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Episode 387 – Automakers Fight New Bill, Mahindra Delays Launch, ABS For Motorcycles?

May 7th, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:03

Automakers are up in arms over a proposed safety bill making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives. Indian truckmaker Mahindra has run all of the required emissions and safety tests for its pickups but it hasn’t submitted paperwork to the U.S. government. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety wants to mandate anti-lock brakes on motorcycles. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit about how on-line start-ups like Autoblog and Jalopnik are challenging the enthusiast magazines.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, May 7, 2010. And here’s the top news.

AUTOMAKERS OPPOSE NEW NHTSA RULE (subscription required)
Automakers are up in arms over a proposed safety bill making its way through the US House of Representatives. While they support numerous points in the bill, like mandating crash recorders and a brake over ride system, they are dead-set against a provision that would give the head of NHTSA the legal authority to order a recall based on what they call “imminent hazard.” Right now NHTSA has to hold a public hearing and present its case in court, this bill would let NHTSA’s administrator David Strickland just order a recall on his own. But the Wall Street Journal reports that there is no legal definition for “imminent hazard,” and automaker worry that the administrator might be pressured to order a recall based on politics or public pressure.

CT&T TO BUILD PLANT IN HAWAII
South Korean electric vehicle maker, CT&T, announced it will build an assembly plant in Hawaii. According to the AP, the company will invest around $200 million and will build around 10,000 vehicles a year at the new location. Its vehicles top out at 40 mph and can travel between 30 and 60 miles on a single charge depending on the model. The cars will cost between $8,000 and $20,000. The vehicles are ideal for Hawaiian roads since the speed limit is 25 to 35 mph in a lot of spots and gasoline prices in the state are some of the highest in the U.S.

ANOTHER NANO COMPETITOR
Yesterday we reported that Renault will come out with a small car to compete with the Tata Nano, now Chinese automaker Geely says it will come out with a car that is cheaper than the Nano. According to Top Speed, the company will introduce a hatchback based on the IG concept it showed at the Beijing Motor Show this year. The price is expected to be around $2,700. Geely says that a Nano retails for around $3,800. But wait a minute. That’s the price of a loaded Nano, the base price starts at $2,700. So we’ll have to get more details on this one.

MAHINDRA DELAYS LAUNCH…AGAIN (subscription required)
If you’re waiting to buy a Mahindra pickup in the American market, don’t hold your breath. Ward’s reports that the Indian truckmaker has run all of the required EPA emissions and NHTSA safety tests but it hasn’t submitted paperwork to the feds. Global Vehicles USA headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, has the rights to distribute the vehicles in the American market. It keeps delaying when it is going to launch this truck, and not filing the proper paper work is only going to delay it even more.

ABS FOR MOTORCYCLES?
Surprise, surprise – the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is calling for more regulations. According to the Detroit News, the organization wants the federal government to mandate anti-lock brakes on motorcycles. It cites new studies released last March that indicate that riders of bikes equipped with ABS are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash. It claims the safety technology reduces motorcycle-related deaths by 28 percent.

GX460 REMOVED FROM “DON’T BUY”
In related safety news, Consumer Reports has lifted its “don’t buy” label from the Lexus GX460. You might remember the luxury SUV nearly went sideways in a handling test. To fix the problem, the company is updating the software on the vehicle’s electronic stability control system.

STRONACH LOSES POWER (subscription required)
One of the most successful automotive suppliers in the world is Magna, a company started in a garage in Canada by Frank Stronach, an Austrian tool and die maker who emigrated to the Great White North with only pennies in his pocket. Now he’s one of the richest men in Canada but shareholders think he has too much power in the company. The board of directors of Magna is proposing eliminating special stock in the company that allows Stronach to over rule their decisions. The Wall Street Journal reports that Stronach is going along with the plan after doing some soul searching. You may remember that Stronach also tried to buy Chrysler from Daimler and to buy Opel from General Motors.

The automotive enthusiast magazines used to rule the roost. But now they’re getting clobbered by on-line upstarts. What can they do about it? We’ll get into that right after this.

