ಗುರುವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 31, 2011

Americans Don't Want Small Cars!

Today I heard part of an interview with the EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, which made my blood boil. During the interview, she threw out the tired lie that American automakers are building too many "large vehicles which the American public do not want to buy" (approximate quote).

If the American people don't want to buy large vehicles, then why is it that the top selling vehicles in the U.S. are as follows?

Top 20 vehicles, Feb 2011
*Ford F - Series PU 37,549
*Chevrolet Silverado PU 31,728
^Toyota Camry / Solara 27,212
Toyota Corolla / Matrix 25,860
^Ford Fusion 23,111
^Honda Accord 21,206
^Nissan Altima 20,808

Honda Civic 19,121
Honda CR-V 19,096
^Chevrolet Malibu 19,092
*Dodge Ram PU 18,644
Chevrolet Cruze 18,556
Ford Escape 18,005
^Chevrolet Impala 16,290
^Hyundai Sonata 15,723

Chevrolet Equinox 15,434
Toyota Prius 13,539
Nissan Sentra 12,599
Volkswagen Jetta 12,591
Toyota RAV4 12,562
(courtesy WSJ.com)

Notice the * rows, which are large pickups. And notice the ^ rows, which are midsize or full size cars. 11 of the top 20 vehicles are midsized or large, and 8 of the top 10 are midsized or large.

Now explain this to me, if Americans don't really want to buy large cars, why aren't the top selling vehicles all small cars like the VW Jetta? Is someone twisting their arms into buying the F150's and the Impalas?

Obama and the EPA administrator need to drop the talking points. American's don't want tiny cars.

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 30, 2011

Audi celebrates A4's five-millionth birth


The Audi A4 is roomy for its class and efficiency. It's no wonder that Audi has managed produce its five-millionth A4 at its Ingolstadt plant, in Misano Red. The model comes as a wagon or sedan, plus available Quattro all-wheel-drive, an S variant and a CUV-ish Allroad model that isn't sold in the States. Frank Dreves, Member of the Board of Management at Audi, calls A4 number five million as another major milestone in Audi's history.

Mercedes-Benz CL500 Coupe in hands of VATH


The Mercedes-Benz CL500 coupe is the latest car to be dropped in the German tuning firm VÄTH. This company squeezes more power out of the 5.5-liter V8 engine using the sport camshafts, custom stainless steel sport catalysts and air filters. Output is lifted from 388HP to 460HP and 600Nm, while VÄTH also removes the speed limiter allowing the modified CL500 to reach a top speed of 290km/h or 180mph.

Toyota Yaris plant to be closed another month

toyota yaris

Production issues in Japan continues for the past 3 weeks after the earthquake and tsunami devastated the island nation. Major Japanese automakers have stopped plant start-up times and Toyota is no different. The automaker said that they were looking into supply issues, adding "depending on vehicle type, there may be a significant impact on our production capabilities."

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Porsche Panamera Turbo S to debut

Porsche Panamera Turbo S

A report was received yesterday stating that a Panamera Turbo S could be in the works and would debut at the New York Auto Show. Porsche has released the first details about its new Panamera Turbo S.

The Turbo S gets a power increase up to 550 horsepower, 50 more than the standard Turbo model. Torque is also up, 553 lb-ft compared to 516 lb-ft. Porsche says that the Panamera Turbo S is capable of reaching 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds as well as a top speed of 190 mph. This car will be available at a price of $173,200.

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ಸೋಮವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 28, 2011

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

2011 Hyundai Genesis Sedan

Automakers have been striving hard to manufacture luxury segments into finer slices for generations. Territory that are once owned by Mercury, Buick and Oldsmobile is now being used by brands like Acura to Infiniti. Due to these new comers, buyers can still plant their derrières on supple leather thrones without having to sell the family farm in the process.

Three years ago, Hyundai introduced the Genesis Sedan which was intended to prove that the Korean automaker wouldn't have the burden of launching a separate dedicated luxury brand. All were impressed with the big Hyundai when it it was introduced three years ago in 2009, but domestic automakers like Buick and Chrysler have since sharpened their game in a big way. We were interested to find out how the vehicle's first generation has held up before second one arrives as a 2012 model.

