Episode #372 of the Autoblog podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth and Chris Paukert are joined by Peter Leung of RichlandF1 to talk Formula One, the impending demise of Bertone, and Honda spinning Acura off into its own division. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the new rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #372:
Bertone goes bust
Mercedes F1 Power Unit
Honda spinning off Acura
In the Autoblog Garage:
2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited
2015 Subaru WRX STI
2014 Land Rover Range Rover Autobiography
Hosts: Dan Roth, Chris Paukert
Guest: Peter Leung
Intro and Garage - 00:00
Formula 1 - 26:39
Bertone - 50:42
Acura - 01:02:19
Q&A - 01:14:38
Get the podcast:
[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes
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We often mock Toyota for building boring, soulless cars, but a new study by Consumer Reports suggests that regardless of whether that's true, the company has some of the best used cars on the market. In its report on used cars from 2004-2013, the Japanese automaker had 11 vehicles among its brands on the list - more than any other automaker.
CR breaks the list down by cost and vehicle size, and Toyota has at least one entry at every price point and in nearly every segment. To score a recommendation, a vehicle had to perform well in the magazine's initial tests and score above-average reliability results. It also tried to only suggest cars with electronic stability control. Of the 28 recommended vehicles, Honda/Acura had the second most mentions at six, and Ford, Hyundai and Subaru managed two each.
The Detroit brands also made it to the list, but not in a positive way. Consumer Reports compiled a list of 22 vehicles it wouldn't recommend because "they have multiple years of much-worse-than-average overall reliability." General Motors had the most unrecommended models on the list at six, but Chrysler and Ford weren't far behind, with five cars each from their brands not making the grade. The full list of recommendations is available on CR's website.
We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #372 this evening, joined this week by Peter Leung (BaronVonClutch) to teach us about motorsports. Check out the topics below, or drop us your questions and comments via our Q&A module. And don't forget to subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so. To take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.
Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #372
Bertone goes bust
Mercedes F1 Power Unit
Honda spinning off Acura
[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator
Every major automaker has a different way of relating between its various divisions and brands. At Volkswagen, for example, the individual brands seem to operate with a large degree of autonomy. Under the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the two units share a common chief executive, but little else. The relationship between Honda and its luxury division Acura has always been rather close, but that's all about to change.
American Honda Motor Company has always handled sales and marketing in the North American market for both the Honda and Acura divisions, but new reorganization plans call for the two units to be separated under their own direction. Leading the Acura division will be Michael Accavitti, who moves into the position from his role as Senior Vice President for Auto Operations at American Honda. The Honda division will meanwhile be taken over by the current head of Acura sales, Jeff Conrad.
Both will report to John Mendel, the current executive vice president of the Automobile Sales Division that is being rebranded as the American Honda Auto Division. Unlike rivals Lexus and Infiniti - two brands that Acura beat to the market - Honda barely markets its luxury brand outside of North America. Its overseas presence is felt only in China, though we've yet to receive word on how the reorganization might effect that market - or for that matter, any potential of expanding into others.
This reorganization is seen as a vital step in revitalizing the Acura brand, accompanied by a product line overhaul that's concentrating on new sedans like the ILX, TLX and RLX, but also promises to yield new crossovers and the new NSX as its halo model. The reorganization takes effect on April 1, which may ring some alarm bells on the hoax-o-meter, but this wouldn't strike us as a very funny joke if it were one. Scroll down for the official announcement.
Continue reading Honda spinning off Acura as stand-alone division in bid to wake up brand
Acura doesn't tend to do concept cars these days that don't foreshadow a specific upcoming production model. The ZDX prototype of 2010 previewed the production version, as did the ILX and RLX showcars of 2012 and the MDX of 2013. The NSX concept is on its way to production, as the SUV-X concept is likely to do as well in the coming years. So when Acura revealed the TLX prototype at the Detroit Auto Show a few months ago, we all but knew it would only be a matter of time before that, too, would be produced. And here it is.
Spied all but completely undisguised while undergoing testing, this pair of TLX prototypes (one in white, one in black) looks almost identical to the show car. You might spot a few minor tweaks here and there - the strip of LEDs in the lower front bumper have been replaced by round fog lamps and some of the chrome accents are missing - but by and large, we're looking at the same vehicle we saw in Detroit earlier this year.
The finished production version of the TLX is expected to debut at the New York Auto Show next month, after which it will replace both the TSX and the TL, slotting in between the smaller ILX and the larger RLX in Acura's sedan lineup.
We still aren't convinced that the new Acura NSX will ever arrive in the US. After years of "concepts" and previews, it all seems like an elaborate tease put on by Honda to mess with journalists and auto enthusiasts. We're so looking forward to being wrong...
