Autoline Daily

Subscribe - Podcasts Video Podcasts iTunes Zune RSS Audio & Other Options
Autoline Daily

Episode 766 – China OEMs Adopt Mao Strategy, More Tokyo Concepts, Car Dealer Issues

November 11th, 2011 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 9:28

Chinese automakers are borrowing a military strategy from Mao Tse-tung called “Encircling the City from the Countryside.” Honda and Mitsubishi revealed several vehicles they will show at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. Audi will no longer offer manual transmissions on its S4 and S5 models in Europe. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week about issues facing car dealers in the U.S.

Visit our sponsors to thank them for their support of Autoline Daily: Bridgestone, Dow Automotive Systems and Hyundai

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | Zune | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher

This is Autoline Daily for November 11th, also known as Veterans Day, or if you’re old enough, Armistice Day, celebrating the end of World War I.

ENCIRCLING THE CITY FROM THE COUNTRYSIDE
And speaking of war, a report in the China Car Times says that Chinese automakers are borrowing a military strategy from Mao Tse-tung called “Encircling the City from the Countryside.” It’s all about how Chinese automakers who export are trying to encircle the developed Western markets by first getting into undeveloped countries, then semi-developed countries, until they’re ready to take on the developed countries. China is doing this by putting assembly plants in those developing countries, and by acquiring Western automakers like Volvo. Most Chinese exports now go to the Middle East and South America with cars priced less than $5,000. Chery, Changan and Great Wall are the biggest automotive exporters from China.

MORE TOKYO CONCEPTS REVEALED
Earlier in the week we showed you concepts from Suzuki and Nissan that will debut at the Tokyo Motor Show. Today we’ve got some more. Honda will have three vehicle concepts at the show. The AC-X is a plug-in hybrid that gives the driver a choice to have it perform aggressively or relaxed. Another one is an EV sports model tentatively called the Small Sports EV Concept. And lastly Honda will show a funky looking micro car designed for urban driving called the Micro Commuter Concept.

Mitsubishi also is showing off two vehicles in Tokyo. The Mirage is a compact vehicle designed to be sold in emerging and advanced markets. It’s powered by a 1.0-liter three-cylinder and mated to a CVT and the company hopes it will deliver 30 kilometers per liter or about 70 MPG. It will go on sale in Thailand starting next March. The PX-MiEV Concept is a midsize plug-in. It’s powered by the EV technology that’s in its i-MiEV plus a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It can travel over 50 kilometers in electric mode and 800 kilometers or nearly 500 miles combined with the engine.

SUMITOMO DEVELOPS CHEAPER BATTERY
Speaking of electrics, Japanese supplier Sumitomo says it has developed a cheaper alternative to lithium-ion batteries with a sodium-ion battery. It contains liquefied salt which helps cut the costs, and it’s also safer because it’s noncombustible. Sumitomo plans to start producing the batteries in 2015.

AUTOLINE LIVE FROM L.A.
Make sure to mark your calendar for next Wednesday when we’ll take you on a walking tour of the LA Auto Show. We’ll be using LiveU technology to bring you the latest cars as well as interviews with Mark Reuss from GM, Derrick Kuzak from Ford, Jim O’Sullivan from Mazda, Ben Poole from Infiniti, Michael Barstch from Porshe and John Krafcik from Hyundai. That’s next Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

NO MANUAL FOR S4 & S5 DRIVERS IN EUROPE
This next story is a hard pill to swallow. Audi will no longer offer manual transmissions on its S4 and S5 models in Europe. But in a weird twist of fate, Audi will offer manuals in the American market. That’s because in the American market, a true performance car has to be offered with an optional manual to have real street cred. Europeans have traditionally rejected automatic transmissions, viewing them as heavier, and less fuel efficient. But this move by Audi to drop manuals in the S4 and S5 shows how Europeans are fully embracing dual-clutch transmissions.

UAW FIGHTS WORKERS
From Autoline Daily’s Paradox Department we have a story about the UAW fighting WITH workers rather than FOR them. The Detroit News reports the union is squabbling with its clerical and janitorial employees over concessions. Turns out they’re represented by a different labor organization, the Office Professional Employees International Union. The UAW is insisting on layoffs but the workers are having none of it. They’re actually picketing Solidarity House! Hit the link in our show notes at Autoline.tv for all the gory details.

Car dealers across the country are starting to get sick and tired of car companies telling them to spend millions to spiff up their dealerships. More on that right after this.

AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
The National Auto Dealers Association in the U.S. is funding a study to determine whether all these factory programs forcing them to spiff up their dealerships is really worth it. My guest on Autoline This Week is Steve Wade, the chairman of the NADA, and this is a hot topic with him.

You can watch that entire interview right now at our website Autoline.tv. Also joining me on that program are Steve Finlay from Ward’s Auto Dealer and Jeff Bennett from the Wall Street Journal.

With an update of all the automotive news you DON’T need to know, here’s RoundAbout host Craig Cole over at RoAb HQ.

On tonight’s show we’ll take a look at Uganda’s first plug-in EV . . . that’s right, I said “Uganda.” Plus, have you ever seen a 230-ton Airbus stop and hover in midair? You will tonight. Also, in our Blind Spot story of the week we’ll discuss whether free speech extends to the stickers on your car. All that and waaay more at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.TV.

That wraps up this show, thanks for watching, we’ll see you on Monday.

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

65 Comments to “Episode 766 – China OEMs Adopt Mao Strategy, More Tokyo Concepts, Car Dealer Issues”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    ” Puff .. the Magic Dragon … lives in LA …… ”

    http://jalopnik.com/5858690/chevy-volt-crash-test-fire-explodes-into-federal-investigation

    Gee …. didn’t watch the interview last night so I’m wondering if Mr Pain(e) knew about this .

    As well as the NYTimes now reporting that Federal E/V funding may finally be dropped .

    Hmmn . This week is getting better and better .

    Berlusconi is on his way out

    VOLT’s are catching fire ( again ! )

    And …………. CADILLAC came up with a car I actually like !!!

  2. HtG Says:

    whoa baby! Do I have my facts wrong, John? You’re saying that for a performance car to have credibility in the US of A, it’s got to have a manual shift? I was under the impression Ferraris are no longer offered with the Sacred Staff. No Soup for Me!!

  3. HtG Says:

    Here is your mission Mr. McElroy, should you choose to accept it. Next week in LA you will meet with an executive from Mazda. He will have certain knowledge concerning the future MX-5. You are to come into possession of this knowledge, using the methods we have trained you in. (Make sure to file an expense report with the office.)

  4. HtG Says:

    Pedro posted earlier today that TTAC had similar report about VOLT’s experiencing, shall we say, ‘accelerated uncontrolled oxidation.’ The article says Duke Energy told customers not to charge up at home after there was a fire on October 30.

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2011/11/after-n-c-fire-duke-energy-advises-customers-to-suspend-use-of-electric-car-chargers/

    Take your bows Maestro Martin

  5. cwolf Says:

    Auto shows are always great fun and for those around Detroit,things will be getting better! Detroit’s COBO HALL has needed an up-grade for quite some time,but funding was tough to come by. Don’t know how or where ,but is was said that there is now ample funding for renovations,thus eliminating any thoughts to move the show elsewhere.

    Did ya read about Fords plan to sink in a billion into Lincoln over the next 4 years? Something like 7 new offerings over 4 years. Their benchmark,in the luxury brand market, is to combine the performance of a BMW with the interior of a Lexus. My question is:”Why set the benchmark at that level rather than to exceed them to create a new Lincoln identity?”

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #5,
    Does Lincoln plan to come up with a new, but modern Town Car? It seems to me that that’s what they need.

  7. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    #2

    Yeah.. that one’s got me flummoxed as well . Still trying to get my head around what John is trying to say .

    Audi dumping manuals in EU I get ( stupid move but I get it )

    Performance cars in the US have to have a manual though ? In the Land where no one even knows which wheels are being driven ? Huh ?

  8. tj Martin Says:

    HtG

    #’s 1 & 4

    When will people ever learn ? ( to listen to me that is )

  9. pedro fernandez Says:

    That’s anice you survive the crash and then it burns, gives the term crash and burn a whole new meaning!

  10. tj Martin Says:

    WHICH WHEELS ARE DRIVEN

    True story

    Last week a young guy comes and parks next to me in his Pontiac with the typical hot rod Big & Little ( Big wheels n tires in back with smaller ones up front ) treatment

    Nice wheels too .

    But ……….. it was a FWD Pontiac

    When I asked why he’d done the B&L treatment he said it was to get a better launch off the line when street racing .

