Episode 866 – Government Rakes in Auto Taxes, Ford Plugged In, New Mercedes-Benz G-Class

April 11th, 2012 at 11:50am

Runtime: 6:53

A new study from the Center for Automotive Research says that the federal and state governments in the U.S. collected $135 billion in tax revenues from the auto industry in 2010. Ford is going to use a reality show on the internet to market its electric vehicles. Mercedes-Benz has updated its iconic G-Class. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in “You Said It!”

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Welcome to Autoline Daily for April 11th. I’m John McElroy and here’s the news.

A new study from the Center for Automotive Research helps explain why the government was so interested in bailing out the auto industry. In 2010, the production, sales, service and use of automobiles contributed $135 billion to federal and state tax revenues. And the auto industry accounts for 13 percent of all states’ tax revenue. The number includes sales taxes, taxes collected from employees at auto companies, taxes and fees from fuel, registrations and licenses from drivers, as well as corporate taxes. The report was funded by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Ford is going to use a reality show on the internet to market its electric vehicles. Called “Plugged In,” the show will use celebrities and contestants on scavenger hunts that will also show viewers how to use and recharge electric cars. Bloomberg reports this will be significantly cheaper than a traditional television advertising campaign. And a key reason why Ford is going the cheaper route is that sales of all-electric cars are coming in well below early forecasts.

Autonomous autos are the future. They’re not here yet, but they’re coming on quick. If you just can’t wait that long, a guy has posted a step-by-step guide on the website Instructables.com of how you can build your own self-driving car right now. Of course it’s not a real vehicle, so don’t expect to take a nap on your commute to work tomorrow morning. This self-driving radio-controlled car was constructed out of basic electronic parts and is capable of sensing and avoiding objects in its path. Pretty neat!

Mercedes-Benz has updated its iconic G-Class. This boxy brute received a host of minor upgrades including LED daytime running lamps, a brand-new center console and instrument cluster plus the latest version of the company’s COMMAND infotainment system. A new twin-turbo V-8 engine is offered in the G63 AMG model. It belts out 544 horsepower and 560 pound-feet of torque, but best of all it features stop/start to save fuel.

I guess smoking cigarettes and driving fast cars go together. South Korea’s largest tobacco company, KT&G will launch a new cigarette named after Lamborghini, and will even feature the Italian automaker’s logo of a bull on cigarette packs. I don’t know, licensing a car brand on a pack of cigarettes sounds like a drag to me.

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


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

A number of you responded to our report that six years after Lincoln changed from names to letters on its cars, the old names still have better name recognition. G.A. Branigan says, “Use the names the people know. Not sure it will help, but at least the public will know what they’re NOT buying.”

And Ckernzie says, “Bottom line on the Lincoln MKBS is that if car guys & gals, who live and breath this stuff, can’t keep your models straight then you’ve got a marketing problem! Admit the mistake, like the 500/Taurus stupidity, and change things back or you’ll languish in MarKeting hell.”

Amen, Ckernzie. All Lincoln did was copy what BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi do, and copying the competition will never put you in a leadership position.

Flatbackstrat didn’t like the way that I pronounced the name of Mazda’s baseball team, the Hiroshima Carp. “Hee row hee mah!!! It seems people are incapable of pronouncing it properly.”

I don’t know about that Flatbackstrat, I’ve heard people in Japan pronounce it both ways. In fact, half of them don’t say Mahzda, they say Maaazda.

EdK liked what he heard about the new Ram pickup. “I’ve been wondering for years why the automakers didn’t use air ride suspension at least in the rear for the pickup trucks since most go down the road with no load and stiff rear springs. Kudos Chrysler. Wish they would have given the mileage figures for the V-6 with the 8 speed auto trans. Do you know what they are projected to be John?”

EdK, all we know is that Ram says it’s going to beat the fuel economy of a base F-150 with a 3.7-liter V-6, which gets slightly better fuel economy than the 3.5-liter EcoBoost by the way. Anyway, that would suggest the Ram would get a combined 20 miles per gallon, or 24 on the highway. That highway figure is about 10 liters per 100 kilometers.

C-Tech loved our report on the Fiat Abarth, especially that you get a track day as part of the package. “I’ve seen the Abarth in person and it does look pretty cool. The track day is an excellent bonus at that price.”

