Posts By: Ronnie Schreiber

By on March 18, 2019

Tell the truth — when driving by a police office operating a speed trap at the side of the road, have you ever been tempted to make a rude gesture? You know the one I’m talking about: the single digit, middle finger salute. A United States Court of Appeals has now confirmed judicially that it’s your right to do so, if you choose.

When Debra Cruise-Gulyas was pulled over for speeding in Taylor, Michigan by Officer Matthew Minard in 2017, she gave in to that very temptation. Well, not right away. After he stopped her, Officer Minard had apparently gave Cruise-Gulyas a bit of a break, citing her for a non-moving violation instead of speeding. Not mollified by the break she got, following the stop, as she drove away, Cruise decided to make a crude gesture directed at the police officer. (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2019

Let’s say you manage one of the soon-to-be-closed Tesla factory-owned stores and, for whatever reason, you have dozens of brand new Model 3 EVs sitting unsold on your lot. What are you going to do if one of them has a discharged battery? As car dealers learned a long time ago in the gasoline era, batteries won’t keep a charge forever and cars sitting for a long time sometimes need a boost to their batteries.

That’s true whether it’s a conventional 12 volt lead-acid battery for an ICE-powered vehicle’s electrical system or it’s the lithium-ion battery pack that powers a EV. That’s why car dealerships for conventional vehicles have battery tenders, heavy duty chargers that can be wheeled around the lot to whichever car might have a dead starter battery.

Of course, to recharge an EV’s battery, you’re gonna need a bigger charger. (Read More…)

By on February 28, 2019

(One of the above items is not like the other…)

Sometimes the most innocent actions can get you in trouble with the law, like the Maryland mother accused of using opiates because she ate a poppy seed bagel the morning she gave birth. A Connecticut man is challenging his conviction on a charge of distracted driving, claiming he was eating a McDonalds hash brown, not talking on his cellphone. No, this isn’t anything like Dan White’s supposed Twinkie Defense — the guy sounds like he has a legitimate case.

On April 11, 2018, Jason Stiber was pulled over in Westport. Westport PD Corporal Shawn Wong alleged that Stiber was talking on his cellphone while driving. Wong later told a magistrate that Stiber was holding a phone near his face and that his lips were moving. Stiber said the officer mistook his food for a phone. The magistrate apparently believed that Wong was right (sorry, I had to), and convicted Stiber of distracted driving, fining him $300. (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2019

Since speed limits were introduced, people who don’t really “get” driving have wondered why a car’s power isn’t restricted so it can’t exceed those selfsame speed limits. For most drivers, that’s a nightmare scenario, but it appears to becoming reality for European drivers.

UK based Evo.co.uk is reporting that, after approval by key members of the European Parliament of regulations proposed by the European Transport Safety Council, speed limiters and data loggers will now be mandatory equipment on all new cars. The European Parliament’s Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection voted in favor of mandatory vehicle safety standards that could be in force within three years. Negotiations between the Parliament, Member States and the European Commission will determine how the new regulations are implemented. (Read More…)

By on February 20, 2019

Until Tuesday, organizers of the 2019 Detroit Autorama were planning on opening the show on March 1st with a car jump by a replica Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am Firebird. A couple of years ago, the Autorama featured a jump of a Dukes of Hazzard “General Lee” Charger replica, to considerable press coverage, including here at TTAC.

This year, the same group of car enthusiasts that put on the General Lee jump, Northeast Ohio Dukes, was going to be back on Atwater Street behind Cobo Hall, only with a black and gold Pontiac, not an orange Dodge. When it comes to famous fictional car jumps, the Bandit’s Mulberry Bridge leap is right up there with the General Lee’s vault in the Dukes’ opening credits, and the Autorama jump was going to be part of a more general tribute at the custom car show to the late Burt Reynolds, a Michigan native, who starred in SATB.

Detroit’s City Council, though, has put a kibosh on the jump, apparently over a nonexistent Confederate battle flag, voting 7-1 to reject the jump. In the 1977 film, the black and gold Trans Am wears a period-correct Georgia license plate on the front of the car. The plate’s Confederate war banner offends current woke sensibilities. (Read More…)

By on February 11, 2019

If you’re a diehard Miata enthusiast living in the United States and you had your heart set on buying one of the five hundred 30th Anniversary Edition models allocated to America, well, you’ll just have to wait for the secondary market. Within four hours of the introduction of the special edition, all of those U.S. bound pearl* anniversary units were scooped up with deposits placed by eager buyers. (Read More…)

By on February 1, 2019

If you drive, or walk, down Woodward Ave. from Detroit’s New Center area to downtown, you can’t help but notice the economic development along that corridor. Detroit has bottomed out. Areas formerly bereft of businesses and housing have been filled in, and hopefully that development will start spreading east and west of Woodward, Detroit’s version of Main Street. Over on the east side of town, one of America’s most blighted urban areas, there is another hopeful sign — a symbol of the city and domestic automobile industry’s decline has literally come crashing down.

The Packard plant bridge over East Grand Boulevard, target of lazy photojournalists for years, collapsed last week, perhaps due to extreme temperature swings the midwest has seen recently. (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2019

It might surprise you, since most automotive sites have moved on to other topics, but the North American International Auto Show, aka the Detroit auto show, is still going on as you read this. Hundreds of thousands of people are planning to attend the public days of the show that continue through next Sunday.