What isn't a joke, though, is the NSX Concept-GT, a wildly awesome racer that runs in Japan's extreme Super GT series. As a sort of welcome to the weekend, Honda has some footage of the NSX racer at Japan's Suzuka Circuit. We're really digging the NSX's aesthetic when driven in anger, and the noise it makes isn't too bad, either.
Scroll down and have a look at the video, and let us know what you think of this NSX racer.
Continue reading Improve your weekend with this Honda NSX Concept-GT racing film
Honda and Acura North America have announced a major restructuring of operations in hopes of turning around Acura's flagging business. For 2013, sales for Acura's sedans dropped 10.4 percent, while its CUV sales grew by 21 percent. The newly formed Acura Business Planning Office will attempt to right the ship.
As part of the restructuring, Acura is promoting Erik Berkman from President of Honda R&D Americas to lead a new division called the Acura Business Planning Office. Berkman has been with Honda since 1982 and led development of the 2006 Accord. He was also the first US engineer to head North American research and development and has been head of Honda Performance Development since 2008. "Erik's appointment to the new Acura Business Planning Office is a clear indication of the high priority we place on Acura," said Honda spokesperson Jeffrey Smith to Automotive News.
American Honda Motor President and CEO Tetsuo Iwamura is also going to be working to improve the business. He has been elected chairman of American Honda's board, and has simultaneously taken the new position of Corporate Brand Officer to improve the management of the company's brands.
Acura has already made moves to change its strategy. The new TLX sedan will be on sale by the end of the year and will consolidate the TSX and TL into a single model. The North American restructuring comes just days after Honda announced that Hideko Kunii would become the first woman to join the company's board of directors. Scroll down for the press release with the full list of job changes.
Continue reading Acura organizes new business division to confront falling sedan sales
For the first time since 1998, J.D. Power and Associates says its data shows that the average number of problems per 100 cars has increased. The finding is the result of the firm's much-touted annual Vehicle Dependability Study, which charts incidents of problems in new vehicle purchases over three years from 41,000 respondents.
Looking at first-owner cars from the 2011 model year, the study found an average of 133 problems per 100 cars (PP100, for short), up 6 percent from 126 PP100 in last year's study, which covered 2010 model-year vehicles. Disturbingly, the bulk of the increase is being attributed to engine and transmission problems, with a 6 PP100 boost.
Interestingly, JDP notes that "the decline in quality is particularly acute for vehicles with four-cylinder engines, where problem levels increase by nearly 10 PP100." Its findings also noticed that large diesel engines also tended to be more problematic than most five- and six-cylinder engines.
Among individual brands, Lexus has taken the prize for most-dependable nameplate for the third year in a row, registering just 68 problems per 100 vehicles. Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Acura and Buick rounded out the top of the class with 104, 107, 109 and 112 PP100, respectively.
Broken down into specific models, General Motors brands continued their success, winning eight dependability awards for its 2011 models, including prizes for the Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac Escalade and Buick Lucerne. Toyota followed that up with seven prizes split between its Lexus, Toyota and Scion nameplates, while Honda tallied six wins.
For more information, check out the official press release below.
Continue reading J.D. Power study sees new car dependability problems increase for first time since 1998
Over the last decade or so, many foreign automakers have challenged the idea of what defines an "American car," but Honda took things a step further last year by exporting more cars out of the US than it imported in. Reuters is reporting that in 2013, a total of 108,705 Honda and Acura models were exported from the US with only 88,357 being shipped in. This gives Honda a net exporter status here, and makes it the first of such among the major Japanese automakers.
Honda's US imports have been dropping over the last five years while its exports have been steadily increasing. In 2008, the report indicates that Honda shipped 187,000 vehicles to the US and exported only 20,000, and even by 2012 Honda still favored imports with 136,000 imports and 74,000 exports. The article says that US-made Honda and Acura vehicles were exported to 50 countries with most ending up in Mexico, but the big news is that the Honda's US production set a record in 2013 with 1.3 million units built.
If you're a fan of The Avengers from 2012, then here's your chance at owning a piece of movie memorabilia. Following last year's auction of a Acura MDX from that movie, Scottsdale Motor Company is now listing another S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicle on eBay Motors - this time a 2012 Acura TL.
Unlike the MDX, this TL has fewer modifications limited to the custom front push bumper, matte-black paint job and the various LED emergency lights in the back window and in the front bumper, while the inside appears untouched with the exception of small auxiliary switches. The current auction price of this car $32,900 - compared to the $41,535 MSRP of a new TL with Advance Package back in 2012 - but this is a steal compared to the movie-prop Monroney that comes with the car listing the "palladium-powered" sedan at $227,085. The seller says that this car was only one of five built for the movie, and it only has 1,111 miles on the odometer.
After the S.H.I.E.L.D. MDX and TL, we can only hope that Scottsdale Motor Company will offer Tony Stark's Acura NSX Roadster as its next movie car auction.