Ferrari cuts Toronto lawyer a deal to replace his flooded California.
A Ferrari might be the last vehicle you'd want to be driving when streets are submerged in water, but Toronto lawyer Howard Levitt was unfortunate enough to be behind the wheel of his $200,000+ Ferrari California when the tunnel he was driving through started to fill up. It was July, when parts of the Canadian city were flooded, but he was determined to make his flight to a court appearance the next day. So Levitt abandoned his metallic blue supercar in the middle of the street and took a cab to the airport, the National Post reports.
The car subsequently was totaled, and the insurance company covered the damage, so after completing his court assignment (and a column for the Financial Post that was due the same day), Levitt began to search for a replacement for his California - driving his 1994 Dodge Viper in the meantime. He decided on a 2014 California in the same metallic blue to replace his 2010 model. When he approached Ferrari to put in an order, the Italian marque was waiting for him, having heard of his mishap. The company offered him a "very generous" deal on a 2014 model; an undisclosed amount less than the after-options retail price of around $300,000.
The new Ferrari is expected to be delivered to Levitt in November, and we can only hope another flood doesn't catch him off guard. We're not so sure Ferrari would offer him another "very generous" deal. Feel free to watch the short video below, despite its rather static nature, which we included to precisely show the sad fate of Levitt's fallen California.
The phrase "You're doing it wrong," doesn't really even begin to describe this one. We'll admit to being concerned whenever we have to park in a field. There's always a fear, especially during dry weather, that one person's negligence could cause the whole lot to go up.
And that's almost exactly what happened in Noyal-Pontivy, Brittany, France. A cluster of cars were parked in a field outside a stunt show, when a pair of intoxicated men decided to break out the barbecue for a bit of tailgating (or whatever the French call it). The only problem being they didn't bother to put their grill out before leaving for the show.
The resulting fast-moving blaze required 40 firefighters to bring it under control, along with a farmer cutting a fire line to contain the inferno. 64 torched cars later, the police were on hand to conduct their investigation into how the wildfire started. That's when our two drunkards came forward, taking responsibility for their negligence. The men face two years in prison.
Fri Mar 29 2013 22:14:38 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Volkswagen Golf named World Car of the Year.
The Volkswagen Golf was named World Car of the Year at the New York auto show on Thursday. The win is the second consecutive award for Volkswagen, which also won in 2012 with the Up!.
“We at Volkswagen are all delighted that the Golf has been named World Car of the Year,” VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said. “To win this award again shows that the Golf is and remains in a class of its own all around the world. This car sets new benchmarks again and again, not least in terms of efficiency and environmental credentials.”
Winterkorn added that the Golf will also be launched as a plug-in hybrid and as a full electric car in the near future.
The Golf was one of 42 candidates for the award. The list was narrowed to four by a panel of 66 automotive journalists from around the globe before they cast their final votes.
Fri Mar 29 2013 22:19:11 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Vampire Weekend singer responds to burning Saab controversy.
Last week, we tipped you off about Vampire Weekend and their new music video for the song Diane Young, a short film that consists entirely of setting fire to two perfectly nice-looking Saab 900 automobiles. The indie rock band's video – viewable by scrolling down – predictably triggered the internet ire of classic car enthusiasts – Saabophiles in particular – and word of the unrest eventually got back to the band itself.
According to music site Spinner (nb: owned by Autoblog parent AOL), the group was "stunned" at the backlash – enough that lead singer Ezra Koenig felt compelled to respond himself. According to Koenig, the band was under the impression that their record company was "looking to purchase the cheapest, oldest cars possible; they weren't trying to buy a beautiful perfect condition car." By way of apology, Koenig even goes so far as to note that bandmate Rostam Batmanglij is a keen fan of Saab.
Other reports have claimed that the cars may have been purchased under false pretenses, sold by owners who "wanted to see them go to a nice new home," but Koenig takes issue with that characterization, countering that he understood that the cars had substantial electrical problems.
Interestingly, more vitriol appears to have been spilled over the fiery deaths of these two Saabs than was drummed up by Jay Z and Kanye West in their music video for Otis, which saw the superstar rappers take a blowtorch to an exponentially costlier Maybach. Either way, Koenig and Co. appear to have at least some regret that they elected to base their video on the song's opening line, "You torched a Saab like a pile of leaves."
Thu Mar 21 2013 01:29:26 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Road-raging cop brake-checks driver and causes accident, caught on video.
Road rage is definitely getting out of control these days, and, apparently, police officers aren't immune to the urges of aggressive, vindictive driving.
In this situation, what we do know is that a North Carolina police officer – Onslow Country Deputy Craig Culpepper – was driving through South Carolina and caused an accident after brake-checking a motorist he had just cut off, and news station WNCT is reporting that the officer has since resigned due to this incident.
