Texas loves to mess with Tesla. The Lone Star State has a long history of blocking Tesla’s attempts to sell cars there. Since 2013, Texas lawmakers have refused to take up four bills allowing direct car sales in the state (rather than forcing the automaker to rely on dealerships). To twist the knife, Texas also blocked Tesla buyers from receiving the state’s $2,500 alternative-fueled-vehicle incentive since the cars are not sold in dealerships.
Now it appears Texas wants to prevent manufacturers like Tesla from servicing its vehicles as well. Electrek reported on a new bill (SB 1415) that would prevent manufacturers like Tesla from fixing cars at its own service centers. Republican senator Kelly Hancock’s proposed legislation alters language in the state’s transportation code to ban vehicle manufacturers from “servicing” and “repairing” cars. That would cripple Tesla’s attempts to expand in the state, one of America’s largest auto markets, at a time when Tesla said it is making service and parts supply its “top priority.”
The bill’s language states a manufacturer or distributor may not own an interest in parties engaged in servicing or repairing their vehicles:
The bill is wrapped up in a fight to give an exception to dealership rules for Berkshire Hathaway, which owns car dealerships and an RV manufacturing business in Texas, reports the Austin-American Statesman. Warren Buffett’s conglomerate has been embroiled in enforcement actions by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for two years for violating the current statute. The firm has a controlling stake in RV maker Forest River and more than two dozen dealerships in Texas (although not ones that sell RVs). Similarly, heavy engine producer Cummins has allegedly violated the law for performing warranty maintenance on its own engines in Texas. Tesla cried foul as legislators have tried to amend the statute, calling it special treatment for big donors, even as they shut Tesla out of the process.
The electric-car maker has 13 stores or galleries in Texas, now one of only two states blocking direct sales by manufacturers. Tesla employees at these sites can’t talk about prices, take orders, or sell cars. All transactions must happen online. By 2017, Tesla had spent at least $1.2 million to lobby Texas lawmakers to change that, but it was no match for the big political donations mustered by the 1,300 dealerships in Texas, major players in state politics.
At issue is a battle over money. Car dealers derive much of their revenue from selling and (especially) servicing vehicles. Tesla’s direct-to-customer sales and service stations are a threat to that business model since they cut dealers out of the transaction.
The Texas Automotive Dealers Association objects to this portrayal. It argues that (pdf) Tesla wants a special exemption from state rules requiring dealer franchisees for retail sales. The regulations, developed in the 1930s, “prevent monopolies and promote competition in vehicle pricing and service,” the association claims. But that arrangement is mostly the result of lobbying and protectionism. As Quartz has reported, automakers can’t cut out the middleman (dealers) to help reduce the 30% or so of a car’s costs now spent on distribution. That arrangement, say experts, stifles innovation and artificially inflates costs by forcing all sales through dealerships. The US Federal Trade Commission said similar dealer-friendly laws in Michigan were “likely harming both competition and consumers.”
Updated: The story has been updated to include background on lawmakers’ attempts to relax dealership rules for Berkshire Hathaway and Cummins.
TRENTON — With the Legislature’s review of the state budget beginning with public hearings later this week, an assemblyman is tossing a cost-cutting idea to the mix: Sell half the state’s cars.
Assemblyman Matt Milam, D-Cumberland, who returned to the Assembly six weeks ago after a six-year absence, has reintroduced legislation (A5128) that would require the state to cut its vehicle fleet by 10 percent a year for five years.
“I think we need to get accountability on how many vehicles we have, who they’re assigned to, where they’re going, is there tracking on these, are they being used for the proper use?” Milam said.
There would be exemptions for the State Police, the Division of Gaming Enforcement and other construction, maintenance and emergency services vehicles.
“I have heard from constituents that they’ve seen a state vehicle – you know, they have all decals, ‘official use only.’ They’ve seen them on a Sunday, in Delaware at a Christiana Mall, say,” Milam said.
The proposal directs the Treasury Department to develop plans for reducing the number of cars 10 percent a year for five years, with some exceptions such as for State Police cars. There’s some wiggle room: The cuts would have to be at least 8 percent a year and could stretch over eight years.
Cars deemed to be no longer needed would be sold, with the proceeds used for capital improvement projects or to pay down debt.
Milam returned to the Assembly at the end of January, filling a vacancy created when Sen. Bob Andrzejczak, D-Cape May, switched offices to fill a vacancy created when Jeff Van Drew was elected to Congress. He said he is still researching what impact the car-fleet cuts could have.
