The Dark Side of EVs

Op-Ed by the Editor

Previous we’ve talked about whether or not Tesla vehicles are really maintenance free as they claim. We also covered how Tesla cars sits near the bottom of a list of 300,000 cars evaluated for reliability. And we’ve covered the bright side where Tesla sells one of every 5 EV’s world wide.

We’ve tried in all this to cover both sides of the story, but it may be time to give an honest review of Electric Car ownership in general. Government and the Green Movement seem to have put all their eggs in one basket with Electric Vehicles, citing two basic facts as the justification for what has become a pretty heavy-handed push.

Lithium Mine, Western Australia
Side Note: Joe Biden wants half of all vehicles sold to be EV’s by 2030. Not radical enough for Governor Newsom who has announced that they will no longer allow new cars to be sold in California starting in 2030 unless said car was an EV. Which has caused Jay Insley to follow suit for Washington State.

Fact #1: Electric Cars put out zero emissions so they must be environmentally better than internal combustion engines that emit carbon.

Fact #2: The only way to make EV’s affordable and build infrastructure, the government must mandate that everyone buy them so manufacturers can use economy of scale to make them affordable. Sort chicken-and-egg, if you build it they will come sort of thing.

Of course there is a ton of missing nuance in this topic. For one thing, emission at the place of use is not the only consideration that makes something environmentally sound. A lot of environmental damage occurs when the materials are mined to make batteries. For another thing, a lot of emissions occur when the electricity is generated to power a vehicle. There is potential environmental issues in that the batteries aren’t very recyclable. Then too, EV’s weigh one thousand pounds more than their ICE equivalent which just has to impact fuel economy.

“Line Loss” is the term for Electricity lost to resistance on the way to market.

It’s also possible that industry could have developed affordable cars without half billion dollar grants from the government.

One of the big questions is, if technology has grown to a point to make EV’s practical. To start, recharge stations need put in around the country, which Tesla is doing, but the grids’ ability to service those needs is highly questionable, especially when you factor in at home charging.

Also, and it’s not a small thing, is the tiny range on a battery charge. This is a more complicated issue than we consumers were lead to believe at first. The best way we can address this is the personal testimony/review by a real estate agent and his wife, who leased a Tesla each. We’ll insert a copy of that below.

So the Tesla experiment ��has come to an end.

Heather and I each had one for the past 3 months and here are some things from our experience. When gas prices were $5 per gallon it seemed like a good thing to try.

Here are some Pro’s & Cons’s!

Pro’s:

  • 1. Watching netflix on the huge screen looked and sounded like a movie ��theater!! Amazing actually ! Using the internet to listen to radio stations on line was so cool.
  • 2. These cars are really quick and very fast! Felt almost as fast ��as the Corvette !
  • 3. High end speed was also fast. Easy to go over 100 mph. I always got to places quickly.
  • 4. All kids were in awe of the Tesla!!!!
  • 5. I had some warranty issues. I scheduled through the app and Tesla came to my house. This was cool other than I had to leave it there during that window of time. They fixed my issues at no charge and texted me what they did. Pretty cool!

Con’s

  • 1. My car said it would get 303 miles per charge. It really only get’s 200 miles in my opinion!!! These cars drain so fast! But when it gets to 80 miles left you need to be concerned. So it really only gets 160-170 true miles. This is not good !
  • 2. Range anxiety is a real thing. This past weekend we took the car to New Jersey. Made it there with 60 miles left. Plenty to get us to a charging station. Went to the charging station I found In my phone and it was a mall!!! No charging station. Put the next one in my phone!!! Go to this station and had 6 miles left. I’m glad it was not another mall. So yes this creates unwanted anxiety ��. So I would not want to go below 100 miles ever again. So really this is a 120-140 mile car when its not winter.
  • 3. I heard when winter comes the anxiety is worse. Imagine running electric heat. I heard the numbers go way down from normal usage from other Tesla owners. I can’t imagine what this will do?!?!
  • 4. The tires on this car can easily get damaged. My wife had two flat tires In her 3 months. And flat tires are a pain! She had to schedule through the Tesla app. Only Tesla could fix the tire. She needed a new one the first time $412. The next time it was a hole and it was $150. They will only fix a tire one time so the next time on that tire it needs a new one. Not cool ��These tires cut like butter. Don’t drive off road at all and don’t nick a curb at all!! This tire situation was a deal breaker for Heather for sure because she hits curbs every day!!!
  • 5. The car is too fast ��. I was bound to get a speeding ticket or in an accident. Heather said I drove way too fast everywhere! Driving a 100 mph in this car is not a good thing. 
  • 6. I charged this car on Sunday and it was $43 to charge it at a Tesla super station. This price to drive 170 miles is insane. The charging was free for me because of the rental program I was in. But I would never pay $72k for this car then pay that amount to charge it on trips!
  • 7. My electric bill has gone so sky high at my house these past two months so its hard to actually know how much it is to charge a Tesla at home. My guess is its between $75-$100 for one car for a month. I had thought it would be closer to $50 month. I can only see this cost rising.
  • 8. Running electric to my garage was not cheap. My brother did it for $1,000 in materials but it would have been much more if we hired it out. This prob would have been a $3,500 job.
  • 9. Winter was coming and we show/look at a-lot of houses. We could not risk driving a Tesla based on charge or bad tires in this situation.
  • 10. When going to a Tesla super charging station it will charge the car to 80% in 25 min. But it takes another 25 min to get to 100%. 50-55 min is too long for a full charge. They also dont like you to fully charge the car all the time. What the heck!
Overall I think ��electric cars are not ready for us. They really lack what you need if you really have to drive somewhere. And its risky getting a flat tire on any road.
So we turned in our leases and bought 2 – 2021 Dodge limited trucks with 30k miles on them.

