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Posts By: Virgil Hilts
Pity poor Tesla Motors. The General Motors recall crisis has knocked the electric automaker out of the auto industry headlines. There were times when half the news stories on industry feeds like this one would be about Tesla. TTAC is here to help get the company back on track to maintaining their 3:1 News Stories-To-Cars Sold Ratio.
The above picture was taken in the parking lot of a Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant in dusty, desolate Gila Bend, Arizona. If you have ever been to Gila Bend you can attest to the fact that the shot is actually in color. (Read More…)
With little fanfare Mercedes-Benz recently announced a claimed first-of-its-kind program designed to help firefighters and EMTs at sites of severe accidents involving Mercedes-Benz vehicles. With Rescue Assist, the company is installing QR code stickers on their cars so First Responders will be able to use a Smartphone to bring up a schematic of the vehicle showing where airbags, the fuel tank, and other critical structural components are located. Their intent is to make the accident scene safer for rescue folks and passengers, particular in cases where the “Jaws Of Life” are needed.
I drive around 30,000 miles a year and so it is inevitable that I occasionally get stopped for speeding. Thanks to taking “Traffic Safety” schools that allow scofflaws like me to avoid having the infraction appear on my driving record, I have a spotless history: numerous arrests, no convictions.
A few weeks ago I blundered into a small-town speed trap while going 67 mph in a 50 mph zone, ignoring a radar detector signal that I wrongly assumed was false. Throw in the fact that it was at night and that I was in unfamiliar territory meant I absolutely deserved getting pulled over.
Little did I know that the online ticket-beating traffic school I chose to attend had a curriculum written for 10 year olds. (Read More…)
Announcements of businesses leaving regulation-happy and costly California or declining to do business in California are as common here in the Golden State as seeing a Prius blocking the left lane on the 405. This move is a bit of a surprise as California-based Tesla Motors said this morning that they have eliminated the state as a possible site for their $5-billion dollar battery factory, meaning only Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada remain in the running. (Read More…)
Now that most of you have given your tacit approval for TTAC to continue to post stories about police and motorist interaction, please consider this strange case. It all began at 2:10 AM on April 20, 2012 when an officer observed Frederick Weaver weaving and driving an estimated 25 mph in a 15 mph zone in his Acura as he cruised through the Carleton Place town home community in Wilmington, North Carolina. (Read More…)
Walking the Hertz Gold line at the snowy Albuquerque airport, I approached my rental and I could see it was some sort of Asian SUV in a shade of Witness Protection Program Silver. My God, I realized, Nissan still builds the Murano! I instantly remembered that it comes standard with a Con Voluted Transmission […]
It is no surprise that U.S. automobile dealers have been in a tizzy the past few months as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been rattling its swords threatening to ban them from marking up interest rates on car loans, a sacred profit center for dealerships. Using methodology that assumes a person’s race can be determined by their last name and their gender by their first name, the CFPB claims that certain protected classes are being discriminated against in terms of being charged higher interest rates and thus the practice must stop.
What is a surprise is that Congress is equally annoyed with the agency’s strategy and lack of transparency, and recently announced new regulations limiting their power. No matter the outcome, there is a real possibility that the unintended consequences of the CFPB’s actions will be higher car loan rates for you. (Read More…)
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the November 22, 1963 assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy. Shortly thereafter, the city of South Bend, Indiana suffered another tragedy: the announcement of the closing of the American factories of the 111-year old Studebaker Automobile Company on December 9, 1963. Over 7,000 local workers engaged in building the company’s Avanti and Lark models would lose their jobs – it was not the most joyous of holiday seasons in South Bend.
We will leave the story of Studebaker’s demise to other sources, like this fine article over at Ate Up With Motor. I traveled to Indiana recently to cover the Studebaker National Museum but discovered that fellow South Bend native Jim Grey had just written an excellent series about the collection for our friends at Curbside Classic. Undeterred, I decided to follow the story of one fascinating car on display and discovered some nutty tales from the company’s old test track, the Studebaker Proving Grounds. (Read More…)
One week after we mused that electric carmaker Tesla would never be able to defeat current state laws prohibiting factory direct automobile sales and thus must join the franchised dealer model, the company proved us wrong thanks to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Tesla founder Elon Musk recently announced that it was feasible to build a giant vacuum tube from Los Angeles to San Francisco and transport people the 400 miles between the two cities in 35 minutes. There is a better chance of this so-called “Hyperloop” ever happening than Musk being allowed to sell his electric vehicles directly to the public through his own stores in more than a handful of states. Musk must face reality and stop trying to change franchise dealer laws if he wants Tesla to sell cars through a dealer network that has a true presence in the marketplace. He must embrace the current system and start signing up existing stores.
If you accept the idea that a car can have two personalities, then you can be cheered by the fact that your Honda S2000 will always have a garage mate. Cruise conservatively and you may as well be driving a Miata, albeit the world’s roughest riding and loudest MX-5. Find a twisty back road […]
Car salesmen call buyers like me, “squirrels.” It seems like whenever I buy a new car, I pull a handbrake 180 turn at the last moment and purchase a completely different vehicle than originally planned. Last week I was so close to buying a new Mustang GT with the Track Package that a friend at Ford was […]
I do not understand the attraction of matte finishes on new cars. Most luxury automakers offer this ugly flat paint option, charging upwards of $5,000 over a standard finish. It is all the rage here in Southern California but I am here to tell you: matte ain’t phat. (Read More…)
During all the turmoil facing hybrid automaker Fisker Automotive recently, from closing its doors to a possible resuscitation led by Bob Lutz, one thing has remained constant: the rapidly collapsing values of the Fisker Karma cars themselves. (Read More…)
We are bombarded with messages about the dangers of drunk driving, of the hazard of talking and texting on cell phones while driving, and the need to give a wide berth to folks driving Zipcars. We think there are many other varieties of unsafe motorists that get no attention from the media. As a public service, let’s take a look five subtle, but equally scary, drivers that make the highways a real challenge. (Read More…)