Archive for the '' Category

My views on Cybertruck.

Wednesday, November 1st, 2023

On the 28th of October, after years of steering clear of him at events for fear he’d recognize how critical I’v been of his work, I had a short dialogue with FVH, Tesla’s design head.

It wasn’t the first time I’d seen the truck, but it was the first time I’d discussed it with him, and heard him do a personal walk around and Q&A.

It confirmed a few things.

1) I offered that the Cybertruck reminded me most of the troop transport from Aliens, especially the wheel covers and tire sidewalls and windshield rake. He laughed and smiled as he agreed.

2) I was reminded most of the Countach the first time I saw the Cybertruck, and it was on the 28th that I learned that FVH owns one and is a fan. How much of a fan? I witnessed him run up to a Countach excitedly to connect with the owner as it was about to drive away.

3) Stainless steel makes it impossible to do many things, and leads to some awkward areas on the vehicle. It also required the form get its character in ways different than if working with steel or aluminum. Hence the Roblox or Minecraft 8 bit aesthetic.

4) I watched as the designer of the Ferrari Enzo express his respect for what FVH had pulled off and brought to ‘reality’ and ‘production.’ Some might say a dystopian reality, and a production hell to come, but nevertheless…

Now before I start with the praise, know that there is a lot I dislike on principle, aesthetically, and in terms of decisions made. Dislike strongly if not vehemently. But at least it’s not another Model Y like bland drone, and imagine the edginess of design it could signal. (Expect being a pedestrian to get more dangerous in the coming years.)

What appeals to me about the Cybertruck is what appeals to me about Coupe SUVs, or a number of concept cars over the years that never got built: heightened ground clearance, far higher than you’d expect aptitude in how it goes down the road and moves you emotionally.

There’s some appeal to keeping battery sizes smaller than they’re known for, and letting one add more if and when needed. We will see if this catches on with consumers as some of us have been foretelling for years if not decades.

It reminds me of the Model S in that it attempts to leapfrog the competition and introduce a new concept as a category. It reminds me of Highland in that it seems a sign that Tesla is willing to engineer, not just software engineer, again to catch up to the competition that has passed them by while they rested on their laurels. Also see the 800V architecture, a la VAG and Lucid (technically 926 or so.)

Note I said car. It’s hard to see it as a truck. But it has enough ride height and utility and towing capability for what most need. As does a Ridgeline. This is really Tesla’s Ridgeline TypeR.

Another thing I respect: after my mocking them for the yoke and saying using it or a square wheel in a car was a joke unless the steering was active or by wire, they went and did the work I’d said Toyota and Infiniti had done. So they deserve credit here. Canoo did it first, but it remains to be seen who will hit the roads first.

This car is like the Falcon doors on a Model X, in both the best and the worst ways. Appeals to children and kid in us all, like it or not.

Part Delorean from Back to the Future, Part KITT, part Sci Fi assault vehicle, the Cybertruck goes after the hearts of those who gobbled up TRON Legacy, Super 8, or even the IONIQ5. Those that pined, like FVH, for the Countach, and grew up watching the same movies and Sci Fi.

In a way Elon represents the overgrown manchild in us all, and that’s who he is appealing to: the bit of him in us all.

I’m curious to drive it. Even if I’d hate to be seen in it, associated with it, or have to look at it inside or out.

But I hope it signals what the i3 once did: the opportunity for Electrification to free us from old form factors and the ability to experiment with new ones. We need more concepts to make it to production, and fewer cars that are just variations on decade old themes.

I don’t have to love the Cybertruck, but after I get the chance to drive one I’ll know whether I continue to respect it, ridiculousness and immaturity and all.

The W206 AMG C43 | Net: neutral.

Tuesday, July 4th, 2023

My friend Andrew and I like to talk about and debate cars. And until now, I have yet to learn about or drive something he has purchased that I yearned to drive again. That changed today, when he showed up with his W206 C43 with 1800 miles on it.