The next new issue to be discovered is the fire risk…

….of Tesla’s bursting into flame after being submerged in salt water. You might be thinking, give pour Tesla a break, how often will a car be completely submerged in salt water. Enter Hurricane Ian, which is causing fire fighters a great deal of issue.

Note the Video of a Tesla Burning after being totaled in a car wreck.

In conclusion

We’d like to humbly suggest that the whole thing wasn’t thought through enough. There are good options that could be part of the solution if you don’t put all the eggs in one basket.

One option is to use all the alternate fuels alongside gasoline as a way to increase competition, lower prices and reduce total carbon emissions. The idea is that some fuel sources would be cheaper in some parts of the country though most of them could be made available anywhere in the country. So by not forcing uniformity the best, most efficient option could be found.

Another aspect of this, besides money, is that fuel could be made and used locally, reducing emissions created by moving fuel to gas stations states away from where it’s made.

Options include, Electricity, Biodiesel, Propane, Liquid Coal and more.

The other cool thing about using multiple alternative fuels is that each kind of fuel has its advantages and disadvantages. What is okay to one person and their lifestyle is intolerable to another. Just like we need to make trucks, commuter cars, and vans, EV’s might work fine for the commuter and sports car markets but not for delivery vehicles, rural dwellers, and the like. These drivers might need a practical option.

Perhaps the problem is not totally with EVs, but with a one-size-fits all, low creativity high government over-reach solution.

Research Link #1

Research Link #2

Five Top WORST First Cars for Teens

When buying the first car for your teen, you want to ensure that it is safe and reliable. However, there are some cars out there that are not suitable for inexperienced drivers. Here is a list of the worst first cars for teens.

Sports Cars

Sports cars have long been coveted for their sleek designs and powerful engines. However, there is no denying that these vehicles can be dangerous. Their high horsepower engines can quickly get out of control, and their poor visibility and handling make driving tricky in traffic or bad weather conditions. In addition, sports cars are often involved in high-speed accidents, which can be devastating. While there is no doubt that sports cars can be fun to drive, it is essential to be aware of the risks before getting behind the wheel.

Luxury Cars

Luxury cars are often seen as status symbols, and for a good reason. They are much more expensive than other cars and usually have a long list of features and amenities. However, luxury cars are also less reliable and more difficult to repair. As a result, they are often not the best choice for novice drivers. In addition, luxury cars tend to have a lot of horsepower, which can be challenging. It could be financially devastating if your teen is involved in an accident while driving a luxury car. For these reasons, it is essential to consider your options before allowing your teen to drive a luxury car.

SUVs

In recent years, SUVs have become one of the most popular vehicles on the road. They are often seen as more versatile and rugged than traditional sedans and typically have more space for passengers and cargo. However, SUVs are not always the best choice for inexperienced drivers. They are often cumbersome and have poor visibility. They also have a higher center of gravity, making them more likely to roll over in an accident. For these reasons, new drivers need to consider their options before purchasing. Ultimately, the best vehicle for a new driver is one that suits their individual needs and driving abilities.

Minivans

Minivans may be practical but are not the safest choice for novice drivers. They are often top-heavy and difficult to control, especially on tight or windy days. In addition, minivans tend to have blind spots, making it difficult to see other cars on the road.

Pickup Trucks

Pickup trucks may be challenging and rugged, but they are not a good choice for novice drivers. They are often cumbersome and have poor visibility. They also have a higher center of gravity, making them more likely to roll over in an accident.

