The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 05 Mar 2015 23:09:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/ My First and Most Recent Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/first-recent-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/first-recent-cars/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 23:09:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1014778 Not long ago my mother moved into an assisted living facility and I’ve been cleaning through her house. After observing her, my daughters, my sisters, and my maternal aunts I’ve figured out that there’s likely an OCD gene on one of their X chromosomes. Of course, my daughters got that bit of genetic material from […]

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Not long ago my mother moved into an assisted living facility and I’ve been cleaning through her house. After observing her, my daughters, my sisters, and my maternal aunts I’ve figured out that there’s likely an OCD gene on one of their X chromosomes. Of course, my daughters got that bit of genetic material from their dear old dad. Hey, just because I have 60+ egg crates filled with about 15 years worth of automotive press kits doesn’t mean that I hoard things. Anyhow, while cleaning I came across a box that looked like it hadn’t been touched since January of 1966, when we moved to the house that I’m now going through. Most of the things in the box were detritus, stuff that could have been thrown away before the move. However, as I was rifling through the fabric scraps and what have you, something bright red caught my eye.

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It was a pressed steel toy car, looking very much like an early 1960s Rambler station wagon. Something about it seemed very familiar and then it came to me: it was my first toy car. I remembered playing with it on the living floor of our house on Ward in northwest Detroit. One wheel was bent up into the body and another was completely missing, but it was mostly intact and in pretty nice shape considering it was more than a half century old. By the time we moved from that house I was already eleven years old so I probably hadn’t played with it in years by then, but mom does save things, which explains how it survived to make the move.

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My dad had a 1961 Rambler American two door in white. I would have been about six years old at the time and I’m guessing that maybe my parents got me a toy to match one of the family cars. I also remember from that same general time the larger, very detailed plastic scale car models that my brother and I got when our parents bought a ’61 Pontiac Catalina and our grandfather got his latest Olds 98, but this wasn’t one of those dealer models, just an inexpensive pressed steel toy, perhaps made in Japan, though I can’t find any maker’s mark.

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It so happens that I also just got a new toy car at the Henry Ford Museum when I was there to do a story on their Engines Exposed exhibition. The HFM is one of the tourist attractions around the country that still has vintage Mold-A-Rama machines. Developed in the 1950s by an inventor named J.H. “Tike” Miller, working with a coin operated vending company that is now the large foodservice firm known as Aramark, Mold-A-Ramas are small *injection molding machines that produce waxy plastic souvenirs while you watch them operate. They caught on big at the 1964 New York World’s Fair where there were at least 150 of the machines making everything from Sinclair Oil dinosaurs to coin banks.

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To people jaded by 3D printers, Mold-A-Ramas may not seem like much, but in the jet age they fascinated adults and children alike. The machines must have been well engineered because a couple of family owned businesses still operate a number of the 50 year old machines at tourist attractions in Florida and the midwest. As with just about everything that predates the digital age, there are folks who collect new and vintage Mold-A-Rama toys. If, like musician Jack White, you want your very own Mold-A-Rama unit, a reconditioned one will cost you about $15,000, custom molds extra.

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At the Ford museum you can get Mold A Rama statuettes of Henry Ford and plastic busts of Abraham Lincoln along with models of some of the museum’s more notable vehicles, like the Kennedy assassination presidential limousine. While the museum is independent of the Ford Motor Company, the firm and the Ford family are important patrons of the institution. Perhaps that’s why near the museum’s entrance a couple of the molding machines made miniature Ford products, a recent F-150 and a 1965 Mustang. I’m not much of a pickup truck fan, so I opted for the pony car, which was molded in a bright red, matching my first toy car. When I retrieved it from the hopper, I noticed that one side of the base reads “Ford Rouge Factory Tour”. I took the current Rouge plant tour soon after it was restarted a few years ago and I don’t recall seeing a Mold-A-Rama machine in the reception center so that may be a vintage mold from when the tour walked right next to the assembly line and visitors watched hot steel being poured from the vantage of the steel plant’s catwalk.

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Regular readers will know that I check out ease of child car seat use in my reviews because I regularly babysit my grandson, who will be three years old in a couple of months. He makes “vroom vroom” and “pshew” noises with the “fast cars” in the box of toys I keep for him here. I guess playing with cars is something that we car guys never grow out of. I can’t think of any adult car enthusiasts that I know that don’t have at least one scale model of a car or some other kind of toy car. I bet you can remember your first toy car and I’m also willing to bet that you’ve bought some kind of toy car for yourself or for someone else in recent memory. Please tell us about them.

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*The Mold-A-Rama process seems to me to be a cross between injection and blow molding since a blast of compressed air is used to hollow out the part.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Dude, Where’s My Cheap Gasoline? The Truth about Oil Part III http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/dude-wheres-cheap-gasoline-truth-oil-part-iii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/dude-wheres-cheap-gasoline-truth-oil-part-iii/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 22:36:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1016578   If you drive a Tesla, Leaf or a Volt, you may not have been to a gas pump lately. For the rest of us you’re probably wondering how in the Hell did he get it so wrong! There are some pretty amazing things happening in the oil industry, and a perfect storm gathered to […]

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Workers of French oil giant Total and the SFDM Society, and SNCF railway workers block the entrance of the deposit of the society SFDM near the oil refinery of Donges

 

If you drive a Tesla, Leaf or a Volt, you may not have been to a gas pump lately. For the rest of us you’re probably wondering how in the Hell did he get it so wrong! There are some pretty amazing things happening in the oil industry, and a perfect storm gathered to spike gasoline prices in the short term, and has set up a tidal wave of oil that could completely collapse both crude oil and refined fuel products just as the summer driving season begins.

To get an idea of what is going on, you need to look at three charts, which paint a fascinating picture. First, take a look at West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil prices (NYMEX short contract).

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Next, take a look at ethanol futures (short contract):

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And finally, take a look at gasoline futures (short contract):

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The price of oil was very volatile in the month of February. WTI hit a basement on January 28, 2015 of $44.08 per barrel, and then rose 21-1/2% in just 20 days, closing at $53.56 on February 17th. It has since dropped 8% in just six more days, which is as much data that was available as of this writing. If we were talking about equities, I would be calling this a classic “dead cat bounce.”

Now look at the price of gasoline futures.  At the same time oil started to go up, gasoline prices spiked up even faster, with one key difference, the prices have largely kept going up, settling in at just under $2.00 per gallon even as oil went back down.

If we look at ethanol we can see another, apparently disconnected trend, with ethanol prices dropping and not mirroring the increase in gasoline futures, trading in a rather narrow band of about fifteen cents in February. What in the name of the Wild World of Sports is going on here?

The biggest driver of rising gasoline prices, as much as a dollar a gallon in just a month in places like California, has been caused by a significant number of disruptions to US refinery capabilities in just the last 30 days:

There has been massive disruption to oil refining capabilities causing the price of gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel to skyrocket. US refinery utilization is normally at 81% to 85%, a 20% loss of capacity just from the strike, has created a situation where less motor fuel is being produced to meet the needs of the buyers lined up for products. Supply of gasoline has tightened, so the prices have gone up.

According to the US Energy Information Association, Weekly US Refiner and Blender Adjusted Net Production of Finished Motor Gasoline hit an all-time production record of 10,195,000 barrels per day in December of 2014. By the week of February 6th, production had dropped a whopping 15%. Gasoline production is tied more to just-in-time economics, so disruptions in refinery capacity due to accidents, weather, normal seasonal transition from winter to summer blends, and work stoppages have swift impacts to prices. So, now you understand why gasoline prices have shot up, but what about oil?

Oil prices spiked, bouncing off the $44 basement, and have settled in to a narrow range of $49 to $50 a barrel. The reason these two trend lines have disconnected, with gasoline continuing to climb up and oil starting to decline again is simple economics of supply and demand. Refiners buy crude oil to turn it into finished motor fuels. But if refiners are offline due to strikes, accidents, weather, seasonal change over, or all of the above, then they are buying less oil, and that is exactly what is happening.

Crude oil markets are faced with a no win situation. They can either cancel contracts on the oil they promised to buy, and pay huge penalties on top of an already battered market, or they can accept the oil and stockpile it in storage tanks waiting for the refinery disruptions to end. With fall 2015 oil futures at higher prices than the current market, oil producers have little incentive to send their oil to refiners anyway, so they’re incentivized to stockpile, which is exactly what they’re doing. Currently, the United States is producing and importing about one-million excess barrels of crude oil a day.

This issue of over capacity has gotten worse because of the Flanagan South Pipeline. Haven’t heard of it? It hasn’t been very news worthy because Flanagan South isn’t USDA prime click bait that generates the fury of a thousand suns that headlines around Keystone XL create. The 36” pipe went online in November, and is now pumping 550,000 barrels a day of heavy oil from western Canada directly to the United States through Pontiac, Michigan. It is what Keystone XL is proposed to do, already happening today.  Huge amounts of crude oil from Canada oil sands are moving to Illinois refineries and Cushing, Oklahoma for storage.

