The Truth About Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:30:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Reader Review: 2015 BMW X3 28i http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/reader-review-2015-bmw-x3-28i/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/reader-review-2015-bmw-x3-28i/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 17:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991458 If you’ve been around the automotive journalism long enough (and by long enough, I mean like three months in total), you’ll begin to realize that a lot of press vehicles you drive aren’t indicative of what most people actually buy. Most test vehicles have five figures worth of options, with features that at most, an […]

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X3 Exterior

If you’ve been around the automotive journalism long enough (and by long enough, I mean like three months in total), you’ll begin to realize that a lot of press vehicles you drive aren’t indicative of what most people actually buy. Most test vehicles have five figures worth of options, with features that at most, an auto journalist will expend 50 words on. Meanwhile, on lots across the country, most dealers probably have one or two very loaded cars which end up being discounted heavily towards the end of the quarter.

My experience of full-optioned press cars had to do with a silver BMW 335i xDrive Gran Turismo at a local auto journalist event. While the base price of the car was $47,775, this car had almost $12,000 in options, or enough to buy an E36 M3 in good condition. “Let’s give it the more powerful engine, all-wheel-drive, the dynamic handling package, and the M Sport package” the person in charge of configuring the 3-Series GT must have thought, “at least auto journalists will say it handled very well and forget about the styling.” This car even had head-up display and the $650 M Sport brakes.

Even when I was searching for road tests of the X3 online, I good majority were reviews of the powerful xDrive35i version or for the new diesel model. So when I had access to a 2015 X3 xDrive28i for a few days, I leapt at the opportunity to write a review on it, because it was the version most X3 buyers purchased.

Now, this 2015 BMW X3 xDrive28i that I’m writing about is not a vehicle designated for press people. In fact, it belongs to my dad, and while he chose the color combination, I chose most of the options. As a result, I can’t blame whoever specs BMW’s press vehicles. So the fact it doesn’t have the navigation system, which saves me a paragraph describing it? My fault. That it doesn’t have heated seats? My lapse. The fact that it doesn’t have parking sensors or a rear-view camera? My bad. The fact that I still don’t know what the $500 “Enhanced USB/Bluetooth with Smartphone Integration” option does? I really need to get on that.

As for the things I am proud of, it’s the Deep Sea Blue exterior color and Oyster color interior. (A quick note on the Oyster leather: it’s surprisingly easy to stain, so be careful when wearing jeans or leaving a pen on the seat.) This one also has the Premium Package with a massive moonroof and keyless entry, the xenon lights, and the Harman/Kardon sound system. And all of it was available at an MSRP south of $50K.

Before reading the rest of the review, you might think, “He must have recommended this car to his dad if he’s writing about it! This is totally going to be a love story about the X3!” Believe it or not, I recommended the Jeep Grand Cherokee Ecodiesel, as a very well-equipped one came in easily under $50,000, got good fuel mileage, and I thought it handled very well for its size. But my dad drove it and dismissed it as too big.

Other cars considered were Lexus RX (too soccer mom-ish), Toyota 4Runner (too truck-ish), Toyota Highlander (this is for replacing the minivan). The Mercedes GLK, Audi Q5, and Range Rover Evoque were dismissed as my dad is a BMW person. (For background, the man kept an E39 530i running for 13 years, which is two more than the 1990 Accord he had.) I don’t think he drove any of those alternatives, and neither have I, so I won’t definitively say the X3 is the best out of all those alternatives.

First, I’ll focus on the interior, which is about the same size as the interior of the first-generation X5. It’s a pleasant place with chrome accents and wood trim in the right places. The Oyster interior helps considerably too. The cupholders are usable, which is important when coming from a car in which both cupholders (if you can call them those) are broken. The panoramic moonroof that’s part of the Premium package was great for the scenic photos when driving down Highway 1. In fact, the X3 managed to easily fit five adults and their luggage for a weekend. Moreover, the Harmon/Kardon sound system is a pretty good upgrade from the normal sound system.

However, if you’re over 6”3’, more than 200 pounds, and might need a third seat, don’t consider the X3. Otherwise, when sitting in the driver’s seat, your head will hit the ceiling and you’ll probably find the seat not wide enough. Additionally, while I wrote in the last paragraph that the X3 could seat 3 full-size adults, just make sure the cumulative weight doesn’t exceed 500 pounds. And if you’re a family of four who takes their dog with them on road trips, the X3 is not your car.

Though the options list is long, there’s surprisingly (for a BMW) a lot of standard features. The storage package, which includes cargo nets, a collapsible cargo box, and a reversible mat, is standard. So is the automatic climate control. Even the ambient lighting that I praised is standard. The tailgate and side mirrors are power-operated. However, the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel is not power-operated, which coming from the 530i, was a disappointment.

Whenever I discuss the exterior, I generally don’t focus too much on styling. But the X3 was facelifted for the 2015 model year, with most of the differences being on the front clip, with the headlights that connect to the grille. BMW offers two appearance packages: the xLine package and the M Sport body kit. Personally, I don’t like the look of the M Sport package (or sport packages in general), while the xLine has the silver trim bits for the faux off-roader look, which I don’t mind. There are also turn signals on the side mirrors. One thing I did like was the exterior lighting beneath the door handles when getting into the car. BMW got the ambient lighting very, very right. Also, the X3 comes with the foot sensor as standard

Regarding performance, I didn’t push the X3 to its limits because a) it belongs to my dad and not BMW of North America, and b) it has less than 1400 miles on the odometer so the drivetrain still needed to be broken in. It has a 2.0-liter inline-four with a twin-scroll turbo that makes about 240 hp. According the BMW website, it can go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, which is quicker than the 530i it’s replacing. On the highway, I never found myself complaining about lack of power, even when it was fully loaded with five people. If you need something faster, the xDrive35i with 300 horsepower is about $5,000 more.

I briefly played with the different powertrain modes, which were: Comfort, Sport, and Eco Pro. Eco Pro makes the X3 rear-drive only and ensures the transmission is in the highest gear possible for the best mileage. I found myself using it in high traffic situations, where quick throttle response wasn’t needed. Sport mode sharpened up throttle response, but I found myself never using it and suspect most owners won’t either. Usually I drove the X3 in its default mode, Comfort, in which I didn’t need to press the throttle closer to the floor and when all-wheel-drive was on.

For those of you contemplating the diesel version of the 2015 X3 (the xDrive28d model), I considered that one too. In fact, I even put a deposit on one until we were informed that Hawaii (no joke!) was allocated the last X3 diesel build slots for a 2014 delivery. However, since the diesel is $1,500 more expensive and the price of premium gas has gone down significantly, the normal xDrive28i is a viable alternative. Also, my dad test drove the diesel X3 (while I was in the back seat playing with the air vents) and found the power deficit noticeable compared to the normal version and noisy at lower speeds.

Ultimately, if you have $50,000 to spend on a luxury five-passenger crossover, you can’t go wrong with the X3. When we were buying the X3 at the end of last year, it became easier to find a 7-Series in a dealer’s inventory in Northern California than any version of the X3. It was even easier to find an Audi S4 than an X3. They’re that popular. So BMW must be doing something right with the X3 (or they’re exporting more abroad for higher profits, or the X4 took up a good portion of the assembly line) that people are snapping them up left and right.

In the end, I understand why. The xDrive28i is surprisingly well-priced as long as you don’t go overboard with the options.  It handles nicely, can accelerate quickly, has a pleasant interior, has four years of free maintenance, and can take a lot of cargo. My dad, and not me, made an excellent decision, and neither of us have any regrets. Except for the “Enhanced USB/Bluetooth with Smartphone Integration” option. I still haven’t figured that one out.

DSC_0174 DSC_0175 DSC_0177 DSC_0179 DSC_0184 IMG_20150130_201148 X3 Exterior X3 front X3 Rear

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end, once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He still prefers the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel.

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Chart Of The Day: Cars vs. Light Trucks Over The Last Decade http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/chart-day-cars-vs-light-trucks-last-decade/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/chart-day-cars-vs-light-trucks-last-decade/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 13:50:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991330 After selling in virtually identical numbers in 2013, light truck sales in the United States overtook car sales in 2014 for the first time since 2011. Light trucks, a category which encompasses everything from pickups and body-on-frame SUVs to minivans and commercial vans to SUVs and very car-like crossovers, accounted for 52% of U.S. new […]

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Car sales vs light truck sales chart 2014After selling in virtually identical numbers in 2013, light truck sales in the United States overtook car sales in 2014 for the first time since 2011.

Light trucks, a category which encompasses everything from pickups and body-on-frame SUVs to minivans and commercial vans to SUVs and very car-like crossovers, accounted for 52% of U.S. new vehicle volume in 2014, up from 49.9% in 2013.

