Latest auto news, reviews, editorials, and podcasts

By on March 28, 2020

North American International Auto Show organizers broke with tradition this year by moving the premier trade event, for decades held in January, to a more pleasant and marketable June date. Now they’ve broken with tradition again — by scrapping the thing altogether.

The reason behind it is so glaringly obvious it hardly needs to be stated, but the specific, logistical reason is even more grim: the show’s venue, Detroit’s TCF Center (née Cobo Center), is turning into a field hospital. Read More >

By on March 27, 2020

Mini says it will ship its Sidewalk Edition convertible to the United States next month. Apparently, no one told BMW Group that the country is currently navigating a situation that might not encourage the sale of open-air automobiles. Still, it’s an interesting little car that holds some measure of appeal to those seeking the laid-back California lifestyle — and are willing to spend $38,400 (plus $850 for destination) to embrace it.

The cabriolet is essentially a Cooper S, packing the same 189-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo that model uses to scramble to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. Yet it costs the same as the performance-focused John Cooper Works with a collapsible roof. For the Sidewalk Edition, that money has been reallocated from the powertrain in order to gussy up the car with some funky new duds.  Read More >

By on March 27, 2020

For some reason, Ford and General Motors’ efforts to fill gaps in the medical supply chain have garnered considerable press. This has a way of happening when the President yells at you in public.

Tesla and Fiat Chrysler have stepped up to the plate to help out, too, filling a need in a country hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. A collective effort is good, but Toyota Motor North America wants others to know it’s a member of the same team. Make use of us, it’s telling others. Read More >

By on March 27, 2020

With Panasonic having already made plans to ramp down production at the Nevada battery facility it shares with Tesla, followed by a 14-day closure to curtail the spread of the new coronavirus, its business partner has decided to follow suit. Tesla now plans on reducing on-site staff at Gigafactory 1 by 75 percent, according to the local county manager Austin Osborne.

“Tesla has informed us that the Gigafactory in Storey County is reducing on-site staff by roughly 75 [percent] in the coming days,” he explained via the county’s website on Thursday.  “Our companies at [Tahoe Reno Industrial Center] TRIC are taking the COVID-19 matter seriously, and regularly report to us the measures they are taking to adhere to the established guidelines while maintaining essential operations. Checking employee temperatures, creating central access, allowing remote work, maintaining workstation distance, and others are occurring.” Read More >

By on March 27, 2020

Image: GM

One should never pay too close attention to social media, but sadly, that’s where a lot of diplomacy takes place these days. Especially today.

Since dawn broke over the nation Friday, President Donald Trump has chastised General Motors and Ford for their perceived foot-dragging in getting much-needed ventilators into production, urging them to pick up the pace and suggesting that he might invoke the Defense Production Act — a wartime measure aimed at aligning industrial output with America’s immediate defense needs. In this case, the enemy is microscopic, but packs a punch.

We’re already on it, Ford and GM replied. Read More >

By on March 27, 2020

News arose yesterday that General Motors’ and Ford Motor Company’s battle plans rely heavily on SUV and pickup sales, rather than electric vehicles. Details of the corporate strategies, first shared by Reuters, soon circulated through the media, with many outlets upset that the pair seem to have oversold the role electrification will play in their respective lineups through 2026. One wonders how they could possibly be this surprised.

Using data issued to parts suppliers from the two automakers, AutoForecast Solutions predicted North American production of SUV models from GM and Ford will outpace the assembly of traditional cars by more than eight to one in 2026. Roughly 93 percent of those models are expected to be dependent upon gasoline. Meanwhile, Reuters compared the manufacturers’ strategy against Tesla — a company that only exists for the explicit purpose of selling EVs and has never assembled a gas-powered automobile — as if all manufacturers are equal in scope and cater to the same type of customers.  Read More >

By on March 27, 2020

2020 Audi A6

Once upon a time, if you were shopping for a luxury vehicle that drove like a sports car, you’d get a BMW or, in some cases, a Jaguar. If you wanted one strictly for its comfort and opulence, you’d get a Mercedes-Benz or a Lexus. If you wanted a sort of ‘tweener, then you’d consider an Audi, particularly since it was one of the few in its segment to offer all-wheel drive. But these days, the German (and Japanese, and British) luxury giants have become so competitive with each other, they’re no longer separated by the unique characteristics that once defined them.

When it comes to the midsize-luxury-sedan trifecta, this trend couldn’t have been any more apparent. The BMW 5 Series seemingly gave up some of its enthusiast-minded “ultimate driving machine” superiority to focus on technology innovation while the Mercedes-Benz E-Class lost its allure for over-engineered excellence during its mix-up with the DaimlerChrysler merger of equals. Meanwhile, Audi took the lead with the A6, dethroning its direct competitors from their winning pedestals in numerous class comparisons over the years just by ticking all of the boxes incredibly well.

