Episode 322 – Nader Attacks Toyota, Ford’s Hybrid Brake Problem, Tough To Find Glitches

February 5th, 2010 at 12:19pm

Runtime 7:47

Now even Ralph Nader is attacking Toyota. Ford released a technical service bulletin for its Fusion and Milan hybrids over a potential braking issue. All that and more, plus a preview of this week’s Autoline Detroit about just how complicated it could be for any automaker to track down electronic glitches in a car.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Now even Ralph Nader is attacking Toyota. Ford has hybrid braking problems of its own. And a look at just how complicated it could be for any automaker to track down electronic glitches in a car.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, February 5, 2010. And now, the news.

Yep, we’re still reporting on Toyota’s problems, and they just continue to get worse. Bloomberg reports that consumer advocate and hero to plaintiff attorneys, Ralph Nader, is accusing Toyota of a coverup. He also criticizes NHTSA of being too lax. But wouldn’t you know it, the Detroit News reports that the Obama administration has bumped up the budget for NHTSA so it can hire 66 more employees. And Joan Claybrook, the former NHTSA administrator in the Carter Administration, says we’re going to see a new law come out of this that mandates a brake override system, where the engine is disengaged if the brake and gas pedal are pushed down at the same time.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Toyota now faces 29 different class action lawsuits, and that’s just in the United States. Toyota is now looking at repairing Prius’ in 80 different countries. And still the story isn’t over. Now the LA Times says that the Prius has other electronic problems, including the HID headlights turning off inexplicably, sometimes in very dangerous situations. NHTSA has over 2,000 complaints from drivers and says Toyota has 28,000 warranty repairs of the headlights.

And while the Big T’s recalls have dominated headlines around the world, it’s not the only automaker having problems. Ford released a technical service bulletin, or TSB, for its Fusion and Milan hybrids over a potential braking issue. The company says the problem is computer-related. Basically, the threshold between its two braking modes is too sensitive and under certain conditions the system transitions from regenerative braking to hydraulic braking when it’s not necessary. This causes the pedal to go down about one inch further than expected but the brakes are still fully functional. Some 18,000 Fusions and Milans sold since October of last year are affected by the notice. Owners are advised to take their cars to a dealership for a software update.

Renault will reveal its new “Wind” roadster at next month’s Geneva Motor Show. It’s the company’s first roadster in more than a decade. One unique feature is its glass top that tucks away in about 12 seconds into an area above the trunk. The company says its design is simpler and more reliable than traditional folding roofs. The Wind will be built in Slovenia and is expected to be powered by either a 100 or a 133 horsepower engine.

General Motors and NASA teamed up to develop robots for use in space and maybe even to build cars. Called Robonaut 2, or R2 for short, it’s the next-gen version of the original. It has greater dexterity, and is more technologically advanced. It can work safely with astronauts in space and be used for more hazardous missions. And GM thinks the partnership can help it develop advanced safety systems for its vehicles and that robots, like R2, can also be used to work alongside employees to help build safer cars.

But while GM is working with NASA on future robots, it’s getting rid of them in some factories. GM is considering installing manual body shops as opposed to automated lines at some of its plants. According to the Detroit Free Press, it’s estimated the move could save GM $100 million and the 20 months it would take to install an automated line, a manual line would only take 3 months. Robots and automation can be more efficient but they cost a lot more upfront. Manual body shops can be more flexible because you can always lay off workers to cut costs if sales drop.

Coming up next, a safety expert talks about how difficult it will be for Toyota to find out if it truly has an unintended acceleration problem.

Toyota recalled millions of cars to replace the floor mats and chop down the size of the gas pedal. Now it’s recalling cars to fix the gas pedal assembly. But what about all these reports of unintended acceleration, where the car just takes off on its own? Could it be a glitch with the electronic throttle control, as some are alleging? If so, how hard is it to pin-point the problem? On Autoline Detroit this weekend we have a quality expert, Dennis Pietrowski, from the RDA group, who addresses this very issue.

You can watch that entire interview, which includes Jeff Green from Bloomberg and Mark Phelan from the Detroit Free Press on our website at www.autolinedetroit.tv.

