Episode 704 – Chinese Car Exports Soar, Incentive War Looming, Fiat 500 Gucci Edition

August 17th, 2011 at 11:30am

Runtime: 7:27

Chinese car exports jumped 50% in the first half of the year to just over 376,000 vehicles but they’re selling for nearly $2,000 less than they were two years ago. Toyota and Honda are expected to unleash an incentive war in the U.S. to recapture lost market share once dealers get enough inventory. Fiat plans to introduce a limited-edition model of the Fiat 500 – the Gucci edition. All that and more, plus John answers your questions and comments in the “You Said It!” segment.


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This is Autoline Daily for August 17, 2011. And now, the news.

Earlier this month at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne warned that the day of reckoning is coming. He says Chinese car exports threaten all automakers. Well, his timing is impeccable. Chinese exports jumped 50% in the first half of the year to just over 376,000 vehicles. About three quarters were passenger cars, the rest were commercial vehicles. But even though exports were up, prices fell to just over $12,000. Two years ago they averaged $14,000. The top three exporters are Chery, Great Wall and JAC.

GM EYES DIESEL MARKET IN U.S. (subscription required)
As we reported last year GM will offer a diesel-powered Chevy Cruze in the U.S. There’s an Eco-version of the car with a gasoline engine, which delivers up to 42 miles per gallon on the highway. But a diesel could do better than that, even with an automatic. Think 50 MPG, which is about 4.7 L/100 km. According to Ward’s, nearly 40 percent of Volkswagen Jetta buyers in America opt for the car’s available diesel engine. That’s a sizeable slice of the pie and one GM wants to go after. J.D. Power forecasts the market share of diesels will rise to around 7 percent by 2016, three times what hybrids are selling today.

INCENTIVE WAR LOOMING (subscription required)
Automakers in the U.S. market are pretty sure that once Toyota and Honda get enough inventory at their dealers they’re going to unleash an incentive war to recapture lost market share. And they’ve expected those sales blowouts to start next month. But according to Kelly Blue Book, the Japanese automakers will not be back to full production until the end of September and it will take a couple of months to fill the pipelines. So the sales war won’t start until the end of the year. However, Ward’s reports that individual dealers may hold their own sale-a-thons starting next month.

General Motors is ahead of Ford and Chrysler in negotiating a new contract with the UAW, the Detroit News reports. It says GM and the union are working on ways of paying workers for quality excellence, not just profits. And the same could apply to white collar workers as well. The current contract expires in four weeks, so we’re getting close to seeing if this is a new union, as UAW president Bob King says it is, of it it’s just business as usual.

Chrysler is cutting the price of the Jeep Grand Cherokee for 2012. The base Laredo model will now cost just under $27,000, a decrease of over $3,000. But despite the drop in price, optional features likely will cost more than before. The 2012 Grand Cherokee goes on sale next month.

Chrysler is getting ready for Fashion Week in New York. It plans to introduce a limited-edition model of the Fiat 500 – the Gucci edition. Sounds more “Jersey Shore” than “haute couture” to me. It will also help commemorate the fashion house’s 90th anniversary. The Gucci-ified Cinquecento gets special paint, new interior trimmings, retro-looking wheels and other minor changes. Sorry enthusiasts, no substantive upgrades. I wonder what all of these add-ons will cost. Base price for the 500 in the U.S. is about $16,000. A loaded-up model stickers for around 23 grand. I’d bet this thing will go for at least $25,000 bucks. What do you think?

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

Jonathan Brown saw our report on the R&D spending at all the car companies and that Volkswagen spends more than anyone else. “Very surprising that VW is spending the most. Wow!!! Inefficiency at its best?”

Jonathan, I think what these numbers reflect is that VW has more brands to feed than any other car company on the planet. Let’s count them: Volkswagen, Audi, Seat, Skoda, Lamborghini, Bentley, Bugatti, VW commercial vehicles and now Porsche. You want to come out with new models for so many brands, you’re going to spend a lot of money.

Dave was amazed to see that as a percentage of sales, Honda spends more on R&D than anyone but BMW. “It’d be interesting to find out how much Honda spent on development for the new Civic that’s been such a disaster, as well as other disappointing things like the CrossTour, CRZ, Ridgeline, and recent Acura styling.”

You know what’s even more amazing Dave? It takes just about as much money to develop a poorly designed car as it does to do a great one. The cost of tooling up ugly body panels is the same as tooling up beautiful ones.

Lantho650 heard us say that the UAW rank and file is not happy with the two tier wage system, where new hires get half as much as veteran workers. He asks, “WTF is rank and file?”

Rank and file refers to all the regular union members who are not union officers. And please, sir, watch your language, this is a family show!

Tom L. is all for union workers getting more money. “The USA needs the UAW to keep wages high. These are the people that keep the economy going. They keep Target and JC Penny in business. Earning more money = nicer car. UAW keep up the good work.”

