.

  30. HtG Says:

    26 yes. I use those coupons on something like a cheap oil change as a chance to have a tech look over my car in the hope of finding something amiss(that they can fix). Also, the Miata specialist-independent I went to said that they’d sometimes get calls from Mazda itself asking for help. That kind of independent, I want to give my car/baby to. Their advice, I really valued and would make more expensive choices upon.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    24 I haven’t seen one of those in a while.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    I used to own a Scamp back in the mid 70′s, 318 engine, it was a great car, just to think those were considered compacts back then. A Japanese car was the furthest thing from my mind.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    25 I’ve generally gotten better mpg, relative to EPA ratings, with manual transmission cars. That has been the case, both years ago, and recently. My 2010 base MINI with a manual has 28/37 ratings, and my overall average for the first ~10K miles was a little above the 37 mpg highway rating. My overall mileage beat the highway rating of my manual trans TDI Jetta wagon too. With most automatics I’ve had over the years, I usually average about midway between the city and highway ratings. The Prius is an exception. I’m a little below both ratings, with an average of 46 something for the first ~10K miles, against 51/48 EPA numbers. John has said, and I confirm that hybrids, while getting spectacular mileage, tend to underperform the EPA ratings if driven normally, which I do.

    Years ago, I read a description of how they run the EPA tests with manual transmissions, and they shifted at some percentage of the power peak rpm of the engine. I’m guessing they shifted too late for best fuel economy.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    24, 31
    My ’74 Duster had a 225 slant six, and the optional 3-speed manual on the floor. I got a little over 23 mpg on the highway at ~60 mph, and thought I was doing pretty well. My Corvette with the 350 V8/automatic got 25 mpg on my trip from Indiana to Florida a couple months ago, going 75-77 most of the time. There was lot of progress in powertrains during those 22 years.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    ’96 Corvette

  36. Sean McElroy Says:

    Having worked at an independent shop for over 13 years, the independent vs dealer debate is very near and dear to my heart and I think #26 said it best. I can only think of a handful of independent shops in my area that I would take my vehicles to for repair, excluding the place I worked and I think the same can be said about the number of reputable dealers. They can be hard to find, but once you do… don’t let go.

  37. HtG Says:

    A day or so ago, Autoline tweeted that Syd Mead was saying cars were going to be so expensive that in a decade private ownership would fall to shared use.

    Syd Mead on car sharing: “Car ownership as we know it will be over in 10 years. Owning your own car will be too expensive. ”

    Syd Mead: Cars that are individually leased or financed for years and that spend most of their existence parked is a fragile economic model.

    These mileage targets, safety needs, and autonomy are adding so much cost. I wonder which users will be the early transitioners; city, suburbs, country? If I lived in NYC I wouldn’t want to own a car, but out here? You bet. Unless I can call an autonomous golf cart to pick me up and drop me off in return for a subscription.

  38. HtG Says:

    36 Sean, who’s the typical customer of the independent? What are they looking for?

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I saw a car for sale today that I’d be tempted to buy, if I didn’t already have too many cars. It was an ’82 Mercedes 300td wagon. The body is almost perfect, and the interior not bad. A classic color, cream/yellow. I guess these are good for burning used fryer oil.

  40. HtG Says:

    Cars and Politics

    Some of you gents may be aware of today’s arrest of NY Assembly Speaker Silver on corruption charges. I bring it up because a couple of years ago I was on the highway alongside my own representative, and couldn’t help but notice he was driving a late model Merc sedan. I remember wondering to myself, ‘how?’, but mostly was tiffed at how he blocked the off ramp with his slow ass. Let’s see how this plays out; the US Attorney said today there are more investigations ongoing.

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    That’s nothing HtG, a couple of yrs ago I met 2 clients, one a cop, the other a teacher living in a very upscale home, a Merc and a Land Rover, new. I had to ask myself: HOW??

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    40 I read about that. It is a little unusual, a scandal involving actual corruption. Most recent scandals, at least in Florida, seem to involve gay bashing male Republicans caught in compromising situations with other men. Extreme hypocrisy, but not corruption involving money.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    40, 41, 42 I mean it’s unusual to have an arrest, not to have actual corruption.

  44. aliisdad Says:

    I just wanted to add that I have had really good luck with dealer service (with the exception of Dodge which was awful!!), although I have an independent shop that I like as well.. The independents seemed to be a little lower priced in the past, but now I have found them to be about the same as the dealers…and sometimes even a little more… I was really “overcharged” by an independent this summer, but I think they were honest in that it just took their mechanics a little longer to service the car while the dealer mechanics would know it better and probably could perform operations quicker requiring less shop time charges… Sooo… I do prefer to use dealers for service/repairs with OEM parts and mechanics familiar with the brand of vehicle…
    While I despise most car dealer’s sales practices, I have found their shops to be very good… This is contrary to what a lot of people say, but they have mostly been great to me…

  45. FSTFWRD Says:

    Dealer / Independent ??? Just recently retired from 35 years in the auto parts field working for dealerships. I feel most dealerships are far better than most independents. But it’s not black and white. There are some poorly run dealerships with higher costs, but most are leading edge with very expensive diagnostic equipment and highly trained (factory) techs. There are some very good independent shops also, but many are just not trained well and use the cheapest parts to quote lower prices. One is best off establishing a relationship with an dealer you like and trust and stay with him. This will give you the best service and the lowest cost in the long run.

    CVT’s are all getting better and I think they will be the transmission of the future. Does anybody think about the cost of rebuilding the complex 6-9 speed automatics??

  46. HtG Says:

    45 yup, 5K on a Ford. Just for the part. We also don’t hear much about this when it comes time to roll out the ‘automatics are just as efficient as manuals’ chatter.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    46 Also, you don’t hear much about 4-speed automatics are almost as efficient as many more speed automatics and CVT’s. At least that is the case with Corollas.

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    I wonder if those expensive repairs at dealers are done on purpose, so you get “encouraged” to use that money and your trade in for new wheels, I know someone who had a Windstar with chronic mechanical issues who finally broke down at the dealership cause the warranty was over and even though she was upside down, they talked her into a new Focus.

  49. Sean McElroy Says:

    #38 – There was no typical customer where I worked, or at least I saw no trend. And they were looking for what anyone is: a fair price and good, quality work. The one thing that our customers would always tell us is they really liked our honesty.

  50. Lex Says:

    @44 I agree totally with you aliisdad! I want genuine replacement parts and technicians how know my vehicle inside and out. The independents charge almost the same price as the dealers. Your only recourse with a bad independent in the Better Business Bureau – Good Luck! The Dealers want you to use the repair shop and express lube service centers to maintenance your vehicle. Customer Loyalty is very important to dealers. Also if the dealer does not repair your vehicle properly you can file a complaint with the OEM and get the District Manager from the OEM involved. I have only had to do this once, and I did get satisfaction from the OEM representative. This is why I will never buy Another GM vehicle, maybe lease but never buy!