Episode 910 – Euro Exec’s Worried, New Mercedes-Benz GLK, 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Pricing

June 13th, 2012 at 11:40am

Runtime: 7:58

Automotive executives in Europe are worried about a stagnant economy and slumping car sales. Mercedes-Benz introduced a refreshed version of its GLK sport-utility vehicle. Hyundai just announced the starting price of the 2013 Elantra GT. All that and more, plus John answers your questions and comments in “You Said It!”

Visit our sponsors to thank them for their support of Autoline Daily: BorgWarner, Bosch, Bridgestone and Dow Automotive Systems

»Subscribe to Podcast | iTunes | Zune | RSS | Listen on Phone Stitcher

Welcome to Autoline Daily, I’m John McElroy and here’s the news.

Automotive executives in Europe are sounding desperate. Reuters reports that Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn says the European car market, at best, faces three to four years of stagnation. Car sales in France are down 16 percent this year. The Wall Street Journal reports that Carlos Tavares, the COO of Renault, is calling for government support of the auto industry. And Bloomberg reports that GM CEO Dan Ackerson blames the company’s weak stock price on its money-losing operations in Europe. Here’s my Autoline Insight. Carlos Ghosn has got it right. The European car market is going to be in trouble for years to come.

The World Health Organization just came out with a report saying that diesel emissions cause cancer. Of course, there’s nothing new in those findings. We’ve known that for 30 years. And it also ignores the fact that diesels are much cleaner now. In the U.S., the latest EPA regulations make diesels as clean as gasoline engines. And in Europe, regulators are so impressed with the effectiveness of particulate filters on diesels, they’re considering mandating them for gasoline engines.

Mercedes-Benz is introducing a refreshed version of its GLK sport-utility vehicle. It gets nearly 1,000 new parts including a bolder exterior design, a spiffy looking new interior and updated powertrains. Its 3.5-liter V-6 engine features direct injection and cranks out 302 horsepower, and gets a start/stop system. A four-cylinder BlueTEC diesel is set to arrive in North America early next year, delivering around 190 horsepower. Of course the redesigned GLK has more technology than the Consumer Electronics Show – all kinds of features like blind-spot monitoring, adaptive high beams and Active Park Assist. No pricing information has been given, yet.

Hyundai just announced the starting price of the 2013 Elantra GT. The hatchback’s base price is about $18,400 without destination charges. Standard features include alloy wheels, 7 airbags, heated seats, Blue Link, and fog lamps. More details about the car will be announced later. Hyundai will also introduce a coupe version of the Elantra later in the year.

Traffic jams in Beijing are way down. The average back-up is about 55 minutes compared to about two and a half hours in 2010. That’s thanks to limiting the number of new vehicles sold in the city and more citizens using public transportation. But the city is still concerned about vehicle emissions, so government officials have come up with a plan that will restrict the use of vehicles on certain days, prohibit high-emission vehicles from being driven on specific roads, encourage purchases of hybrids and EVs, and expand public transportation.

OK, we’re only reporting this one because everyone seems interested. A Chinese and Swedish investment group is buying Saab and want to turn it into an electric-vehicle brand! As if they didn’t have enough trouble selling conventional cars! Good luck, guys! I give this effort absolutely zero chance of succeeding.

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


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

Bob in Atlanta saw our report that the UAW is going to try and unionize Nissan. “As an auto consumer, I wonder exactly what value is added to a vehicle by having it assembled by UAW members?”

Bob that is a question the UAW better figure out how to answer. Because right now there is no advantage whatsoever. The union will argue otherwise, but the vast majority of car buyers don’t care at all.

Ron Paris is glad to see “Click & Clack: The Tappet Brothers” retiring from their radio show, “Car Talk.” “No great loss. Never understood why this show was so popular, but then I have never been an NPR fan. Always seemed to be an auto-related show for the non-gearhead and/or people who didn’t really give two hoots about cars. Often full of misinformation.”

Ron, I always liked the show because it was for people who don’t care that much about cars. Aside from their misguided rants against SUVs, and their overly biased praise of hybrids, they are entertaining.

Eric heard us report that the Subaru BRZ outsold the Scion FR-S and had this insight to add to the numbers. “The reason Scion only sold 86 FR-S’s in May is that those were sales for the ‘First 86.’ June 1 was the official on sale date for the FR-S.”

And of course, Eric is referring to the fact that in Japan, Toyota calls the car the 86. And thanks for that input, Eric, because I did not know that.

