Episode 746 – UAW Backtracks About Scabs, More VW-Suzuki Drama, Large Truck Sales Soar

October 14th, 2011 at 11:47am

Runtime: 7:37

Yesterday we reported that the UAW was warning its members that Ford might hire scab workers if the union goes on strike. Now the union is denying it said that. Suzuki is accusing Volkswagen of violating their partnership by not sharing technology. Large-truck sales are roaring in North America which is a good sign that the economy is heading in the right direction. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week about BMW’s plan to use carbon fiber in its electric vehicles.

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This is Autoline Daily for Friday, October 14, and here’s your latest update of what’s happening in the automotive industry.

UAW BACKTRACKS ABOUT SCABS
Our lead story in yesterday’s show reported that the UAW was warning its members that Ford might hire scab workers if the union goes on strike. Now the union is frantically backtracking essentially saying, “Never mind, that statement was posted by mistake.” It denies that UAW vice president Jimmy Settles said Ford would hire scab workers, but the words he used were “replacement workers,” and everyone knows he was referring to scabs. Clearly the leadership in the union is worried that the Ford vote is not going well. So far, the voting is roughly 55 percent against, 45 percent for. But I’d also point out that only a little over 10 percent of the workforce has voted on the contract, so this thing is far from over.

SUZUKI ACCUSES VW OF VIOLATING PACT
We all know Suzuki is trying to get a divorce from Volkswagen, but Vee Dub will have none of it. Now the Japanese automaker is accusing its German partner of violating their agreement by NOT sharing technology. According to Bloomberg, Suzuki is demanding Volkswagen sell it its stock back. Remember, back in 2009 VW bought almost 20 percent of Suzuki, while the “capital S” picked up a 1.5 percent stake in Volkswagen. So far the two companies have yet to partner on a single project. And now Vee Dub is accusing Suzuki of violating the agreement by purchasing engines from Fiat. Drama, drama, drama.

GLOBAL SALES WILL SKYROCKET BY 2015 (subscription required)
The world economy is in trouble right now, but the auto industry is one of the few bright spots. And now J.D. Power predicts that by 2015 global vehicle sales will top 100 million units! Deliveries are on track to hit 75 million this year. It’s estimated they’ll swell to 81 million next year, and then really take off after that. You guessed it, emerging markets like China, India and Brazil are expected to be the engines that drive this growth.

DETROIT’S HIGH PROFILE VISITORS
Detroit is attracting some high profile visitors. Later today President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak will visit GM’s Orion Assembly Plant to tout a new free-trade deal. And yesterday, billionaire oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens was in the Motor City, calling for big truck companies to switch to run on natural gas instead of diesel. Pickens is trying to get a bill passed through the U.S. Congress that would give them tax credits to do it. He estimates his plan would cost $5 billion dollars over five years but would help create 100,000 jobs and cut the amount of oil imported from the Middle East by half.

LARGE TRUCK SALES SOAR
And speaking of large trucks, sales are roaring in North America. According to Ward’s, sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks were up over 50 percent last month in the U.S. (subscription required) compared to a year ago and in Canada they were up over 36 percent (subscription required). This is a good sign because large-truck sales are a leading indicator of where the economy is headed.

BMW is getting into carbon fiber in a big way. It wants to use the material on its electric cars, and it says it can easily justify the cost. We’ll show you how it can justify sky-high carbon fiber costs, right after this.

AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
BMW says it’s found all kinds of cost off-sets that will allow it to justify using carbon fiber in its electric cars. I recently ran into Ian Robertson, the head of sales and marketing at the BMW group, who explained where they see those off-sets coming from.

By the way, Ian Robertson is one of my guests on Autoline This Week, I also speak with Johann de Nysschen from Audi and Jonathan Browning from Volkswagen, and you can watch those interviews right now on our website, Autoline.tv.

And don’t forget to tune in to RoundAbout, tonight at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. And you can catch that on Autoline.tv as well. Roundabout is all about having fun, so check it out.

And that wraps up this week’s reports on the latest news in the automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you next week.

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

77 Comments to “Episode 746 – UAW Backtracks About Scabs, More VW-Suzuki Drama, Large Truck Sales Soar”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    John, what’s the historical lead time on the truck-sales leading indicators; I believe you first mentioned this months ago, and while there is some flat economic news, I think flat may be a little bit too optomistic. I’m rooting for the economy (not just the auto industry which as you mentioned has shown positive growth).

