Episode 351 – Geely/Volvo Deal Still On, Lawmakers’ Pricey Leases, 2011 Infiniti M

March 18th, 2010 at 12:18pm

Runtime 9:07

The California Highway Patrol released a report supporting James Sikes’ version of what happened during his infamous runaway Prius incident.  Ford says it’s still wheelin’ and dealin’ with Geely to sell Volvo.  You won’t believe how much money some politicians in Washington are wasting on vehicle leases.  All that and more, plus a look at the brand-new 2011 Infiniti M.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. The California Highway Patrol says it supports that guy Sikes’ story about his runaway Prius. Ford says the deal with Geely to buy Volvo is still on. And you will not believe how much money taxpayers are paying for some politicians in Washington.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, March 18, 2010.   And now, the news.

J.D. Power just came out with its Vehicle Dependability Survey. To me, this is one of the most reliable surveys that cover quality because it looks at cars that have been in the market for three years, and measures 198 different areas of a vehicle. So, based on 2007 models, J.D. Power rates Porsche as the most-reliable brand in the American market. Next up is Lincoln, followed by Buick, then comes Lexus.  Mercury rounds out the top five. Now, let’s drop down to the bottom of the list. And fifth from the bottom is Mini, next worst is Jeep, followed by Volkswagen, the penultimate brand is Suzuki, and the least reliable brand, according to J.D. Power, is Land Rover. We have a link on our website where you can find the entire list. It makes for interesting reading.

Yesterday we reported that Geely’s attempt to buy Volvo from Ford could be delayed but those rumors aren’t true according to Ford CEO, Alan Mulally. According to Bloomberg, he says the talks are still progressing but still wouldn’t give a time frame as to when the deal will be completed. Last year Ford and Geely agreed to sign a deal by the end of this month.

Even though the event seemed kind of suspicious, Reuters reports the California Highway Patrol released a report supporting James Sikes’ version of what happened during his runaway Prius incident. However, Toyota’s investigation found that Mr. Sikes was not applying the brakes forcefully and should have been able to stop his Prius. NHTSA also did an investigation and was unable to replicate his experience and found no evidence to disprove or support his claims.

Nissan announced it will build its electric car, the LEAF, in England. According to the AP, the company will invest $640 million in the plant and start building the EV in 2013. The factory will produce 50,000 LEAVES a year and will also build batteries for its electric cars.

In other Nissan news, the company launched a mini car in China. According to Gasgoo, the car, called the March, is equipped with a 1,200 cc engine and will cost between $11,500 and $16,500. Nissan will produce the car in Thailand starting in April and will export it to other markets including Asia and Europe.

Bloomberg reports that Honda is planning on installing lithium-ion batteries in its Civic within the next two or three years.  The advanced power-pack will show up in Acuras as well.  The company is doing this to better compete with Toyota, the leader in hybrids.

This one comes from Politico.com but we found it on Autoblog.  Whether it’s building a bridge to nowhere or funding maple syrup research, lawmakers in Washington are experts at spending our hard-earned money, and here’s another example.  It seems at least 10 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are paying more than $1,000 a month IN TAXPAYER MONEY to lease vehicles!   Harry Teague, a Democrat from New Mexico, pays $1,300 a month to lease a 2009 Chevy Malibu!  Closer to home, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick is spending $1,230 a month on a Tahoe.  Astonishingly, Missouri Democrat Emanuel Cleaver shells out $2,900 a month to lease a handicap-accessible, grease-powered mobile office.  Fortunately, not all representatives are this wasteful.  Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly spends $450 per month while David Drier, a California Republican, spends $366.

But that ain’t nothin’. Autoblog reports that the monthly lease rate for a Lexus LFA is $298,000 for two years.  That works out to $12.398.44 A MONTH, after which you own nothing.  If you want to keep the car after the lease is up, you can shell out an additional $93,750 to make it yours. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone in Congress.

Coming up next, a look at how Infiniti hopes to get the brand on a lot more buying lists.

Last November Infiniti turned 20.  To help celebrate the occasion it’s launching a brand-new M.  Designers overhauled the sheet metal and redecorated the interior, while engineers updated the hardware and added new technology.  There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s get started.

Two engines are offered on the car.  Both feature Infiniti’s VVEL technology, which varies the intake valve lift to control airflow into the cylinders.

The base powerplant is a 3.7-liter V-6 that’s good for 330 horsepower.  A 5.6-liter V-8 with direct fuel injection is optional, delivering 420 horsepower.  A seven-speed automatic is the only transmission offered.

Comparing rear-wheel-drive models, the power-to-weight ratio for the M37 (3,858 lbs.) is about 11.7 pounds per horsepower and roughly 14.3 pounds per foot-pound of torque.  The M56 (4,028) beats those numbers with a score of 9.6 and 9.7, respectively.  It’s hard to believe, but on our scale that’s supercar territory.

Surprisingly, during our drive the M37 felt quicker than the 56, even if it’s not.  When you nailed the throttle it would drop a few gears and zing to redline, accelerating like a big Nissan Z.  The V-8-powered car on the other hand was slower to downshift.  It kind of floated along on its 417 pound-feet of torque.  Don’t let that fool you, though.  It’s a rocket when you push it.

The new M is not a small car, but it gets unexpectedly good fuel economy.  Gas mileage is up across the board compared to last year’s model.  The M37 stickers at 18 in the city and 26 on the highway, while the M56 delivers 16 around town and 25 on the open road.  As you’d expect, all-wheel drive cuts into those numbers by about one or two miles per gallon.

Inside, designers created a comfortable and flowing interior. It’s refreshingly different with an almost organic feel.

As you’d expect, Infiniti is pushing all kinds of technology with the M.  From its Blind Spot Intervention System that helps drivers avoid collisions, to Eco Pedal that provides feedback through the accelerator to encourage more efficient driving, the car offers a wide array of tech.

