Archive for Driver’s Seat

The opposite of new-car smell

I don’t really blame this guy for taking the Anonymous option:

Can an insurance company sell a salvaged car if someone died in it, and if so, do they have to tell you?

Now houses, that’s a whole ‘nother matter:

In California, sellers must reveal if a death in the home has occurred anytime in the past three years, including death by natural causes (although certain types of deaths, like those from AIDS, cannot be disclosed). And if a buyer comes out and asks about a death that occurred at any time, even longer than three years ago, the seller is required to provide a truthful response.

I submit that there are going to be times when “How the hell do I know?” is the most truthful response available.

In Alaska and South Dakota, only murders or suicides must be disclosed if they happened within the past year. In other states the laws are less black and white; a seller may need to disclose the information only if a buyer asks.

Still, we’re talking houses. Cars? Nobody gives a damn, except this poor, superstitious soul. I can say only that it’s entirely possible for a car to be totaled, rebuilt and resold without anyone having died in it.

Now if it smells like someone died in it within the last couple of days, maybe there’s a reason to inquire.

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This much and no farther

This is a swell idea on the face of it:

Starting around 2002, BMW implemented a system called Condition Based Service (CBS), which is a set of algorithms that calculates how often service such as oil changes should be performed. The system uses sensors and mileage to make the calculations, allowing them to increase the time between service intervals without any detrimental effects on the vehicle.

Since most people would rather drink bleach than take a car in for service, this should be considered a boon — until it stops working altogether:

Owners and technicians have discovered that once a post-2002 BMW hits 300,000 kilometers (186,411 miles), the counter no longer functions and owners will no longer be notified of their next service.

Then again, how many recent Bimmers ever acquire mileage like that? Most BMWs these days are leased, which means the typical happy owner is going to give it up in 3 years/36,000 miles — by wacky coincidence, the mileage at which BMW stops providing free maintenance on its new cars.


This is no time to be driving

The Instamotor folks crunch some traffic-safety numbers, and some of them are a bit surprising. For example:

Looking at the number of fatalities by the time of day, we found that the safest times during the weekday was always the early morning hours of 12 a.m. — 6 a.m., with the safest time for both men and women being Tuesday morning.

However, this drastically changed for the weekend. The same time in men skyrocketed on Saturday and Sunday morning, with the highest (about 1,100 fatalities) on Sunday morning. For women, however, the most dangerous time to drive was actually on Thursday afternoon, with the peak of accidents coming between the hours of 12 p.m. — 6 p.m.

Got to finish the errands before the weekend? They won’t speculate, and I can’t say as I blame them, but I can say that I am somewhat taken aback.

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My grandfather’s Oldsmobile

The manual transmission, in this part of the world anyway, is almost dead. Perhaps it’s instructive to remember that the automatic wasn’t always the default:

And in those days, GM would happily build slushboxes for everyone; smaller automakers (Hudson, Nash, Kaiser-Frazer) without the resources to develop their own transmissions came calling on the General. Even Ford bought Hydra-Matic and installed it in Lincolns; the lesser Ford-O-Matic was a licensed Borg-Warner design.

(Via Dusty Old Thing.)

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Sort of covered

I am generally distrustful of extended warranties on automobiles, which I have characterized in the past along the lines of “paying $3000 in advance so you don’t have to pay $3000 later.” Jack Baruth is a bit more forgiving:

As has been the case since time immemorial, and discounting various stunts by people who purchase warranties on hood-rich shitty used exotics with questionable or nonexistent histories, these extended agreements/service contracts/whatevers are best considered as a way to fix certain costs ahead of time, with the understanding that in doing so one stands a very good chance of spending more money than one would have otherwise. It’s possible to swap a junkyard V6 into an eight-year-old Accord for about $4,000. If you want to spend $2,400 against the chance of that $4,000, then I don’t think I would call you a fool for doing so.

