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Having never seen a computer, smart phone or GPS that did not crash, freeze up or glitch at some point, I cannot imagine fully autonomous cars without steering wheels and pedals ever catching on with the masses.

Limited applications such as public transit, ride sharing and disabled persons mobility is where full autonomy will most likely shine.

I do appreciate the technology; I just don't think it will be reliable enough to replace the majority of human drivers anytime soon.

(Perhaps a constitutional amendment protecting the right to drive our own car is needed!)


Hmm, you don’t think that autonomous cars will be reliable enough even though human error is the cause of 95% of all accidents?

No, autonomous cars will never be perfect. Nothing is. But they can be far better than what we have now, from a safety standpoint.

Even so, it will be a long time, if ever, that humans are banned from driving their own cars.

John McElroy

Hi John,

The fact that the "electric turbocharger" isn't driven by exhaust gas has nothing to do with the requirement for an aftercooler. The requirement for aftercooling has to do with pressure ratio of the compressor. When you compress the inlet air its temperature increases. The higher the pressure ratio the higher the temperature.  Engineers must determine the cost benefit ratio of adding an aftercooler based on that.

Richie B

After watching the Autoline show on ‘Piston Engines’ I was fascinated with the profound effort in conserving the age old piston engine. 

Although there are many uses for the piston engine I feel we are wasting way to much horsepower. Pun intended, on trying to keep that engine alive. 

Yes the electric alternative is costly because of the current battery technology but I think the effort spent on new piston engine technology is justmaking them more complicated resulting in the potential for more varied breakdowns and huge maintenance costs.

Whereas electric powered vehicles would lesson most of those issues for example the new Tesla cars with only 8 moving parts not the thousands in piston engine driven vehicles besides the engine. 

I understand the motive in keeping the piston engine businesses alive besides engine manufactures the transmission, clutch, drive shaft, cooling systems and all the ancillary businesses related to them employ thousands.  But there is need to move those employees and our engineering trusts to work on the electric storage issue for one and then creating new work options for the displaced people.

In closing we need to remember that electric power has been in use for years in the railroads, ocean going vessels and modern urban public transportation to name a few for years.  

There are better uses for petroleum products besides gasoline that would be better for our environment and future generations.


A friend made these point(s) the enthusiastic media never makes:

I really don't get the Uber thing except that it is a millennial thing to get cab transportation without calling to speak with someone.  The Uber "entreprenures" are really jitney drivers without commercial insurance,  a commercial license and a cab license required in many cities.  We have friends whose out of work stock broker son in law signed up with Uber. He was going along fine until the Dallas police stopped him. Got a $4000 fine for operating an unlicensed cab. Uber does not tell you how to set up business just sign up and they will send you customers on line. An on line scam just waiting for its first major suit or government intervention.  So the driverless cars are right up their alley. Some big money people will set up the scam and protect themselves through an LLC or S-Corp. The cars will be leased from another such entity and if you go over Mt. Washington,  you will have no one to sue and no insurance.  Uber do ber.  Fun.

Hi John,
An excellent show. Lots of technology discussed. Certainly looks to be a number of alternatives still to come for ICEs.

Your guests, and frankly, almost everyone involved with Detroit and current OEMs are deeply committed to a gasoline internal combustion future, at least for 20 years or more. And, given the current state of R&D, the enormous existing infrastructure and the price of gas, it's a reasonable position.

But the conclusion of the show is the kicker. The customer will decide. I think that BEVs will begin playing a more important role and that the movement will be consumer driven, not economics. This ride sharing/car sharing move to BEVs will give a lot of people their first taste of electric cars.

I look for an external news event ( like transportation now being now the largest producer of co2) or general attitude shift, not CAFE standards or the price of gasoline to start this movement. People rarely make big changes for economics, but for other reasons.

It's going to be fun to watch.

Kind regards

Ian Hendrie 


Thank  you for your informative and interesting show, the production value and content are truly appreciated.  I am concerned, however,  that an issue of substantial importance to me wasn't address directly, but rather hazily implied on your recent broadcast segment in which Marco Palmieri from Novelis was interviewed.  Since carbon emissions and atmospheric carbon dioxide accumulation have driven governments and citizens worldwide to demand auto manufacturers produce vehicles with reduced vehicle emissions, I understand how your show overlooked a portion of the critical broader picture.  However, that doesn't prevent me from pointing out that possibly the foremost authority on mined metals, R. Buckminster Fuller, wrote in his book "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth," our species has already mined all the metals it needs, with efficient recycling we would be able to reuse these metals without their further mining.  In particular, bauxite mining for aluminum is the most carbon intensive and one of the most wasteful to the ecology. I appreciate how much emphasis Novelis is putting on recycling but I shudder to think how much destruction to our planet's climate and life forms it is also reaping by not closing its mines and focusing its efforts on 100% recycling instead.


Jack Bornoff

We haven’t overlooked the emissions story. We’ve devoted numerous shows to this topic. In the show you’re citing, with the chief executive of one of the world’s major aluminum suppliers, we’re naturally going to focus on aluminum. Check out our website and you will find plenty of shows with some of the leading players when it comes to technology and regulations dealing with emissions.

I’m a huge, life-long Buckminster Fuller fan and even got the chance to see him speak at an event in Midland, Michigan back in the mid-1970’s. It was a fantastic 2-hour speech. But as much as I admire him, Bucky didn’t always get it right. For example, his Dymaxion car was unstable at all but very low speeds. I know this from interviewing one of the groups that rebuilt his car.

Also, I’ve never heard of Fuller referred to as the foremost authority on mined metals. He certainly never made that claim. Moreover Bucky didn’t envision a world of 7.5 billion people, or of a China emerging as the second largest economy in the world. The truth of the matter is that there simply isn’t enough material to be recycled to feed today’s economy.

We do a tremendous amount of recycling today. You rarely see the piles of junked cars and mountains of used tires as were so common when I was growing up. That all gets recycled now. In fact, the biggest change in the steel industry in the last 40 years is the emergence of mini-mills whose primary raw material is scrap steel. And it’s not just steel. Well over 90% of all the metals that go into cars gets recycled, at least in the developed world. Yes, we can do a better job, but we’ve made tremendous progress.

And if you’re that worried about all the bauxite getting mined just take a look at all the materials that went into making the laptop you used to send this email. Almost none of them are going to get recycled. They’re headed for the land fill.

John McElroy

Hi John,
Your article on the 120 years of automotive and the new 3D printed car concept from Local Motors made me think of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s creativity in legislation last year that blocked the world’s #1 recognized EV brand, Tesla, from selling cars in the Motor City, and in Michigan.  The customers might be ready for innovative business models, yet clearly the Michigan government will flex it’s muscles to protect the status quo.
I thoroughly enjoy your work!

I could not agree more. Banning Tesla from selling cars in Michigan was a bone headed idea. It’s even more unbelievable coming from a governor who made his name running Gateway, which made its name by selling direct to consumers.