Starting price is about $47,000 for an M37, but a loaded all-wheel-drive M56 tops out well-past 60 grand.  The car will be available at dealers this spring, and we’ll have a lot more on the redesigned 2011 Infiniti M in the coming days, so stay tuned.

Join us for Autoline After hours tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern. Our guest will be John Krafcik, the CEO of Hyundai Motor America. However, to accommodate his travel schedule we’re going to prerecord that segment of the show. So get your questions in early to us so that we can ask Krafcik to answer them. But we’ll still be live for the rest of tonight’s show. That’s tonight for Autoline After Hours.

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

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

109 Comments to “Episode 351 – Geely/Volvo Deal Still On, Lawmakers’ Pricey Leases, 2011 Infiniti M”

  1. Nick Stevens Says:

    Excellent show, John, and too much material to comment on.

    Re the “supercar” LExus. In what sense is it better than any Ferrari, that I can buy for less and keep it, compared to just leasing the stupid lexus for 2 years? Who in his or her right mind will lease this silly Lexus?

    Re the JD Power survey, I disagree with you. I’ll takre consumer reports over JD any time, i trust them far more than JD, who is funded by the auytomakers who buy its surveys.

    And some results are laughable. Porsche the most dependable car? Sure, it is more reliable than a Ferrari, but give me a break. Nobody buys a Porsche because they delude themselves that it is.. reliable!

    Other results are predictable, such as Land Rover being perennially dead last. That does not hinder various auto illiterates to buy the POS… usually fashionable females..

    And the mini Nissan for… $16k? WHy would anybody buy that toy, when one can buy the twice-as- big Nissan Versa for $10k? No wonder the Versa was up 100++% in Feb sales!

    (I’d not buy any Nissans myself. I have rented them, even the Altima Hybrid in LAX, with fewe miles, and it had an oil leak that eventually ruined the engine as I was returning it to the rental place (they refused road assistance and asked me to return it). I read them the riot act, and they (Hertz) gave me a $100 gift certif with a one-yr durastion I have not yet used… and when i do, I’ll get a PRIUS, as always!)

  2. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS John, a dependability study after ONLY 3 years of ownership? This is a RELIC from when cars did not last much more than 3 years or 60,000 miles, and people were brainwashed by the dealers into getting a new one every year.

    3 years may be important because it is the end of most leases, but to separate the MEN from the BOYS, JD Power should survey the dependability after TEN and FIFTEEN years, and in the snowbelt at that!!

  3. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS2 the new M56 sure is a HP heaven…but the rest of it is unimpressive, and its grille atrocious. Infiniti seems to not realize that gas prices are skyrocketing again…midgrade is creeping above $3.00 already in SE michigan..

  4. HtG Says:

    Yet another way our fearless leaders aren’t making the best use of our Scrip is how they really use those leased cars. My local congresswoman’s office has a parking lot adjacent, where one can almost always see a Ford sedan just waiting there patiently for its master. Seriously, she’s only in the district on weekends, and only she uses it.(I put a penny on one of the tires, as telltale) But get this, I still love my Congresswoman; she’s helping me with a matter before a federal agency.

  5. Greg Richard Says:

    John wouldn’t the brake pads and shoes show signs of overheating if that California guy was really standing on them? I would think that would be conclusive proof one way or the other.

  6. Andy S Says:

    It would be very interesting to know how many miles are driven on those Porsches in the 1st 3 years of ownership. I suspect many Porsches are fair weather cars. So, what are the dependability rankings when normalized for miles driven? Could Lincoln be the dependability champ?

    As for our elected officials, their spending behavior explains why we have such a huge federal deficit and why many Americans believe our elected officials are corrupt. No 2-year lease on a Chevy should cost be over $1000 (except perhaps a ‘Vette). Follow the money trail. Is the dealer kicking-back bucks to Kwami’s mommy?

  7. HtG Says:

    In re Infiniti boost. When I drove a recent version of the G35 I noticed that the engine mapping would just launch the thing right at tip in. I guess the marketers want you to be impressed with the power even when you’re not flooring it at 85 on I95. Schuldig bin ich.

  8. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Andy S Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 1:07 pm
    It would be very interesting to know how many miles are driven on those Porsches in the 1st 3 years of ownership… ”

    Good point, youmay be right on this one,

    but measuring wear by just the no. of miles can also be misleading,

    I have a 1.5 mile commute each way, walk when I feel like it, but when I drive, it is cold starts in the Snowbelt, far nire damaging to the car than some guy with a Porsche taking it for a 20-mile spin every sunday afternoon in Hollywood Hills.

  9. Nick Stevens Says:

    Vorueber bist du Shuldig, HtG? Nicht ganz verstanden

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The soon-to-be-discontinued Cadillac DTS was the overall “champ” in the J. D. Powers survey. …and Porsche being the most reliable brand overall? No way.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There sure seems to be a lot of disagreement between J. D. Powers and Consumer Reports, except with Land Rover. L. R. very consistantly has worst quality honors wrapped up in all surveys on such things.

  12. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    From 4th last year to 11th this year for Hyundai. Must be either A. New models. or B. A coupe of shifts slipped up and they need to crac the Whip.

  13. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Accent and Elantra dropped from most dependable subcompact and Compact. Genesis dropped from Most Dependable Lare Premium car. I hate to say it, but it could be the Ulsan Plant that’s the problem this year.

  14. Salvador G. Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 12:40 pm
    Excellent show, John, and too much material to comment on.

    Re the “supercar” LExus. In what sense is it better than any Ferrari,

    Nick, Ferrari doesn’t sell that many cars in American to make the list. You should have kept reading down the page- I think the comparisons of cars by segments makes more sense.

    JohnMc, I’m actually surprise with some of this segments by segments- like the Toyota Tundra and Sequoia did better than Ford’s F150 and GMC Yokon/ and the fact that neither Hyundai and Subaru ranked highest in anything and yet are doing so well in sales, althought; I can understand that some of Hyundai’s new cars just came out less than two years ago, but still.

