A true working class hero.
By Alex Kalogiannis
Today, I am a baker, delivering exotic, towering cakes across the city. I am a carpenter, picking up works of art to be ornately framed at my Beverley Hills gallery. I am a florist, arranging elaborate set pieces and decorations for lavish events big and small. Why the fluctuating vocations? Because today, I am in the Ford Transit Connect.
The Transit Connect is Ford’s newest addition to the commercial truck world, a place populated by various vans, pick-ups, and box trucks; all very useful, but all quite large and cumbersome. In some aspects, large is good. You need “large” when moving the contents of a house or delivering pianos. But what about when “large” is simply “too much”? That is to say too much wasted space, too big to get around and, regrettably, too much money? You’ll notice at this point ingenuity and compromise struggling to prevail as a family minivan pulls double duty transporting dogs for grooming or a station wagon is used for catering. Vehicles being stretched beyond their initial intended capabilities by hard working people making do. The Ford Transit Connect answers this need by being a durable, efficient, high-capacity vehicle while remaining compact and affordable.
How does one test drive a work van? With work of course, as several Los Angeles business owners allowed myself and companions the opportunity to swing by in our Transit Connect and discuss how, if at all, the T.C. would be of use to them. Before setting out, we gave the Transit connect a once-over. Under the hood you will find a 2.0L I-4 engine giving you a max output of 136 hp. All this is married to the front wheels with a 4 speed automatic transmission. Seems underwhelming at first, but there’s more. The front sports an independent MacPherson suspension, but you’ll find leaf-springs in the back. As for brakes? The front wheels get discs while you’ll find drums in the rear.
By J. Smith
Summer 1990. The Soviet Union still exists. China still slumps from the Tiananmen Square Massacre. MC Hammer rides high on a karaoke exercise to the tune of “Super Freak.” And I did my share contributing to global warming by endlessly cruising the mean streets of Grand Ledge, MI in my 1976 Deuce and a Quarter.
And I loved it. Until the first time I filled the tank. It had a massive 26 gallon stomach and demanded to be fed. Often. My driving habits did not help.
The 455 ate via a Rochester Quadrajet. Having supped on Iron Duke-powered Chevy Citations up to this point, I exercised the Rochester often. Behind the wheel of the Battle Buick, I drove as if possessed. Every stoplight met with screeching brakes and every green light greeted with a stomp of the pedal. When that proved insufficient to melt my rear tires-which was often, given the archaic emissions piping sprouting here and there like IVs from he body of an intensive care patient-I learned the art of brake torquing. Press the brakes down, hit the gas to build up RPMs and thus power, and move your foot from the brake. Worked every time.
By Roger Boylan
The 2010 Camaro is an instant classic. It’s fast, affordable by you and me, and comfortable. It’s solidly built, on the chassis of the soon-to-be late lamented Pontiac G8. It’s quiet at speed. It’s one of the best-looking cars on the road. It’s economical; the V6 gets nearly 30 mpg on the highway on regular fuel, so it would make a fine commuter car. And most of all, it’s not boring. Yes: On the basis of a week’s exposure, I proudly proclaim myself a Camaro guy-and I was driving the “base” V6 model. In a word, I loved the damned thing.
“That’ll be the day,” I’d have said, if you’d told me, way back when, that I was a future Camaro fan. I’d always thought the previous iteration of the Camaro was loud and ill-bred, like the boy racers in Woodlawn and Passaic who drove them down Main Street on Saturday nights (regulation pack of smokes tucked into T-shirt sleeve, of course, and hairgel duly lathered on) and the suds-swilling oafs who congregated around them on state fair days and at tailgate parties. Camaros? No thanks, I sneered; not for this member of the urbane urban elite. Well, that’s over. I’m sub-urbane now, decidedy suburban, and a member of no elite; and man enough to admit I was wrong. And more than man enough to whine I WANT ONE.
By Brendan Moore
The NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association) stated yesterday that over 16,000 dealers in the US have signed up to participate in the federal government’s “cash-for-clunkers” program and that public interest in the program seems to be much higher than forecast.