Magazines like Car And Driver, Road & Track, Motor Trend and Automobile have come under enormous pressure from on-line start-ups like Autoblog and Jalopnik. But the buff books, as they’re often called, don’t seem to know how to react to them. And that is the topic on this week’s Autoline Detroit. Joining me for this show is Csaba Csere, the former editor of Car And Driver, Eddie Alterman, the current editor of the magazine, and John Neff, the editor-in-chief of Autoblog. Here’s a clip from that discussion.

You can watch that entire episode of Autoline Detroit on our website at www.autolinedetroit.tv.

And, while you’re at our website, you will want to check out our newest program, Open Line, where you can participate in the discussion. It’s live, you can access it by phone, and it is a great source of information, answers and entertainment. Check it out Monday night at 8 PM Eastern time.

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

69 Comments to “Episode 387 – Automakers Fight New Bill, Mahindra Delays Launch, ABS For Motorcycles?”

  1. Nick Stevens Says:

    It’s great to see Csaba Czere again. Car and Driver lost bigtime when he was replaced by this other guy Alterman or whatever.

  2. tj Martin Says:

    Magazines such as Car & Driver , Road & Track etc. need to take a lesson from the likes of Rodders Journal , FretBoard Journal as well as Surfers Journal and stop trying to ” Compete ” with the Online magazines head to head : but rather offer that which the Online’s , no matter how good they may be cannot .

    Mainly , in depth articles , instead of 2 1/2 page sound bytes . Timeless rather than time dependent information , and a return to a higher level of writing as was witnessed before the Great Online Onslaught with the likes of LJK Setright Peter Egan etc.
    Also they need to realize at this point they will not be appealing to the under 30 set and in trying to do so are losing the over 30 set that was their loyal readers .
    Everything in culture is cyclical and this Online rampage will have its day and be done . But the Print magazines that will come out the other end intact need to realize , who buys their magazines , what do they want and meet those needs .
    Let the Online crowd do their thing . Compete by being different .

  3. tj Martin Says:

    And for the record , I’ve let every monthly bi monthly and weekly subscription I had lapse because of the increasing lack of content and quality , and the shorter reading time needed for each subsequent issue , that has arisen in the last five years .

    The only subscriptions I maintain are two of the Journals I mentioned with a third ( Overland Journal ) being considered .
    That and the NY Times . I don’t subscribe to any of the online magazines and in fact only look in on five including this one .

  4. Phil in Burlington Says:

    Well said, Tj.

  5. Dave Says:

    ” It cites new studies released last March that indicate that riders of bikes equipped with ABS are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash.”

    Ya the Bikes that have ABS now are BMW, Golswings, etc. which are for used by older more exp. riders. A 18 year old on a ZX14 or a GSXR get hurt or killed by how quick and fast the bike not the brakes

  6. captguybob Says:

    as a dirt bike rider. put helmets on all riders and get government out of more regulations.
    the only members of congress that should have access to vote should be anyone who has ridden enduros
    (sorry- barney frank)

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    RE: cycle safety, Fl removed the mandatory helmet law about 4 yrs ago and the death rate has skyrocketed, and Dave is 100% correct. The crazy Ninja drivers are the ones causing the majority of crashes by the careless way the ride. Re: car mags, they’re gonna go the way of the newspaper, who wants to read today’s car news in July’s issues and the test reviews are old by the time they get published.

  8. Nick Stevens Says:

    Well, if they only kill themselves and no innocents, (as I guess), then why not, let Darwin and Natural Selection take its toll.. towards a far more intelligent and reasoned population!

  9. Nick Stevens Says:

    I still read most car mags, but I don’t pay a dime for it, since my public library buys them all, and even if it did not, I could just go to BArnes and Noble next to the Whole Foods and read away. I also collect them in the free magazine exchange also at our Public Library. I only paisd for C&D a nd R&T once, and that was $5 or $10 a year.

