Episode 443 – Chevy Volt Sticker Shock, Hyundai Avante Revealed, Saab 9-5 Factory Tour

July 27th, 2010 at 11:32am

Runtime 6:55

Pricing is announced for the Chevy Volt today, and reports say it won’t be cheap. Hyundai unveils the all-new Avante, which is known as the Elantra in the American market. Toyota delays U.S. production of the Prius for several years. All that and more, plus we take a tour of the factory in Trollhättan, Sweden where Saab is building the new 9-5.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

This is Autoline Daily for July 27, 2010. And now the news.

And boy is there a lot of news about electric cars. GM is going to officially announce the price of the Chevrolet Volt today. Bloomberg reports that it’s going to cost about $40,000, which is exactly what GM told us it would cost several years ago. We’ve also learned that GM is going to start selling the Volt in China, along with an electric version of the Chevrolet Sail and a hybrid version of the Buick LaCrosse.

Meanwhile, in Europe, the French newspaper Le Figaro reports that Renault announced the price of its electric car, the Zoe, will cost under €15,000, or just under $20,000. That includes a €5,000 credit. And customers will have to pay €100 a month to rent the battery. Even so, that gives it about the same price as a Renault Clio with a diesel engine.

And sticking with the EV news in Europe for the moment, Porsche announced it is definitely going to come out with an all-electric sports car. It is going to build three electric Boxsters to start developing the technology. But it does not say if the Boxster is the EV it will put into production.

Now we switch from EVs to hybrids. Toyota says it is not going to build any Priuses in the United States until 2016 at the earliest. Reuters reports that the Prius will probably be built in the U.S. when the car gets remodeled. So it sounds like it’s not going to get remodeled for another 6 years. Toyota built a new assembly plant in Mississippi ostensibly to make the Prius. Instead, it will make Corollas, which is where Toyota moved production of that car after it closed the NUMMI plant in California. Toyota says it wants the U.S. car market to recover before it produces the Prius in the U.S. But sales of the Prius are up 18% this year. Sounds to me like Toyota is hedging its bet on hybrids, what with all these electric cars about to hit the market.

Hyundai revealed the new Avante in South Korea, which is known as the Elantra in the U.S. market. The best selling model in the company’s line-up worldwide will be powered by a 1.6L four cylinder with direct injection and mated to a six-speed automatic, developed completely in-house by Hyundai. Fuel economy is about 39 MPG, or 6.1 l/100km. And there are features available that you wouldn’t expect in a vehicle this size like a parallel park assist system, heated rear seats and HID headlamps. The Avante goes on sale next week in South Korea.

Siemens announced that Chrysler will use its PLM Software for product design and development for its vehicles. Chrysler has been using part of its software since 2008 and now will use a more comprehensive version, known as NX, to develop vehicles. Prior to using Siemens PLM Software, which is what Fiat uses, Chrysler used Catia software.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally revealed that the company plans to sell all of its models in China. According to Gasgoo, Mulally said Ford is working on growing its operations in China in order to bring its vehicles to the country as quickly as possible. This includes the new Explorer, which Mulally said will be in China next year. The current model is already sold in the country.

And sticking with Explorer news for the moment, the Detroit Free Press reports that the base price will start just under $29,000, about a $1,000 less than the previous Explorer.

Coming up next, we’ll take a look at how Saab is manufacturing the new car that will make or break the company.

The new Saab 9-5 is a critical car for the company. If it doesn’t do well, there will be no second chance. Isaac Bouchard files this story from Sweden about how the car will be manufactured.

Thanks for that report Isaac.

And that is the top news in today’s global automotive industry. Please join us tomorrow for the next update on Autoline Daily.

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

50 Comments to “Episode 443 – Chevy Volt Sticker Shock, Hyundai Avante Revealed, Saab 9-5 Factory Tour”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Excuse me for sounding cynical, but what is the diff between how the new SAAB is being built and just about any other modern car in any other modern facility? I missed the point of that report.(Born from jets, reborn from desperation) The Volt pricing news is not news at all but a confirmation that this car will likely do as well as the EV1, line forms to the right, anybody? Just remembered, my local Budget office is charging a premium price to rent one of their 2 Priuses on the lot.

