Please Stop: Toyota Design Head Envisions Future Without Mass-market Automobiles

It’s starting to feel like people in the automotive industry simply cannot help but blurt out ludicrous claims involving a hypothetical future nobody on the outside seems to care about. These people, in charge of the the automobile’s ultimate form, appear to be so singularly obsessed with the vague concept of “mobility” that they can’t imagine any other alternative.

This week’s example came from Simon Humphries, the new general manager of Toyota’s advanced R&D, who mused about a tomorrow that didn’t need mass-market models. However, we’re not satisfied to condemn the design chief. Media outlets deserve a share of the blame for promoting these concepts without much logical backing.

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Marchionne & Co.: Style Will Be Essential in the Vanilla Future We've All Been Promised

The future is going to be absolutely terrible. Everything is going to be so sterile and automated that humans won’t have anything to do between mealtimes but eagerly anticipate their own death.

At least, that’s the picture being painted by experts. We’re probably further out from autonomous cars, world peace, and robotic butlers than society’s “thinkfluencers” want to admit, but be that as it may, the times are changing and some of this is coming down the pipe.

Automakers are all about the “nextification” of the industry; always promising technological marvels at an accelerated rate. However, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne now claims most visions of the future lack an essential element — any semblance of style.

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AOTD: We're Not Going Anywhere, Mitsubishi Says

“People keep asking if we’re going to go away,” Mitsubishi Motors North America COO Don Swearingen told reporters earlier this month.

“We’re not.”

Seemingly anticipating yesterday’s TTAC QOTD — Does Mitsubishi Need To Exist? — Swearingen was defending Mitsubishi’s approach to the North American market following the automaker’s partial takeover by its Nissan compatriot.

Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn claimed the Mitsubishi chairmanship in October after spending $2.3 billion in exchange for 34 percent of the company’s automobile manufacturing business.

Three months later, The Detroit Bureau reports, Mitsubishi North America’s Swearingen said, “We are separate companies and will remain competitors.”

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Hyperloop Visits Detroit; Will Auto Talent Make the Jump From Tires to Tubes?

Hyperloop Technology’s co-founder and chief technology officer Brogan BamBrogan, who is a real person and not a Bond villain living in a volcano lair, choose yesterday’s SEA International Congress talent meetup to push the Elon Musk-conceived technology, Automotive News has reported.

BamBrogan’s company is dangling job opportunities in front of the Detroit crowd in a bid to lure new henchmen auto industry talent into its fold.

The former Chrysler and SpaceX engineer’s message to the Detroit audience was clear. To paraphrase Seinfeld — this technology is real, and it’s spectacular.

“We’re calling this our Kitty Hawk moment,” BamBrogan told them.

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2016 BMW I8 Review - The 'Affordable' Plug-In Supercar

“Looks like sex, goes like stink” is the usual supercar mantra, but BMW’s guru was humming a different tune when penning the i8.

You see, the i8 isn’t just a sexy car with “butterfly doors.” It’s also a production prototype of sorts styled after BMW’s 2009 Vision EfficientDynamics concept.

Most supercars have exotic engines with high cylinder counts and drink premium gasoline at an alarming rate. BMW’s mission with the i8 was to make an efficient supercar and at the same time production-test technologies that will trickle down to its higher volume cars over time.

The i8’s efficiency is the key to understanding this sexy German. The i8 isn’t the best handling supercar, or even the best handling BMW. Neither is it the fastest BMW, the most luxurious BMW, or (oddly enough) the most efficient BMW. Instead, the i8 delivers M235i like lateral grip, M4 like acceleration, fuel economy that bests the 320i by a few miles per gallon and lines so sexy I got a thumbs up from a passing F430.

This isn’t your average sports car.

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QOTD: When Will Autonomous Cars Outnumber The Manually Driven?

I’ll admit it. I, the millennial managing editor of an automotive blog, would absolutely rely on an autonomous car for my day-to-day errands or long-distance commutes. Why wouldn’t I? I can kick back, relax, talk with people, get some writing done, or anything else I could possibly do on an airplane. As long as all the other vehicles on a roadway are autonomous, it’ll be safer, too!

Why do I think this way? The majority of the driving we do is boring. I can just imagine hailing an autonomous car on my phone, waiting for it to arrive to my home, and setting it to drive me wherever I want in relative comfort. Why should I need to stay alert at a four-way stop if technology can make that a thing of the past?

Except it probably won’t work quite like that.

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Can Maserati Replace Ferrari? (Or at Least Ferrari's Profits)

With the imminent spin-off of Ferrari, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles boss Sergio Marchionne may be looking for a cash cow to help keep lagging brands at FCA afloat.

A story by Automotive News on Wednesday wonders aloud if Maserati will replace Ferrari as FCA’s marquee brand with double-digit profit margins. Behind Marchionne’s plan to sell the world on Jeep and Alfa Romeo, he would need to sell the world on the idea that Maserati is an exclusive, luxury brand, the article says.

Of course, that may be tough to do considering Maserati has always had a reputation for being Ferrari’s nerdy suburban cousin.

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With Nrburgring Records Dead, Automakers Begin Pikes Peak Chest-Thumping

At the conclusion of this year’s Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Mercedes-Benz issued a release claiming a new record: the Mercedes-Benz C250d 4MATIC was the fastest production diesel to ever make it from base camp to summit. Driven by Uwe Nittel, the compression-ignition, tri-star sedan navigated the mountain’s 156 corners in 11 minutes 22 seconds.

