Episode 896 – Hyundai-Kia #1 By 2020?, Fiat & Mazda Partner on Sports Car, Chinese Exports Grow

May 23rd, 2012 at 11:30am

Runtime: 7:33

A professor at the Center for Automotive Research in Germany predicts that Hyundai-Kia will overtake Volkswagen to become the largest automaker in the world by 2020. Fiat and Mazda just partnered up to jointly develop a sports car based on the next generation MX-5 Miata. General Motors, Daimler, BMW, PSA and Honda are all shipping vehicles out of China. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in “You Said It!”

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Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily for May 23rd. I’m John McElroy and here’s the news.

Move over Volkswagen, here come Hyundai and Kia. While VW has a goal of becoming the largest automaker in the world by 2018, Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer at the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisberg-Essen in Germany predicts Hyundai-Kia will overtake Volkswagen to become the largest automaker in the world by 2020. He says the company is thriving because of its improved quality and styling and staying focused on its core business.

Well, the M&A movement is still going on. Fiat and Mazda just signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop a sports car based on the next generation MX-5 Miata. It will be sold as both a Mazda and an Alfa Romeo. The first cars will be made in Japan, but Alfa production could shift to Europe starting in 2015. Both Mazda and Alfa Romeo are losing money and this represents an opportunity to share costs. Mazda desperately needs to team up with another partner and Fiat needs to expand in Asia, so don’t be surprised to see these two companies announce further joint efforts, provided that this one proceeds smoothly.

Chinese car exports are on the rise. According to WardsAuto, exports were up 50 percent last year to nearly 850,000 units. But it’s not just the domestic brands that are exporting cars. General Motors, Daimler, BMW, PSA and Honda are all shipping vehicles out of China. So far those exports are not going to the European or U.S. markets, but it’s only a matter of time. From here on out all Honda Fits sold in Canada will be made in China.

On the racing front, both Ford and Toyota have new bodies to run in the 2013 NASCAR season. And they’re desperately trying to make the cars on the track look more like the ones in the showrooms. Ford is showing off its NASCAR version of the Fusion, while Toyota is doing the same with the Camry. Of course, the similarity is only skin deep. They may call it stock car racing, but there’s nothing stock about these cars.

Modern cars are amazing – fast, powerful, efficient and refined. Even your average four-cylinder family sedan will out run, out turn and out stop performance cars from just a few decades ago. Jalopnik readers compiled a “black list” of the 10 slowest sports cars of all time. Some of the notable machines in this “hall of shame” include the 1980 Ferrari Mondial, which apparently took 9.4 seconds to accelerate to 60 miles an hour. Another surprise was the 1990 Mazda Miata, which was barely faster. Various British sports cars made the list, as did the Delorean DMC-12. It’s a wonder Marty McFly ever hit 88 miles an hour! But the slowest of the slow is the Crosley Hot Shot. Built between 1949 and 1952, this tiny two-seat delivered an equally miniscule 26 horsepower. It took a glacial 26.3 seconds to hit 60 miles an hour, but its quarter-mile speed was actually slower, meaning it wasn’t even doing a mile a minute in the 13-20! It’s amazing to see that the family minivan is faster than all these cars, and that is progress.

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


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

Edwin Benson saw our report that ethanol has lowered gasoline prices in the U.S. by a dollar a gallon and says, “Hmmm… The Ethanol Study comes from the Universities of Wisconsin and Iowa – two big farm states. Am I being conspiratorial to suggest that the ’scientists’ who ran the study could have been promoting the interests of those who pay their salaries?”

I’m glad you raised that point Edwin.  The source of any survey is something that we have to keep in mind.

Pedro Fernandez wants to know, “Any news on the plan to bring on E15? This was being discussed a couple of months ago and I have not read anything further on the subject.”

Pedro, the EPA has cleared the way for E15 even though automakers and gasoline refiners are opposed to it. Remember, there is a federal mandate for the U.S. to use 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2020. And the only way the EPA can meet that mandate is by boosting the amount of ethanol in gasoline. Biodiesel counts, too, but the real volume is in ethanol.

C-Tech loved our interview with the head of SRT and design at Chrysler. “The interview with Ralph Gilles was great. I love that he did not hold back. I hope you have him on again, perhaps after the Dart has been out for a year.”

