AD #1384 – Renault Delays Twingo EV, Nissan to Field LM P1 Car, Why Motor Racing is Losing Fans

May 27th, 2014 at 11:55am

Runtime: 8:41

- Renault Delays Twingo EV
- WTO Rules Against Chinese Tariffs
- Refreshed Aveo Revealed in China
- Sales in Russia Drop
- Nissan GT-R Headed to Le Mans
- Why Motor Racing is Losing Fans
- Racing From New York to California

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Hello and welcome back to Autoline Daily where we scour the world to bring you the latest news in the global automotive industry.

And today’s coverage starts in Europe where Renault is delaying the introduction of its newest electric car due to poor demand. The EV version of the Twingo, which was just introduced at the Geneva show, will not go on sale because there just is not enough people interested in EVs. Renault already sells four EVs, the Zoe, Fluence, Kangoo and Twizzy. But they account for less than 1% of Renault’s sales. We here at Autoline have been warning for years that the EV segment was going to turn into a financial disaster for the major car companies, and now it’s starting to happen.

Now we swing over to China, where the WTO just handed Chinese authorities a stinging rebuke. In 2011 they imposed additional tariffs on vehicles imported from the U.S. But the World Trade Organization ruled that those duties, 21.5% per vehicle, violated international trade rules. China instituted the tariffs because it claimed the U.S. illegally subsidized GM and Chrysler with the bailouts. But the import tariffs applied to all imported vehicles made in the USA, including BMW’s and Mercedes-Benz’s. The real reason was in retaliation to U.S. tariffs on Chinese tires that were being dumped in the U.S. market. The WTO rules in favor of the U.S. on that one.

It used to be that American automakers would reveal their newest vehicles in the U.S. but these days more intros are happening in China. Chevy just showed the refreshed version of the Aveo or the Sonic as we know it in the American market. The sedan is the first model to get the automaker’s new design language, what it calls “Design with a Heartbeat.” So, this model now sports a new front and rear fascia and also gets a new set of 16-inch wheels. Powertrain and interior options remain the same. The refreshed model goes on sale in China in June.

The next story takes us to Russia where car sales are plummeting. Bo Andersson, the CEO of AutoVaz tells Bloomberg that Russian sales will drop 20% this year, due to the economy hitting the wall. And that’s before Western sanctions hit Russia due to Vladimir Putin’s land grab of Crimea. So it could get a lot worse.

Now we head over to Japan. In 2015 Nissan will be fielding GT-R racecars at the 24 hours of Le Mans and will also roll out a new LM P1 car, called the GT-R LM NISMO. The P1 cars are the fastest and the ones with the best chance of an overall win. We only get to see the car shown under a cover, but Nissan makes it sound like it could have a fairly radical design, much like the Delta Wing that wowed us a few years ago.

OK, bear with me a moment because I’ve got some venting to do. I am a motorsports fan, but this past Sunday we fans were subjected to some of the worst television coverage of two great races: the Indy 500 and the 600 mile NASCAR race at Charlotte. Television ratings of car racing continues to go down and it’s easy to see why. The TV coverage stinks. First of all they dumb down their coverage to try and appeal to people who never watch races. But they’ve been dumbing it down all my life and they’ve never brought in more viewers doing it that way. The Indy commentators filled more time yakking on about background stories than covering the drama taking place on the track. We got every replay angle to every accident, but they barely glossed over the killer move of the race when winner Ryan Hunter-Reay practically drove down on the grass at 223 miles an hour to pass Helio Castroneves for the win. No we never got a replay of that. In fact, they never even gave us the finishing positions of the full field. By the way, if I hear them pronounce it Hee-lee-o Castroneves one more time I’ll puke. Meanwhile, I watched the NASCAR race from flag to flag but I missed a huge chunk of the race. Why? Because they break for commercial every 6 laps or so, and you miss 3 laps with every break. I figure I missed almost 200 laps of racing. Another thing, while I have the utmost respect for Darryl Waltrip’s insight and commentary I have had it up to here with his “boogety-boogety-boogety” at the start of every race. If motor racing is wondering why its losing its TV audience all they have to do is look at the way they cover races. The racing has never been better, it’s the coverage that stinks.

