Category: Sign of the Times

By on April 15, 2019

mini electric concept

With governments strongly encouraging the growth of electric vehicles and automakers repositioning various brands to align with that goal, it’s worth a manufacturer’s time to examine the market. Mini, which BMW Group intends to evolve into an EV-focused nameplate, plans to release its first battery powered vehicle in 2020. However, before that occurs, the brand decided to commission Engine International for a little market research.

The firm conducted a general population survey of 1,004 presumably average Americans — all above the age of 18 and split equally by gender. Unfortunately for BMW, the results were less than promising. Most people still don’t seem to have a handle on what EVs offer or how they function. However, that might not necessarily be because they are clueless morons. Apathy undoubtedly plays a role here, especially as EV ownership remains relatively rare.  Read More >

By on March 11, 2019

It looks as though more parents are increasingly paying for the transportation needs of their (sometimes very old) children.

Thanks largely to abandoning the important job of parenthood, a Bank of America survey a discovered small portion of adults between age 23 and 37 are now able to put away legitimate savings. However, the prevalence of student debt, low-paying jobs, and an increased cost of living has left many to continue scrimping and saving. In fact, most Millennials under 24  had less than $1,000 in their savings accounts, with nearly half having no savings at all. The former was also true for older members of the same generation. On average, it’s presumed that Millennials are earning 20 percent less than their Boomer parents at the same stage in life — despite being better educated, overall.

That’s causing future issues for the automotive industry. When Bankrate surveyed Americans to get their financial priorities on record last month, 23 percent of respondents specified that student-loan debt directly influenced their decision to delay purchasing a new car. Considering both monthly payments are frequently set to the tune of hundreds of dollars, that would make a lot sense.  Read More >

By on March 23, 2018

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America

While fuel-cell technology is progressing in places like California and Japan, the rest of the world shrugged it off after the initial hype subsided. Since then, practically every automaker in existence has invested in battery technology and electrification. However, according to a recent survey, most auto executives secretly do not believe batteries will be the real breakthrough in electric mobility. Dealers feel the same way, but they’ve been less cagey on the matter.

Uh, what? Then why is everyone and their mother talking up plug-in cars and sweeping the fuel cell under the carpet?

Well, in addition to hydrogen having an abysmal fueling infrastructure almost everywhere, governments simply aren’t pushing it like battery power. Incentivizing plug-in cars has gone a long way to bolster the segment’s popularity and, with China mandating that a growing portion of all auto sales be battery-related, companies have to lean into what they already have. That said, many executives still seem to feel that hydrogen-powered cars have more to give the industry.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Its time to talk about why auto dealers are so unhappy about the electric revolution.  Read More >

By on January 25, 2017

Behind the Wheel Driving

Despite some disparaging typecasting to the contrary, Millennials do know how to drive and aren’t a population of unmitigated phone-addicted car haters.

People under forty even have purchasing preferences associated with automotive ownership. However, some stereotypes ring especially true when compared to their nearest generational counterpart: Generation X. Read More >

By on December 2, 2016

mechanic vw

Everyone knows a friend or, more frequently, a friend’s middle-aged dad who has “a guy.”

The guy in question doesn’t necessarily need to be male and the friend only needs to know them tangentially. They just have to be some kind of professional or tradesman that they trust implicitly with a single important aspect of their life. For automotive enthusiasts, the guy is a mechanic and usually has a whole shop backing him up. Unfortunately, “the guy” has remained elusive for younger generations. Read More >

By on November 22, 2016

Old car vw bug

The life expectancy of the average automobile was only 6.75 years in 1930. It is almost double that now and shows no signs of stopping.

As cars and trucks have continued to become longer lived, the number of operational vehicles in the United States hit a record high this year. Despite the automotive genocide that was Cash for Clunkers, the average vehicle on U.S. roads has grown in age since the financial crisis. Either through necessity or personal preference, Americans are currently holding onto their cars longer than ever before.

Read More >

By on November 18, 2016

2016 Honda Accord Sport Six-Speed Manual Shifter, Image: © 2016 Jeff Jablansky/The Truth About Cars

We knew it was happening, but the actual extent of three pedal abandonment remained somewhat elusive. It was more of a feeling than a grim statistical representation. Now we have a number, and it’s dismal.

