The Truth About Cars » Media The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:48:14 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » Media Ford, King Ranch “Brownout” the Houston Rodeo Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:03:07 +0000

Perhaps you haven’t lived in a flyover state where brown leather gear dominates your town during Rodeo season.  While the Ford+King Ranch press release celebrating the 15th Anniversary of those famous brown leather pickups reached the autoblogosphere, only a local writer with an internationally known knack for automotive snark both finds the sweet mochalicious lede and refuses to bury it in the dirt.

And what does that mean?  You gotta click to find out.

I’ve been blacklisted (brownlisted?) from Ford PR events as long as I remember, but I attended this shindig via the King Ranch side of the Ford+King Ranch love fest.  So I donned my cheap cowhide boots, my thrift store boot cut jeans and herded the Duratec Ranger’s 150-ish horses to the Rodeo…pardner.


As the massive complex–housing the once amazing Astrodome—filled up, I noticed how this Rodeo’s grown in the last 10-20 years.  Ford’s booth hawked their latest wares much like any auto show, complete with a “media only” area for us bloggers, social media influencers and local autojournos. There was the new aluminum F-150, the new-ish Expedition and the current Super Duty…all in King Ranch guise, ‘natch.

And yes, the King Ranch is actually a famous Ranch, much like Bill Blass was a name on Lincolns attached to an actual person. They sold cowboy grade stuff nearby at their Saddle Shop at the Rodeo, too. But I digress…


So what does a native Houstonian think of the aluminum cage’d F150? Pretty cool inside and out, as their design/engineering embodies continuous improvement, even if the rig is far too big for its own good. The doors close with less vault-like heft of the last-gen steel body, but it still feels great. And even the door card is all kinds of broughamy from the days of Ford LTDs with covered headlights and Ghia-clad Granadas.


Now, even more than before, Ford’s take on the American Workhorse is the unquestioned Audi of Pickups.


The new Expedition is a modest evolution, lacking the “WTF” face of the Tahoe’s buzz saw headlights. Its refined snout is a pleasurable throwback to the beard trimming grille of the UR-Fusion.

The hallmark all-wheel independent suspension and the massive fold flat 3rd row seat still bowl me over: shame on GM for not following suit.  But the interior feels distinctly cheap compared to the F-150. But every Ford product takes an R&D back seat to the almighty F-series, right? #pantherlove



The Super Duty (ever present on the Rodeo’s dirt floor) has a new oil-burnin’ motor for 2015, but the stuff you can touch looks about the same.  The new-ish center stack loaded with SYNC looks functional enough, but again, the interior lacks the refinement of the F150.  Ditto the exterior.  But the King Ranch trimming in all three models drove home the fact that this is the brownest lineup in the car biz. Or at least the truck biz…and it’s been that way for 15 years now?

And, as a founding member of the Brown Car Appreciation Society on Facebook, a tail-wags-the-dog group that made brown as “important” as diesels and manual transmissions to auto journos and to the PR flacks that do anything to get their attention, it’s nice to believe our mission adds to the King Ranch’s reach. Because brown makes the King Ranch a cut above, even if the leather isn’t as buttery soft as before: hopefully the lack of tenderness means it’ll hold up better than older models.

Ford also had a brief presentation, after most guests Frank Bacon-ized themselves with free food/booze in the luxury suite.  Succumbing to the urge I felt in 2011 when buying my Ranger, I asked the Ford F-series rep why Dearborn talked me out of an F-150 by making it impossible to configure what I wanted: a regular cab, XLT, short bed, 4×4, limited slip differential with the 6.2L Hurricane-Boss V8.  You know, a Ford Tremor without the poseur trim, the tacky console and a half-ton of big block V8 instead of that funny soundin’ EcoBoost motor.

The rep went into some detail about the cost-benefit of offering everything under the sun (a fair point for any corporation, to some extent) and then threw me a bone:

“You definitely know what you want, maybe we can accommodate you in the future.”

So if the BOSS V8 ever shows up in some twisted FoMoCo homage to the GMC Syclone…well…YOU ARE WELCOME, SON. For now, enjoy these chocolatey photos showing a time when Ford, King Ranch and a lot of brown joined forces to impress rodeo-going pistonheads.



IMG_2888 IMG_2889 IMG_2890 IMG_2891 IMG_2892 IMG_2893 IMG_2894 IMG_2895 IMG_2896 IMG_2898 IMG_2900 IMG_2901 IMG_2902 IMG_2903 IMG_2904 IMG_2905 IMG_2907 IMG_2908 IMG_2909 IMG_2912 IMG_2913 IMG_2914 IMG_2915 IMG_2917 IMG_2918 IMG_2922 IMG_2923 IMG_2924 IMG_2925 IMG_2926 IMG_2927 IMG_2928 IMG_2935 IMG_2936 IMG_2937 IMG_2939 kingranch photo IMG_2890 IMG_2896 IMG_2922 IMG_2936 IMG_2939 IMG_2924 kingranch photo ]]> 86
General Motors to Stop Monthly U.S. Sales Calls Mon, 06 Jan 2014 15:10:04 +0000 Chevrolet Team Superstore

In move sure to disappoint industry analysts and journalists alike (us included), General Motors will no longer hold monthly calls regarding their sales in the United States.

According to GM spokesman Jim Cain, ending the monthly U.S. sales call would allow his employer to focus on “conferences and other forums that allow us to discuss our [global] strategy and our results with a long-term view and in a very holistic way,” as well as how each of their individual markets fit into the strategy without getting lost in the details. This move puts them in line with their friends in Auburn Hills, who also opt out of such calls; Ford and Toyota will continue to pick up the phone.

Cain did assure analysts and journalists that GM would still issue their monthly sales notes, however; December’s U.S. deliveries fell 6.3 percent from 2012, while its shares closed at $39.57, falling 3.4 percent in the largest decline since August 27 of last year. Meanwhile, 38 percent of the automaker’s sales originate outside of North America, with China being their largest market by sales volume.

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Kelley Blue Book: Ford F-Series Dominates America In State By State Breakdown Mon, 02 Dec 2013 13:19:17 +0000 2014 Ford Super Duty

Business Insider wanted to know the buying habits of Americans when it comes to cars. Thus, they asked Kelley Blue Book to present their findings from data gathered between January and August 2013, as well as the lowest price for each top model sold in New York City in November of this year.

The result? Thirty-five states, from the Bakken in North Dakota to the super patriots of New Hampshire, love the Ford F-Series. Perhaps Ford’s truck division strategy is truly paying off after all?

As for the other 15 states and our nation’s capital, California opts for the Honda Civic, Michigan adores the Ford Fusion, and DC’s Beltway is adorned in Toyota Corollas. The rest of the story is in the map below.

