State Farm Launches In-Drive, And Big Brother Smiles

Posted in Car Tech, News, OnStar, Politics by Kurt Ernst | August 8th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

Actually, your insurance company does...

At first glance, the new telematics system developed by State Farm Insurance and Hughes Telematics, called In-Drive, looks like a good thing, especially to parents. It offers the same emergency crash response, roadside assistance and stolen vehicle location service as competitors like OnStar, but for a lot less money. You can even get vehicle diagnostic alerts and service reminders, and parents can use it to track where a car is driven, or at what speed. If owners can get data on locations and speeds, doesn’t that mean that your insurance company can, too? Read More…

Which Automakers Have The Most Cars Built In America?

Posted in auto industry, Car Buying, News, Politics by Kurt Ernst | July 6th, 2011 | Leave a Reply |

The 2012 Sonic is built in America, but the 2012 Camaro isn't. Image: © GM Corp.

It used to be so simple: Ford, GM and Chrysler built cars in the United States, as did American Motors. Then Volkswagen set up shop in the United States, followed in no particular order by Mitsubishi, Subaru, Isuzu, Honda, Toyota and Mazda, to name but a few. VW pulled out of the U.S. market, but now they’re back with a new plant in Chattanooga, TN. Hyundai and sister company Kia are running plants in Alabama and Georgia near capacity, trying to build enough cars to meet demand in the United States. Determining what cars are made here versus built out of the country can be a daunting task, so Consumer Reports compiled a list of manufacturers and their U.S. built models. Read More…

GM’s CEO: Raising Gas Taxes Will Force Buyers Into Small Cars

Posted in auto industry, GM, News, Politics by Kurt Ernst | June 9th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

Chevy's Cruze LTZ; it's nice, but you can't tow a boat with it. Image: © GM Corp.

I swear to you that I’m not making this stuff up: the CEO of General Motors, Dan Akerson, proposes we add a $0.50 to $1.00 tax per gallon on gasoline, as it would help his company achieve the upcoming CAFE requirements. In a Detroit Free Press interview, Akerson said, “…as gas is going down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or dollar tax on a gallon of gas. People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans.” Read More…

1977 Chrysler Newport Police Car: Go Big or Go Home

Posted in Best of, eBay Motors, General, News, Police, Politics, Pop Culture, Rants & Raves by MrAngry | April 6th, 2011 | 1 Response |

1977 Chrysler Newport

At about 19-feet long the 1977 Chrysler Newport was about as big as you could go back in the late 1970’s. Sure it was roomy, but all that room meant that these big canoes (all 4,400 lbs of them) handled liked they had balloons for suspension systems. The ’77 Newport was motivated by a 440 cu in big block that was clogged up with all sorts of emissions controls. That meant that the 7.2-liter behemoth under the hood only put out 185 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, a far cry from the 1968 version that made 375 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. Regardless though, the Newports of the late 1970’s were all about space, comfort and the fact that you could fit an entire neighborhood in the back seat.
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Fed Vehicles To Be Alt Fuel By 2015, Except President’s Limo

Posted in Alt Fuels, News, Politics by Kurt Ernst | April 5th, 2011 | 3 Responses |

The Beast rests...

One of the fiercest proponents of harsher gun control laws is New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg. As mayor, he has a protection detail assigned to him for public events, and I’d be willing to bet there are people watching over his shoulder nearly 24/7/365. I’d also be willing to bet that those people are armed, and extremely proficient with the use of those sidearms; in fact, I’d bet good money that Mr. Bloomberg probably has a little unfriendly persuasion of his own in a nightstand drawer. The irony, of course, is that the man who needs to worry least about personal protection is among its staunchest opponents. Based on recent moves by the current administration to convert federal vehicles to alternative fuel by 2015, it looks like there’s some irony here, too. Read More…

Things Are Bigger In Texas, Including Speed Limits

Posted in driving, Police, Politics, Travel by Kurt Ernst | April 2nd, 2011 | 6 Responses |

If any U.S. state secedes from the nation, it’s likely to be Texas. That’s OK with me since my wife was born there, which kind of gives us diplomatic immunity and automatic citizenship. Besides, I’m a firearms instructor, so I can claim that I’ve got a necessary and valuable skill, which is critical anytime you’re asking for political asylum. In the mean time, Texas is about to give those of us who like to drive one more reason to call the Lone Star State home: legislation is in the works that will raise the 70 mile per hour speed limit to 75. Better yet, it will do away with the “nighttime only” speed limit of 65 miles per hour currently in place (Texas is the only remaining state to have a different daytime and nighttime speed limit). Read More…

More Autobahn Speed Limits Coming?

