December 12th, 2012 at 11:43am
Bill Ford Jr. has purchased the oldest surviving Ford automobile. Find out what it is. Indianapolis will embrace natural gas and electric vehicles as it requires city vehicles to dump petroleum in coming years. Think right-to-work means the end of the UAW? Think again. All that and more, plus John McElroy responds to your questions and comments in this week’s edition of “You Said It!”
Well we’re halfway through the week and there’s no shortage of new developments, so let’s get to them.
NICE MODEL, EH?
Bill Ford Jr., the chairman of the Ford Motor Company, just bought the oldest surviving example of a car made by the automaker. It’s a 1903 Model A. Bill Ford paid $264,000 for it at auction, something of a bargain because the last time it traded hands it went for $630,000. The 8-horsepower car originally retailed for $850. In today’s dollars that’s about $20,000.
UAW WELCOME IN RIGHT-TO-WORK STATES
Even though the UAW is fighting against the right-to-work law in Michigan, it already operates in five right-to-work states: Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Tennessee and Indiana. Specifically the UAW represents 18,000 GM, Ford and Chrysler workers in seven manufacturing plants in those right-to-work states. Obviously those workers see a benefit to joining the union and paying their dues, even though they don’t legally have to do so. And this would suggest the union should not really have any problems with Michigan going right-to-work.
THEY’VE GOT A LOT OF OIL, TOO (subscription required)
Jaguar Land Rover is considering building an assembly plant in Saudi Arabia of all places. According to WardsAuto, a key reason is manufacturing aluminum components. Starting in 2014, the country will be home to the largest integrated aluminum production complex in the world. JLR announced it’s also going to build a factory in China and will expand its plant in India. Global sales for the company are up 32 percent so far this year, and it must think that it needs a lot more capacity.
CARBON FIBER COLLABORATION
And speaking of lightweight materials, BMW announced it will collaborate with Boeing on carbon fiber. The companies plan on sharing information about manufacturing carbon fiber, looking into automation opportunities, and researching carbon fiber recycling.
Things are not looking so bright at California-based electric car maker CODA. It has made a substantial number of layoffs, fifty to be exact, or about 15 percent of its workforce. The majority of the layoffs were in the sales and marketing departments. This does not come as a huge surprise because the company has not even sold 100 units of its $37,000 all-electric sedan that went on sale in March. This piggybacks on the fact that the vehicle received only two stars in a frontal crash test and there has already been a recall.
INDY GOING ELECTRIC (subscription required)
In an effort to use more alternative fuels, the city of Indianapolis has plans to phase out the use of gasoline and diesel in the city’s vehicle fleet by 2025. It will use a mix of electricity and natural gas in cars, heavy trucks and police cruisers in the years to come. City buses are exempt from the revamp because they are run by a separate entity.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
We sure got a lot of feedback on Ford’s 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine. M360 says, “You gotta love Ford Motor Company and what they are doing. EcoBoost engines brought new meaning to turbocharging. Now they have a 3-cylinder engine. Who else does that?” Well, don’t forget that Fiat has a sub-1.0-liter, 2-cylinder engine. And a number of you commented on the engine’s rubber timing belt.
revampted wails, “What no timing chain on that 3-cylinder? I don’t like that fact of replacing the timing belt every 60k. it’s gonna be pain to fix.” And swinglow33 chimes in, “Replacing the belt in that Fiesta requires an appointment with an ASE certified mechanic. Ford knows how to bring in the customers, one way or another…” Our own on-staff, ASE-certified tech, Sean, agrees with you. He says with the timing belt going down into the oil pan there’s going to be some serious engine disassembly to get to that belt. But Ford says the belt will last for the life of the engine.
C-Tech had a comment about New York City cab drivers suing the city over forcing them to only use the Nissan NV200 van going forward. “Why does NYC need an ‘official’ cab anyway? Is there some kickback from Nissan for this dubious honor?” I don’t think there’s any kickback, I think New York wants some sort of consistency in its cab fleet and wants an iconic look just like London has with its cabs. But I think the taxi companies probably know what’s best for themselves, not city officials.
Will is intrigued with all the issues with EPA fuel economy labels. “I see that they’ve lowered the EPA highway ratings of the 2012 Sonata and Optima hybrids to 39 from 40. You should hold a viewer contest to predict what Ford will lower C-Max’s and Fusion Hybrid’s ratings to. I think that inferior aerodynamics of the taller C-Max will cause its highway number to be dropped more than Fusion’s. How about 41/42 C-Max and 41/43 Fusion Hybrid? And Parikshith from India wants to know, “Is it possible that the auto manufacturers are changing the Engine Mapping of the cars that are sent to the EPA? Has anyone taken a EPA car and put it on a DYNO?” I don’t think any automaker would take that risk Parikshith. The penalty for getting caught would be horrific. The problem is with the EPA test itself. Today’s hybrids can run in EV mode for most of the test and the result is much higher fuel economy than what you get in the real world. The EPA has often made adjustments to its test over the years as technology and driver behavior changed. It’s simply time for the EPA to make another adjustment.
Thanks for all your letters and comments. We can’t answer them all, but we do go through them all, so keep ‘em coming.
Don’t forget to tune in to Autoline After Hours tomorrow night starting at 6PM eastern time or 23:00 GMT for the best insider information in the business. Our special guest is John Morton, the guy who heads up all the racing activities at BorgWarner. So join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, for what promises to be a turbocharged conversation.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.