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Episode 1020 – MPG Woes Continue for Hyundai-Kia, Aston Taking Bids, GM Unveils SPRINGO EV

November 26th, 2012 at 11:56am

Runtime: 8:39

Hyundai and Kia could be starting to feel the repercussions of misrepresenting fuel economy, but this problem may have deeper implications beyond the Korean automakers. Aston Martin is looking for someone to take a stake in the company. See who’s scrambling to place their bids. General Motors takes the wraps off its new Chinese EV, the Sail SPRINGO EV. All that and more, plus John McElroy talks with Ashley Denmead from Carbon Revolution, a company that has figured out how to make wheels out of carbon fiber.

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Hello and welcome to a brand new week of Autoline Daily. We’re glad you’ve joined us, and now let’s get to the news.

A SHIFTY DEAL
General Motors is looking at selling its giant automatic transmission plant in Strassbourg, France. The plant makes rear-drive 6-speed automatic transmissions. ZF and a company called Punch International, a contract manufacturing services company based in the Belgium are interested in buying the plant. Interesting backstory to the Strassbourg facility: when it first started building 6-speed automatics, GM didn’t even use them. They sold them to BMW. In fact, BMW still accounts for roughly half the output at that plant.

ASTON MARTIN ON THE BLOCK
Aston Martin wants someone, anyone to take a stake in the automaker. According to Bloomberg, Investment Dar Co., the Kuwaiti based firm that owns the iconic British luxury carmaker, has received several bids for Aston. Investindustrial, a European private-equity fund, offered over $400 million, but that offer was topped by Indian automaker Mahindra. The winning bidder will receive 50 percent of the voting rights and 40 percent equity stake.

INFINITI HEADS TO BRAZIL
Well we knew it wouldn’t take long for former Audi executive Johan de Nysschen to start making changes at Infiniti once he took over there. Now Infiniti will be expanding its sales efforts to Brazil. The brand will launch with the FX crossover and a yet unnamed sports sedan. Sales will not start until the end of 2014 and will be limited to Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, but will be expanded after that. And talk about expansion! Infiniti is in the process of moving into Singapore, Chile, Dominican Republic, South Africa and Australia, and Hong Kong which is where the Japanese brand now has its new headquarters.

MPG LABEL PROBLEMS
Looks like Hyundai and Kia are getting dinged for misrepresenting their fuel economy. Edmunds reports a decline in the purchase intent of consumers searching for new cars on its website. And it says purchase intent correlates well with how sales will perform over the next three months. But I think other automakers could be in trouble over the fuel economy their cars deliver in the real world versus what the EPA fuel economy label promises. In my test drives of the latest hybrids from Ford and Toyota, they don’t come anywhere near the EPA label. In fact, small turbocharged gasoline engines with automatic transmissions don’t seem to do well in real world fuel economy. I think this is going to become a much bigger issue in the weeks to come.

GM’S LATEST EV IN CHINA
GM just unveiled an electric vehicle in China called the Sail SPRINGO EV. The car, which was developed in China, has a range of 130 kilometers or about 80 miles, and its top speed is about 80 MPH. It takes 7 hours to charge using a 220 volt connection. The Sail SPRINGO EV goes on sale in the first half of next year with a starting price of around $41,000.

Say, have you seen this carbon fiber wheel yet? It’s very impressive and coming up next I’ll be sitting down with the guy who figured out how to make it.

Carbon Revolution is the name of an Australian company that’s figured out how to make wheels out of carbon fiber. Ashley Denmead is the design director of the company and he recently visited our studios.

(John McElroy’s interview with Ashley Denmead from Carbon Revolution is only available in the video version of today’s program.)

Denmead tells me that the wheels use machined aluminum valve stems from Germany that work with tire pressure monitors, no special tire mounting equipment is needed, though they ask that touch-less machines are used as with any high-end wheel to avoid scratches or damage. And the wheels are balanced using lead weights with adhesive backings.

Before we go, don’t forget that we’ll be webcasting live from the LA auto show on Wednesday, starting at 1PM Pacific Time, which is 4PM Eastern Time. We’ll be doing interviews with the top executives at the show (SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS HERE) as well as showing you the latest cars being unveiled there. Put it on your calendars so you don’t miss the latest developments at the LA show.