  2. tj Martin Says:

    Global Car Sales will Skyrocket by 2015

    So what kind of substance is J.D. Power on ?

    Why , when China is placing CAPS on Automotive Sales , India’s car market has all but stalled , the US Economy is at best holding steady ( but most pundits say the worst is yet to come ) the EU’s economy is and has been on the verge of tanking , several countries including the PIIGS are about to Default , there is no viable increase in JOBs anywhere in the Word for the foreseeable future , and in those so called Emerging Markets ( China India Brazil ) there is still and will always be an extreme minority with all the Wealth , with the VAST majority being well below anything we in the US would accept as poverty , added to the Worldwide ( 3rd World etc ) what amounts to Slave Labor .

    So why oh why J.D. ( maybe you need to recharge your ) Powers would ANYONE in their right mind , or at the very least , somewhat informed say Car Sales will Skyrocket ???

    Tell you what though , whatever those folks at J.D. Powers are on , I want a lifetime supply of for myself .

    Ignorance Being Bliss the Reason why , though I’d call it clueless or delusional myself

  3. tj Martin Says:

    As to the large truck sales , well I’ve got a friend in the business who just left this month because THERE WAS NO BUSINESS So where the heck are these numbers coming from .

    Everything he’s seen to date says most Long Haul etc Truckers are spending the money to REPAIR their Trucks , not buying new ones .

    So who comes up with these figures . Well I do know that answer myself .

    Statistics and Numbers being the easiest thing to manipulate/alter especially to what is today a very Uninformed General Public ( oh they’ve got the information : problem being they’ve no skills of discernment to interpret that info , so all it winds up being is a lot of meaningless numbers rattling around their skulls )

    @ Chuck Grenci – I’m rooting for the economy myself , but I won’t be holding my breath as ti when things will Turn Around

  4. tj Martin Says:

    UAW vs FORD

    And if you haven’t heard already , 54% of the UAW Ford workers that have voted so far , have voted AGAINST accepting the new contract with FORD

    One can only imagine what the Chrysler UAW members will do with their rather worse agreement

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    is JD power trying to get people to go out and buy new vehicles by their blatant BSing? I think Americans are smarter than that and can read the fine line between the BS optimistic reports to know that things are NOT getting better, NOT by a long shot. I see it everywhere. People want things to get better, what they’re lacking is proper leadership.

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    Look out Mejico, here comes Ford; soon we won’t have an immigration issue.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    While the poor are getting poorer, the rich are still getting richer, and they are buying cars. That applies to the U.S., as well as places like China and India. I’d say we need to wait about four years to make judgement on J.D. Powers predictions for 2015.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    But Kit even the well off, as we saw the report the other day about these guys from Silicon Valley driving 5 yr and older cars, just because they like them better than the new stuff, cannot possibly be due to financial issues.

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, the silican valley guys are an interesting lot, as far as cars they drive, and a lot of other things.

    The wealthiest people I know, at least as business owners, seem to drive cars on two or three year leases. Middle income people I know in Indiana tend to buy a lot of new cars, but they work for the auto industry so are not a representative sample.

  10. HtG Says:

    @8 Could it be that just as the car was something very different from the horse drawn carriage, that the highly computer assisted car of the near future will be a new kind of object? Something in me sees a border being crossed where going around in a car will feel like giving up.

  11. tj Martin Says:

    Hmmn .

    Hate to tell the rest of you but pedro is right

    For the most part , the Wealthy and Upper Middle Class are holding on to their vehicles unless like myself ( back issues with the MINI ) there’s a darn good reason to buy a new car

    As far as my fellow ‘ associates ‘ well if they are buying anything lately , its something custom built or restored , not new .

    Fact is in and amongst our friends and ‘ associates ‘ ( I just love pulling HtG’s chain ) we’re the only ones in the last three years that has bought/leased a new car

    Gotta tell you also that unless that B-Class is one mighty fine hunk of automobile the Mrs will most likely continue to hold onto her 07 Matrix ( which I recommended to pedro )

    Hmmn . Nope . With over a million new homes hitting the Repo market as of the end of October , Jobs on the decrease , Unions shooting themselves in the foot etc etc etc we don’t have to wait a minute to pass judgement on J.D. Powers delusional statement .

