By on June 13, 2016

Cash in Glovebox

In a business that hocks products worth tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars, you’d hope the professionals reviewing those products would provide facts and honest, valuable personal opinions to readers.

Those hopes have never fully panned out in the automotive industry, as we learned most recently with CleanMPG’s Wayne Gerdes a few months ago and a scathing story that detailed an OEM paying a social media influencer $300,000 for a few photos.

But how pervasive is the payola problem in automotive journalism? And do you even care?

That, Mercedes proclaims turbochargers are the future, and woke bae BMW wants to build your safe space … after the break!

Pay up, sucka!

As do most things that are wrong in the automotive industry, the latest revelation that nobody’s publicly talking about began in the Automotive Industry group last week.

Spy-shot legend Brenda Priddy had this to say:

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 7.21.34 AM

I just had an interesting chat with an editor/writer/blogger that casually mentioned that he’s received “several hundred dollars” from car companies when he attends car launches. Is this the new norm for certain categories of journalists in this industry? Thoughts?

The ensuing comment thread includes some major heavy hitters in the automotive industry proclaiming their surprise or distaste — but not necessarily their disgust. As expected, no names are named, and no articles have been written. The automotive industry, including complicit journalists who believe outing an OEM for paying journalists will ruin their own careers, will continue to sweep the payola problem under the rug like a well-oiled Second on a curling team.

And it isn’t like the public is up in arms about it either, so why bother telling the truth, right?

Well, we believe in the truth. TTAC writers accept trips, which includes accommodation, meals, and other liquid benefits associated with those trips — but we will never accept cash to line our pockets.

If you know someone who has, you have our undivided attention.

Mercedes powertrain engineer: naturally aspirated engines are dead

In an interview with CarAdvice, Daimler’s head of powertrains, Bernhard Heil, said the writing’s on the wall for naturally aspirated engines.

“I personally believe that [the naturally aspirated engine] is a done thing.” Heil told CarAdvice at last week’s Mercedes-Benz technology day in Stuttgart.

With ever stringent fuel-economy regulations but a need for more power, turbocharged four-cylinder engines are the future — whether we like it or not.

“If you’re talking about 200kw for a [2.0-litre] four-cylinder engine, you will end up in a situation that you will need a V8 4.0L naturally-aspirated engine – and you will never end up in real-life fuel economy with a V8 offering comparable numbers to a four-cylinder,” he said.

The future will be a dull place to live.

BMW wants to know how your day is going because it cares, baby

As technology companies continue to push the boundaries of what was once thought possible with artificial intelligence, BMW is looking to put those advancements into action by building cars that can discern how you feel.

“Just imagine you get into your car and it recognizes straight away what mood you’re in, probably quicker than your spouse,” BMW CEO Harald Krüger said to Automotive News.

As BMW looks into the future, it believes mobility will be “tailor-made for all our customers’ individual needs,” he continued.

I don’t need a car to adjust transmission shift ferocity dependant on my mood, BMW, but you could make seat- and mirror-position memory standard on all your cars. That would be greaaaat. Thanks guy.

[Image Source: DailyTurismo]

Mark Stevenson is the managing editor of The Truth About Cars. He is easily swayed into buying vehicles from brands that no longer exist. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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33 Comments on “News Round-up: Auto Payola Continues, Naturally Aspirated Engines Are Dead, and BMW Is Getting in Touch with Your Feelings...”


  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I personally was hoping that the payouts for a good review had been put to rest a decade ago however I guess I was just being optimistic. If an OEM car sucks it just sucks. HOwever I guess automotive journalistic integrity is an oxymoron. I have a good relationship with one of the Enterprise rental car places here in North FL and when I rent the manager always ask what do I think and should he replace the said vehicle. I always tell the complete truth even if said vehicle may have a place in my automotive heart. I dont get discounts and I dont get breaks.
    Alot of folks depend on the mags and blogs to guide them in their automotive buying process. Its a damn shame that they have to take everything with a grain of salt. I think what alot of media dont understand is that several people who buy cars only want to pick out the color and some options. THey dont take the time to see how it drives and what some of its shortcoming are and they depend on the media or uncle Buck to tell them what to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Payola is so efficient now that there are no longer any bad cars. William Jeanes was serious about cleaning up Car and Driver. His was not a long tenure as editor in chief.

  • avatar
    raph

    I wonder how accurate the Mercedes powertrain engineer is? I’m sure N/A specialty products will live on since there is a market for that where people will pay a premium for it but he is probably spot on for the average commuter car. Then again isn’t Elon Musk supposed to have saved us from the scourge and tyranny of dino-juice by then having rendered the internal Combustion engine obsolete by the time the lights go on at the gigafactory?

