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. Mon, 14 Jul 2014 16:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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/ Your Chance To Spend The Night With Caroline, Jack And Bark http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/your-chance-to-spend-the-night-with-jack-and-bark/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/your-chance-to-spend-the-night-with-jack-and-bark/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 16:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865234 3rdrock

Last year, my pals at Third Rock Events threw a brilliant rooftop party in Charlotte, NC for about five hundred of their closest friends. Even constant rain didn’t stop the show. I’m still trying to figure out how I went back to the hotel alone from that one; the women were all gorgeous and highly inebriated. Oh yeah, I remember now: because Bark made me stick around to help clean up.

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Good news: the party’s on again this year. $40 for unlimited food, beer and vodka. Our own Caroline Ellis will be working as a hospitality girl. So, you know, be hospitable to her. This time it’s at Charlotte Trolley on August 9th, from 7PM to 1AM. Follow 3rd Rock on Facebook for more details. As soon as the party’s over, Bark and I will be heading to VIR to take part in an actual Guinness World Records attempt. Come hang out with us and meet some of Charlotte’s most exciting people!

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Unifor May Follow UAW’s Lead And Set Up “Voluntary” Local For Toyota http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/unifor-may-follow-uaws-lead-and-set-up-voluntary-local-for-toyota/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/unifor-may-follow-uaws-lead-and-set-up-voluntary-local-for-toyota/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:42:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865953 Toyota_Woodstock-Plant

Canadian Toyota plant may be the next facilities to get a “voluntary” local, similar to what the UAW is proposing for Volkswagen’s Chattanooga factory.

According to the Windsor Star

Unifor president Jerry Dias said Friday the union may follow the lead of its American counterpart and establish a local for Toyota workers in Cambridge and Woodstock.

“It’s a good idea; it’s something we may very well do,” Dias said of the United Auto Workers’ decision to form a new local to be run by hourly workers employed at the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Unifor made a big push to organize the two plants in Ontario, but their plans were disrupted after Unifor put the certification vote on hold due to an alleged discrepancy in the overall number of employees at the two plants, which had the potential to dilute the percentage of pro-union employees.

 

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Volkswagen Group Of America Names German Labor Leader To Board Of Directors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-names-labor-head-to-us-board-of-directors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-names-labor-head-to-us-board-of-directors/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:12:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865921 Bernd-Osterloh

The horse-trading between Volkswagen, the UAW and IG Metall that eventually led to both the UAW’s “voluntary union” and the new crossover’s production at Chattanooga isn’t quite over yet. Buried deep in VW’s announcement is the news that Volkswagen’s board member in charge of their global Works Council Bernd Osterloh will join the Volkswagen Group of Amerca’s Board of Directors.

Osterloh has long been a thorn in the side of anti-UAW forces, suggesting that without UAW representation, the crossover would not come to Chattanooga – something that Osterloh, as a member of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, can set into motion if he feels vengeful enough.

In the end, the UAW lost and the crossover came to Chattanooga, but presumably, something had to give so that IG Metall took some kind of victory, real or perceived.

VW’s official announcement states

“We are pleased that Mr. Osterloh has declared his willingness to play a concentrated role in shaping our US strategy in the future. He will represent the views of the workforce. This is in line with the codetermination culture of Volkswagen, which is one of our key success factors,” Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said.

Osterloh stated: “It is important for us that our colleagues in the U.S. know that we also care about the production site and the employment in Chattanooga. I am looking forward to my work on the Board. I am determined to uphold the interests of Volkswagen employees in Chattanooga. The North American market offers considerable opportunities; in my opinion, these have not been pursued with sufficient consistency in the past. With today’s decision to produce the midsize SUV in the USA, we are taking a key step.”

The natural response to this is, why does a German union official care about the interests of American workers? From where I sit, it seems that this was a concession made to get Osterloh and IG Metall to acquiesce to the production decision – something has previously been threatened if union demands weren’t met. Even though the UAW is gaining little traction with their own organization campaign, they now have an ally in IG Metall, able to influence decisions at Volkswagen Group of America.

This isn’t the first time a cross-continent trade has happened. Outgoing UAW President Bob King was chosen by IG Metall to sit on Opel’s board, and the two unions have been moving towards deeper ties in recent years.

 

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Volkswagen Confirms New SUV Will Be Built In Chattanooga http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-confirms-new-suv-will-be-built-in-chattanooga/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-confirms-new-suv-will-be-built-in-chattanooga/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:43:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865897 450x299x550x366xVolkswagen-CrossBlue-Concept-550x366.jpg,Mic_.uF-8gWFYml-450x299.jpg.pagespeed.ic.rA7817fp9x

Volkswagen will invest $900-million and add 2,000 jobs as part of a decision to build their long-awaited mid-size crossover in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The plant, which already builds the Passat, has been the site of a number of disputes, pitting the UAW and organized labor against an equally passionate opposition that includes the state level government and other anti-UAW entities.

