Episode 1065 – China Air Pollution, First Look at MINI Paceman, Another Mercedes First

February 6th, 2013 at 11:56am

Runtime: 8:24

China is suffering through the worst air pollution the modern world has ever seen. MINI just introduced the all-new Paceman, which is based on the same platform as the Countryman. When the new S-class Mercedes comes out later this year it will be able to claim it was the first in the world to offer a certain technology. All that and more, plus we get to your comments and questions in this week’s edition of You Said It!

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Welcome to Autoline Daily. Later in the show I’ll tell you what kind of car that Barn Find is all about, but first the news.

China is suffering through the worst air pollution the modern world has ever seen. Pollution readings in major cities are significantly above what health officials call hazardous. China’s coal plants and oil refineries are getting a lot of blame, but now Chinese officials are pointing to gasoline, which contains 15 times more sulfur than in Europe, as the main cause. One report says smog in China now covers 1.43 million square kilometers, and now it’s starting to blow all over the world.

Speaking of China, GM just recorded its best sales month there, and now it wants to buy other Chinese automakers to boost its sales by 75 percent to 5 million units by 2015, along with its local partner SAIC Motor Corp. The Chinese government wants to see the industry consolidate because there are too many car companies. In fact, 10 of the 71 automakers in China last year did not sell a single vehicle.

When the new S-class Mercedes comes out later this year it’s going to be the first car ever with a limited form of autonomous steering. Mercedes calls it Distronic Plus with Driver Assist. When a driver engages the adaptive cruise control, the car will automatically do the steering. But it will only work as long as the driver keeps his or her hands on the steering wheel. There’s a sensor that shuts it off if your hands are not on the wheel. I’ve got to believe the lawyers forced the engineers to add that because there’s no technical reason why that’s needed. But this shows that autonomous driving will be here faster than most people expect and now Mercedes will be able to claim it was the first in the world to offer this technology, albeit in limited form.

MINI just introduced the 7th model in its line-up, the all-new Paceman. It’s based on the same platform as the Countryman but it’s slightly longer and a little bit lower. And it’s a two-door model unlike the four-door Countryman. The four-seater is powered by the same engines as the Hardtop. You get a choice of a naturally aspirated 1.6 liter, with 121 horsepower, a turbocharged version cranks out 181 horses and the powerful John Cooper Works has 208. Pricing starts under $24,000, with the John Cooper Works model starting just over $36,000. The Paceman goes on sale next month while the JCW follows in April.

Yesterday we showed you our latest Barn Find that I found in the woods while out skiing. And yes I know, it wasn’t really in a barn. In fact, someone out there thinks I must be skiing in a junk yard. But here’s my best guess as to what this car is: a 1959 Ford Fairlane. The taillights and front end are what give it away.

Some of you may disagree with that, because our comment section was chock full of other suggestions. And speaking of the comment section, coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!


C-Tech wonders why I think Chrysler has to boost its sales in markets outside of NAFTA. “Given the losses that almost all the other major car companies are taking in Europe and S.A., why is it so important for Chrysler to join them?” Because Chrysler can export vehicles to those markets, giving it more capacity utilization in its plants in the US, Canada and Mexico and greatly boosting its profits. And it’s unlikely Chrysler will increase its market share significantly in the NAFTA region, so the only way it can grow sales is getting into other markets.

Pedro Fernandez wants to know, “Is Ford also planning to use the 1.0 3-cylinder EcoBoost powerhouse in the Fusion as well?” Pedro, they’re doing that in Europe and other world markets, but not in the U.S. market.

Chuck Grenci saw our glowing report on the new Subaru Forester and says, “So John, other than maybe the best Subaru ever made, how does it stack up to the competition (and what is its competition)?” Chuck, the competition is the Ford Escape, Toyota RAV-4, Honda CR-V and other compact utilities. I’d say the Forester stacks up really well against them, and I especially like its new all-wheel-drive system.

