Episode 1011 – Sandy Damages Overblown, Ford Operating at 114%, Are Women Better Drivers?

November 9th, 2012 at 11:47am

Runtime: 8:05

The NADA estimates that 200,000 vehicles were destroyed by Super Storm Sandy, but that figure may be overblown. Ford’s factories in North America are operating at 114 percent capacity which is really adding to its bottom line. Are women better drivers than men? That is what one website out of England tries to answer. All that and more, plus on Autoline This Week John sits down with a panel of materials experts to discuss future high-strength and lightweight materials that will be used in cars.


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Hello and welcome to the Friday edition of Autoline Daily. TGIF! Coming up later, we’ll reveal the topic for this week’s poll, but first the news…

Yesterday we reported that the National Auto Dealers Association estimates that around 200,000 vehicles were damaged because of Hurricane Sandy. But the AP reports that number is completely overblown. It looked at data supplied by major insurance companies and so far those agencies have only received 31,000 damage claims. More claims are expected to come since cleanup efforts are still ongoing but the rate is already slowing down.

Ford posted a third quarter operating profit of $2 billion, with North America delivering an impressive 12 percent profit margin. A key reason is that Ford has boosted its factory use in North America to an amazing 114 percent capacity utilization. It’s getting that with overtime and three shift operations. A rule of thumb in the industry is that automakers break even at 80 percent capacity, anything over that drops to the bottom line. At 114 percent capacity, Ford’s factories are simply screaming along.

Peugeot depends on the European market more than most manufacturers, 62 percent of sales compared to 42 percent for Volkswagen. With Europe in an economic tailspin, that means the company suffered more than others. Yesterday Peugeot’s stock hit its lowest price since 1985, at 2.21 euros. Now the carmaker will offer a bare-bone sedan, the 301, which is a stretched version of Peugeot’s 208 hatchback. It will sell the 301 in Eastern Europe, Africa and South America. Peugeot better hope it works because this could really end up hurting it’s brand image.

Now for some developments on the materials front. Automakers are keenly interested in using carbon fiber, and the experts tell me that the hood of a car could be one of the most popular applications. That’s because carbon fiber does a great job of dissipating energy without deflecting much. It’s ideal for the pedestrian impact tests. With steel or aluminum hoods, automakers have to raise the trailing edge of the hood, or use pyrotechnic hinges to pop it up. Volvo even uses an airbag on the hood of some models. Otherwise the hood deflect so much that it hits the top of the engine and that’s when pedestrian head injuries occur. Even though carbon fiber hoods are expensive, if you can get rid of pyrotechnic hinges and sensors and airbags, the extra cost isn’t that much.

Read it and weep, guys. A study out of England by a website called Carrentals.com says the statistics show that women are better drivers than men. It says men get in more accidents, get more speeding tickets, and are not as good at identifying traffic signs and signals. I don’t know, just because they get in fewer accidents and don’t speed as much, does that really mean they’re better drivers?

As we reported earlier in the week, Toyota is trying to decide what design changes it can make to the Prius to increase its sales. This is a tough one. Do you alter the silhouette that’s become synonymous with the hybrid segment? Or do you do something bold? Well, that’s the subject of this week’s Autoline Poll. What should Toyota do? Take an evolutionary approach, make a revolutionary change or leave it EXACTLY the way it is?

Let us know what you would do by clicking the Poll link under today’s show on Autoline.tv. Tune in Monday when we’ll review the results.

Earlier in the show we talked about carbon fiber, but aluminum can provide a significant weight savings, too. But it’s more expensive than steel and requires special manufacturing techniques. So what’s the future look like for aluminum in cars? That’s coming up next.

On Autoline This Week I sit down with a panel of materials experts to discuss future high-strength and lightweight materials that will be used in cars. In the following clip Ganesh Panneer from Novelis explains the benefits of using aluminum in cars.

Also joining me for that show is Rose Ryntz from IAC and Blake Zuidema from ArcelorMittal. And you can watch that entire show right now on website, Autoline.tv.

And that brings us to the end of another week of following the latest developments in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you on Monday.

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41 Comments to “Episode 1011 – Sandy Damages Overblown, Ford Operating at 114%, Are Women Better Drivers?”

  1. Bradley Says:

    Toyota should do whatever increases MPG, but do it in an evolutionary way.

  2. HtG Says:

    An interesting piece in Reuters about FIAT’s young Elkann.


    …and for us anglophiles, 007 is back in theatres.

  3. buzzerd Says:

    As far as the driving study I think we often confuse “better driver” and “safer driver”. Is my wife a ” safer driver” than me? probably. Is she a “better driver” than me? certainly not, and she will attest to that any time.
    Ford is making money in NA? how can that possibly be? I thought the only way the auto companies could make money was if they paid their line workers walmart wages.
    John is there any more word on covetic metals?

