Episode 824 – Kia Reveals KH, China Car Sales Will Skyrocket, New Mercedes Seatbelt

February 13th, 2012 at 11:15am

Runtime: 7:56

Kia released the sketches today of a new concept car called the KH. JD Power predicts car sales in China will hit 35 million units by 2018. Mercedes-Benz developed a seatbelt that’s easier to find and use. All that and more, plus a look at the new Honda CR-V.

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Welcome to Autoline Daily for February 13th. And now, the news.

UAW president Bob King is exhorting his members to risk arrest, take direct action, and start demonstrating about what he calls the injustice in America. He’s also calling on other unions to create a new movement for social justice to fight corporate greed. The Detroit News reports that King’s veins were bulging and his voice went hoarse from shouting during remarks celebrating the 75th anniversary of the sit-down strike against General Motors. After the speech King told reporters that labor and management can achieve more by working together.

Kia released the sketches today of a new concept car called the KH. That’s the code name of what will be called the K9 when it goes into production. Though Kia is not releasing any details, we believe the car will be based on the rear-drive Hyundai Genesis, since that’s where Kia gets its platforms and powertrains. The KH bears the unmistakable form language that chief designer Peter Schreyer has created for the brand. It goes on sale in Korea in the first half of this year.  Look for it in the U.S. market next year.

Car sales in China have slowed from their break-neck pace the last few years, but JD Power predicts sales will explode in the country before the end of the decade. By 2018, the forecasting firm says sales of passenger vehicles will hit 35 million units. The two fastest growing segments will be midsize cars and SUVs, and the growth in sales will come from the country’s second- and third-tier cities.

And speaking of big jumps in sales, medium- and heavy-duty trucks saw big increases in the U.S. and Canada. According to Ward’s, big-truck sales in the U.S. were just under 25,000 units in January, a 36 percent increase compared to a year ago. In Canada, sales were up over 64 percent compared to a year ago, to just under 3,000 units. This is a good sign because large-truck sales indicate how the economy will be performing.

GM is bringing autonomous vehicles another step closer to reality. This fall it will debut an integrated suite of safety and convenience systems on the upcoming Cadillac XTS. The Driver Assistance Package consists of a laundry list of different onboard sensors ranging from ultrasonic and radar to traditional cameras. Combined, they allow a vehicle to basically “see” around itself – a full 360 degrees. A battery of sensors like this is a prerequisite for autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. Interestingly, the system draws ideas from the Chevy Tahoe GM built to participate in the DARPA Urban Challenge.

Mercedes-Benz is advancing the humble seatbelt by motorizing it. No, it’s not bringing back those horrible ones from the 1990s where the shoulder strap followed a track along the top of the door opening. Nope, what it’s doing here is making the buckle easier to find and use. It’s devised a way of making them pop up by almost three inches when entering a vehicle. No more fumbling around to find them. Its engineers have even made them light up in the dark! Look for this clever feature to debut in the not-too-distant future.

Coming up next, a look at the new Honda CR-V.

One of Honda’s best-selling vehicles is the CR-V. In fact, right now it’s outselling the Accord in the American market. And to keep that momentum going, the company recently redesigned it.

Interestingly, even though Honda makes the CR-V at one of its plants in the U.S., about 1 out of 3 CR-Vs are still imported. The company also makes them in Japan and in the UK.

And that’s today’s report on the latest news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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67 Comments to “Episode 824 – Kia Reveals KH, China Car Sales Will Skyrocket, New Mercedes Seatbelt”

  1. Ron Paris Says:

    NEWS ITEM:UAW president Bob King is exhorting his members to risk arrest, take direct action, and start demonstrating about what he calls the injustice in America.

    Welcome to Greece-American style!

  2. MJB Says:

    One note on the power-assit seat belts upcoming by Mercedes. I, for one, LOVED the track-mounted active restraint belts on my 1991 Acura Integra! In fact, when I finally had to sell the car, it was that feature I knew I’d miss the most (followed in close succession by the hatchback and rear-window wiper).

    That track-mounted auto seatbelt was PRICELESS for me. I know that most other car owners who had them will complain of mechanical issues or them getting in the way or choking hazards, blah-blah-blah. Mine never once malfunctioned in the 13 years and 273K miles I put on the car. I STILL to this day say that was the single most convenient feature I’ve ever experienced in a car…bar-none.

    I so wish I could have that feature back. Ahhh, the good ‘ole days… :)

  3. MJB Says:


    Why doesn’t he just come on out and call it “Occupy fill-in-the-black manufacturer”?

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    Mexico is rooting for Bob King to succeed.

