Episode 782 – GM’s PR Disaster, Chinese Prefer Foreign Brands, Dodge Dart Makes Comeback

December 7th, 2011 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 8:54

The Chevrolet Volt seems to be getting slammed by everyone right now and it looks like GM has a full-blown public-relations disaster on its hands. Chinese consumers prefer foreign car brands, due to big gaps in quality and reliability with the homegrown ones. Dodge is bringing back the Dart name for its new replacement for the Caliber. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in the “You Said It!” segment.

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This is Autoline Daily for December 7th, a day that still lives in infamy. And now let’s get to what’s happening in the global automotive industry.

The Chevrolet Volt seems to be getting slammed by everyone right now. A report released by CNW Research shows buyer consideration for the car plummeting. With the recent media firestorm it’s not hard to see why. Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood said he believes the car is safe, but the U.S. House of Representatives will hold public hearings next month on battery fires related to crash tests with the car. Conservative commentators are excoriating the Volt because they hate anything to do with “Government Motors.” And just to rub salt in the wound, Nissan announced it’s expanding availability of the LEAF, pushing it into seven new markets. Looks like General Motors has a full-blown public-relations disaster on its hands.

Speaking of General Motors, it’s going to be getting rid of a lot of white-collar workers. The Detroit News reports the company is already cutting workers in engineering, product development and administration. It cites GM CEO Dan Akerson saying they have 7,000 more people doing the same amount of work as their competitors. Here’s my Autoline Insight. GM is likely to cut far more of its American, European and Australian technical staffs than any others. As the company relies more and more on its low-cost operations in Korea, China and Brazil, its traditional engineering centers are going to bear the brunt of these cuts.

CHINESE PREFER FOREIGN BRANDS (subscription required)
China’s auto industry is growing by leaps and bounds, but Chinese consumers much prefer foreign brands, due to big gaps in quality and reliability with the homegrown ones. The domestic Chinese brands can’t invest as much money in their products because they don’t have the resources. Ward’s reports an estimated 30 percent of passenger sales will go to domestic brands this year, a 2 percent drop compared to last year.

GEELY SET TO ENTER U.K. MARKET (subscription required)
Since the Chinese aren’t as interested in buying Chinese brands, maybe foreigners will be interested in buying Chinese cars from Chinese brands. Chinese automaker Geely is set to enter the U.K. market by the end of next year, with the Chinese-built Emgrand EC7 sedan. You might remember a few weeks back we reported this Chinese car received a four-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests. The car will cost just over $15,000 and comes with a five-year, 100,000 mile warranty.

So what do you think emits fewer emissions, a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor, a Fiat 500 or a leaf blower? To find out, the folks at Edmunds Inside Line tested them at an emissions lab. The Raptor is equipped with a 6.2-liter V-8, and the Fiat 500 is powered by a 1.4-liter four-cylinder. They were tested against a handheld four-stroke leaf blower and a two-stroke backpack blower. The vehicle tests simulate 11 miles of driving over 30 minutes. So who won? The Ford Raptor! It was far cleaner than the Fiat. And both of them were much cleaner than the leaf blowers. In fact, even when the leaf blowers were tested at idle they emitted more emissions than the vehicles.

Dodge is teasing us with its new-from-the-ground-up replacement for the Caliber, and its digging up an old name from the past, the Dodge Dart. This 2013 C-segment model is built on a modified version of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta. The car gets a new lineup of engines including a 1.4-liter MultiAir turbo as well as a couple of Chrysler’s “Tigershark” four-cylinders. Three transmissions will be offered. We can assume that means manual, automatic and dual-clutch. Like the Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Focus, the Dodge Dart will be built in the good ole’ U.S. of A at Chrysler’s Belvidere, Illinois plant.

Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!

And now it’s time for some of your feedback.

LS Ford heard me reporting on a survey that says fewer teenagers are getting their driver’s licenses because they can get together with their friends via social media so they don’t need cars. He says, “John, I think you missed on this one. Is the effect of the economic downturn affecting that poll? IE, parents cannot afford a car for their teenager, so there is no need to get a permit to drive. I think it’s more than Facebook that is hurting this market.”

LS, that is very good insight. And I would add that it’s harder for teenagers to get a job these days. So they don’t need a car to get to work, and because they don’t have a job, they can’t afford a car.

XA351GT saw our report on the massive sales surge last month for the Jeep Compass, and wonders what’s behind the numbers. “So John, for the Jeep Compass to be up 847% over the previous month does that mean they sold 1 in Oct and 847 in Nov? They must be giving them away somewhere because I never see any here where I am. I’d like to know the sales for both months, because I bet totaled it’s not as impressive as it sounds. I hope I’m wrong, but I’d like to see those numbers.”

XA, from October to November, sales of the Compass are down 14 percent. But I wouldn’t read too much into that just yet. For the 11 months of the year, sales of the Compass are up 180 percent. I think that facelift they gave it is what turned it all around.

Miradart loved Autoline After Hours last week with my pal the inventor and engineer Michael Pickholz. “Great show as always! Great guest too! I love it when the guest says what’s REALLY on his mind instead of something that sometimes sounds written and rehearsed. Pickholz was superb!”

That is a good show, especially Michael’s suggestions as to how the car companies in Detroit can do a better job of mentoring outside talent to bring them new ideas and technology.

IndyFlick heard me criticize Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn for saying people will be motivated to buy electric cars as they see more catastrophic storms due to global warming. I said, when the power goes out they’ll be horrified to discover they can’t go anywhere in their electric cars. But he points out, “Um, John you do realize that when the power goes out gas stations can’t pump gas, right?”

Indyflick, that’s true. But with a gasoline car I have alternatives. I can siphon gas out of my lawn mower. Even if I only have a half a tank in my car, I can still drive a couple of hundred miles, where I’m likely to find a working gas station and refill the tank in a matter of minutes. With an electric car it’s going to take me almost a day to recharge if all I can get is a 110-volt outlet. And think about thousands, maybe tens of thousands of electric cars, out of juice, abandoned on the highways. You’re going to have to tow every single one of them, because there aren’t enough mobile recharging trucks to service them. That could take days or even weeks. So if that 400-mile-wide hurricane is bearing down on me, I’d rather take my chances with a gasoline-powered vehicle.

