AD #1387 – Automobile Mag Drops a Cylinder, Ford Adaptive Steering, Changan vs. Great Wall

May 30th, 2014 at 12:06pm

Runtime: 10:53

- Automobile Magazine Gets Major Reorganization
- VW, Toyota Usher in Faster Refresh Cycles
- Changan May Overtake Great Wall
- Licensed Chinese Drivers to Hit 1 Billion
- Ford Steers Toward Autonomy
- Genesis Coupe Drops Turbo
- Deciphering the Code on Your Tires

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Welcome to TGIF Autoline Daily. We’ve got some great stories to report on, so let’s get to them.

In an announcement that sent shockwaves through automotive media outlets, the parent company of Automobile magazine announced it was firing its editor in chief, and axing part of the editorial staff. Jean Jennings, the editor, had been with the magazine since its inception in 1986. The parent company, Source Interlink Media is renaming itself as Ten: The Enthusiast Network to transition itself and I quote “to a web­led, socially amplified media model.” Jennings will continue to run her website Jean Knows Cars which is also owned by The Enthusiast Network.

A rule of thumb in the industry is to design an all­new platform and leave it in the market for up to 8 years to recoup all the cost of the tooling and hopefully make some money in the last couple of years. And automakers typically freshen up that design after four years with minor changes that don’t cost too much money. But Bloomberg is reporting that Volkswagen wants to chop its platform life down to 5 years, with a refresh coming in only three years. Car buyers love to have the latest look and technology and that’s what this is all about. And VW isn’t the only one. On last night’s Autoline After Hours, Monte Kaehr, the chief engineer in North America for the Toyota Camry, told us about a major redesign, not a refresh, that they just did on the Camry only three years after it was introduced. By the way you can watch that interview right now on our website.

Chinese automaker Great Wall was once openly admired by some western car companies and we here at Autoline even thought it might be the first Chinese automaker to crack the But now the company is running into problems. Sales fell in three of the first four months this year and it ran into embarrassing delays with its newest model, the Haval H8 SUV, due to quality problems. Thanks to that it’s stock price got hammered. Experts are now predicting that Changan will overtake Great Wall as the leading Chinese brand. Changan has joint ventures with Ford, PSA and Suzuki and through the first four months of this year it’s sales jumped nearly 38%.

And speaking of China, it’s not too hard to see why automakers are flocking to the country. Last year there were about 280 million licensed drivers, but forecasters say that number could jump
to 1 billion in the next 10 to 15 years. So if you think that Chinese car sales are impressive, just wait, they’ve barely gotten going. And yikes! Just imagine what the traffic jams will be like.

In what could be another step towards the autonomous car Ford will offer an adaptive steering system next year. The system uses an actuator placed inside the steering wheel that continuously changes the steering ratio to optimize steering response, whether that be at parking lot or highway speeds. A vehicle’s steering ratio is typically fixed and not adjustable. We believe this could be a step towards what they call Traffic Jam Assist, a semi­autonomous system where you set the cruise control, and the car automatically does all the accelerating, braking and the steering.

Hyundai’s Genesis Coupe is currently available with either a 2.0L turbocharged 4­cylinder or a 3.8L V6 engine, but now it’s going to discontinue the turbo 4 starting with the 2015 model year. Hyundai claims this will allow it to reposition Genesis Coupe towards a more premium buyer.

Coming up next, if you look at the sidewall of the tires on your car you’ll see a lot of numbers. Do you know what they all mean? More on that right after this.

Did you know that your tires are trying to tell you a story? But for some people it seems like that story is written in some unknown language.

(Autoline Garage is only available in the video version of today’s program.)

And that wraps up this week’s reports. Thanks for your interest in Autoline Daily and of course we’ll be right back here again on Monday.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog

37 Comments to “AD #1387 – Automobile Mag Drops a Cylinder, Ford Adaptive Steering, Changan vs. Great Wall”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    What do these car mags have in common with Playboy, they both show lots of goodies most of us can’t have.

