Episode 711 – Volvo Loves You, Mercedes B-Class Revealed, Honda’s Secret Wind Tunnel

August 26th, 2011 at 11:30am

Runtime: 6:28

Volvo is repositioning itself as a brand designed around you. Mercedes offers a peek at the new B-Class ahead of its Frankfurt debut. Honda is the only other automaker in North America to have a wind tunnel, but it decides to keep mum. All that and more, plus a look at Autoline This Week with Cindy Estrada from the UAW.


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This is Autoline Daily for August 26, 2011. And here’s the latest news coming in from all around the global automotive industry.

At a press conference in Beijing, Volvo announced a new brand strategy that it will take worldwide. Called “Designed Around You” it’s supposed to cement Volvo’s brand image as the most human-centric car company in the industry. Volvo says it will be showing its new brand direction at the Frankfurt auto show in three weeks, presumably with a concept car. Volvo says the “Designed Around You” campaign is a key element in its global revitalization strategy.

Speaking of the Frankfurt show, Mercedes revealed its new B-Class ahead of its official debut at that show. The little hatchback has a new turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine with direct injection and a new four-cylinder diesel. And you can get either one with a new seven-speed dual clutch transmission or a new six-speed manual. It’s the first compact to feature a radar based collision warning system as standard equipment. And it also comes with Mercedes’ PRE-SAFE system which helps protect passengers in a crash by tightening seat belts, closing windows, and adjusting the seat position of front passengers. The B-Class goes on sale in Europe in November.

With very little fanfare, Honda has built a wind tunnel at its R&D facility in Marysville, Ohio. Bloomberg just broke the story because Honda never divulged that it had completed the wind tunnel last year. Honda does most of the design and engineering for its truck products like the Ridgeline and MDX at this facility, rather than in Japan. And having an on-site wind tunnel is a critical tool in new product development. General Motors is the only other automaker in North America to have its own wind tunnel, but GM’s is a full-scale tunnel, while Honda is using a scale-model tunnel, which is obviously smaller and cheaper to operate. With fuel economy standards about to tighten up dramatically, aerodynamics are going to play a greater role in car design.

In a unique arrangement between an automaker and supplier, General Motors and the LG Group announced they will jointly design and engineer electric vehicles. LG already supplies GM batteries for the Chevy Volt and Opel Ampera. The two are teaming up to help cut costs and time in developing EVs. LG will be responsible for nearly half the cost of creating electric and hybrid vehicles and will then supply GM with anything they create. And LG will be allowed to sell technologies created with GM to other companies. You know? This is one of the first signs I’ve seen that we’re really seeing changes at how General Motors does business.

HYUNDAI BUYS LABOR PEACE … FOR NOW (subscription required)
Hyundai just dodged a bullet. The automaker has a troubled history of labor problems. But Ward’s reports it just signed a new labor pact with its union, after a 17-hour bargaining session that ended just hours before the union was going to go out on strike. Workers get a modest pay increase of $86 a month, but they also get a performance bonus equal to three months pay, plus a special bonus of $6,700 and they get 35 shares of company stock for signing the contract without going on strike.

Speaking of labor issues, the UAW is hopping mad about executive compensation, especially at supplier companies. That is coming up next.

You’ve all heard UAW president Bob King complaining bitterly about Alan Mulally’s compensation package. King has called it outrageous and morally wrong. But the union is not just picking on Mr. Mulally. My guest on Autoline This Week is Cindy Estrada, the vice president of the UAW who handles relations with suppliers, and she is just as upset about the compensation some supplier executives are taking home.

You can catch that entire interview with Cindy Estrada on our website right now, or check you local public television listings because Autoline is carried in 30 markets across the US and all across Canada.

A programming note here, there will not be a broadcast of RoundAbout tonight; the crew is on hiatus. But you can check out past episodes, and all kinds of additional content like vehicle reviews, editorials and our other shows at Autoline.tv.

And that wraps up this show, thanks for watching, have a great weekend and we’ll see you on Monday.

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

35 Comments to “Episode 711 – Volvo Loves You, Mercedes B-Class Revealed, Honda’s Secret Wind Tunnel”

  1. MJB Says:

    Right-on, Estrada! It’s tough to argue with that logic.

  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ms Estrada are you aware of a place called Mexico, south of the border, where automakers from all over the world are moving to avoid such demands as yours and their execs can continue to earn millions while the work force makes peanuts?

  3. HtG Says:

    On the LG hook up. LG uses ARM intellectual property(IP) in its processors. Working with GM will increase the penetration of ARM designs into automotive, the same designs that power your mobile phone(like Droid and iPhone), tablet, and increasingly more embedded and mobile devices of all stripes. It looks like the wave of high efficiency computing is integrating into autos. More and more machines will be communicating info with each other and with people, at lower cost. Watch this space.