    -
    that’s a AAH Question
    to John Krafcik:
    What does he thinks of J.D.Powers Findings??
    -

    ps: I’m also surprise that the Corvette is no’where near in this list.(I know Chevrolet is, but I mean down the page.)

  15. Willi B Says:

    “Fortunately, not all representatives are this wasteful” … no, just most of them!

    tsk tsk tsk, can’t believe you’re bringing politics to the automotive world … thanks! just 101% related … hopefully not much longer

    they know how to take care of themselves, just gave themselves a nice raise, doubt that will ever change

  16. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    And then KIA!!!! Our KIA dropping from 9th to 20th? WHAT IN THE HELL IS GOING ON?

  17. HtG Says:

    We all have to grow up sometime HyundaiSmoke. Next week, The Truth About Girls.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Something seems to be awry with this whole list, not just with Porsche being at the top, but Scion being near the bottom. All of the Scion products are made-in-Japan models, and have very good results in the CR survey. I would expect these relatively simple cars to be very reliable.

  19. dcars Says:

    Interesting stats, GM needs to improve their Chevrolet numbers if they intend to get new buyers.
    It’s nice to see someone turning to england to build a new car. The once proud British car industry is reduced to branch offices and boutique car brands.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well, John, this JD Power survey must be biased and prepared by old geezers; just look at the top 5 including geriatric Buick, bland Lexus and ugly-ass Lincoln, while the best cars in the market (H/K) are well below that. This may quiet our obsessed smokey contributor a bit, but I doubt it.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    Hey, smoke, don’t feel bad it’s just growing pains. Trying to do much too fast. Yet, POS Toyota and Honda still is ahead of your favorite brands.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    Too much too fast I meant to say.

  23. Brentton Says:

    What I find interesting is that Porsche is number 1, and Volkswagen is 3 to last. They are in a sense in the same extended family, so them on opposite sides of the spectrum, especially VW being at the bottom, really has me curious.

    By the way, Converse are awesome driving shoes! I wear the same mono black ones!

  24. G.A.Branigan Says:

    JP Powers is bullsh!t.

  25. Brentton Says:

    And along with that, I wonder how this factors in to VW’s plans to out sell Toyota in the next few years? With all thats going on with Toyota, and low results from J.D. Power, VW should be taking notes and adapting real quick. I do have to say that they have brilliant advertising though.

  26. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I meant JD Powers is bullsh!t.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s not surprising to see VW near the bottom. Most of their models do poorly in the Consumer Reports surveys too. The New Beetle and Touareg have done very poorly in the surveys, but the Beetle will probably go away soon, and a new Touareg will arrive soon.

    A promising note is that VW’s newer designs, specifically the Golf and Jetta are doing pretty well in the CR surveys.

  28. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Some of you are really enjoying this moment of intense humility for me. LMAO, you guys are unreal.

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Except for Rolls and Bentley, England has historically made crappy cars, so its not surprising that two of the worst are made there, and VW has never been the same since they dropped the original Beetle and went FWD and water cooled, even though they’ve had decades to improve. Same thing for Chrysler.

  30. HtG Says:

    Maybe the low VW ranking can be explained by some of their production coming out of Mexico. Do we get any Continental produced cars? Do Europeans drive cars from here?

  31. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Kit, VW dropped 24 places. They need to go into Armageddon mode, like today.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    Hey Smoke, just so you know, my sister in law is looking for an SUV and she wants the Vera Cruz and I said tho her it was a good choice and I’m going with her this weekend to make sure she gets a good deal, so you see I’m fair and open minded.

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    ps my next car will most likely be a used Elantra at the right price.

  34. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Suzuki Dropped 26 places. I thought our Hyundai/KIA Fiasco was bad, but damm Suzukis and VWs Mega Catastrophic Decline just takes the cake hands down.

    I feel really bad for those guys. They have been trying their dammedest to get that reliability up.

  35. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Thanks Pedro.

  36. Nick Stevens Says:

    Breaking Sad news: Brilliant GM Critic Jerry York dead at only 71, of a brain aneurism or sth.

    Sorry to hear that… With all the outrageous incompetence and stupidity that he had to see at GM, and with all his recommendations ignored, if I was in his place, my brain would explode too…

    Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100318/OEM02/100319902#ixzz0iYTQvpCr

  37. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Salvador G. Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Nick Stevens Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Re the “supercar” LExus. In what sense is it better than any Ferrari,

    Nick, Ferrari doesn’t sell that many cars in American to make the list. You should have kept reading down the page- I think the comparisons of cars by segments makes more sense.”

    Salvador, I think you completely misunderstood my comment. Where did I bother to mention any list re the Lexus supercar??? Read John’s transcript again and maybe you will get it.

  38. Nick Stevens Says:

    # pedro fernandez Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    ps my next car will most likely be a used Elantra at the right price.

    That would be $49.99…

    to get its carcass off the highway and restore traffic.. LOL

    If I was in your place, Pedro, I’d buy me a used prius or at least Yaris-Corolla again. You do enough miles to justify the hybrid.

  39. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# HtG Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Maybe the low VW ranking can be explained by some of their production coming out of Mexico. Do we get any Continental produced cars? Do Europeans drive cars from here?”

    Our computer person bought a made in germany Passat wagon v6 in 2001 or 2 and put well over 100,000 miles on it, and told me the only thing that needed repair was something re the rear differential. He explains its reliability due to the fact it was built in Germany and not mexico.

  40. Nick Stevens Says:

    Suzuki and Mitsu are damne dfools to continue losing billions in the US market. They should go back to the third world markets that like their crappy products. Even when they go, nobody will notice, due to their dismally low sales in the US, and therefore few automakers will profit by catching the lost sales, if any.

  41. Nick Stevens Says:

    There seems to be near-unanimous agreement that the JD Power study is a JOKE, and we gave3 plenty of reasons why. Maybe John, who today told us how much he respected that outfit, will think again in light of the evidence.