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

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47 Comments to “Episode 1020 – MPG Woes Continue for Hyundai-Kia, Aston Taking Bids, GM Unveils SPRINGO EV”

  1. ColoradoKid Says:

    Now that the ‘ Red Bull Racing ‘ F1 team has been re-branded as the ” Infiniti Red Bull Racing ” F1 team .. my guess is we’ll be seeing the Infiniti brand spread across the entire globe over the next 12 – 24 months . Guaranteed . Cause of course .. F1 doesn’t matter ( sarcasm intended ) ;-)

    Aston Martin News – Its kind of funny that all the financials etc are reporting DAR’s sale of their stake in Aston Martin whereas today the BBC is denying the story …. as more and more financal news sources continue to confirm it . So I wonder what the BBC’s stake/agenda with Aston Martin might be in their attempt to mislead or at the very least least … misdirect ?

  2. Bradley Says:

    Hmm…Carbon Fiber wheels expensive for the early adopters. Sounds normal and reasonable, yet Electric Vehicles are constantly criticized for the same reality.

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, I figured the reason for the “invented for America” Infiniti brand’s become a “title sponsor” of Red Bull Racing meant they plan to take the brand global.

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    “Small turbo engines with automatic transmissions don’t seem to do well in real world fuel economy” Mmm I guess Honda and Toyota designers and engineers are not THAT stupid after all. Turbos and small “economy vehicles might sound like a good idea, but it isn’t, really.

  5. Bradley Says:

    There are so many factors in MPG. I drive a Yaris rated at 36mpg highway. I have only once got below 40mpg in the 77,000 miles I put on the car. Typically, I get 41 or 42 mpg. It is a manual transmission, so that helps.

  6. ColoradoKid Says:

    Carbon Wheels

    A very very very baaaad idea !

    Because ;

    1) Carbon Fiber degrades when subjected to water/UV / cold
    2) Carbon Fiber is expert at masking damage which then later goes Catastrophic Failure
    3) When CF fails it fails big time leaving a trail of razor sharp and deadly fragments

    So .. with all the noise lately about CF hoods , CF wheels and goodness knows what next ;

    Just what are all those engineers involved doing with the information / education they received to get their degrees these days ? Lining their bird cages and doggie doodoo corners with it ?

  7. HtG Says:

    Interesting how the interlocking interests of Renault/Nissan are expressed with Infiniti. deNysschen is working for Ghosn, who has decided to spend a decade developing electric propulsion systems for a future energy constrained world, will need a while to get Infiniti to the top like he did for Audi. And the Infiniti boffins will be developing KERS for the F1 team as part of the package they bring as a title sponsor. Yessss, interesting

    (one wonders if he’s still got that blue R8)

  8. Roland Says:

    If – as Ashley Denmead states – “no particularly expensive equipment is used for the production of the wheels”, where does the price of $ 15,000 for a set of 4 wheels come from? Can’t be in the material cost!

  9. Brian "Chicken" Little Says:

    Carbon Fiber Wheels – probably not liked by the environmentalist since these wheels increase the vehicles carbon footprint. (This joke contains several truly sad puns).

  10. C-Tech Says:

    It is not surprising that turbochargered vehicles aren’t matching the city mileage numbers. It takes a lot of torque (read gas) to rev up those little engines to move cars, trucks, and suv’s.

    The investment in the transmission plant sounds more viable than Aston-Martin. Perhaps the Broccoli family would be interested in investing some of the 007 profits in Aston-Martin.

    Considering the cost of those CF wheels, even a 50% price reduction means these wheels will be more for show than go. I pity the the poor tire guy whose boss tells him to mount them right or else the cost is coming out of their paycheck!

  11. C-Tech Says:

    Out of curiousity, I know aluminum wheels can be repaired from minor damage, can the CF wheels be repaired?

  12. pedro fernandez Says:

    #6 sort of like using cheap plastic on door handles?