John McElroy

Mr. McElroy,
   My name is Carl and I live in Detroit.   I hear constantly on WWJ radio and on television about all the automakers trying to go to autonomous vehicles.
    I want to know, sir, have they taken a survey of the public to see if the majority even want driverless cars?   I know I don't.  I am not even remotely interested in them and below I have listed the reasons why.
1.  I used to be a computer technician and I know computers break.   This could cause everything from a minor accident to death on a massive scale if some sort of "glich", hardware failure, software failure, or plain human error at the server level.
2.  I find it is more fun to drive myself and if I can't drive, I would not want to get into an "automatic" car.   I like driving and being in control, sir.
3.  Most people I speak with say they want no part of an autonomous car.   
4.  With autonomous cars we are setting ourselves up for failure.   If a satellite failed with all that debris we have floating above the earth by being impacted we could have a real issue.   They have to be controlled by satellite.
5.   I will never drive an autonomous car and as far as I am concerned they will sit there rusting on the car lots.   This project could backfire on the entire auto industry.  I find them COMPLETELY USELESS.   I want the feel of curves, the handling of the steering, and the dependability of braking power.   
6.  Here in our country we could be setting ourselves up for national defeat by a foreign power hacking into our vehicles.   Get my drift?   We have enough of those issues already, Mr. McElroy.
      I hope they have considered these issues.
      Thanks for your time, sir.

I take it that you are not blind or have any vision deficiencies. I assume you don’t have some kind of mental or physical disability, either. Probably you’re not old enough to have your children threatening to take away your driver’s license, at least not yet. And I’m sure you don’t have DUI issues.

You don’t ever have to buy one or even get in one. But I can assure you there will be millions of people all around the world who depend on others for their mobility and they will be thrilled to have the freedom that autonomous cars will give them.

John McElroy

I thought you might enjoy this..  How much is the auto industry actually diving into this dangerous territory?
Dave Tuttle

This is hilarious, but also somewhat misleading. Unscrupulous lenders are everywhere. Those who offer payday loans are probably the worst and far more prevalent than pay-here, buy-here dealers. Not that I’m defending those kinds of dealers, they’re unethical. Their standards are very lax. They don’t check FICO scores, or even income. They will happily loan money to people who can’t possibly pay it all back. So they make their money on repos. Why this is legal I don’t know.

People watching this John Oliver piece are going to think this applies to all dealers and car companies and that the auto industry is going to collapse again. But his piece is really all about independent used car dealers. It’s hard to find franchised dealers that engage in this kind of lending.

He points to GM Financial and asks why in the world would it get involved in subprime loans. In point of fact, that’s the only kind of loan that GM Financial is legally allowed to make, though it’s working on getting the OK to loan to prime lenders.

Just because someone has a sub-prime rating doesn’t mean they are a terrible credit risk. Many honest people lost their jobs and even their homes during the Great Recession. They’re only now getting decent paying jobs and getting back on their feet financially. Provided they make their payments, in a couple of years they’ll be back to a prime rating. Why not loan them the money to buy a new car?

What John Oliver needs to do (if he hasn’t already) is a piece on unpaid student loans, which total over one trillion dollars. My cousin, the investment banker on Wall Street, tells me that’s where the ‘Street thinks the next financial crisis will come from because everyone knows that money is never going to get repaid.

John McElroy

When Industry critics and DC Pundit's want to know why more people are not buying new cars with the latest technologies and most efficient engines, take a look at this town:

Salisbury MD:

Family Median Income $40,277

The median home value in Salisbury is $136,200.

The cost of a house us 3 1/2 times the median income.  How much money is left after the mortgage (~$1000), federally mandated healthcare (~$1000), and bills (~$1000+) for the luxury of a new car (>$350/month).  How about a lightly used car that is only a few years old?  There is a reason that many people shop at buy-here pay-here third of fourth tier dealerships; it's all they can afford!
The simple fact is the cost of a new car with all of the mandated safety, efficiency, and luxury technologies is just out of reach for many American's.  Those who can afford a new car want a large capable truck or SUV.  If the price point for small cars was realistic for the masses, I think they would sell in much greater numbers.  They might even be profitable for the manufactures.

This town was chosen because it is less than 75 miles away from DC so the politicians can go see first hand.  The environmental lobbyists can see first hand how they are wrecking the American dream.  Our younger generation, our recent college graduates, all sorts of hard working American's would love to buy a new car on a regular interval.  The reality, however, is they can not afford to do so.

Central Florida

I really enjoyed the 2 shows with Ed Wellburn. (ATW#2021 & ATW#2022) I was curious about the silver car just to Ed’s right in the background. It reminded me of a late 50’s Cadillac, but obviously nothing I saw on the road (at least in the Boston area, where I grew up).
Any details would be appreciated.
Eric Wilker

I believe the car you’re referring to is the Cadillac Le Mans. The other Cadillac concept car in the studio that day with that fantastic interview with Ed Welburn was the Cyclone. Ed brought out some of the coolest cars in the GM collection so we would have a great backdrop for the show.

John McElroy
Hi John,

On the news of Fast Lane Daily being cancelled, I am compelled to tell you my point of view on it.

I was a subscriber to FLD for a while years ago, but I found the content expanded beyond pure car news and sometimes was very off color and offputting to me. I found you and Autoline after being disgusted with one of the Fast Lane Daily shows and quickly cancelled them and became a very loyal follower of AutolineDetroit and then Autoline. (And your coverage and production values have come a long way since then!) I very much admire you, Sean, and your team for keeping to the industry news and keeping my interest honestly without getting political unless truly applicable to regulations and never getting off color. It's my belief that an auto enthusiast should have the joy of watching his or her news without worrying about it getting off track or offensive. Thank you so much!



Thanks for your feedback and your support for Autoline. We sure appreciate it.

John McElroy

Hey John,

I may be wrong but I think back in the early '60s real knockoffs were outlawed for street use if the spinner extended outside
the fender sheet metal due to safety concerns.

The past few years I have been noticing a trend that I feel is the same issue. It surprises me that I haven't heard any
complaints about it...
Have you noticed that more and more big rigs are using extended lug nuts that stick out 3 to 4 inches from the rim? 
They are long tapered chrome cosmetic replacements that are almost always just on the front wheels.
They wouldn't be an issue on any of the other wheels because off the offset of the rear wheels.
 It can be quite scary riding in a car with a low ride height and look out the window to see these spikes sticking out
at eye level to you.

I wish they would just go back to the naked lady mud flaps...

Thanks for all the great content!

The Mayor

Annapolis, MD


I really appreciated your analysis of the big, public dealers when talking about whether the auto manufacturers should follow Tesla’s lead and sell direct. The one problem with the analysis is that it includes COGS in the revenue number (cost of goods sold). Dealer revenue isn’t usually inclusive of the cost of the car when being analyzed by financial firms (e.g. I am in insurance, and when we are sizing the risk at a dealership, we subtract the value of the cars from the revenue to see what the dealer themselves is actually doing vs acting as an agent for the car makers). If you remove the COGS here, I think you’d find that the profit margins of AutoNation, Penske, etc are actually pretty healthy.

And that follows for car makers selling direct. The manufacturing arm always has the COGS of the cars built into it, so you’d be double counting if you included it in the dealership side.

Hope that’s useful to the analysis as I think it may change your conclusion, at least for that reason. Whether the dealer model is the right model is a multi-faceted, complex and political (as Tesla has found!) issue.

All the best, and keep doing what you guys do. I love your daily news!

Bryan Falchuk

Fantastic feedback! You make a great point and I need to go back and rethink the numbers.

John McElroy

John and Co.,
I certainly don't have your breadth of historical knowledge. Can you think of another major supplier that's dropped an OEM?
I suspect Tesla will work around Mobileye dropping them somehow but this has to be a set back. 

Great question! It’s very rare for a supplier to deliberately drop an OEM customer. Who wants to give up business? It has happened in the past. But it usually revolves around the OEM demanding such low prices that the supplier feels compelled to walk away from the deal.