  42. HtG Says:

    Nick, a rear diff in a Passat?

    I saw a new Mitsubishi dealership opening nearby. I hope the guy knows something.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    HtG Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    “Nick, a rear diff in a Passat?”

    They sold AWD Passats for a while, including one with a V-8.

  44. Al Says:

    JD Powers survey results, which do not match what Consumer Reports reliability survey shows (CR: “Asian Brands Still Dominate”), just further demonstrates how the Consumer Reports magazine survey results are skewed by the survey respondants. This is because the CR survey is not scientifically controlled like the JD Powers survey. CR survey results are ripe for corruption by a conspriacy! Or, does CR have its own hidden agenda?

  45. Dave Marsh Says:

    HyundaiSmoke Says:
    From 4th last year to 11th this year for Hyundai. Must be either A. New models. or B. A coupe of shifts slipped up and they need to crac the Whip.

    not B – Traditionally, plant assembly failures are logged in the first two months of ownership during the IQS. These are things like shy assemblies or loose components or that bolt dropped into the A-post. After that point, its up to the design and quality of the components and systems, not the plant, to keep the car running. (Paint Job excepted, of course. We’ve all seen terrible de-lamination cases on the road.)

    Cheers.

  46. Nick Stevens Says:

    it may be an AWD Passat. I do remember him mentioning the rear diff.

    PS the guy is from Belgium originally (flemish origin) and has wife and three kids, so the WAgon passat fits their needs perfectly. And if it was available with the diesel, it would be much better, but he has the gas v6 instead. Still, I bet he gets far better MPG than if he bought a 4,600 lb obese “mini”van.

  47. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# HtG Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I saw a new Mitsubishi dealership opening nearby. I hope the guy knows something.”

    A new dealership for any maker today would be very remarkable. Where would that be? and is it solely Mitsu or does he sell other brands too?

  48. Alex Kovnat Says:

    Sorry to hear of the untimely death of Jerry York. :(

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Correction:

    It looks like the US bound VW Golfs are coming from Germany, for now. The Jettas are from Mexico.

  50. HtG Says:

    Nick, I drove by the Mitsu place today in New Rochelle NY. I didn’t see any other brands, and the only other nearby new car dealers start half a mile away(Toyota, Chevy, Nissan, HK, Honda, et al).

    Thanks for the Passat info.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There is a Suzuki-only dealer near where I am in the Florida “space coast” area. It used to be Jeep-Suzuki, but Jeep went to a nearby Chrysler-Dodge dealer. It’s hard to see how they keep going with only Suzuki. It would have been tough enough when they had Jeep.

  52. HtG Says:

    Nick, my very QD investigation suggests the new Mitsu dealership is part of the local Premium Nissan dealer’s chain.

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro fernandez Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    “Except for Rolls and Bentley, England has historically made crappy cars, so its not surprising that two of the worst are made there”

    From what I’ve heard, Rolls and Bentley also made crappy cars, just large, well-appointed, and expensive ones. A successful home builder I know bought a new Rolls in the late 60′s or early 70′s, and it was less reliable than most cheap American cars of the time. I suspect very low volume cars tend to be “underdeveloped” even if they are expensive, and the Rolls would have had extra gadgets that most cars didn’t have, another source of trouble.

    I suspect both Rolls and Bentley are better now under BMW and VW ownership than they were before.

  54. Nick Stevens Says:

    Rolls sure is doing much better under BMW, I read today a comparo btw the Ghost (the new performance Rolls) and the Phantom (bigger, more expensive, but less HP than the 500+ HP Ghost), and both were praised as two of the best sedans in the world.

    Both share significant components and underpinnings with the 7 series. I knew that the ghost was based on the new 7 (with many differences to justify selling for 3 times more!) but the Phantom is also based on a 7-like platform.

    Bentley also is doing well under VW, esp, the coupe Continental GT was low priced (relatively) and sold extremely well at the beginning.

    The big loser in the ueber-luxury wars was Mercedes, whose Maybach Resurrection failed miserably. That’s what happens when you give a $300,000++ car a grille that looks like a Hyundai!

    Mercedes will shut down Mayback and more the S-class even more upscale.

    I’m curious if this will work for them..

  55. Nick Stevens Says:

    Maybach, not Mayback.. even tho in the US they pronounce it… Mayback! (as in J.S. Back!)

  56. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# HtG Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Nick, my very QD investigation suggests the new Mitsu dealership is part of the local Premium Nissan dealer’s chain.”

    That makes more sense. Nissan is douing well despite the low quality of its products, the bargain-basement $10,000 very roomy subcompact Versa is its new sales star.

  57. Nick Stevens Says:

    Al writes: “This is because the CR survey is not scientifically controlled like the JD Powers survey. CR survey results are ripe for corruption by a conspriacy!”

    Really? and how does JD Popwer “scientifically controls” its data? LOL..

    Who would you believe? CR, who refuses to accept one dime in Ads, buys its cars retail disguised, and tests them independently, and gets contributions from 100,000s of independent owners, or JD Power, who defined dependability as lasting… a mere 3 years, and is paid by the auto manufacturers?

    PS “conspiracy and hidden agenda”, huh?

    Maybe John can offer you a free trip to Area 51, complete with nut guide.

  58. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    John, Nissan is bringing Micra/March over to the US too.

    http://www.nitrobahn.com/news/next-generation-nissan-micra/

    It will be priced below Versa.

  59. Jim Says:

    I would bet that if anybody even said the word Mitsubishi that Mitsu NA would give them a free franchise and signage and anything they want plus matbe hookers for the salesman etc.

  60. M Campbell Says:

    >>Al said: “JD Powers survey results, which do not match what Consumer Reports reliability survey shows (CR: “Asian Brands Still Dominate”), just further demonstrates how the Consumer Reports magazine survey results are skewed by the survey respondants…”

    Ding Ding Ding! Winner! Consumer Reports only surveys their subscribers and then extrapolates the results to *all* consumers. That is a fatal error in research design because the demographics of CR subscribers is significantly different than the demographics of the general population.

