Episode 945 – New Accord Born Stale, Toyota to Sell Fuel-Cell Cars, Miniature Mini Olympian

August 8th, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 11:08

Official pictures of the new Honda Accord are out and the images are more of the same.  Despite what the automaker might say, it’s yawn-tastic. Toyota says it will sell fuel-cell cars in the U.S. in  2015, though the cars will likely only be sold in certain areas where the infrastructure exists to fuel them. BMW’s Mini brand is earning some cute points and making a stir in track and field events at the Olympics. All that and more, plus an update from John at MBS.

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Hello again and thank you for joining us.  This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday August 8, 2012.  I’m Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, bringing you the latest news and the freshest opinion from the world of cars.  Let’s get rolling.

NEW ACCORD IS BORN STALE
The next-generation Honda Accord is on its way.  If you were hoping for a something a little visionary for a change, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.  On the other hand, if you were looking for something Sonata-esque, then the 2013 version of the Accord might just be your speed. Maybe the interior received some major work, but the exterior – in either coupe or sedan guise – is “bland-tastic” with a capital “B.”  The company describes it as expressive and sophisticated, calling it the “most sculpted and the most dynamic Accord yet.”  Uh-huh. Whatever.

TOYOTA TO SELL FUEL CELLS
From the alternative-fuel beat, The Detroit Free Press reports Toyota plans to sell a fuel cell-powered vehicle in 2015.  It would be available to both retail and commercial customers.  The company is already THE hybrid leader so it’s understandable they’d want to be out in front of the next technological development, even if it is pie-in-the-sky.  Distribution would likely be limited to California and a handful of other states with hydrogen-refueling infrastructures and enough group hugs to go around.

MBS UPDATE
My friend John McElroy is still up in Traverse City, Michigan covering the annual Management Briefing Seminars.  With another MBS update, here he is.

Well, this was the analysts’ turn at the Management Briefing Seminars, and we sure learned some interesting insights. Jeff Schuster, the head of forecasting at J.D. Power predicts that Toyota will be the biggest car company in the world by 2018, not Volkswagen. But he does see VW getting the No. 2 slot. Amazingly, he sees Renault-Nissan in the third spot, followed by General Motors and the Hyundai Group.

Meanwhile, Anthony Pratt the head of forecasting at Polk said that the longer people own a car, the less loyal they become to that brand. And as you know, car ownership is the oldest it’s ever been in the U.S., with the average car 11 years old. Moreover, by holding onto cars so long, the average car buyer will probably purchase nine cars in their lifetimes, instead of the 12 cars they’ve historically bought. And that will have an impact on automakers going forward. And Paul Taylor, the chief economist at the National Automotive Dealers Association points out that small-car sales have slowed down this year, while midsize cars, vans, minivans and pickups have been growing the fastest. And those are some of the highlights that I’ve picked up here at MBS.

Thanks, John.  We look forward to more updates.

MINORITY-OWNED SUPPLIERS GET A LIFT
It’s hard enough being an automotive supplier; it’s doubly difficult being a minority supplier.  To make things a little easier for them, two businesses have just teamed up to create a new company called Diversity Connections LLC.  This joint venture is designed to help out the management of minority-owned suppliers.  You know, the auto industry is always on the lookout for good minority-owned suppliers and this could give them a much-needed boost.

MINIATURE MINI
Bet you thought Autoline Daily would be a safe haven from Olympic coverage, but not today. Mini has deployed a fleet of quarter-scale radio-controlled versions of their Cooper hatchback to retrieve items like javelins from Olympic throwing events. Here we see a judge loading a discus into one of the cars. What’s interesting is the Olympic committee does not allow advertising at events, and somehow driving a tiny car around the infield isn’t advertising? Who knew?

AAH FANTASY DRAFT
The second-annual Autoline After Hours Fantasy Draft went down a few weeks ago.  Which contestant carried the day?  Stick around to find out.

So, which of the five contestants that competed in this year’s AAH Fantasy Draft took the checkered flag?  Well, our official draft analysts Scott Burgess from AOL Autos and Mark Phelan of the Detroit Free Press have reached a verdict.

