Posts By: stephwillems

By on October 18, 2019

Mazda/YouTube

The Mazda MX-5 remains of the purest and most affordable sports cars on the market, and we’re glad it exists. While the plucky roadster might not be the optimal solution for family hauling, a certain ND example did get yours truly and a former managing editor from Toronto to Detroit in January, lugging not just our lanky asses, but two suitcases and camera bags each, a 24 of pale ale.

January’s not the happiest time of year in that neck of the woods, but the only climate anomaly that MX-5 had to deal with was a torrential downpour on the way home. Temperatures hovered just above freezing. We were fine.

It’s understandable why many cars go under wraps for the winter, taking on the role of garage queens until flowers start poking up through the soil, but it’s odd to see an automaker imply that a model must be put away. Can’t it take the heat — er, cold? (Find Out…)

By on October 18, 2019

General Motors Renaissance Center

Buried beneath all of the pay and benefit details contained within the tentative UAW-GM labor agreement is a property sale. No, Ford’s not buying back the Renaissance Center.

A property situated on the banks of the Detroit River hosts the GM Center for Human Resources — the jointly operated training center funded with automaker cash, and one that’s become quite notorious of late. Given that the center sits at the heart of a federal corruption probe, the automaker feels it’s probably a good idea to ditch the property. (Find Out…)

By on October 18, 2019

Image: Ford

You read yesterday that the so-called “Mustang-inspired” electric utility vehicle Ford has planned for the coming year will be able to juice up all over the nation. What you didn’t read was that the model, presumably named the Mach E, might be capable of doing a nice brakestand.

That’s because you weren’t supposed to read a detail Ford’s charging partner, Electrify America, placed in its press release, then quickly erased. (Find Out…)

By on October 18, 2019

gm

As the UAW-GM strike closes out its fifth week, workers now hold the power of determining when it will end. Late Thursday, the UAW National General Motors Council recommended ratification of the tentative agreement forged a day earlier, tossing the ball into the workers’ court.

While the strike continues, some members claim they’ll reject the contract unless GM reopens mothballed assembly plants — an unlikely scenario, given that the suddenly thrifty automaker has already reversed course on the closure of Detroit-Hamtramck. That plant is now tapped for GM’s Ford-fighting electric pickup. (Find Out…)

By on October 17, 2019

1991 Toyota Camry in Colorado wrecking yard, manual gearshift - ©2017 Murilee Martin - Paardensex

Ready to be depressed? Your author knows he is. After buying a new manual-transmission vehicle last year, the model he purchased has since fallen under Mary Barra’s axe, and the transmission type he so loves is now rarer than an albino moose.

How rare? The number of electric vehicles sold in the third quarter of this year is greater than the number of manual-transmission cars sold during the same period. Life comes at you fast. (Find Out…)

By on October 17, 2019

General Motors Renaissance Center

After reaching a tentative agreement with General Motors on Wednesday, the United Auto Workers has released a summary of the proposed labor contract.

Contained within are wage hikes for GM autoworkers, lump sum increases, a generous signing bonus, the removal of caps on profit-sharing payouts, and a health care plan that maintains the status quo. It would also keep one previously doomed assembly plant open.

What we don’t know, at this point, is when the ongoing strike will end. (Find Out…)

By on October 17, 2019

Image: Ford/YouTube

There’s rumblings that Ford’s upcoming electric crossover — you know, the “Mustang-inspired” hot rod EV for the whole family ⁠— may make an appearance very soon. Due to go on sale in 2020, the vehicle is Ford’s first serious attempt to enter the electric vehicle field (apologies to the defunct Focus Electric, which found itself outclassed almost as soon as it appeared).

Getting Americans out of their brodozers will not be an easy feat, however, and the folks at the Blue Oval know it. With this in mind, Ford is offering future…Mach E?…buyers as many places to juice up as possible. (Find Out…)

By on October 17, 2019

Toyota

If that compact sedan or crossover has become too much to handle, and you live in Japan, Toyota has just the thing for you. Due out in 2020, Toyota’s aptly-named Ultra-compact BEV is a, um, ultra-compact battery electric vehicle that’s clean, green, and in no way mean.