    I hesitated and then asked ” you do know your car is FWD don’t you ? ”

    He responded ” Yeah , but so what ? ”

    I then kindly ( really i was ) informed the young man that in order for his logic to work he needed to move the Bigs of the B&L to the front

    He was dumbfounded saying ” You mean to say FWD means the front wheels are the drive wheels ? ”

    Clueless . Sad . But clueless .

  11. LS ford Says:

    Steve Wade – smart fellow. But he is a plotical person working in the framework of the dealers he represents. We will never get a fair opinion from these guys.

    However, if we really compare the retail environment of dealerships to the clothing, or electronics retail industry, we will see clearly that customers appreciate a make over or an update. I am truely tired of hearing this old school banter about what is the best for the auto dealer. If you want to make a dollar, you have to earn a dollar.

    Any idiot can tell you that there is a direct relationship between purchases and customer perception. The issue is that these dealerships have never changed how the customer perceives them. If these guys are doing business as usual, they will never increase their market share. The way to change perception is first to change the image, then change the customer interaction. I have met many dealers in my travels, and only 1 out of 10 understands this point. And those that do are successful. If the environment is true to the brand, and true to the customer, then people will drop everything and go there to shop.

  12. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    #5

    Because original thinking and creative thought have gone the way of the DoDo Bird when it comes to American Corporations in general .

    Excepting Apple of course . At least up till now .

  13. Denis Says:

    Re:Chinese Industrial Strategy

    This is how the how the Chinese Communist central planning committee directs their corporations, in order to beat the capitalists at their own game. Ironically, the Western brands are assisting in their own demise, by their substantial transfer of capital and technology to the Chinese auto industry. This strategy is clearly outlined in Sun Tzu The Art of War.

  14. LS ford Says:

    @ #6 & #5

    The Lincoln plan is good, but it comes down to how fast can they get it done. The products are amazing and nothing that we have seen before. But we will have to contend with the cars we have for the time being….

  15. tj Martin Says:

    #11

    +1

  16. T. Bejma Says:

    #1

    The earlier volt that caught fire was burned due to the charging station (quote: “The charging station was in the known area of origin”) which was probably installed incorrectly.

    This one you quoted caught on fire 21 DAYS(!!!!) after being hit by a side impact sled!!!!

    Come on tj, none of these seem like the vehicle was at fault. This isn’t like the Ferrari and Lambo BBQ’s where the cars were just driving down the road…

    Just got to pile on, don’t you? ;-)

  17. LS ford Says:

    @ # 10

    TJ – that is a sad state of affairs. But to my earlier point, its this group that the NADA should be looking at. What do they want??

    Why do they hate to go to the dealership.

    Answer, because its as moldy and stale as their fathers/mothers old world point of view.

  18. tj Martin Says:

    BUMMER OF THE WEEK AWARD

    So Cadillac FINALLY comes up with a design I actually like

    And what do they then follow it up with ?

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/11/citing-possible-brake-failure-cadillac-recalls-700-cts-models/?ref=automobiles

  19. cwolf Says:

    Ya,Kit,a Town Car will be included in the group. What gets me is their reasoning to dump their idea for a small car because of fears it would hurt MKZ(fusionish)sales! But a sick-looking MkD(?),small CUV shorter than the old Escape,prolly built off Focus platform will be made. But,of course,this turd won’t harm sales of its bigger brothers. I just don’t get it!

  20. Jon M Says:

    I know it’s been said before, but if these automakers want to micro-manage their dealer network, then just take the whole operation over lock, stock, and barrel. Maybe the NADA should include in their final report on the study information showing how even the almighty manufacturers aren’t the Zeuses of consumer tastes and interests (viz. the Pontiac Aztek and Lexus HS 250 as examples). Geez, if there’s one thing I have no patience for, its control freaks who want to lord over everyone and everything!

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    It was only a matter of time before they resurrected Mao in their quest for world domination in business. All these dealers being forced to spruce up their stores is just gonna make cars even more expensive, I’d rather buy online and take delivery from a tent somewhere

  22. tj Martin Says:

    @ T Bejima – So what’s your point ? That a car bursting into flames on its own , even a week or two later isn’t the cars fault ?That the Charging Station you buy with the car bursting into flames isn’t the cars fault ?

    Then who’s fault is it ? the Keebler Elves ?

    8)

    ———

    @ LS ford

    Add to # 16 ;

    The Salesmen/women are slimes

    The Finance people are worse

    The Manager is even lower than that .