    I can read parts of them in their Websites too, but they are better organized in the print versions (such as a detailed Car and Driver road test with all the numbers you ever wanted to know)

  10. B. Berman. Says:

    About the new legislation for the NHTSA, I hope the bill fails. Why, I don’t like the idea of a mandatory recorder on board. At least not untill it is decided that the owner of the vehicle owns the information in the recorder. Also, I can see law enforcement, insurance comapanies and Attorneys abusing and using the information for their own benefit. It is just one more step towards Big Brother. Just because the technology exists, that is no reason to use it.

  11. HtG Says:

    If ABS were able to save riders lives, where would all the organ donors come from? It couldn’t be more morbid, but among doctors, mopeds and motorcycles are called ‘organdonormobiles.’ One young person was recently the source of Steve Jobs’ live saving surgery. And Jobs brought us the iPad which may become a new outlet for old media which just goes to show it’s all connected. And yes, I feel sick being flip about people getting creamed on their bikes.

  12. Nick Stevens Says:

    “If ABS were able to save riders lives, where would all the organ donors come from?”

    I hear there is a flourishing organ trade from India, and the organs are sometimes harvested under far more unethical conditions than when a biker without helmet breaks his head open…

    (one more proof that India is really not even close to China…in every way)

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    I think the Mahindra is going the way of that Romanian-built military Jeep that was going to be imported here in 2004 and even passed EPA and safety tests but was so crude and inferior to what we’re used to. that the importer decided to can it.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    So nick, does this mean that soon you’ll be able to buy a liver along with a slurpee and lotto ticket at you local 7/11 store?

  15. Nick Stevens Says:

    Pedro:

    I was never a drunk, so I don’t expect to need a liver any time soon. From family history, however, our kidneys seem to go around age 95, and they can be harvested without killing the victim, hell, a spouse or cousin can give you one..

    As for the 7-11s, I only visit them to ask for directions or use their restrooms when on travel, and the last time in NJ they did not even have that.

    PS Lotto tickets are a “stupidity tax” as a (now dead) professsor and billionaire once said. And given i teach that stuff, I’d never ever bet on any casino or lottery game, when the odds are against me. Even stock markets don’t look that good lately…

  16. HtG Says:

    That’s twice in the last 24 that you made me laugh Nick. I think time off is good for you.

    As for China and organs, it’s a shame on humanity if the accounts are to be believed that Falun Gong supporters were murdered by the state to harvest their organs for mercenary ends.

  17. Nick Stevens Says:

    That retro-50s small truck the Mahindra, even if it finally makes it here, will be no $2,500 Bargain Tata Nano. They plan to sell it for a ridiculously high $20,000 or so. You can get a Tacoma base model with that kind of $, can’t you? The mahindra’s only redeeming virtue is its higher MPG (assumed) since it’s a diesel.

  18. HtG Says:

    Lottery tickets make sense as entertainment only. Pay a buck extra with your eggs, dream a little about who you’d flip off.

  19. Nick Stevens Says:

    # HtG Says:
    May 7th, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    That’s twice in the last 24 that you made me laugh Nick. I think time off is good for you.

    “As for China and organs, it’s a shame on humanity if the accounts are to be believed that Falun Gong supporters were murdered by the state to harvest their organs for mercenary ends.”

    I forgot about that one. There was a business harvesting the organs of death row inmates in China, and this may well have happened. If these were regular guilty murderers that would be executed anyway, I would no tmind that much, but if they were political prisoners or Falun Gong members, it’s a different story.

    Indian organ crimes are less of a state-run enterprise, there are people at the train stations preying on clueless newcomers from the countryside, also family members that sell the organs of other family members.

    I really would not want to live in India, and so say… most Indians as well!

  20. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# HtG Says:
    May 7th, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    Lottery tickets make sense as entertainment only. Pay a buck extra with your eggs, dream a little about who you’d flip off.”

    If you are disciplined in your betting and do not buy $100 or $1,000 worth of tickets, but just one $1 ticket, you can justify it, you skip dessert for lunch and buy a ticket, so if you lose (and you’ll lose with 90%++ probability), who cares. You will benefit health-wise too, since you will not have that dessert. But many gamblers are addicts and lose their homes.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    Nick I never meant to imply you were a drunk, I was simply using liver as an example of organs that get donated, by the way, a lot of people have developed hep-C which in many cases destroys your liver, good thing it is an organ that reproduces even it they cut off a piece.