Here is the critical problem. The United States is running out of room to store oil.  By April every forecast is indicating the United States will be at tank top. Producers are already signing leases for oil tankers to store crude oil off the coasts of the United States in anticipation of hitting the top for onshore storage. The 13 pipelines that flow into Cushing, Oklahoma are pouring 1.7 million barrels of oil a day into the facility.

It is a perfect storm coming together. Diminished refinery capacity nationwide sent gasoline prices up swiftly, but reduced the need for crude oil at the same time. Crude oil producers having no incentive to send their oil down to the Gulf of Mexico refineries for production and export, because current futures prices indicate more profit can be made if they wait, and the refineries can’t use it anyway because of the strike. Record amounts of oil are already in place and have reached the critical point where all possible storage for crude oil will be filled up.

Fine, so why doesn’t China just buy the stuff, or Europe, or Brazil? China oil consumption is down as their economy has cooled and Europe had a rather normal winter and near flat economic growth. The fundamental issue of too much oil and not enough consumption hasn’t changed. What has changed for the short term is a tightening of gasoline supply within the United States causing a temporary spike in gasoline prices.

So what happens if we top out in April? Commodity price Armageddon is what happens. Oil will start to flow southward and refiners will be under huge pressure to increase output, into a market with an oversupply problem as it is. Refiners will be under huge pressure to settle with the United Steelworkers union to get production back up.The price of oil and motor fuels will have nowhere to go but down, and there is a growing chorus of analysts saying that crude oil will drop to below $30 a barrel, and take gasoline with it.

If the crude oil has nowhere to go, producers will be forced to throttle back production. That means any plunge in both oil and gasoline prices will be short lived. The pendulum will swing back the other way as the supply tightens quickly, and that ugly price spike that I wrote about coming in 2016 right around the time of US elections, that would be the next step.

I still think it’s still OK to plan that cross country drive in your Challenger Hellcat, but maybe time it closer to Labor Day.

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Study: Millennial Fastest-Growing Auto Lending Segment http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/study-millennial-fastest-growing-auto-lending-segment/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/study-millennial-fastest-growing-auto-lending-segment/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 15:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015978 Alleged to not be interested in cars or driving them, millennials are the fastest-growing segment of car buyers as far as lending goes, per a new study. According to Automotive News, credit-reporting company TransUnion found the group represented 27 percent of overall auto loans and lease originations made in 2014, up from just 16 percent […]

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Alleged to not be interested in cars or driving them, millennials are the fastest-growing segment of car buyers as far as lending goes, per a new study.

According to Automotive News, credit-reporting company TransUnion found the group represented 27 percent of overall auto loans and lease originations made in 2014, up from just 16 percent in 2009. Senior vice president and automotive business leader Jason Laky says this is due to both an improving economy and millennials’ entering into the next phase of their lives:

They’re maturing into their adulthood. They’re getting to the point where they’re employed, they’re having families, they’re moving to a place where they’re financing just like previous generations.

Meanwhile, Gen Xers were the largest segment in auto lending, accounting for 34 percent of loans and originations in 2014. Boomers followed close behind with 32 percent, down from 34 percent in 2013. Average balances per generation are $21,779 for Gen X, $21,055 for boomers, and $18,678 for millennials, the last group experiencing the largest jump in average outstanding balances at 4.1 percent.

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European Review: Škoda Octavia G-TEC Natural Gas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/european-review-skoda-octavia-g-tec-natural-gas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/european-review-skoda-octavia-g-tec-natural-gas/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1008938 I have talked about diesel, manual wagons in this space a few times already, so you probably know that I don’t like them. I don’t like their clatter and I don’t like their limited rev range and turbo surge. I don’t like the massive servicing costs of the common-rail ones, which is the price you […]

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I have talked about diesel, manual wagons in this space a few times already, so you probably know that I don’t like them. I don’t like their clatter and I don’t like their limited rev range and turbo surge. I don’t like the massive servicing costs of the common-rail ones, which is the price you pay for the reduction in clatter. And I hate the tons of soot they spit out.

There is one thing, though, at which they are hard to beat. It’s providing a combination of practicality and driving fun combined with fantastic fuel mileage. But hard to beat doesn’t mean impossible to beat. So, let me introduce a car that should, in theory, kick the diesel, manual wagon’s arse at its own game. The Škoda Octavia 1.4 TSI G-TEC.

What it is? In essence, it’s the only car anyone in the world needs. Which is what they say about the VW Golf, and they’re right. But this is also a Golf. Just a bit bigger, and a little bit cheaper. With lots more space inside. The rear seat legroom rivals that of the 5-series BMW, the trunk is huge, and everything is built just a little bit worse than a Golf, to fit in the Sloan’s Piech’s plan of the brand ladder.

Under its hood resides a downsized, turbocharged 1.4 TSI engine, offering a 138hp in its standard form. But this is not a standard car. This one has been factory fitted with a CNG fuel system. Under the trunk floor, there is a huge tank storing just 15 kilograms of compressed natural gas, while the original 50-litre (13.2 gallons) tank kept intact. Together, they offer a range of about 600 miles in normal driving (or 1,000 miles under “economy run” conditions), with 200 miles of those 600 in CNG-burning mode.

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The CNG brings great advantage in running costs – in the EU, it costs about half as much compared to gasoline, mile-for-mile. And at first, there are no significant differences between the ordinary gasoline-powered car and this one. There are sublte details, like the second fuel gauge instead of a water temp gauge in the tachometer, or the second fuel cap under the fuel door. There is also a slightly higher trunk floor, and the lack of a spare tire. Other than that, it’s just like ordinary car. The switching between fuels is automatic, and you won’t even notice it. The trip computer provides info about distance to empty on both fuels together, and each of them individually. Everything is nice and easy.

Under real life European conditions, this car gets about as cheap to run as it gets. With consumption of less than 4kg of CNG per 100km, it is possible achieve the cost of about $0.04 per kilometer ($0.06 per mile). At our electricity prices, about equals the cost of driving a Tesla in the same manner. As a matter of fact, I’m working on getting those two together to perform a real-life running cost comparison test. I have a strong feeling that Octavia may actually win.

At the same time, the CNG powered car still offers the smooth, quiet operation of gasoline engine, as well as its wide rev range. Couple that with an extremely nice interior, great build quality and top-notch suspension (the G-TEC, unlike other lower-powered Octavias, gets a multi-link axle in the rear), and you should have a clear winner on your hands. Even when I take into consideration that no real-life G-TEC will look like my press tester, which came as a top-trim Elegance model complete with navigation, automatic parking, lane assist, adaptive cruise control, heated leather seats front and rear, power everything including seats and tailgate etc., the car that is likely to get ordered by a typical customer (some mid-trim level with only a few options, costing maybe $25,000 with VAT and not $40k with VAT like the tested example) will look and function pretty well for what it is.

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The downside? Lack of power. Turns out there’s more to G-TEC’s modifications than just adding a second system, and it’s not just a different mapping, either. The company doesn’t talk about it much in its PR materials, but the G-TEC engine has a different camshaft and a different turbocharger from the gasoline version, thus slashing both power and torque curves. The result is a car that is, in real-life, slower than the lesser 1.2 TSI version, with power and torque seriously lacking in low rev-range.

Unlike a typical TSI engine, you have to rev it like an old N/A 1.6 four-cylinder. On Czech roads, with lots of corners and heavy traffic, this makes any kind of fast driving significantly uncomfortable – I once had to rush the G-TEC a bit, when I woke up just an hour and a half before I had to appear at lunch, in a town nearly 100 miles away. I made it, but overtaking on country roads was a pain and driving at 100+ mph on the highway required near-constant full throttle. This also meant that the fuel consumption skyrocketed from 4kg/100km to about twice that.

The other downside? The combination of small CNG tank with a sparse CNG station network in Europe. Two hundred miles on a tank is really not much, and with maybe one in 10 or 20 gas stations carrying CNG, you will probably end up running on an empty CNG tank quite often, burning more expensive gasoline instead. But even then, the 1.4 TSI is quite a frugal car, though nothing to write home about. Also, it is quite interesting that even when burning gasoline, the engine doesn’t get any of the lost horses back.

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In theory, the CNG cars combine a gasoline engine’s smooth, quiet power, with even better economy than diesel. And the G-TEC delivers at about 85% of this. As long as you’re leisurely, relaxed driver, you can achieve unparalleled fuel econmy, beating even some electric cars. But if you tend to rush, the car lacks in power significantly. The solution would probably be to offer the G-TEC version of the more powerful 1.8 TSI as well – and we can only hope we will get one, soon. With that, the obnoxious diesel, manual wagon can finally be taken out and shot, as it deserves.

@VojtaDobes is motoring journalist from Czech Republic, who previously worked for local editions of Autocar and TopGear magazines. Today, he runs his own website, www.Autickar.cz and serves as editor-in-chief at www.USmotors.cz. After a failed adventure with importing classic American cars to Europe, he is utterly broke, so he drives a ratty Chrysler LHS. His previous cars included a 1988 Caprice in NYC Taxi livery, a hot-rodded Opel Diplomat, two Dodge Coronets, a Simca, a Fiat 600 and Austin Maestro. He has never owned a diesel, manual wagon.