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It looks like Hyundai is naming a car after a 1962 Studebaker. I wonder if that was deliberate, using the name AVANTE which is only one letter different from AVANTI.

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect Toyota might be thinking it “safer” to keep building the very complex Prius in Japan for a while longer. The current Prius is probably the most “Japanese” car in the US market, with about 99% Japanese content. I’m betting they don’t want to try to set up North American suppliers, etc. for the car, when it is much easier to just build Corollas in the Michigan plant.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Does SAAB really have a chance of surviving? Somehow, I am very pessimistic about their prospects.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    Agree, Kit. Toyota can’t afford to mess up the Prius by using 2nd class suppliers like they’ve done with Camry and Corolla. Just about 90% of all gen 8 Corollas I’ve encountered have interiors that are simply falling apart without any regard for the level of care its owners may have given. Just low quality materials, in order to save money. thank goodness they did not skimp on the basic engineering and power trains.

  6. Derek V. Says:

    I think SAAB can make it. Its not going to be a BMW or Mercedes so it just has to focus on customer loyalty (which is almost as good as Subaru) and from there it has room in the market. Room coming from the space Honda and Acura has opened up with them losing their way as well as Buick and Cadillac just kind of sitting there – not really making a dent. Even Toyota and Lexus havn’t really made an impression with much they’ve put out there.

    SAAB really has potential to hit the luxury A and B segments if they go back to the 9-2 and 9-3, beating everyone except maybe BMW to that niche. Having said all that, they need the flagship 9-5 to establish that vision. Then, if they roll out 9-2 and 9-3 (in that order) then I think they’ll compete without too many worries. But they have to move fast before refresh cycles give other OEMs the opportunity to beat them to the punch.

  7. Brett Cammack Says:

    That new Elantra looks great!

    It his book, “The Reckoning” David Halberstam said that Koreans refer to the Japanese as “the lazy Asians”. I always loved that line and have kept an eye the Korean car makers ever since.

    This gonna be fun to watch.

  8. G.A.branigan Says:

    Yawn….so the volt is going to be 40k.Look for sales to go………….nowhere.

    100 euros a month to “rent” a battery to run a electric car.Some how that just doesn’t sit well with me.Were I in Europe,I would opt for the small diesel and call it done.

  9. tj Martin Says:

    OK all More Money than Brains types line up behind Door # 1 for the Volt .

    A lot More Money than Brains Door #2 for the non existent Tesla Sedan .

    Even more Money than Brains Door # 3 for the non existent Fisker .

    Pull out your wallets. Empty the contents in the basket please . And you may or may not get delivery of your E/V that most definitely won’t work as well as advertised.

    Congratulations and Thank You for helping to repay the Tax Payers investments in these lost leader companies .

  10. tj Martin Says:

    Looks like HyundaiBlowingSmoke has a friend . How nice . Glad to see somebody can get excited by such a bland and boring Korean pastiche of a Japanese Econo Box .

  11. tj Martin Says:

    pedro fernandez ;

    Yes I’ve heard similar complaints about the recent Corollas . So why is it that the Matrix , which is based on the Corolla is so much better ? ( my wife’s had been flawless )

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Yes I’ve heard similar complaints about the recent Corollas . So why is it that the Matrix , which is based on the Corolla is so much better ? ( my wife’s had been flawless )”

    Did GM have a positive influence on how the interor was done, since they shared the Matrix as the Pontiac Vibe? That is a car I thought GM should have kept, as a Chevy, but it’s not going to happen.

  13. Chuck Grenci Says:

    While I can watch the assemblage of a car (all day long), I agree with Pedro, the report on Saab had no content of uniqueness, just an overview of assembly. Saab, in order to make it, needs something more than a slick new look, which only gets it in the ‘ball park’ of what numerous other manufacturers already have.

