Episode 403 – U.S. Car Sales May Be Slowing, Big 3 Post Quality Gains, New C4 Set For Paris

June 1st, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:42

Analysts predict that car sales in the American market may be slowing down.  Quality is up and warranty costs are down for the Detroit-Three automakers.  Citroen has released details about its redesigned C4 which is expected to debut at the Paris Motor Show later this year.  All that and more, plus a look at the Michelin Challenge Bibendum that’s taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .


This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, the first day of June, 2010.

DIRTY, FILTHY, STINKING EVs
A study conducted by the Argonne National Laboratory and Tsinghua University in China concludes that if electric cars really catch on in China, emissions are going to soar. Autoblog reports that because China uses so much coal to generate electricity, EVs will lead to big increases in CO2, sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen. Despite all the talk of nuclear power plants being built in China, and depending on which region in the country you’re talking about, China uses coal to generate between 65 percent and 98 percent of its electricity. Even so, I doubt very much this is going to slow down China’s strong push into advanced batteries and electric cars

ANALYSTS PREDICT SALES SLOWDOWN
Automakers in the American market will start reporting their sales for May later today and the Detroit News says the experts are predicting that the market may be slowing down. Of course in April they predicted that sales were running strong when in fact they were slowing down, so we’ll have to wait and see what the real numbers are. One thing that many sales forecasters don’t have a good handle on are how well fleet sales are going, and fleet sales are an important part of the market. So we’ll have to wait and see what the automakers actually report.

QUALITY UP, WARRANTY COSTS DOWN
Yes, quality of the Detroit Three is improving dramatically. The Detroit News reports that warranty claims at the Big Three have fallen more than 40 percent in the last few years.  GM’s expenses are down 45 percent since 2007 while Ford’s repair costs have dropped by $1 billion in the same timeframe.  Chrysler’s warranty claims are down 48 percent in the last two years, falling to a record low in 2009.  Of course part of the drop can be attributed to the recession since automakers have been selling fewer new vehicles, but independent quality studies confirm the industry-wide improvement.  Reduced warranty claims can really add to the bottom line.  If you can save just a couple hundred dollars per car it adds up fast when you multiply it out.

MONEY IN THE BANK (subscription required)
Ward’s reports that Japanese OEMs have reversed their losses from the last couple years and are adding to their cash reserves.  Toyota, the richest automaker in the world, now has some $51 billion in the bank, 9.5 percent more than the record level it had in March of 2008.  Other manufacturers are growing their savings accounts at an even faster rate.  Suzuki is up 25 percent with more than $16 billion in its treasure chest.  Honda is up 17 percent with some $12 billion in the bank and Nissan has grown by a whopping 60 percent!  It currently has nearly $9 billion stashed away.  Analysts attribute the growth to cost cutting and improved efficiencies.

NEW C4 SET FOR PARIS DEBUT
Citroen released some details about the new C4 which will premiere at the Paris Motor Show later in the year. The car will be loaded with technology, with things like lane-departure warning, blind-spot detection, adaptive cruise-control and a new service the company is offering called eTouch, which is similar to GM’s OnStar. No news on what engines will be available but Citroen says it will be offered with stop/start technology to help improve fuel economy.

HONDA RESOLVES LABOR ISSUES
Last week Honda had to halt production in China due to labor disputes but now, according to the AFP, it looks like the company has resolved the issue. Workers went on strike to protest low wages and now Honda has agreed to increase pay by 24 percent, an extra $54 a month. Some production has resumed already and the rest could be back in line by the end of the week. Even so, industry analysts are keeping a close eye on this one to see if labor unrest in China turns into a growing trend.

SUBARU WANTS TO GROW (subscription required)
Subaru has been on a roll. Sales kept on growing strongly during the worst of the global recession and now it wants to grow its business in emerging markets. According to the Wall Street Journal, nothing is official but the company is considering sourcing more models from Toyota, which owns a stake in the company. Toyota will begin supplying Subaru with a new small model later in the year that it will sell in emerging markets.

There’s a competition to see who can come up with the greenest car that’s taking place in Rio de Janeiro right now, and after the break we’ll find out why it’s being held in Brazil for the first time.

MICHELIN CHALLENGE BIBENDUM
For a number of years now Michelin has been holding the Challenge Bibendum, a competition to see who can come up with the greenest cars. Up to now it’s been held in Europe, the United States and even China. Autoline Daily has a crew at the event, which is being held in Rio in Brazil, and here’s why this is the first time it moved to the Southern Hemisphere.

We’ll have more reports on the Challenge Bibendum later this week.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry.  Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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

Electric vehicle news from Magna, Mahindra and Nissan. Pininfarina, the Italian design house, controls about 30% of the Chinese design market. Formula One racing is coming back to the U.S. in 2012 but probably not where you would expect. All that and more, plus we find out why the sedan and hatchback versions of the new Ford Fiesta are styled differently.