Tom L., in principal I agree with you. But how do you keep a company competitive if your competition uses non-union workers and have lower labor costs?

Scott has been hearing us talk about our live webcast at the Woodward Dream Cruise. He asks, “John, Where will you be broadcasting from Thursday night?”

Scott, we’ll be at Woodward and Thirteen Mile road on the southwest corner in the giant Mopar display, who is our Signature sponsor for the evening. And you’ll see us roaming around the area using this cool LiveU pack that allows us to stream the webcast wirelessly. It’s literally a satellite truck miniaturized into a backpack. And we’ll start webcasting on our site around 7 pm eastern time, like we always do for Autoline After Hours.

And that wraps up this show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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88 Comments to “Episode 704 – Chinese Car Exports Soar, Incentive War Looming, Fiat 500 Gucci Edition”

  1. jesse Says:

    HONDA and TOYOTA are fast becoming the new HYUNDAI of years gone by, offering more incentives!How funny is that!

  2. HtG Says:

    Is the zero calorie Gucci500 also going to appear in Vogue and Mademoiselle? I think Laura Soave is trying to get attention from All the Single Ladies.

  3. HtG Says:

    If you were a Gucci500, who would you rather have sitting in your lap, Paris or Snooki?

    (not so easy to decide, eh boys?)

  4. HtG Says:

    uh oh, I think tj needs to pummel me before I go too far for the kids.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    Wow, what a concept more money for good quality at all levels, design, engineering, supplier, and assembly line. Gee why didn’t anyone think of that before. That Gucci 500 Crapola will go the way of the AM Stereo radio

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The “500″ needs to make a ‘splash’ before it goes into specialty models; you don’t declare yourself chic, you earn it.

  7. MJB Says:

    @ #3

    Oh please. VERY easy. Snooki!

    But, hey, these things are very subjective.

  8. MJB Says:

    @ #5

    No, it will go the way of the Neiman Marcus Lexus SC430.

  9. Mike Says:

    I noticed in yesterday’s news that Fiat announced “lower than expected” sales for the 500 in the US. What’s with that? Is the Fiat brand name still unsalable in the US?

  10. HtG Says:

    fresh from the WT* file comes a new offer from the Honda dealer. They are now offering up to 75% of the original MSRP price for our Civic. (based on NADA guide). My reading comp. may be coming up short, but I don’t think I even need to buy a new one either.

  11. pedro fernandez Says:

    Marcus who? what? where? don’t ring a bell!!!! #10 cause your Civic is better than the new crappy one, miles and all! Does anyone remember the AM stereo radio?

  12. HtG Says:

    AM stereo? like in our 60′s era Buick Skylark and Ford Galaxy? Yeah, baby!

  13. vrmchris Says:

    hello to all.

    chinese car exports. not a surprise there. nor is it a surprise that they are getting lower transaction prices. until they are willing to meet fmvss standards, you will not see any chinese cars in north america.

    gm and the diesel market. sounds like a good idea here. go after the jetta diesel with a competent cruze diesel and you will have buyers think twice here.

    gm and the uaw. if true, this will be a good thing for all parties concerned.

    fiat 500 gucci edition. i know that the house of fashion wants to celebrate its 90th year in operation, however putting a limited edition of your vehicle just after you started selling it smacks of desperation on your end.

    2012 jeep grand cherokee. sounds good to lower the base price, but making up the difference in increasing the options prices? psychologically it works so why not?


  14. Jon M Says:

    John, I think $25K is likely the price Fiat will ask for the primped Cinquecento, or at least that is all they better ask for it. The diminutive retro-mobile doesn’t seem to have the panache of the Mini or the look-at-what-a-greenie-I-am effervescence of the Prius, be it in Gucci form or not. I won’t mention that co-branded editions of existing models are little more than under-glorified, overpirced models to try to cash in on the other brand’s name and a ridiculous effor to reach a particular market.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    actually it was my 86 Camry and not even in NY did I ever find an AM Stereo radio station, what a load of crap that was!!

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    RE the Gucci 500 why not buy the regular one and take the difference and go buy Gucci leather goods instead that YOU and the WIFEY can wear instead of the stupid car.

  17. Jon M Says:

    @ HTG
    Neither. Snooki is overrated and…well, I’ll just keep the rest to myself. As for Paris, nah. There are much better posteriors out there that I’d rather have plopping down on me.

  18. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The Cherokee move (to lower base price) was a smart one. I know that even though it is a fine piece, starting prices at 30 large eliminates a whole lot of folks upfront; three thousand is a pretty good reduction, and if the ‘fluff’ is removed, still leaves fine underpinning of a base vehicle (that can back-up the claim of trail-rated).

