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Matt Posky

By on September 28, 2021

While Mercedes-Benz has gradually been moving away from larger motors, it was still a shock to learn that the company would be removing the brunt of its V8-powered lineup in the United States for the 2022 model year. Higher end vehicles typically come with broader profit margins and Americans tend to like V8s, so it was strange to see the brand tailoring its product at the last minute. Less surprising, however, was watching the the entire automotive community speculate on the reasons why.

As your author is constantly suspect of regulations, it was my assumption that emissions compliance was the main culprit. But one would assume European rules would have put the kibosh on V8s in the home market long before cars were neutered in North America. Mercedes likewise suggested this was not the case, alluding to supply chain issues that have been hampering the industry since the start of 2020 while it promised to fix the problem as soon as possible. Then, Daimler executives started giving different answers and hit the reset button on the global supposition surrounding the discontinued engines.  (Read More…)

By on September 28, 2021

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced a plan to construct the Lake Michigan Electric Vehicle Circuit that would allow EV drivers to enjoy a scenic, coastal drive without being distracted by fears of range anxiety. Having recently returned from the Mitten state, I can say that its current charging infrastructure is about what you’d expect. You’re bound to find something in the urban hubs, likely with a little help from navigational apps. But the spaces between aren’t going to be of much help and the situation only worsens as you head north along the Eastern coastline where charging points are particularly sparse.

But it’s Lake Michigan that draws the most tourists in a given year, so Whitmer’s team has elected to plot the stations on the Western side of the state to encourage visitors. As a byproduct, leadership said this will also prove that the region is committed to electrification and serious about supporting the evolving automotive industry.  (Read More…)

By on September 28, 2021

Ford Motor Co. has announced that the Mustang Mach-E it sent off to tackle the Michigan State Police 2022 model year evaluation has passed, which is likely to bode well for the possibility of future fleet sales. But let’s not put the cart before the proverbial horse just yet. While Ford has had a long and fruitful history furnishing quality police vehicles, it has also offered up models that later required your author to do some research to figure out what “pursuit-rated” actually means.

The Mach-E passing the MSP’s gauntlet could simply mean that it didn’t endure a catastrophic failure while zipping around Grattan Raceway and we’re a little over a month away from getting comparative metrics for all vehicles tested earlier this month. However, Ford wanted to get out ahead of the test results so it can continue hyping the EV.  (Read More…)

By on September 27, 2021

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made dirt bikes public enemy number one for traffic enforcement in 2021, citing road safety, cluttered sidewalks, unwanted noise, and air pollution as his primary reasoning. He’s even released videos where the city destroyed confiscated bikes to celebrate the initiative.

“Anyone out there who has an illegal dirt bike — don’t even think about it. Because the NYPD will find it and will crush it,” Mayor de Blasio proclaimed via Twitter earlier this month. “These dirt bikes do not belong in New York City. It’s against the law. Period. Dirt bikes are dangerous.”

The focus on two-wheeled transportation comes after city leadership announced there was a growing number of shootings and robberies tied to certain types of vehicles over the spring. Local outlets also covered an incident where a small child was struck by a dirt bike and placed into critical condition last July. But the actual qualifications for what NYC considers an “illegal dirt bike” are confusing. Numerous exemptions are made for electric scooters and about half of the bikes crushed in the mayor’s video are regular motorcycles. It seems nonsensical and only gets worse when you begin to ponder the consequences of banning some of the most affordable modes of transportation available to poor New Yorkers.  (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2021

Daimler is getting cozy with Chrysler again, or at least the American side of Stellantis, so they can tackle battery development and production. Those in the know will recall that Chrysler has been passed around more than a bottle of booze at a middle school party. But its long history of partnerships also kept it in business and resulted in some of its better products.