62 Comments to “Episode 403 – U.S. Car Sales May Be Slowing, Big 3 Post Quality Gains, New C4 Set For Paris”

  1. Nick Stevens Says:

    Hi John,

    While you are of course quite right that most of China’s electricity comes from coal, I do not share the extreme pessimism about EV pollution. First of, the % of EVs will still be miniscule compared to the entire fleet of cars in China. Second and more imoportant, when EVs use electricity to recharge, they usually do so at OFF PEAK hours and at very low rates per KWH. This is extremely important to underline, for all those that worry that current electricity CAPACITY is not sufficient to handle a large no of EVs in the US or anywhere else in the world.

    It will take many years, even decades, before the existing capacity, which satisfies the HUGE PEAKS at middday on weekdays, when the weather is too warm, will be insufficient to also provide plenty of electricity to the EVS OVERNIGHT.

    In fact, the EVS will make the OPERATION of the existing electric grid far more Efficient, and in that sense pollution will be far lower, if it is a coal fired plant, than what it would be if these EVs co mpeted for PEAK POWER and thus needed tens of billions of $ to be invested in extra power plant CAPACITY.

  2. tj Martin Says:

    So , the Chinese have figured out E/V’s are not environment friendly . The German Environmental Scientists have come to the same conclusion . Yet all the Worlds Governments keep pushing/subsidizing and promoting E/V’s as the savior to all humanity .

    The question being ; When the heck are the Government Officials going to start listening to the Scientists and Engineers that they employee to educate them on Scientific and Engineering problems and solutions .

    I know . The answer is NEVER . But since I’m footing the bill along with all my fellow Americans I feel I at least need to ask the question .

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It looks like Citroen is going more mainstream with their displays. The C4 I rented two summers ago had the ultimate “mother in law” speedometer, a center-mounted digital display with numbers about 1.5 inches high. In the picture of the instrument panel of the new C4, it looks like the speedo is a round analog unit in front of the driver.

  4. Nick Stevens Says:

    PURE EVS are impractical because of their very limited range and high price, using TODAY’s tech (which could radically change, but nobody really knows when the breakthrus will occur).

    Even Plug-ins are not necessary for most people, since Hybrids and diesels are far more efficient than we need currently.

    And there are OCEANS of oil and nat gas, so even with China’s huge demand increase, prices will not go thru the roof (if they did, EVS and Plug-ins would sure look far more attractive)

  5. Derek V. Says:

    John,

    If Subaru is going to do anything, I can only see two vehicles added to their line up – and they all better have AWD or they will have lost their way too.

    Bring back, the Justy – make sure it has AWD and at least 35 mpg and stickers for $15k – put it up against the Fiesta. You can get one in The Netherlands so its not that far fetched of an idea.

    Bring back the SVX as the Toyota/Subaru coupe sketched back in April 2008. Again, it must be AWD and drop the 2.5 litre turbo in it for fun. Start the pricing at $21k and offer an STI model at $30k and they will sell.

    Additionally, drop the Tribeca (at least here in the states). They dropped the 5 passenger configuration since it was too close to the (new) Outback and with that now being so big, why bother with the Tribeca – no one looks to Subaru for a 7 passenger vehicle.

    I’d like to Subaru do a minivan too, but that is a stretch. Get these two cars to the US and I can see Subaru not going to far away from their core – again everything they do in the states has to be AWD if they are gonna keep their identity.

  6. Salvador G. Says:

    eh!! Nick, read the transcript…

    “A study conducted by the Argonne National Laboratory and Tsinghua University in China (A Chinese University) concludes that if (IF) electric cars really catch on in China, emissions are going to soar. –AUTOBLOG REPORTS”.
    -

    JohnMc, I have question (hard to ask, hope you can explain)… Which is better to have fleet sales up -which means more people are renting more Or have fleets sales down which could mean the market is slowing, more people are using public transport And maybe a few more are buying cars??.. and what tha’ heck lets say during a holiday??

    Also, does that Wards report how much of that Money Toyota has in the bank is after all the amount of money they have to spend paying because of all the recalls (and lets say other legal payments) around the world??

    And, I hope we get to see some more of those cars from Brasil.

  7. Nick Stevens Says:

    SALVADOR:

    YOU, not ME, need to read. I had ALREADY read the transcript before I PROVED in my reply that their fears are overblown. Have YOU read and understood my REPLY?

  8. Nick Stevens Says:

    Subarus are the ugliest cars around, and, because of the AWD, they also are the most thirsty in their size class. Their success in the US is because of all these anal retentives in Mass and the rest of the snwobelt that are way too risk averse and have not realized that even a RWD, not to mention a FWD, is fully capable of driving in snow

  9. Nick Stevens Says:

    John,

    it is 1:30 PM and nobody is reporting any sales, are you sure they will report them today? After all, they were on holiday yesterday, they would not have enough time to add up the numbers.

