Episode 434 – Driver Error To Blame, White House Pushes EVs, Jim Press Now At Nissan-Renault

July 14th, 2010 at 12:09pm

Runtime 8:28

Initial tests done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that driver error is to blame in Toyota’s sudden-unintended-acceleration cases. The White House will be out promoting electric vehicles this week. Former Toyota and Chrysler executive, Jim Press, is now an adviser at Nissan-Renault. All that and more, plus John answers your questions about the Car of the Century and EcoMotors in “You Said It!”

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

This is Autoline Daily for July 14, 2010. And now the news.

WHITE HOUSE PUSHES EVs
Make that lots of EV news. The White House is putting on a full court press when it comes to electric vehicles this week. President Obama and most of his cabinet are fanning out across the country to visit facilities involved in electric cars and batteries. The President will be in Holland, Michigan, tomorrow to visit the Compact Power facility that will make lithium-ion battery cells, more on that in a moment. The Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Labor, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the Secretary of the Department of Transportation are all out and about banging the drum for EVs this week.

FORD ANNOUNCES BATTERY SUPPLIER
Ford announced yesterday that it will buy lithium-ion cells from Compact Power for the electric version of the Ford Focus that is coming out next year. That’s the same source that General Motors will be using to make batteries for the Chevy Volt. Initially those cells will be imported from LG Chem in Korea, which owns Compact Power, but then those cells will be manufactured at Compact Power’s plant in Holland, Michigan, the same plant that President Obama will visit tomorrow.

VOLT BATTERY ANNOUNCEMENT
And later today, GM’s head of product development, Tom Stephens, will announce details on the testing, validation and warranty on the battery pack for the Chevy Volt. He’ll also announce the SOP for the battery pack. That’s industry jargon for start of production.

DRIVER ERROR TO BLAME (subscription required)
Ever since Toyota starting running into problems with SUA, that’s industry jargon for sudden unintended acceleration, we here at Autoline Daily have been saying it’s driver error, not gremlins in the electronics. Now the Wall Street Journal reports that initial testing proves that that is exactly the case. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has investigated a number of data event recorders involved in accidents, which show that the brake pedal was not depressed and that the throttle was pushed wide-open, even though the drivers claimed they had their foot mashed down on the brake pedal. This does not include incidents where the floor mat was trapped under the brake, or problems with sticky brake pedals. And NHTSA has a lot more investigation to do. In fact, it didn’t release these details, the Journal broke the story. But we stick with our story. More investigation will prove this is a driver-error problem, just like it was with the Audi 5000.

IAC VERTICALLY INTEGRATES (subscription required)
North American supplier IAC, which makes interior plastic components for cars, is vertically integrating its business by developing its own raw materials. According to Ward’s, the company purchases about 300 million pounds of raw materials a year to produce its components. However, sometimes these materials aren’t up to par. That’s why the company decided to produce its own raw materials, which I find interesting because these days it unusual to see a supplier vertically integrating.

JIM PRESS NOW AT NISSAN-RENAULT
Former Toyota and Chrysler executive, Jim Press, is now an adviser at Nissan-Renault. Actually, he’s been there the last four months but none of us in the media found out. Somehow they managed to keep it under wraps. Simon Sproule, the Director of Communications, contacted Autoline Daily to say Press is working on projects relating to sales, marketing and distribution, not just for the U.S. but for the entire globe. Also, he isn’t working for one-specific brand, but the entire Nissan-Renault Alliance, which also includes, Infiniti, Dacia and Renault-Samsung.

SUBARU WANTS TO BROADEN APPEAL
Subaru has done an amazing job weathering the recession. It posted record sales numbers last month which were up 16 percent compared to June of 2009. Overall for the year they’re up an impressive 35 percent. Now, the niche Japanese automaker is looking to build on its success and broaden its appeal, at least according to AutoWeek. But I would caution Subaru about trying to appeal to more buyers. In the ‘80s it tried to go down-market with the Justy; in the ‘90s it tried the opposite with the SVX, and both efforts failed. Subaru, don’t mess with success. Stick to what got you where you are.

