AD #1487 – Former Ford PR Chief Alleges Spying, OEMs Worry about Cheap Gas, Audi to F1?

October 27th, 2014 at 11:58am

Runtime: 8:24

- Former Ford PR Chief Alleges Spying
- OEMs Worry about Cheap Gas
- Toyota Remains King of the Hill
- U.S. Car Sales Continue Growth
- F1 Should Study NFL
- Audi to F1?
- OEMs & Suppliers Struggle With Recalls
- Behind the Scenes of the New Mustang

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44 Comments to “AD #1487 – Former Ford PR Chief Alleges Spying, OEMs Worry about Cheap Gas, Audi to F1?”

  1. Kate McLeod Says:

    If they can’t meet CAFE, won’t the government have to adjust their expectations?

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Ford spying on their execs? Wow,whoda thunk it.I will watch that show,I love a mystery…

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Call me dumb,but I fail to see what the price of gas has to do with meeting cafe regs.The work is the same,and the regs still have to be met.

  4. Chuck Grenci Says:

    OEM’s worried about low gas prices; well, keep them prices lower, let the economy benefit and adjust fuel economy (as is already scheduled) at the mid-term adjustment (for CAFE). High fuel prices were one of the culprits of increased prices (across the board that were experienced), and with those increases, there was next to no value added (to those products). Anything transported to market went up (and took some of that disposable income away from the discretion of the consumer/saver/investor).

  5. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If they can’t meet CAFE, they will have to lower the prices on the high mpg cars, and raise the prices on the gas hogs. That’s ok with me.

    Also, I recently read about fines that are paid for not meeting CAFE, and in the scheme of things, they don’t amount to much. The example was Mercedes, which missed CAFE by quite a bit, but, as I remember, they spend far more on advertising than on the fines.

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    3, CAFE is based on sales mix, and with cheap gas, more people will buy Tundras and fewer will buy Priuses.

  7. Ron Paris Says:

    Jason Vines, IMO, is a shameless self-promoter who I would expect to write a book with a title like “What did Jesus Drive? Crisis PR in Cars, Computers and Christianity.” I couldn’t be less interested in his “revelations” about anything and would take anything he said with a grain of salt. When he was a regular on Autoline After Hours, I made it a point to skip the shows that he was featured on as he is like nails on a blackboard to me!

  8. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Thanks Kit.Meanwhile I still wait on a colorado diesel that uses more expensive fuel,but gets superior mpg’s in a pickup truck.

  9. Tony Gray Says:

    CAFE regs are convoluted, complicated and have little link to reality. The numbers no longer have any relationship to the window sticker numbers, and the sheer fact that it is a CORPORATE rate unfairly targets full line manufacturers (ie the Big 3) who have pickup and large vans that have to be offset with tons of smaller cars.

    The targets should be by vehicle class and encourage improvement by segment. This would be much more equitable. (I’d say fair, but nothing that involves the government is fair.)

    Hey, if I’m wrong here please correct me. I don’t want to propagate erroneous information.

  10. Bradley Says:

    I would be very careful about setting the NFL on a pedestal for anything.

    F1 has many teams competing at one televised event, the NFL only has two. I agree the wealth should be spread more evenly, but the nature of each sport makes it easier for the NFL to do this.

  11. rick bradner Says:

    Audi to f1?
    God, I hope not.
    I think that compared to top tier endurance racing F1 is a technological backwater.
    What would be the point?

    Seriously? F1 is far more restrictive. Look at the goofy tires/wheels they’re forced to use. They’ve just mandated a de facto design for next year’s nose. Engine specs are locked in.
    F1′s preeminent designer, Adrian Newey, has left F1 because there is no room for innovation.
    Compare this to the Audi/Toyota/Porsche cars all using slightly different technologies and aero. Endurance is where the leading edge is in racing technology at the moment. F1 is nowhere, viewers are down, teams are folding, and half the drivers are paying for their rides.

  12. Chuck Grenci Says:

    An addendum on my comment on low gas prices/CAFE regs: Now is the time to raise taxes (fuel) and fix the automotive infrastructure. I don’t mind paying money to fix what is broken, and as long as they can earmark those dollars gleaned, do it. Rather pay money to fix the roads/bridges/etc. then to pay the oil companies for producing a product they can make profit (at current levels). And I’m sure they could, some how, tax (the electrics) a road use tax or justify the exclusion by saying they are saving the planet (though I’m not buying that one).