  22. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    As an avid reader of Road and Track for many many years, I will continue to subscribe if only for the artilces by Peter Egan, In my opinion the best thing to come along since Satch Carlson.

    I enjoy Autoblog.com but I find the childish use of foul language on Jalopnik.com more than I care to see. There is no reason to use Rude and Crude verbage just for the SHOCK VALUE!

    Learn to write a proper sentence and try to find the meat of a story with out all the #@%&*(#@.

  23. Nick Stevens Says:

    pedro: No offense taken, I appreciated the 7-11 joke too, in fact, I do have a first cousin who has been a drunk (not sure if he still is), 4 yrs older than me, I called him last Sunday to offer condolences, his mother passed away at 87, a sister of my mother.

    As far as automags, I valued Czaba Czere above all in intelligent discussions of all models and whenever i test drove one, I had the same impressions that he had. He has been one of the few (including recently Obama!) who received honorary PhDs from my U who really deserved it!

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I read most of the car mags from time to time at the library and news stands, but I still subscribe to AutoWeek. For me, it has the right amount of info about many aspects of autodom including racing, shows, collector cars, and newly released and soon-to-arrive cars. AW doesn’t have the in-depth road tests of C/D, but I really like it for what it offers.

  25. Nick Stevens Says:

    I had the borther of my best friend’s wife back in 96, he caught melanoma from exposure to strong sun at midday, he did not discover it early, and it metastasized to his liver, the poor guy died in 6 months at 47 and by that time most of his organs were completely destroyed, he could not even donate them. In contrast, the same year in october, his oldest brother died at 61 or so of a heart attack, and was able to donate most of his organs. Both parents of these sons were alive then, their father actually lived to 101 (!!) and their mother to 89 or so.

  26. Nick Stevens Says:

    Autoweek used to have interesting an detailed owner surveys for each model (one a week) that took several pages and had data not found in C&D or the other mags, but recently (and I subscribed to it for a year last year, using frequent flier miles in a low-mile account) they dropped it and have become much less interesting to read.

  27. Nick Stevens Says:

    I also use my U’s subscription to Automotive News which has a ton of industry data, detailed sales and inventory numbers etc. i used to have to go to the library and waste time and gas to look it up a week late, but now I use an ID and password on the web and access it right away as news is made. I just printed out the detailed sales data by make and model for April and YTD in the US.

    if I subscribed to it myself I’d pay $99 to $159 a year. much more expensive than C&D that is usually $5-$10 in offers.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    ABS on motorcycles is very useful, maybe more so than on cars. It is a $500 option on two bikes I have, a Suzuki V-Strom 650 and Honda Silver Wing “megascooter.” Neither of my bikes has ABS because I bought one before they offered ABS, and I got the other used. If I were buying either of these machines new, I’d get ABS.

    As far as making it mandatory, except on small, cheap moped-type scooters, why not? Of course, I also think helmets should be required, but non of my Harley riding friends think so.

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    ” It cites new studies released last March that indicate that riders of bikes equipped with ABS are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash.”

    Was the study comparing the same bikes with and without ABS? I suspect it was. If it was comparing ABS-equipped bikes with all motorcycles, I’d expect the ABS bikes to be involved in 500% fewer fatal crashes rather than the 37% mentioned, given that bikes sold with ABS are typically ridden by older riders, rather than helmetless 20 year olds doing wheelies while going 90 miles an hour.

  30. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Automotive Magazines=more paper in a world of shrinking resources. I say go online or bye.

    Its the 21st Century, pretty much most things on paper are absolutely ridiculous, politically incorrect, and tacky.

    I wonder if the stone tablet writers had this debate when people started to write on Papyrus and Bamboo Tablets.

  31. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    There’s no excuse for even a welfare recipient not to have a comp anymore, as you can find $50 Computers at thrift stores these days.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    Smoke: do you believe Accent can take on Fiesta and beat it item by item? Why all the press for the Fiesta and zero for the Accent? According to you it will kick ass!

