I recently got up behind a Smart car in traffic the other day, and I realized something: Smart has managed to do what very few other brands can boast about. They’ve successfully redesigned a car that sells primarily based on its style.
Now, you might think this is a bit of an unusual point, because you probably don’t think the Smart Fortwo is a very stylish car.
In fact, you probably think it looks like a shopping cart with alloy wheels. But hear me out, here, because I think one of the biggest challenges automakers face is redesigning stylish cars. And I think the good folks over at Smart deserve some credit for doing it right.
It’s been another exhausting day and, after wasting precious time trying to write some sort of clever introduction, I’ve realized that there just isn’t any point in beating around the bush.
The windmill I set out to topple is thoroughly defeated and the Town and Country looks smart sitting in front of the house tonight wearing its new set of permanent Japanese plates.
I wish I could say it was a cake walk, that the Town and Country sailed through its Shaken without any difficulty, but, as usual, there were last minute problems.
Want to know more? Hit the jump for another episode of your favorite reality program: “Man Meets Bureaucracy.” (Read More…)
The Dodge Viper will end production in 2017 when the current model expires, according to approved language included in the United Auto Workers’ contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
According to Automotive News, the Conner Avenue plant, which makes the sportscar, doesn’t have future product planned beyond 2017, effectively sealing the fate for the flagging car. The Viper was re-launched in 2011 after a three-year hiatus and has struggled ever since.
It’s Friday and once again it’s time for an update from Japan where my efforts to get my Town & Country licensed and street legal continue unabated.
Last week’s baby steps have led to modest results. My visit to the local police station netted me a parking permit on Tuesday and, although I am immensely self-satisfied at the results, I am aware that the permit’s issuance has started a 30 day countdown clock. If I cannot complete the entire registration process within that window, I will have to repeat this step of the process.
Naturally, I would rather avoid that. (Read More…)
The quest to complete the importation of my 2013 Town & Country continues and, if the important successes I reported on last week were great strides towards the ultimate goal, this week’s progress has been limited to a frustrating series of baby steps.
Still, progress is being made.
As most government offices were closed on Monday as Japan paused to celebrate “Sports Day,” this week’s story begins bright and early Tuesday morning when I took the certified results of the emissions and noise tests, along with my completed application for title, to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) in Yokohama. (Read More…)
The Town & Country is back at home and, frankly — no pun intended — I’m exhausted.
As I had been warned, the necessary tests required an overnight stay for the van at the research facility and the two trips there and back sapped a lot of my energy. I was at the mercy of my iPhone’s navigation app — UConnect’s navigation, of course, doesn’t work in Japan — that led pell-mell all over the damn countryside without any real idea of where I was at any given moment. To make matters worse, when I wasn’t behind the wheel, there was an equally confusing three-hour train ride to deal with.
Once upon a time, I might have considered this a grand adventure. Right now, I’m just tired and in need of a beer. (Read More…)
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…)
Back in July, just days before my family boarded a Boeing 777 to wing our way to Japan, a truck arrived at my home to haul away my Chrysler Town & Country. In the ensuing weeks, while we struggled through lost luggage and looked for a place to live, the van was trucked to California, loaded into a container and placed aboard a ship. As the summer wore on, while we worked through the details of an overpriced lease and did our best to get the kids enrolled in their new school, the ship crossed the wide expanse of the Pacific and made port in Yokohama. While we were accepting delivery of our household goods, the ship was being unloaded and its containers sent to a customs warehouse. Finally, just as we were beginning to settle into our new lives, I was contacted by a Japanese customs broker. The Town & Country had finally and irrevocably arrived. (Read More…)
When Chrysler went all macho with tough car names, it was partly an attempt to expunge the marketing memory of the cute and happy ads for the Neon. The Neon was much better than its wretched Shadow/Sundance predecessor, but still enough of a disposo-car that junkyards teem with them today. Mostly I walk right by discarded Neons (unless I see something unusual, like an Expresso or an R/T), but this ’99 Neon Sport has aftermarket performance gear to match its stickers and that’s interesting enough for this series. (Read More…)
This is a bit like a Tinker to Evans to Chance double play, but as part of a promotion for the upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” movie from Lucasfilm, folks in New York City on Friday were able to order up a free Uber ride in one of eight Dodge Chargers trimmed in Star Wars Stormtrooper white and black livery, with a few Hot Wheels stickers for good measure.
The cars, including SRT and Hellcat versions, were loaned to Uber and Mattel by FCA. The cross promotion involved four different companies: Lucasfilm, Uber, Mattel and FCA, and it was timed to coincide with “Force Friday”, a synchronized introduction of the licensed toys tied to the film, which opens just before Christmas. (Read More…)