I approached the car with skepticism. Perhaps an unhealthy dose of the stuff. I’d avoided reading reviews, as I generally do. Or looking too closely at the specs. As I’ve written before, as much as I adore 6 cylinder cars in general and 8 cylinder AMG cars in concept, I liked the idea of a new generation of Mercedes Benzes that were light nosed rather than nose led.

But when Andrew pulled up, I was reminded that he is far more concerned with how a car looks than I am. He walked me through every last detail of the W206, the changes made for C43, and each option he had chosen. While I find the W206 an attractive thing on the road, and it’s snatched my eye each time one passes on the road, I appreciated the understated approach they’ve taken with the C43, and Andrew did with his choices. It has just enough presence to look serious, but not so much that it draws the wrong kind of attention or sends the wrong type of message. From it’s evocative grille to its buzzing tailpipes it’s brimming with promise, and energy.

Yes, I said buzzing. There’s a base but unmistakably 4 cylinder tone from out back. But it manages to sound unlike the run of the mill mills you see milling about. It sounds different and somehow special. So I contained my excitement to get to the driving and we popped the hood to trace the exhaust back up to the source.

Doing so you’re greeted by the most serious heat shielding I’ve ever seen applied to a production car. It’s applied one tot he passenger side of the hood, and directly below I you see why: the turbo and cat sit snugged up to the head as intimately as your dentist during a checkup. Not since I popped the hood on a McLaren F1 had I had the sense of some seriously motorsport level thinking. Andrew confirmed that I was looking at something closely related to Mercedes AMG’s F1 efforts, and it certainly looks it.

Thankfully, Andrew was ready to drive. I immediately noticed his driving style had changed since seeing him a few months ago. He’s always been what I consider a cautious driver, only comfortable with applying throttle in a straight line, but he wore the car like an exoskeleton, driving at a pace and consistency that impressed me. I could tell the car boosted his confidence as much as the turbo boosted the motor.

From the passenger seat my first impression was that there was a lot of grip, balance, and agility on offer. The car is eager to bend into a corner, cling tightly to any line you choose, sticks and moves like a younger prize fighter. The seats embrace you closely, the body moves like a bigger car. This disconnect between the ride motions and the cornering agility was the biggest takeaway from the passenger seat. That and the immediacy of response from the motor, regardless of how many revs were on the clock.

As a passenger, I was able to admire the materials, the visibility, and the general layout of the controls. It’s the kind of car that applies all the latest tech, yet feels like a descendant of the W124s I grew up on. As someone who hates screens in modern cars, I have to say MB does it better than most anyone else.

Before I knew it we’d torn up the stretch of road Andrew was usually cautious to squeamish on. He pulled over to admire the exterior once more, and offered me the driver’s seat, graciously but not ceremoniously. This is our pattern. Our tradition. This is what we do when we meet.

Pulling away, I immediately felt out of sorts with the car as a whole, Comfort mode had steering that was overly light for the rack’s and contact patch’s nonlinear response, and the throttle was strangely jerky jerky. I immediately went for individual mode, to dial the car in to the way I wanted it to feel. Backing the Powertrain down to “Reduced” dialed back the twitchy throttle and gave the transmission less to be shocked about. Setting the dampers to sport quashed the unsettled and asynchronously syncopated bobbing from the front and rear axle, and moving the Dynamics setting from Basic to Intermediate or Pro gave the steering and whatever else it was controlling a more organic and integrated feel. I wonder how many more of these things they’d sell. if they started up in Sport mode. Speaking of starting up, pulling back on the upshift paddle while doing so engages what MB calls Emotion Start, if that’s what you’re into.

The exhaust to my ears sounded more refined with the baffles closed. With them open it’s like attaching a sub to your sound bar. But no matter what the mode the engine revs smoothly and keenly, going from torque rich grunter to spin class instructor in a blink, but never breaking a sweat. The man who bolted Andrew’s together did a magnificent job. And I say this as someone who tends to loathe 4 cylinder turbos.

