Archive for Driver’s Seat

Dragged into the next century

From 2010:

Last month, you’ll remember, privately-owned (but Senate-appointed) tag agents registered their displeasure with the state’s plan to process orders over the Web, which might put a dent in their business model.

Displeasure duly noted, the Oklahoma Tax Commission has now opened up that Web site and bestowed upon it the incredibly-obvious acronym CARS, which stands for “Convenient Auto Renewal System.”

At the time, I noted that this wasn’t likely to change my own habits; I have an agent of choice, and I’ve been going there for a decade or so.

Then again, I spent none of that decade in the hospital. And now that I’m at an appalling level of incapacitation, now is the time to learn the online stuff.

Elapsed time: about six minutes. Trickiest bit was on insurance verification, where they have options for either name or NAIC number of insurer: perhaps they never expected anyone actually to have the NAIC number. There’s a $1.50 fee. And some time next week, right about the time the old year tab expires, I should have a new one. I just hope I feel well enough to put it in place.

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Are you hanging on the edge of your seat?

This European ad for the Dacia Duster is, um, killer:

Although there’s always the question of whether Freddie would have approved. But then, Mercury’s dead, and so is Freddie.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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10 out of something

The post-auto service survey pressed upon you by the dealer is genuinely a pain, and often dealer personnel will turn humble, even servile, hoping to persuade you to max out the black circles on the far right.

TTAC reader pch101 explains why this is so:

I seriously doubt that the OEMs genuinely care about the survey data per se.

The point of the survey is to motivate the dealer to provide better customer service. That includes all of the hoops that the store has to jump through in order to get the perfect survey score.

The survey process forces the dealer to follow up after the sale and to be nice to you if you weren’t happy. Instead of suffering in silence, the customer gets to complain and the dealership is given an opportunity to fix it. Forcing the dealer to grovel its way to a perfect score is the automaker’s best tool for imposing better practices on the store; presumably, the dealer will eventually be motivated to improve its behavior in order to reduce the amount of sucking up and freebies that it will have to provide in the future.

Makes sense to me. You?

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No more Saabs (maybe)

Are we at last done with the subject of Saab motorcars? I’d call this a Yes:

National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEVS), the Swedish holding company that bought up Saab Automobile’s assets in a 2012 bankruptcy sale, just announced it won’t sell any vehicles under the Saab name…

NEVS produced a handful of electric Saab 9-3s using the vehicle’s old platform for a brief period in 2013-2014, but production stopped as the company filed for bankruptcy protection and went on the hunt for wealthy investors. It also lost the licensing agreement from the defunct brand’s parent company that allowed it to use the Saab name.

In a message published today on its website, the company states, “NEVS will be the trademark of the company’s products including the first electric vehicle based on the 9-3 platform with start in 2017. That means that NEVS will no longer use the Saab trademark.”

The pitch to the general public is a bit more florid, but no less specific:

From today onwards, we are NEVS — both on a company and product level. With that comes a new logo, a new look and a reinstated commitment to, and focus on, electric vehicles and mobility solutions.

Building on our car manufacturing heritage, we will continue to focus on quality, craftsmanship and people-centric solutions, but we will add new dimensions to our business through our partnerships and collaborations. In doing so, we will leave the Saab trademark and go forth with a new identity that will support our large and increasingly important vision — to shape mobility for a more sustainable future.

And yet I can’t help thinking that the Saab story isn’t quite over yet.

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Now this is answering

A very typical Y!A car question:

I recently found two cars that I like. One is a 2004 bmw m3 and one is a 2003 g35.

How much should I expect the monthly insurance to be?
Is it expensive as a 2004 bmw m3?

There are basically three types of drivers who ask this:

  • Young drivers
  • Shitty drivers
  • Young, shitty drivers

I blew off this question, but fortunately, someone else gave this little twerp what he needed:

Yes, Mark. Performance cars are very expensive to maintain and insure. And you’ve already been told hundreds of times that at this point in your life, it makes absolutely no sense to purchase one.

Last year, after graduating high school, you started classes at Bergen Community College, but dropped out a week later because you read on one of your course syllabi that class participation counted for five percent of your grade. Since you were nervous about talking in class, you quit school and went to work full-time stocking shelves at Costco.

