Back Seat Driving

Waiting for the clean diesel train to arrive

BACK SEAT DRIVING—Remember the Richard Gere movie, “Hachi”, based on an actual Akita dog named Hachiko? In the real life version, Hachiko waited by the train station every day for nearly 10 years for his master’s arrival. The master never arrive, having suffered a fatal cerebral hemorrhage. Similarly, owners of VW’s TDI vehicles have been waiting for the clean diesel train to arrive. Will the fix ever arrive, or will owners suffer the same fate as Hachiko? Editor Doug Stokes laments.

Big shift to electrics for VW, but where’s the diesel fix?

BACK SEAT DRIVING—Volkswagen announced it would spend $11.2 billion to create more than 30 electric car models by 2025, develop autonomous vehicles, and move into the ride-hailing business. This represents a major shift for the Wolfsburg automobile manufacturer. Meanwhile, there is no tangible fix in site for the millions of owners who invested in the company’s “Clean Diesel” technology. Editor Doug Stokes opines.

Takata air bag recalls keep growing

BACK SEAT DRIVING— Associated Press reports that eight automakers are recalling more than 12 million vehicles in the U.S. to replace potentially dangerous Takata air bag inflators. Documents detailing recalls by Honda, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Ferrari and Mitsubishi were posted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Seventeen automakers are adding 35 million to 40 million inflators to what already was the largest auto recall in U.S. history. Editor Doug Stokes comments.

The stars line up for Subaru’s recall approach; VW’s doesn’t

BACK SEAT DRIVING—Subaru’s mass recall action (“do not drive, do not sell, we’ll come to your house to check your car, if we need to repair you’ll get a free loaner”) is refreshing, in the face of Volkswagen’s weak and patently improbable indication that its diesel debacle was the work of a few nefarious and unnamed rogue engineers located deep in the bowels of Wolfsburg who came up with the plan to cheat the emissions readings on millions of diesel-powered vehicles (that, in fact, were in gross violation of air quality emissions standards—and still are). Doug Stokes comments.


BACK SEAT DRIVING—Good to see the electric FIA Formula E race by-line in the Business Section. However, I have a fundamental problem with ANY racing series that requires the use of TWO racing cars to complete ONE racing event. As a showcase for any sort of advancements in electric car technology, this whole exercise seems to me at best to be an abject failure, and at worst, a way to further dramatize and enforce the public’s number one concern about electric vehicles: RANGE. Doug Stokes comments.

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