Episode 368 – Another Toyota Fine?, Audi Outsells Mercedes, Ridgeline On The Chopping Block

April 12th, 2010 at 12:00pm

Runtime 7:41

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering slapping Toyota with another fine for knowingly delaying a recall for accelerator pedals. Audi outsells Mercedes-Benz worldwide thanks to its success in China. Honda might drop the Ridgeline pickup truck. All that and more, plus John takes a ride in the new Hyundai Sonata with John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai North America.

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Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .

Here are today’s top headlines. Toyota faces another fine. Audi outsells Mercedes-Benz worldwide. And Honda might drop the Ridgeline.

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

This is Autoline Daily for Monday, April 12, 2010. And now, the news.

An analysis of Toyota documents by the Associated Press alleges that the company used questionable and evasive tactics in fighting lawsuits. The AP cites examples where Toyota will tell the court it doesn’t have information when it does, or will even ignore court orders to turn over information. The AP investigated dozens of lawsuits over the last decade.

And right on the heels of that, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering slapping Toyota with another fine for knowingly delaying a recall for accelerator pedals. NHTSA already fined Toyota $16.4 million, the most it is allowed to impose. No word yet on what the next fine could cost the Japanese automaker.

Audi is on a roll. The Wall Street Journal reports that strong sales are propelling Audi to all-time records (subscription required). For the first quarter of the year, Audi sales are up 26 percent to 264,000 cars. And get this. Audi now outsells Mercedes-Benz worldwide. A key reason is Audi’s success in China. And it expects the good times to keep on rolling when it brings out the small A1 later this year. 80 percent of A1 buyers are expected to be new to the brand.

GM also has some ambitious goals for China. According to Bloomberg, the company is targeting 3 million in sales in the country by 2015. This year GM will sell 2 million cars in China, four years ahead of schedule. To reach those goals, GM will introduce 25 new or refreshed models in China by the end of next year.

Buick is often perceived as a brand that your grandparents might drive, but that’s beginning to change. According to the Detroit News, the average age of Buick owners has dropped from 72 to 65 years old in the American market. Still old, but it’s an improvement. The success of the Enclave and LaCrosse has helped to drop the average age and it’s expected to go lower once the new Regal goes on sale. Buick says other than marketing to younger buyers it’s equipping its vehicles with more high-end content which has helped attract more customers.

This story comes from Pickuptrucks.com but we found it on Autoblog. If rumors are true, Honda is dropping its Ridgeline pickup. The boxy, front-wheel-drive truck is slated to go out of production in 2012, and according to the article, no replacement is in the works. It seems the Ridgeline has been a disappointment on the showroom floor. Honda sold fewer than 17,000 of them last year. As you’d expect, the automaker will not comment on these rumors.

We’ve known since the Detroit Auto Show in January that Ford was going to build battery packs for its upcoming hybrid and electric vehicles, but we didn’t know where, until now. The Detroit News reports that the company’s components plant in Rawsonville, Michigan – near Ypsilanti – is the lucky winner. The move is part of a $450 million investment to get advanced electric vehicles on the road. Another bonus of the decision is that it could create some 1,000 jobs by 2012.

Coming up next, I take a ride in the new Hyundai Sonata with John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai North America.

The Hyundai Sonata is one of the most interesting new sedans to hit the market. The styling, the features, the way it drives is going to make a lot of car buyers put this one on their shopping lists. I recently test drove one, with John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai North America.

I can’t wait to drive the turbocharged version of the Sonata. We should get a crack at driving that later this year.

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

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

71 Comments to “Episode 368 – Another Toyota Fine?, Audi Outsells Mercedes, Ridgeline On The Chopping Block”

  1. Nick Stevens Says:

    Good riddance, Ridgeline. Honda nas also introduced other low-volume sellers, esp. in Acura, but also Hondas like the Element, which have also failed to deliver any serious profits.

    This market has way too many models, and only the ‘fittest’ should survive, and do even better by taking some of the sales of those that will fail.