Since the manufacturer-favorite Nürburgring has imposed speed restrictions at certain high speed sections and outright banned hot lap record attempts, a new battleground is needed.

Will that frontline be in Colorado?

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Whither Volvo?

I’ve always had a soft spot for Volvo, that’s probably why I’ve owned two and chose European Delivery on one of them. But Volvo has a problem. It’s not the product. It’s not even the brand positioning. It’s a lack of advertising and visibility. Let’s dive deep into my mind as I pontificate about Volvo’s destiny.

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A Vision Of The Future: A Day In The Life Of Bob Jones

The following article is long. Some of you will decry it as fiction outside of the space this website normally reserves for stories and others of you will lament its presence on what is supposed to be an automotive news website. Maybe you are right, but the truth is that I read a lot and my mind is constantly pulling at a million disparate threads of information and tying them together in ways that make unusual patterns. Some of these things have coalesced this week into the following piece and so I have offered it to the editors to see if they think it has a place on our esteemed pages. If you are seeing it, then they have given it the green light and all I can do is ask you to indulge me.

Articles about the future used to show up in the newspapers and the magazines with surprising regularity when I was a kid. They were great reading and were almost always accompanied by large, full color illustrations by noted artists like Syd Mead that fleshed out the words out surprising detail. In virtually every case, despite much of the turmoil going on in our country in the 1970s, those articles painted a picture of a better, brighter future. Now more than a third of the way through the second decade of the 21st century, we all know that things didn’t turn out quite the way those old articles imagined but that doesn’t mean that we should stop trying to predict what is coming. I can’t help but think that a better tomorrow really is right around the corner.

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Question: What Ten-Year Period Was the Auto Industry's Greatest Leap Forward?

Once I get to ranting on the subject, I’ll fulminate that the true modern era of the automobile didn’t start until about 1990, when carburetors and points ignitions finally disappeared from new cars sold in the United States. Before and after that point, however, a lot of progress— and backsliding— has taken place in the automotive industry. Which brings up the question: what ten-year period, starting with Karl Benz’s Patent Motorwagen in 1886, saw the most improvement, innovation, whatever you want to call it, in the automotive world?

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Obama Chickens Out, Says A Million EVs By 2015 Not Important

Today must be International Backpedaling Day. Volkswagen said “Never mind beat Toyota by 2018.” Obama says: “Never mind a million EVs by 2015.”

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BMW Trick Computer Helps You With The Road Less Travelled

As a rally driver, you have a navigator in the other seat. What do you need him for? He knows the road ahead and tells you how to drive in the fastest and most efficient manner. As in “you want to take that turn at around 80. When you come out of the turn, stay in low, there’s another sharp right turn right behind that.” Or fewer words to that effect.

When I met Jutta Kleinschmidt, Volkswagen’s Touareg Dakar Rallye driver, she had this lithe Italian woman as a Navigator. “She’s a skinny little thing,” said Frau Kleinschmidt in her usual don’t-mess-with-me style, “but at least she doesn’t weigh much.”

BMW will do one better. Soon, BMW will give you a navigator that weighs just about nothing. As for the skinny little thing – let’s just say that you won’t be interested in the navigator of someone who lists her homepage here. But let’s not get sidetracked.

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Obama's Moonshot: A Million EVs By 2015

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy said in a speech to a joint session of Congress: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth.” On 21 July 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the Moon. The Apollo 11 crew returned safely to Earth on 24 July. Three years later, the Moon had its last visitors. The Sea of Tranquility lives up to its name.

In last week’s State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama’s set an even more audacious goal.

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World's Auto Execs Don't Buy Their Electric Cars Hype


The majority of car makers the world over think that for the next five years, electric cars will remain too expensive to stand a chance in the mass market. Their saving grace must be government subsidies. Without government money, EVs are priced out of the market.

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  • ToolGuy I am NOT SURE WHAT TO SAY. In fact I'M NOT EVEN SURE WHAT I JUST READ. I paid a premium for my last cordless drill/driver because it has a hydraulic front end which PRODUCES LESS NOISE AND VIBRATION.
  • ToolGuy Tim, THANK YOU FOR THE ALL CAPS. I think it ADDS A LOT to the discussion. I might USE it MYSELF in the future. Have a GREAT WEEKEND.
  • Kars I think it depends somewhat on the car you buy. For a Mustang GT I would want the real ones, for a Toyota Corolla it wouldn't matter.
  • Bkojote Yes. Two things. First off, Elon, like Trump, is kinda stupid. Like Kanye West or Candace Owens or Ben Shapiro, he's got like an 8th grade education and sits right on that first dunning-kruger hump. But the thing about *kinda* stupid is he *kinda* realizes the only way anyone will subscribe to his personality is by being a contrarian. The other is by buying in to the scam the other is running. Tesla's a two product company with aging product lines and false launches. But while Elon's kinda stupid, he's not fully stupid, and he knows enough to continue with the scam - large scale support for the EV industry only serves to depress Tesla's product value, so if it can win favor against the odds of say, Rivian or Lucid, he can continue to pay himself a few dozen-billion dollar bonuses till he sells it off or shuts it down.
  • ToolGuy Perhaps a Chinese company will purchase Volvo.