The Truth About Cars » Quote of the Day The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 20:36:40 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » Quote of the Day QOTD: Regulation Is Ruining Car Design Mon, 09 Jun 2014 14:42:33 +0000 Opel-Monza-Concept-17

Today’s installment of Quote of the Day comes from Mark Adams, design chief for Opel/Vauxhall and creator of the Monza concept, which is expected to set the design direction for the two brands in the near future – assuming that regulations don’t get in the way.

Speaking to Automotive News Europe, Adams opined that  “In the last five to 10 years designing cars has gotten a hell of a lot tougher”, with much of the blame going towards regulation. The twin forces of fuel economy and pedestrian safety standards have converged to create very specific parameters for automotive design – hence the proliferation of high hoods, blunt front ends and the “reverse tear drop” shape on so many three-box vehicles. This specific form provides an easy way around all of those requirements, at the cost of an increasingly homogenous cohort of new cars.

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QOTD: Why There Will Be No “Made In China” Lexus Products Mon, 05 May 2014 14:02:35 +0000 01-lexus-nx-concept-1

Currently, there is only one Lexus plant outside of Japan. A Toyota factory in Cambridge, Ontario makes the Lexus RX crossover, while Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant will come online in 2015. Like other Japanese auto makers, Toyota is moving towards a localization of its production facilities, but one thing they won’t be doing is producing Lexus vehicles in China.

Speaking at the Beijing Auto Show, Lexus head Tokuo Fukuichi said

“We are often asked whether we plan to manufacture Lexus cars in China. But the question is whether our brand has earned the trust of customers. If a brand is really trusted, it can sell its products wherever they are manufactured. But Lexus has not yet achieved such a status.” 

Building an automotive luxury brand is a decades long process. Audi is an overnight success nearly 40 years in the making, while Infiniti is now on the slow, long road to lifting themselves up out of the doldrums of Tier 2 luxury. Lexus has arguably been the most successful Japanese effort at a Tier 1 luxury brand, but they still have work to do. In world markets (specifically Western Europe), Lexus does not enjoy the same footing as it does in the United States, and has only been on sale in Japan since 2005.

In Fukuichi’s estimation, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz (not to mention, Cadillac and Infiniti) can all do what Lexus cannot: build cars in China without harming brand perception. This is a big problem for Lexus – it must import its cars from Japan (and the NAFTA zone) and sell them at a higher price thanks to import tariffs and other duties. But it’s also a deliberate calculation on the part of Lexus.

If any of the German brands suffered quality problems from Chinese made cars, their customers would likely forgive them, due to the burning desire to have four rings, a three pointed star or two blue triangles on the hood of their car. But nobody feels the same pull for the stylized “L”.

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QOTD: In Defense Of The Toyota Camry Thu, 24 Apr 2014 16:00:23 +0000


We treat the physical results of capitalism as though they were an inevitability. In 1955, no captain of industry, prince, or potentate could buy a car as good as a Toyota Camry, to say nothing of a 2014 Mustang, the quintessential American Everyman’s car. But who notices the marvel that is a Toyota Camry? 

-Kevin Williamson, The National Review

TTAC is not like most car blogs – and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. Last week, the introduction of the newly refreshed Toyota Camry was the most popular article on the site. I couldn’t be happier.

Before we delve in to the Camry, it’s worth discussing one of Williamson’s major points – which will undoubtedly be too politically charged for some – that the average consumer has never had it better in terms of the kinds of goods they can afford, even with a relatively modest salary. These goods, in turn, increase their quality of life, and are not just frivolous expenditures.

The enthusiast press loves to discuss how the new Mustang is the equal of the 370Z or the M3, but for most Americans, the delta between a Camry and a Lexus ES350 – or some European luxury cars – has never been narrower.  The Camry is definitely not the car I’d buy if I was looking for a mid-size sedan (it would be a Honda Accord or a Mazda6 with a manual, if you care). But I can appreciate it in the same way as Kevin Williamson, in that building and selling such an outstanding car for $25,000 is a Herculian task.