Lex saw our report on a new way to fix potholes and says, “Those new pothole-fixing, fluid-filled bags and tarps made out of Kevlar invented by students at Case Western Reserve University of Cleveland would disappear in 30 seconds on the streets of New York! The hoodlums and thieves would use the kevlar to make themselves bullet proof pancho’s for under their hoodies.”

HtG heard me talking on Autoline After Hours that I’ll be heading to the 24 hours of Le Mans this weekend and says, “Uh, John? I don’t want to see anymore gloating about your journey coming up this weekend. Don’t make me call the TSA, and maybe get you bumped from your flight. Nice and calm. Act like you’ve been there before.”

I don’t know, HtG, I’ve been in this business for nearly 34 years. My career has taken me all around the world on hundreds of trips to some of the nicest places, and I’ve never been more excited about the trip I’m about to take to Le Mans. I’ll try to act like I’ve been there before, but it won’t be easy.

By the way, with my trip to Le Mans, Autoline After Hours will not be happening tomorrow night since I’ll be flying to France and the Autoextremist is busy as well.

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

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

47 Comments to “Episode 910 – Euro Exec’s Worried, New Mercedes-Benz GLK, 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT Pricing”

  1. HtG Says:

    Carlos Ghosn, interviewed by WSJ, says his best case scenario for European car sales is 0-1% growth.


  2. pedro fernandez Says:

    I think I’d rather go to a Lemons race than the Le-mans, you meet a more down to earth crowd in the former, A Swedish-Chinese electric SAAB, is that a SNL skit that was rejected for being stupid?

  3. HtG Says:

    The Lemons race is this weekend at Summit Point, W Va. Put your money where your mouth is, Pedro. (kidding)

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    That is too far away, otherwise I would go, I went once to Englishtown NJ to drag-race my Scamp with its 318 engine and got my ass kicked by a pumped up Dart, I never went back for more humiliation!

  5. dcars Says:

    Here is my question for clean diesels, why bother? I just read a comparo piece for 40 mpg cars and that included the Jetta TDI. It’s stated mileage was better than the competition by just a few gallons and it’s actual driven mileage was identical. The Jetta took third place to the Cruze and Mazda 3 because it didn’t justify the added cost. It was about $2000.00 more.

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    Not to mention the price of diesel fuel, around here it is actually more expensive than premium gas. The only plus could be resale value being higher than gas models.

  7. M. Campbell Says:

    FYI: English language radio coverage began today, go to http://www.radiolemans.com for streaming or 91.2 FM for those of you at the circuit.

  8. Kate McLeod Says:

    I have such fond memories of driving to New Hampshire in Saabs to go skiing. All the MIT professors and assistant professors owned them. It just pains me to read the next installment of the “Saab story.”Saab electric? Next they’ll sell it to Syria. As Clint Eastwood says, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” That also goes for a damaged brand. Put Saab out of its misery.

  9. HtG Says:

    Audi.tv wird das video aus dem Cockpit haben, glaube ich.

    Auf wiedersehen and au revoir, John. Remember, look the nice TSA lady directly in the eyes.

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    How about coverage of the Summit Point Lemons? on TV maybe? I like those races as well as the demolition derbies. I know, I’m not normal!

  11. Lex Says:

    I saw a relatively new SAAB on the parkway recently and thought to myself that it was a very attractive vehicle. Maybe the Swedish-Chinese joint venture wanting to buy SAAB may have a chance of bring it back to life as an EV. This might be accomplished if they employ a EV/ICE setup similar to the Chevy Volt. This new SAAB would need to be lower in cost than the Volt and targeted for the mass consumer. The ICE would be either a two or three cyclinder ultra efficient and clean 1 liter engine used to generate electric power directly for the electric drive motor.
    There would be no need for a transmission and the onboard battery pack should be small in size or several conventional automotive batteries in series located under the rear seats to store excess electrical power. A roof mounted solar panel and regenerative braking would be standard. The fuel tank would be interchangable depending upon the consumers desired choice of fuel, i.e. E15,E85 or CNG.
    If Full EV operation is desired by the customer then swap out the fuel tank for additional battery packs and eliminate the ICE components. This is basically a very high volume and customizible EV. They can also copy the Fisker Business Plan, throw a whole lot of money at it and watch it fail! Even Elon Musk is more interested in Space X than little old Tesla Motors. SAAB’s new moto: “Still Alive And Breathing!”

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I kind of question the results of that (C & D) comparo, based on other tests, like CR’s, and my own experience with an older 1.9 TDI. My actual overall mileage was much better than even the highway EPA number for the car, while with other cars I’ve had, my overall average is generally less than the highway rating, CR got considerably better highway MPG from the VW TDI’s they’ve tested, than for anything except the best of the hybrids.