Thanks for all your letters and comments, we may not respond to them all, but we do read them, and try to answer as many as we can.

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

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

112 Comments to “Episode 782 – GM’s PR Disaster, Chinese Prefer Foreign Brands, Dodge Dart Makes Comeback”

  1. tj Martin Says:

    Oh dear . Here it is on ALD as well

    The Dodge … that isn’t a Dodge ….. that in fact is a ‘dodge’ on behalf of Stronzetto Marchionne to once again attempt to pull one over the American Car Buyers eyes .

    Hmmmn . Dodge nameplate . Alfa Romeo underpinnings , with all the attendant reliability problems each and every Alfa sold in the EU currently has .

    Yeah……. that’ll work out real well


    Watch for it . It’ll be coming folks . The Spontaneous Combustion LEAF ….. soon to join the fray .

    Ten…… Nine …. Eight ………

  2. Darren Says:

    Proof environmental regulations discriminate against autos.
    Now go test home heating systems that have zero emissions abatement equipment!
    many commercial buildings and apartment complexes actually still burn coal and low quality crude oil. My guess is in Northeast USA space heating pollutes hundreds of thousands times what auto do, So why the screw on environmental clean air and safety? Is the environment really the issue?

  3. tj Martin Says:


    Honestly having had a look this week at the amount of pollution coming out of China , India , Brazil and Russia this week , along with the amount of emissions that come from…….

    Garden Tractors
    Leaf Blowers
    Gas powered R/C anything
    ATV’s and PWC’s

    In all honesty I really don’t care anymore . My or even every single American buying a low emissions Car right this minute would barely make a dent .

    But …….. isn’t it interesting that amongst all the FIAT 500′s other faults ( lousy performance , cheap build , pathetic reliability , lack of usable interior space etc ) …..

    The little pile of junk out pollutes a Bloody Performance V8 Full Sized Pick Up !!!

    Brother , what a brilliant little car ( sarcasm intended for those who might miss it ) What’s FIAT gonna send us for an encore ?

    ( I’ll let pedro answer that one ;-)

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    Volt, the only car in the world that let’s you choose how you want to die: trauma from crash, electrocution, or burned. All it needs is lethal injection to complete the package. That Dart is a Dodge just like the Colt used to be a Dodge, only the Colt was much better.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    Chinese prefer foreign makes too. I guess we have a lot in common after all.

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    A local community wanted to ban gas powered blowers and lawn equipment for the same reason, I’ve seen a lot of them in action, and the smoke from unburned fuel is obnoxious. Causing health problems for lawn workers, but no one gives a crap cause most of them are illegal Mexicans anyway.

  7. Aliisdad Says:

    Dodge Dart,hey?!? Why not just label it a FIAT? Dart is a good, but old name from the ’60′s…as is Dodge’s quality!!!
    I am sorry that the Volt is having so many problems since it is such a good idea..Like I said a few weeks ago, I hope GM has not ruined people’s preceptions of these kinds of hybrids as it did diesels in the US a number of years ago….Too bad some other company did not come out with it first..Toyota looks to be pretty close, though with the Prius plug in hybrid..
    Say, did anyone listen to Bob Lutz on Openline, last night…There was something major wrong that made it hard to hear him but, wow, it was interesting!! He was also on the Sunday Autoline show…Wish he was 30 years younger because we need him, NOW…

  8. Lex Says:


    You had a very good point regarding a massive electric power outage would render EV’s useless,and that you would prefer to take your chances in a gasoline powered vehicle.

    This is why the Volt’s EV technology makes the best sense. A Vehicle powered by a combination of Gasoline and EV-Battery technologies has the best of both worlds. However at the present time if you are looking to save the planet buy a economical four banger to get you from point A to point B for your daily needs, and rent a larger vehicle when the need arises. Do not buy a Fiat 500 based upon the emiisions results you reported in today’s show.

  9. RS Says:

    So, the new Dodge is based on an Alpha??? What a novel idea. Too bad the the others didn’t think of it. If they had been smart, the bean counters could have built Oldsmobiles with Chevy engines. That would have saved a bundle – and I bet North Americans would never have been the wiser. Heck, they would have just bought those up-scale cars and paid more money for them. Dummies! They just bought a Chevy with an Olds skin. Lemmings! Good thing no one but Sergio would do such a thing.

  10. Scott M Says:

    GM is eliminating white-collar jobs in the US? Wasn’t GM adding engineering jobs earlier this year? I think Dan Akerson is biting the hand that fed GM. It amazes me that GM would do this–are UAW workers the only protected class at GM? The white-collar workers are taxpayers too. Is the Korean or Chinese government going to offer the next bail-out?

  11. tj Martin Says:

    @ RS


    ‘Badge Engineering ‘ by anyone is a sham/scam ripoff !

    Try and convince the average American consumer of that though when he/she is looking to buy an Audi A4 , Lexus ES or RX , Cadillac SRX etc etc etc

    FYI VW-AG Is the ‘ Badge Engineering ‘ King of the world . Sad fact is they get away with it……. again and again and……..

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nissan shouldn’t get too carried away in celebrating Volt’s problems, because the Leaf, also with lithium ion batteries, shares the same concerns.

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    A 500 pollutes more than the Ford truck, that’s advanced Fiat engineering at work, I wonder if they’re gonna mention that at my local Fiat dealer? They might say that the Fiat pollutes less than a leaf blower, however.

  14. tj Martin Says:

    @ Lex

    A better option . Buy what ever the ____ you ____ well want to and forget all this ‘ Save the World ‘ malarky .

    Then ……. very simply and easily ( free as well ) Drive a Little Less Often .

    Period !

    That’ll have the most benefit if you insist on buying into the ‘Save the World ‘ hype while benefitting your pocket book as well as your health , assuming you walk or ride a bike instead now and again .

    Hmmmn . Walking . For Californians at least , there’s a novel though .