WARNING: Tangential missive below

Even if the National Review might strike you as too far from your political leanings, I feel privileged to be able to write for a site that is open to these sorts of discussions, even when politics – and the Camry itself – are “hot button” issues. The internet offers a lot of places to discuss the typical car guy things: statistical urination contests (also known as bench racing), race-to-the-bottom displays of status signalling (whereby contestants aim to profess their undying love for increasingly obscure variants of automobiles) and corporate strategy as dictated by the holder of an Associates Degree with 7 years experiences as a consumer electronics Sales Consultant (inevitably, lots of rear-drive sports cars, body-on-frame SUVs etc).

As far as I know, this is the only place where we can discuss things like incentives, inventory,fuel economy and safety regulations and other topics that would put most Forza-addicted controller-clutchers to sleep, even though they literally dictate the way automobiles are engineered, designed, marketed and sold.

In most corners of the enthusiast world, the Camry is symbolic for what “car enthusiasts” despise; a basic appliance, uninteresting to look at or drive, using relatively simple, proven technology, available with only two pedals, often being sold in some shade of taupe. Only at TTAC could this car attract a following precisely because of those attributes. Then again, it’s really not that bad to drive.


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QOTD: Honda Insight Failed Because Of Marketing Mon, 07 Apr 2014 21:47:59 +0000 2010_Honda_Insight_LX_--_10-03-2009

Did the second-generation Honda Insight fail in the marketplace because of a lack of marketing resources? If you said “yes”, then you may want to look at a gig at American Honda.

Speaking to Ward’s Auto Honda’s Jeff Conrad, the Insight, which was generally regarded as a far cry from the class-leading Toyota Prius, failed not because of its rather coarse hybrid system or its Prius-aping styling, but from the lack of marketing resources. Said Conrad

“We had an initial launch, we spent a few dollars, but then we wanted to grow volume in other places, and that’s where the marketing dollars went.”

Far from the 90,000 units Honda aimed for annually, the Insight sold just under 21,000 units in 2010, its best year ever.  Meanwhile, Prius is to hybrid as Hoover is to vacuum cleaner.

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Dan Ammann Disses Deutschland’s Drive For Volume Tue, 14 May 2013 13:00:36 +0000 Cadillac_ATS_at_NAIAS_2012_(6677990619)

Cadillac may be gunning too hard for Germany’s domain of rear-drive sports sedans, but one area where The Standard of the World won’t be gunning for them is in the volume race. GM CFO Dan Ammann told Automotive News that unlike BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, “We’re not going to be in every single segment that they’re in”.

“In some ways, I think that not having the pressure to sell the last incremental car at whatever cost … is actually not a bad place to be right now. Continuing to move down price points, and microsegmentation of all of these little categories, all seems to be driven by a sort of volume-at-all-costs mentality,” Ammann said. “What that does long term for brand health I think remains to be seen.”

Now, it’s true that Cadillac is working with a different set of circumstances than the Germans. For one, its product and sales base is much smaller than globally-integrated German luxury marques. And frankly, Cadillac should expand a little if it wants to make a real run at Europe and China. A small crossover to compete against the Audi Q3 wouldn’t be a bad idea, along with a brand new Cadillac SRX.

On the other hand, I’m glad that Ammann feels no need to pursue this strategy of going for every last niche. In the long run, I think it will do some damage to luxury brands if they keep moving too down market, as their premium position will be diluted by making the brand too accessible. Europe is plagued by a declining car market, an aging population and a lost generation of young consumers. Their auto makers have to do something to make their products accessible to the next generation. Like Jaguar Land Rover, Cadillac isn’t as exposed to these problems as Europe’s auto makers. Their big markets (the United States and China, India and the UK for JLR) have both economics and demographics on their side. Refraining from the “volume or bust” mindset is a luxury they can afford to indulge in.

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QOTD: How The Cadillac ATS Almost Became FWD Tue, 02 Apr 2013 12:00:57 +0000

The multi-billion dollar endeavor of developing a new car has effectively ended the one-off specialty car that many enthusiasts still clamor for and wronglyassert is feasible in this era. Supermodel-thin margins, a saturation of brands and vehicles and an ultra-competitive global marketplace have killed the previous formula for developing a production car, which was mostly a one-off solution to local road conditions and buyer tastes

The necessity of scale is a double-edged sword; if the bean counters deem a product too costly and it may proceed as a watered down version of the original concept. If a new architecture or platform is approved, then we are practically assured multiple variants spun off that platform.

