Here he is on a testing run:
Press release from Porsche: (more…)
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Here he is on a testing run:
Press release from Porsche: (more…)
When I first saw this Acura commercial it got me thinking about what constitutes “old news” versus something relevant and important:
This Acura commercial is about crumple zones and their ability to absorb energy in a crash while directing it around the passengers ensconced in a safety cage. It’s a nicely executed commercial that provides people with information that gives them confidence that Acuras are safe.
But it isn’t new and it certainly isn’t exclusive to Acura. Many of us would say that crumple zones are “old news.”
In 1952, Mercedes-Benz received a patent for a crumple zone in an automobile. Up until that point rigidity was regarded as the key to protecting passengers in an automobile accident. The 1959 Mercedes-Benz W111 series included crumple zones and was actively crash tested by the company.
I can still vividly remember the first time I actually saw a crash test. It was at the Mercedes Benz Safety Center in the Sindelfingen plant outside Stuttgart. I was amazed at the devastation created by a thirty mile an hour off-set crash. Right then and there I learned the value of a crumple zone.
Today, every automobile manufacturer uses crumple zones to make their cars safer.
Yet here is Acura, using their version of a crumple zone to differentiate themselves from their competitors.
If every car has crumple zones, then what’s differentiating about Acura’s? (more…)
An article in the April 2nd edition of the New York Times was headlined: “Despite Expansion, Mini Says It’s Still a Niche” and confirmed something that had occurred to me at the New York Auto Show.
In New York last week I saw the new Mini crossover, the Countryman, for the first time in person. All the Mini design cues are present in the Countryman and I think you’d be hard pressed to say that it wasn’t part of the Mini family. But I was struck by how “big” it seemed, it didn’t seem small and taut the way all the other models do. Part of the difference was that the Countryman’s ground clearance is higher, so its stance is really quite different than the other Minis.
This got me thinking, at what point does a marque go too far and begin to lose its essential character? Has Mini gone too far with the Countryman?
I suspect this is a little like losing your hair. Little by little your hair recedes, almost imperceptibly, you make little adjustments as you go, thinking no one will notice, until one day you end up with comb-over and people are snickering behind your back. Little by little automotive brands seem to lose their way. (more…)
JD Power just released its 2010 Vehicle Dependability Study and there are some surprises. Porsche is ranked 1st, Lincoln 2nd and Buick and Lexus are tied for 3rd. It wasn’t so many years ago that Lexus dominated the VDS study as the perennial number 1 and some may wonder what has happened? Particularly in light of the well publicized Toyota quality issues.
The fact is that nothing has happened to Lexus, they design, engineer and build an extraordinary vehicle. What’s happened is that the other manufacturers have improved to the point where every year it’s a genuine dogfight to get to the top spot.
There were some other surprises that weren’t so good…. (more…)
|Wednesday, March 31, 2010|
|7:15am – 9:20am||Opening Press Breakfast
Keynote Speaker: Alan Mulally, President & CEO of Ford Motor Co.
|Special Events Hall, Level 1|
|9:30am – 9:55am||Mercedes-Benz||Level 3|
|10:00am – 10:25am||Infiniti||Level 3|
|10:30am – 10:55am||Ford||Level 3|
|11:00am – 11:25am||Chevrolet||Level 3|
Every single day there’s a new article citing an issue with Toyota.
There are certainly plenty of questions on all sides of the issue. Are Toyotas safe? Are Toyota’s designs faulty? Did Toyota hold back information? Is Toyota evil? Is NHTSA just “a lap dog” for the auto manufacturers and simply trying to cover its you know what? Were our elected officials just grand standing for their own benefit? Is the Federal Government going after Toyota because it owns a big chunk of GM and Chrysler. Are these allegations of Toyotas run amok the creation of lawyers and their clients who see the deep pockets of Toyota?