The biggest surprise: the brakes. Firm and tireless underfoot, which is a good thing in a car with 400 horsepower and no bridle on them when you lift your foot. Engine braking is largely absent, so it’s good the brakes are there with near Porsche consistency and solidity, if a bit less in the way of feel. A far cry from the springy pedals in many Benzes of yore.

The steering is not as fulsome and linear as something Porsche might do, but with the dampers cranked up the car moves as a Porsche might and a Taycan cannot. I drove Andrew’s previous car, a Taycan, through the exact same stretch of road and it left me unmoved, detached, and frustrated by comparison.

For decades, enthusiasts turned to spec sheets and their personal frames of preference and reference to decide if a car was going to be good or bad, worthy of existence or purchase. This car is proof of why that’s never a good idea, but is especially foolish as cars become less analog and less analogous to what’s come before. This thing covers ground quickly, comfortably, competently, and enjoyably. It’s not the soulless and synthetic car I was expecting, but rather one tuned very carefully, to turn very eagerly, and flatter and entertain endlessly. It’s a mature man’s car, and a visionary look forward. If you’re entrenched in tradition and tropes, it’s not your car. If you’re confident enough to give one a try though, it may surprise you.

Andrew had sagely pointed out that the badge on the fender flanks say TURBO ELECTRIFIED. While this is likely to play up the mild hybrid system, or the electrically assisted turbocharger, or just make it look more like an EV than it really is, he’s right. It sums up the car, and the experience, aptly. It’s turbocharged, which means there’s far more power than you’d expect from a 2.0L, but also that electrification gives some off idle torque that feels like an EV, while additional electrification gets the turbo blowing hard and big lunged with immediacy but without the binary response of a light pressure setup. Luckily there’s also electrification of the cooling system after shutdown to keep that big F1 derived turbo from evaporating the heat shield, the hood, and any nearby trees. And that electrified rear axle is a constant companion shrinking or lengthening the wheelbase just so. The car feels like a poster child for what 48V electrification will offer the automobile in the coming decades. and is a brilliant example of how much life is left in internal combustion, even if emissions regulations are going to make higher cylinder counts hard to come by.

As my time with it wound down, may mind wound back its clock to the C36, the W204 C63, and the W205 C63. It feels like a car that is a follow up to those, rather than the rather awful badge job that was the last C43, which was really a C400 with a spring and damper change and some badging. That I was reminded of those pukka AMGs says a lot about the car. That I’d have one of these over all of those but possibly the W204 C63 says a lot too. It made me want to try the new C63 to determine if it too is better driven than debated based on numbers. Andrew asked aloud if the C43 is a C63 sans the needless weight and complexity, and I can’t wait to find out for myself.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to head to a configurator to see how I’d option one myself.

Right sized with build quality and materials a class above the competition.
Intoxicating and addictive response on corner entry that never feels nervous or on edge thanks to the rear wheel steering.
Confidence inspiring grip and neutrality make this a textbook car to carve up a unfamiliar road with.
MBUX shows how digital and physical interfaces can be executed comprehensively and intuitively.
Smooth, punchy responses from the combination of internal combustion, turbocharging, and response boosting electric assists.

The transmission occasionally flubs downshifts on the overrun, or bobbles as the car is approaching a stop. The automatic programming isn’t best in class, and the transmission isn’t one you enjoy paddle shifting manually.
On the optional 20” wheels, the ride is fidgety in sport to the point I didn’t once reach for sport +. Bu tin comfort the front and rear axles fight for composure after bumps, especially
Steering weight and response is a step behind the pace of the rest of the chassis.

Mercedes leads the way again, making BMW, Audi and the rest look short sighted and a generation or two behind. (Its so nice to see AMG embarrassing BMW on effort and execution, from cabin to chassis.) Don’t sleep on this sleeper.

You feel now as we felt then.

Thursday, September 29th, 2022

Amidst all the hubbub over XM you’d think no one had paid a lick of attention to the crash course and unabashed curse BMW has binged on for two decades.

It’s an affront to BMW! To my eyes! To good taste and sense and aesthetics! To UDM! To design itself.