Photos: David Marek

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Marchionne: Fiat Will Never Again Be ‘A General Brand’ In Europe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/marchionne-fiat-will-never-general-brand-europe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/marchionne-fiat-will-never-general-brand-europe/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 14:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015962 Once a mass-market player in Europe, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne says Fiat will never again be as such. According to Automotive News Europe, Marchionne made the proclamation during this year’s Geneva Auto Show: In terms of the scope of a mass producer of vehicles, Fiat (brand) no longer offers — and it never intends to […]

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Once a mass-market player in Europe, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne says Fiat will never again be as such.

According to Automotive News Europe, Marchionne made the proclamation during this year’s Geneva Auto Show:

In terms of the scope of a mass producer of vehicles, Fiat (brand) no longer offers — and it never intends to have — a full range of product of the kind mass brands have. Fiat will lose its appeal as a general brand and it will focus on what it does best.

He adds that “the economics are not there” to keep Fiat in the mass-market arena as far as investments are concerned, and has no plans to claw back lost market share in Europe. As such, Marchionne has refocused the brand’s European lineup toward smaller cars like the 500 range, the Panda, and upcoming replacements for the Bravo and Punto.

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Piston Slap: A Snowpocalypse Kills Old Cars? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-snowpocalypse-kills-old-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-snowpocalypse-kills-old-cars/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 13:30:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1014906   TTAC Commentator Pete Zaitcev writes: Dear Sajeev: Here’s a qustion that’s not “what car should I buy”. My town had a “snowpocalypse” event: it was 65F for a week, then an inch or two of snow fell and the temperatures fell into low 30s for a day. The usual followed, like a miniature Atlanta. But what surprised me the […]

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So much for the Freezing Fire oxymoron. (photo courtesy: dailymail.co.uk)

TTAC Commentator Pete Zaitcev writes:

Dear Sajeev:

Here’s a qustion that’s not “what car should I buy”. My town had a “snowpocalypse” event: it was 65F for a week, then an inch or two of snow fell and the temperatures fell into low 30s for a day. The usual followed, like a miniature Atlanta. But what surprised me the most was the number of broken cars parked alongside highways. They didn’t fall to accidents, they just stopped. But why?

I can imagine one guy being silly enough to eschew 50/50 antifrieze and get a block cracked. But there were dozens of them all over, and they ran until they stopped. So, probably not heat/cold as such.

None of cars I saw was brand-new. I saw BMWs, Fords, even Acuras. My personal suspicion is that electrics got salt water into them.

Is that a reasonable suspicion?

Is this something I can test for?

Sajeev answers:

The odds of salt water (or anything else) getting in there is unlikely. Modern engine electronics are quite impervious to the elements, short of an underhood steam cleaning.

Crystal Ballin’ the reason for so much Hooptie Snowstorm Fail is tough.  Maybe they’re running on worn out batteries or alternators that finally died, where one component finally killed the other. It wouldn’t be the first time!

Or maybe…umm…I’m sticking with a combination of dying battery and worn alternator. Especially considering how temperature changes can wreak havoc on a conventional lead-acid battery. New cars have new batteries, right? 

Off to you, Best and Brightest!

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Ford Readying Chevrolet Bolt Rival For Los Angeles Reveal http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/ford-readying-chevrolet-bolt-rival-los-angeles-reveal/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/ford-readying-chevrolet-bolt-rival-los-angeles-reveal/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015938 Not one to be left in the dust, Ford is preparing a rival low-cost EV to go after the Chevrolet Bolt for a Los Angeles reveal this year. AutoGuide reports the plug-in EV would be a stand-alone model instead of a repurposed product like a Fiesta or Focus. Ford hopes to beat Chevrolet to the […]

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Not one to be left in the dust, Ford is preparing a rival low-cost EV to go after the Chevrolet Bolt for a Los Angeles reveal this year.

AutoGuide reports the plug-in EV would be a stand-alone model instead of a repurposed product like a Fiesta or Focus. Ford hopes to beat Chevrolet to the punch with a production version before the Bolt hits showrooms in 2017, though both vehicles would likely reach customers before Tesla’s low-cost Model 3 sees the light of day.

Though little else has been found on this project, a concept version of Ford’s Bolt is expected to bow at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

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Kia Sportspace Heading To Production Within 18 Months http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/kia-sportspace-heading-production-within-18-months/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/kia-sportspace-heading-production-within-18-months/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 12:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015914 Eighteen months from now, the Kia Sportspace will make the leap from the design studio to European showrooms. According to Top Gear, Kia Europe CEO Michael Cole says the estate is part of the automaker’s plans to “enter segments that [Kia’s] not in to support [its] growth. In Europe particularly the D-segment wagon is a […]

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Kia-Sportspace-Concept-7

Eighteen months from now, the Kia Sportspace will make the leap from the design studio to European showrooms.

According to Top Gear, Kia Europe CEO Michael Cole says the estate is part of the automaker’s plans to “enter segments that [Kia’s] not in to support [its] growth. In Europe particularly the D-segment wagon is a volume segment, so it’s worth going for.”

The Sportspace is also leading the way toward a sportier, performance-oriented direction for Kia, which currently includes the green-lit twin-turbo V6 GT. Though the estate boasts Optima’s T-Hybrid diesel-electric powertrain — whose output of 170 horsepower is directed to the front when the estate’s temporary AWD is not in use — Cole says a high-performance version could come “much further down the line.”

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Automakers Continue Support Of Electric Vehicles Despite Weak Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/automakers-continue-support-electric-vehicles-despite-weak-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/automakers-continue-support-electric-vehicles-despite-weak-sales/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015890 Though sales of electric vehicles are still weak, automakers are not giving up on them over the long term. Reporting from the floor of the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, Autoblog says that technology is important to help automakers meet ever-stringent emissions standards, especially those in China, where heavy air pollution limits how many cars are […]

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2015 BMW i3

Though sales of electric vehicles are still weak, automakers are not giving up on them over the long term.

Reporting from the floor of the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, Autoblog says that technology is important to help automakers meet ever-stringent emissions standards, especially those in China, where heavy air pollution limits how many cars are registered annually. BMW AG CEO Norbert Reithofer said as much when stating that his company cannot leave EVs like the i3 behind, proclaiming such vehicles would be in demand in the future.

Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche says hybrids were “truly attractive cars that represent the best of both worlds” as his and other companies cross the bridge toward a zero-emission future. However, Zetsche adds that the battery technology needed to get to the other side — long-lasting battery packs — are at least five years away.

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Chevrolet Axes Slow Selling Orlando In Canada http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/chevrolet-axes-slow-selling-orlando-canada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/chevrolet-axes-slow-selling-orlando-canada/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 22:51:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015338 The Canadian-market Chevrolet Orlando is dead, according to sales analyst Timothy Cain. Thanks to some sleuthing, Cain discovered that GM Canada quietly killed off the Orlando for 2015. The Orlando never managed to make a dent in the Canada small minivan market, despite being the right car for Canadian market and road conditions. More than […]

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IMG_0093-450x300

The Canadian-market Chevrolet Orlando is dead, according to sales analyst Timothy Cain. Thanks to some sleuthing, Cain discovered that GM Canada quietly killed off the Orlando for 2015.

The Orlando never managed to make a dent in the Canada small minivan market, despite being the right car for Canadian market and road conditions. More than likely, the sub-$20,000 Dodge Caravan Canada Value Package stole away customers who wanted an affordable minivan that can haul a couple of kids and their hockey bags. The success of the Caravan has always been a thorn in the side of other small vans like the Mazda5 and Kia Rondo.

 

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Chevrolet Colorado Chassis Cab Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/chevrolet-colorado-chassis-cab-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/chevrolet-colorado-chassis-cab-debuts/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 20:36:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015290 For those who must have a chassis cab in something smaller than a full-size truck, Chevrolet’s got you covered. Available in two-wheel drive V6 format, the Colorado chassis cab can be ordered by checking the box for the ZW9 package. At around $300 less than the equivalent truck with a bed, the chassis cab gets […]

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado box delete package

For those who must have a chassis cab in something smaller than a full-size truck, Chevrolet’s got you covered.

