Welcome once again to In the Rearview, where I, your friendly neighborhood farmer of car news, carefully harvest the kernels from the past week’s stories, bring them to you here in a nicely bottled, distilled form.
Oh, That’s Nice: The Chevy Bolt has been named North American Car of the Year
This week, our first story is a bit of a followup to a story from the previous In the Rearview, where wild speculation led to wild rumors that our new wild president would put Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, in the head position of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an event safety advocates weren’t so wild about. Barra, it seems, isn’t feeling particularly wild about this either, as she has said she is “150% committed to General Motors.”
Then, at the end of April, we ran a story where Nissan with its LEAF were thumbing their noses at Chevrolet, because sales of the old, soon-to-be-replaced LEAF were beating sales of the brand new, much-awarded Chevy Bolt in February and March. However, pretty shortly afterward Chevy returned with a prompt thumb-biting at Nissan because the Bolt beat the crap out of the LEAF’s sales for April.
Speaking of these electric cars, though, things may be really rough for anyone trying to sell a car powered by electrons, as Edmunds predicts that with the loss of the federal tax credit on EV sales (soon to go away for several automakers), electric car sales will plummet. The only way to prevent this is for the current administration to extend the credits (which is about as likely as I am a trained porpoise pressing the keys with my nose), or for car makers to stack up incentives on the electrics and sell them at a loss.
In more bummer news, while we in the States are enjoying cheap gas, you know who isn’t? Cuba. In fact, they are running out. It turns out that most of their gasoline has been coming from Venezuela, where the economy is tanking in the face of dropping petroleum prices and wild government corruption. So, not much is coming from Venezuela, and Cuba will soon be running dry.
Diesel and Regular: What’s the difference?
On the lighter side, Chrysler is just so, so tragic at coming up with TV ads. They recently came up with a commercial for the Chrysler Pacifica that seemed to be trying to make the point that the Pacifica is a rare thing, but really only raised questions. These include: “How much did they pay for those weird CGI flying pigs?”; “Why don’t they fall out of the air when they hit each other?”; “Who is that dude standing in front of the literal gate to Hell?”; “Why does his dog only have two heads?”; “Why is he outside the clearly chained and padlocked gate—was he evicted from Hell?”
At time of writing, Chrysler has taken down the ad, but we have some good screenshots.
Anyways, it turns out that, to the surprise of nobody, diesels in Europe in actual driving conditions don’t meet emissions standards, according to an independent testing group. In fact, more than half of the diesels that they drove around failed to meet any of the Euro emissions standards that have ever been in place, and put out 12 times the current legal limit. That is what happens when your emissions tests work with kids’ gloves, I suppose.
In other international news, foreign automakers will soon be able to get a bigger stake in the Chinese market, as the long-standing 50/50 rule, where foreign carmakers had to form a joint venture split 50/50 with a domestic carmaker to sell cars in China, is showing signs of going away. For the global carmakers, that’s great—they will control more of their own production and so on. For the domestic ones, that’s bad—basically, according to analysts, that’s because they are bad.
Finally, I was somewhat annoyed this past week to find out that BMW has recently been holding conferences where they talk about the company being under “electric attack” which they direly need to come back from, since they haven’t been making much progress in selling electric vehicles. However, despite releasing a few comparatively short-ranged plug-in hybrids on already-popular models, BMW hasn’t made a big change to its electric “i” subbrand since the introduction of the i3 and i8. While cool and much-hyped at their launch, those models are in need of a refresh, or at least a new sibling. At the very least, BMW could stand to push its plug-in electrics more.