  5. Dale Leonard-Lakewood,O Says:

    When all else fail,Go back to hard plastic,to turn off a buyer and cheapen a vehicle. I guess Honda didn’t learn anything from Chrysler over the years.

  6. T. Bejma Says:

    I had a good friend that was in an accident and was killed because of the track mounted restraint. She survived the accident but was strangled by the belt that would not release. I know it is just one example, but I, for one am sure glad the automakers developed better safety features.

    John – Do you think the big increase in large truck sales is a sign of a recovering economy? I sure do. The first thing to get this country going is manufacturing, and what do you need to move things around? Big trucks. Also thinking that construction must be on the rise as well because they are probably the biggest consumers in this market.

  7. Tony Gray Says:

    Another missing of the mark by Honda. I’m not sure why they have been off their game lately. The Insight, new Civic and now the redone CR-V are all huge disappointments from a company that I thought had the edge on refinement. Now I think they are at least third, behind Toyota’s perceived value, Nissan’s better styling and dynamics….and maybe soon to be beaten by….Subaru???

  8. MJB Says:


    …Well, maybe not THE most convenient feature, now that I think about combination keyless entry / push-button start.

  9. Jon M Says:

    SAY WHAT!?! Bob King is decrying injustice and corporate greed, and then telling reporters labor and management can acheive more working together. Gimmie a break! As if the UAW has such a squeaky clean track record. And yes, labor and management can achieve more working together, but what on earth would the UAW know about that? I can only hope the anitquated, counter-productive UAW does NOT get their dirty little hands on the foreign automakers in the U.S., and such a tirade by Mr. King just reinforces why.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    Honda’s new theme song should be “Missed again” by Phil Collins, while every one else’s vehicles are getting quieter and interior materials improving, Honda seems to be going against the grain, good luck! So Bob King had veins busting at the neck and coarse voice, is he trying out for the next Hulk movie?

  11. MJB Says:


    T, I’m VERY sorry to hear about your friend.

    Out of respect for her and others who suffered similar fates, I respectfully ammend my comments to say only that for me, that belt was a great asset. I certainly don’t want to make it seem as though anybody who disagrees or has had experiences divergent to mine was just griping for now reason.

  12. MJB Says:

    #11 …Correction: for “no” reason.

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like the keyless start on my Prius, and would like automatic seat belts, if they were as safe and functional as regular belts.

    In the late 80′s and early 90′s, some cars used door-mounted belts which were a single belt that was neither a lap or shoulder belt, and would not be good in a crash. That setup complied with the “passive restraint” law at the time, and GM, and others used it.

  14. C-Tech Says:

    The new Kia, soon to be the K-9? Really John?

  15. C-Tech Says:

    The lighted seat belt buckle I think is a good idea from M-B. The motorized seat belt buckle, another motorized item which is heavier than the original and prone to breakage, perhaps not so good M-B.

  16. C-Tech Says:

    35 million vehicles in China will drive gas prices to what level? $7/gallon?

  17. MJB Says:


    Global Econ. 101 question here. If China is the one with the high demand, won’t they be the ones getting stuck with higher gas prices?

    I’m only asking because of the difference in gas prices between here and Europe. I have zero knowledge of what effects those price differences, but thought it might have something to do with different countries being charged different rates for the same gas???

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Opec sets prices based on demand, regardless of where it comes from. So even if we use less, and they use more, prices will go up anyway.

  19. C-Tech Says:

    In Europe, the higher gas prices (than the U.S.)have to do with higher fuel taxes. The base price for oil is roughly the same.

  20. C-Tech Says:

    Hey Pedro, what’s happening with the Journey’s brakes? Did the dealer take care of them?

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    yes but since the warranty is over in 14 mos and its been 3 times in less than 2 yrs, she is starting the Lemon Law proceedings with the state of Fl otherwise she will have to get rid of it before the warranty ends and the resale price of that vehicle is indeed very low, otherwise if the lemon law does not work she will need to buy an extended warranty to continue coverage, she likes the car otherwise, it’s just the damn brakes. Funny thing is that when she bought this car, she mentioned to the salesman that the previous Caravan had also notoriously bad brakes as well.

  22. MJB Says:


    Pedro, relative to your wife’s Journey, my wife’s first-gen Infiniti G35 (sedan) has always been notorious for eating brakes. I don’t know if anyone ever got the lemon law enacted due to it though.

    But knowing this going into the purchase, I simply swapped out to full ceramic pads the first time the brakes wore down and Disco, no more frequent brake jobs. Not to mention no more brake dust maring the finish of the wheels.

    I’d simply switch to ceramic pads. Unless, that is, the issue you’re having is relative to calipers.

