Archive for the ‘General Chat’ Category

Chinese Buick Envision Seems Headed to U.S.

November 17th, 2015

Buick Envision chinese-spec-rear-three-quarter-02

Yesterday came some praise for the United Autoworkers Union because of its part in steering Ford towards producing a much-hyped new generation of a well-known pickup and SUV in the United States.

Today, the union may have some negative influence on a GM plan to introduce a new, economical Buick CUV to the U.S. market.

Typically the union would be all for a new model, because it would employ people and keep factories moving. This Buick, though, wouldn’t be built in the United States. It would be built in (and imported from) China.

Back in August we reported about the possibility of a Chinese-built Buick Envision CUV being sold here. The UAW lashed out immediately. Cindy Estrada, UAW’s vice president in charge of GM talks, said:

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Ford Bronco, Ranger Coming Back Thanks to UAW

November 16th, 2015

2020 Ford Bronco

I’m generally not a fan of the United Auto Workers union.

I believe that automakers should have the right to hire and fire whomever they choose, whenever they want, while paying whatever wages they deem fair. Without getting into a giant political debate here, I think we can all at least agree that the union has significant control over the actions of automakers.

One positive result from the UAW’s influence is the recent confirmation of a long-standing rumor involving the return of a favorite old workhorse.

Union contract negotiations can get intense and often involve salary increases, bonuses, performance pay, guaranteed work, and increased factory production. Ford’s recent negotiations with the UAW have resulted in something exciting:

The virtual guarantee of a Ford Bronco, along with a new U.S. Ford Ranger.

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A Smart Alternative to Boring Cars: Our 2016 Nissan Leaf Impressions

November 13th, 2015

2016 Nissan Leaf SL

There are no falcon doors, there is no Ludicrous Mode, and the company isn’t run by a man fashioning himself after Tony Stark. The center console isn’t comprised of a mega-iPad, and there are no rear-facing jump seats in the trunk. The Nissan Leaf is no Tesla Model S—a brilliant car, made by a fascinating company, and the first image to come to mind when one thinks of electric cars. But in the end, the Leaf may be more likely to succeed.

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Chevrolet Colorado Most Fuel-Efficient Pickup in America

November 13th, 2015

Chevrolet Colorado dieselThere’s an interesting battle going on to be the most fuel-efficient pickup truck in America. It’s interesting not so much for the fact that the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado 2-wheel drive with the Duramax turbodiesel engine is the winner.

Nope, what makes it intriguing is it turns out Americans do care about fuel efficiency, even with falling fuel prices. We don’t care so much how a vehicle gets fuel savings. We just want it to happen.

That’s according to a survey by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. It discovered in June that “[a] little more than half (52 percent) of respondents said it didn’t matter to them how a vehicle saves fuel and reduces emissions,” according to an article at the news site

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Watch Out, New Devices Roll Back Digital Odometers

November 13th, 2015


Analog odometers were a car staple well into the 1990s. They were unremarkable devices, but sure made the change from 99,999 to 100,000 miles a lot more fun because of that slow roll of the five zeros.

They were also fairly easy to roll back in an effort to commit fraud. Selling a car that shows 67,000 miles is far easier to sell than one that shows 102,000 miles, and unsavory sellers regularly partook in the dishonest behavior.

The switch to digital odometers made milestones less exciting, but it has also reassured used car buyers that the car’s mileage is accurate because rolling back a digital odometer is not possible.

Or so we thought.

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Don’t Call it a Comeback: Mitsubishi’s Still Here

November 12th, 2015


There’s one car company that has been on my “death watch” list longer than any other automaker.

This list has seen the likes of Suzuki and Isuzu die in the United States, as well as Hummer, Pontiac, and Saturn. I’m not 100 percent accurate in my predictions, though, because I also once had Buick and Lincoln on that list. Buick is now firmly off, but I still have some concerns about Lincoln.

The brand that I thought had the highest probability of disappearing is Mitsubishi, which has been in the top spot on my list for close to a decade. The fact that it has outlasted Pontiac still blows my mind.

With very little marketing and a product offering that impresses no one, the little Japanese company still manages to sell a car now and then. And rather than fold and move out of the market, Mitsubishi is preparing to step things up a notch.

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Does the Nissan IDS Concept Take Autonomous Driving Too Far?

November 11th, 2015

Nissan IDS concept

Some people went too far when Tesla released its Autopilot Mode on the Model S.

Owners are taking videos of themselves eating breakfast, shaving, and texting (at the same time) while Autopilot is activated. One reckless soul even hopped into the backseat with the Tesla at full control and relaxed while the car handled the driving.

It’s gotten bad enough that Tesla will take action. Elon Musk said,

There’s been some fairly crazy videos on YouTube… this is not good. And we will be putting some additional constraints on when autopilot can be activated to minimize the possibility of people doing crazy things with it.

Unfortunately, this could be a trend that doesn’t stop with Tesla. Case in point: the Nissan IDS Concept.

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Volkswagen Scandal Deepens, New Offer Made to Owners

November 10th, 2015


Things aren’t getting any easier for Volkswagen.

When the diesel emissions scandal broke in September, the problem was limited to 11 million vehicles equipped with the company’s 2.0-liter TDI engine. That alone was a crippling blow to the company that some estimates said could top $18 billion in damages.

The situation hasn’t improved in the weeks since.

Volkswagen, at least publicly, has done very little to let customers know how it will proceed in fixing the affected vehicles. In the meantime, the U.S. government has accused VW of cheating on additional vehicles, and Volkswagen itself has found another 800,000 cars that are probably affected.

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Too Late for Hyundai’s Genesis Brand?

November 9th, 2015


I have vague memories of the first time I heard the word “Lexus.” I wondered if a new car brand created by Toyota and given a funny name could actually compete with established juggernauts.

We all know how that turned out. Today Lexus is one the top-selling luxury brands in America and has established itself as a benchmark toward which other automakers strive.

It’s been 26 years since the birth of Lexus and now another new luxury nameplate will launch. Genesis, a brand to be launched by Hyundai, brings some of the same questions today that were asked of Lexus almost three decades ago: Can a mass-market automaker create a luxury brand able to successfully compete with the established companies?

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More Than Just a Refresh: Our 2016 Toyota Tacoma Impressions

November 6th, 2015

2016 Toyota Tacoma 2662350292231816912-640x480

The return to availability of GM’s Chevrolet Colorado and the GMC Canyon last year gave the midsize pickup market a shot in the arm. Long a staple in what’s now one of the fastest-growing segments in the auto business, the 2015 Toyota Tacoma suddenly looked outdated. For 2016, it had to be more efficient, more comfortable, and more refined.

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