  10. Nick Stevens Says:

    “and Tsinghua University in China (A Chinese University)” (SIC!)

    Thanks for the heads up, Salvador.. LOL.

    As if we did not know that 1) Tsing Hua is indeed in China (beijing to be exact), and not only that,

    2) it is ranked as THE best of all the (tens of thousands) Chinese Universities (!!!!!!!)

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Derek V. Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 1:19 pm
    John,

    “If Subaru is going to do anything, I can only see two vehicles added to their line up – and they all better have AWD or they will have lost their way too”

    If Subaru continues to make AWD mandatory on everything they sell, they will continue to be absent from my shopping list when I’m in the market for a car. I don’t drive in ice and snow, and didn’t need AWD during the ~40 years that I did drive in ice and snow. AWD adds weight and complexity, reducing efficiency and adding extra hardware than can break. You don’t see many Subarus in Florida, and there is a reason.

  12. Nick Stevens Says:

    Actually, i came back here not to reply to the above, but to post some really IMPORTANT stats:

    Aurto NEws (subsrtiption needed) has an article about how progress in the Digital world makes driving less and less necessary, as reflected in the Declining no of Teens getting drivers licences;

    The stats are comparisons of the % of teens ages 16, 17, 18 and 19, between 2008 and 1978, that have drivers licences:

    16: 31% vs 50%!
    17: 49 vs 75%
    18: 68 vs 86%
    19: 77 vs 92%!

  13. Nick Stevens Says:

    “It’s not just new drivers driving less. The share of automobile miles driven by people ages 21 to 30 in the U.S. fell to 13.7 percent in 2009 from 18.3 percent in 2001 and 20.8 percent in 1995, according to data from the Federal Highway Administration’s National Household Travel Survey released earlier this year.

    Meanwhile, Census data show the proportion of people ages 21-30 increased from 13.3 percent to 13.9 percent, so 20-somethings actually went from driving a disproportionate amount of the nation’s highway miles in 1995 to under-indexing for driving in 2009.

    William Draves blames the internet. Draves, president of Lern, a consulting firm which focuses mainly on higher education, and co-author of “Nine Shift,” maintains that the digital age is reshaping the U.S. and world early in this century, much like the automobile reshaped American life early in the last century.

    His theory is that almost everything about digital media and technology makes cars less desirable or useful and public transportation a lot more relevant. Texting while driving is dangerous and increasingly illegal, as is watching mobile TV or working on your laptop. All, at least under favorable wireless circumstances, work fine on the train. The internet and mobile devices also have made telecommuting increasingly common, displacing both cars and public transit.

    Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100601/RETAIL03/100609990/1186#ixzz0pcoDk3rf

    I can testify that I have decreased the no of miles I drive after the internet and even more after the 2008 price shock. I used to have to drive to various dealers and test drive their vehicles in the 80s and 90s, and today I am not doing more than 10% (!!) of these miles (both with my car and test driving their cars) since I can eliminate 9 out of 10 candidates by reading all the available info on the web!

  14. HtG Says:

    Nick, one point on electricity usage in NYC is that the lines were designed to cool down overnight when demand is lower. If EVs come on line there might be an issue.

  15. Nick Stevens Says:

    Interesting info, Htg. Do they need the entire night to cool down, and is this just in the summer? And wouldn’t it really depend on the number of EVs? I bet we will never ever have as many as to cause a problem.

  16. Nick Stevens Says:

    Besides non-plug-in Hybrids like the regular Prius that get actual 50 MPG average, and efficient modern diesels that get 45 HWY like the golf/jetta, we will also have the option of using the plentiful (newly realized) US natural gas reserves.

    The Civic GNX 4-door is not the ideal vehicle for CNG use, as the cylinder destroys half the trunk utility, but a more intelligent hatch-wagon design would allow a decent trunk AND enough cylinder capacity for CNG to rival regular car’s 300 miles city or 500 Hwy range (true for both my old Accord 5 soeed and the current 740iL)

  17. HtG Says:

    Nick, I don’t know the figures about NYC power, as I only heard about the issue on the local public radio station.

    On Subarus, I have to agree that there’s a big penalty/benefit one pays for 4WD. Still, I liked the handling of Impreza. Didn’t bite however.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In addition to the factors mentioned, I bet fewer young people drive for “entertainment,” since they can entertain themselves with their electronic gadgets. When I was in my teens and early 20′s, many, if not most young people who had access to a car would “cruise the strip” for evening entertainment. That doesn’t happen much any more.

  19. Nick Stevens Says:

    Subarus drive much better than they look, but boy are they thirsty!

