The Truth About Cars » Chevrolet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 04 Sep 2015 18:00:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 » Chevrolet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/chevrolet/ Chevrolet Finishes Work on 1,000,000th Corvette And It’s Pretty Rad http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/chevrolet-finishes-work-1000000th-corvette-pretty-rad/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/chevrolet-finishes-work-1000000th-corvette-pretty-rad/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 16:31:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159586 Chevrolet finished work restoring its 1,000,000th Corvette after it was damaged in a Kentucky sinkhole that swallowed it — and other Corvettes — at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the automaker announced. The celebratory 1992 Corvette had signatures on every part from auto workers at its Bowling Green, Kentucky plant. The restoration project […]

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Chevrolet finished work restoring its 1,000,000th Corvette after it was damaged in a Kentucky sinkhole that swallowed it — and other Corvettes — at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the automaker announced.

The celebratory 1992 Corvette had signatures on every part from auto workers at its Bowling Green, Kentucky plant. The restoration project included getting those signatures on refurbished parts, and on the two parts that couldn’t be saved, scanning and replicating the signatures.

The entire process took more than four months, and more than 1,200 man-hours to complete, according to Chevrolet. That works out to about two full-time employees working 40 hours a week, but it’s still very cool.

The details get better.

According to the automaker, several of the car’s interior pieces, including its headrests, needed significant work to be restored and were re-dyed to match.

The 1,000,000th banner across its windshield was re-printed using the original file from the first banner.

Other details:

  • Its wheels were damaged but refurbished and replaced with original Goodyear Eagle GS-C tires.
  • Its scuffed and scratched instrument panel wasn’t replaced, but refurbished to preserve signatures underneath it.
  • It’s chassis and powertrain were relatively unscathed from the attack by the earth.

Chevrolet didn’t provide an estimate for the total cost of restoration, or the value of the new car.

It also didn’t provide details about whether the process was documented because that would be instantly more interesting than anything currently running on the History Channel.

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Fields Are Fertile For Now, But Marchionne Has a Long View http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/fields-fertile-now-marchionne-long-view/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/fields-fertile-now-marchionne-long-view/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 15:09:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1157570 Farmers are the ultimate craftsman when it comes to small-scale production. The level of management needed to stay competitive and above the high water line is, simply put, astounding. Consolidation in certain areas of agriculture has lead to factory farming, the widespread adoption of automation and genetically modified seeds that keep seed producers competitive. Private […]

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sergio-marchionne

Farmers are the ultimate craftsman when it comes to small-scale production. The level of management needed to stay competitive and above the high water line is, simply put, astounding. Consolidation in certain areas of agriculture has lead to factory farming, the widespread adoption of automation and genetically modified seeds that keep seed producers competitive. Private farmers are constantly at war with the market and their own budgets.

The agriculture industry has wholly transformed itself over the last 100 years. The automotive industry, which has only really existed for that same period of time, has seen similar levels of change. We are now building more cars, trucks, SUVs, crossovers, trikes and quadracycles than ever before, just like we are growing more food than we’ve ever seen in human history.

But, there’s one major stumbling block ahead — and Sergio Marchionne sees it.

Marchionne, at this point in his tenure as CEO of one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world, is a farmer with a cliff-side plot of land. He’s also the only farmer in his town with a massive debt bill to pay and no cash on hand to clear the ledger.

The reality of farming is, at the point of sale, the vast majority of consumers couldn’t care less where their produce is grown. On a macro level, produce buyers will purchase strawberries in the middle of winter, even if they are grown in Mexico. Locally, during in-season months, as long as those strawberries are juicy and ripe, produce buyers don’t check the label to figure out where they were grown. Sure, there are those who buy organic, gluten-free options at the grocery store — and they are a statistically significant in their numbers to deserve a whole aisle devoted to their tastes — but the rest of us are completely apathetic.

The same goes for cars.

Car enthusiasts — us folks who write, comment, drive, wrench on, wash and generally love our cars — are one percent of the overall consumer market. The other 99 percent of people are totally agnostic to the efforts of automotive research, engineering, manufacturing and branding, with a few exceptions for those who want to “Buy American!” or some other loyalties of varying degrees. Enthusiasts do buy a very specific type of product, and automakers are more than willing to provide those products to the degree they are demanded on the market, but we still only get a single aisle in a vast dealer lot.

Corn enthusiasts, if there is such a thing, might see the agriculture industry thusly:

“The General Farms corn stays fresh much, much longer than the new American-Italian corn from Marchionne Farms,” a connoisseur of corn might say.

“But, the Marchionne Farms’ Hellcat Corn tastes better,” an equally loyal corn enthusiast might rebuff.

The other 99 percent of corn buyers are, well, not talking about corn. They don’t care where it comes from. They don’t care who made it. They look at the corn in the produce aisles, figure out the best deal for their needs, and buy the corn that makes the most sense — a combination of number of ears of corn and how much it costs. All the while, corn enthusiasts are trying to push their corn consuming friends one way or another. Sometimes they succeed in their suggestions, but not enough to make a real market impact. (See: SKYACTIV Corn.)

Standing at the cliff’s edge of his farm, Marchionne — with a hefty bank note on his mind — has an epiphany: Why am I spending all this money growing different corn than my neighbor? The components of corn — the cob, kernels and the way it’s packaged — are essentially the same. How you dress it up and sell it, that’s the only real difference!

But, it isn’t the sameness of corn — or automobiles — that’s the real issue here.

In probably a distant future, we aren’t going to need corn. We will plug some instructions into a machine, a whirring sound will emanate, and a meal will be replicated for consumption. You won’t need to own the food replicator. Instead, you will pay a fee to use it that’s magnitudes less than the current cost of food. The farm as we know it will be a thing of the past.

Automakers are staring down the barrel of a similar fate.

Google and automakers themselves are developing fully autonomous vehicles to be used by the masses. Their solutions are similar to the food replicator of the future: plug in a destination, a whirring sound will emanate and you’ll arrive at your destination. You won’t need to own the autonomous car of the future. Instead, you will pay a fee to use it that’s magnitudes less than the current cost of personal transportation. The car as we know it will be a thing of the past.

The autonomous car is the ocean lapping against the cliff’s edge, slowly — but with increased intensity — swallowing Marchionne’s farm.

Now, please, don’t get me wrong. I am in no way saying that the things we love — cars as we know them today — will be gone next year or even in the next 20 years. There might be a few companies still catering to the enthusiast, offering cars as artisanal luxury good for those of us who enjoy the speed and knowledge needed to pilot just such a machine. But the days of the automobile as a privately owned consumer necessity are numbered. Those who enjoy the act of driving will be the gasoline-fed hipsters of tom0rrow.

Marchionne, I assume, knows this. The day his farm is needed is coming to an end. But not today. Today there’s corn to grow and money to be made, and he’s looking at his neighbor at General Farms that grows the same crop.

Farmer Barra, let’s grind some corn together, shall we?

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Chevrolet Impalas Going Quickly in South Korea http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/impalas-going-quickly-korea/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/impalas-going-quickly-korea/#comments Tue, 25 Aug 2015 16:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152169 Buyers in South Korea have flocked to order the Chevrolet Impala by requesting more than 3,000 of the full-size sedans, which is two to three times higher than expected, BusinessKorea is reporting. The higher-than-expected draw in South Korea is part of a larger trend; according to the BBC, just around 6,000 cars were imported in 2000. In 2014, […]

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2014 Chevrolet Impala Exterior-005

Buyers in South Korea have flocked to order the Chevrolet Impala by requesting more than 3,000 of the full-size sedans, which is two to three times higher than expected, BusinessKorea is reporting.

The higher-than-expected draw in South Korea is part of a larger trend; according to the BBC, just around 6,000 cars were imported in 2000. In 2014, more than 196,000 cars were imported into the country, although many of those were European luxury models.

GM Korea forecasted 4,000 to 5,000 Impala models would be sold by the end of 2015, but Korean buyers are ordering 200 cars per day, which would exhaust their supply within one month.

Buyers in Korea are ordering the high-end models, too. The most popular pick for prospective Korean buyers is the 2.5-liter LTZ followed by the 3.6-liter LTZ, according to the report. The 2.5-liter LT is approximately 15 percent of the mix.

A spokesman for Chevrolet said Korea would be receiving Impala models built in Detroit.

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Chevrolet Says Journalist’s Packed-up Corvette Z06 Had Dirty Oil http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chevrolet-says-journalists-packed-up-corvette-z06-had-dirty-oil/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chevrolet-says-journalists-packed-up-corvette-z06-had-dirty-oil/#comments Sat, 22 Aug 2015 14:02:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1150809 Last time we heard from Fox’s Gary Gastelu, he was reporting that his test Z06 gave up during his track run in a spectacular shower of oil and grease and bits and fun. Now, he says Chevrolet has told him what went wrong and it’s a familiar story: After bringing it back to Chevrolet HQ for […]

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Last time we heard from Fox’s Gary Gastelu, he was reporting that his test Z06 gave up during his track run in a spectacular shower of oil and grease and bits and fun.

Now, he says Chevrolet has told him what went wrong and it’s a familiar story:

After bringing it back to Chevrolet HQ for inspection, the engineers determined that the likely cause was a piston connecting rod bearing that was damaged by debris in the oil that was left behind after tapping the threads for the oil filter. Once a piece gets jammed in there, it starts creating more debris, which keeps making things worse until finally … kablooey. In this case, it took out a few more pistons with it.

Chevrolet says that the number of affected engines are in less than one percent (they all seem to be early engines, with contaminated oil and fewer than 2,000 miles) of all Z06 cars.

