Category: Editorials

By on February 6, 2017

old dealership Chrysler

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles wants to grow its dealer network by 380 new stores in a bid to improve its dwindling market share. The plan isn’t going over so well with the company’s existing dealers, however. As the strategy could potentially threaten their present businesses, some of those dealerships are putting up a fight over the issue.

The choice to expand comes at a difficult time. Sales locations aren’t doing the best and suffering through a diluted and unpopular product lineup while the automaker shifts its focus away from cars to the more-popular SUVS and trucks. FCA sales have been on the decline for almost six months and the company’s slice of the U.S. market fell to 12 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016, compared to 13.6 percent in the same period of 2015. The expansion decision also goes against the advice of FCA’s dealership location consultant, Urban Science. Read More >

By on February 6, 2017

Television Set

The “Big Game” is as much of a sporting event and as it is a tactical delivery system for advertisements and, at roughly $5 million just to reserve a thirty second slot, the folks working in the media department want their commercials to have a strategic impact. Reaching your intended audience is only half the battle. You must also provoke them into action.

While there were plenty of Super Bowl 51 car commercials that got under people’s skin, those strong feelings often failed to morph into consumer interest. For example, Ford’s mobility-focused spot featuring Nina Simone’s classic civil rights song I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free was all over social media when it aired right after kickoff. However, nobody sent me a surprised and excited text about Ford like they did for Alfa Romeo.  Read More >

By on February 6, 2017

2000 Toyota Echo in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2017 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

The Toyota Echo, known as the Platz in its homeland (the hatchback was named Vitz), was available in the United States for the 2000 through 2005 model years. It was an inoffensive and reliable little commuter appliance, but something about its proportions seemed wrong to American car shoppers and few signed on the line that is dotted.

These days, even a Daewoo Lanos is easier to find than an Echo, but I was able to find this forlorn silver ’00 in a Denver-area self-service yard. Read More >

By on February 5, 2017

maserati emblem

Maserati is recalling roughly 40,000 Ghibli, Levante, and Quattroporte models in the United States after uncovering two defects that could lead to fires. According to U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration records, adjusting the front seats runs the risk of causing an electrical shortage and potential fire in vehicles from model years 2014 through 2017. Fuel-line leaks are also forcing Maserati to recall Quattroporte and Ghibli cars from 2014 and 2015. Read More >

By on February 4, 2017

It was a dark and unexciting night. The setting: my apartment. The time: well, last night.

The hour was was growing late, but going to bed at a normal time on a Friday night — even my definition of a normal time — seemed like an invitation to early onset senility. I’m a human being, dammit, I’m alive, and doing anything — anything — besides refreshing my taxed brain cells seemed like a good plan.

So, a Budweiser was cracked, an old movie was sought out, and my feet soon raised themselves to a comfortable, elevated position. Now, many who aren’t familiar with my history are unaware of a shocking secret — something that could prompt fits of laughter if you’re not ready for the news. Read More >

By on February 3, 2017

Takata, the damned Japanese parts supplier with the exceptionally dangerous airbags, has lost the two top executives at its United States headquarters. According to their LinkedIn profiles, former North American President Kevin Kennedy and former Executive Vice President Robert Fisher are no longer with the company.

Meanwhile, BMW Group is recalling roughly 230,000 vehicles in the U.S. after discovering that some could have been outfitted with defective Takata Corp. airbag inflators during repairs.  Read More >

By on February 3, 2017

1960 BMW 700, Image: BMW

Following in the footsteps of last week’s Karmann Ghia article, it seemed natural to take a look at two other lesser-known German alternatives to Volkswagen’s Type 1 Beetle and the ‘Beetle-in-a-suit’ Karmann Ghia.

Like the Karmann Ghia, both were attempts to capitalize on a new and expanding market for automobiles in Germany during the postwar economic boom times. That meant that the models had to incorporate existing technology, yet also appeal to a crowd increasingly interested in performance and style. However, both had to be at least somewhat economical and practical as family cars.

The result was a series of interesting and mostly forgotten air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-drive sedans, coupes and convertibles from both BMW and NSU.

Read More >

By on February 3, 2017

2017 Kia Niro Hybrid Hotel Emma, Image: © 2017 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

Remember MTV? Back on September 18, 1983, the once-music-oriented television station — before its foray into an endless stream of mindless reality programming — broadcast a momentous event in rock history. The members of KISS, who’d never previously showed their bare faces in public, appeared in front of a camera without makeup for the very first time.

Instantly, the members of New York City rock band were normal — as far as rockers can be considered normal, I suppose.