If you’re thinking of going, or just want a recap of the significant vehicles at the show, you’ve come to the right place. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2019

We reported in early December that the ongoing Gilets Jaunes [yellow vests] protests in France were sparked by private motorists, angered by government regulations that they felt landed most heavily on the middle class. One of those regulations was a decrease in the speed limit on two-lane highways from 90 kilometers per hour (56 mph) to 80 kph (50 mph). Those highways represent about 40 percent of France’s roads.

Now, the French government has acknowledged that a majority of the automated cameras used to enforce speed limits in that country have been made inoperable, either vandalized or destroyed by protesters. (Read More…)

By on January 8, 2019

Maybe I’m getting old, because I think most popular culture is dreck, or maybe it really is at best pablum and at worse corrosive to the mind and soul. Perhaps it’s because I don’t want to be harangued politically by someone whose profession involves lying convincingly. Whatever the reason, I haven’t watched an award show like the Oscars or Grammys in decades. I wouldn’t have even known the Golden Globes award show was taking place Sunday night if NBC hadn’t been hyping the broadcast during the NFL playoff game I tuned into to get some idea of what people who don’t live in Detroit do on Sunday afternoons in January.

Though I knew about it, as you can guess, I hadn’t planned on watching the Golden Globes. I went out to hear some blues, but the award show was on a couple of the flat screens on the walls at the Blue Goose Inn. That’s how Walmart’s new commercial promoting its grocery pickup service came into my ken. You may ask yourself, why is Schreiber talking about grocery ads at a car site? The answer to that question is that Walmart contracted with a number of movie and television studios to be able to feature a dozen genuinely iconic movie and TV cars and trucks in the ad. Get it? Movie cars in an ad running during a movie award show? (Read More…)

By on December 18, 2018

Considering they’re only making 160 of them, the suicide doors on the eighty Coach Door Edition Lincoln Continentals to be sold next year have garnered quite a bit of attention.

The use of rear-hinged doors on vehicles dates to the horse age. It seems that sometime in the 1930s the moniker “suicide doors” was applied to them, apparently due to people’s propensity  for falling out of cars in the decades before Ford introduced the seat belt (as an option in 1956). There’s also, at least according to something frequently reproduced online, a connection with gangsters pushing people out of cars — though to my ears, that would be more like homicide doors.

I’m not convinced, though, it’s any easier to fall (or be pushed) out of a car with such doors, other than the fact that aerodynamics will help keep the door open while you’re falling (or being pushed). (Read More…)

By on December 4, 2018

Despite everything  you’ve heard about road rage, motorists tend to be pretty meek — at least when it comes to government regulations, and particularly in Europe. They passively accept, and pay for, mandated safety and emissions regulations as well as for taxes on the fuel for their vehicles. Perhaps, though, they aren’t as passive as we think. For the past three weeks, France has erupted in massive protests and riots that are being called the Gilet Jaunes protests, demonstrations that are spreading to Belgium and the Netherlands, and those protests were spearheaded by motorists.

Gilet Jaunes is French for “yellow vests,” which many of the protesters are wearing as a statement against intrusive, expensive, and sometimes petty government regulations and taxes. (For the past decade, French motorists have been required by law to carry bright yellow/green safety vests in their vehicles and wear them in the case of a breakdown.) (Read More…)

By on November 30, 2018

As concerns grow about the Chinese government’s technology-driven “social credit” system of controlling its citizens, the Associated Press reports that the country, through regulations for electric vehicles, is requiring global automakers to supply telemetric data from their vehicles that could help the one-party state spy on its people.

American, German, and Japanese automakers, including General Motors, Ford, Tesla, Daimler, BMW, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, are among 200 manufacturers whose products must transmit location information and dozens of other pieces of driving data in real time that ultimately end up in monitoring centers that can report that data to the Chinese government. (Read More…)

By on September 4, 2018

As someone strongly identified with the Motor City, it’s not surprising that the music of Detroit’s Aretha Franklin had some association with cars. While she first gained superstardom in the 1960s, the Queen of Soul roared back into the Top 10 in 1985 with Freeway of Love, featuring the lyric “We goin’ ridin’ on the freeway of love/In my pink Cadillac.” Franklin, whose voice was likely unmatched in her generation, had a good ear for lyrics. A little known piece of music trivia is that Mack Rice changed Mustang Mama to Mustang Sally at Aretha’s suggestion.

If Detroit is famous for two things, they are indeed music and automobiles. Ms. Franklin’s career combined them both, so for her funeral the Motor City gave its Queen ‘Retha a proper automotive sendoff. (Read More…)

By on May 4, 2018

 

Tesla Motors is 15 years old and it is still not profitable. Hyperbolic stock values have encouraged investors to keep showering Elon Musk and his crew with billions of dollars to keep the EV company afloat and develop new products, but now the Bloomberg news agency says that Tesla’s cash burn is severe enough to make the company insolvent this year if they don’t raise new capital, something made more difficult by a recent 24% decline in that stock’s value.

Reporters Dana Hull and Hannah Recht did a deep dive into Teslas finances, both where their money has come from and where it’s been going. They came up with some interesting data. The company is going through cash at the rate of about $6,500 a minute, a bit more than $9 million a day. Free cash flow has been in the red for over a year. That’s how much money a firm generates after subtracting capital expenses. (Read More…)

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