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

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

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

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

John McElroy

Hi John,

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


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

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

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

John McElroy


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

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

John McElroy

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

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

John McElroy

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

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

John McElroy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John McElroy

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

John McElroy

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

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

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


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

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

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

John McElroy

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

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

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

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

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

Connor Muldoon

Thanks for your feedback I could not agree more.

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

John McElroy

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

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

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

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

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

John McElroy

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

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

Excellent panel, excellent show. Highlight of my TV week.

Thanks again!

In talking about Mazda I'd like to make a couple of clarifications. Mazda does have a hybrid: the Japanese-market Axela (Mazda3) is sold with a hybrid system with the new PE-VP 2.0 L engine (the 97 hp PE-VPH version). Practically all the new Skyactive engines (except the JDM Roadster) have Mazda's i-Stop system (engines suffixed VPS, DPTS or VPTS), and a few have the i-ELOOP regenerative braking system (VPR or DPTR). Mazda also has a medium pickup outside the US — the Mazda BT-50 is built in the same AutoAlliance Thailand plant as most Ford Rangers. Just as GM is continuing their partnership with Isuzu for global pickups (Colorado/S10 and D-Max respectively), the BT-50 and Ranger are the same truck aside from the styling. Should Ford bring the next-gen Ranger to the US, Mazda could easily re-introduce the B-series, but maybe they're concerned they could only sell 15,000 in 2003 v. 209,000 Rangers. My question for Mazda (and Toyota, given that they already have a new Yaris sedan which has been selling in Asian markets as the Vios since 2013, alongside a new, larger Yaris hatch introduced in 2014), WTH is Toyota selling the new Mazda2 as the Scion/Yaris iA, instead of Mazda?


Thanks for the great information! We will publish your letter in the Viewer Mail section of our website so that others may be equally informed.

John McElroy

Hello, I have emailed you over the years about different episodes, on April 28th you re-aired "Advanced Propulsion Systems"and I found this episode so interesting. I Tivo your show every Sunday and I showed this episode to several people. Over the past several weeks I have been contacted by friends and even people I don't know asking where they can watch Show 2013? So many people are blown away by this episode and where internal combustion technology is heading.  As always keep up the great work! Thanks  Kelly O'Neil.....(Still need to make another episode about the great car scenes from movies or TV shows!)

Thanks for your interest. We kind of pride ourselves on presenting information about the automotive industry that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.

John McElroy

Hi John,
In evaluating cars I don't know how much time you spend playing with the media interface.  The automotive press covers some of the frustrations customers are having.  My most recent experience tells me that it is not getting better.  
I own a Jeep product with Uconnect and it hangs up and requires phone and ignition cycles on some occasions.  I have lived through Sync one and My Ford touch.  Shame on me but I thought their moving to the Black Berry platform for Sync 3 cured the problems.  The automotive press seemed to be echoing the PR positions from Ford I guess.   Anyway I recently purchased a 16 F 150 with S-3 and I have found it to be just as aggravating and "glitchy" as past versions.  And I am fairly up on this stuff.  I think there is a story here that needs to be covered  that Manufacturers need to get the hell out of the way and just use the center stack to replicate the phone.  NO doubling up of proprietary vs. phone interface.  
I enjoy your programming
Glenn Watts

I enjoyed your coverage of the Chevy Bolt.  Thanks a bunch!
I like what I see on the Bolt, but I'm also in line for a Tesla Model 3, and at this point, I'm still leaning toward the Model 3.  Main reasons:  Supercharging, Autopilot, Model 3 looks a lot more exciting, it's slightly-to-significantly faster, and over-the-air updates.  
The other reason is that Elon Musk and Tesla are really adventurous and inspiring.  I have a really strong respect for that, in part because I consider myself an innovative (computer) engineer too.  GM just doesn't particularly inspire me, although the Bolt is a strong step in that direction.
Of course all of the other EVs on the market (other than Tesla) are non-starters - waaaaay too short range, and they all look incredibly dorky!  For styling, Nissan clearly used Nature as a inspiration on the Leaf, specifically, a toad!
Now, what might skew that is if Tesla can't deliver on their promises!  What I see with the Bolt is pretty good, so if Tesla can't deliver, the Bolt is high on my backup-plan list!
On your show, you talked about "why EV in the first place"?  In environmentalism terms, I'm very much a moderate, so in that sense, it's a factor, certainly, but not "everything."  The main thing for me is that internal-combustion engines have become just simply disgusting to me!  They're big and bulky, they're heavy, also maintenance-heavy, they're extremely really complicated, they're noisy, the belch smoke, they have lag when you step on the pedal...  Ideally, I don't want to buy another ICE!  That is partly cultivated by my 2008 Prius frustrating engine-control system running the engine when it clearly does not need to.  Embarrassingly (for Toyota) often, I find myself saying aloud, "shut off the %*#£ engine, you stupid computer!!"  That's gradually gotten to where I just wish it didn't have an engine in the first place...  In my book, ICEs are disgusting throwbacks from the 19th-century, and I'm totally over them!

Written by Gary's dancing thumbs

Thanks for your letter, it’s fun and interesting to read. We’re going to publish it in the Viewer Mail section of our website so others can enjoy it too!

John McElroy

Looking at the bolt website does this photo give use a hint the Bolt will travel 240 miles per charge?

Oooh. You are good, eagle eye!

Based on this Bolt IP screenshot from Chevrolet, it suggests that a Bolt travelled 78.7 miles using only 18.1 kilowatt hours of battery energy. Since the Bolt will come with a 60 KwH battery, this means it might be able to travel 260 miles on a single charge, probably under ideal conditions. Maybe GM is talking only about “over 200 miles” as a precaution from Bolts travelling in cold weather.

Thanks for sending!

Hi John,

How does this happen as Tesla is hiring illegal immigrants to build their cars and are paying them just $5 per hour yet Tesla loses thousands of dollars on the sale of each car as it makes you wonder what the true price a Tesla should be.

Mike Ma
The problem isn't with Tesla, it's with a visa system in the U.S. that is not monitored and is open to abuse.

John McElroy


3 generations of my family (myself, my Son and my Father in Law) will be passing through Detroit for a day in late August.

