Here is a short video interview that Nicolas Zart did with Bill Gubing, chief engineer on the new 2013 Ford Explorer Sport, during a Ford ride and drive event in Santa Monica. Bill seems very excited about the new 2013 Ford Explorer Sport and discusses the new handling and upgrade suspension characteristics of the Ford Explorer Sport. As he says the new Ford Explorer Sport is a true “Driver's Car” and I definitely agree with him.
I thought I would share an important milestone with all the fans and readers of my humble blog, Adam's Auto Advice. This blog is now 2 years-old as of today. Happy Birthday… to myself I guess! 🙂
It's amazing to think that my blog is 2 years old! Honestly it feels like I have been blogging and writing about cars forever, but it really has not been that long.
I look back at all the amazing posts and articles I have written. The articles and posts range from the fun and whacky Charm City Pedal Mill, the interesting Baltimore start-up ParkingPanda, attending the Baltimore Grand Prix, and breaking news about RelayRides. I have even tested automotive products and gone to a few car and auto shows.
Probably the best thing I have written about on this blog was my road trip from Irvine, CA to back to Baltimore. It was an amazing trip and I hope to do many more road trips and a cross-country road trip again soon.
You know, I started this blog and didn't have set high hopes for my writing but look at me now! I am a full time auto journalist and blogger. I was able to go from writing as a hobby to writing about cars professionally.
Looking back at my first post, and some of my early writing such as this Top Gear editorial my writing has come a long way and fast. I am fortunate to be able to be doing something creative and love what I am doing.
I feel proud of everything I have been accomplished with this blog and other writing I have done.
As well sharing my experience when I appeared on Anderson with Anderson Cooper for the TV show's New Year's Special. I performed “Auld Lange Syne” with my singing dogs, Cody and Sierra, which was an amazing experience which I shared on this blog. (Of course it had nothing to do with cars, but I did drive up to New York-City with my dogs.)
I am glad to have had all these interesting and varied experiences. I hope to share more auto news, advice, tips & tricks, product reviews, with everyone via Adam's Auto Advice. I know I will continue to grow and experience more amazing automotive experiences in the future.
I also appreciate all the people with a shared passion for cars I have meet along my journey. We have exchanged web advice, writing tips, and personal stories of “Auto Awesomeness!”
Someone who deserves credit for my blog is my brother Jason. He helped me get this blog up and running and switch from Blogger to WordPress. He's also helped keep this blog going and updated. Thanks Jason!
I certainly have not crossed everything off on my automotive bucket list. I know I have a lot more great experiences ahead of me.
This is actually my 200th post! I didn't plan that, but it is a happy coincidence. There will be hundreds of more great articles and posts along the way. I am going to make an effort to post more and most likely shorter articles in the future.
I look forwarding to writing about cars and on this blog for many more years.
Whoever said, “Revenge isn't sweet?” has not seen, ‘Revenge Of The Electric Car‘ the new documentary directed by Chris Paine, which is the sequel to the 2006 documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” While Revenge Of The Electric Car is not flawless, the film provides a compelling tale of the resurgence of the electric car.
Revenge Of The Electric Car revolves around four men who have played roles in bringing electric cars onto our roads. Bob Lutz Vice Chairman of General Motors (GM) is referred to as Mr. Detroit; Rocket Man, Elon Musk Co-Founder and CEO of Tesla Motors ; The Outsider, Greg “Gadget” Abbott who builds his own electric cars; and The Warrior, Carlos Ghosn President and CEO of Nissan and Renault who is the driving force behind the all-electric Nissan Leaf.
I assumed the movie would be biased toward electric cars, and in the first 10 minutes of the movie, there is little doubt of this.
The opening scene with Dan Neil, the Wall Street Journal automotive journalist, clearly establishes the movie's premise. He proclaims, “Electric cars are the only way forward.” Mr. Neil is a well respected writer, having won a Pulitzer Prize for writing about cars. Throughout the movie he serves as the main voice pushing the story along, adding his insight and wit.