Gastelu said the tester Corvette he drove never received the oil change after 500 miles that Chevrolet recommends to keep the engine from catastrophic failure. The cause for the failure may be thread shavings for the oil filter that may have made their way into the engine and circulated through the engine.

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Chevrolet Announces 2016 Camaro Pricing, V-8 Gets a $2,795 Bump http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chevrolet-announces-2016-camaro-pricing-v-8-gets-2795-bump/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chevrolet-announces-2016-camaro-pricing-v-8-gets-2795-bump/#comments Fri, 21 Aug 2015 17:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1149705 Chevrolet announced Friday that its sixth-generation Camaro will start at $26,695 — or $305 less than a comparable 2015 model. However, the former entry 1LS trim has been discontinued, meaning you’ll shell out $2,000 more this year to sit in a bottom rung Camaro compared to its predecessor. The 2016 Camaro 1SS model, which sports […]

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2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Chevrolet announced Friday that its sixth-generation Camaro will start at $26,695 — or $305 less than a comparable 2015 model. However, the former entry 1LS trim has been discontinued, meaning you’ll shell out $2,000 more this year to sit in a bottom rung Camaro compared to its predecessor.

The 2016 Camaro 1SS model, which sports a 6.2-liter V-8, will start at $37,295 (including $995 destination) up $2,795 from the $34,500 sticker it wore in 2015.

The base 1LT model for 2016, which sports an all-new 2-liter turbocharged four cylinder, will start at $26,695, which is nearly $2,000 more than the entry 1LS model for 2015, although Chevrolet won’t initially offer that trim for the 2016 model year. A comparable, 2015 Camaro 1LT is priced at $27,000.

Chevrolet said features including Apple’s CarPlay, backup camera, LED daytime running lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel and keyless, push-button start that are standard on the 2016 car were optional or not available for the 2015 model.

Additionally, the 1SS trim adds separate cooling systems for the transmission, differential and engine oil, four-piston Brembo brakes and limited slip differential (manual only) as standard.

Chevrolet also added an online visualizer if you’re bored at work today [and not preparing to buy a Charger this weekend —Mark].

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Equinox Gives Oshawa Consolidated Line Extended Life http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/equinox-gives-oshawa-consolidated-line-extended-life/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/equinox-gives-oshawa-consolidated-line-extended-life/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 20:21:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1145993 GM Canada announced Wednesday it will make a small investment in Oshawa Assembly’s Consolidated Line thanks to increased demand of the Chevrolet Equinox. “It’s a modest investment in terms of its size, but it increases the volume of stamping we do at CAMI to increase the run. (The increased stamping) will then boost Equinox production in Oshawa,” GM Canada’s VP of […]

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GM Oshawa Plant Closure

GM Canada announced Wednesday it will make a small investment in Oshawa Assembly’s Consolidated Line thanks to increased demand of the Chevrolet Equinox.

“It’s a modest investment in terms of its size, but it increases the volume of stamping we do at CAMI to increase the run. (The increased stamping) will then boost Equinox production in Oshawa,” GM Canada’s VP of Corporate and Environmental Affairs David Paterson said in an interview with TTAC.

More body panels are stamped at CAMI than that plant’s assembly line can use, which required GM to utilize its “shuttle program” to transport excess Equinox bodies to Oshawa’s Consolidated Line for final assembly, according to GM.

The majority of the $12 million CAD investment will go to CAMI, though the detailed amount was not disclosed. Additional labor will not be needed to produce the additional Equinoxes.

While the success of an 11-year-old model (the Equinox went into its second generation as an enhanced refresh) is newsworthy, there is a larger issue at play.

“That investment has the effect of extending further the Consolidated Line until at least 2017,” said Paterson.

This is the fifth time the Consolidated Line’s death has been postponed in the last ten years, Paterson said. The Consolidated Line was most recently scheduled to shut down in 2016.

Speaking of the Consolidated Line, Paterson said: “It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

However, the announcement still doesn’t ensure the long-term viability of the manufacturing facility.

Camaro production in Oshawa is scheduled to end this November, while next-generation Buick Regal production is rumored to move solely to Russelsheim, Germany in 2017.

While Cadillac currently produces the XTS in Oshawa, that nameplate will be discontinued at the end of its lifecycle in 2019. However, that best-before date doesn’t secure Oshawa until 2019. Production could be moved to Hamtramck or Fairfax as those assembly plants also build vehicles sharing the same platform, which are the Impala and LaCrosse. Should GM not opt to move production, but continue to sell the XTS in North America, the XTS could be the first Cadillac produced in China and imported to North America — but that’s a far reach.

GM announced they would make a $250 million CAD investment in CAMI for flexible manufacturing similar to Oshawa’s main flex line, seemingly securing the Equinox in Ingersoll, but no investments have been announced for continued production in Oshawa.

If manufacturing departs, GM looks to keep a significant presence in Oshawa for connected car R&D.

Former mayor of Oshawa, John Gray, has encouraged Canadians to boycott GM if jobs are lost. The future of Oshawa assembly activities won’t be announced until 2016 when the company starts labor talks with Unifor.

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Chevrolet To Z06 Owners: Change Your Oil, Stat! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chevrolet-telling-corvette-z06-owners-change-oil-500-miles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/chevrolet-telling-corvette-z06-owners-change-oil-500-miles/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 19:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1142305 Last time we checked in on the reportedly fussy Corvette Z06 engine, it was leaking vital fluids after Fox News reporter Gary Gastelu took it to the track.  Now it appears that Chevrolet has a fix for at least one of the Z06’s reported engine problems: change the oil, stat. According to a General Motors […]

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Last time we checked in on the reportedly fussy Corvette Z06 engine, it was leaking vital fluids after Fox News reporter Gary Gastelu took it to the track. 

Now it appears that Chevrolet has a fix for at least one of the Z06’s reported engine problems: change the oil, stat.

According to a General Motors spokesman, the catastrophic engine failures all seem to have three things in common: early production builds, oil contamination and low miles (under 2,000).

(Maybe that explains the one that bought the farm at 891 miles.)

According to Chevrolet, contaminants in the oil can cycle through the engine during break-in, causing all sorts of fun for owners. (We haven’t heard official word from some owners as to what exactly went wrong, but we’re efforting.)

On its own, Chevrolet said that it was upgrading its manufacturing process to minimize the risk of contaminating the oil. The cause could be thread shavings for the oil filter which may have made their way into the oil pan when the threads were tapped.

As a result, Chevrolet is asking owners to ditch the break-in oil quickly.

“We now encourage all owners to change their oil at 500 miles to remove possible contaminants created during the engine break-in process. And, as always, we encourage the use of Mobil 1 synthetic oil – which is a factory fill for all Z06 models, and Stingray Z51 models – and encourage owners to follow the engine break-in process detailed in the owner’s manual,” stated Monte Doran, spokesman for Chevrolet.

Owners are still reporting heat soak issues and intermittent power steering problems.

Chevrolet says less than one percent of the 9,000 Z06 models on the road have had engine troubles.

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Ownership Update: Time To Buy a New (To Me) Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ownership-update-time-buy-new-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/ownership-update-time-buy-new-car/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 12:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1116777 Rather than begin in media res, let’s recap: I sold my first Porsche 911 (a “993” as they call it, which means it was built sometime from 1995 to 1998 and was the last version of the 911 to feature air-cooling; mine was a 1996) to a nice guy in Minnesota. The very next day, […]

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Marta

Rather than begin in media res, let’s recap:

I sold my first Porsche 911 (a “993” as they call it, which means it was built sometime from 1995 to 1998 and was the last version of the 911 to feature air-cooling; mine was a 1996) to a nice guy in Minnesota.

The very next day, my second Porsche 911 (a “997,” which means it was built between 2005 and 2012 and was intended to fix the ugly looks and perceived dubious build quality of its immediate forebear — the “996” 911, which was the all-new car that succeeded the above-mentioned 993; my 997 was a 2007 example of the hardcore GT3 variant) met its end after a teenaged driver failed to yield immediately in front of me, resulting in a collision.

With no means of transportation beyond the shared mobility lifestyle or MARTA, it was time to start shopping for another car. I didn’t really have a defined budget, so I considered cars across a fairly wide price range.

I consulted friends, acquaintances, enemies, frenemies, etc.; I even got input from Classic Car Club Manhattan and several “professional” journalists — whose acquaintance I credit to Mr. Kreindler — who’d driven many of the cars I was considering. Of course, I apologize for the stock photography below.

Alfa Romeo 4C:

Alfa 4C

I’ve long had a keen interest in Alfa Romeo’s 4C, but I hadn’t seen one in the flesh until this year’s Atlanta International Auto Show; if Atlanta’s Auto Show isn’t on your radar, it’s for good reason. Alfa Romeo didn’t have a booth or any scantily clad “babes” to populate said booth. Instead they had a middle-aged guy who would fervently and doggedly defend the 4C against any other vehicle, a handful of brochures with coffee stains on them, and … that was it. I asked him how I might go about test driving one — he’d take down my email and get back to me. I asked him about sitting in the car, or at least viewing the interior. Impossible, as he didn’t have the keys. Apparently Alfa has zero organization or support for the vehicle; I still haven’t seen one on the road yet. Not the best omen, although the new Giulia looks fantastic to my eyes.

So, no 4C for me.

Audi R8 V10:

Audi R8 V10

As I began to survey the landscape in front of me, the soon-to-be-replaced Audi R8 looked like a good value proposition, especially the V10 version equipped with a manual transmission, as the forthcoming generation of the R8 will not feature an optional manual. There was an attractively priced car (under $100k) at one of the questionable used car dealers that string along an industrial highway in Northwest Atlanta, just outside the Perimeter, so I called them and asked about the R8.

