Category: News Blog

By on January 14, 2017

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz, Image: Volkswagen

It seems that even Volkswagen executives realize you can’t keep showing off different variants of the same concept before the public grows weary of the tease.

At the North American International Auto Show this week, visitors to Detroit feasted their eyes on the eleventy billionth latter-day VW Microbus concept, this time called the I.D. Buzz. Okay, maybe that number is a bit high, but the folks from Wolfsburg have kept up a steady trickle of retro Microbus concepts for 16 years. This time, it’s fully electric. No wheezy four-cylinder (or raucous five) in sight.

Naturally, the automaker hopes this latest concept’s name doesn’t prove a lie, but this latest offering — and the atmosphere around it — feels different. The mood implies it’s now or never for the concept — not just this one-off vehicle, but the concept of a reborn Microbus altogether. Read More >

By on January 14, 2017

2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Crew Cab 4x4 EcoDiesel

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles started off the week in solid form. It deftly preempted the Detroit auto show by unveiling its futuristic Portal minivan concept at the youthful Consumer Electronics Show a week prior, then dangled a big Mopar tease in front of enthusiasts with its yet-to-be-revealed SRT Hellcat Demon variants of the Dodge Charger and Challenger.

Then, just like that, the Environmental Protection Agency held a media conference and FCA found its legs kicked out from under it. After Thursday’s accusation of emissions violations (via eight undeclared emissions control devices found on 3.0-liter EcoDiesel models), the automaker finds itself playing defense as controversy grows.

As the EPA’s investigation continues, the U.S. Department of Justice has now opened a criminal probe. Read More >

By on January 13, 2017

Takata

Automotive parts supplier Takata Corp, along with three of its former employees, were charged by federal prosecutors with concealing the deadly defect of its airbag inflators.

The devices have been subject to an unprecedentedly massive recall and have have been linked to at least 11 fatalities in the United States. Takata has agreed to plead guilty to the charges against it and will pay $1 billion in restitution.  Read More >

By on January 13, 2017

gibraltar_g1_tesla_motors_model_s

Earlier today, one of the commenters on Bark’s article reiterated the oft-discredited claim that the Tesla P-whatever-D in “Ludicrous Mode” is the quickest production vehicle. Listen — I think the Tesla is a great car, and I accept that there is probably some highly-specific situation in which it’s the quickest production sedan.

But quickest production vehicle? No fuggin’ way. It would be the fifth-quickest vehicle in my garage, if I owned one…. and I don’t have a particularly quick set of vehicles.

Read More >

By on January 13, 2017

800px-wolfsburg_vw-werk

After a Volkswagen official was collared in Miami while on vacation, other top company officials have been warned to stay close to home.

Oliver Schmidt, who allegedly lied to environmental regulators to cover up VW’s emissions cheating, was arrested by FBI agents Saturday while returning home from a Cuban holiday. According to Reuters, Schmidt, one of six former or current VW managers indicted on multiple charges this week, could face up to 169 years in a U.S. prison if found guilty.

After the FBI’s lucky airport break, a new report suggests top brass in Wolfsburg are feeling penned in. Kiss that winter vacay goodbye. Read More >

By on January 13, 2017

pumping fuel

Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy has decided to maintain current emissions and fuel economy standards through 2025, cementing a central pillar of the Obama administration’s green legacy.

Many automakers have been critical of Obama’s rather strict climate policies and were hopeful that President-elect Donald Trump might roll back some of the more stringent regulations. Of the policies, none is more controversial than the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) mandate, which began a midterm review earlier this year.

While the EPA’s ultimate determination wasn’t due until April of 2018, choosing not to alter 2025 vehicle emission and CAFE rules effectively locks in the standard before Trump can take office.  Read More >

By on January 13, 2017

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, Image: FCA

Well known as a leading voice in the fight against climate change and a host of other progressive issues, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman now has Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in his sights.

After yesterday’s bombshell announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency, in which the regulator accused FCA of violating federal laws with its 3.0-liter diesel Jeep and Ram models, Scheiderman revealed that his office will investigate the automaker.

A noted environmental attack dog, Schneiderman isn’t the guy you want on your tail. Read More >

By on January 13, 2017

Tesla Supercharger

After lulling everyone into a false sense of security, Tesla Motors recently announced that it will begin billing new customers for making use of its Supercharging stations. The promise of free charging was replaced with the promise that the company wouldn’t profit from the powering fee — instead, it would use the money to expand its growing network of stations.

While the pricing structure is about as rigid as boiled spaghetti, the EV manufacturer does appear to be respecting the nature of the new deal. Announced Thursday, all Tesla vehicles ordered after January 15th will receive around 1,000 miles worth of charging credits, updated annually, before becoming subject to the company’s new charging monetization.

Unfortunately, due to state regulations and regional demand for power, pricing will vary greatly depending on where you plug in.  Read More >

By on January 13, 2017

Toyota Yaris hot hatch

Toyota promised the world a Yaris hatchback that would valiantly rise above the role of a plain-Jane commuter car, and here it is.

Expected to premiere at the Geneva Motor Show this March, the high performance three-door subcompact borrows inspiration, parts, and probably a name from Toyota’s Gazoo racing division.  Read More >

By on January 12, 2017

Airbags

Ford and Honda are putting more than one million additional vehicles down on the list of recall-worthy products with potentially deadly Takata airbag inflators.

Announced late on Tuesday, Honda Motor Company is recalling roughly 772,000 additional Honda and Acura vehicles in the United States for defective front passenger seat airbag  inflators made by Japanese parts supplier. Not to be outdone, Ford is recalling over 816,000 units within the whole of North America for the very same reason. Read More >

By on January 12, 2017

2015 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel HFE

The Environmental Protection Agency calls the emissions control devices found on diesel Jeep and Ram vehicles a “clear and serious violation of the Clean Air Act” — something the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn’t very happy about.

In their morning announcement, EPA officials claimed the automaker hasn’t done anything to prove the devices found on 2014-2016 EcoDiesel models aren’t regulator-tricking “defeat devices.” According to Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press, Sergio Marchionne is mighty steamed, calling the insinuation of cheating “unadulterated hogwash.”

So, what are these eight auxiliary devices, and what penalty could the automaker face if found in violation of the law? Read More >

By on January 12, 2017

2015 Jeep Renegade Trailhawk Roof, Image: © 2015 Mark Stevenson/The Truth About Cars

Update: Added detail about next-generation Jeep Wrangler roof.

A vehicle is no Bronco unless owners can remove its roof in some way. Thankfully, it looks like the next-generation SUV won’t disappoint.

According to two well-placed sources, the next Bronco won’t feature a canvas top or fiberglass cap. Instead, it will look to the Wrangler’s little brother, the Jeep Renegade, for inspiration.

Read More >

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