Now, we don't know what happened before the camera started recording, what the speed limit was or how fast the officer was actually driving, but what the film shot by the driver who eventually rear ends the officer shows is the cruiser traveling on the highway at what the cameraman/driver clearly believes is an inappropriately slow speed. When an opening on the right becomes available, said driver passes the police cruiser using a third lane and gets back into the left lane in front of the cruiser. This is where ex-Deputy Culpepper's decision making skills failed him.
The officer quickly passes the camera-wielding pickup driver on the right, cuts him off pretty close and then slams on his brakes, causing the driver to rear-end the police car. The report seems to indicate that neither the officer nor the driver was cited for the accident, and while most of the blame should be placed on the officer, it should also be noted that the driver was following the cruiser closely and trying to film while driving.
Thu Mar 21 2013 01:31:21 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Jesse Pinkman's 1984 Toyota Tercel from Breaking Bad for sale!
The TV show Breaking Bad has broken out to become one of the small screen's best offerings in years. Don't worry if you haven't watched it yet; I'm only up to season 3 on Netflix, so the chances of me spoiling much for you are low.
What I do know from watching the show is that crappy cars play a key role, from Walter's jalopy of an Aztek to the car you see above, Jesse Pinkman's 1984 Toyota Tercel. Both cars are as run down as their owners and do nothing to hide the brutal weathering of some very bad years. Indeed, they deserve supporting actor credits, and soon you'll have the chance to park one of these four-wheeled thespians in your own driveway.
TMZ has learned that Jesse's Tercel will be sold by Mike Faris Auto Wholesale in Albuquerue, New Mexico. The car was reportedly leased from Faris by the show's production, and with production on the show now complete, it's been returned. Faris does tell TMZ, though, that he can't guarantee the car was ever onscreen, since producers apparently had more than one on-hand to work with. Also, part of the deal he made with Sony Pictures Television was that the car couldn't be sold until the last episode airs, which will happen sometime this summer.
For now, the Tercel is sitting on Faris' lot with the words "Jesse's Car As Seen On 'Breaking Bad' – Make Offer" written on its windshield. We'd bet our last bag of Blue Sky that it'll fetch a few more than its book value.
Mon Feb 18 2013 14:30:32 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Danica Patrick becomes first woman to win Sprint Cup pole.
196.434 miles per hour. That's the top speed hit by Stewart-Haas racing driver Danica Patrick during Saturday's qualifying for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Not only was that speed good enough to earn Patrick pole position for the race on Sunday, February 24, it is the fastest speed recorded in qualifying for Daytona since 1990.
Mon Feb 18 2013 14:34:27 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Rabbits Attacking Cars Parked At Denver International Airport.
Rascally rabbits are ripping up wiring inside cars parked at Denver International Airport, prompting parking lot owners to scatter dried pellets of coyote urine around to keep the rabbits at bay.
Wildlife officials remove about 100 rabbits a month from the long-term parking areas, according to KCNC CBS Denver. The bunnies are attracted to warm engines, and find car's wiring systems to be simply delicious. Almost as tasty the carrots in Mr. McGregor's garden.
But Denver International Airport says the claims are greatly exaggerated. In a Tweet to AOL Autos, an airport official said that in 2012 there were just three claims made for rabbit damage. That's out of 4.3 million parking transactions that year.
At USAirport Parking, the crews are scattering dried coyote and fox urine pellets, installing new fencing that makes it harder for the bunnies to burrow under, and putting up raptor perches to attract hawks and eagles.
Mechanics in Denver are able to identify the culprits by the hair and pellets they leave behind, the TV station reported.
Animals like rabbits, squirrels, cats, rats and even ants are often not covered by car insurance. And depending on which wiring system is affected, the damage can cost thousands of dollars. Collision insurance covers accidents with another vehicle, and comprehensive insurance covers damage caused by other types of accidents. But not all comprehensive plans include damage caused by acts of nature, like trees falling on your car or animals taking up residence under your hood, so check with your insurer to see what's covered. Especially if you plan to park at the Denver International Airport.
Mon Feb 18 2013 14:43:50 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Why Obama is Backing Away From Electric Vehicles.
State of the Union mentions EVs, but lofty goals are evaporating.
One year ago, President Obama used his State of the Union address to set a bold goal of U.S. consumers buying 1 million electric cars by 2015. But consumers aren't biting, and the Department of Energy and the White House are backing away.
The only mention in this week's State of The Union of EVs was a vague proposal for an "Energy Security Trust" with funding from oil and gas drilling royalties and use the money for research on electric vehicles, natural-gas vehicles and biofuels.
The truth is that enthusiasm for an EV car revolution is waning as too few U.S. car-buyers see themselves adjusting their driving lifestyles to make an EV part of their family fleet.