The salesman fit the typical stereotype one would associate with a “high-end used car sales professional;” he made an immediate attempt to ingratiate himself with me on the flimsiest shared commonality, he was extremely aggressive and pushy with respect to the potential sale, and he became enraged when I declined to pursue a purchase of the vehicle. Here are a few choice quotes:

“Hey bro, I know you got this cash; why don’t you go ahead and put 50% down before we do a test drive?”

“Bro this is what we call a ‘Justin Bieber’ car; when you’re driving it, most people think you’re probably Justin Bieber!”

“Bro this car drives so well, don’t it? Man, when you buy it, why don’t we go out to the strip club together to show it off?”

Despite the illuminating repartee I enjoyed with my chaperone, I was primarily concerned with how the car drove. It was quick, of course, and produced much more torque than I was accustomed to. The exhaust was quite loud outside the car, but fairly quiet inside the cabin. As for the vaunted manual transmission, I was unimpressed; the clutch was too soft, although the gated shifter was easier to manipulate than the similar setup in a Ferrari. Meanwhile, the steering was very heavy, but by no means feelsome. In short, the control efforts were very poorly matched. I only drove for a few miles on flat surface streets so I couldn’t provide any assessment beyond that.

Once back at the dealer I expressed my concerns: The car had no clear bra on the front and had dozens of small paint chips, there was a sizable chip on the rear wing, the tires were cheap non-OEM tires that were dangerously worn, and the “OEM Carbon Fiber Side Blades” were in fact cheap “Carbon Fiber” 3M wrap.

But there was another issue: A car dealer friend of mine ran an Autocheck on the car for me and discovered that it had been stolen and salvaged in the past. When confronted about this “minor” issue the salesman assured me it was just a paperwork screwup, not to worry!

I had all but forgotten about the R8 and my lamentable experience test driving one until the next weekend. After having departed a wrap party for a charity event, I went to a nearby bar to meet some friends of mine. Once inside, I turned around to encounter the (very) drunken countenance of the erstwhile R8 salesman, who immediately began berating me about the established etiquette in the high-end car sales industry; apparently test driving a vehicle binds you to purchasing the vehicle, regardless of whether or not you enjoyed the test drive or whether or not the car was represented accurately beforehand.

So, no R8 V10 for me.

Chevrolet Corvette ZO6:

Corvette ZO6

The Bowtie has made an obvious and concerted effort to capture customers from Porsche and other high-end, traditionally European marques with the latest generation of the Corvette, the “C7″. This is particularly the case with the new ZO6, which promises to outperform pretty much any other car on the road, save for the hybrid hypercar trio of LaFerrari, McLaren P1, and Porsche 918 Spyder. Chevy knows that the type of customer who will gravitate towards Porsche is concerned with things beyond performance value for money; they’re concerned with detailing, ergonomics, paint quality, panel gaps, fuel economy, the sound quality of the optional four-figure stereo system, and so on. Accordingly, the Corvette engineers have worked to make the car more refined and luxurious, while still representing a comparative value proposition that should make the typical 911 or M3 intender swing by the Chevy dealer for a test drive.

And that’s where the problem started. I called a few dealers and politely expressed my interest in sampling a new ZO6, preferably with the aggressive ZO7 package fitted; I behaved in the same fashion when scheduling test drives of high performance offerings from other, more “exclusive” brands. Apparently, however, Chevy dealers in metro Atlanta don’t want my business. I contacted several and, invariably, the salesman treated me with a level of contempt similar to that which a State Trooper might display toward a rapscallion perpetrator:

“*LAUGHTER*”

“Do you realize that the ZEE-OHH-SIXXX has SIXXX-HUNDRED-AND-FIFTY HORSE POWAH?!?!? We don’t let ANYONE test drive these cars!”

“Son ain’t no bank gonna finance a kid on a Corvette.”

Etc.

So, no Corvette for me.

Ferrari, Generally:

Ferrari 550 Maranello

This one is not so simple.

The early Sunday morning performances each fortnight of the Scarlet Stallions at the hands of Michael Schumacher and his hand-picked lackey were a formative part of my childhood and adolescence. At one point in the past, I probably knew more about Ferraris than I do about Porsches at present, and while I’ve made pilgrimage to the Ferrari Museum in Maranello, I haven’t even bothered to go the new Porsche HQ just a few miles away from me in Atlanta. As I grew older, I realized that Enzo was all too right when he clarified that he was in the business of selling dreams, not cars; sadly, Noel Gallagher’s observations on the dreamscape are equally true: while we’re living, the dreams we have as children fade away.

I never had a moment’s pause about buying either of my former Porsches, but I haven’t yet been able to justify Ferrari ownership. The 911’s evergreen aesthetic and the age of my cars allowed me to laugh off comments about their expense (at least to the uninitiated; the initiated were usually more sympathetic to my consumption choices), but nearly any Ferrari would elicit uncomfortable conversations at every turn. Despite finally being able to afford several well-used Ferraris that intrigue me — 355, 430, 550 Maranello, to name a few — I could not use any of them as I’d like to and not get fired.

So, no Ferrari for me (this time around).

Porsche 911 GT3 (991 Vintage):

Porsche GT3 (991)

After all the strikeouts above, one of the local organizers who had arranged the GT3 Smoky Mountains trip that I narrowly missed in May offered me the opportunity to have a go in his car, which was a 991 GT3 (the “991” is the latest, greatest version of the Porsche 911, introduced roundabout 2012; it is widely anticipated that the facelift version — “991.2,” logically — will be seen at the Frankfurt Motor Show).

The car was very impressive, despite my skepticism regarding departures from the established GT3 recipe and incorporation of new-fangled technology. Although I wasn’t interested in purchasing his car — which he knew, as I was interested in some very specific options — I started shopping right away for a 2015 GT3. Shortly thereafter, I bought one in Maryland and had it shipped to me.

In the future, I’ll provide some more detailed ownership thoughts, following the format of my (surprisingly) well-received review of my last GT3 in order to convey what’s it’s like to own and use it as a sole vehicle/daily driver. And stay tuned for some news about my first track day in the car, along with the enigmatic, mercurial Bark M.

David Walton grew up in the North Georgia mountains before moving to Virginia to study Economics, Classics and Natural Light at Washington and Lee University. Post graduation, he returned to his home state to work in the financial services industry in Atlanta. A lifelong automotive enthusiast, particular interests include (old) Porsches and sports car racing.

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Battery Tech – Not Better Range – Is Why We Should Be Excited about Chevrolet Volt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/battery-tech-not-better-range-excited-chevrolet-volt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/battery-tech-not-better-range-excited-chevrolet-volt/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 20:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1133705 Chevrolet announced Tuesday that its new 2016 Volt would extend its all-electric range from 38 miles to 53 miles, which is a 40-percent improvement and would satisfy more than 90 percent of normal drives. The feat itself would put the Volt on par with many all-electric commuters, whose normal range is anywhere from 60 to […]

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2016 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet announced Tuesday that its new 2016 Volt would extend its all-electric range from 38 miles to 53 miles, which is a 40-percent improvement and would satisfy more than 90 percent of normal drives.

The feat itself would put the Volt on par with many all-electric commuters, whose normal range is anywhere from 60 to 90 miles. Of course, the Volt packs with it a 1.5-liter turbocharged four cylinder that bumps that range up to more than 400 miles, but that’s neither here nor there.

Let’s talk about the batteries.

On paper, the Volt’s new battery capacity is 18.4 kWh compared to last generation’s 16.5 kWh — an only 11 percent increase in capacity. Even further, there’s 96 fewer cells in the 2016 Volt compared to the current model and the batteries themselves are 20 pounds lighter.

So where does the 40-percent bump in range come from? Better batteries and a better approach.

Chevrolet has steadily improved its batteries in the Volt since the car came out in 2011 — 16 kWh to 16.5 kWh — but the bump to 18.4 kWh would be the largest improvement in six years to overall storage. Chevrolet has put the car on a diet, too, and that signals a change for the automaker from previous years.

The overall weight of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is down 250 pounds over the current car (3,543 pounds vs. 3,781 pounds) and 100 pounds of that alone comes from slimmer energy storage.

All the little things — plus big improvements in battery tech — have equaled a 38-percent increase in EV range in six years and the car still costs $33,995, which is only $453 more than the average new car price in the United States. Range wars may become the new horsepower wars.

Almost two years ago, GM announced it was tripling its investment in its battery labs. It appears that investment is starting to pay off.

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Colorado, Canyon Diesels Pricy Propositions With $3,730 Premiums http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/colorado-canyon-diesels-pricy-propositions-with-3730-premiums/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/colorado-canyon-diesels-pricy-propositions-with-3730-premiums/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 20:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1127001 When the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon start arriving at dealer lots this fall, they’ll be sporting more than an additional diesel option under the hood. Monroney stickers will be afflicted with much higher prices to the tune of $3,730 more than an equally equipped V-6 model. However, you will get increased towing capability […]

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2016 Chevrolet Colorado 2.8L Duramax Turbo Diesel

When the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon start arriving at dealer lots this fall, they’ll be sporting more than an additional diesel option under the hood. Monroney stickers will be afflicted with much higher prices to the tune of $3,730 more than an equally equipped V-6 model.

However, you will get increased towing capability thanks to a standard towing package, improved fuel efficiency, and a diesel engine brake to minimize wear on brake components.

2016 GMC Canyon SLE

According to GM, the trucks will get their 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque from “the cleanest diesel truck engine ever produced” by the company. The cleanliness of the diesel mill is due in part to cooled exhaust gas recirculation, says the release. The GM midsize twins will also use diesel exhaust fluid for cleaner emissions. It is recommended the DEF be topped up with each oil change at around 7,500 miles depending on vehicle usage, said Otie McKinley, Chevrolet’s representative in change of Trucks and Colorado.

