By Chris Haak
I love attending auto shows – I’ve been doing it for two decades. But in recent years, attending an auto show in person has become an exercise of questionable utility. You’re herded like cattle from press conference to press conference. You have to make a choice as to whether you want to hear the press conference or step away to write about something you saw or heard earlier. But lately, it’s also come to the point that there is no such thing as a “reveal.” That’s happened online, either intentionally or unintentionally, in the days or even weeks leading up to the show.
And so it was with the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and 2012 Chrysler 300C SRT8. The Dodge Charger SRT8 was revealed months ago, and it stood to reason that we’d see SRT8 versions of the new Grand Cherokee and 300C as well. Spy photos appeared of the Grand Cherokee SRT8, offering further confirmation that this new vehicle was on its way eventually.
By Chris Haak
We’re on the ground here in New York at the scenic Jacob Javits Convention Center enjoying the first day of press conferences (the construction along 34th Street leading to the building was particularly lovely) . So far, the show has not disappointed, with far more new-model introductions than we’ve seen in past years.
In just the first two and a half hours, we’ve seen Honda release a Civic Hybrid that gets 44 MPG combined and a non-hybrid Civic that gets 41 MPG on the highway. We’ve seen the amazing Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, which adds 45 horsepower and tastefully aggressive body tweaks. Ford has revealed what I believe is its first 2013 production model, the revised Taurus. The new Taurus will get a mid-cycle refresh that changes the front and rear fascias a bit, and adds MyFord Touch to the interior. The Taurus is also getting a 31-MPG 2.5 liter EcoBoost four cylinder option.
By Brendan Moore
The chatter in Washington is that the U.S. Treasury Department is going to sell most of its shares it received in General Motors stock in 2009 as part of the auto industry bailout package, perhaps as early as this summer. The reasons are either political or financial, depending on whom you ask. Some will tell you that the Obama administration wants the sale this year so that the federal bailout of GM is a non-issue in the 2012 presidential election, and some say that the sale is going to happen this year because the Treasury department thinks the current stock price is as high as it’s going to get for the foreseeable future.
Either way, unless the share price climbs above an unlikely $53 a share before the sale date, the Treasury’s dream of making a profit on the bailout is not going to be realized. At $53 a share, the federal government breaks even on the $50 billion it “loaned” GM, but at the current share price of approximately $30 (well below the $33 IPO price of last November, which raised around $20 billion), taxpayers would lose around $11 billion.
The U.S. Treasury currently owns 500 million shares of the reconstituted GM, which represents 33% of the company’s worth.
By David L. Miller
The Perfect Ride
Imagine that you are driving down the street when—wham—the impact of a pothole bottoms your suspension and nearly chips your teeth. You probably remember it from a couple days ago if you live in Chicago, New York, or any of a number of especially pot-holed cities. Even here in usually sunny southern California, when the rains come, so do the potholes.
Now imagine the same scene, but instead of the wham-bam of pothole percussion, your ride gently glides over that gaping crater, barely disturbed. Sure it will, if you’ve got some kind of Star Wars Anti-gravity Glider, but not in this world. Right?
By Kevin Miller
Washing my own car in my driveway is a truly a favorite hobby of mine. Quality time with the hose, sponge and car is among my favorite ways to spend a sunny day. Unfortunately, because of environmental concerns, an increasing number of jurisdictions are introducing regulations prohibiting individuals washing cars in their own driveways. At a recent Earth Day event in my Seattle-area suburb, the city government had a table dedicated to environmentally-friendly car washing, informing citizens that if water from car washing finds its way into the storm drain, the washer is in violation of an environmental law, as the storm drains empty directly into the state’s scenic Puget Sound.
The city was offering either a voucher for a free car wash, or a free eight-ounce bottle of Griot’s Garage Spray-On Car Wash ($6.99 retail at the Griot’s Garage Website). Being familiar with many other Griot’s Garage car care products, I eagerly took the free sample. As soon as I got home, I broke out my microfiber cloths and went to work on my wife’s decade-old black Saab 9-5 sedan, which hadn’t been washed for about 6 weeks of use in rainy Seattle weather.
By James Wong
Cars are making a lot less sense to a lot more people.
This is true of nearly every society which faces urbanisation, which will inevitably lead to denser living.
In the United States, the massive urban sprawls of major cities are causing huge traffic jams that head into the city from a large urban catchment area (think Los Angeles). Beijing in China is still desperately trying to find answers to the eventuality that its whole middle class would be buying and driving cars. It can no longer rely on its current infrastructure which was built when everyone was still on bicycles. Even at this stage, which is only the beginning of the rise of the middle class, Beijing’s roads are already facing huge gridlocks. In Europe, stricter emissions regulations mean that cars are increasingly being powered by alternative energies – diesel, hybrid or electric. Not so good news for keen drivers.
By James Wong
I’m not going to pretend I am from the era of the 1960s. I appreciate the Beetle’s looks but I don’t know much about how it drives or how much the public loved it: I just wasn’t born when the car was in its heyday. In fact, featuring this car would be akin to driving a car that my grandfather would drive. Don’t for one second get the idea wrong, though: this is no pensioner’s automobile. As I discovered, this car would be better described as a machine. Being born into the age of modern cars with light power steering and a seemingly isolated capsule from the rest of the world, the Beetle was a refreshing take to how some metal and four wheels can actually interact with a human. To say it is raw would be about right.
The Beetle is synonymous with Volkswagen, created as a vehicle for the masses, so that families could get around in a car that could do about 60mph. It’s a shame then that my generation (those born in the 1990s) only knew about the Beetle as the one VW produces now. It is about as far removed from the original as it can possibly be: front-engined and front wheel drive as opposed to rear-engined and rear wheel drive for the original Beetle.
By Chris Haak
That retail gasoline prices have been on the rise over the past few months, and that crude oil is concurrently on the march. You may have also heard something about a war in Libya, an oil-exporting state in the Middle East. Crude oil, which hit an all-time high of $147.27 per barrel on July 11, 2008, only to collapse to less than a third of that just a few months later, is now about $110 per barrel.
However, that’s about 32 percent below that July 2008 high. News out of the most-recent Lundberg Survey of nationwide gasoline prices found that the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular is $3.76. Three weeks ago, the previous Lundberg Survey found that the average price was $3.57. A similar $0.19 gain in the coming three weeks would put gasoline prices at $3.95 per gallon. Even so, Trilby Lundberg, the survey’s publisher, noted that even $3.76 is “within striking distance” of the record. Indeed, that’s just 9.3 percent below it.