The new crossover, considered a vital part of VW’s success, will be based on VW’s MQB platform, and be produced in 2016.

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Cain’s Segments, July 2014: Muscle Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cains-segments-july-2014-muscle-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cains-segments-july-2014-muscle-cars/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:31:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865873 TTAC_Muscle-Car-sales-chart-June-2014

It feels like we’ve known a lot about the 2015 Ford Mustang for years. There have been stories on its alleged weight gain, then stories that suggested the gain wasn’t nearly so bad. Its independent rear suspension makes the idea of serving global markets so much more tenable. Its turbocharged four-cylinder should, on paper, offer a new blend of performance and efficiency.

But it’s not here, and it won’t be sitting at the forefront of dealer lots (alongside The Used Car Deal Of The Day! Call Tom @ 555-4321! and its accompanying neon sign) for a few months yet.

It was therefore not surprising to see that Mustang sales in the United States dropped sharply in June 2014, even though sales of the venerable Ford had reported improved sales on a year-over-year basis in January, February, March, and May of this year. Could Ford really maintain a high level of interest in a departing pony car?

In a word, no. And yet, with 7631 sales in the sixth month of 2014, one could argue that Ford did, in fact, maintain a high level of interest in the Mustang, as they always do. Naturally, deals on an outgoing car improve as it ages. Some who perhaps thought they may want to wait for the new car have decided they prefer the current car. But 7600 units for a relatively impractical rear-wheel-drive muscle car, is actually a very high figure, if not for the Mustang itself than for cars which compete in a performance-oriented corner of the market.

Volkswagen announced a terrific GTI sales month: 1927 were sold. Subaru sold 2065 copies of their WRX and STi. Jaguar sold 428 F-Types. Aside from the Countryman and Paceman, Mini sold just 3238 cars in June.

The Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and even the Dodge Challenger aren’t low-volume cars. They attract lifestyle buyers – whoever they are, whatever it is they do – as well as performance car buyers. And they most certainly attract loyalists, the kind of buyers who, while acknowledging that these three cars are direct competitors, wouldn’t actually cross-shop.

After consecutive years with declining sales in 2012 and 2013, Camaro sales are up by 4360 units through the first half of 2014. If this sales pace holds, General Motors could see Camaro volume rise to a 2011-besting level, the highest since the nameplate returned in 2009. In this three-car category, the Camaro’s market share has risen from 36.7% during the first half of 2013 to 39.8% so far this year.

Since the Dodge Challenger nameplate returned in 2008, sales have always risen, doubling between 2009 and 2013, when 51,462 were sold. That streak is in danger in 2014: could the improved 2015 Challenger arrive in time for the year end results to improve from the current pace which would see fewer than 46,000 sold?

Even with its decreased volume and its third-place status in the category, the Challenger highlights the high-volume nature of this trio. FCA has sold more Challengers than Chrysler 300s this year; more Challengers than total Fiats.

The Viper, on the other hand, has clearly struggled in its latest form. June volume slid 63% to just 36 units. As for the Chevrolet Corvette, sales are booming, with 2723 sold in June and 17,744 in the first half, making it more popular than the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Jaguar F-Type, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayman, and Porsche 911 combined.

Auto
June
2014
June
2013
%
Change
6 mos.
2014
6 mos.
2013
%
Change
Chevrolet Camaro
7721 7236 +6.7% 46,672 42,312 +10.3%
Dodge Challenger
4377 5101 -14.2% 26,281 29,982 -12.3%
Ford Mustang
7631 9243 -17.4% 44,231 43,111 +2.6%
Total
19,729
21,580 -8.6% 117,184 115,405 +1.5%
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European Review: Ram 1500 Ecodiesel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/european-review-ram-1500-ecodiesel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/european-review-ram-1500-ecodiesel/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:27:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865297 IMG_6968

With the new Ecodiesel engine, the 2014 Ram 1500 adds a bit of a European flavor to the most American vehicle of them all – the fullsize pick-up truck. So, how does one look from the view of an European?

Here, I must admit to not being a typical European, when it comes to American cars. As you may already know, I drive a Panther now, and I daily drove a GM B-body for several years. I even paid (little) money to own a Ford Tempo (don’t ask),. but I still live in Europe and drive lots of European cars, so I still have a good idea of what an average European will think about this truck.

First of all, it’s interesting to note that pickup trucks are one of the most common American vehicles here in Czech Republic – and probably even in surrounding countries like Germany or Austria. When you discount for the officially imported stuff – mostly diesel Jeeps, diesel Chrysler minivans and diesel Chrysler 300Cs, the most popular American cars are the pony cars trio, Corvettes, and then the fullsize trucks and luxury SUVs, like Escalade or Navigator. You will never see a Dodge Dart here, and probably not even fullsize sedans like Taurus or Impala. Even the typical US crossovers are extremely rare here – and if something gets imported, it’s usually the “butch” stuff. A Charger. A Durango. But no Equinox or Explorer.

