Michigan’s Orion Assembly will be taking three weeks of downtime this month as General Motors continues addressing the fire recall pertaining to Chevrolet’s all-electric Bolt.
The automaker notified employees that the facility will see production idled from November 15th through December 3rd, though vehicle assembly won’t resume until the 6th. However the plant is already running on a diminished schedule so staff can assist with maximizing LG battery output and offer additional support related to the recall.
Since the hottest news surrounding the automotive industry today happens to be rolling updates about supply shortages, factory downtime, and how it’s not impacting manufacturing profits as much as anticipated, I’ve been diving back into studies and research pertaining to the future of the automotive industry. It’s a little more enjoyable for my own gray matter to process and might provide readers with a touch more to ponder than another story about how automakers are stalling production because an insufficient number of doodads were placed on a boat that’s waiting off the California coastline.
Earlier this week, we examined research exploring how much electric vehicles actually cost to run and that theme will persist. There’s a new study suggesting EVs boast lower repair bills than gasoline-driven alternatives. But there’s an interesting tipping point that occurs early in a vehicle’s lifespan that makes it happen. Before that, it’s cheaper on average to maintain something equipped with an internal combustion engine.
One of the reasons electric vehicles have been so polarizing is down to the near-constant proclamations that they’re the superior mode of transportation. But truth is usually a mixed bag and spending some time with EVs has shown them to have some serious blind spots that will need to be addressed if they’re ever to supplant internal combustion vehicles. Electrics aren’t always the better option, though they do boast features that make them extra desirable to some.
Among those was the promise that owning an EV yielded lower maintenance costs. But there’s a new study out claiming that’s not entirely true. Data is pointing to electrics actually having average servicing fees higher than traditional automobiles.
On Tuesday, Honda announced a bevy of recalls encompassing more than 1.4 million automobiles sold in the United States. Split between several campaigns, the recalls encompass everything from dissolving driveshafts to bum window controls that could potentially result in a vehicle fire.
According to reports issued via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the first and most-pressing issue involves the 2002-2006 Honda CR-V. Crossovers introduced to moisture could see their power window switches failing. If sufficient moisture is applied to the wires, Honda stated that there is some risk of a “thermal event.” As of November, the automaker said it was aware of 87 such instances and 23 reported events of fire.
Over the last few months, the automotive industry has been feeding the media a steady stream of materials about how great electric vehicles are. Your author even spent an hour last week on a press call where a famous German automaker attempted to educate us on how to use the cost of ownership over 10 years to help readers rationalize buying them over something requiring gasoline. While that should stay something about how the industry sees our relationship, it also seems to indicate it’s preparing an EV offensive in North America or has next to nothing up its sleeve for the remainder of 2020.
Of course, these are the legacy manufacturers we’re discussing, EV startups walk a slightly different path. Awash with more investment funding that seems reasonable, they’re in the midst of setting up factories so they can begin production of largely hypothetical products. There are also logistical questions that need handling, including figuring out who will be fixing EVs when nobody seems interesting selling them using the dealership model.
Over the weekend, Rivian explained how it planned on handling repairs. Though, if you thought it would be more complicated than copying a page from the Tesla playbook, you’re going to be disappointed.
There is definitely a sense of pride piloting a machine — be it car, pickup, or an off-road rig — that you built up with your own tools and your own two hands. We’re not talking about Factory Five levels of build-it-yourselfness, however, but rather the satisfaction of putting in the wrench time to either restore or modify something to your own liking.
YouTube is rife with channels of gearheads doing just this, so when the DIY Gang Family completely rebuilt this barn burner of a Hellcat, it got your author thinking: what’s the most-ambitious project you’ve ever attempted?
One of the great joys I’ve had over the last six years of writing for this site has been offering my advice (for what it’s worth) to the loyal readers of TTAC, the Best & Brightest. Nearly every person whose question I’ve answered has written to tell me that they appreciated what I’ve written in response to their advice, even if he or she didn’t follow it exactly. But today, I got an email from somebody who ended up feeling the sting from my words. Let’s hear from our friend Quincy and see if we can help him.Hi Mark,I was recently reading your article about the deals that could be had on left over inventory and I felt inspired to test the waters. My local Buick dealer in Metro Detroit had a 2018 Regal TourX Preferred in silver with a MSRP of $36k and I was happy to take it home for $23.5k before TTL. However, the honeymoon came to a screeching halt as I was introduced to the concept of lot rot. Back to the dealer for new brakes. To make a long story short, the driver’s front wheel came off during the technician’s new brake road test and moved in a generally northeast pattern towards the A-pillar. With only 444 miles, my car sits in the dealer’s back lot with a driver’s door impinged by a front fender. The only offer from the owner of the dealership is to let them repair the car in-house or they won’t cover the costs of the repairs. Do I really want the dealership that damaged the car to fix it? With no parts is sight (GM strike) and a damaged vehicle history, I’m finding the dealer’s offer leaves me less than satisfied. So what would you do in my shoes?Thanks,QuincyUgh. That sucks.
The Chevrolet Traverse represents the pinnacle of the brand’s crossover range, offering buyers voluminous cargo and passenger space, and maybe a hidden gremlin.
