Episode 487 – GM Warms To Diesel, Mopar Vehicle Tracking System, Lawnmower Land-Speed Record

September 28th, 2010 at 12:14pm

Runtime 7:24

GM Vice Chairman, Tom Stephens, said the automaker plans to offer a midsize car in the U.S. with a diesel engine, but he did not mention which model it will be or when it will go on sale.  Mopar introduced an electronic vehicle tracking system that lets you locate your car if it gets stolen.  The lawnmower land-speed record is back in the USA!  All that and more, plus some perspective on the U.S. auto bailouts.

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This is Autoline Daily for Tuesday, the 28th of September, 2010.  Again, I’m Rod Meloni, Business Editor at WDIV Local 4 News, Detroit.  Fasten your seatbelts, here’s the latest news from the global auto beat.

BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL (subscription required)
Ward’s reports GM Vice Chairman, Tom Stephens, is giving torque lovers something to look forward to.  He said the automaker plans to offer a midsize car in the U.S. with a diesel engine.  Yes, a diesel engine!  He did not mention which model would get the powertrain – though the Chevy Malibu seems like an obvious choice – nor did he give a timeframe for its introduction.  This would be the company’s first diesel-powered passenger-car since the 1980s . . . and we all know what happened then.  Do the words “Oldsmobile” and “diesel” ring a bell?  In related news, French automaker Peugeot/Citroen plans to unveil a diesel-hybrid version of its 3008 crossover at the Paris Motor Show.  Base price is expected to be more than 30,000 Euros – nearly $41,000.

Chrysler’s Mopar division is introducing an aftermarket vehicle tracking system.  The technology allows drivers to locate their vehicle if it gets stolen, set speed and distance restrictions – to keep tabs on teenage drivers, for instance – and more.  It works off a small GPS receiver that mounts behind the dashboard.  The module costs $460, plus instillation.  Three different service plans are offered.  The base one is free.  The Silver Plan – which adds a few extras – costs 150 bucks per year, while the Gold Plan with all the bells and whistles, is $250 annually.

This fall Volkswagen’s Touareg is celebrating its 9th birthday.  And since it was getting a facelift, the company decided to deliver one with a new twist.

And that twist came in the shadow of the Ligurian Alps near Nice, France – now that’s some tough Autoline Daily duty, huh? – where VW showed journalists the all-new Touareg Sport Utility.  But the bigger news unveiled this morning is this model now comes in a hybrid version.  In fact, it’s Volkwagen’s first hybrid production-vehicle of any kind.  The company says this engine is supercharged, delivering the same V8 power as with the last Touareg, but in a new V-6 engine with 23 combined miles per gallon to boot.  But maybe the more interesting element here is the packaging for its hybrid technology.  Most manufacturers start small and move hybrid up in their lineups.  With VW, it’s just the opposite.

Right now the new VW Touareg Hybrid is on sale in Europe and will be coming to the ‘States before the end of the year.  No pricing as of yet.

Toyota announced it will sell minicars in Japan. According to the AFP, Daihatsu, a subsidiary of Toyota, will supply the automaker with three mini-vehicles – cars with engines 660 cubic centimeters or smaller. The first one goes on sale next year.  These will be the first minicars to carry a Toyota badge. Toyota said it wants to broaden its line-up and wanted to enter the segment because of increased demand.

The title for the world’s fastest lawnmower is back in the USA! Well, I’m guessing like most of you, I had no idea it ever left the country, but the title is back thanks to Bobby Cleveland, who regained it after losing to British driver Don Wales. Earlier this year Wales set the record at 87.8 miles-per-hour but over the weekend Bobby Cleveland set a new record of 96.6 miles-per-hour at the Bonneville Salt Flats. I just wish I could get one of these to mow my lawn with.

After the break, I’ll give it to you straight with a few of my thoughts on the politics of the auto bailout.

Finally, “Government Motors” was inevitable. President Bush pumped in billions before president Obama picked up the baton, running GM and Chrysler through the quick-rinse bankruptcy car wash. John McCain would have done the same. Adding 1 million auto workers to the unemployment rolls is politically unacceptable at any time.

Yet, “Government Motors” brought us an unsavory byproduct: the politically embarrassing.

Last month, I was there as President Obama visited Holland, Michigan for a ribbon-cutting at the government-backed A-123 battery factory… where they’ll make Chevy volt batteries. The President used his bully pulpit not only to crow about his desire to transform our highways, but to line up Republican congressman Pete Hoekstra’s head for a political field goal. The congressman, then running for Michigan Governor, sitting in his home town, in his own district, heartily kicked for attending the event, while opposing the administration’s economic policies.