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So large American trucks are not exactly unheard of here. They’re definitely not common, but odds are at least two or three Rams (most popular), F-150s, Silverados or Sierras will be running at any larger town (like mine, with 100,000 people). And in the capital, you’ll probably see one or two every day.

Most of these trucks are highly optioned, shiny V8 ones, never used for any serious work. Most of them probably tow a trailer from time to time, but hardly any will ever get its bed dirty. Quite a big portion of them get converted to LPG, but there are many owners who consider it a “disgrace” to American V8 and insist on pouring loads of gas into their truck. These same people usually frown upon diesel engines, and are probably not the ones who will buy the new Ecodiesel, as it burns the wrong fuel and doesn’t produce the right sound.

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So, to succeed in the European market, the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel needs to cater to several types of customers. It has to persuade the US car crowd that even with the Italian diesel, it’s still American enough and represents a way to finally get into truck ownership without rigging the car with high pressure LPG tanks. And it also has to impress the typical pickup/SUV owner that it is European enough in its frugality, sophistication and road manners.

As you can see from my recent Suburban review, it’s not easy for an American truck to impress an European driver – even one who is rather fond of American automobiles. Suggest buying something like the Ram 1500 to the typical customer in Europe, and you will quite certainly hear something about “primitive technology”, “agricultural suspension” or “ugly, cheap interior”. Not to mention terrible fuel consumption.

But if you follow the suggestion by forcing said person to sit in a Ram 1500 Laramie for a while, the whining will probably quickly stop. While it’s still no Audi when it comes to interior quality, the materials, the craftsmanship and ergonomics are leaps above what an average guy in Europe would expect from American truck. And quite on par with what Europe offers at this price point – a loaded Laramie Ecodiesel costs about $80k incl. VAT, which is about 20% more than a four-cylinder VW Amarok, or about the same as similarly equipped Touareg V6 TDI. And it’s definitely comparable.

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Above: My 6′ 6″ boss in the front, and then in the back…

The Ram rids itself of the typical problems of older American automobiles – one that is still noticeable in the last generation of Suburban – that they are smaller on the inside than on the outside. The space inside is stunning. I’ve seen my boss, who is about  6′ 6” sit “behind himself” in the Ram, without having any problems with head or leg room.

With the air suspension and the new coil-sprung four link rear suspension, the Ram even drives well enough for European customers to be satisfied. Above all, the ride is supremely comfortable, and even the handling isn’t half bad, considering the sheer size and weight of the thing. Of course, there can be no talk about steering feel, balance and so on, but the Ram feels stable enough even in mildly swift driving (say, 60-70mph on a backroad). The steering wheel feels much more car-like than truck-like, with just enough assistance and the right size.

But, even without driving the other big US pickups, I can guess that the competition will be on the same level as the Ram. And yet it’s not very likely that F-150s and Silverados start appearing on European roads en masse. The real difference, which can make or break the US pickup on the European roads, is the Ecodiesel engine.

IMG_6996

I have already experienced it (albeit shortly) in Lancia Thema, and I did quite like it, although it certainly wasn’t at the top of its league. Here, the story is a bit different. The Ecodiesel is still not the best V6 diesel out there – and it certainly can’t hold a candle to the likes of BMW 35d or VW/Audi 3.0 TDI biturbo. But in a fullsize pickup truck, it has no direct competition.

This means that even though it’s a little less sophisticated than some of the competitors, it’s still much quieter than any other truck diesel engine. And while it’s not as powerful or as frugal as other V6 diesels, it’s still much more torquey than the V6 Pentastar, much more frugal than the 5.7 Hemi, and still powerful enough to make the Ram lively enough. The ZF eight-speed gearbox is quite smooth and doesn’t seem to shuffle around for gears, like the six-speeder in the last-gen Suburban does.

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If the Ecodiesel fulfills its promise – and everything looks like it will – of being able to run on less than 10 liters per 100km on the highway, it will be the first American fullsize pickup to really make sense in Europe, at least in the last 70 years or so. Its combination of utility and comfort may be enticing for certain European buyers, and the fuel consumption shouldn’t scare them away this time. Yes, the Ram 1500 is still ungodly big, and will be a royal pain to park and drive in countries like UK or France. But here in Central Europe, it’s fairly livable, and, even with taxes and customs added, quite cheap – the top-of-the-line Laramie still costs about the same as a poverty-spec Touareg. The bad thing, though, is that you have to make do with the short bed – the bigger one makes the 1500 truck under EU regulations, increasing the custom duty from 10% to 20%. But it would be too long to park, anyway.

So, will the Europe be flooded by diesel American trucks in the near future? I don’t think so. But I’m willing to bet money that Rams will become much more common (less uncommon) here. And I would venture to say that of the current FCA portfolio, the Ram 1500 would be one of the more successful vehicles on European market. Certainly they would sell more of them than Lancia Themas. And likely even more than Lancia Deltas (I have seen about two of those in the wild, ever).

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And if the VM Motori power plant doesn’t turn out to be a turd, like the 1990s four-cylinder in the Jeeps and Chryslers was, I may be buying one in a few years, to replace the Town Car.