I think Mobileye walked away from Tesla for two reasons: all the bad publicity surrounding the fatality with the Tesla Autopilot, and the consortium deal that Mobileye just signed with BMW and Intel. I don’t think it had anything to do with pricing.

John McElroy

Hi guys,
I get very frustrated with your reports of car company earnings that report absolute EBIT (eg 1.7 billion), but do not also calculate and display the EBIT% (on revenue).
Like all business men, I use EBIT% to judge the heath of a business. $1.7 billion might seem a lot of money especially, if it is up by 30% on last year’s EBIT, but if the EBIT% on revenue is only 3% and growth is slow, then the business is not doing well and they are having problems containing costs or with maintaining prices.
So as a request, can you also report the EBIT% as well as the absolute EBIT. This way I do not have to freeze the screen and reach for the calculator.

In broadcasting it can become tedious to read a bunch of numbers. It’s quite different than with print, where it’s easier for readers to pause and look at all the numbers. So we keep it to vehicle sales, revenue, EBIT and net profit.

But your suggestion does have merit. We’ll consider adding EBIT as a % of sales. But in the meantime, keep that calculator handy!

John McElroy

I just saw an ad for the Cadillac CT6 with everyone going backwards and then they introduced the "new" Cadillac CT6 but it never told me what a CT6 is or why I should buy one. It didn't make me run out to a dealer and buy one. What are they doing?

Michael Gelven
Sometimes automakers just want to break out of the clutter and run an ad to make an impression, not a hard sell. If they got your attention, they consider that a success. And clearly this ad got your attention. The thinking is that if you’re curious enough about the car, you’ll look for more information on your own.

Hello Autoline,
I watch a couple of shows a week, especially This Week and After Hours.
I prefer to watch the live shows, because of the pre- after-show footage. But I always have trouble finding out when these live shows are taking place.
Do you have a listing with dates and times of the live shows ?
Kind regards

We have quite a few viewers who love to watch the pre-show and after-show segments of Autoline After Hours. It really gives them a behind the scenes look at what it takes to produce a show. And sometimes you get some pretty unguarded comments from the guests!

We turn the cameras on live in our studio just before 3 pm eastern time every Thursday. But sometimes we pre-record the show if we’re on the road and don’t have the pre- and post- segments.

Thanks for your interest,
John McElroy

There have been some comments re: the CV transmission vs. the “normal” type.

As a subscriber to various automotive mags I had developed a bias against CVTs. I recently had my Lincoln MKC in for service and was given a MKZ Hybrid with stop/start and a CVT as a loaner. This was exactly the type of car that I had no interest in but was very pleasantly surprised. The car was peppy, very smooth and the stop/start operated flawlessly. The car did not drone unless pressed very hard and the milage was amazing.

While not sure I would buy one as Lincoln does not offer this combination in a CUV it changed my impression.

Barry Lurges
CVT’s have come a long way in just the past few years. Automakers have finally figured out how to calibrate them to drive more pleasantly, and to make them fairly robust. Thanks for sharing your experience, we’re sure to hear from more “converts.”

Hi John,
It’s been a while since you’ve talked with anyone from Elio Motors.  It almost looks like they might make it into production.  What do you think?  Can they succeed?  Can they do it in our lifetime?
Have a great day,
Elio Motors faces a formidable challenge. While it has a nice looking vehicle and good fuel economy, 3-wheelers with tandem seating have very limited market appeal. Since it’s officially classified as a motorcycle it meets none of the crash standards and that too will limit its appeal to a mass audience. Elio could do a lot better in emerging markets where price, efficiency and size matter, but in the US it will be relegated to a relatively small niche.

Hi guys,
Very interesting show. My only comment was about Gary's assertion that millennials don't buy into lifetime employment like all the people before them.
They may not, but that's not new. When I graduated university in 1972 as a mechanical engineer, I had lots of choice of employers, and I flitted every 3 years or so from one to another. When you change jobs, you can move ahead each time with substantial salary rises. So with no employment issues, if you were ambitious you had to keep moving. No current employer will give you 30% more money every 3 years to keep you, but has no problem spending that on the next great thing.
Selective job hopping is good for your career, at least in engineering and management.

Kind regards


Thanks for your observation about my observation about Millennials and their work habits.

I think a difference between what you did and what they are doing is one of short attention span vs. some very clever financial strategies.

There have been 14 three-year periods between now and 1972. If you got a 30% bump 14 times, then I’m really feeling bad that in January I will have been at this job for 30 years and I’ve never even gotten a single 30% raise. Even if you’ve made a move even half that many of times, the multiplier is still significant.

I’m jealous.

Thanks for writing. And watching.


Gary S. Vasilash
Automotive Design & Production

I was just wondering your thoughts about the Elio electric car and your prediction where Chrysler will be a year from now. I work in the factory and the workers are very worried about our jobs. We remember what happened before so we were wondering, do you think it could happen again? I know this may sound quite early to start thinking like this, but the majority here on the assembly line are worried for our jobs, because if you think about it we think the Auto industry is going down in the sump. I don't know. You're the expert on it. Let us know what's going on either through a broadcast or to an email. Thanks.


Elio Motors faces a real tough challenge. They’re going about it the old fashioned way: lots of upfront capital spending and using a massive assembly plant. They do have some seasoned automotive execs on their board, but I would have preferred to see them start small and grow over time, rather than try go huge from Day 1. Also, the Elio is officially classified as a motorcycle and doesn’t have to meet any of the crash standards. I think that will limit its appeal.

As for where Chrysler will be a year from now, who knows? It all depends on what the economy and car sales are doing. But I don’t share your concerns that the auto industry is going down the drain. Even though so many people seem worried, I don’t know why. We probably will set another all-time sales record this year. How bad can things be if we’re still running at record levels? And if sales slow down a bit after that, who cares? I don’t see a problem if car sales hover in the 16.5 million to 17 million range. If I’m right that still means you and your colleagues will have good jobs for years to come.

John McElroy

I would really be interested to see a discussion of road (congestion) pricing as a way to fund our vehicle infrastructure rather than gas taxes.  Specifically, I would like to hear about the funding benefits, environmental benefits, and fund-to-drive benefits of moving to this type of infrastructure pricing.

Thanks for the suggestion. I think it would have to be part of a larger discussion on road infrastructure. With V2X coming in the next five years it could be part of that discussion. If we’re going to get vehicles communicating with traffic infrastructure, we need to figure out how to pay for it all and this could be the perfect time to talk about per-mile and congestion pricing.

John McElroy

Excellent show!  Enjoyed Margo Oge insights.


Thanks for the feedback. We love having Margo on our shows.

John, your analysis of dealer profit margin is missing the point.  Auto manufacturers want to eliminate dealers, and all of the associated negative experiences, to improve the customer experience, improve loyalty, and ultimately sell more cars at higher profit margins.  Why can't I just go online and buy a car?  Why do I have to get beaten up in the F&I office?  Why do I have to haggle with the pros?  Do I really need a gold trim kit and padded vinyl roof?  Your thinking sounds like GM in the 1980s and 1990s - just think about how much we can improve our profit margin if we just rebadge the same car as a Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac.  No one will notice that a Chevy Cavalier and Cadillac Cimarron are the same car.


