Sunday , May 27 2018
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Eric Peters

Eric Peters

Eric Peters is a freelance car/bike/political columnist. He escaped the corporate-owned media Big Boys years ago. Without the censorship of the corporate tools

Articles by Eric Peters

Elon’s Undoing

2 days ago

The death of the perpetually tardy Model 3 may ultimately have less to do with it being an overpriced electric car than with something even more lethal to its chances . . .
It’s a too-small sedan.
Electric or not, they aren’t selling. Even the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord – both of them just redesigned – are experiencing sales dips. If these formerly perennial hot-sellers are in trouble, it’s a clue that something is seriously awry with this kind of car rather than any particular car.
Others are spiraling toward the ground at freefall speed, like a plane with both wings shot off. Ford, as most everyone has heard, is going to stop making sedans – period. Death warrants have been signed for the Taurus and Fusion. Cadillac just cancelled

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How To ‘Sell’ an Electric Car

5 days ago

Electric cars are a great deal  . . . when you get someone else to pay for them. This appears to be the only way to convince anyone to buy one.
BMW recently offered a $54-per-month lease deal on the i3, its $44,450 (to start) electric car. BMW is literally paying people to take one off their hands – and for those who do, it’s one hell of a bargain.
BMW is not the only company selling electric cars this way. They are all being sold this way.
Every single one of them is a money-loser . . .  for those making them.
The problem, of course, is that you can’t stay in business for very long paying people to “buy” your stuff. Cue the infamously frank comment by Fiat’s head, Sergio Marchionne – who publicly urged people not to “buy” the electric

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The Hidden Gas Tax Cometh

11 days ago

Raising the gas tax – overtly – is politcal TNT.
Chiefly because it’s a tax everyone feels, every day – and it’s an extremely disproportionate tax already. About 50 cents per gallon – which amounts to a roughly 20 percent tax added to the cost of every gallon of fuel. The government makes (takes) more money off each gallon than the Evil Oil Companies earn from the sale of each gallon. Yes, really.
The gas tax is also extremely regressive, in the language of the politically correct. It hits those least able to afford the cost the hardest.
So how to raise it covertly?
By raising the mandatory minimum octane rating.
This is being urged by the car companies, who would like to be able to design all their engines to be high-compression

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All Fired Up…Again

16 days ago

Another Tesla has crashed – and burned.
And, killed.
Two Florida teens lost their lives on May 9 when the Model S they were traveling in erupted into flames after striking a concrete barrier. As in previous incidents – at least three others – a large portion of the car was quickly and almost completely consumed before the fire was put out.
Since Teslas are electric cars and don’t burn gas, this one wasn’t burned to a cinder by gasoline.
It was the lithium-ion battery pack that caught fire.
This happens when the physical structure of the battery pack is compromised and the materials within come into uncontrolled contact. Just the same as exposing gasoline to an ignition source. It can happen as the result of a design defect, or an impact

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No More Cop Cars

18 days ago

Five years or so from now, there may be no more cop cars.
Vehicles used by cops, certainly. But not cars. These are being retired – in the Bladerunner taking-care-of-the-Replicants sense. Ford just announced they won’t be making the Taurus – which is the basis for the Taurus cop car – for much longer. So there goes that one. The other one is the Dodge Charger, extremely popular with law-enforcers because of its rear-drive layout and powerful Hemi V8 engine.
But – savor the irony – the government’s fuel economy fatwas have made it very hard for any car company to continue mass-producing such a car, and the Charger is the last such car left on the field. They use “too much” gas, says Uncle – who levies fines to discourage people (well,

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‘Boring. Next!’