Passenger cars, a far more restrictive vehicle classification, achieved less than 2% year-over-year growth in the U.S. in 2014 even as the industry as a whole improved by 6%. Over the last decade, however, car volume was only twice superior to that of the 2014 level. Those two years, 2005 and 2006, also happened to be years in which light trucks outsold passenger cars. That trend came to an end in 2008, a twelve-month period which began a three-year span in which passenger cars would be the dominant force.

The light truck increase in 2014 can be divided into four groups. Pickup truck sales jumped nearly 7%. Commercial van sales rose 14%. Minivan volume was up slightly less than 5%. SUVs and crossovers overachieved with a 12% improvement to more than 5M units.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: The Brazil Vacation, Part III http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vellum-venom-vignette-brazil-vacation-part-iii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/vellum-venom-vignette-brazil-vacation-part-iii/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:06:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990010   Rio is full of beauty: beaches, gorgeous people on said beaches, delicious caipirinhas served beachside and…wait for it…a healthy alternative to DLO FAIL. Yes, a way out from the infestation of black plastic cheater panels: triangles of FAIL that plague Car Design from the cheapest subcompact to the most flagship-iest Cadillac. It’s amazing what happens by removing the A-pillar’s black plastic trim […]

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A Fashionable Savior for the Budget Minded?

Rio is full of beauty: beaches, gorgeous people on said beaches, delicious caipirinhas served beachside andwait for ita healthy alternative to DLO FAIL.

Yes, a way out from the infestation of black plastic cheater panels: triangles of FAIL that plague Car Design from the cheapest subcompact to the most flagship-iest Cadillac.

IMG_4181It’s amazing what happens by removing the A-pillar’s black plastic trim and affixing the mirror directly to the coachwork. Hailing a DLO FAIL free cab in Rio portends to an honesty that all machines need.

IMG_4171Indeed, the first generation Dacia/Renault Logan is a respectable design, bargain basement budget and lack of snob-appeal aside. The redesigned Logan avoids DLO FAIL even better, proving that some designs improve over time.

But there’s no shame in owning a last-gen Logan in Rio. To the contrary, it makes you an object of desire: you have a car and maybe even a place to park it!

IMG_4128Not all is perfect, as this Renault Duster shows. The “footprint” of DLO FAIL is present on the fender. Without that black plastic triangle of super-cheat, it’s clear why a poor meeting of door/fender/a-pillar is a problem in car design.

IMG_4129Implementing the Logan’s footprint-free stamping would clean things up. On the cheap!

IMG_4135Similarly, the 2008-12 Renault Sandero Stepway needed a good Logan-izing around the A-pillar to eliminate DLO FAIL in a low-budget redesign.

I know the photo quality disappoints, but I’m not hanging around to get mugged: photos are quick, walking down the street is done with purpose. Ish.

IMG_4381It’s amazing how the wedgy and minimalist 1980s Fiat Uno(?) looks so out of date compared to modern hatchbacks, even with its “fail-free” daylight opening.

IMG_4383The new Peugeot 208 has a unique take on A-pillar DLO FAIL, pinching it down to accentuate the roof line’s inherent speed. (too bad about the colossal C-pillar FAIL) It’s not horrible, relative to its place in the world of pointless black triangles: we’d be lucky to get this in the States.

IMG_4384Speaking of, Honda’s horrible design failure (a glass DLO extension and a plastic triangle) made itself known in Rio: reminding us that pricier machines (relative to the Logan) aren’t necessarily a better design.

IMG_4170But don’t take my word for it,  agrees…he drove it!

Marcelo suggests it’s an Engineer’s car, not a Designer’s car. Not true: like the beauty of affordable housing from post-WWI to today, the Renault Logan looks good (well, good enough) and doesn’t resort to stupid car design cliches to win buyers around the world.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely week.

 

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Editorial: The People’s Champion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-peoples-champion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/editorial-peoples-champion/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991114 One thing that sets TTAC apart is our appreciation for the kind of cars that most people would write off as “boring”. Part of it is born from our commitment to serving our readers – more often than not, there is a strong desire to read about cars one would actually purchase, rather than just automotive […]

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One thing that sets TTAC apart is our appreciation for the kind of cars that most people would write off as “boring”. Part of it is born from our commitment to serving our readers – more often than not, there is a strong desire to read about cars one would actually purchase, rather than just automotive pornography featuring the latest supercars. The other half of it is a bit more selfish. The cars that drive the industry (no pun intended); the Corollas, Camrys, Accords and Escapes may not be terribly thrilling to drive (Jack will beg to differ), but they have their own merits, even if they tend to be sneered at by most of the enthusiast press. Case in point, the Honda CR-V.

While Tim Cain was able to test a top-spec Honda CR-V Touring, mine was the equivalent to a CRV EX (known as the SE in Canada). Neverthless, my assesment of the CR-V was the same as Tim’s, even though my example lacked a sunroof, leather interior or some of the other touches that are found on competitors

The CR-V is certainly not the most exciting small utility vehicle on the market today, nor is it the only one capable of cramming a shocking amount of humankind and stuff into a small space. But it does most things better than most of its potential competitors.

The CR-V doesn’t handle like a Mazda CX-5, have the quirky appeal and sophisticated AWD of a Subaru Forester, the off-road cred of a Jeep Cherokee or the high-end tech of a Ford Escape. It’s not much to look at outside, and the interior, while improved in terms of cabin materials, is arguably a step back from the version first introduced in 2012. The new touch screen system looks as dated as the non-touch unit in the first generation Acura RDX, the menus are not intuitive and the tiny buttons are a hassle to operate. The seats are on the wrong side of firm.

On the other hand, the CR-Vs rap for being a boring drive is unfounded. It’s not thrilling, but the steering is decently weighted and fairly accurate, the brakes are linear and strong and the CVT transmission is a great match to the 2.4L four-cylinder engine. I couldn’t see myself buying one ever, but a week with this trucklet immediately opened my eyes as to why Honda sells over 300,000 annually.

The current generation CR-V is without a doubt one of the best packaged cars in the history of the automobile. The H-point is just about perfect, making for one of the most natural ingress/egresses you can find in a new vehicle. The ride height is just high enough, the flat floor in the rear means that three adults can sit in relative comfort in the rear and with the seats in place, there’s still 37 cubic feet of cargo room.

Most brilliant is the load floor. At 5’10 and a 32 inch inseam, the cargo floor hits just at my knee. It may seem like an inconsequential detail, but the difference in ease of loading is immeasurable. Loading anything from grocery bags to strollers to walkers is made so much easier. If the seats need to go down, all it takes is one tug of the strap-like lever and the rear row folds instantly. I’d be willing to bet that those two features, demo’d on the showroom floor by a minimally trained salesman, do more to sell the CR-V than any advanced powertrain, AWD-system or infotainment package. The well-known virtues of Honda reliability and resale value don’t hurt either.

Unlike most enthusiasts, I don’t reflexively hate the CUV. I think they offer a lot of value and practicality in the real world of boring commutes, errands, carpooling and recreation activities, and they’ve gotten to the point where buying one doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning the idea of having fun behind the wheel (see: CX-5, Juke ). The CR-V wouldn’t necessarily be my choice in the segment, but it would be the one I’d recommend to somebody who needs to ask for advice on what car to buy. After all, 300,000 people can’t be wrong.

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IIHS: US Driver Fatalities Fall One-Third In Three Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/iihs-us-driver-fatalities-fall-one-third-three-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/iihs-us-driver-fatalities-fall-one-third-three-years/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 15:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991274 Per a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, driver fatalities in the United States have fallen by a third over the past three years. Automotive News says the report’s findings come after the seemingly endless recall parade of 2014, which saw 60.5 million vehicles in the U.S. brought in for repair work, an […]

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Per a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, driver fatalities in the United States have fallen by a third over the past three years.

Automotive News says the report’s findings come after the seemingly endless recall parade of 2014, which saw 60.5 million vehicles in the U.S. brought in for repair work, an all-time industry record.

The IIHS added that nine vehicles made in 2011 or earlier had no fatalities recorded between 2009 and 2012: Audi A4 4WD, Honda Odyssey, Kia Sorento 2WD, Lexus RX 350 4WD, Mercedes-Benz GL-class 4WD, Subaru Legacy 4WD, Toyota Highlander hybrid 4WD, Toyota Sequoia 4WD and Volvo XC90 4WD. The list marks an improvement in safety according to the non-profit group, when only eight years ago, “there were no models with driver death rates of zero.”

However, while most of the vehicles with zero fatalities are SUVs and crossovers, most of the vehicles with the highest number of deaths over the same period are compacts like the Hyundai Accent, Nissan Versa and Kia Rio. The report confirms this, proclaiming that “with some exceptions, death rates tend to go down as size goes up.” This is a change from a decade earlier, when SUVs and crossovers had higher numbers of deaths due to a lack of stability controls and other systems meant to prevent roll-over.