I love factory tours, especially those where you really get to see what is being done, like the Budweiser tour in St. Louis and less those that are really a brand promoting static tour, like the Coca Cola “factory” tour in Atlanta. I saw more about the production of Cola watching my neighbour’s SodaStream machine than I did after 4 hours there:-)

What would you say would be THE one our two or three best stops for me?

I will be driving from Chicago and on up into Canada heading east so it does NOT have to be in Detroit proper if a better plant tour is along the way to not too much of a detour.

I listen to all of your podcasts and feel that your passion and enthusiasm for the industry is exactly what I would like to tap for this.

What are your thoughts on the Rouge Plant tour and the Henry Ford in General?

Thank you very much in advance for you help on this journey.



The Ford Rouge Plant and the Henry Ford are must-see destinations. The Rouge plant tour is the only automotive assembly plant tour offered in the Detroit area. You can get tickets at the Henry Ford.

The Henry Ford, both the museum and Greenfield Village, are fantastic. But we wouldn’t recommend trying to do all three (Rouge plant, museum, Village) in one day. There’s just too much to see.

Also, keep August 20th in mind. That’s the official date of the Woodward Dream Cruise, the most amazing car event in the world, with about one million attendees and tens of thousands of classic cars. That date may fall earlier than your trip, but if you can make it you’ll love it.

Why is it that there is so much design work put into a vehicle's normal or lower rear brake lights to create unique looks and cool lighting signatures, and practically all center high mount stop lights (CHMSLs) are just the same old boring horizontal bar of lights? Are CHMSLs a potential design differentiator that automakers have overlooked, or is their consistent appearance across all vehicles a result of the regulation(s) that require them?


CHMSLs, being a mandated safety feature, must meet exacting specifications. There’s a little bit of wiggle room, but it must be mounted center laterally on the rear of a vehicle. Take a look at the rear-end of the first-gen Ford Transit Connect sold in the US market. You’ll see a CHMSL mounted on the roof, centered laterally. But on the left-side rear door you’ll also see a metal plate covering where the original European-spec CHMSL was located. NHTSA did not like the Euro-spec CHMSL location and ordered Ford to move it to a central location.

When CHMSLs first came out in the mid-1980s NHTSA believed they would reduce rear-end collisions by half. Today, that reduction is estimated at less than 5%.

Thank you for your thoughtful reply (See 5/6/16). Keep up the good work John. I love your reporting and the TV shows.
You are suggesting that the automakers have a reliable history in predicting the next big thing… You know better than I the long list of technologies they assumed were supposed to be the next big thing. I suggest the directors are reacting defensively in the best interests of their companies – so they aren’t left behind their marketplace competitors and forced to adopt someone else’s patents. In addition, they are as vulnerable to the hype from Silicon Valley as any of us have been for the last forty plus years of failed dreams. The tech and automobile graveyard is full of previously assumed big things. They are likely also motivated to protect their company’s high tech and passenger safety image.
As for saving all those souls… It is a too convenient and overly simplified claim to make that all those lives and injuries will be saved simply by deploying this technology. It remains to be seen how many will be injured or die by the failures and limitations of autonomous technology. Roadway conditions such as ice, snow, rain, equipment failures, potholes, construction projects, tire blowouts, failed train signals, and failed red light signals will challenge autonomous car systems as they do real people.
Today I just returned from my 500 mile monthly road trip to my Florida home using the latest version of Google maps on my iPhone 6. Although Google maps is hands down better than any other navigation software program it is chock full of errors, hangs, restarts, and audio issues. In addition it baffles me how the program will save me 3 minutes time driving me 25 miles out of my way. Amazing that I have to micromanage a program built by a programmer twice my IQ and half my age!
Kevin Gary

I enjoyed hearing about the “pretty parts” of the Honda Ridgeline, but kept waiting to learn about the power plant and drivetrain.

Sorry, we thought we had made it clear in the show that the Ridgeline is based on the same platform as the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX. It uses the same 3.5 l V-6 and 6-speed automatic. It also borrows the same AWD system used in the SUVs. We felt it was more useful to focus on the new features in the Ridgeline rather than talk about carry-over components.

Hi Guys,
You are so good at digging through the data, I have a challenge for you.  After hearing from you that car color choices are recently getting brighter, and moving away from white/black/silver to red, I had a thought:
Historically, is there a correlation between car color choice and economic prosperity?  Do the colors get brighter with the financial outlook and vise versa?
This seems like it's right up your alley, in terms of interesting things going on in the industry that no one else thought of.  Being an auto industry engineer, and enthusiast, I really enjoy your educational programs!  Keep up the great work!
Mike M.

There is anecdotal evidence that colors are related to economic wellbeing, with brighter colors doing better in boom times and darker colors prevailing in recessions. But remember, it typically takes nearly 3 years to get a new color on a car. The physical testing and validation alone takes 18 months. A recession can be ending, or just getting going, as a new color hits the market. So it’s not a direct correlation.

The most amazing thing is that white, black and silver (or grey) are the most popular colors in the world. It didn’t used to be this way. Through the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s there were distinct geographic preferences and a much greater variety of colors. Then, starting in the mid-1980s, the white, black, silver phenomenon started appearing in Europe and then spread to the rest of the world.

John McElroy

Thanks for the comments on the shows!

John, I can't believe you're all still swallowing Honda's line that the Ridgeline is a "midsize truck". Under no reasonable measure is the new Ridgeline midsize. The old small truck category was originally created under the Japanese "small car" licence category, also called "4 Number" because of the licence plates (Normal cars are "1 Number"). That category was defined by a maximum width less than 1700 mm, length less than 4700 mm, height less than 2000 mm. Now, longer beds, crew cabs, extended cabs, off-road versions, and the demands of the American, Brazilian and Thai markets have pushed those dimensions beyond the original restrictions (although the base rwd versions of many Chinese pickups, based on obsolete Japanese models, are still 1690 mm wide), so that shorter, narrower low-cab-forward trucks have supplanted traditional pickups in Japan. However, even as new generation midsize trucks have switched to wider, commonized rwd/4wd body designs, all except the 76.5" wide Amarok are still under 75" wide. As body lengths, wheelbase, payload and bed lengths can vary widely even within one model line, that body width is the only way to determine whether a truck is midsize, or just a fullsize truck with a short bed. So where does the Ridgeline fall?

