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Episode 1082 – Workers Mad at the UAW, BMW Teams Up with Conti, Toyota FT-86 Open Concept

March 1st, 2013 at 11:46am

Runtime: 9:03

You’d think that they’d be happy just to have their jobs, but hourly workers at Chrysler are protesting a change in shifts at some of the company’s assembly plants. Supplier company Continental is teaming up with BMW to develop autonomous technology further. Toyota is showing off the concept of the convertible version of the FT-86, what they call the Open. All that and more, plus at the Autoline Supplier Symposium we found one of the biggest problems that suppliers face now is they’re straining to meet demand, they can barely keep up with car sales.

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Welcome to Autoline Daily. Well time marches on because today is the first day of March. As always there’s a lot happening in the global automotive industry, so let’s get to it.

WORKERS MAD AT THE UAW
You’d think that they’d be happy just to have their jobs, but hourly workers at Chrysler are protesting the move to using three-crew two-shift operations at some of the company’s assembly plants. Workers will now work 10 hours a day, four days a week. And because of the way the rotation works, two of those crews will always work Saturdays. But the workers aren’t so mad about working Saturdays as they are of losing their overtime, which is the same to them as taking a pay cut. And guess what? They’re mad at the UAW for going along with Chrysler on this. In fact, one worker tells me that the people on the line now see the UAW as being the same as management.

EU PROPOSES NOISE-LEVEL LABELS
The European Union is considering a requirement for noise-level labels on new cars. According to WardsAuto, the EU also wants automakers to reduce vehicle noise by 6 decibels to 74 decibels over a six year period, which is an extremely stringent requirement. Needless to say, European automakers are not happy with this regulation. They wanted a 2 decibel reduction, and some say it’s not going to be possible for them to meet this regulation in that 6 year time frame.

BMW, CONTINENTAL = AUTONOMOUS TEAMMATES
Late last year we showed you the semi-autonomous technology that the supplier company Continental developed. Their test car was a Volkswagen Passat, but now we learned that Conti will actually be teaming up with BMW to develop this technology further. By 2016 this autonomous technology will be available for low speed operations, especially for stop and go traffic jams. But Conti says full high speed autonomy will be available by 2025. Its market research says consumers would be willing to pay up to $3,000 more for an autonomous car. Impressively, it has 1,300 engineers working on all aspects of autonomous cars.

THE WIND IN YOUR HAIR
Toyota is showing off the concept of the convertible version of the FT-86, what they call the Open. The FT-86 is known as the Scion FR-S in the ‘States. This concept features a larger wheel and tire package, a 6-speed automatic transmission and a rear seat, although it does not look inhabitable by a grown human. Typically, automakers add those dinky seats because the insurance on a two-seater is usually a lot higher, and yes a stupid little seat in the back can lower those premiums.

BARN FINDS
Once every week or so, we do a segment called “Barn Finds” where we feature some of the coolest automotive tidbits you’ve found. Today’s selection comes to us from Chuck Grenci in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina who reminds us that the debate over ethanol wasn’t born yesterday. He sent us this photo taken in Lincoln, Nebraska at Earl Coryell’s filling station way back in 1933. We did a little digging and learned that Earl was an early proponent of what was then marketed as “Corn Alcohol.” And he even helped to fight and win a landmark antitrust decision by the Supreme Court against the Ethyl Corporation. You see, they were refusing to sell their leaded additive to any station pumping ethanol blends, thus driving prices through the roof. The Ethyl Corporation, by the way: a joint venture between Standard Oil and GM. It just goes to show you there’s no new “corn-traversy” about ethanol. Sorry. I just couldn’t resist.

The automotive sector is one of the true bright spots in the American economy right now, but even so, suppliers are still facing some daunting issues. We’ll get into that, right after this.

AUTOLINE THIS WEEK
A little over a month ago we held the first Autoline Supplier Symposium at the Detroit auto show, talking about the issues facing automotive suppliers right now. And that’s the topic on Autoline This Week. One of the biggest problems that suppliers face now is they’re straining to meet demand, they can barely keep up with car sales. So I asked a couple of supplier executives how they’re dealing with this issue. Here’s a clip from that show.

(Clip from Autoline Supplier Symposium can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

By the way, my guests on the show are Neil De Koker the CEO of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, Michael Martini, the President of OE sales for Bridgestone Americas and Doug Grimm, the CEO of the casting company Grede. And of course you can watch that entire show right now on our website at Autoline.tv. Or you can catch it on our YouTube channel, or check your local public television listings because Autoline is now in 50 markets across the United States, as well as coast to coast in Canada.

Anyway that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, have a great weekend we’ll see you back here on Monday.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

86 Comments to “Episode 1082 – Workers Mad at the UAW, BMW Teams Up with Conti, Toyota FT-86 Open Concept”

  1. T. Bejma Says:

    I, for one, would love to work 4 10′s and have a 3-Day weekend every week!!

    Detroit Financial Manager – Governor getting ready to announce that there will be Financial Manager to take over over the city from the corrupt, lazy, self-preserving idiots trying to run Detroit. They have had many years to try and resolve the issues and instead all they do is argue and drag their feet. One of the biggest idiots was spouting off this morning that the city should sue the state for trying to take over and help. Ridiculous…

  2. ColoradoKid Says:

    Toyota FT-86/Scion FR-S ‘ Open ‘

    Cant quite explain why but the ‘ Open ‘ IMHO is about 100 times better looking than the ‘ closed ‘ ( I’m no fan of the ToyotAru SubYota twins hard tops design )

    I got nuthin else . See y’all Monday

  3. ColoradoKid Says:

    # 1 – If its any ‘ Small Source of Comfort ” T … KCMO is about…. maybe 5 or 10 years behind Detroit ( on all fronts including corruption … 60% abandoned and vacant property in Mid/Downtown etc ) and catching up … fast !