  2. Todd Says:

    How long before the excessive fines against Toyota could be seen as “anti-competitive” and investigated by another government agency. As the owner of GM is it possible for the government to be charged with antitrust?

  3. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Well,I guess what I said about Toyota’s problems were only beginning last month was an understatement at the least.I read the article that John referred to yesterday,shame on you Toyota…..shame on you.

    I don’t fully buy that their problems are ALL driver error.Seems that UA wasn’t the only thing they had to worry about.Is this a dynamic that automatically happens when a car company gets to number 1? Stay tuned,I’m sure more “dirty laundry” will be forth coming.

  4. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Nick:I have a friend of mine that,despite my advice against it,bought the pos ridgeline.He has regretted it ever since,and the trade in value is pretty much rock bottom.The ridgeline is a useless pos that should never have been produced.Oh well,his problem,not mine.

  5. dcars Says:

    My brother bought a Ridge-line and boy is he unhappy. For the same cost he could have bought a full size Silverado, got the same gas mileage or better and got a far bigger truck.

  6. Nick Stevens Says:

    I have not test driven the Ridgeline, I read some good reviews about its intelligent design, but my comments were based on the fact that it did not sell. Honda must have lost a ton of $ on this weird bird, but they keep bringing out these fringe niche vehicles that you can guess from day one that they will not sell, like this obese, ugly Acura BMW X6 clone, forget its silly name (one of these meaningless alphanumerics…)

    And i say the above as a former and current satisfied Honda owner of Civics and Accords.

  7. pedro fernandez Says:

    Hey, no car line is perfect, you either build a real truck or you don’t. Ridgeline failed just like that Chevy SSR did. People want to buy “real” trucks, not truck-like vehicles.

  8. Mike Western Says:

    John – So, the new Hundai Sonata only has a 4 cylinder available, and it saves weight by not offering a V6 at all. Well, what about the new Buick Regal? It only offers a 4 cylinder. Where are their marketing people? Does it save weight, as well?

  9. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Nick:I wasn’t inferring that the quality was bad,quite the opposite.It’s just useless as a pickup truck.

  10. dcars Says:

    I’m a satisfied Accord owner too. Honda hasn’t hit the mark lately. It seams like Chevy and Ford are good with full size trucks. The ford explorer sport trac also missed the mark. Like Pedro says these half trucks aren’t in demand.

  11. Tony Gray Says:

    I laughed this past winter when my neighbor couldn’t even get out of his driveway with his Ridgeline, until I busted the drifts for him with my Silverado.

    Anyway, I think GM should throw beaucoup money at Krafcik…he is EXACTLY the kind of car guy they need for the long term.

  12. Kit Gerhart Says:

    John, the Ridgeline has mandatory AWD and is not sold FWD, at least in the US.

    While Ridgeline has not sold well, it is about the best pickup on the market for most people who buy pickups, given that most pickups are mainly used for commuting to work with the bed empty. Consumer Reports rated it very highly, as have a number of other publications.

    Of course, for those who need a “real” truck for heavy hauling or towing, the Ridgeline doesn’t do it.

  13. Nick Stevens Says:

    Hyundai already lost Krafcik’s pal, some VP that had a major role in recent H-K successes, and even before that i predicted that sooner or later Krafcik will get an offer he will not refuse and go work for another automaker. I am not sure if GM (Government Motors) has its act together on this subject, it has a clueless CEO from ATT (not even from manufacturing, as is Mullaly from Boeing), and who fired and then rehired henderson, the former CEO, as a consultant at $3,000 an HOUR, to tell him how he can continue screwing up. A pity, since GM has some good product recently, the New lacrosse, and now the well-priced Econ Cruze of 40 MPG EPA highway..

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Honda SHOULD, or should have, sold the Ridgeline with FWD for those in the “sun belt” who just have to have a pickup to haul those occasional few bags of mulch from Home Depot. An FWD Ridgeline should be $1500-2000 cheaper, and would get a little better gas mileage than the AWD version.

