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Episode 1014 – Ford PR Outmaneuvers GM, GM Halts Talks with PSA, It’s a Gas!

November 14th, 2012 at 12:31pm

Runtime: 8:57

Ford is flooding the media with information about electrics, plug-ins and hybrids, because it wants to beat GM to the punch about its electric plans. Speaking of General Motors, it has halted talks about a deeper tie-up with PSA. Chesapeake Energy, General Electric and Whirlpool are developing a relatively inexpensive appliance that will allow natural gas cars to be filled up at home. All that and more, plus John responds to your questions and comments in “You Said It!”

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Thanks for joining us for Autoline Daily. Later in the show we respond to your questions and comments, so stay tuned for that. But, on to the news! Or maybe I should say on to the Blue Oval news because there sure is a lot going on about Ford today.

FIRST LOOK AT FUSION PHEV
The company partially unveiled the plug-in version of its Fusion hybrid yesterday, called the Fusion Energi. I say partially unveiled because the company will not say what its fuel economy rating will be, except to say it will be well over 100 miles per gallon equivalent. This plug-in will travel 21 miles and can run at speeds up to 85 miles an hour. That’s 34 kilometers and 138 kilometers an hour, respectively. I got to drive a handful of Fusions yesterday at Ford’s Dearborn Proving Grounds. A 1.6 liter EcoBoost with an automatic transmission delivered an indicated 23 miles per gallon on a 5 mile loop. The plug-in version delivered a very impressive 69 mpg’s.

TRANSIT CONNECT GETS A MAKE-OVER
And staying with Ford, yesterday it also unveiled the redesign of the Transit Connect. It now comes in two wheelbase versions for 5 and 7-passenger configurations. The base engine is a 2.5 liter four, with an optional 1.6 liter EcoBoost, and both are mated to a 6-speed automatic. Ford claims it can carry 1,200 pounds of cargo and tow up to 2,000 pounds when properly equipped.

C-MAX MEDIA LAUNCH THIS WEEK
It’s interesting that this week Ford is also holding the media launch for the C-Max hybrid and the plug-in version of that vehicle. Last week Ford held a big media event to brag about the flexibilty of its Michigan Assembly plant which makes the C-Max and Focus, including the electric, hybrid and plug-in versions.

FORD PR OUTMANEUVERS GM
So what’s going on here? Here’s my Autoline Insight. Ford is flooding the media with so much information about electrics, plug-ins and hybrids, because today General Motors is holding a big media event in California to tell its story about where it’s going with electrification. Ford wanted to beat GM to the punch with three major stories all designed to dominate the headlines before the GM event even gets started. Just goes to show folks the competition in the industry goes well beyond just putting new models in the showroom.

GM NOT GOING ANY FURTHER WITH PSA
Earlier in the year General Motors announced a partnership with PSA, the parent company of Peugeot and Citroen, that left many analysts scratching their heads. Now Reuters reports the two companies have halted talks about a deeper tie-up. GM is concerned about the French government bailing out PSA, and is afraid it won’t allow plant closings and layoffs that would be necessary for a deeper tie-up. Reuters is also reporting that PSA is talking with Tata about a potential partnership if its deal with GM falls through.

IT’S A GAS!
Chesapeake Energy, General Electric and Whirlpool are collaborating on developing a $500 appliance that will allow natural gas cars to be filled up at home. The device would fit in a garage and be hooked up to a natural gas line for vehicles to fuel up. The Wall Street Journal reports that it is not known when the appliance will be made available. As we reported yesterday, natural gas is expected to be the primary energy source in the U.S. by 2030.