  19. tj Martin Says:

    FIAT 500 Gucci Edition

    #1 FIAT sales are abysmal Mike because half their dealers have yet to open and the ones that are can’t get any stock to show or sell , so lots of PO’d customers are walking away to the MINI showrooms

    #2 Jon M – Fat chance the Gucci will be any less than $30k as the current loaded model is banging on $25K

    #3 Pedro , why would you buy the wife a cheap plasticy leather POS with a Gucci stamp on it ? Seriously the quality of Gucci goods in the last five years has been horrible . Get her something good and real . Find a local craftsman and buy some REAL leather goods and to heck with the label

    #4 HtG- Yeeech ! Neither . If not the Mrs , then Carla Bruni or Charlotte Gainsboug . Snooky indeed . Fat little cow that she is

    #5 vrmchris – Had you bothered to read my post two days ago you’d know I already brought up the subject of Special Editions being created to shed old stock to make room for the new and not as a ploy to move what is proving to be unsellable in the US not to mention Marchionne’s Madness is shooting all the FIAT Dealers here in the foot .

  20. HtG Says:

    crxn. I called the Honda dealer about the Buy Back offer. It’s for trade ins, except sometimes if a car is in great condition they’ll buy it outright. Phew, it’s not that bad out there.

  21. Aliisdad Says:

    Glad to see that GM is going to be selling the diesel Cruze in the US market…Hope it is good quality and sells really well…Could be the opening for diesel in the US since they have such a large presence here and should make a lot of people aware of diesel as a viable choice..
    Like I said, last week, I saw a FIAT 500 at the Dodge dealer and I really would like to have one for a weekend fun car..Just imagine: hot girlfriend (er, ah wife) heading down the twisty road (er, ah street) to the romantic beach resort (er, ah Wal-Mart)in the 500!!
    Finally, can’t wait for the Woodward cruise show, tomorrow…I have really enjoyed it for the last couple of years…However, bring back the Exhaust Tones band, but with better audio…

  22. tj Martin Says:


    Hmmn . Lets have a more realistic look at 500 ownership ;

    A Fix It Again Tony

    With a cheap interior

    Thats pretending to be a MINI when in fact its a re-bodied bottom of the line FIAT ( look it up )

    That can’t get out of its own way on the road

    That wouldn’t accommodate your Wal Mart trip .

    That , at this rate won’t have a dealer/service department in another year or two once the brand fails

    And the ladies in the know will be laughing their heads off at you for driving one

    FYI I drove a 500 for a week . My recommendation ? Save up the extra pennies and buy a MINI . Or if pennies are in short supply , buy the new SCION iQ when it hits the showrooms . Even the Brits think the iQ is the better car over the 500 and they hate Toyota’s .

  23. Lex Says:

    Chinese Exports will continue to increase as they reverse engineer, copy or simply buy out right the body stampings and components from Automotive Suppliers or other OEMs. The Chinese are learning from the Koreans that is cheaper to copy than it is to do true R&D. In this way they are always able to undercut the competition and gain global market share.

    Glad to hear that Chevy is going to offer a Diesel powered Cruze. What about a real performance version of the Chevy Cruze with a 200+ hp 2.0 to 2.4 litre engine? Will the New Chevy Malibu offer a performance version?

    The Fiat 500 Gucci Edition will attract young urban women, a real “chick” mobile.

    Is it my imagination or that once upon a time the Toyota Corolla was simply a smaller clone of the Camry, and now the New Camry is a simply a larger styling clone of the Corolla? It seems to me that Toyota is becoming a cookie cutter OEM without much imagination. You buy based upon size, small, medium and large. Look at the Rav4, The basic shape has not changed in nearly a decade.

    The 2012 Honda CR-V looks to be carrying a third row, can anyone confirm this for me because the recent spy photo’s have the CR-V looking quite round and pregnant in the rear.

    I went for a drive in a new Ford Focus and found that the front Dash is really too long. It really intrudes into the front seating area, and makes the front seats very uncomfortable! This is a very bad dash design, which the Chinese should copy right away, HA-HA-HA!

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yet, year after year they both lead their segments in sales, I guess Americans are dumb when it comes to choosing which cars to buy!

  25. HtG Says:

    Did anybody see Jay Leno’s net segment on the 500? According to the GoodnightShow host, it’s a great handling car with a very high quality interior. Now who should I believe, tj?

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    Hey Hey maybe Jay is looking to get an ad deal from Marchionne to push the 500 and other upcoming FIATS over here, remember they’re paisan.And Jay has an excellent rep as a car guy, although he might severely blemish it if this happens.

  27. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Jay’s been doing the MotorWeek thing lately when it comes to his car reviews , giving every new car/ POS that crosses his threshold nothing but positive comments

    Hey.. he even said the VOLT was a great handling car …. so really .. who are you gonna trust here ?

