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Episode 259 – Geely to Get Volvo, Consumer Reports Praises Ford, GM Turns Exhaust into Electricity

October 28th, 2009 at 12:00pm

Runtime 6:19

Ford says it will likely end up selling Volvo to Chinese automaker Geely. Consumer Reports released its annual reliability report and praises Ford’s ratings. General Motors comes up with technology to convert exhaust heat into electricity. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions in the “You Said It!” segment.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Ford confirms Geely will get Volvo. Consumer Reports praises Ford. GM comes up with the technology to convert exhaust heat into electricity.

Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.

This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, October 28, 2009. And now, the news.

Although it says no final decision has been made, Ford says it will likely end up selling Volvo to Chinese automaker Geely. Ford says Geely “has the potential to be a responsible future owner,” a curious phrase. And Ford says even after Geely buys Volvo it will continue to work with the Swedish automaker in terms of component sharing, engineering and manufacturing.

Audi says it will pass its sales targets in China this year (subscription required). According to the Wall Street Journal, Audi has sold 118,000 vehicles in the country and expects to pass its 130,000 unit target by the end of the year. The company also said that by either 2012 or 2013, China will pass Germany as the automakers number one market.

Consumer Reports released its annual reliability report and there were a few interesting findings. The front-wheel-drive versions of the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan and even the V-6-version of the Chevy Malibu rated higher than the V-6 Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. And the Lincoln MKZ rated better than the Acura TL and Lexus ES. Even though the domestics beat the Asians in a few categories they still dominated the list with 36 of the top 48 most reliable models being Asian.

A few years ago we had Dr. Alan Taub from GM on Autoline. While he was in the studio he demonstrated some of the advanced technologies the company was developing. Some of the coolest stuff he showed was memory metal, and how it can change shape as its temperature changes. A few weeks ago we had him on the show again, and he talked more about what GM was working on, but he couldn’t share many specifics. Well, now the company made a big announcement about a project it’s working on using memory metal to build a device that can turn exhaust heat into electricity. The system could be used on conventional vehicles, but its use on hybrids is the most interesting. The company’s R&D received a $2.7 million federal award Monday to help with the project.

Bridgestone is best known for making tires, but it also offers a range of other products from bicycles to golf balls. Well, the other day Bridgestone announced that it’s coming out with an e-book. Overall, the device is 5.8 millimeters thin, but what separates it from other e-book readers is that the whole thing is flexible.

Coming up next, it’s time for my comments to your comments.

And now it’s time for some of your feedback.

This is “You Said It!” Every day we get dozens of comments and questions from you, our viewers. “You Said It!” gives me a chance to respond.

Nick Stevens wrote in to say, “Brazil’s economy is not doing well because of the stupid ethanol. It’s because of the enormous amounts of iron ore it exports…and the recently discovered far greater deepwater offshore oil reserves, that are guaranteed to make it a major net oil exporter for years to come.”

Nick, the only reason that Brazil will be able export all that oil is that it doesn’t need it for itself. Why? Because of all that stupid ethanol!

C-tech wrote in about the UAW rank and file opposing more concessions to Ford. He asks, “Who is out there selling the plan and educating the rank and file?”

Great question. It would seem like the union’s leadership has not done a good job of leading on this one. Of course, it’s hard to tell what’s going on inside the union. They rarely talk to the media. We have an open door policy but the union has only made its president Ron Gettelfinger (Pt. 1 here, Pt. 2 here) available to us once in the last 10 years.

And finally, some of you commented on me being back after vacation. Bajabusta paraphrased the lyrics from an old TV show saying, “Welcome back, to that same old place that you laughed about. Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.”

And RIGHTKNIGHT170 posted this comment, “The DUDEMEISTER Johnny Mac Hath Returnith!!”

So, in the immortal words of actress Sally Fields when she won her Oscar, “You love me, you really love me!