Available in two-wheel drive V6 format, the Colorado chassis cab can be ordered by checking the box for the ZW9 package. At around $300 less than the equivalent truck with a bed, the chassis cab gets you  comes with a set  of temporary taillights mounted to the frame ends, a full-size spare, a Z82 trailer package and a limited-slip differential. Payload is set at 2,000 lbs.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado box delete package 2015 Chevrolet Colorado box delete package 2015 Chevrolet Colorado box delete package 2015 Chevrolet Colorado box delete package

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A Very “Euro” Way To Hand Out That Free Candy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/euro-way-hand-free-candy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/euro-way-hand-free-candy/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 19:53:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015226 Twenty-four years ago, noted wearer-of-Givenchy-sweatsuits-with-burgundy-trim DJ Quik lamented that, thanks to the pervasive influence of gangster rap, everywhere he went was just like Compton. The same thing is happening with the American commercial-vehicle landscape. The first to fall was the hoary old unibody Dodge van, which yielded to the rust-prone Sprinter. Next was the E-Series, […]

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The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris

Twenty-four years ago, noted wearer-of-Givenchy-sweatsuits-with-burgundy-trim DJ Quik lamented that, thanks to the pervasive influence of gangster rap, everywhere he went was just like Compton. The same thing is happening with the American commercial-vehicle landscape. The first to fall was the hoary old unibody Dodge van, which yielded to the rust-prone Sprinter. Next was the E-Series, nee Econoline, which bowed-out this year in favor of the Euro-style full-sized Transit. Only the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana are left to carry the glinting banner on which waves the heraldic American-van shield of a bleeding hand (from trying to wrench on short-hood vehicles), a one-dollar bill (to signify the aggressive cost-cutting which has come to dominate that business) a bar of candy (calling to mind the child molesters and creeps who formed the tertiary van market) and the symbols “O-” (the old universal-donor blood type, required for anyone who crashed a van above walking pace).

Mercedes started this party in the USA, of course, but they’ve been late to the intermediate-van game. The Metris, announced at a work-truck show in Indianapolis, will fix that oversight.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris

The Metris starts at $29,945 for cargo and $33,495 for the passenger models. Who’s going to buy the latter, I wonder? It’s larger than the Transit Connect or the Nissan NV200.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris

The sole available engine is a four-cylinder gasoline model that delivers 208 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque to the rear-wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van

Everywhere else in the world, this is the “Vito” van, beloved steed of German plumbers and anybody else who wants to spend more money than you’d drop on, say, a Renault Kangoo. But here it’s “Metris”, presumably because “Vito” suggests Brando in his chunky forties and this Metris is meant to be more Al Pacino in Godfather II.

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van

I cannot imagine the Metris will set the market on fire when it arrives. This is an exceptionally price-sensitive market, as I learned to my annoyance when I sold E-150s for a living, and Mercedes no longer carries the bulletproof quality reputation that would have made spending half again the price of a Transit Connect a no-brainer in 1982. We’ll just have to see. In the meantime, consider this: a passenger-model Metris carries more people than a CLA250, with more dignity.

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America’s 20 Best-Selling Vehicles: February 2015 YTD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/americas-20-best-selling-vehicles-february-2015-ytd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/americas-20-best-selling-vehicles-february-2015-ytd/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:45:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015162 After an especially strong start to 2015, Ford F-Series volume failed to increase in the United States in the second month of the year. The F-Series was outsold by GM’s full-size twins in February 2015, just as it was in the final five months of 2014. Through the first two months of 2015, however, the […]

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2015 Ford F-150After an especially strong start to 2015, Ford F-Series volume failed to increase in the United States in the second month of the year. The F-Series was outsold by GM’s full-size twins in February 2015, just as it was in the final five months of 2014. Through the first two months of 2015, however, the F-Series isn’t just America’s best-selling vehicle line, it’s also ahead of the GM twins.

Slightly.

By 327 units.

It’ll be the race to watch in 2015, not because there’s any real possibility of the F-Series being unseated – the Silverado would need to outsell the F-Series by an average of 2811 units in each of 2015’s remaining ten months to take the top spot by year’s end – but because 2015 is a major year for Ford’s truck line.

Can Ford strike the balance between incentive-boosted volume and profitability on their new aluminum-intensive F-150? If the F-Series’ market share continues to be strong, does it matter if the GM twins can muster more sales?

Ford and GM trucks aren’t alone at the top of best sellers lists: the Ram P/U line is the third best-selling vehicle range so far this year, 211 sales ahead of the best-selling car, Toyota’s Camry. The Camry’s February results, a 14% jump to 32,942 sales, meant the Ram was temporarily knocked down to the fourth position for the first time since August.

Rank
Best-Selling Vehicle
2 Months 2015
2 Months 2014
% Change
#1
Ford F-Series
109,606 102,418 7.0%
#2
Chevrolet Silverado
81,501 65,510 24.4%
#3
Ram P/U
59,916 54,374 10.2%
#4
Toyota Camry
59,705 52,330 14.1%
#5
Toyota Corolla
55,196 48,052 14.9%
#6
Nissan Altima
54,882 54,364 2.8%
#7
Honda CR-V
45,509 38,991 16.7%
#8
Honda Accord
42,627 45,226 -5.7%
#9
Ford Fusion
42,426 44,615 -4.9%
#10
Toyota RAV4
41,767 33,331 25.3%
#11
Chevrolet Equinox
41,278 36,134 14.2%
#12
Ford Escape
40,969 42,604 -3.8%
#13
Honda Civic
39,737 43,399 -8.4%
#14
Nissan Rogue
37,068 31,028 19.5%
#15
Chevrolet Cruze
36,994 38,664 -4.3%
#16
Ford Explorer
35,649 26,734 33.3%
#17
Ford Focus
32,497 27,929 16.4%
#18
Chrysler 200
29,962 22,958 30.5%
#19
Nissan Sentra
29,749 21,466 38.6%
#20
Jeep Cherokee
29,180 22,300 30.9%

This list was updated at 11:34 AM ET to reflect former Corolla/Altima exclusion.

The Camry, meanwhile, led all cars in February. On the one hand, that’s not surprising. On an annual basis, the Camry is routinely America’s best-selling car. On the other hand, this was just the third time in the last seven months that the Camry’s topped the car leaderboard, as the Honda Accord took top honours in August and September and the Nissan Altima was the best-selling car in December and January.

The Accord, however, isn’t even the top-selling Honda these days. Honda’s CR-V continued its streak atop the Honda leaderboard in February, the fifth consecutive month in which the CR-V outsold the Accord and Civic. Through the first two months of 2015, the CR-V began just where it left off, as America’s top-selling SUV/crossover.

The odd story in February’s utility vehicle sales race was the positioning of the Ford Escape. Sales of Ford’s smallest utility declined 10% in an SUV/crossover category which grew by more than 8%. This decline opened up the door for the Toyota RAV4, Chevrolet Equinox, and Nissan Rogue to all outsell the Escape, albeit by narrow margins. The Escape, typically America’s second-best-selling SUV, ranked fifth in February and fourth through the first one-sixth of 2015.

Overall, this list of the 20 best-selling vehicles includes three pickup trucks, ten passenger cars, and seven utility vehicles, including the Ford Explorer and Jeep Cherokee. At this stage in 2014, all of these vehicles except for the Chrysler 200, Jeep Cherokee, Nissan Sentra were also among the 20 top sellers. The Hyundai Elantra, Chevrolet Malibu, and GMC Sierra – which ranked 15th, 17th, and 20th, respectively, at this stage a year ago – were knocked off.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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The FIAT MX-5 Will Be Called 124 Spider http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/fiat-mx-5-will-called-124-spider/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/fiat-mx-5-will-called-124-spider/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:20:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015042 Sergio Marchionne had a surprise for Geneva Show attendees: a confirmation that FIAT’s version of the stellar new MX-5 will have an old-school name. Talking to Auto Express, Marchionne revealed the name “124 Spider” on an apparent whim. Not that this comes as a surprise to the Internet, which has been vaguely aware of plans […]

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1980-fiat-124-spider-in-better-days

Sergio Marchionne had a surprise for Geneva Show attendees: a confirmation that FIAT’s version of the stellar new MX-5 will have an old-school name.

Talking to Auto Express, Marchionne revealed the name “124 Spider” on an apparent whim. Not that this comes as a surprise to the Internet, which has been vaguely aware of plans to name the car thus for a while now. Answers to the main questions — what will the car look like, and what kind of powerplants will it have? — are still up in the air, but the production location is set as Hiroshima, Japan.

Given that the car will share a production location with the MX-5, it would be unwise to expect too many Italian (or Mexican) engines under the hood. There is likely to be an Abarth version. There will not be an Alfa Romeo variant, however; Marchionne suggested that Alfas need to be built in Italy, not Japan (or Mexico).

Images of the car on the Web are photo illustrations by people who haven’t seen so much as a prototype, so take them with the proverbial grain of salt.

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2016 Chevrolet Malibu Teased http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2016-chevrolet-malibu-teased/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2016-chevrolet-malibu-teased/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:29:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015130 Apparently, this is the next-gen Chevrolet Malibu. According to GM, the Malibu will shed 300 lbs and gain a 4-inch longer wheelbase – can you say “Chinese market”? The BMW Gran Coupe-like shape might be a bit too radical for buyers on our shores. Maybe they should call it “Malibu Maxx”.

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nextmalibu

Apparently, this is the next-gen Chevrolet Malibu.

According to GM, the Malibu will shed 300 lbs and gain a 4-inch longer wheelbase – can you say “Chinese market”? The BMW Gran Coupe-like shape might be a bit too radical for buyers on our shores. Maybe they should call it “Malibu Maxx”.

