Category: Sign of the Times

By on December 2, 2016

mechanic vw

Everyone knows a friend or, more frequently, a friend’s middle-aged dad who has “a guy.”

The guy in question doesn’t necessarily need to be male and the friend only needs to know them tangentially. They just have to be some kind of professional or tradesman that they trust implicitly with a single important aspect of their life. For automotive enthusiasts, the guy is a mechanic and usually has a whole shop backing him up. Unfortunately, “the guy” has remained elusive for younger generations. Read More >

By on November 22, 2016

Old car vw bug

The life expectancy of the average automobile was only 6.75 years in 1930. It is almost double that now and shows no signs of stopping.

As cars and trucks have continued to become longer lived, the number of operational vehicles in the United States hit a record high this year. Despite the automotive genocide that was Cash for Clunkers, the average vehicle on U.S. roads has grown in age since the financial crisis. Either through necessity or personal preference, Americans are currently holding onto their cars longer than ever before.

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By on November 18, 2016

2016 Honda Accord Sport Six-Speed Manual Shifter, Image: © 2016 Jeff Jablansky/The Truth About Cars

We knew it was happening, but the actual extent of three pedal abandonment remained somewhat elusive. It was more of a feeling than a grim statistical representation. Now we have a number, and it’s dismal.

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By on March 23, 2016

BMW-M235i

When an automaker posts its sales figures at the end of the month, how many vehicles actually left the dealer lot?

Not all of them, according to a top BMW executive, who admitted that his company and others “punch” up sales numbers to boost their standing, according to Automotive News.

Punching cars is “not an ideal practice,” but it’s a reality in the industry, BMW of North America CEO Ludwig Willisch said on March 22.

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By on March 11, 2016

Machine gun practice, Iraq

Sure, most (if not all) cop cars offer protection from boring ol’ pistols and AR-15s. But if you’re looking to drive into a hail of armor-piercing .30-caliber rifle or machine gun fire, Ford’s got your back.

The company announced yesterday that its Police Interceptor vehicles will now offer the highest level of ballistic protection among pursuit-rated vehicles.

Ford says the plates inserted inside the doors of its pursuit vehicles will meet the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) National Institute of Justice standard Type IV. The move is a bonus for police officers and delivers bragging rights to Ford, given that pursuit vehicles from other automakers only meet Type III specifications. Poseurs. Read More >

By on January 8, 2016

2015-santa-fe-sport-03

Is there a Santa Fe, Alabama? If not, there will be soon.

That, Volkswagen’s Tiguan + electron, who’s gonna buy all these electric cars, and you don’t really need a gas delivery service, people … after the break!

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By on December 9, 2015

2016ToyotaPrius_(7_of_10)

Toyota announced Wednesday it would lower its global sales goal for the 2016 Prius in light of low fuel prices curbing sales of fuel-efficent vehicles.

According to Reuters, Toyota’s new target is to move an annual average of 300,000 to 350,000 Prii out of the lot around the world, compared to the 300,000 to 400,000 annual sales average sought for the outgoing model. A company representative said a decline in global sales of the hybrid since 2013 was one of the reasons behind Toyota’s decision.

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By on November 30, 2015

Formula E Roborace Logo

FIA’s Formula E first brought its electrified take on open-wheel racing in 2014. Come 2016, the series will bring autonomous racing to the party, as well.

Which begs the question: Is it still racing if there are no drivers in the cars?

Through a partnership with technology investment company Kinetik, Formula E’s 2016-17 season will do away with the driver entirely in a new support series dubbed ROBORACE. Ten teams will field two autonomous cars each, competing on the same circuits as the main Formula E series in one-hour races throughout the entirety of the championship season. The cars will be identical through and through, with “real-time computing algorithms and AI technologies” making the difference between taking the checkered flag first or last.

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By on November 16, 2015

2015-Ford-Focus-06

Detroit automakers may be betting high-profit SUVs and trucks are a better fit for their domestic plants as those automakers shift production away from cars to make room for larger, high-margin vehicles.

Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will largely shift production of their cars to Mexico and bring more trucks and SUVs to North American facilities, according to their contracts with the United Auto Workers,  Automotive News reported.

The report consolidates production planning schedules included in UAW contracts with domestic automakers, which shows automakers’ plans to move some of their cars to Mexico or overseas. Of the Big Three, General Motors will sell the most domestically produced cars in North America, including the Malibu, Impala, Sonic, Bolt and Volt, although the small-car plant recently announced a slowing production schedule. Ford will still produce the Mustang and Fusion at its Flat Rock plant in Michigan.  Read More >

By on November 13, 2015

Buick Envision

General Motors announced Thursday it will import a Buick crossover from China to the United States by the end of 2016, much to the UAW’s disappointment.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the crossover in question, the Envision, is currently produced at a facility in the Shandong province. The Buick brand itself is doing well for itself in China, where it’s GM’s best-known brand, and in the U.S., where the brand is experiencing rapid growth as of late. In both instances, the main draw for Buick is its small and medium crossovers and SUVs.

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