Episode 651 – Chinese Car Sales Could Fall, No U-Haul for You, EPA Tests More than Cars

May 26th, 2011 at 12:16pm

Runtime 10:28

Chinese car sales aren’t just slowing, they could fall. U-Haul won’t rent you a trailer if you’re a Ford Explorer buyer or own a soft-top Wrangler. Ford demos Sync integration with medical equipment for blood sugar monitoring on the go. All that and more, plus we get a look into the EPA where we learn they don’t just test cars.


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This is Autoline Daily for May 26, 2011. And now, the news.

We’ve been reporting that car sales have been slowing in China, what with the government dropping subsidies and cities like Beijing limiting how many new cars it will allow. But now a think tank in China says sales aren’t just going to slow down, they’re going to go down. The China Automotive Technology and Research Center forecasts that sales in China will fall 10 percent this year. But the Chinese government says they’ll go up 8 percent, and car companies continue to add capacity at a rate that’s greater than that. Here’s my Autoline Insight. We’ve seen this happen before all over the world. In Europe and North America and South America, automakers build too many plants, all in the belief that they will sell out their production, and that it’s the other guys who will be stuck with overcapacity. But as we’ve seen in the history of the industry, overcapacity leads to a price war that hurts almost everyone’s profitability.

The wheels rarely stop turning at Ford… especially when it comes to R&D. Recently, the company showed reporters a new interface with its popular Sync system. And this time it’s medical.

Ford engineers have integrated what they call health and wellness features into the car. So, for example the system can communicate with blood glucose meters and tell diabetes patients what their blood sugar is in real time through simple voice commands.

Even though Ford says it’s leading the industry on health and wellness features, don’t expect a visit from Dr. Sync in your car anytime soon. The technology is still in the waiting room. Even so, it’s this kind of technology, like Sync and My Ford Touch that allows the company to get consumers to pay more money when they buy a car.

For the first time in 30 years, the Environmental Protection Agency dramatically retooled its fuel economy labels. Starting with next year’s 2013 models, the EPA says new look labels will include more consumer-friendly information like easy-to-read ratings, driving range estimates as well as the annual fuel cost for the car and its impact on the environment. The current fuel labels have been around since about 1980 and were tinkered with over the years but never like this. More information on the new label can be found at the EPA’s website.

Just in time for higher gas prices, The Detroit News reports that small cars are getting safer. Or at least that’s the word from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. As we’ve reported on Autoline Daily, manufacturers have been flooding the market recently with new smaller cars. And thanks to the engineering additions of stronger steel and more airbags, the small car is no longer a poor performer in safety tests. In fact, 6 of 13 small cars were just awarded the Insurance Institute’s Top Safety Pick this year with the Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra leading the way.

If you own a Ford Explorer and plan on renting a trailer, don’t try and get one from U-Haul. According to Consumer Reports, it’s corporate policy for the company to not rent out any trailers to Explorer owners. It seems the rule was implemented after Ford’s lawsuit over defective Firestone tires. This policy even applies to the all-new Explorer even though it has nothing in common with the ones involved in the lawsuit. A spokeswoman with U-Haul says of the policy “Every time we go to hire an attorney to defend a lawsuit, as soon as we say ‘Ford Explorer,’ they charge us more money.” But it’s not just Explorer owners who will run into this problem, U-Haul won’t rent trailers to owners of Jeep Wranglers that don’t have a hard top.

NASCAR driver Kyle Busch had a little too much fun test driving a new car earlier in the week. The AP reports the race car driver was pulled over in North Carolina for driving 128 MPH in a 45 MPH zone. He was testing out his new 2012 Lexus LFA and said “I got carried away.” In addition to speeding, Busch was cited for careless and reckless driving, a charge I’m sure a lot of his competitors in NASCAR would agree with.

We all know the EPA tests cars for emissions and fuel economy. But it turns out they test a lot more than cars or trucks. We’ll show you what else they test right after this.