  23. Dave Says:

    Agree with previous comment about the new MB seat belts. Lighting is a fantastic idea (assuming it goes off when you buckle it!), I’m amazed that wasn’t thought of decades ago. However moving it up and down may not be so great, just one more power accessory you’re going to end up paying big money to replace sooner than you’d like. I wouldn’t pay extra for either one in my own car because I’ve never had trouble buckling the seat belt, but I presume others probably would.

    Honda is definitely lost in the dark these days. They’re trying to compete on price by making things cheaper, but that’s not what got them the reputation for quality and reliability that drove their sales the last couple decades. There’s also a big difference between cheaper from the ground up and throughout the company, and cheapened at the last minute by removing features and materials. They also don’t seem to be doing much innovating these days, more playing catch up with everyone else.

  24. Chuck Grenci Says:

    John, this is not the first time you mention that a lead in truck sales is a harbinger of good economic recovery; well, I believe you, but you have to admit you have been proclaiming higher truck sales for months. Admittedly, we are crawling out of bad economic times, but there sure is a lag between the higher truck sales and a more enlightened recovery. I think we still have a way to go; hope we can sell a lot more ‘big trucks’ (if you know what I’m getting at).

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    #22 the problem with that Journey is that they made the brakes too small for such a heavy vehicle, and it seems to affect it more if you do a lot of stop and go driving, those with a lot of highway miles don’t seem to have it so bad

  26. Jim Thykeson Says:

    To Jon M. and his rant against the UAW, he should realize (although I think this new crop of workers have been Wal-martized to the point they don’t ever hope for a good wage again in their lifetimes) that if the ‘righties’ keep brain-washing these poor, pathetic, dumb-asses to vote against THEIR OWN GOOD, we will ALL be working for minimum-wage and part-time! There are no good jobs since these idiots have broken the unions to the extent that now their going after not private unions but public ones like firemen, policemen, nurses, teachers, etc. Where does it stop? Not until everybody in this country is broke, living on credit-cards, has no value in their homes, can’t afford gas or food because they don’t make enough money! And oh yes! remember they want you to believe its YOUR fault for having the audacity to ask for a living-wage.

  27. Jim Thykeson Says:

    Remember ‘union-haters’, this bill that was rammed through just last week by the right-wing nut machine regarding the FAA funding had a rider in it that will give you the assurance that your pilot is being paid no more than the taxi driver in any major city. Gives you confidence, huh!? Corporations want to get all workers (and pilots) to agree to the lowest branch of the 2-tier wage system, and unfortunately they are in fear they’ll lose their jobs (they have) or have them out-sourced (they will) so the UAW and all unions have given much to the cause of austerity (in fact I think their the only ones that have). Workers better wise-up as to what the FOX ‘righties’ are doing to them before its too late. If you work (hell if you got time to sit around and tap on your computer all day maybe, good chance, you don’t) don’t agree to not having a living-wage, no pension, no healthcare, no future by agreeing with these goons!

  28. C-Tech Says:

    @ #25
    I don’t think the brakes are too small, it may be the composition of the pads, the number of fins in the rotor, or the balance of front to rear braking. All of these affect dissapation of heat. Converting motion to heat is what braking is all about!

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    #28 read the specs and the weight of the vehicle and then look up similar vehicles in the same weight class and you will see what I mean! They kept the same size as the Caliber from which it’s based even though the latter is a much lighter, smaller car.

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    Besides, whenever they take a base car, add more power to it, besides the suspension and wheels, they add better braking hardware to it. I suppose the Journey R/T should have better brakes.

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ctech look it up on vehix.com and you will see Chrysler makes a habit of using too small rotors for their cars, the Caravan actually has smaller rotors than even the Journey which is bad engineering

  32. cwolf Says:

    The UAW has made more than its share of consessions to save the auto industry and to save jobs.Though a tough pill to swallow,it is self evident that quality has vastly improved. Goal sharing between union and manufacturer is proving to be a win/win situation; King’s place on the Opel board at GM’s request is a testament to their willingness to partner together. Any movement to fight corporate greed is news to me and demondstrating at the GE conference is no indication of the UAW focus. The movement is pure political aimed at right wingers and their push towards right to work legislation. The UAW has drawn the line in the sand to oppose such supporters and measures at all costs. I have no clue of the outcome,but I can predict that if the union faulters,the wages and benifits of every transplant will experience the same fate as the UAW.

  33. C-Tech Says:

    Pedro, its not just the size of the rotors which determine braking, its also the size of the pads, the effectiveness of the calipers (the reason for multiple pistons), etc. There are too many people who seem to be okay with the brakes with the Journey

  34. C-Tech Says:

    I suspect the dealer may NOT have gotten to the source of the problem.

