Media

How One Man Got the Best Job in the World

Welcome back. This week we have another episode of the TTAC podcast!

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We Need to (Finally) Discuss That Road & Track Article

A few weeks ago, venerable car-enthusiast magazine/Web site Road & Track created a mini-controversy with the deletion of an article from the Internet.

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QOTD: Influenced by the Automotive Press?


After last week's story on how Consumer Reports slapped the "avoid" label on the popular Ford F-150, I was going to ask you how much CR shapes your purchase decisions. The magazine is popular, and I know a lot of people, both car enthusiasts and not, who trust it.

Yet sometimes CR says not to buy a car and it sells well. Or vice versa.

After some reflection, I figured opening this QOTD to the larger automotive press would generate a more robust discussion.

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Tony Shalhoub to Play Carlos Ghosn in New Series

Carlos Ghosn led Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi through some challenging times, but his tenure with the alliance ended in ruins when he was arrested in Japan for allegedly underreporting his income and misusing millions in company funds. His subsequent escape and life in Lebanon have been heavily documented in books, interviews, and documentaries. Even so, Deadline recently reported that there’s a new series on the way with a familiar face playing Ghosn.

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Emerald-Colored Glasses: Just How Green Are EVs?

As the resident sourpuss, I make it my business to complain about every industrial hypocrisy that crosses my path and the automotive sector has kept me so busy that there’s hardly any time left to address my own failings. Though I do have to confess that I sometimes feel guilty about how frequently I’m compelled to gripe about electric vehicles. Provided that you’re willing to work with their charging limitations and less-than-impressive ranges, EVs have a lot to offer even in their current state. But the way they’ve been marketed has been so consistently disingenuous that I often end my days on the cusp of a frustration-induced aneurysm.

The winds appear to be changing, however.

After years of watching the industry bang its head against the wall, the media seems prepared to shift its position. Accelerated adoption of pure electrics doesn’t seem to be happening and too many EV startups have ended up being little more than an opportunity for investors to throw away money. Increasingly fewer people ask me about battery-powered cars in a way that suggests true enthusiasm. Excitement has given way to dubiousness as more people have begun to ponder if electrics are really all they’re cracked up to be.

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Guyton New Mazda North American Ops President

Appointed Mazda North American Operations (NAO) president and CEO, Jeff Guyton replaces Masahiro Moro effective June 24th. Recalled to Hiroshima, Moro becomes the newly-minted Chief Communications Officer.

Guyton’s oversight includes North America, Canada, Columbia, and Mexico, along with US and Mexican vehicle production.

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New Communicators at Audi and Hyundai

Audi’s Emilie Cotter

Hyundai and Audi both filled high-level communications posts this week. Audi promoted Emilie Cotter, while at Hyundai Sarah Fullwood arrived devoid of automotive experience.

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2021 Acura TLX Type S Picks Up the Pace This Weekend

The 2021 Acura TLX Type S will pace the field at the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio in Lexington, Ohio this weekend. The TLX Type S’ debut is one we reported previously, with more details available now than Acura had previously released.

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2022 Acura MDX SUV Insurers' Top Safety Pick

The 2022 Acura MDX SUV’s Top Safety Pick (TSP) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety runs counter to all the racing around done in Acura’s commercials. The MDX is the automaker’s third vehicle to receive the IIHS’s highest safety rating, along with the RDX and TLX.

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2021 Bronco Badlands Podiums at Mexican 1000 Rally

A stock 2021 Bronco Badlands finished third in the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road rally, driven by two Ford engineers. The podium finish came in the Pre-Runner Truck class.

Bronco engineer manager Jamie Groves and Seth Goslawski, another Bronco engineer, drove the majority of the 1,141 mile race across the Baja peninsula. Brad Lovell, a Bronco advisory panel member and prior NORRA winner, helped navigate and drove one stage during the five-day event.

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BMW Art Cars Exhibited

BMW art cars debuted today, using artificial intelligence (AI) software to generate new works of art. In conjunction with Frieze New York, the fair takes place in Manhattan from May 5 – 9, 2021.

