Episode 557 – Rare-Earth Free Electric Motor, Audi #1 Luxury Brand, More Safety Regulations

January 14th, 2011 at 12:17pm

Runtime 9:13

Toyota may be on the verge of a breakthrough developing electric motors that do not need rare-earth materials, in an effort to sidestep China’s stranglehold on the market. Audi is now the top automotive luxury-brand in the world, thanks to sales in China. The U.S. Department of Transportation issued new rules aimed at preventing occupants from being ejected from a vehicle during a rollover. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit about TechShop, a place where anyone can create just about anything they want.


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This is Autoline Daily for January 14, 2011. And now, the news.

RARE-EARTH FREE ELECTRIC MOTOR (subscription required)
Looks like Toyota has come up with a way to deal with China’s stranglehold on the market for a rare-earth elements. The Wall Street Journal reports that Toyota may be on the verge of a breakthrough developing electric motors that do not need rare earth materials. It sounds like a pretty simple solution. Instead of using permanent magnets Toyota’s motor will use electromagnets. General Motors and the supplier company Continental are working on the same thing. In fact Continental says it will have an electric motor that does not use rare-earth materials out this year for an unnamed electric car in Europe.

Speaking of Toyota, the company is looking at moving more production out of Japan. Sounding more like a Detroit executive from the early 1980s, Akio Toyoda is blaming the high cost of currency. The strength of the yen reduced Toyota’s operating profit by more than $1.4 billion last year. Toyota says it needs the exchange rate to be ¥90 to the dollar to keep production in Japan. Right now the dollar is trading at ¥83.

And speaking of Japanese automakers having problems with currency, Bloomberg reports Daihatsu is pulling out of Europe. The Toyota affiliate and well-known builder of tiny Japanese kei cars – that’s K-E-I cars not like the K-cars Chrysler made – cites the rising value of the yen and upcoming carbon regulations as the reason for pulling out. Hey, did you know Daihatsu used to sell cars in the U.S.? They couldn’t make a go of it here, either.

Let’s stay with the European market for a moment. Here’s something I bet a lot of people don’t realize: last year Audi was the top-selling luxury brand in Europe, outselling its arch rival BMW, which, in turn, finished ahead of Mercedes-Benz. In December, Audi’s deliveries jumped 16 percent, topping BMW’s 7.3 percent gain and 4.2 percent for Mercedes. When you add in global sales, especially from China, Audi is now the top automotive luxury brand in the world.

The former chairman and CEO of Delphi, once the largest auto supplier in the world, was cleared of fraud charges. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had accused J.T. Battenberg III of misleading investors. But while a jury cleared Battenberg of fraud they did find that he had misrepresented payments to General Motors. He’ll get fined for that. Ironically, Battenberg had made a big deal about being the first CEO in the United States to sign the Sarbanes-Oxley law, which was all about transparent financial disclosure.

The energy company Valero will invest up to $50 million in Mascoma to build a $350 million cellulosic ethanol plant in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Valero wants exclusive rights to ALL of Mascoma’s cellulosic biofuels. The plant is expected to start production in 2013, delivering some 40 million gallons of fuel per year. This is not Valero’s first move in the biofuels business. It owns and operates 10 corn-based ethanol plants and has invested equity in cellulosic ethanol companies. It’s also involved with a couple algae-based biofuel companies.

Raw material prices continue to rise. According to Bloomberg, palladium and platinum, which are used to maker catalytic converters, will jump this year due to booming car sales in China and a drop in supplies. Currently, palladium trades at just over $800 an ounce but could hit $1,000 an ounce sometime this year. Platinum costs over $1,800 today but that could jump to over $2,000 an ounce. It’s only a matter of time before we see this reflected in the sticker price of new cars.

And speaking of adding cost to vehicles. The U.S. Department of Transportation issued new rules yesterday aimed at preventing occupants from being ejected from a vehicle during a rollover. The new rule requires automakers to develop a countermeasure for cars under 10,000 lbs that prevents an unbelted adult from moving more than four inches past the side-window opening during a crash. The rule will begin phasing in during 2013 and by 2018 all vehicles will be required to have a system in place. The U.S. DOT estimates the rule will save 373 lives and prevent over 470 injuries a year. To me this is crazy. You want to prevent people from being ejected in rollovers? Get them to buckle their seat belts!

