Episode 303 – Detroit Auto Show Peek, John’s Thoughts On Electric Vehicles

January 11th, 2010 at 9:00am

Runtime 5:59

We give you a quick peek at what’s coming out today at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Plus, John shares some of his thoughts on all the hype surrounding electric cars.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

We give you a quick peek at what’s coming out today at the Detroit auto show. And I’ll share some of my thoughts on all the hype surrounding electric cars.

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, January 11, 2010.

It’s the middle of January that can only mean one thing . . . it’s time for the Detroit Auto Show!!! Here’s a quick rundown of some of the vehicles carmakers will be showing off at the event.

Audi’s flagship A8 is getting a thorough redesign for the 2011 model year. As you’d expect, it offers all kinds of technology from handwriting recognition on its MMI user interface to full-LED headlamps to a brand-new design inside and out.

Hyundai is premiering its redesigned Santa Fe crossover. The new version comes with either a base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine or a 3.5-liter V-6. Look for all kinds of safety and convenience features on the new Santa Fe plus fresh styling and a low price.

Ford is making news with some important product updates. First up, the brand’s fabled five-liter V-8 gets reincarnated for the 2011 model year. With all the latest technology it delivers 412 horsepower in the Mustang and up to 25 miles per gallon on the highway. Base versions of the car also get a brand-new engine, a 3.7-liter V-6 with 300-plus ponies.

New versions of The Edge and Lincoln MKX crossovers are expected to be revealed at the show. Ford hasn’t officially released any pictures of these siblings yet, but the vehicles it showed off its new SYNC system in look like dead ringers.

BMW will be drawing back the curtain on a few vehicles. Like, the new Z4 sDrive35is. It’s got a Twin Turbo, straight six, equipped to a seven-speed, dual-clutch auto, that cranks out 340 hp. On the other end of the spectrum, the company will show the Concept ActiveE, a pure-electric based on the 1 Series Coupe and can travel 100 miles on a single charge.

Mini will show a concept called the Beachcomber. A vehicle that hints at the design direction of a future model from Mini.

As we reported last week, Buick will show the Regal GS. We also reported that Cadillac will show the new CTS-V Coupe, but it will also show a concept called the XTS. It’s supposed to replace the DTS, and is expected to go into production in 2012. And lastly from GM, the company will show the GMC Urban Utility Concept, previously known as the Granite and supposedly based on the Chevy Orlando. But not many other details are known.

A dedicated Toyota hybrid concept will also make its world debut at the show. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for more details, and we’ll have them later in our live webcast that starts from the floor of the show at noon eastern time.

Coming up next, a look at all the hype surrounding electric cars..

The big news at the Detroit Auto Show this week all centers on electric cars. In fact, they even have a section of the show are calling electric Avenue, with EVs from all over the world. And while electric cars offer a lot of promise, beware of all the hype.

A lot of people seem to believe that in just a few short years everyone is going to be driving an electric car. Let me assure you, that’s not going to be the case, and here’s why I say so.

We’ve now had hybrid cars for over a decade. They are a proven technology that works very well. In fact, there are now seven different brands that offer 30 different hybrids in the American market. And yet hybrids account for less than 3 percent of total sales. Even more telling, one car, the Toyota Prius, accounts for nearly half the hybrid market.

But when electric cars become available they are going to be significantly more expensive than hybrids. They are also going to have substantially less range. And they’re going to require an infrastructure investment for people to be able to easily plug them in wherever they go.

So when you look at the extra cost and the range anxiety that goes along with them it’s hard to see how EVs will match the sales of hybrids, much less outsell them, certainly in the next decade.

And while I believe that EVs do have a role to play just take all the hype with a grain of salt.

And that’s it for today’s newscast, but join us Noon Eastern Ttime when we go live from the floor of the Detroit Auto Show. You can catch that later at our website, www.AutolineDetroit.com.

Thanks for watching, we’ll see you then.

