According to reports published in the Wall Street Journal, General Motors (GM) recently signed contracts with two of the nation’s largest aluminum suppliers, a move that will finally allow the automaker to begin building aluminum-bodied pickup trucks.
The newspaper reported that General Motors had wanted to begin building aluminum trucks to better meet fuel economy standards and stay competitive in the domestic pickup market back in 2008, but the company’s finances would not support it at that time. Now, with new contracts in place, suppliers Alcoa Inc. and Novelis Inc. are already ramping up aluminum production to help GM to get its next-generation pickup to dealers by late 2018.
Read more ›
Last January the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced some good news for classic car fans in the form of the Legacy License Plate Program. The announcement stated that the DMV was considering the release of a series of vintage style California license plates that would include the yellow plate issued from 1956 to 1962, the black plate issued from 1963 to 1969 and the later blue plate issued from 1970 to 1982. The department said it would reproduce the old style plates and make them available to enthusiasts if at least one of the three styles received 7,500 pre-orders along with a $50 deposit for each. The California DMV also specified a program cutoff date of January 1, 2015 for the last pre-orders and deposits.
As of January 2014, the Cal DMV states that it has not yet received enough reissue plate requests to make the Legacy Plate Program a reality. So far, the three different plate pre-orders have stacked up pretty well with the 60’s black plate with yellow characters being the most popular at 6,176 pre-orders. The yellow plate with black characters has seen 1,604 pre-orders and the blue plate with yellow characters follows with 1,257. With just 1,324 more pre-orders needed to meet the minimum requirement, the black plate obviously has the best chance of kicking the program into gear. Although the January 2015 cutoff date is still many months away, if you want a Legacy Plate and have not yet placed your order, now might be a good time to get that taken care of. To download the California DMV Legacy Plate Pre-Order Form (REG 17L PDF), go to http://www.dmv.ca.gov/legacyplates/index.htm.
John Bradburn is General Motors’ (GM) manager of waste reduction efforts, an unusual position within the giant automaker that tasks him with finding new ways to use spent industrial materials to benefit the environment. In other words, Bradburn tries to give common manufacturing waste a second and beneficial life instead of just sending it all to the landfill. Things like turning leftover paint into shipping crates, making car parts from oil-soaked booms from the Gulf of Mexico, putting used cardboard into vehicle headliners, and turning tires and plastic packaging waste into vehicle air deflectors.
Every giant manufacturing facility generates waste, but GM hopes to trim its waste output through creative projects that help reduce its overall environmental footprint. Mr. Bradburn works with a large network of suppliers and GM teams to implement the company’s Landfill-Free Initiative, a group of 110 different facilities that try to recycle, reuse or convert their daily waste to energy. Speaking of the initiative, Bradburn said “The first step is to reframe how you think of waste, at GM, we view waste as a resource out of place. When we look at waste streams from our facilities, we don’t ask how do we dispose of this waste, we ask how can we find a better use for it.”
Read more ›
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently said that a national “vehicle-to-vehicle system” (V2V) mandate could come within the next couple of years. The NHTSA also says it could require automakers to implement V2V technology in those same few years. Car enthusiasts might be tempted to wonder if this a threat or a promise considering the large number of people in this country who actually enjoy having the responsibility and skill (not to mention the freedom) to pilot personal vehicles on their own.
Vehicle-to-vehicle systems essentially allow vehicles to talk to one another, exchanging data like speed and position. Proponents of the vehicle-to-vehicle communication system say implementing the technology allowing cars to share data on speed, location and other factors could make the nation’s roads safer. Some have also rather optimistically estimated that up to 81% of all car accidents could be prevented by V2V systems. They also contend that V2V will help smooth the flow of traffic by tapping into sensors embedded in streetlamps, stop signs, and other roadside infrastructure to communicate with cars and suggest alternate, less crowded routes. V2V is a necessary precursor to the rollout of autonomous vehicles (robot cars). Autonomous vehicle proponents are a camp that believes that people need to be driven instead of driving, and that it will be a positive step in the evolution of transportation. It seems they also believe it is inevitable.