Now, you are considering returning to college at age 19 (almost twenty). You clearly need a more practical car — one that has good reliability and gas mileage. The money you’ve managed to save should go entirely towards your educational expenses, which is an investment in the future.

I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why you think it’s so important to go from 0-60 in a short time. There’s absolutely no benefit in that. Since you live with your parents, you should sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk about your future. Perhaps they can set you straight and help fix some of your delusions. For example, you’re not a “straight-up gangster” and you’re obviously not black.

You are an extremely short and plump Indonesian teenager, with delusional aspirations towards the thug lifestyle. (You’re 5-5, small-framed, and a whopping 232 pounds!) In other words, you’re a fat little “gangsta-baby.” A Toyota Corolla would would be a much more practical option for you. Get an education and lose that 100 pounds of fat. Once you graduate college or university and get a decent job, you can start thinking about high-performance sports cars.

Basically, Mark, you need to fix your life-priorities. You are wasting your time fantasizing about being an inner-city hoodlum and driving fast cars. This makes absolutely sense no at all and you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You seriously need to grow up and start acting like a responsible adult. The waitress you are crushing on was totally correct about that.

Even if only a third of this is dead accurate, he has the twerp dead to rights.

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Bum steering

Last time Gwendolyn had a spa day, the dealership sent me off in a Q50, the first time I’d gotten any seat time in the official G37 replacement. It was, I determined early on, the bottom of the line, and last year’s line at that, so it probably wasn’t affected by this recall:

Nissan’s Infiniti luxury brand will recall roughly 60,000 vehicles globally, a spokesman for the brand said on Thursday, as the steering system key to the Q50 sedan’s autonomous driving capabilities could malfunction.

If this car could drive itself, I didn’t know about it. Certainly I didn’t try to persuade it to.

The Q50 is Infiniti’s first model that can drive itself on highways under certain conditions thanks to its direct adaptive steering system.

That system could malfunction “in certain rare circumstances, just after starting the vehicle” when a software glitch “can lead to a lack of steering responsiveness and change in turning radius.”

Well, isn’t that special?

Maybe this is just the Spirit of Get Off My Lawn talking: about half my 40 years on the road were spent with steering that not only didn’t have software, it didn’t even have power assist. Then again, that period ended with a steering gear (recirculating-ball type) actually grenading, leaving a car that could go straight or turn in one direction, but not the other. Downloading a software patch would not, alas, be the answer.

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Being for the benefit of Mr Clueless

It occurs to me that if you actually need this feature, you might be too stupid to be allowed on the road:

General Motors is introducing an industry-first rear seat reminder that warns drivers that they may have left someone behind.

The feature is standard on the 2017 GMC Acadia SUV.

The system monitors the rear doors. If either door is opened and closed within 10 minutes of the vehicle starting, or if they’re opened while it’s running, the Acadia will sound a chime when it’s turned off. It will also display a message reminding the driver to check the rear seats.

This is the situation the system is supposed to alleviate:

Janette Fennell, president of the advocacy group Kids and Cars, praised the system and said she hopes others adopt it. Fennell says at least 12 children have died so far this year after they were left in hot cars.

And it’s only mid-June.

Still, this seems inarguable to me:

I mean, this goes beyond “distracted.” Way beyond.

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From the Gimme Pages

Some species, we hear, eat their young. I wonder if this is why:

So I’m 19 now , and I’ve really been looking into getting a car. I’ve asked my parents one for Christmas and they said no cuz $. Its really annoying because all my friends have one and they ask girls out using them. Whenever I ask a girl out we have to arrange public transport and that usually turns them off. I know this sounds stupid but don’t worry I’m not just asking for a car to get the ladies. It’s mainly about getting to college. It takes me roughly 2 hours using public transport, meanwhile i checked how much time it would take me If i was using a car. And saw that it would only take me about 30-45 minutes. So I would be getting about 1h30-1hr15 minutes more sleep. Which is a lot.
Now my family isn’t very rich so I’ve narrowed down my options,
The one car I am looking at now is this one: https://www.teslamotors.com/models/design?redirect=no
So it wold be 844$ per month with 5000 $ in down payment.
Now, I want a Tesla because
1. It helps with the ladies
2. Its super quiet
3.Its environment friendly because it is electric/
So before you start yelling at me because the car is so expesive, I’ve done the Maths.
So my dad earns around 55k a year. Which is around 4583$ a month. Now Seeing as he must have 5000$ in his bake account ( I’m assuming) He can make the down payment. And if you substract the 1.5k he pays for rent and the 844$ each month for the car you get 2239$ EVERY MONTH! For you to buy, groceries or hose appliances whatever,
So you can see why I’m frustrated…

I want to know what his dad does that gets him out of paying taxes.