  35. Jim Thykeson Says:

    Yes cWolf, your exactly right. ALL of the concessions that have been given in the name of ‘compromise’ have been on one side, and one side only. Workers have borne all of this brundt.

  36. W L Simpson Says:

    Re; seat belts–just bought & rebuilt a 2010 Terrain for myself.(T-boned a semi)
    When the bags are triggered , the seat belt
    buckle is gas fired downward to further secure the occupant. Same thing happens to the ratchet on the other end of the belt . The main collision trigger
    is buried beneath the console , requiring seat & console removal for access/ replacement. The side bags destroy the headliner. All told, interior repairs were a large part of the total

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    C tech this is a big deal and there is a class action suit going on against Chrysler for that same reason. The dealer has replaced both pads and rotors in front 3 times in less than 2 yrs and once in the rear, car has about 17k miles only, I’ve done my brakes maybe 4 times in 14 yrs and 330k.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    Well, re all this UAW talk, they seem to forget that NAFTA created the right to work state called Mejico!

  39. cwolf Says:

    I have to agree with pedro 100%. My brother has the same problem. Clearly the brake system cannot handle the weight of the vehicle. I don’t care if the pads are 1/8 or 2 inch thick. They still completely contact the rotor. The rotors warp clear and simple! The pads soon follow! Too much heat is generated upon breaking is the problem and it is one that has been evident for a very long time.

  40. pedro fernandez Says:

    Imagine,in a hilly area where most folks don’t bother to downshift going downhill, the wear must be even worse than flat So Fl.

  41. Lex Says:

    John McElroy,

    It is unfortunate that your review of the New CR-V was poor. My Family are all loyal Honda Owners. However when it comes time to get new vehicles Hyundai / Kia models will be on thr top of our shopping lists. I do like the idea that the New Acura RDX will have a V6.

  42. cwolf Says:

    J Thykeson RE#35
    I disagree with you and suspect you are not as sensitive as I that many others also shared in our sacrifices, including those bailed out, which includes Ford. You have to understand that legacy costs and a company’s good ol’boy attitudes killed us as a competitor. Face it! We brought a deserving portion of this upon ourselves. I will agree, you and I are experiencing the consequences,yet have cause to stand tall as to how we have progressed and helped make our industry profitable once again. Now we must redirect our sacrifices to overcome those who’s goals are to exterminate unionization all together. Perhaps I do not share the depth of devotion towards the UAW as you do,but I think we and some on this forum will better accept the importance of protecting the middle class. Let us support those who do.

  43. cwolf Says:

    No one can dispute the CR-V sales numbers in the past and I,a UAW guy,was attracted enough to test drive one. It is a nice SUV. I am one who can live with too much plastic because it is easier to clean. It cannot be denied that the car is very functional and of the right size. Without a doubt the noise and ride made me think it followed the Hyundai trend. John Mc and all media folk can glamorize the Hyundai all they want but Hyundai is a piece of crap in a tiring design and Honda is cutting so many corners they are becoming twin turds.

  44. cwolf Says:

    I expect auto was blocked from posting comments but who was the other?

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    I suspect TJ as well and nothing from HtG either! Honda misses the mark again with the CRV pulling the same cheapo thing as the Civic, if they don’t turn things around with their bread and butter Accord, they got serious problems, cut cutting is a very tricky thing

  46. cwolf Says:

    I will not jump the gun and will give ample time for tj and HtG replies. I think we all are aware of tj’s opinions-as-fact attitude,yet for those of us who have come to know him view his remarks as harmless challenges. Htg was never questionable in my view. If either of these two have been blocked, I hope you and others will join me in making our objection known to McElroy. If tj or HtG are blocked how many of you will support their return to this forum? Please state you support and address it to McElroy. These two guys help make this forum fun,informative and reason to think they are more idiotic than you are!

  47. cwolf Says:

    To John McElroy
    Auto Line Detroit

    Please inform us of the two participants that have been blocked from posting comments. Divulging these identities will serve as an example of what you have deemed appropriate behavior at no consequence to them. To the point: blocking tj or HtG from this site may have a negative effect on the number of daily participants to this site. Allow me to regretably state that I will be the first to find an alternate source for my auto news if these gentlemen are no longer welcome.

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    I agree, without insults, an engaging difference of opinions make this blog interesting and compelling, I have learned a lot from reading notes from those who are more informed than me and also enjoy sharing info and ideas with all those here who have a passion for the auto business and the products themselves.