To butcher a tagline from Dodge… if you can handle a top speed of 60 km/h (37.3 mph), you could be Toyota material. (Find Out…)

By on October 17, 2019

1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser wagon in North Dakota junkyard, rust - ©2019 Murilee Martin - Paardensex

Good morning, all. Your author here just awoke from a nightmare, one whose subject matter should strike fear into the hearts of all vehicle owners. Allow me to describe the dream.

In a rainy and somewhat threatening near future, yours truly noticed something on the rearmost part of his driver’s side rocker panel. A blemish. Maybe dirt or asphalt, I thought, walking over to flick the speck away. Drawing nearer, I realized, to my horror, that this speck wasn’t a foreign object clinging to my vehicle’s blue (why blue?) ⁠paint — it was a hole. Around said hole wasn’t dirt, but a heat rash-like spread of surface corrosion. With mounting dread, I fell to the ground, anticipating worse to come underneath.

Sure enough, my fears were realized. Acres of rust and widespread perforation beneath my relatively new vehicle! I had let a silent killer sneak up on me. (Find Out…)

By on October 16, 2019

volvo cars

Volvo Cars’ new electric crossover has a name, and it just happens to be something people hate doing. The XC40 is the brand’s new EV, crafted out of the compact XC40 crossover and helped in its mission by the model’s versatile modular platform. To make it work, Volvo first carried out some alterations. See details here.

“Recharge” isn’t just the name applied to the brand’s new EV ⁠— it’s a new sub-brand under which all upcoming EVs and plug-in hybrids will reside. An invitation to confusion or buried psychological disdain? Possibly. (Find Out…)

By on October 16, 2019

Image: UAW

After 31 days on the picket line, UAW-affiliated General Motors workers could soon be back in the business of building vehicles. Wednesday morning, the United Auto Workers and GM announced that their bargaining teams had reached a tentative agreement — one the UAW says includes “major gains” for its members.

All signs earlier this week pointed to a looming deal. On Tuesday, GM CEO Mary Barra and President Mark Reuss sat in on negotiations, while the UAW called its local union leaders to Detroit for a Thursday meeting. (Find Out…)

By on October 16, 2019

2019 Lexus LX 570 front quarter

In the Lexus lineup, no vehicle is larger — or older ⁠— than the LX 570, a true luxo barge if there ever was one. Riding atop a platform shared with the Toyota Land Cruiser and Tundra, the current body-on-frame LX 570 appeared in the spring of 2007, going on sale later that year as a 2008 model.

A redesign isn’t expected for another few years, making this model generation longer-lived than most marriages. And yet a clue exists of a new LX to come — one that scraps the LX 570 name for a loftier number. (Find Out…)

By on October 16, 2019

bmw

Hoping to attract new clientele, BMW has crafted a sedan aimed at capturing the attention of lower-end American buyers. The 2020 2 Series Gran Coupe is not a four-door version of the well-regarded 2 Series coupe, but you probably knew that by now.

Sporting precious little real estate between the front door and front wheel arch, a raised, pedestrian-cushioning hood, rear flanks and roofline mimicking the Chevrolet Malibu, a front-biased drivetrain, and a platform borrowed from a pair of small crossovers, the 2 Series Gran Coupe is not the long-hood affair you lusted after as a kid. To its credit, BMW couldn’t stomach the prospect of offering the model in FWD.

All-wheel drive comes standard on this thrifty German chariot. (Find Out…)

By on October 15, 2019

Startups come and go, and in the age of electrification a great many companies are issuing promises their meagre resources can’t deliver.

Time will tell if a reborn Morris Commercial follows through on a plan to return the iconic J-type commercial van to the rainy streets of Britain — and beyond. Retro appeal has its perks, but getting a new production vehicle, least of all an electric one, off the ground and into garages is fraught with challenges. So, without further introduction, here’s the Morris JE. (Find Out…)

By on October 15, 2019

Italdesign/YouTube

Few topics anger this writer as much as the so-called “flying car.” Much like the massive airships Popular Mechanics assured us were right around the corner back in the mid 1990s, the flying car seems more like a tech writer’s fever dream than a viable and imminent form of transport.

For starters, they’re mainly just helicopters, though some aircraft would provide “last mile” service to the rider’s final destination using a motor and steerable wheels. The vehicles/aircraft would be autonomous, too. It sounds like a regulatory nightmare awash in red tape.

One company pursuing such a product is Audi, though the automaker recently admitted its dreams aren’t even close to becoming a reality. It’s now paring things back. (Find Out…)

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