  14. tj Martin Says:

    pedro fernandez ;

    About Saab . Well as much as I fought to help keep them alive .( call it out of nostalgia ) And as much as I hope they can survive I think they have three major strikes against them .

    1) Their new owners Spyker who have yet to make a profit along with having non existent cash reserves and debts out their ears .

    2) The ” New ” 9-5 isn’t very new is it ?

    3) More” Hype” in advertising than reality in product .

    So like you I’m guessing Saab won’t last more than say 5 years . If that !

  15. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I’m guessing the Volt will have its early adopters and devotees, the only thing that will spur sales will be if gasoline goes up, diesels stay in Europe and the per copy comes down (way down).

  16. tj Martin Says:

    Kit Gerhart ;

    Thats an interesting question you bring up about the Matrix/Vibe relationship and one I’d like to see John or someone here address . And why didn’t Chevy take over the Vibe as a new model ? I thought the Vibe was a pretty good seller for GM wasn’t it ?

  17. tj Martin Says:

    On E/V’s

    ConEd ( greater NYC power company ) once again has come out with a statement that if even 10% of the greater NYC drivers switched to E/V’s that would be enough to collapse the entire power grid for days .

    They’re making that statement under the assumption that most E/V owners would be re-charging at night , but that a small % with longer commutes would have to re-charge during business hours in order to return home .

    This from a company that if they could handle the overload would stand to increase their profits ten fold with the introduction of E/V’s for city driving .

    But obviously they( ConEd 0 know they can not ! Having lived on both coasts as well as the midlands I’m not overly convinced any major city has the Grid or Infrastructure to handle the additional loads E/V’s will place on our electrical systems .

    So when is someone in the press going to start addressing that one ?

    By the by if you all haven’t noticed Jay Leno seems to have done a complete 180% on his website about the Volt . I think I liked him better when he was being honest .

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    TJ and Kit, having owned a Corolla for the past dozen years, I’ve done a little unscientific study and I’ve found that the top tier LE seems to do better with interiors than the cheaper VE and CE versions. Perhaps they use diff door panels and trims to accommodate the power windows and locks, which the lesser models lack, and the Matrix interior must come from a different supplier, I guess. I’ve even seen Corollas with sagging headliners. A rare occurrence in Toyotas of the past. They do real bad in really hot climates.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    tj I really think that the ev’s will have such a small success that it wont make any diff in the power demands, extremely hot summer months make a bigger impact for sure.

  20. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ TJ:Con Ed tells the truth about possible grid collapse.The rest of our countries grid would be affected in maybe a not so devastating way,but it would suffer.

    Then why do the experts say it ain’t so?Hell,it’s been said here on AD.Just like there will be no problems in “real life” extreme winter or summer usage of the batteries in these ev’s.

    One thing that more then likely won’t be a problem is an influx of chevy volts hogging the grid ;}>

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If there are ever many EV’s, there will need to be strong incentives for charging them at off-peak times for power usage. If that is done, the grid might be able to handle it.

    I’m still not a big believer in using coal to power cars, and coal is burned to produce almost half of America’s electricity.

  22. Gary Lisk Says:

    C’mon Chevrolet, I just don’t get. Here you have the perfect PR machine in the Volt, a car which peoples noses have been pressed up against windows trying to get a peek and then you go and chase them out of your yard with a rake. Why will the Volt be priced at $41,000? If, as Maximum Bob said you were going to lose money on them anyways, why not lose just a bit more and really wow the public? If they are only looking at numbers of 10-30,000 annually, why not lose another $5-10,000 a copy and make a real statement. Price the car at about $32,000 so after the tax credit the buyer will be in for about $25,000, or about the same money as as comparable gas engined car. I can see nothing but rumbling from the media and the public. The amount of time, effort, and money spent trying to justify why the Volt is so expensive would be turned around into free *positive* press if you folks would have looked beyond the immediate bottom line. I figure by the time the cars are a year into selling there will be plenty of rebate money available.

    One more question. If this is primarily an electric vehicle, do you really need power windows, heated seats, a navigation system, etc. Shouldn’t the real greenies be looking for a car without these energy sapping accessories to eek out that extra couple of miles per charge?