Top Selling Cars in 2013 Map

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Lexus No. 1 in Reliability, Ford Near Bottom Thu, 31 Oct 2013 13:00:29 +0000 2013-Lexus-LS-460-3

If reliability is the No. 1 trait your next car must have, you may then opt to visit your nearest Lexus dealership before considering anything from the Ford dealership across the street as far as Consumer Reports is concerned.

Lexus, Toyota and Acura dominate the consumer magazine’s Top 10 in reliability for 2013, with a total of seven Japanese automakers taking almost all of the marbles; the only non-Japanese makes to make the Top 10 were Audi (No. 4), Volvo (No. 7) and GMC (No. 9).

Meanwhile, Ford was pushed into the No. 26 slot after being stranded in the 27th position last year. Lincoln fell back to No. 27 on reliability, with BMW’s MINI in dead last on the side of the road. Reasons for both Ford and Lincoln being where they are include complaints about the automaker’s MyFordTouch system, and problems with their EcoBoost engine.

If you’re at the Toyota dealership, however, Consumer Reports recommends anything but the Camry, Prius v or RAV4. The magazine retracted its recommendations for the trio due to poor results in crash testing as conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a decision the publication doesn’t take lightly according to Consumer Reports Director of Auto Testing Jake Fisher:

Honestly, we don’t take this lightly, but virtually every vehicle now in the family sedan category has been tested and the only one that has gotten a ‘poor’ is the Camry. At this point, we don’t feel we can continue to recommend people buy a Camry when there’s other good choices out there that do better on the test.

That said, there may be hope for redemption regarding the Camry: Toyota’s engineers have gone over the car’s failings, and will retest with IIHS in December.

Fisher also said that with 50 vehicles tested by the IIHS, his publication has enough data to begin weeding out any vehicle with a “poor” rating. Thus, expect to see more recommendations retracted on some cars the next time you head to the newsstand to pick up the latest issue of Consumer Reports.

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Mad Men Season 6: For Immediate Release Mon, 06 May 2013 21:07:07 +0000 MM_606_MY_0116_1330 Picture courtesy of

I was a late comer to Mad Men, AMC’s highly successful and critically acclaimed drama that airs on Sunday nights. It was only as the fifth season was underway and I started to see reports on the interwebs that Jaguar was playing heavily into their story line that my curiosity was piqued. When my wife suggested that we try it out on Netflix last summer, I agreed. And quickly became hooked.


   In case you’ve managed to live under a rock for six years instead of four the way I did and have no idea what Mad Men is about, hit this link to AMC’s website and get caught up.

Cars figure heavily into the plots and subplots of the show and have since the very beginning. An ad agency is defined not only by the clients it already has, but also by the ones it doesn’t. The fictitious firm, Sterling- Cooper- Draper- Pryce, that the show is centered around is a small firm, working hard to grab clients and earn it’s place with the bigger firms. By far the most prized account for one of these small firms is an automotive advertising account.

Automotive accounts are pursued like the Holy Grail of advertising in the series. More than once one of the main characters has bemoaned the fact that SCDP has been playing in the advertising bush leagues, with clients that include regional airlines, baked beans, and various other food stuffs.

In season five the firm managed to land their first “car,” when they secured an account with Jaguar in return for pimping out one of the lead female characters to the head of the Jaguar dealers’ association. It was a loathsome move that tarnished what should have been the firm’s greatest triumph.

The opportunity to dump Jaguar finally presented itself in the May 5th episode. (If you haven’t watched it yet and ignored the other SPOILER ALERT, stop reading now.) Through a series of machinations by one of the founders of SCDP, the firm managed to score a chance to pitch a sales campaign for a new “top- secret” Chevrolet. The car, although not explicitly named as such at this point in the series, is the lowly Chevrolet Vega.*

Part of the fun of watching Mad Men is the knowledge that we, the viewing audience, have of the historical events that are right around the corner for the characters. In this case we know that history will judge the Vega (and it’s main competitors: the Ford Pinto and the AMC Gremlin) to be a total piece of crap, but we ‘re going to get to vicariously experience the hope and wonder of the characters as they work on selling the new car.

We don’t think of the Vega as a bright spot in automotive history, but at the time it was seen as cutting edge, from the Vert- A- Pac vertical rail shipping method, that turned to the cars on their noses to pack 30 units to a railcar instead of the standard 18, to the new Lordstown, OH assembly plant that was the most automated auto plant at the time.  It was also extremely popular, selling over a million units in it’s first three years of production.Detroit was finally taking a growing piece of the automotive market, the sub- compact car, seriously after decades of leaving it to VW and Honda.

It’s also the perfect car for the fictitious advertising agency of SCDP to be hustling. So much of the show centers around the conflict between the brash, forward thinking ad men and their conservative, traditional minded clientele. Almost every pitch meeting shown on the show begins with the SCDP creative team pitching a daring, non- traditional approach to selling the client’s product, the client balking at the pitch, and the SCDP team either selling out and coming back with a boring alternative that meets the client’s expectations, convincing the client to take a chance, or telling the client to get bent and throwing away the account.

Since the Vega is new, one can expect that SCDP’s flair for edgy, provocative advertising would have a better chance of being accepted and used. But they’re also going to be confronting the largest, most conservative client that they’ve ever worked for. The conflict between the creative teams and Chevrolet’s management should make for a lot of drama.

Personally I’m waiting to view the Vega through the characters’ eyes. Like I said before, we know from history that the Vega  is doomed by rust, labor strife at the new Lordstown plant, and numerous quality issues that will all but lock GM and the rest of Detroit out of the small car market for a generation. But on the show it’s 1968. The Vega is known as the XP-887.  Things we take for granted like using a computer to design a car and then building it on an assembly line populated by robots is exciting and new, bursting with possibility.

It’s going to make for quite a show.

* I am 99% sure that the car has to be the Vega. During a scene in which one character was informing the creative team about the pitch, I think he referred to the secret car as the “XP-8 something something.”  It’s an all- new car, designed by computer, and the SCDP staff talks about getting the chance to “name it.” The Vega is the only thing that fits.

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After Tesla Stalls, Musk Calls NY Times Report A Fake Tue, 12 Feb 2013 15:20:28 +0000

Tow truck delivers Model S to charging station

New York Times reporter John Broder told a harrowing story of a test drive from Delaware to Connecticut in a Tesla-supplied Model S. Broder wanted to review both the car and Tesla’s Supercharger stations along I95. The drive ended on a flatbed truck with a Model S that had run out of juice. The story landed Broder on Elon Musk’s shitlist.

“NYTimes article about Tesla range in cold is fake. Vehicle logs tell true story that he didn’t actually charge to max & took a long detour,” Musk tweeted, and the Tweet was re-tweeted more than a thousand times.

New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Reuters that the article about Broder’s test drive “was completely factual, describing the trip in detail exactly as it occurred. Any suggestion that the account was ‘fake’ is, of course, flatly untrue.”