Teens have a reputation for being reckless behind the wheel, and rightfully so.  As a result, parents should be extra careful when choosing a car for their teens. Generally, it is best to avoid sports cars or other high-performance vehicles, as they can be tempting for inexperienced drivers to push beyond their limits. If you are looking for a safe and reliable vehicle for your teen, consider one of these options instead. They may not be as exciting as other choices but will be safer.

Best of the Web: Classic Bugatti

1930 Bugatti Type 46 Superprofile Coupe

Of all of Bugatti’s exceptional and advanced designs none perhaps were more elegant and stately than the Type 46. An incredible amalgamation of elegant, sweeping lines and an imposing stature, the Type 46 would speak of performance and affluence just in one glance.

At the Kicker, we couldn’t agree more.

The Impact of The TikTok Challenge on Car Theft

The TikTok challenge, in which participants film themselves driving fast and recklessly while lip-syncing to popular songs, has been linked to increased car theft.

In the first six months of 2020, there were more than twice as many reported car theft cases in the United States as in 2019. And while the overall number of reported car thefts is still relatively low, the sharp increase is cause for concern.

There is no definitive evidence that the TikTok challenge is directly responsible for the uptick in car thefts. But law enforcement officials and experts say that the videos may inspire young people to steal cars.

It is a phenomenon that law enforcers are monitoring. In recent years, there has been an uptick in car thefts, and law enforcers believe that the TikTok challenge is a contributing factor.

A sharp increase in car thefts has been recorded since the pandemic’s start. However, authorities have also noted a spike in reports of stolen cars since the TikTok challenge began trending earlier this year.

People are believed to see these videos and think that it’s easy to do and that they won’t get caught. However, it’s a crime that can have serious consequences.”

While there is no official data on how many car thefts can be directly attributed to the TikTok challenge, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has released data that shows a sharp increase in reported car thefts in 2020.

According to the NICB, there were more than 7,800 reports of stolen cars in the first quarter of 2020. That’s a sharp increase from the 4,700 reports filed in the first quarter of 2019. And while the overall number of reported car thefts is still relatively low, the sharp increase is cause for concern.

The TikTok challenge is something that the authorities are concerned about. But it’s too early to say that it’s responsible for the uptick in car thefts, but it’s certainly something worth looking at.

For their part, TikTok has said that they do not condone the challenge and are working to remove videos promoting unsafe driving.

TikTok claims it doesn’t support content encouraging dangerous behavior and has strict policies against content promoting car theft. The platform claims to be committed to keeping its community safe and enables its users to report any content that violates its Community Guidelines.

According to TikTok, it is essential to remember that car theft is a severe crime whenever you come across a video of a challenge said to encourage car theft. TikTok has also urged its platform users to caution friends and followers considering participating in the challenge.

According to TikTok, this is not a game. It is not something that should be taken lightly. People can go to jail for car theft, a serious crime that may cost you dearly.

How to Protect Your Car Against Theft

Despite the threat posed by this challenge, you can take some simple steps to protect your car against theft.

  • Firstly, lock your doors and close all the windows when leaving your car unattended.
  • Second, park in a well-lit area with plenty of people around.
  • Third, if you have an alarm system, ensure it is set before leaving your car.
  • Finally, don’t leave any valuables in plain sight. By taking these simple precautions, you can help to protect your car against theft.

Automakers: Italy (Part 5b)

Link to Part 1 of Italian Auto Makers

This summer we did a 6 part series on US Auto Makers starting with July 4th. It’s time to continue with Italian car makers. Part A covered luxury sports car makers, but today lets cover members of the fifth largest car conglomerate in the world (by sales).

For those who don’t know, or have never heard of Stellantis, you are not alone. They’re new (16 January 2021) and we covered them under US makers since the core of the company is Chrysler. You can learn all about the parent company at this link. Italy accounts for five out of the 16 car brands managed by Stellantis from their headquarters in Amsterdam.

Abarth (1949–present)

While a relatively new name to the US market, Abarth has been around since 1949, when it was founded by Italo-Austrian Carlo Abarth. While it is currently the Italian performance division of Stellantis making racing and road cars, it was not always so.

Italian soccer player, entrepreneur and racecar driver Piero Dusio, founded the Cisitalia racing team, but in 1948 Piero fled to Argentina leaving a man named Armando Scagliarini to pick up the pieces. Along with the other assets of the folded car company Scagliarini inherited it’s sporting director Carlo Abarth.  Scagliarini decided to rebuild the business around Abarth, naming it after him and creating it’s emblem to honor Carlos Astrological sign Scorpio.