  15. Nick Stevens Says:

    The Pickup market in general took a huge hit after May 08. Even the domestics who sold close to 1 million F-150s and another million Silverados and Sierras (put together) saw their sales drop to half that. Some of that had to do with the recession in the home building industry and the overall recession, but most of it is probably due to consumers that never needed a pickup and could not afford one any more, who made dramatic switches as it seems from the May 08 sales data, when the perennial (every month for almost 20 years) no. 1 best seller, the F 150, plummeted not just to second but to … fifth (!) place, and the.. Civic with a huge 53,000 sales (May 08 alone!) became the no. 1.

  16. Nick Stevens Says:

    I meant the ECO, not ECON, Cruze which gets 40 MPG highway and GM promised it will price it only a few hundred more than the base cruze, and not $8,000 more, as is the diff btw the base Fusion and the Hybrid Fusion.

  17. LEX Says:

    John,

    The Ridgeline has too small a bed for carrying what is necessary for the construction site or weekend warrior home remodeling project. They need a beefier pickup truck with the same crew cab and larger rear bed to really complete in the pickup truck segment.

    There are several Honda Models which need attention. I wrote to you sometime ago about a Concept Drawing of the Honda HR-V which I found on the Internet. My instance impression was that this is a WINNER! I attempted to contact Dave Merck at Honda Design Studio’s without success. I have sent you a copy of that Concept Drawing under separate cover since I am unable to attached it to this comment. Please view that drawing and tell me what your thoughts are of it. I believe it could be the NEW Honda CR-V, Element or HR-V. This Vehicle is far better looking and more practical than the Accord Cross tour. Honda needs to update its fleet. I am really concerned about the size of the new Odyssey being too small! To me it looks like a return to the previous, yet smaller version of the Odyssey from 1999 to 2004. I happen to think that the 1999 to 2004 Odyssey was a more streamline and attractive look for the Odyssey than the current model. The Element more that the CR-V needs an immediate restyling intervention. I hope the concept drawing I sent gets to Honda so that they can start rethinking styling in that direction. Like the Ridgeline the Insight is too small to be practical as anything other than a daily commuter. Honda only needs to combine the Insight and Civic with the FCX’s DNA to make a single great looking and pleasurable to drive vehicle with great MPG.

    Hyundai has the a winning formula with the Sonata. They have combine great looks with low vehicle weight and high output four cyclinder motors to get great MPG. This combination could be a real winner for Hyundai. Honda has the reputation but Hyundai is certainly coming up fast in there rear view mirror.

  18. dcars Says:

    I like the new Buicks, but have to laugh thinking a younger buyer for their cars is 65. I can hear them now “Why when I was a youngster (just twelve years ago), I souped up my Buick century with spinners! Kids these days.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    John, why didn’t they let you drive the Sonata? It’s a big difference when you drive a car, compared to just riding in it as a passenger. Did it feel “substantial”? I mean with such a light curb weight and being a full size car, I wonder how it would handle crosswinds, etc.

  20. pedro fernandez Says:

    dcars: geezers are losing Buick and Grand Marquis will most likely be discontinued, so what are they supposed to buy? Avalon, I’ve seen a couple of geezer driven Tauruses also.

  21. Drew Says:

    John,
    Hyundai is pronounced “Hun-day”, not “Hun-die”.

  22. Nick Stevens Says:

    Maybe riding with Crafcik in the car made John reluctant to say anything critical about it. Soft interviews and soft tests can be very boring, as was last weekend’s “Autoline Detroit” interview with that guy from Ford, I quit paying attention after the first few minutes.

  23. Nick Stevens Says:

    3,200 lbs is not any problem, my Accord 5-speed coupe 1990 was a mere 2,822 lbs, and did feel substantial and solid in crosswinds etc.