The 1971 Eldorado discussion and photography from a high angle reminded me of working in an office building in 1972 where at the end of the day I'd be looking down at the rush hour traffic and would take note of the impressive designs of the GM cars.  They would stand out from the others in how all the lines, from any angle, were resolved and purposeful.


Hi John,
The same question comes up every time I hear about car sharing and how most cars sit for 23 hours a day… 
We have “rush hour” and “school commutes" nearly ubiquitous in every community, and that’s WHEN most want to use their vehicle. What percentage of vehicles are sitting during these times?  
Of those, which aren’t “specialty use” vehicles (sports, trucks/vans, hobby, unreliable, undesirable, etc) vehicles that would be useful or appropriate for sharing? 
That remainder is the pool of cars available for “sharing”, should the owner actually be willing. I would be cautious with estimating what that final number would be.
Love your work!

Wow, these are some very specific questions. Very granular!

You’re right, there are peak times during the day when car & ride sharing services would be heavily used. But the same goes for taxis in use today—you can measure demand by the lines of people waiting for one. The difference with ride sharing services is that you get an app that will tell you exactly when and which car will be there to pick you up. In some places ride sharing will be a breeze to use, in others it may not be as efficient. But keep in mind this is all in its infancy.

Uber already has 1 million drivers globally and in San Francisco alone it has delivered over 1 million rides. That’s just one ride sharing service and despite all its publicity, Uber is not even the biggest in the world (that honor does to Didi in China). Even so, Uber’s stats give the best idea of just how fast all this is growing.

John McElroy

Although I cannot find and original article/press release, I could swear Ford announced that the all new 2014 Fusion was specifically designed NOT to accept a V6 engine.  How then can Ford explain the new 2017 sport?  Was significant unibody/chassis redesign required, or was the old statement marketing verbal creative license?
Maybe it did, but we don’t remember Ford saying that. However, Hyundai did design the Sonata with only 4-cylinders in mind.

Hello, missed this show and could only leave a comment today. Just in case I am too late, I am forwarding my suggestion by e mail:
“John: my addition would be the Dodge Magnum. Especially the European version with the Chrysler 300C front, called 300C Touring Wagon. Equipped with a Mercedes 3.0 L Diesel engine or the Hemi 5.7L V8 those should be rare, are esthetically pleasing and have interesting if not rare powertrain technology.”
I love your show!
best regards,
I agree. I always liked the Dodge Magnum, it was a terrific looking station wagon, and was sorry to see it dropped. In Europe they sold it with the Chrysler 300 nose and it looked better still.


I'm not sure what the genesis of the story of the cancellation of Alfa's 4C Spider was, but whoever the source was, got everything wrong. I suspect other motives.
First, the 4C coupe had to go out of production by no later than 2018 due to NHTSA rules relating to passenger ejection standards.
Second, you mentioned the sales of the Dodge Viper- that model is being phased out due to the same rule. Neither car was designed to threaten the Honda Accord's sales base.
The 4C Spider itself COULD continue beyond 2018, as the ejection standard, with typical bureaucratic reasoning, does not apply to convertibles or open air vehicles.
Third, no one- not Harald Wester, nor Sergio Marchionne, or Ried Bigland EVER said there would be a second iteration of the 4C. It was never even rumored, or speculated on. So a story seems to be created about the cancellation of a car that was never scheduled to be built in the first place.
Lastly, FCA will need the Modena plant where the 4C is built for upcoming Maseratis. The labor union that works in that plant have been promised the plant will stay in operation for series production after the 4C has run it's course.
So let's chalk this one up to auto journo scuttlebutt. I don't think it had any basis in fact whatsoever, and I can only question how this story was hatched, and what the motivation was behind it.

Dear Plinth5,

The genesis of the story of the Alfa 4C coming to the end of its production was reported by Autoforecast Solutions, a data house that regularly reports on future product plans from automakers. It is a reputable organization that is used by all automakers.

The 4C coupe did not have to go out of production because of any NHTSA standards. That car is sold in many markets around the world, none of which have such a standard, and Alfa could have easily continued to sell it outside of the US.

I compared sales of the 4C to sales of the Viper to show how poorly the 4C is selling. It’s barely ahead of a car that is being phased out because of its own poor sales. It’s painfully obvious that both the 4C and current-generation Viper are sales flops.

If indeed FCA, the company who’s CEO complains bitterly about the capital and costs needed to develop new products, conceived the 4C as a one-generation car, then the story gets even more interesting.

As for needing the Modena plant, well maybe. That plant made the 8C at the same time it made Grand Turismos and Grand Cabrios. If the 4C was a real success and providing a good return on the capital invested, they would figure out how to keep on making it.

John McElroy

This guy was so interesting; he was there.
I wish you had asked him his opinion of today's Chrysler.
Can they really continue selling a handful of brands?
Jamie Toro

One more factor needs to be calculated into the decline in diesels sales, that may be at least partially, and indirectly, a result of the VW emission scandal. With the changeover to the new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze late last year, the old 2.0 L turbodiesel is no longer available. According to GM a new diesel engine for the Cruze won't be launched until 2017, but as noted by Autoline, certification of new diesels is now taking longer due to increased EPA scrutiny, so that delay may be at least partially VW's fault, not GM's original product timing. It surely wouldn't take many Cruze diesels, available for sale last year, but not now, to account for the remaining 2% drop in diesel sales not directly due to the failure at VW.

Andrew Charles

Good point about the Cruze diesel being dropped. Last year for the first half 1,920 Cruze diesels were sold. This year: 229.

But the Colorado and Canyon diesels more than made up for that. Zero were sold for the first half last year and 4,621 this year.

Watched Autotline After Hours last week about the Tesla accident in Florida; I feel bad this guy died. Good show, but you guys left a few facts out of the discussion. You mentioned the Harry Potter video the driver may have been watching But no one mentioned he apparently blew by a woman who driving at 85 MPH…..he could have been doing 95. The posted speed there appears to be 65 MPH.
Mr. Brown also appears to have gotten several speeding tickets. This did not directly affect the crash, but tells us something about the “driver”. In one case he was ticketed for doing 64 miles per hour in a 35 MPH zone (…maybe more, but the Officer wrote the ticket for “64”). Really? 64 in a 35? Reckless!
Also, no one seemed to think the truck driver may have had any part of the fault here, but lets say the truck driver saw the Tesla coming for a split second but assumed the car (Tesla) was maybe doing 75 MPH (and would slow down if it had to) rather than maybe doing 95 MPH full bore. Is any part of this accident the truck drivers fault? Because he failed to yield and assumed the speeding car was going slower and would yield if it had too? Very often car accidents are not 100% one parties fault.
From what I am reading, Tesla Autopilot (7.1 anyways) will not allow speed more that 5 MPH over the speed limit on roads that are not divided [….this was the one thing that puzzled me, that road in Florida in divided in most sections but in others where there are crossings it is not (there are also businesses/driveways along it!), so…which rule should have applied??].
I’m quite happy to announce that the actual restrictions are limited to those roads with out a center divider and that you are permitted to go as many as 5 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. This picture shows the error message you will get if you attempt to set Autopilot to drive faster on a restricted road.”
“Auto steer will only operate from 18 mph to 90 mph. Only speed limit +5 on non-divided highways. ”
The timing and circumstances (where the cars radar apparently missed both the tractors wheels and the trailers wheels...and seeing the empty space below the trailer) that led to this crash are extraordinary. But a car doing 90+ MPH is doing 132+ feet per second...that does not leave a lot of margin for error, or time to catch something that may have been missed!
It appears Autopilot’s deaths per million mile rate still seems to be better than humans. But another thing (harder to quantify) that no one asked is how many lives/injuries might have been saved by “Autopilot”? I wish we knew THAT number. But every time we all get in a car and go on public roads we accept some level of risk….but people who speed excessively and watch movies in their car when they should be watching the road have to accept an even higher level of risk, sorry. Autopilot is not an excuse for really bad behavior in the drivers seat. Both those decisions by him, to do 90+ and watch a movie (if true), were REALLY REALLY bad ideas. Especially on THAT road with cross traffic.
If Mr. Brown was driving on that same 65 MPH road doing 90+MPH while watching Harry Potter, but had the Autopilot OFF would we even be talking about it? In 2016 humans are still in decision loop in the car. Mr. Brown disregarded that fact. I feel bad he lost his life but he apparently put others at risk too by disregarding what should have been common sense. Tesla’s Autopilot is not perfect and needs to continue to improve (as it has been)…but we have learned that “self driving” cars have to not only deal with what’s going on outside the car, but also stupid behavior IN the car.
Anyway, good show….
Jeff Woodin