We all know the Chinese are buying tons of new cars, but surprisingly, rich Chinese women are buying exotic sports cars more, on a percentage basis, than in any other country. Fiat says three times as many women in China buy Maseratis than in Europe. And for Ferrari it’s double its global average. Expect this trend to continue since the number of millionaires in China keeps growing and the country has over half of the Top 20 richest self-made women. I’m so impressed! Chinese women obviously have good taste in cars.

Do you like to make things? Wouldn’t you love to be able to get your hands on any kind of equipment to make anything that you wanted? Well there is such a place. They call it TechShop. And we’ll show you what it’s all about, right after this.

This week we’ve got a special on-the-road edition of Autoline Detroit, coming to you from California where I take you inside a place called TechShop. What’s TechShop? Well, think of it as a gym. You pay a monthly membership fee to use equipment, but instead of treadmills and weights it has milling machines, welders and lathes. It’s a place where anyone can create just about anything they want. Here’s a little taste of my tour.

By the way you can watch the entire show on TechShop on our website right now at AutolineDetroit.tv.

But that brings us to the end of today’s report on the top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, and we’ll see you on Monday.

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

82 Comments to “Episode 557 – Rare-Earth Free Electric Motor, Audi #1 Luxury Brand, More Safety Regulations”

  1. Tony Gray Says:

    Didya know that BMW was the hottest car at the Detroit Show?

    Somebody stole one of the 750is being used to ferry executives and guests around town during the show. It was being prepared for shipment back to New Jersey when two guys hopped in and drove it away!

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    John: 3 Amens and 2 hallelujahs for you simple response to more govt mandated safety BS on future cars. Where is this gonna end up? Airbags inside, outside, on the roof secure your cup holders in case of a rollover so your hot coffee doesn’t scald you. Enough already, how about personal responsibility to fasten the already available and effective seat belts cars have had for decades. BTW Daihatsu had a couple of nice vehicles here, sold through Toyota dealers that were pretty reliable.

  3. bob Says:


    This is a really silly title. Audis are NOT as expensive as Mercs or BMWs and it is understandable that they may sell more UNITS. SO WHAT??????

    Let’s have serious discussions here and not come up with meaningless rat-races.

  4. HtG Says:

    let me take the other side of that argument Pedro. I found that after I took a course in performance driving that ‘my car’ got a lot more stable, I somehow started to drive slower in poor conditions, and I believed for a while that people really should learn how to drive better. But then it came to me, do many people really have the time, money, or inclination to learn how to control their car? Maybe the govt is right in adding costs to cars, if it means safety equipment that can prevent crashes or protect occupants afterward.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the new pedestrian protective hoods on cars are a poke to the eye. I almost feel sorry for designers like Camilo Pardo.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I remember Daihatsu in America. They had a little 3 cylinder car called Charade, and a small SUV.

  6. ckernzie Says:

    Although I do agree that these nanny safety regs (& increased MPG edicts) are getting way out of hand there is an upside. They form a strong non-tariff barrier against foreign auto makers especially from China & India to market their cheapo cars here. To meet these ridged crash & safety standards automakers have to put a lot of cost & extra engineering into their vehicles that some just don’t have the expertise to do and it will dely their entry into our market.

  7. Buzzerd Says:

    Re: new safety regs-The D.OT. must employ a lot of science deniers, you know the ones that don’t believe in Darwin’s evolution and the strong survive, because they seem to design a lot or laws that coddle stupid people.

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Non-permanent-magnet motors are certainly nothing new. No moters in cars were permanent magnet until fairly recently.

    I’ll be interested in hearing how the efficiency and weight of these motors compare. Presumably, these motors will use more copper which is getting expensive, but they may use aluminum windings.

  9. bob Says:

    I saw a preview of the Prius 3 Plug-in. Did not mention the price, but if it is within 1-2k of the regular prius, it is an interesting proposition. it has a range of only 13 miles on electric only (and 62 MPH max), and would probably cover my daily commutes and half of my other local driving on electric only. Now if gas went to $8 as in Europe, I’d seriously consider it.