I was also there earlier this month in Livonia, Michigan at the opening of yet another government-backed A-123 battery facility, most of Michigan’s democratic congressional delegation showed up. Michigan’s democratic governor, Jennifer Granholm, resoundingly sold the soap, the biggest lesson everyone learned during this crisis was the absolute necessity for government and private-sector partnerships to keep this industry alive… as if R&D capital emanates from only one place, Washington, D.C.!

Agree or disagree, what came next gave us all reason to hope “Government Motors” will soon disappear. The phone rang, interrupting the governor.  It was the president of the United States “just happening” to call in to the news conference, turning a news conference into a mid-term election year political rally.

Let’s get real! Recent industry studies show the electric car is at least one full technological generation away from viability. While an interesting, century-old idea, it is far from a certain success. But, because the federal government owns the majority of the domestic auto industry, and the president himself is so heavily invested politically, we end up listening to campaign platitudes at press conferences turned electioneering stages. Now, it’s not like politics and business haven’t met before, but this is a new day and a new reality. The injection of political excess into every aspect of a troubled auto company’s business… whether democrat or republican…takes away precious time and resources from recovery that could, and should, fund an R&D rebound. But more than anything; it’s just embarrassing.

And that’s it for today’s show.  Again, I’m Rod Meloni, Business Editor at WDIV Local 4 News, Detroit.  Join us again tomorrow for another exciting dose of industry news and expert analysis – same time, same place.  As always, thank you for watching and I’ll catch you next time.

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

66 Comments to “Episode 487 – GM Warms To Diesel, Mopar Vehicle Tracking System, Lawnmower Land-Speed Record”

  1. phil Says:

    My wifes Sister died at the age of 40. Forty years ago. She left her Family, Brothers and Sisters GM stock. My wife wouldn’t let me sell it. Now it is pretty waste paper. We won’t buy GM or Fiat ever. I do like The New Dodge truck. Tough!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Tony Gray Says:

    Good insight Rod. I have to agree with you that the sooner GM and Chrysler and the rest of the industry divorce themselves from government capital and oversight the better.

    Regardless of your position on whether or not it was needed, or prudent or in the best interests of the long term survival of the domestic industry, the reality is that the country as a whole is STRONGLY divided at this time along political lines. GM, Chrysler, etc cannot afford to alienate either side of the spectrum at this time, so the best way is to just get out of the current predicament as soon as possible.

  3. Mark Phoenix Says:

    The faster that the Government gets out of GM and Chrysler the more the American tax payer will lose on its “investment”. The Government should let the new leader of GM and Chrysler run the companies and later sell our equity position to maxiumize our return or at least minimize our loss.

  4. Roger T Says:

    Embarrassing or not, it’s our reality. Tough to admit, but Bush and now Obama did save GM and Chrysler, no other way to look at it. So sit tight and listen in, the embarrassment really is a small price to pay, even if it includes a bit of political campaigning.

  5. Reg Roesner Says:

    Hey John
    Dont bash the Oldsmobile diesel- I am a GM tech by trade and have my own shop now. I also own and collect 7 V6 4.3 olds diesels in various models and one 5.7. The olds got a bad rap from the early 1978-80 V8 5.7 that had some inherit problems BUT the 1981 and later V8 and V6 where great
    The V6 was a terrific little engine
    The other thing was us ignorant techs working on them— GM.s big mistake was not having techs that knew anything about diesel, lots didnt even want to work on them and screwed up more than they fixed

    If you would like more information, let me write a column for you
    Fact is better than fiction, but maybe not to some readers

    Reg Roesner
    RR4 Orangeville Ontario
    519 939 2024

  6. Tony Gray Says:

    Roger @2, I suppose we can say that Bush and Obama saved the “current” version of GM and Chrysler, at a devastating cost to bondholders and an as yet uncertain cost to the US taxpayer.

    I doubt the entire force structure of those corporations would have disappeared without government intervention, rather they would most likely have taken on many of the same restructuring steps on their own. Would Buick have survived? Dodge? Uncertain.

    We will never know, but it’s interesting to speculate.

  7. Dbruckbauer Says:

    Well, Rod, you turned this political, so here’s my two cents. Pete Hoekstra represented my district, and in his tenure did nothing to bring or save jobs to this area, when companies were pulling out, he was nowhere to be found. So kick the worthless s.o.b. again as far as I am concerned. Oh, and yes, nice to see a diesel in the General’s future.

  8. len simpson Says:

    TDI ! Malibu ! Wagon !

  9. dcars Says:

    It was the right thing to do at the time. but, into the future safeguards are needed to maintain these businesses with in the United states. In addition the business leaders Unions need more equitable and sustainable solutions to meeting their needs. At times they have acted to selfishly and ultimately nearly killed all of the big three auto makers.

  10. dcars Says:

    that should have stated ….business leaders “and” unions…..

