Last year Porsche sold 47,000 vehicles in the US market, with seven different models. Corvette sold 35,000 cars with one. Imagine what Corvette could do as a standalone brand with more models in its lineup.
Commercial truck and bus fleets in the United States are becoming keenly interested in running their vehicles on liquid propane (LPG), as this column reported back in March. That's because propane prices are substantially below those for gasoline or diesel, or even for compressed natural gas (CNG). Moreover, LPG provides substantial savings in maintenance costs and up to a 50-percent reduction in CO2 emissions. Now, the question is, will LPG catch on with everyday drivers and not just commercial
Volkswagen is run very differently than every other automaker. Actually, its corporate structure looks more like General Motors did from 1920 to 1970. In other words, VW now looks like the GM that was once the largest and most profitable corporation in the world.
This is going to be a serious effort, and the early signs are encouraging.
The Ford Motor Company is finally marshaling the resources and money to transform Lincoln into a true luxury brand again. While the company is guarded in discussing the full details of its plan, it's divulging enough for now to let the world know that this is going to be a serious effort. And the early signs are encouraging.
Ever since automobiles first appeared over 100 years ago, every automaker has tried to make them go faster. And they succeeded. Nearly every year, cars became more powerful with higher top-end speeds. But then, in the mid-1950s, we hit a plateau. The national speed limit was set at 70 miles per hour, and we've been stuck at that rate ever since. As a result, the automobile has made absolutely no progress as a transportation device in over half a century.
It took ten months. It involved the best brains in the nation. They conducted exhaustive tests. And Lord knows what it all cost. But when it was over, the results were totally predictable. The U.S. Department of Transportation could find nothing wrong with Toyota vehicles that would cause them to suddenly accelerate out of control.
Test driving an electric car at an automaker's media event is one thing. Taking one home and living with it is a completely different experience. Nissan just loaned me a Leaf for several days and I came away with a new appreciation for the potential pitfalls and rewards of owning an EV.
While every other major automaker in the world is pouring billions of dollars into research for electric vehicles, Fiat doesn't seem to be all that interested in electric cars. Instead, it's putting its efforts into producing cars that can run on compressed natural gas. Even more importantly, it's offering what it calls bi-fuel cars, which can run on both gasoline and CNG.
Last year, when the federal government set Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards at roughly 35 miles per gallon by 2015, automakers squirmed uncomfortably. Though that should be an achievable target, it won't be easy. It means Americans will have to buy several million more small cars a year, they'll have to buy fewer trucks and SUVs, and they'll have to pay thousands of dollars more for the technology needed to meet those standards.