Man, you really do your homework! Thanks for all the additional information.

John McElroy

Hi John,
Great interview with Ed Wellburn of GM Design.  A really down-to-earth-guy.  My suggestion is to present a program about automotive industrial espionage.  This is a subject that referred to on a very limited basis (spy photos), but a full out program about the amount of security that all manufactures engage to prevent their “newest and latest” products from being usurped by a competitor.  What leaks have occurred over the years that were from manufactures that were game changers for another automotive manufacturer? There have got to be some very interesting stories out there waiting to be shared with us viewers and I think you’re the person that would do it best.
Jim Adcock

We already did a show on that which comes very close to what you’re talking about.
John McElroy

Hello John,
It seems like every day we hear about the Million and Billion dollar fines that are being charged against Volkswagen. As we all know, a little school lab in Morgantown, West Virginia won a grant to test some diesel cars for their emissions on the road.
When the West Virginia University lab found the diesel cheating software, that circumvents the EPA emission standards. They found a big problem that has rocked the world.
With all the lawyers, governments, states and cities giving out all the fines and going after as much money as they can get from Volkswagen. Do you think West Virginia University will get a penny for their hard work or some compensation to help keep future research on emission vehicles in their lab?

Here’s the true story behind the story. An organization called the International Council on Clean Transportation wanted to prove to European regulators that they should tighten up emission standards for diesel engines. They wanted the EU to adopt standards similar to US standards. To prove that these standards could be achieved in real world driving, and not just in the test labs, they contracted West Virginia University to conduct the tests. They went to WV because they knew it had the equipment to do on-road testing (not many places have this). So if not for the ICCT, WV would have never done these tests. I think the ICCT should get the credit, and who knows? Maybe it expected to catch VW cheating in the first place.

John McElroy

Finally serious concerns about autonomous vehicles are surfacing. Until now, I have found myself virtually alone in doubting self-driving cars’ inevitability, imminence, and relative freedom from problems. A basic understanding of human nature makes it instantly obvious that people cannot be expected to monitor effectively the driving of autonomous vehicles.
Kenneth L. Zuber
Let’s not forget that human error is the cause of 93% of all traffic accidents. Even with the fatality in Florida, Tesla’s own data shows that Autopilot can cut that accident rate in half. And it’s not even fully developed.

We here at Autoline have been saying all along that Level 3 (NHTSA) cars scare the hell out of us. It’s unrealistic to expect all drivers to react perfectly when they need to intervene. That’s why Level 4 cars will prove to be far safer—when they’re ready.

John McElroy

Hi John,
The 2017 Buick LeCrosse is very easy on the eyes.. but I'm a bit surprised by LeCrosse Chief Engineer, Jeff Yanssens, approach of just a single engine for the sedan and not even thinking of possibly a 250-275 hp LTG turbocharged 2.0L DOHC-4v 4cyl turbo as a base engine and then a LGX 3.6L DOHC-4v V6 as an option.
Mike Ma @ San Francisco, CA
I just wanted to say what a great show about the first Camaro. That young gentleman is amazing and I think I could have listened to him talk about that Camaro for hours.

Hope to see and hear more from him in the future. If he has a web site or twitter or facebook account we could follow, please pass it along.

Thank you,
Here’s a website on the first Camaro. Glad you enjoyed the show.

Such a wonderful and insightful show. To listen and watch both John McElroy and Ed Wellburn was such a pleasure.

Mr Wellburns insights and perspectives are fascinating to listen to. Mr Wellburn will be sorely missed.

Thank you for doing this show and please try and have Mr Wellburn on again. Possibly autoline after hours. Especially as his new book releases. As I'm sure auto enthusiasts around the world would love to read his book and get insights on it just as it releases.

Yours truly

Jonathan Brown

John McElroy
In the late 90's I was working at an Indy shop and the service writer was up on used auto parts and worked at used auto parts yards. Low mileage Japanese car motors could be purchased from Japan. Motors don't meet the emissions in the states but could work on some vehicles,
I asked why do the Japanese have so many used low mileage motors ?
He said the Japanese charge a low registration fee and raise that fee as much as a hundred dollars more per year there after.
That is why the Japanese drive newer cars then we do in the US..
Prove the service writer wrong.
Ray Andres
It’s true that in Japan it becomes prohibitively expensive to keep a car more than 5 years. “Inspection” fees skyrocket. Most used Japanese cars are exported to countries that drive on the left hand side of the road. Ireland is a favorite destination. I’ve never heard of used Japanese cars imported to the US for their parts. That sounds like a very expensive way to do it, but I suppose it’s possible.

John McElroy

So what exactly is the current state of "the fix" VW keeps referring to for the 2 liter diesel in leu of a cash settlement?

Ron Paris
The “fix” is something that VW hopes it can come up with. If it can’t fix them, it has to take them all back and scrap them. It will not be allowed to export them as used cars. VW is even searching for a solution for its 3 liter diesels. It can probably find a fix, but for the 2-liter diesels it does not look promising.

Hi John,
I respect your opinion of cars you have tested and as a result I purchased a new Ridgeline in 2006 based in part on your review. That truck became one of my all time favorite vehicles and I've owned around 50. I traded it in 11/2 years ago and missed it so much I bought a used one. Your production estimates will only see the light of day depending on 2 things. The first is the extent to which Honda markets the Ridgeline. The original RL was victim to one of the all time worst ad campaigns ever. It was almost never advertised and when it was none of the features that made it special were highlighted. The trunk comes to mind. The other thing is how well Honda can update the RL to match the competition. The Ridgeline did not receive any significant improvements for its entire run. Same engine for 10 years. Right here and now the Ridgeline is unique but Ford is looking to bring back the Ranger, Hyundai, Mercedes et al are on the band wagon. Honda quality is not what it was. They could have owned this market by now but they let it slip away. Hopefully not this time
Best Regards

Do you have a still picture of the Citroen Hauler with race car?

That is one wild looking car hauler! Here’s the link to the show where it appeared.