    That 9 times out of ten you walk away from a deal feeling like your very essence has been violated

  23. cwolf Says:

    @ #17 tj: I wouldn’t get too bothered by the cts mishap. Most units haven’t hit the lots, yet and dealer can fix before delivery. I agree with your taste in the new Cadillac… eligantly sharp! I wonder how much it costs? ouch!!!

  24. LS ford Says:

    @TJ

    EXACTLY! That is why the whole thing should be re-imaged. From operations to the bricks and mortar….

  25. HtG Says:

    On the NADA study. I recall reading in ‘Why We Shop’ by Paco Underhill that the appearance of stores could be calibrated to match the customers expectations. His example was of the supermarket that looked really cheap inside actually having been made deliberately to look this way so the less affluent customers would not think that they were getting ripped off by all kinds of fancy schmancy frills.

    At the other extreme, a new MB dealership is being built nearby which is just a wet dream. With a two+ story all glass showroom, held up by thin blue columns, it gives me a rush. I wonder what reactions MB is trying to elicit in their target buyer. I saw the same design done in a remodeling of another local MB dealer, and exactly the same thing at your dealer, tj, if I’m not mistaken.

    I’m now reading ‘Brandwashed’ by Martin Lindstrom. It’s like a tour of the world through the eyes of a marketer. Did you know, that among female teens and tweens the coolness of a product related directly to their perception that it is expensive?

  26. T. Bejma Says:

    #21

    Yes tj, the charging station that you buy separately from the car (the car comes with a 120V cord that you can plug into a standard outlet and it will charge just fine, albeit a bit slower) that is made not by GM, but by Siemens and is installed, not by Siemens but by your local Utility Company Employee, can cause a fire that has nothing to do with the car.

    And yes, a car that has just gone through a crash test (or real crash) can be expected to catch on fire whether it is a EREV or only an ICE car. ICE cars usually a little faster with all of that gasoline laying around, at least the volt gives the Fire Department 3 weeks to get you out… ;-)

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    tj, #8,
    Anyone who listened to you in the discussion of inline 6 vs inline 5 engines was badly misinformed, but yeah, you are right sometimes.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    For most people with Volts, or other plug-in cars, the 120 volt charging should work fine. They could fully charge the car “overnight” with the 120 volt cord.

  29. MJB Says:

    @10

    Nawwwwwww…That CAN’T be true.

    Are there really life-forces walking around on two legs out there who are THAT stupid?

    My goodness.

  30. tj Martin Says:

    @ MJB – #28 – Sorry , but its true . Sad yes . But all too true .

    ——–

    @ Kit – I refer you to ” Audi Quatro ” ; the complete story ; Laurence Meredith / Audi and the Five Cylinder Engine Decision ; the engineering report ; Georg Kacher etc etc etc

    Oh I’m right Kit . All too right . But lets take a quick second and see if in simple terms ( due to time and space ) I can explain this to you ;

    Divide an I6 dead center . What do you have ? Nothing . Dead space with two sets of three cylinders / pistons / connecting rods/valve train surrounding it , placing forces on dead center of the crank , making the crank act like a seesaw

    Do the same with an I5 . You’ve got another cylinder /piston/ connecting arm / valve train thats equal to the two on either side with dead center of the crank having equal forces placed on it as the rest of the crank .

    Thats the short explanation . Obviously if we had the space and time and I could magically send you the book and paper we could go into more details , but thats the essence of it .

    Dead center and Center of Gravity is all important . Flying R/C planes you should know that ;-)

  31. tj Martin Says:

    #25

    Oh dear me have you got it a bit wrong T

    That charging station is a proprietary device for the VOLT only that no matter who makes it or installs it is part of the VOLT package you need to buy to own one

    Do notice the warnings being given about charging your VOLT since what is the first of several incidents

    As to the crashed car T , no excuses once again . Its all about the car and its inability to stay BBQ free even after and accident . Read the report . Car gets smacked . Car sits on sidelines ( away from gasoline etc ) awaiting final evaluation . Car goes POOF !

    Just like EVERY other freaking E/V including the E/V Motorcycles being manufactured have .