Read More >

By on March 23, 2016

BMW-M235i

When an automaker posts its sales figures at the end of the month, how many vehicles actually left the dealer lot?

Not all of them, according to a top BMW executive, who admitted that his company and others “punch” up sales numbers to boost their standing, according to Automotive News.

Punching cars is “not an ideal practice,” but it’s a reality in the industry, BMW of North America CEO Ludwig Willisch said on March 22.

Read More >

By on March 11, 2016

Machine gun practice, Iraq

Sure, most (if not all) cop cars offer protection from boring ol’ pistols and AR-15s. But if you’re looking to drive into a hail of armor-piercing .30-caliber rifle or machine gun fire, Ford’s got your back.

The company announced yesterday that its Police Interceptor vehicles will now offer the highest level of ballistic protection among pursuit-rated vehicles.

Ford says the plates inserted inside the doors of its pursuit vehicles will meet the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) National Institute of Justice standard Type IV. The move is a bonus for police officers and delivers bragging rights to Ford, given that pursuit vehicles from other automakers only meet Type III specifications. Poseurs. Read More >

By on January 8, 2016

2015-santa-fe-sport-03

Is there a Santa Fe, Alabama? If not, there will be soon.

That, Volkswagen’s Tiguan + electron, who’s gonna buy all these electric cars, and you don’t really need a gas delivery service, people … after the break!

Read More >

By on December 9, 2015

2016ToyotaPrius_(7_of_10)

Toyota announced Wednesday it would lower its global sales goal for the 2016 Prius in light of low fuel prices curbing sales of fuel-efficent vehicles.

According to Reuters, Toyota’s new target is to move an annual average of 300,000 to 350,000 Prii out of the lot around the world, compared to the 300,000 to 400,000 annual sales average sought for the outgoing model. A company representative said a decline in global sales of the hybrid since 2013 was one of the reasons behind Toyota’s decision.

Read More >

By on November 30, 2015

Formula E Roborace Logo

FIA’s Formula E first brought its electrified take on open-wheel racing in 2014. Come 2016, the series will bring autonomous racing to the party, as well.

Which begs the question: Is it still racing if there are no drivers in the cars?

Through a partnership with technology investment company Kinetik, Formula E’s 2016-17 season will do away with the driver entirely in a new support series dubbed ROBORACE. Ten teams will field two autonomous cars each, competing on the same circuits as the main Formula E series in one-hour races throughout the entirety of the championship season. The cars will be identical through and through, with “real-time computing algorithms and AI technologies” making the difference between taking the checkered flag first or last.

Read More >

By on November 16, 2015

2015-Ford-Focus-06

Detroit automakers may be betting high-profit SUVs and trucks are a better fit for their domestic plants as those automakers shift production away from cars to make room for larger, high-margin vehicles.

Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will largely shift production of their cars to Mexico and bring more trucks and SUVs to North American facilities, according to their contracts with the United Auto Workers,  Automotive News reported.

The report consolidates production planning schedules included in UAW contracts with domestic automakers, which shows automakers’ plans to move some of their cars to Mexico or overseas. Of the Big Three, General Motors will sell the most domestically produced cars in North America, including the Malibu, Impala, Sonic, Bolt and Volt, although the small-car plant recently announced a slowing production schedule. Ford will still produce the Mustang and Fusion at its Flat Rock plant in Michigan.  Read More >

By on November 13, 2015

Buick Envision

General Motors announced Thursday it will import a Buick crossover from China to the United States by the end of 2016, much to the UAW’s disappointment.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the crossover in question, the Envision, is currently produced at a facility in the Shandong province. The Buick brand itself is doing well for itself in China, where it’s GM’s best-known brand, and in the U.S., where the brand is experiencing rapid growth as of late. In both instances, the main draw for Buick is its small and medium crossovers and SUVs.

Read More >

By on November 11, 2015

Ford Oakville Assembly Plant. Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

The United Auto Workers in its latest proposed contract with Ford will protect workers from discrimination based on those workers’ gender identities or expressions, a potentially sweeping measure for a normally conservative industry.

According to the contract, the proposed agreement would protect any employee regardless of “race, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, union activity, religion, or … any employee with disabilities.”

The UAW’s contract with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles included for the first time language that covered gender identity for those workers. Read More >

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