I remember way back when I was in high school and even through college NPR was at least fairly enjoyable listening. Not only were Click and Clack of Car Talk great, there were interesting, lively debates on a variety of topics. I’m not one to only consume media that agrees with my viewpoints, but over time the viewpoints on the taxpayer-funded media platform narrowed considerably, leaving only those of progressive leftists who have an all or nothing attitude. That’s made NPR insufferable, so when I saw on NPR’s website an article about shady financial practices of dealerships, I was naturally skeptical.
Don’t get me wrong, dealerships can be extremely underhanded. Notice I said “can” – there are a few rare gems which deal with people in an overall fair way. Yes, they must make a profit and I always assume, even with a fair dealer, that I need to go in and fight for the best deal possible. Some require more arm twisting than others. But NPR has a completely different take.
This might make you think twice about taking the plunge.
Right now, the pressure inside the auto industry to cheerlead electric vehicles is tremendous. Automakers see this as a chance to make tons of money while weeding out smaller competitors since only the mega automakers can achieve the economies of scale apparently needed to profitably manufacturer EVs. The “green energy” industry also stands to gain tremendously from the push as people are told they need to go with solar or wind energy to further shrink their carbon footprint. But all of this comes at a tremendous cost, one of which you might not realize until it’s too late.
A new report from The Verge highlights a survey done by JD Power of EV and plug-in hybrid car owners. They contacted 11,554 people from January through June of this year, learning that overall people absolutely hate using public charging stations.
Here are the automotive news stories you might have missed this week.
1. NHTSA boss steps down.
Steven Cliff, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has stepped down to take a job as executive officer at the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Confirmed by the Senate in May, Cliff’s tenure is shockingly short.
You might have heard about the Ford Lightning electric truck utterly failing a tow test a few weeks ago, and it’s happened again. This time Motor Trend found the pickup can’t make it far when pulling a load.
Privacy is a rapidly disappearing asset these days.
Most people assume what they do in their own private vehicle is their business, as long as they’re not breaking any laws. That’s a natural assumption but unfortunately is also an erroneous one. While you might expect your privacy to be raided on the regular if you live somewhere like China, here in the United States what you do with your vehicle infotainment system and the footage your Tesla’s cameras record might be accessed at any time not only by the government but also powerful yet shadowy corporations.
If you own a Tesla and love the cameras on it because they can catch people keying your car or trying to break into it, those cameras could be used against you. San Francisco is moving to use private security camera footage without owners’ permission to fight crime, of course. This brings up all kinds of sticky constitutional and moral problems but isn’t shocking considering the growing authoritarian attitudes displayed throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Ralph Teetor was truly a wise man from whom we can still learn much.
If you’ve read through lists of little-known automotive history facts, you likely have come across the tidbit about a blind engineer inventing cruise control. That’s about all most know on the subject, but the life story of Ralph R. Teetor is loaded with timeless value. More than just a gimmick or a footnote in automotive history, the man put into practice several valuable principles he attributed to his career and personal success, and I would have to agree it was adhering to those ideals which helped him to push past barriers many would find impossible obstacles.
Ralph was a deeply religious man.
Raised a Christian Scientist, Ralph was taught from a young age to have faith in God and to apply himself dutifully every day. That tireless work ethic and trust that a higher power was watching out for his wellbeing allowed Ralph to literally step into the darkness every day for the rest of his life, knowing he wasn’t alone in his struggles. He easily could have sunk into nihilistic despair at the challenges of living blind from the time he was a small child. Instead, he accepted his burdens and allowed God to help make his weaknesses his strengths.
Ralph didn’t believe in being a victim.
After Ralph retired, an engineer from the Speedostat (what we know as cruise control) project asked Ralph the question many probably wanted to but were too scared to verbalize. “With all that you have been able to accomplish, what more do you think you would have done if you had been able to see?” The man probably was thinking if Ralph had the use of his eyes throughout his entire lifetime, he would have been even more accomplished and productive.
Ralph, however, didn’t agree with that implication in the least. “I probably couldn’t have done as much, because I can concentrate and you can’t.” Especially in this time of constant media flow, his point is quite salient. What more could we accomplish if we switched off all the devices and distractions, concentrating for even just a short time each day?
It’s been another wild week in the automotive industry. Here are some stories you might not have heard about.
1. GMC Canyon Gets An Upgrade
GMC’s midsize truck, the Canyon, just gained a new top-of-the-line trim called the AT4. It’s being heralded by the brand as “the most advanced off-road midsize truck” but you’ll pay dearly for it. Actually, all the 2023 GMC Canyon trucks get a healthy price bump with the base model selling for around $40,000 versus the current base model going for about $30,000. Yes, price inflation is making cars across the board more expensive.
The DC establishment’s falling out of love with Elon Musk continues.
As I’ve pointed out before, Washington, D.C. has fallen out of love with Tesla, once its golden child, thanks to behavior it simply cannot tolerate from CEO Elon Musk. Adding to the recent dogpiling on the American automaker is Ralph Nader, a man who rose to prominence by sounding the alarm about the Chevy Corvair.
Some call Nader an opportunist. That’s a cynical take, but it’s understandable why. After all, the man nuked from existence a car he unclaimed was “unsafe at any speed.” That statement was categorically false and the Corvair has since been vindicated. Still, in many people’s minds, the Nader smear job sticks readily.
Porsche proudly declared today that it set a new record for a production electric vehicle lapping the Nurburgring Nordschleife, which is a big deal in the car world. Using a Taycan Turbo S, a driver got around the Green Hell in 7minutes 33.3 seconds. In case you haven’t been keeping track, that edged out the previous record held by the Tesla Model S Plaid at 7 minutes 35.6 seconds.
For quite some time, automakers have been using the Nurburgring Nordschleife as a measurement of overall performance for production vehicles. Considering the 12.92 mile track comes with a little bit of everything from tricky chicanes to elevation drops and big straightaways for hitting top speeds, enough people consider it to be an important measurement.
Is going electric-only the solution to our transportation woes?
By now you might have already seen the news that Ford is opening up the order books for the F-150 Lightning as well as increasing the price significantly. It’s an ironic move considering one of the long-time talking points for EVs is they’re more cost effective than traditional ICE vehicles. Yet this combined with the recent round of price increases for Teslas casts a shadow of doubt on such declarations.
Sure, you can get Ford Lightning Pro model starting at $46,974 – at least in theory. Automakers often use the bottom-tier, stripped-down trim on a premier model line to wow consumers with how affordable the vehicle could be, then reels them in with more features which pump up the price. Many shoppers who have blown way past the budget they set for a new car know firsthand how this works.
Here’s what you need to know about what’s happening in the industry.
I haven’t been able to get a post up for a couple of days and have several interesting items I want everyone to be aware of since they could have a huge impact on the automotive industry in the near future. Click on any of the links to get more info from the source for each story and don’t be scared to leave a comment below – I like discussing topics, even if you don’t entirely agree with my take.
1. Tesla Is On A Roll
Last night was the Tesla annual stockholders meeting and it was a pretty wild time. Yet again, many are comparing Musk to Steve Jobs, especially as he came out on stage almost an hour late and wearing black head to toe. Still, he gave quite the presentation, making the automaker’s challenges seem like mere anthills.
One of the more troubling items presented during the meeting, at least for luxury automakers, is Tesla’s forecast that it will build 1.5 million vehicles in 2022. The company also believes at the end of the year it will be building EVs at an annualized rate of 2 million units. To put that into perspective, last year BMW delivered 2,521,179 vehicles to customers last year. In other words, Tesla is almost on its heels.