2017: The Year the Future Arrives

Think back five years.

The year was 2012. It wasn’t that long ago, but in terms of advancements in the auto industry, it was an eternity. After doing a quick Google search for “car trends 2012,” I found a quaint little article from January of that year in the USA Today with the headline “Five auto trends that will shake up 2012.”

The article mentioned things like stop/start engine technology, multiple air bags, smaller gas-powered engines, and simple infotainment controls.

Earth-shattering stuff, right?

Compare that list to what to expect for 2017 and you’d think we jumped ahead 20 years, not just five. Here’s where we are now.

Continue reading >>>

Apple Faces Lawsuit for not Preventing Texting and Driving

I made a promise to my family to not text while driving. Doing so is wildly dangerous and irresponsible, but also incredibly easy and tempting.

On any day, in any city around the country, a driver can look into the windows of surrounding cars and see a driver typing on his or her phone.

That driver will no longer be me, because I’ve decided that I control my phone instead of my phone controlling me. I won’t let it put my life, nor the lives of my loved ones, at risk.

Rather than taking responsibility for their own texting habits, some drivers want to sue one of the world’s largest makers of smartphones. The alleged crime? Making texting while driving possible. Or rather, not making it impossible.

Continue reading >>>

The Trump Effect: Will More Car Production Stay in America?

For all the controversy President-elect Trump has created, his impending presidency seems to be having at least one immediate effect: Car production is staying in the United States.

In the last few weeks, Ford has cancelled plans for a Mexican production plant, and GM has committed to invest a billion dollars in U.S. manufacturing while adding 7,000 jobs. That news comes after Trump has publicly derided the companies for moving production out of the country.

German automakers, however, have stood firm on their existing plans for production in Mexico, even in the face of Trump’s proposed 35 percent tax on foreign cars being brought into the U.S.

Is this truly a Trump effect, or just coincidence?

Continue reading >>>

Ford and Toyota Partner to Keep Apple, Google at Bay

Ford infotainment

One of the most compelling reasons not to buy a new Toyota is the stark absence of either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. If you’ve sniffed around automotive news headlines from the past few years’ CES shows, you know more and more pundits are beginning to view cars as appliances for daily life, and the ever-growing infotainment screens found in new cars are central to this shift. Continue reading >>>

Volkswagen Debuts New Microbus Concept… Again

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept

“Volkswagen is making a new Microbus!”

My wife excitedly read the headline out loud over the weekend, to which I replied, “Yeah, they’ve been saying that for the last decade or so. Let me guess, that story is about a modern electric version?”

“Yeah,” she said, “So you don’t think it’ll happen?”

I didn’t mean to crush her hopes, but rumors of a new version of the much-loved VW Microbus have circulated for years. The company has even trotted out occasional concepts, further stoking the fire and raising hopes of the rabid Microbus U.S. fan-base.

My first thought when hearing about a “new” concept was that an old article had been recycled. But, sure enough, Volkswagen has shown a new concept, called the I.D. Buzz, at the auto show in Detroit.

Continue reading >>>

The Boston Auto Show: Where You Can See Cars You Can Actually Buy (from a Dealer)

Last night kicked off the 2017 New England International Auto Show, held right here in Boston, Massachusetts. While the big event in Detroit earns the majority of attention around this time of year, New England’s exhibition this year is all about cars you can actually find for sale on dealer lots—cars you and I could actually go out and purchase, rather than a slew of concepts and debuting vehicles unavailable for months to come. Continue reading >>>

Volkswagen Pleads Guilty, FCA Accused of Cheating

A short time ago, Volkswagen executives in Germany were warned about travel to the United States. Doing so could result in arrest for criminal charges stemming from the company’s massive defrauding of the U.S. government.

Perhaps Oliver Schmidt, the former head of VW’s environmental engineering office in charge of communicating with U.S. regulators, didn’t get the memo.

The FBI pounced when Schmidt was in Miami, arresting him to face criminal charges over doctored diesel engines in more than 500,000 cars, which emitted up to 40 times the limit for nitrogen oxide under U.S. pollution standards.

Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to three felony charges and now the EPA has accused another automaker of a similar cheating scheme.

Continue reading >>>

Welcome to the 5th Generation of Transportation

Chrysler Portal concept

Family transportation all started with the station wagon. Anyone here remember riding in the “way back” seats of a Ford Granada or Country Squire wagon?

If you were lucky, your parents had the kind of wagon where the “way back” seats faced backward and you could see traffic approaching from behind while everyone else faced forward.

Station wagons were the preferred mode of family transport because they were big, comfortable, and offered plenty of room for people and their stuff. Station wagons were the first generation of family vehicles and were followed by minivans, SUVs, and then crossovers.

FCA thinks it has a direct line to the future and has introduced us to the next generation of family transport: the Portal.

Continue reading >>>

The 2017 North American International Auto Show: An Odyssey Worth Traversing

2018 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT C

When the 2017 Pacifica was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last year, Chrysler restarted its minivan team’s engine and started down the road toward family-moving domination. The advanced dual-monitor rear-seat entertainment system. The built-in Ridgid vacuum cleaner. The hybrid drivetrain. With the Dodge Caravan crumbling, the Pacifica managed to surge past the competition, and this morning was awarded the North American Utility Vehicle of the Year.

Continue reading >>>