Read more ›
Fifty years ago the Chevelle debuted for the 1964 model year and the Malibu version was launched simultaneously as the top trim line for the Chevelle.
The first three variants of the Malibu were built on GM’s A-body platform, notable for the use of a perimeter frame and coil-spring suspension, at a time when many other midsize domestic cars were beginning to employ unitized structures. The Malibu used body-on-frame construction and in the beginning was powered by a 3.2-liter inline-six cylinder that made just 120 horsepower when hooked up to a three-speed manual gearbox. The Malibu would change a bit over time, growing in size at first and later becoming smaller in the late 1970s. In 1983 it disappeared from the Chevrolet lineup altogether, and it wasn’t until 1997 that the Malibu name would appear again. In its prime, a selection of six body styles and six engines (two straight-sixes and four V-8s) spread over three models (Chevelle 300, Chevelle Malibu, and Chevelle Malibu SS), gave the Chevelle line what it needed to appeal to a wide range of customer tastes.
The first-year 1964 Chevelle was aimed at performance enthusiasts with its premium engine option being a four-barrel 327-cu.in. V-8 that delivered 300 horsepower. When Pontiac introduced the 348hp, 389-powered GTO in mid-1964, a performance contest was started and Chevrolet responded with the 375hp SS 396 in 1965. The SS 396 would go on to become a best seller and a few years later it became the basis of the powerful Chevelle SS 454 that was produced from 1970 to 1973.
Read more ›
Over 200,000 tech industry professionals flock to Las Vegas every January in order to preview thousands of vendor displays showcasing the latest developments in electronic gadgetry. The week long Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is an annual event that gives tech industry insiders (the show is not open to the public) their first look at a huge number of new products, projects and concepts that may or may not show up in stores later in the year. Of the thousands of new tech products, gadgets and applications, many will eventually make it to market, some will not make it to full production at all, and a select handful will go on to enjoy success as the hottest new trends in consumer technology.
One technical initiative of particular interest to auto enthusiasts at this year’s CES Show was a collaborative joint project linking the familiar names of General Motors and Google together called the Open Automotive Alliance (OAA). The Open Automotive Alliance combines the Internet search engine giant with General Motors and the chipmaker Nvidia in an effort to create new software that will deliver smarter and easier-to-use technology to cars through the use of Android integration.
Read more ›
The Cadillac logo consisting of the familiar crest surrounded by a laurel wreath has officially been put to rest following the introduction of the 2014 Cadillac ATS Coupe. The new ATS Coupe will be the first production spec Cadillac to roll off the assembly line wearing an officially revised badge that still contains the crest but abandons the laurel wreath. All Cadillac’s to follow will also bear the new design emblem, a move that puts an end to any speculation about whether the appearance of the new badge on the ATS Coupe was a temporary change or permanent official revision. First seen last summer on the Elmiraj concept/show car, the new logo is a permanent revision and it will be installed on every new Cadillac sold after mid-year of 2014.
Cadillac logo changes are not new however, as the automaker has changed its’ logo some 38 times during the company’s 112 year run, with the last revision occurring 15 years ago in 1999. The crest portion of the Caddy logo was originally borrowed from the coat of arms of the 18th-century explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the man who is credited with founding the city of Detroit in 1701. The latest changes to the Cadillac logo have resulted in a lower and wider crest that stands alone and is no longer surrounded by a laurel wreath. Recent Cadillac press releases tout the new logo as “”Sleek and streamlined,” and an official statement released by Cadillac’s executive design director, Andrew Smith, quoted him as saying “The crest remains a consistent symbol of Cadillac and our core values. This new crest matches the lower, longer, leaner mantra of our current car designs, and reflects the evolution of our art and science philosophy.” Smith also added that “Our goal was to evolve the emblem design to integrate with the new vehicle form while maintaining the core graphic elements that preserve its strong brand recognition, this resulted in retaining the iconic ‘crest’ shape and color palette with geometric grid from the original Cadillac family ‘coat of arms.’”