  10. dcars Says:

    After hearing about the rise in prices for raw materials I got to believe that any recovery we may enjoy in the future is going to be painfully slow. Sorry, I don’t like Audi’s current design styles; they may be doing well, but I guess it just isn’t for me. I’m not a big fan of Lexus either. On a more positive note I do like the styling of the Cadillac CTS, Hyundai Genesis, most BMW’s and M&B’s.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    SEAT BELTS MUST BE USED BY ALL PASSENGERS, stick to that simple rule and all those regulations would not be necessary

  12. G.A.Branigan Says:

    For those that choose to not wear seatbelts and end up getting ejected from their vehicles in a rollover………..tough sh*t.One more dumbass permanently off our roads.Wanna make seatbelts easier to remember?Easy,include an interlock that will not allow the vehicle to be started without the seatbelt extended and locked in.

  13. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Addressing the electro-magnet based motors for ev’s,how much will they draw away from the mileage?

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Won’t the electromagnet motors need slip rings and brushes, a wear item? The current Prius motor-generators have permanent magnet rotors. If you replace the permanent magnet rotor with a wound rotor I’d think there would be no way around having some sort of brush arrangement. Maybe I’m missing something, though.

  15. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Audis feel better than BMWs though. BMW, I just dont understand that company unless it’s an M car.

    All cars should be powered or assisted by rare earth free electric motors, THAT DONT SONUD LIKE MID 20TH CENTURY V8s.

    Screw that, make it sound futuristic like Sci Fi movies. There has to be something you can do to the motor to make it have that: Jestons, Fifth Element, Bicentennial Man engine whine.

  16. Len simpson Says:

    Speaking of overdone safety equip—just finished a 2010 Terrain, hit hard in the front, but side air bags deployed also which resulted in $1500 (net)replacement costs just for safety equipment , another 4k in frt end metal. My point being properly trained drivers would negate the need for safety overkill.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    Len brings up a good point, cost to buy the vahicle and cost to repair and I wonder how many unscrupulous shops don’t replace airbags after an accident giving owners a false sense of security.

  18. HtG Says:

    The thing about safety equipment and human injury is that, well, you know the answer.

    You can be driving very well but somebody else can make a mistake. It happened to a relative of mine, who was hit head on when another driver inexplicably made a left turn at a lit intersection. The safety equipment on both cars reduced overall injuries from this ~35mph collision. (When I say ‘inexplicably’ I mean we don’t know if the other driver was, shall we say, distracted.)

  19. john787 Says:

    Toyota working on a breakthrough by using an electro magnet, for field of the motor, instead of using rare earth permanent magnet? I find that funny! Electro magnet has been used for the field in motors, close to a century. Using rare earth magnet has only a slight advantage and that is weight.

    It sure sounds good for Toyota, but Toyota is trying to make itself look like an innovator.

  20. Chuck Grenci Says:

    More candidates for the ‘Darwin Awards’ (those that don’t wear their seat belts); my gosh, just help yourself out and use the safety equipment provided.

    And re to Kit; inductive motors (and I believe they have to be alternating current) do not have rings or communtators (though alternating current motors can use communtators as well). Other motors (direct current), whether permanent magnetic field wound or permanent magnet, use brushes.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    These are not “inductive” motors. They are motors that have high low rpm torque like a brush dc motor, with electronic “timing” to replace the brushes and commutator.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Toyota does, indeed have a breakthrough of sorts if they have a way to do a non-permanent-magnet, brushless motor that behaves like current ev motors.

  23. Alex Kovnat Says:


    >The U.S. DOT estimates the rule
    >will save 373 lives and prevent
    >over 470 injuries a year. To me
    >this is crazy. You want to prevent
    >people from being ejected in
    >rollovers? Get them to buckle
    >their seat belts!

    We should demand the government also tell us, how many pounds of weight will this add to cars? How much performance will be lost, particularly when autos are also being squeezed harder and harder on fuel economy? And/or, how many extra gallons of fuel will be burned a year, at how much cost if the price of gas soars to $4 a gallon?

    As I’ve often asked before, how much do we, the people, have to sacrifice just to carry the ego baggage of those who want more and more safety features on other peoples cars?

  24. tj Martin Says:

    ” Audi is not as expensive as BMW and Mercedes ”

    Hmmn . Really ? Priced an A8 , RS6 , Q7 , TT-S , S5 or an RS5 lately ? And just wait’ll you see the stickers on the TT-RS and the RS5 when it hits here . Fraid you might be in for a bit of Sticker Shock B .

  25. tj Martin Says:

    The ONLY safety device the Government should be mandating right now is ;


    Ahh … Never happen . Too simple and too cheap . Along with there being nothing extra the Car makers can whine and charge us for .

  26. tj Martin Says:

    #24 the sixth Audi model should of read S4 .