    Aint a gonna happen . End of Story . Unfortunately . Unless of course there’s some time bomb built into every car sold over the last decade that’ll make em self destruct that is . Which I assume there isn’t

    ——————

    The Eternally Delusional

    T Boone Pickens – #1

    Just watched his interview on CNBC . I want a lifetimes supply of what he’s on , to heck with what J.D. Powers is using !

    —————-

    Called that friend who just walked away from Big Rig sales . Straight up he said they hadn’t sold a single new rig for over 15 months when he’d finally had enough last month . And he was selling the good stuff

    So who’s buying them I wonder ? T. Boone Pickens ? In his dreams ?

    ————

    @ pedro – Do you ever wonder like me what life would be like if you didn’t have a clue ? I’m guessing we’d have ear to ear grins while the whole mess collapsed at our feet :o

    La la la la….. la la la la ……. weeeeeeeeee

    ( something like that maybe ? )

  12. Dale Leonard-Lakewood,Oh Says:

    Adding to what TJ Martin say’s: I have a relative who owns a Heavy Truck Repars Shop and he says his business is booming. So much so he hired 5 more mechanics. The reason is a new rig goes out the door at $135,000 and these Owner Operators think it’s cheaper in the long run to drop $70,000 in a new engine,trans,rear ends,suspensions and new paint then to buy new. I have spoken with some of these O/O’s,and they say this is the new trend not buying new,so where are these sales figures comming from?

  13. tj Martin Says:

    FYI -ALD – isn’t Cars & Coffee a registered Trade Mark by that bunch in Irvine ?

    OOOoops ! :(

  14. HtG Says:

    @12 The numbers come from Ward’s. Here’s a link to the Christie Schweinsberg article. It’s interesting that in the past, John has said sales of big trucks are a good predictor of economic growth. I hope the numbers are John are in working order.

    http://wardsauto.com/home/big_truck_september_111013/

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #12,
    It’s probably fleet operators, maybe WalMart, not owner-operators that are buying the new trucks.

    Something that surprised me is that Ram is the leader in Class 3-7, and has 50% of the market in class 3, whatever that is. Maybe duelie pickups or chassis cabs, or something like that?

    See:

    http://www.ttnews.com/articles/lmtbase.aspx?storyid=1550

  16. tj Martin Says:

    For what its worth , in the some 2600 miles of road trips this year , a good percentage of it on Interstates , the overwhelming majority of Big Rigs were of the older type regardless of what trailer they were pulling .

    And in light of the lousy numbers coming out of the Big Box stores ( Wal -Mart etc …. retail is a mess right now folks ) i kind of doubt its them buying the trucks either .

    Methinks Wards might be blowing a bit of smoke with their so called statistics ( which are so easy to manipulate ) for what reason I couldn’t say

    Hate to say it but it wouldn’t be the first time from Wards either . Regardless of any retribution from Christie this statement might incur

    There is though one other possibility . One thing the friend in sales said is that all the manufactures hey represented were placing extreme pressure on the owners of the Dealership to buy more stock .

    So maybe Wards is counting Trucks sold to Dealers and not Trucks sold to end users .

    FYI Most of the Big Box Stores contract their trucking out to O/O’s so again that argument doesn’t seem to hold much water

    ( look at the logo on the sides of the cabs next time you’re on the Interstates compared to the logo on the trailer )

  17. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    The real Irony about that Wards article you posted the link for is that the very month THEY say truck sales soared is the VERY month my mate made the decision to walk because again they were making NO SALES ( capitols for emphasis not anger )

    I’m really beginning to have serious doubts about the Credibility of Wards Auto when it comes to business and sales facts and figures

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    tj says:
    “FYI Most of the Big Box Stores contract their trucking out to O/O’s so again that argument doesn’t seem to hold much water

    ( look at the logo on the sides of the cabs next time you’re on the Interstates compared to the logo on the trailer”

    I have looked at the logos on the side of the cabs, and the ones pulling the Wal Mart trailers say, uh, Wal Mart.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    TJ exactly #11, my ignoramus brother in law who only cares about downloading free salsa music, chomping down food and anticipating the next whoopee session and who got mad at me when I did not vote for the man who promised him that he would be better off if he became elected and he would change things for the better, (he’s much worst off now and curses the Messiah daily) has no clue what is going on, his only barometer is his paycheck but even then, he’s as happy as a talent coordinator at a strip club Not aware of any business news, not aware of banking crisis, of budget problems, nothing, just the latest salsa to dance vertically and horizontally.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #17 If Wards Auto has no credibility, why should some anonymous blowhard on this forum be expected to have any credibility?