20 days ago

When financial analyst Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford C. Bernstein asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the money-losing electric car company’s capital requirements going forward (Tesla has burned through – cue Dr. Evil – one billion dollars in three of the last four quarters) Musk replied: “Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?”
Fo sheer effrontery, this tops even The Chimp’s I am the Decider!
Neither man gives a damn about the damage – human or financial – imposed on others. Nor that others are made to pay for it all. They don’t even give lip service to pretending anything they do bothers them in the least. All that matters is a Great Dream – whether it’s “regime change” in some resource-rich country which hasn’t attacked us (a war

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New Cars Are a Bad Deal Financially

24 days ago

Buying a new car is always a bad decision – financially. It doesn’t matter which brand or make or model. You will always lose money.
It’s just a question of how much.
All new cars bleed value like the Titanic took on water after it hit the iceberg. Even the least-“leaky” ones, from brands with high resale value – Toyotas and Hondas, for instance.
Both make great cars – reliable, well-built, etc. But that’s not the issue.
Depreciation is.
Even the cars which depreciate less horribly than others – those Toyotas and Hondas – still lose about 20 percent of their value during the first 12 months you own them. If you buy a new car for $35,000 – which is the average price paid for a new car – you can expect to take a $7,000 haircut on the car

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Ford Stops Selling Cars

26 days ago

The company which first successfully mass-marketed cars will soon no longer be selling any.
Well, not many.
Other than the Mustang and maybe a version of the Focus, the only “cars” Ford will be selling in the future will be jacked-up cars (crossover SUVs) and a few real SUVs – the ones based on trucks, like the F-150-based Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.
But bye-bye Taurus (again; this isn’t the first time the Taurus has been cut from the roster) as well as the rest of Ford’s non-crossover/non-SUV lineup.
The reason for the giving up on cars has to do with the giving up of buyers on cars. It’s not Ford cars, per se. It is cars, generally. Toyota and Honda are having trouble selling cars, too. Including two of their cars –

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Fascism

27 days ago

Fascism is fundamentally about economics – not racism. It is when Big Business “partners” with Big Government (it’s no accident we hear that word routinely now) to steal money rather than earn it through the free exchange of goods and services.

Examples include Elon Musk and his Tesla electric car operation – but also GM and the mainline car companies, who are just as guilty of “partnering” with the government as Tesla to mulct the citizenry for their benefit – even if their product (unlike Musk’s) is fundamentally sound and could sell on the basis of free exchange.
The bailouts circa 2008 are the obvious example. Rather than take their lumps GM filched our pockets, using the government’s hands in our pockets. (Whether the money was

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It Used To Be Easy To Change Your Car’s Oil

April 24, 2018

Oil changes are still pretty simple. But easy is another thing. If you haven’t done one in awhile – to a new car – you might be surprised by how much more complicated the process has become.
First, it’s gotten harder to get underneath new cars. Or rather, to get them up in the air, so you can get at things.
Driving them up on ramps – as was common back in the day – is often not possible today because the front end of many new cars will push the ramps forward as you try to drive up and on. Or they get pushed unevenly. That can be very dangerous to your wallet as well as to you. The ramps may also hang up on the lower part of the fascia – the rubber front end cover all late-model cars have – and be damaged during the attempt.
A $40 oil

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Those High Octane Ethanol Mandated Blues

April 23, 2018

High-octane fuel isn’t for every engine.
Some engines need it – but others do not.
Millions of other engines.
Feeding those engines high-octane fuel is a money-waster. High-octane “premium” fuel (which isn’t necessarily of higher quality, just higher octane; more about this in a moment) generally costs about 30-50 cents or more per gallon. If your car’s engine doesn’t require it, you’re spending several dollars more for every tankful – which can amount to several hundred dollars annually – and several thousand dollars over the 10-15 year lifespan of a new car.
It’s also a power and mileage waster in cars that don’t need it. Many people do not grok this, but an engine not designed to burn high-octane fuel actually runs better (more

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Porsche Evildoer Arrested

April 21, 2018

It’s been reported that Joerg Kerner, Porsche’s chief of powertrain development, has been SWATTED by armed (German) government workers for suspected “cheating” on the government’s emissions tests.
Porsche, of course, is part of the Audi/VW conglomerate and offered TDI diesel engines in the Cayenne SUV. These, too, have been implicated in the “cheating.”
Kerner is being held in a cage, sans bail – having been deemed a “flight risk,” according to reports. Three other “suspects” are also being investigated.
Earlier this week German prosecutors searched around 10 premises in Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg as well.
You’d think someone had been harmed.
As every reader here already knows, this “cheating” business is a classic example of what