Of course if you missed the After Hours Fantasy Draft you can watch the recorded version at Autoline.tv.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you!

And that’s it for today’s show.  Thanks for your time.  Again, I’m Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, and weirdly enough, I’ll see you tomorrow.

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33 Comments to “Episode 945 – New Accord Born Stale, Toyota to Sell Fuel-Cell Cars, Miniature Mini Olympian”

  1. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I see nothing wrong with the new Accord looking a lot like the old one, if they have improved NVH and if the interior is decent. Not everyone wants the new Hyundai look, or other “advanced” styling.

  2. M W Says:

    Peter, I read the new Honda Accord has a CVT. That bit of news also says “boring”.

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #2,
    But they will continue to offer a manual, and a V6.

  4. Lex Says:

    Too Bad about the styling on the new Accord.
    I can see that Nissan will over take Honda in a few years as long as the quality and reliability keep increasing. The new Altima and Pathfinder are great looking vehicles.

  5. Drew Says:

    So glad to have bought a mint condition 2005 Acura TL.

    I think I will keep it forever if Honda/Acura keeps putting out mediocre products.

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    It appears that the Accord is merely a ‘refresh’; if the styling had been ‘stellar’ (to begin with) then the added ‘sculpting’ might have been acceptable. Unless they did major ‘tweaks’ elsewhere, I’m afraid that Peter has nailed the styling ‘in a nutshell’; blantastic. And arguably, Honda has been sliding of late (in any case).

  7. Jon M Says:

    Well the new Accord sedan certainly doesn’t set the automotive design world on fire, but I don’t see anything wrong with the coupe–of course, that’s just my opinion. However, judging from the way things are at Honda in the recent past, I’d guess there has been some key employee turnover; too bad. May they’ll reorganization in the near future? I hope so.

  8. Todd T Says:

    While there be nothing “wrong” with the Accord’s design, just like there’s nothing “wrong” with dry toast either. But let’s face it, most people only eat dry toast when they are ill.

  9. Todd T Says:

    Sorry, typed too fast, I meant: While there may be nothing…

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The last I knew, bland styling didn’t seem to be hurting Camry sales. Honda just needs to improve on the refinement, while maintaining an advantage in the driving experience. If they do that, they will do fine with the new Accord.

  11. Ron Paris Says:

    To describe the new Accord styling as “Bland-tastic” is a bit over the top. It may not be a knock-out in that department, but it’s a definite improvement over the current model. Anyway, I’m not sure how much stock I would put in the opinion of someone who thinks the ungainly Range Rover Evoque is the last word in automotive art!

  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    Despite all the blandness and whatever you call it, Accord still outsells the “catch it before it flies” Sonata because to many folks Hyundai still is second hand crap, including my mechanics and most I meet.

  13. Chuck Grenci Says:

    True pedro; but Honda needs to be aware, and be looking over their shoulder of the Nisson Altima (as well). Tough segment, midsize, and a very heavily populated segment as well.

  14. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’ve met a lot of folks who worship Honda and will only buy Honda, no matter how much the auto press tries to make them look like crap and how much they try to downgrade them, even Japanese fan boy CR has recently taken on Civic as if it were a Chrysler product, yet Civic is selling very well, I have seen tons of new ones around these parts. BTW in the past couple of weeks I have noticed a lot of new temp tags, but I’d say half of them belong to used vehicles, and the other half either new or very late models.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Gotta rent a car for next week, among the choices are Corolla, (I need a break), Focus or Elantra. I will seek out Focus, since it seems to be more of a driver’s car than the Hyundai. Any thoughts?

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #14,
    Go for the Focus. I’m curious about what you will think of the transmission.

  17. HtG Says:

    14 are you loco, Mr. Fernandez? Focus.
    _____

    You guys want to talk bland Honda styling? 02 Civic. HS

  18. geelong vic Says:

    The new Honda Accord further affirms the death of the spirit of innovation in the Honda Motor Company. RIP!