  11. Reno Says:

    Hope this GM announcement makes the 4.5 Duramax, 310 horsepower and 520 ft-lbs of torque, in the 1500 GMC & Chevy pickups closer to being built.

  12. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Autoblog, has finally proved what I have been saying all along= YOUNGER PEOPLE LOVE HATCHBACKS, AND WE FU-KING HATE SEDANS!!!

    I, in turn worte a corresponding atricle

    A small snippet:

    Was it a conspiracy to get us to spend more money on larger vehicles all along?

    Think about it the evidence:

    1. Bring in a cadre of shitty hatchbacks in the 1970s and 1980s to get Americans to hate these cars religiously despite an oil crisis.

    2. Make sure all B-Segment cars have the worst interior plastics, seating, and ergonomics you can think of to make them as undesirable and uncomfortable as possible. At the same time, have every car Sonata or larger be as plush and comfortable as possible while still being VERY affordable.

    3. Charge a premium on small cars that have what a small car should have had in the first place to make small cars look purposely overpriced to detract even more buyers.

    4. Demonize and make fun of those who drive B segment cars in popular culture as: Poor, Eco-Geeks, Frugal, and Immature. Tell men who like these cars a bunch of lies (trust me) like this one, “You cant get a woman driving such a car. I bet you get NO SEX driving that.”

    How did Gen X and the Change Generation (Gen Y) get us back on the right track?

    According to the study, and what I figured out a long time ago:

    1. 20 years of being exposed to SUVs/CUVs made us prefer to have 5 and 3 door body styles. 20 years of seeing rappers, entertainers, playwrights, etc… pimp out what pretty much are large hatchbacks (SUVs/CUVs) with: wheels, lambo doors, blackout tinted head and rear lamps, sound systems, bucket leather seats, lowering kits, uplift kits, turbos, etc… made our generation want and crave smaller similar looking hatchbacks with superior fuel efficiency.

    2. 15 years of young people drooling on the Internet looking at European Hatchbacks with premium features only found in American Midsized Sedans in turn made us want hatchbacks more.

    3. Gen Y and Younger Gen Xers prefer to own smaller cars. Not for price per-se, but partly because we’ve been exposed to 25 years of the American Public School, and for a few of us an American University education that says that anything larger than an Elantra is the devil, with professors and teachers who actually practice what they preach when they drive off in their Civics, MINIs, Accents, and Elantras.

  13. LEX Says:

    GM is wasting money again now on diesel development for cars! Get the Chevy Volt and EV-extended range Cruze to market first at an affordable price.

    A Diesel Chevy Traverse makes more sense. The Chevy Traverse Duramax has a nice sound to it!
    It would have plenty of room, power,torque and towing.

  14. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    LEX true, but that’s what GM should have done 10 YEARS AGO!!!

    It’s going to have to be a Diesel Hybrid now to make up for that lost time that you Baby Boomers spewed your anti Diesel Propaganda.

  15. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    What is it with these Band Aid solutions? The President, Mr Obusha is another Band Aid solution guy.

    It’s like puting a band aid on a gunshot wound that occured 30 YEARS AGO!!! It’s too little too late, and so pitiful that it’s almost an insult to our intelligence if we allow it.

    The Conservatives obviously dont get it, the Baby Boomer Liberals with their weak BAND AID solutions OBVIOUSLY DONT GET IT EITHER.

    As a matter of fact, the Baby Boomer Liberals are too conservative and should become Republicans.

    They can throw the Rednecks with their Modern Day Muscle Cars, their Anti School Intergration Agendas, etc.. out of that party and hijack it.

  16. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Let the Rednecks in this country form a Euro Fascist like party that hardly wins seats. Kick them out from both parties. The Dixiecrats in the Dem Party are just as bad.

    Those peopel dont deserve to have a voice, they’ve proven it swervingly.


  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    LEX Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    “GM is wasting money again now on diesel development for cars!”

    GM has a lot of diesels in Europe, including 2 liter units of up to 160 PS that they use in the Insignia. Those diesels would be great in either the Regal or Malibu. Based on numbers that get thrown around here, it might cost $2-3K extra to put a US-legal version of a Euro diesel in these cars, but it would be worth it for those who drive a lot. That will be much more the case when fuel gets expensive.

  18. John C. Briggs Says:

    Something wrong here. A123 batteries are not going in the Volt.

  19. John C. Briggs Says:

    The Holland Michigan battery plant is LG Chem not A123.

  20. tj Martin Says:

    Good God . Leave the site for a couple of weeks only to see upon returning that its been hijacked by an English Challenged , Grammatically Incorrect , Swearing Troll (HS) from the Sub Continent .