@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 borrowed Lincoln Town Car. 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.

JD8_9249 JD8_9193 JD8_9188 JD8_9183 JD8_9178 JD8_9171 JD8_9152 JD8_9150 JD8_9140 JD8_9082 JD7_2319 IMG_7111 IMG_7052 IMG_7048 IMG_7044 IMG_7217 IMG_7226 IMG_7123 IMG_7334 IMG_7326 IMG_7057 IMG_7053 IMG_7050 IMG_6996 IMG_7033 IMG_7040 IMG_7008 IMG_7009 IMG_7011 IMG_6974 IMG_7318 IMG_7248 $$ IMG_7333 IMG_7134 IMG_6968 ]]>
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Japan Three, Others Meet With President Over Supplier Aid Pledge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/japan-three-others-meet-with-president-over-supplier-aid-pledge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/japan-three-others-meet-with-president-over-supplier-aid-pledge/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865777 Barack Obama playing pool

A number of U.S. and multinational corporations met with President Barack Obama Friday to shine a light upon their pledge to pay their suppliers within 15 days as part of an initiative to help small businesses expand and bring on more employees.

Automotive News reports representatives for Nissan, Toyota and Honda, including Honda North America executive vice president Rick Schostek, were in attendance for the 90-minute meeting about the pledge, based upon a similar program with government contractors, whereupon the federal government promises to quickly pay its contractors if the latter does the same for the smaller suppliers that help them.

The original initiative affected 172,000 small businesses, bringing $1 billion for workforce investment since its launch in 2011. Friday’s meeting was to reaffirm the pledge, as well as to introduce the program to the public sector.

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Nissan’s D-Step Tweaks CVTs To Act More Like Traditional Automatics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissans-d-step-tweaks-cvts-to-act-more-like-traditional-automatics/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissans-d-step-tweaks-cvts-to-act-more-like-traditional-automatics/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865753 2015-nissan-versa-sl-photo-590018-s-1280x782

CVTs aren’t the most popular of transmission options around despite its improvements to fuel efficiency and ride on a vehicle so equipped. Nissan hopes an upcoming software tweak will change a few minds, however.

Automotive News reports Nissan will introduce its D-Step Shift logic CVT software to more vehicles for the 2015 model year, including the Versa, Versa Note and Pathfinder. The software, already in the 2014 Rogue and 2013 Altima four-pot, helps the CVT act more like a traditional automatic when it comes to shifting, emphasis on “act.”

On board vehicles like the new Versa, the D-Step will prompt the CVT to jump ahead a gear around 4,000 rpm, creating a brief drop in driving power while lending a sense of gears changing, all to ease Nissan owners’ concerns that their vehicle’s transmission is somehow broken due to the lack of a notable gear change. More models will receive D-Step in 2016.

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BMW’s Southern Strategy Pays Off For All Involved http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmws-southern-strategy-pays-off-for-all-involved/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmws-southern-strategy-pays-off-for-all-involved/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 11:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865729 BMW Spartanburg

Twenty years ago, BMW began building vehicles at its first North American factory in Spartanburg, S.C., a move that has paid off well for the German automaker, both against its rivals Mercedes and Audi, and as an example for the industry as a whole.

Bloomberg reports the factory is the largest exporter of U.S.-made vehicles to global markets outside of North America, besting the Detroit Three and the state of Michigan’s collective automotive production efforts as its capacity prepares to jump 50 percent to 450,000 annually as the latest member of the X Series, the full-size seven-passenger X7, comes into production.

The success of the Spartanburg facility is built upon lower labor costs — U.S. labor is 47 percent cheaper than German labor — its work flexibility, and its access to the port of Charleston, I-85 and GSP International Airport. An additional inland port in Greer, S.C., new production techniques — such as using robots and humans on the same assembly step — and massive export increases as the result of an upcoming free-trade agreement between the United States and the European Union will likely add more fuel to the plant’s continued success.

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While You Were Sleeping: July 14, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/while-you-were-sleeping-july-14-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/while-you-were-sleeping-july-14-2014/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865793

A hardcore car disappears, a softcore one is on the way, the bus goes upscale, Red Ink Rick has a fan!

Shame, It Was A Great Way To Meet Guys: Caterham has discontinued production of the Superlight R500 with the 174th example, which is heading to Peru. Supplanted in the lineup by the supercharged R620, the R500 seemed upon its introduction to be perhaps the most illogical extension of the brand ever, particularly by those who had never seen a Westfield SEiGHT or a Donkevoort d8. While the R500 never made it to the United States, the Superlight R can occasionally be found on these shores and your humble author had the opportunity to test one for Road&Track last November. The story of that day will be in next month’s issue, I believe.