Philip says, “I don’t understand your knocking turbos. My understanding is that while superchargers do decrease economy because they inject extra fuel into the engine, turbos should not decrease mileage at all because they only use exhaust gases to produce more power. So what’s the story?” The story is that both turbos and superchargers simply push more air into an engine, not more fuel. More fuel can be added with that air, but neither one inject fuel. And even though they use more fuel, they also add power, which allows automakers to use smaller displacement engines, and theoretically that will improve fuel economy. But if you accelerate briskly, using the power of the turbo or supercharger, you’ll see that fuel economy drop off dramatically.

Warren Webb asks a great question. “If the EPA revised its testing procedures wouldn’t that make meeting the 54 plus mpg standard even more unreachable?” No it would not Warren because there are actually two numbers the EPA uses, what they call adjusted number and the unadjusted number. Unadjusted means the EPA simply reads the data right off their test and that’s the number they use to calculate an automaker’s fuel economy. But for the real world, where people use their air conditioning, or seat heaters, or open the windows, and drive over the speed limit, the EPA uses an adjusted number so the fuel economy label comes close to matching the mpg’s that people will really get in their everyday driving. In fact, the EPA has a long history of changing the adjusted number as consumer habits change. So for small displacement turbo engines and for hybrids with lithium ion batteries I think it’s time for the EPA to change its adjustments, but that will not make it harder for automakers to meet the 54.5 mpg standard.

Thanks for all your comments and questions, you really keep us on our toes.

Hey all you diesel fans out there, we’ve got a great Autoline After Hours for you tomorrow night. We’ve got Josh Tavel, with Chevrolet Small Cars who’s coming in to give us all the details on the diesel engine going into the Chevy Cruze. I can’t wait to learn more about it, so join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo as we bring you some of the best inside information in the business.

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

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95 Comments to “Episode 1065 – China Air Pollution, First Look at MINI Paceman, Another Mercedes First”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Too many Mini models, too many Mini models; ’nuff said IMO

    Anticipating AAH tomorrow; finally/hopefully the ‘skinny’ on the Cruze diesel.

  2. ColoradoKid Says:

    No Driverless autonomous cars for Colorado !


    Thank goodness at least one State ( even better that its mine ) is showing a modicum of ( not so ) Common Sense !

    China’s excessive ( and now considered deadly by the WHO ) pollution ;

    And what’s China’s and the auto manufactures solution to this rapidly growing and potentially devastating problem you ask ?

    Why …. to build and sell even more cars in China …. while losing their shirts doing so ( it was announced today that China’s corporate and manufacturing taxes are about to be doubled and in some cases tripled over the next two years .. in order to expand China’s current welfare system ; NPR )

    And finally – The MINI Pacman ( Paceman )

    A step too far and a car too many IMO

  3. pedro fernandez Says:

    While they’re polluting like hell, we get to be the ones to invest billions in anti-pollution technology and equipment, it’s just not fair.

  4. G.A.Branigan Says:

    So merc has a limited autonomous car coming over here.I’ll bet there are thousands of lawyers salivating over the arrival.

    I know your a big fan of that technology John,but it’s just another nail in the ‘driving experience’ coffin.

    I will watch tomorrow nights show on diesels.I do have some questions I would love to get answers too.

  5. Cozy 12crv Says:

    Hello John, so if China is the polution capital of the world, do the US manufacturers there need to use any polution regs on the cars they sell there? Seems they should be using USA standards and soon!

  6. pedro fernandez Says:

    I Hope the Mini doesn’t go the way of the Minivan, which got so big that it basically just took over the so-called full size van market.

  7. gmveteran Says:

    It seems to me that the time you would want the autonomous steering to operate is when your hands are off the wheel. Not because you are reading a novel, but if you had a heart attack or fainted, etc. Seems as though the lawyers may have actually left Mercedes-Benz open to potential litigation because of their “hands-on the wheel” rule.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    Will these Merc have a special badge or something to differentiate it from others? I can just see folks jumping in front of them just to get hit and collect insurance money.

  9. ColoradoKid Says:


    +1 on the Benz comment with the addition of ;

    Its Technology for Technologies sake plain and simple : with little or no real nor viable benefit to be had

    And you betcha G.A. The litigation lawyers and the insurance companies are all wound up to have themselves a major league big bucks heyday . Suffice it to say they’re all placing their orders for that ultra expensive car they’ve been dreaming about – that custom home they’ve been wanting to build – or that vacation home they’ve been waiting to buy .

