Mustang Parts
   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

False Messiah

Comment spammers keep posting links to videos on Youtube about Ahn Sahng-hong.  He was the leader of a Korean church splintered from the 7th Day Adventists, and his followers are apparently convinced he was the Messiah.  Bizarre.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ram: Selling With Euro Sex?

Sex sells.  Put an attractive and barely clad model in a car commercial and men's heads will swivel towards the candy.

The new Ram being advertised looks like a luxuried-up version, similar to the Ford F150 Platinum, with a nice interior and tasteful bling.  Fine.

What confuses me about the new Ram ad on Youtube, "The Dark Side of Ram", is that it has a sort of Euro supermodel / James Bond feel to it.

But isn't Ram a domestic, "all American" sort of blue collar brand?  I don't get the marketing here.

I wonder what DeLorenzo has to say?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Newt's A Tool

From the Detroit News:

"You can't put a gun rack in a Volt," Gingrich said in a line that drew cheers at a speech in Georgia this weekend, and is now appearing in his stump speech. "We believe in the right to bear arms and we like to bear the arms in our trucks."

Seriously, Newt, stop the pandering.  You're a wealthy former history professor and politician, not the kind of guy who drives a truck with a gun rack.  When was the last time you went game hunting?

No one puts a gun rack in a sedan.  And if you want to safely carry a pistol, there's plenty of room in a Volt or any other car for one of these locking pistol vaults

Stop promising moon bases.  You're done.  Go back home and spend some time with wife #3.

Gun Rack In A Volt

Open letter to Newt: "You can put a gun rack in a Chevrolet Volt!".  LOL.


Friday, February 17, 2012

NAIAS Detroit Auto Show 2012: BMW

This is the lovely BMW I8 concept. It is definitely a sharp looking design, much more so than the current crop of BMWs.


Find more information about BMW Canada

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

JD Power 3YIS Survey Observations

The latest J.D. Power 3-year dependability survey is out.  I have colored the excellent Detroit News chart to show which brands improved and which ones got worse.  A few observations.

The industry average got significantly better, by 19 problems/100 vehicles.  

Luxury brands Lincoln, Acura, infinity, and Jaguar bucked the trend and fell in their ranking.  Jaguar's 3yis number went up by a whopping 60 problems/100 vehicles.  I'm guessing it is due to software/electronic problems.

Toyota made a good improvement, and it's young Scion brand made huge gains, 55 defects.

Hyundai improved (not suprising) but Kia fell (odd, since they are closely related).

GM, and particularly Cadillac, made big improvements.  Oddly, GMC is much worse than average.

Chrysler is now dead last, with its brands taking the bottom four slots.  Chrysler must to get their game up on quality (and I am sure that they know it) or they will not be able to compete.  

The Smugness of Tesla

I am watching the Telsa Model X presentation video (here).

At one point, when Elon Musk argues that electric vehicles produce less CO2 than gasoline vehicles, even when power is generated from fossil fuels, he puts up a map of west Virginia (heavly coal user), which he calls "worst case situation', with comic pauses.  The audience laughs.  Then comes a map of Vermont, which generates its power from hydroelectric, nuclear, and other cleaner alternatives.  Applause. 

If I was Elon Musk, I would be a little more humble.  The people of West Virginia help to subsidize a $500 million loan to Tesla, to build a plant in Calfornia.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

NHTSA's Coming Backup Camera Mandate?

According to Automotive News, the NHTSA is going to announce a backup camera mandate to try to reduce injuries from drivers backing over pedestrians.  

I am not in favor of this mandate, because it will hurt vehicle affordability by increasing prices.  Expect the systems to add around $200/vehicle in cost.  

I think it would be better to allow automakers to install an ultrasonic system, which would give an audible and text warning, as a way to offer the benefit in a low cost package.

There would be a side benefit.  All new cars would come with LCD screens, which should allow for higher end infotainment displays on low end models.

Review: Thermos Stainless King

I have finally found the ultimate travel coffee tumbler.  I'm throwing the rest away, this is it:

The Thermos Travel King.  It is a double walled stainless tumbler.  In use, it has kept my coffee and tea hot for hours, without ever warming up to the touch on the outside at all.  It has a simple but effective silicone gasket system, which switches from free flowing to tightly sealed with the flip of a lever.  It even has a neat little hook inside the lid to hang a tea bag without trailing the string out and ruining the seal.

These are not cheap, but they seem to be built to last.  Worth every dollar.

  • Keeps hot stuff hot a long time
  • Seals tightly
  • Tea bag hook
  • Disassembles for easy cleaning
  • Not cheap
  • Made in China
  • Some users report paint flaking off with use (but I would not care myself)
*I received no compensation for this review, I am just a happy customer.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sony Dash: Full of FAIL

I was really excited to get my hands on a new Sony Dash for $70 from  I knew that the Dash, based on the Chumby, was not a super-fast device, sporting a middling resolution screen, a resistivle touch panel, and a wimpy 800MHz Marvel processor.  My expectations were for a serviceable clock radio with the added bonus of Facebook and news updates.

