Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber

By on April 28, 2017

NanoCar Race Poster

Tata’s Nano is a very small car, but it’s more than brobdingnagian compared to the vehicles racing this weekend in Toulouse, France.

The first international nanocar race — organized by the materials scientists at Centre Nationnal de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and its Centre d’Elaboration de Matériaux et d’Etudes Structurales (CEMES) — brings motorsports down to the molecular level. Four teams will compete under the observation of a special, four-tipped scanning tunneling microscope on a racecourse made of gold atoms just 100 nanometers long.

(Read More…)

By on March 9, 2017

john goodenough the truth about cars
One of the factors holding back widespread acceptance of electric vehicles has been the development of battery storage. Until now, there has been nothing analogous for batteries to the computing industry’s Moore’s Law, which has seen integrated circuits become significantly more powerful, faster, and cheaper with each generation. While there have been incremental improvements in energy density — the primary drawback to battery power — a number of promising new battery technologies have not panned out.

Now, a research team headed by John Goodenough, whose 1980 invention of a cobalt-oxide cathode made powerful lithium-ion batteries possible, has announced the development of a solid-state battery cell that not only has the potential (no pun intended) to store three times as much power as a conventional lithium-ion cell, but also replaces the cells’ liquid electrolytes with a glass compound. That would eliminate the fire and explosion hazard known to Li-ion power packs. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2017

vwgticrushed-by-tree-close-up

If you live in the Upper Midwest or in southern Ontario, this won’t come as news to you: one of the worst windstorms in the region’s history swept through on Wednesday. Wind gusts of up to 68 miles per hour were recorded in the Detroit area. In southeastern Michigan alone, over 800,000 households and businesses were without electrical power after winds tore down trees and utility lines.

Fortunately for Lincoln Russell, who lives in Detroit’s Westbridge neighborhood, he was in Montreal when the storm blew through town. Unfortunately for Mr. Russell, he also left his dearly beloved 2007 Fahrenheit Edition Volkswagen GTI parked on the street back home. Shortly after noon, the high winds apparently encouraged a large tree with a trunk about three feet in diameter to make like one of Tolkein’s Ents and try to cross the street. Unlike Middle Earth’s traveling topiary, Detroit’s trees are not supernatural and this one came tumbling down, crushing Russell’s GTI and nearly knocking down a utility pole in the process. (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2017

Elon Musk + Tesla Model S Circa 2011

Perhaps you’ve noticed, by its absence, that there isn’t any advertising for Tesla products. Elon Musk is pretty good at generating buzz without having to pay for it. For example, a number of media organizations recently ran the news that Musk took the advice given to him by a fifth-grade girl — via her dad’s Twitter account — on how to publicize his electric cars.

Bria Loveday had a school assignment involving writing and mailing a letter to a noted person and, the way the story goes, she chose Musk. In her letter she noted that while Tesla doesn’t advertise, a number of Tesla enthusiasts have produced their own entertaining commercials for the EV maker, and Bria suggested that Tesla hold a contest for the best one. The winner would get his or her ad aired and then receive some kind of prize like a free year’s worth of supercharging at a Tesla station. (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2017

ktmbull

Much to the chagrin of a couple of generations of small truck enthusiasts on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, the United States got into a bit of a trade tiff with France and Germany over a protectionist tariff the European countries had placed on imports of American chicken in the early 1960s. The result was a 25-percent tariff levied on potato starch, dextrin, brandy, and light trucks imported into the U.S. Brandy was listed to retaliate against the French while the light truck duty targeted commercial versions of the VW Type II.

Due to another trade dispute over a different foodstuff, in this case beef, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (OUSTR) has proposed a 100% tariff on small to medium displacement motorcycles and scooters manufactured in the European Union. Motorcycles and scooters from 50 to 500 cc displacement were tucked in at the end of a long list of beef, pork, and other food products covered under the proposed duties. (Read More…)

By on February 28, 2017

hindustan-ambassador-ck-birla_021117014658

The Hindustan Ambassador, in production from 1958 to 2014, is an iconic vehicle. Iconic enough that news of Peugeot SA’s acquisition of the Ambassador brand from the C.K. Birla group’s Hindustan Motors got a fair amount attention despite most of the automotive news media being focused on Peugeot parent PSA’s proposed purchase of Opel and Vauxhall from General Motors.

As it happens, the $12,000,000 Ambassador deal is part of a much larger play in India by PSA that may work out to be as significant a move on the subcontinent as the Opel deal is in Europe. Now that the French government has bailed out PSA, they have big plans for India. (Read More…)

By on February 3, 2017

If you’re going to a party to watch the big game this Sunday, there’s a good chance pizza will be on the menu. According to the good folks at the National Restaurant Association, Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day of the year for the pizza industry. Pizza Hut will sell at least 2 million […]

By on January 19, 2017

traffic speed camera

Abraham Lincoln said that someone who represents themselves in a legal proceeding has a fool for a lawyer. Somewhat removed from his popular homespun image is the historical fact that Honest Abe was an experienced, high-powered attorney whose clients included entities like railroad companies. The man knew a thing or two about the practice of law.

