April 28, 2017: Random Thoughts makes a return and looks at a number of topics, most related to electric vehicles. From the usefulness of lap times around the Nurburgring, to the cost of getting the last bit of range in the an EV’s batteries, to the immense strength suppliers may have in an electrified world, to VW’s latest EV concept, we ask questions no one else has. And we comment on the retirement announcement of Dale Earnhardt Jr., the effect it may have on NASCAR, and how Jimmie Johnson could help steady the ship if only NASCAR would let him. On the technology front, we look at an amazingly simple and powerful system that diagnoses engine health from the inside. It has numerous applications, including testing the efficacy of engine additives, and could change the way automakers test their motors on the line and in the dealership. The Virtual Collection delves into the Cobra vs. Corvette wars, the people behind the cars, and what led to the most iconic example of each. Picking a winner wasn’t easy, but we think you’ll enjoy this trip down memory lane. Minivans are not the most popular vehicles due to their image as “Mom’s Taxi”. This despite increasing levels of luxury and comfort married to greater capability. The Pacifica is Chrysler’s latest take on a theme it helped create, but does it stray too far from its roots, sacrifice substance for style, or redefine what constitutes a minivan? Volvo’s S90 understands the meaning of the word “redefine”. The company that once made cars that looked like the box they came in, that were both incredibly safe and boring at the same time, and then were sold to the Chinese by a nearly bankrupt Ford Motor Company has built a luxury sedan that challenges almost everything you have ever believed a Volvo could — or should — be. That same sense of disbelief might be true of our next topic, office chairs designed by the Ferrari Design Center. Styled to combine the look of racing and road car seats, and covered in the same leather you find in current Ferrari road cars, the chairs fuse composites and modularity together to create seats that will tell everyone who’s the boss. Finally, we present two films from our friends at Petrolicious, one about the extremely sexy 330 P4, the other the Roger Penske-run 512 M. Both endurance racing icons are legends in their own right, and each produces a sound that is so sadly missing from today’s race cars.
April 7, 2017: This week Tesla’s market capitalization surged past Ford’s, causing Wall Street pundits to declare the EV automaker the new Amazon. But is it? Or is this an example of what former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan used to call “irrational exuberance”? Last Sunday new EPA chief Scott Pruitt was a guest on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace where, as expected, he was grilled about his views on climate change (a.k.a. global warming) and more. What was unexpected was Wallace’s reliance on questionable numbers that are provably false. We take a look at an interview that was more hit job than journalism. Staying with the news theme, we look at the stories that weren’t stand alone features, but nevertheless deserve a mention in Odds and Ends. Our latest Virtual Collection investigates almost Ferraris, those exotics that didn’t have the pedigree of the Italian marque, but could match or exceed Maranello’s best in terms of either style or performance; including one entry that often does, but shouldn’t, wear a prancing horse logo. Buick unveiled its 2018 Regal this week based, as before, on Opel’s range topper. This time, however, the sedan is actually a four-door hatchback, and the lineup has been expanded by an Audi Allroad-style station wagon-cum-crossover. Audi, meanwhile, pulled the wraps off its TT RS, which is powered by a new turbocharged five-cylinder motor pumping out 400 hp. It’s an engine that also is found in the coming A3 RS. It also showed the chassis of the new A8, a multi-material smorgasbord that stretches from aluminum to steel to carbon fiber to magnesium. We take a look at its lightweight tech. We also investigate skis designed and developed with the help of Pirelli engineers. The rubber-covering and inner layer are said to reduce vibration by 60%. And we close out this issue with a three-way comparison between the top trim small SUVs from Honda, Hyundai and Kia. Despite startling similarities, the trio also have surprising differences. And though all are good, there can be only one winner.