  27. RonD Says:

    Both the Volt and the Tesla already use motors with electromagnets instead of expensive rare earth permanent magnets, so this is no new invention. Kit, they are induction motors, just not driven off of 60 Hz AC like the motor in you table saw or furnace. Instead of brushes they use electronic control to generate/control the rotating magnetic field. Induction motors are used everywhere. The rotating magnetic field creates an electric field which energizes the electromagnets. The only disadvantage is the motor has to “slip” to energize the electromagnets. No slip rings are required. I have a friend who works as a motor designer, he is amazed that Toyota is using permanent magnet motors. All of the motors he designs are induction motors. The Chinese have shot themselves in the foot by being a greedy, unreliable source of permanent magnets.

  28. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Americans shouldn’t be allowed to drive anything that weighs more than 3500 lbs. :D

  29. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I’m talking pass products.

  30. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Elantra, Civic, Focus, Verano, Jetta aren’t true small cars anymore. I still call them small cars because America isn’t ready yet for any other language that describes these cars.

    It’s almost to the point to where a new title might have to be given to them like: Progressive Urban Light Sedans or something of the sort.

    Ford needs a Hyundai i20 sized small car. The Fiesta is a little too big to cover that role, and the KA is way too small. Its has to be about 155 +/- 2 inches. Ford should sell that in the US as well as the KA.

    I say it’s time to bring in A segments, and true B Segments (152-157 inch) cars to America. I think it’s time to start plucking away at the Full sized SUV and Sedans one by one.

    -Buick doesnt need an Enclave, and soon enough it won’t need a LaCrosse. Come on guys.
    -Toyota doesn’t need the Avalon, nor the Highlander.
    -Lexus doesn’t need the LS
    -Volvo Doesnt need an S60

    E Class
    5 Series

    can stay-FOR NOW, but they will be headed for the chopping block eventually too.

  31. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Anything more than 190 Inches long should be a limited production car only. It should be treated like the way Hyundai treats its Equus, but on even smaller Genesis/Azera/La Crosse/Accord/5 Series sized cars.

    The General public shouldn’t be able to have that much easy access to such whales.

    I cant believe that the Accord used to be smaller than Accent is today, and now it’s classified officially now as a Full Sized La Crosse comeptitor car. It’s too big to be in the Midsized class now.

    No more than 1000 units per year per brand.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:


    From what I’ve seen in multiple web sites, Chevy Volt has permanent magnet motors. Where did you see otherwise? One of the sites I saw is: http://www.techibuzz.com/chevy-volt-surprise-car-features/

  33. RonD Says:

    A search on chevy volt induction motor finds multiple links……

    http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/alternative/112_0904_2011_chevrolet_volt_mule_drive/index.html – Our mule drive was in one of about 40 Chevy Cruze sedans that have been outfitted with the Volt’s T-shaped lithium-ion battery pack, its 150-hp, 272-lb-ft AC induction motor, plus the proper powertrain control electronics and the regenerative and hydraulic braking componentry needed to develop the car’s drivability.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/reviews/drives/4338192 – The Volt uses a three-phase AC induction motor rated at 120 kilowatts, or 160 hp, powered by a 6-foot-long, 375-pound array of lithium-ion cells mounted low along the Volt’s floorpan.

    http://allnewchevyvolt.com/aboutthevolt.html – The Chevy Volt is powered by a three-phase AC induction motor rated at 120 kilowatts that is supplied by a nearly six-foot-long array of lithium-ion cells mounted low along the car’s floor pan.

    http://www.electric-cars-are-for-girls.com/chevy-volt.htm – Which Electric Motor?
    A 3-phase AC induction motor. 120 KW, 160 HP, 320-350 volts.


    Regenerative Braking.
    The 3-phase AC induction motor is typically very adept at regenerative braking, with it’s sophisticated inverter, and it’s no surprise that the Chevy Volt does have regen braking.

  34. RonD Says:

    And a search on Chevy Volt permanent magenet motor finds links that state it is a permanent magnet motor!!

    I guess I would believe Motor Trend more than Automobile, and Popular Mechanics more than Popular Science. But not sure.

    A couple of interesting links – http://gm-volt.com/2010/09/28/chevrolet-volt-a-semi-finalist-for-north-american-car-of-the-year/ search on permanent.

    http://newenergyandfuel.com/http:/newenergyandfuel/com/2010/02/09/the-best-electric-vehicle-motor/ – discusses some of the trade offs.