1950 Abarth 204A

From the complete and partial racers Cisitalia had in stock, Abarth began hiring experienced drivers like  Tazio NuvolariFranco Cortese and Piero Taruffi, and began winning races.

The races made money but the stock and trade of Abarth in the early days was manufacturing aftermarket parts for FiatLancia, Cisitalia and Simca cars.

In 1951 Abarth moved it’s headquarters to Turin and started building a more formal relationship with Fiat. Abarth continued to win races due in part to their brilliant exhaust designs. Thanks to Fiat, they brought their exhaust systems to production cars.

Abarth 595 under Fiat Ownership

Noteworthy: Believe it or not some Original Abarth LD exhausts are now valuable collectors’ items with some replica being made and stamped Abarth without permission from Fiat.

In 1971 Carlo sold Abarth to Fiat, who turned it into their racing division. Fiat didn’t do Hill Climb or Sport Prototype racing so the sold that off to Enzo Osella who found a great deal of success with it, and continued to race in the rally circuit.

Three things all the Zonda’s have in common: they max out around 215 MPH, they go 0-60 in less than 3.5 seconds, and they all look hot.

On 1 October 1981, Abarth & C. ceased to exist and was replaced by Fiat Auto Gestione Sportiva. In the 80s, the name was slapped onto some performance cars, and Fiat used the brand to designate a trim/model level in 2000s. 2007 Abarth was reborn as an an independent unit, controlled 100% by Fiat, to create and sell passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.  

The first models launched were the Abarth Grande Punto, they went on to make 16 more car models that basically all looked alike, while the parent company changed it’s name a few times. In In 2017, Abarth collaborated with Yamaha to produce a limited-edition motorcycle, but it has otherwise been a solid small car maker with little to set it apart and no resemblance of it’s former racing glory.

Alfa Romeo (1910–present)

Founded 24 June 1910, Alpha Romeo is the old man of this group. Headquartered in Turin, Piedmont, Italy (the Detroit of Italy), AR sells cars world wide, with it’s main markets being the US, Canada, and Europe. Currently AR is known for luxury cars but they were best know for sport-oriented vehicles have been heavily involved in car racing since a year after they began.

We don’t really know who founded Alpha Romeo, probably a man named Ugo Stella and other investors because at the time of its birth AR was an “anonymous” company, which means the investors names weren’t public. In fact the “A” in Alpha stands the Italian word for anonymous, “Anonima.” The rest to the acronym stands for “Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili.” The founders built their first factory in Milan where they were able to snatch up manufacturing space from the Portello Factory which was closing up shop. AR continued to make cars at the Portello Factory until 1960.

Romeo came from engineer, entrepreneur, and politician Nicola Romeo, who took over the factory during WWI to make more important things for the war effort. When the war ended they went back to racing making Torpedo 20–30 HP in 1920. Alfa Romeo won the inaugural world championship for Grand Prix cars in 1925 and as an engine maker AR was favored by private race teams. In fact, Enzo Ferrari founded the Scuderia Ferrari racing team in 1929 as an Alfa Romeo racing team.

The A.L.F.A. 24 hp was the first car made by Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (A.L.F.A.) in 1910

On the business side, Alpha Romeo has a complicated history that’s very much tied to the fortunes of Italy herself and the ways Italy chose to handle their economy after WWII. Italy has always been a bit more socialist than the US and as part of an extensive 1933 Italian state industrial bailout/ re-organization Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI), and remained under government control until it was sold to Fiat in 1986.

Italian worker unrest and the government ownership caused a lot of trouble for AR, including building a factory in the south to make a new compact car in the 1970s. AR’s finances remained in the red much of their existence. They did, however, continue to build great racers and win a lot of races though to be fair the racing portion of AR was privatized.

When I see an Alfa Romeo go by, I tip my hat.

Henry Ford talking with Ugo Gobbato in 1939
Giulietta Spider

Things changed when Fiat took over.

Here’s what happened. In the early 80’s Alpha Romeo was suffering and draining money from the Italian government who’s main goal was jobs for Italian workers. They attempted a joint venture with Nissan, but the companies were simply not compatible.  

Fiat was approached with a joint venture, but Ford offered a cash infusion in exchange for enough ownership and authority to restructure the company, which they couldn’t guarantee would allow current staff to retain their jobs. Fiat stepped up and took over A.R. which kept the Italian car maker entirely in Italian control. Fiat also guaranteed that all workers would stay in their jobs. The only sticky point was a desire by Alfa Romeo’s then-President Ettore Massacesi to never build an Alpha Romeo car with a Fiat engine. The deal was done by the end of 1986.