    My opinion of them improved after I had to use a turbo wagon (Forester or sth) on a small island when i was a guest of a high school classmate that made it really big in business, but does not give a rat’s ass about cars (his other is an older S class, and before that he had a nice 300E coupe, but only because his business with banks required that he drive an expensi ve car to show them he can pay their loans and all that).

    That turbo wagon drove well, handled well, was plenty fast, but its fuel gauge was constantly going back to empty, and the distances we did were insignificant, a few miles here and a few there!

  20. Nick Stevens Says:

    John thought sales for May would be out later today, but it is already 3 PM and no sales data from any maker.

    To fill the news gap, the GORES are divorcing after 40 years of marriage.

    Frankly, I could never understand how Tipper Gore could stand that mindless, lying, hypocritical SOB.

  21. HtG Says:

    Best line so far… Al and Tipper Gore are separating, still no word on who will get to keep the Internet.

  22. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Best line so far… Al and Tipper Gore are separating, still no word on who will get to keep the Internet.”

    Gore stole it long time ago and secured it in his “LOCKBOX”!

  23. Nick Stevens Says:

    Since we won’t see the May sales today, here are some significant sales no of models discussed today and yesterday:

    The Awesome new Chevy EQUINOX sold 11,987 units in April alone, and 42,366 in just the first 4 months of 2010.

    TO appreciate this, the numbers for some “competitors”:

    Mazda 5: 1,595 in April, 6,812 for the 4 mos.

    And note that Ford does not offer any competing vehicle that would steal sales from it.

    and even worse, the Kia Rondo sold a laughably low 685 units in April (a few years ago, even exotic BENTLEY sold more in one month, thanks to its home run GT), and a miserable 2,438 for the four months.

    Finally, the much-touted and awarded Ford Transit Connect, which stole the Truck of the year title from the Equinox: a measly 2,229 in April, and an equally dismal 6,564 in the first 4 months!

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Mazda 5: 1,595 in April, 6,812 for the 4 mos.”

    It would do a lot better if sold at Chevy dealers, just as the worst-in-class Aveo sells pretty well, considering it has direct, but much better competition in the Honda Fit.

    It looks like my condo complex has way more than its share of Rondos; there are two of them that I see every day and there may be more, in a 240 unit complex.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    Recently we took a very close look at the Mazda 5. I thought it would be perfect, but it was designed for anorexics, the seats are there, but the spaces are just too small. It’s like a miniature mini van for mini people, it probably does well in Indonesia. Re: the Gores, I don’t like to comment on people’s private lives but in the case of Al, I’ll make an exception. I just hope she buys a 10 mpg Gallardo and starts dating young guys with his freaking money. I’ve heard his house is a guzzler when it comes to using energy. And then he takes private jets, instead of flying commercial, phony environmentalist, at least Ed Begley Jr sticks to his beliefs.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro fernandez Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    “Recently we took a very close look at the Mazda 5. I thought it would be perfect, but it was designed for anorexics, the seats are there, but the spaces are just too small.”

    My sister has a Mazda 5 and really likes it, but yes, the seats are not for large people. The third row seats are only for very small people, or short trips with adults. The front seats are comfortable for me, and the second row ok, but I’m 5’10″ and 150#, smaller, especially narrower than the average American male these days.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    Has anyone done a study on the effectiveness of this stop/start technology? What about A/C? does it shut off when the engines shuts down? That would be a real disadvantage in the sun belt. With its higher production costs and repairs I wonder if at the end of the day, you end up spending the money you save on gas.

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit: the Mazda drove really well, and it is nicely put together, but they tried to do too much with its available interior space. Remember, it’s based on the Mazda 3!!!

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’d wondered if they used conventional starters that engage a gear with the flywheel in any cars with start/stop. I’d think a standard starter would wear out prematurely if used that much.

  30. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Subaru needs 2 smaller cars its just that damm simple!! Until then, this real 21st Century SAAB cant be taken seriously.

  31. Salvador G. Says:

    Nick, the key word here is : IF – ‘IF electric cars really catch on in China – IF- it doesn’t say ‘When or ‘Base on, again… IF a study of a Chinese university, one study of probably many.

    -I’m not defending IT, I simple choose not to attack an IF study.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    John M. says:

    “No news on what engines will be available but Citroen says it will be offered with stop/start technology to help improve fuel economy.”

    It would be a safe bet that one of the engines used in the new C4 will be the 1.6 “Prince” used in Minis. Probably most of the new C4′s, though, will have diesels as was the case with the previous generation C4.

  33. XA351GT Says:

    John,
    Is that # for real about the China Honda workers?? 24%=$54@month more?? So now they make what, $270 @month or $3240 @year? If my math is right then that means they make $62.31 @week or $1.56 @ hour based on a 40 hr work week. Well if that is true is it any wonder OUR manufacturing jobs are going to China.