    As pedro says, though, diesel fuel is pricey in the U.S., making the VW less of a good buy, from a fuel cost standpoint, than some other cars.

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    #11 and no one will buy them as before, so we’re back to square one: no sales, no profits, company will go out of business again!

  14. Tony Gray Says:


  15. Jon M. Says:

    It just cracks me up when I hear modern diesel engines referred to as clean diesels. Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I understand why they’re referred to as clean and I don’t disagree with it or object to it. It just sounds like such an oxymoron, kind of like putting an extra filter on a cigarette and calling it healthy. But how else do you refer to something once regarded as dirty and smelly?

  16. W L Simpson Says:

    Lex, that makes 2 of us pushing for the kiss principle.

  17. C-Tech Says:

    The most valuable part of Saab is probably in providing parts for old Saabs

    With sales in Europe down, it will be interesting to see if VW can stay on top.

    Diesels cause cancer. Is there much that doesn’t cause cancer? Should Diesels really be at the top of the list to regulate for health reasons?

  18. C-Tech Says:

    Saab can make more money selling T-shirts and posters than EV’s or Hybrids.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Maybe SAAB could get a new lease on life selling clean 2-strokes.

  20. HtG Says:

    Here’s an article about how Cadillac may soon offer tech that will steer the car for you on the highway.


  21. Earl Says:

    I think the price between Diesel engine and Gas engine cars will come down once the Cruze diesel hits the market. And just think how much more it will come down if Hyundai decides puts a diesel in they Elantra. VW has had a bit of an exclusive on the diesel cars and when VW smells exclusive up goes the price.
    I’ve driven diesel and manual trans cars in Europe and enjoyed it. The common rail injection systems have put the fun in driving diesel and they’re certainly not noisy. The sound of RAM trucks with clattering diesels is enough to turn anybody away from diesel.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The WHO report is directed mainly at “developing” countries in Asia, South America, and Africa where they don’t have low sulphur fuel, and can’t use more modern, and cleaner diesels. Those who generated the report realize that in Europe, Australia, and more recently, the U.S. and Canada, have rather clean diesels.

  23. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Bon Voyage John, hope you have a blast at LeMans.

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    #20 a “driver” sitting with his arms crossed in front of a steering wheel just looks really strange and dumb.

  25. HtG Says:

    24 It would look correcter if the driver were texting. You combine this steering rig with adaptive cruise control, and you’ve got domination of the road by texters. I may need a new interest.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    true, or working on his laptop, only question is why not mass transit? I personally do not trust the maker of the Vega and the Citation to steer the car for me, thanks anyway.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    This is a bit off topic, but has anyone here used any of these “by the minute” rental cars? Is it much, or any cheaper than using a taxi?

  28. cwolf Says:

    I wish I had the heart to part with some of my cash to buy a GLK. The new interior is just gorgeous. I wonder if tj has his sights one one of these beauties,now that his lease may be on the downhill swing? Ya know,I kind wish he would return,under a new name if needed. It seems to work for HS,Bob,Thore and other John Does. I’m sure AD’s screener(Scott?)has his hands tied,but I sure hope he has his eye on this fella! What is the sense of banning someone if they just morph into someone else? tj sure is a character! If anyone is aware of his posts on other sights,let me know. O.K.?

  29. cwolf Says:

    Ghosn sure does have it right! His projection of a 3-4 year stagnation holds true under the present situation. Add another year or two if Greece lets go of the Euro,Spain and Italy reveal their true indebtedness or the bank funding well runs dry. I’d mension the European export countries,but it would just get too ugly. I can only recommend to keep buying products made in the US to maybe soften the blow of the tornado headed our way.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It will be interesting to see what the new engine will do for the gas mileage of the GLK350. It made a huge difference, at least in the EPA highway numbers, when they went to the direct injection 3.5 in the E-Class for the 2012 model year. As I remember, the rating increased from 24 to 31 in the E350.

  31. HtG Says:

    28 I think tjM just decided not to post anywhere, cwolf. He’d been saying he was going to sign off, and maybe posting was getting him too riled up. It’s a pity, the Maestro was a pistol.

  32. HtG Says:

    27 When I am in DC, I see Zipcars in my sister’s neighborhood of Mt Pleasant(it’s a couple miles down from the top of the diamond, if you look at the map). There are usually two cars(a Civic and a Pilot) in dedicated parking spots, on the main street. There is a bus stop, a battery of rental bikes, and the Metro is a short walk away. Near that Metro stop, there is even another lot with Zipcars. Sometimes when I walk by I see someone cleaning the cars. So at least in DC, it’s pretty easy to use these cars.