As far as total elimination of traffic fatalities in the U.S. goes, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer David Zuby says such a thing is decades away, and would require not only continued improvements in vehicle safety, but changes in road construction and public safety policy, as well. The report adds that the Great Recession helped to contribute toward the decline in deaths, warning that as the economy continues its recovery, and without said policy changes, the decline could reverse.

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An Audi A Day, At Fifty-Nine Bucks: Silvercar For Dummies http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/audi-day-fifty-nine-bucks-silvercar-dummies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/audi-day-fifty-nine-bucks-silvercar-dummies/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:30:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990450 From now until the end of February, visitors to eight major markets in the United States will be able to rent a 2014 or 2015 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro for fifty-nine dollars a day. If you drive through an automated tollbooth with the car, you’ll be charged the actual amount of the toll charge. If […]

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From now until the end of February, visitors to eight major markets in the United States will be able to rent a 2014 or 2015 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro for fifty-nine dollars a day. If you drive through an automated tollbooth with the car, you’ll be charged the actual amount of the toll charge. If you forget to fill the car up, they’ll fill it for street price plus five bucks. The company is called “Silvercar” and you can get their app on your smartphone in just seconds.

At this point, you can just read the next article, right? Given that an Altima or Fusion from Hertz will run you between $35 and $55 per day at most of those airports, what’s to think about? Either you don’t care what you rent, in which case paying for an Audi seems stupid, or you are anxious to not be seen driving a rental car, in which case paying $59 a day for an Audi instead of $149 a day for a Cheap-class Benzo is beyond obvious.

What? You want to know how it works? Okay. Click the jump.

LA to Barcelona 013

Silvercar works much like FedEx did back in the early days of FedEx, which is to say they emphasize a narrow range of service and attempt to excel within that range. As previously noted, they operate in just eight markets, and they don’t have a conventional airport rental office. This is presented as an upscale feature — your Silvercar concierge will meet you with your car! — but in practice it means taking a shuttle to a parking lot somewhere so Silvercar can avoid airport concession fees. This is about as upscale as it sounds.

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My Silvercar experience lasted six days and started at LAX, where I took a shuttle out to a parking lot and met my concierge. He directed me to use my smartphone to scan the QR code on the windshield. Insofar as it as night time, this did not go well. Eventually we settled on using his phone for a light and my phone for a scanner. I mention this to show that the company is still working out some issues, like how do we rent a car to someone when the ball of fire that lights the world is sleeping with Persephone or something like that.

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The actual specification of the Silvercar itself is quite fascinating to a former Audi owner such as myself. It’s not a car you can buy in the United States, at least not from a dealer. It has a full suite of infotainment features including a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot and navigation, but it has single-zone climate control. Also, the keyless entry features are disabled, no doubt to prevent various issues at their garage facilities. Some of the cars have Sport aero, others don’t. There are no shift paddles on the wheel, either. However, it’s the single-zone climate that will reliably identify former Silvercars in the used lots of the future.

LA to Barcelona 014

In Silvercar spec, the A4 exudes complete and total acceptability but not much else. The combination of the small engine, Quattro drivertrain, and semi-dim-witted eight-speed automatic isn’t magic, although when you really need to force the issue the Audi will hustle in a way that a four-cylinder Malibu or Sonata simply cannot. Driving this back-to-back with a 2014 Camry SE, I had to wonder where, exactly, the sixty-percent markup was going.

In any kind of race with my Accord V6, this Audi wouldn’t see which way the Honda went. However, a thirty-mile canyon run with The Smoking Tire‘s Matt Farah and his tuned-up Fiesta ST showed that the Audi has absolutely trustworthy chassis behavior. There are few cars out there that I’d want to take to tire-squeal territory on a completely unfamiliar mountain road — but that’s also an indictment of the A4’s relatively low limits. Low, but wide; you can make a few mistakes and the nose-heavy balance will combine with a bit of torque-to-the-rear and fix things pretty well. Under no circumstances will this car behave neutrally. If you want that, go get a Camry and learn to hop off the throttle in midcorner. Seriously.

There’s also the fact that this generation of Audi has been around for eight years now, without much in the way of improvement. While I’m pretty happy with the MMI navigation and audio interface, having used it for two years in my lime-green S5, every passenger I had in the Silvercar was utterly disgusted with the twist-and-press school of entering addresses or searching for music.

Although Silvercar has a return method that is very similar to their pickup method, I chose instead to visit their base of operations near LAX to inspect the facility and see just how fly-by-night it was. The answer: not at all. They had perhaps eighty cars in stock, all of them clean and in outstanding shape. The whole place was quiet and dirt-free. The return process was easy enough, and I suspect they’d have run me to the airport had I asked.

As a way to try-before-you-buy with an Audi A4, Silvercar makes excellent sense. As a limited-scope replacement for a rental car, it makes excellent sense. At full retail price, whatever that price turns out to be, when these Audis have thirty thousand miles on them? At that point, you might want to consider that Camry from Hertz.

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Junkyard Find: 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/junkyard-find-1972-plymouth-valiant-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/junkyard-find-1972-plymouth-valiant-sedan/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990106 There was a time when the late-60s/early-70s Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant sedan was the generic automobile in the United States, possibly the most invisible car on American roads. Swimming-pool blue and this queasy shade of green were the most common colors, and the cars were so cheap to maintain that they survived in everyday use much […]

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12 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThere was a time when the late-60s/early-70s Dodge Dart/Plymouth Valiant sedan was the generic automobile in the United States, possibly the most invisible car on American roads. Swimming-pool blue and this queasy shade of green were the most common colors, and the cars were so cheap to maintain that they survived in everyday use much longer than most of their peers. You don’t see the old A-bodies so much these days, but enough remain that they continue to show up in big self-service wrecking yards. Here’s one that I saw in Northern California last week.
11 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSo far in this series, we’ve seen this ’60 Valiant wagon, this ’61 Valiant, this ’63 Dart, this ’64 Valiant wagon, this ’67 Valiant, this ’66 Dart, this ’68 Valiant Signet, this ’73 Valiant, this ’75 Duster, and this ’75 Dart, this ’75 Dart, and now today’s ’72 Valiant. Slant-6 engine, like most of them.
02 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinPlenty of indicators that this Valiant’s last owner was a young guy.
05 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBack in the early 1970s, AM radio offered some decent music, but now it’s tough to find much other than right-wing talk radio and religious sermons in Cantonese.
04 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFrom what I can tell, Driven Blackout is the Advance Auto house brand of car air-freshener.
14 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis Valiant was on pace to hit 500,000 miles when this happened.

01 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1972 Plymouth Valiant Sedan Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Toyota Unveils Silicon Carbide Semiconductor Trial http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-unveils-silicon-carbide-semiconductor-trial/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-unveils-silicon-carbide-semiconductor-trial/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991218 Toyota unveiled its plans Wednesday to trial a new hybrid system using silicon carbide power semiconductors that could find its way into hybrids and EVs. The trial will compare the new silicon carbide semiconductors with silicon units currently found in many a hybrid’s, FCV’s and EV’s power control unit, which are linked to a 20 […]

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Toyota SiC Power Control Unit 01

Toyota unveiled its plans Wednesday to trial a new hybrid system using silicon carbide power semiconductors that could find its way into hybrids and EVs.

The trial will compare the new silicon carbide semiconductors with silicon units currently found in many a hybrid’s, FCV’s and EV’s power control unit, which are linked to a 20 percent loss in overall electric power. The aim is to increase powertrain efficiency by mitigating said losses through the new semiconductors.

The test subjects will be a Camry hybrid prototype and a fuel-cell bus. The bus trial began in early January, when Toyota started data collection on a setup featuring SiC diodes in the FCV’s voltage step-up converter. Meanwhile, the Camry — whose SiC components are in both the hybrid’s voltage step-up and inverter — will hit the road for a year beginning early next month. Both tests are being carried out in Toyota City, Japan.

Toyota hopes to have the SiC technology — developed in a partnership with Denso Corporation and Toyota Central R&D Labs, Inc. — ready for practical use as soon as possible.

Toyota Camry SiC Prototype Toyota SiC FCV Bus Toyota SiC Power Control Unit 01 Toyota SiC Power Control Unit 02 Toyota SiC Power Control Unit In Camry

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Land Rover Breaks U.S. Sales Records With High-End Models, Discovery Sport Is Almost Here http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rover-breaks-u-s-sales-records-high-end-models-discovery-sport-almost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rover-breaks-u-s-sales-records-high-end-models-discovery-sport-almost/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:30:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990562 2014 was a record-setting year for the Land Rover brand in the United States, and the brand accomplished this feat even though the majority of Land Rover sales were generated by upper-crust Range Rover vehicles. With the Discovery Sport set to arrive shortly in place of the oft-rejected LR2 (née Freelander), the potential for greater […]

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Land Rover Discovery Sport2014 was a record-setting year for the Land Rover brand in the United States, and the brand accomplished this feat even though the majority of Land Rover sales were generated by upper-crust Range Rover vehicles.

