ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 31, 2009

Welcome Back, American Muscle!

My main blog sponsor, American Muscle, has kindly agreed to renew for another year. American Muscle sells all kinds of Mustang parts. I'm not sure if they even sell anything besides Mustang parts. If you want to take a look, just click on the banner up top.

They recently sponsored a hilarious and disgusting contest called "Live in it to win it", where one of several contestants who could last the longest living in a red 2009 Mustang would win it. The winner lasted 11 days.

Why CARS (Cash For Clunkers) Won't Come Back

Mark Tapscott, over at the Examiner (http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-12977-Cars-Examiner~y2009m7d31-How-long-before-CashforClunkers-becomes-a-permanent-federal-entitlement) , predicts that the cash-for-clunkers program (CARS) will be extended indefinitely because it is popular, and gives the Obama administration another way to spend money.

I disagree.  I think that if Congress extends CARS (doubtful), it will be a one-time shot.  The main reason is that there are still fiscal conservatives in Congress--the Blue Dog Democrats and the Republicans will team up to end the program.  The  Greenies won't support an extension because the current program, being a compromise, watered down the original premise of forcing people to trade up only to high-mileage cars.

CARS was fun while it lasted, but I predict it will shortly be as dead as one of the engines in my previous post.

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 30, 2009

Video: Cash For Clunkers Engine Death

Here is a video from a CARS program engine disablement (sodium silicate solution instead of oil) of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. The engine fights long and hard, but dies in the end.

This Volvo S80 looks like a nice car, I'm amazed it qualified. Maybe it had major issues, like a bad transmission, or something. Still, what a waste. The engine sounds almost like it is sad to go.

This Oldsmobile looks more like a heap. The engine starts out sounding throaty, then dies with a mousy squeek.

Video: Kid Freaks Out (A Little)

A rich kid gets a surprise birthday present--a beat up pickup truck. He gets mad because he'll look like a "poor kid" if he drives it. He gets a baseball bat...

Now, I don't think he's 100% serious, because if you notice, he doesn't damage the glass or the front end. He just beats up on the bed side a little.

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 28, 2009

Mahindra Planning A CUV For U.S.?

I was looking at Mahindra's North America web site (http://www.mahindrana.com/indian-cars-and-trucks.html) , which advertises its two door and four door diesel pickups (planned for fall of 2009), and its SUV, promised for 2010. 

If you click on "future vehicle", you see an artsy picture of what looks like a minivan, or perhaps a crossover, called the MUC.   I suspect this is a version of the Xylo (see http://www.lnkr.net/archives/prem/technology/mahindra-xylo-more-images/2011 for photos) which is something like short minivan with swinging doors.

Mahindra is talking big, I wonder if they will deliver?

ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 26, 2009

CARS: Watch The "Doc Fee" Trick!

Joe over at MyFordDreams2 was talking to a Mercury salesman about the CARS (aka cash for clunkers) program, and the guy tried to tell him that there was $50 documentation fee.

As I posted previously, (see here) and I'll do it again as a public service:

Dealers are not allowed to charge fees to customers to participate in the CARS program. If you dealer tries to do so, above and beyond their standard fees, they are trying to cheat you.

The proof is here, from www.cars.gov/faq:

Can dealers charge me a fee for buying or leasing a vehicle under the CARS program?

While dealers can charge their normal types of fees, the CARS Act specifically prohibits dealers from charging a fee for purchasing or leasing a vehicle under the program.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 24, 2009

Why NUMMI Is Probably Closing

With GM out, Toyota has to decide if it wants to keep NUMMI going.  Here are a few reasons why they won't.
  • NUMMI is the most expensive, labor-wise, of any of Toyota's plants in NA (Detroit Free Press)
  • The Corolla is also built in Canada, at the TMMC plant
  • The Tacoma is also built in Mexico, in Tijuana.

Cash For Clunkers Details

In addition to the already released rules, some additional details have been posted by NHTSA at the www.cars.gov web site:
  • Only one voucher per customer.  You can't trade in 2 cars for 2 vouchers for 1 new car. 
  • Leases may be purchased with the voucher, however, the least must be for at least 5 years.
  • Dealers can not charge extra fees such as administrative fees for the CARS program.
  • Customers may have to pay sales taxes on the voucher amount, depending on state law.
  • The CARS voucher is on top of other incentives from the manufacturer (dealers can't keep the manufacturer incentives back)
  • The CARS voucher is in addition to other government programs, such as the hybrid vehicle credit.
So, if your dealer tries to charge you an extra "doc fee" for CARS, call him out on it.

