30th April 2008

2008 Lexus LX 570 Review

While my colleague Courtney dreamed of owning this luxury SUV when she previewed it in February, I was caught somewhere between great appreciation of the family-friendly people-hauler and utter bewilderment that someone would spend $80K on a truck. Obviously, the Lexus LX 570 is a very well-appointed truck, but it’s a truck nonetheless.

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30th April 2008

Coverage: Mooneyes Street Car Nationals ’08

I can’t really describe the craziness that is the Mooneyes Street Car Nationals. While most car gatherings have some sort of “theme”, it virtually impossible to put a label on the Street Car Nationals.  At the event you can see everything from ’32 Fords and Escalades to kei cars and classic Toyota Crowns. I guess you could say the only common theme among the cars is that their style somehow has roots in America.

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30th April 2008

Daily Podcast: Presented by… Me

I received a dozen emails today inviting me to check out Jalopnik’s new sponsor. Sure enough, the words “Presented by Acura TSX” are now prominently displayed next to the site’s name. While searching for the footnote “no definite article need apply,” I noticed that Jalopnik is festooned with ads for the Acura TSX. So I called Gawker’s main man, Ray Wert. I asked if the new deal is a New Deal for the site’s editorial independence. Ray assured me the Acura gravy train would have “no effect whatsoever” on his ability to run “positive or negative coverage” of the manufacturer in general, or the model in specific. Ray pointed-out that “presented by” is not the same as “sponsored by.” And Jalopnik launched with Audi’s sponsorship (the TT reflected in the logo lollypop sucker’s sunglasses). He said Audi never yanked Spinelli’s chain. Only they did. And, eventually, after a negative review, bailed. Ray’s got integrity all day. But it’s not enough to BE independent. You have to avoid the APPEARANCE of being Acura’s bitch. Those of you who know Ray will know that the aforementioned comment will assure the man’s fierce examination of everything we do to sniff out the slightest whiff of hypocrisy. We welcome the scrutiny.  

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30th April 2008

Garbage Truck Bagged For Street Racing

Here’s another one for TTAC’s new Whisky Tango Foxtrot category… Ontario’s new anti-street racing laws were enforced for the first time when a garbage truck was clocked doing about 70mph in a 40 mph zone. The Record reports that the Great Lakes Waste Management truck would be impounded for seven days, and the driver’s license suspended for a week– on top of a $2,000 fine for street-racing. The citation has caused the Ontario police to expand its investigations into alleged street racing beyond the initial targets (“young men in cars,” surprise, surprise). Their undue diligence now includes commercial vehicles. “The more we apply this new legislation, we’re seeing this problem is across the board,” says Ontario Police constable Joanna Van Mierlo. That, or garbage truck drivers are far more dedicated to time efficiency than previously thought. Talk about going like stink! [thanks to QuasiMondo for the link]

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29th April 2008

Beijing Auto Show Reflects New World Order

“Automakers wage war for market share,” reads the headline over at China Daily. The current battlefront of that war can be viewed at the 2008 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, which runs through April 28th. With 890 vehicles on display in the 1.9m square foot arena, the nine-day event is expected to attract more than 600k visitors. The spoils of war can be lucrative, too, with Chinese vehicle sales up 21.4 percent year-over-year, which translates to 2.58m cars sold in the first quarter. Total sales are predicted to surpass the 8.79m units sold in ’07 and reach 10m vehicles in 2008. While the suspected recession in the U.S. has tempered car sales here, the prospects in China offer a respite: Ford’s Chinese sales have “rocketed” by 47 percent in the first quarter. GM’s Rick Wagoner figures China will account for more than 40 percent of global auto sales growth in the coming decade. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz launched its C-Class sedans in China last month and Ulrich Walker, the chairman and CEO of Daimler Northeast Asia Ltd., is amazed at China’s transformation. In a single generation, a population simply striving to own a “Flying Pigeon” bicycle now strives to own a “big Benz.” “In the history of the world, no country has changed as much as China in the past 30 years,” says MB’s Walker.

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29th April 2008

GM Cuts Truck Production, Big Style

The Detroit News reports that GM will be cutting one shift from its Flint, Pontiac, Oshawa, Ontario, and Janesville, WI factories by July 14. The slashing eliminates some 3,500 jobs from GM’s North American workforce. The move eliminates produciton of some 50k body-on-frame vehicles– which have already fallen 100k due to the ongoing American Axle strike. Analyst Joe Phillippi of AutoTrends Consulting says this is gonna leave a mark. “These are the most profitable things they make, and losing those profits is going to hurt for the next three quarters.” Still, there’s no point in building ‘em if nobody wants to buy them; GM has seen a 17 percent decline in pickup sales and a 29 percent drop in large SUVs in the first quarter of this year. Sure, cutting makes the powerless feel like they’re in control, but until GM goes “down the road, not across the street,” expect the misery and moodiness to continue.

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