BMW IN THE NEWS
Now for some Bimmer news. A report on Autoblog from BMW Blog indicates that the brand’s high-performance M3 is getting start/stop technology, among other model-year changes. It will come with a switch so drivers can disable the fuel-saving feature if they wish. In a related story, Bimmerfest reports that buyers of the limited-edition paint job called “Frozen Grey” — available on the 2011 M3 — have to sign a paint-care agreement before delivery. The 30 owners, that’s all they’re making is 30 of these cars, are warned NOT to polish or wax the matte finish, nor to run it through an automatic car wash. That will ruin the paint job. It goes from a matte finish to all shiny. Also, all bodywork must be done by a BMW–authorized shop

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now its time for “You Said It!”

We got all kinds of comments about the five finalists for the Car of the Century series that we ran last week while we were on vacation. I wish I could comment on all of your comments because there were big arguments of what vehicles didn’t make it to the final five.

G. Berman wrote in to say, “What, no Jeep? What were they thinking? If not the contribution to military action, how about the start of a whole new segment for the automotive industry? It’s craziness I tell you.”

Well G. Berman, the original Jeep came in very high on the list. In fact, all the American and European journalists who were on the jury gave it a lot of votes. So did the Aussies. But the jurors from Asia and elsewhere didn’t score it as highly and that’s why it didn’t make the final five.

Edwin Benson saw our story on Ford looking into using soybean oil to make rubber parts for cars and says, “Soybean rubber? Old Henry Ford (the first) would be proud. Anybody remember that great photo of him taking a sledge hammer to the soybean-derived trunk-lid of a 1940-ish Ford?”

Edwin, good memory. That’s a very famous photo. Henry was really into soy, and not just for cars. He also drank soy milk and ate soy ice cream. He’d even make guests and visitors eat it, and they would, even if they didn’t like it, because, after all, he was Mr. Ford.

And Jim Reed saw our story on how Bill Gates has invested millions in Eco-Motors, the company that’s developing a radically new-type of engine and wonders, “Hey John, do you know if any of the big automakers are interested in the EcoMotors engine?”

Jim, your timing is impeccable. Tomorrow night our guest on Autoline After Hours will be Peter Hofbauer, the guy who designed the engine. And he also used to be the top-designer of diesel engines at Volkswagen. All I can say is, if this engine does everything they say it can, it could stop the movement to electric cars dead in its tracks. Tune in tomorrow night to learn more, because I believe some big car companies are definitely going to be interested.

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

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51 Comments to “Episode 434 – Driver Error To Blame, White House Pushes EVs, Jim Press Now At Nissan-Renault”

  1. dcars Says:

    That’s good advice for Subaru, people are buying them because they’re unique. If these people wanted main stream cars they’re are plenty available. If they need a good case study, look at GM’s ownership of Saab.

  2. Nanny-State Says:

    When all these electric cars need to be charged, where will our electric rates go but up!??? Which will hurt people on fixed incomes!

    Also, if the White House thinks this will be good for the environment, it will depend on the region of the country the vehicle is in. Certain parts of the country have very coal-based power generating facilities! If Cap & Trade, a.k.a., Cap & Tax and now America’s Power Act, becomes law, electric rates will “necessarily skyrocket” – and all those people who bought electric cars will have “collector” cars – because they won’t be able to afford it!

    Mr. President, let the market decide!

    Amen from the land of the Nanny-State!

  3. jmohr Says:

    Media hype got out of control with the Toyota acceleration issue–this show goes against that hype, people should pay more attention to common sense and stop using sources of poor news and knowledge, a tape measure was used help to solve this problem, not groups of people in endless corporate meetings with bogus mega buck graphs and charts.

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    I hope this eco-motors engine is a success, because I would hate to have to buy one of these government mandated ev’s.

  5. Al Says:

    Well, of course if an event data recorder records engine computer information AND the engine computer is calculating faulty information, then the event data recorder will record the same faulty information that the engine computer is calculating. This does not exonerate the Toyota electronics from responsibility in this case.

  6. TT Says:

    Toyota UA driver error. Government conclusion: Driver Error. Cost to come to conclusion Homer Simpson could have come to in 2 seconds: millions. Response to government conclusion: DUH!!!!!

  7. motorman Says:

    what happens to the A/C on these “stop/start” engines ? what keeps the A/C compressor running in the stop mode ???

