Electric Pickups

The Kicker has covered Rivian a few times, but they’re not the only E-Truck coming.

The electric truck is a fairly new on the scene and suddenly so many companies added it to next years offering that it could make your eyes water. Players like Tesla are giving the bigger fish a run for their money, to mix metaphors a bit. It is still possible that designs will change before they finally reach the market.

An electric pickup is advantageous when compared to a diesel engine in that it is drastically more compact. Nor does the vehicle require a transmission or multiple gears so this saved space may be applied to other uses.

Atlis’s XT does seem like an electrified version of a conventional pickup with conventional proportions, but it still has some extra features. There’s a choice of cab sizes and whether you have single or dual rear wheels. It has an electric motor per wheel rather than one per axle (apparently the norm) and goes from 0 to 60 in 5 seconds. These cars are shrouded in mystery, even where they are being manufactured.

General Motors have come up with the GMC Hummer. The debut date was May 20, 2020 and goes from 0-60 in 3 seconds. It was created in the Detroit plant, however, there’s yet to be any announcement on the price though there are rumors on a 80,000 price tag.

The Lordstown Endurance takes its name from a city in Ohio. The factory creating the Endurance was purchased from General Motors and is planned to produce the first pickup of many this year. Having one motor per wheel helps control the torque, similar to the XT above. The workers who used to be in General Motors could be repositioned.

Bolinger Motors could have a disadvantage when weighed up against its rivals in that it has been in operation for a relatively short time. It started in New York and has now moved and is based in Detroit, where similar companies are based. Both the B1 and B2 have a door to the bed section, differentiating from similar designs. The door also allows items which are longer than the bed itself to fit in the vehicle.

Both vehicles have features you might expect in similar pickups such as 4 wheel drive and can operate both on-road and off-road. It is well worth watching Bolinger to see what they come up with next.

The Tesla Cybertruck has a controversial design involving a number of strong angles and the cab pushed forwards. It can run on 500 miles per charge, only it isn’t clear from their reports how long a charge is. There is also a lack of paint options with the only color being a steel gray.

The Cybertruck isn’t technically a pickup as it hasn’t a bed, the area behind the cab where items are stored. Despite this it can tow 7,500lbs of weight. The lower priced Cybertrucks won’t be manufactured until 2021 and the tri-motor in 2022.

Maybe it’s some sort of prejudice that only the sporty type of vehicle has used electric motors. But with these upcoming vehicles many companies are making up for lost time.

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Sedan Cars – Who Buys And Should It Alter?

First What is a Sedan?

Sedan, according to Wikipedia, is a style of car which characterized by a box 3 design. Box 3 is when the engine, passenger and cargo compartments are separate and enclosed.

Why are sedans shaped as they are? The design started as a box to hold the engine, the second box used for the driver and passenger, the trunk makes up the third box, which came last of all. The focus is getting the second box right in design terms, is the interior up to date? Does it have all the modern conveniences? Not that you shouldn’t ignore the hood or trunk areas.

We get the name Sedan from rather unsavory roots. The name refers to a form of transportation much older than vehicles. Royalty and wealthy people used to sit in a box protected from the elements. The box was then lifted by poles and carried by servants or slaves.

The UK name has a better connotation. Saloon car originated after luxury carriages in trains, which in turn comes to the French word saloon, a hall (the hall being the most luxurious part of a house).

The Sedan’s Fall from Popularity

For many decades, the sedan or as the call them in England, Saloon car, was the primary car displayed and sold by automakers around the world. It was either a sedan, a truck, a van, or a motorcycle.

However, the bosses of Ford and GM hinted that sedan cars are dead in the water in 2019. Is that really true? What happened is the birth of car design more tailored to purpose. Traditionally a vehicle was more than just a major purchase, it was a cornerstone of your lifestyle. You were driving or you were walking. In those days you bought a swiss army knife vehicle for commuting to work, shopping for groceries, or taking the family outings. Sedans reigned king.

Now cars cost more than ever, but if you’re going to buy one, you buy it to suit your current life circumstance. Automakers have brought us compact (and subcompact etc.) for commuting on minimal gas. They’ve brought us station wagons, which are better suited to family transportation. They’ve brought us sports cars for driving enjoyment, and so on. Then they came full circle and started offering minivans, crossovers and 4 door trucks. It’s all an attempt to let you get a vehicle that fits your custom needs instead of one that is good at everything but not great at any of them.

