Posts from ‘Commentary’
The manual transmission is dead. I refuse to acknowledge any evidence to the contrary. The fact is, autonomous technology—even semi-autonomous technology—is completely incompatible with the manual transmission, and that is where the industry is headed.
“They’ve never turned a profit.”
This phrase has become the official battle cry of Tesla detractors nationwide. Industry pundits with an anti-Tesla axe to grind—and there are many–wield this sentence with the fervor of a sandwich-board prognosticator warning that the end is near.
To truly excite the passions of the American automotive media, you need news that strikes close to home. International news, no matter how significant, is generally met with indifference among many U.S. auto writers. General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra and the GM board of directors opt out of the European, Indian, and South African new-vehicle markets—yawn. The Chinese government mandates that 12 percent of new vehicles retailed in China (the world’s largest new-car market) must be pure electric by 2020—whatever.
What makes a vehicle important? Sales, obviously, play a big factor. Any car or truck that sells well can be considered important. And, as it turns out, all of the vehicles on this list did well in the showroom.
Last year, BMW sold almost 350,000 vehicles in the U.S.–almost twice as many cars and SUVs as Cadillac sold here. The reasons for BMW’s relative success are numerous, yet it can be tempting to oversimplify the situation and conclude that Americans prefer the German maker’s hardware to that of Cadillac. While that may be true, there’s more to the picture–or in Cadillac’s case, less.
When you think lobster, you probably don’t think McDonalds. This may explain, at least in part, why the McLobster sandwich proved to be a bust for the folks over at Golden Arches HQ. Fast-food regulars just didn’t see the draw of a $6 sandwich that was likely to disappoint on several levels.
When the Dodge Viper became the SRT Viper in 2013, I became convinced that Chrysler—really Fiat/Chrysler—intended to kill off the Dodge brand. The evidence was there: Pickup trucks had been rebranded Ram. The Durango big crossover was—and is—in need of a full redesign, and none was in the works. Likewise, the midsize Journey crossover was—and still is—riding on the bones of a stormy previous partnership with Mitsubishi, and no update was imminent. Finally, there was talk of moving the Challenger sporty coupe over to the SRT brand as well. With the Avenger midsize sedan being phased out, this left Dodge with the Dart—a competent but slow-selling compact sedan—and the aging Grand Caravan to soldier along with.
I received two nose-hair trimmers as birthday gifts this year. That generosity can be attributed to the fact that I turned 50, and that I have friends with droll senses of humor. As I look back on a half century of life (or at least the part of it I recall–I am a little hazy on the 1965-1970 period) I realize that the biggest technological changes took place after I left high school.
If you don’t have a lucky number, you likely at least have a number or two you prefer to other digits. I, for example, rather like the numbers 2, 5, 14, and 21. I became aware of my fondness for these numbers one night while nursing a $2 gin and tonic at a now-defunct Iowa riverboat-casino roulette table.
Automakers like numbers, too. Many storied model names have been enhanced by a carefully placed numeric suffix. Think of such classic monikers as Cougar XR-7, Fury II, and Galaxie 500, and you get the idea.