Twenty years ago E65 was the same punch in the chest. The same disillusionment, and dismay. To that this adds SUV, which we’ve had 5 more years to accept they’re capable of doing well, and the defecation upon M, which they’ve done repeatedly since before Y2K.

Then they had Range Rover to take the high road to China. Now the X7 isn’t skyscraper enough. The iX too restrained. And the X5 and X6 and X3 and X4 Ms too constrained and contained.

So we get this second coming of sheet metal bent around components it seemingly reluctantly and then resignedly fails to contain. Another mule let out early, another sketch retrieved from the waste bin.

Both look like what MJ might create. Both refuse to be ignored, a la Fatal Attraction.

And that’s the beauty of it, even if beautiful is not what one can call it.

Where I couldn’t bring myself to look at the 7er then, and still cannot, this time I haven’t been able to look away. When I saw it in person some weeks ago, spent far longer walking around it in eccentric circles, my eyes and brain picking up on different strains and refrains the way you do at an art gallery. Something modern, pretentious, inscrutable, but somehow undeniably labored over. Even if you wish like hell it had been aborted.

Yet as E65 signaled what’s to come, so does this. If you can’t see why they did it, you haven’t been paying attention, nor are you the buyer paying for such an invention.

Like the X5 and the Cayenne, the DBX and the Macan, the Urus and the Purosangue, it will print money the way Elon fans somehow still believe their latent and perennially late Robotaxis will. And if we’re lucky those who line up to buy it will fund projects that are more our speed and cup of green tea.

Between this and E65, I’ll take this. 20 years on that tangled bungle still looks unfinished, whereas 20 from now I suspect this’ll appear they completed their homework early.

Histories of the Unexplained: The next C63S throws us a curve ball.

Friday, September 23rd, 2022

When we are young we learn that some animals are expected to sink or swim immediately after birth.

Others, like humans, are given more time to be set up for success and survival.

Cars tend to be more like the former.

I’ve been observing the industry for near 40 years and working in it for about 30.

And seemingly not a week goes by that a car isn’t released into the world without the proper support it needs from those who have one job: to bring it to market and market it.

In this series we will discuss cars that aren’t quite given what they need by their makers to succeed, and so are immediately lambasted by the public and the press.

Unexplained and therefore unappreciated.

Here we will attempt to right history.

The most recent example is the Mercedes Benz C63S revealed to the world yesterday, after months to years of forewarning that it would be powered by half the cylinders and would likely be some form of Hybrid (to achieve even higher outputs.)

The internet did not take well to the news, even if the news wasn’t exactly new.

Now don’t get me wrong; I was a huge fan of the huge V8 they shoehorned in the W204 C63. And I too did not take well to the news a generation ago that that V8 had been replaced by a one with a third of the capacity lopped off and two turbochargers plopped on.

But in usual fashion, Mercedes did the hard work, engineering the system well enough that the response and even the sound did a good impression of the former motor and made a good impression overall. Once I drove the W205 I was pleasantly surprised at how it felt consistent. And I think they’ll aim to achieve that best they can where they can, and aim for something compelling in exchange if they’re making a gamble such as this.

I’m no fan of the inline 4, but I think it helps to remember that the performance Benz didn’t start with the AMG Hammer, but rather the 190E 2.3 -16. This performance C class precursor was powered by an I4 not a I6 or V8. A high winding one. While that shifted to I6 and V8 as the cars got larger the precedent is there.

When it comes down to it, yes the next C63 will sound disappointing to those outside. But that may be a welcome relief, given how obnoxiously loud the last ones could get. In fact Mercedes was quick to point out the car can be started silently and move on EV alone if you’re leaving the house early. So while the car in the videos was meek, European models tend to have different exhaust components and tuning and noise pollution standards are a consideration. And we have yet to experience what the car will sound like to the driver and occupants, even if they sound ends up having to be enhanced artificially and again, electrically.

This is a hybrid. Which could be one to stick around for quite some time. If so, it could be a pattern for what the car is to become. And even if it doesn’t, that just means it could be one of the most singular cars ever done, whether you like how it goes about its business or not.