But is the Sedan Dead?

American automakers might be a bit myopic in their judgement of sedans. US car makers sell a lot of trucks, which has pulled so much of the market for them to one side that the SUV has become the primary showroom product in the US.

There are a number of good sedans, Germans, British, Swedish and South Korean, which sell just fine even in the US. With the big US players not manufacturing sedans the smaller US players have also stepped up. It’s worth noting that Tesla started with a sedan.

So Who in the Market Is buying Sedans?

There are some identity problems with sedans, it’s the type of car politicians and tycoons use, with higher end models used also as a chauffeur’s car. They aren’t popular at showroom but are sold nonetheless with several pockets of society.

One group of sedan shoppers is the Hispanic community. They are one of the fastest growing sedan buyer groups, and the Toyota Corolla is currently most popular among this group.

Another market segment preferring sedans are young people. There is some disconnect in that large engines mean higher insurance, but that doesn’t stop the under 30s buying them. (It is worth looking for a 1 liter engine. They can be still be described as turbocharged, but they don’t break the bank so much.)

Why Sedans might still Compete.

Sedans have bigger engines but not to the exclusion of fuel economy. 38 miles per gallon is not uncommon and some vehicles could possibly convert higher.

Another plus to that big engine to weight ratio is the power to get out of the way when you need to.

The sedan is sportier (it picks up easy and gives better vision to the driver and passengers) than SUV. They drive like a proper car, well what people suppose a proper car to be.

They’re described as better looking than SUV’s, which to some people look like a car on stilts. The SUV having a higher viewer point as a passenger/driver has some advantage but ultimately not that much.

In conclusion.

Although the sedans might not set showroom on fire they are comfortable and practical. The term reliable bring visions of not breaking down, so let’s market with words like purposeful or practical.

Crossovers might be coming up to compete with SUV and sedans. Sedans might be harder to sell, they make up 30% of the American markets, so SUVs and Crossovers maybe more about fixing something that isn’t broken…even money says that the market for sedans is long from dead.

Cars and Smoking – A Bad Combo.

Op-Ed by P. Wimsett and A. Bunch

Imagine a cartoon scene that’s all too familiar for most of us. The picture is of a car lot complete with a dodgy car dealer in front of a number of dubious vehicles. In the cartoons he (it usually is a he in the cartoons) has a Clarke Gable moustache and a wide brim hat. You can almost smell his cologne and you know when he smiles a gold tooth will glint in the sun. As he sells you the car he smokes a cigar which produces smoke rings in the shape of dollar signs. And all is clear what is on the car dealer’s mind; fleecing the punter.

Would he really do that in the non-cartoon world? Only if he’s dumb. It’s not advisable to smoke near tires or engines not to mention smoking while showing a customer the interior, it’ll only mean trouble.

It’s common knowledge, unless you’re Kelley Bluebook, that bad smells, like cigarette smoke, reduces the value of a car. KBB.com doesn’t seem to have a category for bad smelling vehicle. Either they assume you have a magic wand that will erase the smell, or they lump it in with poor condition. It’s an unofficial reduction, but it’s a reduction all the same.

Smokers’ cars can be 7-9% cheaper than non-smokers, according to a survey from the year 2000. (20 years old but sentiment is not likely to have relaxed on the topic.) Cigarette smoke will form part of the dust in the car, not mention sticking to surfaces. You probably don’t need to be reminded that this dust contains nicotine and similar toxic ingredients.

But is it possible to remove the smell?

Not really, it would be like smoking in a closet and to expect the smell to vanish! Most methods you encounter online tend to temporary, the smell will come back a bit weaker in a few days.

The chief problem, which smokers don’t truly grasp, is just how detectible smoke is to a non-smoker. Smokers have a dulled sense of smell and often think they’ve taken precautions to remove the smell. The reality is quite different.

So, what do I use if I bought a great runner with a B.O Problem?

Something like furniture polish won’t cut it, you’ll need anti-bacterial or bleach wipes to remove the oils from the plastic surfaces like dashboards.

The seats, the carpets and the area underneath the carpets need to be steam cleaned. An ozone generator is another option, but again it can only be temporary. Steam cleaners and ozone generators are not cheap but if you got $700 bucks off the price…

Change the cabin filter!

