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Episode 329 – Chevy Second Choice After Toyota, Mustang Feels Camaro Heat, BMW’s New Ads

February 16th, 2010 at 12:40pm

Runtime 7:40

A recent survey indicates that Chevrolet is the second choice of consumers after Toyota.  Ford is cutting a shift from its Auto Alliance International (AAI) plant in Flatrock, Michigan, where it builds the Mustang and Mazda 6.  BMW is temporarily parking its long-running tagline in favor of something new.  All that and more, plus John comments on America’s energy policy.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Most Toyota buyers say Chevrolet would be their second choice. Chevy comes out with an $8,000 car for China. And then we’ll talk about how to get off OPEC oil.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, February 16, 2010.   And now, the news.

WWJ Newsradio 950 is reporting that Ford is going to cut one of the shifts at its assembly plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, cutting nearly 900 jobs. That plant builds both the Ford Mustang and Mazda6. Ford says it is doing this to bring supply in line with demand. Interestingly, the Mustang has a 107 day supply in the field, compared to 81 days for the Mazda6. The Mustang seems to feeling the heat from the Camaro, which has a 64 day supply. The Mazda6 seems to be in line with its competitors, because the Honda Accord has the same level of supply.

Lots of news for Indian automaker Tata. First off, the company announced that Carl Peter-Forster will become its chief executive. He had been at Opel, but stomped off in a huff when GM reneged on its deal to sell Opel to Magna and Sperbank. The Wall Street Journal reports that Tata will also get $75 million from the Indian army to build 1,000 bullet-proof trucks. Tata’s global sales also jumped 93 percent last month, including a doubling of sales at Jaguar and a tripling at Land Rover.

Few advertising taglines are as well-known as BMW’s.  “The ultimate driving machine” is one of the auto industry’s longest-running slogans, but the Wall Street Journal reports that the company is parking its iconic catchphrase for a while as Americans tighten their belts.  BMW has started a new campaign that focuses on safety, quality and the “joy” owning its products.  In a change of strategy, it uses photos on real owners and their vehicles.  In the past its ads focused on just the cars. The advertising push is the most expensive one ever fielded in the U.S. by a German automaker.

Speaking of automotive ads, Chevrolet seems to be making big headway.  According to The Auto Channel, a recent survey indicates that 80 percent of Americans would consider buying a GM, Ford or Chrysler vehicle.   An overwhelming 48 percent said Chevy would be their top pick after Toyota.  Only 17 percent would choose a Ford and 14 percent a Chrysler.  Still, the Detroit three topped the list, beating Hyundai, Honda and Nissan.  Even though they’re not popular with critics, to me it looks like the Howie Long ads are working for Chevy.

In a nod to the growing popularity of social media websites, Citroen premiered its Geneva concept car on Facebook (subscription required).  Ward’s reports that the DS High Rider is a hybrid coupe with a compact footprint.  It’s just 68 inches long, 72 inches wide and 58 inches high.  It features a diesel engine that powers the front wheels and an electric motor that drives the rear wheels.

According to Reuters, last month in China, GM launched the Chevrolet Sail which starts at $8,300 and runs up to $10,000, the first foreign automaker to dive into the market for inexpensive cars. Ford, Hyundai and VW will likely follow suit. Kind of interesting that while China’s domestic brands are looking to go upscale, its foreign competition wants to get into the low-end of the market.

In other GM news, Bloomberg reports, that CEO Ed Whitacre says the company has cut $10.7 billion in costs.  The money will be used for marketing and to update models.

Car sales were up nearly 13 percent last month in Europe. According to Bloomberg, sales hit 1.09 million units but the growth declined from December due to the phasing out of cash-for-clunker-like programs in some of the countries.

Wouldn’t it be great to tell OPEC to take its oil and shove it? That’s the subject of my editorial this week, and that’s coming up next.

General Motors is calling for more E85 stations being available in the United States. It says it’s spending $100 million a year making nearly half of its vehicles E85-compatible, but not enough motorists are taking advantage of the capability. Today there are about 2,200 stations that sell E85, but GM says there needs to be 12,000 stations. That would make ethanol available within two miles of where all drivers live.

Just last month Ricardo, the engineering firm that develops powertrains, unveiled what it’s calling an EBDI engine, or ethanol-boosted direct-injection engine. It can boost fuel economy by 30 percent, essentially wiping out the drop-off in fuel economy typically comes from using ethanol.

