Episode 776 – NHTSA’s EV Safety Protocols, ‘Yenzilla’ Hammering Japanese OEMs, Mazda i-ELOOP

November 29th, 2011 at 11:30am

Runtime: 7:37

General Motors is in full-blown damage control over reports that the batteries in the Chevy Volt caught fire after a crash test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Japanese automakers are getting hammered by the strength of the yen, and things could get a lot worse.  Mazda just introduced a new regenerative braking system called i-ELOOP.  All that and more, plus John reviews the movie “Revenge of the Electric Car.”

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 29, 2011. And now, the news.

General Motors is in full-blown damage control over reports that the batteries in the Chevy Volt caught fire after a crash test by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. GM says it had not finalized its protocols for handling batteries after a crash, which involves sucking all the electricity out of the batteries with a load cell. It’s like hooking up a giant light bulb to drain the battery. But did NHTSA follow any safety protocols following the crash tests? NHTSA will not say. Not draining the battery is the equivalent of not doing anything about a leaking gas tank after a crash test. Why will NHTSA not say if it followed safety protocols? I think there’s more to this story than has come out so far. When NHTSA starts talking, we’ll be the first to let you know.

YENZILLA (subscription required)
As we’ve been reporting here all year, Japanese automakers are getting hammered by the strength of the yen. But it could get a lot worse. Ward’s reports that the currency could hit 60 yen to the dollar, compared to 77 yen today. That would make Japanese factory workers more expensive than the Germans, and deal a crippling blow to the Japanese industry.

Speaking of Toyota, it will unveil a concept car at the Tokyo Motor Show this week called the Fun-Vii. The company says it hints at a not-too-distant future where people, cars and society are linked together. The Fun-Vii is all about personalization. Its interior and exterior surfaces are display screens that can be customized to show images or even messages. Stay tuned for more details on this futuristic concept.

Mazda is one of the few automakers shying away from hybrid and EV technology. Instead it’s focused on improving gas and diesel engines. Earlier this year the company introduced a family of efficient engines and transmissions it calls SKYACTIV technology. Now the company just introduced a new regenerative braking system called i-ELOOP, yep, that’s its name, which uses a capacitor to store energy from braking instead of a battery – a first in the industry. Capacitors can be charged and discharged faster than a battery and don’t deteriorate after prolonged use. Mazda says the system will appear next year and can improve fuel economy by 10 percent.

And speaking of Mazda and strange names, the company just introduced a new minivan called the Biante GRANZ, which will make its debut later in the week at the Tokyo Motor Show.

While there are some fascinating unveils taking place at the Tokyo show, the show is a shadow of its former self. Once one of the hottest auto shows in the world, it’s largely been eclipsed by other shows, especially in China. While the devastating effects of the tsunami and overvalued yen have played a role, I believe the real cause in the decline of the show relates to Japan’s trade policies. It has successfully blocked mass-market automakers from getting established there. Even though Japan is the third-largest auto market in the world, not one foreign automaker makes cars there. And so, if you can’t sell cars in Japan, why exhibit at the Tokyo auto show?

Should you go see the movie “Revenge of the Electric Car?” I’ll give you my take on the movie, right after this.

We usually don’t do movie reviews on Autoline Daily, but if it’s about an automotive topic, we’ll make an exception. So, is it worth going to see the movie “Revenge of the Electric Car?” In a word, yes.

A few years ago the director, Chris Paine, made a movie called “Who Killed The Electric Car?” It was a highly polemic diatribe against General Motors for pulling the plug on the EV1. This time around Chris Paine decided to focus on four men who he sees as the protagonists in the effort to bring electric cars into mass production. His heroes are Bob Lutz, then at General Motors, Carlos Ghosn at Nissan, Elon Musk at Tesla, and a guy named Gadget, kind of a backyard mechanic who is a neighbor of Chris Paine’s and converts semi-classic used cars into electrics.

The movie tracks their trials and tribulations, their setbacks and their triumphs, as they overcome hurdle after hurdle to get their cars into production. Chris Paine was granted exceptional access deep inside GM throughout the product development process of the Volt, and it’s fascinating to ride along with him as the story unfolds. In fact, he becomes such a cheerleader for Lutz and the Volt that you almost start to wonder if they bought him off.