  15. tj Martin Says:



    My point exactly in post #1

    Seven …. Six ….. Five ……

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Audi must do a really good job with their badge engineering, because their expensive Q-whatevers are getting good reviews from owners, according to Edmunds and others. I don’t know the sales numbers, but I see quite a few of them on the road. I know I wouldn’t buy one.

    The VW products I’d consider would be TDI Golf or Jetta Sportwagon. I like the A3, but, yeah, it is a badge engineered car, and a very poor value compared to the Golf or Jetta wagon.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The 500 polluting more than the truck doesn’t make sense, unless the one tested was defective. It had to meet emission standards to be sold in the U.S.

    I would expect the leaf blowers to be worse, as far as hydrocarbon emissions, as with lawn mowers, etc.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yes, I agree with you for once.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I figured most commercial building used natural gas, which is easy to burn cleanly. If they are burning coal and “dirty” oil in big metro areas, that would, indeed make more smog forming pollution than today’s cars.

  20. HtG Says:

    Some points Lutz made last night on OpenLine.
    1 He sees batteries getting 3x more energy dense, and 3x cheaper in a decade(if I remember right)
    2 Americans just plain value big cars more than small.
    3 FIAT is in far more trouble than some think. And no one is making money in Europe.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    But Edmunds.com says sales are gonna go through the roof, maybe they meant the floor?

  22. HtG Says:

    Emissions. Autos have the disadvantage of visibility. You see them destroying your personal universe every day. But who knows how much CO2 is released from cement manufacture? It’s about 4%, coming from the heating process and the limestone itself. And cattle are releasing clouds of methane with every belch, everyone of which cause more atmospheric heating than CO2 by a multiple.

  23. LS ford Says:

    @Kit #16. Meeting emmisions is a baseline requirement. My guess is that even the afore mentioned leafblowers would meet those requirements.

    Why not improve (with higher) emissions requirements before messing with Cafe standards? If you really want to improve the environment reduce emissions. MPG is a separate issue based on consuption not for environmental issues.

    Fuel burn is fuel burn, but if the 15mpg Rapter is giving off lower emmissions that the 30mpg 500 that should be an issue we (US government) should be going after.

  24. C-Tech Says:

    #18 Most commercial buildings use natural gas or electricity for heating and cooling. What is problematic from a pollution point of view are the older, poorer housing and buildings which still use heating oil, coal, and window a/c. Not to mention the poor insulation from the 60′s and 70″s.

  25. motorman Says:

    GM would have been better off developing a prius type car if it wanted a car to sell. the volt is nothing but a engineering and publicity exercise with no hope of turning a profit for GM and that is why GM is not interested in selling a lot of the because they loose a ton of $$$ on everyone they sell.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    #24 That is correct, a plug-in that hit the market before the Prius would have been a strategic success for GM, instead they got themselves a nightmare that they cannot give up on, it would be the same effect as Ford quitting the Mustang.

  27. C-Tech Says:

    Hmm. New Dodge Dart based on Alfa-Romeo platform with some U.S. tweaks and built in the U.S. Why all the derogatory comments, especially since NO ONE has driven it yet! Before I condemn a vehicle I at least want to get close to one and see or hear about a few in action. No sure about the styling, big car styling does not always translate well to small cars. but let Seamus test drive one and hear his opinion.

  28. HtG Says:

    Last night, Lutz was asked directly about the future direction of batteries. He answers beginning at 31:50 on the OpenLine file.

  29. tj Martin Says:

    F1 Scuttlebutt

    According to SpeedTV’s blue line the Austin GP is back on with fees having been paid and track construction resuming this week , but no firm details are available anywhere else and no word from Uncle Bernie as of yet

    Do I believe it ? With all the wrangling and infighting down Texas way I’ll believe it when and if Uncle Bernie says it is so . Otherwise I have my doubts

    @ Kit

    FIIAT 500′s lousy emissions . No big surprise really . You’d be shocked to see how many V8′s and especially high performance V8′s put out less pollutants than many of the so called efficient I4′s on the market . Its all about how effeciently the engine burns the fuel as well as how good the catalytic system really is

    If you look at say CAR or EVO’s test results even the Porsche Panamera Turbo does better than some of the 4′s on the market .

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    Alfa Romeo platforms needs more than a few US tweaks, it needs a whole different platform.

  31. HtG Says:

    so what’s Jos Verstappen up to tj? Why stick a shiv in Flavio?

  32. tj Martin Says:

    @ C- Tech

    Take the time to look over Alfa Romeo’s reliability and reviews records over the last five years .

    Then have a look at the FIAT 500′s stats thats being sold in the US , having been ” Tweaked ” for the US market

    That’ll make a cynic out of you or at the very least temper your enthusiasm

    FYI Don’t buy into the hype . It’ll be an Alfa Romeo with a badge engineered body plopped on top . PERIOD !


    @ Kit

    BWTM / VW-AG’s ‘ Badge Engineering ‘ Didn’t say they didn’t sell just saying there’s no logic behind paying Audi prices for a VW with a fancy body on top . At least my Benz , with a Benz price tag IS a Benz . Whereas that Q7 is a Toureg in disguise etc

  33. tj Martin Says:

    # 30

    Huh ?

  34. HtG Says:

    32 JV is talking about the 94 Benetton car’s illegal software. http://www.autoweek.com/article/20111207/F1/111209910

  35. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    As to Bob (p)Lutz’s E/V proclamations/prognostications ;

    You read ‘ The New Yorker ‘ ?

    Dec 12,2011 page 49 , cartoon at the top of the page .

    Apposite to a tee

  36. tj Martin Says:


    Heck everybody knew about that , even back in the day ! Pundits from Autosport to the F1 online sites called for investigations which never happened .

    Just one more in what was a very long line of favoritism that was bestowed upon Michael Schumacher , both from the FIA , Uncle Bernie and what ever team he was with at the time

  37. HtG Says:

    35 I just wondered why JV was talking now. Why bring it up again?

    34 I didn’t necessarily vouch for Herr Lutz. I don’t get the NYer. What’s the gist?

  38. tj Martin Says:

    @ LS ford



    Well said . Very well said . Too bad no one these days in Government thinks that logically ( I should be reprimanding you here for daring to post anything resembling common sense , but it was so well said I didn’t have the heart to :o )

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “MPG is a separate issue based on consuption not for environmental issues.”

