Posts By: Matt Posky

By on August 23, 2017

Volkswagen T-Roc

Opening with a query as to whether or not the audience was, “Ready to Roc” or not, Volkswagen showcased the production version of the T-Roc today in Italy. However, the model that arrived on stage didn’t quite resemble the compact crossover concept vehicle we’ve grown accustomed to.

While in shorter in appearance than a traditional SUV, the T-Roc isn’t the coupe-adjacent vehicle we were led to believe it might be. True to form, VW played it safe.

There are some notable exceptions, however. The bi-color design allows the roofline to be mismatched with the bodywork and the interior has some fun color options — both in its lighting and trim. But it lacks the swept-back roofline and lowered stance of the prototype. The upside to this is superior interior volume and more traditional SUV characteristics that the public will be less likely to shy away from. Volkswagen wants volume, after all.  (Read More…)

By on August 23, 2017

lexus-parking-airport,Image: CBC News

We’re all familiar with the concept of executive parking spaces, and surely most of us know someone with a sign hanging in their garage that reads “Mopar Parking Only.” Both are annoying concepts highlighting one person’s perceived superiority over another but without any real consequences. After all, it’s not as if they’re stealing someone else’s space.

Thinking it might be a good idea to combine these two scenarios as part of a marketing ploy, Lexus teamed up with the Calgary Airport Authority to convert five primo parking spots into branded spaces. However, the locations they ended up replacing were designed for handicapped patrons. While that understandably didn’t go over well with travelers, you have to admit there is a certain level of prestige associated with displacing people who actually need something just because you want it for yourself.  (Read More…)

By on August 23, 2017

Ferrari portofino 2018

Ferrari officially presented the world with the car intended to replace the California on Wednesday. The new model, called the Portofino, is a 2+2 sporting a mischievous grin and enough horsepower to warrant it. Named — like many of Ferrari’s grand tourers — after a part of the world known for its temperate climate, the Portofino houses an updated 3.9-liter turbocharged V8 with 591 prancing stallions ready to tear up the tarmac.

Distinctively less subtle than the base California in both appearance and specifications, the new “entry-level” Ferrari benefits from new internals, but the overall affect primarily bolsters horsepower. Torque is bumped up to 560 lb-ft between 3,000 and 5,250 rpm, representing a modest 3 foot-pound increase compared to a nearly 40-horsepower improvement. Not that it should matter; the Italian automaker still considers the Portofino a GT car despite its more aggressive persona. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

vehicles air pollution smog,Image: Union of Concerned Scientists

Despite aggressive regulatory efforts to counter pollution, California emissions from on-road transportation rose by roughly 4.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2015 vs one year earlier, according to the San Francisco-based non-profit Next 10. The state also had the dubious honor of housing six of the country’s 10 most polluted cities, based on data from the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report released last April.

While topography plays a major role (cities located in valleys and basins have a tendency to trap air pollutants), much of the problem has to do with Californians driving more. Let’s face it, gas is cheap and public transit options are typically the less-enjoyable option in all but the most densely packed cities. In fact, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation has seen declining ridership over the last two years — even though the city has a major issue with traffic. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

Hyundai santa cruz concept

Hyundai intends to launch a small pickup truck in the United States as part of its plan to catch up with the industry’s shift away from sedans. Up until now, that strategy has involved cramming as many SUVs onto the market as possible. But Hyundai brand sales are still dragging behind 2016’s monthly averages in the U.S., with end-of-year estimates falling short of company goals.

The solution is to keep pushing the Tucson, start deliveries on the Kona mini SUV before 2018, and begin development of a pickup truck based on the Santa Cruz concept from 2015 (seen above). Hyundai is also rumored to be planning on adding three additional sport utility vehicles or crossovers to its North American lineup by 2020 — helping it shore up waning sedan and hatchback sales. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Tahoe RST

It turns out millennials aren’t the freakish alien shape-shifters the media has portrayed them as for the last decade. While still less prone to breeding, poorer than their parents, more educated, and inclined towards city living, they’re human after all.

“Where’s the proof?” you ask?

