Episode 267 – India in the News, Volvo Safety System, Autonomous Audi TT

November 9th, 2009 at 12:08pm

Runtime 6:46

Lots of news coming out of India over the weekend, involving Nissan, Toyota and General Motors. Volvo introduces new safety technology for its cars that brakes for pedestrians automatically. Audi plans to tackle Pike’s Peak with an autonomous car. All that and more plus, a look at the new 2010 Outback and Legacy from Subaru.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. India is in the news! Volvo has a car that brakes for pedestrians automatically. And Audi plans to tackle Pike’s Peak with an autonomous car.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, November 9, 2009. And now, the news.

Lots of news coming out of India. First off, Nissan announced it will halt construction of a plant in India due to weak global demand for cars. According to Bloomberg, the company will wait until the economy recovers to restart construction. Nissan is building the plant with its partner Renault which will produce an entry level vehicle for both Europe and India.

And speaking of production in India, Toyota plans to introduce its first small car in the country (subscription required) which it will build there too. According to the Wall Street Journal, the yet to be named vehicle will go on sale at the end of next year. It will be a hatchback equipped with a 1.2-liter gas engine and possibly offer a diesel.

General Motors is in talks with its Chinese partners about exporting vehicles to India. According to the AFP, GM is expected to make a decision soon as to whether or not to export light-commercial vehicles and possibly passenger cars to India with its Chinese partners SAIC and Wuling.

The Detroit News reports that GM’s former head of Europe, Carl-Peter Forster, who resigned last week after the company’s decision to keep Opel, is apparently in talks with Indian automaker Tata about joining the company.

Volvo keeps pushing the safety envelope, this time with a new technology called Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Safety. It can detect if a person steps into a car’s path and automatically stops the vehicle if it’s traveling less than 25 kilometers per hour or about 16 miles an hour. It WILL NOT stop the car if it’s traveling at speeds higher than this, but it will slow it down significantly. It uses a forward-looking radar camera mounted in front of the rearview mirror to scan at the road ahead. Look for this technology to debut next year on the redesigned 2011 Volvo S60. In other safety-related news, NHTSA reports that hybrid vehicles are more likely to be involved in accidents with pedestrians and bicyclists than non hybrids. Maybe there’s actually something to Europe’s pedestrian crash regulations and all the talk about making EVs make noise.

Ward’s reports that the European Commission has adopted technical specifications that pave the way to implementing a single, streamlined, electronic toll service (subscription required). The new system should make driving between EU countries easier because there will only be one road toll service to deal with. Within three years the EU wants a single toll system in place for heavy trucks and busses, with service expanded to passenger cars within five years.

Autoblog reports that Stanford University, along with the Volkswagen Group, is continuing to develop autonomous vehicles—cars that can drive themselves. Now they have an autonomous Audi TT that has all the autonomous equipment beautifully integrated into the car. Recently they tested the car at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and they’re goal is to have it compete in the race at Pike’s Peak, which Audi won back in 1987.

Coming up next, a look at the new Outback and Legacy from Subaru. We’ll be back right after this.

While most automakers have seen sales crash, Subaru has managed to buck the trend. Overall sales are up 13 percent for the year for the company. Helping that growth are all-new versions of the Legacy and Outback.

Subaru wanted to appeal to more customers so they started from scratch with the two vehicles. Both are built on all-new platforms, offer new choices for powertrains, feature new designs and are larger than the vehicles they replace.

The Legacy offers three different engine choices. Two, 2.5-liter four cylinders, one naturally aspirated, the other a turbo and a 3.6-liter six-cylinder. Both the 2.5-liters come with a six-speed manual, but only the naturally aspirated version is available with a CVT. The six-cylinder comes with a five-speed automatic. The Outback offers the same powertrain options except for the turbo. Fuel economy for the engines, range from the high teens in the city, up to the low thirties on the highway for the Legacy and up to the high twenties in the Outback, depending on how the vehicle is configured.

Like all Subarus, the Legacy and Outback are all-wheel-drive but the setup is somewhat different between powertrains.