Frieze New York has works of art from over 60 galleries, mainly located in New York. A viewing room with over 160 exhibitors runs through May 14, bringing together galleries worldwide, and audiences who can’t travel.

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Polaris Renews Its Leadership

Polaris today affirmed the appointments of a new CEO and CFO, both of whom had been serving in interim roles since January. The manufacturer of motorcycles, off-road vehicles, and boats named Michael Speetzen as CEO, and Bob Mack as CFO.

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Vehicle Miles Traveled On The Rise Again

In March, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. According to the Auto Care Association, this was the first month since August 2019 that VMT topped 300 million miles. To give you some perspective, the distance between the earth and the moon is only 238,856 miles, according to Wikipedia.

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Elon Musk Takes Center Stage on Saturday Night Live

Billionaire Elon Musk will host “Saturday Night Live” on May 8th, the comedy series announced last week. Known for his controversial, biting remarks, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO apparently did not win over any fans among the cast. Cast members were not happy with Musk’s invitation. Social media comments indicated their displeasure.

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2021 Hyundai LGBTQ Partnership Announced

Hyundai’s support for the LGBTQ community continues. Announced today, it includes a new commercial, and sponsorships of the 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards and 2021 Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival.

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2022 Nissan NISMO GT-R Special Edition Flaunts Exclusivity

The 2022 Nissan NISMO GT-R Special Edition was unveiled today in Japan. How much more exclusive can a limited-edition sports car be? It turns out this GT-R is pretty distinctive. It’s not just a badge and some decals that sets it apart.

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CarMax Invites Customers to 'Do Donuts'

CarMax has invited customers to ‘do donuts’ during their test drives, a promotion with Dunkin’ Donuts. For shoppers who take part in CarMax’s 24-hour test drives today through May 16th, they’ll receive a $10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card.

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Toyota's Akio Toyoda Chosen 2021 World Car Person of the Year

Selected 2021 World Car Awards Person of the Year was Akio Toyoda, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) president and CEO.

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Pandemic Changes Car Buying Plans, Or Has It?

The pandemic has changed car buying plans for nearly three out of four shoppers who intended to buy in the next six months. New research from Comscore Automotive Data Mart, cited in a story today by Auto Remarketing, indicated the pandemic tops the concerns of four out of ten who had intended to buy.

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Barrett-Jackson VIN 001s Boost Auction Results

VIN 001s are a rarity few can appreciate, let alone afford. Barrett-Jackson, auctioneers with aplomb, moved a handful of them last weekend at their auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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Jeepster Beach Like Deja Vu at 2021 Easter Jeep Safari

Blend a 2020 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon with a 1968 Jeepster Commando and what do you get? A throwback that epitomizes why you build concept vehicles. I have to imagine it was as much fun for the designers, as it was the fabricators and the PR team that gets to display them this week at Easter Jeep Safari.

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2021 Hyundai Elantra Chosen Hispanic Motor Press Car of the Year

The 2021 Hyundai Elantra has been selected Car of the Year during Automobility LA by the Hispanic Motor Press. The 2021 Hispanic Motor Press Awards (HMPA) jury panel included 24 Hispanic automotive journalists, content creators, and industry influencers, who analyzed more than 100 new 2020 and 2021 vehicles.

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Mitsubishi Tries Harder in 2021 J.D. Power Study

Mitsubishi Motors’ third-place ranking in the latest J.D. Power Customer Service Index (CSI) indicates the brand is trying harder to improve the experience for service done under warranty and or customer pay. Up one spot from 2020 among non-premium, mass-market nameplates, Mini ranked the highest with a score of 864, Buick ranked second at 859, followed by Mitsubishi at 857, GMC at 856, and Kia in fifth at 855.

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2022 400Z HP Revealed?

According to Project Cars 3, a video game from Slightly Mad Studios distributed by Bandai Namco, the new Nissan 400Z is shown in their latest downloadable content (DLC) power pack to possess some very serious horsepower.

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Keystone BIG Show Returns This Weekend

The Keystone BIG Show, an automotive aftermarket trade show arguably second only to the SEMA Show in importance, will be held Friday, March 5th, and Saturday, March 6th, at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. The in-person show will be followed March 15-19 by a virtual event.

