The Truth About Cars » Gawker The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 25 Jul 2014 10:00:11 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » Gawker Enough About The Tesla Model S And The Manufactured Controversy Over Reviews Mon, 09 Jul 2012 16:10:56 +0000

Summer is always a slow time in the industry, so what better way to boost traffic than to manufacture a controversy out of thin air about a “third rail” topic like electric cars?

The past week or two has seen Jalopnik take reviewers and Tesla to task over the short drive times offered during the Tesla Model S launch. One of the biggest criticisms leveled at Tesla was that drive times only worked out to around 10 minutes, which, Jalopnik rightly claimed, is not enough time to properly form a driving impression.

What they left out was that press drives, on the whole, aren’t a great place to form real impressions of a car, full stop – but Jalopnik and other outlets do it anyways. This is the precise reason why we offer Take Twos (and sometimes, additional reviews beyond that). I was on the same Hyundai launch as Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky, where we reviewed the Elantra GT, Veloster Turbo and Elantra Coupe. Drive times were relatively short (a couple hours, perhaps) on roads that were carefully selected to show off the car’s strong points and minimize its weaknesses. The Coupe was driven only on lazy, mostly straight highways, while the Veloster Turbo and Elantra GT were flogged on the kinds of roads that driving enthusiasts can only dream about. That did’t stop Jalopnik from giving them a “Jalopnik number”, some kind of definitive, transcendent quantification of a vehicle that will forever be enshrined in the annals of automotive history.

Our writers are spread out across the globe (literally), and the diversity of opinions is enhanced by the lack of proximity. A launch in California or Andalusia may be a great place to test out a new droptop sports car; but how will it hold up on the bombed out roads of Detroit, where Michael Karesh lives? Will a hybrid car really provide the kind of fuel efficiency it claims? Let Alex Dykes take it out for a day of stop and go driving in San Francisco. And of course, we have our very own driving ace who needs no introduction.

When I heard about the Model S launch, I sent an inquiry to Tesla Toronto. They gave me the Roadster for a day back in 2010, with the only stipulation being “bring it back before the battery is drained”. Jack did a review of the Roadster for Left Lane News with no restrictions on time or distance. Tesla Toronto’s own Model S demo wouldn’t even be available until August, which is when multi-day tests of the car should be available. So while we weren’t invited to the ultra-exclusive first drive party, we’ll probably get a proper, unrestricted review of the car.

Jalopnik has taken to calling out Dan Neil of the Wall Street Journal, for his positive review of the Model S. Neil is an easy target; not only is he popular, a Pultizer Prize winner and a household name (if there is such a thing in this business) but he also comes across as a pompous, self-abosrbed narcissist, which makes it easy to feel schadenfreude when bad things happen to him. Thankfully, Neil is smart enough to know that he’s having his credibility attacked by an outlet that will literally report on anything in the blind pursuit of traffic numbers. Neil did a masterful job of eviscerating the weak criticism against him, and the responses by the folks at Jalopnik are utterly submissive – leaving no doubt that if the WSJ came calling for any of them, they would all be happy to jump ship and enjoy the kind of lifestyle, adoration and TV deals that come from writing for such an institution and the receipt of a Pulitzer Prize. Like an invite to drive the Tesla Model S.

Couched in all the righteous indignation about journalistic integrity and mis-use of taxpayer dollars is the simple fact that things are slow in the summer, and a fabricated controversy is good for business. It’s even better when it involves topics and people that are polarizing, to the point where one can project their existential angst and childhood issues on to them. So why not try to boost the numbers than by going after a couple of popular, controversial figures, replete with jokes about a supposedly secret same-sex relationship, blowjobs and other mature, dignified prose that we’ve come to expect from the Gawker network (or at least, the during the Ray Wert era). This whole campaign isn’t just a big boost for traffic; it’s the Powerball jackpot. Electric cars, Elon Musk, Dan Neil, self-aggrandizing, vulgar snark. The only thing better would be if a celebrity died and something happened involving cars and female genetalia. Oh wait…

Maybe this is just about personal pride. Press drive invites are often times just a proxy for professional validation. Journalists love to compare notes on what events they got invited to, like adolescents comparing who is wearing the “right” clothing or hairstyle. It’s a frequent topic of complaining here at TTAC, when someone unqualified is invited to an event that is sure to yield a great story, and we’re left out in the cold. Car makers really do use access as a carrot and a stick in exchange for toeing the line. And when you’re more interested in the people and the events rather than the car (like we tend to be), it makes it difficult to do our jobs. Or maybe this is just another “sponsored conversation” guerilla marketing effort that’s part of Gawker’s new revenue model? I don’t know. But I am counting down the days until August.