I’m sorry. A child like this, assuming this one actually exists — the trolls have been working overtime of late — is far too stupid to be in college.

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Prepare to write checks

The YourMechanic operation has issued a list of the Most Expensive Cars to Maintain over a ten-year period. The worst of the lot: the Chrysler Sebring, which they calculate at $17,100.

In the number-twelve slot is the Nissan Maxima, estimated at $12,000. As it happens, Gwendolyn, my current traveling companion, is an Infiniti I30, which I’ve occasionally described as “a Maxima in a prom dress.” And as it happens, she will have been here ten years this week. Let’s add up the slips … hmmm … $12,325. I guess that’s a good call, guys. And actually, I can’t gripe that much, inasmuch as she arrived here, not as a hatchling, but as a willful six-year-old with more than 80,000 miles and a complete and utter lack of warranty coverage.

At the other extreme: the Toyota Prius, at $4,300, followed by the Kia Soul.

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Quote of the week

Some nimrod paying attention to everything but the traffic flow stopped dead at the top of the onramp, and if ever I wanted to see that giant foot from Monty Python’s Flying Circus come down, it was right then, right on that Elantra with the Extra Window Tint. But, you know, it could have been a hell of a lot worse:

The plural of anecdote is not data, of course, but as it turns out there is plenty of data to show that “distracted drivers” drive more slowly, are less aggressive in traffic, and are far less interested in passing the cars around them. All that “road rage” that had the media up in arms a few years ago? Turns out you can solve it pretty easily by giving drivers something to watch when they are stopped, or crawling along, in traffic. It has the same pacifying effect that the widespread availability of WiFi on planes has had on annoying conversational sallies from the insurance salesman in the window seat next to you.

Speaking strictly as a motorcyclist who has to deal everyday with a plague of two-ton, seventy-inch-tall vehicles moving at 70 miles per hour around him, I’d much rather deal with distracted drivers than angry ones. I have plenty of strategies to keep from being killed by people who aren’t paying attention, from watching my mirrors and splitting the lane at stoplights to watching the shoulders of the driver in the lane next to me for the twitch that always precedes an un-signaled lane change. But I have much less ability to avoid people who are driving much faster than the flow of traffic and swerving around out of temper or impatience.

And so it came to pass that I came to pass the Elantra, which would be no trick at 45 mph but not particularly easy when you have to do it while surrounded by Friday-afternoon commuters trying their best to do sixty in a 60 zone. I glanced over at the driver’s window, and I saw nothing but the silhouette of a bowed head. At this point, I prefer to think there was prayer going on.

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And that’s just how they roll

I’ve never aspired to the life of an autojourno. Driving lots of cars might be a whole lot of fun, but that’s the part you hear about: all the little ancillary duties, I suspect, would turn things into work in a great big hurry.

That said, I get to envy Neal Pollack in the July Road & Track, partly because he gets some seat time in a Rolls-Royce Dawn, the new drophead (don’t call it a mere “convertible”) that costs only three and a half times as much as my house, but mostly because of the occupant of the Dawn’s second seat:

My drive companion for the day was a Spanish lifestyle journalist who is also an architect and a former ballerina. Done up in a headscarf and glamorous La Dolce Vita glasses, she sat beside me luxuriantly.

This sort of description, regardless of its level of accuracy, invariably drags my heart over to the nearest abandoned mineshaft, haunted by the ghost of Rick Springfield.

I’m allowing Jack Baruth 48 hours to tell me just how full of it I am.

