Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber

By on February 2, 2016

You probably don’t know much about Vigilant Systems, but the company likely knows more about you than you know about them. That because Vigilant Systems is in the business of knowing. The company has so far collected about 2.8 billion license plate photos with its network of cameras, and every month it adds another 70-80 million photos, including a timestamp of the photo and geographic location of the plate, to Vigilant Solutions’ permanent storage. They sell that data to police departments and, depending on the jurisdiction, even some private sector institutions, such as insurance companies investigating fraud.

Vigilant Solutions’ deals with government agencies have raised concerns about civil liberties, freedom of movement, privacy and mass surveillance. As Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic describes Vigilant Solutions, “your diminished privacy is their product.” (Read More…)

By on January 28, 2016

f3150_r

I work with logos in my day job and it’s always nice to see a clever logo design. Maybe I’m strange but things like the negative-space arrow in the FedEx brand excite me.

That’s why I’m a bit perplexed about the current badge Ford uses on its F-150 pickup trucks.

(Read More…)

By on January 27, 2016

Man was watching porn while driving before fatal crash_1453839159621_763835_ver1.0

Via the Detroit News, the Michigan State Police reported the death of a Detroit motorist early Sunday morning when he lost control of his car on a ramp between two city freeways, apparently distracted by the pornographic movie he was watching on his cellphone.

MSP reports that Clifford Ray Jones, age 58, was partially ejected through the sunroof when his 1996 Toyota Corolla overturned. He was wearing neither a seat belt nor his pants at the time of the accident. (Read More…)

By on January 26, 2016

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Before U.S. importer Max Hoffman convinced Mercedes-Benz there was a market for the now famous gull-winged grand tourer, the 300SL badge was earlier applied to the company’s first postwar factory racecar, the W194 that was victorious at LeMans in 1952.

Sixty years later, at the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mercedes-Benz introduced their latest iteration of the SL concept: the SL 550. To commemorate the occasion, and the original SL’s 60th birthday, Daimler restored the oldest existing 1952 300SL — chassis #002 — and brought it to Detroit with its newest descendant. Unfortunately for the hundreds of photographers who tried to seize what was likely their only opportunity to capture such a rare and historic car, stagehands quickly surrounded the car with stanchions and rope almost as soon as the 300SL #002 came to a halt on the stage. (Read More…)

By on January 18, 2016

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The small crew of folks who make up Elio Motors brought the latest, fifth generation, developmental prototype of their reverse trike to the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Paul Elio gave a press conference going over what progress the company has made moving towards actual production, including some details about their recent stock offerings that will fund the building of 25 pre-production prototypes.

I’ll get to the press release stuff in a bit. First I want to talk about the car, errr, autocycle, and the third-class of motor vehicles for which the company is lobbying regulatory acceptance. (Read More…)

By on January 14, 2016

2014 SRT Viper GTS

The reports of the Dodge Viper’s demise may have been greatly exaggerated. If I can borrow a concept from William Goldman, it appears that the Viper is only mostly dead.*

Back in October, when the labor agreement between the United Auto Workers and FCA was hammered out, there was a flurry of reports stating the Dodge Viper was bound for death. That was based on a contract that indicated Chrysler’s Conner Avenue Assembly, where the Dodge Viper is hand-built, had no products planned beyond the life cycle of the current Viper model.

At the time, I said that while the news didn’t bode well for Dodge’s V-10 supercar, the death of the Viper wasn’t certain. Now, at a press conference at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne has said that “there is a possibility that a new version of the Viper may surface.” (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2016

jeepgladiatorconcept

If there was any confusion about Chrysler’s plans to build a pickup variant of the Wrangler, something for which Jeep fans and car enthusiasts in general have clamored, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne cleared it up at a press conference at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Marchionne unequivocally stated the automaker will be making a Jeep with a bed, probably by early 2018.

Jeep last sold a pickup truck, the Comanche variant of the XJ Cherokee, in 1992. The last time they sold a CJ based pickup was in 1986, with the CJ-8 Scrambler.

(Read More…)

By on January 9, 2016

Elio Motors' display for the 2016 NAIAS

My late father told me that few people are as passionate as converts who’ve become disaffected. Some of the most vocal critics of the Elio Motors startup are former supporters, people who put down money on reservations, only to be disappointed by repeated delays in starting production.

Paul Elio most recently said production is slated to begin sometime late this year — that is if they can get the money to do it.

However, those disaffected folks were abuzz this week over a post at Green Car Congress that said a proposed rule change by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would classify three-wheeled vehicles as automobiles. That would require Elio Motors’ three-wheeler to comply with all the same Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards of four-wheeled cars. (Read More…)

By on January 8, 2016

cannacar

The big North American International Auto Show represents hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity. There are displays needed to be built, attractive product specialists to be hired, and Jumbotron screens to be rented. More than 5,000 media members from around the world are credentialed for the show. In the two days of the media preview, busy video and audio production teams work behind the scenes at the press conferences and caterers prepare food for the ravenous auto journos. Besides what goes on inside Cobo Hall, there is also spin-off business from those visiting journalists and others from out of town working the show needed lodging, food and entertainment.

Now a Detroit medical marijuana dispensary, The Clinic on Detroit’s famed Eight Mile Road, is trying to get a portion of that economic activity (and some free publicity too, I’m guessing) by running a special offer for people working at the show. (Read More…)

By on January 5, 2016

astonfisker2

Car designer Henrik Fisker is planning on launching a new vehicle, called the Force 1, next week at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, in conjunction with Bob Lutz’s VL Automotive.

To make sure that the debut comes off without a hitch, according to the Detroit News, Fisker is suing Aston Martin in U.S. Federal Court for $100 million, alleging civil extortion.

Fisker used to be in charge of design for Aston Martin. The British automaker had claimed earlier that Fisker’s new design was cribbed from one of its own. (Read More…)

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