But like many critics who think they know everything that’s wrong with the auto industry even though their knowledge is very shallow, I think Chris Paine learned a lot in making his second movie. And I think just about any automotive enthusiast will find it worth watching.

My only criticism is that the movie’s end is all butterflies and bunny rabbits. It makes you think that everyone will now run out and buy an electric car. That remains to be seen, and I remain a skeptic. But the movie is still worth seeing.

I invite you to join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, for Autoline After Hours on Thursday night. We’ll be exploring the engineering and design culture in Detroit. Is it alive and well, or are the Big Three choking it off? This is going to be a great discussion so make sure you don’t miss it.

And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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


80 Comments to “Episode 776 – NHTSA’s EV Safety Protocols, ‘Yenzilla’ Hammering Japanese OEMs, Mazda i-ELOOP”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    A lot of insightful interjections today, John; and I agree with all of them, i.e. NHTSA, isolationist Japan and your movie review.

  2. Tony Gray Says:

    Japan’s economic woes have been going on for so long that it seems “normal”. Amazing how a culture so proud of being analytical and cutting edge can’t find its way out of that hole it finds itself in.

    While I have an Economics Degree, that was 30 years ago and I never worked in the field. However what I keep seeing with fiscal and monetary policies AROUND the globe, gives me pause…no great concern about the future. There are too many people around the world in charge of the pursestrings that have no concept or concern about the consequences of such bad economic behavior.

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    Will they be adding an epilogue to that movie, showing the Volt battery catching fire? I bet not. If the Chinese did not force foreign brands from joining a Chinese company in order to make and sell cars there, would they also not be isolationists?

  4. HtG Says:

    Here’s my autoline take on how Krautzilla is going to war with Mothra. Angel(she ain’t)a Merkel is trying to scare the cookies out of Hedgefund man so he’ll run to the Yen for safety. This drives up the yen, thus decimating their industrial base. OK, maybe my knowledge of axial relations is a little superficial.

  5. HtG Says:

    While I’m drinking my martinis, how about I suggest NHTSA is keeping quiet about draining the Volt battery because they did? That would be bad. OK, flame away GM pr.

  6. MJB Says:

    Waiting for the ‘distracted driver’ posts to start rolling in on the Toyota Fun Vii concept.


  7. LS ford Says:

    @ John. thanks for the heads up on the video quality. Working well today!!

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    #6 Yeah, if you want to stay home and play games or go online you got plenty of choices, otherwise if you need to get somewhere in one piece and not send anyone to the hospital, or the morgue, then just drive, thank you! #5 NHTSA and GM are both govt entities now!

  9. tj Martin Says:

    @ Chuck Grenci & Johnny Mac

    RE; E/V Batteries and the VOLT

    Don’t go trying to place the blame for the VOLT’s spontaneous combustion woes on the NHTSA. Don’t you dare !!!

    The simple reality , as I’ve stated multiple times is that Li batteries are NOT suited to automotive usage ,what with extremes of temperature variations , vibrations , moisture and humidity .

    And the simple fact is that EVERY E/V vehicle in production and/or prototype using Li’s has experienced the same if not worse problems ( TESLA’s being the worst ) with fires of one sort or another . Worst of all John . I know you know this as well if not better than I do !

    Even more telling though is that again : EACH AND EVERY Engineer , Scientist etc Worldwide came out five years ago holding up the Yellow Flag , WARNING the Auto Industry that Li’s are not suitable for auto’s M/C’s etc . Heck even the computer industry sent up the same Red Flags ( which makes Elon Musk and TESLA look all the more foolish )

    But … as always the Idiot Bean Counters and ( blinded by ) Greenies overwhelmed common sense and scientific fact and went ahead anyway , using the very battery configuration ( Li’s ) that the GENUINE experts warned them not to .

    Moving forward with an unproven technology with no knowledge of the potential consequences is Ignorance

    Doing so having been fully and dully warned is Blatant Stupidity .