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With hair-shirt upholstery

Car and Driver’s comparo panels typically award a maximum of 240 points, though few cars come close to maxing out every single category. There’s a 25-point maximum for “Fun to Drive,” and once or twice a car (not a truck, to your undoubted amazement) has actually hit it. In the July test of compact sedans, won by the Mazda 3 — 203 points total, 23 for Fun to Drive — the hummer-than-humdrum Nissan Sentra, which amassed only 141 points in aggregate, had the embarrassing FtD score of six. A late bus full of catcallers on a rainy day would surely score more than 6; in fact, I think this is the lowest such score I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been reading this crazed mag since the late 1970s. The only thing that comes close is Jonathan Richman’s Dodge Veg-O-Matic, and it has worse acceleration than the Sentra. For that matter, it has worse acceleration than a garden slug.

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Cadillactivity in the bullpen

There are people who would rather have a body part gnawed off by a rat than set foot (or other part) in a car dealership, which may explain this near-future move by Cadillac:

Under Project Pinnacle — the brainchild of brand president Johan de Nysschen — U.S. dealers will be grouped into five tiers based on expected sales. When the operation kicks off on October 1, car shoppers can expect a higher-end experience at their local Caddy dealership. Get ready to be coddled.

How much coddling may I expect?

Under the plan, top dealers with annual sales of 700 or more will offer customers concierge pickup and drop-off for sales and service customers. Second-tier outfits will add a Cadillac greeter counter, while those on lower rungs will see the addition of a certified Cadillac technology expert, dedicated websites, and tablet use during service inspections.

Most of this stuff, you can get already by buying a Hyundai Equus, soon to be the Genesis G90.

Still, if the Johan is laying down the “We’re a luxury brand, goddammit, we’re going to have to act like one” law, I approve.

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Child loses race, pitches fit

It’s hard not to laugh at this twerp:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I got smoked by a BMW m3 on my 2003 maxima

The sob story, as only an SOB can tell it:

thursday afternoon while i was cruising on the freeway at 75 mph, BMW m3 voluntarilly pulled up to my side. while we cruised i honked the horn counting from 1 to 3 and the minute i finished counting, i pulled from 80 mph to 122-125 mph in like 2-3 second but despite that i STILL GOT SMOKED by the m3!!!! my question is there anything else that i can do to make a my maxima faster?

i mean i spent AT LEAST 6K modifiying and customizing my car. is i have put money into parts like a new cold air intake, 20″ rims, better struts, different chip, radiator and much more. could a supercharger help my car go any faster?

Well, dumbass, for one thing, you can lose those stupidly large 20″ rims, which add a whole bunch of weight, and unsprung weight at that: they’re the very antithesis of speed. Five will get you ten your intake isn’t any better than stock, and at 125 mph you’re running into aerodynamic drag: you will not get appreciably faster than 130 or so no matter what sort of crap you shovel into the engine compartment. (I drive one of these little darbs. I know.)

But by all means, drop a supercharger in there. And while you’re at it, pick up a spare engine and transmission.

Fiduciary note: $6000 worth of “upgrades” to a $2500 car leaves its value at, um, decidedly less than $2500. Nobody buys beaters with boyracer detritus all over the place, except for people even dumber than the seller. I suppose such people do exist, but this can’t be good for the human race.

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There’s always another Q

Gwendolyn had a spa day today, this being the first day I could fit it into my overwhelming schedule — hey, maybe Twilight and Spike could feed the pigs — and the dealership sent me off in a 2015 Q50 the color of slightly used automatic-transmission fluid. This is the first time I’ve actually gotten seat time in a Q50, and while it was most assuredly the bottom of the line, it was still sufficiently glitzy.

For ’16, Infiniti broomed the VQ engine, but this ’15, with just shy of 2500 miles, still ran with Old Reliable, a genuinely swell V6 which could have gone on forever were it not for its thirst. Someone who’d had it earlier, along with setting the satellite radio to something radically different from the classical stuff I was playing in my car, managed to dial up both Overall Since Ever and Right This Minute fuel-economy gauges, which quadruples the lunacy. (For the record, this Q was 19.9 mpg Since Ever, which sounds about right, and the bar graph spent time at 0, at 60, and everywhere else in between. If you must have these godforsaken things, fercrissake leave them in the center stack where they can be properly ignored.)

With the same old powertrain (VQ37HR, 7-speed automatic), the Q50 drove just like a G37, if the G37 had had its tires flatspotted several times.

On the screen at the top of the stack was a simulated — not an actual — analog clock. It was right, as I expect from Infiniti, but it was also wrong: it’s a 12-hour clock, but it was set to the wrong 12-hour period, so when I got it back to the dealership, it was not quite five in the morning tomorrow.