With the Discovery Sport set to arrive shortly in place of the oft-rejected LR2 (née Freelander), the potential for greater growth at the Land Rover brand becomes much more apparent.


• 51,465 Land Rovers sold in America in 2014

• Two top tier models account for six out of every ten Land Rover sales

• Discovery Sport expected to be volume model


60% of Land Rover sales in the U.S. in 2014 were produced by the Range Rover Sport (base price: $63,350) and Range Rover (base price: $83,495). The Range Rover Evoque, a very premium-priced small luxury utility, was the brand’s third-ranked vehicle. The Evoque was responsible for nearly a quarter of all Land Rover sales, more than the LR2 and LR4 combined.

Combined sales of the Range Rover trio rose 9% to 43,167. Land Rover sold more Range Rover Sports than at any time since 2006, its first full year on sale. Range Rover sales rose to a nine-year high. Range Rover Evoque volume increased for the third consecutive year. 34,990 Evoques have been sold since the nameplate went on sale in the U.S. early in the fourth-quarter of 2011.Jaguar Land Rover U.S. sales chart

Regardless of status – luxury, premium, upmarket, volume, mainstream, niche – it’s very unusual to see a brand ignited by its most costly models. At BMW, for example, the brand’s two entry-level car lines and two entry-level utilities account for 61% of U.S. sales.

Look at Mazda on the opposite side of the coin: only 23% of its sales are produced by its flagship sedan and top-tier crossover, the 6 and CX-9. At Audi, it’s the A3, A4, Q3, and Q5 that do the heavy lifting (to the tune of 59% of all Audi USA sales), not the A6, A7, A8, R8, and Q7, which account for only 31% of Audi sales.

Land Rover
2014
2013
%
Change
Range Rover Sport 17,897 15,976 12.0%
Range Rover 12,830 12,221 5.0%
Range Rover Evoque 12,440 11,405 9.1%
LR4 4,679 7,093 -34.0%
LR2 3,619 3,315 9.2%
Land Rover Total 51,465 50,010 2.9%

Thus, if Land Rover’s top-tier Range Rover models continue to steadily increase their popularity but are finally joined by an entry-level variant that bears a traditional portion of the burden, Land Rover’s record-setting sales accumulation is likely to expand at a much faster pace than it did in 2014.

Range Rover SportOverall new vehicle sales rose 6% and SUV/crossover sales were up 12%. Land Rover, which did indeed sell more SUVs than at any time in its history, only posted a 3% year-over-year improvement. Even if Discovery Sport sales begin at mid-pack levels in the small luxury utility vehicle arena – 20,000 annual U.S. sales, for instance – and the brand’s other models failed to increase their volume, Land Rover could still potentially sell more than 65,000 vehicles in 2015. Who knows, diesel engines might help, too.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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While You Were Sleeping: January 30th, 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/sleeping-january-30th-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/sleeping-january-30th-2015/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:07:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991306 How do currency fluctuations affect a car’s interior? And how does Carlos Ghosn have one of the coolest accents in the world? We’ve got the answer to one of those questions below. Carlos Ghosn and John Krafcik explain how currency fluctuations can impact a vehicle’s interior. Title loans come under regulatory scrutiny. Tesla only reports […]

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Carlos Ghosn speaks -09. Picture courtesy Bertel Schmitt

How do currency fluctuations affect a car’s interior? And how does Carlos Ghosn have one of the coolest accents in the world? We’ve got the answer to one of those questions below.

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NHTSA Seeking Whistleblowers In Takata Airbag Investigation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nhtsa-seeking-whistleblowers-takata-airbag-investigation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nhtsa-seeking-whistleblowers-takata-airbag-investigation/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991194 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is seeking whistleblowers who have knowledge “of possible defects or any wrongdoing” about Takata. Reuters reports the NHTSA has set up a hotline for current and former employees of the airbag supplier as part of its ongoing investigation into a number of death and injury cases linked to defective […]

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is seeking whistleblowers who have knowledge “of possible defects or any wrongdoing” about Takata.

Reuters reports the NHTSA has set up a hotline for current and former employees of the airbag supplier as part of its ongoing investigation into a number of death and injury cases linked to defective airbag inflators, with the promise of legal protection for those who call. Agency representative Gordon Trowbridge explains:

We encourage all individuals with information about the manufacture or testing of Takata air bag inflators, or who have knowledge of possible defects or any wrongdoing by the company, to make this information available to NHTSA.

The news organization itself received numerous reports from former Takata employees wishing to remain anonymous of hiding or altering data and other information linked to the airbags, as well as two from Mark Lillie and Michael Britton regarding the supplier’s introduction and use of ammonium nitrate at its facility in Moses Lake, Wash. Both expressed concerns about the lack of safety testing and validation for the chemical before Takata pressed forward with its use in the late 1990s.

Takata, for its part, claimed that it was “committed to working with NHTSA and [its] automotive customers to ensure the safety of the driving public,” opting not to comment specifically on the NHTSA’s call for whistleblowers, nor on Reuters‘ own findings.

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US Debut of Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Delayed Until 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/us-debut-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-delayed-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/us-debut-mitsubishi-outlander-phev-delayed-2016/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 12:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991170 Those waiting for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to come to North America will need to keep holding their breath until next year. According to Automotive News Mitsubishi Motors North American executive vice president Don Swearingen announced during last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show that the crossover PHEV — already on sale in Japan and Europe […]

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Those waiting for the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV to come to North America will need to keep holding their breath until next year.

According to Automotive News Mitsubishi Motors North American executive vice president Don Swearingen announced during last year’s Los Angeles Auto Show that the crossover PHEV — already on sale in Japan and Europe since 2013 — will arrive in the United States around April of 2016. The delay is due in part to a shortage in battery packs, as well as a California mandate requiring the fitment of battery-degradation sensors to said packs.

Once it does hit the showrooms, the crossover will face competition from the likes of the Volvo XC90 PHEV and the equally oft-delayed Tesla Model X. The Outlander PHEV derives its power from a 2-liter gasoline engine and a pair of electric motors fore and aft, and boasts a range of 32.5 miles in electric-only mode.

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Dispatches do Brasil: Nonagenarian General http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dispatches-brasil-nonagenarian-general/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dispatches-brasil-nonagenarian-general/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:30:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990666 The first car Brazilians ever saw in their own country was brought in from France in 1890 by Alberto Santos Dumont of later first dirigible, plane and wristwatch glory. It caused quite a stir in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Soon, other wealthy men began importing cars and there are reports of street racing […]

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The first car Brazilians ever saw in their own country was brought in from France in 1890 by Alberto Santos Dumont of later first dirigible, plane and wristwatch glory. It caused quite a stir in the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Soon, other wealthy men began importing cars and there are reports of street racing and accidents between the cars themselves, pedestrians and horses.

In 1903, the state of São Paulo promulgated the first laws pertaining to auto traffic. At the time only 16 cars were officially registered in all the state. It was a time of great change on Brazil. The Republic had been born in 1889 while all slaves had been set free just a year before. Immigrants poured into the country, helping the population to double then triple in a few short decades. Only the US and Argentina attracted more immigrants at the time.

Those immigrants proved instrumental to the development of industry and agriculture in Brazil. Though industrially the take off was slow, Brazil became the coffee king and the roaring 20s brought unprecedented wealth to the country. By 1923, the mark of 30 000 registered automobiles was reached.

This ebullition attracted the attention of a company based in far off Detroit. Interested in chasing the new found wealth circulating in this country, General Motors opened for business by registering itself at a Public Notary in São Paulo on January 26, 1925 under the name of Companhia Geral de Motores do Brasil. Or perhaps it was just chasing eternal rival Ford that opened up here in 1919 and began production of CKD Model Ts in 1921.

Just eight months later, the assembly line in a calm neighborhood in São Paulo was inaugurated. A Chevrolet delivery panel van was the first vehicle put together there. General Motors would produce other all of their brands here, so CKD Cadillacs, Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Oaklands and Pontiacs were all assembled. Production was slow at first, just 25 cars a day. In the following year, production reached 40 vehicles a day. In 1928, the factory was up to a feverish 150 vehicles.

1927 saw the production of the 25th thousand GM car, another Chevrolet. To witness the event, very important people from the home office and New York bankers were invited. The record shows that car was put together in just 20 minutes.

At the end of the day, the 800 workers went home and the patio would be brimming with cars. The next day all cars would be gone. In that time GM had around 150 professionals called caravanistas. Their function was to drive the car from the factory to wherever the buyer lived, wherever that would be in the country.

In 1928, the city of São Paulo was inhabited by 700,000 people and the population of Brazil had grown to more than 34 million. GM produced its 50,000th car, again a Chevrolet. It had outgrown the capacity of their first industrial site.