As a Ford salesman, I rarely pushed the Ford ESP plan, even though it’s actually very good and it will dramatically reduce your cost of ownership for an even moderately troublesome car. The exception to this rule of mine was when I had customers who were clearly at the very edge of their financial ability to own the car they were purchasing. I explained to them that if they were struggling to make a $475 payment (or whatever) right now on a car with no problems, they’d have a much harder time making that payment and replacing a transmission at the same time. Few of them took my advice. Human beings are always unreasonably optimistic about the future. Were that not the case, nobody would ride a motorcycle or date Taylor Swift.

I bought two of these over the years. One of them was sufficiently restrictive in its terms to insure that it would seldom if ever have to pay off anything; the second, I canceled in the first year. I am not what anyone would call unreasonably optimistic. That said, I’m also not sitting by the phone waiting for Taylor Swift to call.


Hellcat up in Harlem

Okay, not necessarily in Harlem, but this chap in New York City has a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, and with it he has stories to tell:

Here in NYC, the label “SRT” is unaffordable by most, but when you have it, people ogle your car and ask questions about it. Regularly, I am followed by other drivers in “lesser” performance cars — who will pull up to me and give me a thumbs up. Regularly, people will fight with others in traffic to get into a position where they can be side-by-side with me so they can roll their window down and ask me to “rev it”. And the police love me. When they see me pass by, they’ll often follow me — waiting for me to do something wrong — so they can pull me over. A Black guy in a ruby red car with three times the engine power of the majority of cars on the road must be up to no good — right? A short burnout resulted in me being swarmed by NYPD plain-clothes (White males) who were busy taking in the measurements of my tires and the details on my spoilers and heat extractors while I calmly kept my hands on the wheel waiting for commands to follow. “Is this thing like a Nascar?” asked one officer. “Yes sir” I replied: “seven-hundred-and-seven horses.” They all took a gasp with a “holy shit”…

Speeding while black! And apparently you don’t have to be speeding at all.

Oh, and there’s at least one other downside:

My Dodge Charger Hellcat’s 6.2-Liter Supercharged HEMI average less than 9.8 MPG.

My car gets twice the mileage, but then it has less than one-third the horsepower.

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Keep your snoopy eyes on the road ahead

From Chris Walton’s interim report on the Chevrolet Camaro in Motor Trend’s long-term test fleet:

[W]e wonder if other 2016 Camaro owners have been treated to a reflection of the passenger’s seat when peering at the sizable color touchscreen. We love the proximity, its quick responses, the crisp graphics, and Apple CarPlay, but we wish we could somehow alter the angle of the screen or change its reflectivity. Front-seat passengers wearing miniskirts be warned.

Me, I just wonder where all these front-seat passengers wearing miniskirts might be.

(Title courtesy of Paul Evans.)

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A sphincter drives what?


The original 1976 AMC Pacer used in Wayne’s World is crossing the auction block.

Sporting a baby blue paint job over the original yellow exterior, several modifications were made for the film, including tow hooks welded to the front subframe, 0.25-inch steel plates welded to the rocker panels for camera supports, and both the heater and air conditioning have been removed. The rear wheelhouses were also modified to fit speaker boxes, while a hole was drilled in the roof for the now-famous licorice dispenser.

Scene from Wayne's World involving 1976 AMC Pacer

Barrett-Jackson notes in the docket:

The only part of the restoration not true to the movie are the upgraded speakers and stereo (the 10″ restoration speakers are not functional as there never was an amp in the car). The stereo system is operational, however, and ready for you to do your own rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Before you ask: the climate control, such as it was, was sacrificed for camera mounting.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)


Fuller service

Drive all the way to the gas station? Too much work:

For the next three months, Bentley owners in California can have gasoline delivered to their vehicle via an app. Because the service (called “Filld for Bentley”) is meant to be the ultimate in convenience, that means anytime, anywhere. Owners simply open an app and request the filling time — the vehicle’s connectivity functions and the Filld app work together to locate the vehicle and unlock the fuel cap.

The automaker calls it “concierge fuel service,” which brings to mind images of a silver urn rolled in on an ornate teak dolly. Perhaps even a decanter. (And how will these deliverymen be dressed?)