    Using CR research data to buy a car is the equivalent to making military decisions based on advice from Bagdhad Bob.

  61. Max Christensen Says:

    As I’ve said before, Consumer Reports is such a lowly rag that it doesn’t even deserve a spot in the bottom of a bird cage!

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I find Consumer Reports to provide interesting information, and it is a very good source of general specifications of cars. Also, their information is good for evaluation of cars based on “what is important to you.”

    I don’t buy cars based on their reliability data, or I wouldn’t have bought a used Mini, even though I consider the CR data to have some validity.

    Yes, CR’s data is from subsribers, while JD Powers is presumably from a “random sample” of people. In that case, though, the data comes from THOSE WHO RETURN THE SURVEY, so the results might not be so random after all.

  63. M Campbell Says:

    >>Nick Stevens said: “…and gets contributions from 100,000s of independent owners…”
    That’s precisely the problem. Those thousands of owners are not representative of the general public.

    Since we’re talking about cars, think about everyone you know who owns a car. I would suspect it is as diverse a group as is imaginable since the overwhelming majority of the US population drives a car–not all, but most. Now think of everyone you know who subscribes to CR.

    At a minimum your CR subscriber group likely under-represents minority groups and over-represents households in higher income brackets. It is that sample of the population which CR seeks to use as a basis for their research and I’m sorry that just isn’t a legitimate research design.

    Because CR restricts input to ONLY those who pay them money–and then only the ones who actually return the survey–their statistical conclusions will always require a giant asterik.

  64. Kit Gerhart Says:

    M Campbell Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    “Because CR restricts input to ONLY those who pay them money–and then only the ones who actually return the survey–their statistical conclusions will always require a giant asterik.”

    I agree that the CR data requires an asterisk, but it is still probably the best available source of data on reliability of cars. If someone compiles accurate warranty data on all makes and models of cars, that should be useful for newer cars, but CR goes back 6 or 7 model years from current, so has info on off-warranty cars.

  65. Alex Carazan Says:

    I work in the auto industry and understand the complexities of vehicles, but it is amazing that after 100 years, we still do not have the capability as humans to design and manufacture a vehicle without defects going out the plant. Almost every vehicle we ship brand new is provided to the customer with a defect! Good news is we are getting better.

    An interesting study would be a pareto chart on the ROOT CAUSES of those defects and what the industry can do to make a major dent to fix the issues. It is complex but also simple at the same time!

  66. Alex Carazan Says:

    @ MCampbell….you write…

    “Ding Ding Ding! Winner! Consumer Reports only surveys their subscribers and then extrapolates the results to *all* consumers. That is a fatal error in research design because the demographics of CR subscribers is significantly different than the demographics of the general population.”

    This is a very intersting comment. I understand CR sample size is very large and across much of the USA. Do you have a reference link you can share for a fact based independent study that compares CR demographics compared to real world usage demographics? I would need to see such a study before concluding your opinion is correct. You may be right…but where are the facts? Thanks in advance if you have such data reference. If you do not then your comment is pure speculation or opinion.

  67. pedro fernandez Says:

    The problem with buying a used hybrid is the battery question. Now besides engine, trans and a/c you got a big repair bill when it goes and it will go eventually. So whatever you may save in gas, you’ll have to spend later in battery replacement. ps. if you can’t trust CR or JD who you gonna trust the enthusiast mags? I guess there’s online sites like Edmond’s and Cars.com but that’s it.

  68. Nick Stevens Says:

    Was I prophetic or what?

    A few days ago I predicted that Krafcik could be well snatched from Hyundai by a bigger automaker at a far higher salary.

    (Jim press’s precedent is not alone either)

    Now, Another News alert:

    “Nissan snags Hyundai marketing chief Ewanick
    Lindsay Chappell”

    LOL, Hyundai (baloon) Boy!!!

  69. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Max Christensen Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    As I’ve said before, Consumer Reports is such a lowly rag that it doesn’t even deserve a spot in the bottom of a bird cage!”

    SHows how much credibility you got. And the PROOF of your above sewer of talking thry yoru butt is? NOTHING. You can only make false CHarges, you can prove NOTHING.

    But unlike you and your worthless BS above, I CAN prove what yor MOTIVE for the above heap of slanders is:

    The fact that CR DATA have3 SHOWN what EVERYBUDY in the INDUSTRY, INCLUDING CGHRYSLER ITSELF, has known since the 90s, that MANY of their models are very unreliable, with very few exceptions.

    And I was PERSONALLY involved by supervising TWO teams that worked on a project to lower Chrysler’s WARRANTY COSTS, HIRED by Chrysler via the consultants that Chrysler hired, AT Kearney if I remember well.

    And the most amusing thing is that the final report to Chrysler, who PAID for the study, HEAVILY RELIED ON THE SAME CONSUMER REPORTS DATA that you so pathetically try to challenge!

  70. Nick Stevens Says:

    To finish the above: Max’s MOTIVE in slandering CR data with NO PROOF WHAT SO EVER

    is that CR Data show how unreliable his Avenger is ON AVERAGE (TRY to understand, MAX, once in your life, we are talking AVERAGES and NOT YOUR OWN little car!!!), 100% FROM OWNER SURVEYS, NOT EDITORIALS.

    AND in addition, CR staff has tested these crapmpbiles and found them dismally bad, BUT they are NOT alone in that, CLARKSON at Top GEar declared the Avenger’s twin, the Sebring, as the WORST CAR EVER MADE (The Aztec could beg to differ!).

    Now watch Max try to discredit Top Gear and all the other mags and shows that have tested these auto atrocities and found them sorely lacking!

