Search The Virtual Driver
Tagged for Your Convenience
1940 Ford Coupe 1961 F1 season 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 2012 Ford Explorer 2012 Jeep Wrangler 2012 Toyota Camry 2012 VW Beetle 2012 VW Passat 2013 Chevys 2013 Ford Explorer 2013 Ford Focus Electric 2013 Ford Fusion review 2013 Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2013 Hyundai Sonata SE 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo 2013 Infiniti JX AWD 2013 Lexus ES 350 2013 Lexus GS 2013 Mercedes GLK350 2013 NAIAS 2013 Nissan Altima 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro 2014 Detroit Auto Show 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2014 Kia Forte 2014 Kia Soul road test 2014 Lexus IS 2014 Mazda CX-5 crossover 2014 Mazda3 2014 Mercedes S-Class 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage 2014 NAIAS 2014 Toyota Corolla 2014 Toyota Corolla S 2014 Toyota Highlander 2015 Camaro 2015 Chrysler 200 2015 Ford F-150 2015 Ford Mustang 2015 Hyundai Sonata 2015 Lincoln Navigator 2015 Mini Cooper 2015 Mustang 2015 Porsche Cayenne 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans affordable carbon fiber airbag technology Alan Mulally Alfa Romeo Alfa Romeo 4C ALMS AMG SLS E-Cell AP Racing Radi-CAL ArmorAll AROnline Aston Martin Atlanta Motorsport Park Audi Audi bicycle Audi R18 Austin Powers Autocade automotive porn automotive safety systems Avro Vulcan barn finds Battle of Britain Beverly Rae Kimes Big Bang Theory BMW BMW 2 Series Active Tourer BMW 3 Series BMW i3 BMW i8 BMW i8 luggage BMW M4 video BMW X4 BMW1 Series Bob Lutz BorgWarner Breitling watches Brembo British Motor Heritage Bryce Hoffman Buick Regal GS Buick Verano Cadillac ATS Cadillac CTS Cadillac CTS-V Cadillac CUE Cadillac XTS CAFE standards Camaro Z28 Camaro ZL1 Car Spy book Carroll Shelby Cars in Context Television Cars in Context TV Caterham Caterham Seven Center for Automotive Research CES Chevy Cruze diesel Chevy Sonic Chevy Volt Chicago Auto Show China Auto 2012 Chip Foose Chrysler Clarion C-Max Hybrid CNG Cobra Jet Mustang Controlled Power Technologies Corvette C7 Corvette C8 Corvette sinkhole Craftsman CTX tractors Dale Jr Dallara GP2 hillclimb Dan Gurney Dan Wheldon De Lorean Derek Warwick Detroit Auto Show Detroit Electric diesel engine Dodge Dodge Avenger Dodge Challenger Dodge Dart GT domestic energy donuts drag racing DRB-Hicom driver alert Ducati 899 Panigale Ducati Monster Ducati Museum Eagle GB Eddie Rickenbacker Edsel Ford electric bike electric vehicles EPA Evanta F-150 SuperCrew federal bureaucracy Federal-Mogul Ferrari Ferrari dog kennels Ferrari F12 FEV Fiat 500 Abarth Fiat 500 furniture Fiat-Chrysler Ford Ford Edge Ford Explorer Sport Ford F-150 EcoBoost Ford F-150 Tremor Ford Fiesta ST Ford Focus ST Ford Fusion Ford GT Ford Mustang Ford S-Max Ford Transit Connect Formula One Formula One rules Forza Motorsport Fq hybrid braking Frankfurt Motor Show Geneva Motor Show Global RallyCross GM GM recalls Goodwood