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Try Not to Wash Your Old Car

April 16, 2018

Back in high school chemistry, you may have heard the teacher refer to water as the universal solvent.
Exactly so. It dissolved a mile of rock at the Grand Canyon, for instance.
And it will eventually dissolve your car, too.
Your old car, especially.
This bears some defining, though.
A fifteen-year-old car is an old car – but it’s not an old car for purposes of this discussion. No car built during the past 30 years or so is really an old car, nor will ever be one. Not in the sense that matters.
Which is the build quality/body integrity and rust-protected sense.
Cars built since about 30 years ago – ’90s and up – are almost hermetically sealed against the intrusion of water into places where it will foment rust. Their panels usually fit

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The $7,500-80 MPG Car

April 13, 2018

You probably haven’t heard of Paul Elio – probably because his car company hasn’t been the recipient of your tax dollars, nor the prostrate fawning-over of an adulatory press . . . unlike another car company headed by someone with name recognition on par with Coke and Jesus.
Paul’s car is simple and inexpensive – projected base price of $7,450. It is extremely fuel-efficient (80-plus MPG) and so makes economic and practical sense – two more reasons why you probably haven’t heard about it.
Which is probably why you’ll never get to drive it.
The Elio doesn’t meet the criteria which that other company’s cars do. They are expensive – base price $35,000 for the least pricey version of the lowest cost model. They aren’t efficient – you’ll

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Restricting What’s Not Yet Regulated

April 12, 2018

Engineers are becoming like magicians – pulling improbable things out of their hats.
The difference is, it’s not a trick – and they haven’t got much choice.
Every car company has armies of engineers trying to figure out how to maintain the performance and power the market expects of new cars while also complying with the government’s demands – which are becoming harder and harder to comply with.
Some of these demands aren’t even official  . . . yet.
For example, this idea that carbon dioxide (C02) is – hey, presto! – an “emission.”
Of course, it is – in the literal sense that it’s emitted from the tailpipe of all internal combustion-powered cars.
So is water vapor.
But C02 (like H20) isn’t an “emission” in the regulatory sense – as far

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The Four-Wheeled Federal Reserve Note

April 10, 2018

A used car is an unknown car. Even with receipts it’s hard to know for sure whether required maintenance was done – and done correctly.
That second part being the intangible part.
A receipt indicating that the axle lube was changed – or the brake fluid flushed – is kind of like a Federal Reserve Note.
Its value is based on faith.
The work was probably done. But how well was it done? And was it done with the right parts? Including the right fluids? This latter is very important with late-model cars, which often require very specific fluids (e.g., synthetic oil or oil of a particular viscosity) not just for optimal performance but for the warranty coverage to remain in force. If there’s a failure down the road and you can’t prove that the

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Cop Massacres

April 9, 2018

It’s barely four months into the year and already, armed government workers have shot to death 294 people. This is more than twice as many people as have been shot to death by freelancers – those not wearing government uniforms who shot people at schools – during the past six years.
Last year, armed government workers shot to death 987 people. This is almost 60 times as many people as were shot to death at Parkland. If the first three-ish months of carnage are any indication – 2018 will be an even better year.
Why isn’t the Soy Boy demanding that armed government workers be disarmed?
Why isn’t there . . . outrage?
Clearly, armed government workers are very dangerous.
Your child is far more likely to be shot by an armed government worker

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The Electric Cars

April 7, 2018

Mandates and subsidies have not only distorted the market for electric cars, they’ve distorted the design of electric cars.
Instead of being designed to emphasize their natural strengths vs. IC-engined cars – which we’ll get into shortly – they’ve been offered up as cost-no-object economic and functional absurdities whose limitations and failings everyone is supposed to pretend don’t exist or accept for reasons of political/environmental correctness.
They cost too much, don’t go far enough and take too long to get going again. They tout quickness, sexiness, style and tech – all of which makes them expensive and impractical for most people, who are just looking to get from A to B with as little hassle and expense as possible.

