Hyundai Veloster Suggests Hybrids Like Honda CR-Z Are Not the Answer

2011 Honda CR-Z

The great jgoods made some valid points yesterday about the future of electric vehicles. EV technology is definitely cool, and I support anything that reduces our use of oil, but I just don’t see electric vehicles (or even hybrids for that matter) as the answer to our planet’s long-term dependency on petroleum.

Call me a “nattering nabob of negativism” if you must, but the questions of how long battery packs will last, how much it will cost to replace them, and how they will be produced on a massive scale remain unanswered.

We absolutely must work toward getting off oil. The horrifying Gulf of Mexico gusher proves that to the tune of 2.5 million gallons every day. Until we develop a long-term solution, though, automakers should continue developing high-efficiency diesel and gas engines.

Disagree? Just compare the gas-powered Hyundai Veloster to the hybrid Honda CR-Z.

Continue reading >>>

Green Update: Electric Naysayers

Fiat 500 Electric engine bay

Last week’s Green Update covered some of the roadblocks ahead for EVs—and we had a good discussion going in the Comments section. It’s very clear that none of the issues ahead for electric cars will be easily solved. But there is a lot of skepticism and naysaying in the car media that isn’t going to help.

One kind of naysaying is saying nothing. That’s what Chrysler did at the recent Automotive News Green Car Conference. Senior Vice President Paolo Ferrero, when asked about the company’s strategy for EV development, said: “We have an electrification strategy, but we cannot yet disclose it.” Ooh, top secret.

Besides the Fiat 500 Electric (not coming until 2012; engine bay above), Paolo said they are going to test some kind of Ram plug-in hybrid pickup and fill the gaps between these two oddly assorted vehicles. That of course is neither a strategy nor a comment to convince us that Chrysler has one.

Continue reading >>>

To Sell or Not to Sell… Is It Possible to Live as a One-Car Family?

Get rid of this car...

Get rid of this car...

Loving cars as much as I do, it’s hard to imagine living with just one of them.

My lovely wife, though, brought up an interesting point the other day: We could save a considerable amount of money by cutting back from two cars to one.

My initial response to the idea was a firm “not in a million years.” The more I think about it, though, the more I’m seeing that in our current situation, it just might work.

Should I do it? Have any of you CarGurus readers done anything similar? If so, which car do I sell? Here’s my situation:

Continue reading >>>

Updating the Panamera for 2011

Porsche Panamera V6

Like it or not, Porsche’s Panamera has been an unqualified success for the company, as sales have soared. Now the V8 models get some engineering tweaks for 2011, basically in the form of a more efficient regenerative braking system, tires with reduced rolling resistance, and lower CO2 emissions.

Buyers will also get new color choices, more interior options—and an optional “heated three-spoke steering wheel,” which continues from 2010. You know, many simply detest a cold wheel.

The V6 Panamera (shown above) will also become available this month (more on this after the jump). But the big news is that the V8 Pana has been the vehicle to rescue Porsche SE from some crushing debt and is selling like crazy, even as 911 sales have dropped 35 percent (13,137 cars) and Cayenne sales are down 23 percent (18,932 SUVs) from a year ago.

Continue reading >>>

MINI Will Race Porsche, But Hyundai Wants in on the Action *UPDATED WITH RESULTS

MINI vs. Porsche

Today is the day!

The epic battle between the heavyweight champ and the featherweight underdog, Porsche vs. MINI, is set to happen tonight at 7 pm in Atlanta.

The invitation went out, the hype was built, the date was set.

At first Porsche said no, opting not to race a 911 Carrera S against a Cooper S, even with a 385 to 172 horsepower advantage.

MINI, using its Facebook page, upped its trash talk and continued to taunt Porsche. But then another player jumped in and changed the game altogether. Suddenly MINI was the one being challenged at its own game, by none other than the scrappy but determined Hyundai.

Continue reading >>>

Honda’s New Odyssey: 15 Cupholders and a Trash-Bag Ring

2011 Honda Odyssey

We’ve been reading a host of comments about how ugly the new Odyssey is, with its “lightning bolt” beltline. One commenter said (scroll down and look for “blackdog”), “looks like they welded sections from three different vans together.” And the car is, honestly, just a mishmash of bad design.

However, others have made the point that minivan drivers are far less influenced by style than utility, and that is surely true. And this is a minivan with everything that traveling American families could want: HDMI connection for video, seating that configures to your every need (see below), a ring to hold your trash bag, a “cool box” to hold a six-pack of whatever, a media tray to hold cell phones, etc., and, best of all, an “Ultra-Wide Rear Entertainment System (RES) with split-screen capability.” I forgot—yes, it does have 15 cupholders.

Everything you need to forget you’re driving.

Continue reading >>>

First Time Ever: Domestics Lead Imports in J.D. Power Initial Quality Study

2010 GMC Sierra 1500

Are U.S. automakers ready to crush the imports?

J.D. Power and Associates has released the results of its 2010 Initial Quality Study (IQS), with Porsche taking the top spot away from last year’s winner, Lexus.

The real news here, though, is that domestic brands demonstrated higher initial quality than import brands for the first time in the 24-year history of the IQS.

The study ranks vehicles according to the number of problems reported per 100 vehicles. The overall average for the industry was 109 problems, with U.S. automakers scoring an average of 108 problems, while foreign companies posted 109.

So what’s going on here… are U.S. brands getting better, or is import quality sagging?

Continue reading >>>

Selling Your Car Without Selling Your Soul

A very used car

What makes people crazier—negotiating a new-car purchase with a dealer, or selling their present car and negotiating with strangers? I think it’s a toss-up, though women tend to hate the latter more than men.

It’s fairly common knowledge that you will get a lot better price if you sell your car privately rather than trading it in, so let’s lay out the steps for doing that and, maybe, remove some of the anxiety.

The most important thing you can do is, first, determine a fair market value for your car. Second, once you have that, try to get yourself in what we’ll call the seller’s frame of mind.

Continue reading >>>

Cars Coming Soon->A Vicious Jaguar, an All-American M3 and a 1,200-HP Veyron

2010 Jaguar XK-Series

Anyone in the mood for a more vicious Jaguar?

According to Autocar, Jag has confirmed that a more powerful version of the XKR will go into production later this year. The car will be based on the XKR Goodwood Special, which has a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 pumping out 530 horsepower. It also features a lowered suspension, tweaked exhaust, and larger wheels. Top speed? At least 186 miles per hour.

As cool as this Jag could be, there may be a car on the way that could absolutely crush it.

Continue reading >>>

Tesla Could Raise $178 Million with Stock Offering

I don’t know how they compute such things, and reports set the figure at anywhere from $167 to $185 million, but Tesla plans to make its first IPO on June 29, an offering that is “highly anticipated,” says an L.A. Times source.

The funding is to develop the Model S electric sedan (above), a very exciting car which promises 0-60 mph in 5.6 seconds and 160-300 miles on a single charge. After the federal tax credit, the S will sell for around $50,000. Put my order in now, Elon.

Most of you know the Tesla story by now. Despite continuing losses, the company has attracted serious money from its CEO Elon Musk, plus some venture funds, plus a 10 percent investment stake by Daimler AG, plus a $465-million loan from DOE to help build the Model S assembly plant plus, most recently, an agreement with Toyota to buy an additional $50 million in stock (a 3.6 percent stake in the company).

Continue reading >>>