Festival of Speed Group Lotus HANS device Harley-Davidson Harley-Davidson Breakout Harley-Davidson LiveWire Harley-Davidson Seventy-Two Harley-Davidson SuperLow Harley-Davidson Switchback healthcare Honda ATVs Honda endurance engine Honda motorcycles HondaJet Husqvarna hybrids Hyundai Hyundai Accent Hyundai Elantra Hyundai Elantra GT Hyundai Genesis Hyundai Genesis Coupe Hyundai Veloster Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indy 500 IndyCar Infiniti Infiniti Q50 Infiniti QX56 inflatable child seat J.D. Power and Associates Jabuar Jaguar Jaguar C-X16 Jaguar E-Type Jaguar F-Type Jaguar luggage Jaguar XE Jaguar XJL Jeep Cherokee Jeep concepts jet prropulsion Jim Clark John Krafcik Kia Forte Koup SX Kia Rio Kia Sorento Kia Soul Lamborghini Land Rover LR2 Le Mans lead-acid batteries Lexus ES350 Lexus GS350 F Sport Lexus LS LExus LX 570 Lexus RC 350 Lexus RC F Lincoln MKC Lincoln MKX Lincoln MKZ Lincoln Motor Company Lingenfelter Lola LMP1 Lotus Lotus SUV Luca Montezemolo Lucire Lyonheart K Maserati Tipo 250F replica Mazda Mazda chair Mazda2 McLaren McLaren MP4-12C Spider McLaren P1 McLaren P1 interior Mercedes Mercedes 4Matic Mercedes CLA Mercedes comic book Mercedes diesel pistons Mercedes GL Mercedes GLA Mercedes pickup trucks Mercedes van Mercedes-AMG Mercedes-AMG GT Mercedes-Benz furniture metal matrix composite brakes MG wrist watch Michael Schumacher Mike Hawthorn Mini Mini Countryman Mini Coupe Mini Roadster Mini Vision Mitsubishi Mopar shaker hood muscle cars MyFord Touch NAIAS nanoslide coating NASCAR NASCAR heating scandal New York Auto Show Niki Lauda Nissan BladeGlider Nissan Leaf Nissan Pathfinder Nissan Skyline history Nissan Smart mirror Nissan Versa Note Nnissan Quest Nurburgring OnStar FMV Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Peter Wright Peugeot 108 Pininfarina Pocket Classics Pope Benedict XVI Porsche 917 Porsche 918 Spyder Porsche 988 Porsche P1 EV Porsche Panamera powertrain technology Prius c Prius v racing Ram Ram 1500 Ram ProMaster Ram Promaster City Range Rover rebuildable batteries Renault F1 engine Renault Twingo restomod Ricardo Engineering road repair funds Roger Penske Rolls Royce Bespoke Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Rush movie Saab safety technology Santa SBU V3 Scion FR-S Sir Malcolm Campbell Siri smart spare tires Speed sport sedans Sportster Subaru BRZ Subaru Forester Suzuki SX4 Team Lotus TechShop The Aresenal of Democracy touchpad technology Tour de France Toyota Toyota 4Runner Toyota iRoad Toyota Prius c Toyota Tacoma Toyota Tundra Toyota Venza Toyota VenzaMcLaren MP4-12C Tracks novel Triumph Speed Triple TRW TRW touchpad U.S. Air Force Museum UAW Udvar-Hazy Center unionization vaporware Vehreo fabric Visteon Volkswagen Volvo Volvo Drive-E Volvo S60 R-Design Volvo XC90 VW VW Beetle Convertible VW Beetle TDI VW Golf VW GTI VW Jetta Hybrid VW MQB VW Passat TDI VW Touareg TDI VW troubles winter driving XPEL Yamaha anime Zenos E10
Friday
Oct102014

