AD #1808 – VW Gets 1-Month Deadline, GM Revives Full-Size Hybrid Pickups, Mercedes to Replace Robots w/ Humans

February 26th, 2016 at 11:52am

Runtime: 6:53

To watch this episode on YouTube click here.

- VW Gets 1-Month Deadline to Fix Diesels
- Tesla Wins Direct Sales Fight in Indiana
- Used Car Sales Sizzling
- GM Revives Full-Size Hybrid Pickups
- EcoBoost Gets Production Boost
- Ford Expands Vignale Brand in Europe
- Mercedes Says Robots Can’t Deal w/ Complexity
- Nissan LEAF App Hacked
- New Volt Gets Price Discount

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31 Comments to “AD #1808 – VW Gets 1-Month Deadline, GM Revives Full-Size Hybrid Pickups, Mercedes to Replace Robots w/ Humans”

  1. Rob Says:

    WAIT? What, GM was helping write a bill to prevent Tesla from selling direct to consumers. When the franchise law was to pervent automakers from competing with their dealers? Kinda like the new website you guys mentioned a week or so back where now consumers can search cars coming off GM lease without having to deal with a dealer.. Humm maybe Tesla should sue GM for infringing on franchise laws.

  2. Rob Says:

    Mercedes should probably invest in some good robot programmers. I worked in a facility where we painted 40 to 50 different car parts each with a different program and the robots handled the complexity with ease.

  3. dcars Says:

    I think Tesla is scaring the big Auto Companies. The luxury brands bring in big profits and it looks like Tesla is getting noticed.

  4. GM Veteran Says:

    I think automakers and dealers fears over Tesla’s direct sales model are unrealistic. Stop to consider that Tesla will bear all of the same costs that the mfr/dealer combination does. So, with the same costs, how could Tesla undercut traditional dealers and be more competitive? Are Apple computers and iPhones cheaper at Apple stores than at large retailers? No.

    In addition to engineering, materials, labor, assembly plant and shipping costs, Tesla will have to finance their inventory, pay for advertising, fund the retail facilities, personnel and insurance just like dealers do. I honestly don’t see that they have an advantage, other than the ability to have more control over the consumer experience at their stores.

  5. BobD Says:

    Indiana franchise law – It is very near the end of the “short” session here in Indiana so lots of wild legislation gets tossed at the wall. From what I can tell, GM got a bum rap in that all of the traditional manufacturers were lobbying against the bill. GM was blamed because of the pending Bolt will be direct competition for the upcoming Model 3. While the argument was they wanted Tesla to operate on a level playing field, unfortunately I did not hear anyone suggesting the State should repeal the existing law and we’d have more flexibility of how we buy cars. This bill is not dead. It was simply send to a “summer study” session, which is code for delaying the bill to see which lobbyists can make the most campaign contributions to the State legislators and political caucuses over the next nine months before it gets introduced again.

  6. Buzzerd Says:

    Tesla is such a small player in this I wonder what is the big worry, what is the ” worst case scenario” that they are trying to avoid. Sure Tesla is saving money not having dealerships but I have to think that most buyers don’t see that as a positive, especially with such a specialty vehicle.

  7. Rob Says:

    Anytime you remove a middle-man you typically save money. So not paying commissions to a sales guy or subsidizing the cost of an elaborate showroom with acres of cars in inventory has to save the consumer some cash. I think Elio Motors has a great idea of a structured price (no negotiating) and the cars a picked up and serviced (including warranty work) through Pep Boys. That’s if they ever make any cars. As for Tesla I would want, at a minimum a service center nearby. The sales guy I could do without.

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Since Tesla has no dealers, do they dispatch a flatbed to get your car if it needs service? How many service depots are there? Do they give you a loaner while they have your car?

    I’d have a lot of questions like that, before buying a very expensive product with no known location to get it fixed.

  9. HtG Says:


    I also saw this story in AutomotiveNews, where Merc said they needed all this customization because their customers were so keen to express their individuality via their cars. (personally, I express my individuality by the logos on my sneakers and tshirts. kidding. I have a non-auto website. not kidding)

    I checked the links for the 43% increase in robotics, and it looks to me like this number refers only to increase in investment between 2013 and ’14.

    “…global investments in industrial robots increased by a record-breaking 43 percent (2013-2014) within one year….”

  10. Tuck&Roll Says:

    Just a note. VW does not have to fix it’s diesel issue, only provide a plan. What is not known is if the plan includes a timeline. But, of course it’s a Calif. court that has stuck it’s nose in the issue. Probably a computer fix will do.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    10 I suspect it will take a lot more than a computer fix for the pre-2015 Golf/Jetta/Beetle that don’t have after treatment. We shall see.