Now, if you go by length, and length alone, then the Ridgeline falls within the midsize range, but then, so do the heavy De Soto AS250, the old Avalanche, the Nissan Titan, and Dodge Ram, so you can't judge a midsize pickup by length, or wheelbase, or payload. After all base versions of the S10 (Colorado outside the Americas) have a 1-ton payload, and even the diesel engined awd version of the smaller Cherokee-based Fiat Toro can carry over a ton. With all that in-model variation, pickups can only be classified by body width, and on that measure, the new Ridgeline is a fullsize truck. That's how they can fit a sheet of plywood between the wheelarches, not because Honda has cleverly taken advantage of the unibody design.

Andrew Charles

You make a very good argument and have a tremendous amount of detail here. But I’m not buying it. The clear distinction between midsize and fullsize disappeared years ago. Take a look at a Ford F-350 from the mid-1980’s. You’ll be shocked at how small it looks. Eight inches shorter than a Ridgeline and 1.5 inches narrower!

You can separate different classes of trucks by GVWR, but even that can get blurry depending on how each model is equipped.

What really matters from a sales standpoint is how the public perceives a truck. And the public will definitely perceive the new Ridgeline as a mid-size truck that fits more easily into their garages than any of the other pickups they can buy right now in the U.S. market.

John McElroy

He John, love the daily updates. But to get to my point, as I watched automakers come up with 6, then 8 and now 10 speed automatics, and hear more and more complaints about them (and all of the whiz-bang electronics they're cramming into cars--- but that's another email), I've wondered why the heck they don't just focus on what it is they're trying to approximate by focusing on perfecting / further improving CVT's ??  They're  hardly a new idea and, of course some manufacturers (eg. Subaru) already make a fair number of cars with CVT's that provide impressive mileage.
In the end, isn't an eleventeen speed trani just a CVT wannabe?  

crabby curmudgeon retired engineer in Iowa

I agree, today’s CVTs are the best way to go for many applications. But not all. For pickups and anyone who tows a trailer they’re probably not a good idea. But Nissan has shown you can have big CUVs (Murano, Pathfiinder) with 3.5 l V-6s bolted to a CVT and it works just fine.

The industry took a long time to perfect the CVT. I drove my first prototype CVT from Borg Warner circa 1982. The history of this transmission is littered with massive warranty claims. And enthusiasts hate them. The transmission has a bit of a bad rap and people are wary of them. In fact, Nissan (which sells more CVTs than anyone else) doesn’t even call it a CVT, they call it the Xtronic.

John McElroy


I thought I might pass on some friendly advice on Japanese pronunciation (being married to a Japanese for over 30 years)

It is an essentially unaccented language. So each syllable has the same length, pitch, and volume. In English, a common stress pattern is to  put a pronounced accent on the next to last syllable. For example,  'geoGRAPHic, geoLOGic, teleVIsion, reveLAtion'. It sounds very discordant to Japanese when this stress pattern is used on Japanese words. The Japanese would say each with equal weight. So, to use the English above as examples, 'ge-o-graf-ic, ge-o-log-ic, te-le-vi-shun, re-ve-la-shun'. It sounds monotone and flat.

So, for example, not 'To YO ta', but 'to-yo-ta'.


Tim Beaumont
Thank you Tim Beaumont (not BEAUmont)!


Having Don Panoz on AAH, made it one of the most exciting episodes ever. I hope you gave him Peter Hofbaur's phone number. Can you imagine a hybrid auto with the Ecomotor's generator/charging system coupled to the Deltawing Technologies' new electric motor(s) and battery storage.  
If you can broker a deal between them, cut me in for a half a percent. 

Bradley G.
Glad you liked the Don Panoz show. And you have a great suggestion, getting Deltawing Technologies together with Ecomotors. We’ll make sure they cut you in!

I very much enjoyed your  broadcast format used from the China Auto Show.  You segmented your interviews rather than using a stationary site and moving guests in and out of the interview area.  Great job of interviewing as usual.  I’m curious about the octane level used in Asia and in particular in China.  I understand the European octane level is higher than in the US.  With so many power plants using four cylinder engines with turbo power assist I would guess the higher octane level will be required.
Jim Adcock
Thanks for the kind notes about our coverage of the Beijing auto show.

China tends to offer RON 92 and 95 gasoline, versus 95 to 98 in Western Europe, and 87 to 94 in the United States.

John, I normally only watch Autoline Daily because I like to keep up, but today I watched Autoline After Hours because you where going to be talking about an electric motor that weighs 50 to 60 lbs. and produces 320 HP. The show was fantastic as was all the chatter. Don Panoz was most interesting. Hard to believe he's only 81.
I'll be sure to check the schedule for Autoline After Hours from now on.
Thank you so much. 
Tell Jr. To get a partial. He does a great job, but I can't stop looking at his mouth.
Regards, Roy

Glad to hear how much you liked the Autoline After Hours with Don Panoz. That show just keeps getting more popular!

The "After hours" piece from the NY car show discussion sparked a question.

You (and most everyone in your panel) seem to agree that car sharing is a fore gone conclusion. I believe that only in highly congested urban areas will it have any sort of impact. The care and maintenance of the vehicle in between individual Users will become a scheduling nightmare and a bottle-neck for vehicle availability at peak usage hours.

Additionally, and this is a huge one, Manufacturing with regards to an individual component assembly's robustness and quality will drive up the vehicle cost. How many "function cycles" are they designing a seat adjuster switch/motor for now? The same question applies to Mirrors, Upholstery materials, the entire IP?

I don't know about you, but it takes me several tries at it to get all three mirrors, the seat and HVAC adjustments, to get every thing set so that I'm not having to move my body or head around to operate the vehicle safely. And your saying that one car could be used by more than a dozen people in a single day? The Car will not last a year.