    MPG is an environmental issue, in regard to greenhouse gas emission. Twice as much gas burned equals twice as much CO2 in the atmosphere.

    The emissions that the 500 put out more of than the truck would be HC, NOx, and/or CO. The leaf blowers would put out much more of those than the road vehicles, especially HC emissions, in the case of the 2-stroke blower.

  40. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Maybe its just payback time for JV now that Flav is down for the count ?


    Cartoon ( New Yorker 12/7/2011 pg 49 )

    Title header – Faith Based Family

    bubble over each family members head ;

    Dads bubble – ” One day cars will run on tap water ‘

    Moms bubble – ” One day there will be chocolate cake that tastes great and has zero calories ‘

    Daughter’s bubble – ” One day school won’t exist – you’ll just swallow a pill and voila ”

    Son’s bubble – ” One day monkeys will rule the Universe “

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Whereas that Q7 is a Toureg in disguise etc”
    …as is the Cayenne, which is even more expensive than the Q7.

  42. HtG Says:

    39 thx on the cartoon. With the JV thing, it’s my personal pet project to see if Flavio replaces Bernie. I wondered if JV wanted to bar the door.

  43. tj Martin Says:

    # 38

    Yes Kit , what you say in essence is correct , but if you grab a copy of say CAR or EVO and have a look at the emissions levels posted per vehicle and see that like I said many a V8 do better than more than a few 4′s and you’ll see LS ford is equally correct and makes a very strong point that as many Scientists , that yes believe Global Warming is real , do as well that in FACT the EPA has its focus in all the Very Wrong places

    Not to mention , and I know this for a fact ( no HtG she doesn’t work for them but ……. )

    The EPA’s software , computers etc are at minimum ( depending on office location ) Ten Years out of date

    Yes siree Bob , that means the EPA is running on Microsoft 2001 or older . I won’t even go into their hardware at this point .

    ( and yes HtG I can legally devulge that fact )

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Why not improve (with higher) emissions requirements before messing with Cafe standards? ”

    Emission standards (of HC, NOx, and CO) concern only emissions that cause smog. CAFE concerns fuel usage, and “greenhouse gas” emissions. There is no connection between CAFE and emission standards.

    I agree, though, that CAFE doesn’t work well. In the 80′s, it caused large cars to be replaced by SUV’s which are even thirstier, and any new CAFE will continue to have unintended consequences.

  45. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG


    Huh ?????

    You’re joking ….. right ? No no mien freund Flavio is a very very bad man who almost makes Uncle Bernie look good in comparison


    @ Kit


    Ahhhh yes but the difference is that the Cayenne came first , therefore the Toureg was the budget version of the Cayenne , making the Toureg a bit of a good deal , whereas the Q7 is directly upgraded from the Toureg ( not down marketed from the Cayenne ) making the Q7 a rip off

  46. Prodesigner Says:

    Great to show off how good the technology is, but a subtext of Nationalistic Cheerleading; why not a Ford Focus or Chevy Cuze?

    Why compare a California compliant Ford Raptor to a non California Fiat 500. No supprise the Raptor meets the higher standards it is desiged for. Not in all 3 catagories presented. 500 Beat it in 1 of the 3 prestneded metrics.

    Then they do not provide CO2 total or output/ min. A 6.2L will produce far more CO2 that the I4 engine. Burn more, produce higer volume of exhaust gas, so this article misses that point.

    Two strokes should be banned as they poison everything we value. This is my best concluson.

  47. GPL Says:

    Keep in mind when looking at the emissions numbers that those are as a percentage of volume, so to compare the total polutatnts you have to multiply by the volume exhaust flow.

    @2 As for discriminating against autos, the government doesn’t limit auto emissions retroactively any more than it does old coal or oil burning furnaces, which is to say none. I don’t know of any new heating systems that burn coal, and even oil burning heaters have emissions limits.

  48. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Actually, you do get something for your extra money with the Q7. It is stretched about a foot, and has a third row of seats.

    The big thing with the Cayenne is that you can get the V8′s and, presumably, sportier suspension.

  49. tj Martin Says:

    @ GPL

    # 45

    re; EPA discrimination

    Oh yes they do . Oh yes they do . I can absolutely guarantee you they most certainly do . Auto manufactures are considered and easy target , therefor they are the focus of the EPA’s constant ‘ bullying ‘ ( when have you ever know the bully to go after the ‘ Hard ‘ target ? )

    As to no coal systems in modern houses ehhh ?

    Haven’t live in VT upper state NY ME or NH have you .

    As to Oil burning systems their so called emissions limits are Laughable

  50. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit

    The big thing about the Cayenne is it’ll run the wheels off of anything VW – Audi or much of anyone else has in the same class

    I’ve driven the CH cousins Cayenne Turbo ( both pre and post RuF mods ) and let me tell you that is one hell of a beast on wheels ( other CH cous has a Ruf Panamera . The automotive equivalent of a tactical missile )

    FYI did you know CH is the Cayenne Turbo’s biggest market ?

    An interesting factoid to bandy about .

  51. tj Martin Says:


    First Ferrari , then Red Bull Racing ….. and now ;


    Things are getting a bit strange in F1 land this week .

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Austin is supposedly a “go” again.


  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’m not surprise that CH is a big market for the Cayenne Turbo. Those bankers have lots of spare money.

  54. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit

    re; # 53

    Been there , done that , got the T-shirt ( post #29)

    FYI AW is only reporting that the race was still on the calendar as of Monday ( so is Bahrain and thats still in reality up in the air ) whereas SpeedTv is saying that the fees have been paid for the Austin GP as well as the track construction is to resume construction this week

    Problem is this is all ( AW AS & SpeedTV ) coming from the Austin GP press releases with nary a word so far from Uncle Bernie , the FIA etc .

