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By on January 31, 2017

Elaine Chao

The U.S. Senate voted ninety-three to six to confirm Elaine Chao as transportation secretary on Tuesday.

Chao, a former labor secretary and deputy transportation secretary, will face familiar issues while providing oversight on some new obstacles — specifically, autonomous vehicles and upholding President Trump’s promise to improve the nation’s infrastructure.  (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

Car2Go Mercedes

Daimler AG’s Car2Go has been a great way for the company to dump Smart Fortwos on urban areas and turn a profit while the itty-bitty city car’s popularity wanes. However, with only the single small offering, Car2Go is the only vehicle-sharing service that forces subscribers to decide which of their two children will have to be left behind to fend for themselves every time they take a trip somewhere.

In response, Mercedes-Benz is providing its CLA and GLA to C2G’s North American fleet — reuniting families, allowing a week’s worth of grocery shopping in a single run, and making its service substantially more competitive with rival ZipCar. (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

There might be more than a few empty chairs at the Chevrolet Spark EV’s funeral, as the diminutive electric didn’t exactly inflame the passions of the buying public.

The Detroit News reports that production of the electrified model ended this past summer, though General Motors only saw fit to mention it last week. Apparently, the fatal shot was fired by the Chevrolet Bolt, which began production in the fall. Two’s a crowd in the GM EV garage, it seems. (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

The Mazda MX-5 RF, Image: PRNewsFoto/Mazda Motor Corporation

It’s one of those mysteries that’s really only mysterious to people who don’t understand the American auto market: Why didn’t Mazda bring us the NB-generation coupe? And why didn’t they make a true NC coupe at all? The answer, of course, is very simple. The United States is a big place with unique regulations. If you want to sell a car here, particularly one that would crash differently from the car you’re already selling, you’ve got to put in some real time and money for compliance with those regulations.

There’s also the matter of scale. It’s not that difficult for Mazda to release a small-batch car like the NB coupe in Japan where it has absolute control of the dealer networks and the ability to ship parts from a central warehouse to a service area that’s about 10 percent smaller than the state of California. Things are different in the land of the PowerStroke. Every new vehicle is a major commitment.

Mazda’s product planners didn’t think a hardtop Miata would sell in significant numbers, so they left it at home. The retractable-top NC Miata, on the other hand, was a great idea and it did very well. And now we have a far handsomer take on the same idea, built on a car that most of the pundits agree is a better and more enjoyable drive than its predecessor. So what’s the problem?

(Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

e-tron

Along with the rest of Volkswagen AG, Audi has made plans to invest heavily into electric vehicles. The company expects EVs to comprise 25 percent of its U.S. sales by 2025 and is devoting the e-tron moniker to an entire division of electrified models, with the first arriving next year.

Addressing the J.D. Power Summit at this year’s National Automobile Dealers Association Convention and Expo, Audi of America President Scott Keogh told salesmen to welcome the electric mobility market with open arms or learn to cope with an ambivalent future. However, jumping head-first into a relatively small market with a huge potential for growth isn’t without pitfalls, and it isn’t unwise for dealers to remain cautious. Still, with Audi planning to introduce three new BEVs within the United States by 2020 and Volkswagen Group hoping to have 30 battery-electric models out by the 2025, you can see why Keogh is pressing the issue.  (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

2017 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4

Spy shots are circulating that show a current-generation Ram 1500 pickup with something missing under the hood.

The picture on the side of the milk carton contains at least two cylinders, as this unusual Ram variant has dispensed with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ familiar V6 and V8 engines. Yup, this Ram packs an inline-four. (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

2017 Kia Niro - Blue

Kia’s new hybrid crossover, the Niro, should expect a sister model that dispenses with fossil fuel altogether.

A Kia official has implied that an all-electric version of the model is coming, joining a vehicle that arrives this spring in hybrid form, with a plug-in version on the way. By offering a Niro EV, Kia would have two electric crossover-style vehicles on the market — and plenty of green clout. (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt, Volkswagen’s outgoing compliance chief, will receive at least $12 million for her time with the company — with the possibility for as much as $16.1 million (15 million euros). Hohmann-Dennhardt, who was brought on to get VW through its messy emissions crisis, was canned by the automaker last week. The company attributed the “amicable” split to a “disagreement in the understanding of responsibilities and future operating structures within the function she leads.”