    Where did all the good folks ( other than Kit Gerhart who is here ) run off to ? Sheesh even a good head knocking with Nick Stevens would have been more welcome than this string of non-sensical posts .

  21. tj Martin Says:

    I am surprised that the Ferrari news thats running the gauntlet today didn’t make it onto the site or the posts here .

    For all those that missed it Macaroni ( mis-spelling intentional ) announced today that he’s considering having Ferrari go public in order to raise the capitol needed to take full control of Chrysler ( FIAT only owns 20% presently )

    Hat to repeat myself but I’m still absolutely convinced this FIAT/Chrysler Union will come to tears way before we see any benefits from them

  22. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    tj, you typo (not grammar) nazi. This was actually my first good ranting in a long time, which makes ABSOLUTE GOOD SENSE.

    Like I said these are things that should have been done years ago, and you guys are so out of touch and concerned with profits you cant even deal with that.

  23. tj Martin Says:

    And not to give credence to HS or anything he says , but the unfortunate fact about the Gen X Gen Y group is what they really are buying .

    Their so called Green Stance etc. might lead you to believe mistakenly that they’re purchasing Small High MPG Efficient Hatchbacks and Coupes

    The Startling reality ( AAA and the Insurance Guru’s sorry forgot the abbreviation ) is what they’re really buying is 3 – 7 Year Old Mid size and Full Size SUV’s because of the deals available on them and that unfortunate desire to have a bigger on than the guy next door . Even more telling is that more women in this age group than men are what’s driving this unfortunate trend .

    So much for the Younger Generation making up for our mistakes . Looks as if like with Heroin and LSD they’re all damned and determined to repeat our screw ups . Not fix them .

  24. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Hey, run America into the ground as Gas prices are $50 Billion Dollars a gallon ($8 a gallon), making everything else prohibtively expensive for all I care.

    Make long term security and freedom impossible for the temporary freedom and security you have today.

    If we dont get it together the Eco-Slavery you fear will become NOT JUST A MAYBE, BUT A MUST DO TO SURVIVE.

  25. tj Martin Says:

    HS ;

    That many typos in one afternoon now has me concerned for your mental well being as well as with your inability to distinguish fact from fiction either about yourself , or the subjects you attempt to post about . Might want to consider a Mini Mental or better yet a full work up there Sahib .

  26. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    tj, we like both. Small cars and Big Boy Suvs. They are the only cars that make any kind of sense. Why buy a Malibu when you can get a Traverse sized product with similar MPG to a Malibu that has a better utilization of space.

    You may agree to disagree, but I think Sedans are like the Dinosaurs 64.9 Million years ago. They dont know it, but the party is almost over.

  27. tj Martin Says:

    HS ;

    Hey there Boy Wonder . A reminder there little genius . I own a MINI . Remember ? Of course you don’t . And I can’t seem to find a single word I or anyone else has posted today that has anything to do with Eco Slavery or any other FEARs we may or may not have . Getting a bit delusional as well young fellow ? Or is it just the Recreational Drugs speaking ?

  28. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Hey, you were among the pack to say cars like BMW X5, etc… will be a Big ass Flop. You have been proven wrong.

    Like I said the Baby Boomers have been in there so long they’ve lost it.

    Sedans are piss poor space utilization exercises, and Im determined to wipe the market clean with 90% of them. The world only needs 10% of the sedans for offer.

    The world should have a free choice of small cars and Eco SUVs-ONLY!!

  29. tj Martin Says:

    HS ;

    Do you ever make a lick of sense , or respond appropriately to anyone or anything ? Of course you don’t . Thats because you live in HyundaiSmoke Land where all things Korean are the best thing on the planet and everyone here but you knows nothing at all.

    Those must be some damned good drugs you’ve landed .

    Might want to tale off a bit on them though . Me thinks the old mental motor is beginning to fry .

    Bye Bye

  30. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Umm tj, I used the term Eco Slavery to prove a point. It’s a code word for things like “the war on Cars, the war on SUVs etc..”

    There are many automotive journalists who may not directly say “Eco-Slavery”, but they imply it and hint with their writings and TV programs that they are ANTI-GREEN.

    Especially anti-electric/hybrid cars.

  31. tj Martin Says:

    HS ;

    Never said X5′s etc. would fail . Wrong again Sahib . And the only thing the Market needs to be wiped clean of is the likes of you . so be my guest and have at it .

    ( here’s a hint there HS . I can go on like this all day with the best of them . So dealing with the likes of you is a walk in the park . If Nick Stevens doesn’t intimidate me in the slightest , and at least he’s got the cred to try , do you really think I’m the least bit afraid of knocking you around a few rounds ? Get a clue junior , I enjoy this . Probably more than i should )


  32. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    You’re right, but Baby Boomers arent old.