  34. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Using Humans in manufacturing is old school tech. Replace em all with Robots except in the interior booths where interiors MUST be handcrafted I say.

    Manufacturing is a dangerous business unfit in a legal culture of monetary justice.

    Using Chinese Workers is just a stop gap to robots. Its the same with this whole Immigration argument. Once Robots become cheap and more technologically advanced enough, manual labor for most people will be as outdated as the horse and buggies.

    Its like the days of Agriculture where familes needed 10 Kids just to get work done. Humm, hence the reason why China/India got so populated in the first place. If America became industrialized in 1980 like those 2 countries did Im quite sure there would be over a Billion people now here too.

    The question is now, do we educate them all and provide a Billion or so extra living wage jobs in the world, or do we start WW III and trim a lot of cows out of the herd? Or, do we just have a large class of people even in Western countries like the US that are reduced to a life of utter peasantry and allow Mother Nature with diseases due to malnutrition, etc… to pick off the weak?

    Or do we take everything from the AMerican Middle class so 90% of the world can same the same living standard. Some research by the UN and various other population control advocates state that in order for everybody to live a standard that is had for the American Middle Class=2 cars, Middle Class Job, Suburban home, picket fence, pool etc… we need 3 Earths.

    According to many of these advocates, 7 Billion people living a life of equality would result in all but 100 Million of these people living in Eastern European Style Peasantry.

    To live a lifestyle of Luxury for all people- Upper Middle Class to rich in American Areas you can only 500 Million on the planet.

    Sounds very Macabre I know, but that’s what goes on in the minds of the power players.

    An old Chinese Wise man once told me that they are willing to do anything including going
    to war with America to get the same living standard as the US. Just Remember that.

    You Older Guys dont get it, but this is the World you left me with. I facetiously say thanks.

  35. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I think Space Colonization would have allieviated most of these problems, but the Big Whigs said no to that. They think its easier to just Kill off the herd by war or creating economic conditions in the form of attrition.

    Speaking about economic Attrition, there are more Gen Ys than Baby Boomers, but I can assure you there will be less gen Zs than Gen Ys.

    Slick Idea to drop the bottom out of the economy when the crtiical mass Older gen Ys Born (1978-1983) like myself started to hit that Family, and Home age, eh…

    78-83 was a Mini baby Boom by the way, with 1981 tieing 1957 as the most people born in one year ever so thats a lot of people affected.

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    You have some interesting stuff there, H/S.

    Manufacturing jobs were largely responsible for creating the middle class in the U.S., and the disappearance of the manufacturing jobs is resulting in a shrinking middle class. Everyone talks about the need for more and better education, which is needed, but are there enough well-paying “professional” jobs to replace the manufacturing jobs, even if we have a perfectly educated pool of young people for the jobs? I’m not sure there are.

    Regarding China, for the foreseeable future, I suspect they NEED the manufacturing jobs in China to prevent social chaos. These jobs pay poorly compare to the U.S. and Western Europe, but what are these hundreds of millions of people going to do without those factory jobs, and retail jobs? Regarding the latter, when I was in Shanghai in 1994, there were way more people than were needed behind the counters in the department stores in the city. I’m sure these, mostly young women, weren’t paid very well, but I suspect they were much happier serving customers and being with their friends in those nice stores than they would have been, if unemployed, spending all day in the dreary apartmentments they call home.

    Sorry about this being off topic, but it is real food for thought, especially when remembering my time in Shanghai.

  37. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Lmao, Kit I think this has everything to do with cars.

    Kit if there were a ton of professional jobs that required education, then why are there classes of people who have degrees but cant get a job but are underemployed in jobs that do not require a degree?

    For some demographic groups its absolutely shameful, and should be criminal.

    That’s what I mean about you older guys not getting it.

  38. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    At least there’s the internet where crimes can be committed online instead of the street. Speaking about that, the increase by the year is astronomical.

    If Internet crimes were included in regular crime statistics like Rape Violent Crime Murder, etc…, the pundits would talk about how there is a massive crime wave in America.

    Not just Identity Theft but:

    1. Forced Prostitution of minors and young women via the internet.

    2. Fraud

    3. Internet Drug Trafficing

    I can keep going on and on all night. However, why hit an old lady in the head and take her purse for 40 Bucks (and face assault and theft charges), when I could get into her account online and steal 1000 bucks and if I got caught I get time but nothing compared to street crime time?

    This is the crime wave nobody talks about.

  39. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I saw a Stat that claims 70% of Missing Teenagers in this day and Era are being exploited online via Adult services ads webcam ads, etc….

    The Runaway rates are the lowest its ever been in this country by the way.

    If a 16 year old girl or boy for that much matter, turns up missing these days there is a good chance they WILL NOT be found dead in a ditch or they ran away. According to some stats theres a 7 out of 10 chance of them being lured away and drugged up and being sold and traded for sexual services and use on some porn, cam, or ad site.