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Shafted Delphi Retirees Lose Their Shirt – Again Tue, 15 Feb 2011 11:08:41 +0000

Delphi’s salaried retirees lost their shirts after the Delphi bankruptcy and the GM bailout. Now they lost their main voice in congress. Rep. Christopher Lee resigned last week after Gawker showed a picture of a bare-chested congressman.

Lee had sent the picture to a single woman he had contacted via Craigslist. According to Automotive News [sub], Lee had led more than 20 congressmen who “persistently complained to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other officials that 15,000 salaried Delphi retirees may have their pensions cut by as much as 70 percent.”

Gawker also published an email exchange between the congressman and the Craigslist woman. In the mails, Lee said he was a divorced 39-year-old lobbyist. He is a married 46-year-old with a young son.

The Craigslist woman ratted on Lee because she “was just sharing the story.”

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Toyota Discredits Gilbert. Gawker Calls Brian Ross A Faker Sat, 06 Mar 2010 14:38:15 +0000

Last week, Professor David W. Gilbert testified at a house hearing and said he had replicated the unintended sudden acceleration in Toyota’s vehicles. Toyota, and their testing lab Exponent tried Gilberts method and said he was right. “But Toyota said it also created the same response in vehicles made by competitors, which it said rendered Mr. Gilbert’s findings misleading,” writes the Washington Post.

In a statement, Toyota says: “The analysis of Professor’s Gilbert’s demonstration establishes that he has reengineered and rewired the signals from the accelerator pedal. This rewired circuit is highly unlikely to occur naturally and can only be contrived in a laboratory. There is no evidence to suggest that this highly unlikely scenario has ever occurred in the real world. As shown in the Exponent and Toyota evaluations, with such artificial modifications, similar results can be obtained in other vehicles. “ When Exponent applied Gilbert’s test to five models, including a Honda Accord and a BMW 325i, all five vehicles reacted similarly.

The WSJ says that Toyota had to cut and breach the insulation on two wires to achieve the same results. Toyota spokesman Mike Michels described Mr. Gilbert’s research as “misleading and irrelevant.” Gilbert was “gaming the system,” Michels said.

ABC, which ran a video with Brian Ross behind the wheels of an out of control Toyota – conveniently a few days before the hearings – reports the finding under the headline “Toyota-hired Engineering Firm Attacks Professor’s Sudden Acceleration Demonstration.” Attacks come from yet another corner: Gawker analyzed the video and was as surprised by “the cheesy cut to the tachometer when he induces sudden acceleration,” as our commenter Ion when we ran the story about the video.

Gawker proved that ABC’s “tachometer footage is faked.” Says Gawker:

“As you can clearly see, the dashboard lights indicate that the car’s doors are open and its parking brake is on. The first shot shows the tachometer beginning at below 1,000 RPMs—or idling speed, as opposed to the 20 mph that Ross said he was driving when the acceleration began. On the right of the images, the speedometer appears to show a reading of zero miles per hour. And to top it all off, the transmission indicator shows that the car is in park. In other words, Ross took footage of a parked Toyota’s RPMs taking off and falsely portrayed the shot as having taken place while he was driving the car.”

ABC confirmed the Gawker findings. They fixed the video, “and made it faker” says Gawker. “The ‘fixed’ video still doesn’t use footage of the tachometer taken while Ross was driving the car as seen in the report.” Gawker calls the video “a deliberately arranged collection of footage that is designed to make you think you are being shown something that either doesn’t exist or is being deliberately withheld by ABC News—footage of the tachometer that Ross was driving in the report—and is therefore staged. And fake.”

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