Bob Lutz, a GM executive who has been at numerous car companies, encouraged the development of the Chevy Volt. He was not always a believer in the technologies, and is often blamed for killing off GM's EV1 program. One of the important events chronicled by the movie, is the PR disaster GM experienced when it shut down and destroyed all EV1 cars. In the film ,when he discusses why GM's board was not excited to build the Volt, Lutz says, “The company had lost so much money on EV1.” Mmm…. let's not forget that it was Lutz who had the cars crushed.
Lutz though, is unapologetic about both his actions and his prior comments. He is a charismatic, smart, and competitive man, which Paine shows well. Lutz's push to build the Volt not only helped GM's image, but insured his place in automotive history. Lutz, as Neil points out, is a bit of an egomaniac.
Elon Musk, CEO and Co-Founder of Tesla, is the man who forced GM and the big players in the auto industry to rethink how they view electric cars. He showed that it is possible to build electric cars and not the slow, unimaginative, and boring cars people associated with electric propulsion. Tesla choose to make the Tesla Roadster, a cool and fast electric car.
Of course what you learn as an audience, and what Musk and his Silicon Valley buddies realize quickly, is that it is not easy building and selling cars. Lutz makes a point in the movie that it is a lot harder than you think.
There is a bit of a surreal moment when Musk is checking over a warehouse of Tesla Roadsters that had issues and problems. Car #23 had a bad powertrain. Musk said , “Replace it, take it out, put a new one in, and table the old one for analysis.” He expresses to the Tesla employee that customers might start losing confidence. Chris Paine, the director, chimes in that #23 is his car. Musk is caught a bit off guard, then compliments the color of the car. I guess Paine knew the gamble he made when he put down his deposit for his Tesla Roadster. Tesla delivers his Roadster a year later.
Greg ‘Gadget' Abbott is an independent entrepreneur who chooses to build his own electric cars. Gadget also does electric car conversions for those willing to spend a hefty sum. Both Gadget and his wife are dedicating their lives to building electric cars. Gadget I think, is one of the most compelling characters in the movie, if not the most compelling. His challenge includes rebuilding his life and business after his main workshop is burned down due to arson. Gadget lost $250,000 in uninsured tools and several of his electric cars. The only thing that survived the fire was a controller, “I can built a car with that” he says. You can tell he is down but he always seems to be unfailingly optimistic.
Carlos Ghosn, who is President and CEO of Nissan and Renault, seems to have shown up the entire auto industry by building the Nissan Leaf, a fully electric car that is affordable to the masses and available worldwide. Neil says that Ghosn, “Is not a visionary” but I disagree. The Brazilian-Frenchmen has a vision to make money with the Leaf. That is a vision that could truly change the world and what our transportation infrastructure looks like.
It is important to note that Nissan sold around 10,000 Nissan Leafs in 2011, while GM sold 6,000 Volts. It seems Ghosn made the right decision as the Leaf's technology might position of the leader in electric cars. When Paine asks, “Do you feel you are ahead of the game?” Ghosn replies, “I don't feel, I am!” showing his confidence and business acumen.
There is no denying Chris Paine's bias toward Elon Musk and Tesla, as demonstrated by the flashy montage of Musk's and Tesla's rise with celebrity commentators, compared to Bob Lutz's and Carlos Ghosn somewhat laid back static sequence. This reflects the different personalities to a degree, but it is still hard to miss the bias.
For instance, a short segment involving Martin Eberhard, one of the co-founders of Tesla, is a bit odd. It does not fully explain the story and makes it seem like Musk and Tesla are the good guys for kicking Eberhard out. There is no way to know what happened, but judging from Musk's mass firings, it might be safe to assume he was probably the bad guy in the story.
The movie focuses too much on Musk, while ignoring other interesting characters. Gadget's story of how and why he started building electric cars would have been interesting to hear. (Maybe this will be on the DVD bonus features.)
What the movie does show is Tesla's difficult road to making cars. Musk is at one point forced to wire all his money to Tesla to make payroll. He might be brash and arrogant, but he had a lot of faith to stick with Tesla. I respect Musk for that, and look where Tesla is now.
The movie has its share of celebrity appearances, featuring Danny DeVito, Anthony Kiedis (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Arnold Schwarzenegger and others. The movie is narrated by Tim Robbins, the actor and well-known liberal activist. He describes himself as a EV enthusiast.