  13. ColoradoKid Says:

    # 9

    CF anything is not repairable ! Once hit or damaged the underlying layers are affected and will at some point reach catastrophic failure regardless of what may appear on the surface . So as well as for those of you that might have a CF bicycle/helmet etc Do Not let anyone fool you into thinking some minor CF damage is repairable ( there are plenty of shops/services that claim they can ) It isn’t .

    The adage/wisdom amongst those who know about Carbon Fiber being ;

    Once hit or damaged – Throw it away ( for your own good )

    That especially includes CF helmets

    #7 I’m wondering if the Sebastien Vettel FX45 special edition will now make it our way

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #4,
    In CR’s tests, the “small turbo engines with automatic transmissions” as in Chevy Cruze and Dodge Dart, fare about the same, relative to their EPA ratings as most non-turbo cars in that class. Interestingly, though, the Corolla, with its “archaic” 4-speed autobox does better relative to its EPA ratings than most others in that segment.

  15. jesse Says:

    So the Hyundai mileage thing is having that much of an effect??They were only off by maybe a mile or two per gallon over all.The KIA SOUL was off by 5 or 6 a gallon.My how easily people are swayed…The Hyundai Sonata I owned in 2011 actually got more then the stated highway mileage each and every time I took a trip.Well,at least they don’t look like a Pontiac Aztec or that bug eyed Nissan!!:)

  16. ColoradoKid Says:

    #7 – And lest you forget ! Renault/ Nissan/Infiniti have now also partnered with Mercedes Benz on several future projects/cars especially between the Infiniti brand and Mercedes .

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    #12 I guess it’s all about the torque increase that they’re aiming for, doesn’t diesel get the same effect with less service issues?

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    All car diesels are now turbocharged. Turbocharging makes a huge difference in how well diesels work, and is pretty much a necessity these days.

  19. W L Simpson Says:

    I want my EV to have a Bladon turbine
    generator , inwheel motors, & air cooled batteries

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    I refuse to join the jackrabbit start clan, I get in the right lane and those NASCAR boys in their V8 machines can have the middle and left lanes and can go from zero to the next red light at whatever speed their expensive motors can take them and I smirk at how much gas they waste.

  21. HtG Says:

    I’ll bet guys go bonkers for those wheels. There’s just enough sense behind CF for the passions to stir; I remember in a past life, dreaming about CF components for a racing bike. The first time I road very light(non CF) wheels I nearly fell off the bike, so much was the handling altered. Let a guy who has already shown the ability to drop serious coin on a Porsche try these wheels out, and he’s going to have to work hard suppressing his grin.

  22. ColoradoKid Says:

    #19

    And I’ll bet if they do , within six months or less the lawyers will be having themselves a heyday and raking in the $$$ like mad !

    FYI ; I absolutely refuse to ride on or own a CF bike as well as use any CF components on any bicycle I ride . Simply put , between Porsche & Ferrari etc engineers revelations on the realities of CF along with having seen first hand more than a few CF bikes and components go catastrophic failure as well as the end results of said failures ( hospitals and ambulances being the norm ) I’ll leave the CF to the Boy Racer wanna be’s and the Pros . Yeah it looks cool and all ( and dang if I wouldn’t just love the Specialized McLaren bike or the Colnago Ferrari in my garage ) but my well being is worth a lot more than looking ‘ Cool ‘ any day .

    Give me a ti frame , aluminum or good ol’ chrome moly any day ;-)

    Now if Pagani were to use their ti/Carbon Fiber hybrid material in a bike ? That I might just consider …. after it’d been thoroughly tested which I know Pagani would do before sticking their moniker on a bicycle .

  23. XA351GT Says:

    15 Grand to save about 60 lbs? Forget that. Cheaper to go on a diet .

  24. HtG Says:

    I’m more interested in the curing processes used on these wheels. There’s lots of cost to be saved if you don’t have to cook CF parts, and then there’s tech transfer. John needs to get a stretching rack for future studio guests.

    20 cycling is supposed to hurt, if you’re doing it right. :)

  25. Duke Says:

    Pedro, be careful who, or what you call stupid. My son has a F-150 EB and has achieved 30 mpg in a half ton pickup (highway driving) numerous times – but averages more in the low to mid 20′s. It all depends on how one drives a turbo’ed vehicle.