  10. pedro fernandez Says:

    Guys, if people who enjoy driving like we do would just ignore this crappy, useless technology, maybe they’ll stop trying to ram it down our throats, I have yet to see anyone use that stupid Lexus LS 460 self-parking feature. Even spending money on it makes no sense.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The MINI Countryman and Paceman should be called MAXi, or something like that. While the original BMW MINI hatch and convertible are a lot bigger than the original Mini, they are very much in the “spirit” of the original, at least to me. These wider, taller ones are not.

  12. ColoradoKid Says:

    Marchionne’s Lies .. continued ;

    Remember that Maserati SUV Marchionne promised the UAW a while back would be built in the US ? ( seeing as how it is nothing more than a badge engineered JEEP Grand Cherokee )

    Well …… the little emperor just announced in the Italian press today that the Maserati SUV’s for all markets will be built in ..


    Go get em PDL ! Give the little stronz _____ !

  13. G.A.Branigan Says:

    The last time I made a comment on autonomous cars John jumped in my shit.He said I never had to stand in a blizzard waiting for a bus,then went on the say that blind people would have more freedom same same UNDERAGE drivers would be able to get around.I hate to say this,but that wasn’t the smartest thing I ever heard on here.I still shake my head on that one…..

  14. ColoradoKid Says:


    Hows about these ?

    The MINIMax ( Countryman )

    and the MINIMax XL ( Paceman )

  15. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ 11: Macaroni strikes again…watch that turd try to move some production of jeep to china,not just set up a new/bigger facility there.

  16. ColoradoKid Says:


    Yeah well for what its worth you’ve got my undying support on the subject G.A.

  17. ColoradoKid Says:

    #14 He is already in the process of doing so I’m sorry to say .

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Probably about $30K of the $100K price of the new S-Class will be to pay the lawyers.

    Why won’t someone build a big, luxurious sedan that is, well, just a car, without all the “technology” for technology’s sake? I guess Hyundai comes closest with the Equis, and maybe Lexus with the LS, but even those have way too many gadgets, and cost way too much.

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    13, yeah, those would be good names for them.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Chinese Jeep production is for the Chinese, and other Asian markets, not the U.S. At least that is what they are saying.

  21. pedro fernandez Says:

    #17 what they’re doing is scaring off older, affluent buyers who just want a luxurious ride w/o all the whiz kid technology thrown in there, still remember the older lady trying to shift into reverse her 5 series using the paddles.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    I meant #18 above

  23. G.A.Branigan Says:

    We are all witnessing the death of driving.And the majority of the automotive pundits are pushing it right (write) along.”Infotainment” used to be doing a road trip with your lady and she says,”oh look at that honey….let’s stop”.Now it’s HD radio,HD video,HD nav and so on.I like the under the hood tech.Our smallest street engines are virtues of power/reliability/and economy.My equinox ltz has some sort of thunderous stereo system in it that I never listen too.I like the sound the 3.6L V6 makes,so that is my music.I’m glad I’m old.I experienced the muscle car times first hand and had 3 at the right time.If you could keep those on the road you damn well knew how to drive.Themz wuz th’ daze…….

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The car companies are forcing older, wealthy people to buy Avalons, even those who have the money, and are willing to spend it on cars the price of the big Benz.

  25. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit: macaroni says a lot of stuff….time will tell and it won’t take long.he’ll sell his mama(mia)to keep fiat going (downhill).

  26. dcars Says:

    Beijing air is 30 times more hazardous than the recommend safe levels by the world health organization. And it’s not just sulfur it’s particulate matter, Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide and Sulfur Dioxide. Cars are adding significantly to Beijing’s pollution and it’s killing these people. I think reducing our emission standards is a huge mistake.

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Since many, or most of the cars in China are newer ones from European and American companies, and have had to comply with Euro standards since around 2000, I suspect most of the pollution is from coal fired power plants upwind, 2-stroke mopeds, factory pollution, and other sources, but not the cars.

  28. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Didn’t John mention something about the gas? I wonder to what standard the chinese refiners are brewing their gas too?