Many people are unaware that ethanol is has an extremely high octane rating, typically over 105, while high-grade gasoline rarely exceeds 93. Engine builders can take advantage of the higher octane to raise the compression ratio, which improves the thermodynamic efficiency of an engine. It also allows them to run higher boost pressures. That’s how Ricardo is making an E85 engine get the same or better fuel economy than a gasoline version with no loss in power.

I think ethanol is a quick ticket to getting off OPEC oil. Let me make the math simple. The United States imports roughly half of all the oil it uses. And about half of that imported oil comes from OPEC countries. The other half comes from good neighbors and allies like Canada, Mexico, and Norway.

So that means roughly 25 percent of all the oil we use comes from OPEC, a cartel dedicated to controlling the price and supply of oil. Interestingly, the Department of Energy says the United States should be able to produce about 25 percent of its transportation fuel from biofuels, including ethanol and biodiesel.

To me, that should be our short-term energy goal, and the first step in a new energy policy for the country. Let’s get off OPEC oil within the decade.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry.  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

75 Comments to “Episode 329 – Chevy Second Choice After Toyota, Mustang Feels Camaro Heat, BMW’s New Ads”

  1. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Citroen premiered its Geneva concept car .. the DS High Rider is a hybrid coupe with a compact footprint. It’s just 68 inches long, 72 inches wide and 58 inches high.”

    NO WAY, John. Even if it is 168 inches long (which is probably what it is) and not… 68 (!!!), it is still a very short vehicle, and it looks NOTHING like the legendary (also named) DS Citroen from the 50s and 60s, which was long, smooth and looked like a frog or an egg.

  2. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS BMW probably is making a HUGE mistake by abandoning its excellent “Ultimate Driving Machine” for the touchy-feely BS new slogan. Mercedes made the same HORRIBLE mistake when it abandoned its “Engineered like no other car in the world” for more BS-like soft ads featuring soccer or non-soccer moms and kids, which was more like a lame-posterior VOLVO commercial.

    Over in Europe, BMW used to have a different slogan, “Freude am fahren”, ie Joy in driving, which is also 100% accurate, for those who have driven any BMW, and mor eunderstated than thhe US “Ultimate” this and that slogan.

  3. HtG Says:

    Please Nick, don’t start pulling John’s tail about Citroens.

  4. Nick Stevens Says:

    Finally, John, WHY pursue the very expensive ethanol? Aren’t you aware of the HUGE changes (increases) in the US natural gas reserves? Why not evaluate the Pickens idea to retrofit all the millions of huge trucks on our highways, with their 100,000s of miles driven every year, with compressed natural gas tanks (they have plenty of room for these)? Some engine modification may be required. Why not investigate the cost of this? The benefits could be ENORMOUS to all!

  5. Nick Stevens Says:

    # HtG Says:
    February 16th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Please Nick, don’t start pulling John’s tail about Citroens.

    WHY? And i said nothing of his mispronouncing of the word, the accent is on the EN, not the… O!

  6. Tony Gray Says:

    OK, lots to say here.

    Agree with Nick that BMW should “park” the Ultimate Driving Machine” at their own peril. That is a completely asinine decision. (Listening to me Munich??) Use your Strength Through Joy or whatever bs line on the advertising but leave the UDM as the slogan. I bet you will see that will be the case.

    My buddy who runs a Ford dealer agrees with me that sales have tailed off on the Mustang with the announcements of the upcoming higher powered engines. Sales will recover somewhat when the 5.0 and hot rodded V6 start arriving in a month or so.

    I’d be interested in the costs associated with the EBDI engine. If manufacturing costs are in line with other DI engines, they may be onto something. Of course, they’d have to have a lot of detune capability if some knucklehead put lower octane gas in the vehicle by mistake, lest we see EBDI pistons littering the highways and byways.

  7. Alex Kovnat Says:

    Kudos John for your stand on ethanol.

    I would like to put forth a suggestion for how we can make full use of our nation’s ethanol production capability: Governments at all levels, federal, state and local, should use E-85 for all their vehicles with Flex-Fuel capability. I am reminded that members of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) were at one time encouraged to always use their seat belts to Set An Example for the public.

    If public interest in ethanol and E-85 can be boosted with a little ballyhoo, here’s an idea: The Army should test our nation’s only gas turbine powered fighting vehicle, the M1 series Abrams main battle tank, with ethanol and ethanol blends to see how well its AGT-1500 gas turbine engine performs, efficiency- and emissions-wise, in comparison with commercial jet fuel, commercial No. 2 Diesel fuel, and military-specification JP-8 fuel.