Before the Amero-French merger that resulted in Stellantis, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was an Italian-American company with facilities dotted around North America. Prior to that, it was known as DaimlerChrysler – resulting in the LX Platform, Pentastar V6, and a wider variety of Jeep Wranglers. Now, Chrysler’s alienated German wife has shown up on the doorstep with a wad of cash and news that she’ll be investing it into the new battery business.  (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2021

Despite the occasional media report claiming that the semiconductor shortage is nearly over, reality looks quite a bit different. Some manufacturers have managed to temporarily stabilize supply chains, even though others have continued announcing work stoppages as they run out of chips. Wait times for the electronic components have also increased by about 61 percent since the beginning of 2021. Meanwhile, a recent Kelly Blue Book survey had 48 percent of respondents saying they were going to postpone buying a new automobile until shortages end, prices come down, and they can actually find the vehicles they’re looking for. But even those that were willing to buy now expressed a surprising level of acceptance to abandon brand loyalty or their preferred body style just to get a fairer deal on an automobile.

With the United States fairing worse than other regions in regard to chip availability, the White House has been under pressure to solve the problem all year. Thus far, government strategy has focused on encouraging investments for new semiconductor production. But there’s a new gambit being proposed that would invoke a Cold War-era national security law that would force manufacturers to furnish information pertaining to semiconductor supply lines and chip sales.  (Read More…)

By on September 23, 2021

Last month, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed new rules that would increase fines for automakers who previously failed to adhere to fuel efficiency requirements. EV manufacturer Tesla has predictably endorsed the rules and has begun urging the federal government to put the plan in action as soon as possible.

While automakers have issued concerns that increasing penalties could cost them over $1 billion per year through regulatory fines and the purchasing of carbon credits, Tesla has been asking the Biden administration and a U.S. appeals court to expedite the process and make the proposals binding. Though that’s undoubtedly because the company sells its credits to the tune of at least $350 million annually and doesn’t build a single automobile that’s powered by gasoline.  (Read More…)

By on September 22, 2021

Despite being the target of a German lawsuit accusing the manufacturer of not being green enough, Volkswagen Group is probably the legacy automaker touting the merits of electrification with the most enthusiasm. While undoubtedly influenced by the diesel emissions catastrophe that cheesed off every regulator in the Western world, its brand has actively been delivering EVs and praising alternative energy automobiles whenever possible.

There was more of that this week. Porsche has reportedly decided to make the 718 to be an all-electric model by 2025 and Audi recently announced that it’s employing rally icon and Hoonigan founder Ken Block (who broke with the Ford Motor Co. earlier this year) to develop EVs. (Read More…)

By on September 22, 2021

Whenever I close my eyes to fantasize about police vehicles, it’s a foregone conclusion that I’m thinking about a Ford Crown Victoria. The model had a two-decade lifespan occupying departmental motor pools as the de facto police cruiser. But it’s been out of action since 2012, leaving a gigantic hole in governmental order forms that allowed other brands to flood into the space. While Ford managed to keep law enforcement interested in its SUVs (and sometimes F-Series pickups), Dodge’s Charger secured the most sedan sales by far.

Ford probably doesn’t want to find itself missing out on the most lucrative corner of the fleet market moving forward, especially as governments begin to embrace electrification. We’ve already seen the manufacturer float a few hybrid options by departments to see what they think. But now it’s ready to see how an all-electric vehicle might play. For the 2022 Model Year Police Evaluations, Ford handed the Mach-E over to Michigan State Police — giving them carte blanche to subject it to multiple days of abuse in order to establish whether or not it’s worthy of active duty.  (Read More…)

By on September 22, 2021

While I often criticize manufacturers, I try to remain sympathetic to their collective plight. Despite being multinational corporations that typically lack accountability, they’re still businesses that need to turn a profit to maintain their existence and are constantly coping with fluid regulatory rules or social pressures. That’s one reason why green initiatives are often more about optics and money than achieving any tangible environmental goals.

But not adhering to cultural dogmas can have real ramifications, as BMW and Daimler recently found out. The companies are being sued in their native Germany for allegedly failing to meet carbon reduction targets and not setting an official date to abolish the internal combustion engine.  (Read More…)

By on September 21, 2021

The Chevrolet Bolt has evolved from being General Motors’ superstar EV, radiating optimism for the company’s ambitious electrification strategy, to a public relations nightmare in relatively short order. While sales of the hatchback (and EUV) actually skyrocketed in Q2 of 2021, thanks largely to a diminished production output from the same period in 2020, shoppers are becoming aware of the fire reports and prolonged recall campaign that followed.