Hello John,
I just heard last week's Autoline After Hours via podcast. As always, it was a great show and the return of David Welch was appreciated. He's an excellent resource.
I wanted to address the group's comments on FCA and its potential vehicle overlap and synergies with PSA. 
The truth is that there isn't much left of FCA Europe to preserve. In fact, I did some research, and the only all-new clean-sheet in-house volume platform FCA has launched since Chrysler emerged from bankruptcy in 2009 is the 2017 Pacifica. And that goes for trucks and Jeeps, too. Until the Pacifica launch, everything Fiat and Chrysler/FCA have launched since Chrysler's BK is either A) a facelift/variant of a pre-BK vehicle platform, B) a vehicle platform codeveloped with another automaker, C) both A and B, or D) a high-end luxury or exotic car. 
In Europe, the FCA mainstream passenger car line has essentially retreated to the Panda, 500, Ypsilon, Punto, 500L, MiTo, 500X, Tipo, and Giulietta. 
The Panda is a facelift of the 2nd Gen Panda that came out in 2003. In fact, it was billed specifically as a facelift by FCA so they could skirt EU safety regs for all-new vehicle designs. The 500 line is in its 9th year on the same 13 year-old platform as the Panda. And the last remaining Lancia - sold only in Italy - shares this platform as well.
The Punto is a twice-facelifted version of the Grande Punto that debuted in 2005. The 500L, 500X, Tipo, Renegade, and Alfa MiTo are based on reworked versions of this 11 year-old Punto platform, as well. It's so old, it was codeveloped with GM - which still sells Corsas and Merivas on this platform - back when GM was planning to buy Fiat and then spent $2 billion not to.
Meanwhile, the Dart/Viaggio/Ottimo, Chrysler 200, Cherokee, and Alfa Giulietta are sitting on a twice-reworked version of the 2001 Fiat Stilo platform.
All of these mass-market FCA models are based on platforms that are 10-15 years old. They're crying out to be replaced. And there are no clean-sheet replacements in sight. Even the Daimler-based Grand Cherokee/Durango is in its 6th year, while the Ram pickups have only seen facelifts since Jim Press turned Detroit into Pamplona back in January 2008.
PSA by contrast has the all-new, incredibly flexible EMP2 platform that is underpinning their new B, C, and D-segment cars, LCV's, and crossovers. The only major class of passenger car that PSA isn't doing themselves is their Toyota Aygo-based A-segment cars. Which just happens to be the segment that Fiat itself has had the biggest EU success in. And since the two companies already share LCV designs, it's not hard to see how things could shake out. FCA would get new platforms. PSA would get access to the Americas, better economies of scale, and more market share in the zero-sum EU.
My point is, there's very little of FCA Europe's vehicle lineup that competes with PSA's, that isn't also past its technological sell-by date. And PSA has just the platform to do replace those vehicles or remove them from competing with their own. 
However, PSA was on the brink only 18 months ago and probably doesn't need another huge mess to sort out with FCA. Especially considering they'd have to endure a protracted PR and bureaucratic nightmare laying off tons of EU workers and closing EU plants in order to get the FCA-PSA house in order in Europe.
In this light, FCA is in very sore shape. Jeep and Ram sales must be the only thing keeping it alive, and even those lineups are hardly fresh.
What do you think? Would a PSA merger work for both parties? Would FCA as we know it be a wise or viable investment for anybody? If not PSA, who?
Your thoughts are appreciated.
Jude T.
Hey Jude,

I thought PSA was a perfect partner for FCA. But PSA’s CEO Carlos Tavares pretty much shot down the idea.

Others have suggested VW should buy FCA, but VW has its hands full with its diesel emissions scandal and may have to sell off assets, not buy new ones.

I think a Chinese buyer is a possible scenario, because all the other major OEMs have said “No” to Sergio Marchionne.

John McElroy

Hi John,

Automated or self-driving cars is a hot topic lately, as it should be. I just wanted to call to your attention an excellent article about this subject in the June 2016 issue of Scientific American.  It is entitled " The Truth About "Self-Driving" Cars" by Steven E. Shladover.  It is written for the layman and is very interesting. It ain't gonna be easy. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.

Richie B

Good Afternoon John,
Thank you always for Autoline Daily, needless to say it is informative and interesting to watch.


I've read a lot of people angry that GM is importing the first Chinese-built cars for sale in the US. Even if we exclude all the mini-trucks sold for off-highway use, that may not be true. I don't know when they started, or how many may have been sold, but Volvo is also selling Chinese-built models in the US. At least some S60s have been shipped from Zhongjia Automobile Manufacturing (Chengdu) Co., Ltd. (since last year a subsidiary of Daqing Volvo Car Manufacturing Co., Ltd.) to Volvo Cars North America.


Hi John, 
I saw the comments that your viewers posted about not using a bed liner in the Ford and about not dumping blocks into the bed like that.  Well, my son has a landscaping business and his workers throw stuff like this into the beds of his trucks all the time.  Stuff like this happens and having holes where nails and screws can fall out onto the road can cause damage to many other drivers.  I'm all for light weight materials, but aluminum in a truck bed, no way.  GM tried to make that move back in 2000, but the bed would not measure up to farm use not alone construction use.  Ford also has a commercial showing stuff being dumped into its trucks.  I would like to know how the bed stood up to that abuse.  Keep up the good work keeping us informed on all that is going on in the automotive world. 
Al Jadczak

Has anybody noticed that vans are booming this year? Sales of minivans are up 33% through April, putting them on pace for the best sales since 2007, when there were 14 models compared to today's six (not counting the new Pacifica which only went on sale last month). The top four (Sienna, Odyssey, Caravan and Town & Country) are all outselling every large crossover except the Explorer. Commercial vans, both compact and fullsize, are also doing well, with both classes up over 25% (although the latter includes an undisclosed number of medium Mercedes Metris vans).


Next time you have somebody from Toyota on the show/s, wudja please ask him/her for me just why some high-paid English-speaking marketing person can't come up with sumpthin better than TRD (Toyota Racing Development)!?
When TRD (TURD) debuted, we all figured they'd come up with something better in a year or two -- but that's been forever now.
Just off the top of my hat, I can think of Toyota Racing Team (TRT), Toyota Racing Engineering (TRE), Toyota Advanced Engineering (TAE), and Toyota Engine Development (TED).
Mr. Toyoda may be bringing some style to cars (no longer every sedan door interchangeable, some now even coming with creases on 'em), and performance may be up, but somebody ought to clue him in on the dumb tone-deaf marketing.

Hi John,
I just got a chance to watch Autoline After Hours 335 and what caught my attention was the reliability issues with the Tesla; but this got me thinking, do car companies required to put a specific number of prototyping miles on a car before they start selling or are they like aircraft? They can begin to be sold as soon as they pass a specific number of tests.
Mike Ma @ San Francisco, CA
Most automakers typically have specific quality “gates.” A development program must meet certain quality targets before it’s allowed to pass through to the next gate. Depending on the type of vehicle, there are also different test-cycles and duty-cycles. For example, a 4X4 pickup goes through different duty and test cycles than a small commuter car. Some of this testing can be done in the virtual world, most of it is done at proving grounds and on test tracks. When a testing program is done automakers will make a small number of production cars to let employees and even dealers drive the cars to try and uncover any problems so that it’s not just engineers who do the evaluations. Engineers maintain and operate cars properly and may not see problems that the general public can cause.