Tim Lynch

As reported by Autoline, Ford does have a new 2.0 L diesel coming out in Sept. this year for the European Transit (fullsize) and Transit Custom (midsize) vans, however that's only rated up to 170 PS (168 hp) and replaces the old 2.2 L based on the venerable Mazda RF diesel. Although Ford's press release mentioned EcoBlue diesels rated to 200 PS, that is further engines to use the EcoBlue designation, not necessarily the iron-block 2.0 L. Ford also has a current partnership sharing diesels with PSA, including the PSA 1.4, 1.6, 2.0 and 2.2 diesels for passenger cars and light commercials such as the Transit Connect; the PSA-Ford-Jaguar 3.0 L V6 (which shares some key dimensions with the new 2.0 L); and the afore-mentioned 2.2 L Ford engine in larger commercial vehicles. Although the current Ranger offers the 2.2 L as a base engine in some markets (recently upgraded to 160 PS), the standard engine is the larger 5-cylinder 3.2 L which competes directly with GM's 2.8 L Duramax. As this engine is offered in the US-market Transit with similar power to the Colorado's Duramax (note that both are 12-16 hp down on the Euro4 versions), I would expect that engine to be offered in the new Ranger if Ford offers a diesel in the US. Note though that GM is phasing out the standard 2.8 L Duramax in overseas markets and replacing it with a new generation of the smaller 2.5 L version that now has the same power and torque, just as Nissan,  Mitsubishi and Isuzu are using smaller low-speed diesels for their midsize pickups (Toyota is still a generation behind with it's new 2.8 L  and 2.4 L diesels only now matching the obsolete versions of GM's Duramax), so it's possible that Ford may eventually replace the current 3.2 L applications with a smaller engine as well (not necessarily the new 2.0 L). On the flip side GM already offers higher output versions of the 2.8 L with more power than the new 2.5 L, and VW is switching from their biturbo 2.0 L to the technically simpler 3.0 L V6 diesel that offers up to 221 hp and 406 lb-ft for their new midsize Amarok pickup, so the medium Ford and GM diesels (currently rated up to 197 hp and 347 lb-ft or 369 lb-ft respectively) may yet be upgraded to offer increased power, especially so for GM as the 2.8 is merely a bored and stroked version of the 2.5. If so the 2.8 could eventually match the power and torque of the VM 3.0 V6 originally developed (but never put into production) for European CTS models, and the  VM 3.0 L V6 in the Ram.*

Andrew Charles

* At the time VM was a JV between GM and Penske, GM having acquired Daimler's share in 2007. Fiat acquired Penske's share in 2011, and GM's in 2013. The V6 used in the Ram is an upgraded version of an older engine which was already in production. The newer V6 VM developed for GM but never produced has been licensed to the Chinese engine company which builds most VM 4-cylinder engines for the Chinese market (surprisingly an Isuzu JV is now producing them as well), but doesn't seem to have been supplied to any customers.


Elon Musk has a huge problem with the Model 3: battery technology has not advanced at all in the past 2 years.

Mr. Musk got plenty of financial help from various government subsidies with the Giga Factory - but Panasonic had plenty of Japanese subsidies first.  There was no low-hanging fruit available to drive the price down: countless $ Billions had already been spent worldwide advancing the technology.  Those expecting computer chip gains (doubled performance at half the price every 24 months) will soon realize that Moore's Law never applied to batteries.

The first year's production of Model 3s will be fully-loaded $60K+ models - the "$35K base model" will be a rare unicorn.

But even the fully loaded Model 3 will be half the price of a typical Model S or X being made today - $60K in revenue has been taken out but certainly not $60K in cost.

I would love to hear Gary's take on how Tesla will slash the per-unit cost of a vehicle while maintaining over 200 mile range with the battery.

Also, how long will the Model S be the "it car"?  It is no longer a fresh model and no hint of a replacement has surfaced.  Will the S reach its sell-by date before the 3 gets launched?



After car companies have spent a fortune on Super Bowl ads & auto shows, Tesla has managed to suck ALL the air out of the industry without spending a dime.

Won't these 325,000+ "reservations" put a damper on sales of entry level luxury cars- A4, BMW3, etc as people wait & wait?

John, how about a AAH show just about Tesla?  Sure, they still may not make it, but it's got to be the auto story of this decade.



In Autoline Daily 1852, you showed a map of China w/ the Chinese flag at around 4:35.  The image also included the island of Taiwan.  Please note that although Communist China claims Taiwan to be its territory, in actuality it is not ruled by China.  Taiwan is a democracy which recently elected its first female president.  Taiwanese citizens can enter the U.S. visa-exampt while Chinese passport holders cannot.  Politics aside, I highly doubt that Ford China included the numbers from Taiwan when reporting on the number of young car buyers.  The Taiwanese car market is mature and does not have the high growth that China has.  It’s highly unlikely that the young buyers in Taiwan account for a large proportion of the market like in China.

Thanks for listening and keep up the good work.


Jake Pond


Google to "partner" with FCA  resulting with Google Chrysler Automobiles with your friend John Krafcik as CEO by 2018? 

Hemi powered Autonomous vehicles- WAY COOL


Just thinking out loud, 

Brad Wandrey


I am very skeptical about self driving cars. We all seem to be getting just a little too carried away with a far-fetched, over promised, overhyped, pie-in-the-sky Jetsons dream advanced by some technology companies eager to create disturbances in the market for their own profit and fame. I'm not impressed by the people that build machines and software unsecured from cyber security threats where ONE wrong mouse click can destroy your computer's data and operating system.

I cannot believe that self driving cars will improve transportation performance of our automotive based transportation system consistent with our prudent culture of balancing cost, risk, and benefit. Although limited systems are currently deployed for steering, braking, and adaptive cruise control I do not believe it would be prudent to design the automobile for people to occupy it as a passenger unresponsible for their personal transportation and refusing to participate in the social experience of our automotive transportation system. Just because some zealous software programmer can "make it happen" doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Humans operating automobiles mitigate 100% of the complex working environment of the modern roadway by continuously evaluating, analyzing, deducing, decision-making, and acting on the basis of inputs observed, perceived, and assumed. Inputs include road surfaces, warning and information signs, road construction, temporary lane closures, debris, obstacles, highly dynamic traffic and weather conditions, the effects of foliage, and available traction.

Basic technology.

Just because state-of-the-art technology is available to control The operation of a car does not necessarily mean it's a good idea. Generally the only technology that's available today to control the automobile are systems for steering and thrust control. There are no reasonable expectations that systems are available now or could eventually be developed to account for all the reasoning that human drivers make while operating in traffic. Almost everyone agrees building robots to the cognitive level of a human being is not prudent.