    I’m not saying what SpeedTV is reporting is untrue . I’m just saying until Uncle Bernie confirms it , take it with a grain or two of salt

    As far as the ‘ spare money ‘ comment , seriously you have no idea . Its frightening to be honest , what with 1/3 the World’s total wealth residing in Swiss bank accounts as of this year

    Thats one tiny little country with a very inordinate amount of influence and ……. dare I say it ? ……….. Power .

  55. tj Martin Says:

    AUSTIN F! updated update ;

    Ask and ye shall receive ;


    Its official . At least for now ;-)

  56. HtG Says:

    I never believed the Austin race was dead. Did Texas come up with the fee?

    But then I also can’t believe Flavio B isn’t trying to climb back inside F1. I need to read more novels.

  57. cwolf Says:

    g’day all and hope everyone said a small prayer to our fallen heros of Pearl Harbor! Foregive,but never forget.

    The Dart may be an Alfa in sheeps clothing,but the Tigersharks are made in Dundee,Mich. And for the dual-clutch transmissions; Well.. they have been delayed so computor adj. can be made to better suit city driving. They don’t want that Fiesta thing happening…doncha know!

    And pedro,a foreign car to/in China also includes Buicks and such. Considering something American, eh?

  58. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Regarding Austin, I’ll still believe it when I see it. Eleven months isn’t very long when it comes so such projects as the track, and everything that goes with it, never mind a way to get there.

  59. HtG Says:

    Did you see this paragraph from the F1 site, Kit?

    ‘Circuit of The Americas will be the first purpose-built Formula One Grand Prix facility in the United States designed for any and all classes of racing. The master plan features a variety of permanent structures designed for business, education, entertainment and race use.’

    There’s a distinction between the circuit and master plan. I read into it that there won’t be much more than a track, pits, some stands, and medical for the first race. The nice stuff will come later.

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, for the first year, I suppose the circuit will be enough. They wanted garages at Indy, but I suppose they will cut them some slack on that at Austin.

  61. tj Martin Says:


    There’s supposed to be a MotoGP and a WSBK race at the track as well , but no mention so far as to what their fate in Austin may be

    Everyone’s mum about where the $25 Million came from to get back into Uncle Bernie’s good graces . Hmmmn ..

    And for once I’ll stand with Kit as to whether or not the Austin GP actually happens

    Between the still ongoing infighting in Austin , this weirdness thats happening with FOTA and a host of other oddball realities currently infesting F1 Nothing will surprise me right now .

  62. tj Martin Says:


    I know what you’re saying HtG but I find it rather hard to believe the F1 teams would be willing to accept anything less than perfection from day one with the Austin race

    Also I’ve noticed not word one as well as to any pending Transportation plans because at this point its one two lane road and thats all she wrote . If that’s not improved upon the race will be the Traffic Jam from Hell both coming and going

  63. tj Martin Says:

    I’ve decided

    I’m saving my $$$ for the Joisey GP . This whole Austin affair has an odor of ….. falsehood to my nose and anyway I gots family back East and the little woman is looking forward to Broadway and a trip afterwards to MV or Cape May with MV in the lead by a nose at the moment .

    Kind of tired of Austin to be honest as well . Its getting a little too ‘ Hipster’ and rapidly losing its ‘ Hip ‘ coolness , not to mention so many of the classic music venues closing up shop

  64. HtG Says:

    If you go to the circuitoftheamericas.com site, you can sign up for an informational subscription. My quick check of FAQs finds this line about transportation.

    ‘…we will have on-site shuttles going to and from the city. The site will also offer convenient access to major highways, the SH 130 toll road and other transportation routes.’

    there are more FAQs but I’ll check later.

  65. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yeah, Cwolf, foreign cars in China do include American cars which compared to their home grown crap, it’s light years better. You forget that my last 2 cars WERE made in the good ole US of A, one of them by UAW workers, yet my sis American Journey was built in Mejico by the Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Band Union.

  66. pedro fernandez Says:

    Did anyone catch C/D “best” 10 cars for 2012? of course they have to be “affordable” so they all go for less than $80k. By looking at the list it was a matter of looks over substance, I mean the BMW 1 over the 3? Really? almost the same cost for a lot less car, Audi 4? I guess reliability is never a factor for these bozos the only thing I agree with is the omission of the Volt.

  67. Jon M Says:

    Aw, poor GM is having some PR problems with the Volt. Ask me how bad I feel for them! I can’t stop laughing about this one. This is the same company that reveled in Toyota’s PR issue a while back. How does it feel, GM, to get some bad some press?

  68. Andrew Charles Says:

    The majority of Audis bear no relation to any VW model. The exceptions are the A3, Q7 and A1; and not only is the Q7 is built on a stretched version of the Cayenne platform, but the new Touareg now has an updated (cheaper?) platform. The Bentley Continental is a stretched VW Phaeton, but the Audi A8, being aluminum instead of steel, is unrelated. Audi also uses their own V6, V8, V10 and V12 engines (except in the Q7), while other VW brands use the RV6 and W12. However, Skodas and SEATs use the same platforms and powertrains as VWs, you just don’t pay as much (an earlier Passat and Skoda Superb were based on the A4 with its longitudinal engine, but more recent models are based on a stretched Golf platform with transverse engine). A couple of generations ago the only difference was the badging and factory, and not always that. These days the strategy is to share systems and components within a brand rather than across platforms to increase differentiation, but it’s hard to see much difference between the VW Up!, Skoda Citigo ad SEAT Mii other than badging and trim. You can talk about brand autonomy, but with the exception of Audi, VW does not allow their brands to make much more than superficial alterations to the basic Polo/Golf/Passat foundation, and there are no regional platforms or engine programs—at most they get to keep using an older, cheaper platform as well as the new version. Even the “American” Passat has an older Chinese twin.

  69. Andrew Charles Says:

    The Tigersharks may be made in Dundee, but they’re relatively minor updates of the GMA “World Engine” shared with Mitsubishi and Hyundai, and largely designed by Hyundai. While Chrysler is adding Fiat’s MultiAir system to some versions (controlling the throttle with valve lift instead of a separate butterfly valve; like BMW’s Valvetronic and Toyota’s Valvematic); Mitsubishi has a new version switching to SOHC and a new version of MITEC like more advanced versions of Honda’s SOHC i-VTEC; and Hyundai is adding a second engine family for big fours, as they did previously for mid-sized 4-cylinders.