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32 Comments to “Episode 303 – Detroit Auto Show Peek, John’s Thoughts On Electric Vehicles”

  1. Nick Stevens Says:

    This was obviously done well before 8 AM Monday, when the results were announced that John and his colleagues voted that lame-ass Fusion Hybrid (despite being far inferior to the Prius…) and, much worse, this butt-ugly, unstable-looking delivery van with the god-awful interior, the Transit connect (both of which will only sell a handful of units anyway, and should be excluded from the vote as utterly insignificant!)

    What were you thinking, John and colleagues? You turned these awards into a joke!

    However, I am eagerly waigint John’s coverage of the show, and also today I’m curious to see the details of the Caddilac DTS replacement. Will it ever be a serious S-class fighter???

  2. Chuck Grenci Says:

    While not being as harsh as Nick above, I also believe that the Ford Transit should not have even been considered as truck of the year, and for the same reasons: a delivery van is not mainstream and not germaine to the floundering personal vehicle market, i.e. low volume, so it’s not a needle mover. I don’t think John’s vote was known but collectively, IMO, they made the wrong decision.

  3. Nick Stevens Says:

    I do admit I was harsh. I also said I will watch John’s coverage today (the part of it I can, before I have to go to do a lecture). He should be far better than the network coverage by the local channel 4 anchors, which have been doing it for years, it was always bad, but they tried hard and they managed to make it worse every new year!

  4. Alex Kovnat Says:

    >Audi’s flagship A8 is getting a
    >thorough redesign for the 2011
    >model year. As you’d expect, it
    >offers all kinds of technology
    >from handwriting recognition on
    >its MMI user interface to full-
    >LED headlamps to a brand-new
    >design inside and out.

    Given that we have compact fluorescent lamps that one can use in place of incandescent light bulbs in any fixture designed for the latter, I’d like to ask: Will there soon be LED-headlights on the aftermarket, that one can similarly substitute for incandescent headlights on existing cars and light trucks?

    Headlights on today’s cars are activated during the daytime as well as at night. Hence LED’s can make a difference in reducing our nation’s fossil fuel consumption. So I’d like to see them made available for everyone, both by OEM’s on new cars and in the aftermarket for cars presently in service.

  5. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Like I’ve said b4 the award was give to Ford as a reward for NOT asking for bailout money. The transit? good idea, but poorly executed and the Fusion? Prius is a lot better and cheaper to boot!

  6. Nick Stevens Says:

    Jim Farley from Ford explained well why they are importing that delivery van from turkey. Higher gas prices have revived the downtowns and that ugly thing may be too tall, but at low city speeds this is an advantage, and is also much narrower and shorter than the Econoline Fords used to deliver to date. many customers asked for them. They do not care if they are ugly, they want them cheap and efficient, and they are.

    So this was not a personal vehicle. I doubt it will sell many copies either.

    But I approving giving Ford some award for not robbing my pocket like Sergio Macaroni-Castro or Susan Doherty have been doing.

  7. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There is a place for vehicles like the Transit Connect; way too many pickups and large vans are used where the TC would work better. Still, Ford didn’t take this venture very seriously. For a start, they picked the lamest power train in the parts bin, a 2 liter gas, four-speed automatic, as the only available power train. They have diesels in this van in other markets that would use barely over half the fuel of the gas engine they chose for America.

  8. Kit Gerhart Says:

    OK, Nick, we know that you really wanted GM and Chrysler to die and be liquidated. It’s time to move on, and hope that we get our money back from our collective investment in those companies.

  9. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Kit Gerhart Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    OK, Nick, we know that you really wanted GM and Chrysler to die and be liquidated.”

    “you” know wrong, and do not even have the common sense to know that.

    As a long suffering taxpayer, I OF COURSE would prefer that the two serial incompetents and losers of HOME games 35 years in a row (see the market share plummet!), that they would do GREAT and make HUGE profits and the corresponding HUGE PAYMENTS TO the US government, NOT RECEIVE huge payments the US Govt will probably never get back in their entirety!!!!!!!

    You also know that I voted NOT for the two fords but for exactly the two GM vehicles the Lacrosse and the Equinox, the same GM YOU Falsely accuse me of wanting to see drop dead?

    You are not only utterly inaccurate and utterly fact-free, you are also utterly unfair to me and to what I believe.