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Infiniti QX80 Goes Glamping in Russia

Infiniti’s wanderlust has taken the QX80 to other faraway locations, but none quite as exotic as Privolzhskoe, Tver Oblast, Russia, to go glamping in Villi Ulei’s geodesic domes.

In what’s termed a comfort zone for climatic conditions in Russia, temperatures range from 9-degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, to a high of 66-degrees in the summer. As you can see, snowfall is abundant in the region, from a low of about 16 inches, to almost 32 inches, and it spans anywhere from four to five months of the year. Home to 1.35 million Russians, 30% of whom are Russian Orthodox, it might seem like a great place to go if it were summer at the Boishoe Zavidovo, when Nashestvie, the largest Russian rock festival, is being held.

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2021 Ford F-150 Rockets Into Esports

The 2021 Ford F-150 has a plethora of parts and accessories available, but none like a rocket booster that comes with a virtual version of Ford’s best-seller.

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Xperi's DTS AutoStage is the Next Big Thing in Infotainment

Xperi’s DTS AutoStage is the next evolution in multimedia, if you turn on the radio while starting your car like millions of others do worldwide.

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The Fast and The Furious Rides Again

The ninth Fast and The Furious epic was announced during Super Bowl LV in typical Fast fashion, with an over-the-top trailer to herald yet another chapter in a franchise where the stars outgrew the cars central to the theme.

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2022 Mitsubishi Outlander's Amazon Live Reveal Is a First

As the 2022 Mitsubishi Outlander ships to U.S. dealers, there will be a live reveal on Amazon, an auto industry first. On February 16 at 3 p.m. Pacific time, you can see the newly-designed 2022 Outlander.

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Breaking: 2021 North American International Auto Show Canceled

The 2021 Detroit Auto Show has been canceled.

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Kia Reveals Its New Logo

Kia revealed its new logo and brand slogan while you were asleep last night, signifying the Korean automaker’s ambitions to become a leader in the industry by revamping nearly all facets of its business.

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BMW Presented Golden Button Award by YouTube

BMW videos on YouTube accessed by more than one million subscribers have earned the German automaker a coveted Golden Button Award.

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Automotive Journalist Dick DeLoach Succumbs to COVID-19

Dick DeLoach, a 44-year automotive industry journalist, who was instrumental at Lowrider magazine and many other automotive enthusiast publications, died on November 9, 2020, following complications from COVID-19. He had been admitted to Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Ontario on October 25th.

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Electronic Arts Outruns Take-Two in Codemasters Race

Electronic Arts said it had reached an agreement to buy Codemasters in a deal worth $1.2 billion, beating rival video games maker Take-Two Interactive Software to the finish line for the British company.

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Are Consumers as Resilient Amid the Pandemic as Ford Says?

The ninth annual Looking Further with Ford Trends Report has us asking if consumers are as resilient amid the pandemic as Ford claims. The study expresses how COVID-19 has wrought economic, political, and emotional woes, testing the limits of individuals, families, healthcare systems, and society. Focusing on global trends to understand shifting consumer behaviors, it measures how far we’ve come, and where we’re going. This year, the OEM also examined how resilient people are.

“COVID-19 has changed us – but to what degree?” said Sheryl Connelly, Ford’s global consumer trends and futuring manager.

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Materazzo Appointed Group Vice President, Toyota Marketing

Lisa Materazzo has been appointed group vice president, Toyota Marketing, replacing Ed Laukes, who is retiring after 32 years with the automaker. Materazzo, who currently serves as vice president of Lexus marketing, will run the entire gamut of Toyota division market planning, advertising, merchandising, sales promotions, incentives, NASCAR and motorsports, and all social and digital media. According to Statista, in 2019 Toyota spent $1.51 billion on advertising alone, behind General Motors and Ford.

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Activist Attacks Oil Companies by Shaming Ad Agencies

Environmental activist Jamie Henn, and his firm, Fossil Free Media, are attacking advertising and PR agencies that work on oil industry accounts. Their initiative, Clean Creatives, is designed to shame some of the world’s largest PR and ad agencies in hopes that they will resign.