  23. Bill Says:

    Call it a Cadillac Volt – then go out and buy a Nissan Leaf!!!

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    If Saturn was still around, they would have given it to them and called it Ur-anus, and put the electrical connection at the rear.

  25. PureMoose Says:

    John. I didn’t see anyone smoking a cigarette on the SAAB “NEW Assembly Line”

  26. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Kit Avante is the Korean Name for Elantra.

    US Elantra will be powered by a 2.0 GDI returning close to the same 40 MPG rating with ~170 HP.

    The 1.6 GDI Engine with 6 speed Auto (confirmed unofficially for the US) is the Accent engine for the US market. A smaller lighter car like Accent should return 43-44 MPG with 140 HP.

    Koreans always get the smaller powertrains than we do. Gas is close to the world standard of $8.00 a gallon in Korea.

    Korean Accent (Verna) will get a 1.4 GDI.

    New Elantra/Avante/i35=The upmarket Jetta that VW USED to make.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    Smoke: will the new Elantra surprise everyone just like the new Sonata has?

  28. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    A lot of American observers get tripped up by the Quirky global name designations of Korean Cars. In China for Example, Genesis is called Rohens, and when it eventually does come to Europe it will be called i65, with a smaller lighter i60 RWD Sedan more catered to European tastes under it.

  29. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Pedro, simply yes. It will blow people away. Make them say things like “A HYUNDAI COMPACT CAR BUILT LIKE THIS?!!!” Its going to be even more of a change from the New One to the Current Gen One than Sonata was.

    There will be a hatch too. That im30 testing in Europe is it.

  30. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    A 40 MPG C car with close to the same power as your last gen D car that only got 32 MPG. The 1.6 Turbo will be sweet, and definately will make that Gen Coupe 2.0 Turbo Obsolete.

    Accent on the other hand was 3rd place in Motor Trend COTY 2006 (Winner-Civic), and unless somebody else really steps it up it could be the Winner this time. Accent and Azera will both by far be Hyundai’s most changed products when the new ones come out. Elantra is definately a change, but not as much as Accent and Azera will be.

    As I rave about Elantra, that US Accent and Azera will be Absolutely Spectacular. If those 2 dont win NA or Motor Trend COTY awards, then there’s no hope for the Judges, or somebody else’s product was so compelling they were forced to pick it.

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    from the beating a dead horse dept. some observations I made on the Cobalt I just had over the weekend. Its heavier than my Corolla and has a longer wheel base, yet it feels more cramped inside. The overly large center consoles in some of these new cars take away the front leg space of the FWD design. Also I noticed even if I sat straight in the middle of the driver’s seat, wheel was slightly to my left, if I wanted said wheel to be straight in front, I had to contort myself to the left. Simply bad ergonomics, I just hope they get it right with the Cruze.

  32. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    By the way TJ, please dude. Your 1996 Euro Jeta/A3 (2011) is such a Yawn factory.

    Its a load of crap that the Media except for Autoblog has been so nice to those Overpriced, Less efficient, less reliable KIAs with a Piss Poor design VWAG now plans to make.

    Whats even more sad is that Jetta is even more dramatic than that YAWN box C-Class in terms of design.

    You British with your hatred and disdain which borders on Xenophobia towards Asian cars is ridiculous. Like someone from a Country with a totally Vanquished (such Irony-Aston Martin Vanquish) automotive industry has the right to judge world cars.

    British advice is going to destroy most of the German makes, with their overpriced MSRPs, unreliable powertrains, and pathetically boring designs. Yeah, you Brits are Jealous and plan to destroy the Germans with your advice. Its a shame the Germans are falling for it hook line and sinker too.

    This whole “German Permium Heritage” is Ridiculous and Xenophobic when a $70K BMW looks as boring as a $15K Toyota. Who cares if that BMW has an Engine from Hell when it looks as understated and bland as the Corolla in the next lane.


  33. HtG Says:

    Last week there was some talk about the new 8 and 9 speed transmissions. It looks like the Audi A7 will be available with a CVT and TDI engine that will give 53mpg(imperial units). Here is the car porn link.