In other news, a gallon of engine coolant, green engine coolant, none of that Orange Crush crap, is now nineteen dollars. (Yes, it’s been a while since I had to buy any at retail.) And I grumbled something at the service consultant this morning about the driver’s-side door creaking a bit; they (1) determined that the door check needed to be retorqued and (2) didn’t charge me for it. This is within my own capabilities, except that I don’t own a proper torque wrench. Lesson learned.

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The lease you can do

Leasing a car, say the experts, is a bad deal; you should always buy instead.

Bark M. says this is a load of dingo’s kidneys:

You’re seriously telling me that you’re not better off paying $189/month to lease your Accord than paying $583/month to buy it? That’s exactly what the difference would be if you financed a base Accord over 36 months at 1.9% versus a 36 month lease.

“Yeah, but at the end, I own it, dude.” Congrats! You own something that is absolutely, positively going to continue to depreciate, and you paid $20,000 to do it. Alternatively, you could have paid less than $7,000 to enjoy the same car for the same amount of time, and at the end, you can walk away from it, scot-free, into another new car with updated technology. So what if you don’t own it? Do you really want to own a three-year old car with 36,000 miles on it? Or would you rather bank that $400/month and get another new car?

I’m the wrong person to ask this, inasmuch as I own a 16-year-old car with 163,000 miles on it. And apparently I have finally worn out one of the fobs for the door locks: you have to push it twice to get the control module to acknowledge it even once. (And yes, I’ve changed the battery. I also have a spare fob which doesn’t do this. “Updated technology,” indeed.)

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Meanwhile on the Distressway

This is going to screw up traffic at least through the summer:

This is approximately the 5500 block of May, about half a mile from me.

I suppose the only real question is why it took so long: the ratio of pavement to patches dropped below 1:1 several years ago.

Addendum: I’ve talked about this bridge before. Apparently someone not capable of judging heights tried to drive under it.

Further addendum: Says it all, doesn’t it?

Screen cap from KOKH-TV

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A sweet little car

Literally so, it would seem:

Now I wonder what a High Fructose Corn Syrup conveyance might look like. (Probably a slammed Civic with fart-can exhaust and a wing the size of a slab of drywall.)

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Hard luck, your lordship

As Cher Horowitz might have said, “As if”:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I had to purchase a transmission less than 2 months of getting the car. The vehicle was repossed today. Can i retrive my transmission?

Yeah, like they’re going to just hand it to you.

At the time Sandy, my second Mazda 626, was totaled out after meeting up with a doe on a rural road, she was wearing spiffy new high-performance tires with barely a thousand miles on them. $650 down the chute. C’est la vie.

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Number deleted

There was some brief outcry earlier this week when Governor Fallin signed House Bill 3167; apparently some people thought this meant that speed limits in this state were canceled. It means, of course, nothing of the sort:

The speed limit set for the turnpikes, interstates and other state highways was erased in a bill, signed by the Governor Monday. That doesn’t eliminate current speed limits, but eliminates the maximum that was once set by law.

House Bill 3167 deletes the section of the law prescribing a maximum speed limit.

It replaces it with the following: “On a highway or part of a highway, unless otherwise established in law, a speed established by the Department of Transportation on the basis of engineering and traffic investigations used to determine the speed that is reasonable and safe under the conditions found to exist on the highway or part of the highway.”

Before that, there was a hard limit: 75 mph and no more.

ODOT, for its part, isn’t suggesting anything:

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation did not request the bill and did not oppose it, said Terri Angier, an agency spokeswoman.

The department has “no intention of raising any of the speed limits across the board on any of the highways, but it allows us to look at specific situations, if requested,” she said.

We’ll see 80 on the Turner Turnpike by this time next year. And the nimrods who currently drive 84 in a 75 zone will — well, actually, I’m not sure what they’ll do. About eight years ago, during a brief blast down a Texas highway posted at 80, I seldom saw anyone going much faster than 82 or 83.