  4. Chuck Grenci Says:

    More on the CIEL (if the link works; Jay Leno and Ed Welburn on the CIEL):

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    does this mean that you get a 50 in LG LED TV when you buy a Volt?

  6. Army Ed Says:

    Here’s a simple concept – if you don’t like what you are being paid find a job elsewhere or be happy that you have a job at all. In this economy workers don’t have the leverage to tell companies how to run their business and if they make a big enough stink about it the companies will go elsewhere. The sooner the UAW realizes this the better off they will be. Hopefully they see the light before they force all the good jobs out of the country.

  7. HtG Says:

    Glass houses, Ed.

    @5 They’ll probably have the same processors, Pedro.

  8. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    The girl said it all: “If you have something, we (UAW) want it.” Now called “shared sacrifice”. Better get ready to “share”.

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sorry, but this sucks w/o TJ, just being honest, that’s all.

  10. HtG Says:

    @9 yup.

  11. GPL Says:


    I think it has been sucking for a while w/o OLD tj. I didn’t think Bizarro tj was much fun. Now it is just quieter. Still, I’d prefer a few relevent comments to the streams of cat-fighting we had.

  12. tj Martin Says:

    Brother !

    Just when you think you might be missed and may have been a little too hasty in retiring , someone comes along and reminds you why you made the decision you did (#11)

    Seriously I’m not sure what Old Tj anyones thinking of cause its been the same Tj since day one with the one exception of my rant with Kit that went a bit too ballistic for almost a week , which I’ve admitted , though my facts then were correct , I did go way too far .

    Or have we forgotten the One on One’s I had with the Sybils that finally rid this site of their presence , the battles with H/S to put that little monkey in his place , or (CNG) John who tried to use this site for his own gain ?

    Nope ! Same old Tj . Still not willing to take any trash from anyone . Still holding to HARD CORE and provable FACTs over opinion. Still seeing the Automotive World for what it is right now ( A God Awful mess in a tailspin of self destruction )

    So in response I’ll quote that great American Sage Popeye

    ” I is what I is and I ain’t whats I aint ”

    And what I is doesn’t seem to be too welcome by some .

    Which …… is fine . Cause in all honesty as I told the folks at CAR when they asked me to come back , albeit toned down a bit ;

    ” If you want ME back .. you want the whole me . Honest , straightforward , uncompromising and blunt . If its a more kinder gentler ME you’re wanting .. well that fellow doesn’t exist . Never did . Never will ”

    Soooo …. decision stands . It seems the majority wants a Tj that isn’t in fact Tj .

    C’est la Vie !

    But hey . Just hang around a bit . I’m sure once they figure out the ” new sherif in town ” ( HtG’s quote not mine ) is gone , the Sybils , H/S and hey maybe even ( CNG ) John will soon return in all their glory .

    C’est La gere ! C’est formage . C’est trop mauvais

  13. tj Martin Says:

    But for the record

    Thanks to HtG / cwolf / pedro and anyone else I may be missing for the good conversations , the help in making my car buying decision ( honestly HtG every time I look at the GLK from afar I am sooo glad I got the white one ) and just in general the good over all banter and occasional arguments … which I enjoy

    ( cheers to you T.Bejima for the most recent .. Especially the positive conclusion . One word Bejima . GoKarts . Get back in the game for the cost of a years worth of IT tires and make a family thing of it . You wouldn’t believe how many POC and FNA club members a friend and I have convinced to make the switch and how damn happy they are they did . Fact is after one season you’ll have a grin so huge the wife will have second thoughts as to what you were REALLY doing all those weekends :o )

    Bdaa Bdaa Bdaa Thats All Folks !

  14. tj Martin Says:

    ( cue the exit music Mr Director if you would )


  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    A local Fiat dealer just opened up and I passed by just to see what the story was, very nice, well appointed, modern place just to sell such crap. It reminded of a very luxurious, high-class bordello and then the girls turn out to be a bunch of skanky hoes!

  16. HtG Says:

    You reckon you know where you’ll be ridin’ out to, tj? Mexico way? North Territrys?

    (check out my racing name at the local kart track; Credit Anstalt. Get it?)

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    TJ would you consider coming back as a guest commentator once in a while when an important auto related news item pops up?

  18. Chuck Grenci Says:

    tj #12; unless you were paraphrasing, Popeye’s saying is: “I yam what I yam and that’s all that I am”. (got a feeling you already knew that though)

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    #14 great iconic movie soundtrack.

  20. HtG Says:

    the evacuations have begun in Jersey, tj. From the WSJ blog…

    The mandatory evacuations that began Friday morning in New Jersey’s Cape May County have expanded to include much of Atlantic and parts of Monmouth and Ocean counties.