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Volkswagen recalled 71,043 Jetta models

2011 volkswagen jetta

Volkswagen has recalled 71,043 Jetta sedans for a wiring problem with the horn and anti-theft alarm system. The automaker already had wiring and electronics problems in its vehicles. No accidents or injuries have occurred due to this defect. Customers would be provided information about corrective measures and anticipated repair time – something that the automaker has not yet released. Affected cars were built between March 2010 and March 2011.

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ಗುರುವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 24, 2011

Volvo's C30 Electric

volvo c30 electricVolvo is planning to release around 400 Volvo C30 Electrics. Lennart Stegland, the president of Volvo Car Special Vehicles said that, while the final price for the car hasn't been set, Volvo will not sell the EV, but instead offer the car through a three-year lease for around 1,500 Euros/month.

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Craigslist Overpayment Scam -- My Fake Check!

To my surprise, today I received a UPS letter envelope containing a check for $2,450. From the ATP Oil & Gas Co. in Texas. Which I have never done business with. The return address on the UPS envelope was from a different location, in Minnesota, also a place I had never done business with.

Then I remembered--some guy had emailed me about a camera lens I was trying to sell on eBay, and offered to send me a check for it if I would ship it to him. I said "ok" in case he was legit, but I suspected he wasn't.

So here it is, my trophy. A ridiculously bad fake check. Note the strange mix of fongs -- Arial, Times, and Comic Sans. The smudge from my wetted finger.

Notice the signature. Look familiar? It's George W. Bush!

Bottom line, don't ever accept overpayment for a Craiglist item from a stranger, who wants you to return the overpayment via Western Union. It is 100% scam.

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 23, 2011

Bob King's Posturing

The UAW's president, aptly named Bob King, is out in the press landing punches before the first bell.  

"I like Alan Mulally. But I just think it's morally wrong," said King, who assumed the leadership of the union last year. "It creates problems for Ford in both the salaried work force and the hourly work force. It seems like one individual is getting all of the gain."

This is typical left wing progressive posturing, setting up class envy as a wedge between the UAW's hourly workers and the managers of the auto companies.  

"It seems like one individual is getting all of the gain".  What?!?  What about the shareholders?  From a low of around $1.60, Ford's stock price has recovered to near $15.  That is billions of dollars of value returned to stockholders, many of whom happen to be in the UAW.  Not to mention jobs saved, direct and indirect.  Ford dealer's didn't get crushed the way GM and Chrysler dealers did. 

Alan Mullaly, though not single handedly, was a key player in keeping Ford from going bankrupt along with GM and Chrysler.  As such, he is very valuable--CEOs who can save companies and preserve billions of dollars of shareholder value are not exactly hiding under every rock.  Successful CEOs, like sports stars, have a market value.  If Ford didn't offer Mullaly a generous performance based pay package, maybe he wouldn't have come from Boeing to save Ford.  Maybe he would have been snapped up by some other company in need of a turn-around.   

Maybe Ford would have gone under.

By the way, when was the last time you heard Bob King railing against the excessive pay of his unionized brethren, the professional football players of the NFL?  

ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 22, 2011

Hyundai Elantra faces airbag issues

Hyundai Elantra

Hyundai has issued two airbag recalls on nearly 300,000 Elantra models. The first recall involves 188,697 vehicles sold between 2007 to 2009. The Elantra's front passenger seat contains a sensor that measures the passenger's weight, but in certain affected vehicles, the sensor may not work properly. During a crash, the airbag can deploy even if a child is sitting in the front seat. Hyundai says that the sensors could be damaged by moisture and hence to add a protective sleeve around the device, the automaker has recalled the vehicle.

The second recall involves 95,783 Elantra models sold between 2007-2008. This issue is due to a sensor used in the two-stage deployment of the passenger-side airbag. In the event of a crash only the low pressure stage will deploy and in the affected models, electronic noise may confuse the sensor, and the sensor may revert to its default mode, which will cause both stages of the airbag to deploy. To fix this issue, a Hyundai technician will reprogram the airbag control module.

ಗುರುವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 17, 2011

Porsche increasing its profits with Cayenne and Panamera

porsche panamera

Porsche tripled its sales in 2010 with its Cayenne and Panamera models. The automaker reported $960 million profits before taxes and interest in 2010 which was just $227 million the year before.

