Do you enjoy luxury? Do you like prestige and exclusivity of the highest order? How about leather, wood, and lighted barware? Well, it’s all available to you today, and you don’t even have to visit Trump Tower.
It happens every day on the road. Vehicle-shaped appliances pass by in the other lanes, or perhaps cross an intersection in front of you. You don’t take notice, because they’re the same ovoid or trapezoidal shape as the rest of the Frost Beige blobs on your thrilling commute to the cubicle farm.
But focus your eyes and clear the fog for a moment, because I want to ask you something.
Maybe it’s not reliable, or sucks down fuel like it’s going out of style. Maybe it’s prone to tipping over, catching fire, or having spiders live in it. Or perhaps parts availability is such that the mere thought of owning and driving the thing causes undue stress.
But you just can’t help yourself.
Today I ask: What lousy vehicle do you covet despite the ways it would inevitably ruin your life?
Homelessness is an issue in all major cities across the U.S., but it’s particularly acute in large ones fortunate enough to have a pleasant climate year-round. Los Angeles has both of these attributes, and that means there’s quite a large homeless population. A recent article from the LA Times caught my eye.
With over 6,000 homeless people sleeping in their cars every night, the city is enacting a new ordinance to give them somewhere to (legally) park.
Barely four out of every ten new vehicles sold in the United States in the first-half of 2016 were traditional passenger cars. Toyota Camrys, Honda Civics, Ford Mustangs, Mercedes-Benz C-Classes, and dozens of alternatives remain numerous — more than 3.5 million were sold in 2016’s first six months.
But together, these cars make up a smaller chunk of the market now than they did a year ago, and a far smaller slice of the market than just five years ago. Cars were at parity with light trucks (pickups, SUVs, crossovers, vans) in 2011 and earned 52 percent of the market the year prior. (Read More…)
There’s nothing new here, nothing unusual at all to see.
U.S. sales at the increasingly popular Jeep brand jumped 17 percent in June 2016 as the overall market climbed just 2 percent; as SUVs and crossover sales grew 10 percent. Jeep sales have increased on a year-over-year basis in 33 consecutive months.
FCA’s need for Jeep to outperform was all the more clear in June, as Jeep attempted to follow-up an all-time record performance in May with sustained demand. Car sales across the automaker’s Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat brands plunged 40 percent, a loss of nearly 19,000 sales.
And so the trend continues. 17.4 percent of the new vehicles sold in the United States by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in April were cars. That figure fell to 16.9 percent in May and dropped to just 14.2 percent in June.
These aren’t typos. For every 86 pickup trucks, minivans, commercial vans, SUVs, and crossovers sold at your friendly local FCA store in June 2016, there were only 14 cars sold along with them. (Read More…)
Though growth in the American new vehicle market slowed in the first-third of 2016, U.S. sales of SUVs and crossovers jumped 9 percent, a gain of 173,000 sales, year-over-year.
Matching the rate of expansion seen in calendar year 2015, the highest-volume year on record for the U.S. auto industry, was never going to be easy. It’s made all the more difficult by decreasing interest in the largest corner of the market: cars. Sales of passenger cars are down 5 percent so far this year, exacerbating a trend that was already set in stone a year ago.
Yet sales volume in Honda dealers is rising rapidly in the first four months of 2015. Honda just reported record April auto sales, not because of popular utilities such as the CR-V and Pilot, but because of cars. (Read More…)
I was driving along the other day, and I found myself behind an Audi A6. A new Audi A6. A brand-new, midsize, luxurious Audi A6 sedan. And I thought to myself: When was the last time I saw one of these things?
This wasn’t always the case. Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, you saw the Audi A6 everywhere. They had that cool rounded design, and they were the dream of anyone who had an A4, or a 3-Series, or a C-Class. The Audi A6: The car that says you’ve made it — and that you need all-wheel drive.
So what the hell happened after that?
Australian chef Matt Moran made a video to highlight the dangers of leaving children unattended in cars during the holidays — and for the rest of their summer — by cooking lamb in the car, according to Australian newspaper The Age.