  19. HtG Says:

    I’ve been watching the Olympics on BBC all week, and during the athletics it is very sweet watching that little Mini fetch. It zips so fast across the field, it can’t help but catch your eye. The 3series has also been on display for road course events.

    BTW, Watching BBC both live and on tape, I think this is the first time in my life I’ve been able to see the Olympics properly. It’s charming and delightful, with no ads. The Beeb covers the events like you’re there, and you can time shift any event from the day to watch it in the evening. Guess what, we Americans are not the stars with everyone else being the supporting cast.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    HtG that is NOT BBC America, right? this is BBC how do you get it?

  21. HtG Says:

    I got VPN software. The brand is called Tunnelbear, and it creates an anonymous proxy for you in the UK. Then you go to the BBC website as normal and watch what you like. The BBC server accepts that you are in the UK. 5 dollars for the month goes to the Tunnelbear people, but you aren’t paying Auntie as one should. But then I did watch the 100 meters final live. So there

  22. HtG Says:

    BBC also gives you a precise timeline of when events happen, so you can tune in as you wish.

    How’s it working over there in Costas’ link?

  23. HtG Says:

    Crxn, Costas’ klink

    (Frkn autocorrect)

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    Costas got Vaseline on the lens like Baba Wawa does all the time, makes him look dull as hell! BTW passed by Enterprise rent-a-car they got Corollas, no go. Budget appears to have Focii, I never thought I would see the day when I would avoid renting a Corolla or any Toyota, I guess even a boring guy gets tired of a boring car.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    When I rent cars, I always get something different from my own car. I just like seeing what different cars are like.

  26. Lex Says:

    The 2013 Honda Accord front end is so bland that they should have gone back to the more attractive front end on the 2008 to 2010 Accords. Those were much more attractive models!!!

  27. Jon M Says:

    I recently test drove a 2013 Altima 2.5 SL, the only available model the dealer had to test drive, and was pleasantly surprised. It makes paying more for a Maxima pointless and an utter waste of money. But the point I want to make is that Honda better do better next time with the Accord, or the 2013 had better impress with driving dynamics and features. Judging only by the pics, I’d take the Altima.

  28. RS Says:

    What about the 2013 Fusion? Great design and Ford’s quality appears to be up with the best. Another great competitor for Accord, Camry and Altima. This is a great time for anyone in the market for a mid-sized sedan. Hurray for competition!

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The new Fusion will be a good test to see if the mid-size sedan market is ready for less bland styling. Ford lovers will buy it no matter what, but if Fusion challenges Camry for the top spot in sales, that would seem to say that “bland is out.”

  30. David Sprowl Says:

    Peter,
    I dunno, you and others weren’t too impressed with the “re-design” of the Camry for the current model year. Funny but a quick glance at the top ten in US vehicle sales as of July of this year and shock…the Camry is the 2nd best seller. Just behind the 3rd best seller Chevy truck is the 4th best seller the Accord. In the mid size market the only US manufacturer to be in the top 10 is the Ford Fusion some 27K units behind Nissan and Honda. Hyundai did not make the list. So bark about bland if you want, but apparently it sells.

  31. Jim Thykeson Says:

    Toyota sees the writing on the wall. Hyundai is already supplying cars to Norway to complement their hydrogen autobahn. This IS the future, and unfortunately, since we can’t get ‘big-oil’ out of the way, we’ll be the last one to the dance!

  32. carguy Says:

    I completely agree that the so-called new Accord is bland–I would add that it is uninspired, dated and places the accord in absolute last place styling wise when compared to its competition (The Optima,new Fusion and new Mazda 6 are ares that show Honda designers that they apparently don’t have a clue as to how to design an attractive sedan that will sell itself on styling alone. Note to those who cite sales as vindication for a car–the fact that a car sells well does not always mean that it is the best in its class (ie. the Toyota Corolla has always sold well despite the fact that it is a dated design that almost always ranks near the bottom in all cantegories when compared to its competition).

  33. Kate McLeod Says:

    Of course Krebs carried the day. She’s a minority female! Yo!