  21. tj Martin Says:

    # 18 …… didn’t say all Kit , just most . Lets try that one more time ……

    M O S T = Not all , but a reasonable majority

    But for the record , here out West I’ve seen more than a couple of Wal- Mart trailers behind an independents cab , so I’ll guess they use different strategies for different areas of the country . Y’all bein East of the Big Miss an me bein West .

  22. tj Martin Says:

    #20

    Aint you jes so cute there Kit

    And anyway I thought I was an arrogant ass . So make up your mind .

    While you’re at it ( making up your mind that is ) try READING this article I’d placed the link up for awhile ago ;

    http://janheine.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/who-pays-for-your-magazine/

    It might just shed a little light on the darker corners of your understanding of how the REAL World works

  23. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro #19

    So what’s he taking and how do we get ahold of some ?

  24. HtG Says:

    @17 I did click for the Ward’s report, but it’s only for subs. I would be interested to see their methods.

    However, I did read elsewhere that ports on the west coast have not gotten the big bump in containers for christmas like usually happens.

  25. tj Martin Says:

    This is kind of getting fun

    Kit trying to insult me and get up my nose , and me just flogging his comments off like water off a ducks back .

    Beats the heck out the Toe to Toe strategy used to use

    Hopefully a lot more entertaining for the rest of you as well !

    Quack :o

  26. tj Martin Says:

    And NUMBER 24 comes in with another confirmation of mine and DL of LO appraisal of the situation

    HtG – 10 points

  27. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Am I in a better mood of late , or am I just deluding myself ?

  28. pedro fernandez Says:

    El Presidente beer and plays latin style accordion and sings along while I read bad news on the web, I predict he will outlive me by half a century.

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just saw the upcoming Ford Escape, I predict sales will plummet, looks like all the others cross overs in the market.

  30. HtG Says:

    In re new cars. I keep getting offers from dealers to trade our cars for new ones. We’re on a list, it seems. They keep saying that I can get a new car for the same monthly payments as I now have. (though I own outright, and am aware of that 8% sales tax thing) I’ve also read that one push for new car sales is that people have more residual value in their 3 year old clunkers these days, so they bite. Sound like someone you know, tj? (Hey, get your new 4S device, yet?)

  31. HtG Says:

    @27 sleeping better now that it seems less likely the world will cleave itself open. Cue the Ibrahim Ferer, Pedro.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #22
    I read the article when you posted it before, and just read it again. It makes a point or two, but didn’t imply that someone like Wards would lie about the number of trucks sold in a given month.

    I didn’t say all “big box” stores have their own fleet of tractors, just Wal Mart, which happens to be by far the biggest big box store chain. They have 7200 tractors according to:

    http://www.allbusiness.com/retail/retailers/12268713-1.html

    Also, Wal Mart is on a campaign to increase fuel efficiency of their fleet, part of which would be done by acquiring new trucks.

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    Wal mart is sure expending a lot of money lately redesigning and improving existing stores, I guess they figure the economy will stay this way for years to come and their market share can only go up. Walmart is the new Sears and JC Penney’s.

  34. HtG Says:

    It was the WSJ that had the article on low shipments on the west coast. Here’s a quote

    ‘Rail companies and other shippers are reporting similar news, as retailers head into their most important season with lean inventories and a frugal outlook. When it comes to the holidays, shoppers typically find a way to splurge. But retailers’ chastened outlook, and their apparent willingness to forgo sales to avoid getting stuck with unsold goods, offers a sobering read on the state of the U.S. consumer.

    “The concern is obviously that consumer confidence is weak,” says Mr. Steinke.’

    Here’s the link($)
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204774604576626882482074762.html?KEYWORDS=port+of+los+angeles

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #29,
    Yeah, that old Escape sells well, even though it is certainly showing its age, and not necessarily in good ways. One good way the Escape is different from other recent Fords, is that you can avoid all that driver distraction crap.