  8. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I guess I’ll have to wait for AAH to see if your guest brings some video of the real eco-motors engine; I still can’t figure out how they integrate the opposed piston push rod (you know, the one that looks to have to be external to the cylinder and how it re-attaches to the crankshaft). Maybe I’m just a dutz, but I can’t figure it out.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Motorman: the a/c shuts off as well, making this feature useless in hot climates,IMHO.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    I find it fascinating that Mr Gates, a man that has made billions in the electronics field, would invest in another variant of the internal combustion engine. Not ev’s.

  11. SlimJim Says:

    @ pedro
    Of the 23 million being invested in eco-motors by this group, let’s say Bill Gates is putting up 8 illion. Not a lot of scratch for Mr. Gates. It’s just a bit of diversification.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    motorman Says:
    July 14th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    “what happens to the A/C on these “stop/start” engines ? what keeps the A/C compressor running in the stop mode ???”

    At some point, and maybe soon, many A/C compressors will be electic. That is already the case with a Prius. Cars would need bigger batteries to run the A/C for very long with the engine off. The Prius uses its “big battery” for the A/C.

  13. tJ Martin Says:

    Well finally some common sense as to the whole Toyota issue . Seems to me John and the like have been saying the very same thing for months now . Nice of the NHTSA to finally catch up !

    As to the whole E/V issue I guess our astute White House must of missed the NYTimes article about the Heat Wave last week in the NE where a Con Ed spokesman made mention of the fact that had there even been 5,000 E/V’s in NYC and the greater surrounding area the enite grid would have been brought to its knees .

    Which raises the very real question . How the ( bleep ) is the Grid anywhere in the US going to deal with the additional strain placed on the system by E/V’s ?

    @Nanny -State ; JB is that you ?

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m not yet convinced that the eco-motors engine is twice as efficient as conventional IC engines, as is claimed. After all, it’s just another take on what we’ve had for over 100 years. I’ll wait and see, but I don’t think a different way of arranging pistons will double the gas mileage of a vehicle with a conventional power train.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “How the ( bleep ) is the Grid anywhere in the US going to deal with the additional strain placed on the system by E/V’s ?”

    Most EV’s would be charged overnight when there is lower load on the power grid from A/C, cooking, TV’s, lights, etc. That doesn’t change the fact, though, that in America, most of this electricity would be generated by burning coal, the worst fuel we have, environmentally.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If Subaru wants to broaden their appeal, a good place to start would be to stop having AWD mandatory on all of their cars.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit: if you put in a battery to keep the a/c going, that will raise the cost of the system to the point of not making it worthwhile in order to save some gas, an automatic temp control will be more economical and will let you set the temperature inside the car at a comfortable level, and save gas by limiting the compressor when the outside temp is not too high, my 86 Camry had an economy mode for the a/c which came in handy in warm, not hot, days.

  18. John V Says:

    I agree with Kit. Subaru could make 2WD appliances for the mainstream market and and sell them as more fuel efficient models. I would be in that market myself.
    For those who love and must have the AWD experience, Subaru should make sure it stays available on every model.

  19. tJ Martin Says:

    Kit Gerhart

    Reading the Con Ed comments where I’m sure he was taking into account re-charging E/V’s at night I’m not so sure I’d agree with your explanation .

    And depending on how far a commute a potential E/V owner would have I’d guess more than a few would have to re-charge at Work in order to get home .

    The point still being ; the Grid as it stands in the US and abroad is currently being stressed to the max especially on high usage days and is incapable of handling the additional burden of the demands E/V’s would place on the system .

    Add that to as you said , most electricity being generated by coal : along with much of it by petrol ( with a 35% return rate of efficiency ) and I think you and i would both agree now is not the time for E/V’s .

  20. G.A.Branigan Says:

    If obama wants better mpg averages then why doesn’t he embrace clean diesel technology?More efficient,less maintenance,longer lasting,more torque etc.Runs better on bio-diesel then gas engines do on E85,bio-diesel is cheaper all around to produce.This countries aversion to clean diesels is very disturbing.

  21. tJ Martin Says:

    So maybe one of you engineering types can answer this question .

    Why has no one gone down the ally of a small , constant RPM diesel or gas engine powering a generator that would then power the Electric Motors propelling the car as is done in Diesel Electric Locomotives ?

    To me this seems the quickest and simplest solution to lowering our overall fuel consumption . So either I’m missing something or the Manufactures etc. are missing out on the obvious .

    Which is it ?