    Honestly …… JL is rapidly losing my respect as a Celebrity GearHead with each and every new car review he does . Looks like the only ones I can trust are Nick Mason and Jeff Beck of late . You might notice though that neither NM or JB has much of a Web presence when it comes to cars . That kinda says something …. doesn’t it . Hmmn .

  28. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I’ll admit that Jay Leno (and “Motorweek”) do tend to err on the optomistic side, but if you listen carefully the ‘negatives’ are also expressed (but not forcefully); just watched the latest “Motorweek”, and while the overall review was thumbs-up, if you were listening, there were some negatives mentioned (as well).

  29. MJB Says:


    No, Pedro. (Many) American’s are just boring, dull and unimaginative.

    Why else would so many of them (us – but certainly not me) live in vinyl-sided, cookie-cutter styled houses in cookie-cutter subdivisions all painted the same boring shade of beige, tan or gray?

    Sorry, folks, if I just painted a picture of your own neighborhood. It’s just that, as an architectural designer, I have the same passion for individual expression through the built environment (specifically the one in which you lay your head down in and call home) as many of you have for the automobiles you drive. And it only takes a very short trip out to suburbia to realise (by the homes they live in) the same thng you can tell by the type of car a person drives – (many) people are boring.

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    I think its more important what you do with the inside of your place than the outside. Take apts or condos they’re all the same in a given building, but you have to use your taste and imagination to make the interior to please your needs or likes, Ive seen audiophiles spend thousands just to make their units sound proof so they can indulge in their favorite pastime, same with cars how many identical to mine Corollas I see every day out in the street. I’m sure most of these people are daydreaming of some fancy, great handling, German car but then reality sets in and you have to be thankful you got what you can afford to have and think of all the others around the world that can’t even get a decent meal.

  31. tj Martin Says:

    Marchionne’s Madness ;

    Chryslers new sales strategy ;

    Yeah this will work



    @ MJB – Not to belittle your given profession ( God knows mine is riddled with pretentious and unimaginative morons ) and truth be known Architecture is my second love .

    But ……….. when I look at and or inspect 99% of ” Modern ” home architecture ( for potential purchase ) what keep seeing is a lot of Very Over Priced , Pretentious attempts at being ” Art Work ” at the expense of any real , livable and viable form of housing . e.g Like so much in automotive design , chosing Form at the Expense of Function .

    Truth be known its even worse in the Public Building sector , the new annex for the Denver Art Museum by Libeskind being the perfect example . Oh its looks the _____ but it Doesn’t WORK as a museum , with the complaints coming fast and furious

    Truth be known I LIVE currently in one of those pretentious excuses for ” Modern Architecture ” and let me tell you . If the wife and I treated our residence as a glorified Hotel Room it might be just fine . But seeing as how we LIVE in our residences ( you know , cooking , running a business , R&R , needing room for storage etc ) well its an ABJECT Failure !

    So boring and dull ? Maybe more like needing Form & Function combined , rather than Form at the expense of Function , therefore sacrificing pretentious form in order to have the function

    So when our so called ” Modern Architects ” can finally come to grips with reality and follow the Shaker edict of ;

    ” First and Foremost make it Function ; Then without sacrificing one aspect of its Function , make it as beautiful as you can ”

    Well then maybe they can make your ” Boring , Dull and Unimaginative ” accusations in good faith .

    Until then though the Real World will hold to the opinion of todays architects ( most not all mind you ) being ;

    ” Pretentious Self Glorifying , Artist Wanna be’s “

  32. tj Martin Says:

    @ MJB

    One addition I forgot to mention . The ( urp ) townhouse we live in was an award winning design , both locally and nationwide . Guess the Award givers forgot to notice it wasn’t designed with Human Habitation in mind .

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    Today I went to a busy, popular motel with a lot of out of area tourists and business types and you would have thought by looking in the parking lot that Chrysler/Dodge is by far the best selling auto maker in the US. I guess their increased numbers are for rental fleets.

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    I am also finding most new franchise, moderately priced motels and hotels are looking the same, with all their lobbies looking like Starbucks coffee shops and lots of glass and wood throughout the whole facility. I think it’s referred to as the “European” look.

  35. HtG Says:

    I like what David Childs of SOM said, ‘Architecture is what gets built.’ Clients have desires, but only so much money. And who was it that said, you can’t sell someone a car with more personality than they’ve got themselves?

    Little story? Last week I was in a new house outside DC, and was just shocked by how generically the interior had been furnished by the owners. Beige beige beige big big big bare bare bare. Nice doggie, though.

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’m sure most folks would like to be financially able to build their homes their way, but those customs jobs cost mucho dinero, hence the “cookie cutter” housing developments, even the expensive ones only have a few models to choose from,

  37. MJB Says:

    @30 Pedro

    Point well taken. You’re definately correct in that ones own finacialy ‘reality’ determines A LOT.