In something premium, one hopes.

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No Italian cars for you

The closing of the Alfa Romeo/Fiat dealership in Dallas prompted this grumble from a local Alfa fan:

Fiat is not going to find a market in this country until this country gets less country, and that’s going to take a while; we are a relatively adolescent nation without easy access to higher education, and many Americans have never been exposed to other continents. The mainstream majority, with a limited frame of reference and a small income, have resorted to rejecting anything that originated outside of the United States. This would include vehicles that do not meet the current American automotive aesthetic … big, mean and ugly. So we have pickup trucks, which are intended to carry anything that is too big [to] ride in a passenger car, driven to work in the city by people wearing cowboy boots to offices. And then we have Sport Ubiquitous Vehicles, most of which never drive over anything more challenging than a speed bump. Meanwhile, my relatives in New Mexico — who have lived on cattle ranches for many generations — drive through the desert to and from the ranch house in a Cadillac. They only use trucks to haul cattle and a Jeep to drive out on the range.

I guess those New Mexican folk aren’t country in that sense.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma City, you can still buy Fiats. Maseratis, even.

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Coming soon: the mug selfie

Florida? Oklahoma? Actually, China:

Just before midnight one night last week, a young woman was pulled over by police in Xinjiang. Police asked her for her license. She didn’t have it, and instead tried to flirt her way out of the ticket.

Instead, police asked her to perform a breathalyzer test to see if she had been drinking. At first, she used the old don’t exhale into the breathalyzer trick, before an officer impatiently informed her that they would gladly drive her to the hospital and have a blood test performed, Sina reports.

After that, the breathalyzer confirmed what everyone already knew, the woman had in fact been drinking. Police then began taking pictures for evidence. When they were taking pictures of her, she demanded that the officers use Meitu, a popular photo editing app, to make her look better.

If there’s anything worse than a drunk, it’s a picky drunk. There are pictures at the first link, though I couldn’t tell you if they were Meitu’d.

(Via Fark.)


Call it the Model D

And that’s D as in Death:

In what they claim to be a world’s first, and we can’t dispute it after some research, a funeral transport company based in the Netherlands, Vander der Lans & Busscher BV, developed the first all-electric hearse using a modified Tesla Model S built by a stretched limousine maker, RemetzCar.

Tesla hearse concept

RemetzCar claims to have cut the vehicle in half after having removed the battery pack. Then, they extended the [wheel]base by 80 cm (31.5 inch) before fitting the battery pack back into the platform.

Thanks to RemetzCar, now Van der Lans & Busscher will be able to offer zero-emission funerals to its clients.

I’m operating under the assumption that the prototype is not equipped with the Ludicrous Speed option.

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Life has indeed been good

Perhaps by now Joe Walsh has gotten his driver’s license back:

Maserati with Minnesota plate DOES185

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

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Dashing dreams as we go

Welcome to Perennial Disappointment:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How much money do I need to make a year to afford a bmw i8?

This tells you one thing right up front: the dreamer wants to finance this purchase, because paying cash up front is obviously not happening. The base price (including destination charge) for the i8 is, as of this writing, $137,450. Thirty grand down and $2800 a month? Not for someone making nine bucks an hour as a shop clerk.

I see several of these every week, and they all sound the same:

I’m A guy who is Dreaming to own a Lamborghini Aventador. The price of Lamborghini Aventador is about $600,000. Can I pay 600,000$ for 10 years monthly? Which is about 5,000$/month. Or Do I have to pay everything when I’m buying Lambo?

What in this paragraph might make you think it’s at all possible for this yutz to own anything beyond a ten-year-old Toyota Corolla?

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Lyft and separate

Says the guy at Lyft: “By 2025, private car ownership will all but end in major U.S. cities.”

James Lileks demurs: “That’s 9 years away. Let me just put down a marker here and say no.”

And there are perfectly understandable reasons to say no. Says the guy at Lyft:

Cities of the future must be built around people, not vehicles. They should be defined by communities and connections, not pavement and parking spots. They need common spaces where culture can thrive — and where new ideas can be shared in the very places where cars previously stood parked and empty.