They moved to São Caetano do Sul, then still a small, sleepy and bucolic city neighboring São Paulo. The huge facility completely dominated the cityscape. There, GM do Brasil has its corporate headquarters and factory to this day.

General Motors has been a fundamental company in the history of the automobile in this country. In 1957, the first fully Brazilian vehicle was built by GM, a light truck. In 1958, the first car in the form of a pickup, the Amazona or 3.100 taking advantage of President Juscelino Kubtischek’s program of stimulating local production. Under protective measures instituted by those policies, GM diversified and produced batteries, air conditioners, and the famous Frigidaire refrigerators (the gold standard in those days and more than 2 million units were bought by Brazilians).
In 1964,the grandad of present SUVs was launched, the C-1416 or Veraneio. After that, General Motors finally released its first Brazilian built car, the Chevrolet Opala. Based of the Opel Reckord, the Opala inaugurated a link between GM do Brasil and Opel, that would only be severed in the present century. In a negative side effect of the policies used to jump start the Brazilian auto industry, the Opala, launched in 1968, would last until 1992.

In 1973, the Chevette made its worldwide debut here. Though that was pretty exiting, the Chevette marked the emergence of GM Brazil as an engineering center for global GM, a position it still enjoys today.

In the 90s, the Brazilian market was suddenly wide open. GM was one of the first to take advantage of this and a rapid succession of thoroughly modern Opel products were launched in Brazil: Omega, Vectra and Corsa. This proved so successful that GM would occupy second place, seriously threatening Volkswagen’s lead.

Then a period of complacency. Administrating the crisis, several GM do Brasil Presidents would go on to lead global GM. Due to the trouble brewing at GM U.S., local GM starved for product and slowly, but surely, its line became uncompetitive. As the 10s started, Opel-based Brazilian Chevrolet products disappeared and were substituted by GM Korea products. Though that has left Opel-widows pulling their hair and wailing in the desert, the fact is the move has proved successful. So much so that Chevrolet is now claiming to be the most beloved auto company of Brazilians since if fleet sales (which include government purchases in this country) are discounted, Chevrolet is the most sold auto brand to private buyers two years running.

To celebrate GM do Brasil becoming a nonagenarian local and global GM top suits came to Brazil to show off GM’s new logistic center (double the size of the previous one and completely computerized). Global Chevrolet President Dan Ammann came down and detailed the 6.5 billion real investment announced on the occasion. It would be used to modernize motors and factories and develop a new 3-cylinder 1.0 and transmissions. He also highlighted that Brazil is Chevrolet’s second largest market worldwide, and GM’s third.

General Motors do Brasil has three car factories in Brazil. Besides the 80-year old unit in São Caetano do Sul, there is one in São José dos Campos and another in Gravataí. In Mogi das Cruzes there is another industrial site producing stamped components and parts, the logistic center is in Sorocaba, testing grounds in Indaiatuba and an engine factory in Joinville. In São Caetano do Sul, besides the factory and corporate offices, there is a technological center capable of designing and developing cars and motors from the ground up.

In 90 years General Motors do Brasil has produced over 14.5 million cars. From the humble beginnings in a warehouse in a calm São Paulo neighborhood, GM do Brasil has grown into a giant in the Brazilian car-scape and a vital part of global GM. It has earned Brazilian’s respect and manages to avoid the Fiat-Volkswagen rivalry, being one brand that seems to attract all Brazilians. It has launched hits and duds, has pushed the market and watched from the sidelines others fight it out.

With products like Onix, Spin and Cruze, and halos like the Camaro, General Motors do Brasil is living in prosperous times and, as always, is fundamental in keeping the mothership afloat.

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Would You Buy a Used Rental Car? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/buy-used-rental-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/buy-used-rental-car/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990522 Most car enthusiasts know that rental cars are the most abused vehicles on the road. We know this, of course, because we are the ones who abuse them. Seriously: when a normal person picks up a rental car, they see it as little more than basic transportation. A simple, cheap vehicle designed to bring them […]

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rentals

Most car enthusiasts know that rental cars are the most abused vehicles on the road. We know this, of course, because we are the ones who abuse them.

Seriously: when a normal person picks up a rental car, they see it as little more than basic transportation. A simple, cheap vehicle designed to bring them from the Houston airport to a suburban office park, where they will give a presentation about something like The Efficacy of Automated Stapler Software to a company with a nondescript name like “RidgeTech” or “The Matheson Group.”

But car enthusiasts see it differently. When a car enthusiast gets inside a rental car, he doesn’t wonder where the lights are, or how to turn on the wipers. Instead, he thinks: How fast can I go before it locks me out of park? And then he tests this, repeatedly, until finally the transmission dies, at which point he goes home and tells his friends that whatever Chrysler he rented is an unreliable piece of shit.

For further proof of how car enthusiasts beat on rental cars, allow me to share my most recent rental car experience. It was in Europe, and I was tremendously excited, because I had rental car insurance. When a customer eagerly opts for rental car insurance, this is a bad sign. If you run a rental car company, and the customer asks “Can I get even MORE rental car insurance?”, you can be pretty sure you will never see the car again with all of its doors attached.

So anyway: I rented something small and pathetic, some French car called the C-Elysee, and it was awful. I mean, truly terrible. It was ugly, it was cheap, it was boring, it was plasticky, and it accelerated at the same rate as melting ice. So I decided that the best thing to do – the best way to really enjoy this car – would be to pull the handbrake in every possible situation, including when stopping at red lights.

Now, it’s been about six months since this trip, so this car has probably found its way into the hands of a real customer by now. A normal person, maybe even a young driver, highly excited to receive her very first car, with absolutely no knowledge that a previous driver drove 37 miles of the French Riviera with the handbrake up “just to see if it would let me.”

But here’s the thing about modern cars: in large part, they can usually take the abuse. I say this because I spent a summer in college working for Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and I discovered that modern cars are capable of handling just about anything that modern car renters can do to them. Blowout on the highway? No problem. Mud in the trunk? Not a worry. Didn’t realize the parking brake was in the footwell, so you drove around with it engaged all weekend? Who cares!

Indeed, it seems that modern cars are almost manufactured to the lowest common denominator. It’s as if, when an automobile engineer is designing a vehicle, he thinks to himself: what about the guy who tucks in his shirt even though he doesn’t have a belt? And then they add a bunch more screws and nuts and bolts just to make sure even that guy doesn’t break the thing.

And so today’s question is this. We all know how much rental cars can be abused – whether intentionally or unintentionally, whether by car enthusiasts or complete idiots. And yet, we all know how reliable modern cars are: the days of breakdowns and mechanical failures and unexplained noises are generally over, unless you’re driving a Land Rover. So is a used rental car worthy of your consideration? Is it an acceptable possibility? And if not: at what price would you change your mind?

Me, I’d have no problem buying a used rental car, provided it a) passes a thorough mechanical inspection, b) feels perfectly fine on a test drive, and c) is not a Dodge Avenger. What about you?


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Land Rovers, Jaguars Et Al Leave Höegh Osaka After Month At Sea http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rovers-jaguars-et-al-leave-hoegh-osaka-month-sea/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/land-rovers-jaguars-et-al-leave-hoegh-osaka-month-sea/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991122 Having spent most of January on its side, the Höegh Osaka returned to Southampton, England Tuesday to unload 1,400 premium vehicles bound for Germany. According to The Daily Mail, the car carrier was intentionally run aground in the Solent off the Isle of Wight January 3 when it began to list at 52 degrees shortly […]

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Land Rover Hoegh Osaka

Having spent most of January on its side, the Höegh Osaka returned to Southampton, England Tuesday to unload 1,400 premium vehicles bound for Germany.

According to The Daily Mail, the car carrier was intentionally run aground in the Solent off the Isle of Wight January 3 when it began to list at 52 degrees shortly after departing for Germany through the English Channel. Around 1,400 premium vehicles were onboard, including Land Rover Defenders, Jaguar XFs, MINIs, a Rolls-Royce Wraith, and a Porsche Boxster.

Presently, each of the 1,400 vehicles aboard are being inspected for any damage, especially the type that would mean a final ride to the crusher. The final total won’t come until early next week at the latest, though a decision to follow in Mazda’s footsteps — the automaker scrapped 4,700 units aboard the Cougar Ace in 2006 — would prove costly; the total value of Höegh Osaka’s cargo stands at £30 million ($45 million USD).

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NADA 2015: The Keynote Was About More than Jeb Bush http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nada-2015-keynote-jeb-bush/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nada-2015-keynote-jeb-bush/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 10:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990642 When I went to the NADA Convention and Expo last week, the opening general session was something I didn’t want to miss, largely since Jeb Bush, brother of George W. Bush, son of George H.W. Bush, and a former governor of Florida, was giving the keynote address. Mainstream news outlets interpreted his speech in front […]

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When I went to the NADA Convention and Expo last week, the opening general session was something I didn’t want to miss, largely since Jeb Bush, brother of George W. Bush, son of George H.W. Bush, and a former governor of Florida, was giving the keynote address. Mainstream news outlets interpreted his speech in front of NADA as a signal that he was possibly planning a run for president. Consequently, I wanted to hear his (partial-politicking? semi-stump? kind of-campaign?) speech and the subjects it would concentrate on. However, I would have to sit through a lot more before I learned that Jeb Bush was “seriously considering the possibility of running.”