    There are a number of Prius owners in these parts that drive them like the V8 nascar-type drivers you speak of in #18. Do you think that they get anywhere close to the EPA estimate? Didn’t Toyota claim 64/65 mpg in the initial Prius, then had to correct that to the low 40′s?

    Even then I know some a couple Prius owners that do not get that normally – because of the way they drive. Is it the EPA methodology of testing? the car company? or the drivers?

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    Gee, I’m reading my posts today and unless I forgot how to read, I don’t see anywhere calling anyone STUPID, perhaps you could point it out to me, what with my bad English and all, I may have missed it.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Duke, If your son gets 30 mpg with his turbo truck, his highway driving must be relatively slow, like 60 mph or slower, and if he averages in the 20′s, he’s a very economical driver. Is he dividing out his mileage, or using the often-optimistic readout?

    As far as Prii and other hybrids, they seem to test “high” in the EPA cycles, but still get very good mileage. The EPA city number for a current Prius is 51, which I rarely achieve for a tank of gas, but I average mid-40′s overall, very good, since I drive the car normally. I do much better relative to the 28 mpg EPA city rating of my MINI, but my overall mileage with the MINI is only about 2/3 of what I get with the much roomier Prius.

  28. HtG Says:

    Everybody’s clear that I will not be bidding on this Honda S2000. Heartbreaking

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Honda-S2000-Base-Convertible-2-Door-2003-Honda-S2000-no-winters-no-accidents-full-records-needs-/110979384713?pt=US_Cars_Trucks&hash=item19d6e30589

  29. Steve Says:

    Poor gas economy. How could that be. The EPA changed the tests to make them closer to real world millage. How could the government be wrong?

  30. cwolf Says:

    Turbos are becoming the norm,so I guess you’ll have to choose wisely in the future.

    I feel sorry for the Brits who anxiously awaited the Mustang hitting their shores because it ain’t gunna happen. And to hear their Mustang was to have front whl. drive,dinky 4 cyls or a diesel is something only an idiot would think of! If this is Ford’s “Better Idea”, I need to find another brand.

  31. cwolf Says:

    This also blows my mind!
    The Jeep Wrangler was in the top ten for holding its value. The vast majority making the cut lack reliability and costly to repair. At least the added value may pay for one of the towes or service fees.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    29 makes sense, since most of them don’t make to old age, the ones who survive can fetch the most $$. I predict that in 5 yrs or so, “experts” will be warning used car buyers to steer away from small and compact cars with 4 cyl turbos for having questionable reliability,

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    From a discussion on TTAC, would you rather buy a heavily optioned lesser car or a bare bones version of the next class from that same or other manufacturer?

  34. Raynman Says:

    Re MPG Woes: I’ve always had GM/Ford vehicles. Every vehicle I have owned I have regularly exceded the MPG rating. EVERY CAR. It is all related to how smart you drive. When you understand the basic physics of acceleration and the relationship of speed vs h.p. you can exceed the ratings too. It’s not difficult, and I don’t “poke along” either. Mr. McElroy likely has a heavy foot under normal acceleration conditions. Rule of thumb: It should take you at least 20 seconds to reach 40mph from a standing start. Do that, and save 10% at least.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #31,
    I go for the bare bones version. With my Prius, I saved about $9K over a loaded one, and they all drive the same. My MINI is a base car, and has what I want. I’d especially want to go “bare bones” if I bought a Ford, so I could avoid the Touch thing.

  36. HtG Says:

    my Civic is bare bones by today’s standard. AC, power steering, rear window defrost, power steering, wind up windows, no tach or ABS. LOVE IT

    my Miata was loaded, except for no ABS. LOVED IT, MISS IT

  37. cwolf Says:

    Ditto #32. I’ll take bare bones,too. I like hand crank windows, miss vent windows and ol’type radios with knobs and a few push buttons.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Crank windows are hard to get any more. I suppose it is cheaper to put power windows in all of a car line, rather than have crank windows available, if only ten per cent of the csrs would have them.