    Chalk one up for stupidity with all the E/V auto manufactures

  10. tj Martin Says:

    @ MJB

    Thpppppppt :o

  11. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG


    Nahhhhh. Angie’s hoping Marchionne will fall on his face ( which we know is a given ) and Kaiser Winterkorn can scoop up FIAT for pennies on the € , making VW the largest manufacture in the World , bar none , and then let the Blitzkrieg begin , assuming of course that can all happen BEFORE all of the realities of Germany’s woes come to the surface :-)

  12. LS ford Says:

    @#6 MJB and #10 TJ

    Does it count as distracted driving, if you are distracting other drivers? When I paint my 1984 camaro bright orange, I can beat everyone off the line….never sure if they are blinded or laughing….?

  13. HtG Says:

    MJB und tj. Some weeks ago, Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia high honcho and car guy, called automobiles the ultimate mobile device. His company makes the chips that will distract little Hiroko at the same time as the car drives itself. Mmmmm, tastes funny.

  14. tj Martin Says:



  15. tj Martin Says:

    @ LS ford


    Too funny . And no that doesn’t count .. But bright orange ? Really ? On a Camaro ? With a name like LS ford ???? ( jes funnin ya ;-) )

  16. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Nvidia is Evil Incarnate

    Either that or they’re on board with the Chinese population control edicts ;

    Hiroko drives car

    Hiroko turns on multiple Nvidia made , distracting , electronic entertainment devices

    Hiroko goes SPLAT

    Hiroko’s parents now have one less mouth to feed

    Job well done

  17. MJB Says:

    To loosely borrow a line from the 1993 hit Jurassic Park, just because they CAN doesn’t mean they SHOULD.

    TV Cameras, GPSs, infotainment systems and the like are one thing. But what Toyota is proposing with this Fun Vii is nothing short of a freaking disco tech on wheels. Why does anyone need to be that entertained while going from point A to point B?

    What happened to just enjoying the ride? The scenery? The sheer joy of travel for travel’s sake…

    Just saying…

  18. LS ford Says:

    TJ – I can’t picture me in the car without my mullet and flames going up the hood.

    But seriously, people will stop and read and look at the car. The pedestrians will get run over while trying to read someones car graphics…like the guy with the cell phone in the clip…

  19. LS ford Says:

    @#17 to add to that point

    One of my “fun” cars has a crappy radio that barely works. I love to drive, hear the engine and I have no need for radio, infotainment, or even cell phone calls. I will tell the wife, I am going out for a ride, and be back in two hours. Won’t even pick up a call while enjoying my drive.

  20. HtG Says:

    14 MJB Here’s how I enjoyed a ride yesterday. I “had to” go to the optician emporium at lunch. On the way back there’s an on ramp from 287 to the Hutch which is a downhill 270 degree riot. But a Honda POS Crosstour filled to the nostrils with strawberries(I do not kid) pulled ahead of me to beat me to the ramp. Shockingly, turning his steering wheel also made the driver decelerate to douchebag speed(watched Anne Coulter this morning, sorry John). I almost took him on the inside, but saw throug the red mist. No more mister nice guy.

    What’s that about enjoying one’s drive?

  21. HtG Says:

    17 MJB, sorry

  22. RS Says:

    Mazda’s use of capacitors is the most exciting part of today’s news.

    Since battery technology has remained essentially the same since the eighteenth century, I believe there is very little likelihood that a breakthrough is immenent.

    Since reading about the possible application of capacitors as motive power for autos, it seems to me that there is cause for considerable optimism here.

    I would have expected Honda or BMW to have pioneered this type of technology – but kudos to Mazda. May they succeed in spades!

  23. tj Martin Says:

    F1 NEWS

    Raikkonen’s back ( to Renault/Lotus )

    Hopefully that means Petrovich is gone ( fact is Kubica’s never coming back ) and Senna keeps the other seat .



    So is i-ELOOP in any way related to Umpa Lumpa’s cause its sure sounding a whole lot like Willy Wonka technology to me .

    COMPLICATED being the main issue . Any bets this never makes it past the first year ?