Towing capacity is best with 2WD models at 7,700 pounds, an increase of 700 pounds over the V-6 model. Adding 4WD brings the tow rating down to 7,600 pounds. Keeping your load in control is a smart exhaust brake based on a similar system used in Silverado and Sierra HD trucks.

The Colorado and Canyon are now available for order.

2016 Chevrolet Colorado 2.8L Duramax Turbo Diesel

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2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS Track Test http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-chevrolet-camaro-ss-track-test/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2015-chevrolet-camaro-ss-track-test/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 13:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1104209 It is truly a great time to be a gearhead. Not in the sense of there are no bad cars, because there still are, but rather because the cars that are good are really damn good. Take for example this Camaro SS. For three days, I lapped it around the freshly repaved tarmac of Gingerman Raceway in […]

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2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS

It is truly a great time to be a gearhead. Not in the sense of there are no bad cars, because there still are, but rather because the cars that are good are really damn good. Take for example this Camaro SS. For three days, I lapped it around the freshly repaved tarmac of Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan.

Currently GM offers six versions of the Camaro, from the relatively mild-mannered 323 horsepower 3.6 liter V-6, to the journalist jailing supercharged 580 HP ZL1. This doesn’t include the nearly 17 convertible and specialty variants. This particular Summit White version is a 2SS model with leather interior, a 426 hp 6.2 liter V-8 and 6 speed automatic transmission. Building this car on Chevy’s website comes in a hair under $40K.

Slipping into the wide leather seats, the Camaro immediately reveals its size. It’s not a big car but quite portly at around 4,000 lbs and it feels like it with the over-boosted power steering and long travel brake pedal. That’s not a complete negative because the reality of this car is it will spend it’s life on a daily commuter’s grind with an occasional stoplight blast to remind the owner they bought the V-8.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS

However, the track is where the Camaro surprises you. Even with the over-boosted steering and marshmallow power brakes, the Camaro can actually handle itself on a track. In the first turn the SS seems to magically shed 1,000 lbs. It is by no means a track car, but becomes unexpectedly nimble. Where the overbuilt nature of the Camaro comes into play is its ability to repeat this activity for three straight days.

The first trick, of course, is to completely disable the traction control. Either hold the button or press it twice to completely turn it off, otherwise the yaw control will apply the brakes. It won’t upset the car, but it will add wear to the almost overtasked four-wheel discs.

Instead, you learn to use the tires, but be warned that those tires will not last. The SS comes from the Oshawa plant equipped with staggered P245/45R20 front and P275/40R20 rear high-performance summer tires. These are capable shoes, especially in the light of the Camaro’s most likely fate. However, if you are in the market for this and you’re going hit the track, invest in a spare set of rims and tires. This is no different than with the Mustang GT or even the Challenger — they are all fast cars, but they are not Miatas and will consume wear items. Even harking back to their earliest appearances in the late ’60s Trans-Am series, track versions of these cars need upgraded shoes and brakes. Fortunately, there is a host of companies, including GM Performance, that make this an entertaining late night Internet search and endless fodder for web forum debates and bench races.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS

Alongside those debates about the best wheels, tires and the worthiness of a GM brake system versus a Wildwood upgrade, you will see discussions on engine enhancements. You don’t need them. The 6.2 LS, even in this form, is plenty. You won’t set any track records, but the 420-foot pounds of torque is more than enough to put you in well over your head.

Leading a pack of supercars could be overwhelming, yet a well-driven SS managed to hold its own. The car would push through turn 2 but slide right onto the outside for a blast into turn 3. With a suspension load, the SS would use the whole track for exit then build a solid head of steam through 4 without lifting and settling on the outside of the entry into 5. Turn 6 was the Camaro’s moneymaker. The trick was to take the exit of 5 all the way to the far side for the 6 entry, hit the apex and roll into the throttle hard. Let the rear wheels spin through the limited slip, stepping the rear slightly out, and glide to the exit. Without fail, this would put a car length on the aggressively driven Nissan GT-R following behind. The right sweeper of turn 7 would give the AWD cars a chance to catch as the Camaro pushed the front end to drive to the outside, but the SS would be impossibly well composed and balanced through the 8/9 combo. Hard into 10a with a hint of trail braking and before letting the big dog run down the the Phoenix Flat, textbook entry for turn 11 and onto the front straight, hard braking up the hill for turn 1.

Gingerman Raceway

Wash. Rinse. Repeat. This would be the SS’s job for three straight days. That is actually where you begin to respect the Camaro. Yes, there are lots of well-built cars that you can drive to the track, enjoy all weekend and drive home, but the SS was here to lead a pack of 9 supercars totaling almost 4,500 horsepower — five of them equipped with all-wheel drive. This was a real trial for the big white whale, and it was honestly up to the task. It is not a supercar. It is just a solid, fast car.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS

If you have 40 grand and a need for the occasional backseat you could do worse than the Camaro. Staying out of the option box could keep the cost closer to $35K. That would leave you some room for the modifications you would eventually make. After all, you’re a gearhead, and it’s a great time to be one.

General Motors contributed nothing to this review.

Christian “Mental” Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is married to the most patient woman in the world, lives in Atlanta and is racing his a tape covered Honda Civic in the 24 Hours of LeMons this month at Autobahn in Joilet Illinois. You can follow that and all his other shenaningans on InstagramTwitter and Vine at M3ntalward.

2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS

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Instead of Mid-engined ‘Vette, Expect a New Malibu in 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/instead-mid-engined-vette-expect-new-malibu-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/instead-mid-engined-vette-expect-new-malibu-2016/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 22:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123513 Next year for General Motors could be defined by a new lower, longer Spark, production starting on the Bolt and a convertible Camaro, according to Automotive News’ facts and factoids department. The automotive publication posted a speculative timeline of cars that may or may not be in GM’s future, including fuzzy details on a mid-engined Corvette that […]

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2016-Chevrolet-Malibu-007

Next year for General Motors could be defined by a new lower, longer Spark, production starting on the Bolt and a convertible Camaro, according to Automotive News’ facts and factoids department.

The automotive publication posted a speculative timeline of cars that may or may not be in GM’s future, including fuzzy details on a mid-engined Corvette that may or may not happen in or around the year 2020.

In case you’re wondering, we don’t know either.

The timeline includes tantalizing details that GMC may be looking at adapting the Chevrolet Trax — which could be called the “GMC Granite” — and that the Colorado/Canyon may finally get an off-road ZR2 edition next year.

The story also summarizes their earlier claim that GM will be shrinking the Equinox and offering a new, mid-size crossover based on the current Traverse. Cadillac wasn’t included in their analysis, but the automotive publication spelled the death for the Chevrolet SS. We can’t have nice things.

A redesigned Malibu will see the light of day next year, and the curtain may fall on the Spark EV.

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Super Duty Buoys Flagging F-150 Sales for Ford http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/buoyed-heavy-duty-ford-still-leading-pickup-sales-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/buoyed-heavy-duty-ford-still-leading-pickup-sales-us/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 18:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123137 The Chevrolet Silverado has outsold the Ford F-150 so far this year, but sales of Ford’s Super Duty trucks have boosted the company’s truck business past its competition, PickupTrucks.com is reporting. All three truck makers are selling more pickups than they were a year ago, but flagging F-150 sales and depleted inventory could be keeping Ford’s […]

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2015 Chevrolet Silverado

The Chevrolet Silverado has outsold the Ford F-150 so far this year, but sales of Ford’s Super Duty trucks have boosted the company’s truck business past its competition, PickupTrucks.com is reporting.

All three truck makers are selling more pickups than they were a year ago, but flagging F-150 sales and depleted inventory could be keeping Ford’s perennial half-ton leader back.

The website, which used data from Cars.com to determine sales by segment, said that Ford’s Super Duty trucks led Ram and General Motor’s heavy-duty offerings by a large margin. Roughly 120,000 three-quarter and full-ton Ford pickups have been purchased this year, compared to around 80,000 and 75,000 heavy-duty trucks for Ram and General Motors, respectively.

Earlier this month, Ford offered a series of incentives totaling $11,000 on its F-150 in specific areas for specific models. A spokesman for Ford said that dealer stocks of the full-size F-150 pickups were unusually low, and that normal inventories would be restored by the end of September.

According to our own Timothy Cain, truck sales represent around 14 percent of overall vehicle sales in the United States, up one percentage point from last year. And the average price paid for a truck is $42,429 so far this year.

So who’s ready for a $100,000 pickup?

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Report: Chevrolet Prepping for New Mid-size Three-row Crossover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/report-chevrolet-prepping-new-mid-size-crossover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/report-chevrolet-prepping-new-mid-size-crossover/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 17:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1120097 Chevrolet will slot a new mid-sized crossover between the Equinox and Traverse in coming years, Automotive News is reporting. Three sources within General Motors confirmed the new Chevrolet crossover would be dervied from Cadillac’s upcoming XT5, which is replacing the SRX next spring. The upcoming Chevy model’s architecture would be a shortened version of the Traverse, which is […]

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1024px-2011_Chevrolet_Equinox_LTZ_--_03-09-2011

Chevrolet will slot a new mid-sized crossover between the Equinox and Traverse in coming years, Automotive News is reporting.

Three sources within General Motors confirmed the new Chevrolet crossover would be dervied from Cadillac’s upcoming XT5, which is replacing the SRX next spring. The upcoming Chevy model’s architecture would be a shortened version of the Traverse, which is built on the Lambda platform. According to the story, GM will move the Equinox to the smaller D2XX platform — shared with the Chevy Cruze, Orlando, Volt, GMC Terrain and Opel Astra — by 2017 to make room for the three-row crossover.

