The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:48:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/ Piston Slap: The Straw that broke the Hybrid’s Back? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-the-straw-that-broke-the-hybrids-back/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/piston-slap-the-straw-that-broke-the-hybrids-back/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:48:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805330

Marc writes:

Hi, I haven’t seen this addressed anywhere.

I have 2006 Lexus RX400H with 106,000 miles. The vehicle is bulletproof never having a repair, it even has it’s original brakes. I traded in a 2000 RX 300 for it. The 300 also never had a repair.

My question pertains to the hybrid batteries. Multiple Toyota and Lexus dealers have stated to me, that they have seen few hybrids if any needing replacement batteries yet some Prius’ have been on the road for over 10 years but there doesn’t seem to be much said about the expected life of the battery packs. My battery warranty just expired. Is it time to trade it in to avoid the eventual high battery replacement cost or am I worrying about a problem that could be many years down the road.

Sajeev asks:

Hi there. Where do you live and how many electronic items on the cat do you regularly run? (A/C, stereo, heated seat, etc.)

Marc replies:

I live in Southern California. The AC is almost always on, music always on, NAV always on.

Sajeev concludes:

The series has indeed covered hybrid battery fail, Toyotas in particular.  Your location’s warm climate shall be easy on hybrid batteries, not taxing them with a ton of power robbing heater load. Or, to a lesser extent, the A/C load of hotter parts of the country.  But your battery will fail, and there are companies willing to help.

If you want the help.

Considering the lack of needed repairs (original brakes? Impressive!) on this RX, selling it while the going is good is quite logical. If you want a new vehicle! If not, find a hybrid battery vendor, get a brake job, fluid changes, etc. that will eventually be needed.

All this work could be the straw that broke the camel’s back, yet none of it scares me like a TDI+DSG Volkswagen product that’s out of warranty.  This stuff just needs to happen.  I’d wager it’s worth it, if you like the RX and wouldn’t want to pay for a new vehicle. Which is always gonna be your call, son.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Beijing 2014: Honda Concept B http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-honda-concept-b/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-honda-concept-b/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:37:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=807986 honda-concept-b

 

This China-only concept, which previews a new small car that Honda will build just for that market, is the kind of product that Honda enthusiasts have been clamoring for.

The Concept B looks like Honda’s take on the Hyundai Veloster. No powertrain details were announced, but perhaps Honda will be kind enough to forgo the hybrid system that they saddled the CR-Z with – and bring it to North America as well.

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QOTD: The Economics Of Ownership http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/qotd-the-economics-of-ownership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/qotd-the-economics-of-ownership/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:27:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=807706  

consumeraffairs

$150 a week.

For some folks, this is a mere pittance. A lunch for four at a fancy restaurant that can be easily charged off to Uncle Sam and his seventeen trillion dollar debit card.

For others, it’s the beginning of a barnacle that will likely outlast their ability to pay it.

They will flex their muscles and run while they can. Then once they trip, due to a lost job or a family emergency, they will pick up an even heavier barnacle, with four wheels on it, and keep running.

It’s a vicious cycle of poverty. Where the poor always stay poor. After witnessing this cycle of automotive indebtitude for years on end,  I’ve come to blame one solitary thing.

Education.

Our society encourages dependency under the guise of capitalism. Young teenagers and adults are not taught to maintain anything… other than a bank account.

We, as a society, do not promote the idea of saving money by learning how to maintain things. We do it by offering the “rah-rah” cheerleading of self-help psychology. The anointing of so-called money gurus and experts who bring out the extremes of human behavior so that we feel better about ourselves.

The marketplace is about saving money by spending it. The more expensive the good, and the higher the debt, the more economic growth we have as a civilization.

When it comes to cars, appliances and homes, we are sent from schools of higher learning to a treadmill of perpetual ignorance. We are taught to buy it; not fix it. Maintenance and upkeep is meant for the professionals. Your payments create jobs and keep these hamster wheels of human work spinning in motion. Thereby creating a stronger economy.

It’s a fraud of the nastiest of orders. The mass of humanity spends their days performing relatively mindless work to pay off debts and hoping for a small dose of personal freedom once it’s all over. To keep this cycle going, we inflate everything we can at every level.

All debts are inflated these days by third parties that essentially do nothing. Housing values are pushed up by government policies and funny money paid to banks. The two entities most responsible for the economic collapse are now given all the tools to rebuild the cycle of debt.

As for the savers? They get their savings accounts obliterated from a 3% to 5% interest level, to 0%… plus billions more in fees.

The common citizen earns it, but they don’t get to keep it. Cars are now kept under shrouds of plastic and sealed steel so that ‘lifetime fluids’ and the basic steps of maintaining a car are kept well out of reach.

The CVT will save you a couple of miles per gallon. But once it breaks, your cost is likely to outweigh the entire car because you can’t rebuild it. As for those lifetime fluids, once the warranty runs out, it’s your problem.

One of the by-products of spending over 15 years at the wholesale auctions, and developing a long-term reliability study that focuses beyond the scope of Consumer Reports and other first owner focused publications, is that I get to see firsthand what hasn’t worked in the automotive marketplace.

I get to see the Volvo XC90 with the bad transmission. The Saturn VUE with a transmission driven by a cheap belt that is now broken and financially unsalvageable. The Dodge Intrepid with the 2.7 liter engine, that not even the Salvation Army can get to run right for 10 years.

What I don’t get to see is the educated kid who isn’t taught how to maintain their vehicle. I don’t get to see the title pawns that charge their customers 25% a month interest because their customers are working 40, but keeping nothing. Even with my business which is about 50% self-financing, I don’t get the customers who are under the knife of the seven year note.

One lost job, and their equity position returns to zero. What’s worse is that they get to pay even more the next go round.

Everyone has an opinion about how to reduce consumer debt and dependency. Some believe in the free market. Others would legislate their way into a conscripted paradise. As for me, I like excavators, open containers, and easy access when it comes to cars.

As for housing, health care, education and work life, I think the answer is a bit more complicated. So let’s stick to cars for now. What would you recommend to help change the economics of ownership?