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Question Of The Day: Japan’s Future Classics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-japans-future-classics/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-japans-future-classics/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:18:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1010146 When a publication like Barron’s is getting in on the “Japanese classic car” story, you can be sure that this is more than just a flash-in-the-pan phenomenon of aging boomers looking to buy the 240Z they lusted after in high school. It also helps that most Japanese cars, save for the Toyota 2000GT and an all-original […]

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Integra1998

When a publication like Barron’s is getting in on the “Japanese classic car” story, you can be sure that this is more than just a flash-in-the-pan phenomenon of aging boomers looking to buy the 240Z they lusted after in high school. It also helps that most Japanese cars, save for the Toyota 2000GT and an all-original Nissan Skyline GT-R “Hakosuka” with the original S20 engine, are within the reach of most potential classic car investors.

Aside from obvious candidates like the Acura NSX and the Toyota Supra Turbo, I think that there are some solid gems that will fetch decent money or be otherwise desirable in the future. Front and center is the Acura Integra Type-R. Most of them have been crashed, stolen or modified. I don’t think they’ll ever hit the same heights as a Hemi Cuda, but they occupy a similar place in the imagination of the Fast and Furious generation. I’d also add the Mitsubishi Evo and the third-generation Mazda RX-7 for similar reasons. Any other candidates?

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Jeep Grand Wagoneer To Return In 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/jeep-grand-wagoneer-return-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/jeep-grand-wagoneer-return-2018/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:15:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015018 Jeep’s Mike Manley told the press at Geneva that there’s a Grand Wagoneer coming — but the details of that arrival are, so far, thin on the ground. Pricing and content of the Grand Wagoneer has not been settled, but it’s possible that it will share components with the Maserati Levante. There will also be […]

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jeep_grand_wagoneer_2

Jeep’s Mike Manley told the press at Geneva that there’s a Grand Wagoneer coming — but the details of that arrival are, so far, thin on the ground.

Pricing and content of the Grand Wagoneer has not been settled, but it’s possible that it will share components with the Maserati Levante. There will also be a single model to replace both Patriot and Compass and sit above the Renegade. Insofar as Jeep is arguably the only American brand besides with Tesla with genuine upper-middle-class credibility, there’s clearly room for a more expensive take on the Jeep formula. Not to mention all the families in the Hamptons who are waiting to replace their old ones, right?

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Piston Slap: Traversing the World of LED Retrofit Bulbs! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-traversing-world-led-retrofit-bulbs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/piston-slap-traversing-world-led-retrofit-bulbs/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:51:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1014818   TTAC Commentator MWebbRambler writes: Sajeev, Your recent Piston Slap on HID lights reminded me of a problem I had with replacing tail lights on my wife’s 2009 Traverse. One of the OEM bulbs burned out, so I decided to replace both brake/tail lights with LEDs. The LED lights worked great and were brighter than […]

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(photo courtesy: galleryhip.com)

TTAC Commentator MWebbRambler writes:

Sajeev,

Your recent Piston Slap on HID lights reminded me of a problem I had with replacing tail lights on my wife’s 2009 Traverse. One of the OEM bulbs burned out, so I decided to replace both brake/tail lights with LEDs.

The LED lights worked great and were brighter than the OEM bulbs, but there was just one problem–the turn signals would blink rapidly, just like they did with the burned out bulb. After I went back and RTFM I learned the rapid blinking or “hyper-flashing” occurs when a bulb is burned out OR the system is drawing little to no current. Since the LEDs use a lot less power, the system thinks the bulb is burned out.

A quick check online indicates my only option for the Traverse is to install a load resistor kit, which requires splicing the wires and adding a load resistor to each bulb. The process looks easy enough, but seeing how you are a lighting aficionado and a wizard when it comes to all things automotive, I thought I’d seek your advice on options.

Sajeev answers:

We covered this before, but things have changed: most, but not all, LED retrofit bulbs (especially of the flashing variety) are unsafe and super illegal. Luckily we have Daniel Stern (dastern@torque.net), brilliant Lighting Consultant, amongst our ranks to clear this all up.

Daniel writes:

That’s an understandable idea, but in most cases it’s presently somewhere between difficult and impossible to do safely, effectively, and legally for reasons much bigger than the improper turn signal flash rate.

The big majority of LED bulb retrofits for cars is unsafe, illegal junk from a variety of vendors making tall yet bogus claims. Odds are that’s what you bought and installed in your wife’s Traverse. They might have appeared brighter to you, but they very likely didn’t work safely. The federal and international safety performance requirements for vehicle exterior lights are much more stringent and exacting than just lighting up in a particular color. The intensity for each function has to be within the proper limits through a large range of vertical and horizontal angles, the ratio between bright and dim intensity must be correct for combination brake/tail and park/turn lamps, and the lamp’s effective lit area must be at least a certain size. These requirements are in place to guarantee an immediately, unambiguously recognizable signal to observers at any angle to your vehicle, day and night, in any weather. Whether these requirements are met can’t be judged by peering at the operating lights; we humans aren’t equipped to accurately assess lights’ performance by eye (it just feels like we are). Most LED retrofit bulbs on the market for vehicle lights, when measured objectively, badly fail most or all of the requirements. Some of them are brighter than stock at certain angles, but that’s not even close to adequate.

Moreover, the light output of an LED drops as its temperature rises, which happens quickly when the LED is lit up. LEDs need effective heat sinking, and the vast majority
of vehicle LED retrofit bulbs on the market don’t have it. This means the retrofitted lamp’s output, even if it starts out adequate with a cold bulb, quickly drops below the minimum requirement with extended use of the lamp (such as when sitting with your foot on the brake in traffic). The poor objective performance of most LED retrofits means the lamps’ output goes from inadequate to very inadequate.

“Gimme a break, you dweeb!”, you say, “I drive with my eyes, not with lab equipment; it lights up red and I think they’re bright enough”. Sure, but your car’s lights are life safety equipment. They have to work the way they’re supposed to –as measured objectively, not by guess and by gosh. If you’re involved in a crash and your car’s safety equipment is found to have been modified, you can quickly wind up in very deep legal doo-doo and debt.

Then we get to the issue that prompted you to write in for help: because LEDs don’t draw the amount of current the vehicle’s turn signal circuit was designed for, they are detected as a faulty bulb. Another safety requirement is that a faulty turn signal bulb must substantially change the flash rate, so the driver will know to fix it. Old vehicles with a standard 2- or 3-prong plug-in turn signal flasher can have a “heavy-duty” flasher installed; meant for trailer towing, these flash at the correct rate without regard to the current load. But most vehicles made in the last two decades don’t use those standard flashers. You might be able to buy a trailer-tow turn signal module for your vehicle, or have its body computer reflashed for trailer-tow mode to cancel the bulb outage indication. Or you can hack your way around the problem by installing “load resistors”, but now you’ve eliminated the low-power benefit of LEDs and you’re cutting wires and adding potential failure points, especially if you use off-brand parts not built or tested to automotive levels of reliability — minimize your odds of a failure by using reputable-brand parts, and forget those crunch-type/Scotchlok wire taps, use Posi-Taps instead.

Don’t wear a permanent frown about this wet-blanket reality check, though. The world’s first legitimate LED bulbs for retrofitment of incandescent vehicle exterior lights came to market last year from Philips — their “Vision LED” line focused on maximum lifespan and their “X-Treme Vision LED” line focused on maximum output. They’re easily available and not very expensive. Right now the Philips X-Treme Vision LED range includes red bulbs to replace 1156 (or European P21W), and 1157 (Euro P21/5W), white bulbs to replace 1156, and white bulbs to replace 921 in reversing lamps. The Vision LED range adds red 74403157 (P27/7W), and 7443 (W21/5W), and white 194 (168, W3W, W5W) bulbs.

The Philips items have a great deal of engineering and development work behind them, and are enormously more likely to work appropriately than anything else on the market right now. But even with these you’re not necessarily home free; they aren’t a “go” for just any lamp that happens to take a bulb type included in their product line. Each and every vehicle light, no matter how simple it might look, is optically engineered to collect, focus, and distribute the light from one particular kind of light source. Changing to a different kind of light source is like putting on somebody else’s eyeglasses; it’s an optical mismatch. Because the light distribution of even today’s most highly engineered LED retrofit bulbs isn’t the same as the incandescent bulbs they’re designed to replace, the only way to know if the retrofit works OK is to test it objectively.

Philips has a website where they list the applications that have tested out acceptably for their various LED retrofit bulbs. The list isn’t exhaustive, because it’s really not possible or practical for them to test each and every make, model, and year of vehicle to be found on American roads. Newer and more popular vehicles are naturally tested first; older and less popular ones are naturally tested sometime between eventually and never. If your particular vehicle isn’t on the approved list, it means either the LED retrofits don’t work safely in your vehicle or your vehicle’s lights haven’t been tested with the LED retrofits. The safe assumption if you drive a recent-but-not-latest model that’s absent from the list is that it flunked the test and you’d best run standard incandescent bulbs and keep waiting.