Coming up next, what it’s like trying to cross the country in just “32 Hours and 7 Minutes.”

On last week’s Autoline After Hours, we were joined by Cory Welles, the director of the documentary “32 Hours 7 Minutes” which looks at the controversial U.S. transcontinental speed record, set during the 1983 US Express, a successor to the Cannonball races. In the following clip Cory tells us what is like riding in a car that’s trying to speed from New York to California in less than two days.

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

You know, it would take a normal motorist over 100 hours to make that same run.
And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching and please join us again tomorrow.

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53 Comments to “AD #1384 – Renault Delays Twingo EV, Nissan to Field LM P1 Car, Why Motor Racing is Losing Fans”

  1. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Two thumbs up for today’s commentary (and don’t you hate it when it’s the last couple, or even the last lap, and they cut to the team/wife/girlfriend/etc. in the pits); save the emotional displays (or whatever they’re going after for the replays AFTER the race).

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Televised racing lost me an easy decade ago,including my much loved drag racing.I tried watching some drag racing about a year ago and for me it was unwatchable.Only the big names,same backround stories time after time….And watching anything on espn is like watching a show with political and social commenting.Very poor showing all around.

  3. Jesse Says:

    Want better coverage in racing? Better commentators? Watch Formula 1. Very exciting racing and decent coverage by well versed announcers and former drivers too..I happen to get a kick out of Darryl saying boggity boggity…I still find a reason to watch all the racing on tv simply because going 200+ mph is a sight to see in and of itself… In an F1 car it’s even better! NASCAR has gotten a little stale the last few years since speed is off tv as well… NBC coverage really is lacking in all racing arenas as well as auctions like mecum and Barrett-Jackson… You want to see some bad coverage, try watching those for a while.. It’s all one can do to keep up with the different channels they are on every 5 hours!!

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I have to wait until “prime time” to see the Indy 500 TV broadcast. It’s still blacked out on the TV station I get in Kokomo.

    I watched about the second half of the broadcast Sunday night, and like John, I waited, and waited, and waited for them to give the complete finishing order, but they never did. I had to find it on my phone. Also, like John, I kept waiting for replays of that pass, which never happened. Other than those things, I didn’t think the broadcast was that terrible.

  5. Christophe Says:

    John, you should have watched the F1 Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday instead. The race was very exciting and David Hobbs and Steve Matchett make watching Formula One incredibly interesting as they have such great insights and technical knowledge.

  6. RS Says:

    The TV coverage of the Monte Carlo F1 race was quite interesting. The producers used a new camera angle to show a “satellite” view of the track during the opening laps. The commentary was interesting as well. David Coulthard is not quite as entertaining as Martin Brundle but he has a huge cache of real-racing experience.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    3, The biggest problem with Formula 1 coverage is that I can’t get it, not even with my “standard” cable in Florida, now that Speed Channel has been shut down. I’d need to pay an extra ~$30/month to get NBC Sports, and it’s not worth that much to me, just to see the F1 races.

    Will the Austin race be on broadcast TV? Maybe I can see one race, using my antenna in Indiana.

  8. Ted Hone Says:

    If you can’t watch it on television you can always spend $75 pulse to get in the gate. I stopped going to NHRA races because of the ticket prices.

  9. Danny Turnpaugh Says:

    Like #4 I too watch it later, but I do get the formula 1?races to watch Kit. Yeah I’ve had enough of boogeity crap also, and where do they get the people to TRY to sing the national anthem?

  10. Mike Says:

    No disagreement with your commentary/rant re; TV coverage of auto racing. That said, I suspect another contributor might be aging baby boomers who just can’t stand the sun load, alcohol load and expense of actually attending the race. It takes a heck of an effort, and cubic bucks, to go to Indy. This demographic shift will soon affect other sports including NFL. It is also tough to sit inside when finally, finally we have decent summer weather.

  11. Steve Says:

    I do not always agree with your commentary, but today you hit it out of the park!
    Racing coverage, except for F1 coverage, is absolutely terrible. I could not have said it any better.