Teslas

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A Lump Under the Rug

April 6, 2018

The other day, GM announced it would no longer report monthly sales figures. Instead, it would hold on to those numbers internally and only reveal them publicly at the end of each quarter.
A GM spokesman says that “thirty days is not enough time to separate real sales trends from short-term fluctuations in the market.”
Possibly.
But 90 days  – a quarter is three months – is just as arguably too long to give shareholders an opportunity to act before they potentially lose their shirts. The obvious example here being the economic implosion of 2007. If you’d waited three months to dump your GM stock back then, you’d have lost a lot of money.
Granted, other corporations also report quarterly. But the car business is much more of a barometer

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Feel The Burn

April 4, 2018

Even long cons can only run for so long.
Elon Musk’s electric car con may be on the verge – finally – of coming unglued. This week, he’ll be forced to reveal actual production numbers for the first quarter of the year which are expected to fall well short of what he promised investors – and buyers, who ponied up deposits based on those promises.
Last year, Musk breezily assured both groups that an improbable 5,000 Model 3s – Tesla’s first “mass-produced” electric car – would be rolling off the production line in Fremont, CA each week.
He’s come as close to reaching that goal as he has to sending space tourists to Mars, another promise.
Thousands of people who were promised cars last year are still waiting for cars this year.
They may

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Old Cars Were Sometimes Better

April 3, 2018

New cars have many features old cars never had – LCD touchscreens and WiFi, for instance. But new cars are missing some things, too.
Maybe you remember – and wonder why?
Bumpers that could take a bump –
Until about the early-mid 1990s, most cars still had external bumpers designed to be . . . bumped. They were made of steel and so didn’t easily tear, like today’s plastic bumper covers do – leading to very expensive repairs, usually involving the replacement of the torn bumper cover and then repainting it.
So, why?
Environmental regs made chrome-plating steel bumpers expensive – so they were replaced with cheap plastic bumper covers painted body color. Underneath these plastic fascias – as they’re called – are structures designed to

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The Jeep You Can Buy

April 2, 2018

I’ve written before about low-cost, simple vehicles the car companies aren’t allowed to sell here because they don’t conform to the various edicts issued by the federal government regarding emissions (defensible, within reason) and saaaaaaaaaaaaaafety (indefensible, period – as the government has no legitimate basis dictating such a thing to supposedly “free” adults).
Well, here’s one you can at least buy – and it’s legal to own it, too. No government SWAT teams will descend for having one in the garage.
It’s the $15,540 Mahindra Roxor.
It’s basically a rebooted ‘70s-era Jeep CJ, which means it’s a rugged, simple 4×4. It features heavy duty body-on-frame construction, with a rugged steel body designed to be easy – and cheap – to

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They Can’t Sync the Traffic Lights

March 28, 2018

They can’t even get automated traffic lights to work – to sync the green/red cycles in order to smooth the flow of traffic – but we’re supposed to believe that millions of automated cars are going to sync perfectly, whizz along at 100 MPH in tight formation, without a hitch – just like the Blue Angels, the Navy’s precision flying demonstration squadron.
In the rain and snow. The heat of high summer, the bitter cold of January. Dirt, sand, potholes. 24/7, year ’round – for year after year after year, ongoing. Mechanical and electrical components will never wear out – or crap out, unexpectedly.
Really?
Traffic lights are pretty simple things – even the “smart” ones that have cameras and sensors with which they can “see” traffic (just like

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SOLs for Cars

March 26, 2018

Have you heard about SOL for cars?
It’s like the Standards of Learning for kids –  the tests administered by the schools as a way to gauge whether (cue The Chimp) the children is learning. SOLs are widely considered a scam because the kids aren’t learning – just being taught to pass the test.
It’s a game.
Likewise, the government’s miles-per-gallon testing. The car companies build their cars to perform as well as possible on the EPA’s test loop, so they can tout the best-possible city/highway numbers – and not just to entice buyers. These numbers are also used to calculate the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) numbers which the car companies have to deal with. When their “fleet average” – the combined mileage of all the vehicles

