Category: News Blog

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 >

By on September 15, 2021

Despite EV startups taking a lot of flak for habitually overpromising, sometimes on a level that approaches criminal fraud, things appear to be going rather well at the Rivian factory. Founder and CEO Robert Joseph “RJ” Scaringe announced that the company started building its very first production units on Tuesday.

With the necessary regulatory certifications in hand, Rivian can now begin delivering vehicles directly to customers and the timing couldn’t be much better. The electric brand had said it was basically done with prototypes and ready to spin up the assembly lines for the final product late last month. While this still placed it a bit behind schedule, the company now says it has all the necessary certifications from the relevant regulatory agencies (NHTSA, EPA, CARB, etc.) and an automobile that’s been federally approved for sale.  Read More >

By on September 15, 2021

We continue our 1990s-then-2000s series today, with the Japanese counterpart to the American compacts presented here recently. These Japanese compacts from 1998 represented the last of the Nineties’ Golden Era quality. Civic, Sentra, Corolla, make your pick!

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By on September 15, 2021

Today’s Rare Ride is the second vehicle in the series designed by French coachbuilder Heuliez, and was a one-off as part of a Porsche 914 styling competition.

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By on September 14, 2021

As the 2021 Ford Bronco shares a platform with the midsized Ranger, it’s long been assumed that the SUV would eventually receive a Raptor variant. North America already enjoys access to the F-150 Raptor and the smaller Ranger Raptor (which is already available in other parts of the world) is said to make it our way by the 2023 model year. Considering the Bronco is supposed to rivaling Jeep’s Wrangler, having the ability to add a zestier motor, gnarly tires, a beefed-up suspension, badging that denotes enhanced off-road capabilities, and a loftier MSRP seems like an obvious course of action for the Ford Motor Company.

While the automaker has yet to officially confirm such a vehicle, leaks have resulted in numerous positive rumors. The latest are of particular interest, as they show the manufacturer adding a Raptor-edition Bronco to its dealership ordering system for the 2022 model year.  Read More >

By on September 14, 2021

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been doing a deep dive into Tesla’s Autopilot to determine if 765,000 vehicles from the 2014 model year onward are fit to be on the road. We’ve covered it on numerous occasions, with your author often making a plea for regulators not to harp on one company when the entire industry has been slinging advanced driving aids and distracting infotainment displays for years.

Apparently someone at the NHTSA either heard the blathering, or was at least of a similar mind, because the organization has expanded its investigation to include roughly a dozen other automakers. Read More >

By on September 14, 2021

Chrysler/Stellantis

Mainstream hybrid cars have been with us for more than twenty years – at least since the first Toyota Prius hit the market in 1998 – and their image has evolved considerably. When they first arrived on the scene, for example, they were hailed as the car to be seen in if you wanted to be seen saving the planet, and there were a lot of celebrities who wanted to be seen in the things in the early Aughts. Over time, the virtue-signaling vehicle of choice switched from the Prius to the Tesla, but the Prius soldiered on with considerable green cred, eventually spawning an entire line of Priuses (Prii?) in the process. These days, however, the green crowd doesn’t want to talk about hybrids in a positive light, with some journalists calling for an end to the “era” of hybrids to come – now.

From climate crusader to internal-combustion enabler in the span of just two decades, then. That’s kind of impressive, I think, but it got us thinking about plug-in hybrids. Were they really a transitional technology that could hold the hands of overly cautious consumers as they tiptoe from internal combustion to battery power, or were they a flawed, compromised technology by definition – the worst of all possible worlds, combining the pollution and maintenance needs of internal combustion with the added weight and electrical complexity of electric, with nary a benefit over either to be found?  Read More >

By on September 13, 2021

With supply chain hiccups crippling the automotive industry’s ability to conduct business as normal, resulting in rolling production stalls and skyrocketing vehicle prices, manufacturers looked to be in serious trouble throughout the pandemic. But we learned that wasn’t to be the case by the summer. Automakers were posting “surprise profits” because people still needed cars. We also found out there’s been a growing appetite for expensive (see: highly profitable) models and the industry saved itself a bundle by not needing to pay for office space or line workers, as COVID restrictions kept everyone at home.

