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6-10-2016


Looking at the bolt website does this photo give use a hint the Bolt will travel 240 miles per charge?



Mark
Oooh. You are good, eagle eye!

Based on this Bolt IP screenshot from Chevrolet, it suggests that a Bolt travelled 78.7 miles using only 18.1 kilowatt hours of battery energy. Since the Bolt will come with a 60 KwH battery, this means it might be able to travel 260 miles on a single charge, probably under ideal conditions. Maybe GM is talking only about “over 200 miles” as a precaution from Bolts travelling in cold weather.

Thanks for sending!
6-10-2016


Hi John,

How does this happen as Tesla is hiring illegal immigrants to build their cars and are paying them just $5 per hour yet Tesla loses thousands of dollars on the sale of each car as it makes you wonder what the true price a Tesla should be.

Mike Ma
The problem isn't with Tesla, it's with a visa system in the U.S. that is not monitored and is open to abuse.

John McElroy
6-10-2016


Hello,



3 generations of my family (myself, my Son and my Father in Law) will be passing through Detroit for a day in late August.



I love factory tours, especially those where you really get to see what is being done, like the Budweiser tour in St. Louis and less those that are really a brand promoting static tour, like the Coca Cola “factory” tour in Atlanta. I saw more about the production of Cola watching my neighbour’s SodaStream machine than I did after 4 hours there:-)



What would you say would be THE one our two or three best stops for me?



I will be driving from Chicago and on up into Canada heading east so it does NOT have to be in Detroit proper if a better plant tour is along the way to not too much of a detour.

I listen to all of your podcasts and feel that your passion and enthusiasm for the industry is exactly what I would like to tap for this.



What are your thoughts on the Rouge Plant tour and the Henry Ford in General?



Thank you very much in advance for you help on this journey.



Cheers,

Gord
Gord,

The Ford Rouge Plant and the Henry Ford are must-see destinations. The Rouge plant tour is the only automotive assembly plant tour offered in the Detroit area. You can get tickets at the Henry Ford.

The Henry Ford, both the museum and Greenfield Village, are fantastic. But we wouldn’t recommend trying to do all three (Rouge plant, museum, Village) in one day. There’s just too much to see.

Also, keep August 20th in mind. That’s the official date of the Woodward Dream Cruise, the most amazing car event in the world, with about one million attendees and tens of thousands of classic cars. That date may fall earlier than your trip, but if you can make it you’ll love it.
6-10-2016


Why is it that there is so much design work put into a vehicle's normal or lower rear brake lights to create unique looks and cool lighting signatures, and practically all center high mount stop lights (CHMSLs) are just the same old boring horizontal bar of lights? Are CHMSLs a potential design differentiator that automakers have overlooked, or is their consistent appearance across all vehicles a result of the regulation(s) that require them?

Jason
Jason,

CHMSLs, being a mandated safety feature, must meet exacting specifications. There’s a little bit of wiggle room, but it must be mounted center laterally on the rear of a vehicle. Take a look at the rear-end of the first-gen Ford Transit Connect sold in the US market. You’ll see a CHMSL mounted on the roof, centered laterally. But on the left-side rear door you’ll also see a metal plate covering where the original European-spec CHMSL was located. NHTSA did not like the Euro-spec CHMSL location and ordered Ford to move it to a central location.

When CHMSLs first came out in the mid-1980s NHTSA believed they would reduce rear-end collisions by half. Today, that reduction is estimated at less than 5%.
6-10-2016


John
Thank you for your thoughtful reply (See 5/6/16). Keep up the good work John. I love your reporting and the TV shows.
 
You are suggesting that the automakers have a reliable history in predicting the next big thing… You know better than I the long list of technologies they assumed were supposed to be the next big thing. I suggest the directors are reacting defensively in the best interests of their companies – so they aren’t left behind their marketplace competitors and forced to adopt someone else’s patents. In addition, they are as vulnerable to the hype from Silicon Valley as any of us have been for the last forty plus years of failed dreams. The tech and automobile graveyard is full of previously assumed big things. They are likely also motivated to protect their company’s high tech and passenger safety image.
 
As for saving all those souls… It is a too convenient and overly simplified claim to make that all those lives and injuries will be saved simply by deploying this technology. It remains to be seen how many will be injured or die by the failures and limitations of autonomous technology. Roadway conditions such as ice, snow, rain, equipment failures, potholes, construction projects, tire blowouts, failed train signals, and failed red light signals will challenge autonomous car systems as they do real people.
 
Today I just returned from my 500 mile monthly road trip to my Florida home using the latest version of Google maps on my iPhone 6. Although Google maps is hands down better than any other navigation software program it is chock full of errors, hangs, restarts, and audio issues. In addition it baffles me how the program will save me 3 minutes time driving me 25 miles out of my way. Amazing that I have to micromanage a program built by a programmer twice my IQ and half my age!
 
Kevin Gary
6-10-2016


John,
 
I enjoyed hearing about the “pretty parts” of the Honda Ridgeline, but kept waiting to learn about the power plant and drivetrain.

Joyce
Sorry, we thought we had made it clear in the show that the Ridgeline is based on the same platform as the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX. It uses the same 3.5 l V-6 and 6-speed automatic. It also borrows the same AWD system used in the SUVs. We felt it was more useful to focus on the new features in the Ridgeline rather than talk about carry-over components.
6-10-2016


Hi Guys,
 
You are so good at digging through the data, I have a challenge for you.  After hearing from you that car color choices are recently getting brighter, and moving away from white/black/silver to red, I had a thought:
 
Historically, is there a correlation between car color choice and economic prosperity?  Do the colors get brighter with the financial outlook and vise versa?
 
This seems like it's right up your alley, in terms of interesting things going on in the industry that no one else thought of.  Being an auto industry engineer, and enthusiast, I really enjoy your educational programs!  Keep up the great work!
 
Thanks,
 
Mike M.
Mike,

There is anecdotal evidence that colors are related to economic wellbeing, with brighter colors doing better in boom times and darker colors prevailing in recessions. But remember, it typically takes nearly 3 years to get a new color on a car. The physical testing and validation alone takes 18 months. A recession can be ending, or just getting going, as a new color hits the market. So it’s not a direct correlation.

The most amazing thing is that white, black and silver (or grey) are the most popular colors in the world. It didn’t used to be this way. Through the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s there were distinct geographic preferences and a much greater variety of colors. Then, starting in the mid-1980s, the white, black, silver phenomenon started appearing in Europe and then spread to the rest of the world.

John McElroy

Thanks for the comments on the shows!
6-10-2016


John, I can't believe you're all still swallowing Honda's line that the Ridgeline is a "midsize truck". Under no reasonable measure is the new Ridgeline midsize. The old small truck category was originally created under the Japanese "small car" licence category, also called "4 Number" because of the licence plates (Normal cars are "1 Number"). That category was defined by a maximum width less than 1700 mm, length less than 4700 mm, height less than 2000 mm. Now, longer beds, crew cabs, extended cabs, off-road versions, and the demands of the American, Brazilian and Thai markets have pushed those dimensions beyond the original restrictions (although the base rwd versions of many Chinese pickups, based on obsolete Japanese models, are still 1690 mm wide), so that shorter, narrower low-cab-forward trucks have supplanted traditional pickups in Japan. However, even as new generation midsize trucks have switched to wider, commonized rwd/4wd body designs, all except the 76.5" wide Amarok are still under 75" wide. As body lengths, wheelbase, payload and bed lengths can vary widely even within one model line, that body width is the only way to determine whether a truck is midsize, or just a fullsize truck with a short bed. So where does the Ridgeline fall?

Now, if you go by length, and length alone, then the Ridgeline falls within the midsize range, but then, so do the heavy De Soto AS250, the old Avalanche, the Nissan Titan, and Dodge Ram, so you can't judge a midsize pickup by length, or wheelbase, or payload. After all base versions of the S10 (Colorado outside the Americas) have a 1-ton payload, and even the diesel engined awd version of the smaller Cherokee-based Fiat Toro can carry over a ton. With all that in-model variation, pickups can only be classified by body width, and on that measure, the new Ridgeline is a fullsize truck. That's how they can fit a sheet of plywood between the wheelarches, not because Honda has cleverly taken advantage of the unibody design.

Andrew Charles
Andrew,

You make a very good argument and have a tremendous amount of detail here. But I’m not buying it. The clear distinction between midsize and fullsize disappeared years ago. Take a look at a Ford F-350 from the mid-1980’s. You’ll be shocked at how small it looks. Eight inches shorter than a Ridgeline and 1.5 inches narrower!

You can separate different classes of trucks by GVWR, but even that can get blurry depending on how each model is equipped.

