techshake

Ask the Techshakes: Will the VW Beetle Drop Its “Chick Car” Rep?
Jul19

Ask the Techshakes: Will the VW Beetle Drop Its “Chick Car” Rep?

By Chris Haak

From the moment it was first displayed, Volkwagen executives have gone to great lengths to point out that the new Beetle (not the New Beetle, mind you) will appeal much more to male buyers than did the previous model.  Of course, when the Beetle’s first publicity stunt is a giveaway on Oprah, I’m not sure how serious VW is about boosting the testosterone levels of their classically-shaped hatchback.

Nonetheless, even the press release makes no bones about the company’s intent to shift Beetle buyer demographics from a 65/35 female/male split to something closer to 50/50:

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Are Gadgets Ruining Cars?

By Chris Haak

Gadget blog Gizmodo had a post yesterday entitled, “.”  As a lover of both cars and gadgets, as well as cars with gadgets, I took interest in the article. In it, author Mat Honan discusses a recent that dinged US automakers for high-tech, hard to use navigation systems that consumers called a “design defect,” and therefore lowered IQS scores according to Power.

Gadgets, if done well, are excellent and improve the experience and customer satisfaction. JD Power is not really a reliable gauge of quality, because it lets car buyers ding their cars for “quality problems” even though the things are working as designed. The issue is that the design is poor – like MyFord Touch. MyFord Touch is a cool concept, but a capacitive touch interface without any tactile feedback means you have to take your attention off the road and look at the location of the button, aim your finger carefully, then wait for Ford’s laggy, bug-filled processor to catch up to you.  The reality of MyFord Touch doesn’t live up to its hype, and Ford knows it – and is hopefully addressing it post-haste.

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Japanese Auto Manufacturers Demand Weaker Yen

By Chris Haak

The Japanese Automobile Manufacturer’s Association (JAMA) and the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions (CJAWU) released a joint statement yesterday demanding that the Japanese government take immediate steps to reduce the strength of the yen.  The current exchange rate between the yen and dollar is about ¥80 per $1 USD.  Three years ago, it was ¥110 per $1 USD, so it’s gained 27 percent on the dollar in a fairly short timeframe.  (A lower yen-per-dollar number means a stronger yen.)

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What Happened to the Tundra?
Jun06

What Happened to the Tundra?

By Chris Haak

Way back in the 2007 model year, you may recall that things looked quite different in the auto industry. Neither GM nor Chrysler had declared bankruptcy; GM was still the world’s largest automaker. Ford had just bet the company that its latest restructuring would fix their problem once and for all. Toyota was on a seemingly unstoppable roll, with month upon month of increasing sales (often at a clip of 10 percent over the year-earlier period).

There were certainly storm clouds on the horizon for the Detroit Three. GM, Ford, and Chrysler were losing money, the credit markets were drying up, and there was a major threat brewing against the last bastion of US automakers: the full-size pickup.

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Study Says Most Drivers Would Fail Written Driver Exams if Re-Tested

By Chris Haak

If you’re more than 32 years old, chance are that you’ve now been driving for more years than you have not been driving.  I got my license at age 16, so I just passed the two-decade mark behind the wheel this past spring.  I’ve naturally become a better driver during those 20 years, doing a better job of anticipating others’ actions, knowing how fast (or slow) to drive in various conditions, and becoming much better at understanding the physics of car control.

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GM Could Regain “World’s Largest Automaker” Title in 2011

By Chris Haak

It’s not easy being number one.  And, if you listened to GM executives after their company lost the global sales crown in 2008, being the biggest doesn’t matter, but being the best does.

And now, in a curious twist of fate, GM is poised to re-take the global sales crown from Toyota for 2011.  GM held that title for three quarters of a century, and Toyota stands to hold it for just three years (2008, 2009, and 2010).  So what’s behind this shift?

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