Usually the keynote speech during the NADA opening session is given by a top political figure. For politicians who might be considering a run at a higher office, the NADA convention isn’t a bad place to further political goals (like running for President of the United States) considering that a) car dealers can probably contribute big bucks to a campaign, and b) dealers tend to be active in their community and local chambers of commerce, which can again help candidates raise more money.

For example, the 2012 keynote was given by George W. Bush while the 2013 speech was given by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Last year’s keynote was given by Hillary Clinton which publicly (and predictably) didn’t go over well, showing the political orientation of many NADA members. Clinton’s speech at NADA was thought by political pundits and the media to bolster a potential presidential candidacy.

As much as NADA attendees wanted Jeb Bush to announce his presidential candidacy, it was highly unlikely that would be the case. After all, he was in San Francisco, one of the most liberal places in the country, so he probably wouldn’t have been greeted with cheers once he walked out of the convention center. Outside the venue, his supporters would’ve probably been outnumbered 4 to 1. (Make that 5 to 1 if Berkeley residents had gotten wind of the announcement and crossed the Bay Bridge.)

Before the session began, the room filled up completely. Due to the crowd and no designated press area, I ended up being wedged between a couple of insurance vendors on my left and what was a very successful dealer (assuming the gold Patek Philippe perpetual calendar on his wrist wasn’t fake, and I’m fairly sure it wasn’t) on my right. It was apparent that this was an affluent and influential audience. This wasn’t going to be my kind of crowd.

The beginning of the opening session almost reminded me of a political rally. Have a band (in this case a Journey tribute band) play some loud music while the room was filling up? Check. A singing of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” to quiet the crowd. Check. A person to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner”? Check. Is the person part of the military? Check.

After that came the announcement of a $150,000 donation to a local food bank and the introduction of the 2014 NADA officers. Next came the motivational speech from the NADA chairman Forrest McConnell, with the theme being “Who’s Your Biggest Competitor?” It was about two car dealers who raised themselves up by the bootstraps with one becoming the largest Honda dealer in the country and the other becoming the largest Toyota dealer in the country. And the answer: yourself.

Then came the nominees for the TIME Magazine Dealer of the Year award, given for contributing to charitable causes. Plenty of time was spent on each nominee, the dealership they ran, and the organizations they made their contributions to, from the local hospitals to Boys & Girls Club of America. There were 55 dealers nominated for the award, which meant this section of the event took some time. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the awards presentation lasted longer than the amount of Jeb Bush was on stage. However, it did drive home the point that dealers were highly influential and were helpful to their communities.

When Jeb Bush gave his speech, the parts that encompassed car dealers’ interests involved the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its regulations on dealer financing. Bush felt that the CFPB was making rules without Congress being involved and voiced support for the dealers. All of the comments about the CFPB were greeted with plenty of applause. He moreover noted the impact of the Affordable Care Act, described as a “job-killer.”

His speech also covered working on the immigration policy, reforming the entitlement system, simplifying the corporate tax code, reforming the education system with a spotlight on decreasing the power of teachers’ unions. All of these statements on education, immigration, the tax code, and the entitlement system were greeted with applause, and he received a standing ovation at the end of his speech. Held in the middle of San Francisco.

For the Q+A session following the speech, only the NADA chairman could ask questions. Fortunately, the thing asked was “What car do you drive?” It turned out Bush had just bought a Ford Fusion and had yet to schedule a tutorial with the dealer about using all the car’s features. (He’s just like the rest of us, folks.) Furthermore, Bush told an anecdote about how it was reporters on their way to the Detroit Auto Show who saw him headed for a flight to Utah, which alerted the media to his meeting with Mitt Romney.

A large portion of the Q+A dealt with the economy. In his answers, Bush discussed reforming the tax code, stating that he believed lowering taxes upfront would be much better, and simplifying the tax regulations would make large corporations pay their taxes. He also spoke about how the middle class was being squeezed and how he would focus on achieving higher sustained economic growth. As the issues of taxes, economic growth, and government regulations were undoubtedly of concern to the crowd, many of Bush’s statements were received with plenty of acclaim.

By the end of the event, I understood that the NADA keynote was less about the individual giving it, but about showing of NADA’s influence beyond the auto industry. It was demonstrated through the TIME Dealer of the Year award and the focus on giving to the community. It was demonstrated through the fact that Jeb Bush spoke at the event. It was demonstrated at the end of the session when NADA chairman McConnell referenced what NADA was capable of, highlighting its work in fighting government regulations and manufacturers’ unreasonable demands.

The NADA opening general session was not about Jeb Bush and his presidential run, as most media outlets focused on. It was about exhibiting the attitudes and mindset of a prominent and relatively well-off section of the population. And most importantly, the event presented the influence that NADA and its members have on people and businesses across the country.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end, once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He’s probably the only person in the world who’s driven both a Bentley Continental GT and Chrysler 200 around Laguna Seca.

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Rental Review: 2013 Ford Focus SE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/rental-review-2013-ford-focus-se/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/rental-review-2013-ford-focus-se/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 23:12:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989778 You never know what car you’re going to get at the rental counter. Whether you’re at an airport in Anchorage, a Milwaukee suburb, or in Tahiti, you won’t know how you’ll get from Point A to Point B, or if you’ve ever vacationed in Tahiti, Point A to Point A. It could better than your […]

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You never know what car you’re going to get at the rental counter. Whether you’re at an airport in Anchorage, a Milwaukee suburb, or in Tahiti, you won’t know how you’ll get from Point A to Point B, or if you’ve ever vacationed in Tahiti, Point A to Point A. It could better than your usual car, a newer version of your usual car, worse than your usual car, or horribly worse than your usual car, the last category reserved for the Dodge Avenger and Chevy Spark.

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When I was at the counter, my reservation specified a full-size car, so that thankfully meant no Avenger or Spark. The Taurus and Impala, the perennial full-size rentals, have gotten pretty good, so I was really looking forward to one of those. Alas, there were no full-size or even mid-size cars at my Hertz Local Edition. So I was supposed to get a 2013 Corolla. I didn’t want the Corolla, as it looked tired and had Iowa plates, so it a) definitely had plenty of miles on it, and b) the plates were going to make me a target for California law enforcement.

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After asking the rep about all the available cars he had (“How about that Avenger that just came in?”), I ended up with a Tuxedo Black 2013 Ford Focus parked way back in the lot. That’s right. 2013. You might be thinking, “Oh, it probably didn’t have much mileage so Hertz decided to keep it in the fleet.” Well, I can safely write that wasn’t the case. It had 44,594 miles on the odometer. That is not a typo. Hertz seriously does keep cars in their fleet for that long.

On my drive home, many issues made themselves known. The car had obviously sat in the lot of my Hertz Local Edition for such a long time that the interior was stuffy, the air-conditioning blew musty air, the transmission’s clutches weren’t in the best condition, and there was so much static coming from the stereo. Additionally, the transmission never seemed to choose the right gear when climbing up the steep hill to get to my house.

I’m not going to discuss the interior that much since most of you have probably rented the Focus, sat in it at an auto show, bought it, read the brochure, seen the TV ads, made out in the back seat, etc. But I liked it. The gauge cluster and stereo interface were very intuitive. I didn’t notice any large panel gaps like I would’ve in a 2005 Ford Focus after 40,000 miles. The touch points still felt fine. The seats were surprisingly comfortable after that much rental car duty. The only qualm I had was with SYNC addressing me in Spanish since someone named Arturo had plugged in his iPhone at some point.

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I didn’t like the engine. The valve-timing system wasn’t the best, especially when climbing steep hills. 160 horsepower was not enough for this especially in the higher gears. However, if your goal is to travel at the speed limit on local roads and highways, the engine has more than enough strength to hold its own.

More important to discuss than the engine, however, is the transmission. Around town, even if you’re used to dual-clutch transmissions (which is what Ford’s PowerShift transmission is), this car is horrible. The clutches always feel like they’re going to go every time you accelerate from a stoplight. When I got the car, the rep had taken special care to inform me that how the throttle and transmission acted was normal.

I wish Ford would’ve made the gears selectable, instead of giving us the usual PRNDL, which makes most drivers treat the transmission like they would any automatic. As an owner of a 40,000-mile Jetta 2.0T with the DSG, my VW struck me as more refined (though I’m very careful with my footwork in traffic), and I found it interesting Ford doesn’t recommend transmission fluid changes at some of the service intervals.