    Our 92 5-speed civic hatch is an unbelievable 1,875 lbs, but has no power steering and does not feel light, and is fairly quick despite its 75 hp, due to the good Hp/wt ratio.

  24. dcars Says:

    Hey Pedro their are plenty of Sebrings and Galants on the lots that they’ll fall in love with.

  25. Chuck Grenci Says:

    I’m guessing John couldn’t drive the Hyundai due to legal/insurance reasons (as it is not an available vehicle to the general public and they were on public roads; just a guess) but more sadly, IMO, is that the segment just came away as a free commercial for the Sonata. Still not a fan (nor do I think my mind will change anytime soon; somehow Hyundai rubs me the wrong way).

  26. pedro fernandez Says:

    dcars: I believe that for a car to qualify as a geezermobile, it must have a bench seat and be roomy enough for a colostomy bag.

  27. Max Christensen Says:

    @ G.A on Post #3

    I couldn’t agree with you more ……. SHAME ON YOU TOYOTA! Despite their appearance of building such safe, reliable, appliance-like cars, the company itself is a pack of cut-throat theives and liars.

    @ Tom on Post #2

    How in the world could this be interpreted as either anti-competitive or anti-trust? Toyota has been in the wrong as we are finding out with more of their dirty laundry being brought forth with almost every passing day! There is absolutely nothing that is biased about the reports of defects, fraud and lying that are being uncovered. As long as this “stink” keeps emitting from across the Pacific, I say, “Nail their ass!” You know damn well if it were one of the Detroit Three with these problems, that everyone (including most in here) would be clammering for punishment – it’s time for Toyota to get the same treatment!

  28. Nick Stevens Says:

    What hate-filled, bigoted garbage from the Resident Dodge Rental Queen….

    And quit calling those who RESPECT and recommend but not own Toyotas “toyota Lovers”. People do not love their reliable appliances, they do not even notice them, but do appreciate it when they drive on the highway and see the stopping lane filled with Chrysler and Dodge Neons and… Plymouth Breezes (anyone remember this one?) with hoods open and various smokes coming out of them..LOL.

  29. Max Christensen Says:

    Nick, are you smoking something today? Where did I call anyone a “Toyota Lover”? You’re just as whacked as ever………

  30. Max Christensen Says:

    It’s pretty common knowledge that Toyota has been handled with kid gloves for about the past decade – by the media, by owners, by everybody. Now it’s coming out that they aren’t nearly as upstanding and clean as everyone wanted to think. I’m just saying it’s time for those boys to take their medicine just like the Detroit Three have been taking from everyone for the past few decades.

    As I’ve said on numourous occasions – level the field (completely level the field), and then let’s play a little ball and see who is really best and who is really the most upstanding company – I’m not saying it would be my beloved Chrysler, but it sure as hell isn’t going to be Toyota anymore either!

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    pedro fernandez Says:
    April 12th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    “dcars: geezers are losing Buick and Grand Marquis will most likely be discontinued, so what are they supposed to buy? Avalon, I’ve seen a couple of geezer driven Tauruses also.”

    I’m a 63 year old near-geezer, and I recently bought a Mini. There seem to be a lot of stereotypes assigned to certain demographics that don’t always apply.

    I had a Grand Marquis for a couple years and found that I wasn’t nearly old enough for that car yet. Besides, it had few redeeming virtues. The back seat wasn’t very roomy, the car wasn’t particularly quiet, and it didn’t ride all that well, especially for its size. It did have a large trunk, though.

  32. Chris Santucci Says:

    Ridgeline first, Titan second, Tundra soon to follow. All of them are dying.

    And when will the “grassy knoll” people give up on the ridiculous notion that the GM loans have something to do with how Toyota lied to NHTSA? Face the facts, Toyota finally got caught and they did it all to themselves. Don’t bother trying to give credit to anybody else.

  33. Russell Lombardo Says:

    Isn’t the GM Avalanche simply a clone of the Ridgeline? And is GM still making it? Both are certainly ugly.