“We want to get PR and ad agencies to stop working with the oil industry because they are spreading misinformation about climate change and lobbying action to address the crisis,” said Henn. “Our reliance on fossil fuels is driving global warming which will have serious impacts on our environment, health, and economy.”

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Ford Hires EBay's Suzy Deering as Global Chief Marketing Officer

Ford has hired Suzy Deering as global chief marketing officer to help execute its plan to unlock customer and company value. Deering will join Ford as head of Global Marketing on January 4, 2021, from worldwide and North America CMO at eBay for five-plus years.

Deering will succeed Joy Falotico as Ford CMO. The company previously announced that Falotico, who has been managing both marketing and the Lincoln brand for the past three years, will be dedicated solely to her role as president of the Lincoln Motor Company, Ford’s strategically important and growing luxury vehicle brand.

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Honda 'Boycotts' Facebook and Instagram

American Honda has joined a cadre of sizable brands opting to pause advertising on Facebook and Instagram in order to “stand with with people united against hate and racism.” It’s part of a broader campaign, called #StopHateforProfit, in which activists push brands to boycott social media giants until they enact stricter regulations about what constitutes actionable language that should be censored/penalized.

Over the last few days, we’ve seen numerous companies adopt the increasingly popular campaign, yet the reasons for doing so seem as varied as their individual terms and conditions. Multinational consumer goods company Unilever said it will scrap all social media advertising for the remainder of 2020 in the United States. While most attribute this primarily to hate-speech concerns, the company also noted that the contentious political climate on those platforms (including Twitter) having become undesirable for its own advertising purposes. Coca-Cola is similarly pausing social media spending for a few weeks, it’s made it clear that it’s not joining the official boycott, despite claims to the contrary in the news.

While Honda’s involvement in the movement is a little easier to follow, there are still a few twist and turns.

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Should Tesla Start Advertising?

Tesla shareholders are scheduled to vote in July on whether or not the brand should start advertising product like every other automaker on the planet. It’s something the board and CEO Elon Musk have long resisted, and not without good reason. As a car brand, Tesla probably enjoys more free publicity than anyone else.

Musk has effectively mastered social media. He knows what buttons to press to earn more attention, and his one-man campaign has helped the company get where it is today more than the slickest ad copy could have hoped to.

Tesla also managed to spin this into a strength against would-be critics. Anytime someone laughs at the brand for not spending on traditional marketing, its acolytes point to the Musk talking point that cash is better used for development — a claim that holds some real weight, thanks to the brand having some of the most desirable electric vehicles on the market. But Tesla’s mystique won’t last forever, and it won’t be able to count on Elon Musk’s upper echelon Twitter game indefinitely.

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Industrial Trash Talk Between BMW and Mercedes

Cooperation between automakers is a good way to cope with rising costs but, if we’re being honest, it’s much more exciting when they don’t get along. Think about some of your favorite automobiles. Odds are good that they have a counterpart from another manufacturer they’re supposed to be warring with — Mustang vs Camaro, WRX STI vs Lancer Evolution, Camry vs Accord, Gremlin vs Pinto.

The best rivalries are between manufacturers, as those provide ample opportunity for snide marketing. If we had our druthers, automakers would be forced to compete in biannual gladiator-style competitions that open with scored trash talk. But dreams rarely come true; automotive bloodsports probably require a few years of heavy planning, too.

Luckily, industrial-grade insults aren’t something we have to wait for. To our delight, Daimler AG and BMW Group were going at it on Halloween.

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The Show's Over for Four-door Ford Car Advertising

With Ford Motor Company dropping all but one car from its lineup to focus on utility vehicles and crossovers, there’s little reason to run ad campaigns for both. You don’t see Coca-Cola running spots for both Diet Coke and Coke BlāK, as the latter of the two beverages disappeared from store shelves roughly a decade ago. Companies don’t bother pushing products they don’t have, and pretty soon Ford won’t have cars.

