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Episode 317 – Toyota In The Crosshairs, China To Keep Growing, VW Creates New Division

January 29th, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime7:45

America’s lawyers and politicians line up to take on Toyota. Car sales in China could hit 15 million this year with help from government incentives and rising incomes in the country. Volkswagen will establish its own high-performance division like Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M. All that and more, plus a preview of t his week’s Autoline Detroit about whether or not the government should be picking winners and losers when it comes to alternative cars and energy, or if it should be the market making those decisions?

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. America’s lawyers and politicians line up to take on Toyota. Car sales in China could hit 15 million this year. And VW starts a new line of performance cars.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, January 29, 2010. And now, the news.

As Toyota broadened its recall, America jumped into action. American politicians and lawyers, that is. The Wall Street Journal reports that plaintiff attorneys are lining up to file class-action lawsuits to sue Toyota (subscription required) over lower resale values that owners are likely to face. And to recover the cost of getting alternative transportation while waiting for their cars to get fixed. Then, over in the House of Representatives, Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is going to hold hearings to find out why it took Toyota years to respond to unintended acceleration reports that NHTSA was getting.

Here’s some good news for Toyota. Yesterday we reported how GM and Ford were offering special incentives to Toyota buyers to lure them into their showrooms. But Hyundai says it is not going to do anything like that.

And Ford is stopping production of the Transit in China because it uses the same kind of pedal that Toyota is recalling, even though Ford has not received any complaints involving those vehicles.

Last year the U.S. Department of Energy approved a loan for Nissan to build the Leaf, its electric car in Tennessee. But now, according to Ward’s, the automaker won’t be getting as much as it initially thought. Nissan will get $1.4 billion (subscription required) instead of $1.6 billion from the government. During the loan process, efficiencies were found that resulted in the lower loan. The company declined to say what those were. All I can say is can you imagine the Japanese government giving over a billion dollars to an American company, for anything?

China’s auto sales are expected to slow from last year’s pace but will still see significant growth this year. According to the Wall Street Journal, a Chinese official says sales could hit 15 million this year (subscription required) with help from government incentives and rising incomes in the country. That’s about a 10 percent increase from 2009 sales which were nearly a 50 percent jump from the year before.

In related news, five Chinese automakers hit sales of at least 1-million units in 2009. According to Gasgoo, SAIC led the way with sales of 2.7 million vehicles, FAW came in second with 1.95 million, that was followed by Dongfeng Motors with 1.89 million units, fourth went to Changan Auto with 1.87 million, and rounding out the top 5 was Beijing Auto with sales of 1.24 million. The top-10 automakers in China accounted for 87 percent of sales last year.

Bloomberg reports that Fiat technology could improve Chrysler’s efficiency by up to 18 percent. Two big innovations that can cut fuel consumption include a dual-clutch automatic transmission – which is said to launch later this year on a redesigned, midsize Chrysler sedan – and an innovative valve-control system called Multi-Air. CEO Sergio Marchionne aims to increase the fleet-wide efficiency of Chrysler vehicles 25 percent by 2014.

Edmunds.com Inside Line reports that Volkswagen will establish its own high-performance division like Mercedes’ AMG or BMW’s M. Called “R” or “R GmBH,” it’s said to be an extension of VW Individual, a European catalog of aftermarket parts. According to Inside Line, the R Division of the company’s Wolfsburg factory will build high-performance models from the ground up. Already we’ve seen a 266 horsepower Golf R with 4-Motion all-wheel-drive and the Scirocco R with 261 ponies. Look for an official announcement at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

Coming up next, should the government be picking winners and losers when it comes to alternative cars and energy, or should the market make those decisions?

As you may know we were in Washington DC earlier this week and we shot Autoline Detroit there with Daniel Weiss, with the very liberal Center for American Progress, and with Fred Smith from the very conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Ron Cogan, of Green Car Journal, kind of in the middle. Here’s a sound bite that ought to get you to want to watch the whole debate.

That’s this week’s Autoline Detroit which you can watch at our website at www.autolinedetroit.tv.

Ok, it’s Friday and you know what that means. It’s time to answer this week’s trivia question. We asked you to identify the term for one of the key principles of the Toyota Production System, or Lean Manufacturing, that’s used to match the pace of work to the average pace of customer demand. And the correct answer is it’s Takt Time. As always we randomly selected this week’s winner from all the right answers. And the winner is Tom Stuart from Jamestown, New York. Congratulations Tom, you’ve just won an Autoline Detroit coffee mug.

And that’s it for a week that was heavy with a lot of breaking news. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, Car Chat, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

114 Comments to “Episode 317 – Toyota In The Crosshairs, China To Keep Growing, VW Creates New Division”

  1. Nick Stevens Says:

    John,

    it would help clarify the Chinese Sales data if you did not just mention the abbreviated names of the top 5, but if you told us that many of them are really GM, VW, Toyota, Nissan and other foreign companies, in collaborations with domestic Chinese automakers. GM in particular may well end up being saved by its huge growth in China.

  2. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.pbs.org/nbr/site/onair/transcripts/toyota_troubles_100128/

    In defense of Toyota. I know Jeff Liker well, academically he is not a big deal, and his book “The TOyota Way” looks like 100% Toyota cheerleeding, he is almost as bad as Smoked Hyundai is here!

    Jeff is so pro-Toyota in his book “The Toyota Way”, the first time you look at it you are convinced this was a paid by Toyota public relations BS.

    Toyota is in the deepest of Doo Doos, the Ambulance Chasers know it has deep pockets, and they will try to squeeze as much as possible out of it. The owners deserve to have their expenses paid, such as alt transportation, but there should not be any punitive damages. As for the reduction in their resale values, if Toyota fixes this well, there should be no problem in the long run.

  3. Alex Kovnat Says:

    > …. Then, over in the House of
    >Representatives, Henry Waxman,
    >chairman of the House Energy and
    >Commerce Committee is going to hold
    >hearings to find out why it took
    >Toyota years to respond to unintended
    >acceleration reports that NHTSA was
    >getting.

    I can see a point in lawyers (ambulance-chasers that many of them are) filing civil suits to compensate people for damages caused by Toyota’s stonewalling on the matter of sticking throttles. I can see a point in people who might otherwise have purchased Corollas or Camrys, buying Ford Focuses and Fusions instead.

    But Henry Waxman and other members of Congress holding hearings? No thank you. Society is better off without H.W.’s moral exhibitionism. Particularly if such hearings are televised, its an open invitation for him and others to perform for the camera. We’re better off leaving it to the marketplace and maybe, the courts or the Federal Trade Commission, to resolve this matter.

  4. Nick Stevens Says:

    What species of a forest creature does Waxman look like? A chipmunk? I should not insult them..

    Waxman is a textbook example of the saying

    “Politics is Hollywood for ugly people”…LOL.

  5. Nick Stevens Says:

    SOme beautiful Stats (except maybe the price?)

    New 5 series, in dimensions and HP is really like the 7 of 10 years ago, or really the 750 V12 of 1988!

    ESTIMATED BASE PRICE (535i): $54,000

    ENGINE TYPE: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection

    Displacement: 182 cu in, 2979cc
    Power (SAE net): 300 bhp @ 5800 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 300 lb-ft @ 1200 rpm

    TRANSMISSIONS: 8-speed automatic with manumatic shifting, 6-speed manual

    DIMENSIONS:
    Wheelbase: 116.9 in Length: 192.9 in
    Width: 73.2 in Height: 57.6 in
    Curb weight (C/D est): 4050 lb

    PERFORMANCE (C/D EST):
    Zero to 60 mph: 5.4 sec
    Standing ¼-mile: 13.9 sec
    Top speed (governor limited): 155 mph

    FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST):
    EPA city/highway driving: 17/26 mpg

  6. Nick Stevens Says:

    BMW has gone Turbo. I wonder if the reliability will not be affected, non-turbo BMW engines (powertrains) rarely have problems, esp. in the 7.

