AD #2568 – Mazda6 No Longer Has A Manual, E-Tron Range Underwhelming, Bright Future for Contract Manufacturing?

April 5th, 2019 at 11:38am

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Runtime: 7:29

0:07 Official Audi E-Tron Range Underwhelming
1:00 Daimler Opens New Battery Factory in Germany
1:33 Volkswagen Secures Lithium from Chinese
2:00 Rise of the E-Machines
2:43 Tesla’s Autopilot Can Now Change Lanes
3:44 Mercedes Teases Interior of New Crossover
4:06 Mazda6 No Longer Comes with A Manual
4:56 Bright Future for Contract Manufacturing?

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44 Comments to “AD #2568 – Mazda6 No Longer Has A Manual, E-Tron Range Underwhelming, Bright Future for Contract Manufacturing?”

  1. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “That means from a technical standpoint, Audi is not as advanced.”

    I think it has little to do with “Audi not being as advanced.” It is more likely, that they want to treat the battery gently, so it will have a longer service life. Chevy did the same with the Volt, in compromising electric range, by using only the “center” of the charge-discharge cycle, which has resulting in few battery failures , and little range degradation.

  2. rey Says:

    Audi makes nice interiors, that’s about it, it’s not a technology co., for that you have to go to Silicon Valley, hire the best of the best, and the best want to work for Tesla & their CEO, Elon Musk

  3. Larry D. Says:

    1 did you watch AAH with Munro? He addresses this and agrees w 2.


    At 1:10 you are talking about Daimler’s new battery factory, but the Mercedes chassis in the video is for their hydrogen car.

  5. paulstewart Says:

    How long has the Mazda6 got to Live anyhow, really ? The Camry + Accord will outlive it. Unless Toyota will keep it alive for their Mazda !

  6. Larry D. Says:

    In less than 10 years, battery prices for BEVs dropped by a HUGE percentage. See the bar chart at the bottom of the article

  7. Larry D. Says:

    According to that chart (5), in 2010, a 100 kwh EV Battery cost $1,160/kwh*100= $116,000 apples to apples in 2018 dollars.

    In 2018, the same 100 KWH battery cost $17,600. NOT $30k, not $50k, sure not… $120k.

    HUGE progress. Battery price is not even 15% of the issue it was then.

  8. lambo2015 Says:

    Mazda Zoom zoom with your automatic. Thats some driving excitement! But hey was the 6 a sporty vehicle anyway?

    With manufacturers outsourcing a large portion of the components and now outsourcing the final assembly seems to make ya wonder what really makes a brand?
    Magna has the capability to manufacturer their own vehicle but has chosen not to, simply because it would place all their customers in direct competition and cause them to lose a large percentage of their current business.

  9. Phred Says:

    The”outsourcing” of assembly sounds like a threat to the OEM “brick and mortar” Factories, UAW workforce, and that installed investment. There is a lot more to this story.

  10. Cycles Says:

    1-Kit. I agree that Audi’s decision to block off some capacity may not be conclusive evidence of a less advanced system. It is really just a very conservative step or a possibly a sign of a less capable BMS. Either way the vehicle is definitely inefficient compared to the competition. The Volt blocked off capacity for a very good reason. Volt cars have a very large chance that the battery is cycled every single day. Since lithium Ion batteries have a somewhat finite number of cycles that they are good for this correlates directly to life of the pack. On a long range BEV it is much less likely that the battery will be cycled every day. Who drives 200 miles every day? So, I am not convinced that is the reason that capacity was blocked.

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    9 That makes sense that blocking capacity of the Volt would, in most cases, be more beneficial than with long range pure EVs used as commuter cars.

    6 With battery cell cost coming down, there will be more incentive to make it easy to re-use the rest of the battery pack, like the cooling parts, wiring, and mechanical assembly, now that those items are a significant part of the total battery pack cost.

    7 The Mazda 6 is sportier than most generations of Camry, but probably no more sporty than Accord. The 6 does not sell well in the US, about 31K for 2018, compared to more than 10 times that for Camry.