    Still, some people just like the boxy look, but probably a lot of these sales are to people who would buy only Fords, and Escape is what they have in that market segment.

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    If you look at the upcoming 2012 at Forbes’ except for the Malibu, they all look like they went to the Hyundai/Kia design school. Why must these guys copy each other? I applaud GM for remaining more traditional and so far it has worked with the Cruze.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Another thing I like about GM, at least Chevy, is that they continue to use simple, intuitive controls compared to much of the competition. I looked at a Sonic the other day, and it appears to be very operator friendly for a new car.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    Am I the only one who thinks GM is trying awfully hard to hide the fact that the Spark is basically a Daewoo design and engineered vehicle much like its predecessor, the awfully bad Aveo. Just because they’re gonna assemble it here does not change anything as far as I’m concerned.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I don’t expect the Spark to be too great, but a couple reviews I’ve read weren’t too bad. It will have low expectations, both being compared to Aveo, and being a notch down in size from Aveo, etc.

  40. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    No I did not ! ( buy a 4S ) I don’t need it as my little 3G does more things than I’ll ever need or use .

    But I did ……………….. put an Apple decal in the back window . The new White ones . Almost put one of the old style rainbow Apples in that I still have ….. but white on white just looked so right ……. and ……. I did pre-order the Jobs bio as well as buy a couple of the Special Editions on the man . He could be a real horses ass , but he sure made his mark on the world of personal computers . Then again I’ve never met a brilliant talented individual who wasn’t a bit of a horses ass in one way or another , including myself . As the character Mal ( Firefly ) once said ;

    ” Seems to me there’s never been a man to whom a statue was made that wasn’t one kind of an SOB or another ”

    Or if you prefer ;

    ” Never meet your heros . We’ll all disappoint you ” Guess who that was HtG ?

    @ Kit – If you’d of left off the insult the rest wouldn’t of followed . And in the original post about Wards I did say its a possibility Wards is counting sales to dealers , not sales to end users : which far too many are doing these days to inflate the figures : or try and convince us that all is well and ” Hey go spend your money again like there’s no tomorrow ”

    And yes Kit , organizations like Wards have all the motivation in the World to get you and I out of our bunkers spending our money like fools . Believe me . You & I and everyone else are ” Just a commodity to be preyed upon for the contents of your back pocket and bank account ” . Got that advice back when I was a kid from an excessively wealthy individual , preparing me for the World that was ahead . Never forgot it and its saved my tail more than once .

    FYI in my travels this summer the only Trailers I saw that consistently had the same label on the Cabs were UPS and the USPS . But again Kit that might be a matter of Geography .

    @ 38- You are not alone

    FORD Escape – Haven’t really paid much attention to the new one but it seems to me what the old one had going for it was it was a great value for the $ compared to the competition

    So if FORD’s effed that aspect of the car up , then yeah i’ll bet sales drop like a stone as well .

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Regarding Escape, it seems that only Ford people want them. I just read in AutoWeek that Mazda sold fewer than 2000 of their version in 6 months, while they sell a lot of some of their other CUV’s, considering their small dealer network.

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve seen non-USPS tractors pulling USPS trailers in Florida. I’ll be driving to Florida from Indiana in about two weeks, so I’ll pay extra attention to such things and see what I find.

    The Mazda versions of Escape, called Tribute, sells even worse than I realized. They sold 1,902 of them through August, almost a full model year, while Ford consistantly sells over 150,000 Escapes a year.

  43. tj Martin Says:

    Ooops;

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/automobiles/scion-iq-has-intelligent-design-but-doesnt-ace-the-testi1.html?ref=automobiles

    So I guess its not so SMART to think your iQ is that high when in fact it LEAFs a lot to be desired in light of its (re)VOLT(ing) reviews , so I guess the moral of the story is ;

    When it comes to automotive choices , you’re better off being NORMAL

    ( do the originators of these monikers set this up on purpose , or were they just not THINK(ing ) when they created them )

    Can’t wait for the next round :o

  44. cwolf Says:

    @ #29,pedro; Was the Escape you seen the NEW European “Kuga” design? I may have seen one not too long ago on US23 and in camo. Didn’t know Ford allowed the covers to come off! I like the Kuga look,but still prefer the smaller size of the older model that I ouned. The present model is too big,thus underpowered. In my view,Fords way of upgrading an older model is to just make it bigger and bigger,rather than better and fun size. The Kuga clone is even longer and wider,yet! AND with only several 4 bangers to turn the wheels. Betcha fuel economy is no better at all,either. No Thanks! Put in their 2.0l diesel then maybe.