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Beijing 2014: China Gets Its Own Chevrolet Cruze http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-china-gets-its-own-chevrolet-cruze/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-china-gets-its-own-chevrolet-cruze/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:19:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=807946 2015-chevrolet-cruze-china-04

 

While our Chevrolet Cruze gets a re-style to look more like the Malibu, China’s Cruze now looks like a 2015 Subaru WRX in the back, with a Dodge Dart-like front end.

 

Unlike our Cruze, this one get’s GM’s next-generation of turbocharged Ecotec powertrains, and there’s even a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox to go along with the usual manual and automatic transmissions. Perhaps this is a preview of what to expect in 2016, when the Cruze gets a redesign?

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Beijing 2014: Hyundai ix25 Previews B-Segment Crossover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-hyundai-ix25-previews-b-segment-crossover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-hyundai-ix25-previews-b-segment-crossover/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=807906 hyundai-ix25-concept-1

 

It’s only a matter of time before Hyundai officially enters the small crossover space with something below the Tucson. The ix25 concept is a good indication of what we should expect. Powered by a 2.0L GDI engine, the ix25 is a much better example of Hyundai’s new design language – it looks a bit dull on the new Sonata, but it really works on a two-box shape.

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Beijing 2014: Audi TT Offroad Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-audi-tt-offroad-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-audi-tt-offroad-concept/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:43:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806722 Audi-TT-offroad-concept

Perhaps due to a trademark conflict with Alfa Romeo, the compact SUV concept that Audi has shown at the 2014 Beijing auto show will likely be marketed as part of the TT line and not get the Q4 badge.

The TT Offroad Concept is expected to come to production in 2016 and may be called the TTQ. Alfa Romeo has previously used Q4, appending it to 4WD versions of the 156 wagon. Alfa also has used Q2 on FWD models of the 156. That may be why the Audi Q1 subcompact crossover didn’t get named Q2 as expected.

Whatever it’s called, the production version of the TT Offroad Concept will be based on MQB modular architecture that is proliferating across the VW Group. It will be about the same size as the compact Q3, but it will have a more sporting character and will be competing against vehicles like the Porsche Macan and BMW X4. Though the concept has an eTron hybrid drivetrain with 408 total horsepower, you can expect the production TTQ to be introduced with more conventional gasoline or diesel powerplants.

So far, Audi has shown coupe and shooting brake versions of the 3rd gen TT and a roadster is expected at the Paris show in October. Putting all of those into production along with a crossover/SUV platform-mate would give Audi something in the TT subbrand similar to what BMW is doing with MINI.

Audi-TT-offroad-concept audi-tt-offroad-concept-2014-beijing-auto-show_100464930_l Audi TT offroad concept Audi-TT-Offroad-Concept-0 Audi TT offroad concept Audi TT offroad concept audi-tt-offroad-concept-2014-beijing-auto-show_100464923_l ]]>
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Beijing 2014: Daimler and BYD Introduce Denza EV With 300KM Range http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-daimler-and-byd-introduce-denza-ev-with-300km-range/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-daimler-and-byd-introduce-denza-ev-with-300km-range/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:41:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806674 DENZA_at_Auto_China_2012_11 (1)

The first fruits of Daimler and BYD’s Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co. joint venture is on display at the Beijing auto show this week. The partnership intends to blend BYD’s latest battery technology with more than a century of manufacturing experience at the maker of Mercedes-Benz automobiles. Schedule to launch on the Chinese market in September of this year, the Denza is a five passenger car with a 115 hp (86 kW) electric motor that has a top speed of 93 mph and a range of up to 186 miles (300 km). Produced at a factory in Shenzhen, the Denza was jointly designed in China, reflecting the Chinese government’s policy requiring foreign automakers to establish joint technical centers in China and to share technology with their Chinese partners.

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Recharging times are stated as 7 hours with conventional mains voltage and less than an hour with high speed chargers. The lithium ion phosphate battery pack is rated at 47.5 kWh and apparently in response to some Teslas catching fire, Denza publicity stresses how the battery pack is located underneath the body for safety and that it will automatically disconnect and quickly discharge safely in the event of an accident. Since the average driver in China travels 50 to 80 kilometers a day, with a 300 km range, most customers will only have to recharge a couple of times a week.

denza03 (1)

One feature that I look forward to see if it makes it to production is the fact that the show car has suicide doors in the back and no B-pillar.

The Denza will have a starting price of RMB 369,000, about $60K at current rates, though there are subsidies from the Chinese national and local governments that reduce that price by about 1/3. In addition to those subsidies, the Denza will benefit by being exempted from many of the policies that Chinese cities have implemented to reduce congestion and pollution. Owners will be able to get a license plate in Beijing without participating in the mandatory lottery, and Shanghai and Shenzhen wave registration fees for Denza owners’ plates.

DENZA_at_Auto_China_2012_11 (1) denza02 BYDDenzaVoorkant-630x350 ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? denza-logo_100386966_m denza03 ]]>
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Beijing 2014: Lexus NX Unveiled With Turbo, Hybrid Drivetrains http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/lexus-nx-turbo-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/lexus-nx-turbo-hybrid/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:41:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806706 01-lexus-nx-concept-1-450x298

American consumers will have their choice of two different engine combinations when the Lexus NX debuts later this year, but world markets will get an extra option.

In the United States, a 2.0L 237 horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder will be available, along with a 2.5L 4-cylinder hybrid making 194 horsepower. The turbo engine (which is rumored to be going in the IS250) will be mated to a 6-speed automatic, while the hybrid engine will use a similar set-up to the RX Hybrid in all-wheel drive versions (front drive versions of both engines will also be available).

Slotting in between the BMW X1 and X3, Lexus expects to move about 24,600 units annually. Despite its smaller size outside, the NX offers just half an inch less rear-seat leg room and nearly an inch less in cargo area length, according to Automotive News. One source noted that Lexus may be too conservative regarding U.S. volumes, but that demand in other markets, where prices are higher, could eat into U.S. allocations.

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British Pathe Helps Waste Our Time By Putting 85,000 Archived Newsreels Online http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/british-pathe-helps-waste-our-time-by-putting-85000-archived-newsreels-online/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/british-pathe-helps-waste-our-time-by-putting-85000-archived-newsreels-online/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:36:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806554

Click here to view the embedded video.