Read more ›
The overall exterior appearance of a classic 60’s era Buick Riviera can be significantly degraded if the original factory Riviera fender emblems are missing, broken or just in bad shape from exposure to the elements. Although preserving vintage badges and emblems can be important to the originality of a restoration, new old stock emblems are scarce these days and for Buick Riviera’s from the years 1963 to 1967, they are practically unobtanium.
If you do have damaged original fender emblems, it is sometimes possible to refurbish them, but only to a point. If the plating on your original item is still good, you can’t sand or sandblast the chrome or the plating will be ruined. With some patience, luck and some #0000 steel wool you might be able to revive an original emblem to the point where it might look decent from several feet away. However, if the rest of your Riviera is immaculate, it is highly unlikely that refurbished emblems will truly match the level of the paint and body restoration, and the old emblems will stick out like a sore thumb on an otherwise great looking car.
In order to solve this conundrum, Original Parts Group Inc., (OPGI) has addressed the needs of classic ’63-’67 Riviera fans with the introduction of a new reproduction of the previously impossible-to-find Riviera fender emblems. The Riviera fender emblems of this period were affixed to the front fender sides of the ’63 through ’67 Riviera’s, and the 1967 Riviera used the same badge on the front of the hood.
Read more ›
Following General Motors’ recent announcement of a new chief executive officer it seems the company has been in the news with some sort of different business plan or goal every day. Some of GM’s recent actions have been very positive, like the announcement of an upcoming $1.3 billion investment in existing General Motors factories in three different states. GM will invest the money over the next two years to make new pickup trucks as well as new, more fuel-efficient engines and transmissions at a Flint, Michigan assembly plant; an engine plant in Romulus, Michigan, a transmission factory in Toledo, Ohio; and a casting plant in Bedford, Indiana. The new factory investments follow General Motors’ recent rebound to profitability after emerging from bankruptcy proceedings.
Some components of GM’s future plans are not quite as positive however, with some of the most disconcerting recent news being that GM may terminate its relationship with Australia’s Holden car company and cease production down under altogether. GM said it could stop making cars in Australia by 2017 due to high labor and material costs as well as due to the strong Aussie currency which makes international deals a bit tougher to balance. GM officials have pointed out that the Australian dollar has risen from 50 cents to the U.S. dollar to as high as $1.10 recently, and that makes exported vehicles more expensive and less desirable. GM’s prior CEO, Dan Akerson, summed up the troubles when he stated that “The decision to end manufacturing in Australia reflects the perfect storm of negative influences the automotive industry faces in the country, including the sustained strength of the Australian dollar, high cost of production, small domestic market and arguably the most competitive and fragmented auto market in the world.”
Read more ›
If the cars you see on the road seem a little older to you these days, you would be correct because the average age of the vehicles on our highways has reached an all-time high according to the Polk market research firm.
Polk’s research says that the average age of American vehicles has now reached a record high of 11.4 years old, an age that Polk says will likely increase going forward. In fact, the numbers show that the cars on American roads have been getting older for many years now, a trend reflected in the fact that the average age was just over 8 years back in 1995 and had climbed to 9.6 years by 2002. Polk predicts that the number of vehicles a dozen years old or older will rise to 20% or a full fifth of the cars on the U.S. roads by the year 2018. The analysts at Polk surmised that declines in overall new car sales during the recession and subsequent down-turned economy have pushed the average age of cars up because people are simply keeping their cars longer.
Because people are keeping their cars longer, it also means they will have to keep them running longer, and that means more opportunities for those who sell auto parts and repair cars. Polk noted that auto parts retailers have a growing opportunity with potential consumers who will be working on their own vehicles and that the auto repair shops should be paying close attention to their business plans and making concerted efforts to retain business among the do-it-for-me (DIFM) car enthusiast audience.