    Someone compared the Silverado, stating it was better than a Ridgeline. I just read a report ntoing the Silverado is one of the 10 worst vehicles in current production.

    I guess that’s why there are so many brands.

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit, I don’t consider a 63 yr old a geezer, I’m 58 myself and would not consider any of those geezermobiles I mentioned, I, like you, happen to like small, maneuverable, easy on gas cars for everyday use, except if I go on a longish trip, I will rent something more substantial. I use the word geezer for those who should have given up driving years ago(ages 80 and up) and are a hazard on the road by usually going way under the speed limit. There are always exceptions to the age given, Clint Eastwood, the late Paul Newman to mention just 2.

  35. Dave Says:

    Early Ridgelines could be fwd OR awd. I dont know how long before Honda just made them AWD. I know a guy who has a Ridgeline and he loves it. I dont like the styling, or mpg, or price, but I do like the idea of a larger than small trucks and smaller than full size. If it got some MPGs they would have sold them..and a bit lower price.

    As a owner of a Kia Sorento that I tow with for the last 5 years I would buy the new Hyundai. ALL other auto makers better look out Hyundai/kia is not just coming up in the mirror..THEY HAVE PASSED them with alot of products!

  36. Julius Lambert Says:

    Iwas at the ALL GM SHOW in Hershey,Pa.in the Fall of 2001.Buick had a model there that the name sounded like LUCERNE.It was a BLACK CHERRY swoopy 4 dr ht with rear suicide doors.The hood opened from the side like the 40′s.It was a dedicated 4 bucket seat with a console from the windshield to the package tray.All was dressed in BUCK SKIN LEATHER.OH and it had a NS V8 up front.Now if Buick would just dust this consept off,update it, the public world wide would be at their showroom door step with their wallets wide open.This is coming from a BUICK MAN.OH I forgot the PANO ROOF——————————————-

  37. Julius Lambert Says:

    In the 60s I had a German transplant neighbor.He drove a MB 230 diesel,and I a Buick Riviera.He teased me about buying a good car,MB.I told him that I could trade every other year,and stay updated in a Buick,for the PRICE he paid.Today I drive a MB,but if GM would build that concept I would BAIL.

  38. dcars Says:

    The market for small trucks mutated into some undesirable vehicles. The Nissan Frontier in my believe is the class leader in styling, desirability etc…… the gas mileage is not so good.

  39. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    I like the Ridgeline. I just think the Size of it is not in Honda’s character. If it was the size of a Ranger or a Dakota, and got 32-33 MPG it would have been a seller.

    Honda would have provided a good service for people. A $16-$27K Truck with high fuel efficiency.

  40. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Buick needs to get that Astra and Viva on the street to even drop that age down more. Viva maybe an Aveo, but like the Aveo its getting the same 1.4 turbo standard as the Cruze. In smaller Aveo/Viva, that 1.4 turbo will give it 138HP and 47 MPG.

    Its the Accent Guys, they share testing facilities with Hyundai at times, and GM/Daewoo gets inspriation. Just like the Astra is a BLATANT COPY OF THE GEN COUPE INTERIOR.

    Like I said before the Advancement of Korean small cars is only good for GM. Embrace the change. Im impressed by that Aveo, and Im confident that its going to be not just a half decent small car, but its going to be a very good one.

    The extra (We’re going to copy off Hyundai) R&D time they have on that thing, indicates they are building them for the long haul.

  41. pedro fernandez Says:

    Smoke: I can understand your enthusiasm for H/K but Daewoo? C’mon bro, they suck, everyone I know who has had one of them, has had lots of problems. They started off on the wrong foot by not having dealerships to begin with and it went down hill from there. They’ve had plenty of time to improve their products and they still suck. Most of the Suzukis sold here are made by Daewoo. And don’t tell me GM made them better, just like they bungled every brand they bought, Daewoo has not improved like H/K has.