One of the great things about the Internet is easy access to materials that earlier would have been stored away, inaccessible in some dusty archive or in the back stacks of a library. It’s always a joy when I find that another collection of original documents, historic photos, or films whose content has been digitized and placed online. I’ve even tried to do my part by putting the Andrew F. Johnson Project online. Sure, as someone who dabbles in automotive history, it’s useful to find appropriate illustrations for my work, but the attraction that online archives hold for me is more fundamental than just pragmatic. It’s the digital equivalent to finding a stash of old National Geographic or Life magazines in your grandma’s attic. I’ve spent hours immersed at collections like the Keystone Mast Collection of vintage stereo photos at the Online Archive of California, the Smithsonian’s online archive, and the online image archive at Wayne State University’s Walter Reuther Library. Now, British Pathé, the U.K. newsreel archive company, has uploaded its entire collection of more than 85,000 historic films in high resolution format to YouTube.

The archive’s films date back to 1896, with the most recent being produced in 1976, and they comprise about 3,500 hours of footage of major historical events, notable personages, fashion, travel, sports and culture as well as extensive footage from both World Wars. In addition to the finished, narrated newsreels, the archive also includes quite a bit of original footage, outtakes and rushes. Included in the archive are many films of interest to automobile enthusiasts. The archive is searchable so all you have to do is search for topics like “motor show“, “automobile“, “Jaguar“, “Lotus” or “Stirling Moss” and you’ll immediately have enough material to put off more productive work for just about as long as you wish. I’ve included a few examples after the break.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Warning: This video of the 1955 LeMans disaster includes scenes of death:

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Click here to view the embedded video.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Automakers, Dealers Prepare For 2016 Off-Lease Market Flood http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/automakers-dealers-prepare-for-2016-off-lease-market-flood/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/automakers-dealers-prepare-for-2016-off-lease-market-flood/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:30:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=807362 Used cars

Currently, around 2.13 million cars will come off-lease by the end of 2014, up from 1.7 million last year. By 2016 and beyond, however, over 3 million vehicles annually will turn up on many a CPO and used car lot, replacing a long drought with an El Niño-esque flooding of the U.S. used car market.

Automotive News reports the predicted rise in off-lease vehicles, though a boon for used-car dealers and their customers, will slam new-car buyers come trade-in time, as lower prices for used means lower value for those trading their vehicles for a new experience in the showroom floor. Rising interest rates and lease payments to make up for lower used pricing will also add pain to a new-car buyer’s wallet come 2016.

As for automakers and dealers, both parties are preparing the flood with various strategies being put together, such as Volkswagen’s partnership with DealerMatch — allowing VW dealers to buy and sell as many used vehicles as desired for a flat monthly fee, in lieu of the auction lot’s per-vehicle rate — and workshops designed to optimize CPO sales among dealers and sales representatives.

That said, some automakers and dealers may still find themselves overwhelmed by the coming tsunami due to leasing more vehicles than are sold. Edmunds.com senior analyst Jessica Caldwell says leases accounted for 26 percent of all new sales in the U.S. last year, while 28 percent of sales in Q1 2014 were leases. The increase in leases is aided by easy credit, rising residual values and record-low interest rates, and serves as a marketing tool to build customer loyalty through repeat visits as each lease agreement draws to a close.

The last time over 3 million vehicles came off-lease was in 2002, when 3.4 million returned to the used-car lot before slowly coasting downward to a low of 1.56 million a decade later.

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Ally IPO Brings New Subprime Lending Options To The Table http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ally-ipo-brings-new-subprime-lending-options-to-the-table/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ally-ipo-brings-new-subprime-lending-options-to-the-table/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:15:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=807346 Ally_Financial

With Ally Financial’s IPO now making the rounds on the New York Stock Exchange, the former financing arm of General Motors has its eyes on taking more of the subprime market, a move benefiting dealers once the last ties to the U.S. federal government have been severed and sold to the stock market.

Automotive News reports Ally is moving forward with plans to lower cost of funds by paying off older high-interest debt, as well as issuing the IPO that would allow the U.S. Treasury to sell its remaining 17 percent ownership in the automotive lending company in the near future, having already sold 95 million shares for $2.4 billion through the IPO early this month.

In turn, Ally would be able to use bank deposits to fund “near prime” consumers — those with credit scores between 620 and 660 — in financing new car leases and purchases. Currently, the lender holds 11 percent of its portfolio in subprime lending, though the percentage was obtained through more expensive funding sources.

Once bank deposits are made available, however, the increased lineup of options for Ally would provide more flexibility for gaining more share in the subprime market, a strategy CEO Michael Carpenter says is “dealer-centric.”

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Musk: Tesla Will Build Cars In China Within Next Few Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/musk-tesla-will-build-cars-in-china-within-next-few-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/musk-tesla-will-build-cars-in-china-within-next-few-years/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=807330 Model S - Tesla Motors China

Though Tesla is now just delivering new vehicles to China, CEO Elon Musk predicts his company will build luxury electric vehicles in the burgeoning market within the next three to four years.

Bloomberg reports the move to localized production would allow the automaker to sell their wares while also avoiding China’s 25 percent import tariff. Right now, a new Model S retails for $118,000 in Beijing due to VAT, shipping and import duties, compared to $71,000 in Los Angeles. Musk hopes to qualify the Model S for local subsidies to help offset costs in much the same way the luxury EV sedan receives federal tax credits back in the United States.

In addition, Tesla is expanding its Supercharger network to China, with Beijing and Shanghai among the first cities to join. No word yet as to how much the automaker is investing in the expansion.

A number of challenges lay ahead for Tesla’s move into the market, including slow adoption of electric vehicles among Chinese consumers and lack of a robust infrastructure, as well the loss of China general manager of operations Kingston Chang prior to the automaker’s entry. That said, Tesla plans to increase overall global sales 56 percent this year, moving 35,000 EVs out of the showroom in so doing.