Now it’s time for a new segment that we’re calling “Barn Finds,” all about some of the hidden automotive gems that you, our audience, send our way. As we all know, some names from Japan can, well, just seem wacky to us Westerners. And, as viewer Sanford Paul found out on a recent trip to the country, car names are no exception. Based on the badges he snapped, there are a few recurrent themes to Japanese vehicles. “MOVE” and “RUSH” sound like not-so-subtle suggestions to other drivers in gridlocked traffic. Other marques like “Freed” and “WingRoad” aspire to some higher plane of existence. Then again, you could let your mind wander toward activities you’d rather be doing: “Daihatsu Naked” anyone? Thanks to Sanford for sending us these pictures. By the way, you can see several other quirky nameplates he shot by visiting our Facebook page at Facebook.com/AutolineNetwork.

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

YOU SAID IT!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback!

cwolf says: “Several car mags have reviewed the hyb. Fusion. I remain stupefied that the 47/47 mpg claim was conducted at 61 mph! In my world hwy speeds are 55, 65 or 70. So why do regulators allow this or at least set a realistic standard nationwide?”

cwolf is referring to the EPA fuel economy testing. It’s a long story as to how the test procedure evolved over the years, but suffice it to say that the EPA adds what I call fudge factors that end up in a fairly accurate combined fuel economy number. As long as you don’t have a lot of steep hills in your daily commute, or live at high altitudes, or drive with a lead foot, you should come very close to that combined number.

Kit Gerhart says: “What the automotive world needs, is non-hybrid cars shaped like the Prius. 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 powertrain.”

Yes it would. And if it adopted the Prius’s low-rolling resistance tires, its lightweight materials, and its lower performance it would do even better. Kit makes a good point, it’s not just the hybrid technology that makes the Prius such a fuel economy champion.

gmveteran wants to know: “Given the circumstances that have made pickups such a fixture here in America, (wide open spaces and lots of construction), it is strange that full size pickup trucks are not big sellers in China.”

GM, the Chinese look at pickups, like we did 40 years ago, as commercial vehicles. They’re not aspirational to them. That’s why the Detroit Three should test market the King Ranch F-series, the Longhorn Ram, or the LTZ Silverado. A lot of Chinese consumers are into bling, and those trucks would paralyze traffic in any Chinese city.

pedro fernandez notes thats: “Honda released photos of the “improved” 2013 Civic to the media with no interior shots at all, which is ironic cause the biggest complaint of the 2012 was indeed its interior quality. Reminds me of a bad movie that does not get previewed by the critics.”

Pedro, I think the backstory is that all automakers want to milk any debut as much as they can. They’re releasing exterior photos now, a little bit later they’ll do the interior, after that all the engineering changes and at some point after that they’ll release the prices and fuel economy ratings. It’s public relations 101. And we will play right into their hands by reporting that information as they spoon it out to us.

Hey, thanks for all your comments and letters, it’s fun figuring out how to answer them all.

Before we go, another plug for AAH, where the chief engineer for the Fusion, John Jraiche will be joining the Autoextremist and myself tomorrow night starting at 6 pm eastern time at Autoline.tv

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

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37 Comments to “Episode 1014 – Ford PR Outmaneuvers GM, GM Halts Talks with PSA, It’s a Gas!”

  1. ColoradoKid Says:

    What’s Wrong with this Picture ;

    http://msn.foxsports.com/other/story/bmw-working-on-ultimate-two-man-bobsled-for-us-team-111412

    What’s wrong with it is the fact that we supposedly have three major automakers here , all claiming to have equal or better technology than BMW etc : while all to a number making a huge point of claiming their undying Patriotism allowing a foreign automaker to come in a build/design the sleds for the US Bobsled Team .

    What’s even more wrong is the fact that all the framework is right in place here in the US to evolve the sleds that Bodine have been making for years – and succeeding with I might add that any of the Big Three could of jumped onto both with sponsorship as well as technological advice /resources

    What’s wrong with this picture is the fact that once again the Big Three have been out maneuvered and out trumped by a foreign automaker … which in truth isn SNAFU of late

    What’s wrong with this picture ;

    Is everything !

  2. ColoradoKid Says:

    PSA & GM

    I said it from the beginning that this ‘ relationship ‘ would come to tears . And here it is before the thing even got off the ground .