  71. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# pedro fernandez Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    The problem with buying a used hybrid is the battery question. Now besides engine, trans and a/c you got a big repair bill when it goes and it will go eventually. ”

    The bigger problem would be that the price to buy the prius would be 3-4 times the proce of the elantra (assuming same model year). But you can also get a Yaris of some kind, or a used civic or…. before you see an Elantra, check its record re reliability. it may not have much of a record if it is a recent model.

    “So whatever you may save in gas, you’ll have to spend later in battery replacement.”

    You will not need to replace the battery. Dealers are impressed how extremely reliable the Prius has been, far better than they expected.

    ” ps. if you can’t trust CR or JD who you gonna trust the enthusiast mags? I guess there’s online sites like Edmond’s and Cars.com but that’s it.”

    I don’t trust JD. I will look at CR for reliability and overall evaluation, and to the enthusiast mags for performance, handling etc, but that i can also see by renting or at least test-driving it. Diferent people have different tastes anyway. Car and Driver has all the numbers, and I am a numbers junkie, so that helps summarize a model’s dimensions, performance and efficiency.

  72. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Ewanick was a booster for the separate luxury brand, and probably would have taken Kraficks place one John got tired or got a better offer, etc…. His departure probably is a nail in the coffin for that separate luxury brand idea.

  73. Nick Stevens Says:

    Interesting. Finally a serious post from HS. (assuming what he says is correct).

    Toyota did well with lexus as a separate brand, but Nissan and Honda were ultimately much less successful with Infi and Acura.

    By keeping the Genesis-Equus sedans as Hyundais, it makes the buyer of gthe cheaper models more proud in itas brand, but if they made them a separate division they could probably charge more for the Genesis-Equus models.

    What I’d ask Krafcik is what he thinks of the huge corruption of the Hyundai group CEOS, who either did time or were forced to pay $60 million back to the Govrt..

    But I doubt John will mention it, or that Krafcik will want to answer it.

  74. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    It grows the brand image for the cheaper models too Nick. It makes people say

    “Well Hyundai makes that Accent and that Elantra at the same plant where Genesis is made. Im willing to trust that Accent or Elantra as my $4+ a gallon gas car to keep around for a rainy day.”

    They are developing separate divisions for each segment.

    Compact=Accent, Elantra
    Family Car=Sonata, Azera
    Premium Performance=Genesis, Equus
    CUV/SUV=Tucson, Santa Fe, Veracruz

    Its already set up like that on the Hyundai Website.

  75. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Accent sales the way they are is fantastic.

    The Elantra sells sub par for the C-Segment however, and thats the model that really needs a shot in the arm. The Sonata too compared to the average D-segment car. When Hyundai pushes the sales of those 2 cars up they will really start to have a huge chunk of the marketshare in the US market.

  76. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Yeah, John Krafick killed the idea of a 3rd luxury brand right there. I knew it wasnt going to happen. John is smart, just grow Hyundai. Hell, they’ve showed Chyrsler how to do a Sebring right. They might as well just keep bringing it.

  77. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Elantra Hatch could be like a PT Cruiser, and the Accent could be something under that. Not a K Car, just a cheap MINI like some people already say it is. The Tucson showed Chrysler how to do a Pacifica right, they keep the continue the same excellence in next gen Santa Fe. Veracruz needs to be a Terrain fighter, Azera needs to fight everything from Taurus to GS. Genesis and Equus, Im still not feeling the Grilles. They need a chrome Hexagonal Grille, end of story.

    By the way, Hyundai is a Hybrid and GDI/Turbo company for America. KIA will follow the same track, but with larger displacement engines. I ask people in the company, and they wont even bother entertaining the idea of diesel even in the trucks. Im advocating very hard for them to at least try a Diesel KIA Sportage. A couple of people are listening to the idea, but its not on paper.

  78. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    By the way, I love Smelly Diesels. That’s the only way a Diesel should run.

  79. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro fernandez Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    “The problem with buying a used hybrid is the battery question. Now besides engine, trans and a/c you got a big repair bill when it goes and it will go eventually.”

    Last summer I had a conversation with a hard core GM guy friend from college who said that a 10 year old Prius with a bad battery would have zero value. I hadn’t thought about it before, but he may well be right. If a new battery would cost a few thousand dollars, which may well be the case, the price of a battery would be more than the car is worth. I guess that reinforces Nick’s contention that a Prius might be one of few cars that makes economic sense to buy new.

  80. Kit Gerhart Says:

    H/S says:

    “The Elantra sells sub par for the C-Segment however, and thats the model that really needs a shot in the arm.”

    The Elantra is about the only H/K I might actually consider, because they have a wagon version.

  81. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit: in that case, a 7 to 10 year old Prius would be a big gamble to purchase, since you’d be taking a big chance on the battery dying on you, thus making the car worthless, it would be like buying a car with 200 or 300k miles with an original motor.

  82. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Kit, That Elantra Touring is very humongous. They could get 34-36 MPG out of it if it wasnt so Porky. Oh well, the next one will be more hatch like, Like a Matrix or Astra.

    Its very easy to find the Horsepower output of the Hyundai/KIA 2.0 GDi Turbo. Autoblog did an article a couple of years back on it, they debuted the engine already, but like everything Hyundai it goes off the radar.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2008/05/06/green-genesis-coupe-shows-up-286-hp-turbo-di-engine-nearby/

    IT GETS 35 MPG AS WELL!!!

  83. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    That baby will get dropped in Sonata, and that’s why John Krafcik isnt allowed to say anything about it.

  84. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Speaking about Stinky Diesels. I miss those GM New Look Buses that were made from 1959-1984. Those old Detroit Diesels with Alison Trannies. Those were so Classic. I used to ride on those as a little Kid.

    I hate these transit buses today that are pedestrian yawn factories with their crappy unreliable modern Diesels that sound like Trash Trucks. No wonder why transit Rolls keep Dropping in many parts of the Country. YOU HAVE TO MAKE IT FUN FOR PEOPLE TO RIDE THE BUS!!! THOSE OLD SCHOOL BUSES WERE FUN!!!