The report, which is required reading for both EV lovers and haters, is big on suspense. After an uneventful drive from Washington D C, it gets interesting after a 49 minute stop at the first Supercharger. Only after turning the heat to low, and later to off, Broder limps into the next Supercharger station with “Recharge Now” flashing in red.

Broder is going north, and it is getting cold. The Model S does not like it. After a night parked in Connecticut, two thirds of the available range are gone. Even after an emergency charge on the way, the battery is exhausted and the car shuts down. A tow truck is called. There are problems getting the car on the flatbed because an “electrically actuated parking brake would not release without battery power.”

Broder documents everything in great detail, along with many calls to Tesla, all the way up to Tesla’s chief technology officer, J B Straubel.

The New York Times spokeswoman said Broder “followed the instructions he was given in multiple conversations with Tesla personnel,” and “there was no unreported detour,” as Musk claims.

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Nissan Lands A Blockbuster. On YouTube Wed, 28 Nov 2012 16:06:33 +0000

Dan Sloan, since May 2011 Editor in Chief and General Manager of Nissan’s Global Media Center at the Nissan Global HQ in Yokohama, can celebrate his big breakthrough. The former Singapore Bureau Chief of Reuters landed a YouTube blockbuster.

The Nissan Newsroom documentation of a wish come true for the owner of a Nissan Serena MPV garnered nearly 300,000 YouTube views in one week.

The plot: A husband throws an open-air party to his wife to commemorate their 11th wedding anniversary.

Beginning with a new marriage proposal, the music and dancing quickly follow with 74 friends and family from ages 3 to 67 joining the performance. The wife is floored and agrees to stay married,

Says Sloan: “Not quite the 835 million views of Gagnam Style, but a happy surprise.”

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Just Kidding! Suzuki Decides To Play Late April Fools Joke On North American Employees Wed, 14 Nov 2012 23:04:24 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.


All 12 North American employees have been officially notified that their jobs are saved.

“Look, I get bored! Did you ever have that urge to just fire someone just because it’s a Monday.” said Suzuki founder Maruti Suzuki.

“I remembered when Consumer Reports did that nasty little hack job on our Samurai and, well, it’s been nearly 25 years since the last hit. 25 years! We were becoming the Wavy Gravy of car brands and I just had to do something to wake these people up.”

Karen Carpenter, president of Suzuki International PR Operations also informed TTAC of a new requirement for Suzuki Auto employees,  ”Speaking of which, every Suzuki Auto employee who wants to be rehired will now have to streak to the flag pole at our headquarters wearing nothing more than a skinny tire in honor of the 25th anniversary release of the last new US Spec Suzuki Samurai.”

Ms. Carpenter continued, “The song “Top Of the World” will be resounding throughout the loudpseakers in Japanese as Mr. Suzuki proudly celebrates the re-opening of their North American headquarters with the reintroduction of three historic Suzuki model names for our North American line-up.”

“The SX4 will now be the Swift. A new small 4×4 will be coming from Japan that will be deemed the Samurai, and yes, we will offer a CU Suck It! Edition which will feature no sway bars, struts from our surplus Forenza inventory, and 23″ tires.”

“Finally we will be renaming the Grand Vitara the Sidekick, with Chuck Norris inflicting his own patented sidekick to random celebrities whenever the opportunity arises. Paris Hilton, Donald Trump, the Duggars, you have all been warned!”

Note: The author was given a free tank of gas, insurance, a Carpenters greatest hits album, and a 15 year old Suzuki Esteem Wagon in exchange for this press release. Actually, I bought the Esteem at a public auction for $600 with a free tank of gas, an expired insurance card in the glovebox, and a very worn Carpenters cassette that was temporarily stuck in the tape deck. The noxious fumes and cat hair I experienced right afterwards were the inspiration for this article.

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Sandy Drowns Jalopnik, Site Advocates Wife Swapping While Down Tue, 30 Oct 2012 17:05:13 +0000

One of the many victims of Sandy: Jalopnik. Along with the other servers of the Gawker network, Jalopnik joined the fate of some ten thousand websites served by 150 data centers on the East Coast that were drowned out by the ferocious storm. Even after going down, the site’s problems did not end.

We wish our colleagues at Jalopnik all the best and a speedy comeback. Also, we recommend to hunt down whoever changed Jalopnik’s redirect from to, a site that offers “wife swapping”, and “colon cleansing” along with more traditional fare such as “body kits” and “Cadillac Escalade.”

According to the New York Times, the Gawker sites share a common Internet service provider, Datagram, housed in the financial district in Lower Manhattan, which lost power on Monday evening.  TTAC’s servers are in a secure location in Canada, and its editors are dispersed over multiple continents.

Update: The hijack of Jalopnik’s emergency site appears to be fixed.  Jalopnik now redirects to the proper ersatz-Jalopnik page that sports familiar robust language like “The asshole spreading false info on Twitter revealed.”


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The Washington Post Turns Against The Volt, And Bites It Thu, 13 Sep 2012 13:43:20 +0000

Five years ago, Chris Matthews said on MSNBC: “Well, The Washington Post is not the liberal newspaper it was.” Today, the Post finally will be condemned as part of the massive right wing conspiracy. In a brutal op-ed, signed by the full WaPo Editorial Board, the paper kills and buries the Volt. Basically, says the WaPo, we have been fooled:

The Energy Department study assumed that General Motors would produce 120,000 plug-in hybrid Volts in 2012. GM never came close to that and recently suspended Volt production at its Hamtramck, Mich., plant, scene of a presidential photo-op. So far, GM has sold a little more than 21,000 Volts, even with the help of a $7,500 tax credit, recent dealer discounting and U.S. government purchases. When you factor in the $1.2billion cost of developing the Volt, GM loses tens of thousands of dollars on each model.”

The WaPo fully subscribes to the story that the Volt is a giant money sink. It also has read the excuses that say that the car is not supposed to make money, that it is a rolling science lab on which greater successes will be built. Says the Post:

“Some such losses are normal in the early phases of a product’s life cycle. Perhaps the knowledge and technological advances GM has reaped from developing the Volt will help the company over the long term. But this is cold comfort for the taxpayers who still own more than a quarter of the firm.

The Energy Department predicted that Nissan, recipient of a $1.5 billion government-guaranteed loan, would build 25,000 of its all-electric Leaf this year; that car has sold only 14,000 units in the United States.

As these companies flail, they are taking the much-ballyhooed U.S. advanced-battery industry down with them. A Chinese company had to buy out distressed A123, to which the Energy Department has committed $263 million in production aid and research money. Ener1, which ran through $55 million of a $118 million federal grant before going bankrupt, sold out to a Russian tycoon.”