It’s a little ironic, but the older the vehicle, the more likely the retrofits are to work acceptably. Starting in the mid-late ’90s, exterior lights were designed with
complex-surface reflector optics to create jewel-like effects with completely transparent cover lenses. Bulb characteristics are extremely crucial to these optics’ ability to produce an effective light signal, and in most cases even the best of today’s LED retrofit bulbs won’t work well. Before that time, most vehicle lights used simple, standard parabolic reflectors and pillow or fresnel lens optics; barring a weird bulb entry angle into the lamp, the Philips retrofits work great in many such lamps. Pay careful attention if you try it, though, and make sure they do everything they need to do. There are lamps that wrap around to the side of the vehicle and use a side-on view of the bulb for the sidemarker light function; in many cases using an LED bulb leaves these lamps totally dark from the side. Sidemarker lights do a great job of reducing your chance of being sideswiped or T-boned; it’s foolish to delete them. And be mindful of matching the bulb color to the lens; using the available cool “6000K” white LEDs behind a red lens produces a weak, pinkish-brown light that’s neither bright enough nor of an appropriate color, for instance (though the white LEDs can give a nice bright yellow color in an amber turn signal housing).

More LED retrofit types are in the pipeline from Philips, and over the coming years some of the other reputable makers will produce this kind of product, too. At a recent vehicle lighting technical symposium in Germany, a major lighting supplier showed progress toward truly universal LED retrofit bulbs that emit the right amounts of light in the right distribution, same as an incandescent bulb, but they’re not yet ready for market. Be patient and cautious, because progress will come in fits and starts, and a reputable name doesn’t necessarily mean a product safe and worthy to use; Two brands widely sold on the American market have recently released LED bulbs that don’t even come close to working safely or legally in any lamps at all — sheesh, anything to make a buck!

A final note a little tangential to your original question: the headlamp “LED bulb conversions” now flooding the market are not a legitimate, safe, effective, or legal product. Just as with “HID kits”, these are a fraudulent scam. They’re not capable of producing even a fraction of the amount of light produced by the filament bulb they supposedly replace, let alone producing it in the right pattern for the lamp’s optics to work — see a particularly ambitious amateur test here. This, too, might eventually change; the same company that makes the world’s only legit brake light LED retrofit bulbs also has a first-generation fog lamp LED retrofit bulb that works surprisingly well in certain specific fog lamps.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: But Some Are More Equal Than Others Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/whats-wrong-picture-equal-others-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/whats-wrong-picture-equal-others-edition/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:30:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1011226 I was not exactly charmed by the current-generation Malibu when I reviewed it last summer. Its Kamm-tailed predecessor had enough virtue to face the Japanese-brand midsizers squarely on their own turf and come away with at least a respectable, stylish showing, but the current car is a retrograde step in everything from its regrettably truckish […]

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morequal

I was not exactly charmed by the current-generation Malibu when I reviewed it last summer. Its Kamm-tailed predecessor had enough virtue to face the Japanese-brand midsizers squarely on their own turf and come away with at least a respectable, stylish showing, but the current car is a retrograde step in everything from its regrettably truckish styling to its lowered-expectations driving dynamics.

Turns out that I’m not the only person, or corporation, if that’s not the same thing in 2015 anyway, who feels that way. If you’re renting at certain airports, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the Malibu at the same kind of deep discount it currently requires in order to slip the surly bonds of drab GM dealerships. I asked a rental-industry insider why that might be so.

My friend was guarded in his response to my question, which was, basically, “Why is a Camry considered so much more valuable than a Malibu as a rental car?”

“Well,” he responded, “As traditionally utilitarian cars become nicer, they are given new classes. The 200C is classed differently than the Cruze which is considered a midsize car. If you book a midsize, chances are you’ll get a Cruze but a 200C is an upsell.” Fair enough, but that doesn’t explain why there’s a specific category for “full-sized cars” that also happen to be Malibus, and that category happens to be much cheaper than regular “full-sized” cars like a Camry.

“It’s all done internally for depreciation reasons,” was his response, but when I pressed him I found out that the rental car companies are a lot more sensitive to the market’s desires than you might think. Consider, if you will, the new-generation Impala. Once upon a time, all Impalas were considered the same kind of upgrade, whether you got a leather-and-buckets LTZ or a fleet special with a bench seat and no insignia on the tail. I’ve paid about the same for both, with no warning as to what I’d get when I booked.

Nowadays, however, the Impala LTZ lives in a different category from the LS and LT. Although even the mid-grade model impressed our own Bark M. when it arrived in the fleets, if you want the Zen Impala, so to speak, you’ll pay more.

But that doesn’t answer the question of why a car that is priced heads-up against Camry and Accord finds itself heavily discounted as a one-night-stand. Maybe it’s the channel-stuffing to fleets that New GM swore off with all the conviction of David Crosby waving his hand at a proffered bottle of liquor. If the rental companies pay less, I suppose they might consider passing the savings along to me, the rental customer.

Alternately, perhaps they’re tired of people like me who view the current Malibu as the all-time rental booby prize and will therefore raise hell not to spend a weekend behind the wheel of one. With this new pricing strategy, we have a chance to put our money with our mouth is, so to speak. And who would want to put their mouth on a Malibu?

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February 2015 Full-Size Pickup Truck Sales Up 8%: GM Gains Plenty Of Market Share http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/february-2015-full-size-pickup-truck-sales-8-gm-gains-plenty-market-share/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/february-2015-full-size-pickup-truck-sales-8-gm-gains-plenty-market-share/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:28:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015186 One year ago, when we began tracking the monthly market share movement in America’s full-size pickup truck sector, General Motors had just seen its February market share fall from 39% in February 2013 to 35% one year later. Their trucks were new, but GM’s volume wasn’t matching the heavily incentivized sales production of their predecessors. […]

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450x186x2014-RAM-1500-Eco-Diesel-Exterior-005-450x186.jpg.pagespeed.ic.lOe8Dz48bOOne year ago, when we began tracking the monthly market share movement in America’s full-size pickup truck sector, General Motors had just seen its February market share fall from 39% in February 2013 to 35% one year later. Their trucks were new, but GM’s volume wasn’t matching the heavily incentivized sales production of their predecessors.

The story is turned on its head one year later, as Ford’s transition into a new F-Series lineup has caused a slight slowdown in a booming category. Full-size truck volume jumped 8% in February 2015, but F-Series sales slid 1%. GM, on the other hand, reported 8811 more Chevrolet Silverado sales this February than last along with more than 900 extra GMC Sierra sales.

Thus, at the expense of Ford (which lost more than three percentage points of market share), Ram (which lost three-tenths of a percentage point), and Nissan (which also lost three-tenths of a percentage point), GM’s market share in America’s full-size pickup category grew to 38.6% in February 2015 from 35% a year ago, and from 34.6% a month ago.

Truck
Feb.
2015
Feb.
2014
%
Change
2 mos.
2015
2 mos.
2014
%
Change
Ford F-Series
55,236 55,882 -1.2% 109,606 102,418 7.0%
Chevrolet Silverado
45,395 36,584 24.1% 81,501 65,510 24.4%
Ram P/U
31,298 29,303 6.8% 59,916 54,374 10.2%
GMC Sierra
15,157 14,232 6.5% 27,778 25,350 9.6%
Toyota Tundra
9,052 7,923 14.3% 17,249 15,813 9.1%
Nissan Titan
816 1,117 -26.9% 1,590 2,004 -20.7%
Total
156,954 145,041 8.2% 297,640 265,469 12.1%

Although Ram volume improved in February – the 58th consecutive month of YOY Ram P/U growth – the FCA pickup’s market share declined on a YOY basis for the second consecutive month. The Ram’s impressive growth in the first two months of 2015 simply isn’t quite as impressive as the growth in the overall segment. February was the first month since August that the Ram wasn’t America’s third-best-selling vehicle.

Truck
Feb.
2015
Share
Feb.
2014
Share
2 mos.
2015
Share
2 mos.
2014
Share
Ford F-Series
35.2% 38.5% 36.8% 38.6%
Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra
38.6% 35.0% 36.7% 34.2%
Ram P/U
19.9% 20.2% 20.1% 20.5%
Toyota Tundra
5.8% 5.5% 5.8% 6.0%
Nissan Titan
0.5% 0.8% 0.5% 0.8%
Full-Size Share Of
Total Pickup Truck Market
85.0% 89.0% 84.8% 88.7%
Full-Size Pickup Share
Of Total Industry
 12.5% 12.1% 12.3% 12.0%

February was also a return to form for the combined GM twins. Together, the Silverado and Sierra outsold the F-Series in each of 2014’s final five months. Ford leaped ahead by a wide margin in January, but its year-to-date lead over the GM pair is now down to 337 units heading into March.