Cash For Clunkers: Engine Death

The NHTSA has released instructions for dealers on how they must destroy the trade-in car's engine.  Dealers are to replace the engine oil with about 2 quarts of sodium silicate solution, and run until the engine siezes. The sodium silicate in the oil path will heat up, and form a glass-like structure.

For some reason, the thought of thousands of engines running until they die is sort of sad to me.  It's like... euthanasia.

Appendix B to Part 599 - Engine Disablement Procedures for the CARS


Engine Disablement Procedures for the CARS Program




Perform the following procedure to disable the vehicle engine.


1.                  Obtain solution of 40% sodium silicate/60% water.  (The Sodium Silicate (SiO2/Na2O) must have a weight ratio of 3.0 or greater.)

2.                  Drain engine oil for environmentally appropriate disposal.

3.                  Install the oil drain plug.

4.                  Since the procedure is intended to render the engine inoperative, drive or move the vehicle to the desired area for disablement.

5.                  Pour enough solution in the engine through the oil fill for the oil pump to circulate the solution throughout the engine.  Start by adding 2 quarts of the solution, which should be sufficient in most cases.

            CAUTION:  Wear goggles and gloves. Appropriate protective clothing should be            worn to prevent silicate solution from coming into contact with the skin.

6.                  Replace the oil fill cap.

7.                  Start the engine.

8.                  Run engine at approximately 2000 rpm (for safety reasons do not operate at high rpm) until the engine stops.  (Typically the engine will operate for 3 to 7 minutes.  As the solution starts to affect engine operation, the operator will have to apply more throttle to keep the engine at 2000 rpm.)

9.                  Allow the engine to cool for at least 1 hour.

10.              With the battery at full charge or with auxiliary power to provide the power of a fully charged battery, attempt to start the engine.

11.              If the engine will not operate at idle, the procedure is complete.

12.              If the engine will operate at idle, repeat steps 7 through 11 until the engine will no longer idle.

13.              Attach a label to the engine that legibly states the following:


                  This engine is from a vehicle that is part of the Car Allowance Rebate System                             (CARS).  It has significant internal damage caused by operating the                                       engine with a sodium silicate solution (liquid glass) instead of oil.


14.              File this document in the file for the new vehicle purchase.

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 16, 2009

G8 Dead Again

After studying the issue, Bob Lutz says on GM Fastlane Blog that there isn't a business case for the G8 after all, sorry to get your hopes up.
That’s all still true. But I have to say that, with my new “marketing” hat on, upon further review and careful study, we simply cannot make a business case for such a program. Not in today’s market, in this economy, and with fuel regulations what they are and will be.
What was interesting to me was the hint dropped that GM might try to make it a police car. GM currently sells the Impala as a police vehicle, but it hasn't made a very large dent in Ford's Crown Victoria sales. A RWD Caprice might have really gotten some attention, but it was probably too expensive to pull off.

This leaves Ford as king of the police cruisers for now, but it is no secret that the Crown Victoria's days are numbered. According to rumors on the web (such as Blue Oval Forums), the plant that builds the Crown Vic will close in 2011, which means tha that the last cars would be built as 2011 or 2012 models.

Will Ford give up the police cruiser business to the Dodge Challenger, or the expensive and not-yet-existent Carbon? Currently, it is commonly thought that the police want a rear wheel drive vehicle. Ford won't have anything to sell after 2012. Will they perhaps put lights and pusher bars on the Taurus SHO?

Maximum Bob Rides Again

I love Bob Lutz.

From the recent web chat on GM's Fastlane Blog. Italics are my, er, interpretation.

[Comment From Guest ]
What is your number one priority in your new role and please be as specific as possible?
Bob Lutz: Until I know more about the job I won't be as specific as possible because i might have to recant next month when i know what i'm doing. My top priority now is to enhance the ability of GM to let the public know about what great cars and trucks we build. For all the money spent in the past, this seemingly simple task has eluded us.

Our marketing has been weak. I'm going to fix that.

[Comment From Mike Ruby ]
Bob, will we see in improvment in GM commercials now that you are in charge of them? The new Buick commercial is very embarassing. I've had many family members and friends comment on how dumb it is, plus some of the other poorly done commercials on the Traverse and the "Surprised" commercials that played for about a week over Christmas.
Bob Lutz: Let me put it this way: That Buick commercial tested very well, which is not the same as saying that it's an effective ad. I think you will very quickly see a drastic change in the tone and content of our advertising. And if you don't, it will mean that i have failed.