  33. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Becuase US spec Accent hasnt been shown yet, nor has Hyundai promoted it yet.

    Hyundai is relying on of the cheapest marketing tools they can utilize= Media Buzz.

    Just a few pics and a laundry list of specs on US Accent on sites like C&D, Motor Trend, Autoblog, etc.. Is enough to draw initial buzz.

    Its not like Hyundai is Detroit and actually has to do any real sales of its cars.

    Just look at their products, they sell themselves. They are all uncompromising values.

  34. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Its easy to sell a good looking Foriegn anything in a TRULY Foreign Car market like the US.

  35. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    You assholes dont have to tell me I made a typo in my spelling, becuase I know I did it already. People actually do make mistakes, you know.

  36. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Im getting tired of people on many sites talking about American cars as if they are 75% of the market. Its going to stay that way too becuase the Foreign car buyer rules America, and WE WILL RIOT IF YOU DO ANYTHING TO MAKE IT HARDER FOR US TO GET FOREIGN CARS!!!

    Even the Toyota Guys will agree with me on that one.

  37. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Reference to Mahindra:I recently read the reviews of the Mahindra TR20 which has already been released in the land down under.The reviews were a lot less then stellar,including a foul smell in the cabin.That is the first time I have ever heard that complaint before.Also,the diesel has some mechanical/software problems,tinny doors,extremely cheap interiors,poor fit and finish etc.The 30mpg they have hyped is now for the 2wd instead of the 4×4 like they once said.Engine specs seem to vary……greatly,and last but not least,some american buyers have passed on waiting and bought Ford/Dodge/Chevy diesel pickups.As for me…..I’ll pass on the hindumobile.

  38. Jim Says:

    I dropped Autoweek in the mid nineties when they had a article basically telling what kind of race series I should follow and what they didn’t like and I should not follow.

  39. pedro fernandez Says:

    GA: The “smell” you refer to is the same smell present in many NY taxicabs

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Autoweek has changed over the years, but I continue to like it. I follow F1 more than any other racing series, and AW covers it well. Their racing results are timely, for a print magazine. I alos like their “escape roads” articles about historic cars.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It sounds like the Mahindra is like a Yugo pickup, only worse.

    Why won’t any of the major manufacturers put a 4 cylinder, ~150 hp diesel in their smaller pickups, or a ~200 hp diesel in the big ones? There should be a market for something like that. It sounds like that Mahindra will be really substandard, and not nearly cheap enough, if it ever makes it here, but there is a market for diesel pickups with diesel engines smaller than the huge ones used in Ford/Chev/Dodge that only make sense if you tow very large trailers.

  42. Nick Stevens Says:

    “HyundaiSmoke Says:
    May 7th, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    You assholes dont have to tell me I made a typo in my spelling, ”

    “YOU MADE A TYPO IN YOUR SPELLING”, Genius????

    You major league jerk, a spelling error is an error of IGNORANCE, while a TYPO (which I make all the time, as i type very fast to save time and do not edit) is an ACCIDENTAL misspelling of a word I know full well how to spell.

    Practically NONE of your Misspellings are TYPOS.

  43. Nick Stevens Says:

    # G.A.Branigan Says:
    May 7th, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Reference to Mahindra:I recently read the reviews of the Mahindra TR20 which has already been released in the land down under.The reviews were a lot less then stellar,including a foul smell in the cabin…As for me…..I’ll pass on the hindumobile.”

    You gave a good and detailed account of the problems. Their target demo is poor Ozark Hillbillies. But these people hardly have the $20,000 or whatever the price will be, and tend to buy domestic pickups anyway.

    If this thing was priced right, it might have a chance- the original Hyundai Excel at $5,000 did, but the $4,000 Yugo did not.

    But not for anything above $10-12k!

  44. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS I am amazed at these gullible dealers that have invested millions of $ to accomodate the Mahindra in their showrooms and service bays. Have they actually seen and driven this POS?