But first — you may have been wondering why Open Line has gone on hiatus. I talked to Michelle Naranjo earlier this week and got an update.

The EPA tests all kinds of engines. In fact, as long as it doesn’t fly, the EPA has responsibility to test just about everything else out there.

Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tonight at 7PM Eastern. Our guest tonight will be Russ Clark, talking about the upcoming redo of the Chevy Malibu. Join me and the Autoextremist Peter De Lorenzo for the best insider information in the business on Autoline After Hours.

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

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

56 Comments to “Episode 651 – Chinese Car Sales Could Fall, No U-Haul for You, EPA Tests More than Cars”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    John, I am really surprised that you would give the irresponsible Kyle Busch an attaboy for his reckless dangerous stunt, I hope they put his behind in a ringer just like they would anyone else doing such a dangerous thing, as a matter of fact, I would have put him in jail for a couple of days just to teach him a lesson.

  2. HtG Says:

    HO! A new Bridgestone ad lead in. I choked on my chalupa. Where’s the ‘passion for excellence’ tagline?

  3. HtG Says:

    Would the Honorable Judge Fernandez like to go for a ride in the LFA before condemning Kyle? That car, with that engine, NEEEEEDS to speed.

  4. Ralph Kercheval Says:

    I must strongly object to you “GO KYLE” comment.

    Being irresponsible and dangerous on a public street is hardly an action that you should condon.

    When are we going to stop treating celebrity as a “get out of jail free” card.

    Anyone else would be in jail and lose their license for years, but not this idiot.

    John, I am ashamed of you!!

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yes Herman, and I am sure Mr Busch could arrange some track time so he can have fun with his new toy without putting anyone in harm’s way. what is the diff between this and drunk driving?

  6. HtG Says:

    if it’s me going 120, it’s drunk driving. If it’s KB on a road marked 45, I’m guessing he’s on a highway and can see pretty far up ahead. Just not far enough.

  7. HtG Says:

    If KB doesn’t lose his license, I will be pretty surprised, though.

  8. Buzzerd Says:

    The difference would be despite the nonsense your local police would tell you speed has little to nothing to do with causing collisions where as drunk driving is a major factor. Go Kyle go.

  9. MJB Says:

    Paging Dr. Sync…Paging Dr. Sync…

    Now look, I’m certain this bit of innovative thinking will be rewarded with an equally enthused and captive audience of consumers.

    But this whole concept of a (built-in) car accessory that functions as a low-tech health monitor just reminds me a bit of a certain 1961 Rock Hudson / Doris Day flic (Lover Come Back)in which a completely fictitious product by the name of VIP is devised just to get the public all excited about something that they only THINK they need. The marketers (in the film) persuade people into believing that this mystery product is something that, even though they have lived this long without, they will now all of a sudden be in need of.

    I mean, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s neat. And my thinking may even be a bit myopic here. But who really needs this?

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    Wow!! I had no idea we had so many hormonally-charged adolescents in this blog

  11. RonE Says:

    I will be surprised if he DOES lose his license. North Carolina, NASCAR rules.

  12. HtG Says:

    Hormonally charged, you say, Pedro? Remind us again about that special feature on your Corolla.

    But being real, in a supercar like LFA, I doubt the driver feels anything at all until he reaches 100. Heck, my civic is a sensory deprivation chamber unless I get illegal.

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    Oh, the unintended vibrator that was the result of crappy, after-market motor mounts? trust me I wish I could turn back time and install the real Toyota replacement ones. The money I saved is not worth the freaking headaches I get after driving it a while

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    He won’t lose his license, these guys are like gods in the south.

  15. HtG Says:

    Unless the Law wants to make an example of him, ‘pour decourager les autres.’

    What are we betting, Pedro?

  16. MJB Says:

    @ #1.

    “dangerous stunt” “…such a dangerous thing”

    Danger is relative. 128 in a 45 zone where there are cross streets from which oncoming vehicles could appear, parked cars from which playing children could pop out from behind of, other drivers poking around at the posted limit, and a lot of weaving and bobing…Yes, there is much danger here.

