AD #1642 – Honda Drops Green Cars, GM Teams Back Up w/ Isuzu, Used EV Batteries Get 2nd-Life

June 16th, 2015 at 11:46am

Runtime: 7:00

- Honda Drops Green Cars From Lineup
- GM Teams Back Up With Isuzu
- Used LEAF Batteries Get 2nd-Life
- Car Sales Slow in Europe
- NHTSA Underfunded
- JLR’s New Smartphone Tech
- Toyota Gets Kids Interested in Cars

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

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

Thanks to our partner for embedding Autoline Daily on its website:

45 Comments to “AD #1642 – Honda Drops Green Cars, GM Teams Back Up w/ Isuzu, Used EV Batteries Get 2nd-Life”

  1. GM Veteran Says:

    Too bad GM isn’t selling the Isuzu medium duty trucks through GMC dealers as well as Chevrolet. Many GMC dealers already have the higher ceilings, doors, heavy duty lifts and parts storage necessary to properly service these trucks. Selling them only through Chevy stores seems like a very one-sided way to approach the business that they abruptly left during the bankruptcy and represents a slap in the face to the GMC dealers that made the investment to support GM’s earlier sales ambitions. Not to mention that GMC dealers outsold Chevy dealers in medium duty trucks at roughly a 2 to 1 rate.

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Honda is doing the right thing in dropping the Civic hybrid, as with dropping the Insight. They didn’t sell many, and selling worst-in-class vehicles doesn’t do much for a company’s reputation.

    I’m sorry to see them drop the CNG Civic, though, because of its status as the one and only factory built CNG car in the market. It’s understandable that it didn’t sell, with limited range, almost no place to refuel, and the loss of a lot of trunk space. Still, it was useful as a commuter car for people with home fueling stations.

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    1 Aren’t most GMC dealers now Buick/GMC, or Buick/Cadillac/GMC, doing less commercial truck business than Chevy? It seems that way where I am, but there may be GMC dealers other places better prepared to sell and service the medium trucks.

  4. rick bradner Says:

    David Strickland on NHTSA; underfunded-
    no bias there I guess…

  5. Bob Wilson Says:

    #2 –

    We agree adding the observation that the Integrate Motor Assist (IMA) that built the motor on the flywheel was a technical dead end. Because of the engine drag, it could never run in pure EV mode but always had the engine overhead.

    As for the CNG, one of our PriusChat posters suggested it portends the future of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. There are orders of magnitude more CNG filling stations than hydrogen stations. Worse, the hydrogen stations are orders of magnitude more expensive to build.

    I’ve speculated the manufacturers should ‘give away’ FCVs to the dealers to own (and register) by the dealers. Then as quickly as possible, have them sent to auctions. The only thing of value are the Zero Emissions Vehicle credits.

    Once sold at auction, FCV modifiers can rip-out the fool-cells and install traction batteries. Then ship the fool-cells back to Japan as ‘scrap’ . . . for whoever needs some ZEV credits. Everyone is happy.

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville, AL

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    What puzzles me is why Honda never took the hybrid segment seriously as Toyota did, I guess they realized from the get-go,that there were no profits to be made, but as Kit said, the lower quality of their hybrids could have hurt their reputation, the jury is still out on that, IMO

  7. Drew Says:

    NHTSA does not need more funding. They need to work smarter.

    They will always be behind the times and issues if they don’t get involved upfront in the development of new technology. Rather than reacting to issues after-the-fact, they could inject themselves into the process of developing the technology. How? Join the OEM and supplier engineers in SAE. At SAE, they can better understand the technology (including its limitations and issues), then collaboratively develop standards (with the industry’s engineers doing most of the work). The benefit for the industry will be sharing of development cost, rather than the present diverse spending for numerous iterations.

  8. MJB Says:

    That phone-controlled driving tech from JLR (& BMW too) looks awfully familiar. I wonder if they licensed this innovation from 2009:

  9. Todd Says:

    The hilarious part of the Honda article is that the title of the press release, and the whole first three paragraphs, would make you believe that Honda is stepping up their commitment to Green energy. It isn’t until the 4th paragraph where they sort of slip in they’re eliminating hybrids and CNG vehicles. Oh marketing department…

  10. donfromnaples Says:

    Honda missed their opportunity. In the 1980s, Honda was in a position to take the lead in import auto sales in the U.S. Instead, mismanagement and often times unusual product decisions have led to Toyota taking the crown. Honda moved away from what worked, selling reliable, practical transportation at an affordable price. Honda began adding “luxury” to their autos with dealer installed options only for some time which made their pricing non-competitive. The Fit is the closest to a true Honda and one that is selling quite well.

  11. FSTFWRD Says:

    @4 Really.

