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4-16-2014

John and A/L team,

I enjoy your insight and the shows have made my commute pleasurable as I listen every weekday via podcast. Keep up the good work!

I was wondering if you or the panel of experts could comment on the story from USA Today regarding Tesla's reluctance to abide by state lemon law. We were all familiar with Tesla's shortcuts on validation/durability testing, I think you even quoted an engineer on the show to the effect of late changes going straight to production. I wonder if durability and quality will come to bite Elon Musk. Furthermore, dodging lemon law will surely erode customer confidence when investing in a vehicle with new technology.

I look forward to commentary.

Marcus
Marcus,

This is a great suggestion for a future show, and we will be doing something on it.

McElroy
4-16-2014

John,

I see internet rumors of the next Volt with a smaller battery and less electric range, when currently it is at best about 30 miles, 50 kilometers. What would be the point of that? Why not just make it a 'mild hybrid' then? Or, does GM want to change its market target to short range local second car only? I do not understand.

Your Thoughts,
Tim Beaumont
My thoughts are that it’s unlikely the next generation Volt will have a shorter EV range. It may have a smaller battery pack to cut cost and weight, but I’d be surprised to see a shorter range.

McElroy
4-16-2014

Hello John,

I was reading an automotive magazine where during time events the Cadillac 3.6Liter twin turbo will over heat somewhat and needs to rest for a time. Will this effect normal highway summer driving?

Forsythe Randle
Running a car at a track is very different than cruising down the freeway, even if you’re doing that in the desert on a hot day.

Nothing heats up an engine more than running it hard for a timed run and then shutting it down. Generally, that will make it puke its guts.

McElroy
4-16-2014

John did you see this article in Autoblog or Bloomberg? Did Akio read Thomas Crumm's book? Or watch Autoline show #1541? It blew my mind that Toyota of all companies wants to de-automate its production line. Is this the start of a new revolution or de-evolution of the car making business???

Your thoughts??

Bradley G.
Bradley,

I did see this, and I think it’s entirely possible that Akio did see our program with Thomas Crumm.

It’s so interesting that Toyota wants to foster more of a craftsmanship culture rather than just automate everything. But then again, Toyota’s philosophy has always been to maximize the productive capabilities of its people rather than just maximize its fixed-asset utilization. In other words, Toyota would rather keep its people busy rather than run its machines full blast.

McElroy
4-16-2014

I wonder if you guys have any updates on Transonic Combustion? They are the ones that claim they can inject the air fuel mixture at sub critical levels into the combustion chamber and gain some awesome efficiencies.

I first heard about them thru your interview with Bob Lutz who had then just joined the board.

The claim is pretty cool, I wonder if you have any insights on if it’s been debunked.

Fahdad Fani
Sorry, we haven’t heard of any updates, which probably suggests there aren’t any, at least not yet.

McElroy
4-16-2014

Hi John,

Love your show, but I still miss Ike around the set.

Just curious, as I was watching this weeks show about Barra you were referring to your notes. Were they written on the back of copies of (Ford?) Monroney window stickers?

Sure looked like Ford stickers, although I could not see the model or MSRP.

Regards,
Glenn Watts
Glenn,

Wow! You really pay attention.

We don’t let any scrap piece of paper go to waste here, including the Monroney’s that come with the cars we test drive.

My notes from the Barra hearings were scribbled on the back of an old sales spreadsheet, and on the back of a Monroney for a Jetta TDI! (I actually had to look to see what they were written on.)

Now, they’re off to the recycling bin.

McElroy
4-16-2014

John,

Mary Barra makes Sgt. Schultz look like Albert Einstein! Did you see her during the House hearing when she was asked what her job was in 2001, she couldn't answer with out looking in a note book! She said she was the head of engineering and manufacturing. Wouldn't that put all these problems under her responsibly!

Joe Engelhardt
Crossville, Tenn.
4-16-2014

Hope all is well John,

Always watching, thank you for your insight.

Now, forgive me if I sound insensitive or maybe 'I can't see the forest for the trees', but, I have had vehicles shut off, go to the on or accessory position and I have been able to just return it run position and have the engine start right back up, never even changing the transmission position. Also when the ignition goes to on or acc position, GM vehicles still have steering and brakes minus power assist and at any rolling speed the power steering has minimal loss of steering control. My final focus is on the airbag failure to function; airbags are designed to work with seatbelts, so whether the bags deploy or not, w/o the use of the seatbelt, the driver has lowered accident survivability by what percentage? I just do not understand how the pictures I've seen, show so much carnage when a switch failure tells me to pull over. At a local garage yesterday, and this was the discussion, and why it took so long for GM/NHTSA to get here. Maybe something for Autoline Garage.

Reno

PS: As a long time GM owner and have been involved in previous recalls, GM has always been on top of resolution, with Bulletins, Recalls, Repairs and reimbursement. Wonder what happened here!

Found in my 1996 GM vehicle owners manual.

My vehicle has air bags, why should I have to wear safety belts?

Air bags are in many vehicles today and will be in most of them in the future. But they are supplemental systems only; so they work with safety belts -- not instead of them, Every air bag system ever offered for sale has required the use of safety belts. Even if you’re in a vehicle that has airbags, you still have to buckle up to get the most protection. That’s true not only in frontal collisions, but especially in side and other collisions.
4-16-2014

Why oh why do the designers spend so much time on the interior and other areas while leaving those UGLY windshield washer nozzles on the hood? Based on the competition those UGLY items disappeared long ago leaving a sculptured sleek hood without the pimples.

Walter Hanisch
4-16-2014

John,

Can you update Ecomotors’ progress?

I visited the new web site, and find two recent notable facts:

1) a Chinese production facility agreement, and,

2) an interesting counter rotating split engine generator, which would be spectacular in a hybrid!

Your Thoughts,
Tim Beaumont
Can we update you? Tim, I think you just updated us!