Where is the vicious attack on Mr Niedermeyer?
This response seems rational and logical.
Do you think it sounds like a stretch for Mr. Niedermeyer to say that this could be as big as the GM ignition recall?  How can that possibly compare? Many people died from the ignition switch. 
As a reader, I would have liked Mr Niedermeyer to spend the time on solid investigative journalism to answer some interesting questions... Such as:
What was the source of the bogus 37 of 40 complaints?
What about the 3 "non-bogus".. What were they? 
Has anyone followed up with an analysis of where this Tesla ball joint driver truly lives and the two tow truck statement?
Reading the Mr Niedermeyer's article, there were a number of times he drifted into speculation without data.   This leads some to be suspicious.
It looks like Tesla updated its NDA language to make it clear there was no restraint from contacting NHTSA.   If this is now fixed, wouldn't a credible unbiased journalist follow-up on these other interesting questions related to this incident?
P.S: As far as another Tesla related item:
Check with the OEMs on their view of data capture and analysis for autonomous driving.
I don't see how any competent oem who is truly pursuing autonomous cars can do it without the detailed data.  
Do you think tesla learned from the Audi 5000 and Lexus unintended acceleration problems that data is the best method to ensure safety (and defend themselves)?
Remember the 60 Minutes hack job on Audi, the minister's wife who killed their child in their Audi 5000 who swore that she was pushing the brake? How well did it come across to have that German Audi engineer blame their drivers without a datalog?
And remember the NASA investigators into the Toyota drive by wire system that found nothing (but could not prove it was 100% safe).  Was Mr Niedermeyer one of the reporters asserting that drive-by-wire was inherently unsafe and OEMs should abandon it?  Ask the OEMs if that makes sense (
Unbiased Data helps everyone in the end.  

Good day John:
Enjoyed the show today on the EV cars. Being from the Canadian West Coast, we have quite a grouping of EV’s in the Vancouver area. The one that interests me personally is the Tesla 85. Being that my current vehicle is a 2013 Audi A6 S Line in Oolong Grey and 20 inch wheels…I would try hard to duplicate that vehicle if any EV was considered. One of my friends owns a Leaf and my neighbour has a Tesla 85. At $130,000 Canadian though I am not that excited on that model.
And while the purchase rationale seems to be no tailpipe emissions, I am not convinced that there would be as little impact on the environment in all parts of North America as many would suggest. On the coast we generate the bulk of our power from hydro, which of course is a zero emission energy. Other parts of North America not so much….coal fired in some parts as well as natural gas fired power plants. Bob Murray from Murray Energy of the USA says his coal power can be produced for as little as 4 cents per kilowatt hour and the green folks near 22 cents. Somebody will pay though as dirtier fuels are phased out.
I recently saved an article from The Investment Executive (I own a Pension Plan Management Company along with my wife) and in it was noted that Germany for example ‘’that the electricity grid ended up paying wind and solar power producers up to 12 times the going rate for electricity. The initiative destroyed jobs and led to a $29 billion dollar bankruptcy throwing 24,000 out of work’’. That green initiative may be on its way to our shores and will affect many parts of Canada and the USA where power generation is not clean. So with additional EV’s on the road and tailpipe emissions falling, the increase in emissions will be transferred to the power producers with a net effect of additional pollution.
And while the EV has value for some folks, I personally still enjoy the sounds of the mechanicals in my supercharged V6. At 600-700 miles on a tank of fuel I can also get through our mountain passes without a charge halfway on a 300 mile trip in our cooler climate. I have also inspected the quality control on the Tesla for example and must say as a fit and finish critic, still am not that impressed with things like door gaps, trunk lid geometry etc. Coming from a coatings background many years ago, the final finish on the Tesla looks ok, but time will tell. After 4 Audis in our family we know the wear on the exterior is exceptional.
I looked at a Chevy Volt a couple days ago and saw its Canadian pricing was $41,000 before our 14% tax, so piston engines for that price range still look pretty good. The fit and finish on the Volt was below what I would have expected. Ratty best explains the impression. Some folks will not care at all, folks like me care  a great deal since the auto is not an appliance but a good comfortable sweater that coddles the driver.
Just a few thoughts.
Great show and guests we very informative.

Thanks for sharing your observations, very worthwhile reading. Your point about driving EVs in cooler weather is an important one. EV’s can lose up to 40% of their driving range in temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. While there’s much debate on how clean EVs really are, not much attention is given to their limitations in cold climates.

John McElroy

Hi John,

I am writing to you because I think you may be able to answer a question that I have been struggling with for years now and that is, with all the technology out there, why can't we find a solution to these high speed police chases. They almost always end tragically injuring or killing
innocent victims. I have seen articles on technology installed in police cruisers,using electrical interference, that can shut down a vehicle and bring it to a safe stop. I've written to many  news agencies and auto execs, but never receive a response. If we can build a self driving car, we should be able to  prevent or stop these chases. Even if we had a warning system that could be broadcast over the cars radio, warning of a chase and to pull over and then an all clear after the hazard is over, would save lives. I think this would be an interesting topic for your show. You always interview execs and engineers on the latest automotive news. I would like to hear your opinion on this issue. Thank you.


Thanks for raising this topic, it's been one that's been argued for decades with not much result until fairly recently.

GM cars and trucks equipped with OnStar can and have been shut down by police. As we quickly approach the day when connected cars become commonplace this capability will spread to most cars, but it will probably take another 5-10 years.

High speed police chases can be dangerous and there are ample examples of innocent bystanders getting killed as a result of them. In fact, some police jurisdictions will not even engage in those kinds of chases, and will radio ahead to create roadblocks. You can't blame the police for wanting to catch the bad guys, But the good news is that technology is coming to the rescue.

John McElroy


  GM's new ad "demonstrating" the superiority of steel vs aluminum looks to be a very effective. So I gotta wonder how will GM buyers feel and how will GM look when the debut their aluminum bodied truck?

David Sprowl
GM may not come out with an aluminum bodied truck. It believes it can get weight savings with a multi materials approach. For sure it will not come out with an aluminum bed.

John McElroy

I haven’t heard anyone address the need to increase insurance coverage cost when using their private auto for UBER or other like mobility service.  An insurance company will learn of an auto crash.  Insurance companies aren’t going to be fooled as to the circumstances of an auto crash, and with no extra coverage the auto owner’s claim will be disavowed.
Good question, I had to look this up!

Uber (and Lyft) offer supplementary insurance to their drivers as long as their app is on and they have a fare. But those drivers should buy even more supplemental insurance for when their app is on but they don't have a fare. Some insurance companies already offer this kind of insurance. And some companies have cancelled a customer when they found out they were using their car for ride-sharing.

John McElroy

Has anybody noticed that vans are booming this year? Sales of minivans are up 33% through April, putting them on pace for the best sales since 2007, when there were 14 models compared to today's six (not counting the new Pacifica which only went on sale last month). The top four (Sienna, Odyssey, Caravan and Town & Country) are all outselling every large crossover except the Explorer. Commercial vans, both compact and fullsize, are also doing well, with both classes up over 25% (although the latter includes an undisclosed number of medium Mercedes Metris vans).

FCA has been in a mad rush to blow out sales of the T&C and Caravan and that has skewed the numbers in this segment. Let's see if the numbers look as good at the end of the year.

John McElroy

In all the coverage of autonomy, cameras, blind spot technology, mirror technology, mirror positioning, etc., there is some kinda automotive press amnesia going on.

Surely, anyone who drove a full-sized domestic sedan in Japan in the late 60s thru early 80s must've noted the "side" review mirrors located out over the front wheelwells.  Though goofy-looking to the U.S. eye for style, those damned mirrors were the bestest-ever for field of vision and quick ease of use.

