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By on March 31, 2017

Bob Lutz

If you’re unfamiliar with Bob Lutz, it’s likely that you’re a recent addition to the world of automotive enthusiasm. Allow me to be the first to welcome you. The rest of us have been following Lutz’s career shift from extremely outspoken auto executive to extremely outspoken car blogger for years. Now 85, he hasn’t become any less critical of the industry after entering his “retirement,” nor has his advanced age done much to soften his frank rhetoric.

Love or hate him, Lutz’s time spent jumping between the Big Three has provided him with unique insights — and he always has plenty to say on the current state of the American automotive industry. His most recent revelations circle around the unsustainable nature of Tesla and his growing distaste for president Trump, despite his having voted for him.  (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2017

uber volvo

The recent collision in Tempe, Arizona, where an Uber Technologies driverless Volvo collided with another vehicle before rolling onto its side, might not have been as cut and dried as it originally seemed. While the Tempe Police Department originally deemed the autonomous car not to be at fault, the incident report suggest that it might have been taking the same sort of risks that any inattentive flesh-based operator might have.

EE Times obtained copies of the police report and reached out to Mike Demler, senior analyst at The Linley Group, to make sense of exactly what happened at the scene. The popular assumption was that a Ford Edge failed to yield during a left hand turn, impacting with the Volvo XC90 test vehicle and forcing it onto its side.

That’s not quite how it happened.  (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2017

Hyundai Grille Emblem Detroit Auto Show, Image: © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars 2017

Each brand under the Hyundai Motors umbrella will see an all-new model powered solely by electricity in the next few years, with the lower-rung brands getting them next year.

That’s according to Lee Ki-sang, senior vice president and head of the automaker’s green cars division. While the company is busily crafting an expensive, dedicated electric vehicle platform, those first small SUVs will ride atop existing architecture, he said. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2017

2017 Jeep Wrangler boasts LED headlamps.

As Jeep super fans nervously await the official reveal of the next-generation Wrangler, images posted online suggest that deeply held fears of an unforgivably altered 2018 model might come to nothing.

Two images appeared on JL Wrangler Forums this week, claiming to show a 2018 Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon. While the site’s administration says the images are confirmed to be authentic, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles hasn’t made a statement backing that up. So, we’re left looking at what could very well be the next Wrangler.

Several changes immediately catch the eye. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2017

Donald Trump

The Trump administration is changing its tune regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Despite the president calling the pact the “worst deal” in history throughout his campaign and hinting his goal was to abandon the agreement, the White House intends to keep numerous provisions while seeking more moderate changes.

Among the more controversial arrangements Trump intends to keep are the arbitration panels that permit investors in the three nations to circumvent local courts to resolve civil claims. The administration even has a proposal that would improve these bodies’ procedures to resolve disputes.

Is this the bold trade overhaul that Trump promised on the campaign trail? (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2017

Midsized luxury cars are a tough sell these days. The SUV craze shows no sign of ebbing, with new models coming out frequently from nearly every automaker (though if Caterham starts offering an assemble-it-yourself crossover, I’ll hang up my keyboard for good). Further, these midsizers are squeezed by models upmarket and down — the compacts […]

By on March 31, 2017

Project Cars on Craigslist

I was still in my 20s, browsing my local library’s jazz catalog with what I hoped was an open mind, when I found Brian Jackson and Gil Scott-Heron’s “Winter In America” tucked between Wynton Marsalis and Chick Corea. I had a vague idea of who Scott-Heron was from my years in school, so I snagged it, put the CD in my Fox on the way home, and I was … struck dumb. This was something new for me, both musically and politically. In the years since, I’ve often thought that if God truly loved me he would have given me Gil Scott-Heron’s steady baritone instead of my over-modulated tenor.

In the years that followed, I persevered as a fan of Scott-Heron through the man’s ups and downs. Shortly before his death, he stunned me and everybody else again with I’m New Here, a heartfelt but judiciously studied effort that was aimed with laser precision at rap fans and the regular-at-Yoshi’s crowd alike. In that album’s title track, Scott-Heron gathers up what is left of his voice and growls, “No matter how far wrong you’ve gone / you can always turn around.” It was a knowingly ironic statement from a man who could clearly foresee his imminent death from AIDS-related complications, but it was also a final benediction, a last bit of weary advice from a man who had long viewed himself as a prophet without honor in his own community.