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New or Used? : This Musician Wants An Escort (Wagon) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-or-used-this-musician-wants-an-escort-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-or-used-this-musician-wants-an-escort-wagon/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 11:30:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806738 Escort

I’m a working musician from NYC. I have a conundrum.

Since 1998 I’ve owned a 1989 BMW E30 ‘vert, which has served me well as a touring artist — it just hit 160k, most of those miles mine. However, all those miles have come at a price, between 40k timing belt changes and other occasional maintenance items, I wind up putting roughly $1500 into it every two to four years.

But I’ve always loved it, and it never let me down, until recently.

It’s hit that point where everything is wearing out at the same time – seat backs (not easy or cheap to replace correctly), seatbelts, shocks, minor trunk rust, fuel filler neck, and it needs new tires and rotors–though it is still mostly intact and in lovely condition mechanically and otherwise and drives great.

I’ve been worried about having my DD be a 26-year-old car without airbags that could theoretically be pummeled by a lowly Civic or equivalent, and while it still kicks ass on B-roads, every time I drive it on interstates I feel utterly vulnerable in a way I never used to.(Other cars have gotten so heavy and big!)

But right now I simply need a car, and the BMW is safely garaged as it’s not roadworthy for the aforementioned reasons. I live paycheck to paycheck. So I need to make the best use of what little money I have to remedy the situation.

The way I see it, I have three options:

1) Spend $2k on repairing my baby and DD it, Irv Gordon-style, till I or it crumble

2) Take a neighbor’s 1998 Escort wagon that I’ve been offered for free–it is rusty and a bit long in the tooth but more or less reliable, (but again, I’m a little worried about its safety compared to new cars, even though it has airbags and is engineered for the 1997 side impact protection regs)–and repair it as a DD (needs a new muffler and other small repairs-worried it might need a head gasket as those engines blow ‘em, though it seems fine now), and then insure the E30 through Hagerty and restore it slowly as a project.

3) Try to find another used car for around the same $2k that is a simple appliance and much much safer than either the Escort or my E30, and insure the E30 through Hagerty. I could also sell the E30, but I don’t feel ethical selling it in its current condition…plus it’s got many memories, and feels more like an heirloom at this point…sigh…)

I do love driving that darn thing, and it’s never really let me down. But I don’t know what the best use of my limited money is here, and if I’m just being paranoid about using my E30 or the Escort as a DD. Or even if I can get any car for $2k that isn’t a garbage heap. (I’m also 6’2″, so that too is a consideration.)

Thoughts? Recommendations?

Steve Says:

Start by getting the Escort looked at by an independent mechanic. If it’s worth keeping for a while, then it’s time for you to have one less heirloom in your life. 

Yes, I loved those old E30s too. I remember one road trip where I was stoned out of my gourd, and my best friend just happened to be driving a forest green 1991 BMW 318i convertible through California’s Highway 1. We eventually made our way east to Reno where we blew our remaining cash on blackjack and cheap booze.

It was money well spent, as was your BMW. But once the party was over, we knew it was time to move on.

So move on donate your car to an enthusiast who has more money to deal with all the problems you mentioned. If all you have is surface rust, and that BMW is structurally sound, it may be worth selling for around $2000.  Just make sure you disclose everything to the buyer first. You want a buyer who will pay a premium for honesty, and those folks are out there. 

Escorts of this generation do have one notable weakness, and that is valve seat failure.  They also tend to like mid-grade fuel. Even the non-Zetec engine, which is the version your friend owns. My wife and I had a 1997 Ford Escort LX for four years during my early years in the auction business, and other than having to put higher octane fuel to avoid pinging issues, the Escort was completely trouble free. It also had a decent safety record for that time.

Click here to view the embedded video.

 (<— nice video)

I only sold it because we were expecting a second kid. Even today my wife prefers to drive compact vehicles like that Escort.

So what would I do?  I would sell the BMW so long as the frame isn’t rusted out, and bum rides for a short while. I would then get the Escort inspected and have the repair costs assessed before committing to it. If it doesn’t work out, you’re only out $100.

Finally, if the Escort is worth more dead than alive, I would opt for a similar, older, unpopular vehicle that has cosmetic issues, but has been mechanically well kept. You’re a musician… so aim for something with lots of records (bad, bad pun… I know) and get the vehicle independently inspected before you buy it.

Save up. Weigh your options. Don’t be afraid to say no to both vehicles if it comes down to it.

One more thing. Nobody knows how to drive a stick anymore. I now have five of them at my lot, and a sixth at a nearby auction. So if you’re still in the market for one, let me know. Please!

Steve can always be contacted directly at steve.lang@thetruthaboutcars.com . 

 

 

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Mark Fields To Replace Alan Mulally, As Ford CEO: We Wish Him Mazel Tov http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mark-fields-to-replace-mulally/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mark-fields-to-replace-mulally/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 04:01:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806746 Mark Fields, Ford Group VP Derrek Kuzak, Bill Ford Jr., Alan Mulally

Mark Fields, Ford Group VP Derrek Kuzak, Bill Ford Jr., Alan Mulally

Two of the most reliable reporters on the automotive beat, Karl Henkel and David Shepardson of the Detroit News, have reported that their sources confirm that Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally will step down later this year and that Mark Fields, Ford’s chief operating officer, will be named to the CEO position. Earlier on Monday, Bloomberg News reported that Ford “may announce the moves as soon as May 1.” Ford’s annual corporate meeting is scheduled for May 8 in Delaware, with the FoMoCo board of directors meeting the prior day. Mulally, 68, has been with Ford since 2006 and he’s generally credited with successfully guiding the automaker through the troubled waters that brought crosstown rivals General Motors and Chrysler to bankruptcy and a government bailout.

The move is seen by most as a formality and that Fields, 53, has been assured of replacing Mulally since he was promoted from President of the Americas to COO in late 2012. Mulally has previously said publicly that he plans to remain as Ford’s CEO through at least 2014. Other than a stint at IBM, Fields has been at Ford for most of his adult life, having joined the company 25 years ago.

A Ford Motor Company spokesperson declined to confirm or deny the reports.