    And who really needs the 550 and its 400 HP when the 535 has.. 5.4 sec 0-60 and 155 top speed?

    in the 80s, even FERRARIS did not have such numbers. Even in the 90s, S classes and 7s did not have such numbers.

    And the difference between the 535 with its excellent 8-speed auto (or 6 sp manual!) at 54k and the 750iL at over $100k is staggering. The two look quite similar, intentionally or not. So the choice for most 5-7 buyers will be obvious

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That new 5 series would be an ideal candidate for the diesel, as would the wagon version if/when it makes it here. It wouldn’t do 0-60 in 5.4 seconds, but it would do 7.5 or so which is plenty good enough.

  8. Nick Stevens Says:

    The new 5 has grown in dimensions and HP so much, even the “base” 3 lt above, that it is like the 7 series 2 gens before, so the $54k looks like a real bargain, given that the 5 looks almost identical to the new 7, which costs over $100,000 with options. I wonder how much a well-optioned 5 would cost… maybe $65k.. which is exactly how much the 740iL went in the mid-90s… but of course the $ today is not what it was in the 90s.

  9. Salvador G. Says:

    JohnMc, I thought VW had already a performance division, we just called it Audi -or whatever Porsche is not using make it a VW. I am going to pass on the starting to look like an Audi on VW’s design though.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Salvador says:

    “I thought VW had already a performance division, we just called it Audi”

    Audi is the “luxury” division, but it uses the “S” designation for its performance cars, kind of like BMW uses “M” and MB uses “AMG”. BMW’s M and MB’s AMG or probably more “serious” performance groups than the one that comes up with the Audi S models.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just went to the Budget car rental website and they announced they will no longer be renting Toyotas until all this mess is fixed, they have a fleet of about 20k Toyotas. When it rains it pours, now all these freaking money grubbing lawyers are coming out of their rat holes> Old Billy was right, kill all the lawyers, kill them tonight.

  12. Don LaCombe Says:

    Nick-
    I also know Liker and yes he is an acedemoc. The name of the book was “Toyota Way” and is actually a very good book. Of course there was input from Toyota, I don’t think Ford, GM or Hyundai could have given him the information he needed for the book.

    Don’t count Toyota out just yet-I am sure they are embarrased as hell but remember they are not run by finance people. They will do whatever it takes to restore confidence in their company.

  13. Max Christensen Says:

    Why should owners of Toyotas get a settlement due to their car having a lower resale value because of the problems Toyota is facing? That’s just not right! You buy the car, you take your chances. If it’s a good, high quality car, the resale should be there. If it’s a POS “recall special” like Toyota is becoming, I guess you lose! You should have bought American in the first place, huh?

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Within a few months, Toyota resale values will probably be close to “normal” anyway.

  15. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    Mr. McElroy,

    Chinese auto statistics ad. nauseum, Toyota can do no wrong in your book, shots at Ford at every opportunity, am I seeing a reoccuring theme here.

    I have a feeling this is getting to be more like Hollywood Insider than real objective automotive news.

    Having been involved in the Automobile Industry for over 35 years in both Domestic and Foreign cars and trucks in both sales and service I do not have a particular allegience to any make or model. I do see a seeming unbalance to your reporting. While this is not an unusual occurence I think you should put your bias upfront.

  16. Nick Stevens Says:

    RALPH:

    You obviously did not see last night’s Autoline after hours, John and peter went MEDIEVAL on Toyota, what are you protesting about, that allegedly John implied that Toyota can do no wrong?

    Peter in particular went berserk on that clown in the NY Times, TOm Friedman, who is a mile wide and an eighth of an inch deep, who claimed that all makers should be bought and replaced by Toyota in a stupid Op-ed piece some time ago.

  17. HtG Says:

    So let’s say the destruction of resale value is 200 dollars. If 2.5 million cars are affected, that means 500 million dollars will be lost by owners. So, 1/3 of 500 million, the lawyers’ percentage, comes out to 167 million. Priceless.

  18. Nick Stevens Says:

    For those sickos that are obviously happy at the ephemeral troubles of Toyota owners, I predict that no serious or lasting drop in the resale value will occur, after Toyota does the RIGHT THING and FIXES the problem, unlike the shameless FORD did with the PINTO (do the beancounting and refuse to do a $50 repair on each car because they estimated that the cost of lawsuits would be LESS then).

    In fact, I predict that ALL resale values for most car models will KEEP INCreasing, not decreasing, as new cars are both more expensive AND more cheaply made than some old models.

    The lexus LS400 1992s in particular have a wide following among those who know, they are as reliable and bulletproof as the old MErcedes Diesels.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    If anything, John has been rooting for the US car companies to get out of their malaise for a long time now, It’s not his fault that they keep making bonehead moves over and over again, letting the bean counters have their way instead of the designers and engineers and cutting back where they shouldn’t have. Now Toyota is doing the same and they’re paying the price. Let’s not forget that many of those cars in question are built here by American workers, so we all stand to lose.

  20. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Old Billy was right, kill all the lawyers, kill them tonight”

    “First, Kill all the Lawyers”! In which play did he say that? The Merchant of Venice?

    I do 2-5 fully reimbursed business trips a year, about half I drove and half I fly, when I fly I always rent a TOYOTA from HERTZ and I have never, ever been disappointed. I have rented Camrys but also sporty low coupes and took them over the roughest of terrains in Colorado and other places. I have probably already mentioned last April and June, I rented a prius from Hertz in the LA area (LAX), the second time the Hertz clerk was pushing me to rent the Nissan Altima Hybrid, which was $7 more than the Prius, and I fell for the POS, and after less than a day, the brand-new Nissan had a HUGE oil leak, and by the time I took it back to the damned Hertz office (they refused roadside assistance) the engine was destroyed. I made them give me a $100 gift certificate for HERTZ cars that is valid until next June, and got my PRIUS, and then proceeded to get ACTUAL 62-69 MPG on a leisurly ride in scenic Palos Verdes, a bit south of LAX.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    Hey I guess all the Cavalier and Corsica owners should also sue GM for their cars being worthless POS after a couple of years, and don’t forget those who bought Sebrings and Avengers, there were so many used ones due to all the rentals that the residual value was near zilch. Do I need to continue?

  22. Nick Stevens Says:

    Plus the idiotic Nissan hybrid felt real cheap inside, and got a mEASLY 32 MPG!!!

  23. Nick Stevens Says:

    The STUPID, STUPID Avenger, what a POS! I was forced to ride in one when my colleague, who should know better, accepted one as rental in CT 2 years ago. What a pathetic design… on the exterior, it looked like a bad copy of a Charger, the interior was HORRIBLE, the cheapest, hardest of plastics, poor ergonomics, what moron designed this POS??? And the styling produced blind spots so he could not even park the stupid little thing easily.

  24. Salvador G. Says:

    Kit- I was jocking, maybe I should had put the smile face – :}

    -Besides, VW tends to run all manufacturers it owns as independent from VW (with exception of Porsche). Other than that, I really don’t think VW needs a performance division, VW now tends to keep away from must major forms of racing, which is why I mention Audi and Porsche; so unless VW finally decides to go F1 racing or atleast LeMans, I don’t see the point -What VW needs is a quality control division. :P

    -Also, kidding aside- someone in my family drives a Toyota Camry SE, maybe I should do something.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yeah, Sal, when you see your family member coming: GET OUT OF THE WAY, just in case!

