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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Dec 1, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

HOT WIRES For hot and tender news wires on the car culture, see LA Car's Hot Wires Honda Goes to the Dogs The New Knight Rider Ford Delivers An Escape Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Symposium 23 A Bill for CA Hybrid HOV Access Stickers Holders to Upgrade


NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING HONDA GOES TO THE DOGS Honda Element Wins First-Ever DogCar of the Year Award, a car-buying resource for dog-lovers, has chosen the Honda Element as the DogCar of the Year. Created by "Good Morning America" veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker and his writing partner, the syndicated columnist and blogger Gina Spadafori, also gave high honors to the Suzuki Forenza wagon as the Best DogCarsValue among the 2007 models. The team also noted four vehicles to watch for 2008: The all new Scion xB, Volvo XC70, Dodge Grand Caravan and Buick Enclave. In the closely watched Green category, marks the 2008 Ford Escape hybrid as worth a test drive for dog-lovers who want a cleaner ride. "Surveys show about half of all car-buyers consider the comfort of the family dog when buying a new car - and 65 percent take their pets on errands," says Dr. Becker, the New York Times best-selling author and co-author with Spadafori of the new "BowWow: Curiously Compelling Facts, True Tales and Trivia Even Your Dog Won't Know" (HCI). "We're glad to see car-makers address the comfort and safety of our dogs on the road because people don't want to leave their pets - or should we say 'four-legged family members' - behind. More than a quarter even sometimes take pets to work," he said. The Web site, which also offers Dr. Becker's pet travel safety tips, pet travel product reviews and reader comments, gave honors to top DogCars for 2007 in seven additional automotive categories, including luxury, mid-size and small SUVs, sporty, truck, minivan and compact. gives the highest "paw ratings" to those vehicles that have: * Seats that fold flat or are easily removable. * Plenty of usable cargo space relative to the size of the vehicle. * Wide, square backs, with as little rear slope as possible, to make the most of the cargo area. * Door and window locks, so a dog can't accidentally unlock a door or roll down a window. * All-wheel or four-wheel drive and high ground clearance, because dog sports people find themselves off-road a great deal. The Honda Element's versatile cargo space, easy-clean flooring, crate-friendly rear design and optional all-wheel drive were cited as the key ingredients for the perfect dog car. Top Dog Cars Best Overall: Honda Element Best Overall Value: Suzuki Forenza Best Luxury SUV: Land Rover Range Rover Best Mid-sized: SUV: Volkswagen Touareg and Volvo XC90 (Tie) Best Small-Sized SUV: Mitsubishi Outlander Best Sporty DogCar: Mazda Speed3 Best Pickup Truck: Ford F-150 Best Minivan: Dodge Grand Caravan Best Hatchback: Honda Fit Sport Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor





NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING THE NEW KNIGHT RIDER Let's say you're NBC, and you want to revive the popular show from the 1980s, "Knight Rider." What do you use for starring car of the show? They don't make the Pontiac Trans Am anymore. Orders are being taken on the new Dodge Challenger, but you still can't drive one off the showroom floor. The Camaro is still about a year away. For the creators of the new Knight Rider, there is only one show in town: The Ford Mustang. In this case, it's one based on the Shelby GT500KR. Fans of the original show may have a hard time swallowing a Mustang playing the role of KITT, but the new one has plenty of character.

"The success of 'Transformers' had a role in inspiring NBC Entertainment chief Ben Silverman's decision to revive 'Knight,'" reports Josef Adalian of Variety. "The thinking is that smallscreen f/x have advanced to the point where it'd be feasible to have a weekly series in which cars shift shapes." NBC is tapping Doug Liman to produce the "Transformers"-inspired show, according to Variety. "Knight Rider" will be a reworking of the 1980s hit action-drama series about a man and his indestructible supercar. "Peacock is readying a two-hour backdoor pilot for the project, with tentative plans to air it as a telepic later this season," says Adalian. "If the telepic clicks, a new-model "Knight Rider" could be on the air as early as next fall." NBC's iconic comes roaring back to life on the network with an updated sequel that will air as a two-hour movie event on Sunday, February 17, 2008 (9-11 p.m. ET). NBC unveiled the new customized KITT Ford Mustang to be featured in the series in a press event held at NBC's Burbank Studios. The movie stars Justin Bruening ("Cold Case," "All My Children"), Deanna Russo ("NCIS," "The Young and the Restless"), Sydney Tamiia Poitier ("Veronica Mars," "Grindhouse") and Bruce Davison ("Breach," "Close to Home"). In addition, David Hasselhoff (NBC's "America's Got Talent") ## who starred in the popular lead role as Michael Knight for four seasons during the original series ## returns as the same character in a special guest-star appearance. Will Arnett (NBC's "30 Rock," "Blades of Glory") will provide the voice of KITT.

