January 24th, 2013 at 11:53am
In a new memoir, GM’s former chairman says he wanted Mark Reuss to succeed him. Peugeot and Bosch announce a battery-free hybrid system that’s lighter and cheaper. BMW and Toyota cement their agreement to collaborate on a host of new projects including a sports car. All that and more, plus John McElroy responds to your questions and comments in this week’s edition of You Said It!
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily. Oh boy, we’re almost at the end of the week. Tonight we have a great After Hours program in store. More on that later, now let’s get to the news.
ED WANTED MARK, NOT DAN
GM’s former chairman Ed Whitacre is writing a book about his time at General Motors, and he reveals something of a bombshell. As reported in the Detroit News, Whitaker wanted Mark Reuss to take over as CEO of the company. But he also says, and I find this very telling, that Dan Akerson wanted “to be chairman and CEO from day one.” And of course, Akerson got the job, presumably because Mark Reuss was too young and did not have enough experience. Whitacre says the transition to Akerson was “not very elegant… But that’s how it played out.” Not very elegant? We need to read between the lines here, folks. I get the distinct impression that Whitacre is not a fan of Dan Akerson or how he got the top job at GM. I believe there’s more to the story. We’ll have more to talk about this tonight on After Hours.
R&D, BMW-TOYOTA STYLE
Last summer we reported that BMW and Toyota will collaborate on advanced powertrains and other projects and now it’s official. The two companies just formally signed an agreement to jointly develop a fuel cell system, lightweight materials, research lithium-air batteries and collaborate on a mid-size sports vehicle.
IT’S A GAS!
And speaking of advanced powertrains, Peugeot and Bosch just unveiled a new battery-free hybrid system. The system uses a conventional engine that’s combined with a hydraulic motor that is driven by compressed nitrogen. Peugeot says the first vehicles with the technology will hit roads in 2016 with a starting price under 20,000 euros which is about $26,600. The system is half the weight of an gas-electric hybrid and a fraction of the cost.
2014 SUBARU FORESTER
I spent the last two days test driving the new Subaru Forester, and I came away impressed by some of the key changes they made to the new version. Take a look.
(John McElroy’s Subaru Forester impressions are only available in the video version of today’s webcast.)
We’ll have more reports on the new Forester coming up soon. But coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
Last week we pointed out the nifty aerodynamic approach used on the new Corvette where they take air in at the tops of the rear fenders and vent it out the rear to trick the airflow into behaving as if the car is longer, thus reducing drag. I pointed out that Ford used that approach with an aerodynamic study that it did with the Probe IV in 1983. That prompted my journalist colleague and friend Gary Witzenburg to point out that General Motors used that same technique on a prototype called the Precept. It was part of the government funded PNGV, or partnership for a new generation vehicle program, to develop a five-passenger sedan that would deliver 80 miles to the gallon. The Precept was a hybrid diesel that also took in air from the rear fenders and vented it out the rear. BTW, Witzenburg also worked on that project as a GM engineer.
And Rumblestrip was impressed by the hydraulic hybrid Ford Ranger we showed you that was developed by a startup company called NRG Dynamix, but he wonders, “John, wasn’t there a program 3-5 years ago where a hydraulic hybrid system was being tested on UPS trucks? I thought you had done a feature on that as well, for the Sunday TV show.” Rumblestrip, you are correct, sir! When we visited the EPA labs in Ann Arbor they showed us a hydraulic hybrid they are testing with UPS. In fact, it used a HCCI diesel, a homogeneous charge compression ignition engine for maximum fuel economy. Last we knew, the system was still undergoing testing but thanks for bringing it up; we need to call the EPA and get an update.
Ripituc saw my live interview at the Detroit auto show with Peter Schreyer, the head of design for Hyundai-Kia, where I asked him if he was going to redesign the Kia logo. Right now it looks like a copy of the Ford oval. I thought maybe he’d change the oval to mimic the graphic Kia uses for the front end grilles on its cars. Ripituc says, “Love how John tries to push his logo idea on Peter Schreyer (with no result)… that’s the spirit!” You know, over a year ago, Schreyer was the one who told me that it was something that they had discussed doing, and that’s why I asked if it was still under consideration.
Speaking of our live auto show coverage Gerry Parij says, “It was painful to watch the interview with Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, knowing that Chrysler exits NASCAR after winning all the marbles as the Sprint Cup Champion. I suspect that Mopar lost a lot of current and future sales with that decision.” Actually Gerry, that was not a Mopar decision, that was a Dodge decision. When Ralph Gilles was head of Dodge he decided to axe their NASCAR program because they knew they were going to lose the Penske team and felt it would take years to build up the program because they couldn’t attract any of the other top teams to go with them. But I agree with you. Success in NASCAR undoubtedly helps Mopar. And since Dodge won the championship last year, that could have persuaded some top teams to go with them.
Thanks for all your letters and comments, we really find it valuable going through them.
Be sure to join us tonight for Autoline After Hours. We’ll have Mose Nowland, who spent 55 years designing and building some of the most famous racing engines ever to come out of the Ford Motor Company. We’ll also be discussing the Autoextremist’s idea for spinning the Corvette off of Chevrolet to become a brand of its own. And Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics will also be joining us tonight. So tune in for the best insider view of what’s going on in the automotive industry today.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.