Category: Infrastructure

By on September 27, 2017

road highway

Last week, I defended the president’s honor and lamented that I probably wouldn’t have a follow-up opportunity for some time. As it turns out, that claim is in no danger of becoming a falsehood. On Tuesday, President Trump told lawmakers he was ditching a key aspect of his planned $1 trillion infrastructure package — namely, who is going to pay for it.

Spoiler alert: its going to be taxpayers.

The White House previously envisioned a strategy where private investors would be lured into rebuilding roadways, bridges, and rail networks with promises of federal backing and a less-daunting approvals process. But now it’s saying partnerships between the private sector and federal government might not work.  Read More >

By on September 15, 2017

BMW smartphone sync

Way back when the sun first rose on the automobile, hand cranking was the preferred way to start an engine. Keys didn’t really come into fashion until magneto and coil-operated ignition systems were mainstreamed. But the car key has evolved since its infancy as a finely shaped lump of metal. Modern keys aren’t even keys in the traditional sense, they’re short-range radio transmitters with a transponder chip that disarms a vehicle immobiliser.

BMW is reassessing the practical value of car keys entirely, according to Ian Robertson, the company’s board member responsible for sales. Robertson, struck with the divine sight, envisions a hypothetical world where your smartphone performs double duty — eliminating the need to lug around the extra nine grams of metal associated with car keys.  Read More >

By on September 11, 2017

tesla model 3

Until now, Tesla’s growing network of Supercharger stations was generally aimed at the long-distance crowd. If a (very) premium-priced sedan can’t make the five-hour trip to your sister’s house for Thanksgiving, well, second thoughts might crop up about that purchase.

To accomplish the goal of Tesla proliferation, much of the automaker’s fast-charge network sprouted up in locales convenient for travellers. Places like Holiday Inn Express parking lots, restaurants, visitor centers, and Macadoodles Fine Wine & Spirits in Springfield, Missouri. In the Midwest, hungry travellers can hop off the Interstate and charge up at Meijer while shopping for juice boxes and potato wedges.

However, logic (and infrastructure) states that the majority of Tesla buyers, current and future, live in large cities and don’t leave town all that often. They’re also more likely live in condos with garages free of any plug-in points. Tesla’s latest round of Supercharger construction takes this into account, dropping the fast-charge stations directly where those urbanites inevitably show up once a week. Read More >

By on August 16, 2017

road works construction sign

President Trump announced on Tuesday that he had signed an executive order to eliminate and streamline Obama-era regulations that might hinder the construction of U.S. roads and bridges. Absent, however, was any legislation regarding previous promises of allocating a trillion dollars revitalize the nation’s infrastructure.

While the press conference was mired by the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, the topic eventually returned to roadworks and the aforementioned funding. “We will end up getting health care, but we’ll get the infrastructure, and actually infrastructure is something that I think we’ll have bipartisan support on,” Trump told reporters. “I actually think Democrats will go along with the infrastructure.”

Backed by Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trump presented the media with a flow chart purporting to show the permitting regulations required to construct a highway in an unnamed state he claimed took 17 years under existing regulations.  Read More >

By on May 10, 2017

Radiohead OK Computer

Or maybe you will. Someone did.

As the 20-year anniversary of the release of UK alternative band Radiohead’s monster OK Computer album approaches, an online sleuth has provided pretty compelling evidence as to the locale of the image seen on the album cover.

Radiohead — a band you might have once been really into before worrying it was all a little too pretentious (and back again) — incorporated several automotive references into the album and associated videos. The album cover itself featured a scratchy image of a nondescript highway interchange. Probably a drawing. It’s not like the Blind Faith album cover, so no one thought anything of it.

However, music fans are not known for being allergic to geekiness. The same goes for transportation nerds. One such nerd transportation infrastructure aficionado now says it took him just 10 minutes to figure out the very real U.S. setting for the album cover. Read More >

By on May 5, 2017

2018_toyota_tundra_trd_sport_01_8ee19ebe1c41ad354b59edf3a42fdf0bac4ded48

As automakers dial back sales projections in a year that’s seen a rough start, the industry could be holding out hope for a legislative solution to lagging demand.

Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz made this claim during the opening of the company’s expanded Ann Arbor research and design center on Thursday, adding that incentivizing new vehicles to draw down bulging inventories can’t continue forever. In his view, automakers are keeping extra vehicles on hand for a reason, not just because production hasn’t adjusted for slow sales.

Lentz, like other auto executives, is hoping for a sales bump in the event the Trump administration green-lights its proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan. Read More >

By on April 24, 2017

[Image: Tesla Motors]

With the “affordable” Tesla Model 3 on its way to an anticipated July production date, the company has promised to double the number of fast-charge plug-in points to feed the company’s growing fleet.