  2. Mike Says:

    It has been really hard times in print automotive Journalism. Advertising has not really recovered in the six years since the recession of 2008. Newspapers have been struggling in the same way. The structural/routine advertising budgets for many automotive companies were cut during the recession and just never restored.

  3. Frank Nelson Says:

    Wow, I’ve been a fan of Jean Lindamood Jennings since she was hired by David E. Davis for Car and Driver. That is a major shake-up for Automobile. Her columns were funny, and she never took herself too seriosly. She reminded me of me, and I sort of lived vicariously through her, driving the selection of cars at her disposal. I will miss reading her contributions, and will have to wait and see how Automobile progresses.

  4. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Nice primer on tires Sean; good info (for the uninitiated) and even a little for those that know our ‘stuff’. Michelin gives a general recommendation for using old tires of 10 years; this, of course, this too is arbitrary (but IMO, more generally, a good guideline). Cracking/blisters/bulges/punctures in the sidewall/etc., of course require more timely replacement.

  5. pedro fernandez Says:

    Sean, that was a great report, but I wonder with today’s economic reality how many people are just shopping for price, including in many instances, buying used tires for which there is no quality control or sure way to see if they’re safe at all, putting lives in danger.

  6. Lex Says:

    IMHO Monte Kaehr, the chief engineer in North America for the Toyota Camry is full of BS. He spoke about the new Camry as major redesign, not a refresh. If you look at the New Camry it is just a larger version of the New Corolla. You can scale up or scale down a vehicle using computers very easily. In the case of the Camry they just hit the growth button on the keyboard of their computer.

    What ever happened to the “Skateboard” powertrain / chasis design shown by GM in the early 90′s. This design allowed OEM’s to interchange and bolt on a variety of vehicle “Top Hats” onto common powertrain / chasis “Skateboard” units. Refreshing the Top Hat of a vehicle every three years would be cheaper. It would also allow mechanics greater access to major components which are currently buried in the bowels of a unibody vehicle. Drive “By-Wire” for throttle and braking systems should make this completely possible today.

  7. Chuck @ GM Says:

    @6 Lex – The skateboard also contained a fuel cell that powered the vehicle. That’s what happened to it.

  8. pedro fernandez Says:

    #6 Ah, I don’t think so, the Corolla and Camry are not built off the same platform at all, the Camry platform is the most utilized architecture in the car business, Sienna, Avalon, Highlander, ES RX all come from the same chassis, I am not sure if the new Corolla is an all-new chassis or a reworked one which dates back to 2003, too long in my opinion.

  9. Lex Says:

    I was at my local Honda Dealership this week and saw pictures of the HR-V Compact Crossover.
    Is this going to be the new design language for the CR-V when it is refreshed or redesigned?

    Acura need to recalibrate their engines to run on regular gasoline. The current price of regular is hovering above and below $4.00 per gallon in NYC and the surrounding Metro Area.
    I love the styling and value of the new MDX and RDX put that Premium Fuel requirement is a real turn-off!!! I do not see why since Honda vehicles like the Pilot and Odyssey run on regular. I hope someone at Acura is listening.

  10. kevin m Says:


  11. cwolf Says:

    I don’t see how moving Automobile from Ann Arbor to California is going to improve things,…considering the mindset there.

  12. cwolf Says:

    I’ve driven an Explorer and a XKZ with the gizmo that keeps you in the lane and the adaptive cruise which scenses the vehicle ahead. I didn’t think I would like or need any of these electronics, but I must say one can darn near let the car drive itself a long distance before any need to hit the brakes or grab the wheel. Cool stuff!

  13. Chuck @ GM Says:

    @11 cwolf – I agree for slightly different reason. How about… considering how much it costs to live/do business there?

  14. John McElroy Says:

    #6: Even if a car company decided to scale up an existing car it would need all new stamping dies to make the larger design. It costs about $10 million a die set, and typically there are four die sets per panel. And since there were 10 panels that were retooled, (he said all but the roof) the stamping dies alone would have cost about $100 million. So while the new Camry is not a complete redesign, it is a significant refresh that goes way beyond what most car companies do.

