Should Big Rigs Be Forced to Drive Slower?

semi_truck

Have you ever been driving at, or slightly above, the speed limit on a highway, only to be overtaken by a speeding big rig?

It’s scary to see a massive grille approaching in your rear-view before it changes lanes and passes. The whine of the diesel engine and whoosh of the long trailer makes for a few seconds of white-knuckle driving.

Trucks have a slower speed limit than the rest of traffic on most highways around the country, but drivers rarely adhere to that posted limit.

The U.S. government is considering new legislation that would electronically limit the top speed of all new semi trucks, making it impossible for truck drivers to exceed the speed of normal traffic.

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Could a Ferrari-Inspired Mazda RX-9 Come to Showrooms?

Mazda RX Vision concept

Mazda RX Vision concept

Let’s count the rumors being addressed in this one delicious and exciting report concerning a new Mazda sports car:

  1. Mazda has perfected the rotary engine
  2. The Ferrari-inspired RX Vision concept hasn’t been forgotten
  3. A car based on that concept could show up at dealers within four years as an RX-9

This is all drool-worthy stuff that will make any car aficionado perk up on a sleepy morning.

Is there a catch? Of course there is. The report is based on more rumors without a credible source, but it’s still just enough to get our rotary-loving engines burning.

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The Automotive Revolution Has Begun

2016-Volvo-xc90-uber

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.

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After 50 Years, Muscle-Car Craze Could Be Ending

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Nobody buys a Mustang because he or she needs a Mustang.

People buy Mustangs because they want a modern version of an automotive icon. Mustangs make drivers feel good, there’s not much else to it. They certainly don’t offer much in the way of transportation for large families.

Industry analysts happen to know that the automotive market is doing quite well when people buy Mustangs, along with other cars they don’t need. When sales of performance cars and other discretionary models start to dip, a slow-down in the rest of the market probably isn’t far away. It’s like the Farmer’s Almanac of the auto world.

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VW Makes Amends with Diesel Owners, But Isn’t It Forgetting Someone?

Porsche Cayenne Diesel

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.

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Will Tesla’s New Lease Attract More Customers?

2016-tesla-model-x

Believe it or not, you can still buy a new car in the United States for under $14,000. The least expensive option on the market is the $11,990 Nissan Versa, a car that Car and Driver says, “has insultingly flimsy materials” along with a 109-hp 1.6-liter engine that makes for slow acceleration but gives reasonably good fuel efficiency.

Most of us opt to buy more car than what the Versa has to offer, but that ultra-low price is appealing to budget-conscious shoppers. If the Versa is too “flimsy,” buyers can step up to something like the $14,000 Ford Fiesta.

Once the car is purchased, it can be driven for many years with no further finance costs, which is one of the benefits of buying a car outright.

A 24-month finance term on a $14,000 car, at 3.11 percent interest, is about $600. For the same price you could drive one of the most desirable luxury cars on the market: An all-electric Tesla.

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Electric Motors Without the Equations

Nissan Leaf Cutaway

Earlier this year, Bloomberg published an interesting article on the future of electric vehicles in relation to oil demand. It points out that global EV sales increased 60% in 2015, the same rate of growth seen by the Ford Model T in its early years. Though EVs still only command about 0.1% of the worldwide auto market—and the current glut of cheap oil has kept many people behind the wheels of their favorite crossovers and trucks—more affordable batteries, growing cultural acceptance, and the looming threat of global warming will most likely only improve EV sales from here on out. Bloomberg itself predicts “the 2020s will be the decade of the electric car,” anticipating that at some point EV demand will surpass even demand for oil.

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New Nissan Titan: Finally a Worthy Full-Size Competitor

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The Nissan Titan has been all but forgotten in the minds of full-size truck shoppers. Last month, the Titan placed dead last in truck sales, if we don’t include the extinct Chevy Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT.

Almost 234,000 trucks were sold in the U.S. in July. The Titan accounted for just 1,143 of those sales, which amounts to a fairly average month when looking at the last six years of Titan sales data.

The 2015 version of the truck was widely panned as an outdated and underpowered entry in the market. Nissan overhauled the truck for 2016 and included a Cummins turbodiesel V8 engine in its Titan XD model, making it the only “light-duty” truck capable of towing more than 11,000 pounds.

So far sales numbers haven’t improved much.

For 2017, though, Nissan will make the standard half-ton Titan available. It won’t knock the Ford F-150 off its perch, but Nissan hopes it will at least move the Titan out of last place.

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Coming Soon: A Ford Without a Steering Wheel

ford-self-driving-car

Fully autonomous cars were once the pipe dream of a utopian future.

Ten years ago, self-driving cars seemed so far-fetched that it wasn’t even worth bringing them up in conversation. We might as well have discussed the feasibility of bubble-powered fighter jets.

Today the reality of an autonomous future is closer than most of us realize.

Many major automakers, led by Tesla, have recently boasted about their autonomous plans and showed off early versions of their technology. Ford has quietly sat on the sidelines. So quietly, in fact, that it’s been criticized for not announcing plans for a self-driving future.

Ford shook things up recently, though, when it finally broke its silence and said it hopes for fully autonomous cars in just five years. The company’s vision brings up some new possibilities that could change transportation as we know it.

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