The new, unnamed crossover will target the Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander and could be powered by a 2-liter turbo four, a 3.6-liter V6 or perhaps a hybrid power plant.

The report also details Chevrolet’s position to directly compete with Ford’s Escape-Edge-Explorer trio for crossover sales. The Edge isn’t a three-row crossover in the U.S. (it’s offered in three row, long-wheelbase configuration in China), but Chevrolet’s unnamed crossover would sport a third row of seats.

GMC would use the new mid-size crossover as their Acadia, as sales of that full-size crossover have dwindled in recent years. The Cadillac XT5 will go on sale next spring. There’s no mention of a Buick crossover to sit between the D2XX-based Envision and full-size Enclave, assuming the latter stays full-size along with the Traverse.

The story also said Cadillac won’t use the longer Traverse as a platform for a full-size crossover it’s working on.

Or, this could be an elaborate test to see if the market will bear yet another crossover.

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Another Corvette Z06 Engine Fails, This Time In Journalist’s Hands http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/another-corvette-z06-engine-fails-this-time-in-journalists-hands/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/another-corvette-z06-engine-fails-this-time-in-journalists-hands/#comments Sat, 18 Jul 2015 18:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1119353 While track testing the latest Z06 Corvette, Gary Gastelu of Fox News experienced an issue that’s becoming a trend for Chevrolet’s supercharged sports car: engine failure. “After a few lapping sessions, the engine in mine unceremoniously called it quits,” reports Gastelu in his review. Unfortunately the cause is still unknown in this instance, though engine […]

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2015-Chevrolet-CorvetteZ06-016-sm

While track testing the latest Z06 Corvette, Gary Gastelu of Fox News experienced an issue that’s becoming a trend for Chevrolet’s supercharged sports car: engine failure.

“After a few lapping sessions, the engine in mine unceremoniously called it quits,” reports Gastelu in his review.

Unfortunately the cause is still unknown in this instance, though engine failures are increasing in occurrence for the 650-horsepower Corvette.

Late last year, Corvette Forum’s member “Lawdogg149″ had the LT4 V-8 in his Z06 implode after only 891 miles on the clock. The failure was with the valvetrain, though root cause of the failure wasn’t reported. GM instructed the dealer servicing the car to return the engine to the mothership unopened for further analysis. The Z06 received a new powerplant covered under warranty.

GM Authority stated as many as three failures have been mentioned on Corvette Forums as of June 2015.

Other issues have been reported, such as reduced power after hard launches or track use, in order for the engine to “survive for 100,000 miles as well as allow the Z06 to meet stringent US emissions regs,” reported Jalopnik last year.

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Former Oshawa Mayor: Boycott GM if Jobs are Lost http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/former-oshawa-mayor-boycott-gm-if-jobs-are-lost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/former-oshawa-mayor-boycott-gm-if-jobs-are-lost/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 22:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118185 The former mayor of Oshawa, John Gray, is telling Canadians to boycott General Motors if the automotive giant pulls the plug on the Camaro at its plant north of the border, the Toronto Sun is reporting. “That’s the type of pressure that is applied so that GM comes to its senses and maintains production in Oshawa […]

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2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible at the Oshawa Assembly Plant

The former mayor of Oshawa, John Gray, is telling Canadians to boycott General Motors if the automotive giant pulls the plug on the Camaro at its plant north of the border, the Toronto Sun is reporting.

“That’s the type of pressure that is applied so that GM comes to its senses and maintains production in Oshawa after next year,” Gray told the newspaper this week.

General Motors said it would end production of the Chevrolet Camaro at the Oshawa Car Assembly plant and move production to Michigan on Nov. 20. Gray said the move would end about 1,000 jobs at the plant, and dim the prospects of an already bleak future for the plant.

Increasing energy costs and other factors are driving automakers out of the area, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chief executive Sergio Marchionne told Toronto reporters last week.

Local workers say the move would devastate the local economy.

“It doesn’t just affect General Motors, it affects the entire community. For every job inside, it affects seven jobs outside,” Chris Black, a worker at the Oshawa plant, told CTV.

Gray said GM is indebted to Canadians after the auto bailouts.

“Canadian taxpayers bailed out GM Canada, allowing it to survive. Recently, the federal and provincial governments have sold their shares in the company … Now they have no say over the company.

“Canadian taxpayers lost $3 billion on the sales of the shares. And now GM doesn’t plan on having a presence here. That’s a pretty compelling story.”

GM Canada announced in late April that the company would hire 100 software and control engineers for future connected vehicle endeavors. However, it won’t be until next year that GM will announce its plans for the assembly facilities.

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General Motors Unveils Updated 2016 Chevrolet Silverado http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/general-motors-unveils-updated-2016-chevrolet-silverado/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/general-motors-unveils-updated-2016-chevrolet-silverado/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 17:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114649 Chevrolet took the wrapper off the new Silverado today, dispatching the chrome grille and headlight surrounds for paint-coated pieces on the refreshed model. The face of the Z71, shown in this photo released by General Motors, sports a body-colored grille, bulging hood and two strips of LED lights. (Also 90’s-esque headlamp covers, according to our Managing […]

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2016 Chevrolet Silverado

Chevrolet took the wrapper off the new Silverado today, dispatching the chrome grille and headlight surrounds for paint-coated pieces on the refreshed model.

The face of the Z71, shown in this photo released by General Motors, sports a body-colored grille, bulging hood and two strips of LED lights. (Also 90’s-esque headlamp covers, according to our Managing Editor Mark Stevenson.)

According to Chevrolet, the 2016 Silverado will also feature “expanded use” of the 8-speed transmission, which is only available for 2015 on the 6.2-liter V8 engine.

According to the statement announcing the 2016 Silverado, Chevrolet added that the new truck would use Apple’s Car Play and Android Auto in addition to “safety technologies.”

Chevrolet said it will make available more details about the Silverado in coming months before the truck’s public debut.

Sales of the Silverado and GMC Sierra have steadily risen this year, climbing 14.6 percent and 8.2 percent respectively from 2014.

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Union Talks Set to Start on Monday, Will Focus on Raises http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/union-talks-set-start-monday-will-focus-raises/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/union-talks-set-start-monday-will-focus-raises/#comments Sat, 11 Jul 2015 15:30:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1113441 The newest round of negotiations between the Big Three automakers and the United Auto Workers will focus on narrowing the gap between veteran workers and “second-tier” workers hired after 2011, Reuters is reporting. Talks between the UAW, which represents around 138,000 workers, and Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors will begin Monday. The UAW’s contract […]

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UAW Wages

The newest round of negotiations between the Big Three automakers and the United Auto Workers will focus on narrowing the gap between veteran workers and “second-tier” workers hired after 2011, Reuters is reporting.

Talks between the UAW, which represents around 138,000 workers, and Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and General Motors will begin Monday. The UAW’s contract with GM ends Sept. 14.

Union President Dennis Williams said he wanted to focus on narrowing the gap between veteran workers, who make on average $28 an hour, and workers hired post-recession, who make on average $16 to $19 an hour, according to the story.

The raises would be significant for more than 39,000 workers who were hired after the recession on the “second-tier” system. More than 40 percent of FCA’s union workforce was hired at second-tier rates of $15.78 to $19.28 per hour, compared to 28 and 20 percent for Ford and GM respectively.

Falling labor costs have helped the Big Three stay competitive with other automakers, Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research told Reuters. However, rising profits and sales have prompted Williams to call for the automakers’ to share profits with workers.

In an interview in February, Williams told Reuters that the union’s workers need the automakers to remain competitive in the long-term for his membership.

“We’re … mature organizations that have been through a hell of a lot together to survive,” Williams said. “None of us want to blow it.”

On Thursday, Ford announced it was ending production of the Focus and C-Max at its Wayne, Michigan plant by 2018.

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Chevrolet Adds Cell Phone Cooling Mat, Welcome To The Beginning of the End http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chevrolet-adds-cell-phone-cooling-mat-welcome-future/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chevrolet-adds-cell-phone-cooling-mat-welcome-future/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 18:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1106249 So, the world is coming to an end. Smartphone users who just can’t handle the thought of their iDroidberrys shutting off because they get a little overheated, GM has a solution for you. The automaker announced a feature in upcoming 2016 Chevrolet Malibus and Impalas that will cool the phone while charging on the wireless mat before […]

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Engineers added a cold air vent to certain Chevrolets for the 2016 model year to help keep smart phones wirelessly charging in the car from overheating.  The industry-first feature will be available in 2016 Chevrolet Impala, Malibu, Volt and Cruze models equipped with wireless charging and Chevrolet MyLink. The Active Phone Cooling feature works when the car’s heating, ventilation and cooling system is on.

So, the world is coming to an end.

Smartphone users who just can’t handle the thought of their iDroidberrys shutting off because they get a little overheated, GM has a solution for you. The automaker announced a feature in upcoming 2016 Chevrolet Malibus and Impalas that will cool the phone while charging on the wireless mat before it turns itself into a hot brick of glass, plastic and metal.

Finally, engineers at GM got my letter.

According to GM, the vent will only operate when the vehicle’s heating or cooling system is on. The system works by placing an air vent on the mat, because that makes the most sense.

The feature will also be installed in Chevrolet Cruze and Volt models equipped with the wireless charging mat. For those of us who don’t spring for the wireless charging feature — or don’t plan on buying a Chevrolet soon — we’ll have to continue living in the Mesozoic Era with our nuclear-hot iPhone 6 Pluses.