“I have my staff getting with the comptroller,” he said. “And let’s get some hard numbers and let’s look at seriously reducing this fleet for cost-saving measures.”
The bill debuted a decade ago but has received just one committee hearing in six legislative sessions, back in 2010. One thing potentially in its favor: At one point its sponsors included Craig Coughlin, who now is the Assembly speaker.
Multiple pedestrians hit by cars in separate overnight incidents in Pinellas County - Tampa Bay Times
Three pedestrians were struck by cars overnight in separate Pinellas County incidents, leaving one dead, two seriously injured and charges pending in at least one of the cases.
In St. Petersburg, a 74-year-old man was in a crosswalk at 28th Street N near Central Avenue about 8:30 p.m. when he was hit by a man driving a Ford-150 pickup truck. The driver, 48-year-old Dwight Horne of St. Petersburg, did not stop at the scene of the accident, according to a release from the St. Petersburg Police Department.
Officers later tracked Horne down, and charges are pending.
The crash victim, who was not named in the St. Petersburg Police Department release, suffered “life-threatening injuries,” according to authorities. He was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.
The second incident happened about 1:20 a.m. near the intersection of Park Boulevard and Starkey Road in Seminole.
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said that Nicholas Orio, 21, of Seminole, was driving northbound on Starkey Road in a 2018 Mazda when his vehicle struck 41-year-old David Cunningham. Cunningham, also of Seminole, did not use a crosswalk as he tried to cross Starkey, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said.
Cunningham died at the scene.
Orio was not injured in the accident, and neither speed nor impairment were deemed to be factors in the crash, the sheriff’s office said.
The night’s third incident happened near downtown St. Petersburg, where hundreds of revelers came out to celebrate the early morning hours of St. Patrick’s Day.
About 2:30 a.m., a 34-year-old man was hit by a Chevrolet Impala in the area of 4th Street South and 3rd Avenue, the St. Petersburg Police Department said. The victim, whom police did not name, suffered life-threatening injuries. Authorities took the man to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, where blood tests showed that he had alcohol in his system.
The driver, Christopher Rhyne, 28, stopped at the scene and “is cooperating with the investigation,” police said. Authorities said Rhyne showed no signs of impairment at the scene of the crash.
Contact Kirby Wilson at [email protected] or 727-893-8793. Follow @kirbywtweets.
I passed my test third time. I didn’t have to buy my first car, because Lancashire County Cricket Club had a deal with Lookers Rover and you paid one per cent of the car’s value per month on a rent, so it was like £150 per month, and another £33 for insurance.
But they wouldn’t give you a 220 Turbo. So I had 216 Coupe, in blue. At 17 years old. I was the nuts. I didn’t drink, so I used to take my mates home and I’d get stopped by the police in Preston every night without fail. Because in Preston, that car, a 1.6 Rover, was the equivalent of driving a McLaren in Chelsea.
I swapped it for a Cabrio, but they’d sent the wrong car – it was purple instead of blue, so I had that for about three months, then I got a pay rise and I stretched myself to a 620ti. That was a car. And then someone went in the back of it when I was on my way to a team game in Cheadle. So I couldn’t play that day because of whiplash, but I got a grand for whiplash and taped the boot up.
The first car I bought was a Porsche Boxster. I was on tour in Pakistan and I was a bit bored, so I bought it. Lovely car. Trouble with that was I was driving it one day on a back lane and a Metro came the other way. I stopped, but the Metro couldn’t. He hit me. Back then, the Metro had metal bumpers. Nothing, no damage. The whole front end of my Boxster fell off.
Then I had a BMW M5. The E39 with the V8 and manual gearbox. That was amazing. Amazing. That car started with Lee Westwood. He bought it for 70-odd grand. Darren Clarke (we were with the same management company) bought it off him for something like £45k. And I offered him £23k. It had 6,000 miles on, and was three years old. It was a car and a half.
Worst car I’ve ever had was an Overfinch Range Rover. I drove over a pothole and two tyres went down. And when I drove through a big puddle – couldn’t help myself – the undertray fell off. It went to the garage, I picked it up three days later and, with no word of a lie, drove home though the same puddle – only doing 30mph – and the bottom fell off again. So I said: “Look, I never want to see this car again,” because the electrics had had a few problems as well.
I had a VW Touareg, the V10 TDI. Didn’t realise how good that car was until it was gone. And a Ford F-150 Harley Davidson edition. I crashed it going to my mate’s house. I wasn’t going that fast, but I went around a bend in a lane and the back end came out, I tried correcting it and it went the other way. It went through a fence and a bush and as I had the window open, that all came in the car.