    If the Abrams tank produces less oxides of nitrogen, fine particulates, et cetera on ethanol than jet, Diesel or JP-8 fuels, maybe some media publicity will promote E-85 sales.

  8. Sean T Says:

    I do agree we should be looking into energy independence (as well as reducing GHG), but I looked at oil import data a couple of months ago and found the following interesting facts:
    We import no crude oil from Iran.
    We import more from Canada than all Persian Gulf countries combined.
    We import much more from Canada than from Saudi Arabia or any other country.
    We import more from Mexico than Venezuela.
    We import more from Nigeria than Iraq.
    We import more from Algeria or Angola (take your pick) than from Russia.
    We import more from the US Virgin Islands than from Brazil, Kuwait, Libya and all other countries (compared individually) not mentioned above.
    We import more from Africa than the Persian Gulf.
    We import more crude from non-OPEC countries than OPEC countries.
    Countries that we import the most from:
    19% Canada (912,263 thousand barrels in 2008)
    12% Saudi Arabia (559,750)
    10% Mexico (476,366)
    9% Venezuela (435,029)
    8% Nigeria (361,659)
    5% Iraq (229,300)
    4% Algeria (200,652)
    4% Angola (187,790)
    4% Russia (170,264)
    2% U.S. Virgin Islands (117,262)
    2% Brazil (94,519)
    2% United Kingdom (86,512)
    2% Ecuador (80,714)
    2% Kuwait (76,986)
    2% Colombia (73,312)
    1% Netherlands (61,533)

    Norway came in at 37,303 so I’m not sure why it got a mention over the US Virgin Islands or the UK. Also, OPEC was 44.4% of our imports in 2007, and 46.1% in 2008. I got these numbers from here (no 2009 data available yet):
    http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_impcus_a2_nus_ep00_im0_mbbl_a.htm

  9. Tony Gray Says:

    Forgot one thing since you mentioned Chevy.

    Need to throw a bone to any Chevy marketing exec who may be reading these comments.

    I went to Daytona for the races this past weekend and as per usual, spent some time at the vehicle displays.

    The kids (they were all in the 20′s I guess…kids to me), did a MAGNIFICENT job discussing the product. They knew more than the stats on some cutsheet…they really knew the vehicles, the competition and how to interact with a tremendous volume and diverse group of customers. Good job.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    Curious thing about this Chevy preference, I think a lot of people don’t trust Ford and I saw a lot of Impalas and Malibu on my recent trip. Not one Taurus and very few Fusions, I really believe if the reliability stays high with Chevy, they will do well. But what to do with Impala? bring it upmarket or leave it as it is. Perhaps RWD ala G8.

  11. LEX Says:

    John,

    It was great to hear you back singing the praises of Bio-fuels and reducing our dependence on OPEC. I believe the whole Bio-Fuel Industry can do two things create jobs (both industrial and agricultural) in the US and reduce our dependence on foreign “unfriendly” petroleum. If Brazil can do it, why can’t we?

    I believe Chevy is turning the corner in quality in the minds of consumers. When will the Chevy Cruze go on sale, and will it be E85 compatible?

  12. Nick Stevens Says:

    Actually, reliability is GM’s weakness, while its new models have excellent styling and performance and design, while most fo ford’s are dated (the Escape is 10 years old, and even the Escape HYBRID gets less MPGH highway than the excellent 32 MPG Chevy Equinox)

  13. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Nick:The use of cng or propane would do our country good,of that there is no doubt.I am not sure if it can be used on diesels though.Cng and propane are cleaner burning,deliver the same amount of power,maybe a tad less.THE single biggest problem with running either of those in cars,(where it would do a world of good)is the extra large fuel tank.Even on pickups they are really really big,to hold the equivalent amount of energy as the gas does,in a smaller package.I’m not sure how that would equate to reducing weight to also improve mileage etc.

  14. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.autonews.com/assets/PDF/CA68610212.PDF

    Hope you can see this without a subscription to Automotive News. The latest inventory numbers (as of Feb 1) are very telling. Honda has a high inventory, (except for the very popular CR-V that has only 39 or so days) so it can take advantage of Toyota’s problems. The Domestics have HUGE inventories of Pickup trucks, they keep making the POS while people do not want them. What gives? Toyota has also a large inventory (80-90 days) but lexus only 29 days!

