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By on July 23, 2019

When an automaker discusses mobility, they’re not really talking about anything specific. The term has been established within the industry as a catch-all phrase for electrification, app-based services, autonomous programs, data acquisition, robotics, and whatever other ideas that don’t fit neatly within a company’s core product line. Providing the best example of the term’s nebulous nature this week was Toyota, which showcased a glut of mobility projects for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games — as well as toying with the idea of handing over vehicle data to the Japanese government.

Let’s start with the more-terrifying aspects before we get into the goofy stuff.  Read More >

By on July 23, 2019

Elon Musk certainly hasn’t been kind towards Ford in the past, talking about how the Dearborn truck plant is like a morgue. It’s a bold move considering his cars are assembled outdoors in a tent, but that hasn’t stopped the Twitter man from tweeting. He even recently claimed the Tesla all-electric pickup truck will be as good as Ford’s truck but also be able to tow 300,000 pounds.

Yes, that’s a totally ridiculous number and there’s no way the truck will tow that much in the real world, under the SAE J2807 standard. That’s assuming, of course, the Tesla pickup even exists. While Musk has long teased the truck, we’ve yet to actually see it in any physical capacity. It’s easy to say (or joke) your truck can tow 300,000 pounds when it doesn’t actually exist.

Ford is also working on an all-electric pickup truck. Today the company released a video of that development process, including the vehicle towing rail cars weighing over 1 million pounds. Not only is that 700,000 pounds more than Tesla’s claim but, since it’s a real truck that really exists, we can actually see it do it.  Read More >

By on July 23, 2019

Ever wanted a microscopic multipurpose off-road car that’s not much larger than a lawnmower? Well have we got a truck for you. It’s a Ferves Ranger from 1967.

Read More >

By on July 22, 2019

Volvo Cars is recalling 507,000 vehicles worldwide over a bum engine component that it claims could lead to an engine fire. However, according to the automaker’s own internal investigation, the more likely scenario involves the vehicles’ plastic intake manifold melting — though it stated this prospect was still “very rare.”

Affected vehicles include all Volvo models equipped with the 2.0-liter diesel between 2014 and 2019 — that’s the S60, S80, S90, V40, V60, V70, V90, XC60 and XC90. The company said it is unaware of any reports of accidents or personal injuries stemming from the problem and was keen to remedy the issue as swiftly as possible.  Read More >

By on July 22, 2019

With Oliver Zipse confirmed as BMW’s new chief executive, practically everyone theorized on how he was going to shake up the strategy established under former-CEO Harald Krüger — which revolved around gradually introducing more EVs via a highly flexible architecture. While we were disinclined to agree, a swath of industry experts and media outlets claimed this was a terrible blueprint for the brand and expected Zipse to come up with something different.

However, he looks to be offering more of the same. That begs the question as to why Krüger actually left the company and taints the validity of suggestions that his product strategy was internally viewed as a failureRead More >

By on July 22, 2019

TTAC Commentator Znueni writes:

Dear Sajeev,

We have a 2007 Honda CRV with nice Continental winter tires mounted, speed rating of H. We only put around 8k miles a year on it with short hops and maybe one long 800 mile trip in the summer. Living in a moderate climate (couple snows a year, summers max out high 80’s for a month or two) and using the car so little, we’re considering running winter tires year round.

Think doing so will ruin them quickly? Your sage opinion welcomed!

Read More >

By on July 22, 2019

best trailer brake controllers

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.


If you’re thinking about using your truck or SUV to tow anything more than a child’s inflatable dinghy, it is an exceedingly good idea to invest in a trailer brake controller. These units, generally about the size of two stacked smartphones, manage the amount of braking force being produced by the electric brakes fitted to your trailer’s axles.

Not sure if your trailer has electric brakes? Check the plug size on the end of its electrical pigtail that gets connected to the tow vehicle. If it is rectangular with four metal connections, it is only tasked with providing the trailer’s lights with juice. If it is round with seven pins, your trailer has electric brakes.

These controllers allow the driver to monitor the braking situation astern and, in all but the cheapest examples, set the level of braking aggression provided by the trailer when you apply the brakes on your tow vehicle.

We’ve picked out eight of the best for you to consider before getting hitched and hitting the road. Be safe out there, kids.

Read More >

By on July 22, 2019

Mini might not make sense as a automotive company anymore, at least not in the United States. Consumer tastes have shifted away from small cars and practically everyone is interested in crossovers these days. While this issue has been less pronounced in Europe, where the Mini has enjoyed an uptick in sales, the brand has been struggling in North America. U.S. volumes are comparatively low and have been on the decline since 2015. It’s not a total disaster, but annual deliveries have been wallowing south of 50,000 units for a couple of years now. Nobody can pretend there isn’t a problem.

The fix, according to parent company BMW Group, is to fill up Mini’s product portfolio with crossover vehicles while also giving the little Hardtop a bit of love.  Read More >

By on July 22, 2019

Citroën’s on-and-off history with North American importation make almost all of them rarities, and perfect for this series. Thus far, we’ve seen Citroëns in the form of Traction Avant, XM, and CX. Today’s front-drive Frenchy is a sporty BX hatchback from 1991.

Read More >

By on July 22, 2019

The new Corvette showed up in a war-era hangar last week, wearing slinky new bodywork and an engine mounted amidships. This change has reliably rattled some corners of Vette fandom.