Having considered the above, most automakers are seriously considering how they can further leverage this new modality. German manufacturers have even said they’re not that interested in going back to the normal way of doing things — instead electing to intentionally limit volumes and focus on high-end models that will yield the greatest return on investment. But it’s not quite the curveball it seems, as some companies were already ditching the volume approach.  Read More >

By on September 13, 2021

Cadillac’s instance that it be the first brand owned by General Motors to go entirely electric has resulted in a shrinking U.S. dealership network, though perhaps a healthier bottom line for GM in the long run. It may also foreshadow the trajectory of other brands committed themselves to EVs and give us a sense of what the dealer landscape might look like in a decade or two.

Over the last few years, American luxury brands have been attempting to grow in select markets they believe will bring in new, affluent customers by building experience centers that mimic high-end airport lounges. Cadillac even briefly moved its base of operations to New York City as a way to gain distance from its rustbelt background and ingratiate itself into high society. More recently, Lincoln introduced a Central Park-themed Navigator as both have been trying to lay down roots in parts of California after ceding a large share of the market to the competition decades earlier. But GM’s insistence that Cadillac become an all-electric brand (with Lincoln also targeting a glut of EV sales by 2026) seems as though it could create complications, even if the end result is a major victory.  Read More >

By on September 13, 2021

Twinsterphoto/Shutterstock.com

Whether it’s adapting to a rapidly changing performance landscape or overcoming the encryption that’s being built in to cars’ electronic brains, it’s tough to be a tuner these days. But you know what they say, “When it rains, it pours.” And, for aftermarket performance tuners, the hits just keep on coming.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Ask Brent Leivestad, the owner of a small Colorado speed shop called PFI Speed who just got hit with an $18,000 EPA fine – a fine that, if not paid within 30 days, could increase to $180,000.

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By on September 13, 2021

The plain white van you see here is the subject of our second edition of Abandoned History. Though it was produced and sold domestically as eStar by Navistar, it was actually developed in England years prior. In fact, the story of this electric van begins with the traditional black London taxi.

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By on September 13, 2021

1991 Chrysler TC by Maserati in Colorado junkyard, LH rear view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWith The General offering a costlier-than-an-S-Class Cadillac built in Turin and Hamtramck (the two assembly lines connected via custom-built 747 freighters) as well as Italianate Buicks and Oldsmobiles in the late 1980s, Lee Iacocca decided to leverage Chrysler’s investment in Maserati to create a K-Car-based Italian sports car: the TC by Maserati. Like the Allanté, Troféo, and Reatta, the TC hasn’t held its value so well over the decades, and I find the occasional example during my junkyard travels. Here’s a crashed ’91 in a yard near Denver, Colorado. Read More >

By on September 10, 2021

With the Biden administration having announced that it would start requiring companies to vaccinate employees, automakers and UAW are finding themselves in a sticky situation. Unions had previously said they wanted to hold off on endorsing or opposing mandatory vaccinations until after they discussed things with the industry and their own members. Considering Joe Biden said he wouldn’t make vaccines mandatory less than 10 months ago, employers are getting caught with their pants around the proverbial ankles.

Automakers had previously been surveying white-collar workers to see what they wanted to do while upping on-site COVID restrictions, but operating under the impression that any hard decisions were likely a long way off and left entirely to their discretion. Now the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is planning a new standard that requires all employers with 100 (or more) employees to guarantee their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any unvaccinated workers to produce a negative test result on a minimum weekly basis.  Read More >

By on September 10, 2021

While a slew of vehicles has swum in its wake, nothing has been able to replace the Subaru WRX as the world’s favorite road-going rally car. Despite owing its own existence to the original Audi Quattro, the souped-up Impreza become synonymous with vehicular hooliganism and (for some reason) vaping.

Delivered onto the United States as part of the 2002 model year, the WRX has been maturing as slowly as its hardcore fan base of two decades. This remains apparent as the company has opted to give the car a new platform, new engine, and an updated appearance while adhering closely to the fundamentals. That means customers should be getting more of what they wanted out of the car — at least in the relative sense.  Read More >

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