  15. LEX Says:

    Nick Steven,

    What can GM do to drasically improve reliability? The three shifts it is running on the Equinox can not be a good thing for reliability?

  16. Nick Stevens Says:

    GA branigan: Read my post again, I am 100% AGAINST using CNG in cars, it makes no sense, because of the reasons you gave above. I only suggested that we investigate (not necessarily adopt!!) using CNG on HUGE Trucks, 18 wheelers and larger! Which is the pickens idea. And i said that there is plenty of room in a big truck fro the huge CNG tanks needed, but I do not know the COST of the conversion plus engine modifications if any.

  17. Nick Stevens Says:

    “What can GM do to drasically improve reliability? The three shifts it is running on the Equinox can not be a good thing for reliability?”

    Depends how fast the assembly lines run, and also many other factors. I don’t know if it can be improved overnight. The best thing is to observe the practices of reliable brands, even raid their execs and hire them!

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There are only two E85 stations within 30 miles of where I live in Florida, and both are on military base which I don’t have access to.

    …not that I would be interested anyway. There seems to be a lot of evidence that ethanol made from corn is an unmitigated disaster in multiple ways.

  19. LEX Says:

    Do any of the OEM’s record vehicle reliability on an individual unit of production basis?

    What make Honda’s so reliable? Is it the sharing of components and platforms between products? The choice of suppliers and rigid quality control? Team building within the manufacturing plan? This could be the topics of a Autoline Detroit show.

  20. Nick Stevens Says:

    To improve reliability long-term, as John mcElroy once correctly said about Toyota, you do it at the beginning, at the design stage, years before even the first unit is produced. You design for reliability.

    I remember my god-awful 1975 Dasher (Passat) Wagon (an unbelievably small and lightweight car, half the weight of Today’s passat, at 2,006 lbs for the wagon and below 2,000 for the sedan-hatch!). I bought it only 4 years old and less than 65,000 miles, and everything was designed to last 60k miles! In three years and only 10-15k miles, i put in repairs as much as I paid for the car ($2,000 of the time, or close to $8,000 now!)

  21. Nick Stevens Says:

    I did not buy another german car after that, until 2005. (I bought the expensive passat in 1979 because of the illusion of reliability for VW duie to the unrelated original beetle!)

    My current large german v8 sedan is alleged to be unreliable by Consumer Reports, but compared to my 1990 Honda Accord, plenty of systems (such as the exhaust) never fail, while in the accord I had to replace some part of the exhaust every 2 years. (same driving conditions).

    Given the far larger number of systems and complexity in the large german sedan compared to my Accord, which did not even have a single airbag, let alone ABS, i think the reputation of premium german sedans as not very reliable is undeserved, in my experience. And they last 20 years and still look like NEW.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Design for serviceability is also important for long-term reliability of cars. If you have a design where it is easy to accidentally break a wire running the torque converter clutch when you change an oil filter, it is going to be a problem. When I was at GM a number of years ago, I heard a lot of talk about design for serviceability, but GM didn’t seem very good at it. Maybe other car companies were even worse (or not).

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    GM sped up the assembly of the X cars back in 1980 to meet demand, the result was a nightmare of quality problems, Not component related, but assembly related which to this day has hurt the perception of this company, they need to keep this from happening again. If it does they just need to crawl under a rock and go away for good.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    GM has made a lot of progress since the early 80′s. I have an ’06 Malibu Maxx which has been flawless, so far. It only has 40K miles, and is a sample of one, but still, many, if not most cars have to go to the shop at least once in that period of time.

  25. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    John, Hyundai is developing a small hatch (i0) on the Next Gen Accent Platform called GB (Green Baby) for developing markets to replace Hyundai Santro. It wll be powered by a new 0.8L Turbocharged engine capable of producing 92 HP, more than Hyundai’s current 1.2L engine.

    Ironic as that’s the same power output as First gen Accent, boy have things really changed.

  26. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Kit you take cars to the shop at 40K? That doesnt happen in a Hyundai ill tell you that.

    Anyway, Ive done some research based on recalls, customer feedback etc guess what? Malibus made between 2001 and now are the most reliable car products GM has sold in ages, like in 20 years.

  27. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    GM needs to copy the same processess and production faciliies that make Malibu to every last product it sells. If they do that then they will be a winner.

    Other than that GM reminds of Russian society. This enormous juggernaut that’s just a hunking shell of its former self.

    What’s the point of buying a car from a company that reminds me of Chrysler 30 years ago?