The other two interesting characters, along with Mr Neil, that provide comments and insight are Ray Wert, editor of Jalopink, and Owen Thomas, the editor of Valleywag. They casually talk about the auto industry on a park bench, giving additional insight to the story.
With a growing need to meet energy needs and oil becoming more expensive, harder to find, and from hostile places, electric cars may be as Dan Neil puts it, “The only way forward!” The movie claims that it costs $1 equivalent per gallon to “fill-up” an electric car. Of course what it does not emphasize… we still get most of our electricity from fossil fuels!
Paine tells a compelling and fascinating account of the resurgence in electric cars and the people behind them in the film, which is what he wanted to accomplish. He details the trials and tribulations of Tesla, GM, Nissan, and Mr. Abbott, each story ending with optimism and hope for the auto industry.
Revenge Of the Electric Car is a must-see for any car enthusiast, auto journalist, environmentalist, or person who wants to be informed of what the auto industry will look like in the future.
Revenge Of The Electric Car will be available on DVD on January 24th, 2012.
Yesterday I finally switched out my license plates from the California ones I had on my Honda Accord, to the Maryland ones I got from the MVA awhile ago. It was bit a sad for me, since I kind of liked having those CA plates on my car. I guess it made me think of how nice CA is and how I want go back there.
The new redesigned MD plates are kind of fun though. They have this red, white, and blue Star-Spangled Banner theme.
You might think an auto writer/blogger would be able to find some way around the terrible experience of going to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Unfortunately this is not the case. I had to go to an MVA office today to get new Tags & a Title for my Honda Accord. Here is the story of my experience.
I went late in the day, probably around 3pm. Always a bad idea. It is a better idea to go earlier in the day. This is when people are just trying to make it afterwork or taking off early to go to the MVA. Instead of going to Mondawmin Mall, where the Baltimore City MVA office was, I went to the new Hilltop Shopping Center office on Reisterstown Rd. Apparently the Mondawmin office closed in May and they moved to the Hilltop location.
I waited in line for the information desk for about 20-30 minutes. What I found strange is when I got up to the desk I told the lady, “I need to register my car and get Tags.” I handed her the California title and inspection certificate, she took both and looked at the title like it was some weird document. Without saying anything she went over and starting talking with the supervisor for 5 minutes. I was thinking, “Really? They don't see out-of-state titles?” She came back to the desk and just said, “Fillout the information on the back as well.”
I took my ticket and sat down in the waiting area. I started filling out the Title form and making sure I had everything set. I realized I needed to go get the mileage from my car. I thought I might not have time to do this… then I realized I was at the MVA. There was plenty of time!
When I came back in from getting the mileage out of the car, I looked around at all the people in the MVA. It didn't matter age, race, gender, whatever because everyone has the same exact look at the MVA! “I just want to get out of here!” Why won't this line move?” “Why is it taking so long?”
Luckily I brought a book ‘Real Money' by Jim Cramer, but it is hard to read in there. There is the automated voice that goes off every 20 seconds “Now serving C45 at number 12.” After another 30+ minutes I finally got my number called. You feel like jumping and up down when that happens.
I handed the lady my title, form, and bill of sale. She was pretty helpful and nice. She commented about my car, “Wow! The mileage on this is really good!” I told her the story of how I drove it across the country and that it was my Grandma's car. “Oh so she just used it to drive to Church and the Grocery store?” I replied “Yeah, pretty much!” She told me her Grandma had a Mercedes that had very few miles on it too. When I got out my credit card to pay I gave her my business card and said I was an auto journalist. We talked about that for awhile and I told her about how I got a media pass to the Baltimore Grand Prix. She seemed enthusiast about it and asked me some questions.
So I spent about 2 hours getting to the MVA office, waiting, waiting some more, and actually doing what I needed to do, before getting back to my house. It cost $266.40 to register, get a title, and for 2 MD license plates. Since I was smart enough to get a bill of sale stating the car was bought for $0 and therefore a gift, I was not charged 6% sales tax. It would have more expensive if I did not have that. Of course I still spent too much time there!