The New York Times often gets unfairly criticized, usually by readers who have their own political biases (right and left), but sometimes the criticism lobbed its way is not only very fair, but accurate.
And when it comes to autonomous driving, the vaunted Times has stepped in it, big time.
In today’s edition of Abandoned History, we return once more to the late Seventies engines of General Motors. After the disaster which was the V8-6-4 and the subsequent release of the quite flawed HT4100 V8, we take a sidestep today into diesel. Time for a turn with the cost-cut cast iron Oldsmobile oil burner that accompanied the troubled gasoline engines at GM dealerships across the country.
When the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was being floated as a possible replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), one of the biggest selling points was the inclusion of new labor protections for Mexican workers. The Trump administration wanted to ensure serious labor reform took place south of the border to ensure union business was conducted responsibly and wages would increase. As a byproduct, USMCA is supposed to encourage North American synergies while gradually discouraging U.S. businesses from blindly sending jobs to Mexico to capitalize on poverty tier wages.
That theory will now be tested in earnest after General Motors employees from the Silao full-size truck plant voted overwhelmingly to dump the Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) for the Independent Syndicate of National Workers (SINTTIA).
It’s a little early in the year to say anything definitive about 2022 vehicle volumes, however, the automotive industry has been signaling that production numbers should begin to rise in the coming months. While that sentence should be cause for a sigh of relief, there are parts of the industry that might not feel as good about it as you probably do.
With supply chain problems having drastically limited vehicle production during the pandemic, many dealers opted to price their goods well above anything that could be considered normal. This worked out poorly for many of the smaller outfits as larger retailers enjoyed record-breaking profits in 2021. Some manufacturers also benefited financially, as the chip shortage allowed them to prioritize their highest-margin products. Unfortunately for them, 2022 is likely to bring affordable vehicles back into play and gradually pull pricing closer to something approaching normality.
Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to block proposed OSHA regulations backed by the Biden administration, it was assumed that automakers would quickly begin weighing in on vaccine rules now that there would be no federal obligation. However, they’ve actually been keeping quiet on the matter, with Stellantis being the first manufacturer to walk back previous requirements.
While the automaker had previously been working up to companywide vaccine mandates, it pushed back its vaccine deadline for early January. This week, Stellantis confirmed that it will be abandoning the scheme entirely after suggesting that the existing compliance rates were sufficient. Though something tells me that executives have become aware of the swelling pushback against COVID restrictions and became concerned with the optics.
The White House has made plans to host American business executives — including numerous CEOs tied to the automotive sector — in an effort to gain support for the stalled Build Back Better agenda. The meeting is scheduled to take place today, with President Joe Biden and company hoping to convince them to get behind the (revised) $1.75 trillion spending bill after it passed in the House but never made it through the Senate.
Seats have already been reserved for General Motors CEO Mary Barra, Ford CEO Jim Farley, and Cummins CEO Tom Linebarger. The rest are going to heads of manufacturing and technology companies, with a few noteworthy outliers. For example, the Biden administration has also invited the president of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America and the CEO of Siemens (a multinational entity that’s not based in the United States). Based on earlier statements from White House press secretary Jen Psaki, the meetings will take place in-person, bucking the Biden administration’s trend of hosting virtual events.
In our last edition of Abandoned History, we covered the years leading up to the release of the Cadillac High Technology V8. Used almost exclusively in 1981, the disastrous V8-6-4 had a primitive engine management system that could deactivate either two or four cylinders on Cadillac’s traditional V8. And while the idea was sound, the technology and engineering behind it were not. Cadillac was left in a bind and needed a replacement engine immediately. But the engine of choice was not finished, and not ready for primetime. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome the medium-rare HT4100.
Today’s Rare Ride was a single-year offering at Buick; it came and went in 1958. As General Motors reworked its large car offerings that year in response to styling changes at one of its biggest competitors, it reintroduced a historical nameplate at Buick: Limited.