    1. They have CEO reassuring cofidence in commercials, looking a lot like Iacocca did in 1980.

    2. Government bailed them out.

    3. They have a K car, and more K cars coming out.

  28. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Plus, I only consider American for trucks, and that would be Ford, GMC, or Ram.

    The Chevy Trucks just look God Awful.

    I would buy a diesel Ranger with an Edge Grille.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    How do the Chevy trucks look god awful? They look generic, but not ugly like an Aztec. No pickup trucks look very good to me. They are, uh, trucks.

  30. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    By the way Toyota sucks for the same reason listed above.

  31. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Silverado grille Kit, that says it all.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    My comment regarding GM applies to rushing the line and adding more hours to get the product to market, even today this could be disastrous for them if lapses in assembly occur. Remember every defect multiplies because of word of mouth which is more effective than advertising. Back in the 90′s the new Buick plant was state of the art and was producing the best quality GM product at the time, why couldn’t they just copy ALL their plants to be like this one, after all they had the formula right there. Just bad management, folks.

  33. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The Body on it seems off to me as well. It looks more like a die cast model than a real truck they actually sell so people can drive it.

  34. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I want more diesel pickups/CUVs available. If KIA, Chevy, Ford could deliver a diesel Sorrento, Equinox, and Edge for like $20K, I would buy one.

  35. Eric Trytko Says:

    John

    What portion of our importing of oil from Canada comes from tar sands? It’s a very expensive way to get oil and is only economically feasible when oil is north of $50/barrel.

    If the US were cut off it’s use of oll from OPEC that would cause the price of oil to fall to below $40/barrel. I don’t think that the growing markets from China and India would make up that difference for some time.

  36. Dave Tuttle Says:

    John,
    I’ve been harping on this E85 forced induction opportunity for a number of years. I haven’t figured out why the American OEMs didn’t put out at least one turbo/supercharged flex fuel optimized vehicle.. they all have been E10 optimized engine recal’s. I even tried to find the European equivalent website to http://www.fueleconomy.gov to see if there was a flex-fuel optimized Euro forced induction vehicle to compare the E10 vs E85 fuel efficiency.. no luck. So, where can we find objective data on a production vehicle and what do the OEMs tell you as the reason why they don’t already have this type of product in the showrooms (especially Ford with EcoBoost).

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’ve been bitching about too much electronics in new cars and I know I’m right, this Sonata I rented has trunk and filler door releases located on the driver’s door, electrically activated by the push of a button. NO key hole on trunk lid, when this fails, you cannot open the trunk or put gas in your car, so you’re forced to fix it, quickly. Where is the logic in that, whatever happened to manually activated releases?

  38. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Those are on lower Trim Sonatas Pedro. Hyundai keeps the manual stuff on the lowest trims possible. That’s another way prices are artificially lowered.

    Anyway speaking about Sonatas, Hyundai does have a problem. I only live 5 hours away from the Sonata plant and still havent seen 11s at my Local Dealers yet.

    That’s a big problem Hyundai always has and really needs to do work on. They are very bad about introducing brand new product to the dealer quickly. It kills all of the momentum from the advertising.

    This car has been featured in Hyundai Commercials for a month already and its not at the dealers yet.

    I hope they really didnt blow it on the Sonata.

  39. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    They need to mark the 10s down by $5K at least, and just start with 11s ASAP. Who’s going to want a 10 Sonata after they seen the 11 model without some kind of rock bottom clearance discount?

    The 10 is a very nice car, but the 11 is on a different planet.

  40. pedro fernandez Says:

    Not only Hyundai has this problem, a lot of car companies want to get their product out before they have enough to go around, is it so hard to predict what’s gonna do well? Just make enough of them to satisfy the initial rush of buyers so that people wont be disappointed and go for another product. Most people once they make up their mind to buy a vehicle, don’t want to wait around for supply to catch up with demand. For example GM did not have enough Camaros to go around when they first came out, now Ford has both Fiesta and Focus coming and both have had a lot of pre-introduction hoopla. So if they begin trickling in one or two cars every week to dealers, everyone loses. They need to build a couple of months supply and then start selling them, so whoever wants to get one, can get it right away.

  41. dcars Says:

    Hi Sean, interesting numbers stated in your post. I would never promote hurting trade with Canada or Mexico, but reducing petroleum from Venezuela and Iran to zero would be nice.

  42. Tom Martin Says:

    I believe Ford is late in cutting back the extra Mustang shift.

    The 107 day supply of 2010 Mustangs is much too large.