    ( @ RS – which is why Honda , BMW , Mercedes et al wouldn’t touch this with a ten foot pole or a twelve foot Russian )


    @ HtG


    You live in greater NYC , so what do you expect ? A drive in the park on a daily basis ? You choses ta lives there , ya deals with the cards yer dealt . If you get my drift .

    BTW what’s with this new Hot dog joint Bourdain was promoting last night on his new show ? Don’t tell me Papaya King has been usurped !

  24. David Sprowl Says:

    Wonder if Chevy will have a fire sale on volts? Get one today..I hear they are hot!

  25. tj Martin Says:

    # 24

    +1 X 10

  26. Ed Says:

    “gm had not finalized their protocol for draining the battery” but they have finalized the one for already selling the car. Regardless of what the nhtsb did or did not do, a problem has show up, proving the reason for nhtsb testing. The test took place after these vehicles have been sold to the general public. Does this mean in the event of a bad wreck , first responders should wait and drain the battery’s before approaching the victims, let’s hope they don’t hit or get hit by a fuel tanker. . . Oops I guess we’re not supposed to hypothesize about such things, bad for business,

  27. HtG Says:

    23 tj. What I’m wondering is how long I’m going to care about cars. Driving is getting ever worse, with mobile devices, police cameras, and ever more obnoxious drivers in ever more powerful cars. Two examples from last Friday, same driver. Again, southbound on the Hutch: a Honda Civic(newish) driver approached a merge as another car attempted to enter traffic from a gas station in the median. I watched the whole thing develop, as this chick just wouldn’t let the guy enter traffic. I swear, she nearly ran him off the road. Two miles down the road, she’s behind me, and I notice in my mirror that her passenger is looking down at his device, while SHE IS TALKING ON THE PHONE. WTFF?

    And so it goes. Yesterday, I merged from the right into an empty lane, but as I did, I saw an E-Class Benz zooming up at about 80mph, trying to intimidate me into letting him pass. No Dice, Dirk. And then I watched him darting through heavy traffic like some video game troglodyte. In an E-Class.

    And so it goes.

  28. Chuck Grenci Says:

    While the battery problems, of high potential energy discharge, is a newer problem of automobiles, and just because an auto with nickel metal hydride batteries hasn’t been involved with similar events (yet), there are universal dangers with vehicles and their propulsion systems: gasoline, cng, propane, probably even diesel; I’m just trying not to get so blown out of shape due to the recent finding with the Volt. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath-water…..as it were.

  29. Drew Says:

    First, perhaps NHTSA is quiet about the Volt because they are in a political squeeze. The big O wants over 50 MPG from the fleet, yet the only way to get there is through a big mix of electrified vehicles. But government careers are lost when staffers try to educate politicians about technical challenges.

    Second, electrified vehicles are different than gas-powered vehicles, so there is a learning curve on how to handle them. Let’s hope GM hasn’t stained another new powertrain technology like they stained diesel cars and cylinder deactivation in the early 1980s.

  30. Lex Says:

    @HtG #27, I agree with you. If you think the Hutch is bad go and down the up the Merritt either in the morning or evening during rush hour. If you are not 15 miles over the speed limit you better be in the right lane.

    What is Mazda – Skyactive technology anyway?
    Is it another name for Ford Eco-Boost?

    China is heading for a real wreck in the not to distance future with increasing labor costs, aging population and far too much manufactoring capacity. The Domestic OEM’s better start investing their money / profits in North America. The Next Time there is a down turn in the economy Uncle Sam will not be able to save them.

  31. alan Says:


  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    Here in So Fl we got the bimbos with the boobs in the topless Bimmers further adding to the distractions.

  33. HtG Says:

    31 We got that, Pedro. Some weeks ago, I’m in the Miata when a black haired beauty in a topless Bimmer stops behind me. Very nice, my age, so I look a bit in the mirror. But then I hear the music she’s blasting. Some rap stuff, with a chorus of ‘mutherfucker mutherfucker’. I do not kid. Do you know what hate sex is, Pedro?