Ok, it’s Friday and you know what that means. It’s time to answer this week’s trivia question. We asked you to identify what car this is. And the correct answer is it’s the new Chevy Aveo RS. As always, we randomly selected this week’s winner from all the right answers. And the winner is Israel Moore from Livingston, Alabama. Congratulations Israel, you’ve just won an Autoline Detroit coffee mug.

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

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

60 Comments to “Episode 322 – Nader Attacks Toyota, Ford’s Hybrid Brake Problem, Tough To Find Glitches”

  1. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    When Nader attacks a company the problem is really bad, and the corporate structure is really corrupt.

    Yeah its official Toyota=GM #2.

    This is like the Corvair scandal in the 60s for these guys. A lot of you old guys dont see it, but reading my history GMs troubles started with the Corviar scandal.

  2. Nick Stevens Says:

    More daily garbage from the deranged smoked turkey.

    The “UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED” Corvair had LITTLE to do with the trivial glitches Toyota is facing today.

    apples and oranges.

    As for GM, it is recovering VERY nicely, if you ad a clue and listened to John McElroy’s discussion of GM’s STELLAR Jan 10 sales.

  3. Rick Wakefield Says:

    While discussing how Toyota is going to have a difficult time trying to duplicate the unintended accelerations due possibly to an electronic issue. I have not heard anyone mention querying the Technicians that work at the dealerships around the country. I’ll bet gathering data from them, regarding what they have found during their normal course of troubleshooting these problems, may prove to be fruitful information. And who knows maybe one or more have already discovered the root cause.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I find it interesting that GM is considering a move in the direction of more manual assembly. I remember them touting robots as a way to improved build quality, while eliminating some of the more unpleasant assembly line jobs. However this goes, I just hope quality doesn’t suffer.

  5. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Think about it. Up until the Corvair Scandal GM was invincible(like Toyota today) after that and for the next 15 years after that not only GM became uninvincible, but GM became a down right Horrible car maker.

    If Toyota doesnt watch out they will continue to decline over the the next 10-15 years to making downright horrible cars.

    At that time GM had the same problem as Toyota today with older owners ruling the day (Except that it wasnt from competition from Korea, Germany and America) It was just the fact that they never had cars catered to younger buyers in the first place.

    Hence, the pony car wars.

    Now I think there ill be some kind of Tuner car war movement, as a push by the Baby Boomer Japanese maks to get younger people to buy. No, no, no, not like the tuner cars wars from niche maks like Subaru and Mitsubishi we’ve had already here, but like serious stock production tuner cars like thye have in Europe. The Focus RS’s with 250+ Hp etc,….

    These are going to be Cars that will be the Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro in the hearts and minds of my generation. Of course they will have to be relevant to the times.

    The earlier Tuner car wars were like the days of hot rodding back in the 30s and 40s, where you took production cars and used your own blood, sweat, tears, and ingenuity to create your own masterpiece.

    The new crop of production spec Tuner cas coming over the next 5 years, like I said will start a Gen Y pony car war.

  6. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Nick, exactly it took GM untl now to recover and if Toyota doesnt watch out it will take them until 2050 to recover like it took GM 40 years to recover.

  7. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Kit Gerhart Says:
    February 5th, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I find it interesting that GM is considering a move in the direction of more manual assembly. I remember them touting robots as a way to improved build quality, while eliminating some of the more unpleasant assembly line jobs. However this goes, I just hope quality doesn’t suffer.”

    Sounds like a flip flop, but maybe when, in today’s very low volume sales, its models are not selling in large numbers, it may make econ sense to do it manually.

  8. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    And like Mustang, Challenger, and Camaro these new stock tuner cars will be very affordable. Affordable enough for poor young secretaries to buy if they wanted to.

    These will be products that will make todays Civic Si’s look like a joke. filled o the brim wth Turbos, Direct Injection, ower Weights, etc…. so not only you are going to be able to get 300 HP in a $16K car, but youll get 32 MPG with the deal too.

  9. Fred Cherney Says:

    It was proven Nader doctored video track tests of Corvairs to show they were unstable. The actual videos showed how it was done. I wouldn’t believe a word he says!

  10. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Toyota Ft-86 is the first example of this, Honda and Nissan will follow with low cost stock tuner cars as well. The next one will be more powerful after the next, hence my new Pony car war theory.