    @31, tj

    My apologies for the experiences you and the Mrs. are having with your home’s function, or lack thereof. And, yes, there are big name architects out there (usually the ones who command the highest commissions) whose form doesn’t always make allowance for good function. But I would say those guys are fewer than 10% of our profession.

    Yes, you are correct, that architectural designers (not architects persay – and yes, there IS a difference between the two) can be a pretentious, self-confident group. We have to be. We spend 4 to 6 years in design studios making weelky presentations to groups of 20 to 40 fellow students, faculty and jurists begining our freshman year on projects we have designed – defending the merits of what we have deemed good enough to put on paper and trot out in front of all those people. From the very begining, our profession requires us to be not just excellent and competent communicators and orators, but convincing enough of what we have done to defend it. This process often (but not always) transforms otherwise modest souls into proud, boastful, confident and yes, sometimes pompous individuals.

    But hey, if nothing else, we’re all pretty comfortable in front of crowds.

    Oh, and the artist wannabe thing… That’s a huge misconception. There are, however, some engineers who wanted to be architects.

    Though i’ve got my masters in Architecture, I am actually more artist than designer. I do architectural 3D CGI for a living. Feel free to check me out here: http://www.renderhaus.net

  38. HtG Says:

    I recall during the boom time, a developer saying people weren’t interested in things like a fireplace, but would rather be able to compare how their square footage rated against the other doofus.

    I want my bigTV!

  39. tj Martin Says:

    Hyundai’s Turn !


    @ MJB – Apologies for spewing that rant on your doorstep , but truth be known I’ve been wanting to let lose with that one on an architect or two ( or 1000 preferably ) for the last two years .

    @ HtG & pedro – But ……. if you have a look at some of the Danish and Swiss architects of late , Livable and Form can coexist . Trouble is with far too many in the business those are contradictory goals in their minds . Much like the automotive designers today that can’t seem to make a good looking car without 1000 blind spots . FYI these Townhomes we’re living in were built on spec not order .

  40. MJB Says:

    @39 LOL

    It’s all good my man.

  41. tj Martin Says:

    @ MJB

    Now that looks livable !!! ( your site ) I’d have to be inside one to be sure , but at least from the images it looks like a balance has been achieved . It can be done . I’ve seen plenty in the Scandinavian countries of late .

    But I’ll still hold to it being more like 90% than 10% that aren’t based on our recent home searches as well as the experiences of several well heeled friends who’s homes turned out to be functional disasters . In the last three years we’ve seen one . that was truly well designed and absolutely focused first and foremost on function

  42. HtG Says:

    @39 On torque steer, there was a comment on another site saying that the pulling tendency of some car was like having throttle induced lane changing.

  43. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG & MJB

    FYI ; We’re ( the mrs and I ) major adherents to the ” Not So Big ” concept of home design .

    The custom home we left behind in Denver being 1425 sq ft . perfectly suited to its neighborhood ( looking like a 21st version of an early 20th century home ) with a very contemporary and utterly usable interior . Fact be known , we used every sq ft on a daily to weekly basis , with its aesthetics perfectly squaring up with our Danish/Shaker /Books are US furnishings.

    #42 Remember in my review of my driving that KIA for ten days I said the little pile drifted at every expansion joint , bump , lump in the road which is what I think they’re talking about with the Hyundai in todays news as several others have said the same as I about the H/K’s of late

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    Alignments anyone? I have always had alignment issue with my overly used Vibrolla, this time I found the best alignment guy in town,after new tires I went there and among all the expensive motoring devices around me I asked myself: What the hell am I doing here? I feel like I’m wearing a Homer Simpson t-shirt at a black tie dinner, but anyways, $50 bucks later, going rate and cheaper than many, Vibrolla is going straight as an arrow, as good as the day I drove out of the dealer lot. Alignment machines are one thing, master align techs another.

  45. HtG Says:

    OT here folks. Have you seen this book, tj? 40 Under 40.


  46. G.A.Branigan Says:

    GM looking into domestic diesels.Ya’ll have my full attention.Don’t think about it,just do it,and the people will come,bearing signed and approved sales contracts.Please don’t drop the ball once it’s in your court.

  47. cwolf Says:

    Just as Hyundai sales mis-leads buyers to think quality is included,some us know they are crap yet to be discovered. Along the same lines is the continued misconception that the UAW is a power to be feared,but this is no longer true. This is why I came on a bit strong to tj. As creditable as I believe him to be,besides a fun contributor,my point was to tell him that all the BS spread is and will remain just that until a contract is agreed to. I have yet to hear a word on “quality” being included in the negotiations, but I think is could be a grand idea if it could somehow be based on individual,not overall,performance. I sure would like to see some dead wood removed,but all levels have turned a blind eye,so maybe the quality and profit sharing thing may invigorate those arse-holes! Anyway guys, don’t get a bent axel over the UAW. Just not worth it. And remember,they no longer set the pay scale as John Mc makes you believe. Has to be a rash he caught from Peter D.