Porsche's five-month revenue increased 59 per cent to 3.87 billion Euros and is hoping to expand its global sales to 200,000 by 2018. With these kind of sales, that goal doesn't seem too far off.

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The PS Fluid Flush Scam, AGAIN

I got my oil changed the other day.  I do it at my dealership because they give me points I can use to get free service, so it works out to be a reasonable deal.  This time, they did the "we recommend you flush your power steering fluid' pitch on me, going so far as offering to show me that it was "dirty".   Upon inspection my fluid (which is about 50,000mi old) was a medium cherry color, like cherry coke.  Not very dirty.

Here's the truth.  Power steering fluid is good for well over 100,000 miles in normal usage.  It changes color because it leaches carbon black and other chemicals from the rubber power steering hoses and fittings.  Just because it is dark does not mean it is damaged.  

When should you flush your power steering fluid?  If it gets overheated (not sure how, perhaps failing pump?), or contaminated.  And you don't need to power flush it, you can simply suck it out with a turkey baster and refill the reservoir.  According to an expert on this subject, who I happen to know, there has been no proven benefit from power steering pressure flushing.  

When the dealer pushes you to change your power steering fluid, he is really just trying to improve his profit margin on your sale.  


This morning, I was driving in to work and noticed the local "Irish" bar had people huddled in the doorway, waiting for the place to open for service.  

It was 8:30 am.  

If I was Irish I think I would be annoyed that my cultural heritage was being used an excuse to drink all day.

2012 Audi R8 GT starts at $196,800

2012 Audi R8 GT

Audi has announced that the 2011 R8 GT to be released will carry price tags starting at $196,800. The R8 GT contains a 5.2-liter FSI V10 with 560 horsepower, mated to Audi's R-Tronic sequential transmission. It also has a four-wheel-drive system with a locking rear differential to backup the transmission. It has been built with more aluminum and carbon fiber compared to standard car which translates to a 180-pound weight loss.

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ಬುಧವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 16, 2011

GM's Holden Commodore Due in 2013


General Motors design boss recently came to Melbourne to sign off the styling of the next Holden Commodore due in Q3 2013. It was a great news for Commodore fans. This unrevealed VF Commodore will be an evolution of the current generation VE, having the same rear-wheel-drive platform and V6 engines. Mr. Welburn said that it would be the absolute right Commodore for the market and I feel very good about it.

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ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 15, 2011

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo by Trussardi

BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo

To celebrate the centennial of Trussardi, the BMW 5 Series Gran Turismo is released by BMW's Italian subsidiary. It has an unique metallic brown paint job with matte gray trim replacing much of the bright work, 20-inch split-spoke alloys.

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ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 11, 2011

Volkswagen's Bulli Concept

Volkswagen Bulli Concept

The Volkswagen Bulli Concept is powered by a 113-horsepower electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack, which can be charged in less than an hour. We don't know if the electric powertrain will make it into the production vehicle, and there is no word on pricing.

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Bugatti Veyron Super Sport Car

bugatti veyron

The first Bugatti Veyron Super Sport is one among the five models produced that will hit the same top speed as the 268-mile per hour world-record setting version. The other 35 models will be limited to just 258 mph, because, you know, that extra 10 mph would simply be overkill.

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 9, 2011

2012 BMW 1 Series M Coupe


The 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe is a two-door model created to remind the 1988 M3. Though it weighs 400 pounds more than the E30 M3, it gets 340 horsepower courtesy of a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six. If these information is intriguing and you need to own one, you will have to head to BMW and know its cost.

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Nissan’s 2011 Murano Cross Cabriolet

2011 Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet

Nissan's Murano CC is a convertible crossover with two door. It creates a unique halo model for Nissan's crossover segment. While the design of the Cross Cabriolet seems to be good, we can also agree on one aspect that it doesn't appear bad as those photoshops which alluded to an aftermarket convertible conversion.

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The Boss is... Boss

Motortend just ran a Ford Mustang Boss 302 on the Laguna Seca track.  Best lap time was 1:40.21... which beat Nissan GT-R, Audi R8 4.2, BMW M3, Cadillac CTS-V, and Ford's own Shelby GT500.  