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, even the new Avalon has the dreaded screen with the controls integrated into it, so older folks may have to go down market even more to avoid such technology, thinking Camry or something that drives plush w/o the complicated controls.

  30. Chuck Grenci Says:

    While it certainly isn’t being helped by the gasoline (John stated high sulfur content) it is all the factors listed; coal, gasoline (cars), other heavy industrial pollution (and the lack of any restrictions that would impede industrialization.

  31. Alex Carazan Says:

    A bit hypocritical for most global OEM’s who are all strong about “green” vehicles and reducing pollution in their own nations, but in the same breath they have no problem supporting selling vehicles that only contribute to communist China’s pollution. Communist government could care less about the harm to the mass population there. Seems China is more about exploitation and $$…not about any principles. That’s what happens when dictators are in control and companies care more about $$ rather than people. Wait for the law suits to come from implanted people who work in China on assignments and end up with cancer or some other illness. Maybe give a free gas-mask with every car sold! In China today they are actally selling clean cans of compressed air! Truly pathetic!

  32. T. Bejma Says:


    Totally agree G.A. but at the same time we are also witnessing the death of those that want the driving experience. Kids these days don’t even want to drive. They wait to get their license, car pool like crazy and are more concerned about the infotainment than the drive-tainment. I have a 19 year old son who waited until he was 18 to get his license, even though I had an old car for him to drive and now that he has his license, he would much rather have his girlfriend drive him around.

    The Millenials will have no problem handing over the wheel to a computer so they can bury themselves into their electronics and those of us that still enjoy driving will be confined to closed track events and historic races. It is coming and we will have no choice in the matter…

  33. pedro fernandez Says:

    Unfortunately we all live in the same planet, breathing the same air, so no matter where the pollution originates, we all end up breathing it. So the same pollution controls need to be put into place, maybe the UN should take care of this problem, buy knowing their track record, they’ll probably just make it worst.

  34. Lex Says:

    I am looking forward to hearing all about the Chevy Cruze diesel from Josh Tavel on AAH tomorrow night.

    General Motors is still planning to invest more money in China. I hope this is after it pays the US Government back all the money it owes the US Taxpayer with some interest for bailing them out. The Problem with GM is that they build too many crappy small cars below the Cruze. The Sonic and Spark are simply Daewoo Junk. The Equinox is becoming over priced and GM refuses to bring the Chevy Captiva or Trax to the US.

    I also think it is ridiculous to put a 1.4 liter turbo in the Buick Encore. This vehicle will never make money for GM. The Buick Verano is a nice package but overpriced. I wish GM would put the Verano’s engine in the Cruze. That improvement will make Cruze sales skyrocket.

    I agree with Consumer Reports in blasting turbo charging. IMO these engines will utlimately be a liability to both GM and especially FORD. In the long run the wear, repair and replacement rates will cost them big time.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    All these new “features” on the new cars should help increase the value of good ’78 Chevy Caprices.

  36. John Liebman Says:

    The Barn find is a 1959 Ford.
    John Liebman

  37. Lex Says:

    There will be another revolution in China, but this time it will be against foreign corporations who the Chinese Government will paint as the big polluters of the Chinese Peoples air, water and land. This is how the Chinese Government will seize all the foreign capital investment these corporations have made in China.

  38. ColoradoKid Says:

    Kit re #20

    Insider tip ;

    The Suzuki SX4/FIAT SUV and soon to be a JEEP for our market . If Marchionne gets his way that’ll be the first made there ( China ) for here ( US ) ;-)

  39. motorman Says:

    The turbocharger allows the auto companies to use a smaller displacement engine which helps them meet the emission standards because the turbo is not spooled up during the emission test.Less cubic inches less emissions.

  40. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Lex: I’m not a fun of turbo-charging anything other then a diesel,but that’s just me.I asked this the other day;will the soon to be plethora of used turbo fords etc with fairly high mileage have lower then normal trade-in value? I have to wonder…

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    35, Apple will be in big trouble, if they nationalize all the foreign manufacturing.

  42. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Sorry,’fun’ should read FAN.My kingdom for an edit button ;}>

  43. G.A.Branigan Says:

    It’s the technology they are after.