You’re right, that was a terrific Autoline After Hours with Ralph. I think we all got more inside information on the development of the new Viper than has come out anywhere else.

Chuck Grenci loved my rant debunking an internet rant where some knucklehead accused the U.S. government of preventing diesels from being sold here because it worried about losing tax revenue. “Thanks John for the ‘debunk’ of that morons tirade; you did it much more eloquently and comprehensively than a lot of others that might have tried. When I first saw the video my B.S. meter was pegged, glad you took the bull by the horns and responded accordingly.”

Ron Paris had this to say. “The fact that the guy in the internet video opens by stating that he drove his rental VW 2100 miles in 2.5 weeks and isn’t sure whether it was a Golf or a Passat raises an immediate red flag for me!”

Boy, isn’t that the truth. He presents himself as someone who’s done all kinds of research, and he isn’t even sure what kind of car he was driving.

Thanks for all your letters and comments, we truly enjoy going through them.

Say, what does the future hold in store for Buick? Well, we’ll learn a lot more about that tomorrow night on Autoline After Hours. Our guest is Craig Bierley, the marketing manager for the Buick brand. So join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, for the best insider discussion in the business.

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

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24 Comments to “Episode 896 – Hyundai-Kia #1 By 2020?, Fiat & Mazda Partner on Sports Car, Chinese Exports Grow”

  1. Mark Says:

    Hey John, if China start exporting cars to the United States, I hope we have brains to stick them with equal tariffs on their cars. When you mentioned yesterday that they charge a 25 percent tariff on imported vehicles, plus another 22 percent for vehicles imported from the United States, I was really surprised and outraged.

  2. Tony Gray Says:

    I’ll try and tune in for AAH. Buick needs to press a bit harder on the accelerator in my opinion.

    The interiors are nice, the exteriors are attractive, but their powerplants are just not up to par with their competition.

    Even the Regal GS is lame on “juice”. It isn’t much quicker than the mainstream Hyundai Sonata Turbo let alone it’s targeted foes.

  3. Mike Says:

    From personal experience I can say the 2.4L 4 cylinder doesn’t give the kind of gas mileage you might expect in a car the size of the Regal. My 2011 only gets 20 mpg around town and maybe 28 or 30 on the road. People want better gas mileage than that. So, they are lame on the “juice” (see above) and lame on the gas mileage.

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Chinese raised hell for the tariffs on their crappy, unsafe at any speeds tires, imagine what they will do if we dare put tariffs on their blessed cars. I know the best type of tariff; DON’T BUY THEM!

  5. Phoenix Mark Says:

    If we “need” to get more ethanol into gas why not just increase the availablity of E85?

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    Most people I’ve met that have an E85 vehicle don’t even use that fuel, even with its lower cost.

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    I for one believe that H/K prediction of being #1 in the future, unless the Toyota/Subaru partnership produces cars as well received as the new FRS/BRZ twins.

  8. Jim Thykeson Says:

    Another big lie by ‘big-oil’ is E-85 needs more testing…might be bad for engines, etc. Brazil has moved into superstardom by using the stuff, and is even exporting it! They are not dependent on middle-east oil while enjoying a cleaner, greener, more powerful fuel, and oh, by the way, cheaper! Amazing, what can be accomplished when a country is not tethered to mega-corp. interests!

  9. Jim Thykeson Says:

    If you can’t beat em’…copy em! Thats how KIA got into the game with their little ‘ute’ that copied Merc’s m-55′ all those yrs. ago. This Sonata phenomina is all about cloning a little Merc 300, but doing it better, cheaper, and prettier! Hey!, it worked. Well then, why don’t we do a big Merc! Viola! Geneisis is born! Should have never taught these guys that ‘capitalist’ game…their killing us with it. In fact, you hear about these hedge-fund guys being paid these outregeous salaries, they need to pay Hyundais design team about a bill.! They are the ones who put this obscure co. at the top of the heap in a matter of a few short yrs.!!

  10. Tony Gray Says:

    Right on target Jim.

    DESIGN is the key for most consumer vehicles. It always amazes me how folks who should know better can continue to churn out bland, half baked cars and trucks and then wonder why sales go in the tank.