Thus, the automaker has ended all nationwide marketing for the Fiesta, Focus, Taurus, and Fusion. Mark LaNeve, Ford’s vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, said the automaker intends to use the freed advertising dollars on the company’s current and forthcoming utility models — setting aside a portion for the Mustang. But the Fusion, which is slated to stick around for another two years, will have to go without.

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Revisiting Lake Wakatonka: Looking Back at Ford's Driving Simulation Software

In 1987, Ford Motor Company published a game for the long-defunct disk operating system universally known as “DOS.” In reality, the software was less of a game and more of a digital showroom that allowed you to demo the company’s 1988 lineup from the comfort of your personal computer. As marketing materials go, you couldn’t have done much better than this for the era, and now it’s a top-rate piece of automotive nostalgia.

Ford Simulator was essentially the car-based equivalent to the CDs distributed by America Online, but before such a thing even existed. The software just had a way of casually showing up and finding its way into your computer room. This was an era when promotional materials were physical and technology had reached a point where the industry could experiment a little.

Tragically, the internet has eliminated this phenomenon like a dog with rabies. You don’t see much physical media at automotive trade shows anymore and any games that include branded models come through publishers that are able to work out a deal with automakers.

However, for almost 10 years, Ford produced a series of computer programs many of us remember fondly — despite being objectively terrible to play.

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One More Media Take On Elon Musk's Media Meltdown

Oh, Elon. Elon, Elon, Elon.

As you, the reader, no doubt know, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been blasting the media – and financial analysts – for being critical of his company and/or its products. He was too annoyed to even answer questions from analysts during one recent earnings call – turning attention instead to a YouTube user who happens to be a Tesla investor and apparent fanboy. Musk gave him the floor for over 20 minutes.

Musk’s meltdown has continued since. Last week he stirred up shit on Twitter by suggesting that the media is lying and that he’ll create a media-rating service. He also may or may not have blown an anti-Semitic dog whistle (I don’t think that was his intent, but I can see why it was taken that way – especially given some of the nasty stuff that’s taken place on Twitter since, oh, lo about mid-2015 or so) in the process.

That’s just the short version.

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Tesla Vs the Media: Automaker Slams Investigative Report on Factory Safety

Depending on who you believe, Tesla is either the innocent victim of a shadowy, union-backed disinformation campaign peddled by so-called journalists, or a cynical, profit-chasing company willing to underplay injury statistics in a bid to keep its operation looking viable and progressive.

It’s not hard to fall into one of these two camps.

There’s a battle raging between the electric automaker and the journalists behind an explosive story published in Reveal, a publication of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting. In it, Reveal claims workers at Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant face unsafe working conditions resulting from an all-hands-on-deck-style work culture. Workplace injuries are often categorized as personal medical issues, the report stated, and CEO Elon Musk’s dislike of the color yellow (a color used to mark workplace hazards) has created further risk to employees.

False, false, and false, Tesla claims.

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TTAC at the Movies: 'Bullitt'

It’s odd to consider, but in a world where Steve McQueen had never lived I’d be about three dozen serious injuries better off than I am today. Scratch that. I don’t need him to have never lived. I just need him to have not supported the production of “On Any Sunday.”

That film romanticizes the Elsinore GP, which in turn led me to enter the Elsinore GP, which led me to break my leg training for the Elsinore GP, which led me to record a big fat DNS for the Elsinore GP. Worse than that, however, the opening sequence of “On Any Sunday” is commonly understood to be the catalyst for the sport of bicycle motocross, which has treated me worse than Ike Turner treated Tina.

Not that I bear any grudge against the man, mind you. I do, however, have complete and abiding contempt for the consumer-driven culture of McQueen worship that has arisen in the past 20 years or so. If you wear Hunsiker McQueen shoes or a McQueen T-shirt, or if you repeat the “Racing is life” line from LeMans like it was someone’s actual philosophy and not just a line written for an actor on a set, I’m going to think less of you. It’s not because McQueen was a vile person at times, although it is worth noting that his behavior often went past the rambunctious into the just plain despicable. It is because while boys and teenagers need heroes to admire and emulate, grown men shouldn’t wear another man’s face or name on their bodies if they can help it. Period, point blank.