The DOE said on January 31 that it would no longer tout Obama's million-car goal and will instead promote advanced-technology vehicles of every stripe. Cue the start of an "Energy Security Trust" that will support research for EVs, hybrids, natural-gas cars and fuel-cell powered vehicles.
Electric and plug-in electric hybrids got off to a tough start in January after a sluggish 2012.General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp. and Nissan Motor Co. all reported much lower sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids in January over December, citing lower inventory and the decision of many customers to buy before the end of the tax year. Chevy sold 1,140 Volts in January. Toyota sold 874 plug-in Priuses. Nissan sold 10,000 Leaf EVs in all of 2012. Ford is offering a $10,000 discount on the slow-selling Focus EV.
Those are paltry numbers. The lack of acceptance by consumers is creating a glut of batteries. LG Chem Michigan, a unit of the Korean conglomerate LG, for example, was awarded more than $150 million in funding by the U.S. Department of Energy under the 2009 Recovery Act to help construct a $304 million lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing plant in Michigan. It was supposed to create 440 jobs. But the company is still supplying batteries for the Chevy Volt from its Korean plant, and fewer than half the jobs in Michigan have been realized. Why? Lack of demand. LG Chem and the DOE have just been reprimanded by the DOE Inspector General for misusing tax-payer funds and not delivering on stated goals.
What's dampened the push for EVs? Part of the problem is the continued high cost of lithium-ion batteries critical to EVs, and negative publicity around fires related to such batteries in a few cars, as well as the new Boeing Dreamliner airplane (though the batteries are sufficiently different that the aircraft company's problems are not thought to be related to the car batteries.)
The dollars and cents
Here are some of the financials on the EVs and extended range electric vehicles consumers can buy today. The 2013 Nissan Leaf S, with about a 73-mile range in between re-charges, starts at $28,800. But after federal and state tax credits in California, dips the price to $18,800 in that state. It's $21,300 with just the federal credit.
The Chevy Volt, which is an extended-range EV, meaning it gets 35 miles on a charge but has a gas-powered motor that continues to power the battery until the next charge-up, starts at $39,145, and $31,645 after the federal credit. But you can lease a Volt now for $328 per month with no money down for 39 months. That's not as good as the low-price leases of last September--just above $200 a month with $1,000 down, but it is still a nice deal for a car packed with so much technology and that can take a driver 70 miles a day with no gasoline used and no worry of running out of battery charge because of the back–up gas motor.
A consumer who wants to drive electric and reduce their dependence on gasoline prices can, in fact, make a business case for buying an EV. I can put a charger in my garage for very little money after credits from the government and my utility company. I already have a charger at work. I could conceivably drive a Volt back and forth to my office, a round-trip of 100 miles a day, for two weeks on one tank of gas as I would, in fact, kick over to gasoline at the 35 mile mark. That's roughly 1,000 miles on one tank of gas. But people who commute fewer than 70 miles a day – the vast majority of Americans – could drive months without going to a gas station.
Electricity does cost, but recharging at night at home is extremely cheap when electric rates at their lowest. And many work-places with chargers will let you charge up for free or for peanuts.
But here is the real problem for all but those who embrace new technology, especially green technology. If it's new, and creates a big change in the way we think, or live our daily lives, a lot of us just think ... "Nah. I'm comfortable with what I do now."
Change is hard
I now have some sympathy for this. After years of using an iPhone, I added a second phone to my life: a Samsung Galaxy. I did this so that I could have two phones to interface with the cars I test. Not every car's telematics system matches up with Apple's operating platform. Most, for example, will not allow you to execute commands via a Bluetooth connection by voice command. But I hate this phone. It gets rave reviews from others. But what I hate about is that it's very different from my iPhone, and I hate fumbling around with something new and unfamiliar that is as critical to my daily life as my smartphone. I really like the familiarity of my iPhone.
I love the Volt, more than the Leaf. And I feel the same way about the new Ford C-max and Toyota Prius extended-range EV. The extended-range EV system fits my lifestyle perfectly. But, yes, it does require hooking up a car to a charger about as often as I do my phone. That's new and different. But unlike my hatred of my new Android phone, I don't mind it all. And I love driving using so little gas.
When I hear people dis the Volt and EVs, I get frustrated. It's often people who haven't seriously looked at them, or considered just how easy they are to use if you have access to chargers. They are especially useful as second cars in a family, but can certainly be used as primary cars.
But my frustration with such car shoppers is on the wane. When I hear the objections, I think of my new Samsung and how much I dislike it because of how unfamiliar it is.
We can be creatures of habit and simply resistant to changing what works for us, no matter how many tax credits we are offered to take a different road.