The Truth About Cars » Media http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 11 Sep 2014 23:24:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 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 » Media http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/media-2/ Ford: Automotive Industry Must Prepare To Rethink Transportation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-automotive-industry-must-prepare-to-rethink-transportation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-automotive-industry-must-prepare-to-rethink-transportation/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=862177 Sharing the pages of The Wall Street Journal’s 125th Anniversary issue with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Summers and Taylor Swift, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Jr. sees a future for the automotive industry so bright, he’ll need to wear shades. The chairman wrote in his op-ed for the paper that the automobile will […]

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Bill Ford in Turkey

Sharing the pages of The Wall Street Journal’s 125th Anniversary issue with the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Summers and Taylor Swift, Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Jr. sees a future for the automotive industry so bright, he’ll need to wear shades.

The chairman wrote in his op-ed for the paper that the automobile will become “part of a larger ecosystem,” and the industry must act accordingly. He explains that this challenge “represents a $130 billion business opportunity” to develop solutions to growing transportation concerns, such as a vehicle’s interactions with a city’s multi-modal infrastructure as a result of more people moving back into cities.

Ford also believes ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are signalling a shift from individual ownership, going as far as to proclaim the practice “may not be the primary model of vehicle ownership in the future.” He adds that future vehicles will be heavily connected with each other for high optimization of his future transportation ecosystem, noting the early phases of the connected car are already in existence.

Finally, the chairman states driving itself will need to be redefined thanks to autonomous vehicles taking the wheel — or lack thereof, in Google’s case — from the driver in more and more situations. In turn, drivers who would have handed over their keys in their twilight years would now have more time and greater mobility through autonomous technologies, as well as those with physical disabilities.

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BMW M235i Bests Corvette, 911 In Consumer Reports Road Testing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=855833 BMW’s M235i has earned the highest marks ever bestowed upon the German automaker’s lineup from Consumer Reports, while also besting the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette in road tests whose results were recently released online. Bloomberg reports the coupe earned a 98 out of 100 in its road test, falling one point short of the […]

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BMW M235i HR 04

BMW’s M235i has earned the highest marks ever bestowed upon the German automaker’s lineup from Consumer Reports, while also besting the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette in road tests whose results were recently released online.

Bloomberg reports the coupe earned a 98 out of 100 in its road test, falling one point short of the all-time leaders, the Tesla Model S and Lexus LS460L. The 911 and Corvette, packing more firepower with less comfort than the M235i, earned 95 and 92 out of 100 in their respective road tests.

Deputy editor Jon Linkov proclaimed the M235i a “dual-purpose car” that anyone “could drive to work every day of the week” without leaving the driver in pain, followed by a weekend at the track taking on the likes of the 911 and Corvette. He added that this particular BMW “has almost a direct lineage” to BMWs of the past that lived up to the marketing of “Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Neither of the trio were recommended by the publication, however, as the BMW and the Corvette were too new for reliability reports, while the 911 has below average reliability according to those surveyed.

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General Motors Digest: June 27, 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-27-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/general-motors-digest-june-27-2014/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=854625 In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker rescinds its stop-sale of 33,000 Chevrolet Cruzes over Takata air bag issues, recalls 29,019; Delphi turns over documents to a federal grand jury; Kenneth Feinberg’s compensation plan will be revealed Monday; and CEO Mary Barra says more recalls may be coming, but no more people will be fired […]

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Mary Barra at 2014 Detroit Auto Show

In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker rescinds its stop-sale of 33,000 Chevrolet Cruzes over Takata air bag issues, recalls 29,019; Delphi turns over documents to a federal grand jury; Kenneth Feinberg’s compensation plan will be revealed Monday; and CEO Mary Barra says more recalls may be coming, but no more people will be fired as a result of the Valukas report.

Automotive News reports GM lifted its stop-sale order of 33,000 2013 – 2014 Chevrolet Cruzes due to a defective airbag inflator found in units provided by supplier Takata once the automaker accounted for all the affected vehicles by comparing VINs to the parts list. Detroit Free Press adds GM then recalled the affected units, totaling 29,019, all of them still under its new vehicle warranty. The defect, if not treated, could result in the inflator — and the airbag unit overall — catastrophically exploding or non-deployment of the airbag in an accident.

