“We” being Nissan, and “this” being shortening a GT-R powertrain enough to fit a Juke bodyshell over it. It won’t ever make production, and it will probably spin dizzy, short-wheelbase circles every time it even thinks about a corner… but even the haters have to admit that this is a clever way to highlight the Juke’s unexpectedly sporty nature. But despite the argument that “there’s a history of Nissan engineers driving the business,” let’s be clear about one thing: Nissan’s involvement in this project is all on the marketing side. Once upon a time, Nissan’s engineers might have built a little monster like this out of sheer passion, in their spare time. Today, though, the work gets outsourced to specialty race engineering shops, RML in this case. It’s not a knock, that’s just how the world works anymore.
In the annals of poorly-chosen songs, this one is right up there with the State of New Jersey’s almost-decision to make Springsteen’s “Born To Run” the state song. Yes, Maserati, you can do anything, you can be anyone… and you’re choosing to be the brand that pimps upgraded Grand Cherokees by invoking the ghost of Fangio over crappy power-pop. Do you really want to be reminding viewers that this is a conscious choice, picked from an infinite range of options? Because that kind of willful douchbaggery makes you, Maserati, look like you’re a half-step from becoming the official luxury brand of Jersey Shore.
TTAC wasn’t able to be on-hand for the Chengdu Auto Show, but thanks to Carnewschina.com, we’ve got the latest in “we’re far enough into the interior that foreign firms won’t complain about our blatant ripoffs” styling, from the new heavyweight champion of Chinese ripoffs: Yema Motors. Seriously, calling these things “derivative” is wholly undeserved a compliment. And if you think this Audi A4… excuse me, Yema F16, is bad just wait until you see the rest of their new cars. From the Infiniti-aping E-series, to the Touareg-alike “T-SUV,” to the Subaru Forester clone F99/F10, the stylists at Yema Motors take their mimicry very seriously. And apparently the last original idea their design team had was “I know, let’s put our faux-Audi grille on the Faux-rester.” Tada, new model! The Jiade Dynasty rolls on…
Not long ago, I considered asking the Best and Brightest if something like this were possible. You see, when I was a younger man, I was a big fan of the game Aerobiz, a tough, take-no-prisoners Super Nintendo simulation of the (Cold War-era) airline business. Since I’ve been immersed in the world of the car business, I’ve often wondered if it were possible to create a game that similarly captured the challenges of running a car company. And now, it seems, that game is already in development by a couple of coder car nerds from Australia. Called “Automation,” the game is still a ways from completion and its creators are soliciting pre-orders to help fund development (sound like any car startups you can think of?).
Welcome to Bob Lutz week at TTAC! I spent several hours recently with the auto industry’s most notorious executive, and elements of that interview will be the basis for much of my writing this week. We’ll also be capping the whole thing off by voting on the 2010-2011 Lutzie award for most unfortunate quote by an auto exec. And rather than jumping right into the meat of the interview, I want to kick off Lutz week by looking at a few cars that came up in our meandering conversation. After all, these are not just vehicles… when Lutz brings them up in an interview, they become stories, little encapsulations of his philosophy or the state of the company that made them. Let’s start with a car that I literally had never heard of before he mentioned it almost in passing: the Dodge Dakota Convertible. Eat your heart out, Murano CrossCabriolet… the Dakota was the original “WTF-vertible.”
Boston.com’s On Liberty blog reports that the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of citizens to video police officers, ruling in part that
changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.
So great was this victory for First Amendment rights and the New Media, that an Albuquerque police officer celebrated by getting caught in flagrante delicto while in uniform. You know, in case there was any question as to why the courts really ruled this way. And if this whole story smacks of Jalopnik-style only-barely-related-to-cars desperation, we’ve got a “Stump the Best And Brightest” challenge to keep things car-centric: what model of vehicle is the officer “laying down the law” on?
This is the kind of video that might suffice as standalone weekend entertainment. After all, braking a truck with your feet is a pretty demonstrably bad idea. But the lovable nerds at Popular Science just had to take it a step further and work out the physics of trying to halt a truck ala Fred Flintstone, noting
Let’s estimate he can push down with a force about a quarter of his weight. If he weighs 200 pounds, this would result in a force of 50 pounds, or 225 N. We also know that the force of friction (F) between his feet and the asphalt depends on the force with which he pushes down (N) and the “coefficient of kinetic friction”(μ) between the soles of his shoes, which we will assume are made of rubber, and the pavement.
F = μN
The μ between rubber and asphalt varies between 0.5 and 0.8. Let’s assume a value of 0.7. Therefore, solving for stopping distance, we get:
D = ½(2100kg)(18m/s)2/(0.7)(225N) = 2160 meters, or over 1.3 miles!
The situation might be improved if he exerted his full 200 pounds, or 900 Newtons, of force against the ground. In that case:
D = 1/2(2100kg)(18m/s)2/(0.7)(900N) = 540 meters (about a third of a mile)
However, the amount of torque exerted on his ankles and knees might make that a problematic proposition.
Surf on over to PopSci for the entire breakdown (no pun intended).
One of the most challenging aspects of running a blog like TTAC is managing diversity. As a global site, TTAC and its readers are exposed to the full range of diverse global perspectives, but our largest market, the United States, is also home to incredibly divergent views and lifestyles. Much is made of our national polarization these days, and when the topic turns political, TTAC often finds itself on the front lines of America’s cultural and ideological battlefield. Luckily we’re all of us bound together by something that transcends much of what divides us: our shared fascination with cars gives us the opportunity to interact with and relate to people with whom we may have little else in common.
Take this photo: depending on your perspective, this scene, photographed near my home in Portland, OR, might be a symbol of the ultimate automotive aspiration or a dread vision of a dystopian anti-automotive future. But regardless of how the image relates to your personal views and circumstances, nobody can deny that the people who live in that house think very seriously about their automobiles. And even the most unabashed, gas-huffing EV skeptic has to respect that. Vive le difference!
Who’s ready for some politics? With the presidential election still over 14 months away, recent Iowa straw poll winner Michelle Bachmann is upping the campaign promise ante by telling a Greenville, SC crowd
The day that the president became president gasoline was $1.79 a gallon. Look at what it is today. Under President Bachmann, you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again. That will happen.
Without even taking a side in the muck of presidential politics, it’s plain to see how ridiculous this statement is. As Politico helpfully notes:
Bachmann didn’t detail how she would cut the price of gasoline, which is tied to the global price of oil. [Emphasis added]
Personally, I think gas should probably be taxed to a point where Americans pay about what the rest of the world does, in order to pay for the externalities of oil consumption. Most auto execs agree, arguing that America’s artificially low gas prices play hell with product planning. But even (or is that especially) if you’re a hard-core anti-tax free-market fundamentalist, Bachmann’s statement should be treated with scorn. After all, markets, not presidents, should be setting oil prices. But what’s principle (or even good practice) when compared to the need for political pandering?