  12. lambo2015 Says:

    9 I would take less range if it meant the battery may last a few more years. Assuming that most people live within 50 miles of their work so 100 miles round trip with a few to spare for other errands and loss due to hot or cold weather seems that 150 to 200 should be plenty of range for a daily driver. If you take the average 15,000 miles a year divided by 365 you get 41 miles a day even if you divide it into work days or 260 a year its only 57.7 miles a day.

    10) I wouldn’t ever buy a stick unless it was sports car or offered a significant advantage in MPG. Most automatics have improved to be no more than a 1mpg difference than a manual. I do remember when it was much more and then changed in the 80s where some sticks were less efficient and prompted the annoying shift lights that would direct you to shift at the optimal rpm.

  13. lambo2015 Says:

    Opps for some reason the posted comments all shifted one number from when I typed #12..
    Should have been reply to cycles 10 and kit 11

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    12 The only reason to buy a manual with today’s cars, is because you like driving a manual. Many, or most of today’s few cars available with a manual both perform and/or get better EPA mpg with an automatic, and it takes conscientious “driving for economy” to beat the automatic with a manual in real world driving.

    I still like driving manuals in small engine cars like my non-S Mini, but I got an automatic in the 2016 Corvette. I recently drove a Porsche Cayman with a manual, and I think I’d get a manual in that car, even though the PDK automatic performs better.

  15. w l simpson Says:

    I have been in awe of Magna capabilities for years, would dearly love to see how they manage
    their multiple diversities, which has shown quality control problems , such as unpainted door interiors.

  16. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My sister has a contract built Dutch Mini Countryman, and the build quality seems decent.

  17. PHILIP Says:

    The extreme dearth of vehicles available with a manual transmission could in itself bring sales to any vehicle so equipped.

  18. ChuckGrenci Says:

    Manual transmissions have a little in common with convertibles and station wagons; they have a devout few (fans) but barely make financial sense (that they used to have in the past).

  19. Kit Gerhart Says:

    18 I figure that of those three, wagons have the most chance of making a come back, at least when gas prices go up substantially. Wagons are, basically, no compromise vehicles. They drive like a sedan. They get the gas mileage of a sedan, but they are better for hauling stuff, better in some ways, than many crossovers and SUVs, because they have a longer floor, and in many cases, flatter floor with the seats folded down.

    Understandably, manual transmissions have a small, and diminishing fan base.

  20. ChuckGrenci Says:

    Agreed, wagon’s make a lot of sense (’84 Celebrity wagon; one of my best vehicles ever), however, at the current time (pretty much)nobody wants them. I was interested in the Buick TourX, ran it by the wife; nada, no, don’t want one. But I have to agree that functionality, style and economy can to some extent trounce the current SUV/CUV’s we see as the market leaders.

  21. Larry D. Says:

    6, 7 also important are the % drops in the cost/kwh each year from 2010 to 2018, which show that the cost drops are not leveling off, in 2018 it was a huge 17+% lower than in 2017, so costs will go down further, perhaps to $125-100 per KWH.

    All this in constant dollars, not apples to oranges comparisons politicians and journalists love to mistakenly make all the time.

  22. FSTFWRD Says:

    ?? Manuals ?? I grew up with the manual trans, loved them and still do, but with traffic and age, I now believe the Auto is the only way to go now. I believe every manufacturer has a hard time to justify a manual at the low take rate. Sorry to see them go, but that is life.
    Just installed a C4 in the Shelby GT350 for the “traffic” issue here in So Cal.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    21 The cost of electricity has been going up about every year in Florida, but it is still only about 10-11 cents/kWh where I am.

    22 I’m surprised they still offer manuals in Honda Accord. The take rate must be extremely low in the U.S., and I think the U.S. Accord is still unique to the region. Now, the manual take rate is low, even for Miatas and Minis. I’d like to know the take rate of manuals in the cars that offer them. Sean or John, do you have such data?

    I like the TourX, except for the mandatory 4wd, the extra black plastic, and the mild lift. They probably wanted it to compete with Subaru Outback. To me, the Buick still looks better, in spite of the Subarization.