    This business has become so lucrative and easy to hide that many drug dealers are dropping selling dope just to get in.

  40. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit Gerhart Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    “Mazda 5: 1,595 in April, 6,812 for the 4 mos.”

    It would do a lot better if sold at Chevy dealers, just as the worst-in-class Aveo sells pretty well, considering it has direct, but much better competition in the Honda Fit.”

    This reply is so ludicrously funny, I am not even angered at your continuing efforts to disprove that 1+1=2 (but keep up the good work!)

    1. The Fit does not sell because it is VERY expensive, and NOT much better MPG wise than the larger and better CIVIC. The vast majority of the american people want CIVIC and ACCORD class vehicles.

    2. The AVEO SALES SUCK JUST AS MUCH AS THE AVEO ITSELF. You talk without having ANY CLUE about the numbers.

    3. The mazda 5 failed miserably because it is an underperforming DOG, a pitiful design, as i proved BY THE NUMBERS. It is just laughable that a FWD essentially hatch or small wagon like the 5 should weigh 3,500 lbs and STILL get only 28 MPG EPA HIGHWAY, when the 4,000 lbs CROSSOVER Equinox gets 32 EPA HWY ALSO WITH FWD, and has 30 more HP!!!!

    The mazda 5 loses because it is a damned DOG.

    wETHER YOU KEEP DENYING IT OR NOT!

  41. Nick Stevens Says:

    Hi Pedro, good job on your Gore comments.

    There may be more corrupt and more stupid people than Gore in Congress (Reid and pelosi are great examples), BUT none is as PHONY as this despicable clown.

    There was a forum in the Washington post last afternoon, and half the comments were of the form “I can’t believe this woman was married to this SOB for 40 years!”

    Maybe she is a masochist.. or was?

    “pedro fernandez Says:
    June 1st, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Has anyone done a study on the effectiveness of this stop/start technology? What about A/C? does it shut off when the engines shuts down?”

    You got it. I have a friend who got a great deal on a slightly used SMART (or “Dumb” with start-stop (something like 9,000 Euros) over in Europe (South), and he loved its very low fuel consumption in cool weather, but in the summer, he disables the start-stop, because it screws up the A/C, and the MPG suffers.

    But it saved him 65 euros a week over driving his other cars before the “Dumb”, which were a BMW 530 and an x3.

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    I believe most people who buy Aveos are auto illiterates, they see it as a small, economy car made by an American company, which will be easy and inexpensive to maintain w/o realizing it’s the worse possible car, except for the dumb, you could buy now. A 2 yr old Civic or Corolla would be a huge improvement over this POS, rental car staple.ps Not even its mpg is good for its size.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens says:

    “1. The Fit does not sell because it is VERY expensive, and NOT much better MPG wise than the larger and better CIVIC. The vast majority of the american people want CIVIC and ACCORD class vehicles.”

    The Civic is not “better” than the Fit if you want to transport anything bulky. You don’t seem to get it that, while not a majority, there are people who LIKE hatchbacks and wagons. I’m one of those people, and the number will increase dramatically when gas goes to $8/gallon and stays there. For now, yes, Americans buy small and mid-size sedans.

    “2. The AVEO SALES SUCK JUST AS MUCH AS THE AVEO ITSELF. You talk without having ANY CLUE about the numbers.”

    You’re right. Since I retired, I don’t have access to Automotive News, so I can’t check sales numbers as easily as you can. I have seen enough numbers, though, to know that Aveo sells in larger numbers than several of its competitiors which are better cars. The reason is that there are a lot of Chevy dealers.

    Yes, we all know that you hate the Mazda 5. I happen to like it, and would like to see more such vehicles in the U.S. market, especially ones sold in Europe with diesels.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro fernandez Says:
    June 2nd, 2010 at 8:58 am

    “I believe most people who buy Aveos are auto illiterates, they see it as a small, economy car made by an American company, which will be easy and inexpensive to maintain w/o realizing it’s the worse possible car, except for the dumb, you could buy now. A 2 yr old Civic or Corolla would be a huge improvement over this POS, rental car staple.ps Not even its mpg is good for its size.”

    All true, and and comparably equipped, an Aveo hatch costs almost as much as the much better Honda Fit.

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    I don’t get Honda planners, they won’t bring a Civic Hatch here, but then they make the Fit into a hatch. And if you drive a Civic for any amount of time, you will realize it’s close to a perfect car: comfortable, quiet, handles well and gets very good mpg. No secret there: long wheelbase for the class and little overhang, with wheels pushed out as far as possible, rev happy engine and 5 sp. auto.

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Civic is a great car, if you want a sedan or coupe. When gas gets expensive and sales of CRV and Pilot crash, I bet the Civic hatch will come to America, and the sooner the better.