I’ve come to the opinion that we are worrying about the wrong things. (more…)
After a number of high profile failures to enter the European market in a big way, the folks at Cadillac want to be a niche player and are willing to accept the lower volumes that go along with such a strategy. By keeping volumes low, and presumably margins high, they expect that they can be profitable from year 1.
I think this strategy is sound and will succeed. Cadillac’s current design language is unique and appealing. There has always been a segment of the automotive market that is interested in something different and Europe is no different than the United States in this regard. In Europe where Mercedes-Benzes, Audis and BMWs are common and cover a multitude of uses including taxis, rental cars, executive cars and the vehicles of choice for captains of industry, there is an opportunity for something “different.”
Below is a letter to the editor from today’s Wall Street Journal that I think provides an important perspective on unintended acceleration.
Allegations of UA and the media furor around it virtually destroyed Audi in the United States. Audi was vindicated eventually, with UA and the unfortunate accidents associated with it attributed to driver error.
Toyota is now “in the barrel” with the politicians and media all intimating that there is some sinister plot at work. There’s a lot at stake. If there have been genuine misdeeds then let’s prove it beyond a question of a doubt and hold Toyota responsible. If indeed, driver error was the issue, I hope that the media and our politicians will be as quick to acknowledge the fact as they have been to hoist Toyota on its petard.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and here’s the letter:
The question now is…will anyone listen to him?
As reported in today’s Detroit News, Audi of America’s Johan de Nysschen called out the current political leadership for “falling in love” with electric vehicles. He’s absolutely right, EVs and Hybrids have become the fashionable automotive technology and Washington’s choice for the future.
The only problem is that EVs won’t make a difference for two decades. The New York Times reported that “plug-in hybrids would not have a significant impact on the nation’s oil consumption or carbon emissions before 2030.” To be clear though, de Nysschen is not saying EVs and Hybrids are wrong or won’t play an important role in the future. What he’s saying is that Washington is picking winners and losers from a technology point of view rather than remaining agnostic, and he’s right.
Clean diesel remains the best near term technology available for reducing our dependance on foreign oil and CO2 emissions (the major cause of global warming), yet no one in Washington seems interested. It seems that “diesel” is literally a dirty word. (more…)
It was ironic that virtually every manufacturer was talking about EVs in one form or another, yet the much less fashionable technology…diesel…took home the Green Car of the Year prize.
Don’t get me wrong, I think some of the electric cars and concepts are fascinating.
Chevrolet showed us a production version of the Volt and spoke about the fact that there would be no “range anxiety” because of the small motor that would generate electricity to charge the batteries. Audi showed the E-tron, an electric version of the R8 with an electric motor poweringeach wheel and delivering supercar performance. BMW’s “Vision” concept demonstrated where “Efficient Dynamics” might take the brand. Mini has been testing electric cars on America’s roads and had an example at their stand.
EVs are being talked about as if they will solve global warming, reduce our fossil fuel consumption to zero and generally save the planet. EVs are the messiah of automotive technologies.
Here’s the problem, electric cars are expected to represent maybe 10% of sales by 2020. At that sales rate it’s hard to imagine the technology as a game changer from a fuel consumption or global warming perspective.
At least we have the folks responsible for selecting the “Green Car of the Year” to provide a reality check. For the second consecutive year, a diesel-powered vehicle was selected as green car of the year. Why? Clean diesel is a practical and “green” approach to transportation. It offers 25-30% better mileage, it emits less CO2 and particulate emission is now comparable to gasoline-powered technology. Today’s clean diesels meet the most stringent pollution standards and are sold in all fifty states.
The Audi A3 TDI is a terrific example of the modern clean diesel and a worthy “Green Car of the Year.”
Modern clean diesels are readily available, offer the possibility of reducing fuel consumption by a third and emit less C02 than gasoline engines. Maybe after we’re done talking about technology that won’t make a difference for another 20 years, we’ll start to talk about one that can make a difference tomorrow.
I know it’s not fashionable, but we need to change Americans’ perception of diesel because it makes sense.