  24. Larry D. Says:

    In the 80s and 90s manuals made sense for many reasons:

    1. The car was about $1,000-$2,000 cheaper with the manual,

    2. It got far better MPG with the manual, if you drove it right,

    3. It also had far better Performance with the manual, if you wanted acceleration etc,

    and finally the automatics of the time were just AWFUL. Some were GOD-Awful, like the THREE speed Auto I got in a Ford Contour rental in 1999 in Arizona. What a piece of crap. I rented it because I knew that other POS, the “Baby Jag” was based on the Contour, so I thought, it can’t be that bad. Well, it was.

    Today it is totally different. Automatics are absolutely outstanding, compared to their primitive ancestors, they have 9 and 10 speeds, get GREAT MPG, and on top of all that, they ALSO function as manuals, if you need them to (I seldom do).

  25. ChuckGrenci Says:

    In addition to the many improvements of automatic transmissions, in my opinion, the game-changer and what shot them into the lead (over manuals) was the TCC (torque converter clutch); once lock-up of the torque converter was achieved, instant economy arrived. I still like to shift a manual when confronted, but as I’ve aged and traffic has gotten more snarly, I’m not going to buy a new vehicle with one. (I have my motorcycle to keep me grounded, with the joy of shifting.)

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    25 Yep, the TTC enabled automatics to match the MPG of manuals, even with only 3 or 4 gears. A lot of older big-engine cars were geared taller with the automatic than the manual, so generally got better highway MPG.

  27. BobD Says:

    6- On the cost of batteries decreasing, at some point they will level off to the cost of the raw material and a small margin for manufacturing. Obviously we have not reach that level yet. Does anyone know what the cost of the raw materials are in a typical Li-ion battery per kwh?

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Isn’t manufacuring still 3/4 of the cost of lead-acid batteries, even though they have been made for over 100 years?

  29. Bobby T Says:

    When Ford was doing their research for the new AOD, introduced in 1980, they bought an old Packard. Packard’s Ultramatic was the first automatic with a converter lock up clutch, and the AOD was the first modern automatic with it.

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    29 Interesting. I bet Ford didn’t look too closely at the Ultramatic, except for the torque converter clutch. When I was a kid, those transmissions were notorious for poor reliability, and poor shift quality. Packard would have lasted a few years longer, if they’d just bought Hydramatic or Borg-Warner transmissions like other smaller car companies.

  31. Larry D. Says:

    “Journalists who holler nonstop for “affordable cars!” have one less model to choose from. As it isn’t a vehicle patterned off the original Fiat 124/Lada 1200, with the quality and handling of a BMW, suffice it to say the Nissan Versa Note probably didn’t rank high on their might-buy list.

    And yet the Versa Note did offer buyers a cheap way to move five people and a decent amount of cargo from place to place, with a standard continuously variable automatic sweetening the pot for those who never bothered learning a stick. After 2019, it’s gone from North American dealers. …”

    Is it really the affordability, when Tesla sells 25,000 expensive (up to 6 figures) cars every month and this practical yet low-rent, not fun to drive POS could not sell at one third to one fifth that price?

  32. Larry D. Says:

    I looked at a couple car mags couple days ago at the public library.

    Car and Driver had a comparo with the new Blazer, some Ford (Edge?), the Nissan Murano, some Hyundai or Kia, and the Honda Passport. The Murano ended dead last, and deservedly so, the Edge 4th, the Blazer only 3rd, the affordable Korean 2nd and, by a wide margin, the Passport ranked no 1.

    Motor Trend had a long term test of the Korean Gas sipper Niro, a practical small wagon hybrid, which got amazing MPG esp City, it beat the EPA numbers, the city number was over 63, and this is in a Long term test, usually 40k miles. One unfortunate and idiotic defect they mentioned was the annoying noises simulating fake shifts or something like that. (I think it has a CVT). I think the price was around $30k or so, and if this is high, a 3 year off lease should cost half as that and still be a young car with few miles.

  33. Kit Gerhart Says:

    32 The Niro hybrid has a DCT, the main thing I hold against it. That’s complexity for complexity’s sake. The same powertrain in Ioniq basically tied, but didn’t beat a Prius with its much simpler powertrain, both in acceleration and mpg.

  34. Kit Gerhart Says:

    31 Both the Versa Note hatch and Versa sedan are at the bottom in CR’s “owner satisfaction” survey question, but CR rated the Note higher in their road test. I guess Nissan considers the Kix mini crossover a replacement for the Versa Note, though it costs significantly more.