    But we automatically put together a construct in our minds that these were the exact conditions of such a “stunt”. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done 120 on the 55mph section of the Lodge freeway – with no-one else around.

    How do we even know that this 45mph zone wasn’t some stretch of psuedo highway that just happened to be limited to 45 in that particular stretch? I don’t know of a single residential zone with a 45mpg limit. They’re all 25, 30 and 35.

    Bottom line, without a bit of investigated work, none of us may ever know just how “dangerous” that particular stetch was at that particular time of that particular day.

    Heck, there are times (on weekends when not a single sole is there) you can rip 70mph accross the OCC Crchard Ridge campus parking lot. And if you were caught by cops the news would’nt report that not another living sole was on campus at the time of the incident. They would only say that a man was caught doing 70mph accross a college campus where the posted limit is 20mph. In other words, the media will report what they want to for the cause of sensationalism.

    Not saying KB wasn’t wrong for doing it. But until I know what ALL the conditions were at that time, I’m going to refrain from piling on.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    I bet he will get a slap on the wrist, that’s all.

  18. SalvadorG. Says:

    I wish we could find out where exactly was Kyle Bush driving at 128mph, cause you know it probably was at some back road in the middle of nowhere with little or no traffic, although; I agree he deserve a ticket, but for buying a Lexus LFA (I know he Drives a Toyota in NASCAR) but an LFA, Really!

  19. tj Martin Says:

    Taking a break and thought I’d chime in on the Kyle Busch discussion .

    Seeing as how I’ve owned a car or two readily capable of going well over 150 , as well as having both racing experience and training here’s my take .

    Kyle was an idiot for pushing his LF-A on a public road regardless of his or the cars capabilities .

    As was so well pointed out to me by one Sir JS just because the driver/owner/car is capable of dealing with excess speed in the public , doesn’t mean anyone else on the road with him/her is capable of being around them when they do .

    High Speed Exotics driven at high speeds can cause panic or distraction in the drivers surrounding them .

    In conclusion as JS said . You as a Race Trained Driver in a Highly Capable Automobile are more Culpable in Public than the Average Joe .

    Thats a paraphrase , but you get the point .

    Personally I hope they nail the little prat to the wall !

  20. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Just read a preview of Lutz’s new book .

    Don’t particularly care for the man , but I’m betting I’ll be loving the book

    Placed my pre-order .


  21. HtG Says:

    Speaking of other drivers, I almost got whacked by a gal today. She; making a right onto the two lane, texting, wearing those big sunglasses. Me; in the left lane, I see in my peripheral vision that she hasn’t cut the wheel enough, and his headed into my passenger door. Hell is other people.

  22. HtG Says:

    gotta link, tj?

  23. jack9877 Says:

    John, how can you not mention the Chevy Cruze when you mention the Focus and others leading the way to better safety? The Cruze has been out longer and has the best ratings and has ten air bags which the Focus does not have? I’m incline to believe you don’t like GM. Just a few days ago, you gave the Camaro convertible a bad report and now this.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    An LFA can get to 128, and back down to low speed very quickly, so KB’s “stunt” might have been done without even crossing any intersections or driveways. The cop was hiding somewhere, though, so the area must not have been completely “unpopulated.”

  25. dcars Says:

    My sister in-law’s Minivan van was hit by a driver heading in the opposite direction, the van filled with four kids was flipped on to it’s side. The driver of the other car was said to have had a diabetic shock (low blood sugar) All air bags deployed and no one was injured. The cars were all totaled.

  26. dcars Says:

    No offense jack9877 but this website has always been very fair to GM. A little criticism is a good thing once in a while.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    U-Haul won’t rent you a trailer to tow with an Explorer or soft top Wrangler, but they have rented one to me that I towed with a vehicle the manufacturer said not to tow anything with, my turbo 5-speed minivan.