    And from what I’m seeing and hearing there’s more than a few other cities going down the same path in the wings as well

  4. T. Bejma Says:

    #2

    Totally agree CK. Look out Miata…

    #3

    Detroit is actually about the 4th or 5th city in Michigan to get taken over behind Pontiac, Flint, Highland Park and I believe Hamtramck, so nothing new to see here, move along…

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That “corn alcohol” was really popular for a few years before 1933, but not mixed with gasoline.

  6. HtG Says:

    Interesting feature, Chuck.

    ——
    Look out Miata, TB? Just you wait and see
    ——
    Keep the funnin’ and the punnin’ comin’ John.

  7. buzzerd Says:

    So John how about a little credit for the UAW for agreeing to a shift change that will save the company money, doesn’t cut workers wages and gets the workers a shift I’m sure 99% will like better once they work it a while. People are always ready to jump on the band wagon when there is a negative story about unions and not so much when it’s positive.

  8. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Judging by the popularity of the tv show ‘Moonshiners”,I would say Corn Alcohol is still popular,lol. Good job Chuck Grenci,great pic…

  9. rick Says:

    john try working every fri. sat. 5 am to 5 pm then sun. mon. 5 pm to 5 am. or every fri. sat. 5 am to 3 or 3:30 pm then sun. mon. 3 or 3:30 pm to 1 or 1:30 am sometimes 2 am. try it for at least 3 months a half year or a year. you`re probably an empty nester. now imagine with a family school aged kids. come on john put your money where you mouth is. put up or shut up its go time. get back with me after a year of that. now imagine trying to raise a family working every weekend as your normal hours. what was your wife and kids were wanting you to do with them again as a family? but you have this weekend just like every weekend.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s funny how some things never change.

    When I was working at Delco Electronics in Indiana, they implemented a system of, as I remember, four 12 hour shifts, followed by a three day weekend, or something similar. The big “concern” from the workers and, as I remember, also the UAW, was overtime. They worked out some sort of deal where overtime was paid, even to people working their “regular” shifts, because they were there more than 8 hours at a time. This was in a silicon chip fabrication facility.

  11. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    Interesting show, especialy the ethanol “Barn Find” part. But what wasn’t interesting was more from that dredful Supplier Symposium. I hardly think this is news especialy when the Detroit auto show was back in January. Call me old fashioned but news is new!

  12. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #6 & #8 HtG and G.A.

    Thanks, (I just found the picture and sent it in); kudos to the Autoline Staff for their research (for the rest of the story).

  13. ColoradoKid Says:

    T Bejma

    BTW – KCMO and St Louis MO’s police departments were both taken over by the State some ten years ago ( due to extreme corruption etc ) …. with both’s public school systems soon to follow ( both have been under Academic Suspension for going on five or more years )

    … if that helps in the slightest bit .

  14. ColoradoKid Says:

    #12 That was a good one !

  15. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    #12 14 It was indeed very interesting! More stores like this one would be neet!

  16. T. Bejma Says:

    Little tidbit from the GM Sales announcement today – Over 60% of ATS Sales are conquest!

  17. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ T: Huh??

  18. T. Bejma Says:

    Conquest = Coming from another brand other than GM.

  19. Lex Says:

    Toyota’s naming convention seem weird to me.
    Calling the Toyota FT-86/Scion FR-S ‘ Open ‘ when it should simply be called a “Convertible” or “Rag Top”.

    Also that Toyota “Furia” Corolla replacement concept at the Detroit Auto Show is already available as a hatchback (5 door) is Australia and New Zealand as the Corolla – Levin and in the UK & Europe as the Auris. What is with these OEM’s and there naming conventions? If you are a global OEM then let your products reflect it by keeping the nameplates in sync.

    Why is the Corolla called a Auris in the UK? This might be a interesting AAH show with some automotive executives and vehicle naming consultants. I understand that the Chevy Nova would mean “Chevy No Go!” in spanish speaking countries but why isn’t Corolla acceptable in Europe or all around the world?

    Like the Chevy Cruze, why are we in the US the last to get the new sleeker Corolla?

  20. ColoradoKid Says:

    T Bejma

    Enough with the GM propaganda please !

    And conquest sales ? …. From what ? Buick , Lincoln and the Cadillac CTS ? ( don’t even try and claim its Mercedes and BMW or even Audi cause believe me .. I know better ) Sorry T but the pundits aren’t in agreement with GM’s sales ‘announcement ‘ in the slightest .

    Not to be disagreeable again but I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree with HtG on the Miata vs FR-S ‘ Open ‘ as well .

    The FR-S ‘ Open ‘ has now morphed itself into a genuine player in the open top reasonably priced sports car category .

    But a threat to Miata sales ?

    Never gonna happen I’m afraid !

    ——-

    Lex – # 19 – Same reason Ford sends us all their dregs or when they do send the good stuff its some 2-5 years later … why BMW and Mercedes won’t send us their ‘ pedestrian ‘ models etc etc .. cause nobody likes us …. And errr …. most American consumers are a bit …. ahhhh …. Dense ?

  21. ColoradoKid Says:

    NEWS Break ! Its the GM-CEO Smack Down of the Decade ;

    Dateline 3/1/13

    First Whitacre slams Akerson . Now Lutz jumps on Whitacre .

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/boblutz/2013/02/28/how-ed-whitacre-saved-gm-in-just-10-months-and-other-fables/

    So when is the three way cage match going to be announced everyone is asking ? Two falls out of three or last man standing ( or not having a coronary ) ;-)

    All while TTAC is taking Akerson to task ( in a three part article ) cutting him a new one !

    On a serious note though . Not much love going around GM’s way these days …. is there ? Any questions about why GM can’t seem to get its house in order may be being answered right before our very eyes .

    Its all about the ‘ One Up Man Ship ‘ and to _____ with the company … or the consumer .

  22. HtG Says:

    I’ve got some love for TB. Today I saw a cool white new Malibu in a parking lot, and saw in the rear footwell a ‘Little White Registry Bag’ from Bloomies. Nice crowd to hang with.

