[Autoblog] 10 New Entries: Detroit News columnist calls on Northerners to boycott Alabama over bailout

Detroit News columnist calls on Northerners to boycott Alabama over bailout

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Despite the distinct thumb in the eye given by southern Republican senators like Alabama's Richard Shelby, General Motors and Chrysler have received the cash infusion the companies need to continue operations. Judging by Detroit News columnist John McCormick's inbox, many readers are calling on northern states to give it right back to the South.

McCormick's readers note that those same southern states, which evidently have no qualms about giving huge tax brakes to foreign automakers to set up shop, also also seem to require a disproportionate amount of federal funding, including after natural disasters that require huge sums of federal aid.

Further, when events like Hurricane Katrina strike places like Alabama, automakers like Ford, GM and Chrysler are usually among the first to send in aid and emergency vehicles. McCormick's readers appear to suggest that maybe next time those companies shouldn't be so quick to help. Those who wrote in also suggest that Northerners - many of whom winter or vacation in the South - should consider spending all those dollars elsewhere instead.

Do McCormick's readers have it right? You know where to make your voice heard... let us know.

[Source: Detroit News | Photo: http://katrinapictures.blogspot.com/]

Detroit News columnist calls on Northerners to boycott Alabama over bailout originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 09:33:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Spinning tires responsible for house fire?

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The details aren't clear yet, but a fire at a Flint, Michigan home is being preliminarily attributed to spinning tires. When Samantha Hendricks returned home Tuesday evening, she had a hard time getting up her icy driveway. Giving the car a healthy bit of gas to get up the slick pavement, as most of us do, she created a fair bit of wheelspin. Some time after parking the car in the garage, the people inside began to smell smoke and discovered it was coming from the car. Unable to extinguish the source of the smoke, the car caught on fire and took the entire house -- and all of the gifts and possessions inside -- with it. Investigators haven't yet determined if it was the spinning tires that caused the fire, but the burn pattern indicates that it had something to do with the car. The question is, what could it be?

[Source: ABC12/WJRT]

Spinning tires responsible for house fire? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Dec 2008 09:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Honda F1 SOLD! to a man named Slim

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According to La Stampa, Honda F1 has a buyer: Mexican telecom billionaire Carlos Slim Helu. Reports claim he paid the single dollar Honda was asking. He trumped Force India F1 owner Vijay Mallya, who was suspected to want the Honda team only for its tech know-how, and Prodrive's Dave Richards.

When Honda announced its immediate departure from F1 on December 4, it gave the outfit 27 days to find a bona fide buyer who would make a credible 3-year commitment to run the team. If the team did find such a purchaser, Honda said it would assist with finances and technical support. Carlos Slim has the finances and the experience: he is reportedly the second richest man in the world, and his companies are already involved in motorsport.

If the transaction proves to be true, and assuming the team gets funded properly, it will mean a few good things for the 2009 F1 season: it will add another privateer team to the grid, it will let Ross Brawn continue creating the team he's been dying to lead since he was at Ferrari, and it will return the name "Senna" to the grid. Bruno, Ayrton Senna's nephew, is sponsored by Embratel, a subsidiary of Slim's Telmex company, and will certainly replace Rubens Barrichello as the one flying the Brazilian flag.

[Source: La Stampa via My Automovil]

Honda F1 SOLD! to a man named Slim originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 27 Dec 2008 20:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ward's columnist wonders if Americans can handle the truth about gas taxes

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People have always had something of an aversion to hard truths. Most Americans say they want their country to get off foreign oil or help the environment, but when it comes to the bottom line, they want cheap fuel. And when the prices on gas pumps start to dip, consumer interest in smaller more efficient vehicles tends to go out the window. Understandably, drivers everywhere tend to make vehicle purchasing decisions in large part based on fuel prices.

Ward's Auto World columnist Drew Winters notes that executives like Bob Lutz have long advocated that fossil fuel prices need to increase in order to make more efficient vehicles appeal to consumers. But with U.S. consumers' almost instinctual avoidance of taxation, it has been difficult for politicians to consider such measures. Instead, it would appear that most constituents want government to mandate both more fuel efficient cars (through mechanisms like CAFE) and cheap gas without impacting the cost of automobiles themselves.

Winters paraphrases The End of Oil author Paul Roberts, noting that "every major fuel shift in history - from wood to coal to oil - was driven primarily by market forces, specifically by competitive advantages of the new fuel over the old." Thus, part of the solution may simply to make the fossil fuels more expensive relative to other energy sources.

Unfortunately, Winters surmises, it appears that nobody can handle this truth.

[Source: Ward's Auto World | Photo: GoodGreentips.com]

Ward's columnist wonders if Americans can handle the truth about gas taxes originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 27 Dec 2008 18:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Autosport's Car of the Year? The Ginetta G50

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Lawrence Tomlinson bought historic British car maker Ginetta in 2005, and in just three years his team has hit it over the wall with the maker's first car under his tenure: the Ginetta G50, has taken Autosport's number one slot in its Top 10 Cars of the Year.

The G50's attractions are obvious: It is light (1,750 lbs), powerful (300 horsepower six-cylinder), and relatively inexpensive (£35,000-or around $51,000 USD). It comes in three flavors for now: Roadgoing coupe, G50 Cup Car, and a GT4 model for the FIA GT4 series. The Cup Car had its own one-make race series in Britain, and that was so successful it also won an award in Motorsport News. Coming in 2009 for Ginetta: a G50Z for GT3 competition, an electric Ginetta G50, and expansion onto the Continent with a one-make series in Spain fielding the Ginetta G20.

