Episode 619 – Resignations at Renault, Daimler and Bosch Team Up, 2013 Malibu Pulled Ahead

April 12th, 2011 at 11:30am

Runtime 6:31

Big news in the Renault espionage scandal.  A number of executives are resigning from the company.  Daimler and Bosch have teamed up to produce electric motors for Mercedes-Benz and smart.  GM has pulled the 2013 Chevy Malibu ahead by several months and it’s expected to go on sale early next year.  All that and more, plus guest host Rod Meloni of WDIV Local 4 News, Detroit shares a few of his thoughts on Chrysler’s resurgence.


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You know the drill . . . this is Autoline daily for Tuesday the 12 of April, 2011.  Spring is in the air and so is the latest news from the global auto beat.  I’m Rod Meloni, Business Editor at WDIV local 4 news, Detroit filling in for my friend John McElroy.  We’ve got a lot of great stories to get through today so let’s get started.

First up . . . After facing pressure from the French government over its involvement in a botched espionage case, Renault announced a number of resignations yesterday. Patrick Pelata, the chief operating officer of the company was the most senior executive to quit. However, Pelata will get another job within the Renault-Nissan alliance. CEO, Carlos Ghosn, who escaped punishment, says Pelata’s skills are invaluable and are an asset to the group. The company also announced it came to an agreement with the three wrongly fired employees but no details were released.

It seems like there is a new recall announced almost every day in the U.S. but over in India, forming a recall policy is not a top priority. According to MSN, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers and the government say they are more focused on forming safety, fuel-efficiency and quality rules. Despite not having a policy, a number of recalls have been issued by automakers in the country, highlighting the need for one. The president of the SIAM says even though a recall policy is not in the works, he predicts the country will have one someday.

Daimler and Bosch announced they will team up to produce electric motors. The AFP reports they will be used in Mercedes and smart cars. Production starts next year at two plants in Germany.

Fiat is meeting its goals for Chrysler.  The Wall Street Journal reports the Italian automaker just met two U.S. government-mandated requirements regarding the partnership.  This automatically boosted its stake in the company from 25 to 30 percent.  Fiat had to help Chrysler boost its revenue from markets outside North America by $1.5 billion.  The other goal? Help the company sell vehicles through 90 percent of its dealers in Brazil and Europe.

Last week GM teased the upcoming 2013 Chevy Malibu.  All we got to see was a little sliver of its tail light.  But the wait for this new midsize sedan just got a little shorter.  The Detroit news reports the automaker is speeding up its introduction.  It’s now expected to go on sale early next year, several months ahead of schedule.

Rain is one way to ruin a parade, but apparently so is fire.  According to NBC news out of Washington D.C. a Dodge Durango was towing a float through the city when smoke erupted from its engine compartment.  A guy named Eddie Finley, who was in the crowd, shot some video of the conflagration and posted it on the web.  Luckily no one was hurt and firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze.  After a 15 minute delay the cherry blossom parade continued.  No word yet what caused the fire.

Shockingly, in related Chrysler news, China suspended sales of the Jeep Wrangler over a potential fire hazard.  CarNewsChina.com reports investigators are blaming the truck’s automatic transmission for the apparent issue.  And here I thought china had no safety regulations at all.

PENTASTAR POWER FOR 2012 WRANGLER (subscription required)
In happier news, the wrangler is slated to get the company’s excellent new Pentastar V-6 for the 2012 model year.  According to ward’s, production is scheduled to start on July 18.  This should give the off-roader a huge boost in performance and fuel economy.

After the break, a few of my thoughts on Chrysler.  Stick around.

And finally, a few thoughts about Chrysler.

This time last year John was kind enough to ask me to sit in for him here and I said the company was in such bad shape and Sergio Marchionne’s bold management style was such a shocking change one of two things would happen, either spectacular success or spectacular failure.

Well, we here in metro Detroit have become all too well acquainted with spectacular failure and so the notion of that kind of success is a little frightening to contemplate. And yet, by all outward appearances it is what we are looking at in Auburn Hills.

Unlike Chrysler’s two previous owners, Sergio is what he appears to be: a very smart, shrewd and tireless leader dedicated to rebuilding Chrysler into a legitimate contender.