I Was Really Hoping They’d Say “The Arrival Of This Nondescript Sedan Will Be, At Best, A Disaster”: Speaking to Automotive News, Honda senior VP Mike Accavitti drew a deep breath and gamely expressed optimism concerning the arrival of the $30,995 TLX sedan. “By pricing the four-cylinder version of what is essentially an Accord heads-up with the six-cylinder Accord, we’re expecting showroom traffic to come exclusively from people who are turning around in our lot to get to the Wendy’s across the street,” Accavitti most definitely did not say. “Furthermore, by shit-canning the one model that had any respect in the enthusiast community, the six-speed Type-S, we’ve done an outstanding job of ensuring that the fanatical young customer base we accidentally built among used-Civic buyers in the Nineties has absolutely nowhere to go, now that they have jobs and stuff,” he failed to add, certainly not following up with “If you’re on the run from the law and want to make sure that absolutely nobody sees you, the driver’s seat of whatever TLX we anchor in the showroom would be the best possible place.”

The Other Sixty-Eight Percent Are Homeless People Who Smell Like Grease Traps: Greyhound buses have an image problem. Surprise! Not to worry: like everything from PBR (the beer) to PBR (the bull riding), the Southwest Airlines Of The Ground is going upscale. USA TODAY gushes that “Almost 32% of Greyhound passengers earn more than $35,000 annually.” Another staggering figure: 15% of riders are traveling on business, presumably the most dismal business imaginable, with the other 85% presumably traveling to evade child-support obligations. Still, think of what it might have been! If you took a bus to Chinatown! I’d be standing on Canal! And Bowery! And she’d be standing next to me! Ho! Hey!

Nobody Tell Her It’s Not A Real Story: “I always felt sorry for Sisyphus, and Wagoner, for that matter.” So says superstar auto reporter Jamie LaReau in a surprisingly sympathetic tribute to Rick Wagoner. Why bring up something Miss LaReau wrote months ago? Well, as a form of apology. After I made her the target of some extremely mild satire a few years ago, Miss LaReau Facebook-friended your humble author. It would appear that she didn’t catch the aforementioned mild satire. For a few days, it appeared as though I might be able to add the lady in question to my list of intimate acquaintances among the distaff side of the autojourno biz. Unfortunately, somebody clued her in right as I was FB-messaging her some poetry I’d written about her legs, and she blocked me. Then the Buick Encore went on to be quite a success, showing that she knows the business better than I do. Keeps me humble, it does.

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Saudi Arabia Latest To Fleet-Average Fuel Economy Mandate Party http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/saudi-arabia-latest-to-fleet-average-fuel-economy-mandate-party/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/saudi-arabia-latest-to-fleet-average-fuel-economy-mandate-party/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 10:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865705 Saudi youths demonstrate a stunt known as "sidewall skiing" in the northern city of Hail

As in the United States, Europe and Japan, Saudi Arabia is now mandating new vehicles be more fuel efficient. Like the U.S., however, the Saudis will put the onus on the automakers without raising a cent on fuel prices.

Green Car Reports says as part of the 2012 Saudi Energy Efficiency Program, new vehicles on sale will receive a fuel economy label beginning in August, followed in late 2016 with a mandate to follow fleet-average targets; the target for 2020 is 28.2 miles per gallon, lower than the 40 mpg mandate for that year in the U.S.

The reason for all of this is because energy use in the kingdom is rising at a rate of 4 percent to 5 percent annually as a result of economic growth, though the increases are outpacing said growth.

Other proposals include the possibility of a Cash For Clunkers program, temporary mass transit solutions until permanent transit offerings open to the public, and improvements to heavy-duty vehicles such as aero and no-idling mandates.

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Finally, A Mercedes-Benz With Decent Resale Value http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/finally-a-mercedes-benz-with-decent-resale-value/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/finally-a-mercedes-benz-with-decent-resale-value/#comments Sat, 12 Jul 2014 17:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=864681 1240168_10151879956709181_1065762593_n

When we chose the SLS AMG Black Series as runner-up in R&T’s PCOTY, we didn’t realize that we were altering the resale market for these automobiles.

If, in fact, that’s what happened. More likely, the obvious virtues of the Black Series over its more pedestrian siblings and AMG’s decision to seriously under-produce the car made more difference than any magazine award. But regardless of the reason, if you want one it will cost you. This isn’t the only Black Series out there being listed for a big number, and what we’re hearing from dealers is that the big numbers are right on point.

But the good news for SLS fans is that R&T will have another feature on the car coming soon. Perhaps this will whet your appetite:

LemonsRadical 1328 (Large)

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It’s The Right Color Anyway http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/its-the-right-color-anyway/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/its-the-right-color-anyway/#comments Sat, 12 Jul 2014 16:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=864497 lambo

Congratulations to friend of TTAC and friend of mine, Aaron Povoledo!

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Aaron’s on pole for tomorrow’s Lamborghini Challenge race at Mosport Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. While it’s a bit unfair letting Aaron run heads-up against the usual gentleman driver crowd, in this case we’ll allow it due to the proper Lime Green color on his Gallardo. Best of luck, Aaron!

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You Owe Me A 10-Second Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/you-owe-me-a-10-second-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/you-owe-me-a-10-second-car/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 18:23:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863729 Click here to view the embedded video.