    Even the most uneducated redneck should have the common sense to understand that NOW that we have ALREADY been ROBBED of our $50,000,000,000, now we DO want Chrysler and especially GM, which is still a US company, to SUcceed, at least as much as to make a FULL REPAYMENT OF OUR HARD EARNED MONEY!!!!

  10. Nick Stevens Says:

    Another correct thing Mullaly at Ford did: RAIDED THE BEST of the competition, when he hired Jim Farley from Toyota!

    I heard Farley talk in detail to John M. today and was impressed that he is a very thoughtful, intelligent person.

    Now what did GM do? Promoted another clueless inbred manager who failed at everything she had to do before this time…

  11. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick said:

    “You are not only utterly inaccurate and utterly fact-free, you are also utterly unfair to me and to what I believe.”

    Sorry if I mis-read your beliefs, but your repeated posts would sure seem to indicate that you wanted GM to die.

  12. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Notice how Jim Farley left that derailed train, for a Winning Commpany like Ford.

    Focus looks nice, but like the Fiesta its going to be overshadowed by many contenders with more power and better fuel economy. If the Fiesta gets 40 MPG then Focus must get 37-38 MPG.

    They also played it too safe with the grille as well.

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    What are you talking about H/S? Toyota derailing? I don’t think so, they have made a few mistakes but that’s what happens when you’re #1 in sales and they wanted to knock off GM from the top. I’m sure they regret doing that and instead should have been concentrating on what they did best. And the jury is still out on Ford. Now that they got rid of Volvo and Mazda, where is their next product cycle gonna come from? No more Mazda 3 or 6, no more Volvo architectures to build their large vehicles from.

  14. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    But Pedro, those Mazda and Volvo platforms were Rubbish in the first place. Look at Volvo and mizdas reliability rankings(not even worth Spelling correctly or capitalizing correctly anymore), then look at Ford’s. Actually I think Mazda, and Volvo under Ford/Mercury/Lincoln’s wing really held them back.

    If Ford redoes Mercury right, they will proven my point on why they should have gotten rid of Volvo years ago. Ford Redoing itself the way it has perfectly shows why they should have dumped Mazda years ago. They ddnt reap any benefits from that Transaction. I say good riddance. Now Lincoln is another Story, Why cant they be an American Jaguar, but for so much cheaper?

    Lincoln’s current product is nice, but not Lexus Nice, more like Warmed over Hyundai nice. Thus, not justifying the price. They are trying to compete with first tier luxury Companies like Lexus and Audi with Borderline Hyundai near Luxury products. An impossible feat. I think Lincoln needs more work.

  15. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    H/S: Fusion, EU Focus, Edge all Mazda platforms, engineered by Mazda. Flex, Taurus and the Lincoln MK (whatever) Volvo engineered. Ford refined them yes, but I don’t think they’re any better than the Mazda versions. and the reason they’re good is they got a lot of help from their friends. Just like Hyundai and Kia work in unison, you know that!

  16. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    By the way I love the Granite, and it looks nothing like a Scion XB. Where do you find these people who speak such malarchy, John? John, also the 2010 Santa Fe is a refresh and not a redesign, but a major refresh worth reporting on. Its been shown pretty much everywhere except the US. We’re stll about a year away from the first Redesigned 2012 Santa Fe Spy shots.

    They are in the beginning stages of development on a prototype. Like I said before expect next gen Santa Fe to be 50%-60% like the Nuvis Concept. The North American market is the big Santa Fe market for the Company (the only market that sells less Tuscons than Santa Fes) so a major Refresh is a big deal in terms of news.

  17. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    True Pedro, but why skimp on the quality (In terms of reliability) of the non-Ford versions of these variants?

    I think over time Ford will develop these platforms, and they will be genuine Ford platforms by 2015.

    John your second guest Paul Ingrassia is wrong about the middle 6. Hyundai will definately be part of that. Why are people still underestimating the worlds 4th largst automaker, a company that was 11th in global poduction just 10 years ago. Your guest said NISSAN, NISSAN? A company that would do anything to obtain Hyundai’s current reiability and quality scores.

    Remember, Nissan was the first Japanese automker to start to decline 10 YEARS AGO, and ther decline is continuing prepcipitously. Ive been in a Nissan Versa a car with loose door handles at the dealership (My tester did, and the others n the lot had), and boy have they got their work cut out for them in terms of initial quality, a shame too.