Really Kicker, No Ninja tip to Fix this Oder Problem?!?!

OKAY! If you’ve tried everything else…you can take dryer sheets and put them all over the dashboard and rear window area (on the inside you…) on a hot day. You want heat to activate this little miracle. It’ll do a pretty great job of pulling the smell out.

Car Dealers aren’t the only ones who try to pull a fast one.

We hear stories of potential buyers “looking at the engine” and then you notice white smoke emitting from your car. You’ve not seen any smoke from the engine before, what should you do?

Well, don’t feel pressured into dropping your price. What it may be is the potential buyer surreptitiously applying a coolant on the vehicle in order to make it smoke—then asking for a discount. It’s a general rule that if you notice something strange when selling your car to take it to a mechanic as possible.

Also consider reporting the potential buyer to the police. If local police are alerted the scammer may move onto better hunting grounds.

(But don’t jump to the conclusion that your buyer is trying to pull a fast one. An engine overheating will cause irreversible damage. If there’s a fuel smell in addition to the smoke it’s could be something like faulty fuel injector or the valve timing?)

In summary, cars and smoke in any form is best avoided. If you smoke and have children under 18 please consider not smoking in your car. That’ll protect your resale value and preserve the other things you care about.

Noisy Engines

A car can produce so many niggling little noises and it’s best to get them dealt with as soon as. No one likes a car with too many splutters and spurts, though an amount of revving does sound attractive to the car buff.

If a car is running too loud this may be caused by a dirty sensor. The sensor causes too much or too little fuel to enter the engine, which makes it seem to the driver as though it’s running rough. Faulty spark plugs in contrast will cause it to backfire.

A knocking, or grinding noise is likely coming from a bad engine bearing – these are what the engine is sat on. Driving long distances will really bring out this noise. The bearings might not be shot entirely, if could be low oil pressure that indicates inadequate lubrication. Either way—it’s recommended that you deal with this as soon as possible.

Transmissions can be a source of noise. Having a low transmission fluid levels can damage the torque converter. If the transmission is failing see a mechanic straightaway.

If your vehicle sounds louder than it used to, another reason could be a damaged muffler. In this case you would hear the engine because it’s not being masked by the muffler. Usually one of your neighbors will clue you into this problem if you haven’t noticed yourself.

Noise Pollution

New plans to fine people whose exhausts are too loud involve using a noise camera. A noise camera might be better explained as a traffic camera with an audio sensor attached. Much like a motion detector camera, the noise camera will trigger when it detects a loud car and snap a picture of the cars number plate. A trial of this system in Edmonton, Canada just made people rev their engine around the camera producing inaccurate results.

Noise pollution makes lives a misery, and it’s not just uptight killjoys who have a problem with it. Too much noise can cause high blood pressure, stress eating and even type 2 diabetes. But the issue could be just too many vehicles in one location. If it’s the total number of cars, motorbikes and trucks you can still try to fine the worst offenders, but that means on the ground tickets by police. In reality, cars make more noise when starting up than running, and a little extra noise for a short time is considered acceptable. So, police would need to ticket only those who’s vehicles “run” loud, not just because they’re capable of being loud at times. No one likes an on-the-spot fine but it’s the only solution.

Other Possible Solutions

If engine noise is a problem a flame retardant pad under your hood can suppress it. It’s important to replace the item after a few years as when it becomes worn out it becomes useless. You can probably tell when it’s worn out as the sound will gradually come back.

Of course, the main reason cars are loud is because their owners deliberately changed the muffler. It’s not just police you get into hot water with when you replace your stock muffler to make your car sound more muscular. Like with your insurance company for instance. Most policies say that you shouldn’t alter your vehicle without letting them know. “Souping up” your exhaust counts as an alteration even though it doesn’t change your horsepower.

It’s increases the appeal to thieves. It’s more likely to be stolen and you’re more likely to want that feature in your replacement vehicle they buy you. So, it increases their liability and they’ll increase your rates. Not telling your insurer may make your policy invalidated.

One Final Note:

Technically when you modify a car it violates the warranty and wrecks the value, however if you do a good job it can make your car more desirable to people with the same taste—so it sells faster. Some exhaust replacement does improve performance. But think before you spend the money.