  35. RonD Says:

    One more link that gives the best description of the trade off of the 2 types of motors. So far it seems that pure electrics are more likely to be induction motors and hybrids are more likely to be permanent magnet motors. See http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/induction-versus-dc-brushless-motors

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Thanks for the link. Great article.

  37. bob Says:

    This week’s “Autoline Detroit” show was the WORST I have ever seen, with perhaps the exception of the show with the silly chick discussing good names for cars (for which her fellow auto illiterates are paid millions to cope up with moronic names like “Sonic”, “Achieva”, or, more appropriately, as Seinfeld would say, “Lemona”.

  38. HtG Says:

    Seeing the promo was all the hint I needed, bob.
    Still, I will be rooting for my Jets this Sunday.

  39. RonD Says:

    A google search on Chevy Volt induction motor finds multiple links and a search on Chevy Volt permanent magnet motor finds multiple links! The induction motor links seems to be more creditable, and I think I remember seeing a cut-away of the motor that showed copper bars in the rotor. Copper bars would mean it is an induction motor.

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Volt has two motors, one which also functions as the IC engine-powered generator. The “big” motor is, in fact, a 3 phase AC unit according to http://gm-volt.com/chevy-volt-faqs/. The smaller motor-generator is most likely a permanent magnet unit. The Volt faq didn’t say, though.

  41. RonD Says:

    The terminology used on motors is very confusing.
    Most motors are 3 phase. Some motors are described as DC brushless, but they really run off 3 phase AC which is generated by the inverter. The Volt are obviously not running on power line AC. The real difference is in the rotor construction. None of the GM literature I have found states if it is induction or permanent magnet. Probably need to do a patent search to find the truth.

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    I got a chuckle out of the Forbes list of the most affordable luxury cars currently available, I think these people need to take a crash course on what a luxury vehicle should be. I don’t consider any on their list to be “luxury” vehicles.

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Forbes has a rather odd definition of “luxury vehicle.” To them, anything that costs over $40K qualifies. I guess a F350 dualie must be really luxurious, because it would cost well over 40K.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m pretty sure the motor they call “3 phase AC” in the Volt faq would be an induction motor, but yeh, they don’t actually say so.

    Until I read that Tesla link, I didn’t realize that the EV-1 used an induction motor. That was a pretty high tech car, except for the lead acid batteries.

  45. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Car Predictions for the next 9 Years:

    1. Auto sales will continue to recover, but there will be a some kind of a crash in 2012-2013 that will make conditions worse than 2009. Possibly a 7-8 Million unit period during that time. A few car companies will not make it through this transformational (revolutionary was like) period. Even some who have been “bailed out” already. Bailing out a Homeless bum who loves his rock more than anything else is a waste. Could Volvo, Chrysler, Mitsubishi, SAAB, etc.. be this homeless Bum? That is the question.

    2. In 2014 Car sales will start to rapidly recover all the way to Highest ever sales of 19-22 Million units by 2017-2018, but drop off to a new normal as there is an ANTI CAR MOVEMENT BUDDING UNDER THE SURFACE AS WE SPEAK TODAY THAT WILL GROW TO PROMINENCE BY THEN. Plus, people will start moving back to cities in droves where there is better, faster, smarter public transit than is available today.
    Places such as Detroit will have more people than it ever had. Maybe even 3+ Million in the City limits by 2020?

    3. Most cars sold in America by 2020 will be B and C segment Accent/Fiesta, Elantra/Focus cars.

    4. EVs will do a lot better than the naysayers give them credit for today.

    5. Gas Prices will be $7-8+ A GALLON AS “THE NEW NORMAL by 2020.” This helps cities, even once Ghetto cities such as Detroit grow populations to unprecedented levels. America will finally have cities that are as vibrant and competitive as Shanghai and Beijing, and not the criminal/slum infested hellholes they are today. This of course will empty out the Suburbs and Suburbs will turn into immigrant slums, or in other cases revert back to their former natural surroundings.

    6. Cars will 2020 will be so technologically advanced that they make todays car slook like ancient relics. The differences between 2011 cars and 2020 cars will be as vast as the differences between 1971 and 2011 cars. 20 years of technological advances in virtually every sector of the economy will occur between 2010 and 2020-AT LEAST.