  45. Kit Gerhart Says:

    According to C&D, the new Escape will have a 2.0 liter turbo available with 237 hp, about the same as the current V6, but with a flatter torque band. That should provide decent, if not exciting performance, as long as the car doesn’t gain too much weight over the old one.

  46. pedro fernandez Says:

    #44 I believe so, but it looks too much like the rest of the field. something about the Escape has mad it sell well despite being at the end of its life cycle. TTAC has a chart showing how poorly most subcompacts are doing, the only exception being the Versa which just happens to be the roomiest of the bunch, I guess interior room still counts for something. Today I met a mechanic of the county who works on police cars among others and told me the CV was a much better car than people gave it credit for, including the auot motive media and laments it is now being replaced by the Charger, it’s not as well made and durable (reliable) as the CV.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    We’ll see how the new Escape sells, but I predict that it will sell as well as, or better than the old one, if it is any good. There are certain people who buy only Fords, and Escape is the small SUV that Ford sells. In todays market, Escape is mid pack, at best, but “Ford people” bought them.

    Similarly, there are people who car shop only at Chevy dealers, and quite a few of them bought Aveos, considering Aveo was worst-in-class for its entire life time.

    CV is simple, and is easy to fix, especially if you have a shop that works on nothing else, as with some large police departments and taxi operations. It is not a very good car, though, as far as how it works. For as big as it is, is doesn’t ride well, it isn’t particularly quiet, the back seat isn’t roomy, and, even for its size, it’s kind of thirsty. I know, I had one (Grand Marquis) a couple years. Still, police departments love them, so it seems to me that Ford should have kept building them, as is, as long as the police wanted them. For the civilian market, though, they needed a major update. They were selling very poorly in the non-police, non-taxi market.

  48. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro, #46,
    Isn’t Versa also the cheapest of the bunch? That helps too, along with being roomy.

  49. HtG Says:

    You bet Versa is cheap, Kit. We have one, and I’ll attest that the sale price doesn’t match the MSRP. But it’s also a very appealing car on first impressions. The seating position is high, the greenhouse is very uplifting, the seats are an instant ‘Ahhh,’ and the throttle mapping gives makes the car quite eager to get going, it’s lightweight (~2500), and easy to see out of forwards and backwards. The feel of the electric steering boost is the opposite of driverly, however. The service dept is falling over themselves to treat us well. It’s easy to see why people take it home. As a footnote, the dealer constantly tries to get us to trade in our ’08 for a new Nissan which is getting annoying.

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    HtG,
    Do you have a CVT in your car? If so, do you like it?

    I never understood why so many automotive “journalists” hate CVT’s. My Prius has no transmission, but acts like a CVT. I’ve driven a Nissan Cube with a CVT. I like they way both of them work just fine. The single clutch automatic in the smart, on the other hand, is awful, with its lurchiness.

  51. HtG Says:

    no CVT, just the 4 speed automatic. It’s nothing special, except that it rarely hunts around for the correct gear. Weirdly, the whole package likes to be driven very hard, but don’t tell. Going around high speed turns near the limit, a squeelin’, it’s stable and forgiving. The engine is a little rough, to be honest. It’s easy to forget you’re driving sometimes; just look where you want to go, and done. But I’d still say, the top selling points of the car are the high seating position and the low price.

  52. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, does your Prius have a tach? and if so, do you notice a high rpm at highway speeds, say 70mph, seems to me that with cvt it’s hard to tell if the engine is working hard. Also Motorweek, cars.com and USA today evaluated a few 3 row Xovers and surprisingly the Pilot won 1st place, last yr Odyssey won also. You know every bocy is putting down Honda and yet they still seem to know how to build people movers that are desirable, plus the Fit wins just about every comparison test also, seems to me that it is crucial for them to get the upcoming Accord just right, that would leave only the Civic as the black sheep of the family. BTW the more expensive and previous king of the bunch, the Explorer did rather poorly along with the Highlander, #2 was the often overlooked Traverse

  53. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit you say the Prius does not have a CVT, but that is not what the specs say, every single spec I’ve read on that car mentions the transmission as being “electronically controlled constant velocity transmission” ECCVT What’ the story??