Recent surveys indicate millennials are, in fact, moving to the suburbs and buying SUVs. But that didn’t stop analysts from being dicks about it. “As more people move out of their parents’ basement — and there’s still quite a few living there — we expect to see continued healthy demand for homes,” explained Svenja Gudell, chief economist for Zillow. “Millennials delayed home ownership, just like they delayed getting married and having kids, but now they’re making very similar decisions to their parents.”

More importantly, home ownership means compulsory sport utility shopping. Large SUV sales have increased 11 percent in the first half of 2017, according to estimates from Ford Motor Company. Meanwhile, midsize family haulers increased by 9 percent and small SUV sales went up by 4 percent. Ford’s market research indicates this could just be the tip of the iceberg.  (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

ford-autonomous-car-technology

The United Nations recently voted to begin formal discussions on autonomous weapon systems, with 116 of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence experts responding by calling on governments to simply ban them.

The coalition, fronted by Tesla’s Elon Musk and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman, claims this is a dark road the world doesn’t want to go down. Aimed at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, a letter from the group warned the U.N. not to usher in the “third revolution in warfare” (following gunpowder and nuclear arms).

While I’m not about to suggest there aren’t serious risks involved with weaponizing thinking machines, it does seem lightly hypocritical for Musk to condemn them over a lack of trust while continuing to champion self-driving cars. Apparently, technology experts feel a Terminator scenario is thoroughly unacceptable but a potential Maximum Overdrive situation is just fine.  (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2017

nissan emblem badge logo

Earlier this month, Nissan announced it was in the final stages of sealing a deal to sell its entire EV battery business to Chinese investment firm GSR Capital. The sale includes battery plants in Tennessee, England, and Japan, with a preamble where the Japanese automaker has to buy up minority shares of Automotive Energy Supply Corp. from NEC Corp.

From there, it can sell off the business to GSR for a cool $1 billion — which isn’t a bad deal for the Chinese company. Nissan used around $1.4 billion in government funds building its U.S. factory in 2010, and the remaining plants weren’t exactly cheap to build. So why is Nissan selling them off?

For starters, the Leaf hasn’t been the sales leader the manufacturer hoped for. Even though global deliveries surpassed the 250,000-unit milestone in December 2016, Leaf sales don’t go beyond 50,000 units annually. By electric vehicle metrics, that’s still a win. However, the Tennessee factory is capable of producing 200,000 complete EV battery packs a year — well beyond the company’s current needs.  (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2017

vw logo volkswagen passat

Financial analysts and industry experts have been expecting Volkswagen to begin selling assets to help cope with the cost of its diesel emissions cheating scandal. The penalty for its deception may have already reached $24.2 billion, and German lawsuits could tack on another $8 billion.

However, Europe’s largest automaker says it’s not interested in selling off properties to recoup losses associated with the scandal. It has another plan to rake in the cash. (Read More…)

By on August 20, 2017

427 shelby daytona

In 1964, Carroll Shelby asked his staff to lengthen the chassis of one of the six Daytona Coupes so he could outfit a 427 cubic inch Ford engine based upon its NASCAR big block. The vehicle was intended to race at Le Mans for 1964 but the truck transporting the motor was involved in a wreck and the Daytona Cobra Coupe returned with a 289, never to make use of the big block Ford.

Now, Shelby American is reimagining history bringing it back for an extremely limited run of heritage cars. “We’re taking care of some ‘unfinished business’ for Carroll Shelby,” explained Joe Conway, Co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International and CEO of Shelby American. “It was sometimes called the ‘car that never was’ because a lone big block Daytona prototype was built but never raced. We plan to complete this amazing program by offering six turn-key 427 powered Daytona Coupe race cars, which is the same number as the small block versions built in the 1960s.”   (Read More…)

By on August 20, 2017

I.D. Buzz Concept Volkswagen Microbus

Volkswagen is bringing back one of America’s iconic and beloved vehicles, the microbus, as fully-electric van. Made official over the weekend, VW’s announcement indicated a production version of the horrendously named I.D. Buzz Concept would appear in North America, Europe, and China for 2022.