Since there were approximately 19,000 new-vehicle dealers in the US at the end of June, that means that around 80% of all dealers have signed up for the program.
Under the federal program, people that trade in eligible older trucks or cars when they buy a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle can receive as much as $4500 USD in credits.
The law took effect on July 1, but since the U.S. didn’t publish rules for the program until July 24, it was difficult to gauge just how much interest there was in the program. But in the last four days since the rules of the program were defined, it has become obvious that the program is a bona fide hit. Some dealerships wrote up deals weeks in advance and had the eligible trade-ins from customers sitting on their back lots, waiting for the rules to be published so that they could pull the trigger on the deal itself.
It looks as if some dealerships will have post some great sales numbers in July and August, at the very least.
By Chris Haak
The V8-powered, rear-mid engine car will make its public debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, but its auto show debut will be something of a non-event since we have seen everything but the interior and know how it stacks up on paper (though obviously none of us has yet driven the car). And, I must say, the spec sheet is an impressive one.
By Chris Haak
For the period between January 1 and June 30, 2009, Toyota Motor Corp. continued its sales dominance over the global automotive industry. However, relative to its first-quarter pace, the rest of the industry has begun to catch up.
Toyota reported today that it sold 3.56 million vehicles in the first half of 2009, while GM sold nearly as many – 3.55 million – during the same period. During the second quarter of 2009 – from April 1 through June 30 – Toyota sold 1.80 million vehicles while GM sold 1.94 million. Toyota’s units include its Daihatsu and Hino subsidiaries.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen – which has aspirations to itself become the world’s largest automaker over the next several years that I’ve previously scoffed at – managed to sell a strong 3.1 million vehicles in the first half of the year. Helping VW is minimal exposure to the US market (while Toyota and GM are obviously heavily exposed to the US), so the company’s 16.4% US sales decline through June 30 in the US (including Audi) is not only better than the overall US market’s 35.1% decline, but also only costing the company a loss of 26,665 sales against the same period in 2008. Meanwhile, Toyota sold 469,640 fewer units in the US during the first half of 2009, while GM sold 641,717 fewer vehicles. Instead, VW has been able to capitalize on Germany’s scrappage plan in favor of small cars, and incentives in China designed to spur sales of fuel-efficient new vehicles. GM’s China sales were also a bright spot for the shrinking giant.
By Brendan Moore
Jaguar Land Rover’s core unit, the British operations of the company, has reported a loss in 2008.
The Financial Times reports that Tata Motors of India, Jaguar Land Rover’s owner, has been guaranteed a bridge loan from the British government. Government officials and Tata executives have been discussing short-term financing options for the struggling UK business unit.
The Financial Times article stated that the government was offering Tata a 175 million pound commercial bridge loan with a six-month term. The terms of the offered loan also call for the British government to be given a seat on the board of the company.
Tata is holding out for a twelve-month term, and no board representation.
Jaguar Land Rover dived to a 673.4 million pounds ($1.11 billion USD) loss for 2008, falling from a 2007 profit of 641.5 million pounds in 2007.
2009 figures look equally bleak for the company, with a posted 306 million pound loss so far in fiscal 2009. The global recession has hit Jaguar Land Rover particularly hard among luxury makes.
In other news, Tata Motors Ltd, the Indian truck maker and parent company of Jaguar Land Rover, posted an unexpected profit for last quarter through an accounting change. The results do not include Jaguar Land Rover’s financial results.
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By James Wong
My expectations for the new GTI were mixed. I wanted it to be a better successor, one worthy to replace the MkV GTI which convincingly reclaimed the throne to being the benchmark hot hatch. Yet, I didn’t want it to be a complete walkover to the previous car, letting people forget that the MkV GTI was the one that revived the GTI nameplate again. There is a bit of personal bias here – I own the MkV GTI, so naturally I wouldn’t like seeing my car being pushed to the back rows of the shopping shelf. So let’s see what VW has got here – is it a MkV GTI in a new skin? Well, not quite.