Dave McCurdy is President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. In this interview he talks about how the Bush administration surprised the auto industry by moving the CAFE law up to 2015 and why Porsche “probably woke up in a sweat” when they heard the news. He also addresses why the industry is scared of California’s CO2 regulations.
I know gas prices are soaring and that automakers have to meet the fuel economy standards, but honestly, I don’t see how they’re going to do it.
The auto industry faces a massive challenge to meet the new fuel economy standards by 2015. Today there are only three cars sold in this country that can meet that standard: the Toyota Prius, the Honda Civic hybrid and the Smart.
Keep in mind that the 2010 models are done, there’s very little that can be changed on them. So that means the industry will have to revamp its entire product line between 2011 and 2015. Like I said, I don’t see how they can do it.
For now, none of the automakers will say anything against the CAFE standard because they know the public backlash would be wicked. Especially since we’re in the middle of a presidential election campaign. What they’re secretly hoping for is some sort of adjustment to the fuel economy standards if it really turns out that they can’t meet them.
General Motors is using technology to improve service all with the idea of holding onto the customers it’s got.
About 3 out of 10 GM customers bring their cars to the dealer for service. But GM’s Service Operations figures if they can boost that to 4 out of 10, it can drive a lot more business for the company and its dealers.
First off, GM dealers would do about $1.3 billion in more maintenance and repairs every year. Second, a lot of those customers will turn into repeat buyers. GM says they could account for 360,000 sales of new cars and trucks. And it sees the opportunity to sell $160 million in accessories to those people.
A key tool to improve service is monitoring a car’s health via OnStar and then alerting customers when their cars need work. It all has to do with satisfying existing customers so they keep coming back to GM dealerships.
Every Saturday morning car enthusiasts gather at Mazda’s North American headquarters in Irvine California for an event called Cars and Coffee.People come from all around the LA area to show off their rides and check out what other people brought.There are a bunch of different kinds of vehicles on display, from exotics to classics to muscle cars and motorcycles – the variety is really surprising.
Bruce Meyer and Peter Mullin have two of California’s finest car collections. Meyer’s is full of Americana ranging from hot rods and motorcycles to buttons, pins and photos. He even has Clark Gable’s 1957 Mercedes convertible. The Mullin collection on the other hand is chock-full of rare and exquisite French cars. They’re some of the most beautiful vehicles you’ll ever set your eyes on.
About 25 years ago I drove a hybrid car that was very different from the hybrids on the road today. This one was powered by a flywheel. Instead of storing energy in a battery and then using that to accelerate the car, it stored energy in the form of a spinning flywheel.You know that kind of toy car where you push it along the carpet to turn the wheels to get an internal flywheel spinning, then let it go and watch it scoot across the floor? It’s pretty much the same idea.
The flywheel hybrid I drove was the brainchild of a professor named Andrew Frank who was then at the University of Wisconsin, though he’s now at UC, Davis. He was modifying different types of vehicles to run on flywheels and I was intrigued to learn how they worked. So I took a road trip to Wisconsin to pay the professor a visit.
Torotrak is a UK-based company that’s developing a technology called a flywheel hybrid. Instead of using a big, heavy battery to store energy, the Torotrak system uses a spinning flywheel. It’s simple and lightweight compared to traditional electric hybrids, and it’s even going to be used in Formula One race cars. There’s no word yet if any automakers are signing up, but if it starts winning races you can bet they’ll be all over it.
Mazda builds some fun-to-drive cars, but they also know a thing or two about style. Autoline was recently invited out to their design studios in Irvine, California to tape a show for our upcoming series, Autoline in LA. This is truly unprecedented because car companies go to great lengths to keep journalists in the dark about their top-secret work. The media are very rarely invited into these studios, and if they are, cameras are forbidden. Autoline got inside for a first-ever glimpse behind the veil of secrecy at Mazda Design.
Dick Messer is the curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. He looks after an impressive collection of more than 150 historic cars, trucks and motorcycles. It’s a remarkable museum that’s known all over the world, but there’s more to it than meets the eye because the Petersen has many cars that aren’t publicly displayed. They hide them away in a place they call “The Vault.” After taping one of our programs for Autoline in LA in the museum with the PR chiefs from Honda, Hyundai, Mazda and Toyota, Dick was kind enough to give us a tour. Autoline got a behind-the-scenes look at what’s locked inside, but we can’t show you everything we saw — some of it is top secret.
While we were in California shooting our upcoming series, Autoline in LA, Honda invited us out to their American Headquarters in Torrance for a sneak peek at some of the hydrogen fuel cell technologies they’ve been working on.Needless to say, there’s some pretty neat stuff coming down the pipeline.Here’s a little taste of what you’ll see when the full show airs later this month.