My daily driver is a Porsche 997 Turbo: black, 10 years old, 45,000 miles. I bought it on a whim, but I genuinely love that car. It’s everything I wanted. And we’ve got a Merc GLS350d for the family.
The other car in my garage is a Lambo Murciélago. I feel a knobhead driving it: it’s got carbon bucket seats that you can’t put back; after anything more than half an hour I’m sore; and I can’t use the indicator going left because my knee’s in the way. But I go in the garage and just look at it. I’m not a big fan of the Aventador and the newer ones, but I just think the Murciélago is beautiful.
Rover 200 cabriolet
BMW M5 E39
Porsche 997 Turbo
A few car friends and I have recently been discussing the concept of a “forever car” and whether it exists for every car-minded enthusiast. It’s something along the same lines as a soul mate. Do you believe in soul mates? You might believe in forever cars, too. And if you do believe in forever cars, do you have one? A car that will be in your life until you draw your final breath? What is it? I’m dying to know.
I’m well into my third year of ownership of this rough and tumble Porsche 912E, and I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of it. We’ve driven across the U.S. together, and racked up tens of thousands of miles together in that time. I’d considered selling it last fall when it had been out of commission for a little while, but my wife reminded me that I needed to drive it again before making that decision. Once it was back up and on the road, I took it to one of my favorite driving roads and immediately fell in love again.
Part of my problem is that I have too many non-forever cars. I have to spend time working on the ones I don’t love enough to keep forever, and the one I love most gets neglected. In reality, I need to dispose of a few projects to focus on the ones that are close to me. I need to Kondo my car collection. The 912E sparks joy, but the 944 Turbo just doesn’t.
It isn’t necessarily that the 912E is an excellent car. It’s not. It’s loud, uncomfortable, slow, and the manual steering is unwieldy at low speeds. I kind of love it because it’s not a great car, if that makes any sense. It was built to serve a purpose, and I take great joy in that purpose. Find a mountain road somewhere, struggle to the top, and fall in love. Lather, rinse, repeat.
So, do you have a car in your life that sparks the kind of joy I have with my terrible little Porsche? If not, is there something on your automotive ownership bucket list that you think could become a forever car once you have it? Did you have your forever car, sell it, and regret it every day since? Tell me your stories, I want to know!
As technology improves, fewer cars are getting stolen. Unfortunately, unless you’re buying a new car then the anti-theft technology is going to be dated and the older the car, the easier it is to steal. That’s pretty obvious, but there are ways to improve the chances of an older car not being stolen.
The bottom line with car theft is that if car thieves really want your car, they’re going to take it. Thieves are constantly figuring out how to defeat the security technology automakers come up with. The latest technique is to stand in a driveway and use a signal booster to grab the signal from a keyless remote in the house and use it open up and start the car. Most car theft is a little more opportunistic though, and building simple habits like parking in well-lit areas, where there are a lot of windows overlooking the spot, or in well-trafficked areas, and not leaving valuables in plain sight help. For those older cars, its all about making it longer to steal as well. The longer it takes to steal a car, the more likely a thief will move on to something easier.
So, the question is, what cars shouldn’t you buy if you’re not parking in a garage or driveway overnight or do have to park in a high-crime area? The answer is definitely not one of these…
Many years ago I owned a second-gen Ford Tempo, which sucked. Sometime after that I owned a Saturn Ion, which also sucked, but a bit less. (The first time my dad rode in it, all he could be moved to say was, “This is a very basic car.”) Right now, I’m driving a rental Nissan Versa on a trip west. And you know what? I don’t hate it.
The Fun Cars are the ones we all know of as Fun: Small cars that go quick, like a Honda Civic Type R, Volkswagen Golf GTI, Volkswagen Up GTI, Porsche 911, Ford Fiesta ST, a Mercedes-AMG, etc. The Too-Much-Fun Cars include everything bigger and faster than the Fun Cars, which means every supercar and most sports cars, or basically any car with more than 400 horsepower, whether that be from an internal combustion engine, electric powertrain, or hybrid. These are cars that you might think you want to drive, but will only end up getting you arrested, killed, broke, or all three at the same time.
Then there are the Good But Functional Cars, which are basically any station wagon and any small truck with a two-person cab. Then there are the Way-Too-Big-Planet-Killing Cars, which includes pretty much any SUV and non-two-person-cab truck. Then there are The Vans, all of which are good.