    7. Some revelations will come out that car companies have been hiding tech and powertrain advances for the last 30 years. THIS WILL GIVE FUEL TO THE FIRE FOR THE ANTI-CAR MOVEMENT, AND THEY WILL USE THIS AS A RECRUITING TOOL TO SAY: “See, why buy a car? They are devices, and tools of evil capitalist pigs (America is about to become a very “Anti-Capitalist” country-the government didnt do that It’s the behavior of the Corporations that will create this sentiment) who want to drive V6s and V8s, and cars that weigh over 3500 Lbs, and overpriced cars that are about nothing but status and THE BADGE.” Hey, some in Gen Y and many aging Baby Boomer Hippies will take the bait. YOU STARTED IT WITH YOUR ACTIONS TODAY!!!

    8. Most cars will be assisted by Rare Earth free Electric (Hybrid) motors as the standard Mill. Only performance products will get pure gas powertrains for the most part.

  46. pedro fernandez Says:

    Smoke: when will the new Accent be available here , will it have the 1.6 instead of the 1.4 engine and 4 or 5 sp auto? It looks awesome and I think it’s gonna kick some major ass!!. Attn Ford, better start lowering Fiesta’s price.

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    Smoke: just read that it will get a 6 sp auto or man if they can manage to keep the price down, it will be a no-brainer for anyone looking for a stylish, economical, well-built small car, Bye, bye Fiesta, Sonic et.al

  48. bob Says:

    Decades of experience with fools making forecasts, even when they DO have a clue, unlike H/S, have shown that

    “Those who gaze in crystal balls eat broken glass”

  49. bob Says:

    I just saw the detailed inventory numbers as of Jan 1 2011

    Most makers look good because of the strong Dec sales, but the usual LOSERS continue to dissapoint.

    Such as the Ford SIESTA..has 24,300 of them unsold in the lots, or, much worse, 126 days of inventory,

    Fiesta 24,300 126

    while over at GM

    Cruze 30,700 76
    Impala 16,400 39

    Equinox 14,300 17

    When the Stellar Equinox has… 17!!! Shortages are reported, you just can’t find Equinoxes, so quickly are they sold.

    THAT is truck of the year material, You Auto Journalists!

    For comparison, here are two heavyweights:

    Accord 63,900 53
    Civic (D/I) 48,800 47

    new Odyssey also doing very well

    Odyssey 9,000 24

    (no detailed data are given for Toyota, Hyu-Kia or Nissan)

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I drove by my semi-local Honda dealer this morning and took a look at the new Odyssey. I didn’t much like the way it looked, but it had a very good 19-28 mpg EPA rating on its window sticker, for a vehicle that can semi-comfortably transport 8 people. It seems that Honda does some things right, but they really REALLY need to find some new people to do the styling, especially for Acura.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Impala, 39 days. It looks like there is still a lot of demand for what would be, by autogeek standards, one of the most “out of touch” cars on the market today.

  52. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Pedro, Accent in North America will have 6 speed Auto, and 6 speed manual. It will also have the 1.6 GDI powertrain at first, but there might be a 1.4 GDI Turbo with say ~160 HP later, as well as the Hybrid.

    I’m waiting for the brid, personally.

    I saw another Fiesta on Wednesday, BTW. It was a sedan, and the sedan looks nice but has a road presence that looks a little awkward.

  53. bob Says:

    The Impala is NOT an “out of touch” car but a BARGAIN car, I believe it is even cheaper than the much smaller Malibu, and a good choice for large families that are not slaves to fashion. WHY would you buy a buick of same dimensions for double the price and mortgage your house to afford it?

    The New Odyssey looked good in the pics, but I have not seen it up close. It has been the undisputed KING of ALL minivans ever since the first full size Odyssey came out.

    But its problem is the price, it will go over 40k fast.

  54. bob Says:

    I agree the Siesta Sedan looks very awkward, almost weird. That’s what happens when a good hatchack design is assasinated to create a stupid sedan that US consumers think they need.

  55. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Impala is bigger on the outside than Malibu, but the back seat has less leg room. The Malibu has a very large trunk, though. The Impala is 8 inches longer and 3 inches wider than Malibu, but has an inch shorter wheelbase.

    The Impala is $2-3K more expensive than Mailibu for comparable models. Pretty much everyone from Car and Driver to Edmunds to Consumer Reports says the Malibu is a much better car, but if you need the large trunk or more width for 3 people in the back seat, the Impala beats Malibu there.

