As we noted Wednesday, muscle cars sold very well in 2014 and 2015, which we took as a sign the car business was healthy. But the first 7 months of 2016 saw Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger sales drop by 5.5% year over year while the redesigned Chevrolet Camaro’s sales dropped by 15.4%. What’s the problem?
We are in the midst of a technological revolution in the auto industry. The amount of change in the last five years has probably outpaced what we’ve seen in the last 50. The next five years could change it all again.
Remember when seat belts and air conditioning were considered big developments in the car world? Then came cruise control and heated seats. I, for one, lost my marbles when I finally owned a car that could unlock with the push of a button.
Now I don’t even need keys to unlock, or start, my car. Heck, I don’t even need gasoline any more. My Nissan Leaf, though, hasn’t even begun to crack the surface of what’s coming.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever responded to a friend’s complaint by saying, “Doesn’t this seem like a first-world problem?” Are you reading this in your cubicle, hand raised, feeling slightly foolish? All right—put your hand down. Here’s the thing with so-called “first-world problems”: despite their overall insignificance, they’re still real problems. Sure, we wouldn’t rank problems like “the only grocery store in my neighborhood is Whole Foods” alongside “educational inequality is a national epidemic” or “the extreme partisanship infecting the American political process is stunting the possibility of effective change,” but if the only grocery store in your neighborhood is Whole Foods, then the inevitability of spending half your paycheck on (amazing) bananas and homemade hummus could, in fact, very well be a serious personal inconvenience.
It’s been almost one year since news broke of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. At the time, we wondered how deep this scandal would go and if VW’s TDI plans were irreparable.
So far, Volkswagen has shown no interest in bringing its TDI line back to the U.S., but seems to have been doing just fine without it. Last month CNN said,
Global sales of Volkswagen cars and trucks have eked out about a 1% gain in the first five months of the year, despite the scandal. May sales gains were even stronger, a sign that the automaker is starting to put the diesel scandal behind it. Its U.S. sales have been down 7% in the first half of the year, although the United States accounts for only about 5% of its global sales.
Volkswagen’s outlook isn’t all rosy, though. This week investigators with the U.S. Department of Justice have found evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the case.
We’ve all been there: January 1st nears, excitement builds, and you set a lofty goal for yourself. Eat healthier. Hit the gym 5 days a week. Engage friends and family in conversations that are not exclusively about cars. You know, your typical New Year’s resolution. In the following weeks, Whole Foods will record record sales and gym memberships will spike. But by mid-February or so, we’ll return to our old habits, and my loved ones will still be trying to remember which seemingly random collection of letters and numbers is made by Cadillac and which by Mercedes-Benz. Our resolutions—promises we made and agreed to stand behind—have become more akin to suggestions. They’re now goals to strive for and be congratulated on, not requirements by which to live. Don’t feel too bad: as it turns out, the auto industry isn’t too different.
In 2015 Americans bought more new cars than in any previous year, but those numbers can’t hide one of the auto business’s dirty little secrets: even when shoppers buy lots of cars, not every model sells well. We’re now winding down the 2016 model year, so we know which models won’t return for 2017. There are a few we won’t miss too much (take care, CR-Z!), but happily, a number of good models that won’t come back for 2017 have already been replaced or will move on under new names. Here are some vehicles we’re glad will return, even if they’ve had to adopt an alias to do so.
The most ticketed car in America is… the Lexus ES 300. A midsize luxury sedan remembered for a smooth, quiet ride, an 8-ish-second 0-60 mph time, and looks dull enough to put Ben Stein to sleep? Aaron Cole tried his hardest to find drama and excitement behind the wheel of a 2016 Lexus ES 350 last year. Fast forward, and now we’re hearing that the snoozy barge’s predecessor receives more tickets than any other car on American roads. How did this happen?
Like employees of any outlet in the business of reviewing cars, one of the questions we hear often revolves around where we get the cars we review. Are they supplied by dealerships? Does CarGurus buy the cars? Or do manufacturers actually set aside brand new vehicles specifically to send them off to automotive journalists, knowing that doing so opens them up to potential criticism?
Last week, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, unveiled his Master Plan, Part Deux, on his website. It lays out his plans for where his futuristic company will go in the next decade.
Now there are those of you out there who are wondering about his Master Plan, Part One, which included the following goals:
- Create a low-volume car, which would necessarily be expensive;
- Use that money to develop a medium-volume car at a lower price;
- Use that money to create an affordable, high-volume car; and
- Provide solar power.
I just got a screaming deal on a 1999 Land Cruiser. The only problem is that it could have illegal tires.
The truck isn’t a daily driver, but will handle all towing duties and be called upon for those rare instances when my family of six is all together and needs to go to the same location. It’s also in great shape, runs strong, has a comfortable interior, and came wearing mostly new Hankook DynaPro off-road tires. They are chunky, have a beefy tread, and can take the Land Cruiser anywhere I want to drive it.
Of course, that’ll mostly consist of highways and paved back roads, which might make the tires slight overkill for what I need.
Plus, they could become illegal.