A whole different category of cars I won’t even get into are the Weird And Unique Cars, which I guess I would slot Miata and Wrangler into, along with a lot of JDM shit, and along with Twingo. And then there is a whole other classification of cars that are not quite boring, exactly, merely extremely competent, like the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord.
All of which brings me to the Boring Cars. You know which ones I’m talking about. The Chevy Cruze. This recent-ish Nissan Versa I’m driving right now. The goddamn Kia Rio. Hell, we had a whole column devoted to meh cars until pretty recently.
But I was motoring with my Versa earlier this morning in Reno, Nevada, and while it has basically no power, everything inside worked, and it has things (like power windows) that were not a given on cars until fairly recently, and did I mention that everything in it worked, just as I asked it to do? Also, it was pretty comfortable for my 6’2″ frame, which I can’t say the same about for even some of the Big Cars.
What I’m trying to say is that it motored just fine. And it isn’t some huge, idiotic SUV. It is a sensible, proper car. And if you want to judge someone for driving a sensible, proper car, feel free, though I would save my hate for people who willingly own, like, a fucking Expedition, which is not only boring but is also big and stupid. Get outta here with that nonsense.
The steering wheel in an F1 race car requires fighter jet components and lots of practice - Popular Science
This is the steering wheel from the 2018 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport car, which differs slightly than the wheel in the video.
The strat dial can unleash the full power of the engine.
Pit lanes have strict speed limits in place for the safety of the drivers and crew, so this button caps the car’s top speed, even if the driver is on the throttle.
Study this diagram of the 2018 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport wheel. There will be a quiz later.
There is a good time to buy a car so that you save the most money, according to car experts. Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more. Buzz60
TOMS RIVER – Hundreds of people turned out at Toms River Volkswagen as the sun rose Saturday — or earlier — hoping they’d be one of three lucky shoppers to buy a used car for just $1.
The potential buyers planted themselves in vehicles, hoping when dealership staff went through the lot slashing prices at 10 a.m., they’d be in one of three cars reduced to $1.
One woman said she arrived at the dealership at 10:30 p.m. Friday. In a video posted Saturday morning, another possible buyer appeared to be napping in the driver’s seat of an SUV on the showroom floor.
Ultimately, the dealership sold a 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer, a 2012 Volkswagen Jetta and a 2018 Mitsubishi Mirage for $1.07 each, including taxes.
MORE FREEBIES: The best MLB giveaways for each team in 2019 season
Stacey Barchenger: @sbarchenger; [email protected]
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The end of the road. It comes for all of us, and it has come for many automobile brands. The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805–1942 lists 141 brands as having operated just in Connecticut, historically not exactly a hotbed of the automobile industry. Locomobile you may have heard of, but probably not Swan, which hailed from Middletown, or Clapp, the pride of New Haven. The early days of the auto industry were littered with failed brands, and more than a few have expired in more recent years, too. Some went out in a blaze of glory, others skulked off into history in ignominious defeat. Mostly it’s the latter, as we will see in this examination of the very final cars ever built by now-dead automobile brands.
It’s a long, long way from the pavement-scorching GTO and the swaggering Grand Prixs and Bonnevilles of Pontiac’s 1960s heyday to the soulless appliance that was the G6, the final product of the division that once boasted “We Build Excitement.” Characteristically, the last G6 was a white sedan and it was part of a fleet order. It rolled off the line in April 2009. If you count foreign markets, however, the last Pontiac built was a G3 Wave—a subcompact never sold in the U.S. That model was made in Mexico until December 2009, although that isn’t really a happier ending.
There was no Rocket V-8 engine in the last Oldsmobile made, nor was there a “Cutlass” nameplate anywhere on the body. The last car from a brand that once defined middle-class aspiration was an Alero, a far from aspirational and totally forgettable compact. GM didn’t want to forget it, though, so the Dark Cherry Metallic four-door went to the GM Heritage Collection. Thinking better of it later, GM sold off the car in December 2017, and it fetched an entirely un-Alerolike $42K.
The original, ex-military Hummer H1 is the model that captivated Arnold Schwarzenegger and many others, but that ultra-Hummer was long gone from the lineup when the brand was retired during the GM bankruptcy. The last Hummer built is believed to be a black H3T, the pickup version of the smaller, Chevy Colorado–based H3. Its trip down the assembly line was broadcast on the Today Show, in a segment that should have included Arnold Schwarzenegger, so he could have delivered his signature line as a hopeful message for the brand’s devotees: “I’ll be back.”