McElroy
4-16-2014

John,

Mary Barra is a woman. Lee Iacocca is a man. If Mary goes before Congress and acts like a man I do not believe that will fly in today’s world. Maybe in 1979. But in 2014? Good luck. GM made their bed and now they have to sleep in it.

Will Beck
4-16-2014

John,

Just watched the April 10 Autoline Daily and loved it as usual. But with regard to Barra’s testimony and how she should conduct herself, I disagree a bit. Here’s why! I thought Lee Iacocca was brilliant in his response to questioning, but unlike Iacocca/Chrysler, GM and Barra have admitted culpability in the defects and for not handling it correctly when discovered – and let’s not to forget the lives that have been lost that are linked to the parts’ failures. For her to come out aggressive or to drive up in a car that is on the recall list would be seen as arrogant and disrespectful to the family’s that have lost loved ones.

Unfortunately for GM and Barra, they must take their medicine. From a professional PR perspective, swinging back at this point may make stockholders happier, but would cause GM to lose even more respect within the general public and produce an even greater backlash. As much as people don’t like politicians these days, they really don’t care for huge, bailed-out corporations that that now must admit to poor engineering, cost cutting, bad management, and a possible cover-up.

It’s going to be painful for GM, but they were penny-wise and pound-foolish in their decisions when this came to light years ago. Back-in-the-day, Iacocca made salient points as he was fighting for the jobs of all Chrysler employees and related suppliers. Barra’s circumstances don’t match up, and what worked over 30 years ago doesn’t always work well in this day and age.

The public’s sympathies are with those who’ve lost friends and relatives or who were injured. Being aggressive when questioned would only be seen as a negative for Barra and GM.

Thanks,

Mark B.
Waukesha, WI
Mark,

Thanks for your perspective, it’s well thought out.

McElroy
4-16-2014

You are on right now talking about the Mustang. You then said that the Camaro was the only other true Ponycar. Are you DRUNK today? Chrysler build 2 to there 1. Dodge Challenger (T/A) Plymouth Cuda (AAR). Get a cup of Coffee maybe 4 in you soon.

Kevin Priest
4-16-2014

John,

I saw this article at Bloomberg this morning:

The article states that a forthcoming hybrid version of Volvo's XC90 crossover will feature AWD, with the front wheels powered by a gas engine and the rear wheels powered by a pair of electric motors. This seems very unusual to me; have you ever heard of any other car manufacturer attempting to use two wholly separate powertrains to drive different sets of wheels simultaneously?

G. Jason Anderson
Plenty of automakers have toyed with the idea of having two different power sources for the front and rear wheels. In the past it usually involved internal combustion engines at the front and rear and they never went into production. Now, with electric motors in the rear, more automakers are considering this approach.

McElroy
4-16-2014

I am interested in learning more about how demographic changes (e.g., aging of the driving population, women becoming the majority of licensed drivers, prevalence of obesity, etc.) affect automotive ergonomics. Similarly, do changes in the global automotive market (e.g., rise of China's middle class) affect automotive ergonomics? I think it would be an interesting topic to highlight on Autoline This Week.

Best,
Mike Brady
4-16-2014

Dear John,

I'm all in @ #911 on the Elio waiting list. Possibly this low budget concept is not what you may consider of value? Do you think they will start production in 2015? Or have I bought into a pipe dream?

Thank you for your time,
Steve

PS: My wife and I enjoy your show ... We are now driving 2011 EX35 and plan on trading for a 2014 QX60.
Steve,

I like the look of the Elio, but as to whether it will make it into production I have no idea. All I can say is that it is very difficult to pull off something like this. Just look at what Aptera went through. If Elio succeeds in getting to the market it will be a major accomplishment.

Best,
John McElroy
4-16-2014

John,

I couldn’t agree with your more regarding the use of backup cameras. I have a VW Tiguan and the unit in the dash is so slow on startup, that most times I’ve already backed up and into drive before the camera even becomes active. The fact that it’s so slow is an issue VW needs to address. But it’s just one issue along with a dirty or wet lenses that make them less effective for the safety concerns that the government is trying to address by mandating their usage.

Glenn Strouse
4-2-2014

John,

Great guest last night-Ralph Gilles. He is smart, articulate .........& creative.

Don Bronn
Owensboro, KY
Yep, Ralph is A+.

McElroy
4-2-2014

Hi John,

Each year, around this time, everyone gripes about road repairs (or the lack thereof). Even the media gets on the bandwagon demanding better funding for (timely) road repairs.

However, there's one factor that I see being left completely out of the discussion. Unfortunately, it's one that will take someone without 'skin' in the game to address and bring to light in a substantive way. Quality of materials and methods.

My eyes were first opened to this a couple years back while listening to a call-in discussion on a local sports radio talk show. It was this time of year again, and the annual, universal 'pothole gripe' session was in full swing. A caller who had over a decade of experience building and repairing roads in multiple states gave about an 8 minute lesson on WHY it is the roads in Michigan crumble so badly and so fast versus other Northern states that get just as much snow and who also use salt to melt it. He even gave a quick example of what it is he saw consistently being used as a concrete mixture on EVERY road project he did in Michigan that would NEVER be allowed in another state like Chicago.

He said it all boiled down to road contractors being allowed (and even encouraged) by the political structure in Michigan to use inferior materials and methods. According to him, there are kickbacks in place that legislators receive from road construction contractors for each job done. The frequency of the jobs directly impacts how many/much kickbacks legislators get. Thus the never-ending incentive to NOT use superior concrete and asphalt mixtures and methods.

I only bring this up with you, because you are in a position to get the discussion started in the public forum. If any of what this guy said is true (and I really have no reason to believe it is not, because it seems to make perfect sense. Especially when you travel to other Northern states and find roads fairing much better than ours), then change will be hard to come by. There will have to be investigations launched and (more) corruption exposed. There will be push-back and denial from the state level. But before any legitimate investigative committee is formed on this, a ground-swell of discussion over frustration with the status quo will first have to lead the charge.

