Episode 466 – OEMs Against E15, Afghan Troops Need Driver Training, Chevy Orlando Preview

August 27th, 2010 at 12:15pm

Runtime 7:08

Automakers are trying to stall efforts to allow the ethanol blend rate to rise to 15 percent. Afghan troops find that their biggest enemies are their own driving skills. Chevrolet pulls the covers off the production-version of the Chevy Orlando. All that and more, plus Ford’s Lewis Booth talks about the lessons the company has learned while climbing its way back toward the top.

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

In a sign of how significantly the Chinese market has become, the Wall Street Journal reports that Hyundai is now selling more cars in China than it does in its home market of South Korea. But Hyundai is still trying to overcome public perception in China that it makes cheap, low quality cars. In a move that will sound familiar to customers outside of China, Hyundai is relying on new styling and a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty to help change those perceptions.

In yet another preview of what’s coming up at the Paris Auto Show in a few more weeks, Chevrolet released a photo of the production-version of the upcoming Chevy Orlando. The seven-passenger multi-purpose vehicle is built-off the same platform as the Chevy Cruze and shares much of the same mechanicals. It is the first of seven more vehicles that Chevrolet will introduce in the European market over the next year and a half.

EPA TO DECIDE ON E-15 BLEND RATE (subscription required)
The EPA is getting very close to announcing whether it will allow the ethanol-blend rate in gasoline in the United States to rise to 15 percent. Today, the maximum allowed is 10 percent. In a significant move, Ward’s reports that the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is trying to slow-down the effort. It, and other groups, want more testing to see if E15 is safe. Here’s my Autoline Insight. I believe automakers are worried that if the blend rate is raised they’ll lose all their CAFE credits for flex-fuel vehicles than can run on E85. They don’t need more testing to see if E15 is safe. They already sell cars in Brazil that run on E22 and have been doing so for years.

Here’s an astonishing bit of news. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that drivers talking on the phone and Toyota’s unintended acceleration recalls are distracting people from more important safety issues. HUH?! One of the nation’s leading safety-advocacy groups is saying that recalls and distracted driving aren’t top concerns? This is hard to believe! The article quotes Adrian Lund, president of the IIHS as saying that Toyota’s recalls and drivers’ cell-phone use “diverts attention from initiatives that have far greater potential to save lives.” Some of those “initiatives” the organization is advocating includes restricting the speed of commercial trucks, stepping-up law enforcement – including red-light cameras – and lowering overall speed limits. The IIHS claims these changes would have a bigger positive impact on traffic safety than congressional hearings or recalls.

In somewhat-related news, the LA Times reports that unsafe drivers in Afghanistan are taking a toll on America’s efforts to fight the Taliban. Here’s a number for you . . . more than half of all Afghan army injuries are from vehicular crashes! Half! The problem has to do with a lack of resources. More than 80 percent of the recruits are illiterate and most haven’t driven anything more complicated than a horse-drawn cart. Piloting a Humvee is challenging for trained troops let alone someone that can’t even read. The U.S. military knows this is an issue and it’s implemented driver-training classes for Afghan soldiers.

Are you an Apple fanatic? No, not the fruit, the company. Do you camp-out in front of your favorite store for days just to get the latest gadget? If so, we’ve got the perfect car for you! According to Autoblog, German aftermarket tuner Brabus has kitted-out an S-Class Mercedes with everything your Steve Jobs-loving heart desires. Beyond the usual luxury amenities this thing has two rear-mounted display screens, a 64 gigabyte iPod Touch, a larger headliner-mounted screen and two iPads, both of which are tied-into the car’s COMMAND system. That’s a lot of technology crammed into the backseat, but don’t think that Brabus has forgotten about the driver. This Benz is powered by a modified 6.3-liter, 750 horsepower V-12 engine. That should be more than enough to keep the driver entertained, as long as they’re not distracted by all those screens.

As part of its “One Ford” strategy, the Ford Motor Company got rid of all the other car companies it bought. So did the company learn anything from this effort? We’ll be talking to one of the top executives in the company, right after this.

