Mustang Parts
   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wheego, Where Did It Go?

Remember Wheego?  The BEV company selling a Chinese sourced ripoff of the Smart, upfitted with electric powertrain?

In this telling article, we learn that they have only sold "a few dozen" cars.  And, better yet, new sales are on hold because they need a waiver to sell highway vehicles in 2012 that don't have stability control.  Apparently, Wheego didn't have budget to develop stability control the first time out.

My only interaction with Wheego was sitting in a Whip demo car at a local ex-Chrysler dealer, which has since gone defunct.  The ex-Chrysler dealer struggled mightily to sell Wheegos, but couldn't move a single one.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tesla Model S Regen Strategy

Early reviews of the Model S have been published, after Tesla allowed some journalists a short guided test drive of the vehicle.  Here is one:

What is interesting to me here is the "one pedal driving" comment. What Tesla apparently has done is tuned a very aggressive off-throttle regen.  In the gas side of the biz, you would say that they used very little "dashpot", in other words, allowing the throttle plate to close quickly.  In this case, of course, you get electric regen braking, not engine vacuum based braking.

This is interesting because many efficiency gurus actually prefer a lot of dashpot--this allows for an efficient "pulse and glide" driving style, while saving heavy regen for actual braking events.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Songs Of My Youth

I'm sitting here working on some stuff, and listening to "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" by Iron Maiden.  I can't believe this came out in 1988... it is so tight and so progressive, it's still amazing music.  You have never heard it, you must check it out.

Here's the best song, IMHO:  "Infinite Dreams".

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mini Review: Volt Vs Focus EV

At a supplier demo event recently, I was given the chance to test drive, back to back, a Chevrolet Volt and a Ford Focus EV.

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

I was amazed at how obviously different the two vehicles were in driving character, and  particularly, in their sounds.

The Volt, from the driver's seat, was a little cramped, I found my head a bit close to the headliner at the sides, and had to lower my seat a bit more than I would like.  The center stack was a mess of graphical buttons, which were not fast to learn, though I am sure with time you would get used to it.  The interior finish was a mix of shiny hard plastic and crinkly hard plastic, for the most part.  I wasn't really a fan of the high-gloss finish on much of the plastic.
The driving experience of the Volt was pleasant, with lots of torque from standstill and good acceleration through about 50mph, which was as fast as I had a chance to take it.  The car felt fairly heavy, but body movement was smooth and controlled. 

The regenerative brakes didn't fell bad, they had a bit of a grabby feel until you got used to them.

The rear passenger space on the Volt isn't good for adults.  I was banging my head on the headliner near the windscreen, and the seating position was not pleasant.  I would not want to be a rear passenger for more than a short trip in the Volt.

I thought the IP graphics were nice, but I was annoyed at the animated green ball that GM is using to indicate regen.   It is constantly animated, rotating in place or shrinking/growing, and I found it distracting. 

Next I had a chance to sample the Focus EV.

The Focus EV had a much sportier character, handling wise, than the Volt.  It also had a much more conventional interior, basically the same as the gasoline Focus in high-end trim.  The switchgear was normal and easy to use, and the LCD IP had more traditional style bar graph/pie chart type graphics. 

The Focus also had lots of lower speed torque, and accelerated easily to 50mph without trouble.  The regen braking was smooth and wasn't obtrusive, to me.  I thought the pedal feel was more linear than the Volt.

I didn't have a chance to ride in the rear seat of the Focus, but I heard that the battery package does compromise the leg room and cargo floor.

The big difference between the two vehicles, other than the interior, was the overall sound in the cabin.  The Volt was much boomier than the Focus, letting in more low to mid frequency road noise, combined with noticeable whine during regen braking.  There was also a quiet, high frequency sound when accelerating, almost a whistle.  The Focus also had some electric whine during acceleration and braking, but it was noticeably quieter than the Volt.  Comparing either vehicle to a gasoline car of the same class is eye opening--these vehicles are shockingly quiet in electric propulsion mode.  I would even say the quietness is a major reason to buy an electric vehicle.

Neither vehicle would really work for me as they stand.  For about the same price, I would like a Focus EV with a gasoline range extender, though this beast would not have room for the extra equipment.   The Volt is a great car, if you are willing to overlook seating utility and funky controls in exchange for a range extending gasoline engine.  The Focus EV is a fantastic car, if you can live with the restrictions on range (76mi EPA estimate). 

If I had to pick one for my $40,000 before credits, I would take the Focus EV as a better place to sit as driver.  It is really neat to drive, as long as your range holds out.

Volt Pluses:

  • Unobtrusive gasoline range extender
  • Decent handling
  • Good acceleration
  • Snazzy graphics on IP

Volt Minuses:

  • Glossy or crinkly hard plastic interior
  • Animated graphics annoying
  • Road noise and braking whine
  • Cramped rear seats
  • MSRP

Focus EV Pluses:

  • Gasoline Focus interior
  • Gasoline Focus chassis
  • Very quiet

Focus EV Minuses:

  • 76mile range
  • Rear seat leg room
  • Compromised cargo space
  • MSRP

Friday, June 08, 2012


Sad news.  Tom and Ray Magliozzi (aka Click and Clack, the Tappet Bros) are hanging it up after 25 years on the radio.

At least there are many years worth of back shows to listen to via streaming.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Scam Marches On

Amazingly, my #1 most popular post is still the eBay Motors/Western Union scam.  And, sadly, people are still falling for it!

Here is an email I just received from Kathy.

I believe we have fallen for one of the scams you describe on your blog.  Is there any recourse we may try to get our money back?

Feeling sick,
My response:

Hi Kathy,

If you sent the scammer money using Western Union/Moneygram, and they picked it up, then I am afraid you are basically screwed.   You can file a report, however, you are unlikely to see a penny back.  If they did not yet pick the money up, call WU right away and see if they can cancel the money order.

Take this as a very expensive, harsh lesson: never buy ANYTHING using non-reversible payments (e.g. Western Union money transfers).



We made the call to Western Union etc and the money was picked up.  We are filing a report with the FBI and State Attorney General in case we have a chance of getting anything back.  Painful lesson for our 21 year old son!  Thank you for your response.


The sad truth is, Kathy's son is basically out of whatever money he sent, probably several thousand dollars.  The FBI is unlikely to recover a penny.

Remember some ironclad rules of internet commerce:

  • If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is
  • NEVER pay ANYONE using non-traceable money transfers such as Western Union or Moneygram
  • NEVER buy goods from ANYONE on Craigslist who isn't local to you. 

Friday, June 01, 2012

Ford May Sales Thoughts

Ford released its sales figures for May today (here).  I took a quick look, and two things really jumped out at me.
First, the redesigned Explorer is doing well, much better than the old truck-based model.  The new Explorer is running around 160,000 units annually, while the old Explorer was around 50,000.
Second, Lincoln is in BIG trouble.  In a rising tide of sales, Lincoln is down 2%, mostly due to the aging of the MKZ.  May saw only 7,274 Lincolns sold.  I suppose a new MKZ will help that, but still, Mustang outsold the entire Lincoln brand in May!
Ford needs to fix Lincoln, quick, or its dealers will starve to death.