So that’s the boilerplate news. In the background of the story, though…Ever since Fields started ascending the corporate ladder and was seen as a possible CEO at Ford, is the fact that Mark Fields is Jewish and the founder of the company, Henry Ford, was one of the 20th century’s most notorious anti-semites. If I was a betting man, I’d bet that 100% of the articles published in major news sources about the announcement, when it is made, will mention Fields’ religion and Henry Ford’s anti-semitism. Henkel and Shepardson’s DetNews piece certainly did.

That prejudice is a historical fact. In 1920, the Dearborn Independent, a newspaper controlled by Henry Ford, started publishing a series titled The International Jew, claiming that there was a worldwide conspiracy by Jews to control the world. Seven years later, under pressure from his son Edsel and other business associates, Henry would make a public apology, but the damage to Ford’s image was done. Growing up in and around Detroit, I can’t recall any of my friends’ parents driving Ford products before the 1970s. I’ve known Jews, the children of Holocaust survivors, who bought German cars before they would consider a Ford product.

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To be fair, it should be said that Henry Ford was not an exterminationist Jew-hater, like Adolf Hitler was, though the two admired each other to some extent. Ford had good working relationships with Jews like architect Albert Kahn and he was friendly with his neighbor in Detroit’s Boston-Edison district, Rabbi Leo Franklin of Detroit’s biggest Reform Jewish temple, Beth El. In fact, Ford was perplexed when, following the publication of The International Jew, Franklin returned the Model T that Henry gifted to him, something Ford ecumenically did every year for all of the most prominent clergymen in Detroit. Henry, it seems, divided world Jewry into two groups, the “good Jews”, those whom he knew personally, and the conniving boogeymen of his imagination. Remember, Henry Ford was an uneducated farm boy who made good and he retained most of his beliefs, biases and prejudices all of his life.

Henry didn't like jazz. "Jewish Jazz - Moron Music" is what his newspaper called it. With one of his great grandchildren married to a Jew and another married to a black, Henry must be spinning faster than a Model T crankshaft.

Henry didn’t like jazz. “Jewish Jazz – Moron Music” is what his newspaper called it. With one of his great grandchildren married to a Jew and another married to an African-American, Henry must be spinning faster than a Model T crankshaft.

So it’s true that Henry was a crackpot and a Jew hater. However, Henry Ford has been dead since 1947 and his family has gone out of its way to right his wrongs. I’ve written before here at TTAC about how Henry Ford II cultivated close personal relationships with Jews and between Ford Motor Co. and the Jewish community, how the Deuce was personally generous to Jewish philanthropies (and FoMoCo did likewise at his lead), and how in 1973, at the height of the Yom Kippur War, Henry II personally arranged for Ford of Europe to ship trucks and trailers to Israel because they were needed to move tanks to the battle fronts.

Fields’ comments about not experiencing any discrimination at the Ford company ring true to what I have heard from personal friends who have worked there in the past few decades. Fields is also not the only high level Jewish executive at Ford Motor Company. Neil M. Schloss has been Vice President and Treasurer of Ford Motor Co. since 2007.

I see the appointment of a Jew to the CEO job at Ford as more of a non-issue than anything else. Yes, it’s worth noting because of the history involved, but 2014 is not 1920. It’s a different world, Ford Motor Company is a different company that it was under Henry and I’m sure that Bill Ford and his cousins (who collectively control Ford Motor Company) don’t care what Fields’ religion is as long as he does a good job running the company.In light of the fact that one of the Ford cousins is married to a Jew and has donated a Torah scroll to the temple they attend, my guess is that many in the family will be happy about Fields taking the job. A dark corner in their family history has been turned.

Let me be the first to wish a hearty Mazal Tov to Mark Fields, to his kvelling parents, to the Ford family and to Ford Motor Company.

* The term “anti-Semite” was coined by Wilhelm Marr, who was looking for a more polite term than “Jew-hater” to describe his opposition to Jewish political emancipation in 19th century Germany, so he pulled a word from linguistics, which references “Semitic” languages that include Hebrew, Ugaritic etc. Since Marr’s euphemism was intended to make him and his ilk look better and because some modern day Jew-haters have appropriated the term to fraudulently claim that Arabs are also victims of “anti-Semitism”, I prefer to call a spade a shovel.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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UAW Ends Fight For Organization Of Tennessee VW Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/uaw-ends-fight-for-organization-of-tennessee-vw-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/uaw-ends-fight-for-organization-of-tennessee-vw-plant/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 20:30:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806762 volkswagen-chattanooga-solar-park-08

The Huffington Post reports the United Auto Workers has withdrawn its petition with the National Labor Resources Board challenging the results of the February 2014 election regarding organization of the workforce at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

UAW President Bob King said the decision to withdraw was made “in the best interests” of all parties involved, citing the “historically dysfunctional and complex process” such a challenge before the NLRB would entail. King added that resistance met by both Tennessee governor Bill Haslam and U.S. Senator Bob Corker regarding the union’s effort to subpoena the politicians also factored into the decision to stand down:

The UAW is ready to put February’s tainted election in the rearview mirror and instead focus on advocating for new jobs and economic investment in Chattanooga.

Though the challenge — which would have led to a new election at the factory had it been successful — has been withdrawn, King said the challenge did shed light on the election by “inform[ing] the public about the unprecedented interference by anti-labor politicians and third parties,” such as the number of documents gathered by Nashville, Tenn. CBS affiliate WTVF-TV linking Gov. Haslam’s administration to incentives made to VW for a new factory on the alleged stipulation that the Chattanooga plant remaining unorganized.

Had the UAW stood firm with their petition, the first hearing would have been held Monday.

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2014 Beijing Auto Show: BMW’s “Vision Future Luxury” 9-Series Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-bmws-vision-future-luxury-9-series-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-bmws-vision-future-luxury-9-series-concept/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 17:15:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805714 BMW-Beijing-Concept

Few companies are as competitive with each other as the German luxury brands. Now that Mercedes-Benz will be making the S600 Maybach edition of their S-Class fullsize sedan, BMW is responding wtih their own flagship, the Vision Future Luxury concept, introduced at the Beijing auto show on Sunday. Since Vision Future Luxury doesn’t quite fit BMW’s alphanumeric nomenclature, when it goes on sale in 2016, it will likely be known as the 9-Series, though some have suggested that it will revive the 8-Series nameplate or even be the basis of the next 7.  The Neuner will be the largest car that BMW offers, with a total length of about 216 inches (5,500 mm), making it about 11 inches longer than even the long wheelbase versions of the 7-Series. Wealthy Chinese prefer to be driven, one reason for the concept’s debut in Beijing.

