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Flop Gear USA?
Nov22

Flop Gear USA?

By Charles Krome

Well, that was anti-climactic. After months of buzz and years of anticipation, the U.S. version of the BBC’s Top Gear finally debuted last night on the History Channel, and I for one was underwhelmed. The original program has become something of an icon among a certain swathe of Anglophilic gearheads, based on its combination of wacky English humor and the opportunity it presents to see a wide range of vehicles get put through their paces each week. Admittedly, I’m not much of a fan: Jeremy Clarkson is the definition of insufferable, and his two co-hosts, Richard Hammond and James May, leave me cold as well.

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2011 Chevrolet Volt is Motor Trend’s Car of the Year

By Chris Haak

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt has been christened the 2011 Motor Trend Car of the Year.  The award comes as no surprise to many, considering the moonshot that the effort to develop the Volt, meet timelines, and deliver on the program’s objectives – primarily, to allow for about 40 miles of gasoline-free travel between charges, and allow drivers to travel infinitely further beyond 40 miles using the car’s onboard gasoline engine to generate power.

This year, the editors of Motor Trend evaluated 21 new or heavily-updated contenders, but none of the other models in the competition were non-hybrid, non-EV, conventional vehicles.  By their nature, conventional internal combustion-only vehicles are not as complex or sophisticated as a hybrid, and certainly do not require the resources to develop that the Volt consumed.

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NTSB Identifies Baby Boomers as a Major Road Hazard

By Chris Haak

As we know, the – those born in the postwar period between 1946 and 1964 in the US – is getting older, and as the baby boom goes, in many ways, so does the United States.  As members of this group enter various stages of their lives, the enormous size of their ranks mean that they have a profound impact on culture and the economy.

Just think back to the early years – say, the early 1960s – as that generation was entering school age.  Their numbers required the construction of new schools (ever notice how so many public schools are 1960s-vintage?)  Then in 1964, as the first boomers hit age 18, there was a car called the Ford Mustang making its debut at the New York World’s Fair that was perfectly catered to the idealistic, independent youth.  And that car sold like hotcakes.  This generation actively participated in the muscle car era, and consumed a considerable amount of the world’s natural resources as they entered their prime earning years and purchased more and more SUVs.

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From Jay Leno’s Garage to Yours
Nov11

From Jay Leno’s Garage to Yours

By Charles Krome

Like a number of other auto observers, I’m jumping on a recent survey from that bastion of journalistic integrity known as The Hollywood Reporter, which in this case commissioned an in-depth look at the audience demographics for the country’s top four late-night talk shows—including the preferred auto brand for each show’s audience. And what makes this particular factoid especially interesting for us is that the hosts of three of the four shows in question have some serious gearhead cred.

Take a certain Jay Leno, who in addition to handling “The Tonight Show” duties also happens to have one of the most amazing car collections on the planet. Leno’s menagerie has now grown to nearly 100 cars, and we’re talking about some serious metal here. There’s everything from a 1906 Stanley Steamer to a 2006 GM EcoJet. Haven’t heard of the latter? The 650-hp supercar, powered by a Honeywell LT-101 turbine engine running on bio-diesel, was something he thought up during a chat with GM design chief Ed Welburn back in the day, and GM was kind enough to put one together for him.

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The GM Bailout Revisited
Nov09

The GM Bailout Revisited

By Charles Krome

Let me deal with one thing before I even start: I was definitely in with the bailout crowd back during the depths of the global economic meltdown, and I remain a firm believer in government providing the occasional boost to U.S. industry. But that being said, I’m starting to get a bad feeling about how things are playing out at General Motors.

Consider: The General recently teased its third-quarter financial results—the final numbers will be released on Wednesday—and the early line is that the company expects to see a “net income attributable to common stockholders” of about $2 billion. That’s a swing of more than $3 billion as compared to GM’s results during the same time last year, although the automaker’s 2009 third-quarter numbers were more hazy and haphazard than usual, due to the whole “going through bankruptcy” business.

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Techshake’s Recommended Winter Driving Accessories

By Chris Haak

Earlier this week, I was ed by an editor at Woman’s World magazine for input into a feature that they’re working on called “You Deserve the Best.”  She asked for my input on what the best car winterizing tools would be, and rather than making my readers wait until January 6 to see a portion of my opinion (and sparing our predominantly male readership from having to buy a magazine called Woman’s World at the grocery store checkout line, I thought I’d share the thoughts in advance.

I was asked about specific categories of winter driving accessories, and I probably have a different set of preferences than would a typical WW reader.  But since she asked, I’ll share.

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