Instead of looking up for the rear, or right and left for the read, one merely lowered forward vision a bit down to the front fenders to see what was behind -- with virtually NO side blindspots.

I've long thought that keeping the design and solving the style issue was to cut INTO the front fender for placement of the rearview devices -- instead of mounting ON the fenders.  Now, with cameras and displays, the repositioning seems even easier to me.

Granted, in snow, mud, and rain, the airflow might cause some obscuring -- but likely no more than what already occurs with outside rearviews.  And virtually NO replacement costs due to sideswipes, carwashes, or vandalism.

And besides, with todays CAD/windtunnels/computer-modeling, there should be some airflow solutions available to keep the lenses/displays cleaner longer.

Japanese safety regulators banned those top mounted mirrors decades ago because they were so dangerous in pedestrian accidents, even more speed ones. No other country ever adopted them for the same reason.

But you're right, the driver's line-of-sight was very good with that placement.

John McElroy

Why hasn’t Chevrolet introduced a Malibu SS model with a supercharged rear drive V6? Am I just too old school? Wow they have a nice body style. Could be a poor mans M2 or M3.
Since the Malibu is FWD, I'm sure Chevy would remind you they sell a wickedly powerful RWD Chevrolet SS.

John McElroy

thanks for your response about the Chinese economy and the auto industry

Between that situation and the Saudi sale of a portion of Aramco, I imagine
the Detroit economists have been quite busy.

Thanks also for the big coverage of the Honda Ridgeline; I quite enjoyed it.


Maybe you and your distinguished guests can help me to understand a long standing question.
If a company like BMW can thrive on its own why not Chrysler?
Anyone with any automotive acumen knows that Chrysler has always been able to create new segments in the marketplace.  A few examples the minivan, the return of the a main stream convertible, the first mid size pick up in the Dakota,  the first crossover in the Pacifica, a pickup that completely changed the market  (the first 8 speed automatic, coil spring rear suspension, and ram boxes to say the least) and at one time were the low cost producer in small cars (Neon)?
Yes quality has always been a challenge...but WHY?!
Why can't they make it on their own?
I appreciate your insight.
Mike Scordato 

Very good question. The answer is: it’s very different being a luxury brand, than a mass market one. Companies like Mercedes and BMW generate far more revenue per vehicle sold than a company like FCA. Remember, Audi and Porsche account for half or more of VW AG’s profits even though the VW brand swamps them in any sales comparison.

Having said that, I’m very worried about FCA’s future. The company’s profit margins are paper thin even though its North American operations are running at breakneck speed. What happens when the US market slows down? It will turn ugly very quickly.

John McElroy

I enjoyed today's video. But there was a point I wish the discussion touched concern the ride sharing companies and their connection to the automotive industry.

Specifically, I wish it would have dealt with automation, and what the economist magazine described as the fight between a future where the auto companies are hardware makers or platform producers.

When automated driving matures, the entire model of ownership of vehicles will be reconsidered. Will you have a monthly subscription? A per mile rate? Will the interior of the car have no windows, only screens that play advertising? Will there be a luxury network with limited membership, or would the rich maintain private ownership?

The automakers are coming to the future with the existential fear that they will be reduced to a hardware maker. People for the most part will not care what car they share, or more importantly seen in. They will only look to see the brand when it fails them. In the consumers eyes, a hardware maker can only fail.

Meanwhile, platform producers (think platforms like Google or facebook) will thrive. They will drop automakers if they gain power in negotiations, or fail to maintain safety or quality.
Imagine an auto industry without aspirational buyers, without strong brand equity, without drivers licenses. Don't get me wrong, there will always be enjoyment drivers: Classic cars, or drivers cars like lotus or Porsche.  But that will be a costly luxury.

Connor Muldoon

Thanks for your feedback I could not agree more.

This is a topic we will devote more time to. We’re covering a lot of the emerging mobility market, but there are so many issues involved we can’t get to it all in one show. Stay tuned!

John McElroy

In response to a viewer’s question toward the end of the broadcast, John stated that there were no remaining legacy platforms used by Ford for their current vehicles. Mazda platforms were referenced as being replaced by Ford platforms but no one mentioned  the D3/D4 platforms which are legacy from Ford’s ownership of Volvo.
From Wikipedia
"The Ford D3 platform differs slightly from the original configuration of the Volvo P2 architecture, primarily in its adoption of a common 112.9 inch wheelbase (a three-inch wheelbase stretch) for all variants. To reduce production costs, Ford Motor Company adopted steel suspension arms (in place of aluminum) and similar material cost-saving measures.
From 2005 to 2016, the Ford D3 platform has underpinned the Ford Five Hundred, Ford Taurus (fifth and sixth generations), Ford Taurus SHO, Ford Police Interceptor Sedan, Ford Freestyle (later Ford Taurus X), Mercury Montego, Mercury Sable, and Lincoln MKS.
D4 is a revision of D3 unibody platform created to underpin crossover SUVs and adaptable to multiple wheelbases. It forms the basis of the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT; in 2011, the Ford Explorer adopted the D4 architecture as it moved from a body-on-frame chassis.”
Great show! Thank you!
Redkev AKA Kevin
Thanks for the info, we always like it when our viewers weight in with good feedback!

You’ve recently been focusing on the Chinese auto industry.
The NY times has an interesting article on the tottering Chinese economy, where the current debt to GDP ratio 
stands at 240%.
If the economy stumbles or implodes, then the domino effect on the auto industry worldwide, not just the US auto industry would be severe.
Care to comment on the air?

There’s no question that the Chinese economy and/or car market will see a drop at some point. That’s when the automakers, car dealers and suppliers will hit the panic button.

But right now that market is still growing faster than any major market in the world, with an ownership rate that is still very low by global standards. There’s a lot of growth left. So no one wants to miss out on the gravy train. That’s why they keep on adding manufacturing capacity.

When the day of reckoning hits, look for OEMs in China to start looking to other markets where they can export their excess production. When that happens there’s going to be a huge hue and cry.

John McElroy

Hi John,
Do you think FCA US sales profits are being used to support R&D for FCA European car models like Alfa Romeo and is the cause of the technology gap between other domestic car brands and FCA?
Mike Ma @ San Francisco, CA
Not so much the cause of a technology gap, but the cause of the desperate lack of new products at the Dodge and Chrysler brands. Chrysler has not been good at developing new technology on its own even before Fiat got involved. That may not be a disaster because OEMs can always buy that technology from suppliers.

Dear Jon and Gary,
At the end of last week's AAH, the subject of the FCA/Google partnership to develop autonomous driving technology was discussed. It is a HUGE DEAL.
Driver Data Colelction is the issue.  Google or Apple dont mind footing the bill for the technology, but they want 100% of the driver data rights to sell.  How big an issue is driver data? Enough that BMW backed out from Apple and GM backed out from Google. The opportunity to sell driver data is more valuable to GM, BMW, (and Google and Apple for that matter) than the development costs of autonomous driving.
Either FCA is being very short-sighted with this partnership, or has no implements to develop the technology themselves. Which seems to be the case for many FCA development issues (see: fuel economy, chassis engineering, etc.). I think FCA under Marchionne will see corporate profit/gain spent on vendor technology rather than Dodge engineering.
A discussion on the ethics of Driver data collection via autonomous driving may be an interesting topic for this week, (yet another new dimension/implication of Autonomy.)
As always, great Show! I enjoy the show's depth and insight on the market that most journalists overlook. 
Kind Reagrds,
Kevin Fetty

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