Sometimes I wonder that self driving car technology research started in Silicon Valley because of the inherent entrepreneurial culture to find the next disruptive technology for the sake of it. Growth for growth's sake. Everybody wants to be The next millionaire.


It is especially of concern to consider the infrastructure modification costs required to accommodate the needs and limitations of self driving automobile control systems. Just because they claim thousands of lives could be saved every year does not warrant the use of public funds. We make these compromises and judgments every day in our lives constantly balancing risk and benefit. If eliminating all risk was prudent or affordable we would all be driving at 28 miles an hour just to ensure nobody ever gets hurt; which would come at the expense of productivity and economic growth.

Independent study.

I believe before we can assume anything more about the so-called promises of self driving automobile technology a legitimate study and analysis are needed from an independent source comprised of a team qualified to analyze the social and technological merits, challenges, benefits, and costs. I would not recommend this independent study be funded by venture capitalists from Silicon Valley.

Mixed use system.

I do not look forward to the day where I am surrounded by self driving cars continuously responding to each other via wifi, attempting to mitigate road, environment, and weather conditions, while surrounded by non self driving cars. I suspect traffic flow and throughput will be reduced significantly.

In conclusion.

Driving automobile is a social experience where drivers continuously accommodate each other managing their vehicle while continuously making decisions based on the behavior of everyone around them. Generally the technology is not available at this time to allow machines to join the social experience without being disruptive to social behaviors. If it is ever possible machines could be complex enough to socialize with humans we will have gone too far.

In the meantime I remain unsupportive of fully self driving automobiles, and unwilling to pay for the infrastructure necessary to support the aspirations of Silicon Valley disruptors.

Kevin Gary

I completely understand your skepticism and clearly you’re not the only one who feels this way.

But….your sentiments are not shared in the automotive industry. Almost all automakers and suppliers genuinely believe that autonomous cars are The Next Big Thing. They are investing heavily in this technology. That wouldn’t be happening if they thought this was a technical dead end. Certainly their boards of directors wouldn’t approve of such big expenditures, knowing full well they could be sued for not fulfilling their fiduciary duty if this was just a pie in the sky wild goose chase.

Also, thanks to Wi-Fi and GPS there is no longer a massive public infrastructure needed for autonomous cars to function properly. Google proved that by racking up nearly 2 million test miles on the open road.

And there is one big statistic that is justifying the rush to autonomy: 94% of all accidents are caused by driver error. We don’t mitigate 100% of all driving challenges, we miss out enough that 35,000 people are killed every year in the US while 2.2 million are injured badly enough to go to a hospital.

This technology is still in its infancy and is making astonishing progress. Remember, the first autonomous car ever tested on the open road (from Google) only came out four years ago. In ten years’ time the progress will be jaw dropping. And at that time you’ll see autonomous cars in the showrooms of most big brands.

John McElroy

Hello john, I have a question about hyundai and kia:
Are they separate companies?? They are definitely not because don't they share similar parts, structures etc? and even have a same designer - Peter schreyer? I am confused at the logic. Ya I know they want to be separate (like lexus and toyota or acura and honda) but at least people know those brands as one and sometimes interchange or sometimes have both at the same dealerships. 
anyways..i am similar are they in terms of company, design, people who run them, parts etc. 

Hyundai owns Kia. They are run as separate companies, but share common platforms and components to lower engineering and manufacturing costs. Having said that, they compete fiercely against each other. Every time Kia gains market share, Hyundai groans, and vice versa. They practically hate each other. Peter Shreyer is the head of design overseeing both companies, but each company maintains separate design studios.

The Hyundai-Kia arrangement is somewhat like the Nissan-Renault alliance. They share to each other’s mutual benefit, but try to kick the other’s teeth in out in the marketplace.

Do you think the Mitsubishi mileage inaccuracy/cheating debacle will affect the deployment of the PHEV Outlander in North America ?  I just returned from Japan, where this is a huge evolving political scandal, now with government investigation, and an over 50% loss of Mitsubishi stock value. Some pundits there claim Mitsubishi may not be able to recover this time. 
Do you have any insight ?
Tim Beaumont

The latest scandal at Mitsubishi Motors may be the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back. While it could continue to thrive in the medium truck market, it could be mortally wounded in the light vehicle segment, as well as the Kei car segment in Japan.

While the PHEV Outlander is selling well in Europe, it seems unlikely that Mitsu can repeat that success in the US market, scandal or no scandal.

I just watched the fascinating show 'The EV Era', # 2012
The point was made about the cost of hydrogen fueling stations as a deterrent to adoption of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. What happened to the idea of creating hydrogen from natural gas? I believe Honda had a prototype residential system using existing low pressure natural gas, as supplied to stoves and ovens, and a small amount of 'starter' input household current, to run a device creating electricity for the house and a source of hydrogen for compression to use as vehicle fuel. And, more recently, Honda is combining this with solar power
I am not sure where this project went in terms of feasibility or economics, but couldn't this be scaled to fueling stations ?
Perhaps you could enquire of the panelists?
Tim Beaumont 

Almost all the hydrogen used today is made from natural gas. But it is made in huge refineries because scale has a big impact on the cost to manufacture it.

Having an on-board converter merely adds weight and cost and uses up precious real estate in a car.

Other automakers have experimented with on-board converters using everything from gasoline to borax flakes to make hydrogen, but that seems to be a dead-end.

What do you think of reports on Cadillac's decision to build a small front-wheel drive sedan based on the platform used by Chevrolet's Cruze; it could lure in younger customers as it would most likely have an entry price in the low-20K and top off where the ATS pricing begins at the low-$30K.
Mike Ma @ San Francisco, CA
A B-class car for Cadillac makes a lot of sense. Not so much in the US market, but in other markets where small premium cars sell well.

Cadillac should never price a car in the low $20K area. That would ruin its premium image. GM has Chevrolet for that price range. Ideally, Cadillac should not even price any vehicles under $40K. Let Buick take care of that price range.