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Feral Hogs and Drivers Licenses

March 23, 2018

It’s said the best way to corral a feral hog is by steps.
The first step is to put out a bucket full of feed and just let the hog eat. He gets used to the bucket appearing, full of food, at a given spot and at a given time. So he shows up at the given spot and time.
The next step is to put up a piece of fence. Just one piece. Behind the bucket of food. The hog is slightly suspicious, at first. He approaches the bucket warily. But he soon accepts the presence of the section of fence and goes on eating, ignoring the fence section behind the bucket.
After some time has passed, put up a second piece of fence, at a 90 degree angle to the first section. The hog will be alarmed by this and may not come to the bucket for awhile – and when he

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The Real SUV

March 22, 2018

Nissan just announced a new SUV they’re not going to sell here.
It’s called the Terra – and the Chinese (and other foreign markets) will get it beginning next spring. Nissan’s Ashwani Gupta says there is growing demand in China for “go anywhere SUVs built like the rugged SUVs old” – which apparently are no longer in demand here.
This, of course, is claptrap. There is plenty of demand.
The problem is Uncle.
It is becoming extremely difficult to sell “go anywhere SUVs built like the rugged SUVs of old” because they are heavy and heavy means big engines and that means a hearty appetite for gas. This however isn’t a problem for the people who buy such vehicles; they are – presumably – ok with paying more for gas in exchange for the

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Cars That Parent Us

March 19, 2018

One of the reasons for liking old cars is they don’t try to parent you. The new stuff won’t quit trying to.
The 2018 VW Golf GTI I am reviewing this week, for instance. When you put the transmission in Reverse, the radio’s volume’s is peremptorily turned down – apparently because someone decided it wasn’t saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafe to back up while listening to the radio.
One can almost see the liver-spotted hand of your mother-in-law adjusting the volume control knob. Many new cars have this “feature” – not just new VWs.
It’s incredibly obnoxious. More so because it’s not your mother-in-law and you can’t slap her liver-spotted hand down or – better – hit the unlock button and tell the old bag to get out now if she can’t mind her

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How Virtual Should Cars Be?

March 10, 2018

Driving a simulated car – as in a game – is becoming more and more like driving an actual car – in reality.
At least in terms of the inputs.
The car in the game is steered remotely, via a gamepad. You accelerate and brake the car the same way. Soon real cars will be accelerated and braked the same way. Many already are, at least as far as acceleration. They have drive-by-wire throttle control. Your foot does not actually control the acceleration of the vehicle. A computer controls the acceleration of the vehicle. It assesses data it receives from sensors that are connected to the accelerator pedal, but there is no physical connection between your foot and the throttle.
The good news is the throttle cable can’t stick with drive-by-wire.

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Trump’s Tariff Turducken

March 8, 2018

Trump is getting heat for his threat to impose tariffs on “imported” cars in order to help American car companies. But what about all the “American” cars built outside America?
And what about the “import” brands that build their cars here?
GM and Ford and FiatChrysler have plants in Mexico. The American 1500 series trucks they build there are shipped here. They are objectively imported. Should they be tariffized?
Toyota has a yuge operation in California. Nissan builds its trucks in Tennessee. Honda has plants in Ohio. BMW builds SUVS in South Carolina. Are these “imported” cars? Should they receive protection from the “foreign” competition – even if the brand in question happens to have its corporate HQ here?
The fulsome scurvy truth

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4-Cylinder Auto Engines

March 6, 2018

How good do we have it?
If the measure of that is the power and performance delivered by the average new car, the answer has to be: Pretty damned good.
Four cylinder-powered family-haulers like the 2018 Mazda CX-9 I just reviewed haul more ass than the V8-powered muscle cars of my youth. Than the V8-powered muscle car, I have in my garage. At least, when it was new.
But it’s a story with two sides.
The first side is the almost miraculous power and performance – and drivability, reliability, durability and mileage – achieved by the designers of today’s Mighty Mouse engines. Four-cylinder engines routinely produce more horsepower – and torque – than V8s twice their size used to. Which has rendered V8s functionally unnecessary – even in

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