    That New Look Bus was the most Reliable Product that EVER and I mean EVER came out of Detroit. From 1890-2011!!!! There are still 50 year buses still rolling. How did we lose that? How did you baby Boomers Squander that?

    TMC (GM) RTS (Rapid Transit Series Buses) and the Flixible Buses, the MCI Buses that used those “Stinky Diesels” proved Detroit could still build technological showcases for the time. A time when they also made rattletraps like Pintos and Vegas too, remember that!!!

    Those Old Peterbilts, those old Macks, those old Autocar class 7-8 Trucks were sweet too. All used old school Detroits and Allison Trannies.

    That was real Detroit tech all squandered for Modern Day Pedestrian Vanilla Crap.

  85. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    ITS THE SOUND TOO!!! THOSE BUSES SOUND SO DAMM SWEET!!!

    Stupid Modern Buses!!! I refuse to use transit until they do something to make these modern buses sound fun.

  86. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    These Modern buses with Modern Detroit Diesel tech, and those God Awful Cummins Engines would be Ranked 90th Place on JD Power Dependability Survey just on principle if they were on the Survey.

    These things are worse than Chinese cars. God Awful, and a lot less comfortable too than old buses. That’s actually an understatement!!!!

    A Certain Journalist we know should get down to the bottom of this.

    TODAY’S BUSES MAKE PEOPLE WANT TO DRIVE!!!!

  87. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    These are $300,000-$1 Million machines our legislators are wasting money hand over foot with with breakdown costs, lost Transit Fares due to Lost interest, etc….

  88. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The Greyhound buses are just as bad too.

  89. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Today’s buses look horrible too.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLPbdK46P_g&feature=related

    Classic Screaming Detroit!!!

    Thanks for Squandering it guys. At least the Canadians are saving and refurbishing these things for modern transit service.

  90. Andrew Charles Says:

    The 3-year study may not show log-term reliability, but with a longer 5- or 10-year study you are showing the reliability results for too many vehicles that can only be bought used. It wouldn’t tell you anything about cars being built now, whereas the 3-year study will include many vehicles still in production.

  91. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit Gerhart wrote:

    “pedro fernandez Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    “The problem with buying a used hybrid is the battery question. Now besides engine, trans and a/c you got a big repair bill when it goes and it will go eventually.”

    Last summer I had a conversation with a hard core GM guy friend from college who said that a 10 year old Prius with a bad battery would have zero value. I hadn’t thought about it before, but he may well be right….”

    You can prove he is not right, since we have had prius hybrids for 10 years now, from the 2001 to the 2010 model year (that’s 11, not 10 years!).

    If your friend was right, these cheapo 1st gen priuses, which were tiny modified Toyota Echoes, would have zero value, but if you go to cars.com and do a search, you will be very surprised.

    In fact, I did this just now,looked for only 2001 year priuses, and got 44 of them:

    The top ones go for …$10,000 (!!!) and the very last ones go for $5,000!

    So tell your friend that he is dead wrong.

    Now THIS reinforces my statement that the Prius is the most attractive (financially) new car a consumer can buy, no matter what resale value-killing deals chrysler or GM or Nissan may give you.

  92. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.cars.com/for-sale/searchresults.action?dlId=&dgId=&AmbMkNm=Toyota&AmbMdNm=Prius&AmbMkId=20088&AmbMdId=21751&searchSource=ADVANCED_SEARCH&rd=100000&zc=48105&uncpo=2&cpo=&stkTyp=U&VType=&mkId=20088&mdId=21751&alMdId=21751&alMkId=20088&prMn=&prMx=&clrId=&yrMn=2000&yrMx=2001&drvTrnId=&mlgMn=&mlgMx=&kw=&kwm=ANY&ldId=&rpp=50&slrTypeId=

    Here is the link for the 2001 Priuses for sale (all 44 of them), many go for $9,000-10,000. After 10 years, this is truly amazing. Most cars lose 50% of their value after THREE, not TEN, years!

    A HUGE value!

  93. Nick Stevens Says:

    One thing that surprised me in the above list is that the cars did not have such a lot of miles on them, the higest ones were 150-170,000 miles. That’s quite modest for a high-mpg hybrid.

  94. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Might those 10 year old Priuses people are trying to sell for $10,000 have newish batteries? I suspect they do. With a dead battery, I suspect they wouldn’t have much value, and that is what my friend was talking about, an off-warranty car with a dead battery.

    I wouldn’t give much for a first generation Prius, even in perfect condition with a new battery, because it isn’t a tenth the car of the 2nd and 3rd generation Prius. It’s hard to believe anyone would actually pay $10K for a 2001 Prius, but maybe they have become a “cult car” or something.

  95. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Actually, those 2001 Prii still have some battery warranty left which may keep the values up. BTW, KBB lists the private sale value of an ’01 Prius in “excellent” condition with 80K miles at $7065.

    Yes, I suspect my friend is wrong about the “no value” thing, but we will know more when the cars start going off the 10 year battery warranty and the price of replacement batteries is better known.

  96. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    Nissan took good chunck of money from the U.S. Tax payer for its Battery powered vehicle. Why not build it here? Why not pay back the money?

    Now That’s pork.

  97. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Kit Gerhart Says:
    March 19th, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Might those 10 year old Priuses people are trying to sell for $10,000 have newish batteries?”

    Good point, but if they do, the owners would brag about it in the vehicle description, so if you look these 44 cars up, and they do not say anything, I’d bet it is the original battery!

    Also, I don’t know about the cost of a replacement battery for a 2001 prius, but prices for batteries have come down quite a bit for the more recent models, and if you buy a new one, the replacement battery, in the unlikely event you will need to replace it, will not be too expensive.

    I wouldn’t give much for a first generation Prius, even in perfect condition with a new battery, because it isn’t a tenth the car of the 2nd and 3rd generation Prius.”