  13. Lex Says:

    Cheap fuel will hurt CAFE but will hopefully improve the overall economy. Consumers will have a little extra money in their pockets to spend on other things than gasoline. This is a good thing!

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    9, I’m pretty sure I read that the CAFE target for large vehicles is lower than for small vehicles, to help out companies building gas hogs. I’ll see if I can find a description of the system.

    Also, as everyone here probably knows, the mpg numbers used for calculating CAFE are much higher than the window sticker numbers.

  15. Steve W Says:

    Sorry but $3 per gallon for gas IS NOT CHEAP! &1 a gallon is cheap!

  16. WineGeek Says:

    We need high efficiency high mileage cars no matter what the price of gas. There are two basic reasons that are quite simple
    1) no matter what we will eventually run out of oil so why not conserve it if we can by designing higher efficiency cars now
    2) For our own international security we need to be able to live without foreign oil if it ever came to that…

    So let’s not shoot the messenger we can keep making cars more fun to drive while using less gas. Just look at the new Mustang or WRX!!

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    15, Adjusted for inflation, gas cost about $2.50 in 1960, when the average passenger car was thirstier than today’s large SUV’s. Gas is cheap at $3/gallon, or even $4/gallon, which is why the vehicle fleet in the U.S. looks so different from that in Europe. Here is a chart of gas prices over the years:

    Yes, I realize that some people view these things differently.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    won’t cheaper gas help sell more trucks and large SUV’s which are a lot more profitable to\these companies?
    These guys are never pleased, \are they?

  19. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Gas taxes: The govt was complaining that gas sales were down ergo the road tax wasn’t coming in like it used to.Cheaper fuel now means more people will use more affordable gas thus increasing the road/fuel tax coffers.

    Raising the fuel tax to fix the roads/bridges etc:If the local/state/fed govt can keep their hands out of the fuel tax cookie jar we would probably have a better infrastructure.Jmho.

    For me: I don’t mind paying a bit more for diesel fuel for my next vehicle.The savings on mpg will more then make up for the upfront cost of the diesel and the fuel.I live in a mountain state and I know from past experience how much better a small diesel pulls the hills with a lot less downshifting and still get excellent mpg’s even while towing.For some of us,it’s a no brainer……and a seemingly long wait.

  20. HtG Says:


    If anyone is as demented as me, they can read themselves to exhaustion about F1′s current mess. Just go to Joe Saward’s blog;

    Jason Vines

    I for one cannot wait to see Jason, John, and Peter back together. Smells like……..tension

  21. HtG Says:

    btw, Audi is denying the F1 rumours. We’re led to believe the whole story originates with a particular organ grinder. Short chap, nice head of white hair, innit.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    CR just released its latest reliability studies and just as I expected, Lexus and Toyota are leading the pack with GM being the most reliable US brand, Ford is getting better and Chrysler, well they’re Chrysler, with the Fiat 500L being the least reliable car sold in America, I guess Tony will stay busy at his shop for years to come.

  23. Brett Says:

    $2.85/gallon now == $0.97/gallon in 1979

    The problem is that wages are stagnant and everything else is getting more expensive.

  24. pedro fernandez Says:

    #23 tell me about it!

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    23, 24 Yeah, wage stagnation is a lot big problem than the price of gas. From 1974 to 1980, I was driving an “economy” 6 cylinder Plymouth Duster that used about twice as much gas as today’s Corolla. Corrected for inflation, gas during the time I had the Duster was about the same price as now, but I used twice as much as I’d need with an equivalent car of today.

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit I owned a V8 Plymouth Scamp for a few years and gas money was never an issue with me, even though at that time my pay was not that good at all. No one talked about gas mileage back then.

  27. Ivan Sears Says:

    John, “it has happened before and will happen again”, per one of my favorite SyFy shows, now out of production. What’s that? The American publics notoriously short memory for thing political and things economic. While I agree with other comments that $3.00/gallon is not really cheap, it will feel cheap compared to $4.00. It has to do with what one becomes accustomed to I guess. So as fuel prices fall, I expect to see sagging EV sales, sagging hybrid sales and a surge in large vehicle (less fuel efficient) sales. Americans like things big. So, when they want fuel economy, they want BIG economy. Otherwise, they will take their vehicles big and thirsty, then complain when the price of fuel goes up again down the road, as it most certainly will.

  28. puremoose Says:

    #18.Do you think lower gas prices will hurt diesel truck sales

  29. Anthony Says:

    Given most of the responses to the daily show, more people are concerned about CAFE which doesn’t impact you unless you are going to buy a car in 2-5 years.