If we still believe in the electric car, our savior, then we have been fooled, says the Post. It also says by whom:

“No matter how you slice it, the American taxpayer has gotten precious little for the administration’s investment in battery-powered vehicles, in terms of permanent jobs or lower carbon dioxide emissions. There is no market, or not much of one, for vehicles that are less convenient and cost thousands of dollars more than similar-sized gas-powered alternatives — but do not save enough fuel to compensate. The basic theory of the Obama push for electric vehicles — if you build them, customers will come — was a myth. And an expensive one, at that.”

A year ago, the Washington Post wrote:

“The Volt changes everything – the car itself, the way we think about and use automobiles, and attitudes about energy conservation and fuel alternatives.”

Today, the Volt changed minds again. Not in a good way.

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Volt High Tension: GM Says Reuters Wrong, Ignores Suggestions By TTAC Commentariat Tue, 11 Sep 2012 12:49:38 +0000

“The estimate of the current loss per unit for each Volt sold is grossly wrong,” GM says as a retort to the Reuters story that GM loses around $49,000 on every Volt. GM says that “it allocates Volt development costs across lifetime volume, not across the current number of Volts sold.” TTAC commenters that rushed to the aid of the beleaguered company suggested the same. Oddly enough, GM passed on a much stronger argument that would have turned the Volt into a money machine. If not immediately, then much earlier than suggested by Reuters.

After the usual lame back and forth that in its first years, the Prius wasn’t a money machine either, long time commenter Pch101 came up with a hard-hitting argument that should fit right into GM’s creative accounting:

Most of the development of the Volt was paid for by a company that is now called Motors Liquidation. Motors Liquidation is a bankrupt entity that used to be called General Motors.

The new General Motors essentially got that R&D from Motors Liquidation for free. In terms of accounting, it would have acquired it at a steep discount through the bankruptcy sale, as the Volt was only one of many assets that would have been acquired through the court sale.”

As painful as it may be, GM should read TTAC more. Among the chaff of amateur spinmeistery, there are some masterful gems, such as this one. Instead, GM decided to write the full development and tooling costs off over the lifetime of the platform, even if it means many more years of non-profitability. Let’s hope that platform will live long. Says Reuters:

The average per-car costs for development and tooling will drop as sales volume rises. But GM will need to sell 120,000 Volts before the per-vehicle cost reaches $10,000 — and that may not occur during the projected five-year life cycle of the first-generation Volt.”

If that is true, then the Volt will need to stay on the government drip for many years until it can be made at a price that is competitive in the market. At $7,500 a pop, that intravenous infusion will cost the tax payer close to a billion dollars to prop up a car that can’t make it on its own in the market place.

The meek denial that ignored Pch101’s creative reasoning already had its Streisand effect.  Fox picked up the story, along with the denial, only to say that the consulting firm that did the analysis “stands behind the number,” adding that “it was calculated based on industry standards without any specific inside information about the Volt program.”

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TrueCar Unhappy With On-line Matchmaker Fri, 06 Jul 2012 14:59:12 +0000


Car-shopping service TrueCar allegedly is getting disenchanted with its partner Yahoo. In January, TrueCar became Yahoo’s exclusive auto-shopping partner, for a fee. Automotive News [sub] says the price was $50 million per year over three years. AN also says that TrueCar ended that deal.

Although nobody is talking, it sounds like the leads sent from Yahoo to TrueCar were not worth the hefty sum. Under a new deal, TrueCar will only pay after it has received a minimum number of high-quality leads from Yahoo, AN says. According to the report, Yahoo wants to spread out to other car-shopping services.

Says Automotive News:

“The original deal, signed late last year, said Yahoo would deliver 10 million auto shoppers to TrueCar each month. It’s not clear if Yahoo delivered that total, and statements from both companies did not address the issue.”

With some 14 million cars sold each year in the U.S., 10 million auto shoppers per month sounds a bit high. If you aim for the stars, you shoot in the air.

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America’s 10 Most Manly Motor Machines Mon, 02 Apr 2012 17:40:49 +0000

“What to call these?” tweeted “Dudemobiles? Guy Cars? Testosteroners?” And they linked to their scientifically prepared list of the cars with the most men as buyers. Not a list compiled by basement dwellers, but by Polk. The list reflects total purchases made in 2011. And we are counting down …

Number 10: Chevrolet Corvette. 86.9 percent males. Pictured above. At number 10, it practically counts as a girl car on this manly list.

Number 9: Ford F-Series. 87.0 percent males. Only number 9? F as in effeminate?

Number 8: GMC Sierra. 87.5 percent males. Now scientifically proven, more manly than a Ford truck.

Number 7: Nissan GT-R. 87.9 percent males. Carlos Ghosn drives one. That skews the stats.

Number 6: Porsche 911. 88.2 percent males. Because skirts ride up in these cars – German ingenuity.

Number 5: Ferrari California. 88.4 percent males. Driving one grows hair on your chest.

Number 4: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. 90.0 percent males. Even looks like a … guy.

Number 3: Audi R8. 91.4 percent males. This stat will drive Sindelfingen boinkers.

Number 2: BMW 1 Series M Coupe. 92.2 percent males. This stat causes uproar in Munich: “An Einser? Whats wrong with our Sexer?”

And the winner is:

Number 1: Ferrari 458 Italia. 95.3 percent males. Cazzo!

(Can someone open the window? It smells like a locker room.)

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Motor Trend Fools Robots And Spiders, Misses Disturbing New Motor Trend Sun, 01 Apr 2012 14:53:02 +0000

More and more of the daily news we consume is not written by people, but by robots and spiders. The people at Motor Trend will be painfully aware of that fact when they come back to work on Monday. Today, MT reports that “General Motors is investigating complaints that XM radios installed in Chevrolet Volts do not pick up the satellite radio service’s Fox station.”

Motor Trend goes on to say:

“The apparent defect was first revealed late Friday on the Fox News television broadcast, “Your World Cavuto.”

“Viewers of this network have called in to complain that Fox’s XM channel is not available on President Obama’s car, the Chevrolet Volt,” host Neil Cavuto asserted on his TV broadcast, which is simulcast on XM 114. “Does this sound to you like payback time to Barack Obama from Government Motors?”

“How dare Government Motors?” responded Ann Coulter, a guest on Cavuto’s show. “But I’m not the least bit surprised. This is a liberal car for left-wing liberal socialist Marxists.”

A read all the way to the end reveals that “a GM spokesman said Chevrolet engineers would continue to test Volts through the weekend to see whether they could pull in Fox XM and would issue a report by the end of the day today, April 1.” This, and careful consultation of the calendar, makes a halfway assertive human reader doubt that the article is real news.

The trouble is that a lot of the daily news is collected by robots. In the early hours of April 1, the alleged news item  already is  all over the Internet. Many publications that are proud of their editorial oversight carry the April fools joke as real news. The story is in AOL Money’s Daily Finance, and in the Businessinsider. Untouched by human hands (or aggregated by morons,) the story runs on Topix right underneath Jalopnik’s  “What April Fools Day Automotive Headline Do You Want To Read?”

