AD #2235 – Mary Barra Details GM’s EV Strategy, Why Hybrids Don’t Sell, Rosie The Door Slamming Robot

November 16th, 2017 at 11:29am

Runtime: 8:27

0:27 Mary Barra Details GM’s EV Strategy
1:33 Why Hybrids Don’t Sell
2:26 Matt Simoncini to Retire from Lear
3:17 Mazda6 Gets a Fresh Look
3:45 Lexus to Make 3-Row RX
3:59 Toyota Teases New Adventure Concept
4:22 Nissan Uses Robot to Test Door Durability
5:39 Car Sales Could Be In Danger

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44 Comments to “AD #2235 – Mary Barra Details GM’s EV Strategy, Why Hybrids Don’t Sell, Rosie The Door Slamming Robot”

  1. WineGeek Says:

    John as an owner of a Prius Prime I think that the hybrid quandary is the hybrid in most cases isn’t worth the premium based on additional MPG obtained. We are a green family and are willing to pay the premium for the plug in version of the Prius as it offers a clear advantage over the ICE. We get 25 to 27 miles on electric during the summer but have found that it drops to about 21 miles on electric in cooler weather. My gut feeling says that you would have to get to about 50+ miles on electric then switching to hybrid to get the average car buyer to feel that the investment was worthwhile. The plug-in/hybrid concept is the best solution because you never have range anxiety. Even with 300 mile range I would have range anxiety in a BEV. I feel that plug-in hybrid is the answer for most drivers and the environment.

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I think you are right John, everybody (okay, not everybody) was thinking it, you just said it. Quite a few people DON’T want the appearance of being ‘forcefully’ green; it can insinuate that “I”, the hybrid owner, is somehow superior to the non-hybrid. At least that’s my take on it. And this is just a generalization; I could be off-base.

  3. Ken Foster Says:

    I agree 100% with WineGeek’s points. Additionally, HV Batteries loose capacity. Nobody likes to talk about it. This isn’t news, but I’m experiencing it firsthand. I’ve owned a 2013 C-MAX Energi since new and have monitored battery capacity over its 4 years and 40000 miles. I have already lost 25% capacity. Ford will make no claims about “normal” expected battery capacity reduction. Needless to say, this is very disappointing to me and will probably make this car the last hybrid I own until the technology improves. My trusty ICE doesn’t lose range, performance, efficiency, or any other metric I can think of in the same way the PHEV has.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    People buying hybrid Malibus and Fusions could just remove the small badges indicating their hybrid-ness, if, for whatever reason, they don’t want to be seen as “green.” I wouldn’t have that option with my Prius, though.

    It seems that Toyota doesn’t want to sell many Prius Primes, given they are still unavailable in many places, including Florida and Indiana. I probably would have bought one, rather than my regular Prius, even though I would rarely have a place to plug it in, because it is a bargain. At some point, there will probably be charging stations at my condo. Maybe Primes are very low profit, compared to other Toytoa cars, so they only want to sell them where they give people special privileges, like HOV lane use.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #1 WineGeek, where do you live? Do they sell the Prime in your areal, or did you have to go somewhere else to buy it?

  6. David Sprowl Says:

    The Hybrid question then is answered through marketing. Take of the badging and they will sell? I’m not all together yet convinced that batteries are “green”. I still contend that economics is what dictates what sells. We have legislated many out of the new car market and will for the moment continue down that path. Adding 1500+ to the price of the vehicle I want isn’t a great way to sell it. Don’t miss read me – I like the notion of BEV’s -a lot. Simplicity of drive train, lower maintenance are all pluses for me. Having said that the premium paid for the vehicle over the cost of maintenance, I still default to ICE’s. $$$$ rule.

  7. G.A.Branigan Says:

    For me and my wife,bev’s are out,not a chance in hell. I don’t want a hybrid pickup,because the cost/benefit just wouldn’t be there. Also the payload would decrease and the complexity will increase. For us,financially,it makes no sense.

  8. Mac Says:

    We purchased our first hybrid a little over a year ago — a Hyundai Sonata Limited — and truly both my wife & I love it. Around town, the electric motor provides turbo-like acceleration while producing 44 – 48 mpg average fuel economy. I agree with you; kill the hybrid badge (which many of our friends equate to the early models’ poor performance) and focus on the fuel economy, and I’d wager more folks would be attracted. And while the payback may be out there in terms of miles, the cash flow delta we experience each month (compared to our prior vehicle) amounts to about $30 – $50 in fuel cost savings. That’s a pretty compelling argument.