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    With all these 7-10 speed automatics, there are still a surprising number of 4 speeds. Nissan uses both 4 speed and CVT’s. Toyota still uses 4 speeds in Corolla and some Scions, and get competitive performance and gas mileage. It seems that the big thing you gain with an 8 speed with closely spaced ratios, is smooth, seamless shifting. You’d never know what gear you’re in.

  55. pedro fernandez Says:

    From what techs have told me, 4 speeds are more reliable than 5 or higher, the 5 speed Civic has had issues, much more than the previous 4 speed version. Toyota being as conservative as they are, and to keep costs down have decided to stay with the 4 for most of their small and medium size cars.

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro re #53,
    There is a good explanation of how the Prius power train works at:
    http://prius.ecrostech.com/original/Understanding/PowerTrain.htm#DifferentialAxlesWheels

    The numbers for power, etc., are for a first generation car, so are not correct for the current Prius, but the way it works with the power split device is the same on the new ones.

  57. pedro fernandez Says:

    So would you say it feels at home driving around town and back-roads as opposed to high speed interstates? Got a short trip coming up and want to try out the Cruze, I just hope my local Budget has one available cause the other one would be an Avenger and I don’t really want to drive that one.

  58. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #52,
    My Prius doesn’t have a tach. At a steady 70. or 75, you don’t hear the engine much. It is probably running about the same rpm as other recent cars with similar size engines. When you accelerate or climb, it revs up more, and you hear it. When it’s floored, the engine is probably running at about its horsepower peak rpm of 5500-6000 or so.

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    To me, the Prius feels at home both in town, and on the interstate, but I’m used to it. I normally drive about 75 on the interstate. In general, the handling feels ok, but not great, probably not too different from a recent Corolla. I’m sure people who like to drive 85-90 on the interstate would find power lacking, because the top speed is probably only a little over 100.

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #58, correction,
    The power peak of the Prius gas engine occurs at 5200 rpm, so, when floored, the engine would be at about 5000 rpm, not 5500-6000. I also found that the engine is running about 1800 rpm at 60 mph, about the same as a 4 cylinder Camry.

  61. pedro fernandez Says:

    Toyota would save a lot of R/D $$ if they used the Prius architecture for the next Corolla, but somehow I doubt they will.

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, they should build a car with the Prius body and a regular Corolla power train. It would cost a lot less $$$ than a Prius, would have the hatchback utility, and, with its very low drag, should get close to the same great highway mpg as the Prius. The main thing it would lose is the great mpg the Prius gets in city driving.

  63. tj Martin Says:

    Prius Architecture as New Corolla

    IMHO a definitively BAD idea .

    Having driven the Prius ( 2007 & 2011 ) as well as the wife having a Corolla based car ( Matrix ) I can with the utmost in confidence , and with no insult intended towards Kit , say that the Prius platform leaves much to be desired in bot Comfort as well as Handling .

    Wooden is the best description of the ride of the Prius ( both were premium models FYI ) Dead and wallowing for the handling .

    Honestly the only thing worse about the Prius’s architecture is the Brakes which combine the undesirable Wooden with the less that satisfactory , completely unable to be modulated ( they’re either full on or not working especially in the E/V mode )

    Well truth be known there is something else in the Prius that IS worse and that is the seats . I’ve sat in wooden pews that offered more comfort , but seats can me changed whereas platforms cannot

    Truly I can say with absolute authority that building the Corolla on the Prius platform would be the WORST Mistake Toyota could ever make .

    Prius owners may be willing to accept its short comings in order to enjoy the ” Feel Good ” factor of owning a Hybrid , but I can absolutely guarantee you Corolla owners would not .

    So ……. @ pedro -

    Be careful what you ask for , lest you wind up getting it and wishing you hadn’t .

  64. tj Martin Says:

    BWTM

    Prius Architecture

    I’d be willing to place a $100 bet that if Toyota were to remove the Hybrid aspect of the Prius ( batteries etc weigh a ton ) and replace the Gas Engine with a 2 Liter Diesel the Prius’s MPG would be equal to or better than its Hybrid equivalent at a substantially lower price .

    And another FYI the Aerodynamic “Advantages ” of the Prius are more Hype the Reality .