  26. HtG Says:

    From the Telegraph on the resurfaced Bugatti recently auctioned;

    “Since the Bugatti broke the surface of Lake Maggiore in 2009 it has been making waves in another way – it has emerged that a car in a Japanese collection bears the identical chassis number.”

  27. Alex Kovnat Says:

    >If it’s a POS “recall special” like
    >Toyota is becoming, I guess you lose!
    >You should have bought American in
    >the first place, huh?

    @Max C.:

    Not so fast, man. Until January 2005, every car I owned was American. Then I bought a Toyota Corolla. Why the switch?

    I bought a GM small car, specifically a Pontiac Sunbird, in 1987 because my previous car, a Plymouth Horizon, was a joke that never should have been built in America. Then in 1997 I bought a Saturn because I heard it was a great car. In reality it was a lemon which I got rid of after not even 7 years, because it was nickeling and diming me to death with constant need to replace this or that.

    Finally in January 2005 I bought a Toyota Corolla at a time when indeed, Toyota could do nothing wrong when it came to quality. Now we’re hearing about the sticking throttle problem. If I had to buy a new car now, I’d certainly give consideration to buying a Ford Focus. But based on my previous experience, I would have sleepless nights worrying it might be like my Saturn SL-1.

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    Oh but don’t despair, soon the Sebring/Avenger duo will resurface better than ever after being passionized by Sergio and his merry bunch of passionistas who can take a plasticky toy car like the 500 and make it a passionate work of automotive ingenuity.

  29. Nick Stevens Says:

    Honda to Recall 646,000 Cars
    By REUTERS

    The company said that it was recalling the Fit/Jazz and City automobiles because of a faulty window switch after a child died when fire broke out in a car last year.

    Et Tu, Honda?

    My advice is stick to what you drive, especially if you are happy with it, and keep it for another 15 years or 150,000 miles.

    As for Sergio Macaroni, his latest fraud is the “Alfa Romeo” Mito (the name is from “Milan-Torino”, (Alfa is based in Milano, Fiat in Torino, as you probably know) and, you guessed it, it is an illegitimate child of a Fiat-Alfa love affair, or, worse, a thinly disguised subcompact Fiat PUNTO (one size smaller than the Golf or Corolla), that Fidel MAcaroni will attempt to sell you for twice the price of a Yaris (which is the same size and four times the reliability..LOL)

    Fix It Again, Tony!

  30. Nick Stevens Says:

    Alex:

    Since you replaced your 87 Sunbird with another GM (Saturn), I assumed the Sunbird was not that bad?

    I did buy an 83 Pontiac 2000 (=sunbird later) with the 1.8 84 hp engine (!) and the 5-speed manual, kept it until 94, only 65k miles and it died, but the first 7 years or so there was not much trouble, just that the thing was really unrefined, poor transmission, but good MPG!

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sergio and Fiat remind me of a recent Mythbusters show where they had to take a piece of animal doo doo and turn it into a shiny ball. Well they managed to get it done with a lot of effort, but at the end of the day, it was still just a piece of shit.

  32. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    Nick Stevens,

    The implication that Toyota could do no wrong (Your Words) stems from the reply John gave to my comments in Novemeber when the “FLOORMAT” fiasco started. On November 10th I mentioned that I thought the problem with Toyota was not the floormats but more a throttle or ECU problem. On November 11th in his “You Said It” section Mr. McElroy made the comments that this was driver error and he never had a problem with any Toyota he ever drove.

    The Ford comments are based on Half Stories such as the comments made about Ford going after Toyota with the new rebate programs when in fact Fords program includes Acura Honda Lexus and Scion along with Toyota. General Motors is the only one going after Toyota and Lexus only.

    There are NO Auto Companies that are with out fault in some regard but in this case with Toyota Mr. McElroy’s indignation last night is clearly a case of TOO LITTLE TOO LATE!!

    Go Back to the archives and pull up the November 11th 2009 broadcast and read the comments by John in the YOU SAID IT section.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had an ’84 Sunbird wagon with the Brazilian 1.8 and 5-speed manual. It was reliable for the ~65K miles I had it, but the head cracked at about 90K after I sold it to a friend. Cracked heads were a common problem with that engine.

  34. Max Christensen Says:

    Despite what some think about the Avenger, I have one, and it’s one of the best cars on the road! I’ve got nearly 40,000 COMPLETELY trouble-free miles on it – and when I say “trouble-free”, I mean TROUBLE-FREE! The drivetrain has been superb, I run a consistent 28-31mpg with the V-6, and I’ve not even had one rattle or squeak! Tell me, how can you complain about that???

    At least it’s not suffering the current fate of the supposed “top lineup of cars in the world” Toyota. I’m still driving mine while a friend who bought a new Camry about the same time I bought my Avenger is now scared to drive the damn thing.

    I suspect the rental that Nick keeps harping about was most likely the cheaper SE model, which definitely is cheap. But then, what base model car isn’t cheap???? I’ve rented alot of pretty crappy rental cars too, and they didn’t say Dodge or Avenger on them!

    As to the attractiveness of the Avenger – remeber Nick and everyone else, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If it weren’t, we would all be driving around in the same boring car. Then we wouldn’t have anything to argue about in here, huh?

    And I can’t even begin to count the number of comments (Pedro was the latest) giving Sergio hell for talking about making passionate cars. What the hell is wrong with you people???? I’m not saying that Fiat/Chrysler are going to be passionate cars, but how refreshing is it to finally have a top car exec talking about putting some passion back into the automobile?? Come on guys, give him that much! This is the type of dialogue we need in the automobile industry in this day of “cookie cutter” econoboxes ………. do any of you remember the passion of the cars built in the late 1940′s up through the early 1970′s??? We have lost that, and Sergio is the only car guy on the planet who at least talks about bringing the passion of those days back! I really honestly applaud the man, and any of you who truly have gas and oil in your veins should be doing the same thing………….

  35. Terry Lilly Says:

    So tired of all the individual stories of domestic car lemons. Lemons exist in all car makes, Japanese too. The owners of the imports simply give them a pass when they have to replace an entire engine, etc. in their Toyota and then squawk endlessly about bad interiors in the US cars. Give me a break! Toyota has had a pass from the press for decades. Now that they’re the big dog, they have to take the hits that come with the territory. They are overdue. I hope the press and the lawyers stay on them like they did the domestics!

  36. John V. Says:

    The sample of Autoline Detroit reeks of the same issues I see in so many “debates” – one or more of those know-it-alls is not dealing with facts. Either the east and west coasts are open, partially open, or not open at all to offshore drilling. I hope we don’t have to listen to that banter for the whole show without finding out what the truth, in fact, is.

  37. C-tech Says:

    Well at least the U.S. Toyota techs will be working overtime in the dealership now. Thanks Toyota for the stimulus plan!

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Max,

    It’s good to hear that someone bought an Avenger, and likes it. While, objectively, Avenger and Sebring are probably near the bottom in their class, I completely understand people buying them, just for their non-cookie-cutter styling. Also, what people seem to completely miss out on is that all cars are much better than they were even a few years ago, and worst-in-class now would have been best-in-class not too long ago. Even if Sebring and Avenger are worst-in-class, they drive just fine.

  39. Jeff Mohr Says:

    Sebring-Avengers are not bad – original reviews hammered the convertible, but the sedans are smooth riding decent cars,

  40. Andrew Charles Says:

    Dick the Butcher in Henry VI part 2, Act 4, Scene II. “The first thing we do let’s kill all the lawyers.” Butcher and his companions are staging a revolution. Until the reign of Claudius advocates were forbidden to take fees for arguing a case. If they did they could be prosecuted for extortion. After a scandal brought the payment of exorbitant fees into the limelight Claudius allowed advocates to make a profession arguing cases for a fee, but with strict limits on what they could charge without falling foul of the extortion laws.