Both vehicles are available with the convenience features you’d expect like a nav system with a backup camera, Bluetooth and heated seats. And both come standard with typical safety features like ABS, multiple airbags, and stability and traction control.

Pricing for the Legacy starts just under 20 grand, a drop of $800 from the previous generation. Fully loaded it comes in at $31,000. The Outback’s base price is $23,000 and fully loaded costs just below $34,000.

And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. But don’t forget to join us Thursday for Autoline After Hours when our guest will be Hal Sperlich, former president of Chrysler and probably the best product planner ever to come out of Detroit. That’s Thursday night, live at 7 p.m. Eastern. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

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20 Comments to “Episode 267 – India in the News, Volvo Safety System, Autonomous Audi TT”

  1. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    There we go again, a replacement model larger and thirstier than the previous one, when will this ever end? also that Volvo could end up killing you in case of an attempted carjacking, it won’t allow you to run over the bastard.

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    What wasn’t said is that Subaru came out with a diesel for the EU and other countries.Available with only a 5 spd manual for now as they don’t build a strong enough automatic to take the torque from the 4 cyl clean diesel.It has been said that there is a good chance of seeing the Subaru diesel here as early as the next(2011)model year.

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ pedro:I will be very interested in your opinions of the Focus bro.

  4. dcars Says:

    GM needs to shed more of it’s disloyal management and employees. They should also consider moving the European Corporate head quarters to Belgium, England or Spain.

  5. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Will do, Sir. I always wanted to be a car reviewer, now I get my chance, you see it’s never too late. I suppose you put that Mahindra on the back burner? Now that you’re gonna go for the Jeep diesel.

  6. paulstewart Says:

    Is it true the Mahindra p/u will now start at around 22K not what was reported a year ago at 15 or 16 ?

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It’s too bad Subaru won’t get over their obsession with mandatory AWD. The Legacy wagon is a car I’d consider, but I don’t want the weight, complexity, and reduced gas mileage of AWD. It rarely snows here in central Florida.

    I realize that AWD might be a slight advantage on wet pavement, but the advantage would be VERY slight with the non-turbo 4 cylinder.

  8. Salvador G. Says:

    Great show again JohnMc.

    But, you know as much as I like automakers pushing the envelope in new smart car technology I get the sensation cars makers always forget that car-computers can’t distinguish.

    Example: Take this Volvo new C.W.F.A.B.P.S. (needs new name) At 16MPH is kind of useless (and I think thats the top speed of a street cleaner machine) and unless it’s capable from distinguish from a small child and fire hydrant I wouldn’t like to slow me down every time.

    and 2: Autonomous cars – the problem I got with this technology its that it works on store memory and it works only as long as the car-computer is capable of recognizing as an exact match it’s current location and that which is store. Pikes Peak, I seem races from Pikes Peak and I know even some expert drivers had gotten themselves killed coming down from that mountain, Good luck Audi/VW you’ll need it. (although, they probably wont be going that fast)

    Finally, I’m surprise, don’t they have a system like EZ-Pass in Europe??


  9. Salvador G. Says:

    Ps. GO SUBARU – People don’t bash on Subaru please (Except on the hatchback impreza -then do bash)

  10. ‘volkswagen tt’ on the web « A Beer and a Pipe Says:

    [...] http://www.autolinedetroit.tv/journal/?p=6722Autoblog reports that Stanford University, along with the Volkswagen Group, is continuing to develop autonomous vehicles—cars that can drive themselves. Now they have an autonomous Audi TT that has all the autonomous equipment … [...]

  11. Dave Says:

    The problem I have with Subaru is that they backed out of World Rally..:(. Thats what they were known for, that great blue and gold impreza

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The hatchback Impreza is my favorite Subaru. Too bad about the mandatory AWD.

  13. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    I guess they figure most people either live in a cold climate where it snows, or a third world craphole where the dirt roads get all muddy and slippery. Not everyone has the good fortune to live either in Fl. or sunny Calif.

  14. Episode 267 – India in the News, Volvo Safety System, Autonomous … Says:

    [...] the rest here:  Episode 267 – India in the News, Volvo Safety System, Autonomous … Share and [...]