    The Odyssey I saw at the dealer was a little over $40K. That may be why that particular one was on the lot, rather than sold. It was the only Odyssey I saw at that dealership.

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Woops, I meant IMPALA has a very large trunk, its main advantage over Malibu.

  57. HtG Says:

    When I saw the Focus sedan, that was when the Fiesta sedan made sense to me. The rear ends have that family resemblance thing. But otherwise, that Fiesta rear looks weird to me.

    hi bob, should I just hold on to my 02 Civic? Great car with low miles, but boy am I bored.

  58. bob Says:

    HtG: Why does your civic bore you? is it Auto or is it the fabrics inside?

    Yours is an 02, mine is a… 91-92, has no ABS, no Airbags whatsoever, and we put less than 1k miles every year the last few years, I only drive it one month or so every summer, and even then sparingly. Its interior is 80s, really (the plastics, but still better than the malibu’s 2010 hard plastics, but the cloth is good in the seats)

    I am not at all bored with it, it feels quick with its 1875 lbs and 5-speed and given it barely has 45,000 miles, I think it will last another 50 years easily and may bury us all.

  59. bob Says:

    I like its hatch design (3 door), very cute but I wish the seating position was not practically on the floor and the whole car was taller. Even as it is, it is far more prectical than my 7, I could have me and one passenger behind me and load it with THREE IKEA bookcases (7 ft by 1 ft by 6″ roughly) and have room for luggage, if I fold the rear right seat and lower the passenger seat.

  60. bob Says:

    it is a compromise between a city car, which it primarily is, and a sporty car you can drive on the highway due to its low and wide stance.. but with a top speed of 106 MPH (75 HP, it prefers speeds around 55-75 MPH.

  61. bob Says:

    I watched Motorweek’s review of the Buick Regal. Its priced like an upscale Cruze, but its interior is as cheap as the Cruze’s (hard plastics again, but these are not acceptable in a close to $30k buick!)

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A friend has an ’05 Civic si hatchback. That is a great car. Too bad Honda doesn’t sell such cars in the US any more.

  63. HtG Says:

    hi bob, I can’t praise the 02 more highly. 2460lbs, airbags, no ABS, 40+mpg, great interior(compare to the inside of Cayman. really), but after 10 or so years I get itchy. I got a 96 Miata to help, but still there is this emotion thing. I’m not as rationally driven as you. The eye does wander, you know.

  64. HtG Says:

    oh, and 5spd

  65. bob Says:

    is it the sedan, coupe or hatch? I admit the sedan is pretty boring. I only had this hatch Civic and a coupe accord (a 1990 with rust and a hit and run, given to charity still driveable in 2008)

    I am not as rationally driven any more, and I even question my driving of econoboxes all my life until 2005 when i got the bargain basement 7, when i could easily afford a BMW or a porsche (or even an impractical Ferrari)

    After Buying the 7 my appetite opened for more exotic cars. At some point I may buy a warehouse and fill it with all sorts of used exotics and semi-exotics but would need a full time mechanic AND time and miles to drive them.. I live too close to work.

  66. bob Says:

    “A friend has an ‘05 Civic si hatchback. That is a great car.”

    Is that a rather tall hatch? Its MPG is rather lousy, and the engine noise must be quite loud, it runs at high rpm and it is not as sweet as a Ferrari’s

  67. bob Says:

    Do you have any motorcycles? They might cure boredom… And it is no coincidence that both Honda and BMW made a name in Motorcycles even before they were serious Automakers

  68. HtG Says:

    DX coupe. Park it next to a mid-decade BMW 3 series coupe, and you’ll see the profiles are very close. But the Bimmer is sexy, while the Honda looks like a competent homework assignment.
    Now the Miata, that I like to look at, especially with the hardtop.

    I think the problem is that driving just isn’t as much fun as you’d think. Any good roads there by that top research university? I keep looking at roads in CA, dreaming.

  69. bob Says:

    Civic coupes look good, esp in silver. But you got the bare bones version, no sunroof even as factory option and no A/C standard?

    I don’t like the current 3 series exterior or interior, but the previous one was just right, esp. the coupe in silver.

    I like the current 1 series coupe better than the 3 series. And they just came out with a $47k 1 M1 with 340 HP, which they argue is much cheaper, adjusted for inflation, than any other M car EVER. And they are correct.