  23. HtG Says:

    21 indeed. You can feel Lutz clamping down on his Cohiba between the lines. Have that with a Jameson, sir.

  24. Lex Says:

    I like the exterior of the new 2013 Toyota RAV4.
    It is a real improvement over the outgoing model. My only reservations of the the layout and shape of the instrument cluster and dashboard design. I like a sleek exterior with a roomy, smooth and sleek interior. The Dash on the New RAV4 has too much wasted space and not enough enclosed compartments to keep peering eyes from seeing your stuff. The instument gage is funky and unattractive IMO.
    Smooth and Rounded with handsome surroundings appeals to me.

    It is fanastic that they relocated the spare tire under the floor and top hinged the rear door. IMO this makes the New Toyota RAV4 look like the a baby version of the current MDX on the outside from a distance. I hope Toyota rethinks the interior on the RAV4.

  25. T. Bejma Says:

    #21

    Nice job Maximum Bob!! Thanks for the link CK!

  26. T. Bejma Says:

    Lincoln sales down 29% even with the “hot” (not – needs quality fixes only the Americans can do) MKZ out there…

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    26,
    So far, the MKZ’s don’t seem to be arriving at my local Lincoln/Jaguar/Land Rover dealer. I saw an MKZ there a month or more ago, but it was a “factory rep” paying a visit.

  28. T. Bejma Says:

    #20

    “The ATS meanwhile had its strongest sales month since launch. It was Cadillac’s best-selling vehicle. More than three quarters of ATS buyers are new to Cadillac. Nearly 60% are new to General Motors and our top trade-ins include the BMW 3 series and the Lincoln MKZ.”

    http://seekingalpha.com/article/1241001-general-motors-management-hosts-us-sales-conference-transcript?source=email_rt_article_readmore

  29. HtG Says:

    You thought China was big? It’s getting bigger. Reuters has this piece on reforms to the bond markets intended to increase and accelerate urbanization to the tune of $6trillion dollars. Surely, this will affect car sales.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/28/us-china-economy-urbanisation-idUSBRE91R1H720130228

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    28, Hopefully, the ATS buyers will like them, and come back for another GM product in the future. Since they bought (or leased) the cars, they must like them, but the cars will need to be reliable, and the dealers decent to keep the people happy.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    As far as the moniker “open,” it seems that manufacturers, and individuals use a number of different terms for drop top cars. There’s convertible, cabrio, cabriolet, drophead coupe, retractible, ragtop, soft top, and I’m sure others I’m not thinking of.

    I’ve been to car shows that have a class for “open” cars, so the term is not some weird invention of Toyota.

  32. T. Bejma Says:

    #29

    Nice one HtG. Should really help to continue the auto market growth in China for the next SEVERAL years…

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    29,32,
    It will be especially good for car business in China if they end up with “suburban sprawl” like in the U.S, with no decent public transportation. If they do a good job of urban expansion, though, people won’t need cars.

  34. HtG Says:

    True, Kit, thought it looks like the govt wants to develop an auto industry. That’s an economic engine, right there. Maybe they’ll make EVs a priority.

  35. W L Simpson Says:

    HTG, I wonder where china got that 6 tril.

  36. ColoradoKid Says:

    Reality Check

    And here’s why China won’t become the automotive mega mart all those wishful thinkers are hoping for .

    Simply stated . Their government .

    Their economy has stalled ( for the last three years ) Their government is on the knifes edge of clamping down on every aspect of Chinese life – their middle class is in fact shrinking – China is rapidly becoming more hostile towards the West , as well as becoming more active in acting on those hostilities – for all the numbers etc the auto manufactures are claiming in sales … simple fact is they’re still making ZERO profit .

    To sum it up . As much as the Pie in the Sky ” China is the New Financial Shangri La ” hopeful may be praying all will go well for them and their ill advised investments …… the Proverbial poop is gonna hit the fan and pull the rug right out from under them

    And … errr … don’t be too terribly shocked when the Chinese do a mandatory State Take Over of each and every business currently operating in China . Cause … despite who you think owns those factories etc …. ultimately its China that does ( aint nice of us to spend all that money shoring up their economy ) and one quick swipe of the pen is all it’ll take … and poof …. all those billions spent …. will be ripped right out from under every automaker ( SG may have contributed a bit of this info HtG … wink wink )

    Shame on Reuters for NOT looking at the total picture before spouting off on their Fairytale’s n Fantasy’s

    ( and now you know why Apple and every other PC etc manufacture does not build or buy in China … but rather contracts production out to the Chinese )

  37. ColoradoKid Says:

    OPEL

    It gets more complicated and uglier by the minute ;

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/trying-to-sort-through-the-opel-mess-its-a-pre-programmed-crash/#more-479624

  38. ColoradoKid Says:

    F1

    Mercedes ‘ spoonbill ‘ solution … seems to be working

    McLaren’s looking … like a faded glory in the making

    Lotus … came outta the gate like gangbusters… and then came up short

    Ferrari … the Prancing Horse seems to of gone a bit ‘ lame ‘

    Everyone else is doing what all the also rans always do . Not much while making a lot of noise in the process .

    And Red Bull …. is beyond any shadow of a doubt ….

    Sandbagging !

  39. Feldman Says:

    1. Great Photo, Chuck Grenci!

    2. Back after digesting the detailed Feb Sales numbers. John will give you a summary on Monday, I bet, but will not talk about the model by model details below.

    -TJ Beijma gave you the Polyannish GM view on Feb car sales, especially for the ATS, and bragged the party line about conquest sales.

    GM was more honest last month, when it admitted that ATS sales cut into its own CTS sales, and this month’s numbers prove it:

    ATS: 3,382 but CTS: 2,566 vs 4,570 a year ago!!!

    Also, compare these numbers with the obligatory 3-series comparison (the 3 sold 6,500+), but also with the very strong C-Class Merc, which sold over 7,000!