  28. www.bigbronze.com Says:

    Did you ever wonder why the EPA has never tested home heating systems that burn oil and coal?
    This is a major source of pollution in the norther parts of US.

  29. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    It was loaned to me in hard copy . Just a few pages , but worth placing the order on . Didn’t even hesitate !

    From all initial indications ;

    Its gonna be a goodin !

    Specially fer the curmudgeons and skeptics of todays motor industry such as myself .

  30. Tony Gray Says:

    I’m not a Kyle Busch fan (88 all the way), but I can appreciate his talent. I’ve pushed cars well past the speed limit, as I am sure most of us have, but 128 in a 45, even for a professional driver, is a bit much to excuse.

    But as many have stated, he may have just been doing a top speed blast, not a sustained 128, he may have been well aware of other cross streets and traffic, and he IS one of the best at his craft. That doesn’t make it right, but I’d take that into consideration.

    I suppose I am rambling about to the point where I think MOST speed limits in the US are woefully low, I suppose to cater to our lowest common denominator driver skills and absolutely horrible (in most cases) driver training programs.

    I’ll have to keep this in mind as I head west to Indy this weekend.

  31. tj Martin Says:

    LEXUS LF-A performance spec ;

    1/4 mile —11.7 seconds — 125 mph

    So at 128 mph on a public road ( less launch traction ) I’m guessing KB was zipping along for close to if not a 1/2 mile before he got nailed .

  32. tj Martin Says:

    So……… I get the Explorer issue with U- Haul but how does a Wrangler without the hard top factor in on their ban ?

  33. motorman Says:

    if that road is safe at 45 MPH for a 90+ year old driver with bad eyesight and very slow reaction times in a 10 year old caddy why is it not safe at 130 MPH for a trained race car driver in a performance automobile ?

  34. Zieke Says:

    Of course I don’t “condone” Kyle’s actions, but on this site I bet most of us who have ever had the chance on a remote stretch of road have done something to this nature. And we have to realize that the driver in this case can equal the performance of the car, which is not true in most cases of this type of supercar.
    So John, would you permit me to test your new Lexus when you get it??? Promise I’ll be good.

  35. DBCooper Says:

    I also feel that Kyle’s actions did not deserve the treatment given by John. Sure, chances are nothing will happen, but there are many what ifs to consider. I know that John’s all about repealing the speed limit, but until they decide to do so, let’s try and follow the law–they’re usually there for a reason. Just because you think the road looks clear doesn’t mean it is. Am I allowed to drive drunk on public roads just because the roads are normally clear? No.

  36. HtG Says:

    As a soul, having had the lifetime honor and pleasure of seeing and hearing an LFA scream past at over 100 miles per hour, I believe Kyle lost his mind.

  37. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Kyle is an arrogant guy (’nuff said and I’m not a fan) but I’d like to see him get what anyone would get for doing such a foolish thing on public roads. I’m no saint and I’ve bent the rules myself but have always, examined the circumstances and conditions, and have taken my chances; Kyle it seems had some sort of a lapse in judgement (I’m sure he knows places where he could ring out that LFA in total safety). And John, while I agree with almost all your comments and evaluations, have to say you missed this on on your Kyle comment this time.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    The only time I ever did over 100mph was many years ago,before cell phones, while vacationing in North Fla a good-ole-boy driving his older pickup took exception that I passed him on the right and in a case of road rage, flashed his gun at us, thank god I had a rental Dodge Magnum (the early 80′s version) and just floored it where I left him way behind and then we got off the road, thank god I did not have my Vibrolla, otherwise we’d most likely be toast.

  39. HtG Says:

    Here’s a link to a site on NC traffic violations. If you go 15+ over the limit they will take away your licence for 60 days for a first offense, and 6 months for the second. I wonder if they’ll get him on the reckless, but it’s odd that there’s no mandatory go to jail card for going, mmmm, 100 over the limit.


    And here is the law itself
    (41a) Serious Traffic Violation. – A conviction of one of the following offenses
    when operating a commercial or other motor vehicle:
    a. Excessive speeding, involving a single charge of any speed 15 miles
    per hour or more above the posted speed limit.

