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Ronnie Schreiber

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, the original 3D car site.

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…)

By on April 30, 2018

There are many people who feel every federal agency does not require the kind of machine gun-toting SWAT teams that have proliferated in Washington over recent decades. Also, for 140 years, since the passing of the Posse Comitatus Act, Americans have thought that keeping military and police functions separate is a good idea. In recent decades, as billions of dollars worth of surplus military equipment was made available to American police agencies following the first Gulf War and subsequent military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, concern has been raised over that equipment leading to both militarization and corruption of local police and sheriff’s departments.

Still, from coagulants designed to staunch battlefield wounds to Global Positioning Satellites originally used by our military, some technologies are just too good to be restricted to being used to break stuff and kill folks. Now, a direct energy “ray gun” developed to protect military installations from car and truck bombs could have civilian uses. The device focuses microwave energy at a vehicle, overloading its electrical system and causing the Engine Control Unit to reboot over and over, disabling the vehicle. (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2018

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Michigan State Police, along with a baker’s dozen of truckers and a couple of suburban police departments, came up with a clever solution to avert a suicide early Tuesday morning. Some time around 1:00 a.m., police received a report of a man getting ready to jump off the overpass where I-696 runs under Coolidge Hwy, just a couple of miles north of Detroit. He had either climbed over or around the protective fence and was standing on the top of the bridge’s side barrier, above eastbound traffic, near the median.

There happens to be a Michigan State Police post just a half mile away, so response was both quick and massive. While negotiators from the MSP, Oak Park, and Huntington Woods PDs talked to the man, the state police began shutting down eastbound traffic on the interstate highway. Well, they didn’t shut down traffic entirely. While cars and light trucks were rerouted off the freeway, about a half dozen tractor-trailer rigs were let through to the overpass, where police directed them to line up closely, side-by-side, directly under the bridge. The idea was to shorten the fall if the man decided to go ahead and jump. The same was done on the westbound side of the overpass. A total of 14 truckers apparently volunteered to help save the man’s life, though only 13 fit under the bridge. (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2018

At first, the headlines looked like a serious breach of justice: “Man Gets 8 Months In Prison After Flipping-Off Traffic Camera.” A jail sentence for a rude gesture?

As much as I have concerns about civil liberties and law enforcement, after tracking down the actual news (or at least a press release from the relevant police agency), it appears the case wasn’t as simple as jailing a man for flipping a bird at a speed camera. I have to say that the guy probably deserved some legal grief, if only for being too brazen. (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2018

It’s odd how the same thing can make some people laugh and others feel offended. There are countless examples in a popular culture that cultivates a new outrage du jour practically every day. Even well-intended comments are seen as provocative. Hie thee to Twitter or Facebook for your regular fix of dopamine.

I was reminded of this while my siblings and I were making preparations for our mother’s recent funeral, may her memory be for a blessing. We were sitting in an office at the Hebrew Memorial Chapel, and along with guides and books on Jewish mourning practices, the funeral planner offered us some magnetic signs the chapel had made to discourage texting while driving, and also, I presume, to promote its services (it’s a non-profit community-based organization). (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2018

Is ride-hailing company Uber backing away from self-driving cars now that one of their test vehicles was involved in a fatality?

Following the death of a pedestrian hit by one of Uber’s experimental autonomous vehicles in Tempe, Arizona, the ride sharing company suspended the testing Uber was doing with AVs on public roads in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and California in the United States and Ontario in Canada. Now comes word that Uber has informed California’s Department of Motor Vehicles that it will not be renewing its license to test autonomous vehicles on that state’s public roads. That license expires at the end of this month. (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2018

 

Bloomberg

Tesla has been Wall Street’s fair-haired boy as the electric car startup’s share price soared over the past few years. Production figures have not kept pace with Tesla’s market cap, and now problems getting assembly up to speed on the company’s vitally important Model 3 and concerns about its cash burn have resulted in a downgrade of its credit rating from Moody’s Investor Service. That report from Moody’s was issued late on Tuesday.

When trading began on Wednesday morning, Tesla stock opened at $264.76, down 5 percent from the day before. That is almost 14 percent lower than it was at the beginning of the week, and 31 percent lower than in September of 2017, when Tesla’s stock price apparently peaked at $385 a share. (Read More…)

By on March 20, 2018

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Detroit’s skyline-defining riverfront Renaissance Center is better known to car enthusiasts as the RenCen, home to General Motors, which has owned the seven tower complex for more than 20 years. Less well known is the fact that the RenCen was the brainchild of Henry Ford II. Shocked by the aftermath of the 1967 riot that devastated many Detroit businesses, the Deuce, as Henry Ford’s grandson was known, saw the RenCen as means of revitalizing the city’s economy. Construction began in 1971 and the facility opened in the summer of 1976. By then, however, the domestic auto industry was hit with the 1973 OPEC oil embargo just as it was struggling to meet new federal emissions and safety standards. Car guys call it the “Malaise Era,” and it was the start of four decades of decline of the Motor City.

That decline, however, genuinely appears to have finally bottomed out. Class A commercial real estate is in high demand downtown and commercial development is spreading to other areas of the city. Unemployment in Wayne County, Detroit’s home, is down to just 4.5 percent, compared to 17.4 percent in 2009.

Now, almost 50 years after Henry Ford II envisioned the RenCen as reviving Detroit, comes word that the car company with his name over the door may well revive and restore one of the most iconic images of Detroit’s decline. (Read More…)

By on March 19, 2018

consuming instinct saad coverGad Saad is an evolutionary behavioral scientist who is a professor of marketing at Concordia University in Canada. He’s also an associate editor of the journal Evolutionary Psychology and writes a popular blog for Psychology Today. Some have called him part of the “intellectual dark web”, a diverse group of heterodox academics who are willing to tack against the prevailing winds of thought conformity on today’s college campuses.

Saad applies the principals of evolutionary biology to consumers, but he uses the word consumers in its broadest definition, not just buyers, as humans make many choices about how we use many things. One area of his research has been how hormones affect consumers and also how consuming can affect hormones, in both sexes. For example, when men drive Porsches, their testosterone levels go up. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2018

In 2016, Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg factory fired an employee named Samir B. He had been working for the automaker for 8 years, mounting tires, but after the company said he began threatening co-workers and telling them of his pledge to join Islamist ISIS fighters in Syria, they had to let him go.

VW felt the threats were serious and worried he might stage a terror attack during a stockholders’ meeting at the company’s Wolfsburg headquarters. Now, a German court has ordered Volkswagen to reinstate him. (Read More…)

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