Showcased earlier this year at the Detroit Auto Show, the vehicle is an unabashed nostalgia-machine with enough modern features to keep itself contemporary and betray some of its retro charm. But didn’t we already do this over a decade ago? Immediately after the new millennium, it seemed like most automakers had something on offer to satiate Baby Boomers’ lust for the past. The Chrysler PT Cruiser, Ford Thunderbird, Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger, Plymouth Prowler, Mini Cooper, Chevrolet HHR, Chevy SSR, and even VW’s own New Beetle all arrived as part of this slightly awkward push to bring back the glory days of the those enjoying their youths in ’60s and ’70s.

The forthcoming Volkswagen van may, if you’ll excuse the terrible pun, have already missed the Microbus. While the vehicle possesses a charm that supersedes age, it might have been more welcome fifteen years ago. Boomers, who would be the most likely to purchase such a vehicle, are getting older — perhaps too old to want something like this. But maybe they’re not the market the German automaker is going for.  (Read More…)

By on August 19, 2017

toyota safe and sound teen, Image: Toyota

Teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any demographic. Younger drivers are most likely to use their phones while driving or speed in high-traffic areas, and roughly half of all accidents associated with younger drivers were single-vehicle crashes. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among individuals under 20.

Keeping younger drivers safe is a major concern for institutions like the National Safety Council, but some automakers have their own initiatives. Toyota, for example, had TeenDrive365, which provided a series of online videos aimed at encouraging safer driving habits. While the automaker abandoned that program after 2014, resulting in all of its content mysteriously vanishing, Toyota still seems keen on keeping young motorists on the road and out of the morgue.

However, what’s the best way to encourage responsible driving? Teens don’t like being placated, and they probably know the laws better than older drivers (as they’ve passed their written test far more recently). With this in mind, Toyota thinks humiliation may be the key. The automaker has made mortifying easily embarrassed teens the central theme of its new safety app.  (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2017

Toyota Factory Kentucky

The funny thing about job creators is that they don’t always, you know, create any jobs. So, when a business lets slip that it might have 4,000 positions on offer in the near future, every state with an unemployment rate higher than zero takes notice.

Mazda and Toyota’s joint factory — codenamed Project Mitt — is one such example, and now over a dozen U.S. states are simultaneously competing for the opportunity to host the $1.6-billion factory and the thousands of direct and indirect jobs it will yield.

When the Japanese automakers publicly revealed their cooperative venture a couple of weeks ago, they made it clear they had not yet picked a site — sending economic development offices into a frenzy. But what locale will emerge victorious has a lot to do with what the region can offer the manufacturer, including potential tax incentives, tempting job training programs, and investments into infrastructure.

An affordable and abundant workforce is also desirable — an element that distinguishes many states from one another. But no single area has everything on offer, leaving the final decision of where to build up in the air.  (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2017

made-in-usa

When Donald Trump took office, one of his first presidential acts was to rally domestic automakers for a series of meetings and promise to remove regulatory barriers. As the administration was a self-described ally to the car industry, the claim appeared genuine. There was some tough talk about foreign involvement but, for the most part, Trump appeared to be in domestic manufacturers’ corner.

As focus shifted toward the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, automakers had one request: to not impede cross-border trade. It was their primary concern leading up to this week’s talks.

Two days later and the issue has become a major sticking point; placing auto industry groups from Canada, Mexico, and the United States at odds with the current administration. As NAFTA talks began in Washington, D.C., automaker and parts groups from all three countries began outright pleading with U.S. negotiators to abandon their push for tighter rules of origin. Now they are formally opposing it.  (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2017

car salesman in car dealership with key, Image: Kzenon/Bigstock

Like all companies, auto dealerships are in the business of making money and dealer-installed options are frequently a good way to markup a vehicle’s final price. While that’s great for shops, new cars don’t really need rustproofing or fabric protection. Of course, that doesn’t keep salesmen from occasionally tacking those services on for a few hundred dollars extra though.

One optional extra you actually may want to take advantage of is VIN etching. While this is something you can do at home for cheap, most dealers will gladly do it for a significantly larger fee. But it doesn’t do you any good if the store doesn’t actually follow through with the service and charges you for it anyway — which is exactly what happened at a Nissan dealership in New York.

Nissan of New Rochelle was caught charging customers for an unwanted VIN etching service that they frequently didn’t even apply to cars. Now the dealer has agreed to pay nearly 300 customers more than a quarter of a million dollars in restitution and issue a public apology for its shady practices.   (Read More…)

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