The resulting cars from the takeover retained AR’s avant-garde styling and sporting panache without losing Fiat’s understanding of economy and production efficiency. When Fiat bought Maserati back from Ferrari they created a luxury sports division.

In 2007 Fiat reorganized as Fiat Group with 4 divisions of which Alpha Romeo was one. In 2010 Alpha Romeo turned 100, however there was little cause to celebrate. International sales had been trending down since 2001 and they continued to decline until today, despite the merger with Chrysler and eventual formation of Stellantis Italy.

Fiat (1899–present)

Fiat formed in 1899 when Giovanni Agnelli and 8 other investors decided to launch an automobile manufacturer in Turin. In fact the name Fiat is an acronym of Fabbrica Italiana Automobili di Torino or Turin Auto Factory.

Their 35 staff cranked out 24 Fiat 4 HP cars. From these humble beginnings Fiat would grow to be that largest car maker in Italy, then Europe, and third largest in the world for many decades. Fiat of the 1970’s employed more than 100,000 employees an pumped out 1.4 million cars a year.

Fiat has also produced Fiat has also manufactured railway engines, military vehicles, farm tractors, aircraft, and weapons such as their water-cooled machine gun for WWI & WWII, and won awards such as their nine European Car of the Year

Murcielago R-GT 

Noteworthy: In 1910 Fiat manufactured cars in  PoughkeepsieNY, which were sign of wealth among Americans at the time. In fact, a Fiat in 1918 would cost you $6,400 when you could buy a Ford Model T for $525.

Both WWI and WWII interrupted car production for the war effort (the American plant closed for good) and soon after WWI the sociality party took over the Fiat factory causing Agnelli to resign in protest. After WWII the Agnelli were again forced out of the company as a result of their ties to  Benito Mussolini. Giovanni’s grandson, Gianni, took over again as general manager in 1963 (later chairman until 1996).

Of course Fiat would ultimately join with Chrysler to form FCA and then later with French car conglomerate PSA to form Stellantis. Fiat’s secret to success was knowing the home market and then expanding to nearby markets with similar needs for a similar product. Hence Fiat has always made “City Cars” for small urban drivers. See examples below…

Fiat Punto
Fiat 500X

If you look closely at the pictures above you’ll see that these are in fact two different cars.

Lancia 

(1906–present)

 Lancia & C., a manufacturing concern founded in 1906 in Torino by Vincenzo Lancia (1881–1937) and Claudio Fogolin back in 1906.

Lancia is one of those car names that gets bounced around car talk circles but the average person has probably never seen one. Even in the UK and Ireland where Lancia’s were sold until 2015 (although these were technically rebadged Chryslers.)

Noteworthy: Lancia had a long tradition in rally racing, winning more manufacturers awards than any competitor until 1992 when they stopped racing. (They still hold more awards than any other brand, BTW).

If you live in Italy these days you definitely know Lancia, not only as the historic maker of cars they were but as the maker of the second best-selling car in Italy, the Lancia Ypsilon. This is currently Lancia’s only product.

Ypsilon by Lancia

What happened?

Lancia’s founders were both race car drivers for Fiat. They created the “Tipo 51” which looked like an old time fire truck, but sold well enough. They also exported parts to an America assembler who sold the cars under the name SGV.

When Lancia died in 1910, his widow and son brought on designer Vittorio Jano who created some of their best selling models. What Lancia is best known for is innovation. They’re the first people to put a complete electrical system in a car (1913). They first used the monocoque or unibody chassis and the five speed gearbox. They also invented the ‘Sliding Pillar‘ independent front suspension that incorporated the spring and hydraulic damper into a single unit on their Lambda (produced from 1922 to 1931).

Lancia Delta S4 Group B rally car

The down side of all this innovation, and there are more, is that each production model is unique. When your primary goal is invention instead of finding a market need to meet it’s difficult sell enough units to remain viable. What it does do is make you a target for acquisition as other car company’s want your patents.

In 1969 Fiat acquired Lancia but maintained the distinctive Lancia marque with models like the StratosGamma and Beta, which made money for Fiat. In fact Fiat had just attained full control of Autobianchi which it put under the Lancia brand.

When Fiat reorganized to a group of four in 2007 Lancia became one of the four. It was the merger with Chrysler that proved to be Lancia’s demise. The brand was built on innovation and unique design. Producing rebadged Chryslers failed completely.