When he first arrived I asked him why we should believe he would be the one to remake and rebuild Chrysler into a competitor again and he said because he had done the same with Fiat. It wasn’t exactly awe inspiring. But now, nearly two years after the bankruptcy, I can say what he’s accomplished is nothing short of remarkable.

I had a chance to drive a Chrysler 200 recently. This is the car Eminem drove in the now legendary Super Bowl commercial. If all Marchionne had done was keep Chrysler alive long enough to make a commercial mentioned in the same breath with the Apple 1984 Super Bowl ad . . . you might say he’d accomplished more than Daimler and Cerberus ever did with Chrysler.

But in the auto industry it’s all about the product. That remade Sebring had a very nicely upgraded interior and it drove a far cry better than the one that became the laughing stock of the industry. Then look at the execution of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and you begin to believe Chrysler’s future is actually bright.

Marchionne is steering toward an IPO fairly soon, wanting to make certain fiat gets majority ownership stake in advance. The markets are starting to circle this deal like they did GM’s IPO. They smell a profit.

All of a sudden we have a legitimate car company in Auburn Hills again. Marchionne succeeds and so does metro Detroit! That’s a surprisingly spectacular success we could have only dreamed about two years ago and one, we here, are especially grateful to see.

Hey, with that we can wrap things up for today.  Again, I’m Rod Meloni, Business Editor at WDIV local 4 news, Detroit.  If you’re in town, please check us out.  As always, thank you for tuning in, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

50 Comments to “Episode 619 – Resignations at Renault, Daimler and Bosch Team Up, 2013 Malibu Pulled Ahead”

  1. MJB Says:


    First the Chrysler 200 gets b-slapped in Phelan’s now infamous review. Then Chrysler comes in near dead last (again) in the J.D. Power survey. Now a brand new Dodge Durango goes all Mount Vesuvius on us right in the middle of a parade.

    umph, umph, umph. Chrysler just can’t quite seem to keep a stride.

  2. tj Martin Says:

    Never Ending SAAB Story ;

    Today the NYTimes is reporting that the deal between Spyker and the Russian Oligarch is far from certain , and in fact Spyker is trying to secure financing from the Swedish government as well as sell off much of SAAB’s real estate holdings .

    Let the damn thing die already !!!

  3. tj Martin Says:

    Now wait just a damn minute . First Scott resigns from the Detroit News for giving a bad , albeit HONEST review of the Chrysler 200 ( which everyone else is panning as well ) and now this Meloni fellow comes on singing the praises not only of the 200 , but Stronzetto Marchionne as well ????

    Sergio smart and shrewd ? Yeah like a Thief about to run off with all your worldly belongings ! Two faced , a blatant and consistent liar as well as perhaps the biggest Artisa di Merde in the Automotive Business would be more like it . Just ask a few of his Italian Investors what they think about the Stronzetto . You might be a little surprised and more than a little offended ( by the extreme language they’ll use to express their opinions )

    Some consistency on this site WOULD be appreciated !!!

  4. tj Martin Says:

    Delusional Thoughts of Grandeur Pt II ;

    So today the F1 higher ups are PRAISING the new Technologies in F1 claiming they ( DRS & KERS ) along with Pirelli are making the Sport ( urp ) much much better and exciting .

    Now I’m convinced . Either ;

    A) There’s something in the water over there affecting their minds .

    B) They’re all on heavy duty prescription or otherwise drugs

    C) They’ve been hitting the Jagermeister far too often .

    or ;

    D) All being old , Dementia of one sort or another is setting in .

    Just WHAT part of the last two F1 races do these idiots thing was exciting ? Excuse me now while I fall asleep just thinking about the races …….


  5. DukeT Says:

    Oh, don’t get your shorts all in a wad. A couple of weeks ago a brand new Audi A6(or was it an A8?)burned to the ground on I-95 (or was it the turnpike?)in SoFla. Only 4 days old, the check engine light came on and the owner was returning it to the dealer when it became completely engulfed in flames.

    Apparently it wasn’t a one-off incident either.

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    Come on people, the most unreliable American brand joins the most unreliable European brand and what do you expect? the second coming of Lexus? Honda/Toyota circa early 90′s?