    Is that the entire deal? Not at all, but with just about every car being well built and reliable, it is the emotional component taking on even greater importance in the purchasing decision.

    And my comments include engineering and styling together in design. I have purchased and driven some “less than beautiful” vehicles in my time, but none were poorly designed. (At least I didn’t think so when I bought them!)

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It is nearly impossible to find a place to buy E85, even in the “corn belt” of Indiana. If it were available, people would at least try it. I don’t know how the cost per mile would compare with regular gas, but that’s a moot point if you have to drive 75 miles to fill up with E85.

    I’ve known of one person who has used E85, in a 2000 Chrysler minivan, and they said it ran exactly the same as on gas, the best they could tell.

  12. W L Simpson Says:

    16-18 days for a car to float from China to Canada. I wonder how much it costs, on a per car basis

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Design has helped H/K get where they are now, but it’s also quality. Those first Hyundai Excells were unreliable, even though they were simple, basic cars. Even with today’s products, Hyundai wouldn’t be where they are if they trailed Land Rover in reliability. You can only get by with crappy reliability in European “prestige” makes.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit I find it strange that there are no E85 stations in your area in Fla, over here there are quite a few, but they’re all no-name independent dealers. No brand name stations carry it.

  15. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I am on my second vehicle that is E85 capable,I have yet to find any to run.A google search didn’t show anyplace within 200 miles that sold E85.WTF………..over?I’m dying to try it.Maybe in my next life…..

  16. dcars Says:

    I think Chevy is changing the look of the Nascar Impala to look like the new Chevy SS. It doesn’t appear that Dodge has a team for next season yet they also changed their race car.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There are two E85 stations within 20 miles of my place, but both are on Air Force stations where you need a badge to access them. The closest public one is about 50 miles away in Orlando.

    What I find even more strange is that a year ago, the closest one to where I grew up in central Indiana was about 30 miles away, even though I’m surrounded by fields of corn probably used to make the ethanol. I just checked, and there is now a McClure station nearby that has it. McClure seems to be Indiana’s version of Race Trac, or something similar.

  18. Brett Says:

    I seem to recall in David Halberstam’s book “The Reckoning”, that the Koreans were said to refer to the Japanese as “The lazy Asians”.

    I’ve had to chuckle to myself when friends or family spouted off derisively when I suggested that a Hyundai or Kia might be a good selection to consider for their next vehicle.

    The Korean’s have a different approach to business competition, too. They go “all in” to the extent that failure is fatal. (think “Daewoo”) Considering that Hyundai/Kia are two sides of the same corporate coin, I’d say they’ve “won” as the Korean automobile mfg in North America. Now they’ll turn their attention to the Japanese companies here and try beat them.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    #18 according to some here, Daewoo under GM is not a failure at all, they engineer, design and build wonderful vehicles for world-wide consumption.

  20. Earl Says:

    #9…I don’t know which little ‘ute’ you’re referring to but if it’s the Kia Soul you’re right on. Chrysler abandoned the ‘PT and GM did the same with the ‘HHR’. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Kia sold 150,000 of them in NA this year.
    As for the Sonata that came out in 2011,after 3 years they’re going to update it. Domestics usually wait 6 years.
    As for the Genesis sedan…Lincoln Town Car and Lexus ES350 owners are are giving this car a look.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Town Car owners who are going to buy another car should really give Genesis a look. Ford completely abandoned them when they dropped the Town Car and told them they wanted a gussied up Taurus. What they really wanted was a gussied up, and stretched Crown Vic. The Genesis could be an infinitely better version of that car, if they’d stretch it a little.

  22. Mike Says:

    H/K #1 by 2020? Sure. GM will roll over and play dead. But H/K will have to get past VW and Toyota. That might be more difficult.

  23. Brett Says:


    Perhaps, but they’re not an independent Korean automaker selling into the United States. They failed and were acquired by GM. They lost. Hyundai/Kia won.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I just took a look at window stickers of Camrys and Fusions to check the “American-ness.” As we probably all know, the stickers only give “US and Canada content.” US content is not separated out. Anyway, the US and Canada content is:

    Camry 75%
    Fusion 30%

    These numbers take into account assembly, parts manufacture, etc.