    They are Middle Aged And those who are Middle Aged are Foolish. They aren’t young and willing to try to new things, nor they are old enough to know what they are doing doesnt make any modicum of sense.

  33. tj Martin Says:

    Ahh but this is getting boring . I came in hoping for some intellectual discussion with the likes of Pedro and Kit but what doIi wind up doing ? Once again smacking HS around for the umpteenth time . Does he ever learn ? No . So why do I bother ?


  34. cwolf Says:

    Hey, I’ll take diesels from any US maker! Since I commute over 50K mi./yr., a diesel cruse,fusion or the new Buick would be ideal.Put one in a hybrid for gee-whiz! The VOLT is going to need all the help it can get. Standing alone, not many will leave the lot.
    I read in todays paper that Chrysler fired the 13 alcoholic-joint smokin idiots and will be disappointed if any of them get their job back;union or no union.

  35. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    That’s why tribal and developing cultures have young warriors/young sons who work in the city to make money for the family and old wisemen/old leaders, while the middle aged guys do the family stuff.

    Maybe that’s what America needs?

    It’s human nature, too bad America tries to fight it.

  36. tj Martin Says:

    For a really interesting take on the whole hybrid thing ; this one being Micro Turbine powered take a look over at ;


    And ahhh HS ? Tribal cultures don’t have Cars. Internet or Geeks like you running loose . They feed the likes of you to the jungle to appease whatever deity they might worship . i.e You wouldn’t last a minute in that atmosphere . So be glad you’re only getting slapped around by us .

    Clueless . Utterly Totally and Abjectly clueless .

  37. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Look at you tj, you’re the antihtesis of Modern Middle Age. You slam down everybody’s opinions even when backed up with fact, and if you dont get your way you act like an underprivelegd cry baby and insult people-even if they dont insult you back.

    My parents, the politicians, etc.. etc.. act this way as our country rots from the inside out.

    Talk about repeating the same mistakes, yeah you guys are- YOU’VE GROWN UP TO BECOME YOUR PARENTS IN THE 60s. Obstinent, Racist, Stubborn, Resistant to Change, Sitting on your laurels, Anti-Green, etc…

    I repsect Hippies, not you Mom and Dad. Please bring my hippie parents back God of all things?

    Get rid of this Devil that has hijacked Mom and Dad’s bodies, and replaced them with: Corrupt, Racist, Corporatist, Profit seeking scoundrels and sellouts.

    Please God, will you just do this for the sake of us all?

  38. tj Martin Says:

    HS ;

    If coupes and sedans are so completely passe as you claim . Why is that your Beloved Hyundai and their sister company KIA rushing to market with reams upon reams of Coupes and Sedans ?

    Are you finally admitting that Hyundai and KIA are as stupid as you are ?

    When you reach college age you might want to take a course in Logical Consistency . Because the lack there of that you display on a regular basis just makes you look like a complete moron

  39. tj Martin Says:

    HS ; English dear boy . English . Not Gibberish . English . Tell you what . the wife before she moved on was a major force in the ESL field . Let me know where you’re living and we’ll recommend a good Intensive English school to rectify your sad grasp of the language .

    Ah the difficulties of being an English as a Second Language speaker /poster / writer ( thats you HS )

  40. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    tj, hold up.

    1. Coupes will never become passe’.

    2. There may be 80 Million Gen Ys (16-34), but there are also 72 Million Baby Boomers who love Sedans, so therefore they have to be catered to.

    3. However, I predict as time goes on the Sedan Segment will start to dwindle down. First it will be the Big non Luxury Sedans like Taurus, Cadenza, and Avalon=AXED. Then companies will slowly but surely cut options and extras on Cars like Camry, Accord, etc… to make them as uncomfortable as possible so those buyers will decide to get into the Next generation of Premium small Cars, and SUVs/CUVs.

    Once Midsizers have lost most of their audience, they will start dying one by one.

    It’s Karma that your precious midsized sedans FAIL, especially the way us small car lovers have been treated.

  41. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    The long term Future of Sonata=C-Class. I said long term future. That’s what the company wants to do over the long term.

    By the way:

    4. Near Luxury and Luxury Brands who only see the old definition of luxury=Uber expensive, Bland, and Inefficient are done. I see a future for Mercedes, BMW, and Audi, but Lincoln, Acura Chrysler will be gone, and Hyundai will dominate that Aspirational Luxury market.

    Oh yeah, Hyundai=Mammals while: Chrysler, Acura, Lincoln, Buick, Lexus=Dinosaurs.

    Ford will close Lincoln and decide to add Uber Premium trims to their cars to cover that market. Watch, I see the tea leaves. Lincoln isnt doing shit, and most of you know it. They either have to adapt or die.