Not happening, says Lileks:

Now, I’m all in favor of replacing surface parking lots downtown with housing and offices, providing they build ramps to accommodate the cars driven by private citizens. In nine years I am not going to Lyft or Uber to work, or to shopping in the evening or weekends. I will drive because I like to. The suburbs are not going to do away with the parking lots outside of malls and big-box stores, and build big apartment buildings where Culture Can Thrive. If everyone sells their cars and the streets no longer have parked cars, no one is going to drag a chair into the street and SHARE NEW IDEAS where cars “previously stood parked and empty.” There are no new ideas that are going unshared because there’s a parking lot on the edge of downtown.

Magical thinking, informed by Lyft’s need to keep the vulture capitalists happy, and reinforced by nonsense like this:

Technology has redefined entire industries around a simple reality: you no longer need to own a product to enjoy its benefits. With Netflix and streaming services, DVD ownership became obsolete. Spotify has made it unnecessary to own CDs and MP3s.

Yeah, right, says Lileks:

Until you don’t have a connection or the service goes away or the studio removes the movie.

Or, to use another example, you are inexplicably blacklisted from using the Lyft fleet for reasons they do not explain, and cannot be appealed.

Yeah, it costs me more than two grand a year to keep a motor vehicle for my own use. But that’s the point: it’s for my own use. And I resent the idea that I need to throw in my lot with the Social Arbiters for the sake of some nebulous “civic” good that mostly benefits corporations with connections.

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La Femme revived

Dodge tried this back in the 1950s, and it did not work:

The Dodge La Femme was as capable as any top-line Dodge of that era, but it was glitzed up with Detroit men’s ideas of girliness, with “accessories” such as a rain hat, bag and umbrella, which stored behind the front seat. The La Femme moved a mere 2500 copies in two years, or about as many workaday Dodges as fell off the transporter on the way to the dealership.

Can women do better? That Cosmo girl certainly can’t:

Welcome to another cringeworthy attempt at redesigning a product to better market it to women. The magazine Cosmopolitan unveiled its own version of the Seat Mii at FashFest in London last week and the entire thing, from press coverage to the actual vehicle, is a complete mess.

Seat, usually styled as SEAT, is Volkswagen’s Spanish budget brand, and the Mii is a modestly remodeled version of VW’s Up! The Mii is made, not in Spain, but in Bratislava, Slovakia, as is the Škoda Citigo, from Volkswagen’s Czech budget brand.

First the Seat launch site, which kicks the generalization and infantilization of half the planet’s population into high gear. The site features a “Girls just want to have fun” banner with a grown woman riding a merry-go-round in the background followed by another image of a woman holding a lollipop. Cosmo sure understand the modern woman’s love of sugary, colorful treats and boring carnival rides. It’s like they have a glimpse inside the lives of me and all my friends!

Of course, a company with such a savvy understanding of what women want would produce a glittery purple car that’s “easy to drive and park.” This Mii’s headlamps are even design to look like it’s wearing eyeliner, just like you! Then came the reveal on a catwalk during FashFest. The car, designed for women by a women’s magazine, was driven out on to the catwalk amidst much confetti and fanfare by a man. Because as all we ladies know, the best accessory in life isn’t a cute car, it’s a dude who will take over all that pesky driving and door opening for you.

There’s a video of the reveal at the Autoblog link. It’s gotten over 2000 views, and at this writing no one has thumbed it up.


A scene I wish I’d seen

LeeAnn mourns the loss — well, the totaling — of her hardy Mopar, by telling us about its acquisition:

The car, my baby, the first car I ever walked into a dealership and performed a TKO on an eager beaver of a sales vulture (that is a hybrid you never want to see in nature) by letting him go on and on and on and ON about financing and low terms and extra packages, by making him write down IN BIG LETTERS that the price he just announced was the final, all-inclusive, out the door and on the road price … and then plunking down that EXACT AMOUNT in cash on his desk.

The guy never knew what hit him.