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Neither Rand nor McNally

I suppose I could find a gizmo, or an app, that will find directions for me, but maybe I don’t want to:

The park rangers at Death Valley National Park in California call it “death by GPS.” It describes what happens when your GPS fails you, not by being wrong, exactly, but often by being too right. It does such a good job of computing the most direct route from Point A to Point B that it takes you down roads which barely exist, or were used at one time and abandoned, or are not suitable for your car, or which require all kinds of local knowledge that would make you aware that making that turn is bad news.

Death Valley’s vast arid landscape and temperature extremes make it a particularly dangerous place to rely on GPS. In the summer of 2009, Alicia Sanchez, a twenty-eight-year-old nurse, was driving through the park with her six-year-old son, Carlos, when her GPS directed her onto a vaguely defined road that she followed for 20 miles, unaware that it had no outlet. A week later, a ranger discovered Sanchez’s Jeep, buried in sand up to its axles, with SOS spelled out in medical tape on the windshield.

Too much faith in the machines, perhaps:

Most death-by-GPS incidents do not involve actual deaths — or even serious injuries. They are accidents or accidental journeys brought about by an uncritical acceptance of turn-by-turn commands: the Japanese tourists in Australia who drove their car into the ocean while attempting to reach North Stradbroke Island from the mainland; the man who drove his BMW down a narrow path in a village in Yorkshire, England, and nearly over a cliff; the woman in Bellevue, Washington, who drove her car into a lake that their GPS said was a road; the Swedish couple who asked GPS to guide them to the Mediterranean island of Capri, but instead arrived at the Italian industrial town of Carpi; the elderly woman in Belgium who tried to use GPS to guide her to her home, 90 miles away, but instead drove hundreds of miles to Zagreb, only realizing her mistake when she noticed the street signs were in Croatian.

I’m pretty good at fumbling with maps, if not with folding and refolding them.

(Via American Digest.)

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No joy of six

After fifteen years, the government of Ontario has decided that this plate is offensive:

Ontario license plate VI6SIX, expires November 2017

In vain did Daniel D’Aloisio try to explain what it meant:

“My relationship with my father was very short. He passed away when I was 19 years old due to cancer,” said D’Aloisio.

The pair shared a passion for the Habs.

D’Aloisio explained there were only so many characters, so VI is short for vie, French for “life”.

“‘6’ is from ’76, I was two years old and Montreal won their cup, and ‘six’ being six Stanley Cups my dad and I celebrated together in his short life with me.”

Their favourite player of all time, Mario Lemieux, wore 66.

A lot of sixes. The provincial government, however, saw exactly three:

If you read VI as the Roman numeral for six, the plate becomes 666.

In the New Testament, that’s the “number of the beast” and some see it as representing Satan.

Sheesh, Toronto. You want fire and brimstone, look westward; Fort McMurray is going through hell right now.

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From the “What a waste” files

No, you cannot have a sports car. Not yours:

A newly-minted McLaren owner in England became a little over-excited following the delivery of his brand-new supercar. The Telegraph reports that the owner of a McLaren 650S stuffed the coupe into a tree just 10 minutes after the car arrived at his house for the first time.

The report states that neighbors spotted the owner celebrating supercar ownership with a bottle of champagne right after the car arrived at his doorstep. Not 10 minutes later, the owner introduced the front end of his $265,000 supercar to the ever-sturdy trunk of an innocent tree. The collision was severe enough to demolish the front end of the car, scattering bits of the carbon fiber bodywork all over the immediate area.

I can’t wait to find out what this yutz used to drive; I’m betting it’s some quotidian Ford.

(Via Eric Siegmund.)

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The air up there

The demand for nice-sounding fuel-economy numbers has led automakers to the wind tunnel, wherein a mysterious voice tells them to cut the aerodynamic drag or face the wrath of the marketplace. Then again, they can’t do a thing about the times when the marketplace messes up the drag coefficient on its own:

Automakers go to great lengths to make vehicles aerodynamic, adding grille shutters and painstakingly shaving off excess weight, but drivers are just blowing away the hard work with their roof racks, a new study reports (via CNET).

The effect of roof racks on fuel consumption was studied by researchers from Berkeley Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab, who published their findings in the journal Energy Policy.

It turns out that showing off what an active lifestyle you have via a sporty roof rack (or just being too lazy to remove it after that one trip) accounts for nearly one percent of all annual domestic fuel consumption.