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    I think the hillbillies you refer to most likely buy used trucks from city slickers who trade them away after 5 years or so. Nick, what do you think would have been a fair price foo the POS Smart car?

  46. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Good question Nick,I don’t have an answer as I know nothing about the workings of the dealerships,IE:did they just have to sign that they want to be dealers,or did they have to put down a cash escrow deal?

    Have they seen the vehicles?A definite maybe on that one.Did they get to drive one?Again I don’t know.I do know this,the dealers are waiting as is Global Vehicles for the ball to get rolling.My opinion:The results of the reviews from down under makes me think that JUST MAYBE…..they won’t pursue the American market after all.I can’t seem to find any updated info on their MHawk diesel,which I have heard IS NOT IN THE TRUCKS down under.That may or may not have a bearing on the poor engine reviews from down there.

    American manufacturers should take note that the demand for small diesel pickups and cars would be even stronger if people knew who and where to write and tell them what they want.I know both Ford,and Dodge had diesels ready for the 1/2 ton market but dropped them.Jeep already has a diesel for europe being built in Toledo but they won’t sell to us.It’s a tried and true engine that many many people have been asking for to no avail.In closing I will repeat myself:The first to market a small diesel pickup here in the USA will win and win big.

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    Why would it be so difficult for Ford to put in a small diesel in their Ranger, the last truly compact pickup still around. The competition has gotten too large. The GM twins Colorado and Canyon have a pretty bad reputation.

  48. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# pedro fernandez Says:
    May 8th, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    I think the hillbillies you refer to most likely buy used trucks from city slickers who trade them away after 5 years or so. Nick, what do you think would have been a fair price foo the POS Smart car?”

    With its current truly shitty transmission, and the non-impressive MPG gas engine, $8k or less.

    In europe they have a 70 MPG diesel and start-stop (which they deactivate in the summer beacuse it screws the A/C)

    BTW just saw one on the street when shopping earlier today, a middle-aged couple was in it, and I doubt there was room left for 3 brown bags from Kroger’s, max.

  49. Nick Stevens Says:

    G.A.Branigan Says:
    May 8th, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Good question Nick,I don’t have an answer as I know nothing about the workings of the dealerships,IE:did they just have to sign that they want to be dealers,or did they have to put down a cash escrow deal?”

    I think I read the dealers have spent millions for various preps (and I assume many spare parts!).

    I can only speculate how they were fooled into becoming Mahindra dealers, but If you think about it, there could be a lot of opportunities:

    All these Chrysler anf GM dealers that were thrown on the street by the makers, they got to sell something. That would account for most of them.

    Or maybe a dealer or two died and the clueless spouses fell for a deal that was good in paper, without bothering to check out the merchandise.

  50. Nick Stevens Says:

    There sure is a trend towards smaller, less expensive vehicles and smaller engines. Today’s 4-cylinder engines make more HP than the 6 was making in the 1990 Mercedes 300 SEL! (the Buick 2.4 I-4 on the lacrosse makes 182 HP!) And the new lacrosse is a big car, as long wide and tall as the Genesis, for much less, and looks better too!

  51. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2010/05/08/autocar-drives-the-ferrari-599-gto-calls-it-best-value-video/#continued

    As the Autoextremist says,

    “La vita e tropo corta per non guidare italiano!”

    I can’t say I was thrilled with every sound this beast made. I sure would not drive it cross country, but it would go great up Pikes Peak.

    The above also shows you what you can never get by reading the mag..the video and above all the sounds.. on the web you get the sound and all else for free, AND do not have to wait until the damned commercials are over!

    But $450,000…? You can buy 1,000 1998 BMW 740iLs with that dough today… probably the total US sales of that 7 for two months!.

  52. HtG Says:

    mind boggeling!

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I have driven a smart, and, to me, the transmission is a much bigger problem than the price. The transmission with its lurching and slow shifting makes the car downright unpleasant to drive. With a good automatic, or better yet, a manual, I would like the car as a “city” car. The handling is decent, and, with the minimal weight on the front wheels, the non-power steering of the one I drove felt very good. The gas mileage in not good for the size of the car, but Consumer Reports’ measured “city” mileage is better than any car they’ve tested, except the Prius. The Prius is obviously a much more capable car, but if all you need is something to move one or two people around town, a smart will do the job, and for half the price of a Prius. The trouble is, the smart’s transmission REALLY SUCKS, and I haven’t read of any plans to make it better.