Well it looks like Carbon Motors went under. The prototype police car sold at auction for $74k. It is a shame, the vehicle and technology looked really good. I guess it took too long to get to market and Ford got a strangle hold on the market.
Outside of the Fed's using the Suburban I don't see GM getting a decent market share back.
Don B.
No doubt it cost a lot more than that to build that prototype. Who ever bought it got a one-of-a-kind car.

Hi John,

Just watched the video about how Cadillac has tailored their cars for the consumers of China; my 25-year old nephew just bought a Cadillac, he got a Cadillac ELR (used 2015 with 10K on the odometer) for $30K off Ebay.

Mike Ma @ San Francisco, CA


I just read about the agreement between the US Department of Justice and VW, whereby VW will buyback at a maximum of $ 5000 an affected vehicle. I bet that's really going to make someone who purchase a 2014 VW Sportwagen in the mid $ 20,000 very happy. That's extreme sarcasm just in case it's not recognized by any readers.

Sounds like the US government just bailed out VW at the owners expense! No wonder there a massive hate on for politicians in this country. 

Tim Beaumont 

The details that have been released so far are very sketchy. But VW is likely to compensate owners up to $5000, plus buy back their vehicles at fair market value.

John McElroy

just watch u on the china car show, that vw dash reminds me of 1970 ford ltd.
also chery will merge,buy, own fca. it is sad, but they have removed the cash and now it is time for chinese chargers and chrysler 200's.
 hope u had fun. that is what is starting to b missing from auto business, fun.


1 year ago Stanford University trumpeted it's research on the aluminum ion battery. It offered quick charging capabilities and flexible design. Where is that idea now? I would think the auto industry would be jumping all over this.

David Sprowl
No doubt they're still working on this. But we learned a long time ago not to get too excited about battery breakthrough announcements. They happen all the time and it takes a decade before they will ever go into production, if ever.

I REALLY enjoyed the EV show, and can only hope that they continued talking amongst themselves about combinations of technologies. I think someone did an outstanding job of casting on this one.  More shows bringing together those ideas that can find new hope in conversations.

Tim J. Watson

I just watched your show about EVs and not anyone addressed the fuel tax that EVs are not paying that are used to pay for the roads, bridges and other infrastructures when they are charging their cars. The EV drivers should be stopped/fined for driving on roads for which they did not pay a fuel tax on just as a driver with offroad diesel would be.

Dear John,

I do not miss your daily broadcast and weekly After Hours since it is most informative and interesting.

April 15, your news mentioned Jeep Cherokee is the first American car earned Fuel Economy Tax Break from Japanese Government but American cars are not sold well in Japan due to Protectionism Policy.
There are two factors are missing in your news.
(1) Japanese market is one of most open market in the world for automobile importation. You can import any cars (left or right steering) at any age. (US has min. 25 years old policy)
Your car do not have to be new from OEM but you can import as individual as long as you pass safety standard and emission testing.   As to safety standard they are a lot more liberal than the US. European countries sell heck a more cars in Japan than US made since they provide cars which is much more suitable for Japanese road and traffic conditions and all of manufactures provide right side steering wheel which is preferred by consumers.  Only US companies supply left side only cars, less fuel efficient cars. Only FCA supply right side steering cars due to their manufacturing facility in Austria.
Many European cars receives the fuel efficiency tax incentives for many years at much higher rate than Jeep Cherokee just obtained due to more fuel efficient cars they market.
VW sells Polo, Up! which are not marketed in the US. Other models are marketed with smaller engines and naturally more fuel efficient. Audi sells A1, S1. Mercedes sells A class, B class and other models with smaller engines. BMW sells 1 series, M1 and many other models not available in the US.  Caterham sells 660 cc model called Seven-160 (utilizing beefed up Suzuki engines) which meet Japanese K-car class standard with great tax incentives.  Those cars are receiving fuel efficient tax incentive at higher rate. You can see full line of cars from all of French Auto companies, Italian companies as OEM imports in full lines. You will be able to find almost any countries cars which are imported by OEM or individual (new or used)
There are no (0) import duty for cars or trucks to Japan while US still impose 2.5% for cars and 25% for trucks and shut down individual import.
Who is more protective than Japan?  US manufactured Toyota, Honda or Nissan have more US made parts than GM, Ford or FCA.
European manufacturers are much more serious to market their cars in Japan than US suppliers.

(2) Japanese Fuel Efficiency Tax Incentive
There are three level of tax break. Jeep just got lowest incentive (call 50%) while many European cars are obtaining 75% or 100% tax.  US cars can receives higher incentives if they wish to supply more fuel efficient cars.
Tesla, Ford Focus and Fiesta (in limited trims available in the market)  should have such incentive already.  Although, Ford decided to pull out from Japanese Market in few years due to lack of sales.
(3) Japanese Market
Their sales is much smaller then US due to smaller population and lad space.  But they sell 450,00 cars and truck per month and 250,000 units of so called K-car with limited engine size (660cc and 64hp max with limited dimensions).
VW sells more than 10,000 units per month. Mercedes sells 9-10,000 units, BMW 8,000 units, Audi 5,000 units, Volvo 2-3,000 units, Mini 1-2,000 units while Jeep sells 1,000 units as number 1 from US OEM, other FCA 1,500 - 2,000 (mainly Alfa and Fiat) , Ford/Lincoln 6-700 units, GM 2-300 units.
Again, lack of US cars sales in Japan is simply US cars and trucks are fit with market demand by size and fuel efficient.
Japanese gasoline cost is always 2-4 times more expensive than US due to higher tax. And almost all Express Way is toll road, parking cost in large cities are much higher than US and many high structural parking deck do not fit with US cars due to its large size.
Social infrastructure and cost of maintains cars are a lot more expensive just like many European countries.

Do you still call Japanese market has Protectionism policies?

Best regard,

Jin Matsumoto

    Unfortunately it looking like Peter D has been right all along. Check out this article in AUTOMOBILE-  
Is it too late? whose demise will be first, Sergio or Chrysler???  
FCA needs Maximum Bob at the wheel!!! 
Brad Wandrey

Hey John,

Saw your article on Wards Auto - good stuff! Your argument that there are "simply too many" auto shows certainly rang true to me and made me think of this massive car show calendar we have.