  49. Ed K Says:

    John, can you give us the staight scoop on the loans given to GM and Chrysler? Have they indeed paid them back as they claim or is there fancy book keeping going on? Thanks.

  50. pedro fernandez Says:

    From Yahoo autos article, the price of new cars is as high as it has ever been (adjusting for inflation) this is the main reason volume stays the same, despite the age of the avg car keeps rising and there is a pent-up demand. But combined with economic uncertainty this forces people to give up or go for the used market instead.

  51. cwolf Says:

    How many of you really think the increase in sales in China years from now is going to impact any other than China? GM,MB or BMW will continue to be lucky to increase what profits they have as long as 50% goes to Chinaland as well as the technology that the chinks can”t steal or copy. China’s left hand does’nt know what the right hand is doing. Inflation is upon them and they can’t stop printing money fast enough. If ever they are confronted for their currency manipulation,they will have more important things to do instead of buying half the assets of your city.

  52. pedro fernandez Says:

    CWolf if the rest of the world’s economy takes a dump, the Chinese won’t be able to sell their crap either and the big industrial hybrid commie/capitalist experiment will suffer and they will get a taste of what the West is experiencing now.

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Come on, you know 101 and tj were the ones blocked. I may have been close, but HtG, no way.

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    As far as hard plastics in car interiors, I think they are a great material. They are durable, and easy to clean. I never touch anything in a car except the controls and seats, so what difference does it make if stuff is hard?

    I haven’t seen a new CRV up close, so I’ll probably go to the dealer this weekend and check it out. I’m curious about what the interior looks like.

  55. Cody Says:

    The Kia KH looks EXACTLY like the BMW 6 Series! Just look at the headlamps, tail lamps, and side profile. I appreciate Kia/Hyundai for becoming the fastest growing car company in America, but that’s because the percentage to other brands doesn’t compare. Why can’t the Asian car companies (besides Toyota Co.) create their own design language??

  56. Kit Gerhart Says:

    meant to say, @cwolf, #47

  57. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The price of cars and economic uncertainty hurts car sales, but also, cars last longer. When I started driving in the 60′s, it was rare for a car to run 100K miles without an engine overhaul. Also, cars would have major rust in five years, even though they didn’t salt roads nearly as heavily (up north) as they do now. Today’s cars routinely run 200K plus miles, and will last 15-20 years before rust makes them unsafe, even with Indiana’s road salt.

  58. Alex Kovnat Says:


    The UAW is just another special interest group, the way I see it.

    Nobody would take the CEO of General Motors seriously if he were to proclaim that anything that’s good for GM is also good for the country. So why should we assume that whatever’s good for the UAW is good for the country?

  59. pedro fernandez Says:

    #54 I agree, what is the beef against “hard plastics” when did we ever have “soft plastics” anyway? If you want soft, then get leather and pay the big buck$ associated with it, as long as the plastic is durable and does not crack like they used to so often with the hot sun.

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Plastic in cars also used to fade a lot from the sun, but they have improved that substantially.

  61. bob e K Says:

    I especially like the flexible plastics used in bumpers rocker panels etc. no more rust like chrome ! plus they somewhat ding resistant!

  62. pedro fernandez Says:

    my son’s xB has grainy type plastic which is hard to clean and does not take Armor All well, it gives it a “utilitarian” type of look and feel

  63. pedro fernandez Says:

    #60 agree as long as there is something “substantial” back there to support and back up the flexible plastic bumpers, which BTW if not properly painted in the body shop, will peel and fade away quickly.

  64. Bob e K Says:

    I agree Pedro…I’ve seen lots of paint peeling problems…and big dents

  65. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve heard that you should not use ArmorAll on anything that you care about having very long. Over time, it will accelerate deterioration of the plastic, especially vinyl, like dash pads.

    What I’ve heard may be incorrect, but it makes sense that if Armor All were good, car owner’s manuals would say to use it, which they don’t seem to.

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    When repainting plastic bumpers, shops are supposed to use plasticizer, or “flex additive” in the paint to make it flexible. If you don’t, the paint will crack and peel easily if the bumper is flexed.

  67. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, I’ve heard that it protects the top of the dash from sun damage but I don’t like the glare that the shiny surface produces, so I’d rather not use it, If I need to park the car a few hours under the hot Fl sun, I use a windshield accordion which not only protects but keeps the inside a bit cooler, I remember, I had a car with no window tinting at all, drove from Jersey to Disney World in July and had it parked all day in the sun, when we came out I could not even touch the steering wheel and had to get a rag just to get the key in the starter, the steering wheel actually got soft to the point I thought it would melt.