But it’s not a hybrid in the perjorative sense. This is how Corvette is going to do it. How Porsche is going to do it. How F1 has been doing it for years. That’s right; while they’re not using the KERS, that’s what this is looking more like, because kinetic energy recovery is a decidedly hybrid thing.

It’s also important to look not at just the weight but where the weight is carried. And not just the outputs but where they are deployed.

The trade off for not being able to hear the V8 is not having the mass of a V8 under the hood. As heavy as the next car is, it looks set to be better balanced, and have that mass shifted from where you don’t want it to where you do. On the rear wheels rather than the fronts. The current 5 series is an interesting steer in hybrid form for this reason. Perhaps more so even than the vaunted I6 cars. Because it has a slightly rear bias to its distribution of 51:49. (Update: the distribution on the C63S is an even more promising 48:52.)

Combine that with the immediacy of electric drive at the rear and an electric turbocharger feeding the 4 pot and things are looking good that it won’t exactly have slow reflexes or responses.

And then there’s the addition of the rear wheel steering. You can see how the car bends around corners already. And I’m sure the system will shrink the sense of size and mass.

In the end I think the car will be vindicated by those who take the time to drive it , even if it’s not likely to be validated by those who don’t.

It’s an entirely different approach than the one they’ve taken, and while it’s not on paper my cup of tea I applaud the bravery of throwing away the successful recipe and starting nearly from scratch. We doubted they could do an AMG worthy 4 cylinder and they did. Then we doubted they could do an AMG worthy A class and they did.

What’s more troubling to me than the C63S is that just as the W204 acknowledged a trend to the V8 up front, others may follow suit as tends to happen. Another thing that tends to happen: not all engineers approach the problem with the same attitude or budget.

Remember too that the C63 comes at a time when AMG has been engineering the One, a hybridized F1 motored hypercar. What they’ve been struggling with there and learning from their struggles has to have affected where they netted out here.

Let’s just hope that the final result is more compelling than the One and more compelling than the C43, which also has a 4 pot, 4 wheel steering, and 4 wheels driven. The C63 needs to punch hard with that rear motor to differentiate itself from the C43. It needs to show why AMG built it, and didn’t just apply the C63 label to a C43 with the power and magic applied more emphatically.

To wear the AMG badge, it needs to. And to be let out as an AMG after their recent string of hits I think there’s a good chance it will.

Mazda CX50: After trying so hard at high fi, Mazda takes the Bose approach.

Saturday, August 6th, 2022

You have to admire the chutzpah of Mazda. The tenacity. The daring.

Here’s a company that burned its hand on Amati, was bedded and abused by Ford, and has set its sights on achieving its dreams since it became single again.

If anything defines their upmarket aspirations and global thinking it’s the CX5. Refined, right sized, and a super happy fun ball on a mountain road.

But the CX5 requires time and patience to understand. It doesn’t shine on a test drive, doesn’t make a great elevator pitch on the showroom floor.

The rear seat is snug, the chassis requires you be comfortable with roll and weight transfer, and the car as a whole demands you prescribe to the less is more approach that is oh so Mazda from the MX5 on down – or is that up?

You see Mazda’s upmarket ambitions elsewhere in the line too. The CX30 and 3’s interior, for example. In the deft tuning of every control and switch. Unfortunately those ambitions have gone unnoticed and unappreciated as buyers click their tongues on snug rear seats and lower horsepower ratings.

The CX50 is a very different approach. Feels more like a step sibling. One raised in a different home. Rather than trying to be refined and polite and genteel like the CX5 or 3, or playful like a CX30 or MX5, the CX50 seems to want to be more like the best sellers to fleets and families.

You can see some hints of domestic in its design cues. And clearly the CX50 is laid out to be more competitive in the US: stretched for more stretch out room, widened for less roll in the corners.

What it is is a wagon, elevated, in the vein of the Subaru Outback, but before Subaru turned the Outback into the very thing it was meant to be an alternative to: a clumsy and caricatured beast of burden.

Problem is, the CX50 comes across as a bit of a caricature itself.

