To Grandmother’s House We Go: The Best Ways to Get There

Ahhh… the holidays are here. For many of us, that means embarking on road trips. Some of us pile into the family car for a drive to Grandma’s, others are taking a road trip with a new sweetie to meet the family, and some are just jetting out of town to escape all the craziness (not to mention the snow).

Whatever your destination, there are perfect vehicles to match your destination and situation. Read on to find yours!

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The World in Cars: Volvo, Yugo and Schumacher

Volvo C70

Volvo C70

I’m consistently struck by how globally oriented the auto industry has become. Reading the news this morning was a further education in that trend, with stories about: Ford and Geely coming to agreement on the sale of Volvo, Fiat taking over the old Yugo factory in Serbia, and of course Michael Schumacher coming out of retirement to race again (this one front-page in the New York Times online). These topics are just the tip of today’s iceberg, as every car site (ours included) increasingly covers the international side of car finance, production, marketing, politics, and consumption.

The Volvo sale, for instance, looks forward to a “definitive” purchase agreement by Geely of Ford stock “in the first quarter of 2010,” i.e., in the next three months! With all the troubles GM has had moving Opel and Saab, this deal represents for Ford an expedient strategy to slim down and refocus. On the other hand, this $2 billion purchase by Geely is China’s biggest commitment yet to going global with its auto industry.

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How To Make Semi Trucks Invisible

truck projector

First, let’s start with a problem: You are cruising a two-lane highway, and temporarily get stuck behind a slow-moving Peterbilt. All you can see is the dirty white slab of the rear doors, and since you can’t see anything that lies ahead, you are forced to simply keep following the truck until there’s an opportunity to pass.

Well, now there might be a solution to this common highway hazard, although I think it’s a solution that would just end up causing more accidents.

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Green Update–>Concepts from Nissan, Audi, BMW, Protoscar and Renault

NY Solar Charger

Before we get to the concepts, here’s a reality: Beautiful Earth Group in New York (Brooklyn, actually) has built a solar charging station out of a pair of old cargo containers. A large solar panel array plus batteries charge the group’s MINI-E, giving it a 100-mile range on a 3-hour charge. So you’ve got recycled containers, a solar-powered car, and one of relatively few EV charging stations in the world—all of which are great. No word, however, on how much sunlight they can get in Brooklyn.

Some of what we write about on this blog is necessarily based on rumors and hints from the carmakers—stuff which may or may not become reality. Well, we hope the Nissan GT-R Hybrid will be produced, because it could be the essential green state-of-the-art supercar. Inside Line profiles the rumors and the likelihood of how this 600-hp, Infiniti Essence-based car might be built. Nissan’s target seems to be the Porsche 911 Turbo, and we may well see this car in 2012 at a cost of around $100,000.

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Oil Moving Toward $30 Per Barrel?

Oil_platform_gas_flareup

If you wanted to go out today and buy one barrel of crude oil, it would cost you about $73. That translates to a gas price, at least in my neck of the woods, of around $2.50 per gallon. That’s a heck of a bargain considering what we’ve seen recently (not to mention when compared to European petrol prices).

So imagine what would happen to the price of gasoline if the price of oil fell all the way to $30. One-dollar gas wouldn’t be completely out of the question.

Luckily for consumers, oil is heading back toward the $30 mark, at least according to analysts at GroundReport.

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Saab: Once More, with Feeling

Spyker Motto

Spyker is coming round again, making a new 11-point offer that is said to answer the objections or difficulties GM found in making a deal for Saab. These were not revealed by GM, but insiders report problems revolved around proprietary technology issues and Russian financing behind the Spyker proposal. The Russian Convers Group owns some 30 percent of Spyker.

Spyker CEO Victor Muller put out his new offer on Friday and gave GM a deadline of 5:00 pm EST today for consideration. That deadline, apparently, has now softened and been reset for Wednesday. The Antonov group (those tough-guy Russian investors) is now out of the picture, and Spyker has reportedly found a way to finesse the €400-million loan from the European Investment Bank that was part of its initial offer.

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Should GM Pull the Plug on Chevy Trucks?

Do we still need the Chevy Silverado?

Do we still need the Chevy Silverado?

I think General Motors should kill Chevy trucks.

I arrived at this conclusion after a weekend away from my computer (it’s amazing where one’s mind goes when not influenced by the Internet) and driving past a Buick/GMC/Pontiac dealer. I began to wonder how the dealer would cope with the loss of Pontiac.

On the other side of town, I happened across a Chevy/Cadillac dealer, and that’s when my mind’s wheels really started turning. Now that only four GM brands remain, it makes sense for the company to sell Chevy, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac under one roof.

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Saab Finally Down the Tubes

Not your next Saab (It's the Spyker Aileron)

Not your next Saab (It's the Spyker Aileron)

First it was Koenigsegg, now it’s Spyker, the Dutch sportscar maker, whose deal fell through on Saab. We may never know the final story—GM says they couldn’t get due diligence, Spyker says, “We were so incredibly close.” In any case, Saab will now wind down its production, pay its suppliers, continue to honor warranties, and provide parts. But the quirky cars that many loved will be gone.

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Local Motors Lets You Design and Build Your Car

Local Motors Rally Fighter

Local Motors Rally Fighter

If you could have a Baja-capable vehicle that’s also a daily driver and powered by a BMW engine, would you be interested?

Make it the 335d diesel engine, add adjustable ride height, 265 horsepower, and 30+ miles per gallon, and I’m guessing you’d be like me and wonder where to sign up.

It’s the hope of carmaker Local Motors that folks like you and me will indeed sign up to drive home a brand-new Rally Fighter. The thing is, you can’t just head to a dealer and make a deal on one. Sign up to buy one, and you get to help design and even help build it. No dealer visit required, ever. In my mind, that’s perhaps the best part of Local Motors!

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The Dealers: Two Sides to Every Story

Pontiac Dealership

GM and Chrysler dealers have, naturally, been protesting their shutdowns—some impending from before the bankruptcies. Their stories range from the heartbreaking to the absurd, all signifying how dramatically the landscape of the auto industry has changed.

Yesterday President Obama signed legislation giving ousted dealers access to a neutral, six-month arbitration process to get them (possibly) reinstated. The companies must inform the 2,150 dealers they closed why they were terminated and read them their rights under this new law. The dealers have 40 days to seek arbitration.

Some of these guys will obviously have a case. The companies, particularly Chrysler, dealt with them harshly, gave them credit and then withdrew it, let them buy lots of inventory, and then pulled the plug. There are stories galore about how dealers, especially in rural areas, were the economic lights of their towns, sponsored Little League teams, helped old ladies and handicapped people buy cars, and so on.

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