Speaking of suppliers, The Detroit News says Delphi delivered hundreds of documents related to its part of the February 2014 ignition switch recall to the U.S. Justice Department via grand jury subpoena. The supplier also sought confidential treatment in turning over the requested documents. Meanwhile, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee made public 80 emails and other documents by the automaker and the supplier illustrating GM’s struggles with the ignition switch, painting “a disturbing and devastating picture, a beyond-worst-case systemic breakdown that led to lives needlessly lost,” according to U.S. Representatives Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania and Fred Upton of Michigan.

Automotive News reports Kenneth Feinberg, the victim-compensation expert hired by GM to compensate victims of the defective ignition switch, will announce his plan Monday at 10 a.m. in Washington, D.C. Though no dollar amount will likely be pegged in the announcement, the terms of the plan could sway victims into accepting compensation over filing a lawsuit against GM. The automaker did not provide its own estimate, as well.

Finally, Reuters reports CEO Mary Barra said during an interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s “The Today Show” that more recalls could come down the pike, based on data received. She also commented on the Feinberg plan, stating her company wants “every single person who either lost a loved one or has a serious physical injury to be a part of that program.” Detroit Free Press adds that when Lauer asked if there would be more firings linked to the ignition switch, Barra proclaimed everyone who would be let go has been let go. She emphasized that the “silos of information” that obfuscated the issue were being torn down, with employees taking notes during safety meetings that are then presented to her for review.

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US Politicians Appeal To Base Through Humble Vehicles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/us-politicians-appeal-to-base-through-humble-vehicular-vocabulary/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/us-politicians-appeal-to-base-through-humble-vehicular-vocabulary/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 13:10:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=847993 As campaign season rolls out, politicians are appealing to their constituents — or at least, trying to appeal to them — by appearing to be on their level, including their choice of vehicle that they otherwise may have traded in for a Lexus or Mercedes a long time ago in their political career. Bloomberg reports […]

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2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior

As campaign season rolls out, politicians are appealing to their constituents — or at least, trying to appeal to them — by appearing to be on their level, including their choice of vehicle that they otherwise may have traded in for a Lexus or Mercedes a long time ago in their political career.

Bloomberg reports candidates are trading in their luxury rides for image-building vehicles such as Chevrolet Silverados, Harley-Davidson Road Kings, Toyota Prii, or — if vehicles in general would negatively affect their campaigning — the Shoe Leather Express. The strategy is meant to bring an air of humility on the campaign trail, which is needed to counter the charge that those who work on Capitol Hill are out of touch with the people they represent.

Aside from those who already see this tool through a cynical lens, vehicular appeal can have its drawbacks. In his failed bid for presidency, 1988 Democrat nominee Michael Dukakis turned up in a tank to appeal to those who heavily support the military. While the tactic worked for British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and despite his service in the United States Army, the photo-op turned into a tool for opponent George Bush’s campaign, lambasting Dukakis for looking silly.

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Energy Drinks May Follow Tobacco Sponsorship Into History http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/energy-drinks-may-follow-tobacco-sponsorship-into-history/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/energy-drinks-may-follow-tobacco-sponsorship-into-history/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 12:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=843482 Once upon a time, the Sprint Cup was the Winston Cup, Rothmans decorated Porsche 962s in Group C, and the Marlboro chevron was everywhere a wheel turned in anger. Though those days are long gone, energy drink makers like Red Bull and Monster have stepped in to fill the financial void left behind by Big […]

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2014 Red Bull F1

Once upon a time, the Sprint Cup was the Winston Cup, Rothmans decorated Porsche 962s in Group C, and the Marlboro chevron was everywhere a wheel turned in anger. Though those days are long gone, energy drink makers like Red Bull and Monster have stepped in to fill the financial void left behind by Big Tobacco. At least for now.

Asphalt & Rubber says that what happened to tobacco sponsorship in Europe and, eventually, the rest of the world could soon happen to energy drink sponsorship. Sales of energy drinks have been banned for sale to consumers under 18 in Lithuania thus far, while some cities and states in the United States are considering the same. Meanwhile, the American Medical Association is advocating a marketing ban on energy drinks to under-18s, which led to industry leaders from the likes of Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar et al having to testify before Congress.