What really matters from a sales standpoint is how the public perceives a truck. And the public will definitely perceive the new Ridgeline as a mid-size truck that fits more easily into their garages than any of the other pickups they can buy right now in the U.S. market.

John McElroy
6-10-2016


He John, love the daily updates. But to get to my point, as I watched automakers come up with 6, then 8 and now 10 speed automatics, and hear more and more complaints about them (and all of the whiz-bang electronics they're cramming into cars--- but that's another email), I've wondered why the heck they don't just focus on what it is they're trying to approximate by focusing on perfecting / further improving CVT's ??  They're  hardly a new idea and, of course some manufacturers (eg. Subaru) already make a fair number of cars with CVT's that provide impressive mileage.
 
In the end, isn't an eleventeen speed trani just a CVT wannabe?  

Dave
crabby curmudgeon retired engineer in Iowa
Dave,

I agree, today’s CVTs are the best way to go for many applications. But not all. For pickups and anyone who tows a trailer they’re probably not a good idea. But Nissan has shown you can have big CUVs (Murano, Pathfiinder) with 3.5 l V-6s bolted to a CVT and it works just fine.

The industry took a long time to perfect the CVT. I drove my first prototype CVT from Borg Warner circa 1982. The history of this transmission is littered with massive warranty claims. And enthusiasts hate them. The transmission has a bit of a bad rap and people are wary of them. In fact, Nissan (which sells more CVTs than anyone else) doesn’t even call it a CVT, they call it the Xtronic.

John McElroy
5-13-2016


Sean,



I thought I might pass on some friendly advice on Japanese pronunciation (being married to a Japanese for over 30 years)



It is an essentially unaccented language. So each syllable has the same length, pitch, and volume. In English, a common stress pattern is to  put a pronounced accent on the next to last syllable. For example,  'geoGRAPHic, geoLOGic, teleVIsion, reveLAtion'. It sounds very discordant to Japanese when this stress pattern is used on Japanese words. The Japanese would say each with equal weight. So, to use the English above as examples, 'ge-o-graf-ic, ge-o-log-ic, te-le-vi-shun, re-ve-la-shun'. It sounds monotone and flat.



So, for example, not 'To YO ta', but 'to-yo-ta'.

Regards,

Tim Beaumont
Thank you Tim Beaumont (not BEAUmont)!
5-13-2016


John:
 


Having Don Panoz on AAH, made it one of the most exciting episodes ever. I hope you gave him Peter Hofbaur's phone number. Can you imagine a hybrid auto with the Ecomotor's generator/charging system coupled to the Deltawing Technologies' new electric motor(s) and battery storage.  
 
If you can broker a deal between them, cut me in for a half a percent. 
 


Bradley G.
Glad you liked the Don Panoz show. And you have a great suggestion, getting Deltawing Technologies together with Ecomotors. We’ll make sure they cut you in!
5-13-2016


John,
 
I very much enjoyed your  broadcast format used from the China Auto Show.  You segmented your interviews rather than using a stationary site and moving guests in and out of the interview area.  Great job of interviewing as usual.  I’m curious about the octane level used in Asia and in particular in China.  I understand the European octane level is higher than in the US.  With so many power plants using four cylinder engines with turbo power assist I would guess the higher octane level will be required.
 
Jim Adcock
Thanks for the kind notes about our coverage of the Beijing auto show.

China tends to offer RON 92 and 95 gasoline, versus 95 to 98 in Western Europe, and 87 to 94 in the United States.
5-13-2016


John, I normally only watch Autoline Daily because I like to keep up, but today I watched Autoline After Hours because you where going to be talking about an electric motor that weighs 50 to 60 lbs. and produces 320 HP. The show was fantastic as was all the chatter. Don Panoz was most interesting. Hard to believe he's only 81.
I'll be sure to check the schedule for Autoline After Hours from now on.
Thank you so much. 
Tell Jr. To get a partial. He does a great job, but I can't stop looking at his mouth.
Regards, Roy
Roy,

Glad to hear how much you liked the Autoline After Hours with Don Panoz. That show just keeps getting more popular!
5-13-2016


The "After hours" piece from the NY car show discussion sparked a question.



You (and most everyone in your panel) seem to agree that car sharing is a fore gone conclusion. I believe that only in highly congested urban areas will it have any sort of impact. The care and maintenance of the vehicle in between individual Users will become a scheduling nightmare and a bottle-neck for vehicle availability at peak usage hours.



Additionally, and this is a huge one, Manufacturing with regards to an individual component assembly's robustness and quality will drive up the vehicle cost. How many "function cycles" are they designing a seat adjuster switch/motor for now? The same question applies to Mirrors, Upholstery materials, the entire IP?



I don't know about you, but it takes me several tries at it to get all three mirrors, the seat and HVAC adjustments, to get every thing set so that I'm not having to move my body or head around to operate the vehicle safely. And your saying that one car could be used by more than a dozen people in a single day? The Car will not last a year.



Tim Lynch
5-13-2016


As reported by Autoline, Ford does have a new 2.0 L diesel coming out in Sept. this year for the European Transit (fullsize) and Transit Custom (midsize) vans, however that's only rated up to 170 PS (168 hp) and replaces the old 2.2 L based on the venerable Mazda RF diesel. Although Ford's press release mentioned EcoBlue diesels rated to 200 PS, that is further engines to use the EcoBlue designation, not necessarily the iron-block 2.0 L. Ford also has a current partnership sharing diesels with PSA, including the PSA 1.4, 1.6, 2.0 and 2.2 diesels for passenger cars and light commercials such as the Transit Connect; the PSA-Ford-Jaguar 3.0 L V6 (which shares some key dimensions with the new 2.0 L); and the afore-mentioned 2.2 L Ford engine in larger commercial vehicles. Although the current Ranger offers the 2.2 L as a base engine in some markets (recently upgraded to 160 PS), the standard engine is the larger 5-cylinder 3.2 L which competes directly with GM's 2.8 L Duramax. As this engine is offered in the US-market Transit with similar power to the Colorado's Duramax (note that both are 12-16 hp down on the Euro4 versions), I would expect that engine to be offered in the new Ranger if Ford offers a diesel in the US. Note though that GM is phasing out the standard 2.8 L Duramax in overseas markets and replacing it with a new generation of the smaller 2.5 L version that now has the same power and torque, just as Nissan,  Mitsubishi and Isuzu are using smaller low-speed diesels for their midsize pickups (Toyota is still a generation behind with it's new 2.8 L  and 2.4 L diesels only now matching the obsolete versions of GM's Duramax), so it's possible that Ford may eventually replace the current 3.2 L applications with a smaller engine as well (not necessarily the new 2.0 L). On the flip side GM already offers higher output versions of the 2.8 L with more power than the new 2.5 L, and VW is switching from their biturbo 2.0 L to the technically simpler 3.0 L V6 diesel that offers up to 221 hp and 406 lb-ft for their new midsize Amarok pickup, so the medium Ford and GM diesels (currently rated up to 197 hp and 347 lb-ft or 369 lb-ft respectively) may yet be upgraded to offer increased power, especially so for GM as the 2.8 is merely a bored and stroked version of the 2.5. If so the 2.8 could eventually match the power and torque of the VM 3.0 V6 originally developed (but never put into production) for European CTS models, and the  VM 3.0 L V6 in the Ram.*

Andrew Charles

* At the time VM was a JV between GM and Penske, GM having acquired Daimler's share in 2007. Fiat acquired Penske's share in 2011, and GM's in 2013. The V6 used in the Ram is an upgraded version of an older engine which was already in production. The newer V6 VM developed for GM but never produced has been licensed to the Chinese engine company which builds most VM 4-cylinder engines for the Chinese market (surprisingly an Isuzu JV is now producing them as well), but doesn't seem to have been supplied to any customers.
5-13-2016


John:

Elon Musk has a huge problem with the Model 3: battery technology has not advanced at all in the past 2 years.

Mr. Musk got plenty of financial help from various government subsidies with the Giga Factory - but Panasonic had plenty of Japanese subsidies first.  There was no low-hanging fruit available to drive the price down: countless $ Billions had already been spent worldwide advancing the technology.  Those expecting computer chip gains (doubled performance at half the price every 24 months) will soon realize that Moore's Law never applied to batteries.

The first year's production of Model 3s will be fully-loaded $60K+ models - the "$35K base model" will be a rare unicorn.

But even the fully loaded Model 3 will be half the price of a typical Model S or X being made today - $60K in revenue has been taken out but certainly not $60K in cost.

I would love to hear Gary's take on how Tesla will slash the per-unit cost of a vehicle while maintaining over 200 mile range with the battery.