On that note, think before you make a ton of noise. Some noise is good, but go overboard and you’ll get a ticket.

Morgan – A British Success Story?

Morgan Runabout 1st made in 1909

From P. W. on the U.K. Desk

For those of you not familiar with “The Morgan” it is one of the oldest British car companies most famous for rebelling against the luxuries of modern motoring. In fact, the most common explanation for it’s popularity is nostalgia factor and the fact that it’s a “British” car company. In reality, not all current cars are over-engineered or excessively stylish so moving back to old ways isn’t exactly a real thing, and as of 2019 Morgan is owned by InvestIndustrial, who aren’t even British. Despite this, there is a six-month waiting list for these vehicles.

(This is not the time to go into the decline of the British motor industry, but it does seem a bit self-inflicted by the country and it might be drivers who suffer. Moving on…)

Morgan Supersport 1938

Morgan does have a long history though, all the way back to 1909, in some ways moving with the times but in most ways staying with the same, age-old methods. But for Morgan this formula seems to work.

The selling point was always to be small, lightweight and inexpensive. A great example is in the case of “The nuclear.” This small car attempted to fill the gap between motorcycles and cars, as cars at the time, were a bigger investment than they are now. While there has always been a market for a “semi-car” it usually came in the form of a kit car or a motorbike and sidecar. The Nuclear was a production model specific to this tiny niche market.

The Runabout cyclecar looks rather a novelty, but it’s worthwhile investigating. Despite being a three-wheeler, it has in its favor a V-twin engine and five speed transmission. The difficulty with the cyclecar is that it isn’t designed for long distance, especially with the ash wood frame rather than steel chassis.

1928 Roundabout Deluxe

The Runabout can’t be an easy car to market, it’s not exactly a company car or even a family car resembling as it does a tube on wheels. Morgan has sold it for several decades now, especially in the United States. Follow-ups include the 1911 Violette and 1914 La Vigne. The designs might be ancient but with an improved clutch and gears they are still being sold today. They are run by a twin engine.

The PlusFour hasn’t changed its “silhouette” (design) since the 1950s but it has added tech features. Even its name PlusFour conjures up another era. With a 65% increase in power and torque from the original model, and a top speed of 149 mph, it’s in keeping with the needs of today’s traffic.

Roadster at 76e international Motorshow Geneva 2006

Since you order these semi-custom vehicles before they’re made, you have a choice between manual and automatic (the automatic is eight speed and the manual is six speed). Another option is wire wheels or if you prefer alloy wheels in a number of finishes. Both have a digital info display.

Viewing a picture of these vehicles might make you think they’d take in a long time to start up but driving the 3-Wheeler for example is known as an immediate “get in and drive experience.” Exactly how it feels can only be realized by going throw the motions yourself, words can only say so much.

Maybe the Morgan makes a point about modern motoring being too sanitized, after all. There’s no reason why all automobiles have to be identikit versions of each other. Designers of vintage cars brought an aesthetic and feel to their work that most modern car companies don’t even try to replicate. There’s a reason why vintage cars are called vintage.

A Case of Cut And Shut?

Not all used car sellers are disreputable and it’s unfortunate that the “good” ones find it hard to differentiate themselves from the “bad” ones. In the name of helping you avoid the more serious or more common types of fraud the Kicker will attempt to make you aware of types of fraud or schemes that we run across (within the car industry at least.) 

What is a Cut and Shut?

Cut and shut for instance is when two mechanically identical cars — so not necessarily physically identical — are welded together. One of the cars has been involved in the accident damaging the front, the other involved in an accident damaging the rear.

A lot of cars receive side impact damage, and many are sandwiched—taking damage in both the front and the rear. However, most car accidents result from rear-ending someone, or being rear-ended by someone. A lot of these “write offs” are labeled Category C or D and as such should NEVER legally used again. The nature of modern crumple zones means that the car is designed to absorb impact from the wreck instead of passing it onto the vehicle occupants. Re-using a frame with this sort of damage is like reusing an airbag that’s been deployed once.

On the bright side, many of the cars damaged in this type of accident aren’t seriously destroyed but end up costing more to fix than they’re worth, which means the insurance company considers them totaled. Cars in that condition can be repaired and sold with a “branded” title. However, most end up in a junk yard where parts that weren’t harmed are sold off bit by bit to replace worn out parts on cars of like kind or quality.