  41. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    VW starting a Performance Division is great, as every one of their products have become overpowered and inefficient, as if all VWs customers need to have a Hot Golf, Hot Jetta, etc….

    The Hippies, and Chicks who drive the things really dont need that much power do they?

    VW as a near Luxury brand needs to be focused on relaxed affordable refinement, and comparable MPG to Hyundai. Yeah, its a good idea to shift the somewhat affordable performance product to a performance division. Audi is the performance brand, and VW turned VW into a cheap Audi, as opposed to giving VW a more viable niche.

  42. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    c-tech, Toyota was legally required to stop selling product by NHTSA. None of this was voluntary, and I applaud John Mc Elroy for being one of the only Journalists for pointing this out.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/classifieds/cars/story/1448806.html

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Not all VW products are “overpowered and inefficient” at all. Look at the TDI Golf and Jetta, by far the most efficient non-hybrid cars for their size in the US market. It is certainly true, though, that VW has not taken the US market very seriously for a long time, and they do tend to use their more powerful engines as the only ones they offer here. When gas gets more expensive, I suspect they will re-think using that mediocre, and kind-of-thirsty 2.5 liter 5 as the standard engine in Golf and Jetta, and New Beetle if it is still around.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    H/Smole says:

    “Audi is the performance brand, and VW turned VW into a cheap Audi, as opposed to giving VW a more viable niche”

    Audi is the LUXURY brand for VW. In Europe, they outsell BMW, and yes, BWW and Mercedes actually are their competition. They have performace versions of many of their cars, but that is not what Audi is about.

    I suspect this VW performance divsion will be about cars similar to the R32 of a few years ago, and maybe a faster, really high performance GTi or some sort.

  45. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Kit, but who in this country drives a diesel except for 2 people, lol? We can argue about Diesel all day. I personally think all light duty trucks/van/SUVs, etc.. should be federally mandated to be diesel only.

    That’s not my point, however. This is a gas country, and I hope VW realizes that it will stay this way until what replaces gas will replace gas. VW had this 1 company Diesel agenda to try to force everybody else to use Diesels and it backfired badly.

    My point, VW needs to focus on proper ICE’s for this market if they want to obtain the sales they claim to aspire for by 2018.

  46. C-tech Says:

    Dear HyundaiSmokinWhat? I mentioned that yesterday that Toyota (as any other manufacturer) cannot sell a new car until the safety recall is completed. Please note that an “ICE” can be a Diesel engine as well. VW never had a 1 company Diesel agenda.

  47. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Everybody has diesels in Europe. Hyundai is one of the few brands that have parity with VW in terms of Euro Diesels, and I dont see Hyundai bringing Diesels over here.

    Everytime I ask a Hyundai/KIA rep about a Tucson or Sportage Diesel for America, they give me this funny look on their face, and tell me in a long poltiically drawm out way that’s its never going to happen. (Kind of like Krafciks answer that was a non-answer to John Mc Elroy.)

    It’s also Despite the fact that most Tucsons sold on a global scale are Diesels.

    Diesel in passegner vehicle products is not going to happen here. I find if admirable that you guys have been advocating for this to happen for years, but the powers that be…….

  48. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Tucson is Hyundai’s top selling vehicle on a global basis, despite the fact that it sells just ok in the US. They have the tech, but they dont want to be othered with the costs involved to get it ready for US spec.

    Most companies arent, however VW was. That’s why I think they like Toyota have this 1 company agenda to force everybody else to use their desired powertrain of choice, which has backfired into only their products being the Diesel/Hybrid of choice.

    Becuase of VW in the 70s and early 80s, everybody put diesels in their products. However, once people got to see reality everybody pretty much backed off. Hybrids are in the second stage now where everybody is putting them in vehicles becuase of Toyota.

    Now, It is up to the market to see if Hybrids dont make the 3rd stage and end up becoming a Niche where Toyota has 99% of the market, and the rest have pretty much written off hybrids.

    I think this wont happen, and as a matter of fact if a company like a Hyundai/KIA can take hybrid tech and make it dirt cheap with every model having a Hybrid option. (the path they are taking now) Hybrids will break niche status, and maybe, possbly become as important as Diesels are in Europe.

    Diesels are and GDIs Europes stop gap tech, to whats next. Ours is GDIs and Hybrids.

  49. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Hyundai/KIA has mastered lower weights and simplification of Hybrid systems to get them down to an almost non-existant premium to the orginal MSRP.

    They will lead in Hybrid tech in 36 months. mark my words. Almost everything in their lineup will get a Hybrid.

  50. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Sonata Hybrid, Accent Hybrid, Blue Will Hybrid, Tucson Hybrid, Santa Fe Hybrid.

    Hyundai/KIA will also cost share premiums as well. Cost sharing with KIA in the sense that, you pay a lot more for the Hybrid tech when you buy a KIA Hybrid, but with a Hybrid Hyundai its going to cost you hardly anything.

  51. FrankCanada Says:

    What kind of psycological trauma can lead anyone to love a hyundai? I don’t think cars are for you buddy, maybe think about riding a bus, and help get all those walmart cruisers off the streets. And speaking of walmart, that’s what comes to mind when I sit in a toyota. Live by the cheap, die by the cheap. Syonara Toyada-san. Go back to making looms or whatever.

  52. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Shut up overpriced dry BMW, boy.

  53. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Hey Guys,

    More News about Japanese Jalloppis.

    Honda is recalling 646,000 of it’s Fit/Citty/Jazz Subcompacts Worldwide to fix a defective master switch that causes water to leak into the power window swtich that has been known to cause vehicle fires, one of them responsible for killing a toddler in Great Britain. 140,000 of those Fits are American.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60S27120100129:

  54. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Blaming the death of a toddler; I’d like to know the rest of the story (perhaps toddler left alone in a vehicle); that’s what I call parental neglect, sure the bad switch was contributory but let the whole truth be told.

    And as far as ‘trying to force buyers’, it doesn’t work that way; a company can offer a product but sometimes, if you build it, they won’t come.

  55. Nick Stevens Says:

    Ralph Kercheval,

    My memory does not go that far, last Nov and what John said or did not say, but I will take your word for it. And what he said was nothing important, really.

    At the early stages of the Toyota fiasco everybody thought that this was another silly “60 Minutes” Audi-like scare, but now we were wiser than that and would not fall for the clowns investigative journalists and some people who do not know the first thing about drivign a car such as if the mat is in the way, just push it out of the way or remove it completely!

    When John said he never had a PROBLEM with any Toyota he ever drove, I also believe him completely. I have rented over 10 differen5t models over the last 15 years and also never had a problem with any. These two pieces of data are two out of 10,000,000. They do not prove that Toyotas never fail. All cars fail, but the statistics show that Toyotas fail four times less than other car models. There were things I did not like about some toyotas, such as the very light feel of the steering wheel in a 96-97 Corolla i rented in SC, it was plenty fast but did not feel stable and directionally sharp. That’s why I prefer Hondas, who are just as reliable, again, overall.

    even based on your own quotes and recollection, I do not feel that John McElroy did anythinj wrong in the early days of this fiasco, and in fact most of us shared his view then. When new data became available, John told us the news.

    If you want to pick on somebody as a Toyota Cheerleader, pick on Jeff Liker, the guy on NBR whose interview link I posted. Even he may be right, but he was far more partisan and biased than anybody else I heard (besides Toyota employees!)

