AD #2470 – Nissan Altima Body Panel Gap Explained, Car Sales Defy Experts, BMW Reveals 8 Series Convertible

November 2nd, 2018 at 11:35am

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Runtime: 8:01

0:28 Car Sales Defy Experts
1:17 Drop in Passenger Car Sales Slows
1:34 Tesla Props Up EV Segment
2:39 Nissan Altima Body Panel Gap Explained
3:39 Tesla Auto-Park Update Coming Soon
4:21 VW Teases New Pickup
4:43 BMW Reveals 8 Series Convertible
5:33 Car Dealers Oppose Import Tariffs

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44 Comments to “AD #2470 – Nissan Altima Body Panel Gap Explained, Car Sales Defy Experts, BMW Reveals 8 Series Convertible”

  1. R. Bruce Melton, Says:

    Sean: Love that excuse Nissan had for the gap in the hood-to-fender on the new Altima. I guess you leave to the “Marketing Lizards” at Nissan to come up with “maintain the character line” from front to rear. Give me a break – this is typical of a “Lizard*” to make an excuse to cover up something that looks like HELL! Car looks like it has been in a front-end collision and repaired by “Joe’s Body Shop and Plumbing!”

    This reminds me of the Marketing “Stuff” on the intro of the original Xterra: “Everything you need and nothing you don’t (as close as I can remember). They had two levels of interior trim – “Cheap” and “Cheaper”. We still have one (2001) – bought new in Sep. 2000 – had interior changed to all leather before it was delivered.

    I guess these are the same people that will tell how great their CVT transmissions are!

  2. WineGeek Says:

    I have always felt that Nissan had body problems from windows that rattled when down to lousy assembly quality. I refused to purchase a recent Nissan Murano when the window rattled in its channel when down. Once the salesperson told me that it was supposed to be that way I looked askance and politely left the dealership. I am not surprised that the wide gaps are present.

  3. Larry D. Says:

    1, 2 Fully Agree.

    This tops every “dog ate my homework” and “Gramma died” excuse I ever heard. Laughable!

  4. Larry D. Says: estimated Tesla sales at a bit higher, 21,700. Sounds like a broken record? They gave the same estimate for September. The reason? Obviously they got some quarterly figure which they divide by 3 and these are their crude monthly estimates.

    The more thorough estimate of the EV insight site is, surprisingly, lower than the 21,700, but it is not their final one yet.

    No matter what estimate you use, the sales are huge, there are 500,000 deposits, and they will not sell a single Tesla 3 outside the US before the new year’s.

    More remarkable, Tesla is the only company who has STELLAR sales increases almost exclusively from SEDANS, 4 door sedans like the S and especially the Model 3.

    Imagine what hell breaks loose when they start producing an affordable and practical crossover! OR a cheaper, very affordable, hatch like the Bolt (but far more fun to drive, and priced much lower than $42k!)

  5. Ziggy Says:

    I’m with Melton and WineGeek on this one, the gap looks like crap, anything you can stick your fingers in is a mistake but I do give Nissan an A for effort for trying to explain it away by marketing speak, if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bullshit.

  6. phred Says:

    I thought the hood line “gap” was a cooling air ‘flow channel to aid under hood lower temperatures.

  7. Roger Blose Says:

    Come on… the Altima hood gap is part of the built in safety system. It allow the first responders the ability to open the hood from the side with their bare hands and cut the power, stop the horn from honking, and put out the fire. This gap also allows for added cooling for the CVT as it overheats on steep hills.

  8. Larry D. Says:

    1,2, 3,5,6,7 It really depends on the manufacturer.

    if it is Nissan, and there is a gap between panels, “the gap really does help to maintain the character line into the hood”. if it is a Tesla, it is poor fit and finish, and Munro will publish an encyclopedia detailing all the ways Tesla disappointed him. Maybe we will have a Festivus celebration too, aluminum pole and feats of strength included, for the Seinfeld fans around here.

  9. ChuckGrenci Says:

    Nissan could have created a crease without including an alarmingly huge fitment gap and that would have fallen into the realm of a quality fabrication. There was no need to leave an air gap when a metal crease would have created a more quality approach. It is not that they couldn’t, so much, as didn’t.