Will Stellantis prove to be the death blow for Lancia? It’s too soon to tell, but Stellantis has signaled its intentions to rebuild the brand by including it in a group with Alfa Romeo and DS Automobiles which are commissioned to create new models in 2024. The also appointed Luca Napolitano CEO, and Jean-Pierre Ploué its chief designer. The rumor is they will develop three new models, all EV’s – a replacement for their successful city car (Ypsilon), a cross over, and a hatchback.

Noteworthy: the documentary “Elegance on the Move,” celebrates Lancia’s 115th anniversary.

Maserati 

(1914–present)

The Maserati brother all worked in auto manufacture and they founded the company that would bare their name in 1914 to produce race cars.

Maserati’s racing success was top of the range with wins against the German powerhouse , Auto Union and Mercedes on the European circuit and even an indie 500 win. Then in 1957 tragedy struck at the Mille Miglia race when a worn tire caused a wreck, killing Spanish driver Alfonso de Portago, his co-driver/navigator Edmund Nelson, and nine spectators 5 of whom were children.

Maserati quit racing as a team, but continued to make cars for independent racers. They chose to focus on road-going grand tourers from that point on. The 3500 GT became the marque’s first series-produced car designed from scratch which came out the same year as their racing tragedy. Available in two-door coupe and convertible, the 3500 GT took production from a few dozen to a few hundred cars annually.

Noteworthy: Mohamad Reza Pahlavi (aka the Shah of Persia) wanted a road going GT with one of Masarati’s racing engines so they built him the 5000 GT with a 450S racing engine. This was a popular redesign and they sold another 33 of them over the next few decades.

Masarati also introduced four more models before 1967; the two-seater Mistral coupé in 1963 and Spider in 1964, the Quattroporte a sedan literally called the “four-door,” and the Ghibli coupé.

Citroën

To understand what happened in 1968 we need to know a couple things. First is that Alfieri Maserati, the families primary driver for racing, died in 1932. His brothers ran the business for another five years, before selling to Adolfo Orsi and family. the brothers stayed on with their company as engineers for another 10 years. After moving the headquarters from Bologna to its modern location in Modena, Orsi brought on engineer Giulio Alfieri, who not only contributed to winning racecars before 1957 but also lead the team who created the 3500 GT which saved the car company from going under when they left racing.

Tipo C114 Maserati V6 in a Citroën SM

Under Adolfo Orsi, in 1968, Maserati began a joint venture with Citroen to make engines for their new four-seat front-wheel-drive coupé called the SM. Citroen ended up in control of Maserati, but it wasn’t all bad. With stable Citroen financing and hydraulics and Maserati’s expertise and engines Alfieri was able to launch a series of ambitious designs.

This lead to four models, although the  Quattroporte II with it’s more powerful engine, was never put into full production do to financial issues.

The Fuel Crisis of the early 70’s destroyed the market for large engine touring cars. Citroen it’s self went bankrupt and reformed with Peugeot into a conglomerate to survive. In 1975 Citroen, announced a plan to liquidate Maserati, which the Italian government along with many local politicians fought as best they could. The plan was halted when a buyer came forward, saving 800 jobs.

 Alejandro de Tomaso was a racecar driver, turned industrialist, turned owner and designer of cars. He fired Alfieri on day one and produced at least three car models that relatively flopped. He finally had a win with the Biturbo, a compact front-enginerear-drive coupé in the 1980’s. The Biturbo used a V6 designed by Alfieri of course, and it became the basis for all the models of Masirati going forward for 10 years. The cars got snazzier names and sleeker designs, updated performance enhancement, but were all based in the same framework.

Noteworthy: Maserati competed fiercely to construct a V16 town car for Benito Mussolini before Ferry Porsche of Volkswagen built one for Adolf Hitler. This failed.

By 1989 De Tomaso bought the Italian government out of their share of his company. De Tomaso also owned a share of an Italian car and scooter maker called Innocenti, but the two companies remained separate. Fiat began buying both Innocenti and Maserati stock beginning the transition to a single car maker under Italian control and the Maserati name.

Maserati 3200 GT

On 19 May 1993, De Tomaso sold the last 51% of his shares to Fiat, who continued to build versions of the Biturbo for several years. Fiat had purchased majority control of Chrysler in 2011 as a result of their bankruptcy. So Chrysler was again in business with Maserati. As Citroën had joined PSA Peugeot Citroën this meant with the 2021 creation of Stellantis, Maserati was now entwined with nearly all it’s former partners save for De Tomaso. Maserati is the only company in the group to be quite so connected to all the partners independent of the final merger.