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie issued the evacuation orders Friday evening, describing the areas covered as those “expected to be most impacted by Hurricane Irene,” according to a statement released by his office. (At a press conference Friday, Christie put his feelings about lingerers on the Jersey Shore more bluntly: “Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park.”)

  21. Rope-Pusher Says:

    If John thinks Honda is good at keeping their wind tunnel a secret, then Chrysler must be an even sneakier bunch.

  22. cwolf Says:

    The array of views about unions and the UAW are an interesting read. I have noticed that a number of comments are usually expressed with thought and reasoning.The remainder,anti-unionists for the most part,have based their accusations upon the hay-day of the Big 3 domination era. Having experienced the tail end of the golden days of unions power to present day, I am confident the comment made by a prior union person from this time can no longer speak with the same validity. And those never having been in a union or support comment based on,”My neighbor Said”, is out-right stupid!
    Some believe the UAW and their demands are the reason why industry is moving to mexico and I have to think about that one. Hmmmm…,since wages are relatively equal for union and non-union workers and the non-union plants NOW set the stage for future wages,can the assumption be made that both are responsible? And what exactly are these UAW demands? Are they unreasonable? Fact is you don’t know and your just pulling bull-shit out of your butt and trying to sell it to others as truth! My wife holds a high position in pharmaceuticals. The company closed an entire complex of over 5000 scholars. Down-sized the excuse,out-sourced the reality! Hmmmm… they are not unionized!
    Seems to me, the UAW is not the cause for jobs moving to mexico. If any of you have facts ,I’d sure listen. Fact is you don’t!

  23. cwolf Says:

    For tj: Mi Amigo, don’t loose the perspective that this is just a forum of folks having a wide range of views to the left and right of our own. Keeping in mind that each is righteous and steadfast in their oun beliefs, as we ours, any attempt to over-come one over the other will be of no benifit except to oneself and fruitless to other observers. For example, “jessie” is ultra non-union and no fact or reason will change his views. To argue with him would be pointless. But as long as I continue to present my statements in confident and assured way, I bet there will be many others who favor my comment over jessie’s. You’re such an well-rounded and interesting person I’m sure you know the point I am attempting to get at. You have some pretty good pals here and they should be and are the ones who count!

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    If Gov Christie wanted to become an instant hero and assure his election for Prez, he would issue an executive order and place the whole cast of the Jersey Shore TV show in a dilapidated wooden boat 2 miles off the Asbury Park beach just before the storm get there and we’d be rid of that vermin once and for all.

  25. HtG Says:

    Locked and loaded here in NY. Bring it, Irene.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    @pedro re. #24,
    Aren’t those Jersey Shore shows made in south Florida? I heard somewhere that they were, or at least some of them were made in Miami.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    I would personally run them over with my decrepit Corolla, become a hero, and get a new one as a gift from Toyota if that was the case, no actually they film in Jersey, and recently went to Italy where they were shunned by the locals for being such a bad example of Italian-American descendents. No, we have enough embarrassing stuff already filming here, we don’t need them also!

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Jersey Shore season 2 was shot in the Miami South Beach area in early 2010, and aired summer of 2010.

    Just so you will know, I don’t watch the show; about ten minutes was enough to convince me that watching a bunch of misfits “living their lives” wasn’t entertaining. I just knew about the Miami filming, probably from the local Orlando news I get.

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit it’s ok if you watch it, after all it has humongous ratings, people love to watch disasters.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Except for about half of one episode, I haven’t watched it and don’t intend to watch any more. I don’t find it entertaining, but a lot of people do.

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    Saw a review of the Scion IQ, if I were in the market for that type of vehicle, it would make a much better choice than the Smart, but I still think the upcoming Yaris is a better buy.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    I don’t understand why Toyota brings the tiny IQ here won’t bring the equally tiny but much more affordable Aygo to these shores, I believe the market is ready for an inexpensive, reliable, high mpg little car.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe they wanted something really unique when they decided on the iQ, and found the larger, and more conventional looking Aygo to be too “normal.” Just a thought.

    I suspect iQ buyers will be those who really want something different. I read two reviews, one that liked the iQ and one (C & D) that sort of liked it, but really hated the CVT. I don’t understand it, but it is really fashionable among car “journalists” to hate CVT’s, but I suspect most iQ prospects will like the CVT just fine.

    As pedro says, the iQ will not be a good buy compared some other cars, but as a city car, it will have some appeal. Even “cheap” MINI’s are not a good value when you can get a much roomier Fit with equal power train performance for $3K less, but some people buy MINI’s. I did.

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, I can’t relate Fit with handling or performance. Mini, absolutely!!New song: “Fun, fun, fun, till Daddy took the Mini away”

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Power train performance of Fit and base MINI are very similar, but yes, MINI is a much sportier drive, and has a much different image. Fit handles pretty well, though, for a tallish 5-door.