  15. aliisdad Says:

    The problem with the general car mags is that they try to be entertaining instead of talking much in depth about the cars… There are too many “young” writers who try to be cool and clever instead of really describing the technical aspects of the cars they test..They often show that they have limited knowledge of history when discussing the cars and car culture, as well..
    Finally, the formats of many car magazines make them almost unreadable… In fact, I have dropped most of my subscriptions to “mainline” car magazines in the last couple of years, and I have subscribed to some of these since I was in high school… It is a real shame, but I supposes it is just a sign of a “new” generation of car users vs. car lovers..
    #12… Your comments reminded me of a loaner car that I had a few months back.. The steering wheel would start to vibrate strongly as a “warning” of “lane departure”, and it also had “stop-start” and everything would go silent under the hood at a stoplight… Maybe I am just old and set in my ways, but wow those things were annoying!! AND, I was sure happy to have my own “normal, low tech” car back at the end of the day!!! Just a thought, but why not take the distracting and entertaining crap off the cars, and focus on driving and being attentive on our own as drivers… If you want to text, talk, or be entertained..Stay Home!!

  16. Brett Says:

    I drifted away from the automotive print media after Satch Carlson was let go from Autoweek and Leon Mandel passed, Brock Yates left Car & Driver, and David E. Davis turned loose of Automobile Magazine. I was a charter subscriber to that one.

  17. cwolf Says:

    aliisdad: I think most would agree they shun all electronics that take away the joy of driving. For days I avoided the use of these gadgets, but using them really was a hoot. My bro-in-law utilizes these things on his trip once out of Chicago to Minnisoooota. He says he drove 1/3 the distance without any hands on!(i don’t think continuously) Sounds crazy, huh? Still, a good way to pass the time.

  18. cwolf Says:

    Chuck@GM: What do California dudes know about driving, when most is bumper to bumper in the city, focuses on mpg’s and clean air and could care less what’s under the hood? The only sane or reasonable people I met there were common folk either from the desert or the mountain area.

  19. cwolf Says:

    I can’t understand why people buy both MT and C&D when every monthly issue from each cover the exact same vehicles. And why would anyone care how fast a Nissan Versa (for ex.) can go around race track curves, unless you’re into tires? Did you ever clip out all the advertisements to see what’s left? Or notice what remains is filled with someones opinion of an exotic that most can’t afford or want?

  20. XA351GT Says:

    Your Autoline Garage segments are really good. One of the best parts of the show. Great information shared there. Thank you.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    11, 13, 18 et. al.
    I haven’t spent a lot of time in California, but I was in the San Jose are a couple years ago, and rather liked the automotive landscape there. It was partly because there were a lot of cars like I buy, such as MINIs and Priuses, but there were also exotics and 60′s muscle cars, and a pretty good mix of everything sold in the U.S.

    As far as driving, yeah, there is a lot of bumper-to-bumper traffic in the cities, but there are also fun places to drive without going very far from the cities.

    As far as a magazine moving from Michigan to California, that makes complete sense, if you want to be able to drive cars year round on stuff other than ice, snow, and the salt they use to destroy the cars and infrastructure. Also, California is the biggest car market in America, by far.

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    9, Acura, and everyone else needs to recalibrate their engines for regular gas. With Acura, it’s more obvious than most, since essentially the same engines are used in Hondas and Acuras, but if the ~120 hp, 1500 cc engine in a Fit is ok with regular, why does the similar power, but larger displacement engine in a MINI need premium? It should be the opposite, if anything, with the smaller displacement engine needing premium.

    Several years ago Cadillac retuned all of their engines for regular, except some special ones like CTS-V, and there was little power loss, and no mpg loss as a result. BMW, M-B, Acura and the rest should be able to do the same thing,

  23. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Here in the valley;hightest=4.99.9@ Diesel=3.85.9@.What a turn around.

    Tires: I have gotten into many arguments over the ‘correct tire pressure’ especially at tire shops.They insist on airing up to the maximum stated pressure on the tire.I open the damn door and show them where and how to read the Correct pressure on the oem label as Sean pointed out.