  40. tj Martin Says:

    @ Chuck Grenci

    In racing parlance Kyle Busch succumbed to the Disease called ;

    The Rad Mist

    Fine if you’re on a race track or closed road

    Stupid if you’re on a public road ( the cop being there showing it was not a vacant stretch . They don’t waste their time where there is no one to be caught )

    For the record I have in my youthful STUPID pre JYS lecture days done ………… 183 mph on a public Interstate .

    But I’ll repeat . That was one of the most STUPID things I’ve ever done in car . On track or off . For the record i didn’t get caught . but if I had I’d of deserved the full letter of the law thrown against me .

  41. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    I’ll side with pedro though , and guess he’ll get off with some cock and bull public service whoo ha and a fine .

  42. HtG Says:

    @37. I guy I worked with told a story about getting dissed by another driver as he was driving with his girlfriend, so he took out his gun from the glovebox, and shot him in the engine. Yeah, Nick was a character.

  43. tj Martin Says:

    #39 should of read ;

    The Red Mist

  44. HtG Says:

    183mph,tj? Maybe that was just indicated, though.(Ha, just kidding)

    Stupidest thing I ever did in a car happened at night on the Taconic State Highway here in New York. This highway has no lighting, the opposing lanes are separated by woods, and lightely traveled. So at 70mph, I turn of the lights. Total blackness. Funny thing is, when I tell people, they usually have done the same thing. (You lie down with dogs)

  45. tj Martin Says:


    Not only did we have Kyle Busch’s escapades this week , but some 26 year old Dingus also managed to Total daddy’s Pagani Zonda in Italy as well while racing a Mercedes McLaren SLG on a Public Road .

    Seems junior couldn’t keep the car on track thru a corner . Idiot . the Zonda can out run an SLR in the twistys without even an effort .


    Yup ! Been a good week for the overindulged fools amongst us .

    Maybe these Super/HyperCars should just be banned from public roadways .

  46. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    You’re starting to scare me there big fella

    Thats sounding an awful lot like what the German Autobahn ” Ghost ” drivers do .

    Shudder :(

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    This reminds me of the moron who drove his Bugatti into a lake last year!

  48. HtG Says:

    I was 19. Young and stupid.

    Though a friend tells me that in LA they would go onto the freeway, close their eyes, and ‘drive by braille,’ on those raised lane divider caps. (And he’s a physicist.)

  49. tj Martin Says:

    the Pagani crash article seems to have faded from motori.it but its still available on ;


    Photos as well

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    If Busch loses his driver’s license does it mean he can’t race until he gets it back? or are professional racers allowed to race w/o one?

  51. SalvadorG. Says:

    – But you see, this is what happens when an American race car driver start hanging around a foreigner (A Finn of all things) like Kimi Raikonnen.

  52. Phoenix Mark Says:

    motorman Says:
    May 26th, 2011 at 3:52 pm
    “if that road is safe at 45 MPH for a 90+ year old driver with bad eyesight and very slow reaction times in a 10 year old caddy why is it not safe at 130 MPH for a trained race car driver in a performance automobile ?”

    Because the 90+ could turn on to the street.

  53. Chuck Grenci Says:

    LOL, afterall it was an LFA (e.g. Toyota); throttle must have stuck. Off, scott-free.

  54. Tom L Says:

    Can professional racer be charged with careless and reckless driving and be convicted ?
    May be Kyle saw JOHN’S story about 150 MPH speed limits

  55. GPL Says:

    Want to tow a Uhaul trailer with an Explorer? Just tell them it is a Mercury Mountaineer. They’ll rent you one, no problem. Yes, their policy is THAT stupid.

  56. Lawrence Says:

    John, I don’t think the momentum of Chinse car sales will encounter anything but minor dips in the forseeable future. Keeping up with the Li’s (Joneses) goes far beyond the Beijing and Shanghai metropolises.