  7. dcars Says:

    I pick A,B,C and D.
    It’s so darn easy, even Cheech and Chong can make a vehicle go up in smoke!

  8. tj Martin Says:

    BWTM ;

    Oh heck Duke T , that story doesn’t even come close to the ones about the Ferrari BBQ ( 458) that regularly sets itself on fire for no good reason other than bad engineering .

    As well as the TESLA Toaster ( Roadsters ) that have been doing the same .

    BWTM +

    Well I just shelled out $4.04 a gallon for Premium here in KC ( a record ) So maybe I’ll just hold on to the MINI to see what comes next .

    At $4.04 a gallon I’m feeling mighty smug and superior right about now . ( shame on me : ( ) Hee Hee !

  9. RS Says:

    So when did Sergio lie to you and steal all your marbles??
    The Italian unions and press hate him because he said Fiat would a lot better off if it did not have to operate in Italy. Probably true, BTW.
    If he gives Chrysler the engineering freedom to pull its collective act together, GREAT! The new cars are being praised universally be much of the press. I think the redo of the 200 is a needed improvement but a stopgap measure to take up the slack until a new vehicle on a Fiat platform gets off the drawing boards and onto the assembly line. Give it time. The company is already miles ahead of anything done by it (or to it!) in the last decade.
    Long live Bob Eaton! (NOT)

  10. tj Martin Says:

    @ RS ;

    I can promise you you’re only reading what the Press is reporting and not what the Shareholders at FIAT are saying . And if you haven’t noticed lately , the Press ( especially the Italian Press ) is being heavily censored when it comes to any critiques towards Stronzetto Marchionne , FIAT , Chrysler etc .

    @ pedro fernandez ;

    Agreed .

    FIAT reliability + Chrysler Reliability = the Automotive Version of Dante’s Inferno .

  11. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    What Chevy Cruze steering wheel problem? They’re a sponsor!

  12. tj Martin Says:

    @ RS

    Re-reading your Chrysler/FIAT praises , me thinks perhaps you’re also suffering from a touch of delusional thinking when it comes the the Marriage from Hell .

    Dreams and Delusions are wonderful things until crashed in upon by the Cold Hard Weight of REALITY .

    Time to stop thinking they’re roses and start smelling the manure thats being spread at your feet by the Dynamically Challenged Duo .

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    I just came from a local tire retailer and noticed they had a bunch of Chinese tires with names designed to confused buyers for example they had one with the name of Troanza (Turanza) N something or other with an N that looked like Nitto and others too many to recall, what these people will do to steal business away from the legit manufacturers.

  14. G.A.Branigan Says:

    So china is also fed up with the jeep’s bad design auto trans cooler,or more accurately the non-cooler.It’s very simple and Jeep has been aware of this MAJOR flaw for years.

    The auto trans cooler is piped into the radiator instead of a separate cooler.While in 4 wheel hi,and NOT FLOGGING IT,just easy going down a trail the tranny overheats,boils trans fluid out the vent tube which is right over the hot exhaust.Of course it will zippo on you.

    Jeeps fix: They reflash you driver info display to tell you the trans is overheating.They do not reposition the vent tube,they do not add a separate trans cooler.They also tell you to only use 4 wheel LOW RANGE,AND……if it still over heats,turn on your ac.There….all fixed!!!

    Here’s a caveat,if you take it upon yourself (as many had) to install your own trans cooler (about 100 bux and an hour of your time) YOU VOID THE WARRANTY.How’s that sports fans? Hey sergio macaroni,Whatsa up wit dat???

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    For a dodo bird to mention M&M (plain or peanut) driving a Chrysler product as a WOW moment, I accept, but for an auto journalist to do so? pleeeze, he got paid plenty to spew whatever they wrote for him to spew. In reality I would suspect this millionaire to have a plethora of different vehicles with possibly a chauffeured limo to take him around

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    GA how long before Mao’s disciples steal the Jeep design and start building their own version, the Geep?

  17. SalvadorG. Says:

    Rod Meloni,
    I think you’re a bit too early to start singing the praises for a company (let alone Sergion Marchionne), after news of spontaneous Durango combustion And! the Chinese goverment (of all things) suspends sales of spontaneous Jeep Wrangler combustions. Come back with those praises in 3 to 4 years and then we’ll see.