The potential result of increased regulation could mean the energy drink makers may choose to focus on one-off events instead of sponsoring events and teams in Formula One, MotoGP et al, leaving both organizations and competitors alike once again seeking out the kind of sponsorship dollars tobacco once provided prior to the industry’s exodus in the mid- through late 1990s.

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UAW Raises Member Dues For First Time Since 1967 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/uaw-raises-member-dues-for-first-time-since-1967/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/uaw-raises-member-dues-for-first-time-since-1967/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=836770 Automotive News reports the United Auto Workers have approved a dues increase to 2.5 hours of pay per month during the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention in Detroit. The increase, the first since 1967, is expected to bring in nearly $50 million annually to the newly renamed International Strike and Defense Fund. Though a majority supported […]

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UAW President Bob King Speaking At 36th UAW Constitutional Convention

Automotive News reports the United Auto Workers have approved a dues increase to 2.5 hours of pay per month during the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention in Detroit. The increase, the first since 1967, is expected to bring in nearly $50 million annually to the newly renamed International Strike and Defense Fund. Though a majority supported the increase through a show of hands after a voice vote proved inconclusive, the move was hotly debated prior to voting.

During the debate, where 40 of the 1,100 delegates representing all of the regions where the UAW has a presence offered both views for and against the dues increase, long-shot union presidential candidate Gary Walkowicz of Dearborn, Mich. held that the vote should have been put forth before the 390,000-plus rank-and-file instead of the delegation. Walkowicz claimed an increase would cause some members to stop paying dues to the UAW once current contracts with the Detroit Three expire in September of 2015, thanks to a right-to-work law passed by Michigan in 2013. On the other hand, outgoing president Bob King said that the increase would ultimately give the union the power to merit a fairer outcome for its members from employers in the automotive industry, and to continue organization efforts among the transplants.

Detroit Free Press‘s Tom Walsh says that whomever will fill King’s shoes beginning Thursday will need to learn from past mistakes and defeats and establish a “more compelling case for the value proposition of union membership” should the UAW move forward overall. Though King was able to boost rolls up to 22,000 and save/create 28,000 jobs in his four-year term, the union also suffered setbacks among the transplants, particularly with the February 2014 election held at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. Walsh adds the UAW will have a tougher road still to travel, from the aforementioned right-to-work legislation Michigan that could see some members cease paying dues, to the contract bargaining with the Detroit Three in 2015, all to show “how workers’ lives will improve, [and] how unions will help communities grow more jobs,” lest they go “extinct.”

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Reuters Claims 74 Fatalities Linked To GM Recall Through FARS Research http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reuters-claims-74-fatalities-linked-to-gm-recall-through-fars-research/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reuters-claims-74-fatalities-linked-to-gm-recall-through-fars-research/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 23:55:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=836674 Reuters reports the original fatality figure of 13 allegedly linked to the out-of-spec ignition switch that spurred a recall of 2.6 million General Motors vehicles this February may now actually be as high as 74. The news agency researched the Fatality Analysis Reporting System database for “single-car frontal collisions where no front air bags deployed […]

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GM RenCen Storm Clouds

Reuters reports the original fatality figure of 13 allegedly linked to the out-of-spec ignition switch that spurred a recall of 2.6 million General Motors vehicles this February may now actually be as high as 74.

The news agency researched the Fatality Analysis Reporting System database for “single-car frontal collisions where no front air bags deployed and the driver or front-seat passenger was killed,” then compared its findings between two of the vehicles under the spotlight of the recall — the Saturn Ion and Chevrolet Cobalt — and their competitors of the three most popular small vehicles: Ford Focus, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. The final analysis discovered the Ion held 5.9 fatal accidents per 100,000 units sold, followed by the Cobalt at 4.1, Focus at 2.9, Civic at 1.6 and Corolla at 1.0.

As for whether the findings held a link to the switch, the researchers weren’t able to confirm as FARS doesn’t include such data for the most part, leaving open other possibilities as to why the air bags failed to deploy in the affected vehicles.

Reuters presented their work to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and the automakers researched. Though GM remained silent on the findings, it stressed that its focus was on “doing the right thing” by their customer base. Toyota and Honda also remained silent, while Ford took issue with the agency’s methodology.