  70. Alex Kovnat Says:

    I know its rather late at night to be responding, but I feel I have something important to say regarding the Chevrolet Volt.

    If I had to choose between the Nissan Leaf and the Volt, I’d rather have the latter because it has an engine, thus has no more of a “range anxiety” issue than my present Toyota Corolla.

    We should remember that the only problem the Volt has had, has been with vehicles that were subject to crash safety tests where there were fires hours, or days, after the crash impact. It would therefore seem logical that unless there have been fire tragedies similar to early models of the Ford Pinto, the Volt is no more dangerous than any other car.

  71. Andrew Charles Says:

    Scott, GM can cut engineering positions and hire a lot of new engineers. Two things are involved—new hires are not replacing all the engineers who leave through normal attrition (retirement, headhunting etc.); GM is hiring engineers for new or increasingly important disciplines (batteries, electric motors, telematics, electronics, transmissions etc.) and cutting them in other areas where they are no longer needed as platforms and engine families are reduced. As developing markets increase in importance more development work follows the market—the new Colorado developed in Brazil and Thailand; the new Tavera truck-based MPV for India and SE Asia; the New Sail, Baojun 630 and Buick GL8 in China; the Agile, Montana and new Cobalt (smaller and cheaper than the Cruze) in Brazil.

  72. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Andrew, do you know what “MultiAir,” “Valvetronic,” et. al. are supposed to buy us? There must be something, but I don’t see it. The engine in the 500 provides average, at best, performance and fuel economy for its size, and it didn’t seem like much changed, performance-wise, when BMW started using “valvetronic” on some of their engines.

  73. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here is the list of C & D 2012 “10 Best Cars.” I’m surprised the Accord is there, but the others don’t surprise me too much. The 3-series is always on there.

    Audi A6/A7
    BMW 3 Series / M3
    Cadillac CTS-V
    Ford Focus
    Ford Mustang GT / Boss 302
    Honda Accord
    Honda Fit
    Mazda MX-5
    Porsche Boxster / Cayman
    Volkswagen Golf / GTI

  74. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I read the C & D article, and it’s the 4 cylinder manual Accord that they like.

  75. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit

    In what has to be another of Marchionne’s strokes of genius , we don’t get the MultiAir FIAT engine in the US . Go figure .

    As to what it gives , well according to the UK press it gives a reasonable boost in performance while increasing the MPG . At least thats what the hype is saying

    As to the C&D article it never ceases to amaze me than in light of all Audi/VW’s many and consistent reliability , dealer service , etc problems , the Press ( the UK press is even worse about this ) continues to Sing Audi’s praises from the Roof Tops , while Audi’s owners , in forums , club magazines etc continue to damn Audi’s many shortcomings .

    Sad thing is the Press knows all too well about Audi’s problems ( when I had a friend working for CAR he told me the tales that never make it to print about Audi ; FYI now CAR is on a BMW kick . Gee wonder why ? Could it be the money ? )

    Yet refuse to make the knowledge known to the general public

    VW-AG and specifically Audi must have one huge ‘ Bribery ‘ fund in place for this to continue on as it has

    There IS no other plausible explanation

  76. cwolf Says:

    tj, Take a look at TTAC RE Germany’s most reliable cars. Audi,Vw? Where are they? Better yet, look at Hyundai’s ranking.

  77. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    If’ yer poking in ;-)

    Kind of surprised and disappointed after the Cous’s car revelations yesterday you didn’t ask why neither has or is considering the Ferrari FF .

    Fact is Panamera cous was hit up by Ferrari to get him to consider one and for about a minute he did . Till he went to the ( very exclusive ) reveal for potential owners and found out the FF’s Dirty Little Secrete .

    The AWD only works up to 60 mph ! As he put it to the Ferrari shill that was pushing him to buy ( hot little lady according to the cous )

    ” WTH good would that be if I hit a patch of black ice at 80 mph ? ”

    His and the other’s main reasons for the Porsche’s being they are year round daily drivers . Which after his day with the FF he was emphatic the FF definitely IS NOT

    So another year passes with nary an ” F ” word in any of the families garages .

    And yes both cous’s when I was car shopping tried to convince me into getting a Cayenne . fact is thru their finance connections they had a re-po’d Turbo for pennies on the dollar arranged in the US if I wanted it ( 2009 w/17K on the clock )

    One test drive of one here in KC and the wife said ;

    ” No way on God’s little green earth will I let you buy one of these ”

    Can’t say as I blame her . She knows me too well !

    ZOOoooooom ! 8)

    Yeah I’d have my license pulled in about two months with one of those . FYI the cous’s do approve of the GLK .

  78. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf – Yet the press goes on singing Audi-VW’s praises as if they can do no wrong !

  79. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    Too funny , the much worshiped Hyundai at the bottom of the German reliability pile .

    Ahhhh Hype and Smoke & Mirrors . Living proof that if you feed the general public enough BS and do it persistently and well you can GET THEM to BUY ANYTHING

    I’ve said this on another forum that if Ferrari offered a Gold Leaf covered piece of Dung with the Prancing Horse label on it for $450 they wouldn’t be able to produce enough of them to meet the demand ;-)

    ( I truly despise the level to which Ferrari has sunk in their merchandising efforts of late )

  80. HtG Says:

    77 LOL tj. Your wife is absolutely right about the Cayenne turbo for you. I’m also one of those people that shouldn’t be given too much power. It’s like it’s uncomfortable NOT to push the limit. I don’t get those guys who say, ‘but I know that anytime I want to….’ Hopefully my insurance company will be wise enough to jack up the rate on me if I start asking about an S2000.

    BTW, I did restrain my curiosity yesterday.

  81. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG

    Travel Advice question

    The Mrs and i are considering coming to the Big Apple for a weekend in January for the Keith Jarret solo concert ( Carnagie hall complex )

    Not having flown there in awhile and not wanting to rent a car

    1) Which airport ?

