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Archive for the ‘Car Politics’ Category

GM’s Solution to Recall: Just Buy a New Car

May 6th, 2014
2014 Buick Regal

Sorry for the trouble. Buy one of these as compensation!

Let’s say you bought a car only to find out later it has a defect that could potentially kill you.

Would your first response be heading to your nearest dealer and buying a new version of the same brand to replace your defective car?

Of course not. That’s a silly question, right? Most people would simply want the car fixed, if possible. Others might have a more extreme response and sue the carmaker in question and vow to never own said brand again.

General Motors is still in the middle of its ignition recall and has made those affected by it a very strange offer.

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Speed Limit: 80. Who’s Ready?

March 31st, 2014

80_MPH_SPEED

We all do it anyway. With many Interstate speed limits at 70 miles per hour, it’s easy to push that to 75 or even 80 when cruising the vast spaces between cities.

On a recent trip from Washington to Oregon, I had my cruise set at 75 and still got passed by cars that had to be going 85. Upon entering Oregon I experienced the pain of a sudden decrease to 65 and wondered why the law there required me to go so painfully slow.

Modern cars are capable of easily cruising at 80 or more, especially with the advent of 8- and 9-speed automatic transmissions that are built for efficiency at high speeds.

With the advancement of technology and the ability to go faster, the Interstate highway system needs to start keeping pace.

In some places, that is happening.

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Subaru Dealer Wins Union Fight

March 26th, 2014

subaru_union_fight

Kill ‘em with love and humor.

What better way to combat a hostile situation than by offering up some comedy. Maybe we could avoid everything from wars to domestic disputes by simply opening our arms and asking for a hug, then telling a joke.

I know it sounds like I’ve gone all hippie, but when we all just get along, things are so much happier. For the latest proof of this concept, I direct your attention to a Subaru dealership in Wichita, which has effectively diffused a union protest.

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Drugged Driving: America’s New Problem

March 4th, 2014

Driving High

The first time you try it is the last time you can ever say you’ve never done it.

I try to avoid topics here that aren’t specifically car related, but we’ve reached the point where recreational drug use and cars have collided into a seriously important point of discussion. I live in Washington, where marijuana use is now legal, and people wonder how much their bodies can handle before driving becomes impaired.

It’s hard to avoid the distinct musky smell of the drug here—it fills everything from concert halls to hotel halls.

While I choose not to partake, because I don’t want to artificially alter my mind or endanger myself behind the wheel, plenty of Washingtonians are taking advantage of the new legislation.

I’ve heard two arguments in the Driving While High debate:

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Flashing While Driving: Now Legal!

February 7th, 2014

speed trap

There’s big, big news in the world of cars today. It’s not often that a piece of news or legislation or automotive awesomeness comes along that completely lights up my days and nights.

When it happens, though, it needs to be acknowledged and celebrated.

The news I discovered yesterday has not only caused me to rest easier while driving, it will save me (and you) money while adding another level of protection and camaraderie on the streets of these great United States.

What could have such a big influence on the state of driving?

The answer, as briefly as possible, is:

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Smart Ways to Ease Traffic Congestion

September 19th, 2013

smallest car in the world

Yesterday I brought up the topic of congestion in cities and Scotland’s proposal to ban gas-powered vehicles in city centers.

I don’t meant to dwell on a topic that remains decades away, but it brings up some interesting questions about the problems of transportation in busy areas. A couple of commenters on that post got me wondering if the solution to urban congestion lies in bigger roads, smaller cars, or no cars at all.

The implications of whatever happens will directly influence the cars we buy in the future. Maybe that great bargain on a used Suburban won’t be as great when it can’t be driven to the office parking garage downtown.

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Should Our Cars Record Our Every Move?

August 29th, 2013

google self-driving-car

Ninety-six percent of passenger cars and light-duty vehicles from the 2013 model year have electronic data recorders.

Yup, like the black boxes in airplanes, our vehicles’ actions are constantly being recorded, and the only way to avoid it is to buy used.

The statistic comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, by way of the Huffington Post, in an article about self-driving cars.

The U.S. government would like all self-driving vehicles to have data recorders that would log all events leading up to an accident. The data, in theory, would allow investigators to determine what went wrong in the unfortunate event there are no survivors to recap their versions of things.

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Tesla Could Change How Cars Are Sold

August 23rd, 2013

Tesla Model S

The dealer franchise system has worked for selling cars in the United States for nearly as long as there have been cars in the United States.

By requiring new vehicles to be sold through private dealers not associated with the automakers, the market has been able to determine fair prices based on the MSRP. That’s been mostly good for consumers, at least the ones educated enough to research and negotiate a fair price.

It’s also allowed dealers to make gobs of money by acting as the middlemen between automakers and consumers.

Tesla thinks that model should change.

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Are U.S. Truck Prices Artificially Inflated?

August 6th, 2013

2013 Chevy Silverado

The Detroit News yesterday morning said,

Some industry experts believe American consumers are paying thousands extra for pickup trucks because of a lack of true market competition.

Well that’s disheartening, isn’t it?

How many years have faithful buyers of F-150s, Silverados and Ram pickups been paying more than they should for their American workhorses? What about faithful repeat buyers, who religiously remain loyal to a brand and buy new on a regular basis? Those guys have, theoretically, paid tens of thousands of dollars more than necessary for their made-in-America trucks.

It is interesting that the only full-size pickups sold here are the trucks made here.

Now think about the market for sedans and SUVs in this country. There are makes and models from Asia, Europe and North America in every corner of this great country. But even the pickups from foreign automakers, the Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan, are built in the United States.

Why is that?

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FIAT: The Newest Domestic Automaker?

May 29th, 2013

American FIAT 500

Let’s make FIAT American!

Remember the controversy that surrounded an Italian brand buying an American car company? When Chrysler went into bankruptcy and was gobbled up by FIAT, the question arose of whether the storied American brand would remain, well, American.

The Italian carmaker’s stake in Chrysler has grown steadily since 2009, and now FIAT CEO Sergio Marchionne wants to buy the rest and take full ownership. That means the once-American Chrysler would be fully under the control of a foreign entity that also owns Alfa Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari.

But what if the tables turned, and instead of Chrysler going foreign, FIAT comes stateside?

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