    Where is Scott Burgess when you need him?

  18. MJB Says:


    Oops. I meant the “Burgess” review of the 200 – not Phelan.

  19. MJB Says:

    @ #6 Pedro:

    haha. I thought Range Rover was the undisputed title-holder for the most unreliable European brand.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    The diff is that the Rover can only be afforded by a rich minority that apparently doesn’t give a crap about low reliability and bad costumer service, I know this for a fact locally. But Fiat is for the avg working man who can’t be bothered by an unreliable mode of transport to get around and usually does not have a backup car.

  21. HtG Says:

    Bean me, but when I walked around the Dodge Charger it looked pretty good inside and out. Panels fit, nice materials inside. I didn’t drive it.

    And for some reason Lexus likes me, they really do. I got an invite to an event in NYC to see the LF-Gh concept. I can rub shoulders with auto journalists and other auto enthusiasts. And be boozed and fed. Problem is, swanking out with the swells on Evil Island just ain’t my cup of chai latte.

  22. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Pedro:I don’t think the chinese can do any worse then jeep its self has done on the jk.Here’s something else.2 weeks after I got rid of my JK I got yet another recall from Jeep.This time it was for the front brake lines that chaff against the inner fender liner,rub through and then you lose your brakes.Jeeps fix for this?Take an air saw and cut the fender liner up and remove part of it.Of course that lets all kinds of stuff into the engine compartment and gums things up there.What I haven’t seen a recall on yet is the cracked exhaust manifolds.That usually happens around the 30k mile mark.And they wonder why I got rid of mine??? Changing out the plastics in the interior,redesigning the center stack and offering a plethora of decals don’t fix the many problems with the Jeep JK.

  23. tj Martin Says:

    HtG ;

    Couldn’t agree with you more on the looks of the Challenger . It was the driving / handling ( guess which model I drove ) etc. that ” Challenged ” me into deciding it was a POS .

    (hint ) Especially after having driven a Mustang GT beforehand .

    Ford 3 ( GT/ BOSS 302/Shelby GT500

    Chevy 1 1/2 ( Corvette 1 Camaro 1/2 )

    Dodge/Chrysler – 3

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    But TJ they’d have you believe all new cars are now really, really good and you can’t go wrong with whatever you buy. BTW can you think of a car you always wanted to drive and then was disappointed when you finally did?

  25. tj Martin Says:

    Marchionne’s accomplishments So Far ;

    To remind you all ;

    1) In less than six months he’s managed to Make Promises / Break Promises / Lie and Deceive the Italian , US and Canadian Unions as well as the Mexican Government

    2) He has every branch of FIAT ( including Ferrari who’s bastard son isn’t even sure he’ll have a job in six months ) living in abject fear as to their future

    3) He has managed to take FIAT and Chryslers debts from Hight to Stratospheric in less than a year ( WTH do you think all that money he’s investing to up his shares of Chrysler is coming from …. The Easter Bunny ?? )

    4) He has consumers World Wide thinking twice about buying any Chrysler FIAT product ( with the exception of the idiots who buy Ferrari’s blindly ) due to concerns about the companies ability to exist a year from now

    5) He has the Shareholders in all the FIAT/Chrysler companies up in arms over his blatant and unrelenting Waffling on each and every decision he makes public ( changing them almost monthly )

    Ahhh Yes . Marchionne’s Madness . Kind of reminds one of Monarchs of the past doesn’t he ?

    At least they had the excuse of Inbreeding etc. Hmmn . Well maybe that’s Marchionne’s problem as well .

    Either that or he’s been taking Madoff Lessons from the Master himself before landing in jail .

  26. tj Martin Says:

    pedro ;

    re; #24

    Yes . The short list ;

    MINI Cooper Countryman
    Ferrari 458
    Cadillac SRX ( I really wanted to like that car )
    Dodge Challenger SRT
    Chevy Camaro SS ( after the C6 I drove I though it would be brilliant : it wasn’t )
    BMW 1 series (bleah)
    Infiniti G37 coupe and sedan
    BMW X5

    And thats just the most recent stuff .