Most lazywebs from Carnewsarchive to Car Newsticker run the piece and pay the price for automatically scraping automotive sites in the hope for Google dollars. Even AOL News has the story. It is only a matter of minutes before the story will be eternalized in “verifiability, not fact” Wikipedia.

The sad part is that Motortrend’s persiflage already is way behind the times. Other observers had noted a puzzling U-turn at Fox. Usually, the channel poured vitriol over the car. A month ago, Fox drove a Volt and ran out of juice in the Lincoln Tunnel.

Then suddenly, a few days ago, Fox loved the Volt. Fox lauded the Volt as a car that can “help win the war in terror.” Steve Doocy, drove a Volt and attested that the drive was “smooth as glass.” A few days earlier, Foxbusiness declared the Volt the best electric car on the market” and could find only one flaw: The price.

Speaking of price, some people point to the fact that GM had started running Volt ads on Fox.

Truth is funnier than April fools jokes.

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Italy Seizes Gaddafi’s Stake In Fiat Wed, 28 Mar 2012 22:51:44 +0000

A year ago nearly to the day, I was investigating the connection between Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and Fiat. With an American-led intervention in Libya underway, Reuters had reported that a Wikileaked State Department document revealed that the Libyan Government owned a two-percent stake in the automaker Fiat as recently as 2006. When I contacted Fiat’s international media relations department for comment, I received this response:

Dear Mr Niedermeyer,

Further to your email, I would mention that the Reuters report you refer to is incorrect. As too are other similar mentions that have appeared recently in the media concerning the LIA’s holdings in Fiat.

The LIA sold all of its 14% shareholding in Fiat SpA in 1986 – ten years after its initial stake was bought.  It no longer has a stake in Fiat SpA.

I trust that this clarifies the matter.

It didn’t, actually. In fact the matter remained as clear as mud to me until just now, when I saw Reuters’ report that Italian police have seized $1.46 billion worth of Gaddafi assets, including “stakes in… carmaker Fiat,” under orders from the International Criminal Court.

So, did Fiat lie? Not exactly. The Libya Arab Foreign Bank did sell back its shares in 1986, but the Wikileaked memo claimed that a successor entity, the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company, was the more recent Libyan investor. Not being well-versed in the structure and history of Libya’s sanction-avoiding foreign investment shell companies, and lacking the resources to effectively pursue the story (tracking Gaddafi-era investments is a chore), I left it there. And even now that Italian police confirm that a Gaddafi-controlled stake in Fiat has been seized, it’s not at all clear whether Fiat’s management was aware of this.

The AGI has the most detailed account, reporting

The Guardia di Finanza Corps of Rome has seized property worth more than 1.1 bln euro from members of the Ghaddafi family upon a warrant of the International Criminal Court of The Hague. The property seized includes real estate, company shares and bank accounts that belong to members of the Ghaddafi family or to people of Ghaddafi’s entourage with an overall value of more than 1.1 bln euro

Property investigations carried out by the GdF of Via dell’Olmata, in Rome have enabled to discover two financing companies through which leaders of the former Libyan regime had made investments in Italy. [emphasis added]

That covers Fiat management fairly well: at the very least, it appears that they didn’t know about Libyan investment until police were involved. I might suspect that this very Gaddafi stake in Fiat was frozen by Italian authorities prior to my request for comment, and Fiat’s representative misled me about it… but I have no way of proving it. Time will (hopefully) tell.

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, it’s only a little strange that this wasn’t somehow brought to light in pre-bailout vetting of Fiat. Sure, a foreign enemy of the United States was a significant shareholder in the firm that was handed a bailed-out Chrysler for no cash down. On the other hand, Libya was not on the War On Terror radar at the time, and the auto task force had enough to worry about without investigating Fiat’s shareholders. All the same, chalk this up as yet another example of the unintended consequences of government intervention in the economy.

Finally, there’s the real question: did Gaddafi actually benefit from his Fiat investment? It all depends on when this second investment in Fiat shares took place. The Wikileaked memo says Libya owned two percent of Fiat as of 2006, which means it was enjoying the short-lived Marchionne boom (financed in part by General Motors) after years of decline and stagnation. And when things headed south in 2008, snagging Chrysler for nothing sent Fiat stock on its last real bounce… which means the Gaddafi regime did benefit to some extent from the auto bailout. Still, with Fiat’s shares pricing at all-time lows the Libyan dictator almost certainly lost money on his Fiat investment over the years. Unless the Guardia di Finanza find evidence that Fiat’s management knew about Libyan investment, this might well be a case of “no harm no foul.”

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Jalopnik, Others, Duped By Communist Party Newspaper Wed, 21 Mar 2012 16:38:48 +0000 From the Times of India to Jalopnik, all have the harrowing story that the Chinese government did “ban the word “Ferrari” from online searches.” According to the reports, a young man was killed on Sunday after his Ferrari 458 was split in two in Beijing. The reports say he was the son of senior Communist party official. According to the reports, that caused the word “Ferrari” to vanish from Internet searches in China. The Daily Mail wrote yesterday: “All references to the Italian supercar company were mysteriously removed from China’s online search engines in the early hours this morning.“ Jalopnik explains in its trademark shallow detail “why Chinese censors banned ‘Ferrari’ from internet search.”

I happened to be in China since Sunday. I volunteer life, limb, and personal freedom to put the story to the test.

When I put “Ferrari” into Google, I get pages of stories.

“Ferrari” definitely is not banned from this search engine, despite a hit that says that the story is off limits in China. Google even leads me to a big Chinese car site,, which reports that “Jia Qinglin’s illegitimate son is suspected to have died in a black Ferrari 458 Spider that crashed under a bridge in Beijing, killing the driver and injuring the passengers.” The site delves deeply into details, says that the 458 Spider has only two seats, but was occupied by a driver and two females. Jia Qinglin is a member of the Politburo.

Well, you say, Google. Sure, Google searches in China are re-routed to, but that’s mainly a face-saving exercise. My  (and anybody else’s) searches from China on Google are unmolested. After hours of on-line searches for “Ferrari” from a desk in China, using the public network and no VPN circumvention, my door has yet to be kicked in. Should I write again tomorrow, I will not have been dragged away for questioning. Keep your fingers crossed. Or keep hoping, wherever you may stand.

Ok, let’s move to a truly indigenous Chinese search engine, Baidu. Ferrari is alive and well here. Baidu likewise shows walls of hits for “Ferrari”, along with juicy tidbits about the crash of a Ferrari in Beijing that “suddenly hit the walls on the south side of the bridge, then crashed into the north side of the fence.”

The hits are (duh) in Chinese, you just have to take my word for it. Baidu even has snippets on the story being blocked from Chinese “fishing nets” (i.e. search engines.) Oddly, those very snippets are not blocked on Baidu, the premier Chinese search engine. Inscrutable Orient.