A modern and efficient V8 of 4.1 liters, the HT4100 was the exciting way forward for Cadillac’s propulsion needs in the early Eighties. The engine came hot on the tail of a very iffy cylinder deactivation experiment, V8-6-4. Unfortunately, just like the cylinder games before and the Northstar after, the HT was plagued with issues that took years to iron out. The HT in its name meant High Technology but could’ve meant Halfway There. Let’s travel back to the Seventies and talk cylinders.
Seeking to capitalize on a red-hot used vehicle market, General Motors has said it will launch an online service called CarBravo. Intended to challenge the likes of Carvana and CarMax by offering customers access to a large inventory of machines in stock at GM dealers across the country.
General Motors has made another proclamation at CES 2022, this time providing a timeline for electric variants of its heavy-duty pickups. HD EVs are scheduled for 2035, which just happens to be the same time it has promised to have phased out gasoline engines. Presumably, that means the hardest working of GM’s work vehicles will also be the very last models to go all-electric.
“As previously announced, our plan is to have all new light-duty vehicles be electric by 2035,” GM CEO Mary Barra said during her keynote address. “And today, I’m pleased to announce that we’ll introduce all-electric heavy-duty vehicles on that same timetable.”
General Motors has issued a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom promising that the automaker is now fully committed to complying with the state’s aggressive emission regulations. This follows an earlier announcement from GM advancing plans to eliminate tailpipe emission from all light-duty vehicles by 2035 via electrification. The company had also increased global spending to develop EVs to $35 billion (USD) through 2025, which is roughly a third more than it had previously been targeting.
Of course, don’t think this has anything to do with altruism or formal commitments to some grand cause. California was simply planning to bar any automakers that hadn’t previously vowed to adhere to its strict regulatory policies from selling to state government fleets. While GM has been in the process of changing its allegiance, the business originally sided with automakers approving of the Trump administration’s regulatory revisions that were at odds with the region.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra made a slew of product announcements during CES 2022, with the biggest being an update on the Silverado EV. However, Chevrolet will need to fill out its ranks if it’s to become a totally electrified brand as planned, resulting in the confirmation of electric variants of the Equinox and Blazer.
With modestly sized crossovers and SUVs still gaining ground in North America, Barra believes it makes good sense to electrify a couple in the assumption that the segment will have a larger pool of customers to draw from. But there’s precious little detail about either model, minus GM’s promise to launch both models by 2023 and sell the Equinox EV for around $30,000.
General Motors is hoping to re-up the Electra name for Buick as per a December filing with the United States Trademark and Patent Office (USTPO). While many of you will recall the model as another ho-hum sedan from the 1990s with the potential to be graced with a 3800 motor, the car actually dates back to a time where tailfins were all the rage and there was no such thing as too much chrome.
Though it’s unlikely that the name would be affixed to anything burning gasoline in the modern context. Buick has already shown an all-electric concept wearing the Electra name at the 2020 Beijing auto show and it would be the mother of all twists to snub it.
Honda has filed to trademark ADX with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), presumably so it can use the name for an upcoming luxury model. While Honda has previously sold vehicles with alphanumeric monikers ending in the letter X, that’s literally Acura’s entire lineup and it’s supposed to be delivering a few new models to round out its rather limited selection.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Jwee You can avoid American cities, and both you and the Americans would be happier.
- Bryan I used Costco a while back, and didn't care for it - you still wind up going to the dealership.The last time I bought a new car I used an actual car broker and I'll use one again the next time. Whatever they charged me was the best money I spent that year.
- SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
- SCE to AUX Just add a split rear window, and the hybrid sins will be forgiven.
- SCE to AUX Maybe those union dues will help soften the landing. Employment there used to be 4000 people, and the plant has been at risk for 15 years. Stellantis did recently say that it would be trimming dead wood so it could rebuild the company. The Cherokee is finished, but I bet the plant reopens with a smaller workforce once Stellantis figures out what to do with it.