  27. HtG Says:

    I recall Marchionne saying that to survive a car company had to have sales volume about 5.5 million(he may have said 6.6). If he is homing on some figure that makes the company viable, are his actions irrational? Maybe he thinks there is no FIAT if he can’t bump up sales and lower unit costs.

    This said, I don’t have much knowledge of how Italians see him.

  28. HtG Says:

    458 review please

  29. tj Martin Says:

    @ G.A. Branigan ;

    Thanks for reminding me why I WON’T be buying a JEEP Wrangler anytime soon .

    How Chrysler/JEEP can ( ____ ) up such a simple straight forward vehicle is beyond my abilities to comprehend .

    Why they continue to do so is even further from my understanding .

    Guess they must be SOoooo Successful they don’t need yours and my business . Which is too bad . Because if the car was even reasonably reliable I’d be the good little Yank , keep my $$$ at home and buy one .

    Idiots ! ( JEEP that is )

  30. MJB Says:

    @ #25 TJ:

    Gotta agree.

    This editorial piece feels like it’s trying to make Marchionne a candidate for the same type of compensation package awarded to Mullaly, but not nearly as justly deserved. (Please, let’s not re-hash the high-dollar compensation debate. Just saying that Maloney’s portrayal of Marchienne’s Chrysler “turn-wround” has not yet (and may never) acheived Iaccoca status)

  31. tj Martin Says:


    458 review .

    I’ll keep this one short and sum it up .

    Its a pretentious , F1 wanna be . Harsh in all settings . The Shifting damn well is physically painful ( I’ve been told by Ferrari engineers this is intentional to ” Heighten ” the Formula One for the road experience ) A pain in the ( ___ ) to drive on city streets or public highways .

    As a Track Day car its a joke . Oh it impresses the heck out of anyone thats never driven a real race car , but for those of us that have , its ridiculous .

    Sum Up . Other than being a piece of Automotive Jewelry to show off to your friends . It does nothing well .

    Having read the reviews on the Mclaren MP4-12C – I hope someday I get the chance to drive it as it seems like a genuine Road Car that’ll kick the crap out of more than its fair share of Hyper Super Cars . Possibly the NSX of the 21st Century times 10 !

  32. HtG Says:

    thank you, tj

    Here’s a video review of the McLaren by Steve Sutcliffe, on the unlikely event you haven’t already seen it.


  33. Midas Says:

    I wouldn’t be so quick to praise Marchionne. Most of the good new products (new 300 and grand cherokee/durango) were developed during the Daimler/Ceberus regime. So far all that Fiat has done is re badge a bunch of Chryslers as Lancias in Europe and start production of the 500 in the old PT crusier factory in Mexico. We have yet to see all new Fiat based C and D segment cars from Chrysler. Alfa romeo US entrance has been delayed again, as has the Chrysler 200 replacement. Also creating the Ram brand was pointless, especially considering that there is still no real replacement for the popular Sprinter, despite Fiat having access to it’s Doblo and Iveco vans.

  34. tj Martin Says:

    @ Midas – Yup ! On all counts !

    @HtG – I hadn’t . Heading there now . Thanks !

  35. Al Sowash Says:

    I just filled up the Honda motorcycle last night in Titusville, Fl to the tune of $4.10.9 at the local Chevron for 93. Since it is a motorcycle I filled up for a little over $20.00. That will last me 3 days going 30 miles each way everyday to work and back. When I got the bike I could fill it up for half that amount.

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG I don’t know who has a better job, this Sutcliffe guy or Hugh Hefner?

  37. tj Martin Says:

    @HtG – Brilliant video . Shows a lot of cajones on McLaren’s part to allow a journalist to be part of the sorting out process .

    It also confirms my suspicions about the MP4-12C that it is by far the Better Car in each and every aspect over the 458 .

    The question now being ; Will potential buyers look past Badge Recognition and purchase the Superior Car : one in fact that they’ll drive on a regular basis , rather than leave in the garage as 99% of all new Ferrari’s are ?

    Lets hope so !

  38. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro – I’d guess Sutcliffe by far as I have no doubt Hefner is functioning these days only because of a steady diet of Viagra etc.