    Truth be known ( without consulting the propaganda and discussing it with an unbiased Aerodynamicist , which a friend of mine is , for Martin Marietta ) the Prius’s aero factor is just barely a tad better than the Matrix . By less than .001 of a percent . Which in truth on a Road Vehicle is meaningless

  65. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well, the brakes would NOT be regenerative types so that would change, I don’t get why the aerodynamics are so close, the Prius looks like it was clearly designed to cheat the wind, while the Corolla looks pudgy to me. Besides I thought it would be a money saver for Toyota NOT to have to develop a new platform for the Corolla, I’m assuming they’re gonna do that since the current one is getting quite old, since 2003.

  66. pedro fernandez Says:

    Toyota gets lots of use from their platforms, the current Camry is over 10 yrs old so is the Corolla, I guess when you design them well, they can keep current a long time.

  67. HtG Says:

    The Prius brand will not be diluted. It’s a hybrid. End. of. story.

  68. tj Martin Says:

    THE SELF COMBUSTION AUTOMOTIVE BBQ CLUB

    Welcomes its newest member

    The MINI Cooper S

    http://jalopnik.com/

    Scroll down for the article

    I’ll assume the MINI Cooper could be next , so it looks like I traded ” Badger ” in just in the nick of time

    Phew :(

  69. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Pedro, you should rent a Prius for a few days and form your own decision on ride, handling, comfort, etc. The people who have Priuses are overwhelmingly satisfied with them, more than most other cars.

    As far a aerodynamics, it DOES make a difference. It’s the low drag, not the hybrid power train that allows a Prius to get 44 mpg at 75 mph.

  70. tj Martin Says:

    #65

    Looks and aerodynamic reality seldom if ever have much to do with one another .

    Most aerodynamic shape in existence ?

    The Blow/Puffer Fish when not inflated

    Wide at the front and narrow towards the rear

    Totally contradictory in looks , but as M-B etc have proven ( along with several in the Aero Industry and that mad crazy Swiss car designer who’s name escapes me ) its THE shape you want if its the best in Aero you’re after

  71. tj Martin Says:

    #69

    It doesn’t ! ( get 44 mpg at 75 mph )

    AW , CAR and C&D have proven this beyond ANY shadow of a doubt

    That figure is pure unadulterated Propaganda by both Toyota the EPA ( who do not have the ability to confirm or deny this fact ) and a few of the automotive magazines .

  72. tj Martin Says:

    #71

    continued …………

    It is in fact the miniscule Gas engine in the Prius that gets it anywheres near the hyper inflated figure of 44 mpg at 75 mph

    Fact is in independent testing at 75 mph the Prius get no better mpg than the Matrix , Corolla or the Yaris . In fact the Yaris gets superior mpg at 75 .

  73. HtG Says:

    @72 are we talking Cd or frontal area? Because that Yaris is making a small hole in the air.

  74. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #67,
    I’m sure you are right. Someone else, maybe Honda, should make a low drag car with a conventional power train. Honda has a perfect candidate in the Insight. The car’s hybrid power train doesn’t work nearly as well as Toyota’s, but that body with the Fit’s power train would get great highway mpg.

  75. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #72,
    I don’t know where you get your information, but I know where I get mine. I have made three 1100 miles trips between Indiana and Florida, and I get 44 mpg for the trips, and I go 75, sometimes a little faster. A friend came from Indiana to visit me in Florida a couple years ago in a Pontiac Vibe, the same car as a Matrix, and got about 35 mpg for the same trip.

    Vibe/Matrix are good cars, but in mpg they don’t come close to a Prius.

    By the way, the “miniscule” engine in my Prius is the same size as the one in my friend’s Vibe, 1.8 liter.

  76. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #71,
    How about some links to those articles. If they didn’t get mid-40′s at 75 mph, they weren’t driving constant speed, had something strapped to the top of the car, or something. Oh, and I get my numbers from filling the tank and dividing it out, not from the trip computer which is about 4-5% optomistic.

  77. pedro fernandez Says:

    Isn’t the whole idea of buying a Prius to be able to get maximum mpg with minimum hassle? like driving a regular car, no charging no special care, that is why it will continue to outsell the Volt or whatever other crap they throw at it, even the Insight has done poorly, and as Kit points out, I have yet to meet a dissatisfied Prius owner.