C-Tech, I hope every performance car follows suit and offers a track day.

And finally, Lex reports that, “Based upon your recommendation I went to Katz’s Deli before heading over to the NY Auto Show. We had a great time at the show, and were able to walk off the pastrami on rye we had at Katz’s.”

Boy, those things are filling, aren’t they? But man, do they taste good. Thanks for all your letters and comments, we sure love getting them.

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

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16 Comments to “Episode 866 – Government Rakes in Auto Taxes, Ford Plugged In, New Mercedes-Benz G-Class”

  1. HtG Says:

    RAM 1500 mileage. I was told at the show that they were still working on the number. Man alive does that truck go up and down quick! Maybe Cheech and Chong have a worthy co-star
    track days. If you have any pretensions to driving in a spirited manner, getting some training so you won’t be limited by your own lack of skills. You’ll save money too, since it becomes obvious how silly high performance cars are on the street.

  2. Jon M. Says:

    Time will tell how Ford’s creative marketing strategy via a (pseudo) reality show will fare for their EVs, as well as EVs in general. But what strikes me funny is how at a time when most things are going wireless, automakers are designing cars to be wired! Perhaps that contributes to the low sales volume of EVs.

  3. T. Bejma Says:

    HtG – Sorry, just got to reading yesterday’s comments, but LOVE the coverage of the NY Show. Almost like I was there. Very entertaining commentary too! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. HtG Says:

    Thanks TB. The automakers put on a great show. You could easily spend a whole day there if your brain didn’t get fried first. Loads of people were at the GM pavilion when I was there mid-Saturday.(I got to get me a decent camera. I was using a pair of disposable 400 speed CVS toys)

  5. cwolf Says:

    All that tax money resulting from the auto sector gives justification for the bail-outs and Europe seems to be reaping its own rewards from the industry. But…I suggest not letting ones hopes get too high!;The situation in Europe and China is not going to be pretty for many months ahead and sure enough we will feel their effects. I expect car sales to taper as the election nears. Due to inflation spikes in China and other internal uncertainties,I predict BMW sales will also drop. There are still opportunities in the market,if one is savvy,but soon you better hold on to your socks my friends!

  6. C-Tech Says:

    A do-it-yourself autonomous auto? Riding the equivalent of a Roomba robot vacuum does not appeal to me.

  7. C-Tech Says:

    All the tax money rolling in from the bailouts, here comes an Obama reelection commercial.

  8. C-Tech Says:

    Disney will be closing the GM Test Track site at EPCOT center for renovation and updating. GM has signed a new promotion deal with Disney. This is your last chance to see Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn, and Saab on a GM display.

  9. cwolf Says:

    Your comment seems logical,but I doubt neither party will cast a light on this. The total amount added to the till is a pittance of the annual budget;a negative for the Dems. The Reps. won’t touch it because the cash was a much needed influx of revenue rendered through middle class taxation. What a better slant would be is to highlight the fact that the middle class accounted for the larger portion of the tax revenue and executives,GM in particular,wanted to give themselves raises and bonuses.

  10. cwolf Says:

    Gosh, C-Tech, your reference to a Hummer gave a thought to me. Given I commute a good distance,I have seen more Hummers on the road than Volts! What a silly,but true, observance.

  11. cwolf Says:

    I just can’t wait for the new Merc. G-class! I now have reason to sight in my buffalo and elephant rifle! With that start/stop get-up,I just hope I don’t get charged by a rhino!

  12. HtG Says:

    Blackjack! Pedro. I’ve now seen 21 Volts on the road.

    What are we playing, now?

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I hope they don’t change Test Track too much. I always liked it, especially the “outdoor” part. Just make that longer, and speed it up.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG I guess I live in an anti Volt area of the country cause I’ve seen a grand total of 2 on the road, the other day I passed by a condo parking lot and this guy was showing off his to a few neighbors and I’m saying where is this guy charging this thing? Needless to say I did hear the engine running so I guess he was out of juice, how stupid to buy an EV and you can’t charge at home.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    #13 with today’s conservation push I would not be surprised if they used Volt simulators going 30 mph and showing the kiddies how to get Mom and Dad to slow down and save fuel. No more high speed run, that is wasteful 20th Century thinking!

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, it will be interesting to see what they do with it. They still make Corvettes, which would fit with a “fast” theme.