Further digging shows that “Ferrari” as a search term is alive and well on all Chinese search engines. Typing “Ferrari” into any Chinese search engine produces pages upon pages of hits. It does not lead to the familiar sudden temporary outage caused by, say a Google search for nude pictures. It also does not lead to the familiar connection reset that immediately happens when I accidentally access Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube from China.

Also, I can access, from China, a story in the New York Times, where a reporter writes about yesterday’s top searches in China. He writes about finding the Ferrari story in Baidu, he writes that “Bloggers, microbloggers and tweeters quickly seized on the story, lighting up the Sinosphere with photos, rants and rumors.” The New York Times hardly corroborates the story that searches for “Ferrari” are being blocked in China.

The source of the rumor finally is being traced to Global Times. Oddly enough, Global Times is the English-writing sister publication of Communist Party owned People’s Daily. Global Times writes in great detail about the accident, and finally says:

“Sina deleted all microblog posts which mentioned the accident, and blocked online searches of the word “Ferrari.” The Global Times also found that news reports about the crash were deleted from many web portals, such as Tencent’s QQ online chat service.”

Well, that’s down from “China’s online search engines” to “Sina.” However, a search for “Ferrari” on likewise produces ample hits. Even more inscrutable Orient. “Sina” probably stands for “Sina Weibo,” a fake Twitter. The real Twitter is blocked in China.

The story about “Ferrari” being blocked from Chinese search engines is a red-faced lie. Oddly enough, it may have been caused by a too hasty read of a newspaper that is owned by China’s Communist Party. True, some microblogging sites may have been moderating initial posts without the necessary moderation. It didn’t prevent the Sinosphere from wading knee-deep through photos, rants and rumors.

As the New York Times attests, the story of the dead son of a party chief and his two girlfriends is all over China. “Ferrari” can be accessed on all search engines. Jalopnik, along with other lazy outlets, has been led astray by China’s Communist Party.

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USA Today Is Insane Tue, 20 Mar 2012 16:56:59 +0000

In the market for an upscale Mercedes? Are you a reader of USA Today? In that case, stop talking to your travel agent. If you have already booked a ticket to Beijing, cancel it. USA Today fooled you. Most likely without malice. USA Today doesn’t know better.

Today, USA Today writes:

“If you’re looking for a deal on a luxury car, head to China. That’s where Mercedes-Benz is cutting as much as 25% off the price of some of its swankiest models.

Bloomberg News reports that China, an automaker’s paradise of anxious buyers only a couple years ago, is getting a lot tougher for those who want to sell to those who drive the very best.

Besides Mercedes, BMW and Audi are having to offer discounts of 20% on their flagships.”

Before you head to China, you may want to know what one has to pay there for one of those swank Mercedes cars. Due to murderous duties and taxes on those imported swank cars, prices in China are a tad higher than back home.

According to the Mercedes-Benz website, a Mercedes-Benz S 600 L (they only have longs,) costs 2,598,000 yuan in China. That is $410,821. Before all kinds of other taxes. A Mercedes S 600 (normal) is listed at $162,975 MSRP in the U.S. TrueCar says I should get one for $153,518. Even if I get that 25 percent discount in China, the price I pay here would buy me two S 600 in the U.S.

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Daimler Stirs Wikipedia Hornets’ Nest, Gets Stung Bigtime Thu, 15 Mar 2012 19:47:43 +0000 Daimler has attracted the wrath of Wikipedia. An anonymous Wikipedia editor had “corrected” a harmless entry about Daimler’s lobbying activities. The edit was caught. The IP address was traced back to “a server of Daimler AG,” writes Der Spiegel.  All hell broke loose.

What the editor did not know (or ignored) is that parts of Wikipedia have embarked on a witch-hunt for “paid editors.” Long standing policies that govern conflict of interest edits are being put into question, and anyone who has professional knowledge of the subject matter is being pilloried. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales even proposed an electronic ankle bracelet for paid editors that blocks them from editing Wikipedia. A monstrous RfC is in process.

The anonymous edit stepped into that hornets’ nest. The Wikipedia community slaughtered Daimler.

The anonymous edit was removed, reinstated, removed again. Edit wars broke out and could only be ended through an edit block. Slowly all the old dirt that could possibly be found about Daimler collected in the article. The article even was adorned with an unsourced claim that “Adolf Eichmann, amongst the responsible for the Holocaust of approximately six million people, was hired by the factory.” (Well, he was hired by a subsidiary in Argentina. If you want to update the German Wikipedia article, the source is here.)

The collateral damage even extended to the author of the Spiegel story: Two days before Der Spiegel broke the article about the matter, the author of the Spiegel article was banned from Wikipedia, for “abuse of E-mail.” Apparently, Spiegel author Marvin Oppong had contacted Wikipedia editors through Wikipedia while duly researching citations for his story.

If there ever was a counter-productive PR move, then it’s this one. Whitewash a little, get tarred and feathered.

Daimler needs to find the hapless editor and transfer him or her to Mongolia.  However, according to Der Spiegel, Daimler cannot locate the perpetrator, for “reasons of data privacy.”

Depending on who you ask, the IP number either points straight to Daimler or to an obscure

Looking a little further, one finds out that appears to host just about any Daimler site, from, through to If I would have to find the whitewashing Wikipedia editor, I would start looking among the ranks of my in-house IT-folk.


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TTAC Publishes Exclusive Picture Of Supply-Constrained Subaru BRZ Wed, 14 Mar 2012 13:53:14 +0000

Merriam-Webster Definition of CANARD: a false or unfounded report or story

Car & Driver horrified lovers of unadulterated driving fun with the news that “just 6000 Subaru BRZ sports cars will be allocated to the U.S. for the 2013 model year.” The source of that report is somehow suspect: “A Subaru dealer.” Car and Driver’s telephone budget must have been cut. The magazine consulted Subaru’s website that says that the BRZ will be built in “extremely limited quantities.” Car and Driver also checked with an old C&D article that said that “Subaru thinks that 5000 ­ to 7000 per year would be enough.” Thus having performed its journalistic duty, Car and Driver ran with the story of a BRZ that will be available in homeopathic quantities only. Which, I assume, should trigger a run at dealerships.

A similar canard had been published last November by the fansite It comes as no surprise that this time also, immediately jumped on the Car and Driver story.

Time to make some calls.

Spokespeople at Subaru were very busy today, preparing for an event on Friday. Finally, Subaru spokesman Masato Saito was dragged out of a meeting and said that these rumors are not “based on official information by FHI (Fuji Heavy Industries).” He did not want to comment further.