    Buick can be salvaged for the long run, but if we have another crash anytime soon=Gone. That Lexus Fighter thing, could work but with Hyundai around it’s going to be harder than you think.

    Acura has a lot of work and little time to do it. The styling is the last thing they should be worried about. Whatever happened to that “Fancy Honda?” Oh I know what happened to it-Hyundai found it, and is charging prices that Acura should be charging.

    Infiniti could work if they just focus on becoming a Japanese BMW undercutter.

    Cadillac will go to Glory if they just continue what they are doing. “The Standard of the World” I like that.

    Chrysler=they better be good, or Hyundai will kill them.

    Lexus needs to truly become the Japanese Mercedes and stop Di-king around for volume. Let Hyundai handle that Volume.

  42. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Concur with Kit’s response #14; stopped reading after that.

  43. Jesse M. Says:

    So GM wants to dabble in DIESEL again.Alas,announced now..reality to market in 20 years or so!I give you the VOLT as proof positive!They are so slow,the TITANIC can outmaneuver them!

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’m 58 and I also like hatchbacks, always have. specially the pocket rockets of the 80′s ( when they were still affordable). So HS’s theory about only the young liking hatchbacks is flawed.

  45. Bob Young Says:

    I hope GM can bring out a competitive diesel, their recent cars have been design flawed, over-priced, uninteresting or all the above (trucks are different, I love my 2001 GMC 2500HD). We rented a VW Passat diesel wagon for three weeks in England last year, a great performing car with better than 40 miles per US gallon (50 Imperial) in general driving. We have signed up for a Nissan Leaf and will drive a prototype later this week. My wife’s limited (and basically in the mornings) daily drives, our ability to charge it via solar in the afternoons and the tax breaks are the only things that make it interesting.

  46. Chris Kern Says:

    The GM diesel ‘trial balloon’ is a good sign that GM is anticipating the market. A good place to see what the future holds for diesel is to look at Canada. Diesel has been gaining traction in Canada for the last 5-7 years due to our more intelligent use of fuel taxes instead of trying to legislate change through failed polices that restrict freedom & the free market – CAFE.
    The noticeable change to diesel came somewhere around the $4 a gallon mark and has been strong ever since. The majority of trucks over a ½ ton are diesel and people would really look at you funny if you had an F350 with a gas engine like you were rich & stupid or something. VW has had good success with their TDI line with over 50% sold being diesel in the models that offer it. Canadians have been importing older RHD Japanese diesel trucks/SUV’s/and 4wd Vans by the boat load. This increased popularity has also caused almost every service station to carry diesel.
    We shared America’s disdain for diesels due mostly to GM’s mistakes but the market has overcome it and diesels are accepted as part of the mix. Here’s how the new diesel age breaks down:
    Diesel trucks: These babies haul, work, tow and play hard. They are the sports cars of the blue collar set. If your truck isn’t chipped, turbo’d, lifted and have a huge exhaust there must be something wrong with you.
    Japanese diesels: You’re the cool, intelligent and outdoorsy type. You’ve rigged it up to run on veggie oil or bio diesel and you brag to your friends on the hiking trail how good your mileage is.
    TDI cars: You traded in your 200K Toyota Corolla/Volvo 240/SAAB for a new diesel and brag to your colleagues in the faculty lounge about how far you can go on a tank.
    GM should try the SUV crossover lines with diesels first because consumers aren’t going to trust them in the cars just yet. Leave that to the Germans for now.
    Consumers are downsizing out of trucks and into these smaller SUV’s and crossovers but they still want the power to haul their toys around…diesel is just the ticket.

  47. XA351GT Says:

    I’m 47 and I like hatchbacks and coupes. Have owned only 1 car in 30 years that had more than 2 doors and that was a wagon . When the market is saturated with sedans and SUVs your choices are limited ,but if that is what you prefer there is always something available.
    Smoke , did I read you said that this was your first rant in a long time? What do you consider a long time? You went off last week at least once and the week before if I’m not dreaming. Calm down old boy and lay off the 5 hour energy drink.

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    I don’t know about other regions, but here in S. Florida, diesel is now more expensive than premium, and I know people that will not buy a car that must run on premium unless they got bread and don’t care about such things

  49. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ranting is all HS does, he must have taken the title away from Delorenzo as the automotive ranting champ, only thing is that Peter makes sense.

  50. David Parker Says:

    The article implies that bankruptcy would have resulted in huge layoffs and company termination. In reality, GM would have gone into reorganization which would have gotten rid of worthless management and legally renegotiated all the outstanding debt. Yes employment would have been reduced but that happened anyway. GM probably would be where it is today only you and me would not have bellied up our hard earned money to support feather-bedded retirement plans and other union benefits and legally protected investors would not have been shafted.