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    HyundaiSmoke Says:
    January 29th, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    “Kit, but who in this country drives a diesel except for 2 people, lol?”

    A lot more people would drive diesels, if they were more available. VW sells them, but they don’t send enough of them here. Try to find a Golf TDI in stock at a dealer. You will only find a waiting list. Consumer Reports just tested a Golf TDI, and it got 38 MPG overall and 49 highway in their tests. For comparison, a slower, lighter Elantra got 27/36 in the same tests. The Golf TDI got 27 MPG and the Elantra got 18 in the “city” tests.

    And, oh yeh. These TDI’s drive GREAT. Even the old 90/100hp 1.9 TDI’s “felt good” with their gobs of low end torque, but the new 2 liter, 140 hp is also right in the hunt with the gas competition in 0-60 times.

  57. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit,

    Evcerybody likes the cars they got to a small or large degree, and try to extoll their virtues, because they chose them, after all, and if they chose a lemon, they may think that that reflects badly on their Auto literacy, overall intelligence or street smarts, and the like.

    I will not get into the debate about the avenger in any more depth, but I will just say that I have driven it, and regarding the claim that cars today are so much better thanb 10 or 20 years ago, it may be true on average, but the 1990 Honda Accord coupe 5-speed, that cost $15k new, and which I bought from its first owner in 94 for $6,500 after 68k miles, and kept it until I donated it to charity, fully drivable, and perfect inside still, in 2008, was heads and shoulders above the Avenger, who probably goes for at least $20k after discounts? it is not just the reliability, it is the QUALITY, the far higher quality and beauty of the interior, the Monumental Ergonomics of the Accord, the pleasure in driving in both short and long trips, etc etc.

    Other old cars were better made than even their own successors. As I may have said before, there is a lot of following on the web for the 1992 or so LS400s, they are so bulletbroof reliable and have such low cost of ownership, they compare them to the immortal Mercedes DIESELS.

  58. Nick Stevens Says:

    Andrew: thanks for the comprehensive reply to my Q about the quote.

    PS The same cheap interior I experienced in the Avenger, I found, unfortunately, in other products of the same co. A former student (now a consultant in Houston) came back to see us to recruit new graduates, and rented a dodge Durango. it was ironic because the kid was a really short person. The durango had a huge amount of space above out heads, most of which could not be used, of course, but the plastics inside were of the same unappealing, cheapo hard variety that the avenger had.. Not a vehicle that was fun to be in..

  59. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    You got a point Kit, but I dont think they want to take the risk. Suppose they put out too many diesels, and everybody who wanted one bought one and VW is stuck with a bunch of product they cant move.

  60. Nick Stevens Says:

    “FrankCanada Says:
    January 29th, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    What kind of psychological trauma can lead anyone to love a hyundai?”

    I have wondered about this myself.. well put.

  61. Nick Stevens Says:

    While I am a strong proponent of diesels, from the econ point of view they only make sense if you do a whole lot of HIGHWAY miles. Esp. if you buy used, as you should, regardless of budget, used diesel prices are ridiculously high, so unless you do hundreds of thousands of miles every few years, it does not pay off. If you do a lot of CIty miles, several tens of thou a year, you should really consider either a new PRIUS or a used prior gen prius. You can look at the honda hybrids too (civic or the cheapo insight) bu tthey are not as good.

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick wrote:

    “Other old cars were better made than even their own successors. As I may have said before, there is a lot of following on the web for the 1992 or so LS400s”

    The thing that is appealing to me about the old LS400 is that it is a big, quiet, comfortable car, but without most of the incredible array of gadgets that are mandatory equipment in today’s LS, S-Class, and 7 series.

  63. Nick Stevens Says:

    I don’t mind the gadgets as long as they work and they do not cause more important systems to fail. I like the many readouts monitoring MPG, Temps, ranges etc, and the navigation of course, it is a huge convenience.

    I have driven an LS with more than 100k miles, it was a 91 and I drove it in 96 or 97, did not like its loose feel at all. Inside, it was not that luxurious, later LS, even the LS430, were far more brilliantly appointed inside, true real luxury cars.. but performance and handling was inferior to the germans. Finally LS wised up and now they also offer a “Sports” version. But I must go test drive one, I have not test driven any new vehicle for a while.. too busy, i used to do much more of that.

  64. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Speaking about Hyundai/KIA I do notice they are moving into a lot of Saturn stores. Just in the past 3 monhs Id say 70% of the Saturn Dealers in a 100 mile radius have become Hyundai/KIA, but Especially KIA stores.

  65. Nick Stevens Says:

    makes sense, a good use of the empty stores, and the customers will probably be the same anyway, switching from Saturn to Kia.

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The early LS was definitely “soft” compared to the Germans, but was quiet, comfortable, and very reliable. I remember the “cars as appliances” testers such as Consumer Reports liking it from the get-go, but those interested in chassis dynamics found it wanting.

    I like gadgets, up to a point. My Mini and ’06 Malibu have MPG and outside temp readouts which I like, and the Chevy has “home link” which has trickled down to more cars.

    Something that I don’t like about the current crop of luxury cars, is that the controls are just too complicated. A friend’s current generation S550 comes to mind. Once you learn everything, it is ok, but even though there are buttons and voice commands available as alternatives to the menu thing, there would be a lot simpler, more intuitive ways of doing things.

  67. Nick Stevens Says:

    I like my ext temp readout, today it started at 26 F in the enclosed, unheated garage, but dropped to 12 F after a couple miles outdoors. I wish it also had an interior tem readout, it only has temp settings in the climate control, but what if it does not work properly or takes a while? I want to know the actual inside temp as well.

    I also appreciate messages on the screen about all kinds of things, incl. when the outside temp is within 3 F of 32, which alerts for possible ice on the road.

    The original LS was actually not a very large car, it was definitely less heavy than current E class or 5 series, and had a modest 250 HP, which is less than most 6s have today.

    And the ES300 and 350 were utter frauds, CR correctly pointed out one could buy an identical loaded Camry V6 for $5k less (back then, maybe $8k now). A realtor I know has a recent ES, and its interior is a confused clash of some luxury touches, a little bit of wood here and there, and the rest a sea of plastic.

  68. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Toyota in the last 12 months:

    4.9 million recalls from Jan-09-Dec 09

    5.3 Million Assorted vehicles=Jan 10

    =10.2 Million Vecicles recalled in the last 12 months. Everything and Anything these guys sell in America has been recalled at least once in the last 12 months, even Yaris. Just check the NHTSA website.

    Its obvious these guys have lost it, but I think many of you are way too nice about it.

  69. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    If Hyundai had that many recalls in a 12 month period, I would consider another brand, and when HyundaiSmoke says that that’s saying a lot.

  70. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    You guys say Honda could be a big beneficiary from this. I dont think so, as they have their own recall problems to deal with. Honda doesnt have the depth of Toyota’s Lineup either. KIA, Ford, Chevy on the other hand has a product for every Toyota.

    If anything this will hopefully kill the Scion brand that holds Toyota down. Instead of building 2 mediocre Yarises (Yaris, XD) Toyota could have done one great Yaris without Scion. Toyota could have had a Sports car. Scion should have been and still can be a Tuning Company and nothing more.

    TRD, sounds so… well, 80s.

    R-Spec like Hyundai is doing, or just R from VW, now that sounds more modern.

  71. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    If anybody needed a second small Yaris sized car it was Lexus. Its to attract a younger audience, and to attract some of that Green Audience they have been missing out on.

    Toyota had the right idea in terms of Youth, but they didnt ue it on the 2 brands that needed it=Toyota and Lexus. Lexus could have had an XB and used it to start a Luxury niche product for young professionals the others would have had to counterbalance. That whole Japanese luxury segment couls have been spiced up. Lexus could have taken the lead in courting young professionals, and green junkies who wanted Luxury, but they blew it. To Hyundai’s future gains I guess, but like I said a big opportunity WASTED!!