    In about 90 days, Ford will begin manufacturing the 2011 Mustang with a V6 that has more horsepower than the 2009 GT, and a 5.0 GT that is more than 100 hp greater than the current GT. And the MSRP will only slightly rise. (Unfortunately for consumers, but good for Ford, I bet the average sales price will significantly rise.)

    These Mustangs also get 6-speed transmissions and better gas mileage than the 2010 models.

    Ford will need to offer huge discounts to unload the current 2010 inventory.

    But Ford will have no trouble selling the 2011 Mustangs–both the V6 and GT. The extra shift will return as soon as the 2011 manufacturing begins.

    Camaro won the sales competition for the past 8 months — and rightly so. Beginning this summer, the Ford Mustang will regain the sales lead.

  43. Nick Stevens Says:

    “The 107 day supply of 2010 Mustangs is much too large.”

    I wonder what you think about the 335 days of supply for the ugly Ford transit Connect.

    John McElroy is MUM on that, understandably, after he voted that atrocity for Truck of the year!! and not the excellent Equinox that beats it 10 to 1 in sales and gets 32 highway!!!!

    Even worse, both Ford and GM and Chrysler have 100s of days of supply for their Pickup Trucks that they keep producing but who wants to buy them? and 100 days of the F 150 is many TIMES as many vehicles and $ than 100 days of the low-selling Mustang!!!

  44. Nick Stevens Says:

    these 335 or so days of Transit Connects, i bet, contain none of the Transit Connect Taxis we saw earlier, which might be a strong seller!

  45. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# dcars Says:
    February 16th, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Sean, interesting numbers stated in your post. I would never promote hurting trade with Canada or Mexico, but reducing petroleum from Venezuela and Iran to zero would be nice.”

    Sean’s numbers mean ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, sorry to say. Oil is FUNGIBLE, and it does not matter one bit from whom you buy it.

    The former CEO of Brit petroleum put it best on 60 minutes, the world oil markets are like all the oil is in one huge vat and every importer sucks it out with a straw.

  46. Nick Stevens Says:

    Just read an article about more and more Audis having 8-speed transmissions. More other makers also are adopting them. This is HUGE progress vs the 4 and 5 speed autos most cars still have, and, if the gear ratios are as low or lower than the Corvette’s 0.50 6th gear manual, they should get FANTASTIC hwy MPG!

  47. JIm Thykeson Says:

    I remember 50′ Ford business coupes with aceytelene tanks in the trunk where the CNG was stored…this was 50 yrs. ago! E-85, natural gas, hydrogen, bio-fuels are all things we need to do, but the big oil companies don’t want to convert. END OF STORY!

  48. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Exactly Pedro, they have been building Sonatas for months in anticipation of demand. I hear the demand and inquiries for them are phenomenal. I hear dealers in the coastal states (east and West) have been getting them, but they have been slow to reach Southern and Midwestern Dealers.

    I have a few friends that sell Hyundais around here, and they are bomabarded by questions and calls about 11 Sonata everyday.

  49. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Nick,I think you’ll get used to it after awhile. Its not a bad looking van in person, and it sure beats the crap van they have been selling the last 5 years.

    What a true embarassment to the Econoline name that thing is. It looks Horrible, and Ford needs to Kill it ASAP, but they wont. It will die in 4 years, with the next Gen Transit.

  50. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Econoline is an Ancient Platform. Its been running on that VN Platform since 1975, modded of course through the years, but its time to scrap the thing.

    I think the larger than Transit Connect, Transit looks better. It looks like the way a Modern Van should be. The Econoline series just seems ancient.

  51. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I wouldnt drive a van with a platform that’s older than I am. Come on now.

  52. Kim B. Foster Says:

    #26 Reliable Malibus????
    2002 V-6

    Intake manifold gasket $1100 60,000 mi
    Fuel sender unit $400 62,000
    Passlock failure Tow cost+ $500 66,000
    Water pump $350 82,000
    Passlock failure again Tow+ $650 90,000

    It is not the greatest feeling knowing that at any time the Passlock “security” system will fail again and leave you stranded. Don’t look for any sympathy from the dealer or even an upgraded part from GM. They are making way too much money from hapless owners of Malibus (and Impalas)with this problem prone system.
    The Dealer wants $19 for each “platinum tipped” spark plug plus $150 + taxes to change all 6 plugs. Almost $300. The authorities should have him arrested for robbery.