  51. Dustin Says:

    I bought a 2010 TDI Jetta Sportwagen 20,700 miles ago. LOVE IT! I’ve already saved $2391 in fuel cost versus the 2004 F-150 (15 mpg average) I traded in. Plus the VW has 236 ft-lb of torque. I’m getting an honest 40.3 mpg average. AND its actually fun to drive! I would of looked at Ford or GM if they would build a diesel car for the U.S. market. Perception often lags reality….modern diesels are great cars and are should be availble here now! PS: Mazda is planning a Mazda6 with a 2.2L diesel for the American market also. Go test drive a modern clean diesel (VW TDI) and see what a modern clean diesel offers. Manufactures will sell ‘em here if they build them!

  52. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    No I make perfect sense Pedro. Im radical, and the change this industry is not radical enough. The changes the industry is making now is WHAT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED 10 YEARS AGO.

    Look at the fuel Economy of every Honda, Toyota, Hyundai/KIA small car for the last 10 years and youll see what I mean. Hardly an improvement. At Honda and Toyota’s rate they will have Chinese CAFE by 2020, while Hyundai going in a new path meets near to that 60 MPG the EPA is scaring the anti ECO hawks. However, if Hyundai went down the path is was going before Accent owuldnt even break mid 40s MPG until 2020.

    Enough is Enough.

    I make perfect sense because Im radical in a fastly and radically changing world.

    The evil doers want to take your cars away from you, and the new Smart Growth Mega Cities (Already starting in Europe, and in the Planning stages in the US-Read up about it) will allow to not be able to have a car.

    If you live in Lex Troit (Lexington and Detroit with all points between as the same town), a new I-75 Corridor Mega City, or NewBosWash I-95 Mega City, or San Angeles I-5 Mega City, the use of a car will not only be discouraged by popular culture, but the use of a car will be legislated like crazy.

    Its both a Liberal and Conservo plan, so you cant blame either as both are behind it.


    If you dont change now and change radically screw trying to hide a V8, youll need to hide your car even if it’s a 4 banger.

    If you think Iam radical, talk to some of the Population control/Anti Car advocates. Now that’s scary, and a bunch of nonsense.

    This is stuff my Generation of enthusiasts will have to deal with. The very existence of the car itself could be in jeopardy.

  53. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    That’s what this light rail plan is all about.

    They want these cities by rail and Highway Corridors.

    In Europe they are in the beginning stages of the process. Yeah, Tearing down suburban apartment blocks 40 miles outside of Munich and the like as people are pushed to the cities due to high gas prices, high car taxes, etc…

    It’s moving people to mega large central cities from all points with populations from 25-100 Million people each.

    1. You can do it now like they are doing in China by inticing people with jobs and economic development.

    2. You can do it like in Europe or China by inticing people with Economic Pressure from high Gas Prices, etc…

    3. You can take advantage of a crisis and do it that way too-Like Mexico or China.

    For some reason, I think America will be a combo of all 3.

    Once you do that, you can either tear down rural and suburban properties, or just allow nature to take over. Due to the costs of such an enterprise, I think they will just let nature take over.

    Chinese Dust Bowls, it could happen in America too as the Ogalala Aquifer is pretty well frankly…. F-cked!!!

  54. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    By the way, I think the reason why you guys who are certain ages love small cars is because you’re true blue car enthusiasts, period.

    We’re talking the average joe here. The average joe who just wants his Camry, Malibu, Fusion, etc.. ready to go is; I think annoyed by small cars.

  55. Nick Stevens Says:

    “LEX Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    GM is wasting money again now on diesel development for cars!
    A Diesel Chevy Traverse makes more sense.’

    Also Enclave and Acadia.


    EVEN MORE TRUE, a Suburban-Tahoe Diesel.

  56. Nick Stevens Says:

    The Touareg Hybrid is ALSO a totally idiotic design, the existing TOuareg DIESELS are far more apropriate for a large heavy SUV that tows stuff. Only MISUSERS of the Tuareg, soccer moms wasting their days carrying litle spoiled brats to their judo lessons, could use that.

  57. Nick Stevens Says:

    cwolf Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Hey, I’ll take diesels from any US maker! Since I commute over 50K mi./yr., a diesel cruse,fusion or the new Buick would be ideal.

    Seriously, 50k/year? They must be highway miles mostly, unless you drive a city fleet car.

    In that case, you should already be driving a Jetta or Jetta Wagen or Golf Diesel, OR if you want more performance, safety and luxury AND 35 MPG, a Merc E class Diesel, OR even a BMW 335d!

    Don’t wait, go out and get one now! AND don’t worry about the miles, diesels last FOREVER.