 

We try not to blindly re-post content created by OEM PR teams, but Dodge has thrown down the gauntlet here.

According to them, the all-new Challenger SRT Hellcat will knock off a 10-second quarter mile time, and we’re not about to let that claim slide. Our own EIC Jack Baruth will be off next week to test out those claims, on a drag strip at the 2015 Challenger launch event. Let’s see what JB is capable of pulling off both there and the road course. Anyone care to take bets?

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BMW Z4, Toyota Supra To Become Blood Brothers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-z4-toyota-supra-to-become-blood-brothers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-z4-toyota-supra-to-become-blood-brothers/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:31:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863545 _mg_5411-large

Much like the long-rumored Alfa Romeo Spider/Mazda MX-5 tie-up, Toyota will be entering into a similar arrangement with BMW for their next Z4, and the return of the Toyota Supra.

The Nikkei reports that this will be the first tangible result of BMW and Toyota’s collaboration. The vehicles are expected to debut in 2017, and be sold as distinct products under their own brands. The idea of a Supra and a Z4 sharing a common link may be unfathomable to loyalists of both brands, but in the current economic climate, the need for scale trumps all other concerns.

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Kia Eyeing Diesels For U.S. Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kia-eyeing-diesels-for-u-s-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kia-eyeing-diesels-for-u-s-market/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:20:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863481 TTAC-2014_Kia-Soul-SX-Luxury-white-front-450x288

Kia is apparently looking at expanding into the niche diesel market in the United States – but not just yet.

Speaking to Just Auto, Kia’s Orth Hendrick, who is VP of Product Planning, said

“The problem right now is that there are different emissions standards in Europe and the US, which means we would be faced with different after-treatments, and that makes it very expensive…But with EU6 in 2017-18 there would be the same standards in both Europe and the US, and that gives us a better chance.”

Now, the question is, what will be Kia’s first diesel? If I had to place a bet, I’d say the next-generation Soul.

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Deliverance http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/deliverance/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/deliverance/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:02:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863361 Shelby Charger

An old car is a feast for the senses. The gentle curve of a fender or the sharply drawn body line pleases the eye while the clatter of valves and the whine of spinning belts combine to make mechanical music. The exhaust gasses, which smell just a tad too rich, blend with the odors of old motor oil, decaying rubber and that musty smell that wafts from the car’s interior to fill your olfactory, while the mixture of gasoline, oil and grease that makes your hands feel so slippery even finds its way onto your tongue when you bring the fingertip you burned on a hot manifold to your mouth. You see it, hear it, smell it, feel it and can even taste it, all five senses touched by one malodorous, malevolent little mechanical beast. Yes friends, if you hadn’t guessed by now, my ’83 Shelby Charger is here at last.

I had, I am ashamed to say, forgotten the physicality of old cars. As someone who lives with two fairly new, almost totally drama free vehicles, it’s easy to forget that all cars are anything but appliances. Like the washing machine I have running in the other room right now, my cars are competent, clean and perform flawlessly at the turn of the key. I could jump into either of them and drive from one coast to the other just as easily as I could drop another load of clothes into the tub of my washer and know with utter and absolute confidence that I will, in short order, have a load of clean clothes. The Shelby, on the other hand, more closely resembles the antique clock that graces my mantelpiece. It is a magical assembly of whirring gears that human ingenuity has brought together into one marvelous machine and, while it does the job, it requires almost daily adjustment to perform as intended.

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Some of our readers may recall that, a few months ago, I posted a plaintive cry for help in choosing an older car. I set down a rather strict set of criteria: it needed to be older, not too nice lest I succumb to the desire to preserve it rather than use it, and it needed to have a manual transmission. I got a lot of great suggestions and a couple of tantalizing offers that I had to pass on but as luck would have it, one of our website’s erstwhile readers in Maryland, a gentleman named Terry, reached out and made an offer almost too good to refuse.

The photos showed a stunning little car and I was instantly smitten. In the flurry of emails that followed, Terry let slip that he was the car’s original owner but that, because like me he often works at jobsites outside of the United States, the car had spent a lot of time sitting. Eventually, it had ended up in a friend’s barn in West Virginia where time, the elements and a family of mice had worked their magic.

But Terry isn’t the kind of man who let’s things slide and although it might have been out of sight the little car was never out of mind. From the far side of the planet Terry plotted and waited and then, on a short trip home, he brought the car back over the Appalachians to Maryland where he dropped it at a local speed shop before heading back overseas. The list of things done was extensive and can’t hope to recount all of it here, I do know that the old transmission was swapped out for a stouter unit from a later model turbo Dodge, the top end of the engine was rebuilt and the car’s rust issues, which sounded extensive, were resolved by cutting out the cancer and welding in new steel. Finally, the car was repainted in its factory colors, set on a set of good looking OZ wheels shod with sticky, performance rubber and returned to its owner.