Also, how long will the Model S be the "it car"?  It is no longer a fresh model and no hint of a replacement has surfaced.  Will the S reach its sell-by date before the 3 gets launched?

goatrope
5-13-2016


John,


After car companies have spent a fortune on Super Bowl ads & auto shows, Tesla has managed to suck ALL the air out of the industry without spending a dime.



Won't these 325,000+ "reservations" put a damper on sales of entry level luxury cars- A4, BMW3, etc as people wait & wait?



John, how about a AAH show just about Tesla?  Sure, they still may not make it, but it's got to be the auto story of this decade.



Michael
5-6-2016


Hi,



In Autoline Daily 1852, you showed a map of China w/ the Chinese flag at around 4:35.  The image also included the island of Taiwan.  Please note that although Communist China claims Taiwan to be its territory, in actuality it is not ruled by China.  Taiwan is a democracy which recently elected its first female president.  Taiwanese citizens can enter the U.S. visa-exampt while Chinese passport holders cannot.  Politics aside, I highly doubt that Ford China included the numbers from Taiwan when reporting on the number of young car buyers.  The Taiwanese car market is mature and does not have the high growth that China has.  It’s highly unlikely that the young buyers in Taiwan account for a large proportion of the market like in China.



Thanks for listening and keep up the good work.



Regards,

Jake Pond
5-6-2016


John:  



Google to "partner" with FCA  resulting with Google Chrysler Automobiles with your friend John Krafcik as CEO by 2018? 



Hemi powered Autonomous vehicles- WAY COOL

 

Just thinking out loud, 
 

Brad Wandrey
5-6-2016


John,

I am very skeptical about self driving cars. We all seem to be getting just a little too carried away with a far-fetched, over promised, overhyped, pie-in-the-sky Jetsons dream advanced by some technology companies eager to create disturbances in the market for their own profit and fame. I'm not impressed by the people that build machines and software unsecured from cyber security threats where ONE wrong mouse click can destroy your computer's data and operating system.



I cannot believe that self driving cars will improve transportation performance of our automotive based transportation system consistent with our prudent culture of balancing cost, risk, and benefit. Although limited systems are currently deployed for steering, braking, and adaptive cruise control I do not believe it would be prudent to design the automobile for people to occupy it as a passenger unresponsible for their personal transportation and refusing to participate in the social experience of our automotive transportation system. Just because some zealous software programmer can "make it happen" doesn't mean it's a good idea.



Humans operating automobiles mitigate 100% of the complex working environment of the modern roadway by continuously evaluating, analyzing, deducing, decision-making, and acting on the basis of inputs observed, perceived, and assumed. Inputs include road surfaces, warning and information signs, road construction, temporary lane closures, debris, obstacles, highly dynamic traffic and weather conditions, the effects of foliage, and available traction.



Basic technology.

Just because state-of-the-art technology is available to control The operation of a car does not necessarily mean it's a good idea. Generally the only technology that's available today to control the automobile are systems for steering and thrust control. There are no reasonable expectations that systems are available now or could eventually be developed to account for all the reasoning that human drivers make while operating in traffic. Almost everyone agrees building robots to the cognitive level of a human being is not prudent.



Motives.

Sometimes I wonder that self driving car technology research started in Silicon Valley because of the inherent entrepreneurial culture to find the next disruptive technology for the sake of it. Growth for growth's sake. Everybody wants to be The next millionaire.



Costs.

It is especially of concern to consider the infrastructure modification costs required to accommodate the needs and limitations of self driving automobile control systems. Just because they claim thousands of lives could be saved every year does not warrant the use of public funds. We make these compromises and judgments every day in our lives constantly balancing risk and benefit. If eliminating all risk was prudent or affordable we would all be driving at 28 miles an hour just to ensure nobody ever gets hurt; which would come at the expense of productivity and economic growth.



Independent study.

I believe before we can assume anything more about the so-called promises of self driving automobile technology a legitimate study and analysis are needed from an independent source comprised of a team qualified to analyze the social and technological merits, challenges, benefits, and costs. I would not recommend this independent study be funded by venture capitalists from Silicon Valley.



Mixed use system.

I do not look forward to the day where I am surrounded by self driving cars continuously responding to each other via wifi, attempting to mitigate road, environment, and weather conditions, while surrounded by non self driving cars. I suspect traffic flow and throughput will be reduced significantly.



In conclusion.

Driving automobile is a social experience where drivers continuously accommodate each other managing their vehicle while continuously making decisions based on the behavior of everyone around them. Generally the technology is not available at this time to allow machines to join the social experience without being disruptive to social behaviors. If it is ever possible machines could be complex enough to socialize with humans we will have gone too far.



In the meantime I remain unsupportive of fully self driving automobiles, and unwilling to pay for the infrastructure necessary to support the aspirations of Silicon Valley disruptors.



Kevin Gary
Kevin,

I completely understand your skepticism and clearly you’re not the only one who feels this way.

But….your sentiments are not shared in the automotive industry. Almost all automakers and suppliers genuinely believe that autonomous cars are The Next Big Thing. They are investing heavily in this technology. That wouldn’t be happening if they thought this was a technical dead end. Certainly their boards of directors wouldn’t approve of such big expenditures, knowing full well they could be sued for not fulfilling their fiduciary duty if this was just a pie in the sky wild goose chase.

Also, thanks to Wi-Fi and GPS there is no longer a massive public infrastructure needed for autonomous cars to function properly. Google proved that by racking up nearly 2 million test miles on the open road.

And there is one big statistic that is justifying the rush to autonomy: 94% of all accidents are caused by driver error. We don’t mitigate 100% of all driving challenges, we miss out enough that 35,000 people are killed every year in the US while 2.2 million are injured badly enough to go to a hospital.

This technology is still in its infancy and is making astonishing progress. Remember, the first autonomous car ever tested on the open road (from Google) only came out four years ago. In ten years’ time the progress will be jaw dropping. And at that time you’ll see autonomous cars in the showrooms of most big brands.

John McElroy
5-6-2016


Hello john, I have a question about hyundai and kia:
Are they separate companies?? They are definitely not because don't they share similar parts, structures etc? and even have a same designer - Peter schreyer? I am confused at the logic. Ya I know they want to be separate (like lexus and toyota or acura and honda) but at least people know those brands as one and sometimes interchange or sometimes have both at the same dealerships. 
anyways..i am similar are they in terms of company, design, people who run them, parts etc. 
 
Thanks
Abhi
Abhi,

Hyundai owns Kia. They are run as separate companies, but share common platforms and components to lower engineering and manufacturing costs. Having said that, they compete fiercely against each other. Every time Kia gains market share, Hyundai groans, and vice versa. They practically hate each other. Peter Shreyer is the head of design overseeing both companies, but each company maintains separate design studios.

The Hyundai-Kia arrangement is somewhat like the Nissan-Renault alliance. They share to each other’s mutual benefit, but try to kick the other’s teeth in out in the marketplace.
5-6-2016


John,
 
Do you think the Mitsubishi mileage inaccuracy/cheating debacle will affect the deployment of the PHEV Outlander in North America ?  I just returned from Japan, where this is a huge evolving political scandal, now with government investigation, and an over 50% loss of Mitsubishi stock value. Some pundits there claim Mitsubishi may not be able to recover this time. 
 
Do you have any insight ?
 
Tim Beaumont
Tim,

The latest scandal at Mitsubishi Motors may be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back. While it could continue to thrive in the medium truck market, it could be mortally wounded in the light vehicle segment, as well as the Kei car segment in Japan.

While the PHEV Outlander is selling well in Europe, it seems unlikely that Mitsu can repeat that success in the US market, scandal or no scandal.
5-6-2016


John,
 
I just watched the fascinating show 'The EV Era', # 2012
 
The point was made about the cost of hydrogen fueling stations as a deterrent to adoption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. What happened to the idea of creating hydrogen from natural gas? I believe Honda had a prototype residential system using existing low pressure natural gas, as supplied to stoves and ovens, and a small amount of 'starter' input household current, to run a device creating electricity for the house and a source of hydrogen for compression to use as vehicle fuel. And, more recently, Honda is combining this with solar power
 
I am not sure where this project went in terms of feasibility or economics, but couldn't this be scaled to fueling stations ?
 
Perhaps you could enquire of the panelists?
 
Regards, 
Tim Beaumont 
Tim,

Almost all the hydrogen used today is made from natural gas. But it is made in huge refineries because scale has a big impact on the cost to manufacture it.

Having an on-board converter merely adds weight and cost and uses up precious real estate in a car.