Among the two safety groups, NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman stated that while the final death toll wasn’t known by his agency, “it’s likely that more than 13 lives were lost” as a result of the defective part. IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer David Zuby noted the research may have overstated the number of deaths linked to non-deployment of air bags, as well as suggest that both the Ion and Cobalt were “less crashworthy” than the rest of the compacts compared. The FARS database itself also didn’t report information on five of the 13 deaths acknowledged by GM, and only has data through 2012.

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FTC Resumes Review Of Fuel Economy Advertising Guidelines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/ftc-resumes-review-of-fuel-economy-advertising-guidelines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/ftc-resumes-review-of-fuel-economy-advertising-guidelines/#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 11:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=813969 The Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 Thursday to resume its review of fuel economy claims in advertising by automakers and dealers, and whether or not the agency should revise the 40-year-old guidelines governing them. The Detroit News reports the FTC had been considering making changes to the Guide Concerning Fuel Economy Advertising for New Automobiles […]

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FordCMaxHybridAdCap-626x338

The Federal Trade Commission voted 4-0 Thursday to resume its review of fuel economy claims in advertising by automakers and dealers, and whether or not the agency should revise the 40-year-old guidelines governing them.

The Detroit News reports the FTC had been considering making changes to the Guide Concerning Fuel Economy Advertising for New Automobiles since 2009 to help “marketers avoid deceptive or unfair claims” such as those that befell Hyundai, Kia and Ford over the past few years. The agency paused in 2011 until after the Environmental Protection Agency’s new fuel economy labeling requirements were in place, as well as to look over its own Alternative Fuel Rule.

The FTC plans to go over general and unspecified fuel economy claims in advertising, as well as define Combined Fuel Economy for electric vehicles, all in an effort to remove outdated language and establish clearer information on advertised economy going forward. It is currently asking for comments on updates to reflect the new EPA guidelines and MPG claims, and the need for guidance on alternative fuel vehicle claims. The comments are due by July 10.

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GM Pulls Small Q1 2014 Profit, Barra One Of Time’s 100 Most Influential People http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-pulls-small-q1-2014-profit-barra-one-of-times-100-most-influential-people/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-pulls-small-q1-2014-profit-barra-one-of-times-100-most-influential-people/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 13:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=809770 Reuters reports General Motors announced in its regulatory filing Thursday that it was under the microscope of five different government agencies related to its numerous recalls as of late. Aside from investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and both houses of Congress, […]

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Mary-Barra-Chevrolet-Cruze

Reuters reports General Motors announced in its regulatory filing Thursday that it was under the microscope of five different government agencies related to its numerous recalls as of late. Aside from investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and both houses of Congress, the automaker revealed the Securities and Exchange Commission and an unnamed state attorney general’s office were conducting their own probes. The filing also acknowledged GM was under the gun of 55 pending class action lawsuits in the U.S., and five of the same in Canada. GM said they were working with all of the investigations, though the automaker did not say what the SEC was looking for in its probe.

Speaking of Congress, The Detroit News reports the chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, is readying the committee for a second round of hearings regarding GM’s handling of the February 2014 recall of 2.6 million 2003 – 2007 vehicles affected by the ignition switch issue which took over a decade to resolve. Though the committee is still poring over 300,000 documents related to the recall in preparation, Upton wasn’t sure if CEO Mary Barra would return to answer more questions, nor did he think it was good for public relations for the automaker to attempt to reinforce its liability shield before bankruptcy court. No date or topic for the hearing has been set thus far.

As for how hard the recalls hit GM’s bottom line, Automotive News says the automaker barely made a net profit for Q1 2014. With the aid of surging transaction prices on trucks offsetting losses linked to the various recalls, currency challenges in Venezuela, and ongoing issues in Europe, GM made $125 million during the first three months of the year. Barra told those on the call that while there have been setbacks as of late, the automaker’s overall progress was “sure and steady.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports supplier Delphi reported a stronger Q1 2014 than had been expected, pulling a net profit of $320 million on the high demand of parts in Asia and North America. The supplier, responsible for the out-of-spec switch at the heart of the main recall, is working with GM to supply replacement switches for the affected vehicles.