  70. bob Says:

    Our roads are usually full of potholes. No comparison with smooth-as-an-eggshell Autobahns. And we get a ton of snow and salt, but even tho my 7 is RWD (supposedly the worst for our winters), I had zero problems in more than 5 years I drove it with its regular all-season Michelins (did not even bother to get blizzaks!)

    I don’t have to drive a lot of miles to commute, so I enjoy driving regardless of conditions, weather (Gut genug!) and other obstacles

  71. bob Says:

    I lived in Long BEach CA and commuted 26 miles a day to Anaheim a few years ago, for 7 weeks, when i had that rusty old Accord coupe. The traffic was not that bad, but the roads were, and I had two flat tires in 2 months, one hit some weird kind of trident-shaped nail or metal object, the roads were full of such debris

  72. HtG Says:


  73. HtG Says:

    I got the 02 in silver with AC. I got the car because by 90 Accord was rear ended by a crown vic at 35-40 with me in it. I was largely unhurt, so I was grateful to Honda. I got a bare car because having worked for the oil barons, I respect the value of oil and the work that goes into delivering it. I expected to drive the car for 10 years, at least into a world of expensive oil. The 02′s great mileage lets me drive the 250 miles from NY to DC on less than 6 gallons. I

  74. bob Says:

    There was another Civic Coupe version for high MPG, the HF coupe, which was rated 44 MPG Highway by EPA (after 2008 this would have been 40 or so when EPA took its MPG numbers down to satisfy irate prius Owners that were not getting the EPA 60 MPG)

  75. bob Says:

    it is 525 or so miles to DC from here, and I have driven it on business way too many times, and regardless of the car my range was always close to 525 miles, even with the 7, but I never risked going on one tank.

  76. HtG Says:

    bob, what do you think about the EPA test cycle? Do you know anything about how Europe measures certifies mileage? What happens if more cars use stop start tech?

  77. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My friend’s Civic si is a great “fun” car, but it has short gearing making it a little buzzy at highway speed, and hurting gas mileage. The car is about the same height as Civic sedans of the same generation

  78. HtG Says:

    Kit,my 02 is fine up to 85 or so. Above that the suspension just isn’t stiff enough. It moves around a lot if the road undulates. I won’t drive above 90 if there’s traffic. No way.

  79. bob Says:

    HtG: I much prefer the Euro MPG reporting. First of, they use gallons per mile, much better (lt/100km, really) and second, they have distinct specs, one for 90KPH on country roads (usually very high MPG), one for urban and one for HWY at 120 MPH, and a mix of the three. I have seen the full report of the latest EPA reduction of all MPGs, and a lot of it is done arbitrarily and statistically penalizing a model without getting its OWN accurate MPG, using regression lines etc. 200 pages or so, I got it in a binder somewhere).

    The Euro MPGs are quite optimistic and usually real world driving gets much lower MPG.

    My Civic is euro spec’d 5.3 lt/100 km at 90 KPH and I get 5.0 lt when I drive it leisurely late at night with little traffic at 70ish KPH. That’s well over 40 MPG.

  80. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG if your Civic bores you, try my 98 Corolla for a couple of days, you may just leave it on the side of the road and hitch a ride. My only experience with a Civic was an 08 I rented for an extended weekend trip from So Fl to West Fl and then headed north, total about 1400 miles, I hated to give the thing back to the rental agency, first time that has happened to me since I’ve been renting cars.

  81. bob Says:

    Older Civics and Accords are a compromise, they are as reliable as Toyotas but drive and handle a bit better. Not as well as VW Golfs and BMWs, but these are supposed to be less reliable in the US (which has been my reliability experience with my 75 passat-Dasher but not at all with my 98 740iL)

  82. Andrew Charles Says:

    bob, the European fuel economy standards are urban, extra-urban, and combined, or city, highway and combined, just like the EPA. The tests are just run over different programs, under different operating conditions. The EPA tests appear to be tougher, but the published results aren’t as precise (e.g. two cars may both get 30 mpg EPA, but 37 and 39 mpg under European testing).

    Daihatsu makes only small, fuel-efficient cars, and it’s pulling out of Europe because of tougher CO2 standards? B—S—t! Daihatsu is Toyota’s Mercury. First the US, then Australia, China and now Europe, it’s just one brand too many. The same cars will continue to be sold in Europe under the cheaper Perodua brand (made in Malaysia). Other Daihatsus will be sold as Toyotas for export markets (some already are).