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If it goes into production, the 9 series will be BMW’s largest model with a length of about 5500mm (216 inches), about 280mm more than the long-wheelbase 7 series. The extra length will boost the car’s appeal in markets such as China where most top executives have chauffeurs.

BMW is applying the carbon fiber expertise they are gaining with their electric i3 and i8 programs to the Vision Future Luxury concept, most notably where short carbon fiber bars from the room to the belt line replace the full length conventional B-pillars that normally sit between the front and back doors in four door cars.

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When the suicide style doors are opened, you can see that the pillar’s carbon fiber structure is part of a load bearing structural molding that includes the seat frame and is integrated into the door sills. The way the molding is contoured, with the doors open it looks as though there is no lower pillar and it allows easier access to the back seat. It also allows the use of lighter weight doors than on other cars with no visible B pillar, like BMW’s 7 Series based Rolls-Royce Ghost, while still providing adequate body rigidity and side impact protection. Weight savings is the rationale for using what BMW called “subtractive modeling” in the manufacture of interior parts. Thin layers of carbon fabric or aluminum are bonded with similarly thin veneers of wood or leather to create lightweight interior trim pieces.

There are separate touch-sensitive display screens for the driver and front passenger and information can be exchanged between them. That way applications like making dinner reservations or buying tickets via the BMW ConnectedDrive Luxury Concierge service can be handled by the passenger without having to distract the driver. Two more displays are in the back, mounted in carbon fiber housings with their own detachable touch command tablet. Rear seat passengers can communicate with the front seat displays and also access ConnectedDrive services like video and music streaming.

While the trick carbon fiber B-pillar will likely not make it to production, the electronic gizmos probably will.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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2014 Beijing Auto Show: Bentley Mulsanne Hybrid Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-bentley-mulsanne-hybrid-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-bentley-mulsanne-hybrid-concept/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 17:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805786 8891934141642831684

While the notion of a hybrid car that features a 6.75 liter internal combustion engine might seem a bit oxymoronic to some, rich folks like to demonstrate their environmental bona fides as much as anyone. With so many supercars like the Porsche 918 or the McLaren P1 featuring hybrid powertrains that combine green cred with mind-boggling amounts of total power and torque, high end hybrids have become the automotive version of eating your cake and having it too. Bentley’s new plug in hybrid concept is based on their Mulsanne flagship and they’re featuring it at the 2014 Beijing auto show. It manages to reduce CO2 output by 70% while increasing power by 25% and has a battery-only range of 31 miles (50 km).

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It must be some kind of rule in the automotive world that says that hybrid cars must be visually different from their conventionally powered platform siblings. Bentley does it with copper. On the outside, the character lines, headlamps, radiator shell bezel, badges and brake calipers all get some copper plating and on the inside copper has been applied to the switch bezels, instruments and veneer fascias. Also copper colored is the contrasting baseball style cross-stitching on the Mulliner Driving Specification upholstery, a welcome change from the near-ubiquitous French stitching one finds on leather car upholstery these days.

The latest interior styling trend, quilted leather and what may be the next trend, contrasting cross-stitching.

The latest interior styling trend, quilted leather and what may be the next trend, the contrasting cross-stitching on the armrest.

It’s not entirely clear what the production plans are for the Mulsanne hybrid. Bentley has already announced that its plug in hybrid system will be offered initially in 2017 on the SUV that the company plans to bring to the market in 2016. Since Bentley’s chairman, Dr Wolfgang Schreiber has said that by 2020 at least 90% of Bentley’s production will be available as plug in hybrids, once their first hybrid goes on sale, expect hybrid versions of other Bentleys to follow in rapid order.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Mulally: New Chinese Escort Could Come to America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mulally-new-chinese-escort-could-come-to-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mulally-new-chinese-escort-could-come-to-america/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:30:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805594 escort

While Ford’s new compact Escort sedan was developed by Ford’s Aisa-Pacific R&D team specifically for China, Ford CEO Alan Mulally indicates that the company has more global plans for the car, including the possibility of selling it in the United States. Mulally told Automotive News that the Escort will likely go on sale in other markets besides China. He said that while the company already has the Focus in the stateside C segment, the Escort could allow the company to attract consumers at a new price point in that segment.

Ford revealed the revived Escort on Sunday at the Beijing auto show. The nameplate has been dormant at the automaker since 2000. While it’s based on a Focus platform, it has more leg room in back, something Chinese consumers appreciate. Mulally told AN that it’s only a matter of time before American consumers will also get a chance to stretch their legs in the back of an Escort.

“We have a really solid small and medium-sized product line in the United States right now…“But I think over time this will be another enhanced version of the C-size. It’s just a matter of when. We’re going to be able to provide a C-sized vehicle with different price points.”

Mulally said that how the new Escort will spread to other countries demonstrates how the company’s One Ford strategy can take a vehicle developed by one of their regional R&D teams and customize it for specific markets while still saving money by making a global product.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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2014 Beijing Auto Show:Lincoln Debuts New MKX Concept Outside U.S., Annouces Chinese Dealers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-showlincoln-debuts-new-mkx-concept-outside-u-s-annouces-chinese-dealers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-showlincoln-debuts-new-mkx-concept-outside-u-s-annouces-chinese-dealers/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805426 PH-420009998 (1)

As part of the launch of its luxury brand in China, the first step in its strategy of making Lincoln into a global brand, Ford Motor Company used AutoChina 2014, aka the Beijing auto show, to debut the next version of Lincoln’s MKX midsize crossover. The reveal of the MKX Concept is the first time that Lincoln has ever introduced a new vehicle outside of the United States, and focus groups in both the United States and China were consulted in the crossover’s design. The new MKX will likely go on sale in both countries sometime in the first part of 2015.