OK, enough of that. Here’s an important announcement.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog, The Auto Channel, vLane, WardsAuto.com and WWJ Newsradio 950

24 Comments to “Episode 259 – Geely to Get Volvo, Consumer Reports Praises Ford, GM Turns Exhaust into Electricity”

  1. Ron Paris Says:

    Actually John, the correct Sally Field quote is “You like me..right now..you really like me!”
    Don’t let it go to your head.

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    As I’ve said many times before,Ford has really improved the lineup available here in the US.I know they have “better” overseas but,I’m confident they will bring them in with the same quality we enjoy now.

    As for the UAW being buttheads again……what did anyone really expect from them?Common sense?Not gonna happen anytime soon.They won’t be happy till production all goes south of the border.Too bad the “rank and file”,and their elected leaders think,or actually believe they are worth what they want.But that has been their forte for decades.Losers.

  3. Nick Stevens Says:

    John,

    Congrats for the hilarious Sally Field Impression, it sure will soften my response to your comments on Brazil and ethanol:

    You seem to miss that most of the huge oi discoveries are fairly recent. Before them, Brazil exported precious little oil, because it needed most of the tiny amount it produced for internal consumption. And of course its long established iron ore huge exports and $ revenues have been going on long before ethanol and are a pillar of its economy.

    Also, just because Brazil did it does not mean that the US can do it just as easily, since, as you must know, Brazil’s ethanol is from cost-efficient sugarcane,while the US has to make it from corn, a far less profitable option.

  4. Nick Stevens Says:

    Branigan:

    If youy look carefully at these CR rankings, whatever their worth is, FOrd as a whole is number Sixteen, way below the top, and barely above the average of the 33 brands.

    A few individual Ford and GM models did better than their Japanese counterpoarts, or the same, but these are a hdnaful in a pool of hundreds of models. John made a big dealk oput of them, and only for a few seconds he showed a fuszzy graphic where, if you loked carfeully, you could see Ford being 16th out of 33 overall.

    Still, this is way better than Chrysler’s and even Cadillac’s dismal showing.

  5. jim s Says:

    Now we know. John’s true calling is not the auto industry but the theatre. Better watch out John, based on some of your fill in guests there’s plenty of hot chick journalists that are just waiting for you to stumble to get your anchor’s chair!

  6. Chuck Grenci Says:

    John, I’m still up for that ‘rate the raters’ show you alluded to a while back. Consumer Reports (while not a total joke) is quite the biased appraiser IMO. Maybe an AAH’s segment to rate some of the organizations out there that some of the people put a lot of their faith and trust in; say perhaps: CR, the auto magazines, the online evaluators (i.e. Edmunds, KBB, Vehix, etc.).

  7. Nick Stevens Says:

    “John, I’m still up for that ‘rate the raters’ show you alluded to a while back. Consumer Reports (while not a total joke) is quite the biased appraiser IMO.”

    I will use CR over JD Powers any time. CR is not corrupt or biased as most others are, because it never accepts any paid ADS and its data are from 100,000s of owners.

    But CR has a point of View, they are not auto enthusiasts and rate cars as serious everyday necessary appliances, fisucing on their reliability and not so much their handling or performance.

    That may explain why TOyota is so highly rated and also why Buick is rated much better thanb other GM brands.

    ” Maybe an AAH’s segment to rate some of the organizations out there that some of the people put a lot of their faith and trust in; say perhaps: CR, the auto magazines, the online evaluators (i.e. Edmunds, KBB, Vehix, etc.).”

    I have no trust in any for-profit commercial evaluators. CR is the only one that is non-profit and does not accept ads and represents US the consumers.

    JD power has some ludicrous surveys, such as “initial quality” (as if there is any car any mroe that has a problem with that) instead of letting us know what POS these cars are after TEN YEARS and 150,000 miles!

  8. P. Rose Says:

    Why do you speak of the UAW rank and file as bieng greedy and difficult. Concessions have been made everytime the contract has been reopened. Ford has used the same tired old response we want the to be on the same level as the two other American mfgs. and want the same deal. John wasnt it you who reported how the Govt. is making the execs. at GM and chrysler take pay cuts. I bet you dont see Ford doing that. Why dont you lay it all out there not just some of it. The sticking points in this newest go around is Ford wnats to have no limit on low paid new hires and a no strike clause. A no strike clause would be no differant than having a gun to protect your home and no bullits.