Results to this point aren’t meaningless. Nearly 300,000 full-size pickup trucks were sold in January and February. But after  January’s low-volume potential and a February that was brought below forecasts because of winter weather, March’s end to the first-quarter will give us more to work with. In 2012, March was the highest-volume month for new vehicle sales volume. It was the second-highest-volume month in 2013 and the third-highest-volume month for auto sales last year.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Henry Ford Museum Pops the Hood. Can You Identify the Engines? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/henry-ford-museum-pops-hood-can-identify-engines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/henry-ford-museum-pops-hood-can-identify-engines/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 13:15:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1011186 This Friday I hope to cover the Detroit Autorama and the competitors for the prestigious Ridler Award for what many consider to be the best new custom car. It’s a great show but because the show was originally organized by a Detroit area hot rod club to whom go was as important as show, the […]

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Full gallery here.

Full gallery here

This Friday I hope to cover the Detroit Autorama and the competitors for the prestigious Ridler Award for what many consider to be the best new custom car. It’s a great show but because the show was originally organized by a Detroit area hot rod club to whom go was as important as show, the rules say that during judging the engines have to be exposed. That’s a pet peeve of mine because nobody has ever drawn a car with a hood up, either in junior high study hall or in an automaker’s design studio. I understand the desire to show off the cars’ motivating force, not to mention all of the chrome (or gold plated) eye candy, blowers and ancillaries, but it doesn’t make for great photography of a car as a whole.  Still, with some cars, you just gotta see what’s under the hood. For the first time in its history, the Henry Ford Museum is popping the hoods of about 40 of its historically significant cars in its Driving America display to let us do exactly that.

Note: There are about 80 photos after the jump so the page may load slowly.

Running through March 15, the museum is exhibiting what it calls Engines Exposed, and as an automotive history buff, I have to say that it’s a very rare opportunity to see some very special machinery and some truly legendary engines. With less than 400 Duesenberg Model J cars that exist, you don’t often get a chance to see the Duesenberg brothers’ masterpiece DOHC straight eight. There are only six Bugatti Royales so it’s even less likely to be able to see Ettore’s own 12.7 liter straight eight. The opportunity to view both engines in the same place won’t likely happen again (unless the Ford museum makes Engines Exposed a recurring event).

Racing in America, the section of Driving America devoted to motorsports, is also part of Engines Exposed, and cowls and clamshells have been opened so you can see motors like the V8 Ford (with its “bundle of snakes” exhaust) in Jim Clark’s 1965 Indy winning Lotus 38, the big block that powered A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney to victory at LeMans in the Ford MkIV, and the four Chrysler Hemis in the Goldenrod land speed record car.

Other historical engines on display are the small block Chevy V8 in the museum’s 1956 Bel Air, the flat six Franklin helicopter engine that Preston Tucker stuck in the back of his car, and an early 260 cubic inch version of what became the 289 and 302 Ford “Windsor” engine, in the museum’s early production ’64 1/2 Mustang. It should be noted that in addition to the motors that are part of the Engine’s Exposed exhibition, there are some other historical powerplants you can see that are part of the museum’s permanent display, including the very first flathead Ford V8 (with a hand stamped metal tag reading “HOLD FOR MR FORD”), Henry Ford’s less successful experimental engine that had an X layout, and the first gasoline motor that he built, the one that ran in Clara’s kitchen sink.

Alternative powerplants are also featured, including the jet engine in the museum’s Chrysler Turbine Car, and the hood is also popped on the 1916 Woods Dual Power gas/electric hybrid that was the subject of a post of mine here at TTAC. I have a good working relationship with Matt Anderson, the museum’s transportation curator who chose which engines were to be exposed, and he’s given me access to photograph the Woods Dual Power inside the barriers and from underneath the car, but now the general public will also be able to see the vintage hybrid’s gasoline engine and the electromagnetic clutch that couples it to the car’s electric motor, whose armatures can also be seen.

Because some engines are obscured by bodywork, a number of the cars have mirrors mounted to give visitors a better view.

For the duration of the exhibition, the museum’s Douglas Drive-in Theater will be running a daily presentation on the more important vehicles in the Henry Ford Museum’s collection and on major developments in the history of automotive powerplants. On Saturday, March 14th, at 1 PM in the theater, Matt Anderson will be giving a deeper look into the engines on display, using materials digitized from the museum’s collection. That date and the previous Saturday, the museum’s hands-on Tinker.Hack.Invent program for kids will teach them about the pros and cons of various power sources and have a chance to assemble an electric car.

To inject some fun, I cropped the photos of the powerplants to give you the chance the see how many of the engines and cars you can identify. Scroll down for the photographic answers in order below.

Answers:

Okay, trick question. That's Henry Ford's experimental X8 engine. It never worked well enough to go into production.

Okay, I started with a trick question. That’s Henry Ford’s experimental X8 engine. It never worked well enough to go into production and Henry decided to make a V8. The engine block to the right is an early casting for the flathead Ford V8 that came out of that decision. Full gallery here.

Buick Riviera. Full gallery here.

Buick Riviera. Full gallery here.

Miller-Ford V8 Indy Racer. Full gallery here.

Miller-Ford V8 Indy Racer. Full gallery here.

Offenhauser "Offy" engine in a A.J. Foyt raced, Meskowski built sprint car. Full gallery here.

Offenhauser “Offy” engine in a A.J. Foyt raced, Meskowski built sprint car. Full gallery here.

Jim Clark's Indy winning Ford V8 powered Lotus 38 that revolutionized open wheel racing in America. Full gallery here.

Jim Clark’s Indy winning Ford V8 powered Lotus 38 that revolutionized open wheel racing in America. Full gallery here.

1936 Lincoln Zephyr. Full gallery here

1936 Lincoln Zephyr. Full gallery here

1927 LaSalle. Full gallery here.

1927 LaSalle. Full gallery here.

Clara (Mrs. Henry) Ford's 1914 Detroit Electric. Full gallery here

Clara (Mrs. Henry) Ford’s 1914 Detroit Electric. Full gallery here

Duesenberg Model J. Full gallery here

Duesenberg Model J. Full gallery here

First U.S. built Honda Accord. Full gallery here

First U.S. built Honda Accord. Full gallery here

Bugatti Royale. Full gallery here

Bugatti Royale. Full gallery here

First generation Toyota Prius. Full gallery here

First generation Toyota Prius. Full gallery here

Honda Accord. Full gallery here

Honda Accord. Full gallery here

Dodge Omni. Full gallery here

Dodge Omni. Full gallery here

Mercury Cougar. Full gallery here

Mercury Cougar. Full gallery here

Chevrolet Corvair. Full gallery here

Chevrolet Corvair. Full gallery here

Volkswagen Beetle. Full gallery here.

Volkswagen Beetle. Full gallery here.

1949 Ford sedan. Full gallery here

1949 Ford sedan. Full gallery here

1943 Willys built U.S. Army jeep. Full gallery here

1943 Willys built U.S. Army jeep. Full gallery here

1924 Essex. Full gallery here

1924 Essex. Full gallery here

Roper steam carriage, circa 1863, the oldest motor vehicle in America. Full gallery here

Roper steam carriage, circa 1863, the oldest motor vehicle in America. Full gallery here

Henry Ford's 1896 Quadricycle. Full gallery here.

Henry Ford’s 1896 Quadricycle. Full gallery here.

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. Full gallery here

1956 Chevrolet Bel Air. Full gallery here

1949 Studebaker. Full gallery here

1949 Studebaker. Full gallery here

Chrysler Turbine Car. Full gallery here

Chrysler Turbine Car. Full gallery here

1916 Woods Dual Power. Full gallery here

1916 Woods Dual Power hybrid. Full gallery here

1907 White steamer. Full gallery here

1907 White steamer. Full gallery here

Ford Thunderbird. Full gallery here

Ford Thunderbird. Full gallery here

1919 Ford Model T. Full gallery here

1919 Ford Model T. Full gallery here

First generation Ford Taurus. Full gallery here.

First generation Ford Taurus. Full gallery here.

1932 Ford hot rod. Full gallery here

1932 Ford hot rod. Full gallery here

1949 Mercury "lead sled", out of George Barris' shop, likely the work of his brother Sam, who invented the chopped top. Full gallery here

1949 Mercury “lead sled”, out of George Barris’ shop, likely the work of his brother Sam, who originated the chopped top. Full gallery here

Early production Ford Mustang with 260 cubic inch V8. Full gallery here

Early production Ford Mustang with 260 cubic inch V8. Full gallery here

Ford GT40 MkIV. Full gallery here

Ford GT40 MkIV. Full gallery here

Ohio George's Willys gasser. Full gallery here

Ohio George’s Willys gasser. Full gallery here

Goldentrod wheel-driven land speed record car. Full gallery here

Goldentrod wheel-driven land speed record car. Full gallery here

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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U.S. Auto Sales Brand Results: February 2015 YTD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/u-s-auto-sales-brand-results-february-2015-ytd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/u-s-auto-sales-brand-results-february-2015-ytd/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 19:30:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1013794 An unexpectedly strong winter impact slowed February 2015 auto sales compared with the expectations of forecasters but not in comparison with February 2014. The market jumped by more than 5% with the strongest gains coming from Jeep, GMC, Subaru. A number of lower-volume brands – Mini, Mitsubishi, Land Rover, Lexus, and Infiniti – all posted […]

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2015 Nissan Versa Note SRAn unexpectedly strong winter impact slowed February 2015 auto sales compared with the expectations of forecasters but not in comparison with February 2014. The market jumped by more than 5% with the strongest gains coming from Jeep, GMC, Subaru. A number of lower-volume brands – Mini, Mitsubishi, Land Rover, Lexus, and Infiniti – all posted year-over-year improvements of at least 20%. 