  15. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Pedro:Yeah,I have given the mahindra a lot of thought,and decided against it.Their tractors aren’t that good,why take a chance on them.Also,the Mahindra T-20(reg cab) and the T-40(crew cab)have independent front suspension.For my needs,that sux big time.I much prefer a solid front and rear axel

    @ Paul Stewart:Yup,starting price for the T-20 4X4 diesel is 22k.I believe that is with a 6spd auto.I pretty much didn’t pay much attention to it when I found out the suspension setup.

  16. Andrew Charles Says:

    Standard awd is a policy of the distributors in the US and some other markets. FHI does build the Impreza and Legacy with fwd for the European and Japanese Domestic markets.

  17. Derek Says:

    Why all the negativity toward AWD. Its not just for cold climates/snow. Yes, that is where you might find the most notable difference, but its more than just snow or any other wet pavement condition. When you mash on the pedal, and even if you are as aggressive you can easily tell the difference between a front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and all wheel drive when you accelerate from a stop and making a right hand turn. I know no one really makes a full stop and more, but with awd a right hand turn can be had with far greater confidence that you will not slip.

    The AWD powertrain and H4/H6 engine configuration all equate to superior handling and response that you can’t find in other cars. If you don’t consider a Subaru only because of AWD – well that’s too bad. If you do the math at 15k miles a year and compare a 30 mpg (roughly Camry) versus 25 (roughly Legacy) mpg annual cost of $3 a gallon, you save $300. That’s not that much especially if you factor in vehicle options, quality, safe floor mats, insurance, and safety.

    As John reported, Subaru has weather the storm so they are doing something right. I’ve got over 110k miles on my Subaru and I’ve only changed the oil and put new tires on it. That $300 annual “cost” I pay is worth every invisible penny. But, I also find myself defending other rational options in life like Mac vs PC, ColdFusion vs ASP or PHP, and Natural Childbirth vs Caesarean section. But hey, a Subaru is not for everyone, until you drive one.

    Great show as always John.

  18. Alex Kovnat Says:

    If current hybrid cars are too quiet, all you need is a simple transistorized noisemaker that could be readily mass produced in Singapore, Hong Kong, or China. Since engine-powered vehicles aren’t allowed to be too noisy anyway, it wouldn’t take much power to make enough sound for blind pedestrians, who are already accustomed to listening for today’s quieter cars.

  19. pedro Fernandez Says:

    Truth be told, I’ve never driven a Subaru, I’ve known a couple of Subaru owners many years ago, before Japanese cars became popular, and both these owners just LOVED their Subarus, this was in the northeast and the SUV craze had not yet appeared, then they kind of lost market share to those monsters and now they are making a comeback that’s why you’re seeing their numbers go up. Here in sunny Fl. they’re just not that popular at all except for the WRX. I can see owning one up in the snow belt, you haven’t lived until you get stuck in a snow storm and your car just goes nowhere.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Derek Says:
    November 10th, 2009 at 8:33 am
    “Why all the negativity toward AWD. Its not just for cold climates/snow. Yes, that is where you might find the most notable difference, but its more than just snow or any other wet pavement condition.”

    I’ve driven Subarus, and liked them, but to me, the advantage of AWD doesn’t justify the extra complexity. When I bought my Malibu Maxx about 4 years ago, the Legacy and Impreza wagons would have been on my “short list” had they been sold without AWD. Maybe I should have considered them anyway, but as it turned out, my Malibu has been reliable and drives well. I do have to have to control how hard I push the right pedal, though, on wet or sandy pavement, while with AWD you could just “drive it” and it would go where you point it, as long you you aren’t cornering hard. To me, the Subarus that should be sold only with AWD are the WRX’s. They need it, with all that power.

    I recently bought a used Mini Cooper, (not the S) and it has little enough low end grunt that it doesn’t tend to spin wheels much, even on wet pavement. I’d think the turbo version of Mini might be a good candidate for AWD, but they don’t make them with AWD.