    Thanks John

  12. John McElroy Says:

    The Indy 500 coverage missed the back story of Montoya getting nailed for a pit speed violation—the very same mistake that cost him a almost-for-sure win at the Brickyard 500 NASCAR race some years ago. They also should have called out Hinchcliffe for taking out Ed Carpenter with a boneheaded banzai move–the very kind of move that Hinchcliffe criticized Hunter-Reay for making in the Long Beach race last month. I’d much rather get more race details from the announcers than shots of the cringing girlfriend or wife.

  13. Victor West Says:

    Yea, the final laps with the split screen of the wives and girlfriends and the half screen of the excitement on the track was too much for me.

  14. motorman Says:

    i miss the autoexstramist but cory is a great replacement.

  15. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #6 Kit

    Monte Carlo (F1 race) was televised on NBC (not NBCSports); The Montreal F1 will also be on NBC (Sunday, June 8th @2 PM).

    I’ve also given the nod to F1 for the last couple of years.

  16. RumNCoke Says:

    #2 – I’m with you on that. Drag racing can be unbelievably exciting in the Pro classes – even if you are an F1, IndyCar or Nascar fan. Spotty, or non-existent, TV coverage has pretty much guaranteed NHRA’s circle into the drain. Why does everything have to be dumbed down to be popular?

  17. Bill Says:

    John, Thanks for commenting on TV race coverage.
    As long time fans voices are no longer heard. We use to attend 10 or 12 Indy/Nascar races a year now we attend none and watch very few. We are tired of being talked to like idiots.

  18. Tony Gray Says:

    I was at Indy and enjoyed it. The radio coverage is always pretty good, and I can get that on my satellite radio for other radios.

    Racing used to be must see tv for me for decades. Now if I miss a race it doesn’t kill me.

    Have to agree that F1 has the best coverage. They make even the Mercedes McLaren domination seem interesting.

  19. Al Says:

    Did you see the 600? All the back stretch stands were empty or covered up with the flag or advertising. It’s not just TV.

  20. Zieke Says:

    John, thank u for hitting the nail on the head w/ the horrible race announcing commentary piece. The egotistical Waltrips have been unwatchable for 5 years, hence, I have not watched a full race during the 1st half (Fox) of a season. Darrell continues to refer to racing as if it is just as it was when he drove, which is ludicrous, as is his continuous cutting in on the p/p person. Cup racing passed him by long ago. Michael (a car owner) seems to think his career is as an analyst is far more important than taking care of his race team. Guess he knows what he’s worth.
    The F-1 races are excellent. Their audiences will continue to increase with more US TV coverage.

  21. rick Says:

    Aman john absolutely too much stupidity in the racing coverage and not enough racing! they could all learn something from f1 and nbcsn`s coverage that no stupidity allowed in commentary and when in commercial you can still see/watch race.

  22. JimF Says:

    Agree with you John about Indy coverage. The other piece I found highly offensive was the opening production piece where they were building drama by cutting between drinking milk and video of some horrifying crashes at the speedway, many of which resulted in serious injury. I hate seeing those crashes, which altered lives, being used to promote the race.

    Although Allen Bestwick is a competent announcer, I don’t know how you keep Bob Jenkins on the bench for the Indy 500. I enjoy Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear’s perspectives but I would also have liked to have Dario in the booth, his commentary is very good as well, and perhaps more current.

  23. raynman Says:

    Couldn’t agree more, John. I’ve been very disappointed with the camera angle/coverage for years. They zoom in on a car and follow it for half a lap, then they zoom in on another one. There is no sense of speed that way. The only way to get a real sense of how fast these cars are is to, at least occasionally, show an entire section of track as the cars go by, from a distance to give some relative perspective. They could be going 38 mph as far as you can tell from the way they cover it now. And yes, enough of the silly boogety crap.

  24. Tony Gray Says:

    Remember when Fox had the silly groundhog cartoon in their NASCAR coverage? Cringe….

  25. rick Says:

    although wish bob varsha was still part of it, but more than anybody peter windsor. his absense the enthusiasm he brought to the equation is irreplaceable.