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens says:

    “But $450,000…? You can buy 1,000 1998 BMW 740iLs with that dough today…”

    Are you saying that 1998 740iL’s sell for only $450? Where do you buy them? I’m interested.

  55. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    LMAO,

    Nick, the kettle calling the pot Black eh? At least I admit I’m a douche. LMAO.

  56. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit wrote: “but if all you need is something to move one or two people around town, a smart will do the job, and for half the price of a Prius. The trouble is, the smart’s transmission REALLY SUCKS, and I haven’t read of any plans to make it better.”

    First of, by your own admission, why would anybody subject him or herself to that god-awful transmission? Even for $8k instead of the $12-$15k they charge? (which is much more than half the price of a prius, but the smart sure has less than half of the prius’s capability, cargo and people capacity, CITY MPG, Hwy MPG, and on and on)

    Second, who ever only needed to transport two people around without any luggage? The smart is good only as a sixth car of an affluent suburban family so the wife can take it downtown to shop (by herself, and she can’t buy too much either! she will have nowhere to put it! LOL!) and park almost anywhere.

    A single person will never find the smart adequate as his or hers ONLY car, not only when traveling with his or her significant other, but also when moving by himself or herself to a job such as a summer fellowship away from home, where he or she can’t even pack one fourth of his stuff in the “Stupid”.

    And forget about towing a U-haul box behind this measly 3-cylinder 900 cc engine or whatever the hell the “Stupid” has anyway.

  57. Nick Stevens Says:

    # Kit Gerhart Says:
    May 8th, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    Nick Stevens says:

    “But $450,000…? You can buy 1,000 1998 BMW 740iLs with that dough today…”

    Are you saying that 1998 740iL’s sell for only $450? Where do you buy them? I’m interested.

    I obviously missed it by a zero. Should read 100 of them, and with high miles. Or 50 with low miles. Still, 50 to 100 cars is a lot of cars, esp. as big as the 7 – Long version. Only Jay Leno and a handful of others have garages that can take more than 100 cars.

    Still, it’s a thought… instead of the Ferrari, to have a convoy of 50 or 100 7′s.. like that nutcase in oregon who had a fleet of 100 Rollses, that indian Guru who stole his disciples $ to buy a rolls every week..

  58. Nick Stevens Says:

    Mahindra pricing to START at $22,000? DELUSIONAL!

    “John Perez, CEO of Global Vehicles USA, Mahindra’s exclusive U.S. distributor, says that all the emissions testing on the trucks has been completed and the paperwork is being submitted to the EPA for final approval. Approval itself is expected to take about 30 days. At that point, Global Vehicles could begin importing the trucks to the United States. They’d arrive on our shores 30 to 60 days later.

    By our math, that sounds like we could have Mahindra pickup trucks on U.S. roads before the end of August, but neither Perez nor Mahindra’s corporate offices are talking sale dates yet. Experience has probably taught them not to make predictions, but with 330 dealers signed up and raring to go, we’re sure that official sales date can’t come soon enough for any of the parties involved.

    When they eventually go on sale, Mahindra pickups will be offered in two configurations: a two-door regular cab, the TR20, and a four-door crew cab, the TR40. Both will offer Mahindra’s slightly modified version of the mHawk 2.2-liter inline-four-cylinder diesel engine. Official EPA numbers obviously haven’t been determined yet, but the trucks are expected to have fuel economy ratings around 30 miles per gallon on the highway. Not too shabby considering their 1.3-ton hauling capability. Pricing is expected to start around $22,000.”