  10. JWH Says:

    Gaps -From clinics 25 years ago – End customers were more concerned about consistent gaps than the actual gap measurement. This was when the majority of the gaps were 5.0 mm with many manufacturers targeting 4.0 mm at the time, & some still in the dark ages with 6.0 mm. In any event my opinion is that the gap on the Nissan hood is very excessive.

  11. Sean McElroy Says:

    @Larry D – I think the two instances you reference in #8 are quite different. The gap on the Nissan was the same on both sides. Nissan provided a response, which, to my eye, does maintain the character line. As Chuck says, it could have done something different without the huge gap. If you think Nissan’s reasoning is crap/lies/BS/weak sauce or whatever, Great! It’s why I asked people to post their opinion. I wanted to know how they felt about a large body panel gap. The Tesla Model 3 had very different gap widths on the truck lid, which was not part of the design of the car. How would you feel if you bought a Model 3 and it showed up that way. I know I would not be happy. Anyway, we love when people comment and provide their opinions, so keep it coming.

  12. Buzzerd Says:

    It’s pretty obvious the gap was intentional, wether you like of not is the only thing up for argument. It looks fine to me but I am usually pretty accepting of new styling.

  13. Bryan Says:

    I don’t know who homeboy thinks he is fooling. Those tarrifs would encourage more domestic car sales. That is a good thing for America. And it would only raise the payment $50 a month. Of course many do 72-84 month loans, so the payment would still rise but cost less a month. Also, please save the nonsense about wanting more safer cars on the road. They want to make money, that is one of the highest goals. Such a load.

  14. Maverick Says:

    With regard to the Nissan, as a former Manufacturing Engineer who dealt with tolerance stack-up, here is my take…judging only from the photos, the short, rear edge of the headlamp is the reference edge during assembly. The top edge against the hood, the bottom edge against the protruding bumper fascia, and the small leading edge of the headlamp are all allowed to vary by design during assembly. Pickup trucks are similar to permit body flex. Contrast this to other headlamps or tail lamps on other sedans and you will see a small fillet to deceive the eye. Or contrast this to an Audi tail lamp where all edges are flush.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Regarding the Altima gap, I don’t care. I lost interest in Nissan, when they quit selling rear drive Maxima wagons, with inline six engines and manual transmissions. That’s been a while.

  16. ChuckGrenci Says:

    Since Tesla is propping up electric sales, does it bode well for the electric ‘revolution’ to stall when Tesla catches up to their backlogged orders, and perhaps, that in a nutshell is the end of the electric demand. Okay, not the end but certainly the uptake will slow considerably. Wards article suggested that by 2025 50% will have some sort of electrification but 90% will still have ICE. This (electrification) will be a slow progression but ICE may still be practical and popular for a long time to come. And that was Ward’s prediction, and some of this comment was my prediction, and noting other stories in today’s report, we’ve seen how some of the ‘experts’ predictions have panned out.

  17. Larry D. Says:

    11 Sean, thanks for the detailed feedback. You are entitled to a detailed response, especially to your questions.

    First, I fully agree with your first statement, that the two instances I reference in 8 are quite different.

    But unlike you, I consider the Nissan entire history of making unacceptably low-quality vehicles as far worse than the startup Tesla’s possible body fit imperfections.

    I will make no secret of it, apologies if anybody here owns any Nissan, but I have nothing but Utter Contempt for this company, who, for decades, sells the poor man’s Honda or Toyota, with quality to match, which is worse than even the worse domestics or Koreans (not sure if it worse than Fiat)

    I have my own experiences with Nissans. I made the mistake to be talked by the Hertz rental people at LAX once, when I was intending to rent a prius (back in spring 2009) again, but they convinced me to rent the much larger Altima Hybrid for only $7 more. (both were expensive, but I was on a business trip and my sponsor was paying).