    My 2010 Milan turned over the 100K mark and customary habits are to change belts.Smart folks change pulleys and water pump too. Should I or should I wait because of my unusual habits?

    Whats going on with all this architecture stuff? Buy a good broken in home where most repairs are corrected,then re-design to your taste. I’ll take a fine older home any day!

    @pedro; I still remember nipping your tail over some UAW thing and I still havent forgotten how much I regrete any harsh word.

    I feel better now. Whew, long comment.

  48. HtG Says:

    @47. My experience with belt jobs. Is your engine a non interference one, cwolf? My Miata and Civic both are, so if the belt goes snap, no harm. Is the water pump metal or plastic finned? I read nasty stories about the plastic ones crumbling in a certain German people’s car that won’t be named.(I changed the works in my cars)

  49. cwolf Says:

    HtG: I honestly can’t answer with certainty. But I will know before too long. Thanks for the points to consider.

  50. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ CWOLF: Treat your car to some nice new belts,and don’t forget the tensioner should be changed out as well as the water pump.You’ll kick yourself later if you don’t do it now.If your still running the stock sensors and noticed that maybe you car doesn’t start as easily as before,is a good indicator that some need replacing.Good pm prevents big bm.

  51. MJB Says:


    hmmm…pulleys @ >100K?

    First time I’ve heard that one. How can a pulley go bad? Or are you refering moreso to the pulley bearings?


    Thanks for the props. However, be advised that none of those buildings/houses are my designs. What I do as an Arch CGI Specialist is create these environments/buildings 3-dimensionally on the computer, then render out still images or walk-through animations for the client showing what a project will look like when complete. It’s all computer-generated. The only thing on there that I actually designed myself ar the logos.

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    re #4
    I hope they actually do the Cruze diesel, and it sells decently, BUT. It will need to match, or beat the “only game in town” Jetta in mpg, power, and refinement. Also, in a way, things are better for VW selling diesels, because the gas alternative in Jetta/Golf is very mediocre in fuel economy. On the other hand, the Cruze is near best in class, at least the manual transmission eco version. Chevy will have tough competition from their own gas fueled car.

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Regarding this achitecture stuff. My 20 year old condo in Florida has a boring, but very efficient floor plan. I have been able to personalize it enough to make it a little interesting, and it is very “roomy” for its1200 square feet. Also, after living most of my life in single family houses, the condo has given me a huge appreciation for the efficiency advantage of “high density housing.” I have summer electric bills of about $60, while people in the same area have $250 in electricity for similar size single family houses with A/C set at the same temp. and similar power usage for other things.

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    @cwolf #47,
    I wouldn’t change anything on you car, unless it looks or sounds suspicious. Consider this. A friend’s Pontiac Sunfire, not considered to be one of the world’s best cars, has almost 170K miles, and the belts, idler(s), and water pump are all original. When I first started driving in the early 60′s, it was common for belts to break, hoses to blow, etc., but they have gotten a lot better at making these parts in the last 40 years.

  55. cwolf Says:

    Kit, your elect. bill is a lot less than the $250 homes in the area. Can you attribute this to your condos open layout or other changes made, or is this due to the fact that condos share walls and houses rely on insulation and tree cover. Sure nothing to bitch about!

  56. cwolf Says:

    Thanks every one for the input. I guess the best thing to do now is to observe,listen and rely on my instincts as to the condition of all of the mechanicals mentioned. Yer right,Kit. If it ain’t broke,don’t fix it. Sayings like this may have its place in this situation.

  57. XA351GT Says:

    @ #3, easy Snooki she has built in air bags . You gotta think safety 1st.

  58. dcars Says:

    I looked at the 500 on sunday the and it’s pretty nice, but I think my daughter would like it more than me.

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    @cwolf # 55,
    My condo is on the third floor of a five story building, and is not an end unit, so two walls, the floor and ceiling of my unit border others. That is why my power usage for a/c is so low.

  60. dcars Says:

    Hey John very interesting comment about VW, I guess it’s best to grow organically instead through acquisitions. Looking at the difficulties of Toyota and VW trying to take the world sales lead makes one think that GM did a fantastic job for a very long time. I would also guess that the best way for them to grow in the future is to reduce platforms and and name brands…… is Opel on the chopping block yet? the Daewoo model for getting rid of the Opel brand might be best.

  61. C-Tech Says:

    The Gucci edition reminds me of the special editions AMC Matadors and Lincoln designer series cars. I hope the Chevy Cruze diesel is successful. It will help erase the stain of the last GM diesels from the 80′s. Although I won’t be able to attend this year, I look forward to your report.

  62. MJB Says:


    Yep, the location of your unit has everything to do with your drastically lower cooling bills.