The handling was something that brought a smile to my face. Ford got the suspension tuning spot-on. On a winding road, I didn’t feel compelled to brake in the bends, and the tires didn’t squeal either. Traction control is incredibly fair, and though the intervention is noticeable, it still lets you enjoy the car. After 40,000 miles worth of rental car abuse, I was amazed at the amount of feel I got through the steering.

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As for trunk space, the area is enough for two to three suitcases, but it probably wouldn’t be able to swallow as much cargo as a Jetta. Thankfully though, the spare tire, housed beneath the trunk, is full-size. Furthermore, rear legroom was fine, but I don’t think most people would be capable of sitting there for more than two hours, like in most compact cars.

Now, I wanted this review to be about what a Focus would be like after 44,000 miles. I wanted to ensure the car had been maintained, wasn’t involved in any accidents, and was loved unconditionally by its owner. Therefore, whoever would be considering a 2013 Focus, or any other 2013 Focus with 40,000 miles, would know what they were getting themselves into.

As a result, I went the extra mile (not that the Focus needed it) and ran the Autocheck on the car to have an idea of what it went through. It gave me no details, except for the car’s initial registration date. After more than 44,000 miles, there were dents all over the car, including a major one on one of the doors (seriously, the inspection form when I signed for the car is marked all over). Also, the car had to have been through a few services, none of which appear on the report. And according to the Hertz rep who signed out the car to me, the windows had been replaced after being smashed with the last renter. I only knew that bit after asking about the pieces on paper in the rear passenger windows. Even those details didn’t show up on the Autocheck report.

But I found even more worrying things when I simply entered the car’s VIN into Google. I managed to discover that Hertz actually had my very car for sale on eBay back in December at around 44,500 miles. I also managed to catch a Google-cached November listing of the car on the Hertz Auto Sales website. By the way, to the surprise of no one by this point, the Autocheck report didn’t catch this too. Meanwhile, Hertz has known for at least the last two months that it needs to get rid of this car!

So how on earth did I end up with a car that Hertz couldn’t sell? My guess is Hertz ended up pulling it from their sales lot once the holiday demand for rental cars happened, and automakers were too busy selling cars to individual customers that they perhaps didn’t have enough inventory to push into fleet sales. As a result, when I looked at the 2013 Ford Focuses on the website of the local Hertz Auto Sales, not one had below 50,000 miles, and some had well above 60,000, demonstrating that rental companies aren’t turning over their fleet as much as they used to.

In the end, should you buy a 2013 Ford Focus SE with over 40,000 miles on the clock?

I don’t think it would be a bad idea, as long as the transmission is inspected, you’ve ensured all recall work is done, and you have an idea of the service history.

But should you buy a high-mileage ex-rental car, particularly one that a rental company was incapable of selling to normal people and one with a questionable dual-clutch transmission?

As my car might’ve told me after hearing my voice commands in broken Spanish, “No way, Jose.

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US Once Again the Swing Oil Producer: Whither Gas Prices? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/us-swing-oil-producer-whither-gas-prices/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/us-swing-oil-producer-whither-gas-prices/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 23:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989498 Despite a collapse in oil prices of 50 percent since summer’s end, Saudi Arabia, whose vast production capacity has enabled that country to modulate world oil prices by adjusting its output, “effectively resigned from that role,” Daniel Yergin wrote in this past Sunday’s New York Times Week in Review. “…OPEC handed over all responsibility for […]

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Despite a collapse in oil prices of 50 percent since summer’s end, Saudi Arabia, whose vast production capacity has enabled that country to modulate world oil prices by adjusting its output, “effectively resigned from that role,” Daniel Yergin wrote in this past Sunday’s New York Times Week in Review. “…OPEC handed over all responsibility for oil prices to the market, which the Saudi oil minister, Ali Al-Naimi, predicted would ‘stabilize itself eventually.’”

For those unfamiliar with Yergin, since at least the late 1970s, he has been a leading expert and author on oil and its intersection with international economics and politics. He writes that the Saudis’ motivation for relinquishing control—a decision which was far from unanimous among OPEC nations—included fear of losing market share if they turned off the spigots, particularly to Iraq, which they view as a satellite of Iran, and to Iran itself, should sanctions end, bringing that country’s million-plus bbls/day back onto the market.

Now, Yergin writes, the US, long ago the “swing producer” of oil, has been granted that status once again by virtue of Saudi Arabia’s abdication.

The US “was once, by far, the world’s largest oil producer and exporter,” Yergin writes. American production peaked in 1970 at 9.6 million barrels a day, but by 2008, had fallen by nearly half, while oil prices had climbed to $147/bbl (raising the specter of peak oil).

Then, technology came to the rescue, in the form of fracking and horizontal drilling. In 2010, writes Yergin, these nascent gas-harvesting technologies were unleashed upon oil, and by 2014 brought American oil production most of the way back to the 1970 peak. That, and slowing world economic growth brought prices from the stratosphere back down to more terrestrial levels of less than $50/bbl.

Yergin expects shale oil producers to find ways to “drive down costs” so that even if oil prices stay well south of $100/bbl, shale oil production will remain strong. He doesn’t speculate what prices will do beyond 2016, short of saying a growing economy may stimulate more demand. (We were unable to reach him for comment, as he was traveling overseas.)

Providing additional perspective in a New York Times “Upshot” column, the NYT’s David Leonhardt says the current nationwide average price of gasoline, $2.03/gallon, is actually more expensive than at anytime during the 1990s. From 1986 through 2002, the inflation-adjusted cost of a gallon averaged $1.87.

Nonetheless, if maintained, the current low fuel cost could lift some financial burden from the middle class on down. Leonhardt notes that political leaders from President Obama to three likely presidential candidates—Hillary, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker “consider the wage slowdown to be the country’s most pressing issue.” The wage slowdown refers to the fact that American middle class wages have been so stagnant for the last several decades that our middle class is no longer the world’s most affluent.

Leonhardt asserts that energy costs were a major factor behind the wage slowdown. He writes that the beginning of the wage slowdown coincided with the end of cheap gas. But if gas prices hold to current levels, Americans will have an additional $180 billion their accounts this year, he says (that’s about $562 per capita).

(But maybe energy is not such a major factor: the $180 billion represents less than 1.5 percent of personal income. Tufts economist David Dapice blames the wage slowdown more on rising medical costs, globalization and the breaking up of unions, and slack in labor markets. And Harvard economist George Borjas says mass immigration takes a 3-4 percent bite out of income.)

But if gas remains cheap, rising demand could boost prices. Leonhardt notes in the early ‘80s, CAFE helped dampen demand for fuel. In the mid-‘80s, the best selling vehicles were the Chevy Celebrity, Honda Accord, Ford Escort, and Ford Tempo, “all modest size,” writes Leonhardt. But by the cheap oil era’s end, in 2002, the CAFE truck loophole had catapulted the Explorer, the Trailblazer, the Silverado, and the Ram to the top (See Derek’s article on that loophole.)

“Left to its own devices, the energy market will repeat this cycle,” Leonhardt warns, adding that SUV and pickup truck sales in December 2014 had risen 12 percent over December 2013, compared to just 5 percent for cars.

Avoiding this cycle is the logic behind taxing either gasoline or carbon enough to dampen demand, and rebating at least some of that money to consumers, in the form of tax cuts, as Larry Summers and Charles Krauthammer both advocated, and as the Energy and Enterprise Institute has been promoting. Thus, the external costs of both could be internalized without harming the economy.

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While You Were Sleeping: January 29th, 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/sleeping-january-29th-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/sleeping-january-29th-2015/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:13:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=990242 Behold, the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen GTD! Volkswagen launches the internet’s official dream car. Mazda looking into AWD Mazda6 for Canada. A breakdown of the ZEV credits and other subsidies avalilable to Tesla. FCA is making even more money on the Jeep Renegade thanks to a strong greenback. Diesels don’t cause lung cancer anymore.

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Behold, the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen GTD!

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General Motors Sticking To Filing Deadline Despite Calls For Extension http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/general-motors-sticking-filing-deadline-despite-calls-extension/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/general-motors-sticking-filing-deadline-despite-calls-extension/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989986 Despite a request from two senators to extend the deadline for its compensation fund, General Motors will still close the filing window this Saturday. Automotive News reports Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Edward Markey of Massachusetts sent a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra urging her to extend the deadline for filing claims linked […]

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Despite a request from two senators to extend the deadline for its compensation fund, General Motors will still close the filing window this Saturday.

Automotive News reports Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Edward Markey of Massachusetts sent a letter to GM CEO Mary Barra urging her to extend the deadline for filing claims linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall, citing a Justice Department investigation into whether or not the automaker broke any laws in handling the issue, as well as a pending federal court decision that could strip GM of its bankruptcy protections established in 2009.

The senators add that notification problems are also an issue, with some claimants never hearing about the fund until another source informs them, such as when the family of Jean Averill — one of the first 13 fatalities linked to the defective part — were notified by The New York Times while working on the story about her last November.

