Welcome back once more to In the Rearview, where I bring you the past week’s automotive news in a nicely bite-sized form.
Here’s a Sound Bite for You: The Chevy Volt’s Engine was one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines
First up this week, if you haven’t yet seen The Fate of the Furious or are wondering if you should even bother, we have a special spoiler-free review from our editor Kurt Verlin, who happily also had watched all seven of the previous Fast/Furious movies and wrote a lovely review of the series up to this point.
Second, it is still SUV season, and two new nigh-indistinguishable models, the Buick Enclave and the Buick Enclave Avenir, hit the stage in New York, launching both the next generation of the brand’s full-size SUV and the brand’s Avenir sub-brand in the US.
Stepping back a week, though, remember the Dodge Demon, the vehicle embodiment of a manly growl? Well, when it was released, Dodge announced that the Demon was banned from NHRA competition, heavily implying that it was because the car was just too hot for The Man, man. Well, turns out that was a bunch of crap, as the NHRA came out with the real reason why it was banned: the Demon isn’t safe enough.
Moving Right Along: The new Chevy Duramax diesel engine is more advanced than ever
Speaking of things that are bad, let’s shift focus for a second to Venezuela. The country has been in turmoil, mostly due to its government and partly due to the oil price drop, but now the government has seized a GM production plant along with all the assets inside, forcing GM to fire the few thousand people who worked there.
In other labor problems, across the Atlantic in Britain, a number of BMW plants have halted as the workers went on strike, actually stopping all MINI production. The dispute apparently is over a pension plan which the company reduced and which the union calls “pension robbery.”
However, not all is dark in the car world, as Toyota has done what I thought someone should do for ages and built (as the Chinese would call it) a New Energy semi truck, by putting two Mirai fuel cell stacks inside a big rig with a huge, honking electric drive unit.
Finally, there has been a ton of speculation in the past about Apple, maker of iPhones and Mac computers, and whether or not it was actually considering making self-driving cars. The issue seemed put to bed for a while, until someone noticed the company’s name was quietly added to the names of the companies that are licensed to test self-driving cars in California, prompting journalists across the country to prick up their ears and say, “Apple Car?” My guess is probably not, but there is some compelling evidence.