    We lived in a single-family home on a very densely wooded 1-acre lot (over 40 fully mature trees) for 12 years and due to the canopy provided by those trees, only had to use our AC 3 to 5 days out of the year tops.

    Now that we’ve short-sold and moved temporarily to a top-unit apartment with full sun exposure we’re paying a bill we’ve never had to deal with before.

    But even if apartment living we saving us loads of money, I’d still long for the single-family dwelling again. I wouldn’t mind paying extra for utilities – just give me my privacy. Can’t stand being able to hear what’s going on right outside my window and vise-versa.

  63. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    No harm no foul , just a simple case of misunderstanding ( I hope you did read my reply explaining that the IDIOTs in question is the AFL-CIO at Verizon thats currently on strike as well as on a reign of terror in the NY,NJ,Penn area )

    Fear of the UAW ? Not a bit . Fear of blatant Union Terrorism visa vee 1930′s style ? More like anger than fear

  64. tj Martin Says:

    @ MJB

    Much of your HVAC bill also has to do with how well the system was engineered ( former student is a top HVAC designer engineer consultant ) which includes proper Intake and Exhaust ( sounds like an engine don’t it ) proper size of ducts as well as how cleanly the joints are done along with a proper size unit ( Heat & A/C )

    Our custom home in CO @ 1425 sq ft w/above properly designed HVAC was twice as efficient as the 1200 sq ft improperly designed HVAC system we have here in KC . Not to mention the insulation in the Denver home was better done as well

    Spending that extra dollar or two making all the difference

  65. tj Martin Says:

    @ MJB

    The Privacy comment . +1 Amen and Preach it to the Choir brother ! Even this midtown Townhouse schtick is too much for us me having a bit of a Mahler complex ( ask HtG )

    Ahhh bit for a bit of QUIET as well as a lot more privacy

    But we aint a buyin till this silly economy at least settles a bit

    That and the 22 acres , 2200 sq ft house in VT wore me out . God I hate sitting on a Lawn Tractor for three hours !

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    To me, the downside of the condo apartment is noise. It’s not bad, but I’d rather not hear sounds from neighbors’ apartments at all. I guess I don’t really care about “privacy,” per se. I spend summers in an 80 year old farm house with one neighbor, and bordered on two sides by farm fields. I really like the quiet that goes with the location. I don’t particularly like mowing the one acre lawn, and even more so, I don’t like having to find someone to mow it, and pay more than I’d like when I’m away. It is really great to be able to just lock the door of the condo and leave.

  67. MJB Says:

    Yep…Both scenarios have their advantages and disadvantages for sure.

    Side note:
    For the longest time, I just assumed that most of the regulars here where local Detroit folk, which I’m finding out is a misconception. I, for one, am from Detroit (born, raised and educated), now living in a suburb of the city. McElroy’s studio in Southfield is just a stone’s throw away.

    Where all are you guys hailing from?

  68. HtG Says:

    tj,would you aver that Mahler 10 is especially un-neighborly? 7 a close second?

    Have you seen Le Maitre de Musique with Jose van Dam? There’s some Mahler for you.

    well, break over.

  69. tj Martin Says:

    @MJB- KC,MO at the moment

    @ HtG- The Mahler syndrome I spoke of was his absolute hatred of external noise , going so far as to ask his groundskeeper on several occasions if he could do something about all those blasted birds chirping outside . Mine’s not that bad …. but you get the point .

    FYI Im not much of a Mahler fan to be honest . I respect his works but its not my cuppa .

    Book recommend ” Paganini’s Ghost ” – Paul Adam . If you’re a mystery fan wanting a healthy dose of music history in the plot ( Mr Adam is a recognized Musicologist ) this and his first
    ” The Rinaldi Quartet ” are must reads .

  70. tj Martin Says:

    Condo/Townhome/Apartment vs Private home

    Beyond the privacy and noise issues the thing that gets up my nose the most is HOA’s and the contractors they hire

    50% of the time I wind up having to re-shovel after a snow , I seem to be the only one cleaning up the trash on the lawn etc

    Truth of the matter is its easier to just be responsible and do it myself than hope the idiots the HOA brings in will get anything done on time and correctly

    Hard work is less stressful than the Stress involved .

  71. HtG Says:

    how quiet is it in the GLK?

  72. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Surprisingly quiet with the seeming contradiction of it still allowing you to be completely aware of your surroundings .

    e.g. Your conversations ( in car , I leave the cell off when driving ) and music listening is completely unobstructed , yet you do hear what’s outside albeit at an unobtrusive level

    The noise and the driving both have this seemingly contradictory thing going on .

    Damn you’re comfortable as all get out , yet not isolated from the outside world

    I guess 125 years of car making is what gives M-B this ability

  73. pedro fernandez Says:

    Unless it’s a high-end well built condo or appt the noise depends whom you get as a neighbor, I got a noisy condo AND a noisy car, and this is one guy who likes it quiet, the price of not having lots of bread.