    IF you do 50k city miles, though, you should really look at the PRIUS, or at least a fuel efficient Civic HX 44 MPG highway a few years old.

  58. Nick Stevens Says:


    I was just looking at Car and Driver on the web, and they have an interesting comparison test of the Fiesta vs the Mazda 2 and the Honda Fit.

    Both newcomers were soundly beaten by the Fit, and it shows what a sham EPA ratings are that the Fit, which had the LOWEST EPA MPG numbers of the three, got the HIGHEST (by 1 MPG over the Mazda 2 and by 2 MPG over the Fiesta!) in REAL WORLD Road Testing by C&D.

    The Fit finiahed first overall, and I am not at all surprised, any auto literate person that has no biases (such as only bying domestic) will see its superiority.

  59. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Well Nick, let the Fit be second for now. That’s perfectly fine. It’s a decent, but overpriced product, which I think could use a futuristic more agressive redesign. Yeah, that’s fine for now.

    We have surprises coming.

  60. pedro fernandez Says:

    I read that article about a month ago and was surprised that the much ballyhooed Fiesta came in 3rd place. Honestly, I’d take the 2 over the Fiesta due to lower cost and also Mazda kept more of the original car’s fun factor w/o all the gee-whiz electronics, plus I don’t really trust the dual clutch tranny the Fiesta uses.

  61. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I just saw the same C & D article, and was a little surprised that the Fit won. I would have expected the Fiesta and 2 to be sportier to drive than the narrower, taller Fit, but I guess Honda did a better job with the suspension, and alos the shifting. The latter is not a surprise, though. Honda has had the best front-drive manual shifters/tranmissions for years. It looks like Honda was doing a pretty good job before they started “losing it” with their newest designs.

  62. cwolf Says:

    All my driving is on the “pike” and costs me about $15/day for fuel.
    I like all the cars you mensioned,but I was raised to support only the “Big 3.” I did enjoy a test drive in a Jetta diesel enough to sever my loyalty; until I found out the timing belt,not chain, had to be replaced every 100K at a cost of something like $1100-$1600! That is $500 annualy that could be spent on fuel. Gas was about $2/gal. at the time. Besides, several other friends owning euro cars say their “beauty” is in the shop rather often and the service costs are expensive!
    I do own a foreign car though; a 69 MGC sportster with 30K miles that should be restored by spring.

  63. XA351GT Says:

    Here in PA Diesel is nearly a dollar more a gallon than regular. So by my math if you have a car on gas that gets 25MPG you would need one that gets 35MPG on diesel to break even. I’m sure that’s very doable ,but then you need to factor in that diesels also cost more to buy. So it gets to the point that unless you buttloads of torque the majority of drivers doesn’t need a diesel.

  64. Nick Stevens Says:

    All my driving is on the “pike” and costs me about $15/day for fuel.”

    I’m at the other extreme, if not for the long trips (most reimbursed at a profit) I put gas once a month or less (!) whether I use the tiny Civic Hatch overseas or the huge BMW 740iL at home in the US.

    “I like all the cars you mensioned,but I was raised to support only the “Big 3.” I did enjoy a test drive in a Jetta diesel enough to sever my loyalty; until I found out the timing belt,not chain, had to be replaced every 100K at a cost of something like $1100-$1600!”

    That sounds extreme. These nos are high even for a 7 series BMW, much less a econobox Jetta! Even my 2.2 lt Accord coupe I had for 14 years, the belt was supposed to be replaced every 90k miles at $500 (plus a pump) and I found ot too expensive so I replaced it in CA for 2/3 that at 113k miles. Check around, this sounds hard to believe on a Jetta.

    “Besides, several other friends owning euro cars say their “beauty” is in the shop rather often and the service costs are expensive!”

    This used to be true only for Jaguars, ansd some VWs, and recently for Some Mercedeses as well, but my own experience with the 740iL, which I bought for peanuts at over 100k miles and drove now for more than 5 years, has been as reliable as my Accord and more reliable than my previous domestic Pontiac (only car I bought new).

  65. Nick Stevens Says:

    If I did 50k miles every year (most on the highway), I’d want to drive a top-end ultra-luxury car with good MPG. I might find a 93-95 S class Mercedes Turbodiesel, or settle for a used E class diesel. OR a LExus LS430 or even 460 with the 8-speed transmission. ZWHen you spend that much time in a car, it better be a palace inside, and have plenty of both active and passive safety. How much is our life worth?

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That $1100-1600 for a TDI belt replacement sounds high, even for a dealer. A local shop here in central Indiana does if for ~$600.

    Whatever it costs, one thing is certain. With a TDI, you need to replace it when the owner’s manual says to change it. With the high compression of the TDI, it is guaranteed that valves will hit pistons and trash the engine if the belt breaks.