Would you be willing to at least do a little digging and see what you come up with? And, perhaps, begin a dialog about this issue that affects every Michigan driver? You are a very influential personality concerning all things automotive, and I honestly believe you could do a lot to shine some light on this topic. Even without any sort of substantiated evidence for or against the claim, just posing a question that no one else has can go a long way in getting people thinking, talking, researching and acting.

Best Regards,
Michael J. Brown
Michael,

I’ve looked into this issue going back 20 years ago. It’s very simple. Michigan spends $1 billion less EVERY YEAR on maintaining its roads than any other surrounding Great Lake states do. It’s not our weather, it’s not even those super heavy trucks (though they don’t help). In the last 20 years Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin have each spent $20 billion more than Michigan has on its roads. Twenty billion! Each!

For years MDOT has been publicly warning our legislators that the day would come when our band-aid approach to road maintenance would no longer work and that our roads and bridges would start to fall apart. That day has arrived. MDOT will be the first to tell you it can’t afford to properly repair roads, and it’s been saying this for years. I’ve never heard of the kick-back to legislators and don’t believe it.

The governor announced three years ago that he wanted the legislature to raise $1.4 billion more for our roads. They turned him down. Nobody wants to raise the gasoline tax or registration fees. The problem is, even if they decide to go ahead and raise the money (and now that the public is screaming bloody murder they probably will), it’s going to take 20 years of doing things right before we finally get our roads looking as good as any of the surrounding states.

Here’s a link to a show we did with Kirk Steudle, the head of MDOT. We cover a lot of those issues in this show.

Best,
John McElroy
4-2-2014

John,

I am stunned at the absence of Dan Akerson's name in all the GM recall news. How can the Chairman and CEO for the last four years vanish so completely from accountability so fast??

Peter
That’s because we don’t know what the facts are yet. Was he aware of this impending recall when he decided to hand the CEO position over to Mary Barra? Or was top management the last to know? GM is supposed to provide answers to NHTSA on April 3. We should learn a lot more then.

McElroy
4-2-2014

In the Autoline After Hours episode from 20 Mar. 2014, one topic that was brought up was "using gasoline in a diesel engine" or HCCI (homogeneous charge compression ignition).

Mazda is currently developing this technology for their second generation of SkyActiv engines. According to details reported online, the engines will have a 18:1 compression ratio. Also, Mazda already has the technology working; however, it does not yet work at all engine speeds and loads. The reports state that Mazda is using a dual ignition system (HCCI and spark ignition) to make it work through all operating ranges. It appears the current challenge is making the transition between HCCI & spark ignition seamless.

Mazda has some great technology, and I certainly like to see it discussed more on your show.

Thanks,

Greg Dunn
Houston, TX
Greg,

Great info, thanks for sending. A lot of automakers are working on compression ignition using gasoline. Hyundai has recently talked about this. GM has also talked about HCCI in the past, and we have a great segment on our website with Chris Grundler from the EPA talking about their HCCI efforts.

McElroy
4-2-2014

John,

Although the PT Cruiser is not the best car in the world, it is the ancient mechanicals that let it down.

Everyone I know who had one (me included) liked the look of the car. Given that Chrysler now has the Fiat 500L platform to work with, do you think there is any chance of the PT Cruiser coming back?

Kevin Anderson
Satisfied PT owner
Kevin,

I like the PT, too. The packaging was top notch. And I always wanted to get the diesel version that was sold in Europe.

But automakers never go back to the same (styling) well twice. The PT had its day in the sun, and I don’t see Chrysler ever going with that look again.

McElroy
4-2-2014

Mr. McElroy,

Today’s show dealt with GM and Toyota recalls. Bob Lutz was there, too. Very good!

By the way, is it possible that GM planned to throw Mary Barra under the bus with this issue? It makes one scratch the head.

pj SARASOTA
Yes, I listened to the Diane Rehm show online and I agree it was pretty good.

You’re not the first to suggest the old boy network knew this recall fiasco was coming and threw Mary under the bus. I don’t believe in that kind of conspiracy. But it is entirely possible that Dan Akerson decided to get out of GM before it all hit the fan.

McElroy
4-2-2014

John,

My favorite Dodge dealership used to sell 1-2 Viper's per year. They are a small dealership, but have a few customers that can afford a Halo car. Recently since the spin-off of SRT. Corporate is restricting who can sell SRT and Viper. Dealers must now qualify and then pay a pricey yearly (franchise) fee in order to sell the Viper. With such a small number of sales/production to begin with. Restricting the number of already downsized dealerships who can sell the car, is what really is hurting their bottom line.

Bradley G.
Kouts, IN
4-2-2014

Hi John,

About the backing cameras, look at what Volkswagen is doing on some of their models, the camera's lens is hidden under the VW logo so it is all ways clean and it doesn’t interfere with the look of the car. It work's when the car is put in reverse. The VW logo is also used to open the trunk so the logo has 3 functions: 1. to show the make of the car 2. it hides the back up camera 3. it is a handle to open the trunk Das auto.....

Christian Duclos
Christian,

Thanks for sharing this. Also, the Hyundai Veloster hides the camera lens behind the badge on the rear of the car. When you put the car in Reverse it tilts to reveal the lens.

McElroy
4-2-2014

The camera in my Kia Sorento blinds me at night. It's in the rear view mirror and is WAY TOO BRIGHT at night.

Other than that, it and the sensors are great at least in Texas.

Mike R

RIP- Mr 500. STP's Andy Granatelli from racing fans everywhere.
4-2-2014

Hey John,

It surprises me that whenever we have problems with Venezuela or Russia nobody calls for a boycott of Citgo or Lukoil. I maybe wrong but I believe; Citgo = Venezuelan oil & Lukoil = Russian oil.