That phrase — “No matter how far wrong you’ve gone / you can always turn around” — has weighed heavily on me lately, for any number of reasons. I have a few friends, some more dear to me than others, who would benefit mightily from a serious application of that advice. But since this is at least nominally a blog about cars, let’s talk about what it means to our four-wheeled decisions, instead of how it might apply to relationships that should have been dropped in the Marianas Trench years ago.

Yes, let’s do that.

(Read More…)

By on March 31, 2017

Some cars genuinely suck. There is essentially no price at which, for instance, wooden ride quality and inept handling and nonexistent acceleration and uncomfortable seats and disappointing fuel economy are worth the asking price. There are simply far too many decent alternatives for a vehicle such as, oh, I don’t know, the Mitsubishi Mirage. Some cars, […]

By on March 31, 2017

Fictional Autonomous Ford in Super Bowl Commercial

Don’t look now, but it would appear that SkyNet has finally arrived — in an expert system designed to make certain judgments during autonomous vehicle operation. NetworkWorld’s breathless report states, “Basically the patented IBM system employs onboard sensors and artificial intelligence to determine potential safety concerns and control whether self-driving vehicles are operated autonomously or by surrendering control to a human driver.” We don’t need to worry about preserving John Connor’s life, or even conceiving that life (with your friend’s mom!) quite yet, however.

The definition of “artificial intelligence” that NetworkWorld is using could just as easily apply to your “smart”phone’s various character-recognition systems. But the problem that this so-called AI purports to solve is one that has far-reaching implications for the timeline, and methods, by which autonomous vehicle operation enters the mainstream.

And it leads to a very simple question.

(Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

Jeep ZJ Concept

For over half a century, Jeep has held an annual safari in Moab, Utah, where 4×4 enthusiasts come to tackle the rough terrain in all manner of off-road vehicles. It’s also become an opportunity for Jeep to showcase its modern concept vehicles.

While Jeep has in past years leveraged nostalgia as a theme for its based-on-current-model concepts, the crème de la crème from this year wasn’t even from the current millennium and comes to us — via Craigslist — in the form of a 1993 ZJ Jeep Grand Cherokee.

(Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

2017 Audi A4 Ultra

Today’s car rental services span the gamut in terms of vehicular offerings and price, but it used to be a more utilitarian affair. Granted, the norm is still to hop online and click the little box next to economy or compact with those full-size sedans reserved for when your employer is footing the bill. However, special discounts or a base Mitsubishi Mirage occasionally make SUVs and even premium cars too tempting to pass up. For those with more discerning tastes, there are entire agencies devoted to specialty cars.

Silvercar is a rental firm that allows customers to charter an Audi A4 similarly to how you would reserve a ZipCar — log in, schedule a pickup, and remotely unlock the vehicle for as long you need access. It’s akin to BMW’s ReachNow, General Motors’ Maven, and Mercedes’ Car2Go — that latter of which is finally replacing its fleet of Smart cars with Benz-branded vehicles. But Audi doesn’t actually own Silvercar, it just happens to be a company providing the exact service that every single automaker wants to include as part of an updated mobility identity. Oh, and it exclusively rents out A4s.

Obviously, Audi is purchasing it. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

Schumacher X114 Compact Inverter

If you’re looking for an inexpensive power inverter and don’t want to sacrifice a cup holder or other interior real estate, the Schumacher X114 might be just the ticket — as long as you don’t mind a bit of noise with your power. 

Capable of putting out 140 watts of continuous power, the X114 has more than enough juice to drive a laptop or other small electronic device. To that end, it comes equipped with one 120V receptacle, and a 2-amp USB outlet for charging a phone, music player, or most anything else that can be charged via USB. 

(Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

Tesla on Flatbed, Image: Brian Fowler

The disproportionately smug owner of this Tesla Model X is having a bad day.

(Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf family, Image: Volkswagen of America

If you’ve felt left out of the Volkswagen diesel affair until now, chin up. You’ll soon be able to purchase your very own piece of automotive scandal history.

The Environmental Protection Agency has approved the sale of 2015 Volkswagen Group vehicles equipped with Generation 3 2.0-liter diesel engines, making this the first time any of the half-million-plus sidelined vehicles have been legally available to customers since the scandal began.

The contrarian’s list of unlikely daily drivers just grew a bit longer. (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2017

Ford badge emblem logo

Ford Motor Co. seems to be making plans to announce the production of a new engine in Windsor, Ontario — or at least that’s the buzz from insider sources.

We already knew the venerable V10 the company manufactures for use in its trucks and cutaway incarnations of the Econoline would be ending production sometime within the next four years.

That successor is now believed to possess fewer cylinders, a larger displacement, and be named “the 7X platform.”

(Read More…)

Recent Comments

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