  47. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS and they are not rollover prone either. Another feather in the cap of the EXCELLENT EQUINOX and its (for many uglier) clone the GMC Terrain

    “DETROIT, June 2 /PRNewswire/ — The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC
    Terrain received the highest possible rollover protection rating of “Good”
    in the first Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rollover tests
    of midsize SUVs and crossovers, one of four tests leading to both vehicles
    receiving the Institute’s Top Safety Pick award.”

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    When you consider that the Caddy SRX is based off the Equinox/Terrain platform, the latter become even a better buy.

  49. Nick Stevens Says:

    I saw a current Mazda 6 the other day, and it looked quite good, and did not have this whale-shark feeding gaping mouth other mazdas have. I hope they give me a Mazda 6 when I go rent my car on Sat and use up my $100 customer satisfaction certificate from Hertz (which will pay for 3 days all included, PLUS most of 1 tank of gas). if not, I’ll have to settle for a malibu, impala or Nissan sentra, three different sizes surprisingly grouped in the same category by hertz. Or it could be a Kia Optima. Of all these 4, I would most avoid the Sentra.

    After all the $100 certificate was to compensate me for my trouble when the Nissan Altima Hybrid rental they pushed on me last June 09 ran out of oil 50 miles into the rental, they refused to come look at it, told me to drive it back to their yard because it was close to m y hotel, and ended up with me barely able to drive it into the yard before the engine seized.

    I doubt they had not changed the oil, and the car had only few thou miles on it. It obviously had a leak or sth. Inexcusable but expected from Nissan.

  50. Nick Stevens Says:

    Surprise Surprise (NOT!) : Obama’s Car Czar was a crook!

    “The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is moving to bar the Obama administration’s former auto industry bailout czar Steven Rattner from working in the securities industry for up to three years, the New York Times reported today. Rattner, who founded private equity firm Quadrangle Group LLC but left in 2009, is being investigated for his role in a suspected kickback scheme, and has resisted the proposed penalty from the SEC, the Times said

    Read more: http://www.autonews.com/#ixzz0phs8k3R2

  51. Nick Stevens Says:

    Meanwhile, at the Wssh Post forum on Gore’s Divorce, a typical post says:

    “I can say that Tipper has had it. She can no longer deal with Gore’s false altrism (Sic) and ego and he does not any humility left. She will tell all on Al’s phoney personality and life soon.”

    You got it, 100%, grammar and syntax errors notwithstanding.

    There are Congress people that may be more corrupt than Gore, or more idiotic and clueless, but NONE is more PHONY, none makes up stuff with a straight face so easily, none other claims they created the universe three times over.

    You can’t stand the clown talking for one minute, let alone literally screwing you for 40 years!!!!

  52. Nick Stevens Says:

    May sales are out today, and GM’s were out first.

    As expected, I looked up the Excellent Equinox first, and it was up more than 1,000 units from April, and 256% higher than last May: Here are the may and year to date totals and % increases.

    Equinox 13,134 3,689 256.0%

    55,500 21,043 163.7%

    Total GM sales were also up, far more modestly than the above stellar success story:

    Vehicle 223,822 191,875 16.6% 885,141 777,785 13.8%

    other GM vehicles up over 100% since last May:

    No surprise either, the excellent new Lacrosse I have touted here many times:

    LaCrosse 5,452 1,748 211.9% 25,033 7,978 213.8%

    And since Kit brought it up, falsely thinking that the Aveo sells well, here are its truly DISMAL, puny numbers:

    Aveo 3,888 2,067 88.1% 14,749 9,669 52.5%

    it’s 88% up from last may, and STILL sold a PUNY, laugable, even LESS than the Fit, 3,888 units???? As compared to 45,000 Camrys, 40,000 Accords, 25,000 CRVs or RAV4s?

  53. Nick Stevens Says:

    And the 13,000+ Equinoxes should really be over 18,000, if you add the 5,132 sales of its clone:

    Terrain 5,132 0 ***.* ***.* 22,512 2 ***.*

  54. Nick Stevens Says:

    Pedro, thanks for the tip about the SRX, I am lost with all the Caddillac alphanumerics and did not realize the SRX is a Equinox clone:

    “SRX 4,081 541 654.3 % 654.3 18,851 3,178 493.2%

    The SRX actually is the overall GM top record breaking seller, with both high sales nos for a caddy, AND space-age 650%+ increases over 2009!

  55. Nick Stevens Says:

    So in total, the Equinox-Terrain-SRX (is there a Buick version? I think not) sold a very impressive

    4,081+5,132+13,134= 22,347 units, just in MAY 2010.

    I bet this beats the Ford Escape, the Rav4, or the CR-v (despite their popularity), all small crossovers, and none as efficient as the above.

