When you spend a year in a bunch of cars, you can start to track facts and figures. In this episode, comparing real-world MPG with what the EPA says.
At Witz End
Columnist Gary Witzenburg drives the BMW i8 for a week and starts to wonder why the Germans built this EV.
Columnist Gary Witzenburg takes another look at plug-in hybrid technology after driving the new Hyundai Sonata PHEV and the Volvo XC90 PHEV.
Reviewer Gary Witzenburg revisits the highly efficient Drive E "Twin Engine" set-up in the new Volvo XC90 hybrid and PHEV.
Flat-out down Mid-Ohio's long back straight – not really straight because it has a fast dog-leg kink – braking hard into the tricky right-left combination that follows, I was having a great time. For a former racer, any time spent on a wonderful road course like Mid-Ohio, even in a middling, front-drive, four-cylinder compact car, is quality time.
It's not quite the equivalent of the all-encompassing full-vehicle efficiency program that is Mazda Skyactiv, but beginning with the 2015 S60 mid-size sedan, the V60 sport wagon and the XC60 crossover models, Swedish automaker Volvo's "Drive-E" efficiency-enhancing effort starts with an all-new modular family of engines and extends through a new eight-speed automatic transmission and a number of additional measures. The new all-aluminum, all turbocharged Volvo Engine Architecture (VEA) family wi
As we know, another major automaker investing heavily in electrified vehicles is General Motors, and it's doing things much differently than rivals BMW, Ford or Nissan. The Chevrolet Volt extended-range EV is a modest seller at its $35,000 sticker price but a huge hit with owners. The Chevy Spark BEV, still in limited availability, puts smiley faces on its owners and drivers. The just-introduced Cadillac ELR, a sharp-looking, fun-driving $76,000 luxocoupe take on the Volt's EREV mechanicals, has
Anyone who questions BMW's effort or sincerity on electrified vehicles should have a chat with Hildegard Wortmann, the German automaker's senior vice president over product management for automobiles and aftersales. I was fortunate to do just that at the Detroit North American International Auto Show earlier this year.
The annual autofest known as the North American International Auto Show previews a plethora of exciting new products that we'll see and drive later in the year, from tiny urban commuters to family sedans and crossovers to hard-working big pickups and SUVs. It's also a once-a-year cornucopia of auto executives and leaders from around the world.
There was plenty to talk about when General Motors hosted its annual mid-December holiday media reception a few months ago. GM had just decided to pull its global Chevrolet brand out of major European markets, where Chevys have competed directly with GM Europe Opel and Vauxhall vehicles, and the US government had sold its last remaining shares of GM stock.
A day before the Los Angeles Auto Show press days, I enjoyed the rare opportunity to drive both the Cadillac ELR luxury EREV and the futuristic BMW i3 EV (with optional extended range). Both are distinctive looking, technically fascinating and fun to drive, and both are clearly aimed at upscale EV intenders. Yet they are totally different.
In 1939, New York City hosted both the future-gazing New York World's Fair (pictured below) and the founding of what would later become the history-focused Automotive Hall of Fame. The latter's mission, then as now, was to honor and perpetuate the memories of auto industry pioneers.
Has there been any other vehicle in automotive history so maligned by those who don't know or understand it, yet so loved by those who do? Critics typically see the Chevy Volt as an electric car with a pitiful 38-mile range (as if the range-extending engine/generator weren't there), while media testers give it rave reviews and owners offer industry-best customer satisfaction scores.
A concours d'elegance (French for "parade of elegance") is a high-zoot, high-buck display of mostly pristine historic and collectible automobiles, most of them unaffordable to most of us. Probably the best known such events in the US are the nose-in-the-air Pebble Beach Concours in Monterey, CA, the younger, fresher Amelia Island Concours north of Jacksonville, FL and the Meadow Brook Concours in suburban Detroit.
The San Francisco US press launch of the teeny-tiny two-seat 2008 Smart Fortwo involved an interesting presentation and drive experience. I learned that its history dates back to the late 1980s when SMH (Swatch watches) CEO Nicolas Hayek decided that a substantial number of people wanted a small, stylish city car that was built like a Swatch watch with Swatch-type personalization.
We began our Fiat 500e Los Angeles press-launch drive with 95 miles showing on our 500e's range gauge – interesting, since the car's EPA-rated range is 87 miles city/highway combined. Because the 500e's range-calculating algorithm looks at the last 100 miles, then the last 10 miles and the last five minutes, to account for recent change in energy usage, our 500e must have been hypermiled for some distance before we got into it to give us that starting point. Or the EPA's numbers are a bit
One other interesting and timely interview I was offered at this year's Detroit North American International Auto Show was with Don Butler, Cadillac's enthusiastic marketing VP. Why so timely? Because it was right after Cadillac unveiled the production version of its soon-to-come (early 2014) ELR extended-range electric vehicle. Not only is this edgy two-door compact coupe even sexier-looking than Cadillac's slick CTS coupe, it's powered by a slightly upgraded version of the same Voltec series-h
I was fortunate to get one-on-one chats with two top GM technology leaders (John Lauckner and Larry Nitz) at this year's Detroit North American International Auto Show, but no other automaker offered that opportunity. However, while I was resting and enjoying lunch in Ford's media lounge, in walked Ford's newly-promoted chief operating officer (and likely successor to CEO Alan Mulally) Mark Fields.
Anyone who still doesn't believe that General Motors is serious about advanced technology in general, and vehicle electrification in particular, hasn't yet learned that post-bankruptcy GM is a very different company run by different people with a different set of priorities, most of which we would all applaud. One clear sign of this was the company's offering of a long list of key executives, including top technology leaders, for media interviews during January's Detroit Auto Show.