It’s a pretty efficient system and works pretty well to the advantage of consumers.

The Problem is when Someone gets Greedy:

A cut and shut is when someone welds the back half of one car onto the front half of another car. The danger starts from the fact that you would do this with cars that were at all candidates for repair. The person who would do this is going to pick what’s cheapest—which is two cars with compromised frames. Then the problem is magnified by the welding, which is usually roughshod.

This could just be the most hazardous kind of automobile fraud. The icing on the cake is that if you can get this car insured you’re unknowing committing insurance fraud. It is best to leave this particular “species” of car well alone.

Spotting this Kind of Fraud:

One of the first warning signs is underpricing. If it’s too good to be true it probably is.

These types of cars are sold on the internet by obscured or grainy photos or what are known as “library photos” – generic pictures of that type of car. It’s a good idea to see the car in proper daylight, not in the rain, mist or snow. Nor should you see the car in a garage or storage bay. These conditions can cause you to miss vital signs about the vehicle in question.

Before you even look at the car:

It’s advisable to consider the seller of the car. If they are courteous and eager to answer questions then fine, but if they are evasive and keep coming up with excuses, they might be hiding something. The seller of this type of car may have welded the car themselves and know the welding is substandard. If you take someone with you who can watch the seller while the car is inspected you can pick up on warning signs.

What you’re Looking For:

When investigating the car, examine the point at the back end where the roof meets the rear panel. Look in the trunk, including under the carpet or whatever. Are there uneven lines? Are there changes in paint color? When touching it, does it feel wrong?

Be aware of any signs of cutting, welding or spraying – one example would be paint spray on door handles or some unknown spillage of solder on the windows.

Ultimately:

If you’re a longtime reader of the Kicker, you won’t be surprised by this sort of scam. You’ve been cautioned against taking things at face value for the last 5 years. You’ve also heard us say that you don’t need to fear buying a second hand vehicle—it can be an affordable option.

Despite doing your best to spot this type of scam, the best way to avoid it is to use a professional car inspector. Let someone who knows cars better than you, who isn’t distracted by their own emotional connection to the vehicle or the opportunity for a bargain examine the vehicle while you keep your eyes on the seller. Our sponsor, TireKickers.com, is one of the best and most convenient you’ll ever find.

If you feel you have been shown a car which possibly is a cut and shut, please inform the police and/or local trade organization. Otherwise the disreputable sellers and welders will keep conning the public as if nothing is wrong.

German Cars – Good Value for the Money?

When we refer to German car we’re specifically talking about a BMW, a Merc, an Audi or a VW.

The German auto makers enjoy a good reputation based on a uniform brand identity for quality. Basically, instead of getting a reputation for family cars or sports cars etc. they focus first on promoting German Engineering. This gives them the flexibility for each brand of German car maker to claim a specific application of German Engineering like, the best German family car, or the best German daily driver.

Clearly the German car reputation is effective for sales since 30% of all cars sold in 2019 were German cars.

So, what is the German Engineering Brand?

Germany is known for “performance machines” and “muscle cars”. The stereotype is that the cars are built with military precision. But is it really justified, or is it more accurate to say they’re constructed with pragmatic appeal?

What some classify as affordable luxury with a solid reputation, combining the best engineering and the best quality. Others would say, too expensive to be a daily driver, too expensive to maintain as a family car, and chalk full of impractical features. In other words, by prioritizing performance and speed before niche specific objectives, are German cars…over engineered?

Many BMW’s cost $200 dollars for an oil change, and don’t get us started on the tire prices.

Is the German Car Impractical?

Do you really need a German car, something like a Ford Focus is better suited for a daily driver when compared to a BMW. The Dodge Grand Caravan, which is rated as the top two minivans of 2020, sells for thousands less than the Mercedes Sprinter Van. Indeed, by calling German cars a muscle car, it sort of suggests a car only for a bachelor not a family at all. The status symbol of the car only goes so far, you don’t want to pay for the name alone.

However, the consumer needs to decide for themselves if they need a daily driver or a family van with a top speed over 150 that corners like it’s on rales. If money is no object, why not? Unless the reputation is hokum.

Is the German Car Reputation Misleading?

Let’s compare two models that are examples of this dual-design mishmash.

