Posts By: mseth_parks

By on September 19, 2016

2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ

Yoyo believes, like other mobility disruptors, that the traditional automobile acquisition and ownership experience is broken. It maintains that the majority of consumers can be provided with more flexible, efficient, lower-cost alternatives to the incumbent model of personal mobility. However, the prevailing two-step distribution system is entrenched and the insurance, maintenance, parking, and other segments of the $2 trillion extended auto industry are not incentivized to embrace change.

Will Yoyo’s pay-per-mile subscription model participate in disrupting the calcified status quo? (Read More…)

By on September 14, 2016

2017 Mondeo ST-Line Front

As an automotive journalist, I’m bound by blood oath to promote the manual transmission and station wagon, preferably together. And I acknowledge that arguments made in support of three-pedals and D pillars are often more emotional than practical.

Not today.

There are no fewer than four sets of logical reasons Ford should reintroduce the midsize, mainstream wagon to American life (though probably with an automatic).

(Read More…)

By on August 23, 2016

2016 Nissan Frontier

At a recent Nissan truck and SUV event in Carmel, a senior Nissan rep indicated there is zero chance the Smyrna, Tennessee based operation will alter its winning mid-size pickup formula.

When asked about the prospects of a unibody Frontier, Dan Passe, Senior Manager of Nissan Brand Communications, laughingly responded, “We don’t normally comment on future product, but a unibody Frontier is not happening.”

Honda is encountering strong demand for its recently launched, second-generation unibody Ridgeline, but Nissan will not follow Honda down the dedicated lifestyle truck path.

(Read More…)

By on August 2, 2016

Wherever roads fade to tracks, bridges give way to fords, and addresses become coordinates, an intense internecine war is under way. Since the Land Cruiser and Patrol were born in 1951, Nissan and Toyota have battled over which automaker produces the best large, go-anywhere, do-anything SUV. It’s a competition that has spawned battle wagons of ever increasing size, […]

By on June 28, 2016

Do you yearn to feel your truck lunge forward under moderate throttle, the hood heaving up before you? Do you ache for that gentle linear pre-runner sway into every corner? Does your current rig sport a sticker with Calvin maliciously relieving himself on a Blue Oval? If so, Dealer Services International’s Tundra Pro Runner may […]

By on June 22, 2016

Kinshasa Traffic, Image: MONUSCO Photos/Flickr

If you can describe a road surface as being home to a rock formation, you might be in Kinshasa, Congo.

Protrusions of solid rock extend several feet above the road surface, as though thrust upward by some geologic force. In fact, these shockingly large outcroppings are made possible through an unfortunate combination of poor construction, over-use, and extreme neglect. I came upon several such promontories during a recent visit to the Congolese capital. And these were not rural or back street rock climbing opportunities. These can be found on main roads across the city center.

(Read More…)

By on May 23, 2016

2013 Jeep Trailhawk II Front

Don’t do it for us. Do it for yourself.

Jeep is not a purveyor of transportation appliances. It creates and markets lifestyle products built on its off-road reputation. And the brand is not well positioned to compete in the increasingly crowded SUV/CUV space based purely on quality and everyday performance. But that’s okay, because Jeep can drive growth by playing to the strengths that brought it 865,000 customers last year, the essence of which is extreme off-road capability.

Jeep sales grew a dizzying 25 percent in the United States last year. Through the first third of 2016, the brand is tracking for two-percent growth. Blowing past the elusive one million sales mark in the U.S., and staying there, will not be easy. The Wrangler will continue to anchor the emotional identity of the brand, but Jeep would benefit from diversification as the top. To continue its impressive seven consecutive years of growth, Jeep should offer two distinct, yet equally capable products that speak to enthusiasts and mainstream consumers alike.

Jeep needs to build a hardcore, off-road version of the Grand Cherokee.

(Read More…)

By on May 6, 2016

Upon its introduction in 2003, the Murano possessed a unique combination of traits that, in retrospect, make its La Jolla, California design studio and Design Chief Taiji Toyota look genius. The Murano was built on the Altima platform, making it relatively inexpensive to build. It had a segment-first four-wheel independent suspension, imparting a genuine car-like driving experience. […]

By on April 28, 2016

Upfitted Ford F-250 at Honolulu Ford, Image: Honolulu Ford

The time is ticking ever closer to the day an OEM slaps a $100,000 MSRP on a truck. It will happen, and it won’t be long before it does.