Does the story remain the same with the new fifth-generation model, which recently launched in our market?

Read More >

By on March 27, 2020

bmw

Steady change. Minus a few models incapable of adapting to the times, the auto industry’s relentless march forward delivers new efficiencies every year. No newly revamped model can sip more fuel than the one that came before it, and that was certainly true of the enlarged 3 Series that bowed (in 330i form) for the 2019 model year. With 2.0-liter under hood, BMW’s go-to sports sedan boasted added economy in its latest iteration.

You might recall that there was already a 3 Series plug-in hybrid (330e). Well, the marque has seen fit to return it to the lineup for 2021 with an updated body, dropping it on dealers come May. The differences between old and new may not be drastic, but they’re likely big enough to be appreciated. Read More >

By on March 27, 2020

General Motors Renaissance Center

Not much time passed after Ford chopped compensation for 300 top executives before General Motors decided to free up financial breathing room via payroll costs.

The automaker has enacted a sweeping plan to weather the coronavirus storm by cutting the pay of its salaried workforce by 20 percent, with 6,500 U.S. workers incapable of working from home placed on leave. Employees aren’t expected to swallow the loss out of the goodness of their own hearts, however — GM promises they’ll see the missing money one day. Read More >

By on March 27, 2020

1977 Chrysler New Yorker in Denver junkyard, grille - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I don’t profess to be a filmmaker, but were I to one day find myself behind the camera, I’m pretty confident I’d come up with something better than 75 percent of the mediocrity I see on Netflix. And you can bet there’d be a car component. No fast cutting during the action sequences, either.

As I sit here watching the detective in The Valhalla Murders pilot her grey Tiguan across the bleak and snowy Icelandic landscape, I think about the on- and off-road duels that haven’t yet made it to the big screen… and wonder which matchup I’d prefer to see first. Read More >

By on March 27, 2020

Buy/Drive/Burn has focused solely on Japanese trucks lately, and thus far covered the Seventies, Eighties, and Nineties. Today we turn to the new century and take a look at three midsize Japanese pickups. They have something in common: All them are pretending to be a different brand than they actually are.

Badge games, activate!

Read More >

By on March 26, 2020

peugeot

Following reports from France that the merger between PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles could be upended by the coronavirus, PSA announced that the media got this one all wrong. While the French automaker admitted that economic problems stemming from the outbreak are indeed concerning, it reiterated its commitment to safeguarding employment while adding that a merger makes even more sense now than before.

Still, there are valid reasons to question the current state of the merger agreement established in December via a memorandum of understanding. COVID-19 has sent global markets into a tailspin, with PSA and FCA seeing their share prices seesawing in the wrong direction over the last two weeks.  Read More >

By on March 26, 2020

Mitsubishi Motors

One day, perhaps even one day this year ( …or next!), Mitsubishi will have a new model to show off to Americans, and when that time comes there’ll be a new top boss performing the unveiling.

Fred Diaz is out as CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America, the automaker announced Thursday, replaced by someone who knows the job fairly well. He’s had it before. Read More >

By on March 26, 2020

On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that the Real ID deadline — which had previously been delayed indefinitely due to the coronavirus outbreak — has been pushed back until October 21st, 2021, as directed by President Trump.

Enacted in May of 2005, the Real ID Act was basically Congress over-responding to 9/11 by mandating that state-issued driver’s licenses be updated so they can be used for official purposes by the federal government (as defined by Homeland Security). While the primary goal is to mitigate air travel of undocumented immigrants between states, the aforementioned “official purposes” applies to whatever the federal government thinks prudent on any given day — including barring citizens without the ID from military bases or federal buildings, in addition to air travel.

If you haven’t heard of Real IDs (indicated by a little gold star in the corner), you’re not alone. The issue only gets a smattering of coverage every couple of years; plenty of states spent the period following 2005 pushing back against the plan, delaying its implementation several times via extensions. It was initially supposed to come into effect in four phases starting in 2008, but changes didn’t actually start until 2014. At this point, the nation is at phase three (which restricts access to federal facilities), with phase four applying new rules to U.S. air travel. Read More >

By on March 26, 2020

fca

With Ford looking to get pickups rolling off the assembly line again by April 6th, where does its rivals stand?

The list is far from complete, and schedules for resuming production are fluid as a 1950s executive’s lunch, but there’s details to share on when certain U.S. autoworkers might be headed back to the factory. Read More >

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