Posted in Environment, News, Politics, Travel by Kurt Ernst | March 31st, 2011 | 1 Response |

Typical German speed limits: 50 kph in town, 100 kph outside of town and 130 kph on the Autobahn. Image: Arroww

The myth of unrestricted motoring bliss on Germany’s Autobahn is just that: a myth. Most sections have posted limits, and even the sought-after “end of limit” sections are often crowded with traffic. There’s even a recommended speed limit of 130 kilometers per hour (about 81 mph) on unrestricted sections; sure, you can go as fast as you want, but expect to be charged with the equivalent of reckless driving if you have an accident. Based on recent election results in the German state of Baden-Württemburg, there’s more bad news on the horizon: motorists in this southwestern state will soon be facing an enforced speed limit of 120 kilometers per hour, or about 74 miles per hour. Read More…

The End Is Near: EU To Ban Fossil Fuel Vehicles In Cities By 2050

Posted in auto industry, Emissions, Environment, News, Politics by Kurt Ernst | March 29th, 2011 | 7 Responses |

What if all gas and diesel cars had to be scrapped? Image: IFCAR

If family history is any indicator, that chance that I’ll still be alive in 2050 is roughly on par with the chance of Charlie Sheen finding Jesus and becoming a Southern Baptist revival preacher. I’m good with that, which is why I try to enjoy the time I’ve got here as much as possible. If the latest rumor out of the EU has merit, it gives me one more reason to consume as much fossil fuel as I can over the next 39 years. Autoblog, via Autoblog.nl, reports that the EU will ban all fossil-fueled vehicles from European cities by 2050. A detailed plan is scheduled to be released later this week, but it allegedly calls for a 50% reduction in fossil fuel vehicle traffic as soon as 2030. In typical EU fashion, I suspect they’ll simply tax gas, diesel and parking to the point where only the rich can afford to drive, while the rest of us are “encouraged” to take mass transit. Read More…

RideLust Asks: Are You A Brand Snob?

Posted in Car Buying, Politics, Pop Culture by Kurt Ernst | March 27th, 2011 | 3 Responses |

Please, Hyundai, build a 5.0 liter Genesis R Coupe. Image: Hyundai

I’ve owned a lot of different cars over the years, and the only thing consistent about them them is that I rarely purchase the same brand twice in a row, and almost never purchase the same car. I’ve owned domestic brands (Ford and Plymouth), German brands (VW and BMW) and Japanese brands (Acura, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Subaru), and when I’m in the market I always shop for the best choice in my price range. If I had the income, I’d snap up a new Ford Mustang GT tomorrow, because it’s the best choice for performance and handling at its price point. If I were in the market for a sedan, I’d take a serious look at the Hyundai Sonata Turbo and the Kia Optima Turbo, because they represent the best bang for the buck. If I’ve learned one absolute in this job, it’s this: no one builds a bad car anymore. Read More…

BlackBerry Bans DUI Checkpoint Apps

Posted in News, Politics, Safety by Kurt Ernst | March 25th, 2011 | 2 Responses |

Here’s a scary thought: if you’ve tied one on at a party, or closed down your local watering hole, there are apps to get you home without hitting a DUI checkpoint. More precisely, there WERE apps for such a purpose on Blackberry devices, but RIM (parent to BlackBerry) has announced a ban on all such apps. As of today, there are still checkpoint avoidance apps for the iPhone and Google platforms, but I wouldn’t expect them to be around much longer, and that’s a good thing. Read More…