Last week, Ford introduced a new “ Bullitt Mustang” with the help of McQueen’s lovely granddaughter, Molly Flattery dba Molly McQueen. I have to say that I like everything about the car but the new-for-2019 nose, which is uncomfortably catfish-esque, and the “Bullitt” logos. As was the case the last two times a Bullitt Mustang appeared, there’s been a revival of interest in the movie. My wife had never seen it, so we watched “Bullitt” this past Friday night. Shortly afterwards, I read a Jalopnik piece by Raphael Orlove describing the movie as “boring garbage.”

It seems like the right time to take a look at the film without Gulf-colored lenses or Millennial-ish suspicion, so let’s open the curtain on another episode of TTAC At The Movies, shall we? Warning: spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t managed to catch the film in the past 49 years.

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As Falls the G20, So Falls the Chevrolet SS

Don’t look now, but there’s a major shortage affecting the automotive industry. Well, maybe that’s putting it a bit too strongly. There is a major shortage — but it primarily affects the automotive blogging industry, and the shortage in question is a shortage of history.

Here’s the problem in a nutshell: There are approximately one zillion car websites on the Internet, each of them trying to cook up 10 new stories a day to “increase engagement.” So how do you get those 10 stories? You can get a few of them from Automotive News and a few more from press releases, but that won’t fill the hopper all the way to the brim. To paraphrase the talking house in D.H. Lawrence’s sublime The Rocking-Horse Winner, “There must be more stories!” So you start looking for Wacky Car History Features to write. The problem is that this ground has been worn smooth by the grubby fingers of the second-tier blogger class. Everything you can think of has already been written up 10 times by drooling morons. The Mercedes 500E? The “Pasha” interior Porsches? The Mazda Cosmo? They’ve all been done to death. You’d better start looking at more esoteric stuff than that, like the Mitsuoka Viewt… oh shit, that’s been covered thirty times.

Eventually you give up and just start throwing darts at the Standard Catalog Of Imported Cars. Which brings us to Jason Torchinsky’s “Meh Car Monday” on the Infiniti G20. I think Torch is a great writer and a great person and a great dad, and to be fair the G20 piece is pretty well-balanced. The G20 has received much worse from far less talented writers; Doug DeMuro applied his genial disregard for the truth in the vague direction of the smallest Infiniti a few years back, claiming that it was just a Sentra. He was wrong, and Torch is careful to disavow that claim in his piece, but I’m a little troubled nevertheless.

Allow me to explain why the G20 was anything but “meh”, and why it’s important to remember that fact.

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BMW's Getting a 'New Logo' for Its Flagship Models

Interested in distinguishing its premium models from the rest of the flotsam and jetsam, BMW is launching a “new” black-and-white logo it will use to market its “flaggschiff” units around the globe. The updated look was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show and will be used for the 7 series and i8 coupe, as well as the forthcoming 8 series coupe, convertible, i8 roadster and X7 SUV.

Rumored to be similar to the cheesy carbon variant of the company’s emblem found in numerous aftermarket Ebay listings, the new logo is essentially the old one, only desaturated into monochrome with the company’s full name — Bayerische Motoren Werke — written out in its entirety. However, there seems to be some confusion as to how the new logo will be used and what its heritage actually entails.

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Did Anyone Else Think the Premiere of Top Gear America Was an Absolute Disaster?

Automotive television is, at best, a mixed bag. At worst, it’s a cultural wasteland of gimmicky programing that persists only because of our deep love for cars, bolstered by a handful of engaging personalities. Suggesting that I am generally dubious of any new car-related entry into the entertainment landscape would be a gross understatement. So, when the rebooted Top Gear America aired over the weekend, my expectations were already incredibly low.

I suppose the nicest way to phrase this is by saying it did not exceed those expectations.

While it attempts to capture the magic of vintage Top Gear in much the same way the current British version strives to, the first episode fell far short of the mark. Whether that’s down to the hosts not having adequate time to develop legitimate chemistry or a systematic flaw in the show’s design remains to be seen. But something is definitely wrong here.

Episode One felt extremely awkward, although not entirely hopeless. And I’ve reminded myself that I didn’t much care for Richard Hammond the first time I saw him on the screen, either. Fast forward 15 years and I enter into a panic every time he’s in a scrape, terrified that God might take that adorable little man away from me.