Matt VanDyke, who is in charge of Lincoln’s international effort, stressed China’s important role to Lincoln in remarks to  Automotive News:

“Lincoln in China has our full attention in product development. “We’re not developing products for the U.S. and seeing if they work there. We are developing out of our global design studio products that we clinic and research in Huangzhou and Beijing and Shanghai and Pasadena, not the other way around.”

 

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At the same time that Lincoln was introducing the new MKX, the company announced its retail and initial product plans for the Chinese market. This fall eight dealerships in seven cities will be the first wave of what the brand plans to be 60 stores in 50 cities by the end of 2016. To start out with, just two Lincoln models will be offered, the midsize MKZ sedan, and the new MKC compact crossover. Both of those vehicles will be exported from Ford’s North American operations. The recently restyled Lincoln Navigator SUV will join them, along with the new MKX, next year.

While those first eight dealerships are being prepared to coincide with the auto show and introduce the brand to Chinese consumers, Lincoln set up a display called The Lincoln Space in an area of central Beijing that is filled with pedestrians. Lincoln hopes to have an addition dozen stores set up by the end of this year. The first dealers will open in Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xi’an, Guangzhou, Huangzhou and Chengdu. A high level of service is intended to distinguish Lincoln dealers from other luxury brands. Service bays will have multiple cameras so customers can monitor work being done on their cars.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Ask The Best And Brightest: How Do You Handle Recall And Service Bulletins? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ask-the-best-and-brightest-how-do-you-recall-handling-service-bulletins/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ask-the-best-and-brightest-how-do-you-recall-handling-service-bulletins/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:53:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806346 cobalt report 19

Since arriving at TTAC, I have been continually challenged and impressed by the B&B. The knowledge, wisdom, and rather civil discourse that arrives in response to the so-called journalism I produce is awe inspiring, often. Thank you, B&B. I’ve also been tasked with handling the GM recall story, given my technical background and my familiarity with GM’s processes at the dealer level – but today, I want to turn the floor over to you.

A recent New York Times article, raised the notion of GM’s seemingly nonchalant responses to quality issues with their vehicles. It’s been my goal in covering this matter to be as objective possible and present as many primary sources as possible. Getting carried away with a story like this is easy, and in my opinion, the NYT does just that. There’s little to no context for the reader, and most people are unfamiliar with recall processes for any OEM, let alone GM.

The Times analysis of service bulletins was limited to General Motors. 

 

The article is centered around the letter from the NHTSA’s Frank Borris discussing GM’s responses to various safety recalls over recent years, a letter that apparently that came at GM executive Michael Robinson like a bolt out of the blue. Excluding the Cobalt ignition debacle, was GM truly surprised, rolling with the status quo until caught? Or are they particularly unique in their behavior?

Can we sit and point fingers at GM solely, or is this a common occurrence in daily operations at other manufacturers? My dealer experience ends with GM. Where does your experience begin? Work at a dealership with another automaker? Maybe you work in a similar engineering field, and have fought the wrath of bean counters? How do the other OEMs (Toyota, Ford, Honda…) mitigate product problems in practice, especially in the face of safety vs. costs? And how do they respond to field reports about product flaws?

Anonymous stories and tips can be emailed to Editors at ttac dot com

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2104 Beijing Auto Show: Ford Introduces Everest SUV to Chinese Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2104-beijing-auto-show-ford-introduces-everest-suv-to-chinese-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2104-beijing-auto-show-ford-introduces-everest-suv-to-chinese-market/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:30:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=805658 everestfront

While two days after an avalanche killed 13 Nepalese Sherpas on Mount Everest may not be the best time to highlight a vehicle named for the peak, Ford is going ahead with introducing the Everest Concept to the Chinese market at the Beijing auto show. The  seven passenger SUV, larger and more expensive than the Kuga and EcoSport crossovers already on sale there, will take the slot at the top of Ford’s utility vehicle offerings in China. The Everest was developed by Ford’s Asia-Pacific design team in Australia and it will be built in China by Jiangling Motors, one of Ford’s joint venture partners there. The Everest Concept was previously shown at last month’s Bangkok Motor Show.

Ford_Everest_Concept_03hires

 While the red hot Chinese market has cooled a bit, with light vehicle sales growing at an annual rate of 10-15% compared to the 30% growth seen in 2009 and 2010, SUV sales continue to be strong, with 40% growth year to year.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has said that the new Chinese market Escort sedan will likely end up in the United States (with local revisions) the company had no comments about selling the Everest outside of China.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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2014 Beijing Auto Show: Chevy Trax, New Cruze http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-chevy-trax-new-cruze/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-chevy-trax-new-cruze/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806050 chevy-night-6

General Motors used the 2014 Beijing auto show for the world premiere of the next generation Chevrolet Cruze while Shanghai GM launched the Chevrolet Trax, what the brand calls its “new urban SUV”, for the Chinese market. The Trax is Chevy’s version of the Opel Mokka, which is also sold in Buick livery as the Encore. The Encore has done so well in the U.S. market that GM has had to juggle production at its Korean and Spanish plants to keep up with demand. The Trax will eventually come to America, where GM hopes it will repeat the Encore’s success. If it does, some of that success may come at the cost of cannibalizing some Encore sales.

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The Cruze is the first vehicle to be based on GM’s all new D2XX architecture, which replaces the Delta platform. It’s also the first application of the new-generation Ecotec small displacement four cylinder engines developed jointly by GM and its Chinese partner, SAIC. The direct injected engine will be available in either 1.5 liter naturally aspirated form with 113 hp and 108 lb.-ft. of torque, or a 1.4 liter turbocharged motor with more power, 140 hph, and 173 lb.-ft. of torque. Also all new and jointly developed by GM and SAIC is the new Cruze’s 7 speed dual clutch gearbox. The Cruze will also be available with the latest 3rd generation of GM’s S6 6 speed automated manual as well as an all new 6 speed manual developed in Europe. GM claims that the new drivetrains will yield “best-in-class fuel economy, ride comfort, emissions and quiet performance.”

