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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.