  34. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    re; Caring about cars

    Unfortunately I know just what you mean . A revelatory moment for me was last year , after the second ( urp ) blizzard here , when again after 6″ or more of snow the entirety of KC was closed down and as is my want , i broke about the X Country Skis and Skied all of downtown for hours on end

    Peace and quiet . No cars , buses , trucks , cabs , motorcycles …. nada . Just me , a foot of snow and the ability to enjoy the architecture undisturbed .

    When I got back my comment to the Mrs was ” if thats what a World without cars and mechanized mayhem looks like SIGN ME UP ”

    Luckily the Benz has somewhat , but not really , revived my enjoyment of cars . What I mean is that I’m finally enjoying driving again , albeit non aggressively ( raced it twice and thats been it ) puttering about at the Speed Limit ( yes thats me talking ) and appreciating the quasi isolation of the car , with what ever music I’m wanting in the background on a mighty fine system I might add

    But … even with the Benz in the garage , given a choice of A) keeping the GLK and all cars Trucks M/C’s etc or B) doing away with the whole lot ….

    Well………. I’ll take B please . Seriously .

  35. tj Martin Says:


    What is Skyactive ?

    Methinks its along the lines of the old Boy Scout gag of sending the tenderfoot off in search of the non existent Left Handed Smoke Shifter or Sky Hook .

    e.g. Its a made up term to make one believe there’s something there that in fact is not

    e.g. The automotive equivalent of ” The Emperors New Cloths “

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    #32 Yes I do, Where do you suppose the song “Bang a’ Gong” came from? After the band you hit over the head with a gong. Herman Cain should have practiced that!

  37. tj Martin Says:


    We get all the noise and the foul language here in KC … but Minus the bombshell in the topless whatever .

    9 times out of ten its some over weight Suburban/Urban Johnson County ( KS ) pretentious white boy/girl , in TJ Max fashions , trying with all his/her might to prove themselves Urban Hipsters

    e.g. All the horror with none of the hotty looks

    Yeeeech ! :(

    FYI; Thats no exaggeration by the way .

  38. tj Martin Says:

    @ pedro

    Errrrr pedro … ” Bang a Gong ‘ by T-Rex was actually influenced by …….. ahem ………….. how does one say this within the limits of Ben’s reasonable tastes ……….. ahhhhh………. .the wished for culmination of bedroom activities and the noises made thereof . Ahem .

  39. pedro fernandez Says:

    Oops my bad, I thought it meant you bang and then bong in the head, oh well, what do you expect from a Cuban fugee driving a 14 yr old corrrrola?

  40. tj Martin Says:

    Uh Ohhhhhh !!!!

    Just when we thought things were (re)VOLT(ing) enough from GM , the rumor comes from up on high that the CadiVOLT with RWD is on the ( pun intended ) BURNER from the Whizz Kids in Detroit .

    Just what the World needs . All the horrendous and lousy reliability of Cadillac , in combination with the Spontaneous Combustion Antics of the VOLT …… at a very exclusive (read expensive ) price of course … being a ( hack ) Cadillac


    #38- No worries . That was a pretty obscure song .

  41. LS ford Says:

    I am loving the dialogue in here today!!!

    :) Hahaha….

  42. pedro fernandez Says:

    Are you kidding, I used to hear that song all the time growing up and always assumed banging was involved, the singer was a good looking dude, after all and you know rockers get it all the time no matter what they look like, (Stones, Alice Cooper)

  43. pedro fernandez Says:

    Did you read about the I phone battery that caught fire aboard some plane? Driving a Volt and using your I-phone a “match” made in Dante’s inferno.

  44. tj Martin Says:

    It just hit me today .

    I’ve been ranting about the Mobile BBQ’s , E/V’s , Hybrids and Distracting In Car entertainment a lot of late as if it were a negative .

    But an epiphany just struck me .