The final Mercury produced was a Grand Marquis in 2011—fitting, since that was the last new car for so many of the brand’s customers. Sadly, it was part of a fleet order. The final models of the Grand Marquis got an “Ultimate Edition” badge and were commemorated with special plaque.
The Neon, a car that introduced itself with “Hi.” ended up being the last Plymouth to say “Bye.” The final Plymouth ever built was a silver 2001 Neon LX with a five-speed manual, and it sold to a Chrysler VP with a collection of vintage cars.
It could be argued that AMC went out on a high note. Its all-wheel-drive Eagle coupes, sedans, hatchbacks, and wagons—adapted from the humble Concord and Spirit—are seen by many as pioneering crossover vehicles. The last-ever AMC was an ’88 Eagle wagon in dark blue with woodgrain, built on December 11, 1987. An AMC enthusiast, Alan Strang, seeking to buy the last Eagle built, states that he called the assembly plant, tracked to car to a dealer in Oklahoma City, and brought that Eagle home to California.
Tremendous fanfare greeted Saturn’s debut—GM chairman Roger Smith’s grand experiment that was supposed to change both the auto-buying experience as well as the worker/management relationship. But when the end came for the brand, GM brought the curtain down hard. After a proposal to hand off the Saturn brand to Roger Penske fell apart, GM shut down production the next day, October 1, 2009. There was no time for any Final Edition or Collectors’ Series models, and no wistful Hal Raney and Partners TV footage of the final Saturn rolling off the line. What that car was exactly, we do not know, but it’s possible that you’ve driven it. All 2010-model-year Saturns were sold to rental-car companies.
Much like the brand itself, Saab’s demise was a little weird. A white 9-3 sedan is recognized as the last Saab ever built, and that car is enshrined in a museum in Sweden. Production of the 9-3 was later restarted, however, although those cars were EVs and badged as NEVS not Saab. Then there were the handful 9-3 convertibles that were unfinished when the line shut down but were completed later, two months after the factory closed. One of those 47 convertibles likely is the actual last Saab built. At least until some other auto-industry hopeful applies the paddles to Saab’s moribund corpse.
Eagle, the brand—as opposed to Eagle, the model—spent almost the entirety of its forgettable existence as a nameplate stuck onto someone else’s cars, eithers Renaults or Mitsubishis. The most successful of those rebadging attempts was the Talon sports coupe, a version of the Mitsubishi Eclipse that was available with all-wheel drive. It’s fitting, then, that the last Eagle built was a second-generation, 1998-model-year Talon.
Ford wanted in on the Yuppie-fueled import boom of the mid-1980s, so it imported two European Fords, giving them the vaguely German-sounding nameplate, Merkur. The Merkur XR4Ti, née Ford Sierra, was a sporty two-door hatchback. It was joined in 1988 by the larger four-door Scorpio, also a hatch. Neither was terribly effective at enticing suspenders-wearing strivers away from the Saabs, Bimmers, and Benzes of the day. The XR4Ti lasted through 1989, while the Scorpio limped into 1990.
A Rover-built variant of the Acura Legend, the Sterling sedans (and later hatchbacks) might have combined British luxury with Japanese reliability. They might have, but didn’t. Launched in 1987, Sterling almost immediately earned a reputation for poor quality, which torpedoed sales. 1991 was the final model year. The sedans were the 827S and 827SL; the hatchbacks were the 827Si and 827SLi. The British announced their departure in August of 1991, but they did so with a stiff upper lip, running a print ad that equated the Sterling with “some things America was not ready for,” such as King George and a punk rocker with a rainbow mohawk.
“Hope I die before I get old” could have been the motto for Scion, Toyota’s obsessively youth-focused division that didn’t live to see its 20th birthday. The brand was born in 2003, and the last new model Scion introduced was the 2016 tC Release Series 10.0, unveiled at the 2016 New York auto show. It’s not known whether the tC ended being the last car built to wear a Scion badge, however. It could have been a Scion iA, iM, or an FR-S coupe. The tC died with Scion, however, while the other three morphed into Toyotas.
Could import intenders be enticed into a Chevrolet dealership if the small cars they were shopping had a globe logo rather than a Chevrolet badge? That seemed to be the thinking behind Geo. The brand introduced itself in the 1980s with the tagline, “Get to know Geo,” but after 1997, the brand’s final model year, the thinking seemed to be, “Forget you know Geo.” The Metro, Prizm, and Tracker all became Chevrolets for 1998. The Metro lived on until 2000, the Prizm through 2002, the Tracker survived until 2004.