In that same vein, Kia’s new Niro is the unmasking of the hybrid. Its crossover shape wouldn’t look out of place as a conventional, dino-juice powered vehicle on any dealer lot. The Niro sports no folded sheetmetal, no oddly proportioned kammback, and no spaghettified headlights.

It’s normal — as far as hybrids can be considered normal, I suppose. And that’s the point.

Read More >

By on February 2, 2017

The Internet is in the proverbial tizzy about Audi’s “feminist” Super Bowl advertisement, in which the automaker comes out in favor of equal pay for women.

At first blush, the spot seems to be nothing but the usual corporate slacktivism, a feel-good fluff-vertorial making a “brave stand” in support of an issue that was decided long ago. I’m reminded of Joaquin Phoenix’s brilliant portrayal of Commodus in Gladiator, arriving in full armor as soon as he can do so without any risk. “Father, have I missed the battle?” Well, Audi, you’ve missed the war; if there’s a place in the United States where women are actually paid significantly less for doing the same job as men, it’s not evident from what I’m reading.

After watching the one-minute advertisement carefully, however, I understood feminism, or equal pay, is the last thing Audi wants you to take away from it. The message is far subtler, and more powerful, than the dull recitation of the pseudo-progressive catechism droning on in the background. This spot is visual — and as you’ll see below, you can’t understand it until you watch it and see what it’s really telling you.

Let me tell you up front: chances are you won’t like what Audi has to say.

Read More >

By on February 2, 2017

One of the first things you notice in the silence of an electric car is how prevalent wind and tire noise can be without an internal combustion engine to breakup the aural monotony. While no one has ever slipped into madness due to an overabundance of road noise, rubber grinding against concrete at seventy-five miles an hour isn’t the most pleasant sound in the world, either.

Lucid Motors promised that its upcoming Air EV would possess an audio system equipped with active noise cancellation to ensure that its interior remains a silent space. However, we are only just now discovering how seriously they took that promise. Read More >

By on February 2, 2017

Alfa Romeo Stelvio nose logo badge

Relaunching Alfa Romeo has been an expensive undertaking for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and the brand continues to hemorrhage cash while FCA scrambles to get the Giulia and upcoming Stelvio into driveways. While discussing the company’s fourth-quarter earnings, CEO Sergio Marchionne confirmed that Alfa was a financial vortex last year and will remain that way until Americans see more than just the occasional 4C cruising down the boulevard.

It cost a fortune to develop the Giorgio platform that underpins the new Alfa models — Marchionne claims FCA spent $2.7 billion on the relaunch. To recoup some of those expenses, the brand is going to share its fancy new bones with Maserati, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles.  Read More >

By on February 1, 2017

BMW Group CEO Harald Krüger says the automaker fully intends on sicking with its current investment strategies in Mexico and the United States, even after President Donald Trump’s proposal to levy steep import taxes on vehicles brought into American borders.

“We need free world trade,” Krueger told the CAR Symposium automotive congress in Bochum, Germany, on Wednesday. Read More >

By on February 1, 2017

Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG Sedan - Image: Mercedes-BenzAuto sales slid 2 percent in January 2017, starting off the new year on the wrong foot after a record December ended 2016 by stealing this year’s sales.

Sharp declines at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Toyota Motor Corporation brought down an industry that saw numerous notable gains. While FCA and Toyota tumbled by more than 11 percent, year-over-year, Honda, Nissan, and Subaru were among the biggest brands to report improvements compared with January 2016. Read More >

By on February 1, 2017

Faraday Future FF 91 profile

Faraday Future had already broken ground on a sprawling $1 billion factory in North Las Vegas when a multi-million dollar late fee forced contractors to go on hiatus last November. Then, at CES 2017, the company announced the resumption of construction as the city’s mayor waved to the crowd — a physical manifestation of goodwill towards the company’s new promises.

What they did not say, however, was that the factory would be a fraction of the size as originally claimed, existing as a smaller-scale starter plant. Faraday is the automotive equivalent of Monty Python’s Black Knight. It continues to suffer horrendous blows that cripple its operational ability, all the while telling the world, “Tis but a scratch.” Read More >

By on February 1, 2017

chrysler crossfire

“God, that looks awful.”

We’ve all uttered the sentence above at one time or another. We’re sitting in traffic and are suddenly faced with something grotesque, something which was undoubtedly “of the moment” for only a moment, and which is now part of recent history best forgotten. But enough about the hooker leaning on a Crossfire.

Today I’m going to ask you to think back in time — up to ten years ago (which may be a challenge for some of our more wizened commenters) — and reflect on car designs. Tell me your pick for the most aged design of 2007-2017.

Read More >

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States