    -If not for the chubby short crossover the Encore, (1,500 or so sales) Buick sales would be DOWN over last Feb.

    The Prius Family sold 17,812 vehicles (most of them the regular Prius, I bet). The … Volt? Despite all the subsidies and the rock-bottom leases and the stinging $4.00 gas prices, it sold a pittance, not even 10% OF THE Prius, 1,626 units!

    The new Malibu has been a dismal failure, rarely is a car’s new model so much worse than its OWN previous version, and the sales numbers PROVE IT:

    Malibu- 14,817, vs 31,270 Camrys, 27,500 Fusions (despite the lawsuits by Fusion Hybrid owners), 27,725 Altimas, 27,999 Accords, and 16,007 Sonatas! Only the… CHrysler 200 did worse, at 11,446! Even the larger, aging Impala did better, with 15,424.

    I was always positive on the Cruze and the Equinox-Terrain, and I was proven right once more: The Cruze sold 17,947 and the Eq-Ter sold a combined 20,649+9,802=MORE than 30,000! Very Impressive.

    “It’s the product, Stupid!” If The Malibu has problems, look at LINCOLN, which I also often castigated here. It is by far the WORST of all brands on sale in the USA, down 29%, and sold LESS than even 1,000 MKZs last month. And no wonder, why buy the POS when you can buy a far better looking, far cheaper FUSION which is basically its mechanical twin?

    Overall, the domestics did OK (single digit increases) due to higher pickup sales (Construction industry picking up) and crossover sales. But cars, despite the $4 gas, did not do as well.

  40. G.A.Branigan Says:

    “The new Malibu has been a dismal failure, rarely is a car’s new model so much worse than its OWN previous version, and the sales numbers PROVE IT”.

    Gm is very good at this,ie: the S10 was a sales hit for many years,I had two of them with zero complaints.They GM stopped production of the S10 series then went into the Colorado/Canyon debacle.The single absolute worst new vehicle I have ever had the displeasure of owning,followed only by a 08 Jeep JK,which came next btw.

  41. T. Bejma Says:

    #39

    “ATS: 3,382 but CTS: 2,566 vs 4,570 a year ago!!!”

    I read that like 5,948 Total vs. 4,570 a year ago (when ATS was not for sale) so somebody lost some share in that market. We still know ATS is cutting into CTS which is why there is a new CTS coming the end of this year. You can’t expect the ATS to sell 3 Series or C-Class numbers out of the gate, but with the steady monthly increases and the number of conversions of Bimmer owners, it will only be a matter of time…

    Also, in case you haven’t noticed HEAVILY discounted Impala is cutting into Malibu and has been for some time. Next Impala goes upscale and draws the line better between the Malibu. If you combine Malibu and Impala, the numbers are comparable to the top sellers. In addition there is a Malibu refresh coming soon. I seem to recall a certain manufacturer that starts with the letter HONDA who put out a high volume car that rhymes with CIVIC that was WORSE than the previous model so it’s not unheard of.

    Chevy Sonic still a great success story beating the combined sales of the Yaris and the Fit and handily outselling the Fiesta, showing that GM can make a small car IN MICHIGAN (still the only B-Segment built in the US) that people want to buy.

    I don’t know where you live, but gas is still $3.70 in Southeast Michigan…

  42. T. Bejma Says:

    #39

    Doing a little more digging into the electrics and when you pull out the only real Prius that is comparable to the Volt (the Plug In Prius), the numbers look MUCH different…

    “The best-selling electric car, the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car, logged deliveries of 1,626 units, compared to 1,140 last month.”

    “That’s a better number than the 1,023 Volts sold in February 2012, but not yet close to the rate required to beat last year’s total of 23,461 Volt deliveries.”

    “Deliveries of the second highest seller, the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, were 693 units–better than the 21 sold last February, its very first month on sale.”

    “Toyota delivered 874 plug-in Prius models in January, and 12,750 during the 11 months of 2012 it was on sale.”

    http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1082638_feb-plug-in-electric-car-sales-leaf-supply-low-volt-recovers

  43. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here is a little about Elon Musk’s other venture:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323478304578334121188527806.html

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    39,41
    Except for the less roomy back seat, the new Malibu is better than the old one in most ways. The standard 4 cylinder engine performs better, and gets better gas mileage. The new car is quieter. The new one has a bigger trunk. Both the old and new Malibu have relatively user friendly controls compared to a lot of new cars. Yeah, they probably should have put the rear axle farther back, and traded some trunk space for rear seat space, but the Malibu is not a bad car.

    It’s understandable that the Impala, dated as it is, would steal sales from the Malibu. The Impala is bigger, and a lot of Americans still buy cars by the pound. Also, with the 3.6 now the standard engine, it is kind of a hot rod in its class. We’ll see what happens when the next Impala arrives, moving up-market in price, where it won’t be a such a direct competitor with the Malibu.

  45. ColoradoKid Says:

    The GM-CEO Smack Down : Revisited ;

    ( subtitled ; The Blame Game )

    So who in fact is really to blame for GM’s current woes as well as all the failures of the last decade ? Simply stated …. each and every CEO/Board since 1970 . GM’s problems didn’t arise overnight and every man at the helm since the 70′s has more than his fair share of blame to take upon his shoulders… present company included ( fact is when all’s said and done .. Akerson may well be near the bottom of the pile )

    ” But CK ” you say ” Surely you’re not including Bob Lutz …. are you ? ”

    Well yes I am . Because …. once you get your head beyond Lutz’s ‘ Cult of Personality ‘ popularity … crunch the numbers and do the math with each and every post the man has held in and thru out auto industry ( I’ll take the Socratic route and let y’all do the research )

    ” Maximum ” Bob rapidly descends into ‘ Lutz the Putz ‘ before your very eyes

    ———–

    42 Once again Bejma . The VOLT is NOT an electric car – EV etc . It is by all definitions ……. a Plug In Hybrid !

    And an over complicated – under performing – pathetic sales wise Plug In Hybrid at that . Not to mention ugly as sin ( with its Pep Boys body cladding on a Cruze mechanicals ) using cheap parts ( the wheels on the VOLT have no place on a $40k car ) and sorry quality of construction

    Simply stated …. the VOLT is an objective Failure no matter how you measure it …. unless of course your resort to GMonomics and the GM ‘ new ‘ Math that is ;-)

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    45,
    You can call a Volt what you want, but it is NOT THE SAME AS OTHER PLUG-IN HYBRIDS, such as Fusion Energi, C-Max Energi, or Prius plug-in. While a Volt will accelerate as well as, say, a MINI Cooper, on electric power without the ICE, those other plug-in hybrids will take about 25 seconds to get to 60 mph on electric-only power, if they will get to 60 at all without the gas engine starting up.