    F1 would and should act more like the NFL, MLB and NBA who all have similar revue sharing.

    It’s based on racing as a whole, the people with the most money usually are the most successful and if somebody with a better idea or better employees happens to beat them, they buy them out….

    Who cares if CAFE will make people buy bigger, heavier, less efficient cars/trucks/suvs.

    That is just Americans given themselves enough rope to hang themselves.

    Also companies do spy on their employees, nothing new here.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    28, I suspect most diesel pickup sales are to people who just “like” diesels. The price premium is high enough that they would never be cost effective for most people. I’ll be surprised if cheaper gas hurts their sales.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Ford’s spying on employees is certainly nothing new. In the days of old Henry, they spied to make sure the employees didn’t drink alcohol or smoke in their own homes.

  32. HtG Says:

    I still want to know why Ford would have wanted to know what Jason Vines was saying to whom. PR people talk to the press all day long, and from my personal knowledge relationships develop. One learns whom to trust, and sometimes shares stuff the employer might not like, just to shape the story. (On a side note, about a year ago Intel fired its PR staff. Holy moly, talk about a clean sweep)

  33. XA351GT Says:

    My take on the CAFE worries for OEMs. I think they are worried(rightly so ) that cheap gas won’t FORCE people to buy their overpriced E/Vs and Hybrids. Also Lo gas prices will let people stay in bigger ,thirstier vehicles like trucks and SUVs . Which ironically is where they make the most of their money if I’m not mistaken. So I fail to see how it’s not a complete conflict of interest for them. Here is something they may not realize though. Let’s say (god forbid ) gas would go well north of $4 @ gallon. People still won’t buy those high priced E/Vs or Hybrids . They will be forced to keep older cars that may not be as good on gas, but if they put all their money in the gas tank there won’t be anything left to buy a new car with. We have seen more than once that when gas hits $4 the consumers hit back by not buying anything except what they absolutely need. It becomes a major chicken or egg question. Big problem is there is only so much money in a flat economy.

  34. stas peterson Says:

    You still worship the EV as some kind of God, an an end in itself. In reality, the need is for non-polluting vehicles. Inadvertantly, CARB is forcing that very thing.

    The automakers discovered that their cleanup technology for the ICE was so good, that they could extend it a bit, at only marginal cost increases. They could offer vehicles that produced no more genuine toxic emissions than an EV.

    But without the obvious and grievous limitations of current technology EVs. Those limitations are primitive batteries, limited range, affordability, and resale depreciation based on battery replacement cost fear.

    The automakers offered this technology in trade for some reasonableness in schedule and fuel economy.

    As usual CARB bureaucrats double crossed them; and demanded the technology, stiffened its unreasonable schedules, and tightened regulations adding limitations on CO2 output.

    In this instance, I fully support the CARB regulations. But only the tightened toxic emissions regs, which the Federal EPA is following too.

    But it thoroughly undercuts the EV in its present primitive under-developed state. If an ICE is as emissions free as an EV, at half the cost, and without the range limitations, or cratered resale values, who will choose these primitive offerings, except zealots, who have lost sight of the true objective.

    The entire purpose of the EPA and CARB are , essentially over.

    We set out in the 1970s to cleanse our Air, and to become independent of Oil Blackmail, once again. And to extend the time until Oil was no longer available at any price.

    Plus we hoped to find a method to continue our Western civilization without it. Everyone of the objectives has been met and achieved. EREVo- and bio-fuels have provided the continue civilization. But It is not recognized that the current levels of corn ethanol production together, with universally applied EREV technology together suffice to provide current levels of Transport without impairment.

    Shale hydrocarbon recovery technology, and Clean Air technology has cleansed our AIr to a Pure Air EPA Compliance.

    EPA Air compliance has been met in all but a half dozen or so of the some 2500 counties in America. It will improve further with the tightened toxic emissions regs adopted for promulgation in 2017.

    ,Even now we could simply declare Victory for Clean Air and Water. Mission Accomplished.

    The need to prepare for “Peak Oil”, has receded into a concern a Millenia in the future if then. Vast new Oil finds, virtually throughout the World has completely undermined that concern. As well as the political concern of Oil Blackmail by Mid-East potentates whose beliefs are inimical to America and Western values.

    The CAGW concern is desolving into a farce. Instead of possible 6 degree warming from a doubling of trace gas CO2, it is turning out to be a trivial and harmless quarter to a third of a single degree, of possible warming, if that.