We live in a country where special interest groups constantly perform vicious boycotts and protests of sponsors products if they appear on media outlets they don't agree with politically...

Done,

The Mayor
Annapolis, MD
3-19-2014

Hey John,

Now that the government is telling us they are out of GM stock;

1) Is this true - are they completely done with GM?

2) Has anyone reported what the total cost/loss turned out to be?

Thanks!

Your Pal,

The Mayor
Annapolis, Maryland
Mr. Mayor,

Yes, the US government is completely out of General Motors. Various reports peg the loss to taxpayers at around $10 billion.

McElroy
3-19-2014

John,

GM lawsuit - Greedy lawyers. How much will the damn lawyers get? Parasites! Contingency fees have no place in a just system. I despise them...

Tim Beaumont
I don’t despise lawyers or call them parasites, but I do agree that the greatest tort reform would be the elimination of contingency fees. They just encourage exorbitant claims and frivolous lawsuits.

McElroy
3-19-2014

John,

Any truth in Volvo leaving the U.S market. Wouldn't want to have another car that has vanished.

Vic
There is no truth to any rumor of Volvo leaving the US market, which is still the most profitable market for any luxury brand.

McElroy
3-19-2014

John,

With all the tech coming into cars I really wonder what that will do to residual values. In 10-15 years current infotainment will be obsolete, you'll have huge chunk of useless dash space. Imagine a 1990's car with "star tac" cell phone technology. It wouldn't be upgradeable..... you'd have to replace everything electronic which would probably cost more than the car!

Wondering what your thoughts are...

Larry
Larry,

Good point. With the rate of change in technology, much of what’s new in today’s cars will be obsolete in the future. But that’s in the future. For right now, cars without the latest technology, especially Bluetooth, have lower residual values than the cars that have the latest tech.

And consumers cite the latest technology as a reason to buy a new car instead of a used one.

McElroy
3-19-2014

On After Hours, you introduced (to me) the A3, 'for the American market.’ The rear corner view and the rear seat picture looks very much like the VW Jetta with the same space allocations. However, as you said, the A3 will be manufactured in Austria with presumably higher standards than the Jetta.

Another new model seems to pick up some early generation cues. That is, the new 200 suggests a relationship with the first gen Cirrus, a very nice design and space layout. I get the impression that the new 200 does not share in those generous interior specs.

I don't get GM's delays and confusion about recall notices. With my only new car, a Honda, they have been organized and prompt with their notices, EXCEPT when the egr valve failed. Mine failed outside of the warranty coverage.

rwork
3-19-2014

Re: aluminum @ Ford. Is there such a thing as an aluminum tailored blank ?

Regards,
DonRobot
Donrobot,

Excellent question. I actually had to look it up, and yes, there are tailored aluminum blanks. TWB and Novellis are developing them for the automotive industry.

Thanks for asking!

McElroy
3-19-2014

John, wanted to say I remember traveling with a friend years ago during our Michigan winters and he lowered his window and stuck his hand out to tap his wiper to loosen the ice. Well he cracked his windshield! I'm sure these wipers will not tap hard enough to do that, but.... seriously? This is an answer to a question no one asked!!

Amado
Saginaw, MI
Amado,

I like this invention that slaps the wipers against the windshield. I’ve had to reach out the window while driving and do it myself several times this winter when the wiper blades iced up. And it’s happened to me on several different makes of cars. It all depends on the weather conditions.

I’ve been doing this for decades and never cracked the windshield, and I’ve never heard of it getting cracked doing this.

McElroy
3-19-2014

Do you see in the near future large trucking fleets converting to CNG as an energy source? How will the situation in Ukraine and Russia affect the natural gas supply? Will Propane come out as the ultimate alternative fuel choice? Any of your industry knowledge will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks,
Blaid Butler
The conversion of the US commercial truck fleet to CNG and LPG is already underway. Do a search on the Autoline website and you’ll see all the stories we have covering it. The Russia/Ukraine situation may affect the world supply of natural gas, but not the US supply, which continues to grow strongly. However, the US government could decide to export more natural gas to Europe, to make it less dependent on Russia.

It’s difficult to predict if propane (LPG) will emerge as the major alternative fuel in the US. There are more oil companies and big investors getting into natural gas (CNG), so it currently has the edge.

McElroy
3-19-2014

John,

I whole-heartily agree with your take on back-up cameras. My 2007 Dodge is fitted with a high-end aftermarket stereo/nav/back-up camera system and from May through October here in Wisconsin is great! My 8” screen shows a perfect picture and is helpful. But come bad weather, snow, salt and the resulting road grime, and it’s all but useless unless you get your car washed after every trip.

Love the camera, but non-visual warning systems that beep and give an audible idea of how close you’re getting to something is superior – at least in cold and snowy Wisconsin. BTY, a simple back-up into a snow bank took my camera out completely.

Thanks,

Mark B.
Wisconsin
Mark,

Thanks for the feedback, it corroborates what we’ve been saying.

McElroy
3-14-2014

Why do automakers think we want to pay for yet *another* data plan with our cars? People with cell phones and tablets are already paying for plans that are better deals than we'll ever get from the carmakers. And they should stop working on their terrible "infotainment" systems. Just make basic controls and have connections like Apple's CarPlay (that lets your phone take over the in-car screen) and the Android equivalent. Phone software is updated more frequently, and the automaker's clunky systems are already years behind anyway.

Jack
3-14-2014

John,

I was about to test drive the Buick Regal. Not now after the ignition switch duplicity...

Regards,
Tim Beaumont
3-14-2014

Well, Ol’ Boy, maybe you got the top! No worries, it happens to all of us.