    And now the EU News is reporting that PSA is courting TATA !

    I wonder how that’ll affect the fact that BMW has canceled its contract with PSA to produce engines for the MINI ?

  3. Lex Says:

    When you get John Jraiche on AAH ask him why the Ford C-Max nose is so butt ugly? All Ford needs to do it copy the New Fusion’s nose onto the C-Max and Ford would have a real stylish MVP that would be a real alternative for the minivan buyer.

  4. Lex Says:

    GM needs to concentrate on building the best vehicles on the planet and stop trying to get into bed with every foreign automaker on Uncle Sam’s dime. The only reason GM is still around is due to the American Taxpayer, therefore GM Top Brass should remember who saved them in their time of need and repay the American Taxpayer at full value (dollar for dollar plus interest).

  5. ColoradoKid Says:

    #4

    +1 …. x 1000

  6. C-Tech Says:

    @ #1 I underrstand your patriotic feelings toward the issue of foreign sponsorship of U.S. Olympic teams, I felt the same way seeing Subaru sponsor the U.S. Ski team. The other hand is the fact that these companies are making business decisions on where thier marketing dollars are most effectively spent. BMW saw a marketing opportunity, it fit with their image (winter sports are bigger in Europe than here) and probably was more exciting to their engineers. As a matter of fact, there are a number of U.S. based companies with engineering experience which could have (and I wish) would have jumped in to help. I hear Donald Trump has a spare 5 million which could help benefit a number of Olympic teams or charities.

  7. HtG Says:

    PSA

    the money quote from the article leads me to wonder whar chance GM has to make cuts at Opel…

    “The government bailout conditions rule out French job cuts, which means a deal can’t happen any faster,” he said. “It would be politically impossible to have all the cuts falling on the German side.”

    ______
    Bobsleds? And I thought I already had enough to be furious about.

  8. cwolf Says:

    Lil something to share:
    Changed struts,brakes,oil and belt tension arm brg. in my 2010 Milan. After a couple weeks I noticed the tires looking lower than normal and that mpg’s lowered to 30.5,which I attributed to perhaps the change over to winter blend gas. Well the tires were @ 30psi. After inflating to 33# and reducing my highway speeds to 76-78 mph, the mpg’s jumped back up to 32.6 on winter blend! Not bad for a rather tubby mid-size 4cyl. nearing 160,000 miles.

  9. ColoradoKid Says:

    # 6

    I hold no grudge towards either BMW or Subaru for taking advantage of missed opportunities by all of the Big Three and in fact applaud both BMW & Subaru for their efforts : as well as both being willing to invest in the Country where the majority of their sales lie

    My objection and in fact utter disgust is in truth aimed at the Big Three for not getting involved and leaving room for the overseas companies to make all three look like abject fools . Shame on Chrysler/Ford/GM I say . 1000 shames on the likes of Cadillac for all their technology claims as well as Chrysler for their Patriotic bravado both of which in fact don’t add up to a hill of beans .

    Truly C-Tech I hope the BMW designed and built sled kicks some serious tail over the next two seasons as well as proves itself a winner at the Sotchi Olympics as well . Both because I want to see our athletes succeed – as well as seeing the point being driven firmly home to the Big Three as to how big an opportunity it was they completely missed out on

    Sorry I didn’t make that clearer in post # 1

  10. ColoradoKid Says:

    # 7

    ” the money quote from the article leads me to wonder whar chance GM has to make cuts at Opel… ”

    Actually now the Opel Unions are insisting GM bring the production of the Mocca ( our Encore ) from Korea to Germany in order to fill in the over capacity at the Opel plants rather than lay workers off . So I’d say the chances of GM making cuts at Opel are about zero .