  56. Nick Stevens Says:

    Subaru was also up: 23,667 17,505 35%

    But you can see that just ONE GM model, the Equinox and its varieties, sold almost as many copies as all Subaru models combined.

    And if you instead take the silverado truck, it sold 33,690 units last May, 40% more than all of Subaru:!!!

  57. Nick Stevens Says:

    Malibu and Impala also had healthy sales, over 20,000 units each of them, Cobalt 16,000 (phased out) and the Camaro almost 9,000 (!).

  58. pedro fernandez Says:

    Now, if GM could come up with more Equinox quality vehicles, they’d be in business, I am surprised to see so few Lacrosses around these parts, Too bad cause I think it’s better than the Taurus, which seems to be more popular. Buick is stuck in a quagmire trying to lure younger buyers and pushing away the older buyers who have been keeping them going for so long.

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens says:

    “And since Kit brought it up, falsely thinking that the Aveo sells well, here are its truly DISMAL, puny numbers:

    Aveo 3,888 2,067 88.1% 14,749 9,669 52.5%”

    I never said it sold well, except that it SOLD WELL, CONSIDERING IT HAS DIRECT, BUT MUCH BETTER COMPETITION IN THE HONDA FIT.

  60. XA351GT Says:

    Nick,
    I have to say I agree with your comments on Gore. What a Ass Clown this jack ass is. And to think people are still pissed he lost the election to Bush ( another Ass Clown) I however don’t feel one ounce of sympathy for Tipper. She ‘s as much a ego maniac as he is . A match made in heaven (or hell depending on your view) I’m still pissed at her with all the PMRC crap. She felt that the government hd the right to take away the right to free speach and use her influence to decide what is okay and what’s not. Yeah she had no problem with telling a adult what they could buy ,because most parents were too lazy or self absorbed to know what their kids were listening to. The humourous thing is though she once said in a interview that her and Al were Deadheads. I guess they never knew about the drug subculture that worshipped the band . I’m glad these facists are out of power and popularity.

  61. Derek V Says:

    AWD is all weather, all climates. There is a significant difference in handling with AWD. The notion that AWD only has benefits in winter weather has been debunked many times, even on this show. AWD has benefits on wet roads (it does rain in Florida), gravel roads, roads under construction, oil stained roads, etc. AWD offers traction and at a stop making a right or left hand turn, you can clear see and feel the main benefit to AWD. Two wheel drive (front or rear) is much more susceptible to power loss – be it due to wheel slippage (loss of traction), LSD, or traction control. And you don’t have to be “punching it” from a stop to have that effect – especially the first 15 minutes of any rain storm.

    Now you can blame it on the driver – and you’d be correct. But when driving my Subaru it is one less thing I need to concentrate on. I can pull up to any intersection and have complete confidence that I will not loose power when I accelerate into traffic.

    I’ve spoken to several other folks with AWD drive vehicles and they understand the same thing – and its why they have chosen AWD. There is a certain things to be appreciative of at a much deeper level. But, at the surface, sure you (and others) may not feel like you “need” AWD because you’re not in the snow belt or because you’ll spend $200 more in fuel a year, and that’s fine. Underneath that, Subarus offer the best quality, reliability, and performance for any vehicle in its class. Fuel economy is not everything to everyone – if it was SUVs wouldn’t still be selling like they do – and that’s exactly why Subaru faired so well during the recession.

    You can knock Subaru all you want for low MPG and misunderstood benefits to AWD, but those who appreciate a car to be more like an extension to your body feel more comfortable in a Subaru. And it is for that notion that I suggest Subaru maintain their AWD market niche, especially here in the states, since it works for them. And, as I’ve said is different terms, it is easy to “loose your way” with the American automobile consumer’s eye. And for a lower volume car company like Subaru – you can’t afford to do that.

  62. Derek V Says:

    BTW,

    Yes, I have a bias to Subaru (obviously) but I have no stake or other benefits related to the company. It’s just proven time and time again to me and to people I know to be that good a product. If you watch this show as religiously as I do, you know John and Peter ALWAYS talk about product being the most important thing.

    Secondly, I can say with the utmost confidence that even with my strong bias to Subaru, I am a VERY objective auto enthusiast. I’ve had lengthy conversations about various topics about various cars with various people – all based on facts. And, over the course of the last 20 years, I’ve never made an automobile purchase I regretted – including the decisions I’ve made for people I’ve consulted with on their purchases – guess what they weren’t all Subarus.

    Anyway, I sound like a broken record as I’ve posted similar thoughts in the past here but I don’t expect people to take anything anyone says to be the end-all truth – but you sure owe it to yourself to test it. And if MPG is all it comes down to as that is really the only legitimate point of contention, then I’m pretty sure anyone could argue that any car that was purchased over another was not the right one. It’s all subjective. It’s just a matter of whether or not you can distinguish fact from opinion and whether or not you’ll weight them fairly accordingly.