The electric automaker has already installed over 5,400 Supercharger outlets and about 9,000 lower-voltage Destination Charging connectors at various locations around the globe. In North America, Tesla promises a 150-percent increase in the number of charging points. However, don’t expect many of those stations to look like the photo above. Read More >

By on March 31, 2017

Bob Lutz

If you’re unfamiliar with Bob Lutz, it’s likely that you’re a recent addition to the world of automotive enthusiasm. Allow me to be the first to welcome you. The rest of us have been following Lutz’s career shift from extremely outspoken auto executive to extremely outspoken car blogger for years. Now 85, he hasn’t become any less critical of the industry after entering his “retirement,” nor has his advanced age done much to soften his frank rhetoric.

Love or hate him, Lutz’s time spent jumping between the Big Three has provided him with unique insights — and he always has plenty to say on the current state of the American automotive industry. His most recent revelations circle around the unsustainable nature of Tesla and his growing distaste for president Trump, despite his having voted for him.  Read More >

By on January 3, 2017

Mark-Fields (Image: Ford)

Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields didn’t completely walk back the company’s long-range production plans today, but the automaker pull a hard U-turn on one goal.

In a speech at the automaker’s Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant this morning, Fields said he was “encouraged” by President-elect Donald Trump’s “pro-growth policies.” Because of this, the Blue Oval’s planned $1.6 billion small car plant in Mexico is now off the table. Instead, the automaker will expand and modernize Flat Rock as it brings a slew of promised hybrid and electric vehicles to production. Read More >

By on December 22, 2016

2016 Cadillac CT6

Owning a range-topping Cadillac is supposed to be a trouble-free affair, and — barring gremlins — it still can be, so long as your sharp-edged, oddly light CT6 remains unbent and unbroken.

Cadillac’s liberal use of high-strength aluminum in the sedan’s body structure won accolades when the CT6 debuted for the 2016 model year. Body stiffness, curb weight, and fuel economy all benefit from this mingling of metals. However, trouble arises when those carefully bonded metals come apart.

As it turns out, fixing a damaged CT6 could prove difficult for many of the model’s 7,876-plus owners. Read More >

By on November 7, 2016

Tesla Supercharger

Tesla’s free Supercharger network was one of the best parts of being a Tesla owner. Free electricity and the lofty social status that comes with EV ownership? What’s not to like? Well, the the company just announced it’s about to make a “change to the economics of Supercharging.”

After issuing emails urging customers to stop hogging the network last year, Tesla has decided only to allow certain early adopters to make use of the fast-juicing power grid free of charge. Meanwhile, all customers purchasing vehicles after January 2017 will have to pay up.

Read More >

By on November 3, 2016

2016 Ford Focus EV Plug, Image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

Battery electric vehicles are supposedly the future, but you’ll need an EV with plenty of range if you want to visit some of the areas overlooked by the Obama administration’s new charging corridor plan.

Earlier today, the White House announced 48 electric vehicle charging corridors spanning 25,000 miles of highway in 35 states and the District of Columbia. The electrified routes, established a month before the government was required to do so under federal law, will place a recharging station within reach of even the wimpiest electric vehicles. That means 50 mile intervals at a minimum.

For some areas, nervous EV road trippers would be best served by a gas guzzler or low-cost airline. Read More >

By on October 3, 2016

trd_8212-final

General Motors has rolled out a unique variant of its popular midsize Chevrolet Colorado pickup in advance of U.S. military trials scheduled to begin next year.

The Colorado ZH2, seemingly plucked from the set of a Mad Max sequel, has seen its frame and body stretched, reinforced and modified to within an inch of its life, and draws its power from a hydrogen fuel cell.

If this sounds like eco-nonsense, and you’re wondering when the U.S. Navy will announce a return to sail, hold on — there are tactical advantages to the vehicle’s powertrain. Read More >

By on October 1, 2016

new jersey (Shinya Suzuki/Flickr)

After enjoying zero add-ons to their state gas tax since 1988, New Jersey residents are about to get a shock at the pumps.

The Garden State will raise its gas tax by 23 cents a gallon as early as next week in order to fund state infrastructure projects, the New York Times reports. The move raises the tax from the second-lowest in the country (14.5 cents per gallon) to above the national average.

As bad as this may seem to residents used to low, low pump prices, there’s a trade-off. Read More >

By on September 16, 2016

Ambassador Bridge (Stephen Boyle/Flickr)

The iconic (#iconic?) Ambassador Bridge is an impressive feat of engineering, but the march of time leaves both scars and decay.

No longer occupying the centerfold in plastic-wrapped copies of Bridges Monthly, the critical cross-border link spanning the Detroit River has received a temporary band-aid after officials determined there wasn’t much holding vehicles back from a 152-foot plunge.
Read More >

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