  33. C-Tech Says:

    @ #27
    Zipcar in Gainsville FL is not cheaper than a cab point to point, but it is a lot more conveinient and cheaper when you have more than one stop to make. Their weekend rates are competitive with the regular rental car companies.

  34. Charles Damery Says:

    If Diesel is so bad, why is it the prime fuel for the all the world ‘s military? And on another note, have fun at Le Mans and pay attention to the DeltaWing-Nissan, I hope it lasts the whole race, but it is Le Mans.

  35. cwolf Says:

    Kit,when you consider how top notch the GLK is,then realize its mpg’s are rubbing elbows with the Equinox mileage,I would expect to see a greter number of them in the future.

    @Auto Detroit: As a courtesy to many of your loyal followers,please consider e-mailing tj to express our interest in his well being and allow him,if only temporarily,to join us in our dialog. Do something unique,if not out of character for an auto site. Let me know if this is doable,but my e-mail is still out of order.

  36. HtG Says:

    Say cwolf, you can create a new email account for yourself at multiple sites, like google, hotmail, yahoo, etc. If you can go on the net, then you can have email, and not be limited to the email account your internet service provider has given you.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The EPA ratings for the current RWD GLK350 are a dismal 16/22, but that should improve next year. The E350 improved from 17/24 to 20/30 when they went to the GDI engine in 2012, and with more power as well. The 2013 GLK350 will have the new engine.

    The GLK 4 cylinder diesel will be interesting, but, from what I’ve read, will be available only with AWD. The Benz I might actually splurge for would be a C-Class wagon with a 4 cylinder diesel and manual transmission, like they sell in the rest of the world. It should get nearly as good of mpg as the VW diesels, or at least very good. Unfortunately, we’ll probably never see it in the U.S.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I just got an update from Michael Karesh’s “truedelta” reliability survey, and the Fiat 500 is doing great. Who’d have thought it?

  39. pedro fernandez Says:

    It’s them there Mexican workers, except for the brake issue (design flaw) my sister’s Journey has been flawless. That is except VW, seems that no matter where they’re made, they suck!

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    With the VW’s, maybe it is partly design issues. We’ll see if the new new beetle is any better, reliability-wise, than the old new beetle.

    It’s too bad VW has such iffy reliability, because they have a lot of nice cars. The Golf and Jetta Wagon are among my favorites.

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    More like VW component issues I believe, even the PT Cruiser which had been built at the same plant where they build the Journey enjoyed a good reliability history, it just that the car was left untouched and unimproved for too many years, These VW drive nice and all but I even notice the ones that are over 5 yr old, the paint wears out in the hot Fl sun.

  42. Ed Says:

    About the clean diesel, if you took a golf Tdi and a new gas cruze, loaded them down with 4 200 lb persons in each car and then went around town, then on the hwy, the diesel advantage would soon appear. in anything you need to look at the workload a thing can handle, under load a diesel shines and a cruze whines and sucks a lot of gas. That is not something usually tested but then again I only live in the real world, a place the EPA or CARB dare not go. Ed

  43. Bob in Atlanta Says:

    We had one diesel – a 2002 Jetta 1.8 TDI we called “Stinky”. Great driver, but the fuel and exhaust smelled, and there was always an oil slick on the pavement at the diesel pump. And how many times did I have to wait for the one diesel pump while a commercial vehicle filled up? One diesel was enough.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I had one diesel, the ’04 Jetta wagon I’ve mentioned before. I liked the fuel economy, and the great range between fillups. The biggest reason I only kept it two years, was that you couldn’t buy the “approved” oil except at a dealer. Also, I was able to come out very well selling it at a time of high fuel prices. It was slow, like about 13 seconds 0-60, but that didn’t bother me.

    Today’s 2 liter VW diesels are quicker than the one I had, but if you really want to save on fuel cost, nothing beats a Prius, which gets better mpg on cheaper fuel. Still, I like small diesels, and might have another some day.

  45. kevin m Says:


  46. dcars Says:

    The last time I was in France their was a lot of little diesel cars running around and they were smelly machines. I know you’ll say the new ones are better, but as time goes on people are less likely to maintain them. There are cleaner alternatives on the way. I just visited a quick fill CNG station, it’s cleaner and cheaper than gasoline and it’s abundant. The US has a vast supply and it’s price stable.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I was in France about 4 years ago, and rented a Citroen C4 with a diesel. It was a great car, and I don’t think the exhaust smelled much, but I don’t think it would be good to have those Eurospec diesels, at least of that era, making up 30& of the fleet in L.A.