It was with no small chagrin I witnessed your Damascene conversion last week: Tesla and the Promised Land. Yes, there IS more to it… and Tesla will be around a lot longer than anybody in Detroit would've given them credit for but battery “farms” ain't gonna be what does it for 'rm. Yeah, you greatly extend the life and probably almost double the efficiency by running utilities at their sweet spot, 24/7 but that concept, electricity banking has been around for a long, long time: It's called water. Here in Los Angeles we “bank” it every night, pumping water back up the Tehachapi and “let it flow” daytime, as demand spikes. That's before all the clever “salt basins” in operation now for storing juice in heat form… not so efficient, but cheap and, when you're a utility, who's counting. Enjoy the ride… just not the stock.

Sam Farnsworth
3-14-2014

John,

I saw the social media edition newscast that was held recently.

The Ford/Mercury Peeling Paint Facebook site provides details on Ford owners experiencing paint issues with current vehicles.

Ford/Mercury Peeling Paint Facebook Site

These are new vehicles, not old ones. The paint problems persist.

Social Media does enable a forum for owners to voice issues.

Regards,
Stephen N. Gaiski
Stephen,

Thanks for the website link. Very interesting posts about problems with Ford paint. We hadn’t seen this website before.

McElroy
3-14-2014

Hi Guys,

I'm not in the US, I'm down here in New Zealand, I was just thinking about the recent news you have been reporting and was wondering if there was a link to the recent jump in SUV, CUV and Subaru sales verses a large drop in hybrids given the recent very cold weather up there.

I don't think there are any 4x4 pure hybrids available but if there are, do they follow the same recent trend? Is the cold weather hurting the real range of hybrids so owners and making the decision to change back to conventional drivetrains?

Is this same trend happening in the warmer states that are unaffected by the polar blast?

Just a thought.

Cheers,
Philip
Philip,

So far there are two AWD hybrids in the US market, the Subaru Crosstrek XV and the Lexus RX 450h. The Crosstrek hybrid is new to the market, so it’s hard to say if sales have been helped by the winter weather. The Lexus RX450h sales are actually down a bit.

The downward trend in hybrid sales started before the winter weather set in. And so did the upward trend sales of CUV’s and Subaru’s.

I think we’re just seeing the continuing popularity of AWD and CUV’s, and possibly a cooling off of hybrid mania. We’ll keep a close eye on this.

Great question!

John McElroy
3-14-2014

John,

Care to hazard a guess as to whether or not (and if so, when) Infiniti’s Eau Rouge will get built, let alone make it to the US and Canada?

I have always thought the up market Infiniti product had the second best interior after Audi, and now with some real power and AWD, maybe Audi regrets letting Johan de Nysschen move on.

Regards,
Tim Beaumont
3-14-2014

John,

Just wanted to tell you how glad I am that Gary Vasilash is your new co-host. I've always enjoyed listening to Gary when he was a guest on my favorite podcast.

Thanks,
Joel
3-10-2014

1) As someone who grew up in the 1950's, a 5 year old car was pretty much done, mostly due to rust. No A/C, no power steering, 2 speed automatics (if you were lucky enough to have an automatic), only AM radio, bias ply tires, vinyl seats, and The Detroit rattle (poor quality) is my baseline, as this was the typical family car that we had back then. Remember needing to add water to the battery "only" 3 or 4 times a year?

Today, one doesn't shop for quality any more. A 10 year old car can still feel almost new. I haven't seen rusted body panels for years. I think it's impossible to buy a bad car.

2) I like small hatchbacks and small station wagons. Always have. I now own a Hyundai Accent, which they tell me is a small car, but I don't think so. It's as large as a 1970's Toyota Cressida, or a 1980's Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. To me, it's not a small car. I feel like I'm driving a luxury car in quality and size. Growing up in the 1950's has an advantage after all!

Ken
3-10-2014

Two notes from the early 1990's, both relating to Honda/Acura.

I remember taking extra keys off my keyring back when I owned an Accord because Click and Clack warned us that all that weight could break the ignition switch. I sold that car in 1995, so GM should have been well aware of the problem, 20 years ago!

I almost bought an Acura Integra when I bought my Accord in 1987. Later, when I went back to Acura, the Integra was gone, and I lost interest in Acura, and haven't paid any attention since. The alphabet soup replacements had no appeal, it being just generic letters. There was something really cool about driving an Integra, but not an ABC, or whatever they replaced it with.

Ken Silva
Laveen, AZ
Ken,

Thanks for your letter. It’s amazing that Click and Clack were on to this problem so long ago!

McElroy
3-5-2014

Hi John,

Wow, thanks for the shout out today on the pillar snafu. At least you know we’re really listening to you!

You also said some really, really nice words to my son Dakota a couple of weeks ago for which we wanted to thank you. You should have seen his face when we played him the episode where you read the letter he wrote to your “You Said It” segment when he got home from school – he was in shock!

We also surprised him by emailing it to his grade 5 teacher who played it not once, but twice to his class – at which point his class burst out in applause!

You have no idea how much this has boosted the esteem of our little guy.

We adopted him almost 3 years ago now and he had a very tough life before then, coming into foster care at 11 months of age. He’s also the smallest in his class, but he really stood tall the day they played Autoline in his class.

He was a major car nut even before he came into our family where, needless to say we’ve encouraged his love of cars.

Thank you again for the incredibly kind words,

Phil Hopewell
Burlington, Ontario
Phil,

You just made my day!

All the best to you and Dakota,

John McElroy
3-5-2014

I am interested in your take on this vehicle. Perhaps it would be a topic for Autoline After Hours. I had read about a former F1 designer who has produced a powertrain that operated on compressed air. This was aimed at small urban commercial delivery and trades vehicles.

This application seems different, but still gets around the whole battery question. I am interested in your opinion. It makes sense that Citroen is involved once again with an air/hydraulic combination, this time in a powertrain. If they made it really viable, I think that this is a very interesting way of reducing emissions in urban settings.

Gavin Smith
Brantford, Ontario
Gavin,

We’ve been covering hydraulic hybrids for years, including the one that PSA is working on in conjunction with Bosch. I’d suggest going to the Autoline website and doing a search for “hydraulic hybrid.” We have quite a few stories there.