From www.fastlaps.com:

10. Ford Mustang Boss 302 1:40.21 129 '12 446 / 1659 Motor Trend
11. Nissan GT-R 1:40.45 129'08 479 / 1740Motor Trend
12.Mercedes SLS AMG 1:40.74 129 '10571 / 1620 Bern Schneider
13. Audi R8 4.2 FSI quattro 1:40.75 129'06 420 / 1560Motor Trend
14.Chevrolet Corvette Z06 1:40.90 129 '05513 / 1437 Motor Trend
15. BMW M3 (E92) 1:42.96 126'07 420 / 1619Motor Trend
16.Porsche Cayman S(facelift) PDK 1:43.00 126 '08320 / 1375 Motor Trend
17. Porsche Cayman S 1:43.00 126'05 295 / 1406Randy Pobst
18.Aston Martin V12 Vantage 1:43.04 126 '09517 / 1680 road&track
19. Cadillac CTS-V 1:43.90 125'09 564 / 1955Motortrend
20.Shelby GT500 1:44.30 124 '10547 / 1767 Motortrend
21. Shelby GT500 1:44.72 124'06 507 / 1807Motor Trend
22.Shelby Mustang Cobra GT500KR 1:44.72 124 '08540 / 1773 Motortrend
23. Porsche 997 Carrera (2008 facelift) 1:45.00 123'08 345 / 1415Car and Driver
24. Jaguar XFR 1:45.37 123'09 510 / 1960Motortrend
25.Chevrolet Camaro SS 2010 1:45.70 123 '10432 / 1750 Motor Trend

Neat video here.

ಸೋಮವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 7, 2011

2012 Ferrari Four

2012 ferrari four

Ferrari Four creates a new direction for the Italian automaker Ferrari. This is the first factory shooting brake, where coach-built specials like Drogo's 250 GTO Breadvan and Chinetti's 365 GTB/4 Panther left off in the 1960s.

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PETA: Save Spiders... Donate Your Mazda?

I am not sure if this is serious.  If anyone other than PETA had mailed it out, I would think it was a joke, but PETA is not known for a sense of humor.  On PETA's blog, they are suggesting that people donate their Mazda6's to PETA rather than hurt spiders that might be hiding in the vapor emissions system.  Riiiight.

Here's an idea, PETA.   How about you donate some mechanics to de-spider people's cars for free, if you are so concerned about spider lives?

As if the typical Mazda buyer, a middle income person, can afford to donate a relatively new car to PETA to avoid hurting spiders.  

ಭಾನುವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 6, 2011

Jaguar E-Type enters Limited production

Growler E 2011 Concept

Visualtech has confirmed that there will be a limited production of cars based on its Growler E Concept which is a re-imagining of the Jaguar E-Type. There are also plans to have the first Growler ready for delivery in the summer of 2012. The current goal is to manufacture 3 or 4 cars now and then produce a short series run of the cars.

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DIY Coffee Roasting 101

I have been wanting to try roasting my own coffee
beans, for the experience, and to see if I could notice much of a difference between fresh roasted beans and store bought beans.

1 $10 popcorn air popper, purchased from CVS on clearance.
1 extension cord, to allow outdoor roasting
1/2 lb green Sumatra coffe beans, from local coffee store.~$5.00

I poured about 5 tbsp of green coffee beans into the popper and ran it while watching the color and listenign for the "crack". The beans started cracking about 4 minutes into the cycle, and had turned a nice medium brown color by about 4 minutes. I dumped them out on a sheet to cool.As the beans roasted, chaff (the skin of the coffee
beans) popped
up out of popcorn machine and floated away.

The beans are not as uniform as I would like, perhaps because I put a little too many in the popper. As a result, some of them got more cooked, as they rotated in the middle bottom of the pot, while the ones in the top middle of the pot probably cooked less.
After I ground the beans, I got an excellent fresh coffee aroma.
I brewed using my Bodum French press. The
result has a very robust, earth
y flavor. There is a slight "soapy" flavor, which I think may come from some of the under-roasted beans.

ಶುಕ್ರವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 4, 2011

Smart For Two releases in 2012

Smart for Two Electric Drive

The Smart For two Electric Drive's second edition will have a limited production of 250 units for U.S. It's the test model that will be used to gauge consumer interest in these type of battery-powered vehicles. This model is available for leasing at $599 a month for 48 months, plus $2,500 due at signing. The 2011 Smart ED is offered under the lease-only plan but the manufacturer has listed its MSRP at $44,387.