    You can try to spin it like Mr Pain(e) undoubtedly would , but the facts are the facts and the facts are E/V’s are Spontaneous Combustion machines waiting to happen

  32. T. Bejma Says:

    #30

    Sorry to have to correct you with facts Mr. Martin but…

    240V Charging Station is an OPTION and not a requirement for Volt ownership…

    “Choose a standard 120V charging kit that allows you to plug into a conventional electrical outlet and fully charge the battery in about 10 hours, depending on climate. Or opt for an available 240V charging station that reduces your charging time to approximately four hours”

    from: http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car/

  33. tj Martin Says:

    Why is it that people cannot accept the simple fact that the Current wave of E/V’s are in fact in no way ready for public consumption and should in fact be limited to the manufactures test tracks until such time as they can actually prove themselves viable in day to day use – e.g. – Work ?

    Is it the newest wave of delusional thinking that technology will somehow relieve us of the mess we’re in ( in spite of the fact that it hasn’t done so , so far, this being round five in the Technology is our Savior delusion )

    Is it the Post Modern obsession with being Electric and Connected , in spite of the penalties incurred ?

    Is it peoples inability , due to the current structure of both the public schools and Higher Ed being unable to no longer convey critical thinking skills

    Is it because of all this so called Connectiveness that we’ve become divorced from seeing the consequences of our actions and decisions ?

    Is it that Post Modern ” Magical Thinking ” that has so many deluded ?

    Or is it just the current Zeitgeist of ‘ The Story is more important than the Truth ” that’s got everyone fooled ?

    How many tragedies/ accidents etc does it take to get a point across these days before the General Public will accept the truth ?

    Hmmmmn . Methinks the Weird Sisters had it right in MacBeth

    ” …… what’s fair is foul and what’s foul is fair ” in the 21st Century . Downside Up being another way to phrase it .

    Lecture over .

    Class dismissed

    Think About It 8)

  34. tj Martin Says:

    #31

    Uggh!

    Just try living with the VOLT without that so called ” Option ”

    Its an option in word only . Just like seats used to be an option ( and they were ) back in the day when you were buying a JEEP CJ

  35. tj Martin Says:

    The VOLT story in more complete form ;

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/11/chevy-volt-catches-fire-after-crash-test-investigation-under-way/#more-417782

    Pay special attention to paragraph 8 , starting ” …. There are special procedures …….. ”

    Pray , do tell me , just how many tow companies , body shops , collision centers etc do you think would have a bloody clue as to what those ” Special Procedures ” are .

    Then tell me how this Mobile BBQ issue isn’t just another in a very long string of flaws in the VOLT as well as every other E/V’s design

  36. HtG Says:

    @32 You may want to watch last night’s AAH segment with Chris Paine, tj. It’s my own bias, but one thing I heard him saying is that there is national interest in diversifying our transportation energy sources. Electric propulsion is what the govt wants, and not just our govt. It may be that we’re beta testers for the technology, but technical history shows that great challenges(like fertilizers or clean water) are often met, though we’re still waiting for fusion. I’m more optimistic than you that electric power will only advance, and that State interest will shoulder much of the load.

  37. Aliisdad Says:

    The only way dealers will “spiff” up their places is to get rid of the rude, dishonest assholes that sell their products…I have purchased three cars in the last year or so, while I love cars, I hate to deal with dealers who are dishonest and rude…They are pushy with no concern for how much that amount of money matters to people…I have had them change small numbers on contracts and actually asked me to lie on surveys…What sleezy bastards!! Instead of a fun, enjoyable purchase, a person leaves feeling insulted, worn out and ripped off.. I actually think that the dealer’s attitudes result in a lot of bad will and loss of sales (at least in my case)…It is too bad since the industry needs as much good will and sales as possible…Why don’t they change and realize that insulting and cheating customers is not the way to sell something..although they must think it is..
    By-the-way, we sold the POS Dodge..Took a loss since it was only a 2010, but it was sooo good to get rid of that rat box!! It spent most of its life in the shop, and Dodge was rude and clearly did not give a damn once they had our money!! Purchased a new 2012 Subaru that was made in Japan (not Indiana)… I will NEVER purchase an AMERICAN car again which is a real shame, but I cannot affort the poor quality and loss of time!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  38. cwolf Says:

    @tj #29: I agree,again, O/A distrbuted weight and center of gravity is most important. Just from memory,mine you,here are more considerations to ponder: 1)Your Audi reference is an example between theoretical and actual performance. 2)Angular momentum and directional forces on all of the XYZ planes have to be considered. A (+)force at some point along a given plane has to be canceled by oposite (-)force to achieve balance after all forces are combined.As a result of the firing order of an even number of cyls,the combined forces of one set of cyls should,in theory, cancel the forces of the other set. The same principle cannot be applied to an odd number unless compensated for by another out-side force. This would be my best guess. I have been incorrect before and I may be again….or maybe NOT. Fun puzzle,aye?