    Not sure what you mean above, but I would also not buy th efirst gen because it is too small and has rather ugly exterior styling, it is really based on the Toyota Echo, the cheapest toyota of the time. I am amazed they could sell it for $20k and after 10 years it still has $10k privat party price.

    ” It’s hard to believe anyone would actually pay $10K for a 2001 Prius, but maybe they have become a “cult car” or something.”

    Not the original, the 2nd gen. It shows how importa nt it is to have a good name in the industry, as well as that some people admire the tech and/or are willing to pay more for being ‘green’

  98. Nick Stevens Says:

    But I think that if one wants a prius, and can get it from a dealer today at list price or better at a discount or a 0% deal etc, it is the best buy, and next time gas exceeds $4 (some grasdes are over $3 already) or $5, there will be the usual panicked fools in Los Angeles that will pay $32k for USED priuses, and there is your $10k PROFIT!

  99. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Andrew Charles Says:
    March 19th, 2010 at 5:03 am

    The 3-year study may not show log-term reliability, but with a longer 5- or 10-year study you are showing the reliability results for too many vehicles that can only be bought used. It wouldn’t tell you anything about cars being built now, whereas the 3-year study will include many vehicles still in production”

    Nothing can tell you exactly what will happen. Even for a current model, there are usually differences between a model of the first year and one of the fourth year of its production, and usually the first year models have bugs that are fixed in later years.

  100. Nick Stevens Says:

    Human Error, Bogus Claims, and Punishment:

    “…Meanwhile in Japan, police of the Chiba prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, recommends that criminal charges are brought against a driver who claimed a brake failure had caused his Toyota Prius to crash into another car in the town of Matsudo. Two people aboard that car were slightly injured in the accident.

    Again, data from the event recorder in the Prius showed that the brakes were working properly, Japanese police said today.”

  101. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/brian-ross-to-explain-video-stunt-after-planned-vacation/#more-349586

    Toyota striked back, asks ABC to RETRACT its fraudulent Prius story by discredited journalist Brian Ross. ABC’s lawyers “looking into it” and Brian Ross is kicked out for a “long ago planned vacation”. Sure. To spend more time with his family, in the middle of this juicy news Story? Some people think Americans must be fools to believe this crap!

  102. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/the-truth-about-jd-powers-2010-vehicle-dependability-survey/

    A very interesting take on the JD Power data and their poor, unscientific derivation! it is admittedly written by a rival syrvey taker (Mike Karesh of “True Delta”, but his methods seem to be more consistent and accurate than Power’s.

    HE also explains away porsches no. 1 as due to most porsches being “weekend cars”

  103. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens says:

    “”I wouldn’t give much for a first generation Prius, even in perfect condition with a new battery, because it isn’t a tenth the car of the 2nd and 3rd generation Prius.”

    “Not sure what you mean above, but I would also not buy th efirst gen because it is too small and has rather ugly exterior styling, it is really based on the Toyota Echo”

    I mainly meant that the 1st gen Prius has less room, less performance, worse fuel economy, and lacks the hatchback versatility of the 2nd and 3rd generation cars. Also, as you say, the 1st gen Prius is ugly, but a lot of people think the newer ones are also ugly. To me, they are not ugly. They are designed for functionality, and when you design a car to hold stuff and people, while having low aero drag, it looks like a Prius.

  104. HtG Says:

    Somebody must know how the Cds and Frontal Areas compare on the Priuses. As for me, the pokeyness of the 1st generation works. Not quite so smug. It’s kind of like that girl in summer camp,….Uh getting off topic here.

  105. Robin Sharrock Says:

    The Nissan March has been around since the early ’80s. It was known as the Micra in other markets and in the UK and Canada the first generation is still a common sight on the roads. Perhaps Nissan’s success with the Micra in the UK market in particular was a factor in them deciding to go with their English plant for the Leaf?
    Automakers can now reward nationwide loyalty with employment opportunities. Maybe that’s why Toyota is keeping a US plant idle at the moment!

  106. dcars Says:

    I have no sympathy for Toyota. They wanted to be “America’s” car company. We all ready had three companies, now thier almost all gone. They didn’t have to build trucks they were very profitable. Trucks were the only vehicles that the real American car companies made money.

  107. Nick Stevens Says:

    “a lot of people think the newer Priuses are also ugly. To me, they are not ugly.”

    I fully agree, and had no problem been seen in them when i rented the last generation in April and June 2009. The new prius looks even better an dsmoother and sportier, gets better MPG, AND has decent head room in the back, which the previous one did not have.

    I also believe in “Form Follows Function” and understand the curves int he Prius, they are necessary and not frivolous, to maximize MPG. The whole thing is tasteful and good looking inside and out.

  108. M Campbell Says:

    Seeing as how it has been a week since this internet conversation occurred, my response today is probably moot…

    >>Alex Carazan said: “You may be right…but where are the facts? Thanks in advance if you have such data reference. If you do not then your comment is pure speculation or opinion.”

    OMG a message board with speculation or opinion! The horror!

    Despite press releases and anecdotes touting the “highly-trained social scientists using state-of-the art techniques” CR refuses to divulge how they make the leap from sampling their subscribers to generalizing to the US population. As a highly-trained social scientist who conducts research, I say the onus is on THEM to validate their methods. This is not a hard process, all peer-reviewed research journals require it of every article considered for publication.

    So why doesn’t CR describe their sample population? CAN they describe their sample population? Do they even know anything about their sample population?

    This is an excerpt from the “How We Survey” section of http://www.consumerreports.org, “Our surveys of our subscribers afford us very large sample sizes and permit extensive and detailed analysis…”

    Sample size is not the holy grail of social surveying, ask any pollster who predicts a national election by surveying only a few hundred people. Matching the demographics of the sample you survey to the population is the KEY. For all of their trouble, the only thing CR resesarch has statistically proven is that their results are applicable to CR subscribers–no more.

    And if you believe that CR subscribers are representative of the entire US populaiton…

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