  12. HtG Says:

    11 I’m sure glad I’m not the US Attorney General these days.

  13. Ukendoit Says:

    Kit, I had heard of Tesla picking up their cars with a flatbed, but I would assume that is just in cases of warranty repairs. They have a map of service centers all around the world, but there are not enough yet. Only 2 in GA. They require very little maintenance, even the brakes last a much longer time due to the regenerative braking sys. and they do give loaner vehicles during service “when they can”.
    Sean, The hamberger franchise analogy would be more accurate to say that White Castle (all family owned with no franchises) can no longer sell hamburgers until they let someone start a franchise. White Castle has stayed relatively small in number of stores, even though they started before anyone back in 1921. I see Tesla doing the same by not franchising, staying relatively small, and having lower overhead. They can be innovative and have better control over their company but not really be threatening to the big car companies.

  14. HtG Says:

    Come on now. This franchise thing is about one thing; Money. If you, the dealers, want the state laws to protect you, you pay the local politicians off. That’s the racket, just like in other parts of the govt.

    Man alive, the dealers’ smoke and mirrors are as tiresome as the venality of the political echelon.

  15. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’d think the big car companies could be very threatening to Tesla, if they wanted to be. Maybe they are content to let Elon have his niche, at least for now.

  16. HtG Says:

    15. The silicon valley powers have recently figured out that they need ‘representation,’ read lobbyists, in DC. Elon has somehow gotten help for his enterprise, but I don’t see his game plan now. The next Tesla car is supposed to be cheaper, so I presume higher volume and more mainstream. How does he pull this off? (And what happens when a Chinese carco comes to the states? Will Tesla have cleared the way or will they have to follow the old dealership model?)

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Speaking of Elon, one of his rockets with a big, heavy comm satellite destined for a geosynchonous orbit has scrubbed the last two days. Apparently they are using “extra cold” liquid oxygen, so more can by carried, and they’ve had a problem with it. I haven’t heard if they will try again today.

  18. HtG Says:

    Yep, I checked the tweets and the site. It doesn’t look like they’re going tonight either.

  19. omegatalon Says:

    Dan Nicholson, of GM Global Propulsion system appears to say E-assist is the way of the future as the electric motors from the plug-in hybrid will give additional torque and horsepower for acceleration giving a car with a low displacement engine the sensation of greater performance.

  20. marshy Says:

    Ok, what is driving between the grape vines in the first cut of the gm truck hybrid video?

  21. Bob Wilson Says:

    The problem with eAssist is “The compact induction motor, located on the accessory drive, . . . ” This is the wrong end of drivetrain because it means all power has to flow through the engine. Put the induction motor in the transmission, separated from the engine by some sort of clutch and it would work. But the accessory drive is the wrong end.

    Bob Wilson

  22. Kit Gerhart Says:

    21 EAssist is cheap and easy, but yeah, it is only minimally effective, with power delivery, and especially, regen braking having to go through the gas engine. It silently cranks the gas engine, though, without having to engage a Bendix.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    @G.A., or anyone else interested, the interior of my Corvette. It’s a “base” 1LT.

  24. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Kit: Man that is one beautiful ride.I love that interior.Is the quality as good as they say compared to the older ones? It sure looks it.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    24 The quality is very good compared to earlier Corvettes, but not as nice as a similarly priced Audi. It depends on how you look at it.

  26. HtG Says:

    STHU, Kit. That thing is the shizz.

    Drinking. Go Kyle

  27. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Are you eating m&m’s with your beverage?

  28. MJB Says:

    #2 I agree. Though I’ve never worked a day in an assembly plant, I’d have to say the complexity Mercedes claims is too much for it’s robots to ‘keep up with’ is nothing more than its unwillingness to hire the programmers necessary for getting the machines to do what’s needed.

    There’s a task out there that’s “too complex” for a robot? I mean, really…Are you kidding me?

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    SpaceX launch scrubbed again.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    26 Kyle didn’t win, but he’s leading in points, so far.

  31. stiophan Says:

    I presume GM is losing cash on every hybrid truck hence the sale limit. Most likely its going back to research what customers think of this powertrain, now that hybrid is more acceptable. Whats amazing is the miniscule 2mpg improvement . GM needs to put all their trucks on the same F150 weight diet. I’d headhunt some Mazda body engineers/designers and see if there is an alternative to going with alum. Its still too expensive to use Carbon fibre like the new BMW7. Whats strange with the ecoboost is that its not delivering the MPG boost customers expect even if sales are good.