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Toyota should leave the basic shape of the Prius alone, unless they can shape it differently, while keeping its very low drag coefficient, and keeping its space-efficient hatchback cabin.
    I hate to be repetitive, but there is a reason that Prius, Volt, and Insight are shaped that way, which is to get a low Cd. Maybe they should do something different with the nose and tail lights, though, just to make it look “different” from the old one.

    What the automotive world needs, is non-hybrid cars shaped that way. A Prius body with a VW TDI and a little taller gearing than the Jetta and Golf, would get really exceptional highway mpg, without the hybrid power train.

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If Peugeot can keep the price down, and use one of their great small diesels in it, that 301 should do pretty well in those markets.

  6. ColoradoKid Says:

    Peugeot’s Savior ?

    I’m afraid it a case of ‘ Too Little Too Late ‘ for this or any other car coming from PSA to save their bacon . On the subject of PSA someone a week or so made the comment that GM buying into PSA was nothing like FIAT buying Chrysler . I’d beg to disagree . Simply stated they are both a case of Two Losers ( GM & FIAT ) buying into two even Bigger Losers ( PSA & Chrysler ) in vain hopes that Two Loser can somehow create a Winner . Granted PSA and GM are in a little better shape than FIAT and Chrysler but the analogy remains correct . As to PSA they have been in the financial gutter for over a decade and in fact its been since the mid 80′s that the company even had a car on offer that was considered mildly desirable in the EU/UK .

    Carbon Fiber Hoods ;

    Bad idea unless the ultimate goal is for the manufactures using them to make additional profit from all the replacement hoods they’ll be selling . To put it bluntly and in real world perspective : as Porsche/McLaren/Ferrari etc have already discovered ;

    Carbon Fiber does not hold up or maintain its integrity when exposed to Water – UV – IF – ExtremeTemperature fluctuations etc despite all attempts to seal it etc . Add to that the fact that carbon fiber is a One Hit and its Done material that is very good at masking any internal damage . Then also consider the razor sharp shard that come from CF being damaged when total failure occurs and the liability suits that will soon follow . Carbon Fiber is fine enough for racing where everything gets replaced regularly or even the Exotic or Supercar that spends 90% of its life in a garage . But not so much for a daily driver ;-)

  7. ColoradoKid Says:

    # 2

    Dum dee dee dum dum dum dum – Dum dee dee dum dum dum dum dum – DEE Da !!!!

    …. and this one’s been reviewed as a good’n to boot . Bond that is . James Bond ;-)

  8. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Covetic aluminum/metals was a topic of discussion on last night’s AAH show; you won’t be seeing them any time soon (on automobiles). General feeling will be uses on aerospace applications first.

    On carbon fiber hoods; what happens when the hood gets damaged (as in shards); can’t be too good for the pedestrians then. Might be like dodging multiple switchblades in a pedestrian accident (ouch, or worse).

  9. ColoradoKid Says:

    #4 – A minor correction if I may . The VOLT is in fact shaped the way it is simply because it is a Chevy Cruze with a few add ons that do little if nothing at all for the aerodynamics ; and in fact only serve to distinguish the Volt from the Cruze ( barely ) in the public eye

    Also to be clear : the Prius and the Insights shape , though pretty good aerodynamically are in fact far from ideal . There are far better and much more aerodynamic designs available out there ( though not in production ) than either the Prius or Insight . Fact is there is one designer in CH currently who’s created several trucks with better cD’s than either .

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Civic hybrid and the Insight barely made a blip in the auto radar, while the Prius has become a mainstream car that I see in many areas, including in well-to-do neighborhoods sitting next to expensive cars, once again, great mileage with few if any compromises.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Volt’s isn’t shaped much like a Cruze, at least the sedan sold in the U.S., and it does, in fact, have a low Cd compared to most cars. Yes, there are some vehicles, like the VW “one litre” concept of a few years ago, that have much lower Cd than the Prius and Volt, but I don’t expect it to see production any time soon.

    ….and as I said, if they can use a different shape, while maintaining and/or improving on the efficiency and practicality of the current Prius, I’m all for it.

  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit the Volt IS based on the Cruze, with certain add-ons for improved aerodynamics, ditto for the Civic and all the other hybrids. Prius is unique!!

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Insight had just arrived when I bought my Prius, and I checked it out before buying (same dealer). The Insight was disappointing in a number of ways. It is slower, noisier, less roomy, and uses more gas than a Prius, and isn’t enough cheaper to make it a good buy. I suspect that, by now, my two year old Prius is already worth the “premium” I paid for it over the Insight.

