Archive for January 2013
If you got a ticket for distracted driving, was inexplicably reimbursed for an airline fee or found work on a state highway recently, Ray LaHood probably had something to do with it. LaHood announced this week he will not return to serve as Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation during President Obama’s second term. As LaHood sees it, “I have had a good run. I'm one of these people who believe that you should go out while they're applauding.” (1)
So why should we be clapping?
Volkswagen is thumping their clean diesel bible to great success. They’re also on a mission to increase the masculine appeal of the Beetle, which in years past has looked like it might have a tube of lipstick where the cigarette lighter should be. With the return of the diesel Beetle this year people of any gender have a new reason to give the people’s car another look. After taking one for a throttle-happy spin around downtown Portland I was reminded just how impressive VW’s TDI engines are. As for masculine appeal…
The Chevrolet Spark is one of roughly three hundred or so vehicles General Motors paid to showcase in the blockbuster Transformers movies. It might not have gotten as much screen time as Shia LeBeouf but it’s shaping up to be much more interesting. The 2014 Spark will come with an optional all-electric powertrain, which wouldn't be the biggest of news if it weren't for two head-turning specifications:
Millions of people watched President Barack Obama’s motorcade cruise down Pennsylvania Avenue on the way to his inauguration this month. Anyone who looked closely may have noticed his limo, ‘The Beast’ featured a license plate that reads “Taxation Without Representation.” The plate is a rolling protest for equal voting rights in Washington D.C. Per Obama’s request similar plates will soon be added to the vehicles in his presidential fleet.
Corvette is America’s sports car and for the money is supposed to be the best on the planet. The last time Chevrolet adorned a Vette with the epic Stingray moniker was in 1976; a year Greg Brady could have embarrassed it with the family station wagon. Chevrolet made a bold statement this month with the reveal of a completely redesigned machine they believe is once again worthy of the Stingray name. Well, there are two carryover parts: A roof panel latch and a cabin air filter.
If you’re going to pay up to $4million for a 30 second commercial it better make people do spit-takes with their cheese dip. From what’s been revealed of this year’s Super Bowl car ads we can expect more than a couple to grab headlines. In particuluar Mercedes has already managed to arouse a small sexual controversy from their teaser alone.
God bless America’s game. The following is a complete list (teaser videos included) of the car commercials that will entertain millions while we eat ourselves into a communal food coma.
Actor Danny Glover might be getting too old for Mel Gibson’s craziness but he’s still down to take a stand for the working man. On the opening day of the Detroit auto show the longtime political activist joined forces with the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN). Their gripe: Workers at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi plant are being threatened out of voting to unionize their workforce.
As an Italian-Canadian Chrysler and Fiat CEO, Sergio Marchionne gets a tentative pass to say a handful of things non-Italian folk probably should not. He exercised his unique freedom of speech at a press conference this month while explaining why the Alfa Romeo 4C is taking longer than expected to lead the brand’s long-awaited return to the United States.
The biggest story of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is under the hood where you’ll soon be able to order up a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine. Paired with Chrysler’s new 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission the new Grand is capable of 21mpg city and 30mpg highway. Oh diesel, is there any vehicle you won’t soon appear in?
Volkswagen announced their foray into the hotly contested midsize SUV market this month with the reveal of the Cross Blue concept. Should it reach prodcution the seven passenger plug-in diesel hybrid would bring VW one step closer to their ultimate goal of complete world domination.
It’s no coincidence the Cross Blue bears more than a passing resemblance to the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and is bragging to achieve a projected 89 miles per gallon electric. Regardless of whether or not the concept actually makes it to showrooms VW is using it to make their itnentions clear.
Although technically classified as a motorcycle, startup company Elio Motors is hoping their three-wheeled creation ‘The Elio’ will strike a chord with car buyers. With just enough room for a driver and a single passenger in the back the little oddity is essentially an attempt to capitalize on the upsides of a motorcycle (fuel economy, low cost) with fewer of the downfalls (exposure to the elements, being splattered to death in the event of a crash).