  18. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Nissan/Infinti Sales have been dropping like a rock for most of the year. Along with Chrysler Nissan/Infiniti is the other make sufering due to Hyundai/KIAs rise.

    Hyundai/KIA maintaining current customer base and then syphoning US sales from Nissan/Infiniti and Chrsyler is catapulting this company fast.

    Dude from Ford, Camry is not this undeafeatable car, the problem was nobody else tried hard enough before to overtake it. Fusion/Milan Sonata/Optima and VW NMS will be the Midsize kings its that simple.

    The last 2 Iterations of Camcordtima has perfectly shown that more deserving more hunrgry companies Like: a growing Hyundai/KIA, a Resuregent VW, a Redone Ford/Mercury must steal tons sales.

    You Toyota Nissan Honda guys might get mad at me, but you guys have been asking for it the last 10 years. You have been begging for someone to destroy your thunder with products catered to baby boomers for value for money.

  19. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    H/S I’ll be willing to bet Nissan’s quality decline is directly related to their relationship with Renault, and people actually think Chrysler is gonna get better with Fiat in control, ha!

  20. C-tech Says:

    Is this the same Hyundai/Kia that car thieves used to break into by snatching the door open because the latches were so weak? Hyundai/Kia are the favorite car of the retired trailer park crowd around these parts. The Equus makes the Lincoln MKT look good.

  21. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Lmao c-tech, MKT is a smaller more pricey, less technologically advanced car than the Equus too though.

    As Hyundai CEO Mr Mong-koo said last week, “We want people to see Hyundai as a Legitimate luxury brand in the Future.”

    We will do it, just like we built up the “old Hyundai” as a serious dominant Economy car maker, Hyundai is about to embark on applying the same strategy to move upamrket.

    However, it wont take another 20 years, as I think Hyundai will do it in 10 years tops; more like 5-7 years it will take for people to see Hyundai as an up and coming serious luxury force.

    The White House came out with a report on Saturday showing that the Economy will be very shaky for at least the next 5 years.

    1. Younger professionals are going to want to buy Luxury, but in an uncertain economic outlook where jobs are very easy to lose and hard to gain they will want to be Frugal as to how they get that Luxury. In terms of price, being easy to service, Fuel Efficiency, in terms of lower repair costs, etc…. Hyundai can win.

    2. Chrysler Owners=Hyundais gain.

    3. Older 50+ persons concerned about Retirement, etc….. but dont want to spend that extra $3000 on that Regal can get them a More Powerful More fuel efficient Sonata that’s going to just as equipped for $3000 less.

    Why Not? I think Hyundai can even a more acceptable premium make than VW.

    We’re the Younger Newer Fresher Chrysler, get over it.

  22. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Pedro, man of course it is. Renault still makes Le Cars, but now calls them Meganes and Sentras and soups them up. They destroyed AMC, and are now destroying Nissan.

    What a shame, too bad nobody reports on Nissan’s seriously deteriorating quality, and makes Ghosn look like this Savior.

  23. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Nissan can save itself by acting like VW/Audi. Nissan should upmarket all of of its cars more, and do something radical with Infinti to be an Audi Nuker.

    Pedro, it took VW a long time to change from Economy cars to near Luxury Products, but I think Nissan can learn from those mistakes. Japan doesnt make true near luxury cars anymore and I think there’s plenty room in the US market for Asian near Luxury products. Hyundai sees this, Nissan can profit too.

  24. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Let me take that Back Subaru has become the Asian SAAB, rendering the original SAAB obsolete and useless.

  25. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Pedro Fernandez Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    H/S I’ll be willing to bet Nissan’s quality decline is directly related to their relationship with Renault, and people actually think Chrysler is gonna get better with Fiat in control, ha!”

    Interesting theory, but Nissans were always cheapo pieces of junk, you couldl always pay less (maybe $1-2k less) for the same size Nissan as for a Toyota or Honda, and it showed… Nissans have been a cheap alternative to the domestics also before Ghosn and Renault.