  24. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yep, tires are supposed to be inflated as shown on the door jamb, with the tires cold. There have been a few cases where those numbers were “wrong,” as with the Ford Explorers that said to under-inflate the tires. That was a remedy for customer complaints about a stiff ride.

    The max pressure shown on the sidewall is highest the pressure should EVER be, like after driving an hour across the desert at 100 mph.

  25. Jonathan Says:

    Still enjoy automobile magazine. I’ve been a subscriber since it’s first issue in 1986.

    I wish the staff that’s left the very best. The industry and the way we communicate is continuing to evolve.

    Print media is in real danger. The inter web has changed the world in an even greater way than television did in the 1960s….

  26. Truman Lewis Says:

    Liked the tire report, good job. Next time sweep the drive and cut the grass.

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    They tell you to overfill the tires, cause this way you “think” you’re getting better handling, not worth the extra wear or a stiffer ride.

  28. C-Tech Says:

    Good job Sean ! What always amuses me is when it comes time to replace tires, customer want to go with the cheapest brand, and then complain that their car /truck / suv doesn’t ride as well as it did when new. Other customer go with bigger wheels and tires then don’t understand why they don’t balance or handle well on the highway.

    @ #15 I agree 100% !

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I still don’t know what to think about this tire age thing. I just sold a car with 20+ year old tires to someone 200 miles away. I told the buyer, who seemed unconcerned, since the tires looked fine and had good tread. He made it home with no problem.

    Before all of this “old tire” stuff started showing up in the media, I wouldn’t have even thought to say anything about the age of the tires to prospective buyers.

    The car I sold was my ’86 VW Cabriolet, which I’ve mentioned here. Since I bought the Corvette last fall, I had too many cars, and needed to sell one.

  30. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Tires (of old) weren’t as a big problem, mostly because their life (in miles) was relatively low (they got changed before they could degrade). Though it has been years (since radials took over the scene) they were the driving force (mostly) for getting a lot longer life (miles wise) out of a tire, and low mileage drivers, started having them last for years and years (on their vehicles) without visibly needing replacement (tread depth). Also depending on how new tires are stored; u.v. can prematurely age new tires just sitting on the rack waiting to be installed, so, new tires can already manifest themselves with spider cracks (beginning to breakdown) before they see mile one. I also believe ozone starts degrading rubber as well, so the clock starts ticking when they leave the mold.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The tires on my VW saw little sun. The car was always garaged, except while being driven, which was only 22K miles.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    Like anything made from rubber, tires take a beating from the hot sun, even when the car is sitting there and used once every 2 weeks or so, my mom’s Sentra had to have new tires even though they had plenty of life left in them due to bad sidewalls.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    In addition to being out of the sun most of the time, the tires on my VW would have spent a lot less time in 90 degree heat than in south Florida. I suspect that would help the tires last longer.

  34. Brett Says:

    From what I understand, the recommended tire pressure on the doorjam applies to the OEM tires only.

    If you change brand, size, or specification, you should inflate the tires to 75% of recommended maximum to start with and then assess the treadwear monthly to make adjustments to compensate for signs of over/under inflation.

    Starting cold with a higher pressure is good for high-speed, hot weather running. The tire will generate less heat and build less pressure, overall, that way. Experience gained through years of road-racing in Florida.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The pressure shown on the door jamb applies to all tires of the same size and load rating as the OEM tires which is generally what you should replace the OEM tires with.

    Interesting, on the road racing.

  36. Lawrence Says:

    Thanks Sean for shedding light on a subject that’s so little understood, so variable, and so important, for buyers.
    And John, you are beginning to pronounce like a seasoned Mandarin speaker.

  37. Bernd Says:


    the adaptive steering Ford is showing is altering the steering column ratio by changing the relative angular position between the steering column and the steering wheel.
    That means also that it acts between two effectively moving parts.
    Since there is no fixed part it could act against, it is not possible to use this device for an autonomus vehicle. It would just turn the steering wheel without any effect to the vehicles direction.

    What could be used, however, is the motor of an electricaly assisted power steering. Just increase its output power until it can turn the steering.