Loud, uninformed consumer

I don’t really blame this yutz for insisting on anonymity:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Sue a car dealership on false information?

I helped buy my oldest son buy a new car from the dealer. When he finally decided on a car he really like I told him I would help me buy it since he earned it (which is the case here) anyways, he picked a 2010 Lexus LS which was over 30k. When we went to see the car and bought the car the dealership assured us that there was NO OPEN RECALLS on the car and was in perfect conditions and had no previous accident. So we ended up getting the car. After 2 weeks of purchasing the car my son was at school driving home. Before exiting the school campus his car stopped! Luckly no car was behind him. The whole Gasoline started to leak and the campus security had to put my son to safety since his car was causing a hazardous situation. After looking up apparently there IS AN OPEN RECALL! While all the papers were sign by or part and the dealership I have proof the dealership signed that there was no OPEN recalls. I’m so angry since it put my son in a risky situation. My question is would I be able to sue the dealership?

Oh, to be a fly on the wall when this suit is thrown out. And it will be. A trip to reveals that there have been no recalls on the 2010 LS. Nor are the complaints (all two of them) at all related to this phenomenon. So the dealer was correct, and Aggrieved Parent can go stuff it up her single exhaust. (Good thing it isn’t dual.)

I posted exactly that paragraph, minus some formatting, to the actual question, hoping more than usual that the perpetrator will be embarrassed. Probably not going to happen: some people are beyond any level of shame.

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Puddin ‘n octane

I’m sure this has been asked before, but we’ll still tell you the same:

Do you put premium gasoline in your car? You’re probably wasting your money. A new study by AAA found that 16.5 million Americans had filled up their cars with premium gas unnecessarily in the past year. That’s $2.1 billion, completely wasted.

Roughly 70 percent of Americans own cars that have no practical need for premium gas and only need regular. AAA conducted tests using 87-octane (regular) and 93-octane (premium) gas in those kinds of cars and found that the premium gas gave absolutely no benefits above the regular gas.

Oh, how I wish the price of premium out here on the Plains brought 93 octane. Instead, we get 91. Then again, we’re a quarter-mile, more or less, above sea level, and the need for higher octane diminishes at higher altitudes. (When I was wandering around the edge of the Rockies in ’04, “regular” was 85, maybe.)

Just 16 percent of Americans own a car that requires premium fuel. And if you’re in that 16 percent you probably know who you are.

Yep. After a decade, I’m used to it. And so is the car.


And you thought there would be no math

Vi Hart has come up with something timely called “Lookin’ At Slopes: The Calculus of Bad Driving.”

Because, you know, bad driving is at least as much at the mercy of mathematics as is good driving.

Which is not to say that you need to have completed Algebra II and first-semester physics to negotiate the highways and byways; but it helps to know what forces are acting upon you while you ease on down the road.

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A truly World Tour

I’ve done a few road trips in my day, often designated by the phrase “World Tour,” though none of them ever left the States (there were some close approaches) and the longest one was a commute short of 5,000 miles.

Proposed road trip from London to New York

Still, this gets me thinking:

Vladimir Yakunin is the head of Russian Railways and he’s got a big dream.

According to CNN, he is proposing a superhighway that will allow transportation from Nome, Alaska to Russia by crossing the Bering Strait. The highway will then take travelers to Moscow and ultimately end in London.

Dubbed the Trans-Eurasian Belt Development (TEPR), “a theoretical drive from London to Alaska via Moscow might cover about 12,978 kilometers (8,064 miles),” reports CNN. In total, if you traveled from New York to London, you would cover approximately 12,910 miles.

Downside: this glosses over the fact that the Bering Strait, at its narrowest point, is more than 50 miles across. Fortunately, it’s not necessary to build a single 50-mile span; the Diomede Islands sit in the middle of the strait. And while icebergs as such aren’t a threat, a six-foot-thick ice floe can play hell with a bridge.

Also downside:

Right now, the plans haven’t been approved, and with Yakinin estimating the cost to be trillions of dollars, no one has generously stepped up to foot the bill.

Quelle surprise.

