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By on December 9, 2016

Promo photo for "Into The Wild"

A few weeks ago, I finally got around to watching Into The Wild. I’d read Jon Krakauer’s book a while ago; although it was, and is, brilliant work, I have much less respect for the author after finding out that he agreed to whitewash the abuse that Chris McCandless suffered as a child. Everything that Chris did makes much more sense after you understand what happened to him, and his sister, in their youth.

It’s been nearly twenty-five years since the adventures were recounted in the book and movie. If you have even a bit of wanderlust in your heart, it’s likely hearing about Chris’s trip will make you at least consider a trip to “The Slabs,” Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, or the “Magic Bus” on the Stampede Trail.

But there’s one big difference between a would-be Supertramp’s life in 1992 and 2016: hitching.

Read More >

By on December 9, 2016

foogy highway

Vehicles without steering wheels, brake pedals, or even drivers are now allowed to operate on public roads in Michigan.

Today, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a package of auto industry-backed legislation that permits automakers and technology companies to develop, test and even sell autonomous vehicles in the Mitten State. The policy even enables autonomous ride-hailing services, provided that the vehicles have undergone certification.

Michigan is now the wild frontier for self-aware cars. Read More >

By on December 9, 2016

Normal, Illinois (Ross Griff/Flickr)

An abandoned assembly plant in Normal, Illinois, could once again become a beehive of car-building activity.

Opened in 1988 as a collaborative effort between Chrysler and Mitsubishi, the plant served as headquarters for a great 1980s corporate relic — Diamond-Star Motors. In its heyday, the facility dutifully cranked out Plymouth Lasers, Mitsubishi Eclipses, and Eagle Talons, before Chrysler lost interest in the 50-50 deal.

Turned over to Mitsubishi in 1995, the plant soldiered on after Diamond-Star Motors bit the dust. What followed was a parade of forgettable nameplates — Mitsubishi Mirage, Eagle Summit, even the Dodge Stratus Coupe — before a final shutdown earlier this year eliminated the last of 1,250 jobs and production of the Outlander Sport.

Now, the 2.4 million square foot plant could soon be home to a shadowy new tenant. Read More >

By on December 9, 2016

Alpine (Renault)

Dormant since 1995, Alpine is re-opening shop and taking reservations for its “Première Édition” — an exclusive version of its forthcoming rival to the Porsche 718.

In 2012, Renault announced plans to join forces with British track car wizard Caterham to develop a new platform for a shared sports car for Alpine and Caterham (think Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86). Seemingly disinterested in making anything even remotely useful off-track, Caterham abandoned Alpine to carry on with the project alone.

After dropping the Vision Concept earlier this year, Renault is now ready to take orders for the unnamed, A110-inspired Alpine model and officially bring the French performance brand back from the grave.  Read More >

By on December 9, 2016

Ford-CEO-Alan-Mulally-2

The election campaign feud made countless headlines, but President-elect Donald Trump and Ford Motor Company could soon share a unique bond — assuming one man gets a plum job.

Trump’s transition team has revealed that ex-Ford CEO Alan Mulally is being considered for the position of Secretary of State.  Read More >

By on December 9, 2016

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio

Alfa Romeo claimed the Giulia would start under $40,000, and the automaker has kept its promise.

It may be time to start getting cautiously optimistic about Alfa’s comeback, especially considering what the sedan offers for the money and where this price point places it in the market. Read More >

By on December 9, 2016

2018 Volkswagen Atlas, Image: Volkswagen

There’s no doubt Volkswagen needs its new midsize Atlas to be a home run (or, at least, a ground rule double) to keep its American dealers appeased following the now-year-long diesel emissions scandal. Even before the scandal, Volkswagen USA could neither create a product mix befitting American sensibilities nor price its ill-marketed product at price points palatable to the American public.

Yet, Atlas — Volkswagen’s crossover slotting between the compact Tiguan and upmarket Touareg — wears sheetmetal penned by Ativan-popping designers, and one of Volkswagen’s design employees agrees.

Read More >

By on December 9, 2016

All four Lexus LS generations - Images: Toyota Canada

The current automotive climate is not a favourable one for full-size sedans, luxury or otherwise.

