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.
People get all bent out of shape when reading about their beloved Mustang going hybrid.
“I need my V8,” they say.
“A Mustang can’t be electric,” they say.
Part of the reason for the anti-hybrid sentiment is the legacy of the Prius. The slow, emotionless Toyota has branded hybrids as unexciting and something for the performance-minded to avoid altogether.
So the idea of a hybrid Mustang, the epitome of tire-smoking V8 power, has folks, well, up in smoke.
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.
Concerns about America’s future have run rampant since the night of November 8th, 2016. Suddenly, we’ve come to see our own social-media-driven bubbles, the emergence and impact of fake news, and how easy it is to accept what we already believe while adopting blinders for anything else. Questions have arisen regarding how the American government will amend laws surrounding health care, taxation, and even the auto industry.
Gas may be cheap these days, but untethering from the local Citgo is still an attractive idea. For many, electricity is the obvious choice when opting out of gas cars. Tesla continues to be the dominant and popular choice in this realm, although Chevrolet is preparing to launch the all-electric Bolt (and its 200-mile range) before the end of 2016, and the Nissan Leaf, Kia Soul EV, and Ford Focus Electric, among others, are currently available at more reasonable prices than the higher-end Tesla cars.
What comes to mind when you hear the term “car battery”? Fifteen years ago, the answer would have been quite obvious. But lately the idea of what a car battery entails has shifted away from that essential-but-oft-forgotten black box under the hood to state-of-the-art propulsion systems of the near future. When talking about batteries, we focus less on volts and more on kilowatt-hours and MPGe. We’ve mentioned batteries a lot lately, specifically in regards to the Chevrolet Bolt, GM’s potentially game-changing affordable all-electric vehicle. But when we talk about the Bolt’s 238 miles of battery range, how is that different from talking about the battery at the end of your jumper cables?
Automakers are on the verge of revving up their electric-vehicle production efforts. Global demand is certainly growing: countries around the world are planning markets in which 100% of vehicles sold will be completely emissions-free. Norway is probably the most prominent example, having declared a 2020 deadline for 100% EV and Fuel Cell adoption. Most auto manufacturers are therefore also moving in that direction, though their timetables aren’t quite as aggressive as Norway’s. Hyundai has promised 8 plug-in hybrids and 2 all-electric models in the next 4-5 years, Volkswagen AG has pledged to offer a plug-in version of every model in its lineup by 2025, and Honda wants fully electric cars to account for two-thirds of its total sales by 2030. So within 5, 10, or 15 years, buyers can expect most new cars being produced to be battery-powered.
We are in the midst of a technological revolution in the auto industry. The amount of change in the last five years has probably outpaced what we’ve seen in the last 50. The next five years could change it all again.
Remember when seat belts and air conditioning were considered big developments in the car world? Then came cruise control and heated seats. I, for one, lost my marbles when I finally owned a car that could unlock with the push of a button.
Now I don’t even need keys to unlock, or start, my car. Heck, I don’t even need gasoline any more. My Nissan Leaf, though, hasn’t even begun to crack the surface of what’s coming.
Earlier this year, Bloomberg published an interesting article on the future of electric vehicles in relation to oil demand. It points out that global EV sales increased 60% in 2015, the same rate of growth seen by the Ford Model T in its early years. Though EVs still only command about 0.1% of the worldwide auto market—and the current glut of cheap oil has kept many people behind the wheels of their favorite crossovers and trucks—more affordable batteries, growing cultural acceptance, and the looming threat of global warming will most likely only improve EV sales from here on out. Bloomberg itself predicts “the 2020s will be the decade of the electric car,” anticipating that at some point EV demand will surpass even demand for oil.
We’ve all been there: January 1st nears, excitement builds, and you set a lofty goal for yourself. Eat healthier. Hit the gym 5 days a week. Engage friends and family in conversations that are not exclusively about cars. You know, your typical New Year’s resolution. In the following weeks, Whole Foods will record record sales and gym memberships will spike. But by mid-February or so, we’ll return to our old habits, and my loved ones will still be trying to remember which seemingly random collection of letters and numbers is made by Cadillac and which by Mercedes-Benz. Our resolutions—promises we made and agreed to stand behind—have become more akin to suggestions. They’re now goals to strive for and be congratulated on, not requirements by which to live. Don’t feel too bad: as it turns out, the auto industry isn’t too different.