  9. hermann the germann Says:

    John, you didn’t say how Ike’s vacation was, whom we also really really like.

  10. Frank Nelson Says:

    If GM could go further and fashion muzzles for our lawmakers on Capitol Hill to wear out of this ‘memory metal’, they could generate enough ‘exhaust heat’ in the form of hot air to provide electricity for the entire eastern seaboard. Possibly even recharge some of their EVs in the process. Talk about stimulus.

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Nick, that’s just a little too much ‘Blind Faith’ for me. I am a subscriber to CR but still look at them objectively. Non profit or not, doesn’t give them an automatic nod as the ‘mesiahs’, not in my book.

  12. Nick Stevens Says:

    Chuck,

    I trust everybody until I have proof that they lied to me. I also trust an outfit like CR if it has such practices as not accepting any paid ads from anybody.

    Despite that, I also read the auto mags that not only do accept a ton of ads from the detroit 3, but also get their test vewhicles for free from the automakers! CR, on the conrtrary, always buys its vehicles retail and never asks the makers for any freebies.

    The reason I still read Car and Driver and its ilk, is that they give me the road test, focusing on performance etc, that the CR does not provide. When i read their reviews, I never have “blind faith” as you suggested, but always remember their conflict of interest situation.

    As for JD Power, the automakers pay it for its surveys, some are custom-ordered too, so what do youe xpect? Sure not as objectrive a review as CR.

    BTW, I do not subscribe to CR as I get it for free in my public library 1 mile from here, and some of it on the web.

  13. hermann the german Says:

    There are a couple of other reasons for car people to heed CR. When you get a new car, you expect to sell it eventually. Resale value will be affected in part by CR reviews read by non-car people. So a good review can help you do your math.

    Another service CR does is to tell you what the dealer paid for a given car. For a fee they will tell you not just invoice numbers for cars and accessories, but also tell you what holdbacks OEMs have on. Then you can negotiate with a bit more information.

  14. T. Bejma Says:

    John said:
    “We have an open door policy but the union has only made its president Ron Gettelfinger (Pt. 1 here, Pt. 2 here) available to us once in the last 10 years.”

    That’s funny, it seems like Gettelfinger is on the Paul W. Smith show on AM760 in Detroit AT LEAST once a week. He even gives a corny station ID at the end of every interview. Maybe he doesn’t like you John?

  15. Alan Says:

    I would trust CR reliability rating the same only as much as i would trust any internet poll. And, I do not trust internet polls because certain users could abuse the system and not give honest results. CR’s reliability ratings come from CR subscriber’s during CR’s annual survey. Readers can put in any vehicle type they want for even vehicles they do not own. The survey results are not checked by CR. To be trustworthy CR should conduct a verification of authenticity for their respondents. I suspect all of Toyota’s U.S. employees subscribe to CR ;-)

  16. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    So, if neither CR or JD can be trusted, who are you gonna trust, MT, R&D, C&D? they only care about performance, couldn’t give a crap about reliability, durability or such. CR steered me away from domestics years ago and they were right on.

  17. Nick Stevens Says:

    Alan,

    CR data are nothing like an internet poll, especially polls that people can vote 1,000 times each. But even internet polls that safeguard voting only once, usually only get a handful of replies, while CR has 100,000s of owners reporting their own car’s reliability problems.

    The problem with CR data is that owners of very expensive cars expect them to be perfect, and minor annoyances are reported as failures, apparently. Because where the top Mercedes and MBW models are concerned, CR gives warnings, but they still sell like crazy and their owners I know do not report horror stories like some owners of domestics that switched to imports report, even in this small site.

    On the contrary, when one pays 10% of what a big merc is worth to buy a new Kia Rio, and the thing has problems, the owner will still be quite happy just because it starts every morning and can take him or her to work and back.