  74. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    Current digs . High End Townhouse ( read pricey ) Built out of popsicle sticks , Elmers Glue and Wishful thinking ( I’ve challenged the architect and developer to show me one square foot of the place they built right . They haven’t cause they can’t )

    Noisy as _____ Lousy neighbor ( blasts her stereo in spite of fines etc )

    Nope pedro , these days it does not matter how much you spend , they’re all being built like garbage

    You should see one friends 1.3 million home . You’d be mortified . That bad !

  75. HtG Says:

    These days, tj? A lawyer friend in CO was telling me more than a decade ago about lousy work done on big blingy houses out there. Quote, ‘they’ll hire anybody that can swing a hammer.’

    BTW Did you catch the interview with John Surtees at SPEED? http://formula-one.speedtv.com/article/f1-the-windsor-journals-john-surtees

  76. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    If that blingy house was in Highlands Ranch oh the stories that can be told about that area .

    The real problem not being how badly they were built , but rather the ground they were built on .

  77. HtG Says:

    actually, I recall him talking about a house on a hillside whose foundation was moving. Maybe I remember wrong.

  78. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    That interview reminds me what a shame it was the Windsor got involved with that joke of a USA F1 Team at the cost of him being the regular at SPEED’s F1 coverage .

    I really miss his insights and connections

  79. tj Martin Says:

    #77 Sound like either Highlands Ranch or the Morrison area , both having that ” Ground Moves Beneath You ” syndrome to an extreme

  80. pedro fernandez Says:

    But TJ I have been to luxury condos that were built in the 80′s, solid construction, perhaps here because of hurricanes, they HAVE to be built a certain way, but you’re right, I’ve to many that walls are thin as can be and you hear if your neighbor has a flatulence problem and a squeaky bed. BTW I spent a little more on tires this time and my Vibrola has quieted down a bit. Chinese tires indeed, fa fa flunky.

  81. pedro fernandez Says:

    So Caddy will have its own Volt, short memory eh? XLR anybody?

  82. Kit Gerhart Says:

    re. #67,
    I’m in Cape Canaveral, FL from Oct.-May, and Kokomo, IN most of the rest of the time.

    I have mostly quiet neighbors in the condo, with only occasional annoyance from loud TV, etc. Probably 2/3 of the residents are “snow birds” like myself.

    As far as quality of construction, my 20 year old complex has needed way too much restoration work for its age, with settling foundations, deteriorating balconies, etc. It would be even worse if the buildings were on the beach, but they are about 1/2 mile away.

  83. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit: ditto here where I live and I suppose that now it’s even worse, these new structures will really need help in less time. One building I know of in Miami built just 4 yrs ago has major cracks in the foundation that holds the 4th floor pool and it will cost hundreds of thousands to fix, the new Marlin stadium has cracks in the parking structure columns which required repairs even though they were only a few months old.

  84. tj Martin Says:

    # 81

    WTH is Cadillac making its own VOLT when Chebbie can’t sell the ones they’re making !!!

    Sheesh and here I though all the fuss about the Dweezel CRUZE ( I do think its a good idea ) was to make use of all those CRUZE platforms that were supposed to become VOLTs but are being diverted because the VOLT short circuited after the initial sales rush .

    Now Cadillac wants a VOLT ? NUTS !!! I say !!

  85. tj Martin Says:

    # 83 & 82

    I’ve been renting this pretentious POS townhouse for three years and in that time the HOA has had to re-paint and repair all the exterior walls ……… TWICE ! In three years .

    Not to mention redo and repair the roof …….. four times

    As well as every HVAC in the complex going on the fritz at least twice in three years . Many upwards of 10 times ( place is only 5 years old )

  86. pedro fernandez Says:

    Tj Chebbie claims that production has not been able to catch up with demand for the Volt, it’s their own damn fault for starting and then stopping the assembly line for a few months, meanwhile they lost all chances of capitalizing on the love affair and accolades all these questionable auto “critics” wee bestowing on a car that simply was not available. “Come see the Motor Trend 2011 car of the year Volt at a selected Chevy dealer somewhere near you.” You won’t be able to buy one but you can pick up a brochure while supplies last”

  87. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    # 86 Hmmmn . Sounds a lot like FIATs present condition .

    Oh yes we have brochures by the dozens

    A test driver ? Well……….. no .

    Anything in stock to sell ? ………. Well…… no

    Anything available for special order ? …. Urrrrr…… nope

    But hey !!! We’ve got lots of brochures and a really good espresso machine ( though our Barista is a bit of a joke )

  88. pedro fernandez Says:

    A local Dodge dealer is announcing that the 500 is coming soon and the local radio announcer said this morning: “Wait till you guys see this car, you’re gonna want one right away”. Er, no. not really.