    @7 Yes, another government agency that wants to expand. Let me guess, paid well, probably can’t be fired, don’t work too hard, and will probably receive unbelievable pensions and health care for life. Yeah, just what we need.

  12. HtG Says:


    Two friday afternoons ago NHTSA admitted that it had missed GM ignition failures. To quote NYT,

    “The agency, for example, admitted it had clues of the defect that it did not pay attention to, and acknowledged that it failed to use its full authority to hold G.M. accountable.”

    Now tell me what this had to do with budget. Keep in mind that govt agencies have expert levels and political levels above. No one needs to tell me why the story appeared on a Friday afternoon either; to bury it.

  13. Rob Says:

    Hopefully the phone controlled vehicle owners will be cognizant that not everyone else’s car will have that capability and not slide their car into a tight spot, leaving the owners on each side to crawl through a window to get into their car. I can bet it will happen though.

  14. HtG Says:

    12. Not done with NHTSA

    I got to admire how John gets guests to say stuff.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    10 The Honda that I see zillions of, both in Florida and Indiana, is the CR-V.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    7 I’d agree that the regulators should work with the industry, until I contemplate how that would have gone with emission controls in the 60′s. Without regulators telling the auto makers to clean up the air, we probably wouldn’t have had positive crank case ventilation until last year.

    OK, I’m exagerating, but on some things, the regulators have to tell the industry to do things, and guess what? They figure out how, and do it.

  17. G.A.Branigan Says:

    ALL govt. bureaucracies cry for more money,to hire more people,who end up doing less work.Then the cycle repeats.The VA is a prime example of that,along with the EPA,zillions of govt ‘law enforcement’and the list,(beat) goes on and on…

  18. MJB Says:


    Let’s just hope no one gets a call coming through in the middle of maneuvering out of a tight spot…

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    5 I think I know the market for fuel cell vehicles. For a couple million dollars, you can install a wind turbine and electolysis reactor at your home, and get free fuel for your FCV. You won’t be able to go too far from home, though, because there will be no other place to refuel.

  20. HtG Says:

    But if you’re Japan and have a bunch of methane hydrates of your eastern coast, then you can reform it into H2.

  21. HtG Says:

    natural gas reforming

    See the attraction?

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The thing I don’t get about methane reforming, is why not just burn the methane? You need hydrogen for some things, like the processing of silicon IC’s, but as a fuel, why not the methane? You’re not reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reforming methane, because CO2 is a product of the reforming process. Most of what I’ve heard is that fuel cells will work with methane, but will obviously have more than water as a byproduct when doing so.

  23. HtG Says:

    Maybe it’s an energy density issue for cars; how big should a tank be(and under what pressure)?. And since H2 is already being made in gasoline refineries, you have a distribution network that can be adapted. I don’t know what to do with the CO2 from reforming, but then consider the net compared to burning gasoline/diesel.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Burning methane, or hydrogen from reforming produces less CO2 than burning gasoline. I’m pretty sure methane is more energy dense than hydrogen, by volume, and liquifies at lower pressure. Liquid hydrogen has higher energy density by mass, making it good for vehicles like space shuttles which can have huge tanks, without having to deal with air drag as much as land vehicles.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Neither CNG nor compressed hydrogen have very good energy. The CNG Civic loses a lot of its trunk to gas tanks, but has about half the range of a regular Civic.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    When Honda did so well, it was a different market you could not make any money selling those types of vehicles today, no one would buy them. Everyone wants all the convenience crap and electronic gizmos available in high end cars, available in lower priced models.

  27. cwolf Says:

    Maybe NTHSA wouldn’t be so underfunded if more efforts were placed upon foreign regulators where most automotive components are coming from these days. Since this is a “free trade economy”(tilted), would it be improper to allow the NTHSA to charge exporting countries for discovering defective parts sent to the US?
    Donald Trump wants to add a 35% import tax on components exported to Ford from Mexico. Sure it’s a crazy idea, but I have to give Donny Boy credit to draw attention to the poor job the US trade negotiators are doing. I think this is the only time I have agreed with the Trump!

  28. Brett Says:

    That’s always a clever ploy. Hamstring an government agency for funding and then tell them they don’t deserve any money because they’re dysfunctional. That’s how we’re going to end up paying FedEx $14 to deliver our mortgage check every month.

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Free market should take care of inferior Chinese parts being installed in our cars everyday, but it is not working, techs are still using them cause customers want to save money and not consider the other issues, my CV joints installed this time last year are already failing when the OEM ones lasted like 7 or 8 yrs before needing replacement. From now on I am gonna buy only dealer parts and pay extra, that is all.