  18. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Nick: I meet a lot of people due to my job and I have met a few technicians that work for both cheap and expensive cars, while it’s true that a luxury car owner expects a certain level of refinement and perfection, the few techs I have met that work for either MB or BMW have simply told me, “great machines, but they break down often (especially electronics) and they say they would never buy one if they had to pay for repairs, same goes for Land Rover and Audi, the exception being Lexus, Acura and Infinity cars.

  19. dave Says:

    The problem with some or most of the “top line” cars is the use of tech. They put things in cars that may work in the long run or they may not. I like the new CTS, but I have a auto tech that told me to NEVER by a Caddy. GM puts all the new stuff in the Caddy and there is always problems

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve subscribed to Consumer Reports for about 40 years, and have returned the surveys most of those years. The thing I see as a real problem with the surveys is that they are so VAGUE. They ask, “have you had a problem that you consider significant in (one of about 30 areas), but they do not tell you what significant means. It is is the eye of the beholder. I figure the survey results are meaningful to some extent, but owners are going to have widely varying ideas of what is a “significant” problem with a car.

    On a totally unrelated note, it seems to me that ALL cars now sold, at least in North America, are sufficiently reliable to warrent consideration, if you like the car for the way it drives, looks, is fuel efficient, etc. I’ve had three VW’s over the last 20 years, and while VW’s are among the worst brands in Consumer Reports survey results, their cars that I’ve had have had no problems that left me stranded, and no problems that were very expensive to fix.

  21. John V Says:

    CR is not perfect, but they are better than any other sources I have used. Lately they seem to criticize everyone. They may have raised the bar, because they hammered the Toyota Yaris a few months ago.
    They seemed to be fairly balanced on recent evaluations of CUVs where they were very complementary of the Chevrolet Traverse and more critical of offerings from Nissan, Toyota, and Kia.
    One thing they have always been consistent on is promoting fuel economy, which is something consumers give lip service to even if they end up buying a Hummer.
    I do not always end up buying what they recommend, but what they give me is a lot of information on competing products. It really helps save time when you prepare to shop.
    Love ‘em or hate ‘em, automakers are well advised to pay attention to CR because they influence a lot of customers.

  22. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit’s comment below proved an earlier point of mine:

    “They ask, “have you had a problem that you consider significant in (one of about 30 areas), but they do not tell you what significant means. It is is the eye of the beholder.”

    You can bet that the Huyndai or Kia owner will not consider a problem significant that the Mercedes or BMW owner, who paid an arm and a leg, did consider significant, because he is POd., he expected perfection. That explains why Hyundai is no… 8 on the CR survey while BMW is … 26 !

    The expensive cars have thousands of components that the econoboxes do not have, and their systems are much more complex. Despite all that, and the high standards of their owners, they really are well made. And it is not the same for all! The LS LExus is clearly more reliable than the BMWs and MErcs, that’s why it did not die, but even between Mercs and BMWs there are differences, and these change with time. Recently, it is the MErcs athat seem to have a lot of complaints, the top end S class in particular, while this S class was very reliable pre-91. Maybe because it was not as complex as the current S!

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    A part of Consumer Reports auto tests that I find interesting, is gas mileage testing. They list the EPA numbers for cars they test, but also do their own testing which includes “CR’s city and highway” numbers, “CR’s overall mileage,” and “CR’s 150 mile trip.” If they run these tests consistantly, the data should probably be the best published data on “real world” mileage compared to EPA numbers. Some cars turn out to do much better relative to EPA numbers than others in the CR tests.

  24. Nick Stevens Says:

    Yes, I also find the CR actual MPG numbers quite useful. They sometimes were quite higher than even the old, optimistic EPA numbers, in cases like the old GOlf Diesel (or jetta), where t he EPA hwy was 49 and CR was able to get 54 or 55.

    The EPA numbers are a little Voo-doo, they are a lab measurement that is then arbitrarily adjusted and changed, while the CR numbers are real road tests. They have changed them three times since they started them, to reflect higher speeds, A/C, heavier traffic, etc.