December 4th, 2008 at 12:00pm
The Big Three bailout runs into some roadblocks due to lack of support in Congress and from the public. A peek at Honda’s new Insight hybrid which debuts at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month. All that and more, plus a look at Audi’s new variable-ratio steering system, called Dynamic Steering.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. The Big Three bailout runs into some roadblocks. A peek at Honda’s new Insight hybrid. And a new kind of steering system from Audi.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, December 4, 2008. And now, the news.
Uh-oh, trouble in the Big Three bailout effort. A poll by CNN and Opinion Research shows 61 percent of Americans are against bailing out the Big Three. The poll was conducted Monday and Tuesday and sampled 1,100 people across the country. Moreover, our media partner WWJ reports that Senate Majority leader Harry Reid says he does not have the votes right now to provide the Big Three with a loan. Even Bill Gates, from Microsoft, is publicly questioning why they should get a bailout. You know, Gates could probably bail them out by breaking open his own piggy bank. And I wonder what Ford is going to think about its partnership with Microsoft to do that Sync system.
But before anyone panics let’s remember, that neither Congress nor the American people have heard the plans that GM, Ford and Chrysler are going to put forward today in Washington. Those plans lay out their restructuring plans in detail. Chrysler is even getting its vice chairman and former Toyota executive Jim Press involved in the presentation, and he knows how to sell! Rick Wagoner is driving a Chevy Volt prototype mule to the hearings and Alan Mulally is driving an Escape hybrid. Moreover, the UAW agreed to suspend the Jobs Bank and postpone the payments the Big Three have to make into the VEBA account which covers health care costs for hourly workers and retirees. That’s what Congress wanted to hear and all this could have a big impact on getting the public and the politicians in favor of helping the domestic auto industry.
In related news, GM and Ford are both looking to raise cash by selling off Saab and Volvo. Yahoo news reports the Swedish government is ready to help, even though it’s not interested in purchasing either company.
If you’ve been thinking about a new car, now could be the best time EVER to get one. The Detroit Free Press reports that there’s a big surplus of unsold vehicles because sales fell faster than automakers could cut production. You should have no trouble finding exactly the car you want and a dealership that’s willing to deal.
Honda will publicly unveil its direct competitor to the Toyota Prius at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month. The Insight, a five-passenger, five-door hybrid goes on sale next spring. Honda expects global sales of 200,000 units per year with 100,000 of those coming from North America alone.
Coming up in our feature story, we’ll take a look at Audi’s new variable-ratio steering system, right after this.
Audi has developed a new technology called Dynamic Steering, that’s going in the all-new A4.
This system can vary a car’s steering ratio based on how fast it’s traveling. It offers quick turning for low speed, and a much slower ratio for highway driving. This helps make the new A4 easy to park and drive around town, yet secure on the open road.
Basically, it has a tiny transmission inside the steering column. Inside the transmission it has a pair of gears. The outer ring gear is round while the inner one, shown here in blue, is slightly smaller and flexible — it’s also mounted around an elliptical rotor. As the rotor turns it flexes the gear slightly, this causes it to mesh with the outer ring gear. An electric motor varies how fast the rotor turns which changes the steering ratio.
Dynamic steering can dramatically reduce the amount of input required to make a turn.
This system is included in an options package called Drive Select, which lets you adjust throttle response, shock absorber firmness and more.
Audi even ties the Dynamic Steering into the stability control system so it can make small adjustments to help keep you on the road.
Anyway, that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget, if you sign up for our free e-mail newsletter you’re automatically entered for a chance to win an awesome prize. This week we’re giving away a limited-edition model of the 2010 Ford Mustang, which was commissioned to celebrate the unveiling at the LA Auto Show. To enter this contest simply sign up for our free e-mail newsletter. Just visit our website, AutolineDaily.com and sign up now. I’ll be announcing the winner tomorrow on “Autoline Daily” so don’t delay!
And that’s it for today’s show. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.