After purchasing the three-row crossover new in 2018, one owner has had to return to his dealership 50 times to diagnose and fix a range of unusual problems, and his journey isn’t at an end. He’ll be reassured to know that he’s not alone.
Most of the gearheads in this audience turn a wrench or three. It’s part of what makes the community at TTAC such a great one: authors and readers alike enjoy (and understand!) wrenching on cars as much as they enjoy driving them. Those attributes aren’t a requirement for hanging around these digital pages but it sure does help.
You author spent a leisurely few minutes changing over the tires on his trusty Dodge Charger from winter to all-season rubber. While spinning lug nuts, I started thinking: what is the first tool bought by most gearheads?
There’s a good reason why insurance premiums are rising like your author’s blood pressure while scanning his Twitter feed, and it’s not just because providers really, really like making money. (They do, of course.) Average repair bills in the U.S. rose by about a third in the past three years, mainly due to the proliferation of safety technology, and insurance premiums followed. Country-wide, premiums rose 7.9 percent in 2017.
Cameras, ultrasonic sensors, and radar sensors tend to be located in areas of the vehicle most prone to damage, even in even low-speed collisions, and sturdy, exposed 5 mph bumpers are unfortunately a thing of the past. Many would prefer to see all automakers design their cars with repairs in mind, thus lowering future costs and premiums.
As an example of the headache of repairing technology-festooned vehicles, behold the average front-corner collision repair cost of one rare Korean sedan.
Old, beloved cars can easily consume every last minute of our spare time while draining every last cent from our wallets, but not everyone is as fastidious as you might be. Often when a little thing goes wrong, we just let it slide. Sometimes the vehicle’s age, mileage, and accumulated repair costs mean our intervention’s no longer worthwhile. It’s time to throw our hands up in the air and say, “Screw it, I’ll just live with it.”
Yes, it wouldn’t take much to pull that dent or buff out those scuffs, but it there really any point anymore?
Usually, when car/owner relationships reach this point, the vehicle in question is not long for this world. Like a horse that’s run its last race, the glue factory beckons. And yet a friend of mind once spend countless hours applying endless layers of filler and primer and paint and clearcoat to his ’03 Altima’s bumpers to eliminate a number of stubborn scratches. Meanwhile, the sedan’s undercarriage resembled the Titanic (circa 2017) and the engine and transmission had clearly used up their borrowed time. For some, the quest for outward perfection never ends.
What’s the biggest nuisance you let slide?
If you’re expending bandwidth on this site, chances are you’re a bit of a gearhead. In addition to eating, breathing, and talking cars, I’m willing to wager more than a few of us turn a wrench on our own vehicles when the need arises.
Such a need popped up in our house this week.
Over the past 15 years or so, I’ve bounced between leasing/buying cars in my two-car family. Because of a severe case of always wanting what I don’t have (thankfully, this only happens with cars and bicycles), I’ve owned quite a few cars over this time period. Sometimes I think I want to own long-term and take pride in my ride of choice (2006 Mazda 6 wagon, for example), and other times I get fed up with issues, such as a $4,000 transmission replacement bill for said wagon, and I then decide I want the security and added features of a newer ride (just finished a three-year lease of a 2015 Outback 2.5 Limited).
So, with my car shopping neurosis briefly explained, what type of car should I be looking for, and what type of preventative maintenance should I undertake, if I decide to buy and keep? I don’t necessarily mean a specific make and model. What I mean is, since I do make quite a few short trips of about a mile throughout the day (I live and work in the same town), and the car barely has a chance to warm up in the morning, is there a specific engine specification I should look for? Whether the car was purchased or leased, I’ve always taken it easy in the bitter cold, and I’d even drive a bit out of my way to get the car closer to operating temperature before reaching my school.
Also, before the B&B tells me to ride my bicycle or walk, I’m a K-5 Principal with other duties that can take me away from my school at any moment, so I don’t want to ride my bike around town when I have to see the Superintendent, or when I visit the high school to conduct bullying investigations. I also pick up my kids’ friends in the morning, and their parents reciprocate as well, so any car I have for the foreseeable future will have to perform many short trips.
Many thanks, and keep up the good work!
I’ve been enjoying your work on TTAC for several years and (unfortunately) have run into a situation where I think I need your help.
After reading Mark’s review of the Ford Flex several years ago, I test drove and fell in love with one — a 2012 Titanium Ecoboost model, to be precise. Fast forward to last month, and I am driving down I-395 when the car starts to lurch; $1,900 later, I have a new fuel injector and a picture of a leaky turbo (rrg). In hopes that Ford would have some type of pity on a 5.5-year-old car with only 53K miles on it, I took it to the dealership. $167 later, we’ve added a transmission seal issue to the running list and they’re asking more than $5,000 to square everything away.
I’m hoping you have a magic bullet for this one or, barring that, something snappy to say that will make me laugh.
Our roads are a mess. It doesn’t seem to matter where in America (or Canada) one travels, there stands a very good chance that one will find crumbling infrastructure. In fact, the United States ranks eighth in the world in national infrastructure quality, behind Germany and the U.K., but above France and Canada, according to one recent study. Some days, it sure seems worse than that.
Which leads us to today’s question: what’s the worst road in your neck of the woods?