  42. Todd Says:

    Pedro afraid you’re a little out of date, no Suzuki’s currently sold here are made by Daewoo.

    Max, how it the playing field unlevel? How is hearing only one side of a story not biased? Do you really think if the media dug as deep in to GM they would not find as much or more “dirty laundry”?

  43. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Its not Daewoo enthusiasm Pedro, its an honest assessment. We’ll see about that long term reliability on their new products. However, with the way things are changing over here it wouldnt be a shock to Actually see a very Good Aveo.

    GM is dating the Cruze by holding it back, but I think its smart as GM is working out the kinks. I think GM should bring the Refreshed Cruze over here.

    However, I do have a prediction. If GM blows these 2 cars over this decade GM will sell Daewoo to the lowest bidder. Sure Daewoo designed the cars, but its GMs job at the end of the day to make sure they run right.

    I dont blame Daewoo, the blame rest on GMs head at the end of the day. Its a shame people are making Daewoo and Korean Cars themsevles as a Scapegoat. It makes all Korean cars including Accent, Sonata, Genesis, Equus, Forte, Soul look bad when people make comments like the Aveo is Korean Crap, etc…

  44. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    Daewoo has the ingredients of change written all over it. They are Hyundai in 1995 in my eyes.

    Its wild to think that Daewoo formerly known as Saehan Motors was around longer than Hyundai. Yet, they are 15 years behind, and not on design by any means. They are behind on the quality front, and they are so close to working it out if they havent already with this new Aveo; I can taste it.

  45. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    47 MPG and 138 HP IN AN AVEO?!!!

    That is borderline class leading, and for a car that trails the pack in its current variant, I call it impressive personally.

    By the way, when I said 2011 Yaris will get 49 MPG. I have confirmed it to be on the Euro Cycle. Thats about 41 MPG here.

  46. Andrew Charles Says:

    The Honda HR-V is a discontinued model that was formerly sold in Japan, Europe and Australasia. It was a 3-/5-door B-segment wagon with modest SUV pretensions, a bit like the European Ford Fusion. In the Japanese market only it has been replaced by the Honda Crossroad, a slightly larger, crossover similar to a miniature Ford Flex and based on the 7-seat Honda Stream compact wagon.

  47. HyundaiSmoke Says:

    By the way John,

    John Krafcik loves chauffering Journalists around in Hyundai products. He’s a real stand up guy.

    John K may be a CEO, but he is a real hardcore Accent enthusiast like myself. Sonata may be the story now, but the Accent is what will really take Hyundai to the stratosphere in terms of brand image. Especially with the $5 a gallon price point the oil guys talk about for 2014-2015. John K is on the case, and that Accent will be one of the top 5 small cars to own on the planet, trust me!!!

    The Top 5 small car Must Haves in the next 3 years will be:

    Accent
    Fit/Jazz
    MINI
    Polo/A1
    Aveo/Viva (I really believe in my heart its going to be that good)

  48. pedro fernandez Says:

    Todd: I stand corrected, however the fact is that GM rebadged Daewoo-made cars as Suzukis, their quality sucked and that helped bring down the brand to where it is today, just went over to the Edmunds customer reviews for Audi, and even though owners love the way the drive, their service issues are scary, from the cost of repairs to how often they need those repairs. You have to wonder if all this driving bliss is woth the expense and aggravation.

  49. dcars Says:

    Yep, all Daewoo’s problems are GM’s fault. Hmmmm didn’t GM bailout Daewoo when it was going bankrupt after some scandals? Didn’t Daewoo’s rise come on the back of government back credit? I think the Korean government still owns a percentage of Daewoo and Hyundai. That’s something that GM didn’t get till recently!

  50. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Well, It will interesting to see when the next Accent is like. The current one is very underwhelming, and is not even recommended by Consumer Reports because of poor crash test results and other safety deficiencies. The way things are going with Hyundai, I’m sure the new one will be much improved.