    The almost new Altima Hybrid not only got terrible MPG, as I was driving, a young hispanic man started talking to me, i rolled down my window and he told me I had an oil leak! I returned to my hotel and called the Hertz rental people, who, inexcusably, refused to take this seriously or come help me with it, but instead told me to drive the car back to their yard, which was not far away. It was far away enough for the leak to drain all the oil, and for the engine to seize and get ruined just as I was entering their lot. I got my prius for the second day, and I also demanded compensation for my waste of time, and got a $100 gift certificate, which I used next year to rent a fully adequate Chevy malibu for a trip to NJ. The $100 even paid for a tank of gas, in addition to the 3-day weekend rental, I used a AAA discount.

    BTW, Sean, I did not use “crap/lies/BS/weak sauce”. It was GM CEO Mary Barra who used the expression “No more crappy cars”, which I have quoted on occasion.

    Now to the rest of your points. I am sure Teslas suffer from body panel gaps, especially Tesla3s made at such a crazy pace by an upstart company. the 500,000 depositors do not seem to mind. I am not in the market for an EV, and if I was, I repeatedly stated that a used Flagship, Awesome Model S at $35k is a far better bargain than a $50k Model 3.

    But I will bear with you, assuming I was taking delivery of my Model 3 and I noticed the gaps, I would literally raise HELL, I would refuse to accept the vehicle until Tesla fixed it or gave me another one, AND, assuming again I did not notice the gap when I took delivery, and the warranty (surprisingly) did not cover the repair, I would NOT be mad at Tesla, but at MYSELF for acting like a damn fool and not INSPECTING the expensive vehicle.

  18. Larry D. Says:

    16 Chuck, maybe you are a pessimist, you have raised this possibility before, that the Model 3 is the one Ace Tesla had up its sleeve, and after all the 500,000+++ interested buyers get one (which will take YEARS, at their current rate of production), Tesla will collapse. Really? have you ever seen their product plans for the future?

    Tesla has stellar success where every other automaker is having huge problems these days, ie, selling 4 door sedans!

    I wrote before, Imagine how even MORE successful Tesla would be if it offered a POPULAR vehicle type instead, such as a crossover or an SUV! AND it sure has plans for all kinds of other vehicles. I am sure Bob Watson can give you a detailed list next time he is here.

  19. ChuckGrenci Says:

    18 Larry, I didn’t say that; my comment was more to the electrification of the fleet, not negative to Tesla. Tesla is carrying the ball, I’m just not that convinced that ‘everybody’is panting for that electric car (as the industry still tries to allude) and the governments want to legislate. When electrics are on par with the rest of the fleet (economies of ownership is still lacking), then we’ll see people picking what they want, unencumbered.

  20. Larry D. Says:

    19 Maybe I read your post too quickly. EVs are currently at a disadvantage primarily because of the lack of infrastructure. Most makers make them at a loss, but we learned here from Munro that tesla can make them at a profit, the Model 3 even at 30% profit. That is a breakthrough. In the US, we have 100,000+ gas stations and only 40,000 or so EV charging stations, while in China it is 1 to 1 (about 100,000 of each). The economies of ownership will sure be there, not only with the dirt-cheap fuel cost, but also with the far less maintenance and repair EVs require.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    20 Will maintenance and repair really be less for and EV? My friend’s 16 year old Pontiac Sunfire with 240K miles has had less than $1000 in repairs during its lifetime. If it were an EV with 250 mile range, it probably would needed a $20K battery, along with a few minor things.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    20 OK, it’s had about $1000 worth of oil changes.

  23. Larry D. Says:

    21 On average, they should. You are comparing the lowest-priced pontiac Econobox to which EV? even the Tesla 3? they are not comparable. By coincidence I did buy a new Pontiac 2000 in 1983, the grandparent of the Sunfire, 4 door with an awful 5-speed manual, and an advertised 46 HWY which I was foolish enough to believe. I never got more than 42, and that is at 55 MPH and overinflated tires. The gearbox was truly terrible. The car was an econobox of the worst kind, but I only fully realized it after I moved to my next car, a 1990 accord coupe I got in 94 from its first owner for $6,500, $1,000 less than I paid for the POS Pontiac.

