Back Seat Driving

aka Fossils at the Dealership

There are now many ways to buy a car that do not involve the antiquated dealership experience. So why does it persist and when can we be done with it? Senior Contributing Editor Harold Osmer recently traded his 2000 Ford Crown Victoria (ex) police car for a late model Ford Flex at a dealership and tells his story about what transpired.

AutoNOmobility 2017
The LA Auto Show Reimagined as a Hipster/Tech Haven

BACK SEAT DRIVING—This year, AutoMobilityLA, the event I called a brightly-lit rabbit hole last time around, is planning to step it up with a race to “Design and Develop L.A. into a Smarter City”. Like the GM Styling Contests of old, this is a competition among futurists for a complete retool, a clean sheet world where all of the present problems are somehow swept aside and a 15-level motor highway interchange magically appears just where it was needed most. So, the idea here is to present a smarter city, not a better city, not a friendlier city, not a more accommodating city, but a city that is somehow “smarter”. Editor Doug Stokes opines.

An Open Letter to the Industry

BACK SEAT DRIVING—The ad that stunned us was a Mercedes-Benz commercial which shows a number of growling drag racing vehicles pulling up to race against a new model Mercedes. The machines line up curb-to-curb on what looks like a city street, a pedestrian runs across the screen, a bleeped sobriquet is uttered by the unseen announcer, traffic light goes green… Editor Stokes asks why car manufacturers seem to need to pimp their products by showing them street racing.

VW engineer gets three years

BACK SEAT DRIVING—This guy … what’s his name: Liang, was wrong, criminally complicit, misguided … what else? But, unless I’m way off base, he’s sure as sunrise not the guy (or guys) at the top who OKed this betrayal of the dealers that sold these cars as “Clean Diesel” and the customers who bought them in good faith … and paid extra for the privilege by the way … Editor Stokes (who is not a diesel car owner himself) is still seething about “Dieselgate” and where the buck (er… Deutschmark) finally stops on this one. Doug Stokes opines.

“The death of the internal combustion engine”

BACK SEAT DRIVING—The lead story in The Economist magazine says the internal combustion engine (ICE) had a good run and soon will be supplanted by electric vehicles (EVs). The article cites info and data that favor electric, including the rapidly falling cost of batteries, low cost of ownership, and environmental and health benefits. Many auto industry pundits, including members of the LA Car staff, scoff at the imminent demise of the ICE. But the facts are compelling. Chuck Dapoz comments.

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