Aside from demonstrating the sheer volume of auto shows out there, this festival calendar is actually a solid resource for car enthusiasts. It's complete with dates, locations, descriptions, etc. of all the auto-related events happening year round. (and it updates in real time!)

Have a great week!


I take issue with your buying the Lincoln assertion that the MKZ Hybrid is a no-cost option.
The problem is that, unlike the Fusion Hybrid, the non-hybrid MKZ counterpart is a much more powerful turbo I4 (a V6 in prior years), not an anemic non-turbo I4.
One should call it a no-cost downgrade.
Actually, the MKZ still has a V6. In addition to the hybrid, it offers either a 2.0 liter turbo or a 3.7 liter V6.

The turbo gets an EPA rating of 26 mpg, the V6 is rated at 22 mpg and the hybrid is rated at 40 mpg.
You’re right, the hybrid is substantially slower, but with 54% to 82% better fuel economy it may be a bit harsh to call it a downgrade.


I heard your comments on i8 sales vs Tesla sales, and I have to say I was surprised.  Why?

Well, the two cars are hardly comparable.

You make a very good point about how the Tesla Model S is killing its competition in the large, luxury sedan segment.  (A fact I brought to your attention last year).   However, the i8 does not compete in that segment, so its not fair to compare them.  The Model S is outselling the 7 Series, which BMW should be concerned about.

However, the i8 was conceived as a low volume, high-performance exotic coupe, where the Model S is a large 4-door luxury sedan.

The sales target was never very high for the i8, it was meant as a low volume halo car.  Even at that, sales were so strong that within months of its launch, BMW decided to double the production planned for the second model year in an effort to pare down the waiting list.

I believe that BMW is very happy with the i8 and the i3, and is currently hard at work on the i5.  To me, the most interesting vehicle launch of the next couple of years will be the Tesla Model 3.  If it can be as successful in its segment as the Model S has been in its segment, it may be time to start calling Tesla a real car company.    Second on that list is the Chevy Bolt, to see if buyers embrace it the way they have the Tesla, even though they compete for customers with very different incomes.

Love the show and the work you, Gary and Sean do!

GM Veteran
GM Veteran,

You make great points, most of which are spot on. And thanks for being the first to point out how well Tesla was selling in the luxury segment.

But BMW may not be all that thrilled with sales of the i3 and i8. For the first quarter of 2016 only 762 i3’s were sold in the US market, down 71.6% compared to a year ago. BMW only sold 175 i8’s in the first three months, down 48.7%. Those are big drops.

Now it could be that BMW is allocating production to other markets, but it’s days’ supply of both cars has doubled. It now has 53 days’ supply versus 23 a year ago.

John McElroy

Thanks for answering my question. I was involved in the Volt launch when I worked for Magna and knew an SAE standard was established just didn’t realize Tesla didn’t follow suit. I just wonder how the compatibility of the battery pack is affected by the charging stations.  So assuming the connection was the same will any charger (Tesla included) work for any electric car?
So if I owned a Tesla I would probably want a connector cord that would allow my Tesla to be plugged into all the other charging stations and vise-a-versa if I have a Leaf a connection that would go from my SAE connection to a Tesla charger could be useful.. Humm I think there might be a market there. Elon might not like it though.


I was wrong. Tesla owners can use public charging stations. Each Tesla comes with several adaptors, including a SAE J1277 adaptor that fits all public charging stations. However, I’m not aware of any adaptors that would allow non-Tesla owners to use the Superchargers.

John McElroy

I have a question I posted on last Fridays AD #1833 but not sure you would see it since I didn’t post it until Monday morning.
Anyway I thought a standard connection for all electric cars was established and that all manufacturers would use the same plug type connector. So can a Volt/Bolt/Leaf be plugged into a Tesla charging station? Are Tesla stations free to consumers?  Seems silly for a series of charging sites being created if they only work for a single manufacturer.  


The SAE set the specifications for EV charging plugs with input from all the automakers, including Tesla. Then Tesla came out with its own plug design that nobody else can use. It didn’t want other EV owners to use its free Level 3 Superchargers. But by the same token, Tesla owners cannot use the myriad of public charging stations that are popping up all over the place.

Hi, greetings from Portugal.

After reading about the FBI trying to force Apple to give access to someone's iPhone, I wonder what is your opinion on the same happening in the future with autonomous cars?

Alexandre Moleiro
Hello Portugal!

Excellent question. All automakers, tech companies and suppliers are working on ways to prevent hackers from taking control of a car. But there really is no way to prevent a determined hacker. Even the CIA has been hacked. The best anyone can hope for is to make it so time consuming and expensive that the hacker looks for an easier target. Also, there is new software coming that can detect and ignore unusual commands, such as telling a car to drive off a cliff or disable the brakes. And then it determines where the unusual command came from within the car and blocks it from issuing further commands.

Hello Gentlemen,

Perhaps the panel of experts could help me make an unbiased decision on weather to get a diesel - 2013/14 Porsche Cayenne or 2013/14 MB GL350 or the gasoline version of one of the aforementioned vehicles. Is it likely that there would be a total collapse of the non-commercial diesel market in the US in the near future thus affecting the resale values and support for maintenance etc..., or is it still safe to purchase and own a diesel vehicle for the next 5 to 10 years and still expect decent resale and support from a maintenance point of view.

Thank you.
When we look at diesel sales for BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, the Grand Cherokee and the Cayenne, sales are down 15% for Q1 2016. That’s a big drop. Diesel Cayenne sales are down 73%. Mercedes GL sales with diesels are down 57%. Right now you’re probably better off buying a gasoline engine in either of those vehicles. On the other hand, you might find some screaming deals on the diesel versions.

Seems like every time one of Chevy’s cars wins an IMSA endurance race, there’s something about it on Autoline daily. 
This week, Honda’s HPD division did something no one has done since 1998: Win both the Daytona 24 Hours and the Sebring 12 hours with the same car in the same year. And there’s not a word about it on Autoline Daily?

I enjoyed the latest AAH..
w.r.t why consumers are more supportive of alternative energy:

Doesn't the survey lead most to believe that supporting alternative energy isn't related to gas prices?  Alternative energy isn't just electricity as a motor fuel.  It's also wind, solar, geothermal on the grid.