    Plus, I bet nobody would be cracking those “Lexus is a future Buick” jokes right now either.

  72. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    They listened to the Cry Baby “Enthusiasts” for years about keeping smaller FWD product out of the Lexus line.

    It seems like Infiniti going to take the initiative out of the Japanese Luxury makes to do FWD smaller products for the US.

    I dont think they will become the next Buick. I think they will become the next Cadillac. A brand that makes POS for 40 years, makes kind of good cars for 10 years, and comes out of the blue and blows everybody away with new product that affirms they found their MOJO back.

  73. pedro fernandez Says:

    H/S you’re reacting to the Toyota problem as if all future Toyota buyers are now going to buy a Kia or Hyundai. Relax. pal you’d think you’re going on a date with Megan Fox or Scarlett Johansen. I think this much ado about nothing.

  74. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    True Pedro, Not all of them will. Some of you Toyota guys absolutely hate Hyundai/KIA, and its the Toyota Honda guys who have the biggest problem with Hyundai/KIA always.

    BMW guys have a problem with Hyundai now too. Its been ever since Hyundai Brought out the Genesis and stated that they want to move upmarket, and in the future we want to be seen as a legitimate Luxury brand. Since then, the BMW guys are starting to take over the Hyundai bashing from Toyota/Honda fans.

    Thanks BMW, we’ll just copy you and MINI. but with better reliability affordability, Fuel economy, and Fresher Styling. Hyundai tries to benchmark BMW in every product now on some front. Just like we Exceed Toyota on every front that matters in buying a car, you guys are next. It will take 20 years, but you guys are next BMW.

    Hyundai doesnt want to be number in sales, unlike some other greedy Meglomaniac: Japanese, American, and German Companies who’s names I wont name in interest of fariness.

    We rather have the best cars on Earth and be 3rd or maybe 2nd place in global production, than be #1 for 6 Billion years and make POSs and blame everybody including their mommas for why their quality became so bad.

    My point, everybody will benefit Pedro pretty much.

  75. pedro Fernandez Says:

    H/S I don’t hate H/K. I’ll tell you that in 1986 I went to see an Excel to buy it when they first came out, I thought they were well built and almost bought one, but the sales man tried to talk me out of an automatic, at that time I just walked out, read CR and went to a more expensive Camry, I should have gone for the Corolla, but anyways, I would seriously consider getting a used Elantra or Forte when it’s time to replace trusty, old Corolla.

  76. Kit Gerhart Says:

    H/S said:

    “Thanks BMW, we’ll just copy you and MINI. but with better reliability affordability, Fuel economy, and Fresher Styling.”

    The “non-fresh” styling is significant part of what makes a Mini a Mini. H/K might make a “premium” small car about the size of a Mini, but it will still be in a different market, and is not likely to hurt Mini sales much.

  77. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just read a report from WTAM.com where author claims “Big 3″ to gain from Toyota’s problem” This misinformed idiot hasn’t even realized the Detroit 3 are not even the Big 3 anymore. Any dummy can be a writer, I guess. However the problem should be fixed in a couple of weeks and Toyota will come out ok. Unlike Ford with Pinto and GM with all their screw ups.

  78. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.roadandtrack.com/special_feature/hybrid-reality/page_3_-_reality_page_3

    I read this fantastic test of hybrids, diesels, and an overpriced Ford FIESTA (at $20000, this Aveo-sized POS is almost as expensive as the $24k loaded Prius!

    I found the test on the web and post it above for the benefit of all humanity.

    While others castigate John Mc for covering up for Toyota, the above reminded me of the very soft interview John had with Mullaly, where John gushed how “cheap” Ford’s Aveo was when he heard it STARTS at $13,995. Apparently a decently loaded toy Fiesta is $20k! (some go for $23k).

    And it was really unfair to put the tiny, inefficient Fiesta in the pit with the big dawgs, the TDI and especially the new Prius.

    The Prius got up to 66 MPG in some routes, and I 100% believe the results, since I drove the orevious, less efficient Prius on the same exact routes in the LA area and got up to 62 and 69 mpg!

    COnclusion: At base $22k and $24k with options etc, The prius is a TREMENDOUS bargain, and it is still made in JAPAN and NOT affected by the recall fiasco.

    it beat the TDI even on the 75 MPH cruise control drive, getting 2-3 MPG higher, and by 10s and 20s of MPG everywhere else.

    Enjoy!

  79. Nick Stevens Says:

    Note that the TDI was a loaded one, VW does not sell bare TDIs, and cost a ludicrous, unacceptable $27k.

    Also note that the same PRius in Europe is FAR more expensive, at E 27k or so, or about $40k! But the $7-$9 gas there may still justify it.

    Who needs the stupid $40k + plug-ins in the US when you can have a $22k prius and put gas once a month?!!

  80. Nick Stevens Says:

    After reading the above and other material, I predict that Ford may have problems if it prices its Fiesta and its excellent new Focus way above the Outstanding Honda Fit and the Civic-Corolla respectively. Does anybody know how much the new Focus goes for? I find it ludicrous that the Aveo-sized Fiesta with the juvenile styling should cost $20k and $23k! I wonder how much a similarly loaded Focus would cost.

    What is Ford’s game? Will it start offering Discounts without even a day’s fight, right the first day these new cars are on sale? Not a good idea, but how can one explain the ludicrously high prices?

    Oh, and Ford needs to put an EFFICIENT engine in the fiesta. Seriously.

    If Honda and Toyota do not follow Ford in jacking up their prices, they will KEEP stealing market share from the domestics, UNLESS GM pursues a different track and keeps its small cars affordable!

    Ford runs the risk of its customers switching to not only GMS and Hondas, but also Hyundais and Kias.

  81. Nick Stevens Says:

    Pedro, when you get rid of the corolla, get a Prius. Any prius. NEw or used, this or prior gen. I think you do enough miles to make sense. And do it fast before prices take off.

  82. Nick Stevens Says:

    Are jan sales out tomorrow? Then we’ll see if the below very gloomy predictions by JD Power come true. They predict a seasonally adjusted sales rate of a HORRIBLY LOW 7.9 mill, which is less than half the usual until 2007, which was 16-17 million. With idiotic pricing like Ford Fiestas at $20k, I believe them…

    “After gathering real-time transaction data from 8,900 automotive franchisees across the U.S., J.D. Power and Associates predicts new-vehicle retail sales will have declined for January 2010 compared to one year ago. January’s new-vehicle sales are expected to come in at 500,900 units, which represents a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 7.9 million units. In January of 2009, the SAAR was 8.8 million units.”

  83. Nick Stevens Says:

    Note: the above is only RETAIL, not fleet sales, so I should not have compared it to the 17 million of 2002-2006, which also include fleet sales. TOtal sales are predicted for 2010 by JD Power at 11.5 mill, still a far cry from 17 mill..:

    “According to J.D. Power, total sales for January 2010 are projected at 659,000 units, up nine percent from the same month last year. Carried forward, the global marketing firm is predicting 2010 total vehicles sales at 11.5 million – and these numbers may be even higher as the industry recovers, thereby loosening credit and improving leasing availability. “

  84. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens wrote:

    “I read this fantastic test of hybrids, diesels, and an overpriced Ford FIESTA (at $20000, this Aveo-sized POS is almost as expensive as the $24k loaded Prius!”