  51. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Russell Lombardo Says:
    April 12th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    “Isn’t the GM Avalanche simply a clone of the Ridgeline? And is GM still making it? Both are certainly ugly.”

    The Avalanche is still sold, and it based on a regular rear/4wd truck platform, and has a V8 engine. Ridgeline is smaller and is now sold only with AWD, but would be FWD if sold with two wheel drive.

    Yes, both are kind of ugly, but the current Avalanche isn’t nearly as ugly as the early ones which had the horrid plastic cladding on the lower part of the body.

  52. Nick Stevens Says:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2010/04/12/speeding-tickets-65-issued-per-minute-and-other-fun-facts/#continued

    The Need For Speed-ing Tickets

  53. Nick Stevens Says:

    No, Russel, the Huge, obese Avalanche has nothing in common with the Ridgeline. Of course they are ugly, but each in its own way, that does not make them ‘clones’ of each other!

  54. Nick Stevens Says:

    Pedro says: “..Edmunds customer reviews for Audi, and even though owners love the way the drive, their service issues are scary, from the cost of repairs to how often they need those repairs. You have to wonder if all this driving bliss is woth the expense and aggravation.”

    Audi almost sold more vehicles than the top luxury maker BMW, and did pass Mercedes last month.

    They have 1. 4wd and 2. excellent exterior styling and according to some, 3. the best interiors. Plus, 4. they are priced cheaper than M-B and BMWs of similar class.

    There are many, many drivers that willingly pay the extra $ for the repairs to get these 4 advantages.

    A very good friend and former PhD student is a dedicated VW-Audi fan. he progressed from his tiny 102 hp 1986 GTI he babied for almost 15 years to a series of audis, an 100 that was totaled by a dumb nurse in her Cavalier sliding on the ice (that nurse totaled another car two weeks before, the cavalier was just out of the shop!), to his current A4 5-speed, used around town, and an A6 turbo he got with low miles cheap on Ebay but has proven much worse than the 4, used for his 100 mile commute three times a week or so.

    He wants the cars to be in top shape and even goes to the dealer for repairs the dealer thinks are unnecessary.

    He has been going so frequently, his wife is accusing him of neglecting his family obligations.

    I did not fix my 7 unless it was broken, and only did regular maintenance, and feel as I am going to the dealer one time for every TEN times he does, and spend less than a tenth he has been spending on repairs, on a far more expensive car,

    But he loves the audis still…

    it’s like you believe you have this super-trophy wife, and you satisfy her every whim… of course others have far better looking and behaving wives and spend a tenth on them…

  55. Nick Stevens Says:

    “The Honda HR-V is a discontinued model that was formerly sold in Japan, Europe and Australasia. It was a 3-/5-door B-segment wagon with modest SUV pretensions, a bit like the European Ford Fusion”

    My neighbor down the street from our summer home has a HR-V, it has been a tiny, tinny, ugly POS from day one, and with the orange color is is a real eyesore. What is the European Ford Fusion??? The Hr-V looks nothing like the US ford Fusion.

    The HR-V is a crossover wannabe smaller and cheaper than the current smallest class of crossovers (CR-V, RAV4, Escape), and closer to that other ugly POS, the Suzuki Xr4 or whatever they call this lame, ugly little thing Suzuki tried to sell in the US.

  56. pedro fernandez Says:

    dcars: I never blamed GM for Daewoo’s problems, they sucked before GM bought them and they still suck after GM has had them for a few years. While H/K has made substantial improvements in their vehicles, Daewoo seems to be stuck in a20th century time warp.

  57. pedro fernandez Says:

    @Nick: why do you suppose it’s so hard for other car makers to abandon the FWD fascination that has been so prevalent since the 80′s and try to come up with something that could take on the Germans at a lower price, I mean why not a RWD Accord or Maxima or even some Toyota variant of the IS?

  58. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Nick Stevens says:

    “What is the European Ford Fusion??? ”

    Isn’t it still called Mondeo?