Finally, The Detroit News reports Barra is one of Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people for 2014. The CEO cited her parents as major influences in her life, stating they taught her and her brother both “the value of a hard day’s work” and “the power of integrity,” adding they “continue to guide [her]” on a daily basis. In addition, former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca penned the following about Barra for her profile in the magazine:

Only time (and the pundits) will judge Barra and the kind of job she’ll do for GM, its board of directors, its employees, the dealers and, most important, the people who buy its cars. If she remains as forthcoming as I’ve seen her on television with Congress, she will enjoy a long tenure at the helm.

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Ford, King Ranch “Brownout” the Houston Rodeo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-king-ranch-add-extra-brown-to-the-houston-rodeo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-king-ranch-add-extra-brown-to-the-houston-rodeo/#comments Tue, 25 Mar 2014 12:03:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=779481 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 […]

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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.

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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…

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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.

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

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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

 

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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.

 

 

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General Motors to Stop Monthly U.S. Sales Calls http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/general-motors-to-stop-monthly-u-s-sales-calls/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/general-motors-to-stop-monthly-u-s-sales-calls/#comments Mon, 06 Jan 2014 15:10:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=693425 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/kelley-blue-book-ford-f-series-dominates-america-in-state-by-state-breakdown/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/kelley-blue-book-ford-f-series-dominates-america-in-state-by-state-breakdown/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 13:19:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=668658 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? […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/lexus-no-1-in-reliability-ford-near-bottom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/10/lexus-no-1-in-reliability-ford-near-bottom/#comments Thu, 31 Oct 2013 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=638705 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/mad-men-season-6-for-immediate-release/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/mad-men-season-6-for-immediate-release/#comments Mon, 06 May 2013 21:07:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=487476 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 […]

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MM_606_MY_0116_1330 Picture courtesy of amctv.com

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.

POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW THE JUMP

   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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/after-tesla-stalls-musk-calls-ny-times-report-a-fake/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/after-tesla-stalls-musk-calls-ny-times-report-a-fake/#comments Tue, 12 Feb 2013 15:20:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=477288 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/nissan-lands-a-blockbuster-on-youtube/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/nissan-lands-a-blockbuster-on-youtube/#comments Wed, 28 Nov 2012 16:06:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=468288 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/just-kidding-suzuki-decides-to-play-late-april-fools-joke-on-north-american-employees/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/just-kidding-suzuki-decides-to-play-late-april-fools-joke-on-north-american-employees/#comments Wed, 14 Nov 2012 23:04:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=466931   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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/sandy-drowns-jalopnik-site-advertises-wife-swapping-while-down/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/sandy-drowns-jalopnik-site-advertises-wife-swapping-while-down/#comments Tue, 30 Oct 2012 17:05:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=465365 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 […]

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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 http://updates.jalopnik.com to http://w.jalonik.com, 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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-washington-post-turns-against-the-volt-and-bites-it/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-washington-post-turns-against-the-volt-and-bites-it/#comments Thu, 13 Sep 2012 13:43:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460244 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/volt-high-tension-gm-says-reuters-wrong-ignores-suggestions-by-ttac-commentariat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/volt-high-tension-gm-says-reuters-wrong-ignores-suggestions-by-ttac-commentariat/#comments Tue, 11 Sep 2012 12:49:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=459868 “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 […]

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“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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/truecar-unhappy-with-on-line-matchmaker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/truecar-unhappy-with-on-line-matchmaker/#comments Fri, 06 Jul 2012 14:59:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=451577   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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/americas-10-most-manly-motor-machines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/americas-10-most-manly-motor-machines/#comments Mon, 02 Apr 2012 17:40:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=437709 “What to call these?” tweeted @edmunds.com. “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. […]

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“What to call these?” tweeted @edmunds.com. “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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/motor-trend-fools-robots-and-spiders-misses-disturbing-new-motor-trend/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/motor-trend-fools-robots-and-spiders-misses-disturbing-new-motor-trend/#comments Sun, 01 Apr 2012 14:53:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=437412 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/italy-seizes-gaddafis-stake-in-fiat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/italy-seizes-gaddafis-stake-in-fiat/#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2012 22:51:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436968 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/jalopnik-others-duped-by-communist-party-newspaper/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/jalopnik-others-duped-by-communist-party-newspaper/#comments Wed, 21 Mar 2012 16:38:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=435896 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 […]

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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, Autohome.com.cn, 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 www.google.com.hk, 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 Sina.com.cn 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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