The same can probably be said about Adam MacLeod, who teaches law students how to litigate at Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law. Prof. MacLeod not only risked living down to Lincoln’s aphorism, he also violated many of the rules that he teaches his students how to act in court when he fought a ticket generated by a traffic camera in Montgomery, Alabama. (Read More…)

By on December 27, 2016

Boss Chrysler's Garage Walter P Chrysler Museum, Source: Ronnie Schreiber/The Truth About Cars

Museums are among my favorite places in the world, but it was difficult to genuinely enjoy my last visit to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum on the Chrysler campus in Auburn Hills. That’s because it was indeed my last visit.

About 15 minutes after I left the museum on December 18th, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles closed it forever and began moving the vehicles to the Highland Park warehouse where Chrysler keeps its corporate car collection. The automaker has said the museum will be turned into office space.

(Read More…)

By on December 8, 2016

1968 plymouth valiant the truth about cars

We called our 1968 Plymouth Valiant 100 “Slithis” after a cheesy horror movie about snakes. I’m not sure why, in retrospect; most likely because it was a green. It wasn’t that metallic gold green popular in the early 1970s, sometimes called “baby shit green” (parents will understand). Just eight years after production, Slithis’ verdant topcoat was starting to lose its lustre. It had 98,000 miles on the odometer and we paid $50 for it — a genuine “$50 special.”

Today, something comparable would have twice as many miles, cost 10 to 20 times as many dollars, and likely be in far better shape. (Read More…)

By on December 2, 2016

After I spent some time with the McLaren 570s, the British supercar company’s entry-level model for North America, I asked Jack Baruth if he thought the 675LT was worth $200,000 dollars more than the 570S. I’d driven the 675LT around Los Angeles back in January and Jack’s driven both cars as well. The 570S’ performance impressed me, […]

By on November 25, 2016

repo man pays off car Belleville News Democrat

Repossessing cars is what Jim Ford does for a living. Getting shot at while hooking up tow chains and being threatened with tire irons might have hardened another man, but Ford, 41, who owns Illini Recovery in Belleville, Illinois, isn’t that other man. He understands what the people whose cars he takes are going through and tries to make it a little easier. Instead of sneaking away with their ride, he knocks on doors, tells the debtors what’s going on and gives them a chance to retrieve personal items.

As Ford told the Belleville News-Democrat, “I may be getting soft in my old age but you get more done with kindness.”

Ford ended up doing a lot more than just letting Stanford and Patty Kipping, of Red Bud, get their personal items from their car. Kipping is 82 and his wife is 70 and recent increases in the cost of their prescriptions and other bills put a dent in their fixed income, causing them to skip several $95 monthly payments on their used 1998 Buick. After speaking with them, Ford contacted their bank and tried to work out a revised payment schedule on their $2,501 debt for them, but the financial institution said no, so on the hook the car went.

(Read More…)

By on November 23, 2016

Porsche 911 Soundbar, Image: Porsche Design

If one of your DIY car enthusiast friends built a home or office audio system from the muffler and exhaust pipes of their favorite car as both an acoustic and visual part, you’d probably think it was a clever idea — something like using an engine block for the base of a glass coffee table, only more practical.

What, then, to think of the $3,500 Porsche Design 911 Soundbar Bluetooth loudspeaker that incorporates an actual titanium rear silencer and twin chromed exhaust tips from a Porsche 911 GT3 in its subwoofer?

(Read More…)

By on November 21, 2016

Batteries from Beer University of Colorado Boulder

It sounds like a car guy’s fantasy, using beer to power a car.

And it still is fantasy, unfortunately.

However, a couple of researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have filed for a patent on a method to use the byproduct of the brewing process to create anodes for lithium-ion batteries, the power source for most electric cars. (Read More…)

By on November 7, 2016

peshmerga bmw kirkuk

In the many wars spanning the globe, a variety of vehicles have been pressed into military service by insurgents and militias alike, most notably the venerable Toyota Hilux. More recently Chinese compact pickups have appeared on battlegrounds, and even one Texas plumber’s Ford F-250 turned up in the hands of some bad guys.

Now comes word that, on October 21, a heroic Kurdish Peshmerga fighter used his bulletproof E32 BMW 7 Series as a military ambulance to save up to 70 people.

Ako Abdulrehman made repeated trips under ISIS sniper fire to save fighters and civilians wounded during the militants’ attack on the Kurdish city of Kirkuk. (Read More…)

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