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2016 Chevrolet Cruze Gets Standard Turbo Mill, Diesel Will Continue http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-chevrolet-cruze-gets-standard-turbo-mill-diesel-will-continue/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2016-chevrolet-cruze-gets-standard-turbo-mill-diesel-will-continue/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2015 15:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1099673 After all the hubbub caused by the Alfa Romeo Giulia reveal yesterday, the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze got lost in the melee. But, it’s here, and it’ll be packing a 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder mill as standard. Even a new diesel lump will make its way to production for 2017. What else does the Cruze have […]

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2016 Chevrolet Cruze Front 3/4

After all the hubbub caused by the Alfa Romeo Giulia reveal yesterday, the all-new 2016 Chevrolet Cruze got lost in the melee. But, it’s here, and it’ll be packing a 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder mill as standard. Even a new diesel lump will make its way to production for 2017.

What else does the Cruze have up its sleeve?

Well, for starters, it’ll have a bigger sleeve. The Cruze will grow a bit going into 2016, as is typical with almost any new generation of car that isn’t named Miata. The wheelbase is stretched from 105.7 inches to 106.3. Overall length grows from 181 inches to 183.7. However, the Cruze gets ever so slightly shorter and narrower for its second generation.

2016 Chevrolet Cruze rear 3/4The Cruze goes on a diet for 2016. Curb weight has been slashed by approximately 250 lbs, though GM was reluctant to publish final numbers yesterday. Let’s hope that makes the Cruze feel like a much more nimble compact versus the outgoing model, which always drove a bit heavy.

For the first time, Cruze will receive an all-aluminum 1.4L turbocharged four-cylinder Ecotec engine as standard, producing 153 horsepower and 177 lb-ft of torque. GM says the all-new engine will be good for an estimated 40 mpg on the highway with the ability to send you to 60 mph in eight seconds. Expect a decent city fuel economy number to be published thanks to stop/start. (Whether you’ll want to use stop/start is another story.) Power will be delivered to the front wheels by way of either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Outside North America, the Cruze will also be available with a 1.5L naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine with 113 hp and 108 lb-ft of torque mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Both engines can use regular 87 octane.

A year after its 2016 launch, the Cruze will welcome a new 1.6L diesel mill to the engine family, though exact specs were not disclosed.

Instead of the dumpy, angular front end of the current Cruze, a smoother, more aerodynamic design is applied to the new generation car along with a windshield featuring a more raked profile. This contributes to a fairly low cD of 0.29. For comparison, the Volt has a cD of 0.28. The design also brings Cruze in line with the new 2016 Malibu and current Chevrolet Impala. Expect the next generation Chevrolet Trax to follow suit.

2016 Chevrolet Cruze InteriorInside, Cruze receives a new interior befitting its exterior duds, complete with a new version of Chevrolet MyLink on a seven-inch screen. An upgrade to an eight-inch screen will be available. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto arrive later in the Cruze’s lifecycle. Space has also increased for improved comfort for those of us gifted with height.

In addition to extra entertainment tech, Chevrolet will offer a full suite of safety technologies on Cruze, such as Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Alert.

The 2016 model will go on sale early next year with five different trim levels: L, LS, LT, Premier and RS. GM says the latter is “more expressive”, which should read “more show, no additional go.”

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Front 3/4 2016 Chevrolet Cruze rear 3/4 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Grille 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Badge 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Premier Badge 2016 Chevrolet Cruze steering wheel 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Technology 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Interior 2016 Chevrolet Cruze Rear seat

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GM Releases Official Images of 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/gm-releases-official-images-of-2016-chevrolet-camaro-convertible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/gm-releases-official-images-of-2016-chevrolet-camaro-convertible/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 13:10:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1098985 Inevitably, this is the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, sporting a slew of changes that do not include improved visibility over the current model. Unfortunately, this is the only manufacturer-provided image of the new Camaro Convertible showing its top in the closed position, making it difficult to judge if Chevrolet has improved the number one complaint of […]

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2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

Inevitably, this is the new 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible, sporting a slew of changes that do not include improved visibility over the current model.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

Unfortunately, this is the only manufacturer-provided image of the new Camaro Convertible showing its top in the closed position, making it difficult to judge if Chevrolet has improved the number one complaint of every owner and automotive journalist to jump behind the wheel of their pony car. However, there are a number of changes to note.

Firstly, the top is now fully automatic, lacking a manual locking latch. You can also open and close the top at speeds up to 30 mph and remotely operate the top with the provided key fob (while stationary, of course). It drops 200 lbs versus the outgoing ‘vert, which should make it a better handler like the coupe we covered previously.

GM says it’ll begin deliveries in early 2016.

2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible 2016 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible

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2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2WD LT Crew Cab Reader Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-chevrolet-silverado-2wd-lt-crew-cab-reader-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/2015-chevrolet-silverado-2wd-lt-crew-cab-reader-review/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 16:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1097249 Just a couple of months ago, GM quietly announced their factory 5 year/100k mile powertrain warranty was going to henceforth be downgraded to a 60k mile powertrain warranty because their cars are all fine now and customers don’t care about long-term warranties. About 48 hours after this was announced, my wife found herself limping along […]

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2015 Chevy Silverado 2WD LT Crew Cab

Just a couple of months ago, GM quietly announced their factory 5 year/100k mile powertrain warranty was going to henceforth be downgraded to a 60k mile powertrain warranty because their cars are all fine now and customers don’t care about long-term warranties.

About 48 hours after this was announced, my wife found herself limping along the side of a major road in our 2010 Malibu with 90k miles on the odometer, engine revving, but little transmission of power taking place between the engine and the wheels.

I told her to keep on limping directly to the service center at our local Chevy dealer. My beautiful wife, brilliant in so many ways, bee-lined for the first “service” sign she saw, which happened to be the Ford dealer directly across the street from the Chevy dealer. After parking the car, she was told “wrong brand”, and tried to put the Malibu into reverse – a request the vehicle denied. We therefore had to arrange for GM to embarrassingly tow our still new-looking Malibu from the Ford lot across the street, under our valuable 100k warranty, for the 6-speed GM-Daewoo automatic was well and truly shot for the 2nd time in our 90k miles of ownership (1st rebuild took place at 27k).

2015 Chevy Silverado 2WD LT Crew CabWhen the dealer handed me the keys to the loaner – a 2015 Silverado LT 2WD Crew Cab with 850 miles on the odometer – first impressions weren’t so great. For starters, the massive chrome face on this truck is hideous. This truck needs a facelift, or a bag on it’s head. From all other angles, it is okay, and even conservatively handsome.

I climbed inside (even though I’m 6-foot-4) and things mostly got better. The steering wheel is made of high quality materials and feels perfect in my hands, the seats are wide and comfortable and the fabric nice, storage space everywhere, legibly clean gauges, acres of space both front and back, and even a three across front bench option if I fold up the wide and versatile console. Yet some downsides exist: the lowest-bidder outsourced keyfob is insultingly cheap and clickety-clacks with a hollow thin plastic resonance against the even-cheaper plastic covering the lower steering column while you drive. No one paying more than $15,000 for a car should ever have to put up with that. Also, the graphics on the MyLink interface upon startup look like they were developed by a Chinese iPad knockoff manufacturer (probably were). Bluetooth audio streaming worked wonderfully, but the (must have been) base sound system was muddy and full of too much bass. The overall impression, however, aside from these rather small niggling things, is massive versatility and space, and stout construction. 

2015 Chevy Silverado 2WD LT Crew Cab

Strangely, the Silverado cranked disconcertingly long on cold start ups – about twice as long as warm starts. This may not indicate a problem, but GM can’t afford to give me any reason for quality concerns, given the reason I’m driving this beast in the first place. However, once it kicked over, things became quite likeable. Driving this long, powerful, stout vehicle felt like piloting a road train. The ride had a typical unloaded truck jitter. However, it was immensely quiet.  Steering and brakes were accurate, and the long wheelbase made for a secure sense of tracking, despite being an unloaded truck. The view over the hood was commanding and expansive.

I got into a trucking mood and put this thing to work….hauling a massive credenza from the in-laws, picking up a 10-piece patio furniture set purchased on Craigslist (all of which fit into the bed), hauling ~1000 lbs of top soil for the garden, taking my son to his first t-ball practice, and then the family out to an affordable cheeseburger dinner that night with my wife snuggled up next to me on the bench seat (for about 3 sweet minutes until she had enough). It was pure ‘Merica, and it was pure awesome. 

Transmission shifts were mostly imperceptible, and not once did the transmission break the entire time I had the truck! And as the saying goes, GM sells you an engine and throws in everything else for free. The 5.3 liters of pushrod V8 power gets 355 horses and 383 lb-ft of torque out of regular horse piss 87 octane, ensuring when you stomp on the pedal this massive load of metal moves with unreal authority. I got into it over and over just to hear the combination of the motor’s growl and my kids’ (3 and 5) squealing laughter from the back seat. They loved this truck, and the kid in me really liked it, too. Reported 0-60 times of a little over 6 seconds seem real, and not that long ago, that was muscle car territory. It seems crazy – it is crazy – for such a large, agricultural vehicle to move like that. You see, people, trucks are fun! 