  9. Bradley Says:

    If Autonomous cars can drive themselves without any humans in them; then our family will go down to one car. It could take me to work, go back home, take my daughter to school and then my wife to work. Then for the return home something similar.

  10. Bradley Says:

    My dad bought a Highlander Hybrid. He hates that it has Hybrid badges. As he didn’t buy it to save the world. He simply liked the technology.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Some European car companies have a “delete badges” option on ordered cars. Maybe companies should have that option on hybrid versions of Camry, Fusion, Malibu, Sonata, etc., for those who don’t want the badges, and don’t want to remove the badges themselves.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #9 All of these badges are held on with tape, and can be removed. If your dad doesn’t like them, he could remove them, or pay a body shop to do it if he is afraid of damaging the paint.

  13. Lex Says:

    The reason Hybrids do not sale is simple: “Cost Benefit Analysis”. The increased cost and complexity of Hybrids make them unattractive to the everyday consumer especially when gasoline is under $3.00 per gallon. Additionally other consumers are going to leap frog Hybrids and go directly into EV’s when prices decrease, driving ranges increase and the recharging infrastructure is more mature and rapidly available.

  14. Lex Says:


    Please ask Mike O’Brien, the head of product planning for Hyundai Motor America, why in the Santa Fe Sport the rear AC/Heating vents are located on the “B” pillar were they can be easily damaged by passenger egressing the vehicle. Also why not put the 3.3L V6 which is currently in the Santa Fe seven passenger into the five passenger Santa Fe Sport which could then directly compete against the V6 powered Acura RDX.

    Another question is when is Hyundai going to adopt a much more sleeker and similar driver instrument display as found in it’s KIA counterparts?

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Hmmm… I’m reading some stuff that maybe people shouldn’t remove hybrid badges, because they warn first responders of possible electrical hazards.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #12 A base Prius is a good buy, compared to any non-hybrid competition. A Focus hatch will cost more, by the time you get features that the Prius has standard, like adaptive cruise/auto emergency braking, keyless go, auto dimming headlights, and more.

    Also, some hybrids, including Toyota and Ford, are very simple mechanically compared to non-hybrids, but yeah, they are complex electrically.

  17. David Sprowl Says:

    Spot on Kit. I want to know what im facing as a responder

  18. druff Says:

    I just believe if they make a hybrid something people want they will buy it. The Kia Niro has only been out a short time and I see quite a few on the roads around me. It is just a small crossover that happens to be a hybrid. If you look at the majority of average priced hybrids they are cars or something geeky looking. When most people shop for autos they are looking for a type of vehicle with the right features for a certain price, most don’t really care about the powertrain at all.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The geeky looking Prius is, by far, the best selling hybrid in the U.S. and globally. There are good reasons. It is utilitarian, reliable, a very good value, and has the lowest operating costs of any 5 passenger car that you can just fill with gas, and drive 450-500 miles.

  20. Bruce Melton Says:

    I currently own a 2010 Honda Insight (mild hybrid w/CVT tranny) w/71k miles purchased new in Feb 2010. I agree with Lex’s (comment #12) regarding “Cost Benefit Analysis.” You pay more upfront and, in addition, the depreciation is worse than comparable standard gasoline engine vehicles. From my perspective, you just hope the fuel cost savings can offset the higher cost and additional depreciation. My car’s long term overall fuel economy has been ~48.5 mpg (EPA hi-way/city rating was 43/41 mpg). I drive this car the way it was intended to be driven – 60-65 mph (max). Pushing it much over this defeats the purpose of buying a hybrid. In 7 years of use, the Insight has only had one problem – a defective tire pressure sensor, which was repaired under warranty. I have read that the Insight may be the slowest car in 0-60 runs at approximately >12 sec – (not exactly a screamer)!! The CVT is probably the “right” transmission for most hybrids, but I prefer a transmission that shifts. The Hyundai Ioniq hybrid has 6-speed auto – have not driven yet – but high on consideration due its larger cabin, nice interior appointments, excellent lifetime battery warranty & 10 year drive-train – VERY APPEALING!. I would not consider the purchase of a “USED” Hyundai/Kia, since the warranty appears to be drastically reduced. However, I will give credit to Hyundai/Kia for actually manufacturing some fine products, now!

    If you purchase a hybrid with the intent to drive it into the ground (e.g 10 yrs plus), it would probably be comparable to most other cars, as far as depreciation is concerned – no loan value on most cars over 5-6 years old, which eliminates most people except the “By Here, Pay Here!” group, which have no credit, any how.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I recently replaced a 2010 Prius with a 2017, and the depreciation was about the same percentage as with most other cars. The 2010 had about 80K miles, and zero problems. I’ve heard that hybrids, and especially EV’s have an extra “bump” of depreciation when the battery nears the end of its warranty, which makes sense.

