By on September 30, 2011

I like to tout myself as the youngest full-time auto writer in the industry, but sometimes it backfires – like when an Acura exec came up to me on my first press trip (at 19 years old) and warmly told a few assembled journalists and PR types that he hadn’t seen me since I was this big.

On the other hand, my youth gave me particular insight into two products that launched within the last month, and are aimed squarely at my demographic – the Hyundai Veloster and the Chevrolet Sonic. Both cars launched at the 2011 North American International Auto Show, though their reception couldn’t have been more different.

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By on August 8, 2011

Today, my phone rang repeatedly, and my email inbox quickly filled with questions. They all said: “Did you see this? Do you know these people?”

I knew the guy in the picture. I used to be married into a family that was in the Washington Green book. I lived in Virginia two driveways from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.  I was surrounded by gentleman farmers and politicos. Jeez, the late Ambassador Fritz Nolting drove into my pool on a riding mower with a cocktail in one hand and a cigar in the other. Talk about distracted driving.

The right man in the picture wanted to be Governor of Virginia. He still does. The left man wants to be a tycoon.

The man who leans over that sign somewhere in the godforsaken desert of Inner Mongolia, China, is Terence “Terry” McAuliffe. Yes, the very same Terry McAuliffe who was a Democratic National Committee head and a close Bill Clinton adviser who, according to a United States Senate document organized the famous coffees and sleepovers that saved Bill Clinton from electoral annihilation.

According to one source, “McAuliffe’s soft money strategy was responsible for President Clinton’s 1996 scandal concerning the Lincoln Bedroom sleepovers and the White House coffees, two tactics employed to solicit huge donations from wealthy friends and patrons of the Clintons.”

Putting the Lincoln Bedroom up for sale for $100,000 a night (on average) was only a minor scandal compared to what was called “Chinagate.”

Al Gore, friend and beneficiary of Buddhist monks, praised McAuliffe as ”the greatest fund-raiser in the history of the universe.” Coming from Gore, that’s the best endorsement one can get.

Yes, you are looking at THAT Terry McAuliffe.

Yes, it’s the same and he is back in China, and back in the fundraising business. This time, he promises to bring 300,000 cars to China. Made in America by Americans. Assembled in China. In that new factory which is going up behind the two gentlemen.

Wait, there is more. A lot more. Read More >

By on June 1, 2011

Mark Modica, a former Saturn dealer GM bondholder, has leveraged his financial loss at the hands of the government bailout into a blogging position at the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative nonprofit that “promotes ethics in public life through research, investigation, education and legal action.” At the NLPC, Modica focuses on what he believes to be corruption surrounding the auto bailout, and has written a series of anti-GM posts that make TTAC look like a Detroit hometown newspaper (TTAC “bias police,” take note). Most recently, Modica has caught the attention of the auto media, including Automobile Magazine and Jalopnik, with a series of posts accusing Chevy dealers of “scamming” taxpayers by claiming the Volt’s $7,500 tax credit and then selling Volts as used cars. TTAC welcomes anyone seeking to cast more light on the bailout, but unfortunately, Modica’s attacks are too focused on making GM look bad and not focused enough on providing relevant information to the American people. Let’s take a look and see why…

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By on May 20, 2011

While the political battle lines over increasing CAFE standards are being drawn in Washington, with the industry taking on both environmentalists and itself, a line of analysis that’s been around since 2009 is exacerbating the industry’s internal divisions over the impact of CAFE increases. A two-year-old University of Michigan study has been exhumed and expanded upon in a new CitiGroup report which makes a bold claim: CAFE will actually improve both sales and profits for the industry. And with Detroit taking the lead in resisting CAFE increases, one might think that the industry’s “turncoats” like Toyota and Hyundai, who have made marketing-led decisions to support CAFE increases, would be the main beneficiaries of these reports. Not so. According to this battle-line-confounding analysis, the biggest beneficiary of CAFE increases will be… Detroit. Madness you say? You may well be right…

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By on May 13, 2011

The combined market share of GM and Ford will reach 40% of the US market by the end of 2015. Yes, you just read that correctly. That’s a full five percent more share than what they have today, or a gain of just one percent a year. Call me crazy… but recall that Farago and I called the GM bankruptcy way before most industry observers (and certainly before the BoD of Old GM) could see it coming. Long time TTAC readers will also remember my call to buy Ford’s stock in April 2009 when it was trading in the three buck range. So calm those gut-reactions for a few minutes and let’s walk through this.

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By on May 4, 2011

 

For years now the Chinese automakers have been the bête noir of the global car industry, inspiring equal parts fear and contempt in boardrooms and editorial meetings from Detroit to Stuttgart. In an industry built on scale, China’s huge population and rapid growth can not be ignored as one scans the horizon for dark horse competitors. And yet no Chinese automaker has yet been able to get even a firm toehold in the market China recently passed as the world’s largest: the United States.

Certainly many have tried, as the last decade is littered with companies who have tried to import Chinese vehicles, only to go out of business or radically rethink their strategy (think Zap for the former and Miles/CODA for the latter). Others, like BYD (or India’s Mahindra), have teased America endlessly with big promises of low costs and high efficiency, only to delay launch dates endlessly. In short, a huge gulf has emerged between overblown fears of developing world (particularly Chinese) auto imports and the ability of Chinese automakers to actually deliver anything. No wonder then, that we found what appears to be the first legitimate attempt at importing Chinese cars to the US quite by accident…

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By on March 22, 2011

And you thought the dealer wanted a lot for a key fob

Today, to celebrate their new 918 supercar, Porsche announced a new special edition of the venerable 911, the new Porsche 911 Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder. Boy, isn’t that a mouthful? Actually, since it’s available as a drop top, it could even be the Porsche 911 Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder Cabriolet. I admit that the nomenclature is a little confusing, now that Porsche is making a coupe with the word Spyder in its name, and putting two model numbers on one car, so just that you know what we’re talking about it’s not Porsche’s new hybrid supercar, the 918 Spyder. No, this car is indeed based on the more pedestrian (yeah, I know, it’s a car, but work with me) 911. To be sure, it’s a special 911, what with its Turbo and S suffixes, and it’s got some unique-for-a-911 carbon fiber trim and “acid-green” stitching on the leather, to effect some of the look of the 918. I just checked on TrueDelta and a regular 2011 911 Turbo S is $160,700. So how much do you think it will cost you to get behind the wheel of a 911 Turbo S Edition 918 Spyder?

How about a million dollars?

And Porsche will sell every single one that they build.

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By on March 21, 2011


As Detroit was skipping a decade or two of car R&D by concentrating on packing increasing numbers of 128-ouncer-ready cup holders and faux-wood trim into big trucks, it became necessary to make it clear to the targeted buyer demographics that these trucks really weren’t, you know, trucks. In fact, they were more about protection from street crime and potholes than anything else, which is where slapping Mercury badges on the Explorer and Oldsmobile badges on the Blazer came in. Read More >

By on March 3, 2011


Sales of the Gremlin-based AMC Spirit in the United States were pretty dismal, but perhaps that was just the result of the suits in Kenosha choosing the wrong ad agency. Let’s head south of the border to see how VAM, which built certain AMC models under license for the Mexican market, pitched the ’81 Rally AMX. Read More >

By on February 17, 2011


Buster Keaton reached the height of his fame in about 1927, but Ford’s 1966 marketers must have figured that nostalgia for the allegedly wholesome silent-film era would be big, what with all the not-so-wholesome madness heating up in the United States at that time. How about we put Buster Keaton in the Econoline? Read More >

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