    My 1978 Nova (172,000 mi.) was twice the car that this Malibu is, as was my 1996 Lumina (91,000). I have lost all faith in GM. It hurts. My Dad was a 32 year GM employee who did his best each and every day. Our family has had at least one GM product in the driveway since 1950. This 2002 Malibu will be our last.

  53. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Wow, Kit!!! Damm that’s all I can say abot that.

  54. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Would you Consider a Ford?

  55. Rick Wakefield Says:

    Kim Foster,
    I bypassed the PassKey system a couple of years ago after a tip from a GM mechanic.
    Cost me less than $2.00 at Radio Shack for a Resistor/Diode for my Riviera.
    Speaking of Riviera’s, when is the next generation of riv’s going to come out of the GM design studio’s and off the production line.
    Buick could certainly use it.!!!!!

  56. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    John,

    On that KIA ad. In the same manner that Hyundai advertised Affordable Luxury in the Sonata, KIA was trying to(but didnt quite convey it) convey that their cars are fun, Youthful and Sporty, and they are not just an affordable brand but a sporty youthful brand too.

    Yeah, you guys are right on that, “They were trying to get the superbowl audience thing.” That Commercial had that Half time show feel to it. However,if you didnt understand it, yeah you’re going to get confused. I also think it was intended for those who are interested in buying Hyundai/KIA products.

  57. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Interested as in, they are satisfied customers who already have a Hyundai/KIA product in the driveway.

    Nah, it wasnt a try to get big marketshare commercial.

  58. Brentton Says:

    http://www.alloutoctane.com/oilad.htm

  59. jb Says:

    FYI. you should dedicate a show to this announcement..

    Novozymes has launched what it called the first commercially viable enzymes for production of biofuel from agricultural waste.

    The new Cellic CTec2 enzymes enable the biofuel industry to produce cellulosic ethanol at a price below US$2.00 per gallon for the initial commercial-scale plants that are scheduled to be in operation in 2011. This cost is on par with gasoline and conventional ethanol at the current US market prices.

    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/02/cellicctec2-20100216.html#more

  60. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Pedro, 2011 Hyundai Sonata Outperforms Lexus ES350 and Mercedes C300 in Independent Tests by AMCI, involving braking, Cornering, and active safety handling.

    http://www.autospies.com/news/2011-Hyundai-Sonata-Outperforms-Lexus-ES350-AND-Mercedes-C300-In-Independent-Tests-51955/

  61. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://green.autoblog.com/2010/02/16/report-lutz-says-hybrids-unlikely-to-grab-more-than-10-of-us-m/

    Lutz also said that GM would NEVER EVER make any $ on uits stupid Hybrids.

    WHY oh WHY don’t our automakers, who sell millions of 40-50 MPG diesels in Europe, try to sell DIESELS, NOT the stupid Hybrids, in the US market as well?

    And as if there was even ONE GM hybrid that is even half good.

    A worthless product few consumers want.

    That’s what happens when common sense goes out the window!

  62. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/why-the-chevy-equinox-epa-mileage-numbers-dont-add-up/#more-345614

    I was justifiably impressed with the Equinox’s 32 MPG Highway. It sounded too good to be true, and if something sounds too good to be true, it usually IS! Read a comprehensive list of different tasters, even CR, none of which even comes close.

    I should have known it was as PHONY as the alleged 41 MPG and 39 MPG overall for the Fusion Hybrid, which in REAL tests gets as much as the Camry Hybrid, (CR), and much less: 34 MPG.

    Hell, I would routinely get 35 MPG highway with my 1990 Non-Hybrid Accord, once I got 37, and if you drove it at 55 you’d get 40 MPG ACTUAL.

    And I bet th eAccord handles FAR better than the Fusion. Not to mention the far better interior, monumental ergonomics, gauges that are a pleasure to look at, etc etc.

  63. Kit Gerhart Says:

    GM’s Suburban/Tahoe/Escalade hybrids are (or is it were?) good; they get very good city mileage for what they are. The trouble is, not many people buy Escalades for gas mileage.

    The Malibu/Aura “light hybrids” were a complete joke, and the market responded appropriately. They got only slightly better mileage than a regular four cylinder version of the cars, but didn’t drive as well.

  64. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.autoextremist.com/

    As i expected, our Thursday AAH regular Peter De Lorenzo also blasted BMW for abandoning its “Ultimate..” slogan for this new “Joy” thing.

    Expect to hear more tomorrow evening.