  26. Gerry P Says:

    John, I’m with you on the racing. I now record them and watch them after dinner, fast forwarding through the commercials and silly bla bla. Standing rule at the house is, no one tells me who won until I watch the recording. I’ll bet NASCAR cringes when they read this. I watched the very beginning of the race, set the recording, went out to dinner, picked it back up where I left off when I returned(lap 27), and by FF through the commercials, I finished the race exactly at the same time it actually ended.

  27. GUY Says:

    It was great to see Alan Bestwick in booth at Indy. Kuddos for Kurt Busch for finishing 6th as a rookie. Thats the first Indy race i’ve watched completely in years.

  28. Jim Thykeson Says:

    If the coverage is sooo bad…hey! DON’T WATCH!!

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    15, @Chuck, thanks for the info. I guess I need to check these things. I would have watched Monaco, but I didn’t know it was on NBC, rather than NBC Sports. I’ll be watching Montreal.

    Speaking of race coverage, I didn’t watch much of the NASCAR race, but was there any discussion about the Hendrick engines supplied to Newman_Hass blowing up, while those in the Hendrick cars did not?

  30. Don LaCombe Says:

    I agree with your take on TV coverage of racing. I finally got a chance to watch the NHRA race this morning and was thinking if there was only one race to watch what would it be? My decision would be NHRA races. The broadcasters treat you like you actually can comprehend the technical issues of the sport.
    I am a lifetime fan of Formula 1 but the Monaco race has become a parade broken up by pit strategy. It is a great visual spectacle & pit bunny convention but the racing sucks.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    28, Yeah, passing is nearly impossible at Monaco, even more so than at the other venues, but that circuit is so cool, and historic, that I suspect it will remain on the schedule for a long time.

  32. Tom Cerbo Says:

    Hi John, watched both shows on both days with Cory Welles (and 32 hours7 minutes). I have to admit Cory looked really great, in fact, I have not seen (or given) a hickie in 50 years since a teenager. I’m Really surprised that her make-up did not cover it up, but she truly is one hot chick. I will however order the video soon. Am I wrong on this observation? Tom

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    29, Stewart-Haas, not Newman-Haas, but anyone here would know what I meant.

  34. T. Bejma Says:


    Have to disagree with you there Johnny Mac – it was Townsend Bell with the bonehead move on that 3 wide re-start. The replay shows Bell hitting Hincfliffe first and that sent him into Carpenter. Hincliffe was quite a gentlemen taking most of the blame during the post crash interview before he saw the replay even though he had a suspicion it was Bell’s fault.

    Sorry for the lack of posts lately Gents. Just been crazy busy trying to get these trucks launched. Going to get a 1,000 mile trip in a few of them next week as we bring them up from Missouri to Michigan (round about way) so I will have some good insight into how they ride/drive.

  35. T. Bejma Says:

    Monaco is on the Bucket List. French Open is at the same time so my wife is all for it ;-)

  36. Lawrence Says:

    You are so right about motorsport race event coverage. There is so much that happened on the track which was ignored in the coverage. These races have the potential to be a great teaching, and learning, tools, for youth, and for all drivers. There just doesn’t seem to be any imagination among the broadcasters.

    I think part of the problem is that the
    guys like Daryl, and Richard Petty, and Scott Goodyear, are not speaking out with you.
    Have those guys no concern? I really wonder.

    Another problem is the demise of diversity in the cars and drivers. Seems the evolution of the sport has come down to cookie cutter sameness. In the past, the individuality in the sport, was what made people take notice.

    Anyway, keep the critique alive!

    Despite the jab by our European cousins, about the boredom of round and round, there is so much potential for a new wave of enthusiasm by the viewing public.

  37. C Van Says:

    Here in Canada TSN has few commercial breaks with F1, and the UK commentators are great. I love it when they say,”It’s all gone pear shaped for Button”.etc

    I don’t like the turboV-6. though, the F-1 sound isn’t there, and I remember the v-12′s.

    .As for Nascar, sometimes it’s too many Watrips…I love it when the network comes back early and there are no graphics on the screen, and no one is talking, as if you were at the track..

    just the cars going by. I wish there was a channel like that…sort of like”crank it up!” but for the whole race..

    I pvr the races to skip the commercials, sometimes I turn just turn down the sound and watch..