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The Trax will come with 18 inch wheels, a 1.4 liter turbocharged engine and what is likely the same six speed automated manual that will be available in the new Cruze. Intelligent all-wheel-drive system will also be offered, along with a suite of 8 safety systems including stability control, curve braking control and rollover mitigation. Inside, the Trax features a 7 inch full color touch screen with the latest version of Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system.

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2014 Beijing Auto Show: Volkswagen Golf R 400 Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-volkswagen-golf-r-400-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-volkswagen-golf-r-400-concept/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 14:30:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806090 003-volkswagen-golf-r-400-concept-1

To show the potential of the new Golf, VW has taken the 290 horsepower, all wheel drive Golf R and turned up the heat on the hot hatch with the Golf R 400 Concept, introduced at the Beijing auto show.

 

The 400 stands for 400 PS, which converts to 395 horsepower, and while the R 400 is based on the same turbo 2 liter four used in a variety of VW group cars, that engine has obviously been seriously tuned, probably with a bit more boost, resulting in 333 lb.-ft. of torque to go with the more than 33% increase in power. The result is a sub four second 0-60 time and a 280 kmh (174 mph) top speed that is electronically governed. VW says that the motorsports inspired Golf R 400 has a power-to-weight ratio and specific power per liter displacement on par with exotic supercars. VWs fulltime 4MOTION all-wheel drive transmits all that power to the wheels. On the outside, the Golf R 4oo has silver flake paint with lemon yellow highlights, with a restrained body kit featuring fender flares said to be a tribute to the 1988 Rallye Golf G60. The motorsports theme is carried to the inside of the car with racing seat shells, though they’ve been upholstered in Alcantara and what VW calls “carbon leather”.

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GM Sales Unaffected By Recall, Reveals China Expansion Plans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-sales-unaffected-by-recall-reveals-china-expansion-plans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-sales-unaffected-by-recall-reveals-china-expansion-plans/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 14:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806330 File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit

Reuters reports a lawsuit related to the 2014 General Motors recall crisis filed in federal court in California has placed airbag supplier Continental Automotive Systems U.S. at-fault for its role in the recall. Attorney Adam Levitt of Grant & Eisenhoffer proclaimed the supplier knew about the out-of-spec ignition switch at the heart of the recall as early as 2005, yet “did nothing to redesign its airbags” to deploy even when electrical power was cut, “nor did it warn NHTSA or the public.” Continental joins Delphi Automotive as the second supplier to face a lawsuit linked to the ongoing recall crisis.

Between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and GM, Automotive News says the former found itself pushing the latter on a number of occasions to do more than issue service bulletins, regional recalls, warranty extensions and customer-satisfaction campaigns regarding problems ranging from corroded fuel filler pipes in full-size vans and risks of fire from door modules in fullsize SUVs, to malfunctioning airbags in Camaros and Malibus and the aforementioned ignition switch affected over 2.26 million 2003 – 2011 vehicles to date. In a 2013 email released to the public by the ongoing Congressional investigation into the recall, NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation director Frank Borris expressed his frustration with the automaker to GM executive Carmen Benavides over GM’s slow approach to communication and action, as well as needing more provoking to do more than the least amount of effort to resolve an issue.

In more NHTSA/GM news, The Detroit News reports the agency has closed the book on its four-year investigation of 334,000 2004 – 2007 Saturn Ions regarding steering problems after the automaker announced they would recall the cars. Four service bulletins linked to power-steering repairs will be issued by GM, affecting the Ion and Chevrolet Cobalt, as well as the Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6 and Chevrolet Malibu. A total of 10 crashes linked to power-steering failure — with two resulting in injury — 4,787 complaints and 30,560 warranty claims were discovered by the NHTSA during the investigation.

As for bringing the affected vehicles in for service, Automotive News reports GM-affiliated and non-GM dealerships are having a rough time with the recalls, citing a lack of parts, growing backlog of recall-related repairs, and lost sales and dealer-related financing. However, GM President Dan Ammann says the main recall hasn’t had a “measurable impact” on overall sales, citing a 4 percent truck-led U.S. sales gain in March and a “decent start” to April’s sales. That said, Ammann has not ruled out a future impact from the recall news.

In the meantime, GM will invest $12 billion into China by 2017, with plans to boost production capacity 65 percent by 2020 based on expectations of the local market to reach 33 million to 35 million new vehicles made per year by the start of the new decade, which Ammann claims will be double that of total projected U.S. demand at the same time. The expansion would total capacity to 8 million units per year, fueled by 60 all-new or refreshed products introduced to China between now and 2018, including 11 new utility vehicles — such as the Chevrolet Trax — and a new Cadillac model every year through 2016.

Finally, The Detroit News reporter Henry Payne took to heart GM CEO Mary Barra’s statement before Congress about allowing her son to drive an affected Cobalt so long as the key was by itself in the ignition switch, turning up at a local dealership to drive an affected 2006 Cobalt to see for himself what would happen. In short: Nothing involuntary, as Payne had to put the switch into the “accessory” position himself to recreate what may have happened in the reported accidents and fatalities linked to the switch.

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AutoNation Parts Ways With Third-Party Lead Providers, Pursues Own Online Project http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/autonation-part-ways-with-third-party-lead-providers-pursues-own-online-project/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/autonation-part-ways-with-third-party-lead-providers-pursues-own-online-project/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806306 autonation-inc-logo

In its pursuit of establishing an online store where shoppers can do (almost) everything related to the car-buying experience, AutoNation Inc. announced last week it would no longer use third-party lead providers, focusing instead on its own online plans.

Automotive News reports the move is related partly to rising costs, whose savings will be invested toward AutoNation’s online storefront as laid out in the announcement by CEO Mike Jackson:

We’re really looking at the whole spectrum of how we interact with our customers. We’re also going to be looking to broaden the brand attributes of AutoNation and move into different business fields with branded products from AutoNation, whether that’s service contracts, warranty contracts. We’re full of ideas.

The project, launched in 2012, aims to make shopping for a new car at any of its 229 branded dealerships as seamless as possible, from making the purchase at home, to finalizing financing et al the next day. $100 million will be invested into the project over the next several years, with the bare-bones version of AutoNation’s storefront opening for business in December 2014.

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