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Terry enjoyed the car for a few years but, with an SRT8 Challenger, a 71 Charger and two jeeps in the garage, the little Shelby ended up under a cover in the driveway next to the daily driven Neon RT. While it didn’t exactly languish there it spent more time sitting than Terry liked and so, after reading of my undying love for 80s Dodges on these hallowed pages and hearing my plaintiff cry for one of my own, Terry decided to shoot me an email. Naturally, I responded immediately and on my recent trip to DC I swung through Frederick.
After a brief test drive through the rolling hills I decided that the car needed just a bit of sorting to be perfect for my purposes, but that it really was as Terry had represented a solid, original little car. At this point, because I am still working on a few of the things I think need to be addressed and because my impressions are still a bit muddled by the excitement of having so recently taken delivery, I won’t write a full review, but know now that you will soon hear so much about my adventures with this little car that you will grow to hate it.

Although I only got the car the day before yesterday, I can already tell you that it gets all kinds of attention. The cable guy and the garbage man both asked about it while it sat in the driveway before I got it registered. People asked about it at the inspection station and, once I got the plates on, it drew a small crowd when I took it to the gas station for its first fill-up. The guys in the auto parts store I stopped at all had to go out and see it and I even got asked about it from the passenger of a neighboring car while I paused at a stop light. Everyone, it seems, is excited to see my little Shelby Charger and they all have a question that they must ask or a story to share. It is a strange, visceral reaction that only the most special, elemental machine can inspire and if I cannot jump into it and drive to the far side of the country on a moment’s notice I’m OK with that. No one ever asks about my washing machine.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Leavenworth, KS with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Official: Johan de Nysschen Departs Infiniti For Cadillac http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/official-johan-de-nysschen-departs-infiniti-for-cadillac/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/official-johan-de-nysschen-departs-infiniti-for-cadillac/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:59:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863489 Johan-de-Nysschen-.-Picture-courtesy-Bertel-Schmitt3-450x300

Johan de Nysschen, the executive largely credited with Audi’s rise to Tier 1 luxury brand status, has left his post at Infiniti after just two years on the job. He will assume the top job at Cadillac, after former President Bob Ferguson was moved to a new post as GM’s head of public policy.

de Nysschen, who took the helm as Infiniti moved its headquarters to Hong Kong and re-organized its nomenclature (into the confusing “Q” and “QX” lines), was expected to lead a long, progressive turnaround for the brand, much as he did with the once-struggling Audi.

But his departure for Cadillac bodes poorly for a luxury brand that has failed to establish itself in the same way that Lexus has in North America, let alone globally. Witness the confusion around the Infiniti Q50, which was branded as a Nissan Skyline in Japan, despite a supposed push for Infiniti’s entry into the Japanese market.

While de Nysschen cited family concerns as a major motivation (he and his family have strong ties to the United States, having lived there for many years), an Automotive News story suggests that CEO Carlos Ghosn’s extremely ambitious targets may have played a part in de Nysschen’s departure.

Despite that, he will have a challenge on his hands at Cadillac. GM is also aiming for a major push into Europe – and you can bet that de Nysschen’s tenure will be focused on that goal.

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Want A Ford Fusion 6-Speed Manual? Too Late. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/want-a-ford-fusion-6-speed-manual-too-late/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/want-a-ford-fusion-6-speed-manual-too-late/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:37:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863457 412x550ximage_2-412x550.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.bR00leczoj

Ford’s confusing strategy of pairing a 6-speed manual 1.6L Ecoboost and a 1.5L Ecoboost automatic on the Fusion just got a bit easier to understand. There’s only one choice now.

Reports say that the three-pedal Fusion is now dead, with the 1.5L engine the sole option for the Fusion’s smaller Ecoboost trim levels. Given what must be an absurdly low take rate, this is hardly surprising.

Last year, Bark M managed to take one for what may be our first Reader Ride Review. It might be the only independent account you’ll ever see of this car.

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While You Were Sleeping: July 11th, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/while-you-were-sleeping-july-11th-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/while-you-were-sleeping-july-11th-2014/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:15:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863345 2015-cadillac-ats-sedan

Hybrid Bugattis and quicker Caddy’s – here’s what you missed.

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BMW 3, 4 Series To Get New Designations With New Engines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-3-4-series-to-get-new-designations-with-new-engines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/bmw-3-4-series-to-get-new-designations-with-new-engines/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863305 3series_f30_1025x475_exterior_11

A handful of BMW 3 and 4 series models will receive new designations to go with their new engines when they arrive in U.S. showrooms beginning in 2016.

An ongoing forum post on Bimmerpost reports the following for the F3x models:

  • 4-cylinder B58 will have the 330i/430i designation, instead of 328i/428i
  • 6-cylinder B58 will use the 340i/440i designation, instead of 335i/435i
  • F30 PHEV will be dubbed the 330e, instead of 328e

The list continues to update, and has info only on U.S.-bound models.