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The Politics of Gas Prices

Gas (and food) prices are going to be Obama's "Waterloo" in 2012. And Obama won't be playing the part of Duke Wellington.

You can't have high unemployment, high energy prices, and high food prices and expect the party controlling the White House to poll well.

Obama and the Democrats' problem is that they have not had a popular approach to these issues. For example, pursuing ethanol mandates is counterproductive for both gas prices and food prices. Moratoriums on oil drilling restrict supply, while clean energy mandates and permitting slowdowns squeeze utility prices. Each issue is run by a different White House czar, but the sum effect is to push an expensive green agenda.

Perversely, restricting drilling also hurts the federal budget, because oil unpumped is oil untaxed.

Meanwhile, I think the average American voter, unless he is a member of a major labor union, is saying "hold on, let's fix the economy and the budget, and then worry about environmental progress!"

The average American driver also doesn't want to be pushed into a Honda Fit or Ford Fiesta sized car, or to have to pay a $5,000 premium for a hybrid, which is what the aggresive expansion of CAFE standards leads to. The average American wants a comfortable car and cheap gas, and an affordable price for both.

Video: Uphill Skiing

I'd hate to be jet-engine powering up a mountain and hit a tree... you'd need a fire extinguisher and then a stretcher. This is not a toy for the timid!

Testing New Jetpack on Skis - Troy Hartman from Troy Hartman on Vimeo.

Ruf Rt 12 R - A 230-mph bolide

Ruf Rt 12R

Porsche has been making some amazingly capable and exciting machines and the German speedmeisters are fans of those cars. They would like to take and lock them in their factory and release them as roadgoing rocketships. The company's latest creation, unveiled on the 2011 Geneva Motor Show floor, is the Ruf Rt 12 R.

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ಗುರುವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 3, 2011

Mitsubishi: Dead In The U.S.?

Mitsubishi, which is barely hanging on in the U.S. (When was the last time you saw a Galant?), is rumored to be killing off its Evo line, to focus its efforts on EVs and hybrids.

This is nothing less than market suicide, in the U.S. market, because U.S. consumers have note yet embraced electric motoring.  Anecdotally, the only Mitsubishi owners I knew personally were Evo drivers.  

Mitsubishi, already in big trouble, will probably become a niche player, sold as a boutique brand by multi-brand dealerships.  How can they maintain a dealer network on EVs and hybrids alone?

ಬುಧವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 2, 2011

2012 GTA Spano at Geneva Motor Show

2012 GTA Spano

GTA Motor has released its latest brand, Spano at the Geneva Motor Show. It's a V10-powered, 820-horsepower car with a carbon fiber-kevlar composite and aluminum chassis. The maximum production of this car would be just 99.

The Spano with its power and little weight reaches 60 mph in under three seconds and it can top out at 217 mph. The car has a 380 mm six-piston caliper AP Racing disc brakes with ABS. This car is designed with a panoramic roof and a carbon fiber luggage compartment complete with fitted bags considering its performance.

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ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಮಾರ್ಚ್ 1, 2011

IIHS: Decapitation Sucks, Fix Trucks

IIHS has released a report on the poor state of under-ride protection on American large truck trailers.  If you watch this video, I promise you you will feel queasy.  In it, a 2010 Malibu is crashed into the rear of a U.S. spec trailer at 35mph.   All of the Malibu's excellent front crash structures slide under the rear of the trailer, as the guard buckles and folds under, and the rear of the trailer hits the dummies in the head.  

Adding beefier rear guards to trailers will cost a little cost, and a little weight, to each trailer.  But seeing as there are hundreds of car-trailer accidents each year, I think it is probably worth it.

Another issue, which IIHS doesn't discuss, is side protection for trailers.  European trailers have side under-ride guards as well as rear.  

Ferrari FF took its spot at Geneva

Ferrari FF at Geneva

Ferrari joined the Geneva Motor Show with its new model, the Ferrari FF. It's a pure Ferrari car but it is entirely different from the its other models. The Ferrari Four is a four-wheel-drive, four-seat shooting brake. Until now its shown in red and in beige but its also displayed at Pininfarina in white which is showed here.

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