Time to call Toyota. Toyota produces its “hachi-roku” (Toyota 86 in Japan, GT 86 in Europe and elsewhere, Scion FR-S in the U.S.) together with Subaru. The deal was that Subaru stops building minivehicles, which are now built by Toyota’s Daihatsu. As a make-good, Subaru builds the hachi-roku/BRZ in its Gunma plant in Ota, Gunma Prefecture, northwest of Tokyo. According to Car and Driver, “only the front fascia, badges, and maybe wheels separate the BRZ from its Toyota—and Scion—sibling.” If the capacities are somehow constrained, then Toyota should know about it.

Toyota always maintained that it will sell as many hachi-roku as possible, with CEO Akio Toyoda personally leading the charge. A quick chat confirms that Toyota has not changed this stance.

Not surprisingly, Toyota’s spokesman Naoto Fuse says that “as for the Toyota 86, we plan to sell between 30,000 and 40,000 units annually overseas, mostly in North America and Europe.”

Why were Subaru spokespeople so busy? On Friday, there will be a line-off party at the Subaru plant. Subaru BRZ, Toyota 86, GT 86, Scion FR-S will be rolling off the line as quickly as they can build them, and as many as importers order will be shipped. Expect the first ones to arrive at U.S. shores in approximately a month from now. After a few weeks of thin supplies, common to any new model launch, you should be able to choose from plenty cars. Don’t buy the shortage story and pay above MSRP.

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Lost In Translation: Toyota Threatens To Sue CNN Over Memogate Fri, 02 Mar 2012 13:40:33 +0000

Toyota says that a group of trial lawyers that sue Toyota for money “manufacture controversy where none exists and use media outlets like CNN as tools to serve their narrow, self-interested agenda.” Toyota thinks that “CNN is party of and party to an attempt by lawyers suing Toyota for money to manufacture doubt about the safety of Toyota’s vehicles in the absence of any scientific evidence whatsoever.”

Toyota makes noises that it may sue CNN. What happened?

Yesterday evening, CNN aired a “Keeping Them Honest” segment with Anderson Cooper. That report made the infamous Brian Ross & David Gilbert experiment look like responsible journalism in comparison. The segment is about an internal Toyota memo. The memo is in Japanese, and the segment documents in excruciating length the problems of getting an exact translation from Japanese to English. In the first translation, an Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) system turned on during stress testing. In the second translation, “sudden unintended acceleration” occurred. In the third translation, the vehicle did “accelerate on its own.” For good measure, CNN uses both translations 2 and 3 in its report. TTAC’s in-house Japanese linguist, Frau Schmitto-san, gives version 1 the thumbs up.

Because discussions of nuances of the Japanese language in an internal memo from one Japanese software engineer to the other does not provide good video, CNN spiced up the program with Tanya Spotts. Last year, Ms. Spotts bought a Lexus ES 350. Seven months later, she drove it into a wall in a shopping mall. She swears she had been on the brakes at all times. The electronic data recorder says she was on the gas until 0.4 seconds before impact. On CNN, Scotts vows “I won’ t drive this car again.” She has not lost her confidence in Toyota: As she swears off the Lexus, CNN shows her carefully exiting her garage in a Toyota SUV (1:43 in this video.) In the end, Ms. Scott, who looks like a member of the pedal misapplication demographic, admits that she cannot prove SUA.

After eight excruciating minutes, the only accusation CNN can make halfway stick is that Toyota did not make this document available to NHTSA. Toyota did not, but it obviously made the memo available to the opposing lawyers. Nobody says outright  where the memo came from. However, in a comment to the CNN story, Toyota says that the document was  “produced in litigation,” hinting strongly that CNN received it from  the other side.

CNN thinks that the document is the smoking gun. Toyota thinks the document is proof that the company is doing its job. The memo documents a stress test process. Not on production cars. On prototypes. The memo documents a condition where deliberately wrong signals would cause an adaptive cruise control in a prototype to release its brakes from a stopped condition, only to re-apply the brake after a few milliseconds and to set an error code. As a result of this testing, the system was changed. The system described in the memo never made it into production. Toyota spokesman John Hanson called the document “evidence of Toyota’s robust design process.”

What’s more, neither the Lexus model, nor the Adaptive Cruise Control were ever sold in the U.S. A.

To me, the only interesting takeaway is that Toyota no longer presents the other cheek when dealing with the media. Toyota was very subdued during the Brian Ross ABC carhacking story. Now, Toyota comes out swinging.  It calls CNN’s report “misleading” and “inaccurate.” Toyta says CNN is “a patsy” and “journalistically irresponsible.” In a memo to CNN, Toyota “reserves the right to take any and every appropriate step to protect and defend the reputation of our company.”

Which in the business translates to “we may sue.”


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QOTD: What’s wrong with this statement? Mon, 27 Feb 2012 18:24:07 +0000

A topic covered before, but clearly worth covering again…

The author: Georg Kacher, seasoned European bureau chief for Automobile (i.e. not a newb)

The place: page 31, April 2012 issue

The car: Bentley Continental GT V8

The statement: “Alternatively, you can work the shift paddles to keep the engine revving between 4000 and 6300 rpm, where the power and torque curves approach, intersect, and then run almost parallel to the limiter.”

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The Tesla Roadster “Bricking” Story Deconstructed Thu, 23 Feb 2012 17:47:05 +0000

I was originally hesitant to jump on the Tesla Roadster “bricked batteries” bandwagon, and my initial story was written with a sort of cautious neutrality. Further context will be provided by the details that have surfaced in the 24 hours since the story broke. Hope you’re ready to dive in to it all.

Original story here. A quick recap: Tesla Roadster owner Max Drucker contacted Tesla CEO Elon Musk regarding a dead battery in his car. Drucker’s car died after he left his Roadster parked, without leaving it plugged in for two months. The vehicle subsequently died. The car was towed to a Tesla service center and a technician determined that his battery would have to be replaced at a cost of $40,000. Drucker sent an angry letter to CEO Elon Musk admonishing him for poor customer service.

- The Tesla “bricking” story broke on the blog of Michael Degusta. Degusta and Drucker have a long history as business partners. This was not disclosed. I contacted Degusta, who said he would put me in touch with an owner who has had their car “bricked” (he did not say if it was Drucker or one of the other four affected owners) and refused to put me in touch with the Tesla service manager who claimed that, among other things, Tesla was tracking vehicles by GPS without the owner’s consent. I was reluctant to take those claims at face value – now they can’t be independently verified. On Degusta’s blog, he discusses an owner of Roadster #340, who parked his car in a temporary garage, sans charger, while his home is being renovated. This is consistent with Drucker’s emails to Tesla – but also consistent with Drucker at best not following the protocol outlined in various documents (obtained via Green Car Reports) and the Tesla Roadster’s manual, or at worst, being negligent. Drucker’s Roadster wouldn’t have the Tesla GSM connection that can alert Tesla to low battery charge conditions. Those were only installed after the first 500 Roadsters were produced. Degusta makes a big stink about the GPS tracking of the Roadsters, but is on record claiming that, and Degusta is unwilling to back that claim up beyond anecdotal evidence.