The three cars to be employed in the series include the KITT Hero ## a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR that is playing the part of the everyday Hero car with 540 horsepower; the KITT Attack ## a super high-speed version of the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR Hero car that transforms into Attack mode with the help of air-ride technology and specialized body parts ## and a KITT Remote, which is a driverless Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR version of the Hero vehicle. As the original story resumes, the new KITT (Knight Industries Three Thousand) is capable of hacking almost any system; its weapons systems efficient; and its body ## thanks to its creator's work and nanotechnology ## is capable of actually shifting shape and color. Plus, its artificial intelligence makes it the ideal crime-fighting partner: logical, precise and possessing infinite knowledge. It is the ultimate car ## and someone will be willing to do anything to obtain it. Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor





Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid  

BLEAM: BACK SEAT DRIVING A PLUG FOR FORD Ford Delivers An Escape Plug-In Hybrid Today at the International Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exposition ( Ford delivered the first of 20 Ford Escape Hybrid Plug-in to Southern California Edison. Edison is the only company in the world with the access to the first commercially available plug-in hybrid. Ford chose Edison because of its long history with alternative powered vehicles and Edison's in-house testing facilities. The expected knowledge learned from this real-world trial will help the company iron out the version available to the public in 2010. Yes, they said in 2010 they will be sharing the Ford Escape Hybrid Plug-in with the masses. The Ford Escape Plug-in Hybrid is quite similar to the production Escape Hybrid, except for the 10KWh lithium battery pack, upgraded display system for tracking the energy consumption, aerodynamic door handles, smoother exterior lines and a wonderful percent paint job.  Ford says it will be the first company to ship a plug-in hybrid. If this is true, maybe it can save itself from the Toyota juggernaut. - Gordon Bleam   Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor





Chevrolet Volt electric concept car

BLEAM: BACK SEAT DRIVING ELECTRIC VEHICLE SYMPOSIUM 23 The International Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exposition attracts business, policy, industry, and academic leaders from around the world who are interested in exploring and understanding the technical, policy and market challenges of electric transportation technologies. Running from December 2 to December 5, 2007 at the Anaheim Convention Center, Southern California Edison is sponsoring a complete symposium on all things to do with electric vehicles. Attending are all the major car companies and suppliers showing off their wares. If you have a desire to learn about what is available now or what direction we are heading you must attend. While there out the back is the Ride-and-Drive area, out the magical doors you will find the largest gathering of battery, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell electric cars, trucks, personal transportation/sports equipment and other vehicles for you to test drive. From battery powered scooters and ATVs to a computer bus to hydrogen powered cars and trucks. Also you will find electric vehicles and the currently available Hybrids with one small change, they have a plug. Yes there are many different plug-in vehicles available to talk with designers and executives. All-in-all, the International Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exposition is a must-see. Add it to your calendar for next year. - Gordon Bleam   For more information, go to Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor






NAKANO: BACK SEAT DRIVING A BILL FOR CA HYBRID HOV ACCESS STICKER HOLDERS TO UPGRADE The Problem With all 85,000 single-occupancy California HOV access stickers for certain hybrid vehicles depleted, current holders of the sticker have no incentive to upgrade to higher efficiency hybrid vehicles introduced into the market (e.g., the anticipated new Honda hybrid sedan, the Honda Fit Hybrid, the third-generation Prius, etc.). Consequently, there will be 85,000 vehicles traveling the HOV lanes through January 1, 2011 that are frozen in 2004 (and earlier) technology. The Proposal Allow current holders of HOV access stickers to turn in their stickers for new stickers if they purchase (EPA-rated) higher efficiency hybrid vehicles. The Effect It's twofold: (1) It insures that the latest and most efficient hybrids have access to the HOV lanes through January 1, 2011; (2) As sticker holders take advantage of the new law, it'll bring thousands of non-stickered, used hybrids into the market - thereby increasing the availability and affordability of hybrid vehicles to lower income families. The beauty of this proposal is that it will not increase the allotment of stickers beyond the current 85,000, and it will not extend the access beyond the current expiration date of January 1, 2011. California Assembly member Ted Lieu, author of the bill that increased the original hybrid HOV access sticker allotment to 85,000 and extended the expiration date to January 1, 2001, has indicated he will keep the proposal in mind for future legislation. It'll probably take a few letters and emails to elevate the proposal for more serious consideration. To contact Assembly member Ted Lieu, click here  Your Back Seat Driving comments can be sent to: Letter to the Editor





LA Car

That was LA Car's subtitle when it started back in 1997. It's original website address was about five times the size of Since then, La Car became LA Car. Its subtitle became Reporting From Car Culture Ground Zero, then From The Heart of Car Culture, to today's The Cars and Culture of Southern California. At all times, however, we aimed to chronicle the Southland's automotive spirit - much like one's own journal or diary. LA Car has always been a great source to come back to from week-to-week, to see what articles and reviews have been added to our rather staggering database. With Back Seat Driving, a.k.a. BSD (note the similarity to two well-worn abbreviations, BS and BFD) and Live Wires - Hot & Tender News From the Car Culture (co-located with Back Seat Driving, and updated at least daily), we give you some reasons to come back more often (all opinions, by the way, are those of the respective author). So, go ahead and bookmark We'll be sure to always provide a link to Live Wires and the latest Back Seat Driving blog entry. In the meantime, welcome to the journal and journey from the heart of the car culture. - Roy Nakano 

For past Blog entries, click the following: November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 July 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006 July 2006 June 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 October 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 June 2005 May 2005 April 2005 March 2005 February 2005 January 2005 December 2004 November 2004 October 2004 September 2004 August 2004 July 2004 June 2004 May 2004 April 2004

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