McElroy
3-5-2014

John,

I think Acura's problem can be summed up in one word, 'styling'. It is horrible. Acura should go back to more classic lines, something like the old Legend, and drop the 'B & B', beak and boat-tail look promulgated by the California design studio. Mechanically they are great vehicles, sporty yet fuel efficient and reliable.

Regards,
Tim Beaumont
3-5-2014

Hi John,

I enjoy the show. Now that Ford has a modern IRS on the new Mustang wouldn't it just be ideal to start making a sedan and then later a high end sports car for Lincoln on the same platform. The plan is not selling a boatload but getting that foot traffic in the showroom.

Mike from Philly
Mike,

We can confirm that Ford is going to use the Mustang platform for a Lincoln. But we just don’t know what kind of car it will be.

McElroy
3-5-2014

John,

With respect to competitors to Tesla: The ELR is a very nicely styled car... But I just don't think it's a real competitive threat to Tesla. The Model S is a real BMW 5/M5, E-Class, A7/S7 competitor that actually is superior at the same price. The Model S is a superior luxury performance sedan which happens to be electric.

There is so much of a 52 card pick up scrambling situation with electric powertrains that the conventional auto market segmentation by buyer, form factor, and powertrain will be redefined in many cases.

As far as h2fcv, the reason many of the OEMs are creating alliances is to keep a toe in the water while not shouldering the entire R&D burden by themselves for a future technology. You don't do this as a corporate or technical strategy if the technology is at mass market viability. By the way, FCVs are electric vehicles (albeit with only a Prius sized battery) so the OEMs have to be technically proficient in everything for Electric vehicles anyway. It is far easiest to create PEVS with compelling performance and NVH than a conventional or FCVvehicle.

Also. FireWire isn't going anywhere ... USB is the now the universal standard. But yes Apples lightning is far better than micro USB since it can be conveniently flipped either way plus output video (in addition to a simple serial port like USB).

Regards,
Dave Tuttle
2-28-2014

John,

Have you heard any news on where John Krafcik is heading to?

I was always very impressed by all the interviews I saw with him. He seemed to have a very well-rounded thought process, and was very engaged with whoever he was talking to. (I think there are a lot of Automotive CEOs and Executives that could take some personality lessons from him)

Also, did you ever find out the real reason why he and Hyundai parted ways?

Wherever he ends up, I hope it’s an automotive company, and that this industry doesn't lose him.

Thanks,
Tom
Thomas,

I agree. Krafcik is one of the best CEO’s in the business. Fear not, I’m sure he’s going to surface again one of these days in a senior position within the industry.

I believe Hyundai dropped him because the company was losing market share in the US, and Krafcik was averse to resorting to fleet sales or incentives. I think his bosses simply decided they needed to see if someone else could get sales and share moving again. That created an opportunity for Dave Zukowski, his replacement. But it also opens up the door to a new phase of John Krafcik’s career.

Best,
McElroy
2-28-2014

John,

I worked at Coskata, a cellulosic ethanol company, for five years (I still see some of the B-roll from our demonstration plant in Madison, PA on Autoline). I worked on a lot of our municipal solid waste feedstock initiatives. I can share with you that the challenge with trash is significant and, believe it or not, we don't produce enough of it to make a business case interesting. The rising price of oil means that recycling paper and plastic a much better economic use than turning it into a fuel. Given that about 25% of trash is water and ash (metal, concrete - all things you can't turn into fuels), there's significantly less left over in the scale that is needed to build a business around. Further, getting a gasification-based process using MSW as a feedstock has never been permitted. It's like getting a nuke plant permitted apparently. Lastly, the capital for these types of facilities is significant. They're not unlike any other commodity chemical production facility. That's just hard to fund these days.

But it isn't for a lack of trying, John, I can assure you. It's just really hard, expensive, and there are better opportunities to work on in the short term.

Here's some stats.

Economic breakdown of a biomass (wood) to ethanol plant: (these numbers are old, and too low in several instances, but it illustrates the requirements pretty well). A Trash facility using the same process would be more expensive.

Doug
2-28-2014

John,

In your bit on the AWD tires...Subaru and Audi I believe are the only manufactures that use a full time AWD vehicle.

Nearly all AWD vehicles these days are FWD and only divert power to the rear wheels when needed, like when the front tires slip.

As such, the front tires wear faster than the rear anyway.

The AWD system has two differentials, one in the PTU (power transfer unit) and in the RDU (rear drive unit) and the RDU also contains a clutch pack...all work to keep things rolling evenly.

One more thing...all vehicles, even full time AWD cars, have to deal with tires that are inflated to different PSI due to leaks, or improper inflation.

PS: love the show, watch ALD everyday and all the other shows as well! Keep up the good work, do miss the Autoextremist on your show though, you guys were good together on AAH.

Rob Michel
2-28-2014

Hello John,

I read Wards Auto through my subscription through Ford Motor Company everyday as well as watch your Autoline videos and other features.

I just read your article on the UAW not being able to sell itself. Though I am a UAW member I agree with your points on what it should be doing to sell itself, and what points is should leave alone.

However, I would like to give you my take on the outside influence that you said the UAW blames. I was greatly concerned when Senator Corker came out and stated that he "...received assurances from VW that the plant would get a new vehicle if the workers voted against the union." The fact that he said this publicly on the first day of voting, and in direct opposition to VW's statements on the matter since September 2013 that the vote would NOT have an effect on where the new vehicle would go, is of great concern to me. Also is the fact that Senator Corker left vague of whom he was speaking with within VW, and a VW Executive spoke out shortly thereafter to state that Senator Corker's claim was in fact false.