    Whether the Volt power train makes sense is in the eye of the beholder, and I happen to know people who like it. It would not make sense for me, even if it cost less, because I do too much highway driving.

    As far as certain wheels having no place on a $40K car, I don’t think vinyl seats belong in a $55K car, but BMW and Benz sell 5′s and E’s for those prices with vinyl seats.

  47. T. Bejma Says:

    #45

    Again, CK, I NEVER SAID THE VOLT WAS AN EV!!!! NOT ONE SINGLE TIME HAVE I EVER SAID THAT. EREV, PREV YES – BUT NEVER AN EV. Give it a break, it is getting old…

    Congratulations for having the ability to look at an industry from an outsiders perspective, insult any and all that have been involved in it and then pick it apart for the sole purpose of not trying to educate or learn from the mistakes of others but simply to place blame. That is a real talent you have there… ;-)

    The one thing that I do know that Bob did was allow the Designers to over rule the Bean Counters and thus created several new designs that are much better than they were before Bob…

    Not talking mechanicals, just design…

    VUE vs. Equinox
    1st SRX vs. Current SRX
    DTS vs. XTS
    1st LaCrosse vs. Current LaCrosse
    Aveo vs. Sonic

    Bob was never at the helm at GM and ascended only to head of Design but he did make a very positive affect on that portion of the business, giving very creative, smart guys like Ed Welburn the freedom they needed.

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    Being a Cro Magnon stuck in 19th century technology, I have always disliked all these electric, remote controlled locks/windows in modern vehicles, so widespread that you can’t even find an economy car w/o them any more. Well my sister’s Journey, just having passed the 3 yr warranty, decided to have the electric locking system fail just as we were buying some large items at Ikea and needed to stuff them in the back, not able to access it, since there is NO over ride for it, not a button or a keyhole to be found anywhere, nothing in the manual about what to do cause there is nothing to do but to take it in for costly repair, as we came back the door locks also began to fail. Love my Crapolla, after all! BTW now have to pay for delivery.

  49. Feldman Says:

    http://www.truedelta.com/Mercedes-Benz-GLK-Class/car-reviews-829/2013

    You may not be aware that my friend Michael Karesh, who used to write excellent reviews at TTAC until only a few days ago, quit that outfit and started his own site, with even better reviews. He welcomes comments, and I have frequently commented on many of his numerous reviews with penname 740il98.

    He just posted two new reviews. One of them should interest CK, since it compares the GLK350 to the X3. I did not read it carefully yet, and may not comment on it myself, but noticed that in the first three categories, he had the GLK as (much) better than the X3. But after that, starting with the obvious HANDLING, he had it as much worse, and continued with a bunch of worse’s.

    Having not driven either (I only drove an X5 3.0 a decade ago), and since I am not interested in this class of SUV-SAV-Crossovers, (I’d pick the GL or the X5 if I had to) I will not offer an opinion on this.

    http://www.truedelta.com/Mercedes-Benz-GLK-Class/car-reviews-829/2013

  50. Feldman Says:

    I don’t know why my comment above was listed as “waiting moderation” (!?).

    Kit:

    I strongly disagree with your claim that the new Malibu is better than the old one.

    You dismiss the far less space in the rear. This is not a Spark or a SOnic or even a Cruze. this is a BIG Family car, its length is well over 190″, which is far longer than either the 5 series or the E class models until the mid-90s!

    If the designers had an ounce of intelligence, they would see to it that such a huge car has adequate space everywhere, and especially a comfortable rear seat for long trips for 2 six footers, if not three.

    But what really, really bugs me is the styling and the terrible overhangs and the SHORTER, not l;onger, as common sense would require, WHEELBASE, which is 2″ smaller than the already short wheelbase of the previous, much better looking, and much more graceful looking Malibu,

    which I have rented and driven for over 1,000 miles and got 33 MPG at 75 MPH or so. WHat is the MPG of the new model? You claim it is better. I seriously doubt that this porker has better, let alone much better, MPG than the old one.

    What is the deal with the tiny wheelbases and short overhangs? I am sure TJ will give us some BS GM official excuse. I am sorry, but I will try to avoid reading his posts, unless if he starts telling us (if they let him) what HE thinks, and not the GM party line.

    How many measly cents did they save by having the puny wheelbase and the awful-looking overhangs??

    But even if the new Malibu was slightly better overall than the old one, which I still very much doubt, who cares? The new Malibu will have to compete not with the old Malibu or the old Impala, but the excellent new FUsion (STUNNING Looks!), the very competent new Camry, the EXCELLENT new Accord (bland, but a true decathlete, it is good in everything it does, and Consumer Reports has measured in the non-hybrid version not only 40 MPG HWY with the 4 cyl, but an amazing 39 MPG HWY with the 278 HP V6!!!!!!!.

    The Malibu team can’t even DREAM such excellence!

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    49,
    I’m mainly talking about the Malibu base power train. I think the new one has the same EPA numbers as the old one, but CR got a little better mileage with the new one. The thing I like better about the new one, is that the power train just feels smoother and more refined, and it is quicker. I haven’t driven either version much, but I have driven both a little, back to back.