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    tj, #29,
    An inline six is perfectly balanced without balanced shafts, and is even firing. It’s as good as it gets for engines in a certain size range, as long as packaging constraints all it. That’s why most cars used I6′s for many years, why BMW uses them now, and why many mid-size diesels are I6′s.

    The only reason any I5′s exist is for packaging, for modularity to make multiple engine sizes with the same architecture, and just to be different. Tj, you think you know everything about everything, but you don’t .

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Inline engines with odd numbers of cylinders need a balance shaft to be balanced. An I6 does not.

    Also, the main, or only reason V6 engines exist is for easier packaging. That’s why MB started using them a few years ago, and why most 6 cylinder engines in front drive cars are V’s.

  41. W L Simpson Says:

    TJ @10 Saw the first model fwd buick treated that way at a show 15 yrs ago . Beautiful job, blew me away when I looked underneath. All show, no go.

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    #10 I have also seen FWD cars with larger wheels/tires in the rear, supposedly to take curves faster since the wider tread in the rear helps keep the car from losing traction when turning. This Volt thing is disturbing indeed, imagine having the car in a body shop or garage or even a public parking lot and the whole thing ignites burning the whole damn place down, at which point. some places may decide to keep out EV’s and specially Volts.

  43. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC reports that GM is cutting back Cruze production to keep stockpile from getting too big, seems that after both CR and JD Power reported on the less than stellar initial quality and reliability numbers for the much acclaimed Chevy, educated buyers are looking elsewhere, perhpas the much-maligned Civic is not so bad after all.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    FWD cars should handle better with bigger tires on thr front because the front tires carry about 60% of the weight, never mind the power delivery.

  45. cwolf Says:

    pedro,the slump in sales may be due to more seasonal demands than the car reports.The graph indicates about a 50k unit stock pile,which is not an unreasonable number. Remember GM may not operate during X-mass thus reducing inventory, yet ample for the small spike in demand around Feb.

  46. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf, perhaps people automatically assumed that since the Cruze was so widely praised and recommended by just about every auto media, it would also mean that the reliability and quality would be a non-issue and I just looked at JDPower and they report 2 1/2 points out of a possible 5 for initial quality in the 2011 Cruze, as low as the much maligned Cobalt, so I suppose JD Power is also as unreliable as CR

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Those sodium ion batteries sound like an interesting concept. They’d use cheaper raw materials, and wouldn’t “vent with flame” like lithium batteries can do, whether in cars, laptops, or iPhones.

    The sodium batteries would probably have lower energy density than lithium, but higher than other battery types.

  48. cwolf Says:

    pedro,anyone reading those numbers would certainly catch their attension. I value the information these reports provide, but also realize you have to take any statement with a “grain of salt” until one knows where the data was gathered and how it was used: twisting numbers type of thing to fit the need.
    Actually, I am seeing a growing number of Cruze,week by week and no dealer lot seems to have a growing abundance. These are the types of indicators that I place more importance. Ya know,overall, our cars have become so much better,the differences dividing one from the other is a somewhat moot point. Buying what pleases you can and should be the first priority whithout regrete.I think one can!

  49. tj Martin Says:

    http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/11/chevy-volt-fire-prompts-federal-investigation-into-lithium-ion-batteries/?ref=automobiles

    Nuff said . Case closed . E/V’s have a problem Houston and the automakers loath as always to fess up and are trying to put ANOTHER spin on the situation

    Seriously these GM and E/V folks in general missed out on their true calling

    POLITICs

    The VOLT from day one has had more Spin put in place that all of Herman Cain’s attempted weaseling combined

  50. XA351GT Says:

    Instead of Manufacturers hounding dealerships to upgrade their facilities they should produce a product worthy of customers driving to the dealership in the 1st place. Here’s what I believe concern car buyers most, car models on the lot that they want to buy, not feeling like they are being raped by sales people. What the dealership looks like probably is pretty low on the list. Personally i don’t care what color or tile it has. I want a greatprice on the car I want without feeling like i need a shower afterwards.

  51. pedro fernandez Says:

    #50 precisely, those fancy dealer improvements are paid for by the customer with higher transaction costs passed on to the purchase price, I don’t care if the place looks like a sleazy used car lot, just look at the overpriced Carmax!