    In any case scientific research has discovered that North America has been found to be a net CO2 sink, bio-sequestering every gram of human and non-human i.e. “natural” CO2 emissions. We even bio-sequester all that we receive on the prevailing winds from Eurasia.

    The Eurasians may have a problem, but our Job in North America, is more than finished. Our Bio-sequester CO2 is Greening America; and the the rising CO2 trace gas levels elsewhere, is Greening the World, a genuine improvement. Meanwhile the increased output of our bio-sequester fed farmlands and forests are feeding the world.

    The USA is the World’s largest hydrocarbon producer again, a position lost in the late ’60s, which precipitated the OPEC power grab and pricing extortion. America controlled and stabilized prices then, and is doing so again.

    What Oil we import comes from NAFTA, almost exclusively, with a little from South America. So the Mid-East Oil Blackmail threat has evaporated.

    Why did we mandate improved Fuel Economy?
    We wanted to extend, but not prevent, the Day before the Peakist fearful pronouncement, that the Oil has run out.

    But that Fear is as long gone as the latest “Peakist” fear-mongering pronouncements.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    34, A lot of the oil we import comes from Canada, but a lot also comes from Saudi Arabia, home of the people who flew airplanes into buildings a while back, and from our friends in Venezuela.

    If you think nothing is going on with climate change, take a cruise to Alaska and watch the glaciers breaking off into the ocean. If I’m lucky, Florida won’t be under water during my lifetime, but something IS going on as the result of greenhouse gas emmissions.

  36. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit:In the last 20 years we,as a country have cleaned up considerably.Our new engines,including the new diesels keep on getting cleaner.But how about the rest of the world? Look at what China is putting into the air,and India to name just two,of many.Also,weather is cyclic,it always has been.We go through warming and cooling cycles.Again I say,we as a country have done a damn fine job so far,and I see it getting even better.But we cannot clean up the world,nor control what pollutants other less developed countries put into the air.In other words,it doesn’t fall just on us to clean the other countries.We are all paying through the nose for a cleaner climate,it’s up to the others to do their share.

  37. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Continued,look at the radioactive stuff that is on our western shores right now,that came all the way from Japan.This ain’t a big deal on the east coast,but here on the west coast it’s being hushed up yet people go to the coast and bring geiger counters with them.This is true stuff.

  38. G.A.Branigan Says:

  39. Bob Wilson Says:

    The ‘hybrid premium’ may invert and become the ‘hybrid discount.’ The car manufacturers can simple soften the price of hybrids and EVs to meet CAFE.

    Ford has already prototyped ‘equity’ pricing with the MKZ and recently you’ all reported: “. . . One fascinating insight into the challenge of selling hybrids is represented by the Lincoln MKZ. Buyers can choose a four cylinder engine, a V-6, or they can choose a hybrid version for absolutely no extra cost. And yet 70% of MKZ buyers do not choose the hybrid, despite the fact it gets 14 more miles per gallon than the four, and 18 miles per gallon more than the V-6. ” (Oct 16, 2014).

    Perhaps future, full-size pickups will be sold with a ‘free” EV in the bed . . . the door prize and CAFE compliance vehicle. Too bad it would only be available in the CARB states.

    Bob Wilson

  40. Michael Green Says:

    There are a whole lot of companies spying on employees, WTF? It is creepy as hell. I had one company bug my hotel room and car, used the surveillance to harass.

    You got the government spying on people without justification, stealing intellectual property.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    36, We have certainly done a good job of cleaning up emissions that smell bad and cause smog, but have done less well at reducing greenhouse emissions, with the least efficient vehicle fleet of the “developed world.” Also, we have the highest per capita electricity usage, and a lot of it still comes from coal.

    Yes, China and India are worse. They are where we were 40 years ago.

  42. Kit Gerhart Says:

    39 If Elon Musk, or anyone else can actually make batteries for $100/kwh, as Musk claims he can do in a few years, hybrids will be much cheaper to produce, so there will be more than just “pricing strategies” at work to sell them. Batteries that cheap would greatly reduce the cost of manufacturing hybrids, as well as pure electric vehicles.

  43. Brett Says:

    The point is that the manufacturers created those expensive EVs and Hybrids to meet the CAFE standards. It wasn’t a nefarious plot to make you spend more money.

  44. MJB Says:

    I couldn’t help but think back to “The Firm” with Tom Cruise upon Jason Vines’ revelation about phone taps and offices being bugged. At least he didn’t have to face off with Wilford Brimley.