  35. Kit Gerhart Says:

    32 I just read the C & D article again, and of that group, I’d probably like the Blazer best, except for the price, because it drove the best. The price was crazy, though, 0ver $50K. Checking the “build and price” tool, though, if you do’t mind cloth seats, it is possible to get a pretty well equipped Blazer, with the V6, AWD, and the safety gadgets, for about the same MSRP as the Hyundai. Adding leather would add ~$2K, as I remember.

  36. ChuckGrenci Says:

    I used to be a CR subscriber for quite a few years and dropped it about 5 years ago. I recently resubscibed to give it another chance (in my opinion I didn’t care for how they rated vehicles); well, I think I was right the first time. I see some of their rating criteria, do some calculations, and try to figure out their rating and position of grade and more times than not can find no logical reason for the order of the picks. They say they are unbiased but I’m not convinced as some picks seem awfully arbitrary. I must be missing something.

  37. Kit Gerhart Says:

    36, I tend to ignore CR’s “overall score” completely, since it includes the availability of some safety gadgets that I wouldn’t care about anyway. It includes reliability data, which is good to know, but I can look at that separately. In any case, I bought a Mini and a Corvette, in spite of poor reliability survey results. When they list cars in ranking order, they use the “overall score,” which, to me, doesn’t mean much.

    The “road test score” is much more meaningful, and if you go down the entire list of categories, the numbers more-or-less make sense. They seem to rate some things, though, like “noise” and “ride” based on the type of car, rather than on an absolute scale. A Prius and C-Class both got 4 or 5 for “noise,” but I suspect a C-Class is considerably quieter than Prius.

  38. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That’s “A Prius and C-Class both got 4 OF 5 for ‘noise,’”

  39. ChuckGrenci Says:

    According to CR I’ve bought a bunch of losers: ’95 Grand Caravan, ’00 Intrigue, ’04 Bravada and ’06 and ’11 STS’s; liked them all (loved most of them) and for me, minimal problems. As we’ve both professed, buy what you want.

  40. Larry D. Says:

    Of course one should buy what one wants, but it pays to be well informed before one buys, study the enthusiast mags as well as CR, test drive the car, and, most important, research and if necessary test drive the competition, if one wants to make the best possible decision.

    The idea of a compact luxury or near luxury car like the C class never made any sense to me. Its ancestor the 190 was popular but very compact. I drove a more recent C class model (maybe 2005-8) and hated how cramped the driver’s seat was and the front in general. In the rear there is even less room.

    The C class is one of the few cars that benefited from the increase in dimensions (and weight) every new model range, maybe now it is decent.

    The E class was the best-selling Benz for decades, sold more units than the C class, despite its much higher prices. This makes total sense given my own experience. Now that the C class has grown and the A class is the cheapo Benz, I think the C class is approaching or even exceeding the E class sales.

  41. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve sat in, but have not driven or ridden in a recent C-Class. To me, it seemed very comfortable in the front, but I’m not big, 5-10, 150#. The C didn’t do well in CR’s owner satisfaction survey, being in the 2nd lowest category. Maybe a lot of buyers learned that it wasn’t $15-20K better than a well equipped Accord, et. al..

  42. Larry D. Says:

    41 The Accord is a totally different animal, FWD etc. The obvious comparison is between the C and the E. Mercedes shoppers don’t comparison test Impalas.

  43. Larry D. Says:

    42 PS The Accord is a great car, but it is not even near-luxury, let alone true Luxury. There are Acura sedans that pretend to be luxury but frew buyers are impressed. If they were RWD they might.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    42 Yes, the Accord is a totally different animal, but people replace Accords with Benzes as a “move up,” in the same way people replace Priuses with Tesla 3s, even though the cars are “totally different animals.” And yes, I personally know people who cross shop Hondas and Benzes. I’m sure some people cross shop Impalas and Benzes, to find out what they get for their extra $25K.

    Maybe you didn’t know, but while we are car enthusiasts, a lot of car shoppers, including buyers of “ultimate driving machines” don’t even know which wheels are driven.