Mustang Parts
   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

CARB Hubris

In classical literature, a character that show the flaw of hubris, extreme arrogance, often winds up being toppled.

California's Air Resource Board (CARB) has been showing hubris for years, as they have been pushing a zero emissions vehicle mandate.   They were chastened several times, when their mandates were simply impossible to achieve, and they had to back off on electric car requirements.

In a recent interview published in the Detroit News, ARB chairwoman Mary Nichols stated that

By 2016 or 2017 — when tough requirements kick in — Nichols said: "By then everyone will be buying them."

Everyone? Really?

To date, electric cars have not exactly caught on, even in California.   The best selling all-electric car, the Nissan Leaf, only managed to sell about 6,000 units in California in 2012.  That's out of a market of about 1.5 million new cars!  But ARB expects that in just 3 or 4 model years (one design cycle!) electric cars will be a mainstream product in California. 

How is this going to happen?  Batteries might get a bit cheaper, but no one thinks that we are going to get close to gasoline parity by 2016, that I have heard of. 

Until electric cars are close enough in convenience and purchase price to gasoline cars, or until gasoline becomes much more expensive, electric cars are not going to be a common purchase, and I expect that CARB is going to have to eat crow, again.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I ♥ Leatherman

I have an addiction.  I can't stop buying Leatherman tools.

Somewhere, I have an original Leatherman PST, which came with a leather case with an brass snap button.  
Then, every few years, when they came out with a new better tool, I had to have it.  I now have about 6 of them stashed away in different places.  One in my car, one at work in my drawer, another in my laptop bag.  

My newest addition was a clearance priced ($20!!!) set from Home Depot: a Wingman and Style combo set.  The Wingman has a liner-lock knife, spring action pliers, and a very nice feeling handle, but does skimp on scissors (no return spring).  The Style does have spring return scissors, and fits very nicely in a pants pocket or on a keychain.

There are some great things about Leatherman, the company.   They stubbornly keep making their tools in the U.S.A, in their Oregon plant.  If you break one, they'll fix it or replace it no questions asked.  I once got a new tool, for free, even though the reason for the breakage was that I had used the pliers to cut a piece of wire which was too hard, and damaged the pliers joint.  Meanwhile, companies like Gerber have moved their production to China.  Leatherman also makes a series of military specific tools, for uses such as weapon maintenance.

My only significant beef with Leatherman is that the owner of the company is known for supporting left-wing politicians, and some of the attendant causes such as gun control and environmentalism.  However, I'm willing to overlook his politics based on having a good product, good service, and American manufacturing.

*Note: this is not a sponsored post, I really do like Leatherman.   No consideration was given for this posting.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Zlaty Meyer at NAIAIS

A local journalist, who has a pretty good sense of humor, did a video dispatch from the North America International Auto Show in Detroit. It's worth watching.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Steel vs Brass Ammo

Shooting is a hobby of mine.  I own several firearms, and though I don't get out as often as I like, I try to stay proficient.

Gun blog has published an amazing and technically complete analysis of what happens when you shoot your AR-15 rifle with cheap Russian steel-case ammo for 10,000 rounds.  

The amazing conclusion: even though you will need a new barrel after around 6,000 rounds, it is still cheaper to run the steel case stuff.

You can read the whole thing here.  

Friday, January 04, 2013

Elio Motors: Another Zap or Aptera?

A startup named Elio Motors (website) has announced plans to buy GM's closed Shreveport LA plant, with intent to produce their 3 wheeled vehicle.  The Elio prototype is a 2-seater enclosed tricycle with fairly anonymous styling, with two wheels up front and one in back.  A very aggressive price of $6800 has been announced.

I am skeptical of Elio's ability to sell these in any volume.   The trike has some major limitations  including practicality, possibly compromised snow handling, and virtually no crash requirements.   Vehicles like the Elio, and the Zap and Aptera designs are legally considered motorcycles as far as the Feds are concerned, which means that in many states (example: Ohio), drivers may have to get motorcycle certifications and even wear a helmet, until laws are updated.  Unlike passenger cars, the Elio will not be required to have stability control.

I am also skeptical that they can produce a quality, safe, and refined vehicle for only $6800.  Many high-volume motorcycles are priced in this range, which lack the additional equipment (airbags, etc.) that Elio is promising.  A better comparison would be a very small car, such as the Tata Nano.  A European spec Nano was speculated (if it ever arrived) to cost $6,000-$8000.  The cheapest U.S. legal cars I am aware of are the Nissan Versa and Chevrolet Spark, both of which can be purchased for around $12,000.  

At best, I see Elio selling a few thousand cars to people who want an enclosed motorcycle, or like driving something very different.  

Thursday, January 03, 2013

IIHS Top Safey Picks for 2013 (so far)

IIHS has published their list of "TSPs" (Top Safety Pick) for 2013 models.  I am pleased to see that the "Home team" (Ford, GM, Chrysler) are well represented.
Link: IIHS