  22. Salvador G. Says:

    -What a news day… !

    and,
    Tonight on ABC News… .. All Toyotas lawsuits have been dropped and we personally at ABC, like apologise to Toyota for making an ass of our self in getting some college profs. to simulate SUA and thus bash Toyota.
    -THIS IS NOT GOING TO HAPPENG- it should- BUT its not gonna happen–
    -

    Why do I feel like to start praying for the ecomotors engine?? (-I’m not big on religion)
    If these engines actually do work, we should really start considering Peter Hofbauer our saint.
    -

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    tj I think your idea would be cost prohibitive when it comes to a personal-use vehicle, what works in diesel/electric locomotives does not necessarily translate well to cars. remember they need pulling power more than anything else.

  24. John notMc Says:

    @motorman I believe the engine has to keep running if you have the A/C on, so stop/start knows not to engage when in that mode.

  25. Zieke Says:

    Well well, looks like driver error is alive and well, except in those minds that have committed the goofs. Most folks don’t like to admit making an error while driving, especially if their lawyer thinks a lawsuit is possible. I guess it’s real easy to blame a car co. for your own stupid goofs. Good call John!

  26. Chuck Grenci Says:

    tj, what you propose is what the Chevy Volt is closest to. Still is not the answer, merely part of the mix.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Why has no one gone down the ally of a small , constant RPM diesel or gas engine powering a generator that would then power the Electric Motors propelling the car as is done in Diesel Electric Locomotives ?”

    I suspect that, with the loss in the generator and motor, this would not be as efficient as connecting the IC engine more or less directly to the wheels, as in regular cars.

    That probably changes with locomotives, as things get a lot larger. Also, I suspect the use of electric controls in locomotives it is a lot easier, and more reliable than using mechanical clutches as would be required in a non-electric diesel locomotive.

    As Chuck said, the Volt will be the closest to the generator/motor system of a locomotive, and my guess is that it won’t be particularly efficient as a gas-only car.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro fernandez Says:
    July 14th, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    “Kit: if you put in a battery to keep the a/c going, that will raise the cost of the system to the point of not making it worthwhile in order to save some gas,”

    I agree. It would take a large battery to keep the a/c going very long without the engine, maybe large enough that you had might as well use it to help power the car too. Wait. I think they are already doing that in some cars:-)

    A compromise, and maybe they are already doing it with start/stop cars, is to keep the fan running, and if you are stopped very long, have the engine cycle on and off while the car is stopped to keep the cabin temp down. You could also “store cold” in the form of ice or something, but that might not be practical, or maybe it could be developed into something viable for start/stop engine cars.

  29. Carroll Says:

    Yeah right, driver error? Sure in some cases the floor mat could have caused the problem, but to say the driver caused their own deaths or injury because they were trapped in a speeding toyota with the engine reved out. Right, blame the user not the auto builder…. “Crazy” I would not buy or own a toyota period.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It looks like I bought my Prius at the right time. The transaction price of Toyotas will be going up, since it is “official” that it has been the drivers, not the cars that are responsible for the “unintended acceleration.”

  31. tj Martin Says:

    Carrol ;

    Obviously you weren’t around when Audi went thru the same issues back in the 80′s.

    Like Toyota today , It was proven that the majority of unintended accelerations were as a matter of fact Driver Error .

    Not buying or owning a Toyota by the way is your loss . You’re missing out on a fine reliable automobile in spite of the recent woes .

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, as a resident of sunny, hot Florida, you know that if your a/c compressor quits for just one minute, it gets as hot as hell. Also have you ever traveled the SW states during the summer? even worse, when I went to Vegas, taxi cabs had a/c units on the roof because the factory equipped unit just could not keep with the 100+ degree temp. My rental car just could not keep us cool enough during the day time heat.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pedro,

    The usefulness of start/stop varies a lot by location, and it would not be very useful in Florida, and, especially, Las Vegas on a hot day. It is cheap to do, though. I assume they use different type starters than the usual “Bendix” drive units, which might not last too long with many times the normal number of engine starts.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The thing that isn’t mentioned often enough regarding this “unintended acceleration,” is that even very high powered road cars, at full throttle, can be slowed and stopped with a good, hard push on the brake pedal. It wouldn’t even take that much push on the pedal to stop a Lexus ES.