    A bit of positive news though for you HtG . It now looks like the Lamborghini SUV is about to get the axe . Phew ! A modicum of common sense prevails ;-)

  11. HtG Says:

    That’s going right to VW’s bottom line somehow :)

  12. HtG Says:

    Looks like the IDF kia’d a KIA today. Heartbreaking

  13. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “BMW has canceled its contract with PSA to produce engines for the MINI ?”

    Where, exactly did you hear that? The only thing I can find about BMW and PSA is from a June TTAC article, and is about hybrids, not engines for MINI. That article is at:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/06/la-tribune-splitsville-at-bmw-and-psa/

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    To me, GM and Ford are going in totally different directions as far as electrification of cars. Basically, Ford is doing the same as Toyota, making regular hybrids, and with basically the same technology as Toyota, except they are now using lithium batteries for the new Fusion (and C-Max.) Their plug-in hybrids are better, performance-wise than what Toyota has announced so far, but use the gas engine to get full performance, any time you floor it, regardless of battery charge.

    GM, on the other hand, has mild hybrids that get somewhat better mpg than regular cars, but not that much better, and the Volt, a a much different plug-in hybrid than Ford or Toyota, in that it has full performance on battery power. The only serious non-plug-in hybrid GM has built are the trucks, and they are going away.

  15. ColoradoKid Says:

    # 13

    Back when the agreement was reached between PSA and GM : CAR , NYTimes , WSJ , Autoweek , Jalopnik etc reported about a week later as a follow up to the announcement : than BMW would not be renewing their contract with PSA for MINI engines due to PSA’s involvement with GM

    If I run across any of the old links in my wanderings I’ll put them up for you so you can read them yourself . All of them though were pretty blunt about BMW leaving PSA in the lurch with more than one BMW rep confirming the articles : saying BMW was considering what path to take once the PSA contract had expired for MINI engines : which if my memory serves me correctly was coming up pretty soon . As well as more than one PSA rep expressing concern over the lost revenue from losing their contract with BMW/MINI

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #15,
    Thanks. Post links if you find them, and I’ll search some more to see if I can find anything.

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    From: http://www.inautonews.com/bmw-turns-its-back-to-gm-and-psa-focusing-on-toyota-alliance#.UKP5EqXYf8s

    “BMW will end cooperation with GM and PSA Peugeot Citroen, ending a joint venture on components for hybrid cars. BMW chief executive Norbert Reithofer declared that the company will continue the existing project-based partnership with Peugeot to manufacture small four-cylinder petrol engines.”

    I suspect we will hear more about the whole BMW/PSA relationship in the near future, with the GM/PSA thing gone bust.

  18. dcars Says:

    #1, I love the way foreign manufactures will focus on a single issue to promote how “American” they are. Honda used to exclusively supply engines to Indy cars, Toyota says that their cars are most American made and BMW sponsors the US Olympic team. As far as I’m concerned, let them spend their money here, they make enough on us.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #18,
    Toyota even got into NASCAR to demonstrate their “American-ness.” I know people who say Toyota’s being involved ruined NASCAR, never mind that all the cars are pretty much alike, regardless of what they are called.

  20. C-Tech Says:

    I don’t think Toyota ruined NASCAR as much as Big Money + formula Cars (they took the stock out of stock cars). Teams have to rely on BIG TEAM engine builders for engines and other parts, barely a chance for smaller teams. No innovation allowed. The Australians and Sports cars seem to be much more about racing than feuding.

  21. ColoradoKid Says:

    NASCAR

    The France family ruined NASCAR , plain and simple . Greed , as Kit stated so well , taking the ‘ Stock ‘ out of Stock Car Racing – the desperate desire to appeal to the upper class while ignoring their fan base – turning NASCAR into a Soap Opera and the automotive equivalent of Professional Wrestling – along with those hideous Car of the Future ( or what ever they call them ) travesties they race now . Thats what killed NASCAR . Not Toyota . All Toyota did was come in and play by the rules at hand . It was the France’s that drove NASCAR ( pun intended ) to its current state

  22. ColoradoKid Says:

    # 18

    read #9

  23. HtG Says:

    I personally can’t wait to see what kind of foolishness Coulthard and Jordan get up to in Austin this weekend.