    Bruce, interesting that you mention the Insight. That car came out about the same as the 3rd generation Prius, and I checked it out before buying my Prius. What I found was that the Insight was slower, noisier, a little thirster, and less roomy the the Prius, so I bought a Prius. The handling of the Insight seemed a little better than the Prius, though, and it would have some appeal in not being so common. It was very convenient for me to comparison shop the two cars, because Toyota and Honda are sold at the same dealer where I bought my Prius.

    I bought my current Prius a little before the Ioniq showed up at dealers, or I would have checked it out. I probably still would have bought the Prius, because I like the mechanical simplicity of the drive train. From road tests I’ve seen, the complexity-for-complexity’s-sake of the Ioniq/Niro DCT drive train doesn’t buy you anything, either in performance or gas mileage, over the no-clutch, no gear change Toyota system. I understand that some people just like to feel transmissions shift, though.

  22. Kevin Anderson Says:

    I don’t get the argument that AV = fewer car sales. Cars sales should track miles driven, which AV guys say will double. So AV’s will drive more miles per car, wear out twice as fast and be replaced sooner. After a period of changeover to AV’s, car sales should stay the same or rise (because of all those extra miles.) Is my logic wrong?

  23. Druff Says:

    I have made the same argument about AV’s and ride hailing services. Every time an Uber driver goes from one drop off to the next pick up is extra miles driven.

  24. Ziggy Says:

    Do all the predictions of selling less cars due to ride sharing take into account the fact that if the cars are being used more they will wear out a lot faster and need replacing a lot sooner than if owned by just one person? Seems like the total number of cars sold might be the same, or am I missing something?

  25. Druff Says:

    And yes the Geeky Prius does sell more than other hybrids, but barely cracks the top 50 compared to everything else. That is the point, if you want to sell among the top vehicles you have to be more mainstream as in crossovers. And yes Toyota offers the Rav4 in a hybrid, as an option. It would be interesting to see if the sales would still top the charts if it was only a hybrid. I think it still would if it was cost competitive.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    As people like me die off, who drive 4 cars a total of 12K miles a year, I would expect fewer cars to be sold, autonomous or otherwise. Generally, cars last more miles when the miles are accumulated quickly.

  27. RickW Says:

    Regarding removing the Hybrid badge from the cars that have them just glued on, I’ve just used dental floss and run it back and forth under the badge as close to the vehicle sheet metal as possible. No need to go to the Body Shop for this.
    Then just clean any remaining adhesive with an adhesive remover (3M) or carefully with acetone on a clean soft towel then apply some wax.

    I’ve never actually removed a Green Hybrid badge but have removed many other badges from cars for various reasons in the past.

    I hadn’t thought of the first responder’s needs to know if they are dealing with an electrified auto before. Remove badge as your conscious permits.

  28. Ziggy Says:

    @ Kit from yesterday: completely agree with you on the need for the standard cabs in small pickups, I am encouraged on this front by spy photos I have seen of the next Ford Ranger, one of them shown was of a regular cab with a long bed, the author dubbed it the “workmans” model. Here’s hoping it arrives for US consumption.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    24 Yeah, Prius is about 50th of 200+ car models, but that puts it in the top quartile. The bottom line is that most Americans don’t care much about fuel economy, or all hybrids, whether cars or crossovers would sell better.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    27 I agree

  31. Druff Says:

    The predictors have this thought that all people are just going to hold up in there homes, while working there. Then get everything delivered by drone and never leave. Pretty sad thought.

    I too have 3 cars and a motorhome and I only put on a total of 15K miles a year. But I still tend to buy new cars every few years. I think there will always be people like us, hopefully anyway.

    Just to be clear I am not putting down geeky cars either. I myself own one, a Fiat 500L Trekking 6-speed Manual.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #30 My Prius is a geeky car, and I’ve heard my Mini Cooper referred to as a boutique car. Maybe your 500L is both, all in one car.

  33. Bob Wilson Says:

    The web link (if it works) points to a graph showing efficient car sales over the past four months. The top 5 sellers: Fusion Hybrid; RAV4; Prius Liftback, Tansit Diesel, and Bolt EV. They’ve been doing pretty well except the Prius hatchback that has been tapering down. To see the full survey:

    Thinking hybrid owners are leaf-lookin, bambi-lovin, eco-warriors, is a fantasy dreamed up by those who never understood that getting +50 MPG without ‘hypermiling’ is a reward in itself. Being a ‘road warrior’ with typically 18-20,000 miles per year, every Prius saved us one month’s car payment. Once the car is paid off, we continue to pocket that after-tax, savings.