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Schaeffler: Run On Two Cylinders Instead of Three http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/schaeffler-run-on-two-cylinders-instead-of-three/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/schaeffler-run-on-two-cylinders-instead-of-three/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 12:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863281 Ford-Fiesta-EcoBoost

Cylinder deactivation is available on a handful of Chrysler and General Motors V8s, as well as Honda V6s, cutting power to a set of cylinders in order to boost efficiency in the short-term. However, one supplier wants to take this further by using the technology on turbocharged three-cylinder motors, deactivating one cylinder while the other two do all of the work.

Ward’s Auto reports German supplier Schaeffler, which brought the switchable valve lifters to the Chrysler and GM cylinder-deactivation programs, is looking to help its customers develop three all-new three-cylinder engines that will put aside one cylinder under certain conditions. Manager of valvetrain systems David Kehr hopes the first prototype will be available for driving in six months, and believes the tech is ready for small engines thanks to advances in NVH:

It will make sense when the consumers don’t even know it’s there. To tell someone you’re going to do it, they’d probably have a lot of apprehension. But even with all the cylinder-deactivation applications that have hit the market, I would argue most people don’t even know it’s there.

The supplier plans to use electronic “rolling” cylinder deactivation, changing the amount of cylinders in play — and which ones — based on driver behavior. In turn, this would boost fuel economy over the long-term, even though it would also add cost to the engines that receive the tech. Thus, the focus will be on three-cylinder units as the cost of adding cylinder deactivation is much lower than even on a four-cylinder unit, let alone using ICEs with electric power in a hybrid configuration to do the same thing.

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Mazda2 RE May Appear Soon, But Only In Select Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mazda2-re-may-appear-soon-but-only-in-select-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mazda2-re-may-appear-soon-but-only-in-select-markets/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 11:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863249 Mazda-2-Range-Extender1

The oft-rumored Mazda2 RE PHEV, powered by a range-extending rotary engine, may soon become reality, appearing sometime after the next-gen hatch debuts in showrooms between October and the new year.

Motoring.com.au reports the PHEV won’t be making its global debut with the rest of the new Mazda2 family in August, nor will it likely appear in showrooms where government support is lacking, according to Mazda Australia Managing Director Martin Benders:

The only markets in which you can justify bringing something like that out, to get at least a reasonable amount of volume to justify setting it up as a saleable model, are ones where there’s government support for those types of models.

Benders adds that the current crop of Skyactiv engines do a better job of reducing CO2 emissions and boosting fuel economy than the more expensive PHEV technology, with subsidies and sales quotas hindering the case for hybrids in countries where the support isn’t there. However, Benders doesn’t believe government money should be used to promote the technology, preferring the market to decide what lives and what dies.

As for the new-gen Mazda2, which will take its cue from the Kodo design language found in vehicles like the Mazda3 and Mazda6, power will be supplied by a 1.5-liter naturally aspirated gasoline engine and a matching turbo diesel; the latter will likely not make it to the United States when the new compact arrives next year.

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Jaguar Land Rover Experiment With Augmented-Reality HUDs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/jaguar-land-rover-experiment-with-augmented-reality-huds/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/jaguar-land-rover-experiment-with-augmented-reality-huds/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 10:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863225 Jaguar HUD

Jaguar Land Rover is bringing a duo of augmented-reality HUDs to its respective brands, each with a different take on the technology.

Autoblog reports the Land Rover’s setup will have what they dub a Smart Assistant handling nearly every function and task so as to allow the driver to focus on driving to their destinations. The assistant connects with a driver’s smartphone to do everything from reminding you to drop off the children at school, to playing those morning jams Jalopnik likes to recommend. Meanwhile, the technology is also at work on-board, noting how many passengers are with the driver, knowing how the driver drives, even adjusting the air suspension to make exiting the vehicle easier.

Jaguar, on the other hand, is taking the video game approach with the Jaguar Virtual Windscreen, turning a day at the track into a scene from Forza or Gran Turismo. The race-oriented HUD offers lap times, virtual racing lines and ghost competitors among other data selections. There will also be gesture controls and configuration options, as well.

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Mercedes-Benz AMG GT: Unimaginatively Named Product, Wildly Wacky Paint Scheme http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mercedes-benz-amg-gt-unimaginatively-named-product-wildly-wacky-paint-scheme/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/mercedes-benz-amg-gt-unimaginatively-named-product-wildly-wacky-paint-scheme/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 20:23:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863177 mercedes-amg-gt-04

Mercedes is doing the slow burn on the AMG GT, successor to the gullwinged SLS, ahead of its debut at the Paris Auto Show in September. Even though this is just a camo wrap job, it’s not too hard to imagine this look appearing on a future customer car.

Thanks to increasingly stringent regulations, the glorious AMG V8 displacing 6.2L will die, and in its place, a 4.0L twin-turbo V8 will power future AMG models. Without the gullwing doors, some of the visual drama is lost – but perhaps we’ll get that wrap as a factory option instead. After all, something has to draw excessive attention to you and your car, now that you can’t just pop the gullwing doors open at leisure.

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