Other automakers have experimented with on-board converters using everything from gasoline to borax flakes to make hydrogen, but that seems to be a dead-end.
5-6-2016


Hello,
 
What do you think of reports on Cadillac's decision to build a small front-wheel drive sedan based on the platform used by Chevrolet's Cruze; it could lure in younger customers as it would most likely have an entry price in the low-20K and top off where the ATS pricing begins at the low-$30K.
 
Mike Ma @ San Francisco, CA
A B-class car for Cadillac makes a lot of sense. Not so much in the US market, but in other markets where small premium cars sell well.

Cadillac should never price a car in the low $20K area. That would ruin its premium image. GM has Chevrolet for that price range. Ideally, Cadillac should not even price any vehicles under $40K. Let Buick take care of that price range.
5-6-2016


John,
Well it looks like Carbon Motors went under. The prototype police car sold at auction for $74k. It is a shame, the vehicle and technology looked really good. I guess it took too long to get to market and Ford got a strangle hold on the market.
Outside of the Fed's using the Suburban I don't see GM getting a decent market share back.
Thanks
Don B.
No doubt it cost a lot more than that to build that prototype. Who ever bought it got a one-of-a-kind car.
4-27-2016


Hi John,

Just watched the video about how Cadillac has tailored their cars for the consumers of China; my 25-year old nephew just bought a Cadillac, he got a Cadillac ELR (used 2015 with 10K on the odometer) for $30K off Ebay.

Mike Ma @ San Francisco, CA
4-27-2016


John,

I just read about the agreement between the US Department of Justice and VW, whereby VW will buyback at a maximum of $ 5000 an affected vehicle. I bet that's really going to make someone who purchase a 2014 VW Sportwagen in the mid $ 20,000 very happy. That's extreme sarcasm just in case it's not recognized by any readers.

Sounds like the US government just bailed out VW at the owners expense! No wonder there a massive hate on for politicians in this country. 

Tim Beaumont 
Tim,

The details that have been released so far are very sketchy. But VW is likely to compensate owners up to $5000, plus buy back their vehicles at fair market value.

John McElroy
4-27-2016


john,
 
just watch u on the china car show, that vw dash reminds me of 1970 ford ltd.
also chery will merge,buy, own fca. it is sad, but they have removed the cash and now it is time for chinese chargers and chrysler 200's.
 hope u had fun. that is what is starting to b missing from auto business, fun.
4-27-2016


John,

1 year ago Stanford University trumpeted it's research on the aluminum ion battery. It offered quick charging capabilities and flexible design. Where is that idea now? I would think the auto industry would be jumping all over this.

David Sprowl
No doubt they're still working on this. But we learned a long time ago not to get too excited about battery breakthrough announcements. They happen all the time and it takes a decade before they will ever go into production, if ever.
4-27-2016


I REALLY enjoyed the EV show, and can only hope that they continued talking amongst themselves about combinations of technologies. I think someone did an outstanding job of casting on this one.  More shows bringing together those ideas that can find new hope in conversations.

Tim J. Watson
4-27-2016


I just watched your show about EVs and not anyone addressed the fuel tax that EVs are not paying that are used to pay for the roads, bridges and other infrastructures when they are charging their cars. The EV drivers should be stopped/fined for driving on roads for which they did not pay a fuel tax on just as a driver with offroad diesel would be.
4-27-2016


Dear John,

I do not miss your daily broadcast and weekly After Hours since it is most informative and interesting.

April 15, your news mentioned Jeep Cherokee is the first American car earned Fuel Economy Tax Break from Japanese Government but American cars are not sold well in Japan due to Protectionism Policy.
There are two factors are missing in your news.
(1) Japanese market is one of most open market in the world for automobile importation. You can import any cars (left or right steering) at any age. (US has min. 25 years old policy)
Your car do not have to be new from OEM but you can import as individual as long as you pass safety standard and emission testing.   As to safety standard they are a lot more liberal than the US. European countries sell heck a more cars in Japan than US made since they provide cars which is much more suitable for Japanese road and traffic conditions and all of manufactures provide right side steering wheel which is preferred by consumers.  Only US companies supply left side only cars, less fuel efficient cars. Only FCA supply right side steering cars due to their manufacturing facility in Austria.
Many European cars receives the fuel efficiency tax incentives for many years at much higher rate than Jeep Cherokee just obtained due to more fuel efficient cars they market.
VW sells Polo, Up! which are not marketed in the US. Other models are marketed with smaller engines and naturally more fuel efficient. Audi sells A1, S1. Mercedes sells A class, B class and other models with smaller engines. BMW sells 1 series, M1 and many other models not available in the US.  Caterham sells 660 cc model called Seven-160 (utilizing beefed up Suzuki engines) which meet Japanese K-car class standard with great tax incentives.  Those cars are receiving fuel efficient tax incentive at higher rate. You can see full line of cars from all of French Auto companies, Italian companies as OEM imports in full lines. You will be able to find almost any countries cars which are imported by OEM or individual (new or used)
There are no (0) import duty for cars or trucks to Japan while US still impose 2.5% for cars and 25% for trucks and shut down individual import.
Who is more protective than Japan?  US manufactured Toyota, Honda or Nissan have more US made parts than GM, Ford or FCA.
European manufacturers are much more serious to market their cars in Japan than US suppliers.

(2) Japanese Fuel Efficiency Tax Incentive
There are three level of tax break. Jeep just got lowest incentive (call 50%) while many European cars are obtaining 75% or 100% tax.  US cars can receives higher incentives if they wish to supply more fuel efficient cars.
Tesla, Ford Focus and Fiesta (in limited trims available in the market)  should have such incentive already.  Although, Ford decided to pull out from Japanese Market in few years due to lack of sales.
(3) Japanese Market
Their sales is much smaller then US due to smaller population and lad space.  But they sell 450,00 cars and truck per month and 250,000 units of so called K-car with limited engine size (660cc and 64hp max with limited dimensions).
VW sells more than 10,000 units per month. Mercedes sells 9-10,000 units, BMW 8,000 units, Audi 5,000 units, Volvo 2-3,000 units, Mini 1-2,000 units while Jeep sells 1,000 units as number 1 from US OEM, other FCA 1,500 - 2,000 (mainly Alfa and Fiat) , Ford/Lincoln 6-700 units, GM 2-300 units.
Again, lack of US cars sales in Japan is simply US cars and trucks are fit with market demand by size and fuel efficient.
Japanese gasoline cost is always 2-4 times more expensive than US due to higher tax. And almost all Express Way is toll road, parking cost in large cities are much higher than US and many high structural parking deck do not fit with US cars due to its large size.
Social infrastructure and cost of maintains cars are a lot more expensive just like many European countries.

Do you still call Japanese market has Protectionism policies?

Best regard,

Jin Matsumoto
4-27-2016


John: 
 
    Unfortunately it looking like Peter D has been right all along. Check out this article in AUTOMOBILE-  
 
Is it too late? whose demise will be first, Sergio or Chrysler???  
 
FCA needs Maximum Bob at the wheel!!! 
 
Thanks, 
Brad Wandrey
4-26-2016


Hey John,

Saw your article on Wards Auto - good stuff! Your argument that there are "simply too many" auto shows certainly rang true to me and made me think of this massive car show calendar we have.

Aside from demonstrating the sheer volume of auto shows out there, this festival calendar is actually a solid resource for car enthusiasts. It's complete with dates, locations, descriptions, etc. of all the auto-related events happening year round. (and it updates in real time!)

Have a great week!

-Maddie
4-26-2016


John,
 
I take issue with your buying the Lincoln assertion that the MKZ Hybrid is a no-cost option.
 
The problem is that, unlike the Fusion Hybrid, the non-hybrid MKZ counterpart is a much more powerful turbo I4 (a V6 in prior years), not an anemic non-turbo I4.
 
One should call it a no-cost downgrade.
 
Will
Actually, the MKZ still has a V6. In addition to the hybrid, it offers either a 2.0 liter turbo or a 3.7 liter V6.

The turbo gets an EPA rating of 26 mpg, the V6 is rated at 22 mpg and the hybrid is rated at 40 mpg.
You’re right, the hybrid is substantially slower, but with 54% to 82% better fuel economy it may be a bit harsh to call it a downgrade.
4-26-2016


John,



I heard your comments on i8 sales vs Tesla sales, and I have to say I was surprised.  Why?



Well, the two cars are hardly comparable.



You make a very good point about how the Tesla Model S is killing its competition in the large, luxury sedan segment.  (A fact I brought to your attention last year).   However, the i8 does not compete in that segment, so its not fair to compare them.  The Model S is outselling the 7 Series, which BMW should be concerned about.