  35. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    John Mac, could have pegged it right.

    Im still skeptical of this Toyota Defending, but hey..

    Does anybody think this peddal gap problem could be exascerbated by American Obesity, or Americans just being plain larger than they used to be in general and wearing wider shoes?

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    Smoke, why don’t just say that people who buy and drive Toyotas are clowns and that’s why they have oversized, goofy clown shoes.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I usually drive with flip flops or barefoot, so I wouldn’t have the “wide shoe” problem.

    Actually, flip flops are not at all good as driving shoes, but I’ve never had a problem with them.

  38. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Think about it too guys.

    Not just the wide shoes, but as John Mac explained before when he had track shoes/boots/beakers. America’s quest to hike, live in rural areas, and travel led to a proliferation of outdoor footwear as regular everyday fashion.

    I hate defending Toyota I really do so, but there are other factors to be considered here.

  39. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    http://www.autolinedetroit.tv/daily/?p=8716

    Refer to this to see what I am talking about.

  40. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    By the way, I was talking to my Mom Tonight. She’s got a 1970 Life Magazine. Brand new Toyota Corolla=$1200.

    Therefore, who knows what Hyundai will be in 20 years. It could be the new Mercedes for all we know. KIA could be the World’s largest mass market brand in that time. That’s why you NEVER, EVER, Totally Doubt a new Car company.

    It also proves that Hyundai/KIA haters are just Absolutely clueless.

  41. Nick Stevens Says:

    Thart Hyundai Retard has some gall! You got egg all over your ignorant face, clown, with your idiotic, Toyota-hating screeds, I don’t have the time to go back earlier this year in the archives and prove to all (exceot you, you are too damned stupid to understand) what a fool you are.

    John Mc and Pedro and I and many others were absolutely RIGHT, the idiots peddling the conspiracy theories have egg all over their aUTO ILLITERATE faces.

    Some people should only be allowed to drive KIAS.

  42. Nick Stevens Says:

    tj: US diesel regulations re emissions are far tougher than even the stringent Euro regs, so it is practically impossible to sell an economy size diesel in the US.

    Diesel-Electric Hybrids are by far the most efficient hybrids, but they also will be by far the most expensive, hence nobody is selling them in the US, but PEUGEOT has already developed 70++ MPG diesel-electric hybrids (Golf-sized) and yesterday John told us it will offer a DEH 508 large sedan as well.

  43. Nick Stevens Says:

    It is a no-brainer to Hyundai to shut down KIA for good. Here in the US only the Sonata and the ELantra sell in any decent volume (over 10k units/month), and there are 20 other Hyundai-kia models that are starving. By deleting all the Hyundai clone models at KIA the Huyndai branded models will sell that much more and maybe they will become far more profitable (assuming they are proifitable today)

  44. Nick Stevens Says:

    Idiotic Smoke and Mirrors wrote:

    “That’s why you NEVER, EVER, Totally Doubt a new Car company.”

    Like “De Lorean”, eh, fool?

    What a dumbass….

  45. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit Gerhart Says:
    July 14th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    “I usually drive with flip flops or barefoot, so I wouldn’t have the “wide shoe” problem.”

    These losers did not have a “wide shoe” problem, they had a tiny brain (in some cases on drugs) problem. Or assorted attention deficit disorders.

    Will anybody now take to task that dishonest, ignorant CLOWN from thart obscure Il fourth-rate college and his fraudulent so-called experiments, and especially the CLOWNS AT ABC who paid for the fraud and aired it?

  46. Nick Stevens Says:

    TOyota demands that the dishonest, ignorantr clown at SIU be fired.

    “Much of the hysteria over a possible electronic cause for the Toyota unintended acceleration scandal (aka “the ghost in the machine”) stemmed from an ABC report featuring Southern Indiana University professor David Gilbert. Gilbert demonstrated to ABC’s Brian Ross that unintended acceleration could be triggered in Toyotas without generating an error code, but the report didn’t address the likelihood of this happening. Furthermore, ABC was found to have used misleading footage in that report. Gilbert went on to testify in one of the least convincing panels ever convened before congress, and even after Toyota held an event aimed solely at debunking his suspicions, Gilbert has persisted in believing that something is wrong with Toyota’s electronics. As a result, the AP [via CBC] reports that Toyota has pulled funding for two internships at SIU, two Toyota employees resigned from its automotive technology program advisory board, and another demanded that Gilbert be fired. The AP seems very keen to call these retaliations “smears,” but given recent revelations about the government investigation into Toyota’s electronic throttle control system, it seems that Gilbert and SIU are simply reaping what they’ve sown. ”

    Why bother with the little clown and the fourth-rate college? SUE ABC, toyota, THEY are the “Great Satan” in this!!!