    He he he, I tease because I love

  24. XA351GT Says:

    My biggest beef with Toyota regarding NASCAR is they never to my knowledge ever offered a push rod V8. So how did they develope one? By taking a Ford, Chevy and Dodge and disassemble them take the best aspects from all 3 and make a pure racing engine. I know the other 3 now don’t use engines that are the same as those run in their passenger cars. There are some similarities but they are are all purpose built race engines now. However the tech is what they have sold in the past. Toyota not so much.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Penske and Mercedes had some interesting pushrod engines for the ’94 Indy 500, taking full advantage of the rules. See :

    http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/4879/Penske-PC23-Mercedes.html

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The engines were built by Ilmor, like the Chevy badged engines, but this was about the ultimate case of an “unfair advantage” from taking full advantage of the letter of the rules.

  27. motorman Says:

    how is the state and federal govts going to collect road tax on home fill up of natural gas powered cars ???.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #27,
    I’ve wondered the same thing. As long as there are only a handful of them, they won’t worry about it, but if there are very many, I’m sure they will figure out something.

  29. C-Tech Says:

    @ #27 & 28
    It will be an interesting question of how do you get tax revenue from electric, CNG, LPG, or hydrogen powered vehicles for state as well as federal roads funding, especially in an anti-tax political environment.

  30. RonE Says:

    @29: Could the gov’t tax the miles these types of cars are driven?

    I think the new cars are transmitting info either back to the manufacturer or the dealer and if that’s so, the gov’t could easily solicit this information.

    I know as soon as my car (a 2012 model) racked up a certain number of miles, I received an email from the dealer asking me to bring in the car for service.

    Vehicles that are involved in an accident provide all kind of relevant information to the authorities.

    1984?

  31. Roger Says:

    Hello John, Just as a curious fact Toyota brought that Daihatsu Rush to Mexico, but due to a crisis, Toyota quickly scrubbed the plans, leaving us with just a few few hundreds lucky Mexicans “Rush” owners http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpMVxsLObXM ohhh and here in Mexico City, at least in the very centric part of the city, bycicles are a huge phenomenon too!!**

  32. dcars Says:

    Toyota didn’t wreck NASCAR and I think they may have even revived it. The COT didn’t help. I think they should only race cars that truly based on the cars they sell. It would be great to see the Camaro, Mustang, Challenger and Scion FRS thundering around the tracks.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A main reason for the COT was safety, and it seems to be working. “Stock car” racing would certainly be a lot more interesting, though, if they actually raced stock cars, whether they are “pony cars,” or front drive sedans.

  34. Chuck Grenci Says:

    The ‘smoothing’ of the restyled Transit Connect makes it look a little ‘busy’ in my mind’s eye; almost looks like a ‘deranged’ minivan. JMO, of course. And the C-Max, avoiding any reference to a ‘mini-van’, I guess they don’t want the ‘stogie’ image of the ‘soccer mom’ tainting the vehicle launch, but to me, it’s a minivan (just the same). Again, JMO

  35. Chuck Grenci Says:

    While still safe (after the COT’s lead), the 2013 NASCAR models will more reflect the shape of production models (though still very similar underneath the body) some deviation will be allowed by manufacturer to more represent the particular brand’s model. More here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/cary_estes/10/04/NASCAR-2013-redesigned-cars/index.html

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    33,
    To me, sliding doors are what makes a minivan a minivan, and there is only one in the U.S. market, the Mazda 5. Somehow, the almost 5000 pound Odyssey, et. al. don’t seem very “mini” to me. C-Max is more a tall wagon. JMO

  37. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #35 Point taken; perhaps it’s more CUV (as there is lots of ‘borrowing’) from the different types out there in today’s offerings.