    But maintenance and repair is only a part of the ownership cost. If I bought an EV for my summer home now, and any Tesla would allow me to charge it overnight and easily do my weekly visits to downtown (44KM each way plus local driving) with or without traffic, I will pay zero annual license fees there (if I used my 3 liter Diesel year-round, these would be over $1,000 (over 900 Euros), plus I would have great free parking spots downtown and other perks. And If I installed some solar panels on my terrace roof there, I’d have 100% free fuel, 100% clean, and I would sell the utility the rest of the electricity I made. (My neighbor did that 3 years ago, when the agreement was better than today, he sells his extra juice at a very high price to the utility)

  24. Larry D. Says:

    BTW that 83 pontiac 2000, I did only 65k miles in 11 years when there was a very cold January in 94 and it developed a serious failure plus the radiator leaked, and i sold it for parts, it was not even driveable, for $375 If i remember well.

  25. Larry D. Says:

    21 we had the battery discussion before, I have never heard of any EV needing a new battery, and not at $20k. There are Tesla Ss making 100,000s of miles a year as taxis, soon we will know if they had any battery trouble. But as I mentioned before, the ideal EV owners are commuters with long commutes but within the range of the EV to be charged overnight and possibly at work for free. These are a huge chunk of all miles driven, and if these are replaced by EVs (and not those who do few miles per year), not only will they work great for their owners, they will reduce oil demand, gas prices and pollution by a huge amount.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    23 I used the Sunfire example, because it is a car that never was highly regarded, yet it just keeps going. The biggest repair was a $300 motor mount. Based on reputations, a Toyota Camry should do better than a cheap GM car.

    I also had an early Pontiac J car, even earlier than yours. It was an ’82 J2000 wagon, with a 4-speed manual transmission even worse than your 5-speed, and like yours, it was a lemon. There was a lot of improvement in those cars with the 2nd generation.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    25. A heavily subsidized battery for a Leaf is about $6000, and that is a small battery. A battery for a Model 3 would probably be $20K+. We’ll learn the real story when all of these EVs are several years old, with a lot of miles.

    A few days ago I posted a link to an article about loss of battery capacity with miles and time, and the loss is significant.

  28. ChuckGrenci Says:

    Building batteries is dirty, using batteries is clean, disposing of batteries (too soon to tell) but no efficient recycling available yet (and currently, at least now, no need of massive recycling). As we make general observations and predictions, basically we just don’t know the whole story yet.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    28 Maybe lead-acid batteries would be a good choice for short range commuter EVs. The recycling of them is very mature, after about 120 years of doing it.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    25 Here is a report about a Model S battery failing at about 6 years and 142K miles. The battery wasn’t treated well, though.

    As far as battery price, it’s hard to find, since most of them haven’t failed and/or are on warranty. I did find one price, though, $29K for a 70 kWh battery for a Tesla Roadster.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    25, 30. There seems to be a market for batteries for Tesla Roadsters, which aren’t that old, sold from 2008-2012.

  32. XA351GT Says:

    Okay I just wanted to share why Pennsylvania has the highest gas tax in America. PennDOT just finished a road project on RT 422 outside of Pottstown. They spent $74 million to redo 1.6 miles of highway including a bridge and ramps over a 6 year period. That comes out to $730 per inch, they averaged 46.2 inches a day . Well done PennDOT you make us proud.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Why are the tolls so high on the PA Turnpike? The high gas tax should be adequate to maintain it.

  34. Larry D. Says:

    26 The 5-speed manual on the 83 got better MPG than the 4 on the highway, but it was terrible when you put it in 1st or 2nd gear, it made an awful sound like the gears were rubbing off and damaging each other. not smooth at all. I had an English Girlfriend at the time who had the coupe version of the 2000, but I think she had the auto, and when she tried my manual I thought she would destroy it.

    27 Who subsidizes the Leaf battery? if it is 1st gen, then it is small, but the new Leaf has longer range and probably a bigger battery, but given the progress in the cost/kwh of batteries, it may not cost much more than the $6k.