    The one thing I liked better about the Insight is that its handling felt a little better, but everything else? Honda still has a way to go if they want their hybrids to be competitive.

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I agree that the Volt body is based on the Cruze platform, but it almost totally different from the A pillars back.

  15. pedro fernandez Says:

    Honda engineering was always on the cutting edge, not anymore, it seems they’re playing it too safe with new technologies, materials and build quality.

  16. cwolf Says:

    Add a bunch of new colors for the Prius. I never liked the Toyota emblem poking out the front end, like a kid’s toy. Smooth out the front a little and leave every thing else alone.

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC reports Mazda will build small cars for Toyota at a new plant in Mexico,based on the Mazda 2 plaform, but I wonder what will happen to the Yaris, you cannot have 2 subcompacts in this market.

  18. paul Says:

    I own 2005 Prius. To me it is exceptionally smart design with lots of inner space, folded front and rear seats (very important!!!) and exceptionally low aerodynamic noice. I don’t see a reason to change it – may be just in small details. And consider a new front seats. Honda Civic 2007 have much more comfortable.
    Otherwise – Prius is a Perfect car.

  19. HtG Says:

    I recall sitting in the Insight when it first appeared, and being struck by how cheaped out the interior was. Hard plastics everywhere, I wrote to one of my betters that it would prolly be a couple of years before the press started saying out loud the decline.
    Isn’t there a risk that if Prius isn’t updated it will look old and tired, a conflict with its brand?
    dum dee dum dum dah dum dum dum dee dee dum dum, indeed, dee dee dum

  20. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The Prius is already on it’s third model (first one didn’t make it to the U.S.) according to ‘Wilki’; hence, evolution has already been established. Whether it continues (evolution) seems likely but will have to be seen.

    And while the Volt shares platforms with the Cruze; telling one a part is a no-brainer (quite different vehicles almost ‘soup to nuts’. I’ll take Kit’s side (on this one).

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Volt “looks” much heavier than the Cruze, which is odd cause it’s supposed to be a “green” car, and lightness is just part of the package. I realize the battery is quite heavy, but the Prius plug in weighs the same as the Cruze while the Volt is about 600 lbs heavier.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The first Prius came to the U.S., but they didn’t sell very many of them. It was a sedan, similar looking to the Yaris of that time (called Echo in the U.S.)

    The Volt has a bigger battery than the Prius plug-in, which accounts for some of the weight difference. Still, the Volt seems heavier than it should be.

    If the current gen 3 Prius goes as long as the gen 2, there won’t be a new one until 2016 model year. I agree with cwolf (#16) that the front end of the current one could use some work. To me, that is the biggest weakness of the styling, since I consider the general shape a “given.”

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It turns out that 2013 MKZ I saw this morning didn’t belong to the dealer. I went back this afternoon to take a closer look and the car was gone. A factory rep of some sort had driven it there, and the dealer hasn’t received any of the cars yet. They said they expect them some time in December.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    According to AW, the Mazda Toyota will be sold alongside the Yaris and xD, and will not replace them. See:


  25. Kevin Hisel Says:

    Hey, what’s up with the lo-res feed today? Bring back 720P. I want to see those beautiful baby blues in HD!

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit thanks for the link, so Toyota will be like Chevy was back when they had the Prizm and the Cavalier, both compacts but with the Prizm costing more, I wonder which will cost more, the Yaris or the Mazda 2 derivative? BTW Mazda 2 is better than the Yaris by most accounts.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If they stay on their historic 5 to 6 year cycle, there will be a new Yaris at about the same time the Mazdota arrives. Unless the two cars are sold in different body styles, it could be confusing.

  28. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I read the ‘Carrental.com’ article on men/women driving (and have found it to be flawed) in my opinion. Men may very well be worse drivers than women but that conclusion would be unwarranted by the criteria used in the study (again IMO). Points on a license or number of speeding ticket does not have a direct correlation to accidents (maybe skew the results higer, but certainly not a direct correlation; and not proven anywhere in the article either). And while recognizing and reacting to road signs (is a good thing), they didn’t show how this correlated to accidents either. Then, there is always, accidents per miles driven; wasn’t taken into consideration (as far as I could see). Again, ultimately it may be true (men are worse), just don’t give me the data you/they provided, to make that conclusion.

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Some here feel that CR is bias towards Japanese cars, yet Motorweek is so willing to recommend anything on 4 wheels that their credibility to me is gone, C-Max, they got 9 mpg less than the EPA numbers, less cargo room than the Prius yet they call it an “viable alternative to the Prius” Why? when you consider that its reliability is a big question mark, I see no reason why they should even recommend this car, it’s most important selling pint. mileage, falls way short of the claimed numbers.