Lewis Booth is the Chief Financial Officer of Ford, effectively the number three executive in the company after Chairman Bill Ford and CEO Alan Mulally. Lewis Booth is my guest this weekend on Autoline Detroit, and in the following clip he talks about the lessons Ford learned in getting rid of all the other car companies it spent billions to buy.

You can see the entire interview with Lewis Booth later today on our website AutolineDetroit.tv. And joining me for that interview are Bill Vlassic from the New York Times, and Csaba Csere, former editor of Car And Driver magazine.

And that’s it for today’s report on the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.

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

29 Comments to “Episode 466 – OEMs Against E15, Afghan Troops Need Driver Training, Chevy Orlando Preview”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    Well first off it seems the Koreans are more discerning car buyers that the Chinese ( Hyundai being more popular in China than in its home country )

    Second ; You don’t have to go Mercedes to get a full Apple Computer treatment for your luxury/sports car . The New Morgan EvA GT comes with a full compliment of Apple ready Ad ons including the ability for your lap top/iPhone/iPad to converse back and forth with your car .

    ” Morning car . Please start , adjust temp to 65 degrees and call up Frank Zappa on the iPod . I’ll be there in five minutes ”

    I still say the biggest marketing coop ever missed is Toyota and Apple not joining forces .

    What part of iQ – iPhone/iPad/iPod doesn;t mae absolute sense ?

  2. Ron Paris Says:

    Boy, talk about the pot calling the kettle black! If the Chinese public looks askance at perceived Hyundai product quality, one has to wonder how they view the crap their own auto manufacturers turn out!

  3. tj Martin Says:


    Today Autoweek has announced that before a single Pick Up of theirs has even hit our shores : Mahindra is already locked into a litigation battle with their distributor ” Global”

    The first thing I don’t understand is why didn’t Mahindra set themselves up to sell thu their Tractor dealers first ? That make too much sense or what

    The question I’d be asking if I were considering buying a Mahindra P/U when they got here ( I wasn’t ) is ; If I can’t trust Mahindra to live up to their signed sealed and delivered contracts with their distributor : Why would I trust then to live up to any warranties etc. on the Truck once I bought it ?

    Short answer is I wouldn’t . Having a very serious re-think on my previous praises for Mahindra .

  4. tj Martin Says:

    Another SAAB story ensuing ?

    Today Spyker , SAAB’s new owner has announced they’ve lost an additional €139 million this quarter . That adds up to Spyker losing €100 million or more very quarter since their inception . ( CAR , AutoWeek )

    And Muller wants us to take him seriously when he makes his outlandish claims about how Spyker will save SAAB ?

    Spyker can’t save itself . HTH they going to save SAAB ?

    Believe me I’m truly sorry to have to say this , but I am becoming more convinced that SAAB is a lost cause . Very sad .

  5. G.A.Branigan Says:

    When I first learned about Mahindra’s plan to bring in mid-sized diesel pickups I was extremely happy about that.That is an unexplored gold mine for the USA.Then when they tried to reneg on the deal with GV….AFTER GV had signed up over 350 dealers that made me put on the brakes.

    As much as I want and need a small/mid size diesel pickup,I will wait for more reliable manufacturers to bring in their goods,then make my purchase.M&M has always been a third world company dealing in the third world.Hence the shoddy business practices and the arrogant-bullying ways they do business.

    As for their quality,the reviews that I read over the past two years from owners down under,I will not buy anything Mahindra.I’ve posted most of this several months ago,including the link to the news story that told of GV having to take m&m to court over bullshit delays.To each their own…

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    I believe the reason for Mahindra’s hesitation to come to this market is simply because they know better than anyone how unreliable their trucks really are and Americans just will not put up with crappy products, I guess they don’t want to take over for Yugo as the worst car ever sold here in recent memory.

  7. dcars Says:

    I’m looking forward to hearing Lewis Booth. It seamed like Ford dumped those brands at fire sale prices to generate cash generate cash during bad times to avoid government loans. They must have some regrets, but they aren’t looking back.