However, the i8 was conceived as a low volume, high-performance exotic coupe, where the Model S is a large 4-door luxury sedan.



The sales target was never very high for the i8, it was meant as a low volume halo car.  Even at that, sales were so strong that within months of its launch, BMW decided to double the production planned for the second model year in an effort to pare down the waiting list.



I believe that BMW is very happy with the i8 and the i3, and is currently hard at work on the i5.  To me, the most interesting vehicle launch of the next couple of years will be the Tesla Model 3.  If it can be as successful in its segment as the Model S has been in its segment, it may be time to start calling Tesla a real car company.    Second on that list is the Chevy Bolt, to see if buyers embrace it the way they have the Tesla, even though they compete for customers with very different incomes.



Love the show and the work you, Gary and Sean do!



GM Veteran
GM Veteran,

You make great points, most of which are spot on. And thanks for being the first to point out how well Tesla was selling in the luxury segment.

But BMW may not be all that thrilled with sales of the i3 and i8. For the first quarter of 2016 only 762 i3’s were sold in the US market, down 71.6% compared to a year ago. BMW only sold 175 i8’s in the first three months, down 48.7%. Those are big drops.

Now it could be that BMW is allocating production to other markets, but it’s days’ supply of both cars has doubled. It now has 53 days’ supply versus 23 a year ago.

John McElroy
4-18-2016


John
 
Thanks for answering my question. I was involved in the Volt launch when I worked for Magna and knew an SAE standard was established just didn’t realize Tesla didn’t follow suit. I just wonder how the compatibility of the battery pack is affected by the charging stations.  So assuming the connection was the same will any charger (Tesla included) work for any electric car?
So if I owned a Tesla I would probably want a connector cord that would allow my Tesla to be plugged into all the other charging stations and vise-a-versa if I have a Leaf a connection that would go from my SAE connection to a Tesla charger could be useful.. Humm I think there might be a market there. Elon might not like it though.

Robert
Robert,

I was wrong. Tesla owners can use public charging stations. Each Tesla comes with several adaptors, including a SAE J1277 adaptor that fits all public charging stations. However, I’m not aware of any adaptors that would allow non-Tesla owners to use the Superchargers.

John McElroy
4-18-2016


John/Sean
I have a question I posted on last Fridays AD #1833 but not sure you would see it since I didn’t post it until Monday morning.
Anyway I thought a standard connection for all electric cars was established and that all manufacturers would use the same plug type connector. So can a Volt/Bolt/Leaf be plugged into a Tesla charging station? Are Tesla stations free to consumers?  Seems silly for a series of charging sites being created if they only work for a single manufacturer.  

Robert
Robert,

The SAE set the specifications for EV charging plugs with input from all the automakers, including Tesla. Then Tesla came out with its own plug design that nobody else can use. It didn’t want other EV owners to use its free Level 3 Superchargers. But by the same token, Tesla owners cannot use the myriad of public charging stations that are popping up all over the place.
4-18-2016


Hi, greetings from Portugal.

After reading about the FBI trying to force Apple to give access to someone's iPhone, I wonder what is your opinion on the same happening in the future with autonomous cars?

Alexandre Moleiro
Hello Portugal!

Excellent question. All automakers, tech companies and suppliers are working on ways to prevent hackers from taking control of a car. But there really is no way to prevent a determined hacker. Even the CIA has been hacked. The best anyone can hope for is to make it so time consuming and expensive that the hacker looks for an easier target. Also, there is new software coming that can detect and ignore unusual commands, such as telling a car to drive off a cliff or disable the brakes. And then it determines where the unusual command came from within the car and blocks it from issuing further commands.
4-18-2016


Hello Gentlemen,

Perhaps the panel of experts could help me make an unbiased decision on weather to get a diesel - 2013/14 Porsche Cayenne or 2013/14 MB GL350 or the gasoline version of one of the aforementioned vehicles. Is it likely that there would be a total collapse of the non-commercial diesel market in the US in the near future thus affecting the resale values and support for maintenance etc..., or is it still safe to purchase and own a diesel vehicle for the next 5 to 10 years and still expect decent resale and support from a maintenance point of view.

Thank you.
hy1503
When we look at diesel sales for BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, the Grand Cherokee and the Cayenne, sales are down 15% for Q1 2016. That’s a big drop. Diesel Cayenne sales are down 73%. Mercedes GL sales with diesels are down 57%. Right now you’re probably better off buying a gasoline engine in either of those vehicles. On the other hand, you might find some screaming deals on the diesel versions.
4-18-2016


Seems like every time one of Chevy’s cars wins an IMSA endurance race, there’s something about it on Autoline daily. 
 
This week, Honda’s HPD division did something no one has done since 1998: Win both the Daytona 24 Hours and the Sebring 12 hours with the same car in the same year. And there’s not a word about it on Autoline Daily?
 
s2000_moose.
4-18-2016


John,
I enjoyed the latest AAH..
w.r.t why consumers are more supportive of alternative energy:

Doesn't the survey lead most to believe that supporting alternative energy isn't related to gas prices?  Alternative energy isn't just electricity as a motor fuel.  It's also wind, solar, geothermal on the grid.

As far as transportation, when gas prices are high, then the much lower costs of alternative fueled vehicles like PEVs certainly can be a motivator.  
But the prime motivators that I see for competition to oil are emissions, climate change, energy security, oil driven geopolitical entanglements more than the relative price of the fuels.  Even now with gas so cheap, electricity is still generally even cheaper on a per gallon equivalent basis.

Even ExxonMobil acknowledges climate change (see below) and they support (along with other oil companies) a carbon tax.
ExxonMobil is certainly a well resourced, science and finance driven company with every reason to try to doubt climate change, and they don't.  As a matter of fact you can find presentations during the 1980's to their board on the web about their concern about Co2 emissions affecting climate.  As much as I admire Bob Lutz, he's simply wrong on this issue.

"ExxonMobil believes the risk of climate change is clear and warrants action. We also believe that providing the energy sources that fuel modern life, enable progress, lift people out of poverty, and raise living standards are essential and worthwhile endeavors. At the same time we understand the challenges that exist in meeting the world's energy needs while taking steps, at every turn, to safeguard the environment."
 
In addition, do you think Americans are simply tired of entanglements in the Middle East?  Watch this about the ticking time bomb of Wahhabism, the sect of Islam that seems to be most involved with terrorism (most of the 911 hijackers were Saudi Wahhabis)

and this about the 1400 year old Sunni, Shia divide

I used to see charts from GM on H2FCVs about "taking the car out of the environmental equation".

Alternative fuels, like electricity, not only help with the environment but also with all the other "externalities" associated with oil being our main transportation fuel. 
Sure, I save money on my transportation fuels per month driving an EV.. but my 5 year old Volt is still more quiet (and fun) than my wife's Lexus, I use 100% domestic energy (actually 100% Texas electricity which is even better), I lower emissions, I help the oil driven trade deficit, my car maintenance is lower, the $ I send to my municipal utility helps pay for fireman/streets/city services, I rarely have to go to the gas station since I fuel at home.  I've made up the $10k price premium on gas and maintenance costs already. 
It's just better in every dimension.   The biggest problem right now is the limited selection of PEVs.  
I want a Gen2 Volt-like  53 mile range eREV RWD Convertible with 0-60 in under 6 seconds.. but no one offers it.

I don't find compelling these "stuff the batteries in the trunk Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV, or BMW X5 40e, Fusion/Focus Energi, or Gen2 Prius PHEV with 14 to 22 mile range.   A 74-84 mile range LEAF is not attractive to me.  

Once there are a greater selection of PEVs as there are with conventional vehicles and PHEV AER is over 40miles (ideally 60miles/100km for marketing reasons) or a BEV with 200 to 300 miles (ideally 300miles/500km with 150kW to 200kW Superchargers) then we will see a hockey stick adoption particularly if we have a supply disruption and the only people driving around unfazed are PEV drivers.

The Japanese brands achieved a beachhead in the US market when the Arab oil embargoes occurred.  
I suspect adoption will be slow and steady accelerating around 2025 unless we have a jump condition from a supply disruption.
4-18-2016


Hi John,
 
One has to think when Johan de Nysschen says Cadillac has 11 new cars in development, he's talking about replacement for the ATS, the CTS and then at least 2 CUV with one smaller than the XT5 and then one larger; but that still leaves 6 if you count the just announced canceled CT8.
 
I guess.. we'll have to tune in to Autoline.tv every day to discover what the new models might be over the next couple of years.
 
With 11 new cars.. it's going to be an exciting time at Cadillac.
 