The first attempt at pack drafting with NASCAR’s new Gen-6 race car didn’t go well. The twelve car wreck took place in testing for the 2013 Daytona 500 next month where the Gen-6 will make its official debut. Since nobody was hurt NASCAR fans should be especially happy the mishap was caused in large part by a car that’s designed to bring a lost excitement back to the sport.
Hasbro Incorporated is playing a sick game of social Darwinism with their Monopoly game pieces. In an effort to breathe fresh life into the classic board game they plan on introducing a new token. To make room for it they’ll need to kill off one of the current players: Scottie dog, the iron, wheelbarrow, shoe, top hat, thimble, battleship or the beloved race car. The sickest part is they want the general public to act as jury to the execution.
There are only so many ways a Go-Kart track can be controversial. At the top of the list might be spending $400,000 of taxpayer money to build one at Guantanamo Bay. For $3 troops can take a five minute ride around the course and enjoy a much-deserved break from the day-to-day grind of military life. Sounds like a good idea in theory, but all is not well on the Guantanamo Bay Karting circuit.
The age of self-driving cars is upon us but that’s not all Audi had up its sleeve at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. They also brought along an audio system that adds another dimension to the listening experience, 3D entertainment without the glasses and a valet system without the valet. But before we go any further let’s get one thing straight about driverless terminology:
As far as bomb dropping goes Ram just pulled out a nuke. News came this week the 2013 Ram 3500 is rated to tow 30,000lbs, up from a maximum towing capacity of 22,750lbs for their equivalent setup in 2012. To put that in perspective similarly equipped heavy-duty 3500 pickups from General Motors are rated to tow 23,100 pounds while Ford’s most capable F-350 is rated at 22,800 pounds.
After four years of laying low Nissan plans on roaring back to the U.S. auto show circuit in 2013. This time around it’s going to be smelly. Attendees of the Detroit auto show next week will be the first to lay their noses on what the brand hopes will be become their signature scent.
Wondering how automakers are going to meet federal mandates that nearly double fuel economy standards by 2025? According to a comprehensive list released by Edmunds.com, the oracle of automotive information, we can expect to see at least 43 new hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery-electric vehicles, diesels and fuel-cell electric vehicles between now and the 2015 model year.
The chronological list reads like the beginnings to a science-fiction novel. At the beginning there’s a plug-in hybrid Cadillac. By 2015 fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV’s) begin to appear from Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes and Nissan. The moral of the story is we can expect a bum-rush of futurist rides in the very near future. As Edmunds puts it:
“Even if you think you're not really interested in new technologies for improved fuel efficiency, it's likely that a car or truck with some type of electric drive or alternative fuel will wind up on your consideration list the next time you shop for a new vehicle.”
Welcome to the world of tomorrow!
Nobody likes to be called boring, and let’s face it; most family vehicles are about as fun as drinking with Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. A push is emerging among car makers to try and breathe some chutzpah into their family haulers. The 2013 Nissan Altima is no exception, and as the best-selling model in Nissan’s lineup the pressure is on.
The automotive melting pot took another stir last month when Fiat announced it plans to build a new subcompact Jeep in Italy. That’s right: An Italian Jeep could soon be sold in the United States and around the world.
FDR may be rolling in his grave and there could soon be cries of blasphemy from the Jeep faithful.
As the majority owner of Chrysler, Fiat said it expects production of the vehicle to begin in 2014 after it invests 1 billion Euros, or $1.3 billion to get an Italian production plant up and running. The new Jeep is expected to be smaller than the compact Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot built in the United States. Read more at the Detroit Free Press.
On Friday a handful of lucky journalists witnessed an American dream come to life: That Arnold Schwarzenegger owns a 50-ton M47 Patton tank, and that he crushes cars with it while smoking a stogie and wearing aviator sunglasses.
“The roar of the engine was deafening, but you could still smell Schwarzenegger’s cigar smoke above the exhaust,” wrote Matt McDaniel of Yahoo! Movie Talk. (1)
Imagine a future were you would smile and wave at your blind neighbor as he got into his car to drive himself to work. A day where you’d be the crazy one for waiving at a blind guy and his commute would be perfectly safe. This is a future that Toyota and Audi are working on.