2015 Chevy Silverado 2WD LT Crew CabThanks to (imperceptible) cylinder deactivation, the Silverado frequently fell into 4-cylinder mode while cruising. This certainly contributed to the most mind-blowing thing of all – a recorded 18.5 mpg throughout the 300+ miles I drove the truck through my daily routine of commuting/school runs, hauling/Home Depot runs, and only one short highway jaunt to the airport (~30 miles total). I was astounded that this 239.57 inch (20 foot long!) truck, with this huge interior, 355+hp V8, and haul-everything capabilities was pulling in that kind of mileage. Having your cake and eating it, this is what it’s like. Comparatively, the Malibu does under 25 mpg on the same route – without furniture/dirt hauling, obviously. To a family man & home owner, it doesn’t seem worth saving a little on gas and getting a little better handling that a normal car provides. You really have to love driving through turns to give up on having 2x the motor, more than 2x the capabilities, and a transaction price not all that far off a nicely equipped midsize sedan once you take the gratuitous $10k+ off of a Silverado that your local dealer will likely give you ($40k MSRP on the one I drove). It’s the classic American equation: a lot of Mexican-made metal for the money. 

So give me a 150k transmission warranty and put a bag on it’s head and I’ll take one. Or put this motor and steering wheel into the handsome new F-150, and I’ll take that instead. 

This review was submitted by reader Nicholas Naylor (NN).

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Danger Girl Bids Farewell To The Old New Camaro http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/danger-girl-bids-farewell-old-new-camaro/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/danger-girl-bids-farewell-old-new-camaro/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1080601 “You don’t have to meet me inside the airport,” I said, as Danger Girl led me by the hand to the baggage claim area of the Albuquerque Sunport. “I’m not a ten-year-old.” “I just didn’t want you to get lost.” “Lost?” My attention was briefly diverted by a curvaceous Latina in some sort of slutty-jumpsuit […]

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“You don’t have to meet me inside the airport,” I said, as Danger Girl led me by the hand to the baggage claim area of the Albuquerque Sunport. “I’m not a ten-year-old.”

“I just didn’t want you to get lost.”

“Lost?” My attention was briefly diverted by a curvaceous Latina in some sort of slutty-jumpsuit made from translucent fabric. “This is, like, the fourth-smallest commercial airport in North America.”

“Lost,” DG clarified, following my glance to the young lady who was now obliviously bending over to fix her sandal, “like that.”

“Oh.”


“I’m still angry about what happened last week, you know,” she said, tossing my luggage into the cargo compartment of her newest rental car. “I didn’t get credit for that rental.”

“So?”

“So, it was the rental that was going to put me over the top for my next free rental day.”

“Wait. You’re angry because you didn’t get credit for stealing a Challenger?”

“Because I would have gotten a free rental certificate.”

“But you didn’t pay for the Challenger!” I sputtered. “It was a free rental day all by itself.”

“Not the same,” DG declared, in a this conversation is over voice. “And this new rental car is broken. It’s really slow. I would never buy a Kia.”

“This,” I exhaled, already worn to a frazzle by seven days in which I drove over two thousand miles and flew over nine thousand, “is a Fiat 500L.

“It looks like a Kia,” DG proclaimed. “And it’s broken. See?” She floored the accelerator down Central Avenue. A homeless person leapt to safety from his perch on the curb.

“No, I think that’s about how fast they are supposed to be.”

“Well, it’s no wonder that you never see Kias out there. I call it the Poky Little Puppy. Did you read that book?”

“Recently?”

“No, as a kid, like everyone else. This is a Poky Little Fucking Puppy. I’m going to get another car from the rental agency.” Sure enough, the next morning she returned in a V6 Camaro.

camaro5

“How much did they charge you?” I asked.

“How much did they charge me?” The disbelief in her voice was palpable.

“Yes. How much did they charge you to change cars.”

“Nothing. It would have been twenty-five dollars for a Mustang. But the Camaros and Challengers are free. The airport lot is full of them. Because people in ABQ think that a cheap Camaro with tiny wheels is just the fucking pinnacle of human achievement out there, the best you can get. Hey, is that a Nova up there? I used to have a Nova. Let’s go look at it.” And she pinned the accelerator to its stop. Some sort of sizable lizard passed under the wheels with a sodden thump. “This one has balls. Definitely faster than a Tahoe. Hey, here we are. I really like that Nova. But what I want, I’ve decided, is not a Nova, but instead the Lexus RC-F. I cannot be impressed by that Nova, or this Camaro, after having ridden in the Lexus RC-F.”

“They are not,” I responded, “even remotely close to the same price.”

“But I can afford either, so it’s like they are the same price. And the Camaro that was $75,000 was super sucky.”

“You mean the Z/28.”

“Yes. It’s no Lexus RC-F.”

camaro9

“To me,” Danger Girl continued, “the Camaro has always been a girl’s car compared to the Mustang. And it doesn’t look like an old Camaro at all. The Challenger looks just like an old Challenger. And why does this have a screen in the dash there’s no backup camera? Is this the same car your friend Patrick, whom I met at that party at Alex Roy’s place, crashed?”

“He crashed the new one.”

“He couldn’t have been going very fast. This is slower than my old 1970 Monte Carlo. Uh-oh.” Ahead of, a white 2004-ish Escalade and a black 2004-ish Escalade were blocking both lanes of the street for what seemed like no reason.

“Should you honk or something?”

“We’ll get shot,” DG reminded me. “This is downtown Albuquerque.” In a moment, the two Escalades drove away and began playfully swerving at each other. “Both of those people,” my companion told me, “live in trailers. But they have Escalades.”

“Well, those are older Escalades.”

“It still makes me want to vote something that is more Republican than the Republicans.”

“Like, the take-Escalades-away-from-poor-people party?”

“Those people,” she replied with a trace of scorn, “could not get elected in New Mexico.”

camaro7

We stopped at a motorcycle shop where DG expressed interest in a red-white-and-blue Honda CBR500. The salesman told her, “That’s a lot of bike for a lady just starting out.”

“I had a Harley Softail when I was a teenager,” she snapped.

“Well then… let me show you the CB1000.” Afterwards, having purchased no motorcycles and having damaged only one on the showroom floor (I backed into the mirror of a new Honda CTX1300, causing the housing to snap off and fall) we cruised out to the far side of town and I thought long and hard about the virtues of this erstwhile New Camaro. Nominally speaking, the 2012-on V6es with their new integrated headers can be massaged via bolt-ons into a 13.9-second quarter mile, right there with the Ferrari Testarossa and the Porsche 964 and my Accord V6. In practice, however, these are kind of poky little puppies, emitting a horrible thrashing noise as the automatic takes its sweet time grabbing a lower gear and causing the entire interior to vibrate its brittle grey 1989-Cavalier plastic. The 2011-on Mustang was much nicer inside even if it lacked the sharply-creased exterior drama that still makes this low-rent rental look muscular and menacing despite the tall sidewalls and asthmatic exhaust.

Yet the execution of this fifth-generation car is depressingly Fiero-2M4-esque. To begin with, anything the Camaro can do, the Pontiac G8 could do better. It’s been a long time since coupes were lighter than their sedan relatives, and you can blame things like side-impact regulations for that, but the Camaro’s weight gain was always particularly egregious and it imbues even the big-motor variants with a sort of lackadaisical inertia at all times. The outgoing Mustang was no sports car but it sure as hell seemed like one when driven back to back with a Camaro.

If the insurance companies permit such a thing, a 2015 Camaro will be a great car for an adventurous teenager in 2025 or thereabouts. To a generation raised in the rear seat of Highlanders and Pilots, this will seem like quite the balls-out adventure-mobile, and for kids who grew up in the shadow of the monster Sequoia (the Toyota, not the tree), this coupe won’t seem terribly oversized.

New-car buyers will want to wait for the sixth-gen car, which should be like the ’89 Fiero GT to the current model’s ’84 Indy Pace Car. New GM might still be late to the party whenever possible (see HHR, Chevrolet and SRX, Cadillac) but it no longer terminates model lifespans right when the vehicle involved slouches into acceptability. My guess is the next ponycar conflict will closely resemble its Nineties predecessor: the Camaro will be faster and more capable, and the Mustang will be more usable and more popular.

On the way to the airport at oh-dark-thirty, DG was all smiles. “With this rental, I’ll finally get that free day that they cheated me out of before,” she assured me. “And I’ll have some free upgrades, too.”

“You could rent a Porsche,” I suggested, “or a Mercedes.”

“What I really want,” she replied, “is to rent a Lexus RC-F. But, if you’ve noticed, you will see that nobody ever has an RC-F to rent. Or any Lexus.” As we arrived at the return area, and the Camaro’s door closed with a sickly rattle, and the trunk popped up unevenly on the thick stamped hinges, DG’s brow briefly crinkled. “Why do you think that is?”

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NYT: GM’s Barra Declined Meeting with FCA’s Marchionne to Discuss Possible Merger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nyt-gms-barra-declined-meeting-with-fcas-marchionne-to-discuss-possible-merger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nyt-gms-barra-declined-meeting-with-fcas-marchionne-to-discuss-possible-merger/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 18:21:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075162 Sergio Marchionne sent Mary Barra a detailed email in the middle of March in an effort to start merger talks. Barra, CEO of General Motors, was uninterested in the offer and rebuffed Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. It was the first time the two executives had ever spoken, but it wouldn’t be the last Barra […]

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sergio-marchionne

Sergio Marchionne sent Mary Barra a detailed email in the middle of March in an effort to start merger talks. Barra, CEO of General Motors, was uninterested in the offer and rebuffed Marchionne, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

It was the first time the two executives had ever spoken, but it wouldn’t be the last Barra would hear of Marchionne’s merger desires.

That’s the story being told by the New York Times today, detailing the lengths to which Marchionne is going to trigger consolidation within the automotive industry.

During a routine analyst conference call on April 29, Marchionne brought his plea to other executives through the media with a 25-page PowerPoint presentation.

“I think it is absolutely clear that the amount of capital waste that’s going on in this industry is something that certainly requires remedy. A remedy in our view is through consolidation,” Marchionne said.