- A copy of the Tesla Roadster owner’s manual (covering the Tesla Roadster S and Roadster 2.5. Link is at the bottom of the page for you to peruse yourself), states in numerous places that owners are not to leave their vehicles uncharged for long periods of time, or to drain the battery down to zero. Doing so, the owners are told, will cause permanent damage to the battery, and such damage will not be covered under the Tesla Roadster’s warranty agreement. This is spelled out in numerous places in greater detail throughout the manual. Scans of these pages are available in the gallery below. In addition, there is an agreement which owners must sign at the time of purchase that has the owner acknowledge the responsibility of maintaining a proper battery charge, and that any damage that results from negligence in this area is not covered under warranty. Degusta’s complaints that the “Battery Reminder Card” handed out to owners during servicing don’t contain adequate warnings of the consequences are also misleading, as the consequences are spelled out in the aforementioned documents.

- The Tesla Roadster’s battery, unlike those in the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, is made up of 6831 “consumer commodity cells”, basically laptop or cellphone type cells that combine to make up the battery pack. These batteries use Cobalt Dioxide chemistry, which is the most energy dense, and prone to decaying with time as well as use. This is not the case in the Volt or Leaf, which use different chemistry. In addition, the “state of charge” used by the Tesla pack is different; when a Tesla range indicator displays “zero miles”, it could have 5 percent of the battery life left. If the car is then parked without charging, it may drain to zero, leaving the car “bricked”. A Volt, on the other hand, may actually have one half to one third of the battery pack’s life left upon displaying “zero miles”; it only uses 10.4 kW out of its 16kW battery. Exact figures for a Tesla battery weren’t available, but are said to be much higher.

-It’s theoretically possible to revive a “bricked” consumer cell via slow trickle charging, in the same way that a dead iPod or laptop can be brought back to life if left to charge for a very long time after months of not being used.

So, we know for sure that it’s possible for a Tesla to “brick”. Tesla has admitted it in a statement, but also seems to have provided ample warnings that it could happen and that it can easily be prevented. These measures, along with the structure of the warranty agreement, leads us to believe that a product liability lawsuit is highly unlikely (a former auto industry lawyer we spoke to agreed, though cautioned that California’s Lemon Laws were the most liberal of any of the 50 states).

Of course, Tesla could have replaced the battery pack in good faith (and maybe had Drucker and the others sign an NDA agreement that also absolves Tesla of any responsibility for the pack’s failure), but for some reason, they didn’t. In the gallery below, we have scans of the manual. You can read the manual for yourself here.

Tesla Owners Document. Photo courtesy Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail OwnersAgreementBatteryDocument Page6DataRecording Page7FailureToFollowVoidsWarranty Page8Glossary Page33BatteryTOC Page34ChargeInstructions Page35 Page36 Page37 Page78zerowarnings Page88Towing Page89Towing ]]> 110
Judge Bricks Tesla’s Lawsuit Against Top Gear Thu, 23 Feb 2012 15:47:38 +0000

Not a good day at Tesla: As if it’s not enough that the blogosphere is aflutter with bricked roadsters and unauthorized GPS tracking, on top of it we have fresh news from England that Tesla’s suit against Top Gear has been  thrown out.

In 2008, Top Gear had said that the Tesla Roadster would only get 55 miles instead the 200 miles Tesla had specified. To underscore that point, a Tesla Roadster was pushed into a garage.

Tesla brought suit for libel and malicious falsehood. Last October, British Justice Tugendhat disallowed the libel claim and asked that the malicious falsehood claim should be amended if it were to be allowed to proceed.

Tesla’s lawyers handed in an amendment. Justice Tugendhat read it and ruled today that Tesla’s second attempt to formulate their malicious falsehood case on damage was so “vague” and so “gravely deficient” that “it is impossible to say that it has a real prospect of success or is in respect of a real and substantial tort.”

Which, to use the term du jour, bricked the lawsuit. The incriminated video has been “removed by the user.”

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Bloomberg: Daimler Still Owning Chrysler Thu, 16 Feb 2012 12:11:14 +0000

From Bloomberg’s intellectual property news, February 15, 2012:

Daimler AG (DAI)‘s Chrysler unit’s Super Bowl advertisement featuring Clint Eastwood was temporarily taken down from Google Inc. (GOOG)‘s YouTube video-sharing service Feb. 13 following an infringement claim from the National Football League, the Baltimore Sun reported.

YouTube told the Sun it removed the video after receiving an infringement notice from either a copyright owner or a third- party agency acting for the owner.

The league told the Sun it hadn’t filed the claim and that it asked Google to put the ad back up again immediately.


P.S.: The article was corrected after this story appeared.

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The Three Best Cop Car Opening Sequences In The History Of Television Mon, 13 Feb 2012 10:57:38 +0000

I am amply qualified to make the call on this topic. I have been a TV addict since I was a preschooler in the late 50s, and I still consider television to be the finest educator in my life, so I believe that I can make a well-informed opinion about the medium.

The fact that my television roots extend into the pre-Kennedy era in the White House means that I can include the 50s TV shows in my range of expertise. However, my choice for 3rd place has its roots in late 60s TV and takes place on the mean streets of LA, ‘Adam 12’.

The first and only requirement of my contest is the generous use of police cars in the opening credits and ‘Adam 12’ fits the guidelines. The dispatch message is a call to action for the boys to roll, and the 1968 Plymouth Belvedere is the starring set of wheels in the introduction to season one of ‘Adam 12’.

Malloy pinned the Belvey down a straight stretch of LA pavement as he and Reed tackled everything and anything each week in the half hour crime show. It was a magic sequence that opened up endless possibilities for the boys every time they jumped into the car.

Number two on my list came from the 50s and was an early pioneer in cop car TV shows. Highway Patrol’ had a strong theme song that suited its no-nonsense message every week. Its star was Broderick Crawford, and he never built his acting career around a comedy theme.

The opening sequence was filmed from above the highway and involved two 1955 Buick Century patrol cars in a roadblock with a subsequent driving sequence with Crawford behind the wheel of one of these special CHP order Buicks. It was a stylish introduction to a pretty cheesy TV program.

My choice for number one was a well-scripted 80s TV show called ’Hill St Blues’. The introduction featured a police garage door opening and a 1976 Dodge Monaco flying out, light bars blazing, as it answered an armed robbery call.

The posse of police cars grew as they charged towards the robbery location sliding around corners on the slippery winter streets. It was television magic and viewers loved every minute of trouble on the Hill.

‘Hill Street Blues’ had a brilliant opening sequence and was my runaway choice as the best cop car stars in a TV police drama. The music, the driving and the gritty realistic feel to the introduction put this show in front of every one of its competitors.

It was a bonus that it was also a very good TV show.

For more of Jim and Jerry Sutherland’s work go

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