    That was a great article, and confirmed, once again, that the Prius is probably the ultimate “automotive appliance” for a whole lot of people. It is efficient, roomy, and an incredible bargain. Are they still losing a lot of money on Priuses, or are they building them that efficiently? I can’t imagine how they sell all that complexity for as cheap as they do.

    The Golf TDI that Consurmer Reports just tested had a sticker of $24,764 with sun roof and heated seats, not a very good buy compared to a Prius, but cheaper than the one R & T had. The Golf is a much “sportier drive” than a Prius, but, for most people, the Prius makes a lot more sense.

    It will be interesting to see how the Fiesta does, but yeh, it looks way overpriced if loaded up, but might be a fun car that is not a terrible value in zero-option form.

  85. Nick Stevens Says:

    The prius is NOT an appliance, as millions of TOyotas and other econoboxes were. it does NOT drive like an appliance, and I can say it because I have driven it. It is a HUGE bargain. On the contrary, Greedy VW makes the TDI available ONLY in a heavily optioned package that starts at $25k and goes up from there.

    And i was wrong, the Pruius beat the TDI by 5-6 miles even on the highway, not 2-3 as I mentioned.

    Those who buy the prius, disregarding the Environmentalist “Poseurs” of Hollywood, buy it because if the AMAZING Technical Achievement it is, with CUTTING EDGE Aerodynamics and the whole hybrid system its driver CAN TAK PRIDE IN as much as any BMW or Merc driver takes pride in their own impressive tech achievements.

    And as for your Q, the prius has been making $ for a while, and proof is that Toyota believes that it can be its BEST SELLING vehicle, EVEN in the US market, in a few years.

    PS the Fiesta is a POS. Let’s see if the Focus is more reasonably priced.

  86. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    January 31st, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    “The prius is NOT an appliance, as millions of TOyotas and other econoboxes were. it does NOT drive like an appliance, and I can say it because I have driven it.”

    The Prius may not be an appliance to some people, but two friends of mine bought them precisely because of how exceptionally good they are as a transportation appliance. Neither of these people are car enthusiasts, but they appreciate the fuel efficiency and hatchback utility. One of them specifically mentioned liking its “driving pretty much like a normal car,” once you get past the controls and displays. I know other people who have bought then for the cool technology, but that doesn’t keep the car from being a transportation appliance to many buyers.

    I’ve driven 2nd generation Priuses, and a Prius may well replace my Malibu Maxx in a few years, because it’s a great transportation appliance that also happens to be “cool” in its own way.

    The Fiesta in not a “POS,” as confirmed by the good reviews it’s getting in Europe where there is a hugely competitive market for that class of cars, but it certainly sounds like it will be way overpriced in North America. After a week or two, maybe there will be $2K rebates.

  87. Kit Gerhart Says:

    VW needs some competition for the Golf/Jetta TDI’s to force them to sell less optioned-up cars. I don’t see any competition forthcoming, though.

  88. Nick Stevens Says:

    If Ford believes that it can sell the Fiesta in the far more competitive US market for as much as it does in Europe, it is in for a very nasty surprise. Most likely, it is planning to start multi-$1000 discounts the very next day the Fiesta goes on sale in the US. And it is as much a POS as the Aveo is. It is not possible that you can get a well-optioned FIT, which is the same size but far more cleverly designed and far more reliable, for many $1000s less than a Fiesta. This is a joke.

    The new Focus looks far better, esp, the 5-door i saw in the Detroit show, is one size larger, and probably gets the same MPG the fiesta does.

    I doubt the Fiesta will fly.

    As for VW, I do not see anybody importing a diesel for a Golf-jetta class car, size and luxury wise. John McElroy claims that the damned regulations in the US cost an extra $4,000 to make the diesels US-legal, he said it this Sunday on Autoline. If this is true, there is little that can be done, and the Prius is the best solution for almost everybody.

  89. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s hard to believe that the diesels would cost $4K more to make, but if they do, they make little sense except for people who REALLY LIKE THEM. Actually, I really like them, but not that much.

    The US is not even close to as compatitive as Europe in the class of cars of the Fiesta. There are no Polos, C4′s, Corsas, or any of the Skodas, etc. not to mention the best of the Japanese companys’ cars in that class. In any case, I can’t see the Fiesta doing very well unless it sells at Fit prices, or less.

  90. pedro fernandez Says:

    I don’t believe Fiesta is a POS but is it enough to move buyers away from established, proven nameplates here? Not at those prices, here we go with the incentives again. Only positive word of mouth will sell those cars here.

  91. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe Ford thinks the Mini is the competition for Fiesta, thus their pricing, but they will quickly learn otherwise.

  92. Nick Stevens Says:

    I totally disagree, the US market is far, far more competitive than the Euro markets, where True POS cars that cost $12k here, go for $15 and $18k there.

    It is no coincidence that NONE of all these Euro makers has succeeded in the mid-price and low-price categories in the US, and those that tried, Renault, peugeot, Alfa, Citroen and a ton of others, ALL had to go broke and leave the US market. The data are UNdeniable. Only VW has remained as a mid-price Euro maker, but it is DWARFED in sales by the Japanese Big 3, and even by the Hyundai Group!

    So Ford may be able to sell that little POS Fiesta for E 15,000 or whatever in the EU, but it will not be able to sell it for the $ equivalent ($20-23k) in the US in any significant numbers. If it wanted the Fiesta to be a niche vehicle, like the Mini or the 500, it should have given it some special feature, a retro look or more power or whatever.

    I have read bad reviews BTW about the Chevy Cruze, it feels cheap inside and esp. under the hood, where GM shoehorned a very poor engine instead of going for excellence…

  93. Nick Stevens Says:

    Ford knows that the Fiesta is not only not a mini, but not even a Fiat 500. Both the Mini and the 500 are retro-styled with strong styling character, and not this generic styling of every tiny cheapo econobox that the Fiesta and the Chevy Spark have.

  94. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    January 31st, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    “I totally disagree, the US market is far, far more competitive than the Euro markets, where True POS cars that cost $12k here, go for $15 and $18k there.”

    I’m just saying that the European market is much more competitive than the US in “B segment cars” such as Fiesta. Only a token group of such cars, mostly Asian, are sold in North America, while there are zillions of different ones in Europe.

  95. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That the Fiesta gets good reviews in Europe with all of its B segment competition says that it is a decent car, not a “POS.” That doesn’t mean anyone will pay $22K for it in the US, though.

  96. Salvador G. Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGJPE0KkB5o

    You guys realize that now that Toyota is out of the picture, there’s really not much competition for the Fiesta and you think Ford will be smart enough to start TV commercials with the Fiesta right now.

  97. pedro fernandez Says:

    Why are you killing off Toyota so easily? this problem WILL be solved over soon and in a year or so, most people won’t even remember. The Fiesta is still months away.

  98. Salvador G. Says:

    I meant for NOW… while some hype still goes on Toyota’s recalls, I know Toyota will bounce from this (they do have a very good PR department) And so what if the Fiesta still months off, Ford needs to excite people; think of it like this… You know how we usually get promos of movies/or video games months in advance, so why not with a car; while everyone looks to return their Toyotas, Ford hits with great promos for the upcoming new cars later this year.

    After all Ford and GM did announce that they’ll be targeting Toyota’s costumers because of this massive recall-(because kicking a man while he’s down is the corporate thing to do). SO why not???

  99. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Both GM and Ford know that unless gas goes up to $4 or higher, there won’t be much interest in small cars. You have read here over and over again how Americans don’t like small cars, these companies are taking a big chance with small cars and that idiotic Volt.

  100. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I dont know Nick. The Fiesta isnt a POS, but it will be a POS if they continue on their plan to build it in Mexico like the Focus.

    American assemble most of the focus I know, but its mainly built in Mexico too.