As far as transportation, when gas prices are high, then the much lower costs of alternative fueled vehicles like PEVs certainly can be a motivator.  
But the prime motivators that I see for competition to oil are emissions, climate change, energy security, oil driven geopolitical entanglements more than the relative price of the fuels.  Even now with gas so cheap, electricity is still generally even cheaper on a per gallon equivalent basis.

Even ExxonMobil acknowledges climate change (see below) and they support (along with other oil companies) a carbon tax.
ExxonMobil is certainly a well resourced, science and finance driven company with every reason to try to doubt climate change, and they don't.  As a matter of fact you can find presentations during the 1980's to their board on the web about their concern about Co2 emissions affecting climate.  As much as I admire Bob Lutz, he's simply wrong on this issue.

"ExxonMobil believes the risk of climate change is clear and warrants action. We also believe that providing the energy sources that fuel modern life, enable progress, lift people out of poverty, and raise living standards are essential and worthwhile endeavors. At the same time we understand the challenges that exist in meeting the world's energy needs while taking steps, at every turn, to safeguard the environment."
In addition, do you think Americans are simply tired of entanglements in the Middle East?  Watch this about the ticking time bomb of Wahhabism, the sect of Islam that seems to be most involved with terrorism (most of the 911 hijackers were Saudi Wahhabis)

and this about the 1400 year old Sunni, Shia divide

I used to see charts from GM on H2FCVs about "taking the car out of the environmental equation".

Alternative fuels, like electricity, not only help with the environment but also with all the other "externalities" associated with oil being our main transportation fuel. 
Sure, I save money on my transportation fuels per month driving an EV.. but my 5 year old Volt is still more quiet (and fun) than my wife's Lexus, I use 100% domestic energy (actually 100% Texas electricity which is even better), I lower emissions, I help the oil driven trade deficit, my car maintenance is lower, the $ I send to my municipal utility helps pay for fireman/streets/city services, I rarely have to go to the gas station since I fuel at home.  I've made up the $10k price premium on gas and maintenance costs already. 
It's just better in every dimension.   The biggest problem right now is the limited selection of PEVs.  
I want a Gen2 Volt-like  53 mile range eREV RWD Convertible with 0-60 in under 6 seconds.. but no one offers it.

I don't find compelling these "stuff the batteries in the trunk Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV, or BMW X5 40e, Fusion/Focus Energi, or Gen2 Prius PHEV with 14 to 22 mile range.   A 74-84 mile range LEAF is not attractive to me.  

Once there are a greater selection of PEVs as there are with conventional vehicles and PHEV AER is over 40miles (ideally 60miles/100km for marketing reasons) or a BEV with 200 to 300 miles (ideally 300miles/500km with 150kW to 200kW Superchargers) then we will see a hockey stick adoption particularly if we have a supply disruption and the only people driving around unfazed are PEV drivers.

The Japanese brands achieved a beachhead in the US market when the Arab oil embargoes occurred.  
I suspect adoption will be slow and steady accelerating around 2025 unless we have a jump condition from a supply disruption.

Hi John,
One has to think when Johan de Nysschen says Cadillac has 11 new cars in development, he's talking about replacement for the ATS, the CTS and then at least 2 CUV with one smaller than the XT5 and then one larger; but that still leaves 6 if you count the just announced canceled CT8.
I guess.. we'll have to tune in to every day to discover what the new models might be over the next couple of years.
With 11 new cars.. it's going to be an exciting time at Cadillac.
Mike Ma @ San Francisco, CA

I enjoy your daily show and have watched consistently for a years now.  The news and opinions on most topics are top class and I respect the industry insight you bring.  However, as a Tesla supporter, I am baffled by your coverage.  While I have consumed my share of Tesla Kool-Aid as an owner and shareholder, I'm also realistic about their challenges (Model X is an overly complex distraction and cash drain; Supercharger and retail networks need expansion).
Consistently negative comments regarding Tesla's future precede reluctant but honest praise for their launched product's success.  Additionally, your choice of guests to discuss Tesla always slant negative.  Anton Wahlman's Seeking Alpha articles are consistently negative, his predictions are wrong and is shorting the stock.  He should not be considered an impartial guest on the subject without mentioning that significant financial tidbit.  Your discussion with Edward Neidermeyer should have been a mention about Tesla challenges, not a paranoid conspiracy theory.  Yes, they need more Superchargers in California.  The battery swap theory was answered correctly by Gary when he said it was a proof of concept AND to gain favor with CARB.  Most auto companies have spent money on CARB projects targeting one metric or another to gain access to the California market or regulatory benefits.
Tesla's accomplishments are changing the industry, per your comment that Tesla is outselling ALL their competition around $100k.  With the launch of Model 3, obvious competitors (BMW 3 series and Audi A4) will be hammered like their 5, 6, 7 and 8 brothers have been by the Model S.  However, the true impact will be felt on the Honda Accord/Toyota Camary/etc. segments a few years after initial launch when regular adoption takes place.   
Finally, you asked if any other automaker could create demand for a product to be sold in two years.  Obviously the answer is no, but another reason is that other automakers have to sell cars today.  Tesla has no competing products at this price point, so no cannibalization of current products (with some pushing off a Model S purchase to save money).
In conclusion, please consider hosting a Tesla owner or a more impartial guest.  I'll be glad to help in any way possible and can find local Michigan owners who may be available.  
Alan Buck

Thanks for your letter and your keen observations. You make a good critic!

Despite our healthy skepticism I think we’ve become more pro-Tesla over the years. That’s certainly true of me. I truly want to see Tesla succeed because I believe it would actually be healthy for the auto industry. Having said that I’m still not convinced it will survive in the long run.

I will take your critique to heart and we’ll get a guest on the show in the future who is more impartial. BTW, I believe that Anton is no longer shorting Tesla but I forgot to ask him about that on the show.

Truly appreciative,
John McElroy

I see Sergio is pushing to be bought out (with a golden parachute for him?). It looks like the only desirable brand to be picked up by the 'big guys' would again be Jeep. Chrysler and Dodge (including minivans) will be 'histwa'.
So ok, we have had German Jeeps, now Italian Jeeps…do you see a pattern here?…
Our prediction: FCA will be bought by a Chinese automaker

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