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2018 Honda Odyssey: Rear Seat Erotic Entertainment Was at Your Fingertips

Who knew the well-equipped 2018 Honda Odyssey was so… titillating? An unsuspecting journalist over at Forbes saw a few more — let’s call them entertainment options — than she expected while browsing through the video selection offered via her Odyssey tester’s rear media screen.

At that point, things became a little hot under the collar at Honda.

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When a Brand Becomes Your Identity, Bad Things Can Happen

A horrible situation transpired in Midtown Detroit yesterday evening, in which the driver of an old Chevrolet Silverado pickup crossed the center line on Canfield Avenue, near Second Street, and struck four people standing outside the Shinola store.

According to the latest reports, a 73-year-old man has died, while two others remain in hospital in serious condition. The 42-year-old driver, who has reportedly never held a license in his life and was driving with illegal plates, was arrested at the scene. He told police he had taken two Ecstacy pills, Xanax, and officers also suspect he was under the influence of alcohol.

An unidentified passenger riding in the truck told media he didn’t know why the driver crossed the line, adding that he tried to stop the vehicle by jamming the gearshift lever into “park.”

What makes this story different from the many instances of innocent bystanders being injured by passenger cars not being where they’re supposed to be (not to mention criminally irresponsible behavior on the part of vehicle operators) is the location of the crash, and the reason those pedestrians were standing along Canfield.

It was a Tesla pop-up event. And those bystanders were looking at Tesla vehicles near a mobile design studio. As early reports filtered out, some decided to take speculation to new heights.

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Feeling Burned by ABC News Report, BMW Fires Back

Last week’s ABC News investigation into unrecalled BMW models bursting into flames after being parked raised a number of questions, but didn’t provide viewers with many answers.

While the automaker, like others, has seen its fair share of fire-related safety recalls in recent years, the models involved in the apparent rash of spontaneous fires appear quite diverse — both in model type and age. Any fire can have a number of causes, leading many to see the report as sensationalism, especially after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it couldn’t find a recall-worthy issue behind the blazes.

After taking time to examine ABC‘s findings, BMW decided to speak out.

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Spontaneous Combustion of Parked BMWs Get a 'News at 11' Close-up
While BMW definitely isn’t alone in this regard, the company’s safety recalls often contain an ear-piquing phrase: “Risk of fire.”The German luxury automaker has had no shortage of fire-related recalls in past years, but a ABC News investigation points to dozens of recent fires that destroyed vehicles not under recall. The models involved reportedly span the gamut of the brand’s product lineup, but the fires share a common trait. Each blaze broke out after the vehicle had been shut off — in one case, after the vehicle had sat dormant for three or four days.
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Automotive News Looks At Dodge Demon, Clutches Its Pearls, Sighs, Faints

Update: We’ve redacted a sentence from this editorial. You can find an explanation here.

Jay-Z and Beyonce got nothing on the marketing people from Dodge. The last low-volume vehicle to get this kind of publicity and raise this kind of ruckus was probably the LaFerrari, which was definitely not based on a $29.99/day rental car. (Trust me, I’ve driven the LaFerrari.) It will also toss, by my back-of-envelope estimation, somewhere between $100m and $200m into the company coffers, even if you don’t take into account all the lower-spec Challengers — even Hellcats — the Demon will sell just by drawing traffic into dealers.

The media response to the Demon has been half predictable and half rather refreshing.

The predictable part is the Motor Trend-style cheerleading, which in this case has spread far beyond MT because — let’s face it — anybody can get excited over a nine-second street car. (By contrast, it takes a seasoned hack, erm, a real pro to get excited about the Bolt.) The refreshing half of the commentary has come from the half of the media that likes to style itself as an un-elected and un-appointed fiscal watchdog of the industry. These are the people who whine a certain car “won’t sell” or “doesn’t make money” as if they are major shareholders of GM instead of underwater-basketweaving-degree-holders sitting in rent-controlled apartments on a mountain of student debt.