  59. EAB Says:

    In the past, Honda signed up for a “non Honda” car when they got a version of the Isuzu Rodeo IE Honda Passport, and they paid dearly as the vehicle lacked quality. However, that was then, and this is now. Unlike even five years ago, finding a relevant product that doesn’t have 100,000 mile trouble free quality is a challenge.

    What Honda ought to do is see if they can work a deal with one of the domestics for a version of their full sized truck, much like VW has done with their van. Since the Dodge is coil spring all around and has acceptable if not “Honda” quality, I think that’s the one they should try to get. Chrysler has proven they are up for this as they have provided VW with a version of their van. Of course, Chrysler keeps the stow and go and other items as their own, but still, VW put their spin on it; so much so as it’s difficult to tell it’s a Chrysler. Honda should do this, adopt a version of the Ram. Even if they make zilch on it, at least it keeps the customer from bailing to another showroom.

  60. pedro fernandez Says:

    EAB: I think Honda learned their lesson from the Passport era and will not be depending on anyone else to build their products. VW on the other hand has similar reliability to Chrysler so it was no big deal for them to have Caravans dressed as VW minivans, I believe they did tighten up the suspension to make it more European like, but not much else. I just read where Dodge will be building pickups for some other car maker also.

  61. Kit Gerhart Says:

    At one time, I heard that Nissan was going to sell Dodge pickups as a replacement for the Titan when it goes away. I don’t know if that is still in the works or not.

  62. Kit Gerhart Says:

    There is a car called Fusion sold in the UK, but it has no connection to the US Fusion. The one sold in Britain is a tallish 5-door that is 158 inches long.

  63. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# Kit Gerhart Says:
    April 13th, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Nick Stevens says:

    “What is the European Ford Fusion??? ”

    Isn’t it still called Mondeo?”

    yes, I was surprised he was comparing it to the HR-V. The two have absolutely nothing in common.

  64. Nick Stevens Says:

    “There is a car called Fusion sold in the UK, but it has no connection to the US Fusion. The one sold in Britain is a tallish 5-door that is 158 inches long.”

    That might explain it… the very short length sure is similar to the length of the tinny, ugly HR-V.. as is the height..

  65. Nick Stevens Says:

    “# pedro fernandez Says:
    April 13th, 2010 at 9:59 am

    @Nick: why do you suppose it’s so hard for other car makers to abandon the FWD fascination that has been so prevalent since the 80’s and try to come up with something that could take on the Germans at a lower price, I mean why not a RWD Accord or Maxima or even some Toyota variant of the IS?”

    Cost? Even the Germans do not bother with RWD in any of their Golfs or jettas, which are the makority of VW sales in the US.

    PS isn’t the IS RWD? (or is it 4wd or AWD?)? I thought it was supposed to take on the 3 series, but it failed miserably.

  66. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The IS is RWD and AWD. The AWD version (and manual transmission) are only available with the smaller, 2.5 liter engine.

  67. dcars Says:

    Hi Pedro I didn’t think that you did. I wasn’t referring to your comments.

  68. pedro fernandez Says:

    dcars:sorry about that.

  69. pedro fernandez Says:

    Nick: don’t know exact sales numbers for the IS, but I do see a lot of them around these parts. I guess it has to do with the climate or the So. Fla preference for imported luxury cars, but they do sell a lot of them , so I don’t understand why you say they have failed miserably. On the other hand, I do believe BMW has failed with the 1 series, I barely see any on the road. A 3 yr old 3 series lease return is a much better choice than a new 1.

  70. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The 1 series is too close to the price of a 3 when comparably equipped. Also, as far as I’m concerned, they refuse to import the only 1 series body style worth importing, the 5-door.

  71. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I see quite a few IS’s where I am too, in the “Space Coast” area of Florida. A 3 series is a little sportier than the IS, but the IS drives well and, being a Toyota, should be very reliable. The biggest weakness of the IS is the cramped rear seat, but a 3 series doesn’t have such a roomy rear seat either.