Mike Ma @ San Francisco, CA
4-18-2016


Gentlemen,
 
I enjoy your daily show and have watched consistently for a years now.  The news and opinions on most topics are top class and I respect the industry insight you bring.  However, as a Tesla supporter, I am baffled by your coverage.  While I have consumed my share of Tesla Kool-Aid as an owner and shareholder, I'm also realistic about their challenges (Model X is an overly complex distraction and cash drain; Supercharger and retail networks need expansion).
 
Consistently negative comments regarding Tesla's future precede reluctant but honest praise for their launched product's success.  Additionally, your choice of guests to discuss Tesla always slant negative.  Anton Wahlman's Seeking Alpha articles are consistently negative, his predictions are wrong and is shorting the stock.  He should not be considered an impartial guest on the subject without mentioning that significant financial tidbit.  Your discussion with Edward Neidermeyer should have been a mention about Tesla challenges, not a paranoid conspiracy theory.  Yes, they need more Superchargers in California.  The battery swap theory was answered correctly by Gary when he said it was a proof of concept AND to gain favor with CARB.  Most auto companies have spent money on CARB projects targeting one metric or another to gain access to the California market or regulatory benefits.
 
Tesla's accomplishments are changing the industry, per your comment that Tesla is outselling ALL their competition around $100k.  With the launch of Model 3, obvious competitors (BMW 3 series and Audi A4) will be hammered like their 5, 6, 7 and 8 brothers have been by the Model S.  However, the true impact will be felt on the Honda Accord/Toyota Camary/etc. segments a few years after initial launch when regular adoption takes place.   
 
Finally, you asked if any other automaker could create demand for a product to be sold in two years.  Obviously the answer is no, but another reason is that other automakers have to sell cars today.  Tesla has no competing products at this price point, so no cannibalization of current products (with some pushing off a Model S purchase to save money).
 
In conclusion, please consider hosting a Tesla owner or a more impartial guest.  I'll be glad to help in any way possible and can find local Michigan owners who may be available.  
 
Sincerely,
Alan Buck
Alan,

Thanks for your letter and your keen observations. You make a good critic!

Despite our healthy skepticism I think we’ve become more pro-Tesla over the years. That’s certainly true of me. I truly want to see Tesla succeed because I believe it would actually be healthy for the auto industry. Having said that I’m still not convinced it will survive in the long run.

I will take your critique to heart and we’ll get a guest on the show in the future who is more impartial. BTW, I believe that Anton is no longer shorting Tesla but I forgot to ask him about that on the show.

Truly appreciative,
John McElroy
4-18-2016


I see Sergio is pushing to be bought out (with a golden parachute for him?). It looks like the only desirable brand to be picked up by the 'big guys' would again be Jeep. Chrysler and Dodge (including minivans) will be 'histwa'.
 
So ok, we have had German Jeeps, now Italian Jeeps…do you see a pattern here?…
 
rwork
Our prediction: FCA will be bought by a Chinese automaker
4-18-2016


John, 
 
Just an FYI. I finished watching the AAH Mirai episode. At the end you gave out Mark Phelan's website, just verbally, as you often do for your guests. To me it sounded like 'freak.com', which redirected me to a pornography site! I googled Mark to discover it is 'freep.com'. 
 
Thought I would let you know. 
Tim Beaumont
Tim,

Thanks for the heads up. I shoulda spelled it out.

John
4-18-2016


Hi John,
 
It's almost a given that every person with a VW TDI will need to sell their cars back because they probably won't be able to renew their registration and even in states that might not have tough emission testing, the owners have no idea what the Federal government might do; but while these cars might be illegal in the US, they're probably OK to resell in Mexico, South America and eastern Europe.
 
Mike Ma @ San Francisco, CA
4-15-2016


Hello Sean.
 
Approximately 2 weeks ago in an Autoline Daily report you included an exhaustive overview of how FCA intends to shuffle, realign and increase production of Jeep and Ram models.  Believe you said that as a result Jeep Cherokee production would be extended @ Toledo, which would further delay launch of redesigned Jeep Wrangler.  I’ve not been able to find text of that daily report – can you forward or direct me to it?  Also, can you confirm what the projected production date currently is for the redesigned Jeep Wrangler?
 
Thanks,
Mike
Mike,
 
Here’s the link to the show in which that story ran. Just click on the link, and then click on the blue box that says “Show Transcript.”
 
We’re guessing that the redesigned Wrangler will go into production in late 2018.
4-15-2016


Hi John:
 
Concerning the Buick coming in from China; will the US apply the same import tariff (I believe it's around 25%) as China applies to all vehicles imported from the United States?
 
Thanks
 
Pat from Chilliwack
The United States applies a 2.5% tax on every imported vehicle unless the US has a free trade agreement with that country. If that vehicle is a truck the US applies a 25% tax. The Buick Envision from China will be classified as a passenger vehicle so it will be taxed at 2.5%.
4-15-2016


Hi John,
 
I agree with you and there's room in General Motors product catalog for 2-3 more CUVs from China minimum as the Envision is over a foot longer than the Encore and over 700 lbs heavier at 4,047 lbs meaning there's room for another CUV to fit in between the Envision and the Encore that is 6-8 inches longer than the Encore and 400 lbs heavier.
 
A second CUV that is in between the Envision and the Enclave that is 6-7 inches longer and 400-500 lbs heavier is a possibility.
 
Further, Cadillac needs 1-2 more CUVs given the market, the XT5 and Escalade isn't enough especially if the Escalade is going up-market with eyes to compete against Bentley's Bentayga.
 
Mike Ma @ San Francisco, CA
4-15-2016


John/Sean
 
Autonomy is obviously a hot topic right now and the advantages and uses are endless. From automated mail/package delivery to restaurant delivery and driverless taxi services that can take the kids to practice or pick them up from school. Your segment on driverless racing though got me thinking. Obviously there is a lot of work being conducted to get this technology to just work properly but what about vehicle recovery from a temporary loss of control, regardless if it is from a brief loss of computer control or unforeseen road conditions.
Basically my question is, has there been any work on what the car does in the case of hitting say a patch of ice? Can an autonomous car recover from a spin? In racing I have seen drivers do some amazing things to save the car from what looked like the inevitable crash. Just curious how the race cars will handle a blown tire or spilled oil etc..
 
Rob Stewart
Rob,

Autonomous cars will pretty much be able to do what any driver can do. If a car starts to spin on ice, the electronic stability control will kick in automatically. Remember, since 2012 all new vehicles have ESC as standard equipment. Autonomous cars can also be programmed to turn into a skid and recover.

Audi put out a video of an autonomous RS 7 on a race track. Autonomous cars can lap faster than most race drivers.
4-15-2016


Hi John,
      Take the MP4X concept one further, ditch the driver, and go 100% autonomous. Driver safety is a non-issue. Eliminate the cockpit, frontal area would be dictated by engine/ancillaries profile and pickup points of suspension bulkheads. Same goes for Indycar.
Jim Scott
Jim,
 
You’re not the only one thinking along these lines. Did you see the Torq from Europe Design that we ran earlier this year on Autoline Daily? It’s all about F1-like autonomous racing.
4-15-2016


On a recent show one of the guests discussed OEM Replacement parts versus third party replacement parts with the suggestion that one shouldn't look down one's nose at third party parts because they may in some cases be better than the Original. 
 
We happen to have Chubb as our car insurance carrier and they have a very strict view of what can go into a repair.
 
It might be useful to have someone on your show like a Chubb because after all they are the ones writing the check for the repair. So it would be interesting to hear right from the horse's mouth how they feel about OEM versus third party parts. 
 
Just a thought. Enjoy your show. 
 
Bob Douglas 
Thanks for your feedback, we welcome the suggestion.
4-15-2016


Dear Autoline,



I am not one who writes to shows or magazines - but your show this week motivated me to put in my two cents. Your guest Mary Ann Wright (Group VP  Engineering & Product Development) of Johnson Controls is one really intelligent executive that can explain everything so well.



I sure wouldn't mind spending hours listening to her talk about the automobile industry as a whole - and to think I am not even versed in engineering or mechanics. If all of our VP's or managers were as well educated and thoroughly well informed as she is - imagine what we all can achieve? Heck! I wish she were my boss. Here's to hoping you have her as a guest again soon. Thank you for a real educating and mind opening show. Keep up the great job.



Paul Webber
We could not agree more. Mary Ann Wright is terrific!
4-15-2016


Hello John et al:
 
Just wanted to let you know that I love your programing. Keep up the great work. There is a subject that recently has me irritated. That is auto surveys. Let me explain.
 