  65. Nick Stevens Says:

    GM’s Suburban/Tahoe/Escalade hybrids are (or is it were?) good; they get very good city mileage for what they are.

    Are these vehicles to be driven in the CITY? NO! This is an abuse of their design and everybody else! These are highway vehicles to take your family AND your BOAT out on a weekend.

    Making them Hybrid was one of the most idiotic Decisions GM ever made.

    They should be DIESEL, like their far superior counterparts the Mercedes GL 320 CDI and the BMW X5 diesel.

    Aside from the Prius (and assuming its problems are fixed), there is no other Hybrid that makes any sense.

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The four cylinder Equinox Consumer Reports tested was an AWD version with EPA ratings of 20/29. The mileage they measured in their tests was typical of what they measure for other similar vehicles relative to the EPA numbers. The Equinox measured 1 mile per gallon better than the EPA number in in CR’s highway test, as did the Honda CRV. CR hasn’t tested the FWD version with the highway rating of 32.

  67. Nick Stevens Says:

    OK, so there is still hope for the FWD Equinox.

    But as far as the Fusion Hybrid, CR got the same 34 MPG it got with the Camry Hybrid which is rated much less from the EPA.. but what do you expect..

  68. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Are these vehicles to be driven in the CITY? NO! This is an abuse of their design and everybody else! These are highway vehicles to take your family AND your BOAT out on a weekend.”

    It doesn’t make sense to drive them in the city, but a lot of people do so, at least where I am. I agree that for their proper use of driving on the highway towing a boat or RV, they should be diesel. I don’t know why they don’t sell them with the diesel they use in pickups, which should be a “bolt in” proposition.

  69. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “But as far as the Fusion Hybrid, CR got the same 34 MPG it got with the Camry Hybrid which is rated much less from the EPA.. but what do you expect..”

    The EPA ratings of Fusion and Camry hybrid are similar.

    Camry Hybrid EPA 40/38
    Fusion hybrid EPA 41/36

  70. Nick Stevens Says:

    That’s strange. Did the EPA update the Camry rating? In fact, the above, if you use the EPA recipe 55% city and 45% hwy, gives average MPG

    Camry H: 39.1
    Fusion H: 38.75

    So the Camry is actually HIGHER! Why doesn’t Toyota refute the silly Fusion bragging ads then?

    But the more important conclusion from the above, if the CR actual average MPG was 34, is that both the Camry Hybrid and the Fusion Hybrid are both way underperforming (by 5 MPG, or, more importantly, 15% or so) vs their EPA averages.

  71. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.htm

    Kit,

    where is your link for the Toyota Camry Hybrid? The Above EPA link for even the 2010 Camry Hybrid rates it what I thought it used to rate it, 33-34 and 34 Overall! Where did you get the 40/38???

    The EPA site also has actual drivers’ average MPGs, the sample for the Fusion is huge, 17 cars, with an average 38.3 MPG, but the Camry Hybrid only has 2 cars in the sample, with an average 38.8 MPG!

    This info ALSO goes to show how bad the EPA ratings are, the 34 for the Camry Hybrid is 15% too low.

  72. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Kit,

    where is your link for the Toyota Camry Hybrid? The Above EPA link for even the 2010 Camry Hybrid rates it what I thought it used to rate it, 33-34 and 34 Overall! Where did you get the 40/38???”

    I got my numbers from consumerreports.com. I suspect the numbers in their chart for the Camry were for the “old” rating system in place when they tested the car. I’ll see what I can find about it. Sorry about the inaccurate post.

    The EPA site does show substantially higher 2010 ratings for the Fusion.

    Fusion hybrid 41/36
    Camry hybrid 33/34

  73. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Camry Hybrid that CR tested was an ’07, so the high EPA ratings I posted earlier would have been using the system in place for ’07 model year.

  74. Nick Stevens Says:

    Therefore, under the SAME EPA rules (2010), the camry is claimed to be 15% worse than the Fusion, while actual drivers rate it higher on the EPA fuel economy site.

  75. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Therefore, under the SAME EPA rules (2010), the camry is claimed to be 15% worse than the Fusion, while actual drivers rate it higher on the EPA fuel economy site.”

    …and Consumer Reports got similar results in their tests, 34 “overall” for both cars. I guess Ford was good at optimizing things for the EPA tests, which didn’t correlate much with real-world driving. For most cars, at least non-hybrids, the EPA numbers are a reasonably good way to compare different cars for fuel economy. That’s definitely not the case with the Camry and Fusion hybrids.