It sucked and we know it, but I wasn't asked 'cause I wasn't on duty yet

[Comment From Tom ]
How can we get people as hyped up about small cars? Where's the Aveo SS or the Vibe GXP?
Bob Lutz: The best way to get people hyped for small cars is to 1) do great small cars instead of mediocre ones and 2) rasie the price of fuel. As long as Americans pay less than $3 /gall vs $7 in the rest of the world, it's a tough sell. Having said that, the Vibe is gone, and the Aveo will be replaced by an all-new and much more exciting vehicle.

Cheap gas will kill the mini-car, so Obama had better raise the price.

[Comment From Neighbor ]
Did you sell your jet? We don't see you flying around anymore.
Bob Lutz: I sold the Alpha jet due to economic worries, and got a good price for it, but have retained the L39 Albatros so i'm still flying regularly. And if i've failed to entertain you recently you have to tell me where you live or work.

I needed to sell one plane so I could afford a Volt. I'm gonna buzz your house, smart-ass.

[Comment From Nate ]
Does GM have any plans for diesel cars in the US? Or are they banking entirely the Volt and Converj platforms? There appears to be customer demand for diesels as well as the Volt technology. Is there room for low production diesels?
Bob Lutz: For diesels to meet US emissions (US regulations are six times more severe than European) we'd have to increase the diesel surcharge by another $2500 to $3000. The total would amount to about $6000. For that surcharge of $6K, the customer gets a 20% in mpg, but has the privilege of paying for fuel that is 20 cents per gallon more expensive. Show me where this makes sense. Several Europeans and both Toyota and Honda have canceled their US passenger car diesel plans, as have we.

I'm sick of people asking about diesels--there's no way to make money on them right now!

[Comment From Guest ]
Any plans to either filter your comments or perhaps even support the green movement, since you've made such harsh comments against the concept of Global Warming, which upset a lot of people?
Bob Lutz: I obviously won't go out of my way to upset people but since i have a tendency to speak my mind i will occasionally unwittingly do so. I am totally dedicated to reducing petroleum usage, which is one of the reasons i championed the Chevy Volt. My personal opinion on global warming has nothing to do with my professional performance. By the way we just had the coldest June on record in the East, and are in the middle of the coldest July.

Yeah, sorry about that global warming is BS thing. Hey, is it cold in here?

[Comment From ETB ]
Favorite TV shows? No doubt seen Top Gear. Would you consider going and taking on Jeremy Clarkson for us?
Bob Lutz: Why would i want to take on Jeremy Clarkson? He loves the CTS-V and has declared Corvette ZR1 to be the finest vehicle of all time. I love the guy.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 10, 2009

Tragic Stupidity: Five Die In Canton, MI

Yesterday, a 19 year old idiot with a suspended drivers license tried to beat an Amtrak train, and lost big. His Ford Fusion was struck in the side as he tried to race through the crossing. The barriers were down, and the lights were flashing, and the train was moving at around 60mph. He had 4 others in the car with him, ranging from 14 to 21. Apparently dissatisfied with waiting for the train to come, he raced around a waiting car through the opposing lane, and didn't even slow down to check the crossing. His timing was perfect and lethal.

Detroit news story here.

This photo shows what is left of the Fusion. This is the whole car--it was smashed nearly flat from the side. I can only imagine what a mess it was for the fire and police departments to clean up.

This video was recorded from the security camera of a nearby business.

One of the wise-guys at AR15.com made this, in response to a Facebook memorial page:

It's mean, but I agree with the sentiment. Dan deserves a nomination for the Darwin award for 2009.

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಜುಲೈ 8, 2009

UPDATED "Cash For Clunkers": Check If Your Car Qualifies

Updated: I re-did the table with the new data from Edmunds, after NHTSA updated some of their mileage numbers.

Use my handy applet below to look up your car to see if it might qualify for the CARS "cash for clunkers" voucher from the Uncle Sam. This is a list of cars from Edmunds that gets 18 MPG or less and has an expected fair market value of less than about $4,500. Edmunds was kind enough to post the raw data (here) and I massaged it a little and stuffed it into a Google Docs spreadsheet.

You may need to wait a little while for the data to load.

To use the applet, pick your car's age and make from the drop down list.

Update: Edmund's data only goes back to 1990, that's why that 1984 Saab isn't on there. Only cars younger than 25 years old are eligible, so the oldest model year that would qualify would be a 1984.