[Source: Ginetta]

Autosport's Car of the Year? The Ginetta G50 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 27 Dec 2008 17:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Seattle's plow crews not trying to clear snow from roads by design

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Not long ago, Washington state's Department of Ecology was making noises about not letting people wash their cars at home because "what goes on the street goes into the creek." Now the state is on the opposing side of Seattle's efforts not to let harmful chemicals wash into the freshwater streams feeding into Puget Sound.

Seattle is not using salt to clear the roads because it doesn't want the salt flowing into waterways. As well, the city's snow plows have rubber-edge blades that can clear snow, but can't get the ice off the road. Seattle's DOT cheif says the city is trying to "create a hard-packed surface" of snow. It will then lay sand down over the hardpack in order to offer enough traction to cars, and employ a soy-based de-icer only good for temps below 32 degrees.

The hitch: only 4-wheel-drive and front-wheel-drive cars with chains have any traction. That means that even the police can't drive on many roads. If the police make a call to a location on a hill, they park at the bottom and walk up the hill. As well, the police are having to respond to literally hundreds of collisions and disabled vehicles.

The state DOT has taken a much different tack: it is using sand, salt, metal-edged plows, and chemical de-icer in its battle with the elements. Seattle is now experimenting with a "silver bullet" concoction that is saltwater from a cheese factory, calcium chloride, and de-sugared molasses.

[Source: Seattle Times]

Seattle's plow crews not trying to clear snow from roads by design originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 27 Dec 2008 17:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Two more out the door: Meyer and Murtagh leave Chrysler

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A little over a year ago, Chrysler was poaching and hiring folks with big brains to be a part of its executive turnaround team. Now a few of those hires, along with the old guard, are walking out the front door. Deborah Meyer came over from Toyota, where she had been VP of marketing for Lexus, and she took over the chief marketing officer spot at the Chrysler, LLC. At the time we wrote, "She must have been aware of the situation when she accepted the offer, however, so perhaps she sees hope in Chrysler's new beginning." Apparently, hope ran out, and Meyer has vacated her post effective immediately.

Phil Murtaugh ran General Motors' gangbuster operations in China, left the company, and then was picked up by Chrysler a few months later. He fulfilled the same role at Chrysler, yet with the Chery/Dodge Hornet as the most public example, he couldn't engineer the same success. He has called "Time!" at Chrysler, and leaves at the end of this month. Meyer and Murtaugh's departures this month follow those of Chrysler's global purchasing head and its global service and parts head. Thanks for the tip, Derek!

[Source: Auto News, Sub Req.]

Two more out the door: Meyer and Murtagh leave Chrysler originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 27 Dec 2008 16:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Active Aerodynamics: Coolest LeMons technology EVAR?

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Click above to watch the video

Our official coverage of the 24 Hours of LeMons Arse-Freeze-Apalooza at Thunderhill has started, but we couldn't wait to show you what could be the absolute coolest bit of low-cost technology that will be showcased at the event: the hillbilly wing. This stunning bit of kit will be vying for the coveted "Most Dangerous Banned F1 Technology" trophy, and we think they're a shoe-in. Actuated by a bowling ball, the hillbilly wing is made from an abandoned ironing board, some electrical conduit and a bit of rope. Genius. Now, how long will it last?

The Faster Farms Chickens' 1966-7 Plymouth Belvedere was made to resemble the car used in the Foster Imposters skits, and they have done a pretty good job emulating their target. When Foster Farms found out about the car, they issued a press release detailing the effort -- something that warms our cockles in our ridiculously litigious society. See the PR and the video after the break.

[Source: Jalopnik]

Continue reading Active Aerodynamics: Coolest LeMons technology EVAR?

Active Aerodynamics: Coolest LeMons technology EVAR? originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 27 Dec 2008 15:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2008 25 Hours of LeMons at Thunderhill: Auld Lang Syne penalty

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With less than 30 minutes of racing complete, the first penalty was dolled out to the #43 BMW 325i after a bit of off-track farming. A spin of the Wheel of Misfortune delivered the Auld Lang Syne penalty, which involves a pair of adult diapers, a sash and commitment to be a better competitor in the New Year. Black flags are flying all around, so expect more tails from the pits to follow throughout the day.

2008 25 Hours of LeMons at Thunderhill: Auld Lang Syne penalty originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 27 Dec 2008 14:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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2008 24 Hours of LeMons Thunderhill: Let the madness commence

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Over 100 racers have taken to the track for the 2008 24 Hours of LeMons at Thunderhill, and the field of competitors is as disturbing as it is vast, with every marque, drivetrain and criminally indecent act of automobiledom represented in spades.

The green flag dropped about two minutes ago and we're already at a loss to describe the vast expanse of potential carnage ahead. We're in the process of picking out our favorites, and after meeting up with the esteemed Mr. Lieberman, we learned that a new cheater class (four cars that amassed between 700 and 2,100 penalty laps each) has been established to separate the lightly-veiled racers from the usual assortment of crap can conveyances.

Naturally, as we're typing the green flag has gone back to yellow after an off-track excursion at turn five. Let the attrition begin...

2008 24 Hours of LeMons Thunderhill: Let the madness commence originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 27 Dec 2008 13:48:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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