Marchionne’s overture of a merger with GM includes no less than 14 brands between North America and Europe, not including the many other brands each company markets in China and other emerging regions. But, to date, the overture has been played to an audience wearing earplugs.

Even with the vast number of brands, that isn’t what bothers Marchionne. Instead, it’s the amount of money poured into redundant R&D work that could be shared by multiple automakers.

“It’s fundamentally immoral to allow for that waste to continue unchecked,” he said.

[Source: New York Times]

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Greetings From Belle Isle: Crashed Camaros and Brakeless Bimmers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/greetings-belle-isle-crashed-camaros-brakeless-bimmers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/greetings-belle-isle-crashed-camaros-brakeless-bimmers/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 15:06:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1073698 Chances are if you have an Internet connection and even a passing interest in automobiles, you’ve heard about the “Jalopnik Camaro crash.” If not, here’s a quick catch-up: Patrick George, who covers a variety of topics for Gawker’s cars-and-planes-and-wow-just-wow blog, managed to understeer his way out of a lead-follow pace lap at Detroit’s Belle Isle […]

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Chances are if you have an Internet connection and even a passing interest in automobiles, you’ve heard about the “Jalopnik Camaro crash.” If not, here’s a quick catch-up: Patrick George, who covers a variety of topics for Gawker’s cars-and-planes-and-wow-just-wow blog, managed to understeer his way out of a lead-follow pace lap at Detroit’s Belle Isle Grand Prix course and into a wall. Damage to the car was relatively minor. He was then removed from the event by GM security, in marked contrast to the kid-glove treatment given About.com writer and part-time The Onion-wannabe Aaron Gold after Mr. Gold managed to put a Camaro ZL1 in the tire wall at VIR for no reason whatsoever.

The veritable blizzard of publicity for both Jalopnik and GM in the week that followed has caused some of the more jaded observers of the autojourno game to wonder if perhaps the whole thing isn’t a masterstroke of guerilla marketing. I have to admit I had my own doubts as to the authenticity of the incident, doubts that have not been completely erased by discussions with Patrick and other members of the Jalop staff.

After watching the video a few times, however, I’ve come to believe that it’s probably genuine. I’ve also come to believe that many of Patrick’s harshest critics on YouTube and elsewhere might have found themselves “in the wall” given the same set of circumstances. So if you want to know what Patrick did wrong, why the incident unfolded as it did, and how it relates to an off-track incident I witnessed myself the day before Patrick’s crash, then click the jump and I’ll explain it all!

If you haven’t already watched the Jalopnik video, please do so now – and also, please watch the video above featuring a BMW driver who just can’t seem to remember to use his brakes. The second video was taken by the Performance Data Recorder (PDR) in a 2015 Corvette Z51 I was driving around Summit Point’s Shenandoah circuit last Saturday. In many ways, it’s the same incident seen two different ways. In both cases, the driver fails to slow down enough and then exits the track surface at an angle. The primary differences between Patrick’s video and mine are the Belle Isle circuit is surrounded by walls, and the M3 is going much faster.

What I’d like to suggest is that the cause for both incidents was the same. That cause was what I like to call the “out of bandwidth problem”. This is not to be confused with Iain Banks’ Outside Context Problem. Rather, it’s a product of the way the human mind works.

I frequently tell my driving students they can really only learn one thing per instructional session. They can also really only focus on one problem in any given session. To show you why, I’ll give you an exercise you can do at home, slightly modified from an exercise given to me by Ross Bentley in a driver-coaching class and also demonstrated in his book, Inner Speed Secrets.

Sitting at your desk, take your right hand and place it on your left knee briefly before removing it. At the same time, raise your left leg off the chair a few inches to meet your hand. Then do the same thing with your left hand and your right knee. Then return to the right hand and left knee. Try to do that in rhythm for a moment. Got it? Now, while continuing your alternating hand-and-knee motion, start counting backwards from 100 while you do it. Still good?

Now try counting backwards from 100 in increments of seven.

confused-man

I’ve never had a student who could do it on the first try without some problem. Usually, they say, “100… uh… 93… uh… um…” After they struggle for a few minutes, I show them I can do it effortlessly. I’m not the most graceful or elegant individual, so this is confusing. I then explain I’ve memorized the numbers. 100 – 93 – 86 – 79 – 72 – 65. I’m not doing the math in real time, I’m reciting a memorized series of numbers I already know.

The brain is very good at doing several things at once, as long as all those things are familiar to it. That’s why older drivers aren’t as likely to crash while texting or eating or operating the infotainment system. They have more experience with the primary task (driving) and therefore they have plenty of processing power for secondary tasks.

By contrast, how often have you been on the phone with someone who is driving somewhere and is lost? What does that conversation sound like? There are usually a lot of pauses as the person tries to compute new directions or evaluate their surroundings. “So, I was… uh… talking to Bob, and… uh… he said that the numbers look good but… uh, hold on, I just want to see if this is my turn.” Talking to someone during their daily commute is very different. We all know our daily commute very well, often to the point that we don’t quite remember how we got to the end of it. It’s all handled by subconscious routines.

Those of you who have been on a racetrack before probably remember just how confusing your first time was. There was so much to look at, so many new rules, and so many cars that seemed to appear out of nowhere behind you. To make things worse, your car didn’t behave the way you expected it to, because it was being operated at a much higher speed. This is why I make my novices stay in fourth gear for their first few sessions, and why I “take the mirror away” by adjusting all mirrors so that I, not the student, watch for traffic. Doing so reduces the number of things on which the student has to focus, and allows him to have more success doing the limited number of tasks remaining. When he can remember the layout of the track, and when he has learned the basics of looking around him in this new environment, I’ll let him start shifting before corners, and I’ll let him use his own mirrors – but not until he’s mastered those other tasks.

Sensory Overload

Human beings have a limited ability to process new information and perform new tasks in real time. It’s a bandwidth problem. You can only focus on a certain amount of sensory data. If a small part of that data is unfamiliar – say, a new car on a well-known track – you can deal with that new data. If you have more than that – a new car, on a new track, with traffic around you – then you have a problem. No matter how experienced you are. You still have a problem. Even Formula One drivers often experience difficulty performing at their best at a new track and developing new features of a car at the same time.

In the case of the BMW who went off-track ahead of me, it turns out that he was “driving his mirrors”. He’d been holding me up for nearly an entire lap and I’d been flashing my headlights at him. Instead of letting me by, his ego got involved – That’s some bearded hick in a Corvette! – and he decided to try to stay ahead of me and win the trackday. Therefore, his entire attention going into that hairpin turn was focused behind him, on me. How close was I? Was I going to try a pass? Was I going to tailgate him? He was so busy watching me that his mind had no bandwidth left. Therefore, faced with the necessity of slowing down for the corner, his mind chose the more familiar program – let’s call it Street Braking – instead of the unfamiliar program of Track Braking. In his effort to watch me, he underbraked and drove off the track into the dirt.

Had he been a more experienced driver, with some racing time under his belt, he would have been better able to multi-task between the challenges of operating the car at its limit and watching my position. But although he was a “black group” advanced driver, he still did not have a lot of experience running nose-to-tail at over 100 mph, so he ran out of processing power and had an incident. This sort of thing is monotonously common at open-lapping days, by the way.

What about Patrick? He’s an experienced track rat by media standards, with dozens of lapping days and events to his credit. But listen to his voice as he talks to the camera. Do you hear the bandwidth shortage? In the “uh” and the pauses? What’s going on? It’s as simple as this: he was trying to do all of the following:

  • Operate an unfamiliar car
  • On an unfamiliar course
  • While evaluating that car in the context of its predecessor
  • And describing it to the camera

That’s too much to ask out of nearly anyone. I’ve done it myself, and it’s mentally exhausting. To make things worse, our expectations for in-car videos are set by the scripted, high-budget Top Gear episodes where the actors recite a couple of well-rehearsed lines to their cameramen, interspersed with footage of professional drivers. So Patrick is under pressure to make a one-take video sound as polished and insightful as a million-dollar television episode.

No wonder he can’t focus on the proper line, or he fails to listen to what the car is trying to tell him about available grip. Those two tasks require bandwidth he doesn’t have. By the time the incident starts, he’s already mentally maxed-out.

The YouTube commenters on this particular video like to focus on the fact that Patrick has his arms crossed. That’s the one thing that he does right on his way to the wall. His consistent hand positioning is the sign of a driver who has received some training at least. But let’s analyze the final moments of the crash for a second. He could have avoided the incident by doing one of two things:

  • Reducing steering input and braking input, allowing the car to steer out of the situation
  • Unwinding the wheel to straight and engaging ABS at full strength.

Either would have been okay. The proximate cause of the accident is that Patrick reacted to a loss of steering traction by winding on more steering – first to the limits of his crossed arms, then further by shuffling – while also braking. This overloaded the front wheels. A more experienced driver would have reduced steering and brake pressure and searched for grip. That’s the process that a race driver goes through in every turn: trail-braking until the maximum cornering grip is achieved. When my students make Patrick’s mistake, I reach over and unwind their steering until the car grips and we make it through the turn correctly.

But Patrick had no instructor – he had a cameraman and an assignment to discuss the vehicle with that cameraman. That was the ultimate cause of the incident: bandwidth overload. Too many tasks. In a conversation with me, Patrick readily identified that as the problem, with no prompting from me. I doubt he’ll do it again.

And in the long run, it was harmless. Nobody was hurt. The car that received damage would have been crushed eventually anyway. There was plenty of publicity to go around and everybody will make money as a result. So if a car crash hurts nobody and benefits everyone involved, is it really a car crash? Process that for a moment, why don’t you?

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