As it turns out, GM nearly took the cheapskate approach to developing the Cadillac ATS. But at the 11th hour, the General decided to change course, and enthusiasts will be all the better for it.

Automotive News outlines how Cadillac’s 3-Series fighter very nearly became Cimarron 2.0, with plans underway to build it on the front-drive Delta platform.

“We were going to do a front-wheel-drive Cadillac compact off of Delta because it was going to be less expensive,” Doug Parks, GM’s vice president of global product programs, told me at the Detroit auto show in January. “There were people in the organization saying, ‘It’ll be OK. We can dial it in.’” So serious were the plans that Parks, who was based in Europe at the time, found himself driving 150 mph on a test track in Spain in a 2.0-liter turbo test mule built on the Delta platform.

“We actually made it pretty darn good,” Parks said. “But in reality, you can’t go beat BMW or Mercedes when you don’t have the right weight balance and everything else.”

GM’s decision to develop Alpha ensured that its performance vehicles have a new lease on life. The ATS will be the start of a range of cars, with the next-generation Camaro to follow. Two vehicles off of Alpha won’t be enough either, but what will follow the Camaro is anyone’s guess.

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QOTD: What Makes A Good Track Package Wed, 07 Nov 2012 18:31:33 +0000

The V6 Mustang reviewed yesterday wouldn’t be the car it was without the Track Package, which provides pretty substantial upgrades to the brakes and suspension.

As Sympatico’s Brian Makse points out, most performance packages are nothing more than new wheels and tires, but the Mustang really delves into the nitty-gritty. Items like the brake booster and control arms are borrowed from the track-ready Shelby GT500.

With plenty of you having track experience in one form or another, it’s worth asking, what makes a good track package, and who does it right. Conversely, who does it poorly? If I had to give my two cents, I’d say good brakes are worth more than anything when it comes to a factory track car. In our comparison test with the Scion FR-S, the Hyundai Genesis Coupe and the Mazda MX-5 the lower weight and tossable handling of the FR-S and overall fun factor of the MX-5 were both worth little when they had to be brought in after a few laps. The Genesis, with its superior Brembos, resisted a brake apocalypse far longer than the other two.

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QOTD: “You Are Full Of Shit” – Ralph Gilles to Donald Trump Thu, 01 Nov 2012 19:55:57 +0000

Pursuant to our continued discrediting of the “Jeeps built in China” lie, Donald Trump took to Twitter to further propagate that falsehood. And the Donald ended up getting a virtual earful from Ralph Gilles, head of Chrysler’s SRT Division.

The Trump tweet that launched a thousand shits reads as such

Obama is a terrible negotiator. He bails out Chrysler and now Chrysler wants to send all Jeep manufacturing to China–and will!

Gilles took a direct and concise course of action, one that may even qualify him for a Farley Award. Now, if I can find an auto exec willing to rebut a silly question from a journalist inquiring why their new product’s rear sway bar isn’t 2mm thicker, I will die a happy man.

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QOTD: PSA, Renault Cars Lack “Ambition” Sun, 21 Oct 2012 19:44:21 +0000

“When you do everything right but too late, you do it all wrong. Before reaching a dead end, PSA decided to forge a partnership with a manufacturer [General Motors] that I don’t consider to be among the industry’s leaders of the pack. Overall, I think there is a lack of ambition [when it comes to product] from the French manufacturers.”

-Thierry Morin, former CEO of Valeo

Given how much love there is in certain sections of TTAC for PSA products – the Citroen C6, for example – this quote seems like a dagger in the heart for some readers. I profess a profound affection for the C6, the DS range and even newer Peugeots like the 208 and 508. Renault’s lineup, particularly the Renaultsport cars, are undeniably enticing and I one day hope to be the world’s preeminent scholar of Dacia’s impact on the auto industry.

Viewed through a North American lens (i.e. the grass is greener on the Continent), I can’t say I find French cars to lack ambition. On the contrary, I find their styling and packing quite bold and innovative. I dare anyone not to look at the C6 above and be dumbstruck by its elegance. But there’s the undeniable fact that French cars are non-entities in virtually every market save for France and Iran (where Peugeot is a big player).