  38. Buckiwarrior Says:

    I enjoy all racing, especially drag racing. I think Mike Dunn does a great job as a analyst for the NHRA events on ESPN. He has a lot of insight from his many years in the sport and he translates it well to the audience. One complaint from this past weekend’s coverage though is that they kept showing the wrecks from the Atlanta Race over and over again. I assume that is an attempt to gain more viewers.

  39. Truman Lewis Says:

    John: your thought on the race coverage is on spot, no one really cares about a hundred different back stories, My girlfriend who care very little for auto racing, ask why don’t the tell about whats going on, instead of all the just jabbering endlessly. And yes the Boggddie crap is little, so much for hayseed racing announcers Darrell’s brother Michael is the worst.

  40. dcars Says:

    I think the problem with today’s racing is cars are nearly identical and that includes F1. GT Sports car racing appeals to me. The cars are different.

  41. gary susie Says:

    Someone in the press finally said something about tv coverage. It stinks. I like to watch drag racing and sometimes they skip a race you wanted to see. I quit watching.

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    When I first followed the Indy 500 as a kid in the mid-50′s, all of the engines were alike, non-boosted Offys, except for the few Novis that sounded cool, but always blew up. There were multiple chassis builders, though, and the personalities were a lot more colorful than now.

  43. Adam White Says:

    I was at the 600 and wondered how Johnson got the lead when he was not first out of the pits.
    Kurt Busch made my day, I was bummed his engine let go.
    TV coverage is painful. Overall for me a lucky racing weekend: attended Dirt track Sprint Car race Friday night and Nationwide race Saturday then watched F1 and Indy then attended the 600!
    But John you are right about TV coverage.
    I looked for Chris Economaki in the Indy prerace? No where? Maybe missed it. Next year Kurt Busch will run Monaco and hop a jet to Indy then to Charlotte?

  44. G.A.Branigan Says:

    All professional racing is big bux advertising and pontificating gasbags,and the race is secondary it seems.It’s the same with drag racing…unfortunately.

  45. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @TB: Bout damn time ya showed back up ;}>

  46. Adam White Says:

    I was hoping to see a tribute of some kind to Chris Economaki he was the real voice of Indy to me.

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    41, Will Kurt Busch be America’s next F1 driver? He wouldn’t be able to get from Monaco in time for Indy; he’d only have about an hour for the trip, but he really caught on to Indy cars well. I’d like to see him try F1.

  48. C-Tech Says:

    @ #45 +1

  49. Bob Wilson Says:

    I think you missed the Archiles heels of of BEV and hybrids, traction battery life. There were substantial changes between the 1st gen traction battery and the 2nd gen. It means the Prius Gen 2 and the Gen 3 have mileage and performance advantages you have yet to discover.

    There are systemic issues with the LION battery chemistries you are at least two years from discovery . . . as is CARB.

    Bob Wilson, Huntsville AL

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The NiMH batteries in Priuses seem to do well, at least in second generation, and presumably, in third generation cars. Friends have them that are nearly 10 years old, with a lot of use, and no battery problems. I could be wrong, but I don’t expect the Li ion batteries to do as well.

  51. cwolf Says:

    Battery technology is constantly being tweeked, so I have found it nar impossible to draw a conclusion on Lion battery life. While the Prius has a good data history, it too may give way to the next generation of battery Toyo has in developement. Then we’ll again have to wait to see how that generation performs over time. I am becoming more accepting of hybreds and EV’s, but thoughts of replacement cost still gives me the gitters. I feel the same way about turbos, too!

  52. Andy Says:

    It is about time someone finally said the same thing I’ve been saying for years. When did racing reporters turn into 60 minute reporters, asking the girlfriend/wife questions? Show the race! What a great pass!! Show it again!!
    DW was great for the first few years of NASCRAP, now he just needs to go away. I stopped watching them years ago and Fox coverage is 90% why I stopped watching.
    Most have said this already and I will say it again. I like the coverage of F1. They talk about the race, engineers, what is going on behind the scenes. For what ever reason, I never feel like they are talking to the lowest denominator.

  53. RonE Says:

    #52, +1!