Rather than try to nuance its way into your heart, the CX50 gives America what it wants: flat cornering, turbo torque, elbow and leg room, and a tough and rugged appearance. You won’t find the interior materials you’ve come to expect from Mazda here, nor will you find the fluidity in the ride and handling. The CX50 has a chip on its shoulder, and desperate to shed its nice guy image.

It feels more like a Subaru in another way: like decisions were made by a focus group or in a PowerPoint deck. There’s less cohesion and integration than you find in the aforementioned Mazdas. The controls feel like they’ve been plucked from different cars rather than honed for the same one. The ridge wriggles and jiggles as though to remind you it’s a tough and macho SUV. But really, like that Outback is better as a Legacy, there’s a sense the CX50 will grow its sales for the same reasons it’s stunted as a product. By targeting the base desires of the journalist looking for front end grip or the shopper punching it out of the parking lot it ends up feeling like product Mazda committed to for America. Which is fine; it’s been too long since they bothered to think about what America really wants. The CX5 has been a runaway sales success despite its size, not because of it.

But me? I’m far more excited about the upcoming CX60 and CX70. While the CX30 and CX50 feel like stopgaps thrown together to appeal to market trend, signs are strong that the CX60 and CX70 will finally fulfill Mazda’s destiny to compete with the premium makes. And for space in garages that are tired of the premium makes resting on their laurels.

So when you’re shopping for a crossover, especially one from Mazda, or reading a review of the same, you’d do well to ask yourself: “Do I want hi-fi, or something that isn’t as accurate but gets the party dancing?”

The CX50 may not just feel right, but it’s probably right on target for what people want right now: a wagon that disguises its wagon- ness enough to be taken seriously, and more fashionably that any wagon would have been. We’ve been crying out for a Mazda 6 wagon, and like it or not the CX50 is as close as America deserves or is going to get.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll be over here listening to my high – fi, waiting a bit longer for the CX60 to arrive.

Getting out the ugly truth about Plug Ins

Monday, February 14th, 2022

My girlfriend, loyal soul that she is, attaches to people and things like I do.

That is to say, we both hold on to people and things that have been good to us, and try to be good to them in return.

In my case, it’s my bicycle. The same one I arrived at college with in 1993. Something it amuses my friend Sam to observe. He likes to point out that when we ran into each other 15 years after college, I was on that very bike, owned the very same car, and even had very same home audio setup, CD player and all.

In my girlfriend’s case, her friends are longstanding, and she’s been loyal to her first apartment, her first car. And her second iPod.

While I admire this trait in us both, and in others, and was reminding my friend Peter just today that he’s a rock because he too is loyal to people and his things, I think it’s a dangerous tendency to hold on to ‘this tendency to hold on’ in other areas of life.

To gasoline, for example.

Just as my girlfriend doesn’t use her phone to store her music, or even stream it, but carries around her trusty iPod to bring music into her life, when I suggest to people that they are the ideal candidates for an EV, they clutch and cling onto what they’ve known like they can’t imagine living in any other way.

A childhood friend, one of my oldest, is currently looking at cars. And seems quite intent on the notion of a plug in hybrid. “Hybrid” to the average consumer means “good for the environment.” And Plug In Hybrid can be driven more often on battery alone, making the action of plugging it in, and driving for the first 10, 20, even 30 miles on electricity alone feel like you’re a brave pioneer, venturing into the unknown, like those who have already been using an EV for two decades.

But here’s the ugly truth about the Plug In Hybrid. You’re not twice as friendly as your gas counterparts. And in fact in some ways, you’re only risking twice the harm to others.

You see, the hybrid is a curious mix of a gasoline vehicle and a battery pack. A plug in hybrid adds the plug, and perhaps a larger battery, so you can charge that battery not just as you slow down, but also with a wall outlet or charger where you park. The fundamental problem with this approach is you’re now cramming two different types of motor and fuel storage into one car. You’re consuming twice, under the same, familiar sheetmetal. And that makes them heavier, which makes them more cumbersome when it comes time to turn or to stop. Wears through tires and roads faster too.

