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.

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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.

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How’d It Do That? Tesla Predicts Crash

tesla-autopilot

Self-driving software has been highly scrutinized over the last few months because of a few high profile accidents and at least one fatality.

One incident resulted after a driver’s Model S failed to distinguish a crossing truck trailer and crashed into it, killing the driver. Still, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is adamant that autonomous cars are many times safer than cars driven by humans and is accumulating millions of miles of accident-free driving to back his claim up.

One new video is definitive proof of the power of computers, and shows a Model S in the Netherlands predict a nasty accident just moments before it happened, potentially saving lives. It’s hard to watch this video and not think that autonomous vehicles are the wave of the future.

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Faraday Unveils its Future: The FF 91

ff91

Even though its factory is still just a patch of Nevada desert, Faraday Future has finally unveiled its first production vehicle, the flagship FF 91.

So far, the reception isn’t good.

The car is being panned online for a design that is miles short of Tesla’s sexy EV lines and mocked for failing to drive itself offstage when intended after the big reveal.

The FF 91 comes after a disappointing 12 months that has included reports of dysfunction from within the organization, financial problems, and key staff departures. The company still hasn’t announced how much the car will cost, but will happily take a $5,000 refundable deposit from folks who think they might be able to afford one.

Yes, Faraday Future faces some steep hurdles to finding success, but the FF 91 does have some positives going for it.

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The Most Hotly Anticipated Debuts at the 2017 North American Interational Auto Show

NAIAS 2017 Logo

Next week kicks off the 2017 North American International Auto Show. Although much attention has been directed at automakers’ decisions to move away from the traditional auto show format for their new-car debuts, with companies like Chrysler choosing instead to utilize the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, the show in Detroit still remains one of the biggest events in the auto world, and CarGurus is excited to report on it this year. Continue reading >>>

How To Get Your Car Unstuck

car_stuck_in_snow

Snoqualmie Pass in Western Washington is a place notorious for winter snowfall. Here, deep in the Cascade Mountains, snow is measured in tens-of-feet, not inches, and can pile up to treacherous levels in just a matter of hours. It’s a section of Interstate 90 that’s crucial to the transportation of goods from the Port of Seattle to cities all across the nation.

It’s regularly travelled by tourists and business people and regularly claims vehicles in the steep snow embankments along the highway’s exits.

Last winter, as I pulled off the highway toward a rest stop, a red Ford Ranger had slid off the road and was buried to its fenders.

We stopped, hooked up the tow rope to the rear bumper of our Legacy, and pulled the truck to safety. The Legacy’s tow feature came in handy again on New Year’s Day, when my in-law’s Nissan Leaf got stuck in 20 inches of snow.

Getting stuck in the snow is a common occurrence. Here’s how to get out of it, even if there’s no tow vehicle nearby.

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Newsflash: Electric Cars Are Here!

2016_nissan_leaf

A lot of people don’t realize this, but it’s possible, right now, to head to a local dealer and drive home in an electric car. You, being an informed and educated car guru, are likely well aware of this. Up to 60 percent of the American public, however, don’t realize that plug-in electric cars are a thing.

Last summer I drove a brand new Nissan Leaf onto a local community college campus to help set up an event. The response from people that day was complete disbelief that a car could run so silently.

“It’s electric,” I said.

“Electric? Like you plug it in?”

“Yup.”

“So it doesn’t need gas?”

“Nope.”

Most of the folks I spoke with that day didn’t know about electric cars. As it turns out, most people in America don’t either.

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Buy a Bolt and Fund a Tahoe?

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

What if the fledgling electric car industry was just a ruse to sell more earth-polluting fossil fuel-powered trucks and SUVs? The federal government’s fleet fuel-economy requirements and the California Air Resources Board’s ZEV credits aren’t just creating a small market for EVs, they’re fueling the fire for gas-powered vehicles that defeat the purpose of EVs.

Case in point is the new Chevy Bolt, a masterpiece EV that finally makes a practical vehicle with a 200-mile range accessible to the majority of the car-buying population.

Those who buy one, though, may not be saving the planet, but subsidizing the sale of gas-guzzlers.

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They Forgot the V8s: Wards Announces 10 Best Engines for 2017

Volvo V60 Polestar engine

For the past 23 years, WardsAuto has published a list of the 10 best engines available for the upcoming model year. In an industry where reviews are more and more dominated by instrument tests, where cars are differentiated by tenths (if not hundredths) of a second on a drag strip and by tenths (if not hundredths) of a g-force on a skid pad, Ward’s list is based on objective, but also delightfully subjective, data.

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Electric Cars: Thriving in an Artificial Market?

2017 Chevrolet Bolt

Are electric cars being force-fed to an unwilling American public? Through the first 11 months of 2016, Americans have purchased about 130,000 electric vehicles. That sounds pretty impressive, until you compare that to the nearly 16 million cars sold in the U.S. so far this year.

While it feels like electric cars are gaining traction here, the truth is that they account for only a tiny fraction of total sales and hold a minuscule portion of market share.

So why are automakers continually announcing plans for new electric cars and touting them as the future of American transportation?

Because California says so.

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