  30. cwolf Says:

    pedro, the Chinese parts you purchased were after-market, thus do not apply to OEM scrutiny. You got what you paid for, ol’boy!
    IMO, I don’t think it reasonable for the tax payer to burden the growing costs of over-seeing and adding, yet, more regulations because of the “crap” parts installed onto US vehicles. The factories and Gov’ts funding them, including the manufactures who sets the standards should pay the full price!

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    You you count on OEM quality parts, even from a dealer? If you are assured of getting same-as-original CV joints, or other major parts by going to a dealer for service, it might be worth going to a dealer.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    31 I meant “Can you count on…”

  33. C-Tech Says:

    I am wowed by what Toyota is developing to interest kids in cars. When I was a kid all we had was Freddie Ford!

    Is anybody surprised by Honda pulling these green cars from the market considering their poor sales and high cost?

    JLR and BMW remote operation of your car via phone, didn’t Q’s lab in a James Bond movie do this? If JLR has this tech, why not offer it in Jaguars?

    Perhaps GMC will get versions of the medium -duty trucks later? It would make $ense to me.

    @ #31 Dealers are more than happy to sell you OEM parts. They make higher margins on them. There are even “value” parts which are competitive with the aftermarket prices such as axles and brake pads. Just Ask.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    33 What I’m wondering is, do dealers sell really crappy parts, such as Pedro has encountered with his CV joints.

    It’s unfortunate that Honda’s more recent hybrids have been so crappy, when the first Insight was revolutionary, and good for the time. Last summer, I saw one on the road for the first time in ages.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf at the same time my car was getting work done, another customer had purchased brake pads and clutch materials from the dealer to have the tech instal them, she was a smart cookie doing that.

  36. cwolf Says:

    I know the specifications for the after market spindle bearings that we manufacture are not as tight as those made for GM. However, the precision usually remains despite the looser tolerances.

  37. cwolf Says:

    Controlling a car by phone gave me a sinister thought; A convenient way to drive someone over a cliff without leaving a trace of evidence!

  38. HtG Says:

    I sincerely hope you’re kidding, cwolf

  39. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Pedro:Try going to
    They have parts for your vehicle,and at different price points,and maybe even original oem stuff.You just have to look.I have bought parts from them and they actually were better then oem.To coin a phrase,”let your fingers do the walking”.

  40. cwolf Says:

    HtG, I don’t think I could sacrifice a good car for some undesirable. Well…..maybe if it’s a Vega or Yugo or anything Chinese.

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    GA I have used them and bought door handles and such which have been as good as anything the dealer sells, and they have different prices and quality to choose from

  42. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Pedro: They also let you know if the part is original oem.Beats the heck out of replacing them every couple of years,especially since you got great service from the originals.On some parts,they will say if they are upgrade/better then oem.I found that out on an electric window regulator for the wife’s crv,(which is now long gone….YAYYY).And it was far cheaper then one from the dealer.

  43. C-Tech Says:

    @ #34 Rarely do dealers service depts. sell crappy aftermarket parts. They push the higher margin OEM’s. Many Used Car managers will ask for the cheapest parts to make repairs to trade-ins, some use junkyard parts. Been there, done that.

  44. Bob Wilson Says:

    NHTSA has a problem with using FARs and other accident metrics to identify problem vehicles. When the blind advocacy groups went to ‘Bell the Hybrid’ by getting a law passed to put noise makers on hybrids, the NHTSA was complicit in some very bad math.

    Instead of taking pedestrian accidents by vehicles and determining the rate by vehicle type, they only looked at hybrids, the Prius, and issued two reports not based upon fatalities but accident reported injuries. The problem is they ignored the higher apparent rate of SUV/pickup-to-pedestrian accidents. Their first report used an incredibly small number of injuries to claim there was problem with ‘turns’. My username link points to my analysis of these Prius-pedestrian accidents.

    Serendipity, I realized last year that the pedestrian accident problem comes from “A” pillars, the structures holding the windshield.

    When making a left turn, there is a traveling blind-spot arc for one eye and the other has a built-in optic nerve blind spot. During a turn, a pedestrian in a cross-walk can disappear to the driver. Larger “A” pillars for roof support, a larger blind spot to pedestrians in cross walks. We drive Prius and the aerodynamics requires a thicker “A” pillar to prevent roof collapse in an accident. For different reasons, SUV/pickups have a similar requirement.

    Had the NHTSA been data, not advocacy, driven, they would have seen the SUV/pickup rates and started looking at common design issues.

    Bob Wilson

  45. Rob Says:

    Having worked for automotive suppliers for over 25 years I have seen many defective production runs get pushed through to service. They typically need to maintain fit and function but if a product has a cosmetic defect or exceeds a non-critical dimension they often times will be allowed to be shipped to service and are still considered to be OEM quality. I have also experienced a supplier whos parts did not meet OEM specifications ship the product to Autozone and they sell it as original equipment which is really nothing more than original manufacturer.