It also means there’s less room for things like passengers and cargo, especially when compared to EVs, that can have much smaller motors and transmissions, and store their energy in their floors, not between their rear wheels as is almost always the case with a fossil fuel engined vehicle.
An EV can be incredibly space efficient in ways a gasoline or diesel powered vehicle never could. A plug in hybrid is no better than its gas counterpart in this regard. And is sometimes worse.

Wheras many feel a EV drives ‘better’, sometimes the hybrid or plug in hybrid drives worse. Particularly in something high riding, which is increasingly popular these days. (People think they’re safer up high, even though they aren’t.)

If you plan to sit up high, better reason to have the heaviest parts of the car stay down low as much as possible. So EVs make a whole lot of sense if you’re thinking “I’d like an SUV.” of any sort. (Two possible exceptions: BMWs and Subarus, that drop their engines’ centers of gravity lower than others.)

When your plug in hybrid runs out of juice those 10, 20, or even 30 miles from home, they’ll drive just as poorly if not worse than a hybrid. And while you wont hear a gasoline engine at work when the battery can move you, the car will still feel the effects of that extra weight bounding and swaying, which can feel both cumbersome and tiresome.

Hybrids and plug in Hybrids make more sense in cars. You know, sedans, or hatchbacks, or wagons. Especially small engined, front drive ones, where the extra weight balances the car out better than conventional versions, making them feel more like their superior, and dearer, rear drive cousins.
But if you’re going higher, remember to keep your weight lower.
Your complexity too.

Oh that’s right. I didn’t mention: because there’s no free lunch in physics and engineering, that added complexity leads to more to wear or break, more complexity to diagnose. So if you believe in Keep It Simple, Stupid, again EVs come in ahead of “Internal Combustion Engine” ‘d vehicles, or ICE cars as some call them. And once again, coming in third, is the (Plug In) Hybrid.

“But, wait!” you’re probably saying. “I want to save gas!”

And pulling up to the pump less often can feel good.

But the truth remains that hybrids, because they’re more complex and more marketable, sell for more money, so it takes a number of years for what you save in gas to cancel out how much extra you’ve paid for the vehicle in the first place. (And plug ins, while they get even better overall MPG on average, are more expensive still. So you have to do the math and see if it really adds up in your favor, or you’re just being sold to.)

So to review:
Less expensive to fuel.

More Expensive to buy.
More likely to break.
More expensive to fix.
More clumsy to maneuver.

Do these sound like things we should be holding onto?

Or do they sound like ugly things we should leave behind, in the past, where they belong?

The Redesigned 2022 CarCounsel - coming soon.

Sunday, February 6th, 2022

The last 20 years were fun and all, but it’s time to get serious.

Launching 2/22/22.

It’s been a minute.

Tuesday, November 30th, 2021

I wish I had better memory. Or better organizational skills. And was less of a procrastinator, and perfectionist.

Because over the years I’ve lost count of how many times my supporters – that’s the best name for you all – have asked me, “Do you have a blog?”

“I used to” I tell them. And then promise them – and myself – that I’ll start again.

I started writing about cars in the late 80s, blogging about them just before Y2K.

When I did I was offered an NPR show. To be represented by the same PR firm that represented the artist formerly known as… Opportunity after opportunity came and I said, “Nah – it’s just a hobby.”

I pride myself now as I did then: on being impartial. Then when I was pulled headlong into the car industry I decided it was unethical to have opinions now that I had picked a team to play for. So in 2007 I shuttered the blog.

14+ years later, here we are.

I’m not sure I’ll take it any more seriously. And you probably shouldn’t either.

It’s once again a journal of sorts. A place to place my thoughts. And for discussion, so please share your own whether in agreement or not.

Just try to keep it respectful, please.

I’m back.

Wednesday, November 24th, 2021

Where did it all go?

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

Pardon our appearance – the site is under what you might call construction.

Return visitors will notice we have removed nearly all previous posts from 2000-2010. Look for them to reappear in another form – and some major site updates – in the months to come.