    The “performance” version of the old one, with the 3.6, is probably better than the new turbo, but would be a little thirstier. To me, the mild hybrid makes no sense, as it buys you very little in mpg.

    As far as the car in general, the old one has a roomy rear seat and a small trunk. The new one has a much bigger trunk, but smaller back seat. I agree that a car this size should have both, and some do, like the Accord.

    In the end, if I were buying a generic front-drive sedan, it would probably be an Accord, but I certainly wouldn’t mind having a Malibu as a rental.

    They probably don’t save any money by using a shorter wheelbase. Why would they? As far as “awful looking overhangs,” I know people who like the looks of the new Malibu. I don’t particularly like it, but I don’t buy cars in that class anyway. The Fusion is the only one in that class that I particularly like the looks of.

  52. Feldman Says:

    http://www.truedelta.com/Mercedes-Benz-GLK-Class/car-reviews-829/2013

    Try once more.

    Kit #50

    Shorter wheelbases and much longer (I erroneously wrote short) and bulkier front and rear overhangs make any car look terrible. In contrast, long wheelbases and short overhangs, as in most Mercs and esp BMWs, make them not only look far better, but allow for much greater space inside, and esp in the back seat. if there was not some $ benefits involved, why would they do this?

    Long cars with tiny wheelbases look ludicrous, like a 7-Footer with a size 9 shoe!

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #51
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in cars, as well as other things. Some people think ’59 Cadillacs look good too, and they about an 8 foot rear overhang.

    Yeah, I like the looks of cars with short overhangs, like my MINI, but seeing a 2013 Malibu certainly doesn’t affect me the way it seems to affect you.

  54. Kit Gerhart Says:

    48, Sorry to hear about about your sister’s car. If it is recently off warranty, there might be a chance of getting out of at least part of the repair cost. It might be worth a try.

    It seems that all new cars have only power locks, and no keyholes. Both my Prius and MINI have one key hole, in the driver’s door, and those aren’t intended for normal use. If the power locks quit, you aren’t going to be able to open the hatch of either one.

    My old van has power locks, but has a key hole on all the doors, and the hatch.

  55. T. Bejma Says:

    Here is a video that proves that the back seat of the Malibu isn’t really that bad…

    http://youtu.be/vhYxO2kv5cI

  56. Feldman Says:

    In my area we have huge numbers of regular Priuses, some Prius V’s, a few Prius C’s, and some Volts. I don’t think the Leaf is sold in MI, never saw one, but I also have not seen the far better looking FOcus Pure Electric.

    I saw a white Volt yesterday. While the Cruze on which it is based (and which would get even better MPG than the VOlt’s 37 on a long trip) looks good, in a conservative way, the VOlt does not. The one I saw was white. The back is not a 100% hatch, but has a tiny rear horizontal trunk line. Looks awkward. The front has a FAKE GRILLE that I don’t understand. The car does have a gas engine, so it would need a grille and air to come in the engine compartment, so why in the world did they decide to paint over a fake mesh at the center of the front “grille”? It looks and is fake. Terrible.

    The Focus pure EV looks much better in the pics, better than the Volt, the Leaf, and even any Prius. But it is plagued by its 65 mile range and cannot be somebody’s only vehicle, unless the driver is willing to rent whenever on a long trip.

    BTW Kit, what is the big deal about you (again) claiming that the Volt is not just a plug-in? How many buyers will care about how it operates? The fact remains that the VOlt is NOT a PURE EV, it has a gas engine and it has a tailpipe, and every time you take it on a long trip, it will use that inefficient gas engine and get 37 MPG, while Consumer Reports accurately tested the much bigger, real car, new Altima non-hybrid to get an astounding 44 MPG HWY!

    No wonder the Altima sold 27,725 units in Feb, almost twice that of the Malibu, AND almost as many as the excellent new Accord (27,999!)

    Speaking about the Malibu, its 14,817 units are less than the Sonata’s 16,007, but if you add to the Sonata sales its Kia clone the Optima, (13,195), they total more than 200% of what the Malibu sold!

  57. Kit Gerhart Says:

    55
    “BTW Kit, what is the big deal about you (again) claiming that the Volt is not just a plug-in? How many buyers will care about how it operates?”

    The “big deal” is the same as the last time(s) we’ve had this discussion. The Volt has full performance without using a drop of gas, as long as you don’t go too far. Some people like that, including a couple friends, but they would not consider a pure electric because of the range limitation. With the other plug-in hybrids, if you drive normally, the gas engine will run part of the time, even if the battery is charged. Some people like the Volt’s ability to drive normally, completely on battery power. It Chevy sold another version of the Volt, leaving out the gas engine, would you like it better?

    BTW, I don’t see any pure electrics where I am in Florida either. A lot of people, including me, are in condos and wouldn’t have a place to plug them in. I see a few Volts.

    They probably use the fake grill in the Volt to lower air drag, while keeping the Chevy “family resemblance,” and get air for the radiator from a lower air inlet.

    I see a lot of Priuses too, including at least four in my condo complex of ~200 units, and there may be others that I haven’t noticed. I see a few V’s and C’s, but not many. I don’t see C’s and V’s sitting at the nearby dealer, so they sell the ones they get quickly.

  58. T. Bejma Says:

    Good story of how the struggles of the City of Detroit really do not have anything to do with the Car Industry…

    http://247wallst.com/2013/03/02/as-car-companies-roar-detroit-collapses/?source=motleyfool

  59. ColoradoKid Says:

    German Sales heading south ( along with the rest of the EU )

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/germany-in-february-2013-going-south/#more-479985

    ( do take notice who’s in the lead though … M-B )

    China’s Bubble’s ( real estate ) about to burst big time ( nice timing on behalf of 60 Minutes after my bashing of the Reuters article ) taking investors across the board down with it ( as well as possibly the entire Worlds economy )

    The ‘ Sequesters ‘ effects start taking effect .. today .