  39. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro ;

    As well as my preferring more of the Charlotte Gainsbourg rather than the Playboy Bunny type .

  40. HtG Says:

    It’s hard to imagine someone who hasn’t already had a Ferrari picking the McLaren first. And I would rather be the imaginary Hef than the real one; it’s a little creepy.

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    WEll guys I meant the Hef of a couple of decades ago, not the Viagra-mummified, old fart whose only job these days is to show his ugly puss in whenever hot chicks are being photographed

  42. HtG Says:

    Off topic here, but hands up, who was able to sit through Charlotte Gainsborough’s movie with Willem Dafoe, Antichrist? Not me

  43. Dave Forslund Says:

    Meloni/Marchionne There maybe something in their ancestry that gives them optimism. One suggested it is in the water. I say red water (wine)!

    Chrysler is moving quickly, but so is the competition and many of them are not in Detroit. So don’t get too excited yet!!!

  44. XA351GT Says:

    @tj #23 You know TJ you picked the car that everyone continues to bitch about because of it’s live rear axle , but in test after test out handles the 2 with IRS.They are are still ripping it fir it’s solid axle which was done to keep the cost where the people who tend to buy that type of car can actually afford it not some old fart in a mid life or later crisis.V6 camaros cost as much or more than the V8 GT Mustang.

  45. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG ;

    AntiChrist ; Never saw it . After the reviews i had no desire to .

    @XA351GT – Believe me I had many a go around with those pretentious Brits on the site I got booted from over the Mustang in all its guises .

    Kept telling them Damn the Live Rear Axel the Damn Thing Works and thats all that matters !

    But being the EuroSnobs they were , they couldn’t get their heads around the FACT that simple technology done right will kick the crap out of over complicated for complicated sake Garbage !

    Personally I’m loving it that the Mustang beats the tar out of all the so called more advanced Muscle Cars ( Camaro and the Challenger ) as well as more than a few of the Eurosnob mobiles like the M3 and if rumor is correct the 458 ( around Laguna Seca )

    Let me amend my scoring in #23 thinking about it . FORD gets a solid ten points .

  46. G.A.Branigan Says:

    And let us not forget that Shelby,then Ford,kicked the $hi! out of ferrari when they decided too.

  47. FrankCanada Says:

    The 458 a F1 want-a-be? Ferrari F1 Constructors Championships since 1999?, ’99,’00 ’01 ’02 ’03 ’04 ’07 ’08. McClaren? hmm. Well maybe Spygate of 2007. McClaren rip off Ferrari? Blighty eye-ties! Historically, Fiat is the car industry. Fiat intruduced cars to Japan(!) 1908 Isuzu built Fiat Kits. The Fiat 128 (& Autobianchi) can lay claim to the DNA in 90% of transverse FWD cars. Mini, where is the blimey transaxle? 2CV? Beatle, yeah front swing axle that jacks up through turns, great. Paolo Martinelli designed the 1.4L Multi-air in the New 500. Case closed. The Rover Over designed New Mini has a nice hyundai(?) based engine, as refined as Old Blighty teeth. I feel sorry for you people.

  48. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Mr. Mac Elroy,

    Your 150 MPH article was AWESOME!!!

    Too bad the safety nannies at NHTSA will impose that 55 MPH limit when gas hits $5.

    Sorry Frank, if the MINI had a Hyundai Engine it would be higher up on the JD Power list.

    No, my Canadian Friend. The MINI has a PSA sourced “Prince” engine.

    Like I’m going to trust a FIAT lover’s advice on cars. I dont know what planet you’re on, but that FIAT 500 has been getting ripped in a few reviews.

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Lightness is a virtue in cars, and maybe the use of the “live axle” helped designers add lightness to the Mustang. However they did it, Mustang is about 200 pounds lighter than Camaro, and 400 pounds lighter than Challenger, comparably equipped.

  50. long island mercedes benz dealer Says:

    The diff is that the Rover can only be afforded by a rich minority that apparently doesn’t give a crap about low reliability and bad costumer service, I know this for a fact locally. But Fiat is for the avg working man who can’t be bothered by an unreliable mode of transport to get around and usually does not have a backup car.