  44. ColoradoKid Says:

    China ;

    Methinks y’all might of missed this point in my first post when it comes to GM or anyone else making a profit in the Chinese market ;

    Iit was announced today that China’s corporate and manufacturing taxes are about to be doubled and in some cases tripled over the next two years .. in order to expand China’s current welfare system ; NPR .

    Think about that for a minute . We already know every foreign auto maker doing business in China is either already losing money or at best barely breaking even . Double ( or triple ) the taxes they’ll be paying in the next couple of years or so …. and you’ll soon realize …… all the foreign manufactures will be accomplishing is subsidizing the Chinese economy …. at our loss and expense I might add !

    #33 Brother are we on the same page on these subjects or what ! e.g. +1 ;-)

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    If you’re an older buyer without the will or ability to mess around with all these electronic gizmos, what are you supposed to buy if you still want a plush ride? a 20 yr old Buick or Caddy?

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Time will tell how all these Ford turbos do, reliability-wise.

    The thing I don’t like about the Ford turbos, at least the 1.6 and 2.0. is that, in the Fusion, they are both slower and thirstier than the naturally aspirated competition. If they were better than the simpler competition, the complexity might make sense, but as things have worked out, it is complexity for complexity’s sake.

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    Whenever I read or see a review from the UK, the preferred engine choice is always a diesel whenever it’s available, even the new Cruze wagon over there comes with an available 1.7 diesel which gets ridiculous high mpg’s for a car of that size.

  48. ColoradoKid Says:

    #39 – So will each and every other computer/phone / smartphone manufacture . To the same degree and in some cases …. worse !

    The main difference being …. at least if the ___ does hit the fan in China ….. Apple’s got some $120 billion in cash reserves to get them thru it and relocate their manufacturing elsewhere . Not to mention that unlike the Automakers Appl ( and the other P/C etc manufactures ) haven’t invested dime one into China to get their products made there .

    So its the automakers that have the most on the line .

  49. Kit Gerhart Says:

    43, or if you want something newer, a Lincoln Town Car. I think those had relatively simple controls.

  50. T. Bejma Says:


    You might want to check your facts on the Sonic. Besides getting knocked for fuel economy compared to its rivals (which is sacrificed for better performance), the Sonic is rated very highly. It is also the ONLY B-Segment vehicle built in the US by ANY automaker. Also the Spark, although built in Korea, is doing very well with the consumers here.

    As far as the Encore, also built in Korea, it is an experiment to see if it sells here before an investment is made so making money is not the first priority at this point.

    Also, a loaded Cruze actually costs more than the Verano so putting the 2.0T in the Cruze would definitely put it out of the price range for the segment and would not increase sales significantly.

    I am sure you will like the information on the diesel Cruze.

  51. gary susie Says:

    A woman who lives not to far from me parked her mini in garage and a little while later it burst into flames and burned her house down. Any other reports of that happening?

  52. HtG Says:

    I think I just heard a BMW X5 diesel in a parking lot. Now that sounds bad.

  53. HtG Says:

    Chinese pollution may be on your dinner plate if you eat garlic or ginger. Lots of that stuff gets imported here. check your grocer. You do know that party cadres have their own farms.

    I believe Beijing’s air quality is also affected by the nearby Gobi desert. Lots of dust.

  54. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I think china needs to bring their high sulfur gas into the 21st century.They also need to get rid of the gazillion or so 2 stroke whatevers.Next put scrubbers in the coal fired power plants for the time being,last-if the city dwellers insist on buying a car,it must be an ev.That will take that pollution out of city limits and put more pressure on the powerplants to clean up.

  55. Ivan Sears Says:

    It seems, China, in attempting to cherry pick their new industries and growth model failed to look at developmental history in other countries. The Los Angeles basin used to have smog like that shown. Te Detroit area smog was so bad you could see the orange cloud as you approached the city. This was only 25 to 40 years ago. It seems China’s leaders did not think this could happen to them. Now they will need decades to get things cleaned up, if they plan to bother.

  56. T. Bejma Says:


    Would like to see the source of information that shows all the automakers that are losing money or barely breaking even.

    It is a fact that the product is lower cost but based on the research I have done, the margins are about half of ours here. For example, GM sells slightly more vehicles in China than the US but the profit is about half.