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I suspect the Wrangler depreciates slowly because it is “one of a kind.” Some others on KBB’s list of vehicles that hold their value well are the two “smaller” pickups, Tacoma and Frontier, and the retro FJ Cruiser.

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #27,
    The EPA has downwardly adjusted the numbers, more than changing the tests. They need to downwardly adjust them even more, if they want the lead foots to match their numbers.

    My experience has been that my overall mpg has been between the EPA city and highway ratings for most cars I’ve had. The exception is that my overall mpg with my Prius has been lower than both ratings, which are 51/48. Still, my overall average with the Prius of ~45 mph is by far the best of any car I’ve ever had. While the better of the hybrids get exceptional mpg, it seems that the EPA ratings are on the high side, relative to real world mileage.

  41. T. Bejma Says:

    #6

    If carbon fiber is so bad then why has been the material for every single Corvette C6 fender (except the Grand Sport), every STS-V, CTS-V and ZL1 Hood, not to mention all of the exposed CF on the Corvette Z06.

    It will not degrade in UV/water/cold as long as it is coated, which it all is. Putting unprotected CF on a car is like not painting the sheet metal. CF is being used because it is stronger and lighter than a comparable metal component.

  42. ColoradoKid Says:

    # 38

    Let me guess . You work for GM . Right ? Well son allow me to educate you a bit beyond what corporate is feeding you . First off … the Porsche papers . They state quite clearly that despite and in spite of any and all coatings including paint sealant etc CF can – does and will degrade over time due to exposure to UV IF as well as moisture and extreme ( below 25 F ) cold . Second . Ever wonder why Ferrari refuses to use CF on its production cars using aluminum instead ? Because unlike the rubes at GM Ferrari read the Porsche Papers – took the given wisdom to heart – and chose longevity over using what is a ‘ trendy ‘ material . As to CF being stronger and lighter ? Not with the weaves and compounds your minders are using it isn’t !

    And then young man there’s that issue of catastrophic failure and the damage a single incident can create . Which GM in their infinite wisdom chose to ignore .

    No Mr Bejima .. you need to do your homework on the subject of CF because unfortunately the information you’re being fed is at best misleading and at worst a blatant and outright attempt to deceive in the name of profit … at the expense of the customers and those around his/her safety – well being – not to mention his/her investment . GM is dead wrong on this . As they are and have been in so many other areas of late

  43. ColoradoKid Says:

    JEEP Wrangler depreciation ;

    Why is it so low you ask ?

    Simple . Its the current Pop Hipster Trendy vehicle of choice . Period . Which is also why its the only vehicle in Chrysler/JEEP /FIAT’s line up thats remained a strong seller .

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    As far as carbon fibre degradation, it’s the commonly used epoxy resin, not the carbon fibre that degrades from UV and moisture exposure. If it is properly coated, as it presumably is on all the aircraft now using CF in their structures, it shouldn’t degrade much. Also, there may be better resins than the cheap stuff normally used.

    Here is good study on the topic: http://stuff.mit.edu/afs/athena.mit.edu/course/3/3.91/OldFiles/www/slides/J_Composite_Materials2002v36p2713.pdf

    Even if you the stuff can be coated in a way to prevent degradation, I wouldn’t be too crazy about CF wheels if, for no other reason than that, if damaged, they can not be repaired in a way that would restore original strength.

  45. C-Tech Says:

    @ #40 Hmmm… The Chrysler sales have been consistant up in the last few years, especially the 300 / Charger. Given the Wrangler is an iconic vehicle which has been around for years I don’t think “trendy”is the word for it.

  46. T. Bejma Says:

    #41

    Thanks Kit, appreciate your unbiased and informative (i.e. lack of personal opinion injected into the conversation) response.

    I also agree that CF wheels are not the way to go but as far as trim and body panels, the material works EXCELLENT and is used by many different automakers and airline producers (Boeing 787), other than Ferrari (are we talking about normal cars that need to shed weight for mileage or Million $ supercars???).

  47. blueovalblood Says:

    Why is Hyundai/Kia being fined for the mpg errors on their cars? Isn’t the E.P.A. responsible for testing and verifing those numbers? Shouldn’t they be the ones paying the fine?!!