  11. Chuck Grenci Says:

    “Go to hell” Nader. Just grandstanding for publicity; no thanks Ralph, we have all the investigators we need already.

    The only thing the Corvair scandal took out was the Corvair; GM’s decline started much later (most notably the first gasoline crisis in 1973), which by the way was munipulated by the oil countries (not a shortage at all).

  12. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Fred, but GM still collasped from there, and it took until today for them to recover. Correct?

  13. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    60s GMs like most cars before 1990 (except japanese) were absolute POSs that lasted only 75K.

  14. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I do have to give Toyota its respect for changing the standard of reliability. Before these guys cars were easily disposable objects. Like 1986-1995 Hyundais, but on all cars before Toyota came around.

  15. Nick Stevens Says:

    “The only thing the Corvair scandal took out was the Corvair; GM’s decline started much later (most notably the first gasoline crisis in 1973)”

    That’s probably true, the public disregarded the Corvair scandal and from 67 to 73 GM sales were huge. there was even a revival after the first oil shock, when oil prices went down in 74-75. The Eldo Convertible 76 is perhaps the most representative of that kind of vehicles.

  16. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Cars have gotten so good now, that most Automakers should consider a 10 year model cycle instead of the 5 year cycle we have now.

    I know you guys hate the US Focus being the same car for 10 years pretty much, but thats the wave of the future. In 10 years everybody will have a 10 year model cycle.

  17. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Think about this, new 2011 Focus is just only a Euro Focus on year 5 in a 10 year cycle. Its not some ground breaking new car here.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    H/S says:

    “I know you guys hate the US Focus being the same car for 10 years pretty much, but thats the wave of the future. In 10 years everybody will have a 10 year model cycle.”

    The thing I hated was Ford dropping all the good Focus body styles, the 3-door, 5-door, and wagon, and replacing them with that silly two door sedan.

  19. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Yeah, that did suck. I guess they just wanted to get to the next one, and called it a day on the previous one. Focus got adeqaute sales. You know the old if it aint broken dont fix it thing.

    By the way Kit, what I like about the MINI is the fact that it has a never ending model cycle. You cant tell whether a MINI is brand new or 7 years old. I do think however as competitors ramp up for 2011 “The year of the Small car” MINI needs a new base engine to boost the MPG front.

  20. Nick Stevens Says:

    Mid-priced cars used to have a 4 and now a 5 year model cycle (Accord, Camry Civic etc)

    Luxury cars, however, always had much longer model cycles.

    S-class: previous model was 2000-2006, the big one before it was 92-99, and the one before that went on for ever (79-91?)

    E class: 86-95, 96-02? 03-09, 10-?

    7 series: 87-94, 95-01, 02-09, 10-?

    5-series: 97-03 (my fav), 04-10, 11-? (also good!)

    3-series: 91?-98, 99-05, 06-

    Some cars like the Porsche 911 have never really changed shape, but there are huge changes under the hood and overall, and also significant weight and HP creep over the decades since the 60s when the 911 debuted.

  21. Nick Stevens Says:

    “I know you guys hate the US Focus being the same car for 10 years pretty much”

    We would not mind that the same primitive, poor design (ignoring facelifts that only made it worse looking and changed little in its mechanicals) went on for 10 years, but that it only remained the same old POS in the USA, while over in Europe they had a VASTLY BETTER focus well before the 10 years were over!

  22. Nick Stevens Says:

    New and top quality blood just joined merc’s management:

    “Wolfgang Bernhard will join Daimler’s management board as head of Mercedes-Benz Cars’ production and procurement and boss of the Mercedes vans division, the company said today. Bernhard, 49, was Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche’s right-hand man at”…( chrysler here some years ago)

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Wolfgang Bernhard will join Daimler’s management board as head of Mercedes-Benz Cars’ production and procurement and boss of the Mercedes vans division, the company said today. Bernhard, 49, was Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche’s right-hand man at”…( chrysler here some years ago)”

    He’s not the guy responsible for the Sebring and Avenger, is he?:-)

  24. Nick Stevens Says:

    Doubt it. Maybe he had something to do with the Chrysler 300 sharing parts with the E-class, which would make the 300 a huge bargain..

  25. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Nick, if I remember we are one of the last countries in the world to have a 5 year Cycle. Everybody else has moved to 7, 8, 9, 10 year cycles.

    I advocate for 10 year model cycles and biennial Auto Shows. My radical restructuring side wants 5 year Auto Shows, but I know that would be too much and too far oo quickly for a lot of people. However, the yearly system of Auto Shows is too much in the other extreme as well.

  26. Nick Stevens Says:

    What do you mean “country” with a 10-yr cycle? Each individual company has its own cycles, and actually each model of each company may have a different cycle than another model by the same co.

  27. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Nick not neccesarily. Hyundai/KIA is a prime example of this.

    Case Argument:

    1. Hyundai Getz/Click/i20

    In UK it was replaced with i20 in 2008. Hyundai Getz will be replaced in Australia next year, and sold as a MY 12 Model. 5 Years in UK 10 in Australia.

    2. Last Gen Hyundai Accent/Verna

    In US it was sold until 2005. In India it will be sold until the end of the year. 5 year Cycle for US and 10 years for India.

    3. Current Gen Accent/Verna

    It will sell until the end of the year in the US and replaced with new Accent. In India it is currently called Verna and the name will be changed to Accent While Next gen Accent in India will be called Verna.

    Hyundai will have 4 small cars on the B Segment platform globally. 2 of them last gen versions of Accent and i20 for the developing markets and 2 of them current gen versions of the Accent and i20 for developed mrkets, and some markets like Mexico, Brazil, India, and Australia will share both Accent and i20.

  28. olwrench Says:

    Rented a 65 corvair when new. @ 65 mph ,on good hiway, w/wife & 4 kids, I was able to turn the wheel 1/4 turn in each direction w/o deviating from the center of the lane. That lightnosed,smooth bellied beast was flying!
    Did it twice , just to show the kids. —–

    Points made on a blog are more effective when they don,t include childish invectives.

  29. PureMoose Says:

    Re: Toyota. The story I heard was that years ago Toyota had problems with the wiring harness that were made in Mexico. They may still be getting them there. Could be the wrong gauge of wire used or cross contamination of the power going threw the wires that is causing all the problems.

  30. Ron Patenaude Says:

    Hello John,Is a supplier ultimately liable for a product on a vehicle sold by a manufacturer such as Toyota for a product if found to be defective or not to the specs contracted by the manufacturer such as a speed sensor TPS sensor or a software problem or do they have product release contracts between the supplier and manufacturer releasing liability for said parts.

  31. William Bowen Says:

    John,

    I’m not suprised that these modern cars are having software issues. What has really suprised me is that we’ve had so few of them up until now. I’ve worked on cars since they had generators instead of alternators and tubes in the radios up to the present “computer systems on wheels”. I’e also worked on computer systems from little handhelds up to mainframes, and let me tell you the computer systems in cars are a LOT more robust than a lot of people believe.

    Toyota is catching a lot of flack for their present problems, most of which they deserve, but the technical issues pale in comparison to the totally lame way management of the comapny has handled not just the current issues but some in th recent past (the engine sludge issue as an example). I am REALLY disappointed with Mr. Toyoda’s detached attitude, though, since I’ve worked for a couple of Japanese companies (not automotive) the attitude does not suprise me.

    One last issue – comments by some posters that older American cars are crap only good for 75K. BALDERDASH!!! Tell that tune to the ’62 Pontiac I had that went 133,000 miles before I sold it to get something newer without a major system failure, or my ’87 Olds 98 that went 154,000 miles before being demolished in a collision, again with no major system failures, or my present ’94 Buick with 155,000 on it still going strong with NO major failures (other than maintenance items the most expensive repair was to replace a bad radiator – I HATE those plastic tank radiators).

    Look – anything made by humans in a factory can fail: that is a fact of life. It is how you RESPOND to those failures that seperates the real leaders from the pretenders. Toyota is looking more like a pretender to me every day.

  32. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Toyota and its Chinese cars, ooops I meant Japanese cars (LOL) are done.

  33. Brentton Says:

    http://www.alloutoctane.com/toyotacrash.html

  34. C-tech Says:

    Does SmokinHyundai get paid by the word by Hyundai?

  35. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Yeah I wish, Hyundai Sponosored an Autoline Detroit Autoshow.

    An Interesting one unlike how Toyota Sponsored D.C., a policy wonk show with a bunch of rhetoric that most of those makes interviewed will never live up to. In which, Ive heard time in and time out.

  36. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Hyundai Accent First month Ever #1 Subcompact

    Hyundai Accent +61.1%
    +61.4%
    6,747

    Kia Rio
    +44.8% +44.8%
    2,398

    Chevrolet Aveo
    +28.1%
    +28.1% 2,043

    Nissan Versa
    +18.2%
    +18.2%
    5,914

    Suzuki SX4
    +12.0%
    +12.0%
    1,156

    MINI Cooper
    +7.9%
    +7.9%
    2,247

    Toyota Yaris
    -10.3% -10.3% 3,676
    Scion xD -11.4% -11.4% 791
    Honda Fit
    -38.4% -38.4% 2,697
    Smart ForTwo
    -84.2% -84.2% 278
    Nissan Cube


    2,161

    Kia Soul
    — – 2,145

  37. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    09 Subcompact Sales:

    Rank Make/Model Units in 2009

    1. Nissan Versa 82,906
    2. Hyundai Accent 68,068
    3. Honda Fit 67,315
    4. Toyota Yaris 63,743
    5. MINI Cooper 45,225
    6. Chevrolet Aveo 38,516
    7. Kia Rio 34,666
    8. Kia Soul 31,621
    9. Nissan Cube 21,471
    10. Suzuki SX4 20,704
    11. Smart ForTwo 14,595
    12. Scion xD 14,499
    13. Pontiac G3 6,223

  38. Nick Stevens Says:

    Every one of the above numbers, even the top numbers, are pathetically low. if the US was the only market these were sold, none of these models would make any serious $ for their makers.and most would lose them tens and hundreds of millions every year. But fortunately some are also sold in overseas markets in much greater numbers.

    For comparison, the Camry used to sell 475,000 a year, the Accord 425,000, the Civic 350,000, the corolla about 300,000,

    and the Chevy Impala in the 60s used to sell well over 1,000,000 a YEAR!

  39. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Yep, those are very small sales numbers for that group of cars. Cheap gas does that.

    A big difference between 60′s Chevys and today’s cars, if you combine all the trim levels of the big Chevys including Impala, Bel Air, Biscayne, etc., is that those Chevys were available as four door sedans, two door sedans, four door pillarless hardtops, two door pillarless hardtops, convertibles, and wagons. That is not the case with today’s car models, most of which are one or two body styles. Still, I suspect the best selling body style of big 60′s Chevys, probably the four door sedan, would have sold 200K-300K. I’ll see if I can find any numbers; it would be interesting.

  40. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I found some data for the 1965 model year, but not complete listings by body style. For that year, they retired the Biscayne and Bel Air name and called all big Chevys Impala. Here is what I found.

    Impala Series 63 (six cyl)
    56,600 Total (for six body styles)
    29,400 were Station Wagons

    Impala Series 64 (V8)
    746,800 Total (for six body styles)
    155,000 were Station Wagons

    Impala SS Series 66 (V8)
    239,500 Total (for two body styles, two door hardtop and convertible)

    Impala SS Series 65 (six cyl)
    3,600 Total (for two body styles, two door hardtop and convertible)

    I didn’t realize they sold a six cylinder “Impala SS” at that time. No wonder they didn’t sell very well. A 3600 pound car with ~110 hp the way they now rate power would not have been very, “SS-like.”

  41. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Nick, becuase those makes were the only game in town at the time. Civic, and all of those others had their “hey day” becuase Detroit did so badly, and your generation got so hard on Japan.

    Almost 7000 sales for a Subcompact in one month is astonishing in this day and age when you have so much choice, and when small cars arent as popular as they could and should be. Within the next 18 months there will be 10 more cars added to that list, and 5000 sales a month for any one of those cars will be considered as astonishing.

    Detroit abandoned quite a few segments becuase they couldnt compete with Japan. Just on that alone was a “Give me” in the 80s and 90s for cars like Corolla and Civic. Japan rode on that momentum from those days up until about 5 years ago, and that momentum decreases by the day, but I think they finally will lose all of it after these recalls.

    Give it up old guys. Toyota and Honda are not for Gen Y, and will never be for Gen Y. Who’s going to drive their mommy and daddy’s yucky Camry and Accord or Yaris and Fit? Ewww….

    You tried to shove cars that Gen Y didnt want
    to drive down our throats, becuase you old guys dont like Companies like Hyundai/KIA, GM, VW, or Ford, but we’re not stupid you cant pull the wool over our eyes. We see that others make cars just as good as Japan and in many cases better, and at a better value than Japan can even think of offering at that.

  42. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Maybe Honda, and Toyota and the rest of Japan except Nissan can try to court Gen Z or Gen A (our Kids), but give up the Scion crap you’re wasting your time, etc… becuase they will NOT get Gen Y and the Younger Gen X’ers to buy en-masse like they did with Gen W (baby Boomers) and older Gen X’ers.

  43. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    We dont want to drive Xds and Camry’s. We want Passat like cars, but cheaper. Humm, kind of like 2011 Sonata and Fusion/Milan. We want MINI like cars, but cheaper. Humm, kind of like next Gen Accent and Fiesta. Essentially we want affordable Luxury, and not some 5-10 year old hand me down luxury car with 96 million miles on it either that goes for $18K.
    No, we want brand new affordable luxury products with superior craftmanship, fuel economy, and a good price.

    Eww,… Camry. The ultimate statement of Im Middle Age and out of touch with everything car. Im glad the media is attacking the thing. GOOD RIDDANCE!!!!

  44. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Every last one of those Hyundai Superbowl commercials is of Award winning caliber, and I think that message of Affordable Luxury that feels like hand crafted quality, but isnt will resonate with the American people. They beat the Genesis commercial from last year by a far. 1000-2000 2011 Sonatas could be sold on Monday, if not Monday definately Tuesday. Yeah, they are that good. Hyundai will sell 25,000 Sonatas in March, watch youll see.

    That KIA commercial. That’s all Im going to say about that man. That commercial is on par with the Genesis commercial from last year, maybe better. They sold nearly 8K 2011 Sorrentos last Month, they might double it after that commercial.

  45. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Yep, those are very small sales numbers for that group of cars. Cheap gas does that.”

    Many people sure hate small cars, and many also believe they are unsafe (true at least for passive safety, and for the smaller engined ones, also true for active safety, no matter how much they have improved, they are far less safe than the larger, more powerful cars)

    BUT, the problem with most small cars, even the top of the line Fiesta they used against the prius and the TDI Golf, get rather lousy MPG! because Makers cannot offer them with their most advanced engines, prtefer cheaper, low-MPG solutions.

    Even the Fit is not much more fuel efficient than the Civic, esp. if they bring back the hatch, I bet it would get better MPG highway than the Fit, due to its much lower height and frontal area.

    Many domestic small cars have very poor MPG as well, and the Japanese or Koreans are not much better.

    When one makes so many sacrifices to get a small car, one expects at least 40 MPG highway and 32 or so city!

  46. Nick Stevens Says:

    The detailed data show that all impalas together sold much more than 1 million vehicles a year(!), in a market that probably had HALF the 16-17 million annual sales we had in 2000-2007, before markets tanked.

    One can imagine how much $ GM saved in Advertising compared to the pathetic situation later at GM (and currently at Hyundai and Kia) where they offer 20 models each selling less than 10k, and many not even 5k units, a month!

    Many models today offer many more configurations than the Impala did, but do not sell even half or one third the units (F-150, Silverado and Ram, also some car models offered 2-doors, 3-doors, 4-doors, wagons, even convertibles and all together coudl not sell even 200k

  47. Kit Gerhart Says:

    An area where American cars of the 60′s were more like today’s European cars than anything now in the US market, was a large choice of engines. There were probably 8-10 different engines available in a ’65 Impala. There are 9 engines available in a VW Golf in the UK, if you include the GTi.

  48. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Also, American cars of the 60′s offered many more interior choices than anything today, except, maybe, for some very expensive exotics. There were at least 5 or 6 interior colors available in 60′s cars. My parents had a ’66 Dodge Coronet with kind of metallic gold seats. You could get red, black, green, blue, white, gold, and probably something I’ve forgotten about in that car.

  49. Nick Stevens Says:

    The possible option combinations on an F-150 or a Silverado today run in the millions. These trucks used to sell almost a million each before the market collapsed in 08-10. The F150 sold 900,000, the Silverado with its twin the Sierra maybe exceeded 1 million a year. These were probably the biggest cash cows for GM and Ford. The Ram did about half as much sales then, and also was hugely profitable.

    Despite the variations, Ford and GM still advertised for each truck as if it was one vehicle. They spend $100,000,000s in ad for each model, maybe more for the truck. The name recognition for F150, Silverado and then Impala made excessive ads unnecessary. Today even auto enthusiasts do not know the differences, if any, between a Sonata and an Optima, an Accent and a Rio, etc etc. Selling only 2,000 a month of such cheap econoboxes would be suicidal, if these cos did not also sell them in other markets.. but even then, they would have to spend millions in each little market to advertise them.

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick says:

    “Many models today offer many more configurations than the Impala did, but do not sell even half or one third the units (F-150, Silverado and Ram, also some car models offered 2-doors, 3-doors, 4-doors, wagons, even convertibles and all together coudl not sell even 200k”

    Do you really think so? As far as the big trucks, there are way fewer engine choices, way fewer interior choices, and fewer axle ratio choices than 60′s cars. There would be a few more choices in the “gadgets” area, but many of those are in packages, limiting the number of configurations. …and the big pickups are the only vehicles sold in America where you have much choice at all, other than which of a few “packages” you take.

    Also, other than a few European cars like the BMW 3 series, you don’t have much choice of body style within car lines sold in the US.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The issue of advertising efficiency really makes one wonder, why Hyundai and Kia? Accent and Rio are the same car. Why two names?

    In the 60′s, Chevy had, what, four car lines, the big Biscayne/Bel Air/Impala, mid-size Chevelle, smaller Chevy II/Nova, and until 1969, Corvair. That made things pretty simple for advertising. At that time, most people who bought trucks and vans has some particular need for a truck or van.

  52. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Many models today offer many more configurations than the Impala did, but do not sell even half or one third the units (F-150, Silverado and Ram, also some car models offered 2-doors, 3-doors, 4-doors, wagons, even convertibles and all together coudl not sell even 200k”

    Do you really think so?

    I don’t just think so, for the F150 and the Silverado, Ford and Gm are actually bragging about it. I would never think there are so many combinations, and I do not care much abotu pickups to know either, but they say it in their press releases and ads.

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    If the ads say the current pickups come in more configurations than 60′s cars, I’m sure it’s true. Still, it’s hard to believe given all the power train, body style, and interior choices in the old cars, not to mention that such things as power brakes, consoles, A/C, power windows, different steering wheels, instrument packages, padded dash options, optional trim bits, etc. were individual options in 60′s cars.

    Now, you don’t even have a transmission choice in big Chevy and Ford pickups; an automatic is mandatory. I guess all those cab types and box lengths add up, along with the 1500, 2500, etc. designations with multiple trim levels within each one.

  54. Nick Stevens Says:

    it is not just the ads, articles in auto mags. And they come in far, far more configurations, literally in the MILLIONS if you include all possibilities. 60s cars were far more primitive and had too few systems to be able to have all these possible configurations. Maybe they include exterior and interior colors, interior materials etc.

    I was in the public library and read a test of small cars, incl the Golf (as tested $20k with the 2.5) an dthe diesel ($24k as tested). vs the Versa and the yaris (even tho I think they are not the same segment, the 2,400 lb yaris sure does not belong with the 3,100+ lb golf diesel.

    Still, the golf got a huge 38 MPG overall, 49 highway, while the others barely managed 35 and 37 Hwy with much smaller cars and weaker engines.

    The most surprising thing (not if you know that in Europe Golfs are considered top quality and reliability) was that not only did CR recommend both the Golf and the Golf Diesel, and rated them overall with higher scores than even the prius, it also predicted far better than average for the GAS Golf 2.5 and average or better for the diesel.

    Strange.

  55. Nick Stevens Says:

    The Versa may have a stripped version for $10k or $11k, but as tested it was $16k+, and even the cheapo Yaris (even CR commented on the cheap interior) was $14k+). And the Versa is a far bigger car, more than half a foot longer than the yaris and 60 ” high (that’s more than half a foot taller than my 1990 accord coupe).

  56. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Nick the Versa has a $9990 Variant as well. Its the sedan model, and its very basic. Versa is a nicely laid out platform, but as I have said before when I tested it I was very concerned as to how it was going to hold up. Unlike Fit, Versa/Accent deserves to be #1 or #2 in sales. Good Sizing for both, good options, and pricing. The Fit is a $16K car that feels like a $13K car to me. There’s no justification for the pice premium in the Fit. A $16K Versa or Accent feels like if MINI made a cheaper Cooper priced at $17-$18K with cloth seats, but without the Moonroofs you get in an Accent or Versa at that Price.

    Both Hyundai and Nissan are exploiting this fatal weakness the Fit has. Plus Fit gets 1 Less MPG than Civic, though Accent and Versa get 2 more MPG than Elantra or Sentra. I dont know abotu Nissan,and Honda Nick, but I know Hyundai is going for a 5 MPG incremental difference for its next gen product. Genesis about 29/31, Azera 30+, Sonata 35, Elantra 40, and Accent 45.

    Rio/Accent are mechanically the same car Kit, but the Accent is more pricey overall not counting the Cheap Blue Variant. The Rio has a larger air intake to give it more power (relatively), the Accent has different engine and tranny calibrations to give it better MPG. The Accent has more features as well, as the Accent is more upscale than Rio (Relatively). Its like the Difference between a Ford and a Mercury. The Accent is a gussied-up Rio, like a Rio Plus. Believe it or not the base Accent Sedan is only $50 Cheaper than Base KIA Forte, yet $2000 more than base Rio Sedan. That’s how they positon pricing as well. 2010 Tucson is $1000 cheaper than the Santa Fe Sized 2011 Sorrento. They base price Hyundais of smaller segments very close to the base price of the next largest segment KIA.

    Accent/Rio was the beginning of the differentiation between Hyundai and KIA. Accent Rio was the first car Hyundai/KIA experimented on their new company direction on. Accent has a more upscale design, Rio has a more Sporty design. The next Step is to further differentiate the 2 cars Characters. There will be external design changes of course, but the most important features of both cars for the next gen will be on the interior front. There will also be a differentiation of performance features. GDI standard in the Hyundai, while GDI is a special Fuel Economy option for the KIA.

    When Hyundai said they were going upmarket, it wasnt like they were just going to turn into Lexus overnight (though many thought so). They have to crawl before they walk, and walk before they run. Kind of like Lexus did.

    Steady but sure refinement over the years.

  57. Nick Stevens Says:

    I already mentioned the $10,000 stripped-down Versa long before you did.

  58. AlfaElan Says:

    Is it just me or is there anyone else who doesn’t want braking to kill the throttle?

    I heel-toe and it would really suck if when I braked I couldn’t match revs! Also living in snow county there are times I’ve braked while on the throttle to shift the mass of the vehicle so it would go around a corner. I’ve even done handbrake turns occasionally, now that the winter car is the only FWD we own.

  59. Kit Gerhart Says:

    AlfaElan Says:
    February 8th, 2010 at 10:49 am

    “Is it just me or is there anyone else who doesn’t want braking to kill the throttle?”

    It’s not just you. I autocross occasionally, and always do so with two feet, sometimes using power and brake together with front drive cars. Even in normal driving, I’d rather have the throttle work “normally” as it does in both of my cars with drive-by-wire, a Mini and a Chevy Malibu Maxx.

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick says:

    “The most surprising thing (not if you know that in Europe Golfs are considered top quality and reliability) was that not only did CR recommend both the Golf and the Golf Diesel, and rated them overall with higher scores than even the prius, it also predicted far better than average for the GAS Golf 2.5 and average or better for the diesel.”

    Apparently Golfs are now getting decent reports from owners in CR’s reliability surveys. Not too surprisingly, the gas 2.5 is not even sold in Golfs in the UK; it’s too much of a gas hog.