  57. pedro fernandez Says:

    Don’t taze me bro! but CR actually likes the Fiat 500 EV, mamma mia! that is one big surprise.

  58. HtG Says:

    Here’s a parody of the RAM ‘God Made A Farmer’ superbowl advert.


  59. Lex Says:

    @ 50 The reason these B segment vehicles are doing well is because they are inexpensive to purchase without a auto loan and have a warranty. That makes them very attractive for individuals with low credit scores living in inner cities who want peace of mind from their daily transportation.

    The suggestion of putting the Verano powerplant into a Cruze would be for a SS Edition which I neglected to mention.

  60. C-Tech Says:

    @ #59 If you think $17-$18K for a new car is affordable without a loan, I need to move to your zip code.

  61. cwolf Says:

    @60 C-Tech, Don’t live beyond your means and don’t buy except out of need, save everything you can and invest wisely. When you near retirement you may be secure enough to pay cash. I’ll keep the faith in you.

  62. cwolf Says:

    T.B., you are correct on the sonic’s sacrifice of mpg’s for performance, but you failed to include added comfort! There are a handfull in my plant lot and not one person had a mechanical issue. So far it has proven itself to be a fine car that rides and drives bigger than it is. IMO, GM can keep the Korean stuff on a sinking boat!
    The Verono,like most Buicks,are great hwy cars, but there is almost no difference in mileage or performance between the std models. Why buy a verono when a regal can be had with more rear leg room and trunk for close to the same$? For a little more, buy a larger LaCross with e-assist and get better mpg’s. There is just too much overlap between models.

  63. C-Tech Says:

    @ #61 Hey CWolf I agree, that’s why I drive 2000 Cherokee Limited (G.A. talked me into it :) ) right now. I notice a number of young people (under 30) choosing the Sonic (esp. the hatchback). For many it is their 1st new car so it bodes well for GM, with that said none roll in with $17K and most roll out with a $300+ payment. I remember seeing a lot of Mitsubishi’s being repossesed after the easy credit days collapsed. I wish them well.

  64. C-Tech Says:

    Just saw the Brad Keselowski interview on Pardon The Interruption. NASCAR suits are going to cringe everytime he opens his mouth, but you gotta love his honesty and off-the-wall demeanor.

  65. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ C-Tech: And I hope your enjoying that Cherokee too.My wife (rip) and I put a lot of troublefree miles on our 2001 that we bought new.Excellent off road too if you have the right tires.Excellent in snow too.We consistently got 23+ mpg hwy.Around 18 to 19+ around town.

  66. pedro fernandez Says:

    Cwolf any car that fails to deliver in its first couple of years would be DOA, those days of repeated dealer visits are over, even former POS like the Range Rover have improved. when my sister’s brake issue was not solved, we started the procedures to have it declared a lemon under Fl’s lemon law, even the Dodge service manager suggested it, luckily, the problem seems to have been solved, so we did not follow thru.

  67. cwolf Says:

    pedro,I hope you are right for the long term. To be honest,todays cars concern me; turbos,future diesels with all that polution crap, hyb. battery longevity and all the electronics that are supposed to be better for us. Most current cars lack that sense of confidence one developes in a model that has proven itself. Kinda like your Crappola and my Milan. As of now, I would be reluctant to select any car with any of the above features.

  68. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf, don’t trust turbos, direct fuel injection, 7 or 8 speed tranny, multi-function screens or even electronic throttle, I’ve heard complaints from MB owners that their all in one screens broke and it cost thousands to replace them, there is no other way to turn on your climate control or even radio this makes it almost a given that you need to buy extended warranty for any of these expensive cars cause you know something very expensive will break down in the long run.

  69. C-Tech Says:

    We are entering an auto age of new normals. Turbos are here to stay, dual-clutch manuals and 7-8-9 speed automatics, self-starting, braking, and driving. The automaker who delivers the new technology with simple interfaces, reliability, and makes it affordable will win market share.