    In reality its all a tactic to accelerate the Evolutionary Process of Human Kind in a positive way

    Think about it . Those who’ve evolved beyond the need for Entertainment Addiction and Early Adapter behavior will avoid this stuff like the plague , surviving to pass on our Genes to the next Generation , thereby eliminating the need to feed Entertainment Addiction and technological early adapters as the Gene pools for those traits dies off

    Whereas all those early adapters will go up in flames as well as the Entertainment Addicted go crashing into walls , leaving their Gene Pool in the grave , not passing them on

    Survival of the Fittest at its Finest

    Sure there’ll be some collateral damage , but the end result will be ;

    Nerds Lose

    The rest of us win

    So by all means GM TESLA GARMIN Nvidia etc … keep on building them

    Cause in the end …… we’ll win ;-)

    Hee hee !

    @ pedro – See ? We win mi amigo ! In the end we win

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    Herman Cain today promised a chicken in every pot and a mistress in every marriage.

  46. tj Martin Says:


    Sex baby … sex . That was Mark Bolan and T-Rex through and through . Pure , unadulterated Sex Drugs and R&R baby . Any wonder the man died so young ?

    Why no there is not .

    @ LS ford – Hope you enjoyed reading #43 as much as I did writing it . In a minor fit of absurdity .

  47. tj Martin Says:


    I’ll take two please , young ( 18-25 ) and drop dead , needs no makeup gorgeous .

    Heck … if you’re gonna screw up a marriage you might as well do it right I say !


  48. steve Says:

    @26 – GM took care to train first responders on the proper protocol to handle wrecks involving Volts. A more immediate danger to them and passengers in the event of a wreck is the extremely high voltages and currents. First responders cutting through a high voltage/current cable with the jaws of life, or any other similar operation they routinely do with a gas powered vehicle is not routine on a Volt.

  49. tj Martin Says:

    ” …. get it on …. bang a gong …. get it on ” bada bada ……. bada.. bada

    Rock On Dudes !


    ( now where did I leave that Schoenberg influenced composition i was working on ? )

  50. tj Martin Says:

    # 47

    From all reports GM HASN’T even trained their Chevy Dealer mechanics on how to deal with the VOLT in case of a crash , never mind an entire nations worth of First Responders and Tow companies

    Wherever you got that tid bit from , its pure GM propaganda , plain and simple .

  51. tj Martin Says:


    And thus Pedro you have the foible of Li Batteries in any device , never mind a bleeding car !

    FYI Apple was one of the first to give warning , first to al their owners about the possibilities of Li battery fires and how to prevent them , as well as what to do if it happens ….

    And second , to the Automotive Whizz Kids who were then first considering using Li’s in cars

  52. pedro fernandez Says:

    How long before we read about someone getting electrocuted by a Volt or Leaf, as the result of an accident? What about driving through a flooded street? you can electrocute the passengers or any one walking outside who touches said water.

  53. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC reports that the upcoming $32k Prius plug in is giving GM the jitters and now with the fire issue, I’d be curious to see if the same will happen to the Prius?

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Does Mazda have to pay Apple for the use of the term i-ELOOP ?

    There is no comparison in the fire hazard of lithium ion batteries compared to nickel metal hydride batteries. The lithium variety will “vent with flame” if punctured, and if seriously overcharged. Nickel metal hydrides won’t burn, even if you build a fire under them. Of course, there are special shock hazards from the high voltage with any battery of 200+ volts, and shorting any battery can cause problems.

    The plug-in Prius will have lithium batteries, so I would expect it to have more “issues” with fire than a regular Prius with the nickel metal hydride battery. The battery in the PIP won’t be as big as the one in a Volt, but it will be a lot bigger than the one in an iPod Touch, or a laptop.

  55. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It is much more difficult to be electrocuted with DC from a battery, than 60 Hz AC, but the high voltage from EV batteries could still be an electric shock hazard. It would be hard to imagine the circumstances where you would even get shocked from the battery if in the car, but working on it, or dealing with a crash could be different.