GM, however, says it “conducted extensive outreach about the program,” having contacted over 5 million past and present owners of vehicles affected by the recall, including the Saturn Ion, Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac Solstice:

Our goal is to be just and timely in compensating the families who lost loved ones and those who suffered physical injury. We previously extended the deadline until January 31, and we do not plan another extension.

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How Many Pacemans Could Mini Sell If Mini Could Sell Pacemen? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/many-pacemans-mini-sell-mini-sell-pacemen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/many-pacemans-mini-sell-mini-sell-pacemen/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:02:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989706 Or, how many Pacemans could a pace man sell if a pace man could sell pace? The answer, at least in the United States: not very many. • 4176 Cooper Hardtops sold in December • Only 129 Paceman sold in December • 2014 was the best year yet for the Countryman Mini won’t be extending […]

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PacemanOr, how many Pacemans could a pace man sell if a pace man could sell pace?

The answer, at least in the United States: not very many.


• 4176 Cooper Hardtops sold in December

• Only 129 Paceman sold in December

• 2014 was the best year yet for the Countryman


Mini won’t be extending the Paceman’s lifecycle nor will the Paceman be replaced by a next-gen model when the current iteration is put out to pasture. Pacemans arrived in North America in March 2013. The nameplate averaged 243 monthly sales through the end of 2014.

Its best months were in November and December of 2013, when 631 and 650 Paceman sales, respectively, were reported by BMW USA. Mini USA sold 1435 and 2055 Countrymans in November and December 2013.

But by the second half of 2014, Paceman volume was plunging in the United States. Between June and January, year-over-year Paceman sales fell 53%, a loss of 1521 sales for a low-volume nameplate at a low-volume brand.

Most recently, November sales fell 57% and December volume took an 80% nosedive. Only twice in ten attempts did Paceman volume improve on a YOY basis: in April, when sales jumped 78% from 2013’s lowest output (95 units) to 169, and in May, when a 21% jump was followed up by June’s 41% loss.

Paceman vs Countryman sales chartSo despite the author’s guilty-pleasure preference for the Paceman over the Countryman, the two-door high-riding Mini joined the Coupe and Roadster as Mini flops. Roadster sales fell 49% to just 1437 units in 2014. The Coupe was down 62% to 956 sales. This two-seat pair, together with the Paceman, accounted for 8% of Mini’s U.S. volume in 2014, down from 13% in 2013.

Mini’s overall 2014 U.S. sales results appear troubling, as well, at least at first glance. Following 2013’s record-setting volume, year-end sales were down 16% to a four-year low. However, the turnaround for the brand’s core Hardtop model, which arrived in third-gen form with full strength in the latter portion of the year, was striking. Fourth-quarter sales of the Hardtop jumped 53% to 9791 units, equal to 58% of the Mini brand’s Q4 total. As a result, overall Mini volume improved in each of 2014’s final two months despite the Paceman’s inability to sell pace, or rather, the Paceman’s inability to sell hardly anything at all.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Toyota Marketing Mirai With $8K Hydrogen Credit Despite Expiration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/toyota-marketing-mirai-8k-hydrogen-credit-despite-expiration/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989970 Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened. Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would […]

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Despite the recent expiration of the $8,000 federal credit for hydrogen vehicles, Toyota is still marketing its Mirai as if it never happened.

Autoblog reports that Toyota is well-aware of the expiration, and is calling upon both houses of Congress to reinstate the credit. Were that to occur, the $57,500 MSRP on the Mirai would fall to $49,500. Other state and local credits would drop the price further, as well; California customers would pay just $44,500 for their FCVs, for example.

The problem, per the automaker’s energy and regulatory affairs director Robert Wimmer, is predicting where the tax process would go:

The two challenges we have now are that both houses of Congress are Republican and also that there has been talk for a while about comprehensive tax reform. If that moves forward, then extenders would probably be put on the back burner as comprehensive tax reform is discussed.

Even if the credit was reinstated, it may only last as long as year or two instead of the three years Toyota wants for the first-gen Mirai. The automaker has been lobbying Congress to act, though Wimmer could not say to what extent.

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Kia Lowers K900 Pricing With New Premium Trim http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/kia-lowers-k900-pricing-new-premium-trim/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/kia-lowers-k900-pricing-new-premium-trim/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989946 Shopping around for a Korean premium sedan with rear-wheel drive and V8 power, but not looking to spend much? Kia just might have what you need. Motor Authority reports the brand recently dropped the price on its K900 sedan with the help of a new Premium trim that deletes niceties like LED headlights, chrome and […]

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2015 Kia K900

Shopping around for a Korean premium sedan with rear-wheel drive and V8 power, but not looking to spend much? Kia just might have what you need.

Motor Authority reports the brand recently dropped the price on its K900 sedan with the help of a new Premium trim that deletes niceties like LED headlights, chrome and Nappa leather. The price of admission, as a result, begins at $55,400. To get those back, consumers would have to upgrade to the Luxury trim, which begins at $59,500; the previous sole K900 model had an MSRP of $60,400.

No matter if your K900 is loaded or barely stripped, the sedan still has its 5-liter, 420-horsepower V8, and still costs less than similar machines from Lexus or Mercedes. That said, Kia may need all the help it can get to move its flagship out of the showroom, having sold just 1,330 units in 2014 in comparison to the brand’s other premium and near-premium models, the David Bowie-enhanced Cadenza (9,267), and the Jaguar XF-esque Optima (159,020).

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Volkswagen Moving Ahead With New Phaeton Despite Itself http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-moving-ahead-new-phaeton-despite/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/volkswagen-moving-ahead-new-phaeton-despite/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989922 Despite cost-cutting measures meant to save the automaker €5 billion annually by 2017, Volkswagen is moving ahead with a new Phaeton by 2018 at the latest. Reuters reports the revamp of the €76,000 ($86,000 USD) executive car would cost up to €650 million ($733 million) according to Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst, flying in the […]

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Despite cost-cutting measures meant to save the automaker €5 billion annually by 2017, Volkswagen is moving ahead with a new Phaeton by 2018 at the latest.

Reuters reports the revamp of the €76,000 ($86,000 USD) executive car would cost up to €650 million ($733 million) according to Evercore ISI analyst Arndt Ellinghorst, flying in the face of a pledge by VW to cut production costs and non-profitable models in order to save €5 billion ($5.6 billion) annually by 2017. He adds that the Phaeton — the €1 billion ($1.13 billion) pet project of Chairman Ferdinand Piech that has lost €28,000 ($32,000) per unit sold between 2002 and 2012 alone — is “the most irrational project” as far as budgeting goes, yet lives on because Piech and CEO Martin Winterkorn “cannot let go of their fondness for luxury products.”

Additionally, the Phaeton would not only have a hard time doing battle against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7 Series as far as sales go (85,000 units annually for the S and 64,000 for the 7 compared to an estimated 11,900 for the new model between 2017 and 2020), but it would also struggle against its own stablemate, the Audi A8. U.S. sales are another likely challenge, as well, considering the automaker’s own struggles in understanding the U.S. market.

Nonetheless, VW is preparing the second-gen Phaeton for its showroom debut between 2017 and 2018, with a PHEV version coming down the pipe, as well.

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General Motors Discussing Jeep Wrangler Challenger For GMC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/general-motors-discussing-jeep-wrangler-challenger-gmc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/general-motors-discussing-jeep-wrangler-challenger-gmc/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989898 Remember when we told you about GMC’s Duncan Aldred wanting a “professional-grade” Jeep Wrangler? General Motors thinks it’s a good idea, too. The Wall Street Journal reports GM recently sought feedback from its dealers regarding the market viability of a Wrangler challenger joining GMC’s lineup of trucks, crossovers and SUVs, the idea of which has […]

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2015 GMC Sierra

Remember when we told you about GMC’s Duncan Aldred wanting a “professional-grade” Jeep Wrangler? General Motors thinks it’s a good idea, too.

The Wall Street Journal reports GM recently sought feedback from its dealers regarding the market viability of a Wrangler challenger joining GMC’s lineup of trucks, crossovers and SUVs, the idea of which has been “kicked around real hard” according to one insider. The automaker’s growing interest comes as 150,000 units of the iconic vehicle left for the Rubicon or college in 2014, some of them going for as much as $50,000 fresh out of Ohio. The Wrangler also boasts one of the highest resale values around, second only to the Toyota Tacoma in 2015 per Kelley Blue Book.

As for what a GMC Wrangler would look like, GM said its Jeep would take cues from Hummer’s orphaned offerings; Hummer joined Pontiac, Saturn and Saab in the afterlife back in 2009 during the dark days of the Great Recession. The new model — still in the discussion phase without a name or a green light — would also help GMC capitalize on the brand’s own success, with sales rising 11 percent on the backs of the Sierra and Yukon in 2014 to 501,853.

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