    My concern with the new technology has more to do with what happens after the first owner and things have been tampered with. For example, Neon SRT-4 and PT Cruiser GT turbos basically shared the same powertrain. Today, you can find PT Cruiser GT’s in basically good shape because those owners did not tamper with them. Neon SRT-4′s on the other hand tend to have problems inflicted upon them by owners with more ambition than talent or money.

  70. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like technology in cars, when it buys you something. When fuel injection replaced carburetors, the cars started and ran better, got better gas mileage, and were generally more reliable. The advent of electronic ignition eliminated a 12-15K mile service, replacing points.

    Now, there seem to be way to much technology that makes cars worse, not better. Knobs and buttons are a better way to tune a radio than touch screens. If turbochargers and direct injection don’t give you more power or better gas mileage, what is the point? Maybe Ford is still on a learning curve with this stuff, thus the underwhelming performance of the 1.6 and 2.0 “ecoboost” engines, but so far, they are complex without benefit.

    On the other hand, “many speed” transmissions do seem to offer benefit. The V6 Charger and 300 with the 8-speed ZF designed transmission get very good mpg for cars their size. Some of the hybrids, including my Prius, get about 50% better mpg than similar size cars with conventional power trains, and they are reliable, in spite of the complexity. As far as “throttle by wire,” It has some advantages, and from my experience, it works just fine.

  71. G.A.Branigan Says:

    As I said before,I like the ‘high tech’ under the hood.This new stuff is awesome.What I don’t care for,or understand is the need for in cabin infotainment systems.A stereo is one thing,bluetooth cell phone is okay.But a dvd player? Complex touch controls for the radio?Just getting to the right menu is a problem on my equinox.And you don’t want to do it while driving.It’s just too much distraction in the cabin now.

  72. Kit Gerhart Says:

    71 …and the thing in your Equinox is probably better than a lot of them.

  73. pedro fernandez Says:

    In a way I like what Mazda is doing with this Skyactive thing, it is not just about the engine being more efficient, it is about making every design to maximize fuel mileage including lowering weight and improving aerodynamics, it all has to work in harmony.

  74. T. Bejma Says:


    Unfortunately our Marketing research shows that the Millenials EXPECT to have feature rich infotainment systems as one of their top decision considerations. You should see the system in the Spark…

  75. HtG Says:

    computer tech lifecycles are so short that what’s exciting and demanded today will be tomorrows undesirable cruft. But then hasn’t planned obsolescence been a necessity of industrialization for a century?

    I’ve got a friend who just loves all the tech, whether it’s in the cabin or making the car go down the road. I’m not going to argue

  76. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yeah, I suspect many, or most of the first time new car buyers of the Spark would want the stuff, but the 80 year old buyers of the XTS do not.

    With “entry level” cars like Spark, maybe the quick obsolescence of electronic gadgets will be the new annual model change. In the mid-late 50′s, people got new cars to have the latest styling. In the current era, maybe people will buy new cars to get the latest electronic gadgets.

    I, on the other hand, would tend to avoid certain cars to avoid the electronic gadgets.

  77. HtG Says:

    I’m also critical of how much harder it’s going to be for the independent mechanics to service contemporary cars. They’ll need special tools and technical subscriptions, while the dealers will be raking it in. Good luck when you’re out of warranty or are buying used.

  78. ColoradoKid Says:

    The truly ironic thing about marketing a car towards the millennials ( correct spelling ) is the fact that they are the very generation that are not buying cars …. of any kind …. infotainment or not .

    A Marketing and Business 101 lesson from the music ‘ Business ‘ who in fact have yet to absorb this lesson themselves .

    ‘ Market your product to the actual BUYING customer … first and foremost …… then worry about those who are not your customer to begin with … remembering its your actual customer that has money in hand and the desire to make the purchase . Ignoring this bit of wisdom is a recipe for disaster ‘

    Seriously . Where do most of the marketing mavens in the US automotive industry get their degrees these days ?

    The back pages of Rolling Stone ?

    Kit – #76 – final comment – agreed .

  79. ColoradoKid Says:

    #77 – Double Amen to that one HtG !!!!!!!!