  35. Larry D. Says:

    32 Are you sure? I thought CA and Hawaii have the highest taxes, they sure have the highest gas prices of all 50 states.

    PA is next door to NJ which has some of the lowest gas prices in the US, how do the gas stations in PA near the NJ Border manage to sell any gas?

    I have driven to DC through PA maybe 50 times over the last 35 years, almost all on business so the high tolls were reimbursed and I also got a nice per mile $ amount.

    A colleague from NJ who recently moved to Texas told me MI must have the worst roads in the USA, full of potholes, and when they fix them, a year later there are new potholes. The drive to my office, the last half mile or so, is full of potholes, and the road may belong to the U which is filthy rich. I would not be surprised if the road repair contractors are a bunch of crooks, incompetents, or both.

  36. Larry D. Says:

    According to Automotive news, the top cars for October, in units sold, including fleet sales, were

    1. Camry, 26,914
    2. Accord, 23,778
    3. Civic, 22,450
    4. Corolla, 22,020
    5. Elantra, 18,312
    6. Model 3, 18,000 (est)

    If you exclude fleet sales (Honda does not do rental fleets) the ranking would be 1. Accord 2. Civic 3. Camry 4. Corolla, and maybe the 6th would go 3rd if Toyota had lots of fleet sales. I know Hyundai sure does.

    A rough calculation of the revenue they brought their makers, though, gives a different ranking!

    If the Camry is $35k a piece (lower for rentals), it got Toyota 942 million for Oct. The Accord, lowball est also at $35k, $832 mill, the Civic, at $30k, 674 mill, the corolla, at $25k, $550 mill, the Elantra, at $22k, $402 mill, and the Tesla 3, so far all were 50k+on average, say $55k with some options, barely gets the no 1 spot with $990,000.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    34 I think the 4-speed in my ’82 J car was the same one used in X cars, Citation et. al. It got from one gear to the next ok, but certainly didn’t “feel” very good. I suspect the top gear ratio was a little shorter than the 5-speed that replaced it, so the latter would get a little better highway mpg.

    What I’d heard, probably a year or so ago, was the Nissan was subsidizing the replacement Leaf batteries, as in selling them below cost. Cost may have gone down enough since then to change that.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    35 According to wikipedia, PA has the highest fuel tax, both gas and diesel.

    NJ is among the highest, but still, a substantial 21c lower than PA

  39. ChuckGrenci Says:

    NJ used to have a lot lower gasoline tax; it has just raised it about a year or two ago (in exchange to lower inheritance tax I believe). The twenty cent increase (I think around 20) brought NJ in parity with the other states in the area as NJ used to have the cheapest fuel prices around (and that with full service only stations). There seems to be a lot of wiggle room with gas tax and final price.

    @34 Larry D
    I think the first/second gear change issues you mention were just bad synchronizers so that was probably a fixable condition. And of course, operator error can also be a concern (your then girlfriend). :)

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    39 I bet the NJ stations near the PA border make a lot more money on gas than the PA stations. The NJ stations probably price it about the same as across the border, even though it would cost them 21 cents less. I’m just guessing. I haven’t been in those areas in years.

  41. XA351GT Says:

    New Jersey had the lowest price in the tri-state area until the new state government took over and raised it quite a bit. Now if you want cheap gas you go to Delaware. So when you make a trip down for tax free shopping you can fill up on cheap gas also. When I went to the Dover race in the beginning of Oct . Del . was 33c a gallon cheaper than just over the border in PA.

  42. XA351GT Says:

    Jersey also has a law that the price can only change once a week unlike PA where it can change at the same station 3 times in one day. Which I have seen happen.

  43. ChuckGrenci Says:

    I just did a quick look on gassbuddy and it appears even with NJ recent major gas tax increase it is still 10 to 30 cents cheaper than PA and similar but not quite as dramatic to NY.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I checked gasbuddy for Warminter, PA, a place near NJ where I went to model airplane contests years ago. The cheapest regular was 8 cents more than where I am in Florida, and 11 cents more than the cheapest I found in Trenton, NJ. The bottom line to me, is that it’s still pretty cheap everywhere in the U.S.