Another chapter has been added to that story, with GM now convinced that this will be the conclusion of the dejected tale. On Monday, the manufacturer issued an announcement that batteries for the Bolt had resumed production. But they won’t be coming out of the South Korean facility owned by LG Chem that’s been alleged as ground zero for the relevant defects. GM has instead elected to source the units from Michigan while LG improves quality assurance with the automaker peering over its shoulder, hopeful that customers will someday be able to use their car normally. Sadly, that moment still looks to be several months away.  (Read More…)

By on September 20, 2021

Despite the concept of autonomous cars suggesting a seamless, hands-free driving experience as far back as the late 1950s, only the peripheral technologies have made their way into the real world. Our ancestors would have marveled at the video displays, powertrains, and navigation systems available today. But the 21st century concept of “mobility” has also turned out to be a bit of a scam.

Formerly a catch-all term for autonomous transportation, the phrase has been redefined by the industry to pertain to subscription fees, over-the-air updates, digitally affixing your credit card information to the vehicle, and just about any present-day feature it’s interested in selling. Meanwhile, the self-driving programs that kicked off the would-be renaissance have been stagnating as companies cannot quite figure out how to teach a car to successfully assume all of the duties of a human driver. However there’s a German startup that’s attempting to circumvent those obstacles by employing digital chauffeurs working from far-off locations. (Read More…)

By on September 17, 2021

Mazda had elected to make all future CX SUVs default to all-wheel drive, rather than front-wheel drive, as it continues to shift its products upmarket. However, the announcement was curiously hidden within the marketing materials for the refreshed CX-5, rather than being allowed to stand on its own.

From the 2022 model year onward, all Mazda products carrying the CX designation will come equipped from the factory with i-Activ all-wheel drive. For now, this pertains exclusively to the U.S. market and will undoubtedly result in vehicles carrying a higher price tag. AWD typically requires shoppers to tack another $1,500 (give or take) onto the MSRP and we doubt Mazda will be giving away the extra parts for free.  (Read More…)

By on September 16, 2021

us-capitol, public domain

Tesla CEO Elon Musk isn’t fond of the new electric-vehicle incentives being proposed by the United States Congress and recently stated as much over social media this week. He even went so far as to allege that the bill was lobbyists working on behalf of legacy automakers and the United Auto Workers, as it monetarily benefits domestic manufacturers with strong union ties above all others.

Truth be told, it’s kind of hard to respond to those claims with anything other than an affirmative nod. Due to his seemingly intentional manipulation of cryptocurrency and willingness to overpromise Tesla investors, I’m not the biggest fan of Musk. However, he’s getting support from other manufacturers and it’s pretty hard for your author to see any legislative scenario other than the one he’s supporting — especially since this is frequently how business is done on Capitol Hill.  (Read More…)

By on September 16, 2021

If you’ve been following the Chevrolet Bolt, then you know it’s gone from a competitive front-motor, five-door all-electric subcompact to a tinderbox on wheels. Battery issues have resulted in numerous recalls while the associated fire risk is gradually making it the spiritual successor to the Ford Pinto flambé edition. Though, in fairness, the Bolt issue is nowhere near as devastating as those vintage Ford fires and pales in comparison to the General Motors’ own faulty ignition switch fiasco that left over 100 people dead.

It’s still leaving a bad impression, however, and GM’s latest decision (prudent as it might be) won’t be helping. As part of the recall campaign, the manufacturer has advised owners not to park the vehicle inside garages or close to buildings. It also has a charging protocol for customers to use to help minimize its risk of spontaneous combustion. Following yet another fire incident, GM has updated those recommendations and now advises drivers to park the Bolt at least 50 feet away from all other vehicles.  (Read More…)

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