  80. ColoradoKid Says:

    PSA in the news ;


    Kind of makes one wonder what in the heck the decision makers were thinking at GM when they chose to tie in with PSA and the French . The French of course being the only country in the EU to challenge Italy for most union strikes per annum ;-)

  81. G.A.Branigan Says:

    My idea of luxury is heated seats.That’s what I like,and need in a vehicle.I don’t want a electronics package that is intimidating and damn hard to use.Wasted money on useless shit.

  82. HtG Says:

    80 La Greve

    Don’t neglect to appreciate the racial tensions among French north Africans. Nice history, there

  83. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My idea of luxury is a heater, A/C, and cruise control.

  84. pedro fernandez Says:

    83 agree!!! once you don’t have them, you realize how important they really are. (specially on a loooong trip)

  85. ColoradoKid Says:

    …… adjustable ( manual ) heated seats – HVAC ( manual again .. don’t need no climate control ) – Cruise and of course …… a mighty fine AM/FM/CD stereo ( single on the CD and I could do without the AM/FM … surround sound need not apply )

  86. G.A.Branigan Says:

    And heated seats in a winter environment is just as luxurious as ac/heater/and cruise. I can’t remember buying a new vehicle in the last 30+ years that didn’t have cruise or air.I’m on my 3rd vehicle with heated seats and that is now ‘mandatory’ for me.

  87. ColoradoKid Says:

    HtG re// #82

    Short story ; A wonderful couple we know . She’s American/white – he’s French/white …. 4 adopted children … 3 from Brazil – one from Tahiti .. all of color ( Tahiti being oriental ) . They tried moving back to France after his job had taken them around the World four years ago ( Montpelier ) After the second year ….. they left and moved to CDN . Because of the extreme bigotry their children faced in the schools and on the street in France as well as the prejudice they received as parents of a blended family of children …. of color . Suffice it to say France’s prejudice goes well beyond the N African thing

  88. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I installed aftermarket cruise on a couple cars, most recently an ’83 Chevette. They didn’t offer factory cruise, at least with a manual transmission.

  89. C-Tech Says:

    @ #78 I concur!

    @ #77 The aftermarket shops will adapt or die. Look at Aamco trans. shops, they used to make their money mostly rebuilding automatic trans. which tended to wear out clutches at 100-150K miles regularly. Now with better torgue management and longer lasting clutch materials automatic trans. last well into the 200K-300k mile levels. They now advertise that they make all car repairs. The technicians who are leaving dealerships are now opening general service shops which take on all makes and models, but specializing in specific areas of repair (just a/c, just stereo/alarm, electrical) or specific brands (just European, just Asian, just trucks). This reduces your tool investment and maximizes your profits. Some are specializing in rebuilding electronic modules (it is staggering what you save with rebuilt modules over factory new).

  90. ColoradoKid Says:


    Do they make financial sense …. or not ?


    If TTAC’s calculations are correct ( and all evidence says they are ) the answer unfortunately is a resounding ;

    NO !

    No wonder the more we try and be like them ( EU/UK ) the more they actually want to be more like us ( US ) ;-)

  91. C-Tech Says:

    @ #89 Sorry that should read “torque management” and “technicians are NOT opening general repair shops which take on all makes and models but specializing in specific areas of repair”

  92. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Short story on france:My dad was DAC,(dept of the army civilian)and was installing radar site across west germany as part of the dew line.We went there in 1960,came home in 64.Every time the crap hit the fan,(Powers being shot down,bay of pigs etc)he had to report to whatever site he was building at that time.My sister,and mother and I had to follow an evacuation route to france (each time was to a different location).It was up to me to navigate us there.The German people at the train stations where always extremely helpful,but once in france and they knew we were Americans,they treated use like shit,gave us wrong directions etc.Everytime too.Needless to say I have never forgot those people and how we were treated.

  93. ColoradoKid Says:

    # 92 The sad thing is … despite there being many fine folks in France … your story is not uncommon ….. even today

  94. pedro fernandez Says:

    #85 auto a/c is nice to have, I have been in situations where it was just warm enough to put on a/c and close windows but then after a while the a/c got too damn cold and in other situations where it is too damn hot, the a/c did not seem to be able to cool down enough (L.A to Vegas August)

  95. G.A.Branigan Says:

    But Pedro……it’s a dry heat… ;}>
    at least in vegas.