    Nope . Nothing good at all in todays news I’m afraid

    ——

    HtG – totally Off Topic ; The NYtimes Sunday article on Vail . In case you were wondering . Moi . Old School . The day I need a Ski Valet to hand me my skis daily is the day I’ll stop going skiing ! Heck I won’t even allow valets to park my car . What a bunch of lazy blankety blanks we’re becoming ! Slippers at a Mt top restaurant so your precious poodies can escape the confines of your ski boots …. indeed ! Wimps ! 8)

  60. ColoradoKid Says:

    Kit

    Sorry to have to call you on this … but according to the SAE ….. the VOLT is nothing more than a Plug In Extended Range Hybrid ;-)

    ——

    T Bejma – Take it to the bank that Detroit’s present story is one bound to be repeated in the future Nationwide . Unfortunately .

  61. Kit Gerhart Says:

    59,
    I don’t care what the SAE, or anyone else calls the Volt. I know how it works, which is different from other plug-in cars now on the market, and some people like it. It probably doesn’t make economic sense for anyone, but neither does a plug-in Prius or Fusion, at $8K premiums over the regular hybrids.

  62. HtG Says:

    Pedro, any word on the Journey’s electronics?

  63. T. Bejma Says:

    #59

    So CK, why does the Plug In Prius only get $2,500 tax credit and Volt get’s the full $7,500 if they are the same?

    Government Tax Credits by Vehicle…

    Fisker Karma = $7,500
    Ford Energi (CMax/Fusion) = $3,751
    Ford Focus EV = $7,500
    Smart EV = $7,500
    Nissan Leaf = $7,500
    Tesla Roadster/Model S = $7,500
    Toyota Plug In Prius = $2,500
    Toyota RAV4 EV = $7,500
    Chevy Volt = $7,500
    Chevy Spark EV = $7,500

  64. Feldman Says:

    #59, 62

    1. The amount of TAXPAYER, NOT “Government” robbery is determined by the size of the batteries.

    2. The Prius plug-in WISELY has much smaller batteries than the ugly, impractical Dolt, hence its smaller taxpayer robbery.

    3. Toyota would in fact be much wiser to NOT offer any Plug-in or Pure EV at all. NOT WORTH IT.

    4. On an other matter, as I was brushing my enormous teeth this morning, I was thinking about the Ford Fusion’s success and it’s clone the Lincon MKZ’s dismal failure.

    I was wondering if the Fusion’s Aston Martin Gorgeous Looks would make much more sense on the LINCOLN, while in the utilitarian fusion they actually steal some of its practicality (interior headroom due to flowing styling roofline etc)

    What does Mulally want to do with Lincoln? WIll it still be a cancer in Ford’s otherwise excellent profits? Will he shut it down, if it continues in its coma? Will he have the time, in the few short months left in his tenure, to FIX IT?

  65. Kit Gerhart Says:

    62,
    Interesting list, especially the numbers for the Ford and Prius plug-ins. I guess the plug-in Fords do a little more on battery power only, than the Prius plug-in.

    I just checked, and the plug-in Fusion SE costs an $11K premium over the regular Fusion SE hybrid. The plug-in Prius is about an $8K premium over a base Prius. At today’s gas prices, it would be difficult to make an economic case for any of them.

  66. cwolf Says:

    EU sales are tanking, but it may be good news for Ford. I believe they will operate 3 more plants there by the time things start improving. Someone has their eye on the future!

    M-B is doing better than most,but again,it is better said, not as bad as the others. Still,I prefer MB over the others.

  67. cwolf Says:

    It won’t be long befor the 3 cyl Fiesta hits the streets. One can almost bet it should take some of the EV sales away if the Fiesta reports are favorable.

  68. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #63-3,
    I agree. I don’t know anyone who has bought a plug-in Prius. It drives pretty much the same as a regular Prius and, in normal driving, might get 75-80 mpg rather than the usual 45-50, but, of course, using some electricity from the power line. When you are starting out with such good mpg, even a 20-25 mpg improvement doesn’t amount to many dollars per year.

    One Prius-owning friend is considering the plug-in, if and when he replaces his high mileage gen II with another Prius. His reasoning, which is probably valid, is that the extra battery capacity would give extra “headroom” for storage, and recovering energy when he drives across the Colorado Rockies, which he does twice a year.

  69. Feldman Says:

    #53. You are absolutely wrong. Especially in cars, beauty is NOT in the eye of the beholder, and please spare me the cliche.

    The pontiac Aztec and the Honda Crosstour and any Subaru are NOT ugly “in the eye of the beholder”, they are Butt-Ugly.

    John McElroy said it well some time ago, when he explained that it costs roughly the SAME Money to build a beautiful vehicle than to build an Ugly one. BUT, I add, you make several $1000s more if you Sell the good looker than if you try to sell the dog, and h ave to put $5k on the hood to do it. It’s NOT “Rocket Science”.

    #55 The “big deal” is ABSOLUTELY NONEXISTENT. For the vast majority of the buyers, the Volt is and should be nothing but an awkward looking, small PLUG IN, with an inefficient gas engine. It is NOT an EV evcen REMOTELY. It has a stinky tailpipe, and everybody should know that every time they take it for a long trip, it will get a measly 37 MPG HWY, as opposed to the Altima’s STELLAR 44 MPG (a car one size laeger), and even the 287 HP Honda Accord V6′s 39 actual HWY MPG (all above measured by Consumer Reports, not some EPA VOO DOO!)

  70. Kit Gerhart Says:

    66,
    It will be interesting to see how the 3 cylinder does in real-world mileage.

    I’ve read a little about the Fiesta ST, which sounds like a really fun car. I’m not sure I want one, with the oily timing best and all, but it should be a blast to drive.