The VW Golf has four cylinders and a top speed of 155 mph. This might be a bit too much for a family hatchback, but it’s a lot of fun.

The BMW Turbo meanwhile is designed to combine a light body with a powerful engine, although its mantra was always about supporting those who love performance. The 2002 model altered the functioning of the suspension.)

The question is, why does it needs the word “Turbo” written backwards on it. It works on an ambulance, so that you can easily identify it in your rearview mirror, but on a car…not so much. You’re really putting all your cards on the table calling it a Turbo. So, the Golf may be preferable for most uses and the turbo is for someone who sports car that looks like a luxury car???

To be fair, there are many other BMW’s to pick from if you require something specific. There are a number of innovative BMWs out there, not just the Turbo and something like a station wagon or a SUV might be preferred? Alternately, you check out a cross over or one of the later “Series” cars such as the Series 6 or 7.

On the topic of Variety and Customization:

If you decide on an Audi you can tailor the seats, upholstery, door finishes and even your dashboard? To play Devil’s Advocate is there a bit too much choice here for most buyers?

From https://www.audiusa.com/technology/design/interior-design

Most people are unsure what kind of seating they require, after all. They might be confused as to what twin leather is. (It’s a combo of both leather and artificial fabric). Twin leather is marketed by saying, “people cannot tell the difference,” but you be the judge. The advantages over cotton fabric is its premium feel and being much easier to clean. These options are not uncommon with German cars but the Audi is especially known for its stylish interior.

On the Bright Side:

The German car does hold its value. The sort of person who buys a BMW or a Merc is the type of person who will buy a new one every couple years, so it is not impossible to obtain an affordable German automobile second hand. This could be due to the high performance and the dependability of these models. Still, the price of the oil change is the same on a car you bought used as it was on the one you bought new.

There is a market out there, but it might not be the family market or the practical commuter vehicle.

Car Longevity

These days when it’s hard to reach any kind of mechanic, it’s worth trying to work out how long a car will go.

Thousands of cars can travel for 200,000 miles without the need for a major repair of parts; it all depends on the cars. A car which has had about 200,000 miles is not a strong selling point.

Having a car that can only last ten years doesn’t seem a masterpiece in engineering but its due to the number of components that can go wrong.

But how can the longevity be increased? It’s not worth keeping a car that continues to fail and needs parts replacing, it’s not economical. Collectability of the car and emotional attachment to the vehicle may mean it is kept “beyond its time.” If you have a business with vintage or classic cars (say a wedding car service) a substantial amount of would-be profit is spent repairing your vehicles.

During a lockdown you might have to pay for repairs but will not have any profits from weddings (with all weddings being stripped down). It’s impossible to show your handiwork at the moment, except virtually, and that isn’t a way to add to the coffers.

A diagram of the chance of failure in a car has a shape like a bathtub. The car can go wrong during the early stages-“teething troubles” you might call it, when new or experimental parts fail more frequently. Then there’s the other end of the diagram where parts wear out. Electronic items fail in a similar shaped. graph.

Teething troubles need not be anything too serious; a knocking sound say or a steering wheel which doesn’t feel right. There are always potholes in the road and your car isn’t fit for purpose of it can’t handle the odd one. It’s important take your new vehicle to the shop when it’s acting up so that problems can be identified by manufacturers. This can lead to voluntary recall, in which the manufacturer will pay for the repair.

With older vehicles, it might just be the mechanic, but small problems have a tendency to become bigger ones after a trip to the garage. People have a tendency to put off these visits, though some checks cannot be avoided if they wish to stay in the road.

Cars have been more likely to fail in the 1930s; a car could generally only last for about 6.75 years. So, overall longevity of the car has improved.

When buying a secondhand car there are ways to ensure that a car won’t simply fall apart. Avoid any cars with dents and signs of repair. This includes mismatched panels.

It is vital to check out the interior too. Are the carpets miscolored and are there mildew smells? If so, there was definitely water damage. It is important to take an independent mechanic to check out the vehicle. Chances are, they will see something you missed.

An old car becomes a project car-one that needs the majority of your time and bank balance. No one wants to take a work of art to the wrecker’s yard. Only a number of vintage roadsters have fallen out of favor and no longer meet the criteria of work of art. It’s a shame that a love for a specific vehicle fades away.