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Archive for the ‘Car Politics’ Category

What the New CAFE Standards Mean for Auto Buyers

July 20th, 2016

White House Infographic, fuel economy standards

There has been a lot of news this week regarding the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration issuing new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The reports seem to suggest the government has gone lax on the issue of fuel economy because most Americans don’t seem to care about it.

One analyst, however, suggests the opposite may be true. Stephanie Brinley, a senior analyst at IHS Automotive, read the entire 1217-page midterm report that discussed the standards (something probably 99 percent of journalists didn’t do, including me).

She wrote in Forbes, “The (CAFE) standard and NHTSA projected figures for the 2025 model year targets, however, have now been revealed as a projection rather than a legal requirement. The report is supportive of the progress and direction of the existing standards. The agencies believe automakers can meet the challenge, and that consumers want it.”

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The Cost of Doing Business in a Safety-Focused World

July 19th, 2016

Crash-test dummies talking

When an automaker begins to develop a new model, one of the earliest decisions it makes is where the vehicle will be sold. While it seems logical to produce one model and sell it in as many markets as possible, red tape abounds, with safety standards being the thickest ribbon of all.

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Could Now Be a Good Time to Buy a Tesla?

July 14th, 2016

2015 Tesla Model S

Tesla has seen a lot of time in the news during the past couple of weeks over crashes involving its Autopilot system. Low gas prices also might be hurting its business plan, and there are some growing questions about reliability. This all begs the question: is now the right time to think about buying a Tesla? The answer is a qualified “maybe,” because the decision essentially comes down to how much risk you’re willing to assume.

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What the Volkswagen TDI Settlement Means for Owners

June 29th, 2016

2015_jetta_tdi_4218

Volkswagen has agreed to pay a massive $14.7 billion fine to the U.S. government and other entities to settle allegations of cheating on emissions tests and deceiving customers about its 2.0-liter TDI engines. That’s a big number, but what does it mean for the average Volkswagen owner?

You stand to lose a lot of value on your used Volkswagen, according to extensive CarGurus research. (Settlement details have yet to be announced for the 3.0-liter diesel engines.) CarGurus’ data team analyzed a sample of the VW models impacted by the emissions scandal in order to determine what the scandal has cost owners since news of the “defeat device” first broke in September (right before a really awkward 2016 Jetta launch in New York City). The calculations were based on CarGurus’ Instant Market Value (IMV) analysis, which is run daily on millions of used-car listings.

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A New Pacifica and the Future of Chrysler

June 21st, 2016

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Once a mainstay on American highways, Chrysler is now driving toward an uncertain future. Its partnership with Daimler-Benz has been replaced by one with Fiat, and while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has kept its head above water (thanks to America’s obsession with pickup trucks and the unyielding power of Jeep brand loyalty), the rest of the business raises more than a few questions. What is Fiat’s true future in the U.S. market? Will Alfa Romeo and its Giulia succeed today after a reputation for unreliability sunk them in 1995? And with only a midsize sedan with a questionable future, a full-size stalwart in a shrinking segment, and the 2017 Pacifica in a crossover-crazy era, can Chrysler stay afloat?

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New England Motor Press Announces 2016 Winter Cars of the Year

May 31st, 2016

2016_honda_pilot-pic-8447236220464335468-640x480

With this past year being a rare exception, winters in New England are a serious business. So, when the New England Motor Press Association gets together to award the best winter vehicles of the year, the industry takes notice.

Although the typical winter’s day this year was more hospitable than during the past few years, the official winter testing day for NEMPA’s auto experts was still a bitterly cold, windy affair – complete with weather service advisories instructing people to stay inside (just check out our Infiniti QX50 impression for proof). Undeterred, we gathered at Bugsy Lawlor’s Automotion garage to test the best winter rigs of the year.

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Coming Soon: The Fall of the Pickup?

May 12th, 2016

2016 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4x4

Remember the build up to the housing market crash in 2007 and 2008? Only a few people saw it coming, while everyone else wrote off the impending doom as an impossible occurrence. Most analysts felt the housing market was simply too big and too strong to fail, but here we are a good eight years later still trying to pick up the pieces.

The next crash won’t be nearly as large in scale and certainly won’t impact the economy of the United States, but it could bring down at least one automaker, put the hurt on thousands of car dealers, and potentially change the landscape of vehicle production in this country.

I’m talking about the death of the pickup.

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Ford’s Mexico Announcement Sparks Controversy

April 11th, 2016

Ford_Fiesta_ST

Ford is moving to Mexico.

Well, not really, but you’d think so based on the reaction of some politicians after Ford announced plans to expand and build more vehicles in Mexico.

The Detroit automaker said it will invest $1.6 billion in a new Mexican facility and create 2,800 jobs by 2020, with construction expected to begin this summer. The plant will build small cars for export to the United States.

This is probably a good development for American car buyers because it means more affordable vehicles on dealer lots. Not everyone sees it that way, though.

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EPA Asks Volkswagen to Build Electric Cars

February 24th, 2016

2015-VW-e-Golf

Volkswagen is like the kid who got caught lying to his parents.

When a kid lies, his parents may punish him by taking away his allowance, making him apologize, and possibly making him pay back the people to whom he lied.

If those punishments don’t work, or if the lie was particularly heinous, a parent might ask his or her child to contribute to solving the problem that caused the lie in the first place.

We all know that VW got caught lying to the government (and its customers) by using technology to cheat emissions tests on nearly 600,000 cars. We’re about five months into the scandal and there still isn’t a plan in place to compensate customers or fix the affected vehicles. Volkswagen will undoubtedly be fined billions of dollars for the lie and face lawsuits, but now the U.S. government has also asked the carmaker to go a step further and build cars that make lying about emissions impossible.

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Cars of the Presidential Candidates

February 15th, 2016

1997_lamborghini_diablo

Today is President’s Day. It’s a day for us to sit back, relax, and contemplate the cars of the presidents.

Well, I guess we are supposed to reflect on all the great things American presidents have accomplished over the last couple of centuries while looking forward to what the next four years could bring.

Presidents typically aren’t known for their cars, because they are chauffeured from early on in their political careers and in their presidential campaigns. They are more familiar with the back seats of luxury SUVs and limos than with the driver’s seat of the Chevrolets and Fords that their constituents drive.

On this President’s Day, let’s take a moment and look at the vehicles of some of the front-runners. Maybe doing so will point us in the direction of who might be best in touch with American drivers.

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