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Voluntary malparkage

Of late, I am becoming more irritated by this class of losers:

[T]he person taking up 2-3 parking spaces if it’s close to a store or business: that’s being an a-hole. Someone doing it at the tag-end of the lot where it doesn’t affect others’ ability to find a spot? I don’t care. Do what you will. I figure even with a new car eventually it’s going to get dinged so I have never worried about it, but I know some people do. Just, if you’re gonna straddle the line of a spot, do it somewhere far away so the poor guy trying to stop off on his way home to get the makings of mac and cheese for his three kids are home sick, or the woman who is trying to get her weekly shopping done before her evening meeting, doesn’t have to walk halfway to the moon and back because you took the only three close spots.

The stereotype holds that people occupying three spaces must be driving Big Freaking Trucks, but it’s possible to do this with a mid-sized sedan if you’re sufficiently dysmotivated.

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And it will stay broken

I haven’t yet encountered anything quite this drastic yet, but I suppose it’s just a matter of time:

Paul Rubner thinks what’s happened to his Ford F-150 is criminal — and he should know, he’s a detective with the Calgary Police Service.

The heating system on his 2009 truck suddenly failed, blowing only extremely hot air on the passenger side — so hot, no one could sit in the passenger seat.

But the biggest problem? It can’t be fixed.

“It’s crazy,” says Rubner. “My truck is only seven years old.”

But there are no parts:

The part in question is the Dash Control Unit (9L3Z19980Y), which Ford Parts Canada lists as discontinued and unavailable. It was installed in V8-powered 2009 F-150s of various trim levels, equipped with dual-zone climate control, heated rear window, mirrors and seats, but with a seat cooler delete. That makes it a relatively low-volume item.

TTAC’s Bozi Tatarevic describes Rubner’s problem: “The issue that he is having is that the passenger side blend door actuator is shorting out. This causes the blend door to get stuck open when it should be closing. Since it is stuck open, the passenger side gets air that is flowing over the heater core. The shorting of the blend door actuator is caused by the HVAC module.”

Ford eventually saw a PR problem a-brewing:

The automaker has since agreed to have a supplier build a one-off module specially for Rubner’s truck. With stereotypical Canadian politeness, Rubner thanks the company for making his truck driveable during winter, though he wishes it hadn’t cast him aside the first time he appealed for help.

We have to wonder if this is the only time Ford builds a bespoke replacement part for an F-150 owner, or just the first.

I can’t imagine Nissan knocking out a part for me after 16 years. Regular visits to the dealer parts counter tell me that there are no more OEM wiper blades or rear brake rotors to be had. The aftermarket, in these cases, fills the bill adequately. But if my HVAC module ever craps out, I can probably safely assume I’m screwed — maybe. Then again, apart from those two exceptions, everything I’ve had to have ordered from Nissan USA actually showed up in a day or three.

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A reprehensible little twerp

Cue Phil Collins intoning “You’re no son of mine”:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How to temporarily freeze the odometer on a 2000 dodge dakota

Odometer tampering is of course illegal. Is this nimrod trying to sell the truck? Nothing so normal:

I got into a bit of trouble (I’m 17), and my parents are taking my truck away for two weeks. My dad knows the exact mileage on the truck. I drive a 2000 dodge dakota sport, 2.2 liter engine, single cab, 5 speed transmission. The odometer is digital. How can I rig the truck so it shows the same amount of miles on the odometer, rather than just pulling the fuse to the cluster and it not showing anything. It needs to look like I haven’t driven it, if I decide to drive it. All help is appreciated!

And don’t try to talk him out of this scheme, either:

Ps: Please don’t tell me not to drive the truck against my parent’s will. It won’t stop me.

Little shit has a future as a political consultant, if he’s not beaten to death first.

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Cut ’em off at the C-pillar

Maybe even the B-pillar:

2017 SOLO by Electra Meccanica

The wee beastie apparently emerging from another dimension is SOLO by Vancouver-based Electrica Meccanica; it’s a single-seat electric runabout with a 100-mile range and three wheels. TTAC reports thereupon:

Electra Meccanica spent years working on the diminutive EV, which it says can accelerate to 62 miles per hour in about eight seconds. Charging takes three hours from a 220-volt outlet, or six hours from a 110-volt household wall socket.