Recently we purchased a product from Nissan. So when we went to pick up the car we were told by the salesperson that we would be getting a survey soon and they asked that anything less than 100 % is considered a fail. So, in essence, they wanted us to give them a perfect score. I wish when I was in school that I could have asked many of my teachers for the same thing. I think this common practice now is in very poor taste and manufacturers need to review this. Since I am on the subject of poor taste, I also thought that SiriusXM-Satellite Radio calling me at home on my unlisted telephone number was also in poor taste. My biggest pet peeve for this was that they (XM) did not want to leave a message but kept calling over and over again to the point of being a nuisance. I surmised that it was Nissan who sold me out and gave XM our unlisted telephone number. I wonder if Nissan has any idea how I feel about their company now?
 
Our other car is a Mercedes-Benz. We purchased that car a few years ago. Recently I had it in for service. Similarly to Nissan, the service rep also advised that we would be receiving a survey for the service satisfaction. The Mercedes service rep also advised that any score less than 95% was a fail and they looked forward to our participation.
 
I am not sure what the point is for all these surveys if the customers are being told to give them perfect or almost perfect scores. Do they really want to know my opinion? If so then they need to hire a 3rd party and make me feel secure so that if I happen to give them a poor rating then I will not feel like the dealer, service reps etc., will treat me like crap the next time I bring the car in for service because I gave them a poor rating. I am not averse to giving praise and a perfect score when it has been earned. The problem is when I am asked, in advance, I feel like that survey is a total FAIL. Clearly (at least to myself) these people have no interest in knowing how I feel about their product/service and all they care about are their monthly/yearly numbers/ratings.
 
I hope that you may find some time on one of your programs to tackle this subject and have manufacturers respond. If you do please let me know as I would love to see that they might have to say.
 
Signed,
Disappointed
Disappointed,

You’re not the only one who hates getting badgered about these surveys. Isn’t it ironic that the way automakers and car dealerships try to measure their customer satisfaction is by dissatisfying their customers?

Thanks for the suggestion, we will definitely start asking automakers and dealers about this practice.

Best,
John McElroy
4-15-2016


Mr. McElroy, 

I was able to watch most of the episode devoted to the VW emission cheating scandal and numerous other media outlets coverage of the situation, but I think there are facts that are not focused on when speaking about the cars themselves.  From research performed online, there are roughly 250 million diesel vehicles where only about 7.5 (or 3%) million are classified as passenger vehicles.  Of those passenger vehicles, the VW scandal currently pertains to around 500,000 (or 0.2%) vehicles.  I think it would be safe to say that the majority, if not all, of the non-passenger vehicles (97% of total) have higher emissions (regardless of model year) than the passenger vehicles and there could be a majority of passenger vehicles that do not comply (based on model year) with the current regulations.  It would be hard to imagine that the VW, with the defeat device or if they actually were to meet the regulations, would impact air quality in any measurable way when compared with the millions of heavy polluting non-passenger vehicles on the road.  



I own a 2010 Jetta TDI and my fuel economy has averaged 46.8 mpg since new.  I bought it for the fuel economy, not what it put out the tailpipe.  I never thought I was helping the environment by owning this car, not with all the heavy haulers spewing black smoke out of the smoke stacks (I try to buy local produce, potentially reducing the amount of trucks hauling produce).  People were obliviously duped into buying something they thought was good for the environment (ignorantly) and VW should be liable.  VW lied to the EPA, again for which they should be liable.  But those who like the car shouldn't be punished and that is what the EPA would be doing by removing those cars from the road knowing there are much worse offenders that remain.    



My solution to the problem would be to grandfather the affected vehicles.  The EPA should fine VW the maximum and use the fine proceeds to implement better, more universal testing (probably would never happen in such a corrupt government).  VW owners would be open to join a class action lawsuit against VW for false advertising.  I would expect that the grandfathered vehicles would increase in value to, at least, the pre-scandal prices and likely could go higher so there should be no need for a class action suit against VW for loss of value.  The VW owners who think they were saving the environment could then sell their cars.



That's my two cents.  I made assumptions on the emissions of non-passenger vehicles which could be over stated and would be happy to be corrected if I am wrong. 


Thanks, 
Matt      
Matt,

Thanks for your feedback. We’ll publish your letter in the Viewer Mail section of our website so that others can read it too.

All the best,
John McElroy
4-8-2016


John I read your article in today's Wards magazine and had a question. Where would you recommend a person such as myself looking for the jobs you spoke of? I have been in the auto business since 1975 and at GM the majority of that time. I have managed multiple dealerships for companies like Autonation and Sonic and always seen as a team player as well as a seasoned professional with excellent references. Any thoughts?

Steve Peacock
Steve,

My column in Ward's was all about how Silicon Valley companies are raiding the auto industry to get the talent they need. My suggestion is to reach out to Apple, Google, Uber, Tesla and anyone else you can think of. I'm not sure which of them will need people with dealership experience, but only you can make them aware that you're available.
4-8-2016


John:
 
I suspect that someone in the government will finally connect Takata airbags, the GM ignition switches, and the VW deasil engines and come to the conclusion that the government needs to be more involved with development and testing of cars and trucks to “prevent” future problems.  (That will be the hope anyway.) 
 
One way to do this is to have more government involvement during design reviews and testing.  The companies that develop military equipment have to deal with on site government inspectors.  The auto manufacturers may have to deal with this in the future or some similar solution.
 
As always, thanks for the auto news.
 
Brian Little
How do you have the US government inspectors looking over the shoulders of development engineers in Germany, Japan, China, France, Italy, England, South Korea, and Sweden?
4-8-2016


Hey John,
 
I just saw a Motor Week show on PBS about the XC90 and, MAN, what a wonderful vehicle that is! Many may have scoffed when they said they were going to go their own way and base their vehicle line up around a four cylinder engine and a scalable platform, but, boy, have they made a statement with this vehicle! This just shows that there is room in the luxury side of the industry, for more then just the standard approach. It also shows that Lincoln can be something special, if they truly make the commitment to MAKING something special! Look at the interior of the XC90 for example. If Lincoln were to appoint their vehicles as such, it would not matter if they were based on Fords or not, for they would sell themselves on that interior and it's materials alone! With you having already driven the XC90, I'm sure you would agree that if Lincoln could elevate themselves to the standard of excellence that Volvo has demonstrated, much of the concerns of their future would be a thing of the past. Hopefully Lincoln's reintroduction of the Continental name plate will be a sign of good things to come. But if in a few years time it turns out that Hyundai, with their new Genesis luxury line, is doing better then Lincoln, then truly a very sad day is upon us!
4-8-2016


Finally got to see this week's AAH, and have some comments.



On Cadillac, finally good sales growth in China. Not segment leading, but good, so the news isn't all bad. However, with pricing released for next years CT6, I see the same problem that has plagued Cadillac since at least the '80s — their pricing shows they fundamentally misunderstand the luxury market. For all their ambitions, they do not price critical models as if they are real luxury competitors, and for luxury goods, MSRP works completely differently than it does for most products. Luxury goods are judged by price, and higher is better. Put buyers in two similar cars, one labeled with a $70,000 MSRP and the other with a $50,000 MSRP, and they'll almost universally say the $70,000 car is better. Swap the MSRPs and get another group and they'll again say the $70,000 car was better. In fact studies have shown people genuinely get more pleasure out of a product if they simply think it costs more. So when Cadillac releases the price for the new, S-Class size CT6, and the base model is just $55,000, when a base 2015 S-Class is over $95,000, then everyone is immediately going to think "Oh, it's only half as good". Even if they test drive the Cadillac they'll come away disappointed, simply because the low price undermines its intrinsic value. When even a CLA-Class can easily cost over $50,000 with options, too many buyers won't even look at an "el-cheapo" CT6 once they've seen the price. GM needs to understand that price determines how customers perceive the quality of their vehicles, not dynamics, not materials, not workmanship, not features, not JD Power quality surveys (VW ranks poorly, yet customers still value them highly for quality, partly because they paid more). While they're at it, quit comparing the midsize Equinox and Terrain with compact crossovers like the Escape and RAV4. Come on, it's as big as the Highlander, and buyers know it as soon as they walk up to one. Why do they think customers wanted them to be wider? (Hello, it's because they were comparing them to wider, midsize crossovers, not compacts.)



I can only assume dealers don't want to lose that Deville/DTS/XTS volume, but it's literally killing Cadillac's image, and that's why the ATS and CTS will never sell as well as they should. If you want an advantage you can be cheaper, but you at least have to be in the ball-park or you won't be taken seriously, no matter how good your product really is, and I'm sorry, but Cadillac's pricing says "this is not as good as it looks", not "here, you have the best there is". Whoever said they need to make the Buick Avenir (please call it an Electra though) GM's town car model, had it spot on. They should have added $20,000 to the price of every CT6, and started the Buick at around $55,000. 