  34. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Buicks are now more exciting to look at than a BMW, and if I were GM, Id create a Tuning division for Buick to really spice things up.

    When are you going to Twin Turbo that Regal GS when it comes here guys?

    GS Moniker should=Twin Turbos on everything.

    By the way, that Rolls Royce Ghost with its 1950s Wood interior is just ridiculous for a 21st century car. If I spend $245K+ for a car it needs to have Gold/Silver plated trim, Diamonds, Rubies, and Sapphires on my dash.

    That much money for a brushed stainless steel grille? Please, we have that much brushed stainless steel in our pots and pans.

    Im tired of these “Status Name cars” that look more like peasant cars as opposed to rich cars. HOW CAN YOU CLAIM A CAR IS RICH WHEN IT LOOKS POOR? WHAT THE BADGES, THE FINE WOEFULLY OVERPRICED LEATHER?

    I want a car to look rich. The Germans of course arent going to listen, so Detroit and Seoul I hope youre listening.

    Cadillacs look worthy of the Badge of a Rich brand, while Hyundais look more upscale than what the price states. BMWs and Mercs are like Playboy, nothing more than PAPER TIGERS and CHEAPENED BRANDS at the sake of status and percieved class.

    I think its hysterical that Europeans think understatement is a fine trait to have in a car.

  35. tj Martin Says:

    HyundaiBlowingSmoke ;

    Ahh TJ and ahh Jetta ??? Of any era ? I’m afriad like so many other things you try and talk about you’ve got your signals crossed there .

    Never owned one . Never spoken about one . Never so much as even though about one .

    So here’s a Hyundai question for you I’d love to see you try and answer ;

    In light of all the labor disputes and raising manufacturing costs in both Korea and the US just how does Hyundai manage to stick on all those bells and whistles at such a substantially lower price ?

    I can guess the answer having looked underneath all the glitz and glitter not to mention seeing what happens to a Hyundai after say five years of moderate use .


    Hyundai cut corners on everything else in the construction process . Hence tons of bells and whistles with no substance underneath .

  36. tj Martin Says:


    Hey I just re-read your uninformed post to me .

    Thats hysterical . The Brit ( YOU ) is accusing the Yank ( that would be me there son ) of being a Brit .

    I love it ! Could you be more clueless ?

    Now I know you as HyundaiSmoke both from CAR and AutoCar but you wouldn’t happen to also be related to / or actually be SnarkKillernow would you ? Be honest now . If you’re capable !

    Because in truth he’s the only other Brit – Pretending to be a Yank – thats been foolish enough to accuse the likes of me (such an obvious NJ born and bred Yank its pathetic ) of being a Brit .

  37. tj Martin Says:

    pedro fernandez ;

    Well back to the subject of Corolla’s here’s a little bit of personal experience with one of the older ones .

    In 1992 my wife ( now owns the Matrix ) purchased a 92 Corolla SE . And she loved it ! The only way I finally pried that car out of her hands was when I showed her that to ship the car ( we were moving from NE to the Mid West ) would cost more than the value of the car , and it was about time to buy an new one .

    Anyway we sold the 92 to a friend as a first car for her daughter . And the girl is still driving that 92 Corolla to this day !

    The only thing its needed other than basic maintenance and replacement is a new radiator core and an alternator . Which after 7 years Toyota still paid 80% of the parts and 40% of the labor .

    Thats quality ! And I’m sorry to hear the new ones aren’t as good .

    (PS; The car lived in Colorado and VT so it dealt with every extreme including altitude .

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    Tj in my experience Toyota decided to save money on the interior or the “not so vital” parts of the Corolla in order to keep the costs low. I have seen much older samples in better shape inside w/o all the broken trim pieces and detached plastic strips and droopy headliners. Even my steering wheel surface material has worn off.

  39. tj Martin Says:

    HyundaiBlowingSmoke ;

    And son ! There is a huge chasm of difference between CLASS and BLING there young fellow .