In 1997, $27,000 bought a lavishly equipped F-150 Lariat SuperCab with a 5.4-liter V8. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $40,000 in today’s money. Adjusted for reality, that truck now carries a $45,000 MSRP. The $100,000 barrier will be crossed in perhaps a decade based on inflation alone, but inflation will not deliver the first $100,000 truck. Trim escalation and new equipment will cross the finish line first.

Regardless, OEMs won’t be the first to push MSRPs into the stratosphere. That distinction goes to the aftermarket, in conjunction with dealers. And, unsurprisingly, together they’ve already made a $100,000 pickup a reality.

(Read More…)

By on April 15, 2016

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Building Plaque, Washington, DC, Image: TexasGOPVote.com/Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/60064824@N03/)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is dropping proposed policy language that would have done, well, nothing.

That’s right, and it would have made a great Seinfeld story line: faceless bumbling government agency seeks to reframe public debate with a redundant, unenforceable, and unnecessary policy revision only to meet unanticipated wrath from industry and enthusiasts, forcing it to ultimately retract its proposal.

(Read More…)

By on April 7, 2016

Hall Chevrolet Dealership

I worked at a Ford dealer in Silicon Valley from 1994 to 1999. It was a transitional time in the car business; a time when old-school car guys told war stories about back-lot portables stocked with sales incentives, while young consumers arrived with astonishingly accurate invoice and holdback information. We packed payments, sold $79 undercoat for $1,500, and occasionally found customers smarter than us.

By 1999, more than 40 percent of Americans were online and the Internet was democratizing information everywhere. If someone asked me then if the retail auto environment would be different 17 years hence, I would have emphatically responded yes.

I would have been wrong.

The car business and the customer experience are all but identical. The biggest change is perhaps the relocation of the smoking area.

(Read More…)

By on March 30, 2016

The automotive press expends much effort (present company included) telling OEMs what they should and should not do. Automakers may not always take action, much less seem to care, but they value your opinion. Otherwise they wouldn’t have given me a car for a week in hopes of influencing your next buying decision. I’m thankful […]

By on March 21, 2016

Driver's Life Driving Matters Campaign Mazda

Drivers afraid to be behind the wheel are a misunderstood threat to road safety. Fearful driving often leads to excessive caution masquerading as politeness. Resulting behaviors may appear benign, when in fact they can be grave.

(Read More…)

By on March 8, 2016

American Expedition Vehicles four-door Brute

Two months ago at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Jeep CEO Mike Manley confirmed that the next generation Wrangler will spawn a pickup. No other official announcements related to the exciting new product have been released. But as TTAC reported in October (The Untapped Potential of Wrangler), the move was entirely predictable. And it was made all the more inevitable when the company recently announced its intention to stop developing small cars.

The revelation of a forthcoming Wrangler pickup could have justified a front page New York Times headline. That is how important the new pickup is for the $10 billion company. Investors may not have valued the announcement, as Fiat Chrysler Automotive’s stock price continued its steep decline from $9.20 on December 31st to $5.88 in early February, but Wall Street analysts are not known for their long-term perspective. Regardless, Jeep is a well known bright spot under the sagging FCA umbrella and investing in its record-setting Wrangler nameplate is an action the company needs to take.

How will Jeep execute the Wrangler pickup and what will its real impact be?

(Read More…)

By on February 29, 2016

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Building Plaque, Washington, DC, Image: TexasGOPVote.com/Flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/60064824@N03/)

The temperature was already well above average on Friday, September 18 when the Environmental Protection Agency issued Volkswagen a steaming-hot Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act. The seriousness and accuracy of the allegations are now well known. Emitting up to 40 times the allowable limit of nitrogen oxides is no small infraction, particularly when done with intent. And as a result, heads quickly rolled and resigned at the Volkswagen Group. The company continues to reel from the impact of its malfeasance as new penalties are imposed.

What has been going on at EPA Headquarters? Gina McCarthy was the agency’s Chief Administrator when the scandal broke. She is still in charge. Christopher Grundler has been at the EPA since 1980 and was the Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality (OTAQ) on that warm fall day. He too, remains at his post. Despite calls for resignations from lawmakers, such as Michael Burgess House R-TX, no senior EPA staffers are known to have been dismissed with cause related to the VW scandal.

(Read More…)

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