Another part of the new Chevy halo car that caused controversy? Its interior. The reconfigurable screen ahead of the driver was expected, given what’s being deployed now by the likes of Audi and a few others. But the rest of the Corvette cabin? Very surprising.

Which is today’s question: what production car interior, good or bad, has surprised you the most?

Read More >

By on July 22, 2019

1988 Oldsmobile Toronado Trofeo in Colorado wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars
The General spent the 1980s experiencing a burning desire to sell high-profit-margin personal luxury coupes that combined the irresistible sales appeal of the 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme with the technological sophistication of the latest high-end German machinery. This decade gave us such fascinating GM machines as the Cadillac Allanté, the Buick Reatta, the Pontiac 6000 STE, and the Oldsmobile Toronado Troféo. You won’t find many Troféos today, but I’m always on the lookout during my junkyard travels. Here’s a clean ’88 in a Denver-area self-serve yard. Read More >

By on July 20, 2019

Ford Motor Company’s Oakville, Ontario assembly plant will soon see a reduction in manpower, according to the union representing Canadian Detroit Three autoworkers. The looming changes represent the latest blow to that country’s fragile car building presence.

For Ford, the cuts outlined by Unifor Local 7070 president Dave Thomas in a web post this week are an inevitable consequence of evolving lineups and consumer tastes. The company can’t build the Ford Flex forever. Read More >

By on July 19, 2019

Following a scathing analysis from the Detroit Free Press regarding Ford’s handling of their dual-clutch transmission troubles in the Focus and Fiesta, the company has apparently ordered dealerships to fix all affected cars for free, regardless of warranty status.

Automotive News is reporting that the company sent a memo out to dealerships instructing them to fix transmissions if the customer is having issues:

In the July 12 memo, Ford says dealerships should “arrange to diagnose the vehicle and repair as necessary.” The fixes can be applied to 2011-17 models, many of which are out of warranty.

Dealerships were also told to expect another update later today.

Read More >

By on July 19, 2019

On Friday, Toyota Motor Corp. announced it had signed an agreement for the joint development of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) with China’s BYD Company Ltd. Technically, BYD also made an announcement but we’re not scouring their press page on an hourly basis. Toyota gets top billing.

According to the release, the two companies will jointly develop “sedans and low-floor SUVs as well as the onboard batteries for these vehicles and others with the aim to launch them in the Chinese market under the Toyota brand in the first half of the 2020s.”

Having previously announced it was teaming up with Contemporary Amerex Technology (CATL) and Panasonic to supply and develop batteries, Toyota is trying to expand rapidly into electric development — after showing limited interest for years. We’ve no clue how these partnerships will influence the brand’s physical products outside of Asia but, at the very least, it should have fewer battery supply issues than some of the competition moving forward.  Read More >

By on July 19, 2019

Shopping cart full of cash money bills, Image: urfingus/Bigstock

When I was in high school, many moons ago, I had to recreate an historical debate in front of the class as part of a project for my American History class. I was assigned to take a “pro” position on the Three-Fifths Compromise (I don’t imagine that these sorts of things happen much in high school today). My opponent in the debate was a young lady who was, shall we say, a little different. She didn’t have many friends, she was socially awkward, and I’m not entirely sure that I’d ever actually heard her speak before.

We picked numbers out of a hat to see which one of us would go first, and she won. Right from the beginning, it was evident that things weren’t going to go well. She starting mumbling, inaudibly repeating the same thing over and over. Our teacher, a kind, and gentle man, asked her to speak just a little bit louder.

“Three fourths of a person, that’s all they were. Three fourths of a person!” And then she broke into hysterics and ran out of the room. The teacher sprinted out the door after her, returning after a few moments.

“Now, everybody,” he began, “Mary (not her real name) is our friend. When she comes back in the room, I ask each of you to treat her as our friend.” Let’s be honest. She wasn’t our friend. But in that moment, thanks to a kind word from our teacher, we did our best to treat her as one.

Here at Ask Bark, we get a lot of emails. As the curator of said emails, I do my best to answer all of them personally, even if I can’t dedicate precious ones and zeroes to them in this space. Some of them just aren’t interesting enough for me to dedicate an entire column to answering — it’s often as simple as “Don’t go to that dealer if they’re pulling that garbage on you,” or, “No, it’s never a good idea to spend all of your money on a used German car that’s out of warranty.” Stuff like that.

But every so often, I get an email that both excites and terrifies me, because I know that there is sufficient content within for a good column, but will also likely expose the writer of the correspondence to the combined vitriol of TTAC’s Best & Brightest. Today is such a day. So, everybody, Tom is our friend. After you’ve read his email, I ask each of you to treat him as our friend.

Here we go.

Read More >

Recent Comments

  • R Henry: Yes, just like Tesla will sell us $35,000 Model 3s.
  • FreedMike: Of course they do for now, just like Ferrari needs Ford pickups to haul Ferraris around in – after...
  • FreedMike: I don’t think this is a binary, all-electric or all-gas question, and clearly Ford doesn’t...
  • R Henry: The photo illustrates reality. Tesla needs Ford pickups regardless of what St. Elon says.
  • EquipmentJunkie: I agree with CaddyDaddy. The Rouge plant was the definition of vertical integration in the...

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