But the Dash, well, dashed all hopes of even that.

The Dash, even after a firmware update, was unable to connect to Gmail using the Gmail checker app.  It was unable, despite numerous attempts at registration through the Facebook device screen, to connect to my Facebook account.

OK, I thought, so I can't have email or Facebook, at least I can have news and weather, and internet radio.

But there are many other annoyances.  Any interaction with the thing takes forever.  It doesn't have a light sensor, so to make it to go night mode you have to either program a timer action, or manually hit the night mode button.

Then the dealbreaker.  Sony didn't think to have the device save its settings in non-volatile memory.  As a result, if you have a power glitch or brownout, the Dash wakes up and then sits there stupidly asking you to choose your wireless network, rather than automatically reconnect.

Which means that on some days, you may wake up late in the morning, wondering why your alarm never went off, to find your high-tech clock radio sitting there with a boot screen.

So it isn't really useful as a social networking device, it isn't really reliable as a clock radio.

Back to Walmart it goes.

Now, the Archos 35 Home looks promising...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Tesla Model X Falcon Doors

Telsa has unveiled their Model X crossover vehicle, which looks something like an enlarged Honda Crosstour or BMW X6. It is a beautiful design, overall, with elegant proportions. The most striking feature of the design are the "falcon wing" doors, which are like gullwing doors with a hinge, so they move more upward than outward as they swing open.

There are good reasons why mainstream auto makers stick with traditional swinging or sliding doors for their designs.

Upward opening doors are:
  • Harder to seal reliably (more gasket area, different closing forces)
  • Harder for passengers to open and close manually 
  • Slow to open and close if they are electric, or in an emergency
  • If the vehicle rolls over, the doors are difficult to open
  • More work in terms of crash engineering

And, this design would preven a customer from mounting a roof rack for skis or bicycles.

Tesla could have simply designed a nice set of sliding doors, but it is clear they want to be different. I think the electric powertrain and Silicon Valley pedigree of the vehicle makes it different enough.

They also have a significant risk in terms of market demand for this type of vehicle--neither the BMW X6 nor the Honda Crosstour are selling very well.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Fisker Death Watch? Not yet, but...

Is Fisker on the way out?  Not yet, if I had to make a guess, I would say they have enough vehicles in the pipeline and enough private investors to last a while.  But cracks are showing.

Should the Department of Energy fund Fisker?  No, not unless Fisker can keep its side of the existing agreement.  The government should not re-negotiate with Fisker unless significant private backing is shown.

The Karma is a beautiful vehicle and appears to be an excellent piece of engineering.  It is also a toy for the wealthy, and a distraction.  Fisker isn't doing basic battery research, unlike the established OEMs, who have in-house science labs working on problems such as battery chemistry, thermal management, and safety. 

As lovely as the Karma is, it was a potential waste of taxpayer money to fund it. 

Department of Energy funds should be going to companies doing basic R&D on batteries, and to established OEMs who already know how to build a good car, and can target more affordable implementations.  Ford and GM, for examle, can take $500,000,000 pretty far because of their existing R&D infrastructure.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

NAIAS Detroit Auto Show 2012: Part 6, Honda

The most interesting stuff at the Honda stand was the Accord coupe concept and some new Acura designs. But except for the heart-racing NSX, Honda really didn't speak much to me this time through.

DSC03106 v
The Fit EV was lonely in its little protected alcove, and relatively unloved.  It looks mostly like a Fit with some aero tweaks.



The Honda Accord coupe concept was, to be honest, a snooze.  There was some odd bling surrounding the  foglamps/faux "brake cooling vents", or whatever the big plastic grates were supposed to evoke.  But overall, the design seemed busy, a bit disjointed.


The Acura NSX, on the other hand, was lovely.  The front end reminded me of Mazda's recent design language.  Will it look this good when they build it?


Tucked away in a corner was the Acura ILX design concept.  A styling buck, this car was a glossy shell only.  No one seemed to be paying much attention to it.  It is definitely understated, but it does have a more interesting front end design than the current huge-chrome-shield look of Acura.

Honda, wake up.  Unleash the designers, and make some sculpture.  Make cars that are exciting to look at.

NAIAS Detroit Auto Show 2013: Part 5, Chrysler, Fiat, Maserati

Chrysler's more interesting displays at the 2012 NAIAS included their new Dodge Dart in cutaway view, a design concept for a minivan, and a new Maserati SUV concept.  I also coudn't help but notice that Chrysler/Fiat was the most aggressive in flaunting their female auto show presenters physical assets.



Some views of the Chrysler 700 concept.  The design was much too swoopy for a practical minivan, in my opinion.  The strong diagonal line applied to the B pillar area looks like it would cause very poor visibility.

The 700 product specialist was, I think, too glamorous for the vehicle.