Normally, these people would be up in arms that an automaker has taken time off from the critical business of building suppository-shaped RX300 clones to briefly indulge in a bout of misguided enthusiasm about automobiles. In this case, however, the Demon is so obviously going to be wildly profitable that they’ve been forced to shut up and/or join the chorus of approbation. Except, that is, for one crusty old relic of the legacy media who’s found a new tune to play.

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Discovery's 'Car Saviors' Abandons Obnoxious Automotive Programing and Adopts Fun

Automotive television has developed some extremely bad habits, the worst of which is creating false reality show-style drama among characters with no appreciable personalities. Build shows are the absolute worst for this, yet the agreed-upon recipe seems to be to force one-dimensional characters to argue with one another, intercut with B-roll footage of people working on a car. Rinse and repeat.

While shows like Top Gear and The Grand Tour manage to avoid this problem — by providing entertaining short films, product reviews, and humorous banter — most programs where the host touches a wrench becomes painful to watch within the first few minutes. There are, of course, mainstream exceptions. Mighty Car Mods and RoadKill are both project-oriented shows that remain enjoyable due the presenters’ enthusiasm, authenticity, and willingness to fail. However, neither of those examples exist on a major television network and persist as online-only affairs. And there isn’t really a build show on cable that anyone should consider on par with either.

However, there could be a contender when the Discovery Channel airs its first episode of Car Saviors tonight.

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Volkswagen's Car Sex Commercial is Unsettling in an Unusual Way

Volkswagen USA released an advertisement on YouTube today entitled “Luv Bug,” and it uses the ever-popular growing family angle to appeal to the customer.

Click through to watch this interesting take on in-car entertainment, and see if you spot what’s wrong.

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Why Do We Still Applaud the Destruction of 1969 Dodge Chargers?

Onlookers outside Detroit’s Cobo Center took part in a great American pastime yesterday. That is, thrilling at the impending destruction of an airborne 1969 Dodge Charger.

You know the one. Orange, Confederate flag emblazoned on the roof, once the star of a popular TV show that was serviceable in its first season, but then got really stupid. There’s a pull, an irresistible force that compels us to find old B-body Chargers — ideally a ’69, sometimes a ’68 but never a ’70 — and launch those nose-heavy suckers to a frame-twisting death.

It’s the only classic, lusted-after muscle car that we associate with low-altitude flight and, for some reason, we continue to applaud the torture and destruction of the remaining examples. Why?

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Wayne Gerdes Is At It Again! Hired Hand 'Reviews' Kia Niro After Guinness World Record Drive

Simon Cameron, the 26th United States Secretary of War, is known for saying, “An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.”

He could have said the same thing about supposed automotive journalists, too.

Wayne Gerdes, who was hired by Kia to set a Guinness World Record for fuel economy in the new Niro Hybrid, has just posted his review of the same vehicle. You know exactly how this is going to go.

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Volvo Cars Should Hire Volvo Trucks' Marketing Geniuses

Do you remember the last Volvo commercial you saw? Or any Volvo commercial?

If the answer is “no,” you clearly haven’t seen the videos offered up by Volvo Trucks, which somehow manage to make 18-wheelers seem as alluring as a two-seat droptop. By staging stunts that compel viewers to seek out a heavy truck license, the company’s online videos have given the truck maker a strong media presence and plenty of word of mouth.

It’s too bad that Volvo Cars (long since snatched from under the Volvo Group corporate umbrella) can’t do the same thing.

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  • 1995 SC That KIA truck is the ugliest truck I've ever seen
  • 1995 SC Probably not, but I hope they do
  • Carson D You've got to admire the perversity of the administrative state that it is impossible for a manufacturer to offer a three-liter, port-injected gas engine with a manual transmission in a 3,200-pound sedan returning 24-34 miles per gallon for hundreds of thousands of trouble-free miles, but it is perfectly fine for people with 179 funds to burn to buy SUVs that get 6-9 miles per gallon. Deregulate now.
  • Ajla I could see going for a used one. Most reviews seem to say it's a reasonably fun experience.
  • Theflyersfan BMW. Because at this extreme point of brand dilution and loss of identity...why not?