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    despite the NHTSA findings there are people here who still believe that Toyota is to blame for these crashes, I don’t believe any study will convince them otherwise, but the fact remains it has not happened again. and I’m sure not every single car was taken to the dealer by their owners.

  48. Nick Stevens Says:

    Today there was a lot of news on AD, and I forgot to address the EV scam, it is ludicrous that the Admin is pushing these costly Pure EVs that few, if any, will ever need (private buyers). I am not even sure if it makes sense for most FLEETS, even city fleets, to buy the POS Pure EVs, who failed in the 1900s for a reason and will fail miserably again in the 2010s.

  49. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Its still under Investigation guys. Dont get too hasty. There could still be other problems too, lets see.

    Just because I played Devil’s advocate for 6 seconds doesnt mean I agree with NHTSA.

    They did check driver error before, MONTHS AGO!!

    They said it wasnt a problem then, and now they want to say such now.

    For all we know they could have gotten tired of investigating this thing, and they truly never found out the answer, so they blame it on the driver.

    Government is good for blaming it on the citizen when they cant truly prove a fact in an investigation.

    Nick there’s a difference between a hole in the wall brand like Spyker running SAAB today, and an up and coming brand Like Hyundai/KIA.

    Toyota didnt even make drivable safe decent quality cars until 1975. Like I stated, that Mag was done in 1970. Like My Mom stated, they used to laugh at Toyotas back then. She doesnt find it funny anymore, and as a domestic lover its kind of hard for her to look at the article in retrospect.

    To her here’s this car from a POS company from a 3rd World Country they used to laugh at, that in 40 years grew into a 1st world nation with a better living standard than ours, and the cars now part of a Global Megalith. In the same mag there’s Plymouth, Mercury, and AMC ads.

    I see why Mom has a problem looking at the Toyota Ad.

    She then added, “In those days we couldnt understand Toyota, but others did. In Retrospect, American Cars of that Era were FUGLY and DANGEROUS RATTLETRAPS, even though at the time we thought they were the best looking things in the world. What were we thinking back then? Now I see why the American car industry went to shit, just look at these horrible looking and dangerous cars in these ads son.”

    True definition of “you will eat your words.” She ate so much crow last night about cars.

  50. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Americans buy 300,000 KIAs a year. It would be pretty stupid to get rid of them. In fact, that is indication of why Hyundai should move upmarket. Its the mature more trusted brand out of the 2.

    Hyundai/KIA had a harder experience than the Japanese did, and still developed at the same pace or faster considering cases. The Japanese had an open market where pretty much every other competitor was a POS. They were POS too, but they saw this quality weakness from others as a strength. Since pretty much every car in America in today has a better JD Power score than Toyota 20 years ago, as John Mac and others have been saying nearly everybody has decent quality now.

    Quality is not a weakness anymore, but value for money is a huge weakness in this market and now HKAG is exploiting it. Ultra high fuel efficiency is a Huge weakness in this market too, and as you will see VERY soon HKAG will exploit that. Cheap looking cars that arent cheap IS ANOTHER HUGE WEAKNESS IN THIS MARKET TOO-they are exploiting this too!!!

    By the way Nick, KIA Soul outsells Yaris and Fit combined now.

    Who wants a Fit for $18K with downmarket cloth seats that belong on a $12K car, weak looking alloys when you can get a Soul with Leather and Sweet ass Alloys at that price?

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The thing I remember about early Toyotas, and other early Japanese cars, is that they rusted terribly. My sister had a late 70′s, I think ’77 Dodge Colt (made by Mitsubishi) and her partner had a same-year Corolla. Both were simple, manual transmission cars, and both were stone reliable, but both were rusting badly within 4 or 5 years, much worse than American cars of the time.

    All car companies have made great strides in preventing rust. Now, most cars go at least 12-15 years before having visible rust, even in Indiana where they dump salt on the roads by the megaton.