But first Ferrari?!?! Yep

Fiat pulled an interesting maneuver in 1997 selling 50% of Maserati to long-time rival Ferrari, which Fiat owned entirely. The result was a new factory to replace the 1940’s style factory and complete redesigns of each of their models. The new Maserati re-entered the American market which became it’s biggest cash cow. They also re-entered racing, winning the teams championship for world FIA GT championship three consecutive times in the early 2000’s.

4-door full-size saloon

In 2007 Fiat split Maserati away from Ferrari and joined them to Alpha Romeo, which finally started them making a profit. In 2010, Fiat through Abarth into the brand group but this didn’t result in shared technology or joint projects, although it did allow Maserati to focus on directly competing with Mercedes and BMW. As of 2014 Maserati had hit a market saturation point, where they would sell about 70,000 units a year. They decided to stay there, rather than create down-market versions of their cars to appeal to a lower price point.

What will be the fate of Maserati under Stellantis? There are are currently no big plans to change things, beyond of course creating EV versions of all their models.

The Top Five Most Stolen Vehicles in America

Each year, the National Insurance Crime Bureau releases a report of the most stolen vehicles in America. Below you will find the most stolen vehicles in America before making a purchase.

1.    Honda Civic

There are a number of reasons why the Honda Civic is so often targeted. To begin with, it is a very popular car, which means there is more of them on the road and more opportunity for thieves to steal them. Additionally, Civics are often parked in public areas, making them easy targets for thieves looking for a quick getaway. Finally, Civics tend to have weaker security systems than other cars, making them easier to break into. As a result of all these factors, the Civic remains one of the most stolen vehicles in America.

2.    Ford F-150

The Ford F-150 has been America’s best-selling truck for four decades. But despite its popularity, the F-150 is also one of the most stolen vehicles in the country. There are a number of reasons why the F-150 is such a target for thieves. First, its high resale value makes it an attractive proposition for thieves looking to make a quick profit. Second, the F-150’s parts are also highly sought-after, making it easy for thieves to sell them on the black market.

Finally, the F-150 is simply an easy target for theft; its large size and heavy weight make it difficult to hide, and its popularity means that a large number of them are on the road, making them easy to find and steal. Whatever the reason, the Ford F-150 is one of the most stolen vehicles in America. And unfortunately for owners, there’s not much that can be done to prevent it from happening.

3.    Chevrolet Silverado

The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is the most popular truck in America and one of the most stolen vehicles. There are a few reasons why the Silverado is such a target for thieves. First, it’s a highly sought-after vehicle, so there’s a high demand for it on the black market. Second, it’s relatively easy to steal, thanks to its large size and easy-to-disable security system. Finally, the Silverado is valuable, so it can fetch a high price when sold illegally. If you own a Silverado, take extra steps to protect your vehicle from theft. Park in well-lit areas, use a steering wheel lock and consider investing in a GPS tracking device.

4.    Honda Accord

The Honda Accord is one of the most popular cars on the market and one of the most stolen cars. In fact, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Accord was the most stolen vehicle in America in 2015. There are a number of reasons why thieves target the Accord. First, it’s a popular car, which means there are more of them on the road. Second, it’s easy to break into and hot-wire. And third, parts from the Accord are in high demand so that they can be easily sold for a profit.

5.    Toyota Camry

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the Toyota Camry is one of the most stolen vehicles in America. It’s the most stolen vehicle in California. While the Camry is a popular car, it’s also an easy target for thieves. This is because the Camry is often left unlocked with the keys inside. This makes it an easy target for thieves looking for a quick getaway car. The Camry is also a popular choice for carjackers due to its popularity and ease of access.

Local VW Car Show

Once in a while we happen on a cool collection of cars and their owners all going for an impromptu drive. We didn’t have time to really interview anyone but our staff snapped some quick pics. This is the kind of summer fun we like to celebrate here at the Kicker. As cool as the internet is, lets get out and meet some folks who share our passion for vehicles and driving. This was a really great day as I’m sure you’ll see from the pics below.

The 5 Things New Cars Have That We Can’t Live Without

Heated seats, climate control, smart door handles, powerful stereos, and power liftgates are some of the few features that we love about new cars. Manufacturers are always looking for unique ways to enhance our driving experience, a feat typically achieved by introducing new or. Improved features. 

For many car enthusiasts, these features are a ‘must-have’ as they make life on the road easier. Here are the top five new features modern cars have, and you can’t do without them.

Heated Seats and Side Mirrors.

Heated seats are particularly helpful during winter. Initially, you had to wear gloves and cover yourself in layers of clothes during the winter, but now you can have your car seats warm you up. With just a button press, the steering wheel and the seats are all heated, and you are warm enough to drive. A heated side mirror feature allows you to drive seamlessly without opening the car window to remove snow.