    2) Hotel recommend ? ( nice but not ridiculously so )

    We’re still in the deciding stages ( at least as long as tickets are available ) so no hurry

  82. tj Martin Says:


    The S2000

    Well actually you’ve got to really hammer the S2000 to get any performance out of it , so you might be safe with one . But you might want to look into all the leaks issues ( convertible and hard top roof as well as the trunk ) as well as several other body work related issues the S2000 has .

    Damn fun car , but in the greater NYC area maybe not the best choice .

    Do that Miata transformation thing you told me about to yours instead . I really like the looks of them and hen you can keep what you’ve got albeit much modified

  83. bob e K Says:

    To Jon M #67….laugh all you want the Chevy Volt is probably one of the finest examples of USA technology ever! 2 car fires after a planned accident..which GM has rectified the problem..and yes Toyota has problems too! start buying American owned! they are as good as the rest!

  84. tj Martin Says:

    So it now looks like all the major UK automotive press is on the BMW bandwagon

    Why do I say this ? have a look at the video drag race EVO has against the BMW M5 . What Panamera do they compare it to?

    The Turbo ? Which would be the fair comparison .

    Nope ! The pedestrian Panamera S

    No favoritism there !

  85. tj Martin Says:

    @ bob e K

    If the VOLT is as you say ” the finest example of USA technology ” then the US Automotive manufactures are in Deeper Doo than even I’m assuming .

    What part of you does not understand all the VOLT is is an overpriced , overly complicated and underwhelmingly performing Prius wanna be ?

    What part of you does not get the fact that the VOLT does not work and that no one in his/her right mind wants one ?

    What aspect of your thinking does not comprehend that GM is well and good over their heads when it comes to the VOLT ?

  86. tj Martin Says:

    #85 cont.

    What part of your thinking does not understand that the VOLT is perhaps the single largest waste of the American Tax Payers dollar in the entire realm of manufacturing ?

    Please don’t tell us you actually purchased one !

  87. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That’s an interesting list of cars in Germany. The Prius was on top for 3 year old cars. I’m a little surprised at that, given the car’s complexity, even though my Prius has been flawless. A Golf was in the top 10.

    Actually, it looks like VW group products are mostly in the middle, though there were three at the bottom of the 10-11 year old list, along with the E-Class. The 911 topped the 10-11 year old list, but those cars are babied and don’t get normal use in Germany, as everywhere else. They get a lot closer to normal use the “F” cars, but that’s not saying much.

  88. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems that Toyota has been hesitant to get into the use of lithium batteries in their cars. The just-released Camry hybrid still uses NiMH batteries. The plug-in Prius will use lithium batteries, but they don’t seem to be in much of a hurry to release the car, even though it is about the same as a regular Prius, except for the battery and electronics to control it.

  89. HtG Says:

    KJ won’t be in the main hall? huh?

    1. Winter is your issue because of storms. Laguardia has the most delays, but the landing can be dramatic as you see more landing, and your taxi ride is all city, and shorter.

    2 pick you hotel by its location. What do you want to be near? As we discussed, NY changes. In my opinion there is little reason to stay in Midtown, which is so sanitized and touristed. UWS is tired bankers in sweatpants. I recall Richter saying the only thing in the US was the museums; to wit check out smaller hotels on Madison in the 90′s. Like downtown? The area around the old St Patricks is small scale, boutiques, restaurants, fashionable, artsy crowd. Walk south to Chinatown madness.

  90. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Except for the fires after crash tests, the Volt works well for what it was intended to do. It has meaningful range on on battery only, but it can also be used for long trips. Also, it drives decently. Have you ever driven one?

    Yeah, it costs too much, and only “early adopters” would buy it, but it is, in fact, something different that “works” for some people.

  91. HtG Says:

    91 KJ, I see he’ll be in the Stern rather than the main hall. My experience is that’s a great room. On the second floor and removed from the subway hum. Warm sound but not to intimate. Sounds like a tough ticket. (the cuz played there some years ago)

  92. tj Martin Says:

    # 90

    You’re forgetting the multiple fires both when charging the VOLT as well as when driving that have happened since its inception , along with exactly what part of the VOLT does ” Work ” as you say and for whom ?

    Other than perhaps falsely leading its owners to believe they’re doing the planet a damn bit of good , as well as being a ‘Green’ poseurs tool , just what benefits does one gain from buying a VOLT ?

    And please do not insult my intelligence by saying the fuel $ saved as AARP , WSJ , Bloomberg and AAA have already shown it’ll take you ten years to make up the difference in the price of the car vs fuel dollars saved with your Prius and I’ll bet its at least Twenty for the VOLT

    Less resources used ? Not hardly . The VOLT has a manufacturing Carbon Footprint that rivals most open pit coal mines

    Less pollution ? Yeah if yo don’t count all the pollution being caused by both the manufacturing and the mining and refinement of all those toxic minerals that go into making the VOLT , not to mention the disposal of the batteries and the lack of recyclable materials in the VOLT

    And finally the fact that the US Tax Payer has been ripped blind by the making of the VOLT , with us paying for it and then GM having the cojones to charge us a bloody fortune for the piece of pretentious junk .

    So … pray tell good Kit . WTH does work on the VOLT once the Real evidence has been exposed ?

  93. tj Martin Says:

    @ HtG Seems to still be quite a few still available as of yesterday

    And like I said we’re just thinking about it as a Xmas present to each other , tossing a Broadway show into the mix

    I might hit up the two hotels we get a discount from in NYC , thru MBUSA as well as the MB Owners Club and see what their concierges can tell us

  94. cwolf Says:

    The SAAB administrator in charge of reconstuction said this AM that he is giving up on saving the brand. G.M’s definite “NO” and uncertain backing has the courts in agreement. No more lives for this cat!

    It was also reported that the Volts battery case was punctured in one of the crashes and a new design is at hand. So this is what the engr. I spoke to last week couldn’t tell me!

  95. tj Martin Says:

    @ Kit

    re; VOLT

    I’ll be blunt .