    From Autoblog.com

  59. pedro fernandez Says:

    Motorweek along with cars.con and USA today did an 8 car family sedan comparison and the #1 spot went to the new Sonata, Camry 2nd with the Kizachi coming in 3rd, at the very bottom came the Fusion followed by the Malibu. Apparently the Sebring did not even make the cut. As good as the domestics have gotten, they still can’t quite beat the Asians. Accord came in at #5 surprisingly, seems that interior quality and noise abatement are not up to standards.

  60. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The Kizashi should be second, Malibu should be 3rd. Damm I hate Camry!!!

  61. Nick Stevens Says:

    I read that test on thw web and did not bother seeing it. These people did a very poor job, there wer eno measurements and no numbers and even no explanations why, ridiculously, the excellent Honda Accord did not make the four, but this idiotic POS the Susuki made it.

    This is just as ludicrous as these Car of the year awards in the 80s that went to the Renault Alliance total POS, remember?

    And the Honda Accord not only tops all the Consumer Reports reliability studies, it ALSO is great for enthusiasts, it made the Car and Driver top ten list 20+ years of the 25 or 30 the list has been around!

    The only comment they made that was worth thinking about was that the Sonata looked good “ON PAPER”. This is a KEY qualifier. We’ll wait and see.

    meanwhile, mags did far more serious long term tests and the Ford Fusion got an excellent long-term average MPG of almost 37 MPG. The only problem is, it is too much more expensive than the also frugal Fusion 4. The non-hybrid 4 would make 30-32 highway, but on average? I estimate 25-28 depending on driving style and distances, cold starts etc.

    So say 27. The hybrid gets 10 MPG more, and costs about $8k more than the 4. To whom does this make sense? (you need to break down your miles in city and hwy to make an accurate estimate)

  62. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2010/05/10/officially-official-volkswagen-polo-gti-177-hp-40-mpg-and-pla/#continued

    Now this is a REAL VW GTI, like the original, and not like the current obese Golf GTI versions. It is a VW POLO that, of course, it is not sold in the land of ugly Subarus!

  63. pedro fernandez Says:

    From the Sebring Sucks files: just met a Geico claims adjuster with a company Sebring, being nosy as I am, I asked him about it. He says he’s only had it for a couple of months, the previous one had many issues including fluctuating idle speed at a stop. He had to keep a hard foot on brake to prevent it from lurching forward. Funny how there was no recall news on this, and he had other issues like disappearing engine oil that the dealer could not figure out, I asked if the would buy one, said absolutely NO. As a matter of fact the company wants him to drive it off hours as advertising(car has all Geico insignias all over) and he refuses, he prefers his SUV

  64. pedro fernandez Says:

    They claim Americans don’t buy small hatchbacks, well maybe if these were available here they would, instead we get crap like Aveo and Rio5. Tuners still go for those older Civic hatchbacks from the 90′s. While Europe gets nicer stuff than US. even Ford and GM.

  65. pedro fernandez Says:

    Nick: do you think Honda should bring the Euro Accord here and sell it instead of the heavier, larger, sloppier- handling US version? After all the Acura TS, I believe, is the EU Accord and it performs very well.

  66. Nick Stevens Says:

    Yes, the TSX is an overpriced Euro Accord clone.

    I assume Honda bet that people want a bigger car every 4 years, and it pushed the Accord (US) into EPA “large” size. (the new sonata is also EPA large, but does not come with a v6 even as an option). I’m surious if the next US Accord will be smaller than the current one. Consumers sure will hate to pay more for a smaller car.. unless if it has stellar MPG and similar interior room by better design.

  67. Nick Stevens Says:

    curious, not surious.

  68. Nick Stevens Says:

    I’m over at the other forum, may 10

  69. Jim - USA Says:

    There’s just too many psychotics and incompetents at the top. They are not car people and have no idea about what they are selling or the buyers. The whole industry is full of car-hating dysfunctional yuppies who celebrate dissonance. If a car is ugly and has annoying quirks, then it gets a big promo and put on the market in the U.S. The American public is being bitch-slapped and insulted with such sorry offerings. And we take it.

    Name your favorite automotive failure. The corporate post-modernist psychopaths fully intended to offend sane car buyers and mock the trendies who buy it for their own dysfunctional reasons.