The study finds that 0.8 percent of light-duty vehicle fuel consumption in 2015 can be tied to the aerodynamic drag these racks asserted on the cars carrying them. That translates into 100 million gallons of gas burned needlessly every year.

In which case, you’ll perhaps be bewildered to hear that the single best fuel-economy reading I ever got from Dymphna, a 1975 Toyota Celica GT (2.2-liter SOHC four, 5-speed manual), was 29.1 mpg, achieved with a curio cabinet lashed to her roof. I am forced to conclude that the little Celica’s aerodynamics were so undistinguished that adding about a meter or so of wooden box actually improved them.

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An unexpected dart

My first thought upon reading this was “Perfect. The first true self-driving car will be a Dodge.” Well, not necessarily, but it still fits:

Still: Google and Fiat Chrysler. This isn’t exactly like, say, an F1 racer powered by John Deere, but the dissonance is more than just cognitive.

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A case of inadequate insurance

Or some sort of inadequacy, surely:

Cadillac with a messed-up deck lid: Dumb Broad Light Was Red

I took this on Northwest 36th Street just east of Interstate 44 yesterday.

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That Conestoga aesthetic

No statement shouts “I shouldn’t be allowed to drive” quite so loudly as “I need bigger wheels.” You don’t need bigger wheels. Nobody needs bigger wheels. I’d never tell you you can’t have bigger wheels — a free society, which in some respects we still try to be, doesn’t do that sort of thing — but you deserve whatever horrible things happen to you.

Exhibit, um, X:

On Friday April 15th, the delivery manager called and let me know I could pick up my new Model X on Tuesday April 19th (today). I was so excited!

On Saturday April 16th, I discovered Tesla added a notice to the Model X Design Studio (presumably when it opened to the public). That the 22″ Performance wheels decrease range by 10-15% … or up to 39 miles!

I currently arrive to my main destination in my Model S with 20 Miles remaining. This means the Model X as I configured it will not make this trip!

I feel like I purchased a vehicle with 250 miles of range, and was delivered one with 210 miles of range. The difference is significant.

Hey, you paid the extra five grand for a non-performance option.

(Via Ed Niedermeyer.)

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Wheels within wheels

This device is none too cute, but I have to admire the sentiment that made it possible:

That said, there remains one problem: this sort of thing has been tried before, and the outcomes were deemed ungood.

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You must be this flush to buy this car

Ford will apparently not sell its new GT to just anyone:

Ford estimates the price of the 2017 GT as being in the low- to mid-$400,000 range (USD), but money probably isn’t a huge consideration if you’re actually considering a GT purchase.

The cumbersome ordering process is meant to weed out the reputable buyers from the shifty hoi polloi, with special consideration given to buyers of the first-generation (2004-2007) GT.

“Ford is conducting this application process to identify from a host of deserving candidates those individuals who will be invited to discuss a potential Ford GT purchase,” the automaker states on its application webpage. “Completing an application does not guarantee that you will have the opportunity to purchase a Ford GT.”

Not that this is particularly unusual: makers of high-end Italian exotica, and of some other cars that compete in this price range, long ago let it be known that you had a better chance of getting to own one of their Special Editions if you’d already owned one or three or a dozen of their previous models.

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Protection without racket

After wearing them pretty consistently for 40 years or so, I think I (mostly) understand seat belts. And despite having never seen them deploy, I have a reasonable grip on the concept of air bags, four of which can be found in my current car. But some of the new safety gewgaws simply astonish me. Eric Tingwall, in the May ’16 Car and Driver, reveals a couple of options for the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class:

The optional Pre-Safe Impulse system adds radar units to the front corners of the car and inflatable bladders in the outboard bolsters of the front seats. It predicts an imminent side-impact collision, and inflates the bladders — without damaging the seats — two-tenths of a second before impact, pushing the occupant inward, away from the B-pillar and the intruding car.

Spiffy. But this goes beyond:

Pre-Safe Sound plays pink noise (it sounds like a TV that’s lost its signal) through the speakers to contract the stapedius muscles in your ears prior to a crash, reducing the risk of hearing damage during an accident. This is what a successful civilization looks like: fixes for problems you never even knew existed.

An E-Class with these goodies will likely cost around $60,000: base price, guesses C/D, will be $52k. Still, you know these things will gradually start showing up in cars within my budget.

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