Speaking as an autoworker of more than 21 years I can assure you when someone of significance (Plant Manager, Senator, Mayor) states that your plant will not get a new vehicle based on some actions in which you have a choice, jeopardizing your future or job security (Chattanooga built to produce 2 vehicles but only producing 1, if under utilized and the workforce is viewed as non-cooperative with the company it could be closed) those workers will usually vote for their jobs. I was wondering if this circumstance did not occur to you? It does not seem so since the tone of your article, as well as your statement, is that the Union wishes to put blame somewhere else. Though I agree the Union has better marketing of itself to do, I feel it was Senator Corker coming out on the first day of voting and putting into the worker's minds that if they voted for the Union they would not receive the new vehicle. The Union stated it had received enough of a majority in cards for a vote that if even 44 employees had changed their mind they would STILL win the vote. However, I feel the fear for their jobs being put into their minds was too big of a deterrent.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter. I enjoy your reports and incite. No two people will always agree but I appreciate the way you present your information.

Sincerely,

UAW Toolmaker
Ford Motor Company
2-28-2014

John,

I really liked your recent article on the “Safety Tech versus Safety Drivers”. You were spot on with your opinion that training the drivers is the answer to fewer accidents. I remember when I was a teenage driver (46 years ago) and had a ’65 MGB Roadster convertible in 1968 that my Dad had bought for me as my first car. He had said, “No sports cars and no convertibles”, go figure! He came around when he realized that it had only two seats, the gas usage was going to be minimal because it was only a small 4 cyl., and there was no back seat for my dates when we went to the drive-in theater. That little car taught me more about driving than any driver education course that was ever offered. My best friend and I spent hours at the mall on Sunday afternoons in the wintertime (the mall was closed on Sunday’s back then). We’d get up to speed zipping across the snow covered parking lot, yank up on the emergency brake, throw the front wheels one way or the other and ride out the spin while whooping loudly all the way. But,…..I also learned how to control those spins, how to steer with the slide, and even how to steer a car sliding backwards. Those experiences stick with me even today. In summary, I learned how to control and drive a car in other than normal stop and go traffic.

How invaluable it would be for our teenagers today if they could be taken out on a skid pad (aka the mall parking lot) with a knowledgeable instructor in the car with them to teach them the finer points of slipping, sliding, skidding, spinning, and the myriad other sorts of conditions that they could get into in a car that’s seemingly out of control, yet learn how to get that car out of those types of situations.

I guess that’s enough said, but, I wanted you to know that I think you hit the nail on the head with your article. I only wish that the driver education courses as they are taught today, could teach what you are basically advocating in your article. Safety has to be taught and learned and become second nature to the driver’s mind and reactions, it can’t be installed in the computer of a car.

Thanks for your great articles. I enjoy every article you write. Somehow you seem to hit the strike zone with every pitch you make.

Thanks and keep up the good writing,

Neal E. Hornung
Neal,

Great feedback! I’ve also just learned of an effort to use driving simulators to give students the kind of training that you’re writing about. Once I get more info on this I’ll be reporting on it.

BTW, I learned how to drive the same way: the church parking lot after a snow storm, and on the dirt roads in the middle of the corn fields of mid-Michigan.

Best,
John McElroy
2-28-2014

John,

I agree completely that it would be in the best interest of the U.S. to reduce dependence on OPEC oil. Developing more North American oil is one way, making vehicles more fuel efficient, and increasing public acceptance of electric vehicles which do not demand drastic changes in driving habits (i.e., extended range REvs) are other viable approaches. By powering EVs with electricity produced by wind, solar or nuclear, we can reduce dependence on foreign oil and be more environmentally friendly.

Larry Kimura
2-28-2014

Well John,

I pretty much enjoyed the new all-union-all-the-time show, but damn it, every so often somebody kept referring to pesky frivolous issues about vehicles, vehicle attributes, vehicle manufacturing, and vehicle design.

But based on the new automotive-journalists-discuss-union-issues ad nauseam format, IF you ever revert to your former format mostly concerned with vehicles, won't your current panel have to be replaced by union-organizers-discuss-vehicles experts.

The kid from the Detroit press was smart, sharp, clever, ironic, quick, and seemingly knowledgeable; let's see more of him.

Pete Nicholas

P.S. Any damn show is just too slow and too naval-gazing anytime a host or panelist says "I still think ..." and restates the same damn point for the third or fourth time. Definitely put today's show on your bloopers reel.
2-28-2014

Hey John,

The new Renault Twingo looks fantastic. Renault has a big hit as long as they didn't raise price over prior model. I also think this vehicle will be a big hit at Geneva. Question: Is this the first mass-market rear-engine, rear-driver since VW Bug? Also, will Nissan build a version for USA market?

Thanks,

Vincent A. Joy
Aside from the new Renault Twingo, the only other rear-engine, rear-drive mass-market car besides the Beetle that I can think of was another Renault car, the Dauphine which was in production from 1956 to 1967. I don’t think that Nissan will do a version for the US, but in this business you never say never.

McElroy
2-28-2014

Gents,

Long time viewer, really appreciate your coverage in general, it is a quick way to stay up to date…

Just wanted to share I think your segment on AWD Drawbacks (i.e. tires) was a little misleading, painting a depressing story for AWD. What really matters is rolling radius… (all of these statements are assuming the vehicle is a FWD base architecture):

Many (most?) folks don’t maintain their tire pressure appropriately to avoid a difference in rolling radius that is less than the difference of 2/32 or 4/32 of tread depth.

In addition to that due to the weight distribution on most cars the deflection on the front tires (if aired identically to the rear) can also be more significant.

On an Explorer (late model) or Ridgeline type vehicle the pay load plus tongue weight effect on the rear tires especially if rears are a couple PSI lower.

Some vehicles have a slightly offset gear ratio front to rear accomplished by not matching the rear R&P ratio to the PTU ratio.

Most folks do not rotate tires often enough to keep fronts vs. rears within 2 or 4 / 32.

Assuming an open differential on a standard system with only front – rear control the additional height of the tire is cut in half once it goes across the differential.