  30. Chuck Grenci Says:

    You have to listen ‘closely’ when viewing “MotorWeek”; while they certainly spin the most positive review on just about all their car evaluations, often subtly, they will remark with not so positive (negative) traits.

    As far as the C-Max goes, you can’t just rule it out because it is new; the whole vehicle must be weighed (even non objective issues like country of origin, bias towards brand, i.e. Chevy/Ford/Chrysler/etc. as well as other purchaser biases. MotorWeek is just more data (needing to be sifted, sorted, accepted or rejected); pragmatic, perhaps, but buyer’s decisions are hard to pin down to absolutes.

    CR biased; (I) think so, but that again, must be an individual decision; I no longer maintain a subscription (long time, previous, subscriber).

  31. pedro fernandez Says:

    CR has many times recommended a given vehicle based on its testing, yet when reliability data comes in, they have been known to remove the recommendation based on that. They did not recommend the new Civic, a car that used to be their top pick in that segment because of how poorly it tested out compared to the competition, yet Civic remains a best seller, so not everyone who reads CR follows them to the letter. I wonder how they’re gonna react to the Hyundai MPG exaggeration news.

  32. Chuck Grenci Says:

    “I wonder how they’re gonna react to the Hyundai MPG exaggeration news.”

    Now that might be interesting, and playing devil’s advocate: wonder if they would treat it any differently than say, if it was GM or Ford. hmmmm, I wonder.

  33. cwolf Says:

    I got to play with the “my Ford touch syst” in my in-laws new Edge. There are way too many buttons everywhere for my liking, esp. on the steering wheel. But I have concluded that the system wasn’t difficult to use for those liking to touch buttons. Yet, one doesn’t have to. Voice commands do the most needed functions. What is neat, but nothing more than another el gadget,were the buttons in the center of the dash; They only need a finger to be waved over one of them to operate…no pushing of buttons! All-in-all, I wouldn’t what this thing in any of my cars….PERIOD! The Edge also had a blind spot detector. For anyone who does multi-lane driving this is a must have. There is a down side to these side sensors. If any car passes the vehicle from the side or approaches, say from a side street, when backing up to park, the inside warning chimes scare the hell out of you! This annoyance has to be remedied. The center console in the new Edge has become wider and the new “eco-friendly” seat foam is significantly harder. The Edge rides and drives very nice,yet mpg’s simply suck! I don’t care for my wifes Edge and I like the new ones even less. The blind spoys are just more than I can tolerate.

  34. cwolf Says:

    Sorry about the spelling in #32.

    My bro -in-law was leasing several new vehicles for his biz. He would have accepted most colors of an Edge, but of the 40 area dealers,they would only trade off black and a couple red’s with large 20″ wheels and 6 cyl’s. This doesn’t sound right to me! And the Escape? If a dealer has any, it ain’t being traded off to no body!!!

  35. RonE Says:

    We rented a Town & Country van last year while on vacation and it had blind spot detectors. I don’t recall it chiming or if it did, it wasn’t annoying. I really liked it though. The van also had a backup camera that I liked. Very good option for a van.

  36. pedro fernandez Says:

    If vehicles were designed from the inside out, instead of sacrificing visibility for the sake of being stylish, we would not need any of these driver’s aids, to be perfectly honest, I still peer over my right shoulder when I change into the right lane, an old habit, my early cars did not have right side mirrors, and I twist all the way around whenever I back up, and I will as long as my body allows it.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I doubt if CR will make too big of deal of the Hyundai gas mileage discrepancy, but will just direct people to their own mpg tests. As far as C Max, we should know how it does compared to Prius in CR’s mpg tests soon.

  38. pedro fernandez Says:

    The Prius has set such a high benchmark that it will be almost impossible for anyone to catch up to them specially in a brand new model, remember Toyota has had many years of research and on road testing to get it just about right, same thing when they began Lexus, they put all their best people in R/D and it paid off with a home-run in the first LS.

  39. pedro fernandez Says:

    CR might just call for the Fed. govt to perform the MPG testing and they should just charge the manufacturers for this service, this way we know it will be more accurate and fair

  40. cwolf Says:

    Japan will no longer offer a tax incentive on its “kei” small cars and tax them as any other car. Importers and Fair Trade reps. may have had something to do with this. I ask, why? The problem has to do with the limiting numbers which can be imported into Japan and not just one vehicle.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It seems that the “kei” cars didn’t turn out as intended by the policy makers who offered the tax incentives. One intent was to encourage small cars that wouldn’t take much space to park. That was accomplished, but the other intent was that the kei cars be very efficient. Some of them were, but quite a few have highly tuned turbo engines that are probably thirstier than a lot of larger cars. Some of these cars would be a blast to drive, but they probably aren’t what the policy makers had in mind.