New reports indicate that a central aspect of those disagreements involved Volkswagen’s upper management attempting to stop Hohmann-Dennhardt from exposing any additional information on how the emissions scandal transpired.  (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

David Lofink/Flickr Speed Limit 55

The Interstate Highway System is pretty much set in stone (or concrete and asphalt, to be exact), so there’s little hope of more driving engagement for bored motorists who long for a few twisties during their long-distance slogs.

Governments can raise or lower speed limits, but they sure can’t do much to alleviate boredom. In our morning discussion here at TTAC, Indiana and Pennsylvania came up as the worst offenders for yawn-inducing drives. Geography is fickle like that. Of course, a sure-fire way to reduce the boredom that sets in between cities is to simply close the gap in less time.

Just think: fewer awkward silences between yourself and a passenger, fewer awful songs on local radio, and more time saved, at the expense of more gas consumed. It seems a decent trade-off. We’ve come a long way since the dark days of the 1970s, when crossing a state at 55 miles per hour felt like taking the Oregon Trail.

However, have we come far enough? (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

Whether the 2017 Cadillac CT6 is the Cadillac you want, surely the CT6 is what you want Cadillac to be. It’s not unreasonable to consider yourself a candidate for the Cadillac you can most easily afford: the ATS. But what does the ATS say about Cadillac; what image does it present? Odds are the SRX-replacing […]

By on January 31, 2017

Lexus LS430 Aftermarket Navigation Screen, Image: kyoei-usa.com

TTAC Commentator Waftabletorque writes:

Dear Sajeev,

I’m having an issue diagnosing a navigation system problem on my 2002 LS430. I’ve gone a few years with the GPS link not working, which means it no longer receives a satellite signal and defaults to dead-reckoning mode (the GPS symbol disappears on the touchscreen). It’s a nuisance issue but it’s low on my priorities.

It also happens that I’ve been using a dashcam for the last four years. I never linked the two together until I had a couple of dashcams go bad in 2016, and spent the whole summer without one. Well, my GPS started working again, and I chalked it up to a warm summer fixing some sort of electrical wiring fault in the antenna.

Once I got my fourth dashcam in September, I noticed my GPS stopped working again. It was getting cold in the mornings and I thought my good luck spell had ended. Then, it occurred to me that maybe the GPS gets disabled when the 12V was in use. I’ve since found that it’s true for all three of my 12-volt ports (cigarette lighter, arm rest, rear seat cigarette lighter).

None of my other electrical loads (seat heaters, defrosters, seat massagers, headlights, fridge, etc) seem to trigger this issue, and I replaced the car battery in 2013.

So, what’s my next step? Is this a grounding issue? Voltage issue? A conspiracy of aftermarket electronics deliberately disabling automotive functionality? (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2017

Mark Fields

Ford Motor Company chief executive officer and doomsday prophet Mark Fields thinks one million American jobs will be placed in peril if the country’s current fuel economy standards aren’t made more flexible.

The alarming scenario was given by Fields to President Trump himself at last week’s private meeting of U.S. automakers at the White House.  (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2017

kremlin_moscow russia (Wikimedia commons)

Everyone loves a good mystery, and in Russia it seems there are many. Read up on the Dyatlov Pass incident if you’re looking for a reason not to go camping.

In the country where a bearded charlatan once inspired a great disco song, something odd has cropped up in recent months. Moscow motorists, when not surviving serious collisions in subpar vehicles without a scratch, have noticed that their GPS device will suddenly re-position its location when driving near the Kremlin.

The closer to the Kremlin, the more likely the device will suddenly find an alternative location to exist. In every instance, the location is the same: Vnukovo Airport, 20 miles from the seat of government. (Read More…)

By on January 30, 2017

Homeless Toyota Van Home

Homelessness is an issue in all major cities across the U.S., but it’s particularly acute in large ones fortunate enough to have a pleasant climate year-round. Los Angeles has both of these attributes, and that means there’s quite a large homeless population. A recent article from the LA Times caught my eye.

With over 6,000 homeless people sleeping in their cars every night, the city is enacting a new ordinance to give them somewhere to (legally) park.
(Read More…)

By on January 30, 2017

Rolex 24 Cadillac Victory

Cadillac took a definite “more is more” approach for its return to prototype racing. By handing over its engineering masterpiece, the V8 DPi-V.R, to the distinguished Wayne Taylor Racing, LeMans veteran Massimiliano “Max” Angelelli, and NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon, it assured itself the one-two victory at the Rolex 24 in Daytona.

However, despite an ideal finish, it wasn’t a perfect day for the team. (Read More…)

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