  56. cwolf Says:

    I think it wise of Mazda to focus on gas and diesels, rather than on EV’s. Also hope their Skyactiv system is a success,yet buyers should wait awhile until longer term data is had. The higher compression ratios combined with efforts to reduce engine weight is my immediate concern. Toughness,strength and durability of the metals said to be used will be a critical component. For now,we can only wait and see if this is to be a winner. The i-ELOOP breaking system gets my nod of approval. The name sounds more complex than the actual capacitor system really is. For practical purposes, I would prefer this over any start/stop set-up. I think tj said it would’nt last a year and maybe he is right. But thats the beauty of it! If for some reason it is not accepted,it would take little time and effort to remove the system off the assembly line. Here is my bottom line; I believe Mazda’s focus is in the right direction and their attempts to eek out extra mpg’s at little expense just may prove to be a winner.

  57. tj Martin Says:

    Lithium batteries can catch fire when

    charged in a non vented area
    subjected to heat over 99 degrees F
    subjected to cold below 19 degrees
    when casing is compromised e.g. accident or puncture
    placed too near another heat source ( TESLA’s problem )
    improperly charged

    etc etc etc

    But hey . At least E/V’s like the VOLT and now Plug In Hybrids like the new Prius give you choices

    You can either be ;

    Chemically burned
    Poisoned ( due to the fumes from both the Li batteries and the rare earth minerals in the electric motor )

    FYI Kit . Toss a Nickel battery into a flame ( but please do it outside ) and then come back and enlighten us as to how Nickel batteries are safe from fire

    Better yet though ( and a heck of a lot safe ) Read the warnings on the side of a Nickel battery package .

    Suffice it to say you aint nearly as safe as some might have you believe there site mate ;-)

  58. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    If Mazda would drop all the pretentious monikers and just state what it is they’re doing to up their mileage I’d have no problems with them trying something different

    But when a company needs to create FAKE words in order to get my attention ?

    Well lets just say I think they’re trying to feed us a load of cow dung wrapped in a fancy package

  59. cwolf Says:

    Cooper Tire,Findlay,Oh.,plant has hit a logger-head with its union in negotiations. Not willing to extend talks beyond 30 days,the company has locked out its workers and has brought in a scab work force. Forget about any thoughts of unions for a moment. These untrained workers are making tires that you or I might purchase! Back when I was in quality control,I spent many months at Cooper and became familiar with the process. Believe you me,a person hired off the street is NOT going to produce a good tire reguardless of any quality standards! Between Cooper hiring scabs to make their tires and a Chinese brand,I’d have to flip a coin to determine which one is worse.

  60. GPL Says:

    #46 Depending on how old he is, that might have been Robert Palmer/Power Station he was hearing rather than T-Rex.

  61. cwolf Says:

    @ tj Martin

    I feel the same way. Making the breaking system sound Hi-Tech is not needed. I think stating the simplicity of a new idea could be more attractive to a buyer. But Mazda’s high compression engines,though not a new discovery,is something that has been untried and only so due to new materials. I have the attitude that I would’nt mind having one,BUT,you try it first!

  62. pedro fernandez Says:

    #59 Look out Mexico, here comes Cooper Tires, no unions, no strikes, no problemo.

  63. HtG Says:

    61 keep in mind that SkyActive is a catch all term for a focus on efficiency. Whether it’s the motor or lightweighting the car, Mazda is taking its own path. I think the high compression in the cylinders is not stand alone; they are using direct injection to cool the fuel mixture and control the explosion, are somehow cooling the exhaust so less heat flows back to the combustion chamber, and of course using software to manage the motor. Last year, a product specialist at the Auto show confessed to me s/he couldn’t explain SkyActive.

    So let’s wait for tj to try it.

  64. Kit Gerhart Says:

    fyi, tj
    If you toss an undamaged nickel metal hydride battery into a fire, it will explode due to pressure buildup in the same way an aerosol can explodes when thrown in a fire. It will not burn. If you toss a physically damaged ni-m-h battery in a fire, it will just emit nasty smoke and fumes.

  65. cwolf Says:

    @62 Maybe this senario will be used by the republicans to deal with the illegal immigration issue! But then again,maybe all those Cooper scabs will have to move back home. Buttttt… most will prolly stay for the free education for their dozen bambinos,free medical and free college(in some states).Heck,don’t forget the food stamps! Just don’t forget about that Sheriff Bufford looking for you!!

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Mazda is using the SkyActive and e whatever momikers because “ecoboost” has worked so well for Ford.