Morin cites the lack of powerful engines as a reason for the decline of French cars and their inability to maintain a premium position, but French cars have never been about big power. The Renaultsport lineup is consistently praised by the enthusiast press, and is popular enough that when Renault’s lineup was all but eliminated in the UK to make way for Dacia, the Renaultsport cars were spared the executioner’s axe due to their strong sales.

And then, Morin hits on what may be the ultimate reason behind the decline of French cars relative to the competition

Year after year, the gap widens between German and French car manufacturers. Germans, just like the Japanese, always deliver better cars to market. They are really passionate about cars and they are focused on improving everything about their cars from one generation to the next. When you get in an Audi A1, it is exceptionally refined for such a small car and it echoes the premium-ness of the bigger A6 or A8. While German CEOs are real ‘car guys,’ in France, many people thought that being a wise and talented executive was enough to be successful in the automotive business. It proved wrong sometimes. This lack of obsession is the main difference between France and Germany. I think that being too disconnected from the product is a problem.

Stop me if you’ve heard that before.

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Quote Of The Weekend: Heavy Duty Demand Edition Sat, 13 Aug 2011 22:21:11 +0000

In his New York Times comparison of heavy-duty pickup trucks, Ezra Dyer opens with a provocative comparison:

Heavy-Duty pickup trucks are the supercars of the truck world. They have more power than drivers are likely ever to exploit, and bragging rights depend on statistics that are, in practical terms, theoretical.

How does he figure?

While you can’t buy a diesel engine in a mainstream light-duty pickup, heavy-duty pickups now offer propulsion suitable for a tandem-axle dump truck.

I’m not exaggerating. Ford’s 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V-8 packs 400 horsepower and 800 pound-feet of torque; the base engine in a Peterbilt 348 dump truck offers a mere 260 horsepower and 660 pound feet. Does your pickup really need more power than a Peterbilt?

I’m guessing most HD truck owners won’t take kindly to the question, especially coming a scolding Gray Lady. But if you read the full review, you’ll find that Dyer was able to locate at least one contractor willing to admit that he realized he just didn’t need his HD’s overabundance of ability. It goes against the grain of the “bigger, faster, tougher, more” marketing message that has helped make trucks such a huge part of the American market, but is it possible that the tide is turning? Have pickups improved too much? The huge sales of Ecoboost V6-powered F-Series certainly suggests the we may just be moving towards a more pragmatic truck-buying market…

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Quote Of The Day: The DetN Can’t Count Thu, 20 Jan 2011 12:52:25 +0000

“About 13.8 million vehicles were sold in 2010 in China compared with 11.6 million in the United States.”
The Detroit News

Yesterday, we had a short seminar on Chinese new car statistics. Apparently, it was needed. Too bad the Detroit News, Motor City’s hometown newspaper, skipped class. Message to the DetN:  It’s 18 million vehicles. 18,264,700 to be exact.

So where do the 13.8 come from? We know: In 2010, Chinese passenger car sales reached 13.76 million. However, that number excludes “commercial vehicles.” Common mistake. But shouldn’t happen to a Detroit paper.

Dear DetN: If you don’t count the Chinese “commercial vehicles”, then you can’t count the U.S. “trucks” either. You really don’t want to do that.

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Quote Of The Day: Cash For Geezers? Thu, 06 Jan 2011 11:46:25 +0000

Letter to the editor of the New Times by Robert Pankhurst:

“On my drive home yesterday, an advertisement over my car radio told me how much the Cancer Society needed old cars donated to help them fight cancer. Then I remembered watching the Youtube video where cars were turned in for the government program called “Cash for Clunkers.”

They took in cars, some better than mine, and they poured sodium silicate, made from sand and lye, down the carburetor while the car was running. The cars stopped and will never run again. The cars were finally crushed. The plan was to help the failing auto industry because we would now have to build 500,000 new cars.

As I pulled into the driveway, I was thinking, “Is this the same government that I want to take care of my healthcare in my old age?” It all became quite clear this morning when I read the article in the morning paper about the government plan to pay doctors to have a yearly “end of life discussion” with their patients.”

Some people identify with their cars far too much …

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Quote Of The Day: Chry The Beloved Automaker Edition Thu, 14 Jan 2010 00:55:23 +0000 Sympathy for the devil? (

Chrysler may file a suit challenging the congressionally mandated dealer cull arbitration, reveals CEO Sergio Marchionne to Automotive News [sub].Why? Because it’s just not fair that dealers pressured congress to give them a fair shake. Wounded by the arbitrary backlash against his arbitrary cull, Marchionne threw his head back and cried unto the heavens:

Ask me what fairness is involved in all this. Why doesn’t anyone ask what’s fair to Chrysler?