  52. Dave Forslund Says:

    Boxes, little boxes, little boxes all in a row!

    Thank God for Steve Wade! We need to move beyond that. We tried it before and everyone made tale fins. (Lasted about 3 years)

    Not all geographic locations have the same tastes. I used to love Fords, until they placed the increased size logo in our face. What appeals to one doesn’t necessarily appeal to others.

    Dealer’s need to be creative and cater to their market, (city, country, rural, desert, mountains, etc). They will chose the attracting decor and it will fit their pocket book.

    Let the manufactures spend their money on making a competitive product. Let the dealers do the selling! It’s a marriage that works!

  53. cwolf Says:

    Ford T.V. comercial claiming the Fusion has a better resale value than rival Camry. I’m a Ford guy,yet believe the new plain-jane Camry may have the edge. If the 2012 Fusion have notable improvements then the ad may be around for another year. Wonder if the customer experience is also competitive between Ford and Toyota? I’ve had no beefs with Ford service,except for thinking the labor rates were kinda high.

  54. pedro fernandez Says:

    The next gen Fusion will have less glass and more “hunkered” down look, I am so sick of this trend, doesn’t anybody care about visibility any more? I must turning into a nagging old fool, cause I just don’t like the way car design has been going for the past few years.

  55. cwolf Says:

    GM is now thinking about tossing out the spare tire as a way to increase fuel ecomomy! Hold on….didn’t GM just report increased sales,but lower profits? Guess a can of fix-a-flat is cheaper than a jack and tire.Hmmmmm. All of their cars are about 400 lbs too heavier than the others. You mean they can’t find better ways to reduce,except for removing the spare. What’s next;replacing the emergency brake with a brick or rock?

  56. pedro fernandez Says:

    The amount of gas saved like that is tiny, what about a blow out the spray can ain’t gonna help, most people will end up buying a spare tire anyway.

  57. XA351GT Says:

    pedro @ #56 That is just another way for GM to make people keep the OnStar service after it initially expires. It would say if you have run flats installed I could see not having a spare. This however it about making more money .

  58. pedro fernandez Says:

    Run-flats are expensive and are not always the best tires you can get, I was going to remove my temp spare and the tools but I kept reading over and over again that the gas savings would be miniscule, a more relaxed and steady driving style. along with properly inflated tires and not carrying a lot of junk in the trunk is a better way to squeeze more miles out of a tankful of gas. Hey I’m getting a consistent 28/29 mgp in the old Vibrolla even with its tired 300k mile engine and archaic 3 speed tranny.

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I have a spare tire AND run-flats with my MINI. I wish they had not used the run-flats, so I’d have less road noise.

    Actually, it wouldn’t bother me to have neither run-flats nor a spare. The last time I used a spare was about 35 years ago.

  60. pedro fernandez Says:

    Gee, Kit you must be lucky cause I used to get one every couple of months, till construction went kaputz and I ran out of nails and screws to drive over.(I used to go to a lot of active constructions sites} So I would pick up by fair share of flats.

  61. HtG Says:

    @59 35 years since you used a spare, Kit? My chin drops in your honor. Do you mean to say that you have not had a flat on the road in all that time?

    I do wonder if one reason spares are less necessary these days is that mandatory wireless tire pressure monitors cue drivers to fill up, thus lowering under-inflation as one source of flats.

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve had two or three slow leaks, but I was able to drive to get them fixed without using the spare. Yes, I’m sure I have been very lucky.

  63. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    >> Book recommend

    ” The Limit ” by Cannell

    Phil Hill
    1961 F1 Season
    Ferrari
    Written by an author , not a statistician

    What’s not to love ?

    Buy a copy

  64. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just took Vibrolla for oil change/tire rotation, so fed up with every single tire or repair place I go to giving me a 5 ft long things that my can needs: Alignment (done 4 mos ago) Brakes (ditto) transmission,radiator, brake, and power steering fluid change, serpentine belt replacement, air and gas filter, tune-up and new wipers total cost just under a grand, value of Vibrolla: just under a grand! I told the guy, thanks, but I know where my nearest Toyota dealer is at when it’s time for retirement.

  65. Brett Says:

    I agree with tj. EVs shouldn’t be available until they’re without flaw and are as cheap as IC vehicles. They did it with IC vehicles and aircraft, right? Why shouldn’t the development arc of EVs be any different? Oh, wait…