  67. cwolf Says:

    Just remember,Kit, Mazda is no Ford! As you stated, the Skyactiv system is a complexity of systems. If it fails for any reason,Mazda may not recover,esp if the service techs are not trained.

  68. pedro fernandez Says:

    I read that Skyactive is only available on top tier models, NOT the base ones. For some weird reason, I barely see any Mazda 2′s on the road, I happen to think it’s a cool little hatch! #65 Cain wants to deport all illegals, as long as they’re not someone’s mistress.

  69. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Especially if they are HIS mistress, he doesn’t want them deported.

  70. HtG Says:

    ‘Mistress. Are you defining mistress as a female? OK. Are you defining mistress as a female who you boink? OK. Just so we’re talking about the same thing. So you’re asking me to answer the question, an interrogative, whether I had a consensual intimate relationship…. Wait let’s go back. Consensual is very subjective, so bear with me here. I don’t want to be put in a position where I am denying anything that hasn’t been stated. Do you want extra toppings with that?

  71. HtG Says:


  72. pedro fernandez Says:


  73. Kit Gerhart Says:

    According to the Mazda web site, the base Mazda 3 five-door, with an MSRP of 18,950 has Skyactive, but the bottom two sedan trim levels do not. You have to get the “Touring” sedan at 18,450 to get Skyactive. It only gains you 7 hp, but has a 6 mpg higher highway mpg rating. That could be due to the 6-speed, rather than 5-speed transmission, more than the direct injection engine.

  74. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG


    Brilliant !

    OK ;-)


    Oh and for those poking in at this early hour ol Tj has a revelation for you about iLoop . Innovative my posterior !


    @ Kit – Oh yes they’ll ( Nickel batteries ) initially explode ( which in and of itself is a very bad thing , think about where those batteries are in most Hybrids . OUCH ! ) And then ……… oh yes my friend into flames they will go . Either take my word for it or safely try it yourself … but I wouldn’t

    And ahhhhh …… looked into those fumes from a burning Li as well as those rare earth bits in E/V and Hybrid motors ?

    Does the word TOXIC mean anything to you ? I’m guessing it does .

  75. tj Martin Says:

    @ GPL


    Huh ?

    T- Rex baby from day one . Bought the bloody album the day it came out . Fact is Mark Bolan made the likes of Robert Palmer , Mick Jagger and Keith Richards combined look like a bunch of light in the loafers choir boys in comparison , if you get my drift


  76. tj Martin Says:

    # 73

    Looking at the Mazda spec sheets I’d say your guess ( the gains coming from the tranny not the engine ) are spot on the mark

    Which only serves to reinforce my suspicions that Mazda is in fact trying to pull the wool over our eyes with their Skyhook(active) hoo haa

    Ah the memories of Boy Scout jamborees , Left Handed Smoke Shifters , Skyhooks , Snipe hunting coming back to mind . Those were the days ( not really but it fits the post too well to leave out )

  77. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Actually, I used a bad example of nickel metal hydride batteries exploding like aerosol cans. It wouldn’t be nearly that violent, because batteries have designed-in membranes that allow them to vent at fairly low pressure if they got very hot, normally from overcharging. Yes, in the unlikely event that my car catches fire, most likely from gasoline, I don’t want to breathe the smoke, whether from the batteries or something else.

  78. GPL Says:

    tj, I was just referring to pedro saying he used to hear that song frequently, and depending on his age it may have been Power Station he was hearing not T-Rex, as Get It On (Bang A Gong) was something of a hit for Power Station and got a considerable amount of radio play at the time. I was not comparing Robert Palmer (or anyone else) to Mark Bolan.

  79. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems that the gains from using gas direct injection are not equal, or even close, from one car company to another. Based on EPA numbers, the gains shown by Hyundai and Mazda are modest, but in the case of the M-B E350, they are impressive. The 2011 E350 had ratings of a not-so-good 17-24. The 2012, with the addition of direct injection as the only obvious change, has ratings of 20-30, pretty good for a 300 hp car weighing 4000 pounds.

  80. HtG Says: