Episode 347 – Suspicious Runaway Prius, Toyota Shakes Up Operations, Traffic Deaths Drop

March 12th, 2010 at 12:00pm

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Runtime 8:39

One of these runaway Toyota Prius incidents is starting to sound mighty suspicious. Toyota says in the wake of its recent recalls it will move more design, engineering and manufacturing to the American market. Traffic fatalities in the U.S. fall to their lowest level ever. All that and more, plus John talks to Don Esmond, the Senior Vice President of Toyota Motor Sales USA, about how they plan to get people back in the showrooms and buying Toyotas again.

Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. One of these runaway Toyota Prius incidents is starting to sound mighty suspicious. Toyota says it will move more design, engineering and manufacturing to the American market. Traffic fatalities in the U.S. fall to their lowest level ever.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Friday, March 12, 2010. And now, the news.

One of the interesting fallouts of Toyota’s quality and safety problems is that it’s going to move more design, engineering and manufacturing to the American market. Don Esmond, the senior vice president of Toyota Motor Sales USA told Autoline yesterday the company is doing this to get its decision making closer to the customer. Toyota is also establishing a clearer chain-of-command in its executive ranks to speed up the flow of information and decision making between its North American operations and its headquarters in Japan. It is also going to appoint a safety guru for North America who will oversee all recalls. We’ll have more of Don Esmond later in the show.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that traffic fatalities in the United States fell to their lowest level last year. There were 33,963 people killed in motor-vehicle accidents last year, down from over 37,000 the year before. That translates into 1.1 fatalities per 100 million miles driven, the lowest ever. I would point out that while NHTSA and other safety advocates want to take the credit for the big drop, the credit goes to the recession. During a recession, people lose their jobs and don’t drive as much so the fatality rate goes down. You watch, in a couple of years when the economy is humming again, traffic fatalities will go up, and we’ll hear an indignant chorus calling for more safety regulations. It happens every time.

A California man who claims his Prius sped out of control and wasn’t able to stop without help from a police officer, says he won’t sue Toyota. According to the AP, Jim Sikes says he doesn’t plan to sue, but that statement was issued by a law firm he hired. So if he’s not suing why did he hire legal representation? But the story gets even more interesting. Jalopnik reports that Mr. Sikes filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and owes over $700,000, including a lot of payments on his Prius, although Sikes denied being behind on payments. Even so, his story is starting to sound very suspicious.

The son of Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-Koo, was appointed to the automaker’s board. According to the AFP, his son, Chung Eui-Sun, 39, was the director of Kia and most recently Vice Chairman of Hyundai. His appointment fuels speculation that he is being groomed to succeed his father.

Lately, a lot of stuff has been going on in the world of automotive design. Last week GM sent Cadillac General Manager, Bryan Nesbitt, back to the studio after running the brand for only seven months. Now, Ward’s reports that Joel Piaskowski has left his position as head of Mercedes-Benz Advanced Design North America (subscription required). He joined the organization just 14 months ago. Before that he was the chief designer at Hyundai North America. No reason is given for his departure. Also, effective on April 1, Bruce Campbell, a 30-year veteran at Nissan Design America is retiring from the company. He’ll be replaced by Alfonso Albaisa, the current VP of Nissan Design Europe.

Hey, who needs spy photographers? Lately it seems all you have to do to dredge-up the latest automotive news is go to the patent office. Autoblog is running these two stories. Alleged photos of a Porsche Panamera convertible have been outed by the German patent office. If these shots are correct, the big surprise here is that this drop-top has four doors. The plans for Chevy’s next-generation Malibu are also out. What should be the 2012 model can be seen in these line drawings. It looks fairly similar to today’s car but a bit more sculpted and aggressive. In particular, its backend has received a lot of attention which brings to mind the Camaro. The new Malibu will ride on GM’s Epsilon II platform like the Buick LaCrosse and Regal.

Coming up next, Don Esmond, the Senior Vice President of Toyota Motor Sales USA talks about how they plan to get people back in the showrooms and buying Toyotas again.

Yesterday I sat down with Don Edmond, the Senior Vice President of Toyota Motor Sales USA for a wide-ranging interview on all the problems that Toyota is facing right now. In the following clip he talks about how Toyota plans to gear up its sales effort to get customers back in the showroom.

You can watch that entire interview later today at our website, 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 this car. And the correct answer is it’s a Crosley Hotshot. And the winner is Larry Gruenwald from Pahrump, Nevada. Congratulations Larry, you’ve just won a 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

85 Comments to “Episode 347 – Suspicious Runaway Prius, Toyota Shakes Up Operations, Traffic Deaths Drop”

  1. Mark Says:

    Why are companies patenting their designs? Is this a new trend? I don’t recall seeing previews of cars like this in the past.

  2. Zieke Says:

    To say that the “runaway” is suspicious is a huge understatement. Since Sikes isn’t going to sue Toyota, where will his law firm payment come from? Did he actually get a job and get out of debt? With that kind of debt, I wonder where the money came from to buy this pricey hybrid car? He better hope I’m not on a jury when he’s in court.

  3. Chuck Grenci Says:

    John, you quote that the fatalities were down to just shy of 34,000 (from 37,000 the year before) and that translates to 1.1 fatalities per 100 million miles driven; I believe the statistic listed first should be the fatalities/100 million miles driven, then list the absolute figure. The ratio tells the story of what is up and what is down.

    And it’s still a crying shame so many lose their life in and about the automobile.

  4. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just read online that the next Yaris and maybe Corolla will have engine shut off at idle. Horrible idea, specially in the sun belt where you have 6 months of oppressive heat /humidity. So you have a lot of stop and go and you WILL swelter in the heat. So much for new technology. I’d rather save gas in other ways, thanks, but no thanks. Also read where the next Corolla will be based on the Yaris platform. Again, bad idea. Whenever you try to make a better car from a weaker or smaller or cheaper platform you get stuff like Sebring/Avenger. Cannot compete well in that segment. I remember when GM made the Cimarron and the Seville out of lesser platforms and then few years later, the “A” cars out of the horrendous X cars.

  5. Salvador G. Says:

    Wow! Am I to understand that when America reaches over 50,000 deaths a year, it will mean that the economy is back on track???… Can I hope for 100,000 deaths a year then? Nah, I don’t think Obama is that good of a president.

  6. Alex Kovnat Says:

    In discussing auto fatalities, i.e. 34000, 37000 or whatever, we need to break this figure down into two categories: Those who are truly victims, and those who pretty much got what they deserve. For instance, if somebody loads their bloodstream with a 0.13% alcohol level (Its difficult enough to drive safely with 0.05%) and kills (hopefully only!) himself by crashing into a tree, that person is NOT a victim as I see it.

    But if said individual were to slam into the back of another car at 50 MPH and kill a woman and both her children, the latter three ARE victims. To place people killed by the drunk driving of others and drunk drivers who kill themselves in the same category, is an insult to the memory of those who are truly victims.

  7. Chuck Grenci Says:

    Alex, you have to keep the numbers consistant (as gory and unfair as you state), without consistancy, then they mean nothing. And for those that may not know, included in the fatatities are pedestrians killed when hit by automobiles.

  8. Alex Carazan Says:

    For Pedro,
    Regarding your concern & assumption about air conditioning with cars that stop their engines when stopped. The OEM’s have no intention to cut-out the A/C system. Micro-hybrids with engine-off feature to save fuel will have E-compressors (electric) that will still run and keep you nice and cool even when the engine is off. The start-stop duty cycles make this very easy as the energy recovery during braking feeds batteries that will power the E-compressor. If not enough battery juice to power the A/C then the engine will be kept on. So don’t worry – auto companies are not that stupid.
    Alex C.
    P.S. for cold climates the same is true but use of electric powered heater as needed.

  9. Alex Kovnat Says:

    @Chuck: In addition to pedestrians, we lose a few thousand people a year who, at the time of their unfortunate deaths, were either operators or passengers on motorcycles. So, is it fair that I should have to carry ever more safety requirements on my car because of some unfortunate guy who bought the farm while riding his Harley-D?

  10. Nick Stevens Says:

    In addition to the huge number of deaths doe to the criminal drunk drivers, there are also probably another 10,000 deaths due to uninformed morons that “choose” not to wear their seatbelts. This cheapest of safety item, at probably a few bucks a belt cost, is also the most important in saving lives in accidents.

  11. Nick Stevens Says:

    If you exclude the drunks and the morons, out of the 33,000 deaths you would be left with only about 15,000 or less deaths not easily preventable at no extra cost.

  12. Nick Stevens Says:

    34,000, not 33,000. But, as others said, much better to measure in deaths per 100 million miles.

  13. HtG Says:

    Is it true that hoods on newer models have been designed to protect pedestrians from slamming the engine block in a collision? I see so many cars with high hoods and creases.

  14. Nick Stevens Says:

    From John’s link

    “The projected (so they are not actual????) fatality data for 2009 places the highway death count at 33,963, a drop of 8.9 percent as compared to the 37,261 deaths reported in 2008. The fatality rate for 2009 declined to the lowest on record, to 1.16 fatalities per 100 million Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) down from 1.25 fatalities per 100 million VMT in 2008.”

  15. Nick Stevens Says:

    HTG that’s a Euro obsession, I never heard any US automaker or import brag about pedestrian friendly vehicles in the US.

  16. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Nick, its not that They are uninformed.

    1. Some of it comes from, just forgetting about it.

    2. Some of it comes from people having a feeling that they need to go against the grain, go against what they percieve to be “Nanny State” law enforcement tactics.

    3. This sounds stupid I know, but some of it is to be cool.

    4. Some of it is uncomfortabilty for whatever physical reason that can run anywhere from heartburn to obesity

    For me, I drive too damm fast on the highway to not wear a belt. Plus, if the cop sees that strap around you, that just plain and simple gives 1 less reason for them to stop and detain you so you can go on about your business.

  17. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I think Im going to have to eat crow and take back what I said yesterday, becuase that Malibu looks so much better in 3D.

    Crapmy (Camry) and Noccord (Accord) are done for. It looks like an American E-Class, and it looks sweet like that.

    I think that is what the Malibu will need to take it to the next level, a standard setter as opposed to just another competitor.

  18. HyundaiSmoke Says:


    As the link implies look at this 3D rendering. The drawings dont do it justice.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    @Alex, nevertheless, the extra wear on the components, specially in congested areas like where I live, where heavy stop and go traffic is unbearable sometimes, may in the long run, not be worth it in terms of fuel savings. besides what happens when the engine shuts off? does it restart in drive, if so, if your foot is not on the brake the car could surge forward, repairs would have to be done at the dealer. I’m sure. adding to the expense. Like I said before, no thanks!

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    The combination of Red Stripe with pesticide-contaminated Jamaican reefer could be the explanation for certain entries in this forum, just sayin’.

  21. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    SHO powertrain with the 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 and all-wheel drive for handling and grip. In the Cop Car, not allowed. That should be illegal.

    That’s not playing fair here. Damm Cops!!!

    The days of outmanuvering a cop with your Accent or Mini are over, bastards!!!

  22. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    That will be good for SHO lovers, as that increased fleet will lower the value, and make the SHO more accessible to people.

  23. pedro fernandez Says:

    Just read in the news that a Korean man married a pillow, I wonder if that’s the same participant in this forum? He should have married a Hyundai, at least it could have taken him for a ride.

  24. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Cops need to drive Protons and KIAs like the British Cops do damm it!!!

    Yes, KIAs in British Fleet Sales are used as cop cars. I hate this, but the company wants to make money.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    I can see it now, the remake of the “Kiastone cops” a new comedy about how criminals in England outrun the cops, even on mopeds.

  26. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Lmao@pedro, everybody drives slow stuff over there. It also helps KIA build up that “Performance/Sportiness” they speak of.

    1.6 Engine B-Segment over there is seen as over the top, much less the V8s that are on the roads here.

  27. dcars Says:

    Toyota Driver improvement program.
    Class Topics continued:
    -Backing Up in your Toyota: Don’t ask don’t tell our school policy.
    -Personal Hygiene and Washing your Toyota.
    -Secrets and Lies, what to tell your family about unintended acceleration.

  28. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    They mostly use Ceeds, Souls, and Optimas/Magentises. All of those cars have powetrains that exceed the performance of the average British Driver.

  29. HyundaiSmoke Says:


    KIA Soul Police Car used by city of Sussex in the Horsham South Neighborhood used in Neighbohood Policing.

  30. HyundaiSmoke Says:


    KIA Ceed Slovakian Police Fleet.

  31. Nick Stevens Says:

    Is Sikes A Balloon Boy?
    By Bertel Schmitt on March 12, 2010

    Two days ago, Ed Niedermeyer received a tip from an anonymous tipster that James Sikes, the guy who couldn’t stop his runaway Prius until a cop pulled up next to him and told him to, is, well, a bit exposed.

    The tipster pointed out that a James Sikes had also started a business called Adultswinglife, LLC. A look at the phone numbers showed that Adult Swing Life LLC (619) 957-7355 shared the same phone number as the real estate business of Patty & Jim Sikes (619)-957-7355. We left it at that. Times are rough, and one needs to find extra streams of income.

    A few hours later, an anonymous poster that went by the name “CincyJazzy” posted on the CBS news website that Sikes “is caught in 2 attempts to defraud his insurance company out of $60K, Just lost his house, and was fired for ‘unethical behavior’, in the middle of bankruptcy, and now this.” No reaction from CBS.

  32. Alex Carazan Says:

    Hello Pedro,
    Regarding, engines that stop at red lights to save fuel – micro-hybrids if you will. I am assuming based on your comments you are not an automotive engineer. Less engine running will REDUCE wear on components – not increase it. There are E-lube pumps that keep appropriate oil circulation in bearings, etc.
    The starting device is an electric motor which is very well proven and old – durable technology. Stop-n-go duty cycles do add much wear to brakes. With hybrid regen this also greatly reduces the brake wear. Engines do not turn off unless the vehicle is stopped and brake is on. The transmission is electroncally placed in neutral. As the brake is removed, the engine is engaged and transmission torque converter clutch smoothly engages with no different feel then what you would feel in a car without such a feature. Such cars are already in production without issues. I am not suggesting you should buy one personally. Just that your assumptions of performance and issues are simply not factual. Best Regards,
    Alex C.

  33. Nick Stevens Says:

    “He should have married a Hyundai, at least it could have taken him for a ride.”

    More likely, it would have left him stranded.

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    Alex, despite your intelligent explanation, I have my reservations about this technology specially when used in an inexpensive car. It will push the cost of the car up and hurt sales, it would have to show a significant mpg increase to get people interested.

  35. pedro fernandez Says:

    Nick that’s a good one.

  36. HyundaiSmoke Says:


    Yeah, whatever Old Guys. Stop living in 1990, and get a grip. You drive Hyundais, you take a ride in Toyotas.

    Well, the Toyota takes you for a ride; to your grave. Now that is the most accurate picture of how things are today in the 2010s.

  37. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Oh yeah John, of course Chung Eui-Sun is being groomed to run the company. I wouldnt put it past them to install him as CEO within the next 5 years.

    By the way, Mr Piaskowski is an overrated designer, who was behind that crappy rear head room in the Gen Coupe. Like Merc was going to keep him. I think they gave him his walking papers. Good riddance, that guy would have gave Hyundai and Merc styling train wrecks.

    HE’S JUST A STUDIO DESIGNER AND NOTHING MORE!!! Not in the league of what a World class design studio needs at the helm.

  38. Andrew Charles Says:

    Patent/design filings of new vehicles tend to evaporate like dry ice in midsummer as soon as someone says “look what we found at [US/UK/German] patent office.” Companies can and do delay the publication of these design filings until they’re good and ready for them to be revealed—usually well after the official launch. These filings should be treated like any other source you’re trying to protect. Carscoop and Autoblog and before them AutoExpress and AutoCar whould have created renderings based on the patent/design filings and not said a thing about where they found out about them. If they want to keep access to this information, they’ve got to stop alerting companies where they found them.

  39. Andrew Charles Says:

    In any case the drawings and renderings filed with patent offices are covered by copyright like any other work. Legally they should have commissioned new works based on the information in these drawings, not published the originals without the consent of the owner.

  40. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Mr. Charles hit it on the head.

    Stunts like that screw it up for everybody else. Including the car companies. Car companies do get useful information when people critique on spyshots, and patent office designs. They can use that critique to make a much needed quick revision on the interior, or exterior.

    Car Companies should be forced by the market to release proposed and tentitively approved designs 1 year before debut. For Critique and suggestion. It would only be better for everybody. The Koreans and a few others are trying an approach like that with some models 6 months to a year out. Look at Hyundai Hyundai/KIAs, Mercedes, VW/AGs, and GMs wild concepts lately, 70%-80% of the concept actually makes it to production.

    The other car companies put out concepts, and 20% makes it to production; mostly with disappointment.

    Case in Point:

    Honda Products
    Toyota Products
    BMW Products
    Chrysler Products

    There’s plenty more…

  41. Nick Stevens Says:

    I saw these patent drawings (a side view) of the 2012 Malibu, and my eternal question naturally popped up again:

    How much more expensive would it be to make this vcehicle have a DECENTLY LONG WHEELBASE?

    THIS is the only thing that mars this design, but it mars it BIG TIME.

    The rear and ESPECIALLY the front overhang is huge and looks like it is going to break off the vehicle.

    WHat is it about the need for a d4evently long wheelbase that the domestics especially cannot understand????

    It is LUDICROUS to have 210-225 inch long large sedans with… 113 and 115 inch wheelbases, when Merc and BMW have much shorter, 195 to 205 inch sedans, with 126 inch wheelbases?

    And the difference is mor epronounced in the mid-sized E class and 5 series vs the similarly SIZED Malibu…

  42. Nick Stevens Says:

    My guess is, it would NOT be any more expensive. I remember the cab-forward designs Chrysler-Dodge-Eagle put out in the 90s, with huge wheelbases and wheels pushed to the ends of the car, creating far more interior room a ndlooking FAR better, if they could afford to do it so can GM and Ford!

  43. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Hey……A non-engineer figured out how to stop a Toyota Prius….John McElroy,you need to see this:


    I’m not sure if this linked,you might have to copy/paste…..worth seeing.Amazing what someone with common sense can accomplish.

  44. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Alex Kovnat Says:
    March 12th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    “For instance, if somebody loads their bloodstream with a 0.13% alcohol level (Its difficult enough to drive safely with 0.05%) and kills (hopefully only!) himself by crashing into a tree, that person is NOT a victim as I see it.”

    That “drunk” who is driving with 0.13 BAC, but not distracted, drives much better than a teenager who is texting while driving. Do all these kids deserve to die too?

  45. pedro fernandez Says:

    G.A. that’s funnier than some comedies I’ve seen lately, I guess the Prius runaway driver did not know how to put car in neutral, he never read the manual. I am so convinced this was all a freaking hoax. By the way, US news and world report put out an article saying that some small suv’s Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and yes (sorry Mr smoked out Hyundai dude) the Kia Sportage do NOT make good buys because of their humongous depreciation and less than stellar performance. Instead they recommend CRV, Forrester and Yes GMC freaking Terrain instead.

  46. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The “off brand” small SUV’s can be good buys as used cars, because of the high depreciation. I know two people who have recently bought used Kia’s, a Sorrento and a Sportage, because they were bargains. Also, I think both of them had remaining factory warranty.

  47. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, very true, despite the ramblings of our resident Hyundai guru, none of those cars make good buys, only buying them 3 to 5 years old, when they still have warranty. You can get a lot more vehicle for your $.

  48. Nick Stevens Says:

    Excellent Video, G.A. … and a must-see for Smoked Halibut, whose village has been missing him…

  49. Nick Stevens Says:

    “Instead they recommend CRV, Forrester and Yes GMC freaking Terrain instead.”

    Why didn’t they recommend the new Equinox, which is the Terrain’s mechanical twin, gets 32 highway (from an almost 4,000 lb suv!!) and is kicking some major butt in sales already!

  50. Nick Stevens Says:

    “I know two people who have recently bought used Kia’s, a Sorrento and a Sportage, because they were bargains.”

    Consumer Reports said that the Sedona ( a Kia Minivan) had horrendous unreliability, the worst among many vehicles.

    The question is, why do the korean cars depreciate more than the others?

    Especially if they have extended warranties, that should make them more, not less, desirable.

    I suspect it is because they are still POS, and still have a whole lot of catching up to do, before they can be as good as a Civic, an Accord, or even a VW Passat, Golf or Jetta.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Some people, myself included, still aren’t “ready” to buy a Korean name plate car.

    My friend who bought the used Sportage complains about the ride quality, but that is understandable since it repaced a Montana minivan. Even the near worst-in-class GM minivans ride better than any small SUV, and I suspect the previous generation Sportage rides poorly, even for a small SUV.

  52. Kit Gerhart Says:

    G.A.Branigan Says:
    March 13th, 2010 at 9:14 pm

    “Hey……A non-engineer figured out how to stop a Toyota Prius….John McElroy,you need to see this:


    That was good, but he should have done one more demonstration, stopping the car with the brakes with the right pedal on the floor, but without putting it in neutral or pushing the start/stop button. That would be the way to stop a Prius for those who REALLY aren’t prepared to think.

  53. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Also, I don’t know if you could count on the start/stop button to work if there actually was a computer glitch that made the car go to full throttle.

  54. G.A.Branigan Says:

    I’m glad ya’ll got a kick out of that vid.I’m not so sure about a computer glitch…..it’s a big maybe.I think the man’s point on the video was to show more then one way to shut down a prius,and thru skillfull use of the english (french??) language drive (groan) his point home.

    How many times have we been in the front passenger seat while someone is driving,way too fast and you find yourself pressing down on the floorboards hoping to slow down?I’m wondering if that same type of reaction might be happening to some toyota drivers.How many of these runaways are standard trans?I’m betting….NONE.Just two-footin’ automatic drivers I’m thinking.

  55. pedro fernandez Says:

    There are other Prius related vids on You-tube including one where the guy is able to significantly slow the car down pressing the brake at the same time as the accelerator pedal, same thing that experts have been saying all along. Those who are caught involved in this hoax should be made to publicly apologize and be subject to civil penalties, just like slander and libel are.

  56. pedro fernandez Says:

    Mr. Hyundai fanatic, why don’t you do us all a favor and visit Edmunds.com look up used cars, go to any 1991-1997 Corolla or Civic reviews and click on the “consumer reviews” portion and I dare you find any single negative review from owners of these 12+yr old cars. Then go to the Kia portion and look up much recent reviews on these,I mean 2007 and 2006 and you will find a bunch of negative reviews from disappointed owners of Rios, Spectras and the like. Just remember this next time you try to convince people that your glorious cars are better than what Honda and Toyota make and have been making for years.

  57. Антон Павлович Says:


    Замечательно, очень ценное сообщение…

  58. Nick Stevens Says:


    Fanatics are not capable of rational thought, much less research.

    PS that Balloon boy dad in San Diego was a real fraud! he did not even try to apply the brakes hard, evidence shows that he only lightly tapped on them. I don’t know what scam this is, or what drugs he was taking, BUT Toyota needs to FIGHT THIS and NOT roll over and play dead like Audi did, who was equally innocent.

    Unfortunately, the criminals in our news media are not expected to apologize for their FRAUDULENT shows any time soon (Gilbert and ABC news!)

  59. Nick Stevens Says:

    Anton Pavlovich Said (No. 57)


    “It is remarkable, very valuable message”

  60. Nick Stevens Says:

    (I don’t speak russian, but my Internet translates!)

  61. Max Christensen Says:

    The guy in the YouTube video, though sharing a good message with valuable information, is nonetheless a moron! It’s certainly a sad state of affairs when the only apparent way to get through to people is via the F-bomb.

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t appreciate being talked down to in such a way, and I’d like to think that most of us in here are smart enough (even Nick and his puppet Pedro) to be able to understand something more than a message put togethr by some high school dropout idiot such as the guy in the video. And if he is so damn sure of himself, why the ski mask?

  62. G.A.Branigan Says:

    My apologies Max.Yes he could have used better language but I chose to post it for the humor,that’s all.When you take in account that he is talking down to morons that fail to stop their vehicles or freak out and press down on the wrong pedal.The message wasn’t for us per say.

  63. Nick Stevens Says:

    Max can’t stand that once more he has been proven WRONG in automotive matters, and unable to adress the science and the engineering of the issues, continues his pathetic personal attacks. Now he calls PEDRO names, where he has NO Excuse, since pedro always behaves prperly and suffers damned fools like Max and even Hyundai Smoke, Max’s ignorant and biases partner in Toyota and Japanese Import Bashing, without returning their insults.

    Despicable, and unworthy of a reply.

  64. Nick Stevens Says:

    PS I also found the video repeated the eff words just too many effing times, rendering them really impotent after a while.

    The fact that I may agree on this with max troubles me greatly, though.

  65. dcars Says:

    “The fact that I may agree on this with max troubles me greatly, though.”

    I love this blog! I hope today’s posts are as interesting as Friday’s.

  66. Max Christensen Says:

    @ Nick

    #64 actully made me laugh!

  67. Max Christensen Says:

    @ G.A Branigan

    No need to apologize. I too was able to see the humor as I am certaily no prude. It’s just he went way overboard on the whole f’ing thing.

  68. Max Christensen Says:

    @ Nick

    #63 makes no sense whatsoever – what the hell are you talking about?

  69. pedro fernandez Says:

    Does this mean that Nick Stevens is a puppeteer? I hope it’s the one with the strings and not the one with the hand up the ying yang like Kermit and Howdy Doody.

  70. pedro fernandez Says:

    I prefer Pinocchio, thanks.It rhymes with Pedro. Pedro Pinocchio, nice ring to it!

  71. Max Christensen Says:

    I guess only you can tell us if Nick has his hand up your ying yang?

  72. Nick Stevens Says:

    Finally, a discussion right down at Max’s level…

  73. pedro fernandez Says:

    Max, your hatred for Japanese cars is only surpassed by the obsession of our resident Hyundai/Kia whackadoodle for that Korean company. I don’t get it.

  74. Nick Stevens Says:


    Saturday Night Live’s take on the Toyota farce..

    An ad that ends with the Ford logo and the phrase

    “We make Hybrids too, (you know)”

    Yeah.. but nothing that comes even close to the Awsome Prius

  75. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Now that was funny ;}>

  76. Nick Stevens Says:

    I hear that Max has started a web page for Chrysler-Dodge owners with vehicles that have exceeded their first birthday and/or 40,000 miles.

  77. Max Christensen Says:

    @ Nick and Pedro

    As I’ve stated on numerous occasions – I am not anti-Toyota or anti-Japanese cars, and if you’ve taken the time to read it, I have said it on variouis occasions. But then I guess you have to be able to read first, huh?

    Anyway, what pisses me off is the fact that so many people (including you two) think that Japanese cars in general and Toyota in partiuclar can do no wrong! That’s what I don’t get! There is no company, no car, no anything that is THAT perfect- and all I’ve advocated for is a level playing field and then let it shake out wherever it might end up. The press has been so pro-foreign car for so many years that such stupidity has certainly had a hand in bringing down our domestic car industry. And people like you who apparently cannot think for yourselves have bought into this hoax of Japanese car supremeicy – and I’m just here to tell you, “It just ain’t so!”

    And then Pedro, your little twit about the Sebring/Avenger in post #4 – you are just like Nick (thus the crack about you being his puppet) – you don’t know what the hell you are even talking about! You boys are two of a kind – and I’m going any farther in defining what “kind” that is!

  78. Max Christensen Says:

    @ Nick

    Nick Stevens Says:
    March 15th, 2010 at 10:41 am
    I hear that Max has started a web page for Chrysler-Dodge owners with vehicles that have exceeded their first birthday and/or 40,000 miles.

    Hey Nicky,

    I keep asking for others to stand up in this blog and tell about their new vehicles that have gone over 40,000 miles with NO problems WHATSOEVER! Yet, I’ve not heard from one other single person? Why is that? I’ll ask again – anybody else out there have a car that they bought new that didn’t have to be taken back in for something (regardless of how minor) in the first 40,000 miles???? Anyone else out there have a car they bought new that still has no rattles or squeaks after the first 40,000 miles? I’m not trying to be a smart ass ……. I’m just asking. If you do, fine, tell us about it and tell us about what kind of car it is.

    I’m just saying – and if Nick truly knew anything about cars, he’d have to agree – it’s very unusual for any NEW car to go over 40,000 miles and not have to go back to the dealer for some sort of repair or fix. And I think it just pisses poor little Nicky off that a Dodge AVENGER, of ALL cars, can actually do it! And this is why I say that Pedro doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about either. Unless you actually own a car, I don’t think you should be making referecnes to their durability and/or reliability based on what you read in a freaking rag like Consumer Reports.

  79. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens Says:
    March 15th, 2010 at 10:41 am

    “I hear that Max has started a web page for Chrysler-Dodge owners with vehicles that have exceeded their first birthday and/or 40,000 miles.”

    I have a Dodge minivan that is over 21. I’ll admit it has had a sheltered life, and only has 67K miles, but it runs fine. The AC went 19 years before needing any refrigerent. That is quite impressive, from my experience.

  80. Max Christensen Says:

    Thanks Kit, and that is impressive! And oftentimes, the cars that live sheltered, low-mileage sometimes have a rougher life than those that pile on tons of miles. So that makes it all the more impressive……….

  81. Nick Stevens Says:

    Kit: a sheltered life and 67k? I bet it will be one of the stars in Max’s website.

  82. pedro fernandez Says:

    If you read post #4 I criticize Toyota for planning to build the next Corolla on the Yaris platform, which is not a good idea. The Avenger is built off the smaller less capable Caliber platform, just like so many makers have done before for the sake of saving a few bucks,which perhaps is the main reason why it trails the competition in reviews and test drives done by professionals.

  83. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My van was my daily driver for two years. Since then, I’ve used it mainly for transporting RC aiplanes to the flying field, and other times when I need extra space. It has been used only in the summer for most of its life.

    The van has a 2.5 turbo and 5-speed manual. Only 405 ’89 Caravans were built with that power train, according to a reply I received from Chrysler a few years ago.

  84. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Pedro look at the Hyundai Accent Revews, sure there are a couple of problems, but its night and day compared to Rio. I have already talked about the Rios quality before. Why the Grand Canyon quality gap?


    They both are mechanically the same car built at different factories. (Not for Long as Rio Production is moving to the Accent Plant) They did that as an experiment to show why 2 cars that are mechanically the same must be built at the same factory with the best quality. They always experiment like that.

    That’s why I beat up on GM for Choosing Lordstown Ohio to build the Cruze. They made the Crappy Colbalt, and I expect them to make a Crappy Cruze too.

  85. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Lordstown plant has been accused of building “crappy” cars for 40 years, but have they really had a chance to do otherwise, given the products sent there? They have been, at best, mediocre designs. Vega, J-cars, and Cobalt/G5 are what they get to build there. If the design of the Cruze is any good, then Lordstown will have the chance to build something other than “crap.”