    I do question the worth of the American and
    Mexican Worker. First year Sonatas built in Montgomery were ok quality, but the quality is a lot better as workers learn and get used to the “Hyundai System.” Nissan Versas are built in Mexico=please dont buy one, thats all I have to say on that subject.

  101. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Canadians have made some bad quality product too, but in the Toyota case its becoming common knowledge, that the Canadians didnt blow it this time, as it was all Toyota’s fault.

  102. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Not really Pedro, as the Aveo is a GM Segment that needs to be filled, the Fiesta is a Ford Segment that they abandoned here. Lordstown, Ohio did build the Colbalt. The quality was poor.

    Yet, they are again entrusted with an even more important C-segment car. How?

  103. Nick Stevens Says:

    Yesterday i read that excellent comparison in Road and Track (see my link here earlier) again, and read the specs of the cars they used. The Fiesta they used was an UPscale, Euro-spec Fiesta, I bet the one they sell here will have a poorer engine with even less MPG than this one got. BTW in some segments the Fiesta got better MPG than the Golf diesel. This is an unfair comparison, though, because the Fiesta is one size smaller and weighed a tiny 2,400 lbs, while the Prius and the VW were just above or below 3,000.

    As for Toyota, it will of course recover, the question is how fast, and what will be the total $ cost from this ridiculous debacle.

    One thing I hate about how most of these cars look, the small FWD ones, is how incredibly front-heavy they are. Maybe the weight of the front end is not as huge as its volume (in front of the front axle), but the way they look (Fiesta too) is like the front end is about to fall off..plus it looks terrible aesthetically.

    Small Overhangs should be an inviolate Auto Design Commandment. Esp. FRONT overhands.

  104. Nick Stevens Says:

    “I’m just saying that the European market is much more competitive than the US in “B segment cars” such as Fiesta.”

    I think you mean the Euros are more experienced in such cars, which of course they are.

    However, my comment was that the Euro Car market is far, far less competitive than the US market. Not only in the sense that various little POS cars fetch prices that would be ludicrously high here, but that the Euro market allows many, many makers that FAILED in the US survive there. That is NOT competition and survival of the fittest, as any healthy business should be.

  105. pedro fernandez Says:

    Either due to US pollution standards or the overwhelming preference of automatics here, small cars seem to lose their “edge” when they’re brought here. They seem to soften the suspension and make them just less exciting to drive, hopefully they won’t do the same with the Fiesta. Example the current EU Focus is a more fun to drive car than the US version.

  106. Nick Stevens Says:

    Honda-Toyota 1-0 in resale values:

    “Data compiled by the NADA Used Car Guide show that in January 2006, the average values of used 2- to 4-year-old Toyota Camrys were $312 less than the average values of similarly aged Honda Accords. And 2- to 4-year-old Toyota Corollas were fetching $293 more than similar Honda Civics.

    But by January 2010, the Toyota models had lost ground, or more ground, to their Honda rivals. The average values of 2- to 4-year-old used Camrys were $881 less than similar Accords. The average values of 2- to 4-year-old Corollas were $1,488 below the values of similar Civics.”

    Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100201/RETAIL04/302019904/1132#ixzz0eHwfjFbV

  107. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Nick, when are you Baby Boomers going to stop making excuses for these guys.

    Ive done some research and Ive come across Rental car agencies saying that Toyotas quality started to decline about 12 years ago, and in the past 5 years its been really bad.

    While its in flip flop reverse for Hyundai. Many Rental Car agencies that are reporting that Hyundais are by far the most reliable of any make sold in America in the last 5 years.

    That means only one thing, THE MEDIA HAS BEEN PROTECTING TOYOTA FOR THIS LAST DECADE AND HAS BEEN HIDING PROBLEMS IN HOPES THAT THEY WOULD GET FIXED.

    Shame on you Journalists!!!

  108. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Obama will make things so much easier for Hyundai too, he talks tough about South Korean trade but he signals that he will waffle on getting tough. It would be very smart for him not to get tough either as GM depends on South Korean Tech.

    Notice how he doesnt even speak of Japanese cars, and he always says ‘those South Korean Cars.” The new powers that be I think are anti-Japanese automakers, leaning towards Pro American and Pro-Korean.

    I think this is just the tip of the Iceberg. The Nissan/Infiniti quality Hoax will be exposed,and Toyota will be treated like “Old GM.” Honda reputation will be somewhat weakened.

  109. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    February 1st, 2010 at 7:31 am

    ““I’m just saying that the European market is much more competitive than the US in “B segment cars” such as Fiesta.”

    I think you mean the Euros are more experienced in such cars, which of course they are”

    It looks like we have different ideas of the meaning of “competitive.” To me, the market is “B segment” cars is not very competitive in the US because only a handful of such cars are even sold here, most of them second-rate, and all of them Asian (until Fiesta shows up.) In Europe, you have such cars from VW/Skoda/Seat, PSA, Renault, Opel/Vauxhall, FIAT, along with, in many cases, better entries from the Asain makers. Also, these companies that have “failed” in the US have far better entries in the “B segment” market than most of what we get here. The Citroen C4 I rented last summer was a much better car than the Yaris we get, and yes, I have driven a Yaris.

    And yes, of course cars are expensive in Europe because of the very high VAT, (sales tax).

  110. Kit Gerhart Says:

    HyundaiSmoke Says:
    January 31st, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    “The Fiesta isnt a POS, but it will be a POS if they continue on their plan to build it in Mexico like the Focus.”

    You can get decent build quality in Mexico or anywhere else, if you run the factory well. Time will tell how they do with the Fiesta.

  111. Nick Stevens Says:

    Insight Hybrid failure

    “Honda Executive Vice President Koichi Kondo doesn’t seem to think that the automaker will hit its worldwide sales goal of 200,000 Insight Hybrids in its first year on the market. Why? “I think we compromised too much on size in pursuing fuel efficiency” for the U.S. market, he said.”

    IS the guy serious? They compromised on QUALITY to make the thing cheaper. it is not fuel efficient, even tho it is lighter than the prius, it gets much worse MPG.

    “In total, Honda sold 130,445 Insights worldwide by the end of last year. The car was first introduced in Japan in February and then in the U.S. in March. Here in the States, the car’s second-largest market, Honda sold just 20,572 units in 2009 – a far cry from the 90,000 it hoped to sell here in the first year”.

    Further, in reference to the long-expected Honda Fit Hybrid, Kondo said:

    ” There are plenty of people who think that the current Fit meets their needs already [when it comes to fuel efficiency]… A hybrid version might seem expensive. Our engineers are really struggling.”

    They are wising up…

  112. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit:

    My definition of a competitive market, in the Darwinian sense, survival of the fittest and demise of the lame, IS the widely accepted definition. The Euro market has all kinds of protection for LOSER Makers such as the French, Fiat and minor ones, so they survive, while over here they all FAILED, with the exception of VW which, in the 80s, 90s and this decade, never did as well as H-T-Nissan and not even better than Hyundai.

  113. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Buying a Prius over an Insight is clearly a case where you “get what you pay for,” and the market sees it very clearly.

  114. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick,

    So it sounds like all European cars except Mercedes, BMW, and maybe VW and some of the Asian transplants are P’s of S. There must be an awful lot of rolling turds running around over there. I don’t believe it. I’ve driven a number of these cars including French cars, and even a Fiat, and they work just fine. Also, I know a number of people, both in the UK and on the continent who have bought various of these “rolling turds,” and these are not stupid people. Not everyone wants to drive the same thing, and I consider Europeans to be very lucky to have all these cars to chose from, rather than about 50 different SUV’s which is the big area of car choice we have here.