“GO RACING ON A BUDGET!” It’s the go-to headline of a thousand magazine covers. When you see that headline, you can be assured of several things: the cost of labor will never be mentioned; nobody’s time is worth anything; nothing ever breaks, fails, or requires early replacement; and certain costs, like transportation and storage, will simply disappear without comment from the final accounting.
Today, I’d like to change all that. I’d like to tell you what this past weekend cost me, and what I got for my money. I’m doing this because I think some of you are interested in going racing, and the rest of you are simply amused when I suffer, whether physically or fiscally.
Update: I made a decimal flub. The math is corrected. Thanks to commenter ChemEng for pointing it out. We’ll post a new piece on Monday.
There’s no denying it: Volkswagen cheated. It confessed to the crime of emitting up to 40 times over the legal limit allowed for NOx. We learned yesterday (and the daybefore, to some degree), that Volkswagen will fix the vehicles that can be fixed, if owners so choose.
But what happens to all those diesel cars, which are perfectly good aside from emitting more NOx than they should, if owners decide to cut and run? And what happens to all those vehicles that can’t be fixed? Volkswagen has vowed to buy them back from customers — to which I ask, what then?
There are few options Volkswagen can employ to unload the massive windfall of cars coming its way, and none of them are particularly environmentally friendly.
Note: In light of today’s news regarding an agreement between Volkswagen and U.S. regulators, we believe it’s pertinent to rerun this piece considering Volkswagen still plans on fixing some of the affected 2.0-liter TDI vehicles. —MS
The presumed fix would come by retrofitting a Selective Catalytic Reduction (Adblue or urea) system although that wouldn’t be the only fix necessary. Researchers discovered that the Passat TDI that they tested, fitted with the SCR system, was 5 to 20 times over the NO limit — less than the 10 to 40 times by the lean NO filter cars, but still illegal.
The long list of items needed to fit models of the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Beetle and Audi A3 doesn’t include the engineering needed to retrofit the cars and the costs to crash test the models after the significant modifications. That’ll add hundreds of millions to the bottom line.
I’ve been an enthusiast and part-time DIYer for years now. I love to learn about everything automotive.
My question for you: why are cars with small engines always inline-fours? Why do manufacturers not put 2.0-liter V6s into cars? I know they don’t usually use big displacement inline-fours because of NVH issues, but what about the other way around?
Thank you for your question, Brian. I’ve been wondering about this very aspect of engineering for a while and you just gave me enough push to go sniffing for answers.
Chris Tonn’s find of a stock, low-mileage 1998 Acura Integra GS-R is definitely a rare one. It certainly had me feeling giddy as a past and present Integra GS-R owner. And then I saw the asking price — $11,800 — and nearly fainted.
On the magical internet scale of nice price to crack pipe, this is the lovechild of Robert Downey Jr. and Charlie Sheen. Allow me to explain.
Greetings, editors. I love your website. It has taught me a tremendous amount about cars and the industry. This is my first time writing. I would love to see a piece about auto reliability, perhaps from an insider engineering perspective. What I’d like to see addressed is the question of why some cars and makes are more reliable than others.
I know these issues often result in pissing contests between:
1) those who claim to be “real auto enthusiasts” and would drive nothing less than a German sports car with a stick, despite the verifiable quality control issues that afflicts all the German manufacturers, and,
2) those who value reliability, fewer headaches, fewer trips to the mechanic, and more money saved in the long run, perhaps at the expense of an “emotional” engagement with their car. (Read More…)
A few weeks ago, on this very collection of ones and zeroes, I asked the question, “Why Does The Public Accept Car Reviews From People Who Can’t Drive?” I got several responses from you, the B&B, that seemed to indicate that a car’s top-end performance abilities don’t really matter to you when buying a car and that you can determine everything that you need to know about a car’s performance on a test-drive loop. Therefore, many of you suggested that whether or not a person is a good driver should not be a qualifying characteristic of an automotive journalist, because you aren’t particularly interested in ever driving your car in a way that would test its limits.
Okay. Hey, it’s your opinion, and I respect you for it. I couldn’t agree with it less, but I still respect it.
However, if the public really believes that the pointy end of a car’s limits on track or a curvy road don’t matter, then why the heck do so many people buy the performance variants of cars?
Long term lurker here.. been seeing a lot of Turbo products lately and I wonder is turbo truly making its way to the mainstream? Will we see Corollas with 1.8 turbo engines go on sale anytime soon, and being well received by the automatic-driving masses? I still hold the idea that some Subaru turbos will explode after 3 years (some things you learn in highschool are hard to forget) , is that still true these days? (Read More…)
I own a 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid. At exactly 7 years and 7 months, and 68k miles, the battery quit. Being well within Honda’s 8 year, 80k miles warranty, the dealership replaced it fully free of charge. The vehicle is working like a charm again. Other than this mishap, it has been completely trouble-free, and does its job as a good commuter car perfectly.
I was staring at an archaic diagnostic system on a 1992 Volvo 940 wagon. It was located underneath the hood, inside a plastic cover, with six little holes for each one of the six digits, along with a cheap plastic wand.
What came out was morse code. Three little reds, stop. One little red, stop. Two little reds, stop. Code 312. Time to visit the brickboard, where the code could be translated to about fifteen different potential issues.
21 model years later, and we’re still not quite there yet.
Warning: Video NSFW in Sharia jurisdictions and parts of corporate America
Nissan plans a budget Leaf to be sold along the current version, Nissan’s Andy Palmer told the Financial Times. With the stripper model, Nissan hopes to extend the car’s reach beyond early adopters to “pragmatists.” Another problems remains unsolved: The car’s reach. (Read More…)
“Because of increased demand, we’ve got to think of all the other things we can do in transportation. The best is efficiency,” Chu said.
Batteries are the “heart” of electric vehicles, he said, adding that the Department of Energy is funding research that will drop the cost of electric-vehicle batteries 50% in the next three or four years and double or triple their energy density within six years so “you can go from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a single charge,” he said. “These are magical distances. To buy a car that will cost $20,000 to $25,000 without a subsidy where you can go 350 miles is our goal.”
So, a 300+ mile car costing less than $25k without a subsidy, within the the 2017 time frame. Which essentially means that within six years, the Nissan Leaf would have to triple its range and lose the equivalent of the government subsidy’s $7,500 in costs. That’s not a wholly unreasonable goal, but what’s not clear is how it will be reached. After all, the Leaf is already behind on the government’s volume predictions, and starting next year the Volt will be too. A tripling of range in one long product cycle (or two short ones) seems as optimistic as the government’s EV volume projections, which imagine 120k Volts being produced next year, as well as 5,000 of the nonexistant Fisker “Nina” PHEV. Chu’s vision is commendable, but at this point the DOE’s credibility is more than a little strained when it comes to the future of EVs.
AutoblogGreen‘s Sam Abuelsamid earns a tip of the blogger’s hat today for making sense of a fascinating nugget in a Times of London piece on the Nissan Leaf. The revelation by Nissan EV honcho Andy Palmer to the British paper that Leaf battery packs cost £6,000 (about $9k) to produce could have been missed, buried as it was near the bottom of the story. Not only did Abuelsamid catch it, he calculated that the Leaf’s 24 kWh lithium-ion battery costs break down to a staggeringly cheap $375 per kWh. How cheap is that, relatively speaking? Apparently cheap enough to send Li-ion startup A123 Systems’ stock to record lows according to the WSJ [sub]. More price-comparison context and some insight into how Nissan might have beaten those costs down after the jump.