The SOLO’s main purpose is to shuttle people to and from their workplace, while being easy to own and operate. With a length 19 inches shorter than a Fiat 500, parking shouldn’t be an issue. Weighing about 1,000 pounds (thanks to a composite body and aluminum drivetrain), the vehicle sports a 0.24 drag coefficient and draws power from a 16.1 kWh lithium-ion battery.

Available only in Canada for now at around twenty thousand loonies, this little darb tops out at around 80 mph. I wouldn’t want to speculate as to what it’s like in crosswinds.

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Spicy sphincter

Of course, I could just be reading this wrong:

I mean, it’s only been half a century since I was twelve.

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Machiavelli as traffic engineer

The ring of truth sounds something like this:

I heard a depressing reason for all the empty shops downtown: the “bypass” of Route 70 draws too much traffic away and people don’t stop any more. The bypass was supposed to funnel off the big trucks so (a) they didn’t cause more congestion and localized pollution and (b) so they didn’t have problems with some of the narrow streets/tight turns in the downtown area. But apparently most people don’t “destination shop” any more? Pretty much the only reason I ever went downtown was for shopping … I tended to avoid those few blocks otherwise BECAUSE of the congestion.

Traffic engineers, it’s always seemed to me, were obsessed with speed through a given area, at the expense of, well, everything else.

But then there’s this:

I’ve also heard that the reason the lights on main street aren’t synchronized — you can count on catching AT LEAST half of them on red any given trip — is that businesses have begged the city NOT to synchronize them, so people are slowed down and more likely to stop. Which feels to me a lot like Walmart’s strategy of “let’s randomly move stuff around because when people can’t find what they want, they spend more time in the store and will buy more” which just reminds me how I’m weird, because that kind of thing annoys me and I actually buy LESS than I would otherwise … I have left without completing my shopping list before because I got so tired of hunting for stuff.

My response to not being able to find what I want generally involves a Web browser.


The Prince of Darkness has affiliates

I have long since given up trying to diagnose automotive problems other than the most obvious. The Colonel, bless him, persists:

I’ve been hunting gremlins in the electrical system of the Magnificent Honda. A loose hot wire to the backup light switch was grounding on the transmission housing which I discovered after meticulously examining and cleaning the instrument cluster whose gauges had ceased to function. A clever diversionary tactic on the part of Satan.

About the only time I can find a ground is when I’m too close to a live wire.

Then again, Lucifer does not give up:

Whether I have fixed a speed sensor problem remains to be seen and the mysteries of cruise control await further investigation.

Still, “keeping a homespun Honda going for 27 years and 420,000 miles is no small accomplishment,” and the guy with the 16-year-old Nissan with 163k on the clock agreed.

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Collateral damage, you are

@SwiftOnSecurity is quite blunt about this issue:

In the future, when a self-driving car is about to crash, it will go into a high-frequency bidding war to decide which driver gets to live.

Sample scenario:

2 cars are about to crash. If you’re chosen to die, your grandchildren will be given free college tuition. Does your car accept the contract?

Or try this one:

Self-driving car is hit, sending it inevitably towards another self-driving car. However, the cars can decide which suffers more. Both cars have the same insurance co. To reduce premium costs, drivers opted-in to a car algorithm that biases all injury into one driver. Driver 2 is selected as most vulnerable, and dies. No long-term medical care, just a lump payment. Driver 1 walks away. Premiums stay low. Welcome to human mortality decided in an electronic, time-dilated decision space.

Some people, I am told, actually want this. They have far more faith in things than I (or Swift) do.

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Honestly, I hadn’t heard

A St. Louis-area dealer group knows the word, or at least the syllable:

I caught a fragment of this between innings in a Cardinals game, and had to track it down. Of course I did.

Addendum: They also have a Chevy dealership in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

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