Category: Editorials

By on September 22, 2016

Nassim Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has authored a series of books he labels Incerto, that Amazon tells us is “an investigation of opacity, luck, uncertainty, probability, human error, risk, and decision-making in a world we don’t understand.” The best known work in the series is “The Black Swan,” which teaches that highly improbable things happen frequently. His most recent work is “Antifragile,” which explains how successful systems deal with the random disorder of reality.

A recent essay by Taleb on Medium talks about how a small minority* of just 3 or 4 percent of a greater population can force accommodations by the majority. Taleb uses a broad range of examples — business, cultural, political, religious and culinary — to make the point that if a minority is large enough and intransigent enough in its needs or wants, that what it wants in specific doesn’t really matter to the majority, that minority’s wishes will prevail.

What does this have to do with cars? How many customers really want an illuminated vanity mirror in their sun visor?

Read More >

By on September 21, 2016

Tesla Supercharger With Model S At Tesla Dealership

Jeff writes:

I recently started shopping for my first new car in a decade. I have looked at Infiniti, Audi, VW, Cadillac, Genesis, Tesla and BMW.

Something that really stuck out about the process was the different dealership experiences. The quality and happiness factor of each dealership seemed to coincide with the price of their cars.

Read More >

By on September 21, 2016

Ford F150 assembly line

It seems as though you can’t turn around on the streets of Atlanta or the suburbs of Austin or the outskirts of Albuquerque without seeing a Ford F-Series pickup truck.

For 34 years running, Americans have registered more copies of the F-Series than any other pickup truck. A wide-ranging model lineup (just like its competitors) and top-selling rivals that split their sales between brands means Ford consistently and overwhelmingly sells more full-size pickup trucks than any other automobile brand in the United States. At the current rate of growth, Ford will sell more than 800,000 F-Series pickups in 2016, more than at any point since 2005.

While it’s impressive that Ford owns 30 percent of the American pickup truck market, perhaps the more daunting figure shows that 1 out of every 22 new vehicles sold in the U.S. is a Ford pickup truck.

But don’t be so easily impressed. Look northward, where the Ford F-Series is far more popular than it is in the United States. Read More >

By on September 21, 2016

Comma One Front

George Hotz burst into the autonomous driving space last year with promises of a sub-$1,000 driver assistance package. It could be added to any car, he said, and proved it by showcasing his prototype system on his Acura ILX. When I spoke to Hotz in December, his system had promise, but I was skeptical.

Since that interview, Hotz further refined his system, released data collection apps, and picked up $3.1 million in funding. These updates culminated in a splashy announcement at TechCrunch Disrupt SF last week, where Hotz announced he’d ship his Comma One semi-autonomous driving add-on by the end of the year — at a price of $999*.

Hotz kept many of the promises he made last year, but he’s made vast changes between then and now. I dug into the Comma One’s hardware and software specs, and signed up for his Dash data collection app, to see what all the excitement was about.

Read More >

By on September 21, 2016

2017 Toyota 86

Toyota has long been accused of being a purveyor of somnambulant transportation, but amid rumors of a renewed Supra and Lexus finding its Nipponese NASCAR in the RC F GT concept, it appears Japan’s biggest automaker has finally input directions to the racetrack into its corporate navigation system.

Which, of course, neatly brings us to the Scion FR-S Toyota 86. Read More >

By on September 20, 2016

cloth

I should have known better than to get excited. My old friend Brian Makse posted a photo of a four-cylinder 718 Cayman S with what appeared to be a partial cloth seat. This is not something that TTAC readers will know about your humble author, but cloth interiors in Porsches are my thing, man. Long before Singer was charging $400,000 to put plaid door cards in an old 964, I had “cloth interior” on my list of things to find in my next Porsche. It’s a tough ask for any car from Weissach after 1982 or thereabouts, and in fact, of the three 9-somethings I’ve owned, only my 944 had anything besides leather on the seating surfaces.

So you can imagine my excitement when I saw cloth in (what should be) the entry-level Porsche. I was so worked up that I stopped doing what I was doing, which was building a Watkins Glen Grey Grand Sport with Hyper Green stripes online, and promptly pulled up the Porsche website to build a cloth Cayman of my very own. I kind of thought it would be a no-cost option to have a fabric seat, but I secretly hoped it was one of those options where you actually get some money back, like a sunroof delete.

You all know how naive this was on my part, right?

Read More >

By on September 20, 2016

Flint Silverado assembly plant

Shortly after the stroke of midnight, Jerry Dias and the rest of the Unifor-GM bargaining committee sat down in front of reporters immediately after marathon negotiations. Dias, the president of Unifor, was elated.

“I am pleased to announce to our members … that we have found a solution for your facilities,” he said to Oshawa workers through the media and the press conference live stream.

Indeed, Oshawa was saved.

That’s not to say there won’t be some pain — the Consolidated Line at Oshawa will still close on schedule in 2017 when GM begins production of a redesigned Equinox, and the union made some pension concessions — but, at least for now, the clouds have parted over one of Canada’s longest-standing auto-producing towns.

Yet, the announcement raised more questions as it answered. And there are two major unknowns yet to be revealed: the products allocated to the Oshawa and St. Catharines plants.

Read More >

By on September 20, 2016

2015 Ford F150

Are the economic successes of Wall Street not being passed down to Main Street? Are concerns over the future post-November direction of the country fostering caution in the minds of consumers? Did certainty regarding forthcoming autumn incentives postpone summer purchases?

And might the benefits of a burgeoning midsize pickup truck class finally be inhibiting demand for full-size pickup trucks?

Whatever the reason, U.S. sales of full-size pickups declined in the summer of 2016 after growing much faster than the overall market coming out of the recession.

In fact, in August 2016, all six nameplates in the category produced fewer sales than they did one year earlier. During the same period, sales of midsize pickup trucks jumped 39 percent. Read More >

By on September 20, 2016

20151030_151824-1

Zac writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I have a confession to make. I may have lied on my last TrueDelta survey. I reported ‘No Repairs,’ but, while technically true, I have been struggling with a problem for a few months now. My 2011 Ford Taurus SHO has been my long distance cruiser for 99,000 miles now, often times pulling an eight-foot trailer full of bikes and gear to track days all over the Southeast. I installed an Airraid cold air intake, Corsa Cat-Back exhaust, and Stage 3 tune from Livernois Motorsports at 17,000 miles, and the car has run fantastic until about 4,000 miles ago.

Read More >

By on September 19, 2016

2017 Cadillac XT5 rear

In 1999, GM altered the front fascia and slightly upgraded the interior of the GMC Yukon Denali to introduce the Cadillac Escalade. Although Cadillac was late to the Lincoln Navigator’s game, the biggest, baddest, boldest Cadillac quickly became an undeniable hit.

Now in fourth-generation form, U.S. sales of the regular-wheelbase Cadillac Escalade are on track to rise to an eight-year high in 2016.

Joining the Escalade in Cadillac’s SUV/crossover lineup in 2003 was the first-generation Cadillac SRX. With a two-row mainstream approach in generation two, the Cadillac SRX also became a huge success. Propelled forward in part by incentives, the SRX’s ability to claim its best ever U.S. sales total in 2015, its final full year, was nevertheless impressive.

Less than half a year into its run, the SRX-replacing Cadillac XT5 is likewise a formidable hit; yet more proof that Cadillac knows how to shake its moneymakers. Which makes you wonder why Cadillac hasn’t already brought to market more moneymakers for the brand to shake. Read More >

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