Of Mid-Engined Corvettes and New Ford GTs

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

Oddly, sometimes life does imitate art 

Here we go again. GM is reportedly readying a mid-engined Corvette, and Cadillac will get its own variant, shades of the Cadillac Cien and its mid-eneinged (yet still unseen) Corvette donor vehicle.Almost two years ago I wrote a story about an item that had appeared in one of the monthly magazines about a 5.5-liter V8 with stop/start technology that would be used in an entry-level version of the C7 Corvette. I didn’t buy it, but the rumor jogged a memory of my time at Automotive Industries magazine where the late Gerry Kobe educated me on the occasional need to create three stories from no story. (You can read the original article here.) At the end of the article, I ran a piece I had created for a former boss when I was called upon to sub for him. It was a fictitious piece about a coming mid-engined Corvette that used rumors at the time and insider information to create a credible story. Only it wasn’t true. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Oct102014

VW’s U.S. Prospects: The More Things Change…

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

You’ve got to wonder what goes on inside VW’s headquarters in Germany. If it’s not buying up every automaker it can, it’s claiming that it will become the world’s biggest automaker by 2018. And it will do this, in part, by increasing sales in the U.S. to 800,000/year by that time. 

For a while, the company seemed to be on its way. The Jetta launched as a conservative but price competitive compact sedan. It followed with a U.S.-specific Passat sedan built at a ground-up production facility in Chattanooga, TN. Like the Jetta, this car was handsomely conservative, and priced more like a mainstream product than a German car. Then VW pulled a rabbit out of its hat: the CrossBlue SUV. Could there be any doubt that it would slot into Chattanooga alongside the Passat, and place VW firmly in one of the fastest growing segments? 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep262014

Creating a Car Company From Scratch

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

Ansar Ali. Ex-Ford, ex-Lotus, ex-Caterham and reluctant cheese magnate turned CEO of Zenos Cars.“I’m a mechanical engineer by first degree,” says, Zenos Cars CEO Ansar Ali “and a pretty bad one at that. So, like any engineer who realizes he’s not going to be a good one, I went and got an MBA. While I was in business school, I was recruited by Ford, and I joined the company in 1991, and had seven great years.” That’s when Ali became involved in the family business, something he calls a “cardinal mistake”. According to Ali, “My uncle had a very large cheese making business, and he asked me to join with a view of taking over. We made 10 tons of cheese per day, and this caused me to lose any desire I ever had to eat the stuff. After a couple of years, I decided this wasn’t for me.” 

Recruited by Lotus in early 2000, Ali was general manager of the U.K. and Europe, and thought he was joining the company at one of its high points when Managing Director Chris Knight suddenly put him charge of cleaning up after the M250 sports car program was canceled. “There was quite a lot of fallout with the dealers, customers and PR, and from 2000-2005 I went through three MDs, Chris Knight, Victor Kiam and Kim Olgaard-Nielsen. (Olgaard-Nielsen’s reign often was referred to by Lotus insiders with a Star Trek mindset as the “Wrath of KO-N.” He was not well liked.) 

It was at this point that Ali crossed paths with Mark Edwards, who would later help run the show at both Caterham and Zenos Cars. “He was sort of Chris Knight’s righthand man, and we got to know each other when Chris was putting together various cost-down, cash flow and other firefighting teams to stem the bleeding. Mark, a production engineer by degree, was pulled out of one of these task forces, and became Knight’s go-to troubleshooter. If there was a problem, he would parachute in.” Like Apple’s legendary CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs, Edwards is a binary, all black or white, manager who shakes things up by drilling down to the essentials. “We complement each other very well,” says the loquacious, always smiling Ali. 

Click to read more ...

Friday
Sep122014

What’s Next for Ferrari?

By Christopher A. Sawyer

Luca Montezemolo in happier times.After 23 years at the helm, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo has left Ferrari; left as in pushed out the door. For Montezemolo it was an ironic end to a career that began with the wunderkind modernizing the Ferrari F1 team for Enzo Ferrari and leading it to success after years of failure, and ended with him lobbying for a return to rules more favorable to Maranello, as he steered Ferrari’s car division to record profits. He jealously guarded the Prancing Horse’s image and position, but was blind to the needs of the rest of the organization as it seeks Ferrari’s help to extricate itself from a huge pile of debt. 

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is about to embark on an IPO that will see its shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Despite having the U.S. government essentially give Chrysler to Fiat for nothing, FCA has debts of nearly $3 billion and a number of stagnant brands. It needs the IPO to be a success if it is to raise the money necessary to right this ship, though it will also have to consider eliminating some brands to streamline the organization. Floating a large minority stake in Ferrari on the NYSE should help raise at least $1.0 billion dollars, and put a significant dent in FCA’s debt. However, it can’t do that if the face of Ferrari, it’s F1 team, is struggling to finish outside of the podium positions week after week.

Click to read more ...

Friday
Aug222014

A Recipe for Disaster

By Christopher A. Sawyer 

Revisionist History 

The Malaysian automotive website paultan.org is reporting that new Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales has told the Proton Cars board of directors that Lotus will have two new vehicles around which it will build its future: a D segment performance sedan and an SUV. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it is what many believe to be the playbook that led Porsche to become fabulously profitable in the early part of this century. First the VW Touareg-based Cayenne SUV, then the (somewhat) Audi A8-based Panamera launched, breaking sales and profit records for the Stuttgart-based sports car maker. Since that time, the company has added a smaller SUV, the Cajun, and more models are planned. It is the non-sports cars, they say, that made Porsche a powerhouse

Toyota to the Rescue, Sort Of… 

The car that saved Porsche, the Boxster.Unfortunately for those who subscribe to potted histories, this isn’t the case. Porsche was saved by the Boxster, which shared more than 40% of its pieces with the 911 that followed. More importantly, a group of ex-Toyota executives were allowed by the Japanese automaker to thoroughly study Porsche’s processes, and suggest changes that would make the company more profitable. These experts dramatically cut the amount of inventory carried in the plant, the hand crafting necessary to get panels to fit properly, the time and labor cost per vehicle, and more. They identified enough changes that, when fully implemented, would reduce Porsche’s costs by more than 30%; money that would drop straight to the bottom line. 

Click to read more ...