Ford Motor Company suffered the loss of sales at its namesake Ford brand and at Lincoln. GM volume dropped at Buick and Cadillac but increased at the automaker’s two higher-volume brands. FCA/Chrysler Group suffered a sharp drop at Dodge, but the big Jeep improvement was married to strong Chrysler and Ram sales.

Automaker Feb. 2015 Feb. 2014 % Change 2015 YTD 2014 YTD % Change
Acura
 12,992 11,545 12.5% 24,974 22,368 11.7%
Alfa Romeo
 47 144  —
Audi
 11,455 10,881 5.3% 22,996 20,982 9.6%
BMW
 25,201 22,017 14.5% 44,182 40,270 9.7%
Buick
 17,418 19,192 -9.2% 29,971 32,470 -7.7%
Cadillac
 11,739 13,437 -12.6% 23,419 24,823 -5.7%
Chevrolet
 159,788 153,913 3.8% 302,670 273,002 10.9%
Chrysler
28,502 25,230 13.0% 51,895  46,343 12.0%
Dodge
 42,115 49,744 -15.3% 77,462 84,649 -8.5%
Fiat
 3,289 3,465 -5.1% 6,544 6,687 -2.1%
Ford  173,509  176,688 -1.8%  344,331  324,209 6.2%
GMC
 42,433 35,562 19.3% 78,104 63,295 23.4%
Honda
 92,474 88,860 4.1% 182,676 169,668 7.7%
Hyundai
 52,505  49,003 7.1%  97,010  93,008 4.3%
Infiniti
 11,659 9,729 19.8%  21,317  18,727 13.8%
Jaguar
 1,410 1,552 -9.1% 2,676 2,899 -7.7%
Jeep
 55,642 45,946  21.0% 107,165 87,856 22.0%
Kia
 44,030 41,218 6.8% 82,329 78,229 5.2%
Land Rover
 4,917 4,006 22.7% 10,198 8,680 17.5%
Lexus
 22,995 18,855 22.0% 46,126 36,492 26.4%
Lincoln
6,164 6,661 -7.5% 12,783 12,634 1.2%
Maserati
 481 837 -42.5% 933 1405 -33.6%
Mazda
 25,650 24,341 5.4% 45,921 43,154 6.4%
Mercedes-Benz
 23,616 22,609  4.5%  48,235  45,213  6.7%
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
 1,675 1,421  17.9%  3,180  2,709  17.4%
Total Mercedes-Benz
 25,291  24,030 5.2%  51,415  47,922 7.3%
Mini
 3,720 2,459 51.3% 6,948 5,002 38.9%
Mitsubishi
 7,533 5,977 26.0% 14,026 10,844 29.3%
Nissan
 106,777  105,631 1.1%  201,226 187,103 7.5%
Porsche
 3,202 3,232  -0.9% 7,139 6,328 12.8%
Ram
 33,991 30,481  11.5% 65,383 56,514 15.7%
Scion
 3,864 4,529 -14.7%  7,554 8,540 -11.5%
Smart
 458 941 -51.3% 950 1462 -35.0%
Subaru
 41,358 34,909 18.5% 82,170 67,909 21.0%
Toyota
 153,608 135,900 13.0% 295,981 260,617 13.6%
Volkswagen
 25,710 27,112 -5.2% 49,214 50,606 -2.8%
Volvo
 4,012 3,991 0.5% 7,806 7,783 0.3%
 —
BMW-Mini
 28,921 24,476 18.2% 51,130 45,272 12.9%
FCA/Chrysler Group
 163,586 154,866 5.6% 308,593 282,049 9.4%
Daimler
25,749 24,971 3.1% 52,365 49,384 6.0%
Ford Motor Company
 179,673 183,349 -2.0%  357,114 336,843 6.0%
General Motors
 231,378 222,104 4.2% 434,164 393,590 10.3%
Honda Motor Company
105,466  100,405 5.0% 207,650 192,036 8.1%
Hyundai-Kia
 96,535  90,221 7.0%  179,339  171,237 4.7%
Jaguar-Land Rover
 6,327 5,558 13.8% 12,874 11,579 11.2%
Nissan Motor Company
118,436 115,360 2.7%  222,543 205,830 8.1%
Toyota Motor Corporation
 180,467 159,284  13.3% 322,840  305,649 5.6%
Volkswagen Group *
 40,563 41,403 -2.0% 79,641 78,286 1.7%
Industry Total
1,258,570
1,194,679
5.3%
2,411,050
2,208,105
9.2%

* Volkswagen Group includes sales figures for Audi, Bentley, Porsche, and Volkswagen brands

** Industry total takes into account Automotive News estimates for brands such as Tesla (2000 February units) and other low-volume, high-priced manufacturers.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Geneva 2015: McLaren 675LT Arrives http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-mclaren-675lt-arrives/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-mclaren-675lt-arrives/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 15:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1013682 Bowing at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, the McLaren 675LT aims to help the automaker re-establish its “Longtail” heritage, begun with the 1997 F1 GTR. Five hundred copies of the 675LT will leave Woking for the world, each one boasting a weight of 2,711 lbs through the use of lightweight materials and parts, including front […]

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Bowing at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show, the McLaren 675LT aims to help the automaker re-establish its “Longtail” heritage, begun with the 1997 F1 GTR.

Five hundred copies of the 675LT will leave Woking for the world, each one boasting a weight of 2,711 lbs through the use of lightweight materials and parts, including front and rear springs, suspension geometry components, polycarbonate for the engine cover, glazing, and thinner windscreen and rear bulkhead glass.

Power comes from a 3.8-liter V8 delivering 675 PS (666 horsepower) to the back through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto whose settings (Normal, Sport and Track) have been recalibrated for better performance.

Other features include the introduction of electronic stability control, “Ignition Cut” technology that cuts the fuel spark on gearshift temporarily — bestowing “a dramatic aural ‘crack’ on both upshift and downshift” — carbon fiber chassis, and a wider track front and rear.

Price of admission begins at £259,500 ($399,000 USD), with deliveries set to start in July.

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Geneva 2015: Lexus LF-SA Concept Arrives http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-lexus-lf-sa-concept-arrives/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-lexus-lf-sa-concept-arrives/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 14:06:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1013586 This one might get blown away by the Robb Report all-stars at Geneva, but the Lexus LF-SA Concept shows what the automaker can do in the city. The spindly, spikey city car seats four in its tiny frame, which comes to 135 inches in length, 66.9 inches in width, and 56.3 inches in height. Most […]

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This one might get blown away by the Robb Report all-stars at Geneva, but the Lexus LF-SA Concept shows what the automaker can do in the city.

The spindly, spikey city car seats four in its tiny frame, which comes to 135 inches in length, 66.9 inches in width, and 56.3 inches in height. Most of its interior layout is driver-focused, including a fixed driver’s seat and adjustable steering wheels and pedals, while the front passenger seat slides for access to the rear seats.

Outside, the LF-SA Concept’s “Time in Design” appearance is meant to give onlookers a change in perception “when viewed from different angles.” Lexus’ trademark is incorporated into the design, such as the L-shaped lamp clusters and daytime running lights, while the overall look is meant to give the concept a rugged, confident vibe.

Other features include hologram-style digital display, undercut wheel arches, silver exterior finish, and a wide-angle HUD.

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Geneva 2015: Porsche Cayman GT4 Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-porsche-cayman-gt4-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-porsche-cayman-gt4-debuts/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 13:39:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1013490 Appearing alongside the 911 GT3 RS, the Porsche Cayman GT4 made its debut at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show. The first Cayman to be granted a GT badge, its motivation comes via a 3.8-liter flat-six pulled from the 911 Carrera S, pushing 385 horsepower to the back via a six-speed manual. Nought to 60 comes […]

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Appearing alongside the 911 GT3 RS, the Porsche Cayman GT4 made its debut at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.

The first Cayman to be granted a GT badge, its motivation comes via a 3.8-liter flat-six pulled from the 911 Carrera S, pushing 385 horsepower to the back via a six-speed manual. Nought to 60 comes in 4.2 seconds, with speed peaking at 183 mph.

The Cayman GT4 also pulls from the 911 GT3 parts bin, while aero maintains its grip on the road. Other options include Porsche’s Sport Chrono package, ceramic composite brakes and carbon fiber seats.

Price of admission begins at $85,595, with U.S. dealerships receiving the model starting in July.

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