Can’t Chrysler just catch a break? Besides the $14b in TARP money, the re-writing of bankruptcy law to secure it the best possible deal at the expense of “secured” lenders, the $1.5b rescue of its finance arm and unwarranted endorsements from government officials, Chrysler hasn’t received so much as a kind word from anyone. Worse still, Marchionne only got the whole re-financed, re-organized company for no money.

When Lord? When is it going to be Sergio’s time?

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Quote Of The Day: Ed Whitacre’s Big Lie Edition Mon, 11 Jan 2010 17:38:51 +0000 Yuk it up... (courtesy:DetNews)

It’s a bit early in the day to be crowning a QOTD, especially considering there are sure to be plenty of juicy quotes coming out of the NAIAS today. Still, this one deserves a special place at TTAC for the sheer bold-faced shamelessness of its untruth.

I think (the government bailout was) well placed, and I think they’ll make a lot of money. GM’s on its way back. We’ll be back. The government’s made a good investment. We appreciate their support. We’re glad they’re here.

So said GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre to reporters from the Detroit News today. As I recently explained in an op-ed in the NY Times, unless GM’s market cap soars to its highest level in history (a pipe dream if ever there was one) the taxpayer losses on the GM “investment” will be in the billions. Even the government estimates losses on the GM and Chrysler bailouts to reach $30b. Whitacre surely meant that a GM IPO will generate some kind of money for the Treasury’s 60 percent stake in GM, but the way it came out makes it sound like the bailout will be a positive investment for the government. That’s an impression that GM desperately needs to foster in order to have a chance at emerging from government control. Too bad it’s just an old-fashioned fib.

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Quote Of The Day: The Teflon Automaker Edition Tue, 05 Jan 2010 00:48:45 +0000 Please do not attempt to perform a Google Image search for "Asian Glory" (

As soon as the vessel embarks, all risks related to the vessel are the responsibility of the distributor. All payments for the cars have been made, while the cars are also insured.

From a Hyundai statement to Bloomberg on the fate of 2,388 Hyundai and Kia vehicles aboard the Asian Glory, which was hijacked by Somali pirates en route to the Middle East.

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Quote Of The Day: Help Wanted Edition Wed, 16 Dec 2009 01:37:53 +0000 Who wants to be a millionaire? (Courtesy: Getty Images)

A person that’s a motivating, inspirational leader that’s familiar with big companies — manufacturing or industrial — would be helpful… We can’t pay people a whole lot of money here

Ed Whitacre offers up the opportunity of a lifetime [via Automotive News [sub]] : a chance to lead General Motors to victory over decades of inertia and sclerosis in a brutal market for a million bucks (if Feinberg likes you). Candidates need not have CEO experience or strong auto credentials, although Whitacre warns that the job takes him 14 hours a day, 5½ or six days a week. And when he does manage to steal away for a relaxing Sunday of rattlesnake extermination, his phone constantly rings. Plus, the RenCen is a freaking maze, y’know?

I’ve had to stop a couple of times and ask guards or people, “Where am I?”

Of course Whitacre means it literally, but the metaphor fits like a Bruno Magli. Whitacre admits to “coming up one, maybe two days a week,” back when he was just Chairman of the Board. Now that he’s living in the RenCen, there’s still a whole lot of learning going on. AN [sub] paints the picture:

“I’m not a car guy,” Whitacre said. “I think we all have to be educated on the board.”

At one point, after a reporter asked about the future of electric vehicles, Whitacre explained that he personally liked them, but he didn’t know enough to make projections. And he said he was just learning automotive terminology, such as “segment.”

But Whitacre is driving some GM vehicles and telling the company’s product development leaders some of what he thinks, he said.

Just learning the term “segment”? Are we talking before, or after Fritz left?

Two of Whitacre’s top priorities are increasing sales and market share, but he’d also like to keep incentives low. When asked about the challenge of doing both, Whitacre said: “I don’t know, but I think we’ll figure it out. We’re all working on that.”

Good thing everybody’s hurrying! ;-)

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