The video was produced for Kidsafe Australia, a group that highlights the dangers of leaving children in hot cars. Moran calls the car his new “unconventional oven.”
The lamb was actually overdone in the 90 minutes it baked in the sweltering heat near Bondi Beach. (Read More…)
If recent reports that you may soon be able to hop a flight from Miami to Havana, Cuba have you scrambling for your passport to spy Che’s Chevrolet and Fidel’s Oldsmobile, tranquilo.
According to Reuters, although commercial airlines in the U.S. may resume service to Cuba after a 54-year blackout, travelers to the island country still need to fall within 12 different criteria to enter the country, and “car watching” isn’t specifically one of them.
Journalists, humanitarians, doctors and people named Tom Morello still get to go.
She seduced my soul.
She is a a 1989 Jeep Wagoneer with just over 200,000 miles and a fantastic maintenance history. With beautiful, thick leather seats and a working A/C system which is a huge deal here in Georgia, the old woody Jeep could only have been better if it had a stick and a four-wheel drive system mated to its iron-block 4.0-liter inline-six.
I started the bid at $700, a dealer who specializes in the Latino clientele bid it at $800, and then another fellow jumped in at $900. By the time bidding was at $1100, I waited a few seconds, and did a slicing motion with my hand which knocked it up to $1150.
Would I get it?
Total Fiat Chrysler Automobiles volume is up six percent this year thanks to record sales at Jeep, FCA’s top-selling outlet. However, despite that wave of Jeep-directed affection in the U.S., sales at the company’s other brands have fallen two percent through the first nine months of 2015.
Even in September, an extraordinarily high-volume month for the U.S. auto industry, a month in which sales shot up 15 percent compared with the same period one year earlier, FCA’s non-Jeep marques posted only a modest one percent increase. Jeep’s 40 percent surge to more than 77,000 sales produced a 14 percent overall uptick for FCA’s U.S. operations, which includes Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram plus Fiat and Alfa Romeo. (Read More…)
After Ürümqi, we are now headed 670 miles (1,080 km) south-west to the hinterland of the hinterland: Kashgar. It’s China’s westernmost city and predominantly populated by Muslim Uyghurs.
To give you a rough idea of what Kashgar looks like, the city stood in for Kabul in Afghanistan in the movie “The Kite Runner”. In fact, Kashgar is 2,100 miles (3,400 km) away from Beijing by air, but only 500 miles (816 km) separate it from Kabul, 390 miles (722 km) from Peshawar, Pakistan, 1,200 miles (2,200 km) from Tehran, Iran, and 1,600 miles (2,900 km) from Baghdad, Iraq.
After covering the northernmost city in China (Mohe), we now travel to Ürümqi in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region in the westernmost part of China. I thought we may as well push it to the extreme and explore the provincial capital furthest from Beijing, a whopping 1,500 miles (2,400 km) away.
In fact, Ürümqi – pronounced something resembling “Yooloomooshee” – is both geographically and culturally closer to Kabul in Afghanistan than it is to Beijing. The majority of the population is Muslim and most Chinese road signs are dubbed in Arabic and sometimes Cyrillic script.
What are the most popular vehicles in this remote part of the world?
We continue on our exploration of Chinese regions and after Harbin we head north to Mohe, still in the Heilongjiang province. This is the northernmost city in the whole of China, completely rebuilt in 1985 after a devastating fire, with striking Russian imperial-era style with colourful facades, spired domes and pillared entrances. A further 60 km (37 miles) north via a very quiet highway is Beijicun (literally “Arctic Village”), the northernmost settlement in China on the Amur River, the border with Russia.
In fact, from a couple places in Beijicun you can clearly see a Russian settlement on the other bank of the river. Even though it was the end of April when I visited, the river was carrying a large amount of ice blocks thawing their way toward the Japan Sea. As you can see on the map below the jump, in Mohe we are further north than any point in Mongolia and around the same latitude as the north of Lake Baikal — two regions I reported on in a previous Trans-Siberian series. You can see the Russian part of the Trans-Siberies Photo Series here and the Mongol part here.
So what are the most popular vehicles in Mohe?