    As pretentious and full of beans as you know I think the Prius along with any other Hybrid is ;

    I’d recommend the Prius to anyone insisting on buying a Green Wanna be mobile in a heartbeat

    It may not live up to all its claims ( and it does not ) but at least the Prius is a Toyota , with all the inherent Reliability and Quality that go with the brand

    The VOLT I wouldn’t recommend to my worst enemy on a very bad day !


  96. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf

    i wonder if now Christian Von Koenigsegg might come in with a ‘ Hail Mary ‘ offer for Pennies on the Kronor to buy SAAB ?

    I know he’s PO’d that GM wouldn’t sell to him in spite of his having the only viable plans in writing for the future of SAAB but this might be the opportunity of a lifetime to grab an auto manufacture at ‘ Fire Sale ‘ ( pun intended ) prices

    And ohhhh if he does , just wait till you see what his idea of a ‘ Koenigsegg SAAB ‘ will look like 8)

    Suffice it to say SAABistas worldwide would be smiling ear to ear !

  97. tj Martin Says:

    @ cwolf


    “….. and a new design is at hand… ”

    And just how the heck is that in any way gonna cure the inherent problem with the Li batteries ?

    What ? We’re supposed to believe GM in any way can make the casings strong enough to withstand any potential road crashes ?

    Yeah right , and monkeys will soon be ruling the World :o

  98. HtG Says:

    93 I don’t think there’s any bad seats in the room for KJ, tj.

    You’d be right to use the MBUSA services.

    Volt: I’ll still argue that electrification is being done for strategic reasons. We have all the natgas and coal we need. And we want the economy to be less dependent on the oil market. All your criticisms of electrics are strong(have you seen the outrageous ads from Nissan showing dirty petrol powered devices?), but I think there is a decade long plan to change the energy equation.

  99. Kit Gerhart Says:

    What of Prius’ “claims” does it not live up to? It’s only claims are to get exceptional gas mileage, and have good utility for carrying people and “stuff” for a car its size. It does that, plus it is very reliable.

    I agree that a Volt would never pay for itself at today’s gas prices. The people who buy them do so “because they like it.” That’s the same reason people buy “F” cars, Benzes, and any other expensive cars that have cheaper alternatives that will serve them as transportation devices.

  100. bob e K Says:

    #95 I will never buy a Toyota product…especially the ugly Prius…they made fun of the Pontiac Aztec…looks very similiar …I have a 2010 Malibu 2LT with 54K …could not ask for a better vehicle…trouble free …great warranty, mileage…looks…etc…as good as any Camry out there…
    buy American owned..

  101. cwolf Says:

    He could be the guy,if the price is right and his backers are still interested. If GM turns this out to be a long,drawn out process,I don’t think his desire will be as intense.

  102. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had a Malibu Maxx which was a good car, but it used almost twice as much gas as the Prius that replaced it. On a related note, it’s too bad they didn’t make a hatch version of the current Malibu, and that they don’t sell the hatch version of Cruze in the U.S.

    As far as a Prius looking like an Aztec, you’ve got to be kidding. There is no similarity. In any case, a Prius looks like it does to lower its aero drag by about 20-25% compared to other similar size cars.

  103. bob e K Says:

    # 102 the back window treatment…the front & side view of the Aztek was OK

  104. HtG Says:

    102 I def read that Aztec Prius comparison as hyperbole. Everytime I see an Aztec I think, boy did GM blow it, just to save some bucks on the styling.

  105. bob e K Says:

    # 104 The Buick Rendevous came from the same platform….great styling for the day

  106. cwolf Says:

    @ bob e K: Sounds like you’re a UAW guy,like me. I,too, have been bred to buy”American”,but that has little meaning anylonger. Just look at how many foreign assembly plants there are in the US; So maybe US assembled is a more realistic expectation. Ahh…,But more to your expectations, union made is the best thing for America! I’m all for it,but there hasn’t been much out there to choose from until lately,unless its a truck. And to be honest,I don’t like what the UAW has been doing. They are throwing the ol’timers,like me, and the retirees to the wolves just to regain new membership. So much for unity,solidarity and the rest of the bull crap they want those second tier folks believe.

  107. bob e K Says:

    cwolf….nothing to do with the UAW…I just like GM Ford & Chrysler (Fiat) I did work for the UAW years ago….and I am not Anti-union…but keep the US owned profits in the USA…not Japan,Korea,China, etc.

  108. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In most cases, the U.S. based companies still have more domestic parts content than the transplants, but that difference is shrinking.

  109. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I knew a couple people who actually bought Aztecs, because it was a practical vehicle, and a very good value. Neither liked the looks of the car, but they bought it anyway.

    The Rendezvous was based on the “long” minivan, and looked decent. Aztec and Rendezvous were some of the earlier “crossovers,” unibody minivans, but with swinging doors.

  110. cwolf Says:

    Sorry bobK,I had fears that you could have been a UAW fanatic..Wheew! I share same desire,but wonder if buying a Big3 made in Mexico,where profits stay in US(do they?)is better serving than all those employed in the US by foreiners. Question: Can we call Chrysler an American company anylonger?

  111. cwolf Says:

    @ Kit Re#108: I don’t think this is true. The foreign brands made here strive to seek suppliers close-by,where a vast amount of our stuff is from Mex.,China,ect.

  112. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here’s a list of the top 10 vehicles in “American-ness. Yeah, especially for the high-volume cars, Camry and Accord are up there with the lowish volume 200 and Avenger, but the Malibu is not in the top 10. The Mexican Fusion, of course, is way down in the 20 some per cent range. This is for 2011 model year.

    Model % of parts made in America
    Ford Explorer 85%
    Dodge Dakota 84%
    Dodge Avenger 83%
    Dodge Grand Caravan 82%
    Chrysler 200 81%
    Toyota Tundra 80%
    Toyota Sequoia 80%
    Toyota Camry 80%
    Toyota Avalon 80%
    GMC Savana 80%
    Dodge Nitro 80%
    Chrysler Town & Country 80%
    Honda Accord 80%