The Maseati Kubang, an SUV which will share the Jeep Grand Cherokee/Dodge Durango platform, but not their styling.



Some views of the new Dodge Dart.  While it is a huge improvement over the clunky looking and unrefined Caliber, I don't think the Dart is as good looking as the new offerings from Ford and Chevy.  It is rounded and organic, which reminds me a bit of the old Dodge Neon.

The interior looked pretty good, if you don't mind some of the same rounded organic themes.

Underneath the Dart, a clear shot of one of the aero tricks that we will see on many new vehicles going foward: a plastic shield which helps flow air around the underside of the car.


This young lady got a lot of attention, more for her outfit I think than for the 500 Abarth she was promoting.

NAIAS Detroit Auto Show 2012: Part 4, CUE, Uconnect Take On Sync

Ford got everyone's attention when they rolled out their much loved (and much hated) infotainment system, Sync.  Now, GM and Chrysler are taking on MyFord Touch with their own touchscreen user interfaces.  I got a quick tour of the Cadillac CUE system and Dode Uconnect.

Product specialist Rosemary gave me an interactive tour of Cadillac's upcoming CUE system. It was responsive, with quick reactions to user requests. It has a nice haptic feedback feature, where the screen taps back at you when you touch a selection. This is very useful, because it helps you know that you actually touched something. CUE is also highly customizable. The user can pick his favorite buttons and drag them to the shortcut row, at the top of the screen. You can also choose a number of different display formats for the instrument cluster, which is one huge LCD screen. When you aren't interacting with it, the shortcut bar and bottom bar of icons fade away. If you reach your hand towards the screen, the extra information fades in again, offering the user an uncluttered view most of the time.

Cadillac's CUE system.

Rosemary shows me how the custom IP displays work

The sport setting shows a tachometer to the left, and on the right you can have a minature navigation view in the center of the speedometer.

Another custom view for the IP, this one just shows a large digital speedometer in the middle, with entertainment and navigation items.

 At the Dodge Dart display, I had a chance to play with Chrysler's Uconnect system. Similar to GM, it was responsive and fairly simple to use, but it didn't seem to have as many customization options as CUE. It also didn't have the haptic feedback feature.

Uconnect has a small square central LCD screen on the IP.

Uconnect has a few large icons arranged at the bottom of the screen.

Both Uconnect and CUE are going to give MyFord Touch/Sync strong competition, unless Ford steps up their game.  Ford says that a new and much improved version of MyFord Touch will appear early this year, with better latency, fewer bugs and an easier to read layout.  I hope that this is as promised, because GM and Chrysler are learning from Ford's mistakes.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

2012 NAIAS Detroit Auto Show: Part 3, Coda

Coda set up a booth at NAIAS, which was surprising to me.  See, Coda will only be for sale at first in California, and has an unknown timetable to sell in the rest of the country.  I asked one of the Coda reps why they were in Detroit, and they said simply to build awareness.

Coda, you have a lot of work to do. Your car does not look like it is worth $15,000, much less $40,000.

Coda's biggest problem, I think, is that their car looks like an old Toyota from about 2001.


Coda's second biggest problem is that this thing is put together about like a Chrysler from 2001, or worse. Look at the loose headliner fit. That's not me pulling on it, that's some guy who got into the front seat after I got into the back, and said, "hey, check this out!".

The interior can charitably be called functional. Hard plastics, wide gaps, and cheap feel abound.

The "high-tech" PRNDL knob. It feels about as cheesy as it looks.

The powertrain cutaway was interesting. Here is where most of the $40,000 is: in the wide, flat battery pack slung under the body.

The face of Coda. Notice the huge gap between the hood and the headlight/fascia. It screams "cheap".

I have no idea how Coda is going to make it.  With elegant and refined electric cars in the market such as the Leaf and Focus, as well as the half-gas Volt, Coda looks very weak.  They claim to have a 150 mile range, which would be world class.   But who will spend $40,000 on an ugly car, made mostly in China, with an unproven record and a minuscule dealer network?

2012 NAIAS Detroit Auto Show: Part 2, Tesla

First up, we visit Tesla.  Tesla's display was quite busy.  There was one car, the Model S, and some cut-away parts to look at.

Model S front suspension. Notice the extruded aluminum tubes and cast aluminum suspension arms. This is not a cheap high volume chassis.

Rear suspension and powertrain.

Charging port nicely hidden in rear tail lamp assembly.

Interior with huge LCD and touch screens. I wonder if they are protected against daylight glare?

Sadly, the car was too mobbed at the moment for me to get a clear picture of it. Here is someone elses.
Tesla Model S

2012 NAIAS Detroit Auto Show, Part 1

I went to the auto show.  I took a lot of photos. It has taken me a while to get to them.    Better late than never?



One of the more interesting design models at the Michelin design challenge display.

Michelin sponsored city of the future display, with 3 concept cars that weren't drawing much attention.

Coming soon, much much more...