  26. Kit Gerhart Says:

    HyundaiSmoke Says:
    January 11th, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    “Notice how Jim Farley left that derailed train, for a Winning Commpany like Ford”

    I think this Ford love fest is going a little overboard. What do they have that’s so great? The Fusion is a good car, but so are Camry, Accord, Malibu, and more. Taurus/Sable are roomy, but nothing special. The Lincoln cars are just much more expensive versions of Fusion and Taurus, but they don’t drive any better. The MKT is expensive and ugly. I could go on.

    Two Fords in the pipeline are interesting, Fiesta, and Focus, assuming the hatchbacks return quickly. Otherwise, Ford sure doesn’t have much out there that interests me.

  27. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Nick: I’m usually in agreement with you, but I think you’re wrong about old Nissan, I still see tons of older Sentras and Maximas around these parts. Even 10 yr old Altimas are common place. In my opinion Japanese quality rankings: Toy #1 Honda #2 Subaru #3 Nissan and Mazda to follow, the rest suck!

  28. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Kit the CamCordTima are not great cars anymore, considering the companies who makes them, and that’s the problem my friend.

    Hummm… maybe thats’s why everybody is taking it seriously now in dethroning those cars?

    These cars are supposed to offer superior equippment, ultimate fuel economy, and great power to push it for the time/era we live in. CamCordTima stopped doing that about 10 years ago.

  29. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Pedro, the Sentras from 10 years ago were horribly made, and that’s exactly where Nissan’s downward sprial began. Then it spread to Altima, etc…. over time.

    Altimas from 5 years ago are really bad from what I understand.

    What a shame.

  30. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    H/S I dont know where you’re gettin your info, but the 95 to99 Sentras were NOT bad cars they were well made and reliable, perhaps not as bulletproof as a corolla but as good as any econo box from that era. The following gen started their downhill descend into Renault-like reliability. Right now I’d buy a HYundai/kia over a Nissan in a flash.

  31. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    We’re talking about decade 2000-2010, Pedro. I say 2000 was the beginning of the end for the old reliable Nissan.

    Just Check the Government NHTSA Website and youll see what Im talking about, Pedro.

    Why does the Nissan Sentra have more recalls last decade than all Hyundai cars put together last decade (2000-2010)?

    Why does Nissan have more recalls last decade than Hyundai did in its first 10 years in America?

    Do you know that Hyundai Excel had less recalls than Focus or Sentra? Yet they picked on Hyundai for 20 years about reliability.

    Sure Sounds like Anti-Korean Racism to me, more than true Auto Journalism, or trying to loo out for people’s money.

    I bet if Hyundai was a White European company and brought POSs over they would have been treated like saviors. Humm…… Kind of like how FIAT are treated like saviors today!!!

    Its the same for the Focus, but if Ford/Lincoln/Mercury are so good then why does just one Ford/Lincoln/Mercury car=Focus have more recalls than all of Hyundas cars put together in the last 10 years 2000-2010.

    Yet, the new Focus is supposed to help boost Ford, I dont trust them. Ford has to be watched.

  32. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    We’re talking about decade 2000-2010, Pedro. I say 2000 was the beginning of the end for the old reliable Nissan.

    Just Check the Government NHTSA Website and youll see what Im talking about, Pedro.

    Why does the Nissan Sentra have more recalls last decade than all Hyundai cars put together last decade (2000-2010)?

    Why does Nissan have more recalls last decade than Hyundai did in its first 10 years in America?

    Do you know that Hyundai Excel had less recalls than Focus or Sentra? Yet they picked on Hyundai for 20 years about reliability.

    Sure Sounds like Anti-Korean Racism to me, more than true Auto Journalism, or trying to loo out for people’s money.

    I bet if Hyundai was a White European company and brought POSs over they would have been treated like saviors. Humm…… Kind of like how FIAT are treated like saviors today!!!

    Its the same for the Focus, but if Ford/Lincoln/Mercury are so good then why does just one Ford/Lincoln/Mercury car=Focus have more recalls than all of Hyundas cars put together in the last 10 years 2000-2010.

    Yet, the new Focus is supposed to help boost Ford, I dont trust them. Ford has to be watched.