  71. Feldman Says:

    #52 Did nobody notice this link, and the dozens of other excellenrt reviews it contains? SOme here already know Mike Karesh writes very thorough reviews, he used to write them for TTAC but when the bosses there wanted him to write them fot free, he started his own site. Mike already had a very comprehensive Reliability Database (True Delta) to which I also contribute whenever (not often) I have anything done on the 7.

    #68 Your friend chose wrong. It is ridiculous to take long trips, over the ROckies no less, in a.. Prius. Leave the Prius for City duty and use an excellent Diesel (Jetta, Passat, or SUV, GL, X5, Cayenne Diesel) for that.

  72. Kit Gerhart Says:

    68,
    A Volt IS AN EV IF YOU CHARGE IT AND DON’T DRIVE BEYOND ~35 MILES. Again, would it make you happy if they removed the gas engine so it wouldn’t have a tail pipe? The Volt’s having the gas engine is what makes it different, and much more useful than a Leaf or other pure EV.

    Yes, I agree that not a lot of people care enough about how the Volt operates to actually buy one. I didn’t, and wouldn’t buy one even if it cost a lot less, because I have no place to plug it in, and too much of my driving is well beyond the electric powered range.

    ….and whatever you say, many, or most people think the new Malibu is a decent looking car.

  73. cwolf Says:

    Kit, My wife’s friend at work has a Fiesta and loves it enough to have ordered a Fiesta ST. I think she’ll have enough zip to get from Dexter to Ann Arbor each day. Yep.., I already asked if I could drive it and will share my thoughts.

  74. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #70,
    You REALLY like to make an issue with everything I might say.

    My friend has three cars, the Prius, an older Honda Odyssey, and a Miata. He drives from Seattle area to Indiana twice a year. The Prius has all the room he needs for the trip, performs well on the trip, except for one stretch of I-70, I think a little west of Denver, and the Prius uses half as much gas as the Odyssey. The Prius does well enough on the road trips, and is great for his day-to-day driving back home.

    Yes, if he wanted to buy another $30K car for his road trips, a TDI Jetta wagon would be nice, but he probably doesn’t want to buy another car, just for that purpose.

  75. Kit Gerhart Says:

    72,
    Yeah, almost 200 hp in a ~2600 pound car. It will have plenty of zip.

  76. T. Bejma Says:

    #70

    Yes, noticed the link (BTW it is in #51)

    Nice Malibu review – From an OWNER…

    http://www.truedelta.com/Chevrolet-Malibu/owner-reviews-W67452

  77. Kit Gerhart Says:

    73 continued.
    …and my Prius works great for my road trips, which go through some extended climbs and descents in Tennessee. It’s cool how the cruise control uses regen braking to hold speed down hill, though I often have to disengage it and slow down more for the SUV’s blocking the passing lane.

  78. ColoradoKid Says:

    HUGE F1 News

    Honda’s coming back ~ with Mclaren never the less ;

    http://www.gptoday.com/full_story/view/443817/McLaren_set_to_use_Honda_engines/

    Sounds like Honda may be making an end run back at the top … seeing as how it was their F1 involvement previously that placed the company so far ahead of its competitors engineering wise back in the day .

    This …. is BIG … both for F1 and Honda .

  79. Kit Gerhart Says:

    70,
    I have my Prius and MINI on TrueDelta, and have made one entry, the steering shaft replacement on the Prius due to a rough U joint.

    Yeah, Mike does great reviews, as he did at TTAC. I always considered him the “serious guy” at TTAC.

  80. ColoradoKid Says:

    SUV’s blocking in the passing lane ?

    In a Prius ?

    In your dreams Kit :-)

    Theres hardly an SUV on the market today that can’t out handle and out accelerate even the 2013 Prius . And for the record … its those Prius’s that are constantly holding up traffic on I-70 westbound from Floyd Hill on ( heck even the JEEP Wranglers out run Prius’s here )

  81. ColoradoKid Says:

    #60

    Oh good lord ! Now you’re smarter than the entirety of the SAE ?

    Errrrrr…. Kit …. you’re a pretty sharp fellow and all … but that one’s taking things well OTT . Especially seeing as how anyone that matters knows and calls the VOLT what it is .

    A Plug In Extended Range Hybrid . Period !

    ( an EV is defined as a vehicle that ONLY functions on Electricity and nothing else … ever …. and the VOLT resorts to its ICE more often than GM is willing to own up to )

  82. HtG Says:

    77 If Honda comes into F1 it will need to have more than McLaren as a customer. They’ll need other teams to help get unit costs down and also to gather more data. Button’s no doubt quite chuffed about getting back together. Quite.

  83. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit and CK: The speed limit on I-5 is 65mph.When I’m on that road I set my cruise at 68/69.If there is a Prius within 20 miles of my location,they will pass me like I’m parked on the side of the road changing a tire.Same same when on the smaller roads,they pass me when we come to a passing lane.So much for going for maximum mpg.

  84. Kit Gerhart Says:

    79,
    It’s not that the SUV’s can’t go faster. It’s that they often don’t, and block the passing lane a lot. Yes, it’s the drivers, not the vehicles.

    Yeah, that area on I-70 is probably where my friend’s Prius slows down sometimes, but unlike a lot of SUV drivers, he stays in the right lane.

  85. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Years ago, Farly at AW wrote an article about how his Suzuki Samarai or something similar was the fastest car on the road somewhere out west, but obviously not because the Suzuki was as capable as the BMW’s, etc.

  86. ColoradoKid Says:

    G.A. Here in CO where we have Mountains ( vs foothills ) Prius’s pretty much run out of steam about 1/4 of the way up any of the major climbs and the only place any Prius ever passes Franz is in town where the majority of Prius owners here seem to thing its their god given right to exceed the speed limit in town by 10 mph or more .

    ——-

    HtG – I’m betting Honda will start out with McLaren only …. and then after they’ve got the new formula down then start courting customers .

    Again … this is HUGE news even if one’s not an F1 fan . Remembering how many of Honda’s F1 engineers after a bit would then filter down to the road car division