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    Corruption in auto journalism is not a problem for people actually buying new cars, the new cars they are buying are so much better than the 15 year old ones they are getting rid of that the review can’t be anything but true.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Well, kudos for two “Office Space” references in one morning. As for fuel economy being impossible anything other than turbo four cylinders, I say bull. A turbo four can post great EPA numbers, but dip your foot into the pool and your mileage sinks like a stone. I have a best of 32.7 MPG with a 6.2 litre V8. Too bad we can’t post photos here. Yes, that was with a light foot, but a light foot is the only way you can get rated mileage out of a pressurized four.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      +1

      During my recent Mustang EB rental, after a day of putting my foot in it (some spirited driving mixed with a fair amount of steady-state cruising and getting somewhere around 17 mpg (according to the dash display), I reset it and leaving the transmission in D (as opposed to S). I wanted to see the much-vaunted great mileage of the EB engine. I soft-footed it for a day and a half and all I got for my effort was 21.8 mpg. The worst part was the dull-as-dishwater quality of the experience. My wife said “this engine sucks”. I agree.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      What you are saying is that a lightly driven non-turbo can match a turbo that’s not driven economically.
      In other words, the pedal on the right controls the amount of fuel you use. No kidding.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Im into month 8, with a 15 EB Mustang. 90 percent of my driving is done under 80 KPH {50 Mph}. No , the Mustang does not deliver incredible mileage. The 2015 is a lot less thirsty than the 08 4 litre, that it replaced. I dumped my 14 , 4 cyl , Impala at the same time. Great on gas ,but wouldn’t get out of its own way .
        The EB ? No ,shockingly, 4 cylinders ,can’t deliver the rumble of a V8. Yes , the EB Mustang , has all the power , and driving dynamics i want , or need.

        Turbos have been around for a long time, and IMHO , they deliver a great compromise , between power and fuel efficiency .

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        No kidding. I have no trouble whatsoever meeting or exceeding the sticker in any vehicle with downsized/boosted engines. I’ve said it before; any time I encounter someone who complains about their fuel economy, it takes 4 seconds of a ride-along for me to understand why. Just because your tires aren’t squealing from every stop doesn’t mean your “stomp on the gas until you stomp on the brake” driving style is “gentle.”

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Every time my wife drives my C-Max, it’s fuel economy read out always drops precipitously. I have no idea how she’s averaging over 20 MPG in the city with her MkT.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Off topic, but I thought I read your employment problems were solved. Congrats if this is the case.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            They are solved. I started a new job a few weeks ago. So far so good. My wife starts her new job today, as she was laid off as well. 2016 can suck my balls.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Gahdayum both of you within a few months of one another! Think of the odds on that one.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            Off topic ….but excellent news, bbball40dtw…: }}….!

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I had similar thoughts on 2015, although this is the time to embrace the Year of the Monkey.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Thanks Mikey and 28. I guess Corey too…haha.

            I took a job that will be better in the long term but pays a little bit less. The upside is that I don’t have to pay for health, dental, or vision insurance, I was able to negotiate for a lot of vacation time and quarterly bonuses, and the job is a mile from my daughter’s daycare.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I was supportive last week, so all my supportive is used up for approximately another week. :D

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That sounds like a win.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Overall it is. I just have to focus on what’s important and simplify my life. Being unemployed was a good reminder of that. It made me mad that we had been spending money on ridiculous $hit for years.

  • avatar
    MrKiwi

    “BMW, but you could make seat- and mirror-position memory standard on all your cars”.

    How about just starting with power seats standard? I’m configuring the 320i on their web site as I type, and a $34 thousand dollar vehicle, in 2016, makes power seats a $995 option. A rear view camera is part of another $950 package.

    Yeah, not buying it, BMW. (Literally.)

  • avatar
    ajla

    I personally prefer the hybrid V6/V8 solution over using forced induction.

    I’m hoping Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and GM keep up development on their larger-displacement hybrids.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The cost savings of little turbo 4s is too much to ignore. Best we can hope for at this point is some bleeding over of alternative cylinder configurations seen in motorcycles… crossplane I4 (which sounds like a V8), V4 (which can sound like a V8), and inline 3s (which can sound like 6 cylinder engines).

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      ajla, I agree with you on that. IMO I think that in about 10 years you will see a v6 hybrid Camry get about 40mpg overall. IT is going to take some work but it will happen. I much prefer this over the alternative of 4cyl turbos

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    Just for the record, my 1992 400S Mercedes had memory for seats, mirrors, steering wheel and the interior mirror as well. it was a $94k in 1992!!!!

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    We could help make turbos not-dull by giving them all 1980’s style “insano-lag and power that hits like a ton of bricks at 5k RPM” tuning.

    It was inferior, but it was still a blast.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “will continue to sweep the payola problem under the rug like a well-oiled Second on a curling team.”

    Please translate to American! I’m fluent in Swiffer and also croquet.

    Also, “ensuring comment thread” think ya mean ensuing there.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Stupid me, I thought the blatant bribing went out with giving testers “ringers”. Next thing that will happen is GM delivering a test car that has already been Trifecta tuned!

  • avatar
    mikey

    Payola, bribing ,kick backs, outright corruption happens everyday. Just about every industry, and all levels of governments are riddled with it.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Mark…Yes ….It “should ” …be. I guess that’s why , we read TTAC….eh ?

  • avatar
    stuki

    Unless things have changed dramatically over the past few years, gas burning experimental hypermiling streamliners still use NA engines. Very narrowly tuned and geared specifically to be in the right load and rpm range for sure; but with ever more gears available from ever more efficient and quick shifting transmissions/cvts in production cars, turbos may loose even some of their EPA superiority.

    The main thing turbos do in contemporary cars, is introduce an additional degree of freedom wrt tuning. So that EPA type tests can be gamed easier, without the end user having to use his gear box for when he needs more acceleration. For any X hp, an optimized NA engine can be designed to deliver that X at least as efficiently as a turbo. It may still be true that for the spread of power buyers desire, a modern turbo can be made more efficient than an NA. But that difference is slight. And noone cares much, because the EPA’s tests are so ridiculously narrow, myopic and gameable, and gaming those is here all the effort is being expended.

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