Plus if you staggered your air pressure side to side, you could eliminate a portion of the difference right off the bat, then half it from being across the diff.

If there was a difference great enough for the vehicle to catch from a mismatched tire, All the vehicles I’m aware of would have some sort of mini - spare logic (or similar) that would put the system in a reduced mode still providing some benefit to the customer, and NOT damage or cause excessive wear to the system

All that being said if you know your car, and it’s duty cycle you can easily get by with replacing only 1 or 2 tires, then do a custom rotation schedule(assuming non-directional tires) use a staggered tire inflation strategy (within reason of course, come on these cars are not blistering around the track;-), etc. to avoid shaving a tire or buying 4, then you keep the one you just got as a spare until you sell the car which could potentially help you avoid another purchase.

It all depends on what is important to you…;-)

Just trying to not paint such a bleak story for AWD…;-)

Kind Regards,
Ben
2-28-2014

Hey John,

Do you have an insight on why Speed Channel died? I realize they say that it didn't go away - it became FoxSports blah blah something...

Do you think it ever made money?

It had huge promise. Those early years with everything from SCCA runoffs to lawnmower racing. Fast forward to a few years ago and it had become the "Pinks" 24 hour network broken up on the weekends with 48 hours of Barrett Jackson - Trenton, NJ taped from 3 years ago.

I hate to say it but I almost wish we could go back to the days of their original content like; NASCAR gibberish AM, NASCAR gibberish Mid-day, NASCAR gibberish early afternoon, Housewives of NASCAR Drivers etc. - the days when everything was just NASCAR related. I whined about it back then (not a NASCAR fan) but I'd take it at this point.

Your Pal,
The Mayor
Annapolis, MD
Dear Mr. Mayor,

I’d go back even earlier than that. Remember Thursday Night Thunder on ESPN? That’s where I saw Jeff Gordon race for the first time at a sprint car race in Indiana when he was maybe 16 years old. He didn’t even have a driver’s license to drive a car on the street. He won the finale that night, beating out all the veterans. I made a mental note that night to remember his name because it was obvious that kid was going places.

Those early days (1980’s) of ESPN and Speed were great. Their programming was not slick, so it had a great grass-roots feel to it. But Speed ultimately failed because it wasn’t able to get the advertising revenues it needed to survive. The silly shows that the network started airing was a desperate attempt to attract the coveted 24-35 year old male demographic. It didn’t work.

Autoline This Week aired on Speed for about 5 years. We had a decent following, but with an older demographic. The Speed people begged us to “spiff up” the show. I think if we had featured bimbettes in bikinis bouncing on trampolines they would have kept the show, but they dropped us.

The kiss of death for small start-up networks is when they hit a given level of success, get bought out by big money networks, and get squeezed to death trying to produce more profits. I think we need motorheads need an operation like CSPAN, which is content to provide great content to a small audience and earn a modest profit.

McElroy
2-19-2014

Quick question. What makes a BMW or Mercedes so much better than a Cadillac? I am in the business and more so I am very familiar with a vast range of products in it. I wonder if it has to do with product at all anymore. Thanks.

James Becker
Personally, I don’t think that BMW’s or Mercedes’s are better than Cadillac’s. Not anymore. The products are on a par. But that’s not true of their brand image and prestige. The German brands have it all over Cadillac in that regard, especially outside the US market.

Cadillac is doing a better job of improving its brand image, but that takes time. You can’t buy it with clever advertising, you have to earn it over time via outstanding products and service.

Back in the early 1930’s when Cadillac set a goal of surpassing Packard as the undisputed luxury brand leader in the US, it took 20 years to achieve that goal. And that was without all the luxury brands that are now in the market. Today, Cadillac faces a much tougher challenge to regain its status as “The Standard Of The World.”

McElroy
2-19-2014

I just found your web site and have listened several of your programs and loved them all. I do have a few comments about the show “The Top Truck? North American Truck of the Year 2014”.

It was said that the new 2015 truck offering from GM has many nice innovations like the rear step and the rear tailgate soft drop feature, and that this is what the consumer is looking for. Well, coming from a lifelong GM truck buyer, you’re way off base and clueless. What truck buyers are looking for, among others things, is a truck that looks like a truck, acts like a truck and has useful features. We use our trucks in a variety of ways and we need a truck that can offer features to help in our daily duties. Come on, soft drop tailgate, are we weak out here? That’s a major feature or innovation? Ram offers useful features like Ram Box, in floor removable storage, air ride suspension, self-adjusting high beams, dual exhaust, eight speed transmission, air louvers, coil springs, do I need to continue. This shows a company wanting to stretch the envelope a little, to offer new innovative designs for the consumer.

Ram has asked me for my opinion on four separate surveys concerning the quality, features, design etc. of how their truck has performed in the real world. I like a car company following up on their product, it shows they want to win my business again. No, just because GM rolls out another poor excuse for a truck, assuming their loyal consumers will line up again as lemmings to purchase the half-baked, penny pinching bean counter offerings doesn’t mean we’ll buy them anymore. I work hard for my money and I for one will not give it to a company that doesn’t work hard on offering me something better than before. My local Chevy dealer has a large storage lot full of this last offering and very few busting bugs. GM hasn’t learned what sells trucks and they will keep getting what they’ve been offering, VERY LITTLE!! C’mon man!

Thanks, Bill
2-19-2014

John,

I keep seeing in the media that VW needs to bring in an outside union “due to current U.S. law” in order to setup a works council for the Chattanooga plant. What specific law is being referred to? What is the history of this law? What is the law’s purpose (aside from forcing unions into places where they are not wanted)?

Kevin H
Kevin,

Basically it comes down to this. Under U.S. labor law corporations are not allowed to form “company unions,” that is, unions that were set up and organized by the company.

And since a works council could come so close to being considered a company union, U.S. labor law stipulates that any works council must be represented by an outside, independent union.

Hope this helps,
McElroy

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