  8. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Mornin’ Pedro,I really don’t know why they (m&m) chose to act the way they do.Quality could always be improved by any manufacturer.The single biggest mark against them is what they did to GV,or more accurately what they tried to do.As with most people,they are not aware of m&m’s crap,both in product and a business sense and will more then likely buy their vehicles.And as I’ve said before,I hope they do sell,so more reputable manufacturers will finally get off their collective asses and bring in small/midsize diesel pickups/suvs.

  9. tj Martin Says:

    G.A. Branigan ;

    Sorry I didn’t catch your earlier posts about Mahindra as that certainly would of tempered my enthusiasm from the get go rather than me looking a bit of the Fool now after this new round of B.S on Mahindra’s behalf .

    @ Pedro ; No really . Its Mahindra thinking they’re doing business in India rather than the US and trying to pull some very underhanded legal stunts .

    It should be very interesting when we’re back visiting friends in VT and the Rural Mid West to ask those framers how they feel about their Mahindra tractors now that they’ve had them for three years or more .

  10. John V. Says:

    In another life about 17 years ago, I was on a corporate committee at an OEM that was responsible for implementing new technologies for evaporative emissions control systems. Not being a chemist, I cannot explain the principals involved, but I learned that 15% ethanol was the most difficult mix of petroleum and alcohol to design elastomeric seals for. Some rubber-like compounds were very resistant to petroleum and other materials were resistant to alcohols. At that time, 15% alcohol blend gave all elastic seals like o-rings the most issues with materials breaking down before projected vehicle life. Perhaps that is still a concern.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    tj: if the product is as unreliable as I think it is, Mahindra will always be known as a crappy brand here and possibly affect their business in other countries, they need to improve their quality b4 coming here, same goes for the Chinese, the reason they have not come here yet, is their lack of quality and refinement that Americans expect. Look how much H/K has invested in quality improvement, crappy cars are not welcomed here. I’ve read reports from international car shows about the lack of detail in Chinese cars, with exterior gaps and interior screw ups galore, and these are hand-picked demo models.

  12. tj Martin Says:

    Pedro ;

    No matter what the reasons , or what their excuses are , any way you add it up Mahindra is coming up Crappers before the first truck ever hit our shores .

    In light of Mahindra’s Third World Business mentality it does make you look at Jaguar and Land/Range Rover with a bit of a jaded eye : seeing how they’re both owned by TATA . The India Economy Brand .

  13. martin Says:

    Watching the Brabus Apple story reminded me of this.


    Its the “secret diary of Steve Jobs” good for an afternoon laugh if you’re not Apple sensitive.

  14. tj Martin Says:

    Martin ;

    Took a look . Kind of silly . But I’m guessing thats the point . Being an AppleHead for 26 years I didn’t take any offense at the site . I’d almost bet Steve Jobs gets a laugh out of it as well .

  15. Sean T Says:

    “They don’t need more testing to see if E15 is safe. They already sell cars in Brazil that run on E22 and have been doing so for years.”

    If the same vehicles that are sold in Brazil were available here, that’d be relevant. But they aren’t, so it’s just misleading. Plus, almost all new vehicles in Brazil are flex-fuel capable up to ~95% hydrous ethanol, so they are capable of handling much more ethanol (and with water content). Sure, flex-fuel vehicles here (capable of up to 85% anhydrous ethanol) would be fine with E15 (or E20), but US vehicles weren’t designed for much more than 10% ethanol — especially older vehicles in the field.

  16. Sean T Says:

    I should have said US *base (non-FFV)* vehicles weren’t designed for much more than 10% ethanol…

  17. HtG Says:

    Does the Brabus/Apple gig also have a camera to film oneself unboxing the car on your birthday? How about upon first entering the backseat? Can I upload myself sipping chai on YouTube? Namaste that.

    Sorry tjM, but watching Infinite Looptards gettin’ all sticky is sport.