    In one year, we’ve moved from two Prius to two plug-in hybrids: used BMW i3-REx, and; new Prius Prime. Our 80-90% around town miles are half the cost of hybrid gas. Yet when we go on a trip, we get 40-56 MPG at 70 mph which is quite affordable. Both have collision avoidance and dynamic cruise control, important safety features.

    Bob Wilson, Hunsville, AL

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It looks like Prius is still the top selling hybrid YTD through October, but Fusion and Rav4 have taken off. I don’t know why the Malibu doesn’t do better. It drives well, gets excellent mpg, and loses less trunk than some hybrid sedans, and retains a pass through.

  35. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I think the Malibu’s problem may be its size; it’s a little bigger than what most hybrids average. John Mc states that Prius sale are “tanking” with the RAV4 picking up the pace; must be that sedan to crossover phenomena again.

  36. K Says:

    I wish someone, whether the EPA or Consumer Reports, would do gas mileage testing to show the real difference in fuel efficiency between cars and CUV/SUV’s at highway speed. Even in CR’s 65 mph steady speed test, cars typically get 20-30% better mpg than tall wagons with the same power train. If you bump the speed up to 75-80, like people drive on the interstate, that difference would be more like 40%.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I wish someone, whether the EPA or Consumer Reports, would do gas mileage testing to show the real difference in fuel efficiency between cars and CUV/SUV’s at highway speed. Even in CR’s 65 mph steady speed test, cars typically get 20-30% better mpg than tall wagons with the same power train. If you bump the speed up to 75-80, like people drive on the interstate, that difference would be more like 40%.

  38. Lambo2015 Says:

    IMO I think the reason Hybrids don’t sell well is they all get paired ery small ICE engines so although they preform quite well in city traffic and acceleration once on the highway you are still stuck with an anemic engine for passing.
    I also believe consumers do not want the complexity of two systems and possible $ problems associated with having two powertrains.
    Thirdly the people who buy a car with plans to keep for more than 7 years will likely avoid a hybrid due to battery concerns and that the technology is changing fairly rapidly to where they will have worthless resale value.
    Its amazing the stigma Hollywood can put on a product and yes John I think the first hybrids were stereotypically targeted as tree hugging save the world cars for hippies, but just in the movies. This plays into your remove the badging. Very similar to the bad name turbo’s got in the 80s and so this time around they call them eco-boost to avoid the turbo stigma.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The expensive battery with only a year of warranty left is part of why I replaced my 7 year old Prius with a new one, but the new Prius is a better car, with better handling, and more features.

    As far as power, even the slower ones, like Prius and Niro, have mid and higher speed acceleration similar to any number of popular non-hybrids like Escape and Equinox with base engines. Also, the hybrid versions of some vehicles, including RAV4 and Fusion are quicker than some of the other versions. Still, unless you drive quite a few miles, especially in city driving, hybrids don’t make economic sense at today’s gas prices.

  40. Lambo2015 Says:

    I think if they really wanted to sell more hybrids they should offer the vehicle with a larger engine that maybe has cylinder deactivation. People want the power and in the larger applications like the GM Tahoe which was offered in a hybrid from 07-13 they just cant achieve a large enough gap from the pure ICE version.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Mustang hybrid should be intersting, both the performace and mpg it will get. I can’t find anything about what ICE it will use, but a turbo four seems most likely. Does anyone know?

  42. Lambo2015 Says:

    #41 Kit Ford has announced the hybrid as having the same HP as the V8 so that leads me to believe it will not be a V8, most likely be the turbo 4.

  43. BobD Says:

    22, 23, 24 – On decreased sales do to AVs, some of the predictions state decreased “retail” sales, meaning fewer private owners buying cars with the assumption that shared AVs will be owned by fleets, thus more fleet sales to support AV transportation.

  44. Dave Hourd Says:

    Although I have not read all of the presentations relating to car ownership in the future I noted one point that appears to consistently ignored. The majority of scenarios presented all rely on the user either reserving the shared vehicle ahead of time or waiting after the automated vehicle has been called. The convenience factor of being able to go “now” whether it be to a hardware store for bolts for a project, response to a call from a friend wanting a quick visit etc. has always been important and has trumped the cost savings aspects over and over. I’m not sure how to measure the tipping point where the decision to ignore this convenience is outweighed by the cost of self ownership. Thoughts?