So I'm afraid we have another decade of disappointing Cadillac sales to look forward to before they even can fix the pricing. Like Audi, I think they'll have to change the naming yet again just to get people to think they are not the same cheap-ass Cadillacs (call on Cadillac's heritage and call the large sedan the Series 60 if they do get the pricing right next time). Building great cars is not enough, building the right great cars is not enough. They have to have the pricing to show people, yeah, this is a real luxury car, not something your 17 year old neighbor hired for the prom.



As for diesels, I think GM and BMW need to take the gloves off and place some aggressive ads, extolling the virtues of the Cruze and BMW engines, with either oblique or direct references to VW to acknowledge consumers' concerns. "We used [such and such] to ensure our diesel had great power and was good for the environment. Apparently some people couldn't be bothered."



Andrew Charles
4-8-2016


Hi John,
 
I was thinking about the future of self driving cars in the world and I had two thoughts I wanted to share with you.
 
Will this be the last automobile I will own and drive?
 
If I buy a car today and hold on to the car for the average of ~11.5 years as the data suggests, will this be the last car that I buy and drive?  If you like driving, is this the time to buy the performance car that you want, versus a compromise? In 10 years, we will probably be in the transition period of autonomous cars and that most likely will be option to get, if not the only option.
 
The end of the Horsepower Wars II?
 
As you know the muscle car wars ended in the early 70s because of oil and emissions. My thought is that will the current horsepower wars that we are living in today, going to end when autonomous cars are introduced and accepted?
 
Thanks,
Rob 
Many people are going to decide it’s cheaper for them to car share or ride share instead of owning or leasing a car. But some of us, and probably you, love owning our own machines. Just because autonomous cars will be available in 10 years doesn’t mean non-autonomous cars are going away. You and I will enjoy driving cars for the rest of our lives. And a lot of us will still enjoy driving high-performance machines.
4-8-2016


Hi John



Just wanted to point out some of the issues I would have liked to have to mentioned on "Selling the Big Rigs."



1 - Lack of drivers - The US/CA marketplace is facing a massive shortfall in drivers (so is Europe). This is driving telematics, the driverless truck project that Mercedes did with Truckliner and also automating how trucks are driven (automatic transmissions, cameras everywhere etc). Anything to make it less complex in how to drive a truck, operate it daily and cut operating costs while boosting or maintaining reliability is garnering interest. Trucks are actually employing some very advanced driving aids like Sat-based cruise control where the Satellite tells the truck how fast, what gear to be in based on the roads terrain, traffic and what weight the truck is carrying. Nothing like that on cars (yet). 



2 - Better fuel economy - with less drivers there is pressure on wages and offering better working conditions so there is less room for cutting truck costs (apart from buying your competitors) so fuel economy is still the biggest truck cost after labour especially as traffic jams get worse. It would be interesting to discuss the recent "supertruck" project that was done with all the big rig makers and the US Gov. As far as I can tell, this was one of the most advanced projects done globally and was far ahead of any research being done in the Europe or Asia. 



3 - VW owns two big rig makers -  Scania (was Saab Scania) and MAN. They had hoped to combine the two and benefit from the "synergies" but it didn't work out. Now that VW needs to raise cash, they might sell one marque off and I am sure GM or Ford would be interested. Europe truck makers have still got some advanced skills in diesel engines (and some sneaky tech also) and they also had to meet advanced emission regulations in 2014/15 so a lot of work was already done. They also understand the commercial market for heavy duty trucks and rugged trucks which must be almost absent from Ford and GM by now.



4 Cab over truck- European big rigs are characterised by having the cab over the engine and in North America - the engine is out front like a passenger car. However while that design has almost disappeared in NA, there might still be a comeback as the Euro design fits into tighter spaces in Urban areas and as cities in the US get ever higher density there might be some demand for this shape. Anything that boosts fuel economy while avoiding very advanced unproven tech could garner interest. 



5 European silent Trucks -  most of the research around this is based on "light" trucks and the ever more stringent city laws on cutting noise pollution in Europe. This is less of an issue in the US where streets are wider and fewer people live next to an interstate. However what is happening is hybrid tech coming where the truck operates on electric power in city traffic and urban deliveries and then as a standard engine outside inner city limits. This is mostly being driven by city authorities who operate late night services (bus/trash collection/road maintenance) and those firms who deliver into urban areas (fedex, retail shop delivery). There are usually rules on late night deliveries regarding noise to avoid waking everyone up. 



Stephen



PS Don't see any reason why Autoline could not cover commercial transport without needing to do any reviews of trucks (and you'd need a truck license anyway!) However you might be able to cover the light trucks (Ford Transit etc) which drive like cars anyway.
Stephen,

Great feedback! We love hearing from our viewers with solid insights and constructive suggestions.

All the best,
John McElroy
4-8-2016


John, doesn’t Audi need to bag its slogan of “Truth in engineering” considering all that’s happened?

Ken
Ken,

Most automakers typically change their slogans every couple of years and, you’re right, now it’s time for Audi to change. But Audi has to be careful. If it drops it right away it will attract even more media attention than keeping it.

Best,
John McElroy
4-8-2016


John,
    What is going on with Chrysler? A friend of mine took his 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan in for a routine service on July 13, 2015 and was told to park it, because it was unsafe to drive. The part in question was an ‘intermediate shaft’ part no 4809916AC. Although his part had not failed, he was told that the part was prone to failure and a new, stronger part was being designed. Now, after 4 months of running around, trying to locate this elusive part, he is being told that the new part won’t be available until at least the end of March, 2016! And his car is STILL sitting on the dealers lot, since it is still ‘unsafe’ to drive! They are asking him to give up his car for 9 months with no explanation and no compensation, offers of a discount or offers of a rental car! The car had one month left on the warranty when he parked it, but is out of warranty now. He tried locating the part himself and found that there are two parts that have that same part number! One of these two is available, but the one he needs (basically a bar with splines at both ends, in a bearing attached to a mounting bracket) is out of stock at every place he has searched on the Internet and at multiple Chrysler dealers. Chrysler Canada confirmed that the part is no longer available
but offered no explanation why. Chrysler said the problem affects only the option 4 litre engine. They won’t tell him what the failure details are, so he can’t determine for himself if the car is safe to drive. (He was thinking that if the failure mechanism was known, he could weld on a brace to strengthen it)

Can you help? If this car is that unsafe to drive, why has a recall notice not been sent out? If it is safe to drive, why won’t they give his car back to him? It is hasn’t failed in 5 years and 120,000 miles, it should be safe to drive at least around town! 
 
Thanks
Kevin Anderson
 
PS The dealer offered him 1000 US$ for the car as a trade in against a high-end new Dodge Caravan. When he asked why the trade in was so low, they repeated that the car was not ‘driveable’, even though there are no broken parts and he drove it to the dealership originally! 
Kevin,

First off, your friend needs to march right back to the dealership and demand a free loaner until his (her?) car is properly repaired. If the dealer tries to brush him off, demand to be put in contact with a Chrysler zone manager. If you don’t get a satisfactory response it would be a smart idea to contact a lawyer and send a strong letter to the dealer demanding immediate action, or that you’ll pursue further legal action. That letter will cost a couple of hundred dollars but it’s well worth it. Next, you need to contact the Canadian equivalent of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and file a complaint at their website, look to see if others have done so, and determine what the agency knows about this defect and what it’s doing. Finally, your friend should start searching Chrysler-owner blogs and websites and connecting with other people who have suffered from the same problem. Reach out to them, there is strength in numbers!

And after all that, keep me posted. I would like to learn how this unfolds.

Sincerely,
John McElroy
4-8-2016


John:

No matter how messed up the world is, we can always count on the Pirelli Calendar to be a stunning work of art - something to look forward to. 

Some joker killed that this year - who wants to see high-resolution, glossy photos of Yoko Ono???  Or Amy Schumer??? Patti Smith???  Why is the Pirelli calendar now a celebration of old, wrinkled, unattractive and chubby women?

Uggghhhh
4-8-2016


I really like the new Autoline Daily graphics.  This show keeps me up to date on automotive news, trends, monthly sales, recalls, etc.  While I always thought that John was the man that brought me this news in the best way, I have to say that Sean is carrying on with that tradition as he hosts the majority of the shows now.  Keep it up and all the best.


Mike Dearborn
Mike,

Thanks for taking the time to give us your thoughts on Autoline Daily. We truly appreciate them.

McElroy

Send us your thoughts: viewermail@autoline.tv