  18. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ tjMartin : “In light of Mahindra’s Third World Business mentality it does make you look at Jaguar and Land/Range Rover with a bit of a jaded eye : seeing how they’re both owned by TATA . The India Economy Brand .”

    tj,jag and land/range rover have a well known brands,Mahindra doesn’t enjoy that in this hemisphere,makes a difference.That of course does not excuse m&m from any of the crap they have pulled here…..before they even have a truck to sell here.From a purely selfish point of view….by me…..I again say I hope m&m can and do sell every pos they bring in here.I want the type of vehicle they are bringing in…..just want a established REPUTABLE maker.LOL,let the suckers who don’t research out their purchases make my dream come true.Yeah,I’m bad….LMAO ;}>

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    GA perhaps you should initiate a letter writing campaign to Mullaly asking him to bring here a diesel version of the new Ranger. count me in.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    Interesting article in the Wash Post that says that old Corolla end up in Afghanistan, from all over the planet. It’s no wonder I can’t find any in the local scrap yards over here where they’re also sent to Haiti and Central America.

  21. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Pedro:ALL of the major players that sell trucks here in this country have been made aware of what we the truck buying public want.It isn’t any kind of secret….never has been either.

    The major players chose to ignore these well registered wants.Again on deaf ears.You would think the pundits that are “in the know” would step up to the plate,but that doesn’t happen either.

    Look what happened to Jeep back in 05 and 06 when they came out with the Liberty CRD.They went out the door faster then they could be produced…..FOR 2 YEARS!! So….what does that tell you in terms of the public WANTING good clean turbo diesels?

    So….where are they?Did you happen to catch this weeks edition of Motorweek? The Hybrids?The winner….a diesel electric at 118mpg.That stands out like a sore thumb to people like us,BUT,what do the manufacturers see?

  22. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    If IIHS is really worried about safety, they would have started evaluating solution for driver disatraction to put the issue behind us.

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    I did catch the Motorweek report but I’m sure such vehicle would be very expensive to mass produce, just look at the Volt, it’s a lot less complicated and it goes for over $40 grand.

  24. G.A.Branigan Says:

    You kind of missed my point.let’s take the Volt then,change out the gas engine for a diesel,range is extended with a smaller more efficient diesel.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    I don’t believe GM has a diesel engine they could have used in the Volt and it would have cost too much $$ to develop one.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My concern about E-15 is that my ’86 VW and ’89 Dodge might not like it. Newer cars probably have more ethanol-friendly elastimers.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It looks like Brabus is moving up from smart to S-Class in on fell swoop, at least in the American market if the iBrabus cars come here.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Now that Ford has gotten rid of all the companies they bought over the last several years, they need to work on saving one they’ve had since 1922, Lincoln. The dinosaur Town Car says “Lincoln” better than anything they have now, and it is due to go away any day now.

    Whatever might be wrong with GM management, they have done a much better job with Cadillac than Ford has done with Lincoln.

  29. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Tj, Hyundai is going to be China’s Car Company like Toyota is America’s car company, while in America it will be an Automatker that just aspires to luxury.

    In 10 years Hyundai will sell more cars in China than Toyota and GM does in America put together, while in America Hyundai will be just a 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th place brand.

    John Krafcik talks about being Humble, what he means is that Hyundai has decided that China is the cash cow while America is more of a boutique market. Hyundai will get middle class Chinese who still ride scooters and save 6-7 years to buy a car in cash. There’s a lot more of those people then there are people in this country. Hyundai wants to make money, I dont blame them for not wanting to put all of their eggs in the America basket like Toyota did.

    When was the last time Hyundai debuted anything here in the US besides the Sonata and Tucson? That’s what I mean.

    We Americans and other Westerners think that the still world revolves around us. Its that Baby Boomer mentality that orginated back in the days when it was America, Europe, Russia, Japan, and the rest of the world was 300 to 3000 years behind. Not the case anymore.

    In a world where 20 years ago where areas of Asia were rice patties, and now these same areas make Manhattan look like a joke and an 19th 20th century rellic. This Mentality is dangerously outdated.

    You can say what you want, but Im sorry I admire China.

    To me:

    China=New, improving, prosperous, a bunch of young people with unlimited potential.

    America=Old, Falling apart crap held up by bureaucracies and people past their prime, a bunch of young people who are being held back by people who in most “Normal” societies would have retired 20 years ago

    China=Construction while America=Crumbling Infrastructure.

    These newer companies are smart enough to not want to depend on a declining empire like the US. Plus, Korea=58 Million people, China=1.4 Billion People. No comparison to be made here.