Many automakers have persevered, reinvesting in their flagship sedans despite decreased demand. BMW, for instance, suffered a 29-percent loss in U.S. 7 Series demand over the last decade, yet the company introduced two new generations of 7 Series during that period.

Lexus, however, has allowed the LS to wallow in a pool of its own misery. The car that started it all for Lexus was once a conservative, value priced, marketplace leader in the full-size sector; a car that could beat the overpriced Germans at their own game. Now, the decade-old fourth-generation Lexus LS has all but disappeared from the public consciousness. Sales have fallen 73 percent since 2006.

Toyota has finally determined that it’s time for a new Lexus LS. In fact, it’s been time for a new Lexus LS for quite a while. Read More >

By on December 9, 2016

BYD_Line-up_2015

The recent Guangzhou Auto Show in China was a reflection of everything stereotypical about the Chinese car market: Chinese OEM clones of European vehicles, North American and European legacy platforms resurrected into new China-only models, wacky supercars from unknown Chinese OEMs, stretched European executive sedans, and weird electric vehicles.

The only major North American press headline from the show was bold: “Five New Electric Cars from China, World’s Largest EV Market.” I never saw China as a leader in electric vehicles. However, green car publications like CleanTechnica have stated China is the world’s largest EV market for almost two years now.

What’s the real story behind China’s EV market? There’s both truth and lies in these headlines.

Read More >

By on December 9, 2016

2017 Skoda Kodiaq rear

Volkswagen AG’s Škoda subsidiary claims it’s interested in bringing the value-packed Czech brand to the U.S., even going as far as copyrighting model names, but the powers that be in Wolfsburg couldn’t hate the idea more.

According to comments published by Automobile Magazine, Volkswagen execs want nothing to do with the idea of a stateside Škoda. It looks like the surging brand’s parent company is prepared to kill the dream for good. Read More >

Recent Comments

  • Re: No Driver? No Problem: Michigan Just Legalized Autonomous Cars on Public Roads

    slavuta - I can’t wait to start spooking autonomous cars. A balloon attached to a rock thrown out of the window surely...
  • Re: QOTD: Hitchin’ A Ride?

    hgrunt - Last time I saw a hitchhiker, aside from on the way to or from Burning Man, was in the Humboldt County area. I’ve thought about picking up hitchhikers, but I...
  • Re: QOTD: Hitchin’ A Ride?

    Russycle - I’ve never hitched, but have picked up a few. One was in Nevada, a black guy heading from San Francisco to New Orleans. I was going to Los Angeles, took him...
  • Re: QOTD: Hitchin’ A Ride?

    Pch101 - I hitched in rural New Zealand. I hitched and picked one up in Samoa. (It is normal there and common courtesy; many people can’t afford cars, and there is no...
  • Re: It’s About Time – Lexus Will Finally Show A New LS Flagship AT NAIAS In 2017

    28-Cars-Later - “Tell us more about how great a 15 year old car is.” Pick some models.
  • Re: QOTD: Hitchin’ A Ride?

    PrincipalDan - To quote Detroit Rock City: “You know how many horror movies start that way?” “You know how many porno movies start this way?”
  • Re: QOTD: Hitchin’ A Ride?

    SnarkyRichard - I used to hitchhike all the time in the 70s . Miss the school bus ? Just stick out your thumb and someone I knew driving to school would stop and take me right...
  • Re: QOTD: Hitchin’ A Ride?

    mikey - I turned 16 in late 69 . Hitch hiking was a way of life. Myself , and my buddies , preferred , biting the bullet , and driving your own wheels. Yes, we would pickup...
  • Re: QOTD: Hitchin’ A Ride?

    zipster - Hitched to Vancouver in ’63 from Michigan. Still hitchhike back to my car when I do multi-day back packing trips, but that’s within national parks....
  • Re: Former Home of Diamond-Star Motors Now Home to a Mystery

    SCE to AUX - “Rivian will invest $175 million into the operation by 2024” That’s 7 years, or roughly $25 million/year....

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