    What you’re wanting on your Luxury Car is BLING . So tell you what . Tkae that new Hyundai of yours over to one of your Soccer Chavs ( footballers to you , sorry ) and have them do a full monty Lady Gaga on it .

    Diamonds , Pearls you name it they can do it . I promise !

    But ahh that guy in the Rolls or BMW 7 Series will be laughing his buns off when he sees you . Along with the rest of the World ( think Eddy Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop when he walked by the Michael Jackson clones.

    But why am I bothering . Its 1:07 AM there in the UK and well past your bedtime . Sweet Dreams SK….. uh HS… ah lk9500 . What ever !

  40. tj Martin Says:

    pedro fernandez ;

    Ah you’re still around . Well maybe we got lucky with the wife’s 92 as the only interior bit that wore out was a door handle ( forgot about that sorry ) on the drivers side . Other than that its still looks almost new .

  41. tj Martin Says:

    pedro fernandez ;

    We know that because the friends daughter that got the car still sends us photos now and again because the kid is so thrilled to own the car .

    Don’t you wish all kids could be that excited about such a basic albeit good piece of transportation ?

  42. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Oh, you’re a Riot Mr. Martin. LMAO!!

  43. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit Gerhart Says:
    July 27th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    “It looks like Hyundai is naming a car after a 1962 Studebaker. I wonder if that was deliberate, using the name AVANTE which is only one letter different from AVANTI.”

    And I bet Hyundai paid some snake oil saleswoman like the one John had here some time ago $1 million to come up with the above lame-ass name.

    Pathetic. A sucker is born every MILLISECOND, and some of them are..”successful car companies (my ass)”

  44. Nick Stevens Says:

    # Kit Gerhart Says:
    July 27th, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Does SAAB really have a chance of surviving? Somehow, I am very pessimistic about their prospects.

    That would be the obvious odds-on favorite bet. Unless if they come up with a really successful retro car that looks like what Saabs used to look and not like the lancias and Opels and Vauxhalls Saabs are clones of today.

  45. Nick Stevens Says:

    Almost everybody here seems to get it right re EVs, the stupid Volt, and all that. But the pruze goes to Pedro for his Volt clone name, the Saturn Ur-Anus. You should be the one the dumbasses at GM should give the $1 million for naming this vehicle, and not that broad for coming up with the lame-ass Hyundai ..AvantE. (How lame can it get????)

  46. Nick Stevens Says:


    $41,000 Chevy Volt?

    No, thanks. TWO Priuses please!

  47. Nick Stevens Says:

    Phony Sticker price of the day:

    The Volt’s $41,000.

    GM has priced the Volt’s $350 a month lease to compete nose-to-nose against Nissan North America’s upcoming electric Leaf, which will lease for $349 a month — even though the Volt retails for $8,000 more than the Leaf.

    Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100727/BLOG06/100729886/-1#ixzz0uyKThDjL

  48. Nick Stevens Says:

    Actually, the Volt’s lease indicates that GM is (again) placing artificial residuals on its vehicles. Therefore, Ally/AmeriCredit will be taking huge losses on these when they come back after 36mos.

    Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100727/BLOG06/100729886/-1#ixzz0uyL00FMp

  49. XA351GT Says:

    They may not lose much. I’m sure they will drill laesee’s for every little blem the car gets when they turn them in. I’d bet that each car will total no less than $2000 worth of excessive wear and tear and damage charges.

  50. Dustin Marshall Says:

    SAAB knows that in order to survive it has to go back to its roots of offering intelligent, unique, innovative, technicially advanced products that truely offer something different from the competition.

    During the GM years, SAAB slowly lost all that and basically became over priced rebadged versions of GM vehicles. To me the new 9-5 is more of the same that got SAAB into trouble. SAAB knows this, but the 9-5 was too far along in development to cancel it. The new SAAB 9-5 reminds me of the lame Jaguar Ford tried to pull with the Jaquar X-type. All badge engineering, no real substance.

    SAAB will be coming out with new product as fast as it can. Lets just hope the truely new future SAAB products can capture the brands true heritage!