Adaptive Cruise Control

Adaptive cruise control is a great feature for road trips. The feature allows the car to self-drive reducing the need for you to become overly worked out by concentrating for long hours. You can easily multitask as you can now focus on eating that burrito, knowing well that adaptive cruise control is your third eye while on the road.

The feature also is helpful in busy city streets. Though it may be tiresome to always be on the lookout for the car in front of you, with adaptive cruise features, you can have the peace of mind to let the car take care of those situations by calculating the vehicle’s distance in front of you as you drive.

Smart Door Handles

Smart door handles are one of those innovations that are helpful, especially when you may need help operating the doors. You don’t need to use a lot of effort to open the door because you can either use voice recognition or an app to open and close your door.

Some cars have apps that you can install on your phone and open the door right from your phone. Isn’t that an amazing feature? The only downside is that when you are hacked, it could be a scary ordeal.

Software Upgrades

Car brands like Tesla have numerous software upgrades that can overly increase the car’s efficiency and performance in general. This feature increases the safety precautions of the car and reliability in the long run. Tesla uses this kind of update on its AI system, and the feedback from the clients has been nothing but positive reviews.

Electric hydraulic

Electric hydraulics are superb features that increase the levels of comfort inside the car. You could be travelling through rough terrain, but you might not even notice since the shock absorption quality is remarkable. You can also travel for long hours without fatigue.

Memorial Day at the Kicker

Many things in America have become more about their celebration than their meaning. With Christmas, for example, we’ve heard folks complain about the crass commercialism of it for decades. Likewise many holidays have become simply a four-day weekend. Since Memorial Day is clearly about not forgetting something important, let’s take a shot at remembering what it means.

Originally celebrated May 30 regardless of the day of the week it fell on, Memorial Day is now pegged to the last Monday in May. It’s a day set aside by act of congress to honor Military service men and women who died in active duty.

Controversy

A few decades ago, historians and cultural anthropologist were almost annoyingly accepting of different cultures and different eras. They got very clinical when discussing cannibals or more violent times in the distant past of Easter and Western culture. Now days, we rush to judge those who do things in a manner other than our own. We deem it unenlightened.

This intolerance of other cultures and our own past has made many holidays “problematic.” Is there potential for controversy with Memorial Day? Sure is. Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial day was born after Civil War (war between the states if you’re my grandma).

As early as 1860, people had begun to visit the graves of fallen soldiers in the spring to decorate them with flowers and say a pray over them. When the war ended in spring of 1865, it had claimed more American lives than any other conflict in US history, so it seems natural that the tradition took hold on both sides of the conflict. It was the Civil War that caused the first federal cemetery to be built.

Decoration Day

The practice of mourning solders in the spring seems to have sprung up spontaneously around the country in towns and cities of every size. Earliest recorded celebrations were in the south starting as soon as a month after the wars end. One in Charleston, South Carolina, was organized by a group of former slaves. In 1868 General John A. Logan called for a Decoration Day. There are records showing that Northern Cities embraced the practice by 1890.

Warrenton, Virginia, Savannah, Georgia, Jackson Mississippi, Columbus Georgia and Columbus Mississippi all began decorating graves in Spring around the same time in the America South. Of course Gettysburg lays some claim to the practice since Abraham Lincoln gave one of the most moving speeches of all time when he commemorated the graves there.

It was likely World War 1 and 2 that generalized the practice to include all armed services personal who died during war time and not just specific to the civil war.

In 1966, the fedral government declared Waterloo, New York the birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo had celebrated May 5th consistently since 1866, including the modern practice of closing business for the entire day.

Recent History of Memorial Day

It didn’t become a national Holiday until 1971. Many Americans observe the holiday by visiting cemeteries or memorials, gather as families, or participating in parades.

Side Note: It’s the unofficial beginning of summer.

The official remembrance part of memorial day is at 3 PM in each time zone, often marked with a moment of silence.

Memorial Day is for remembering those fallen in battle (or at least during active war.) There is also Veterans Day on November 11, which honors those who served–living or dead. Then there is the lesser known Armed Services Day which unofficially honors those currently serving in the military.

Most years there are Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery dating back to 1868. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is more often a location of ceremony on November 11th Veterans day. There are also ceremonies most years at the Vietnam War Memorial.

Memorial Day and Cars

This site exists to provide useful information to car enthusiasts and commuters, but we’ve been huge supporters of veterans since the beginning.

If we ignore the obvious Memorial Day connection to cars–the massive sales that go on that weekend–we are left with parades. You can ride a horse or march in a procession down a parade route but one of the most stylish, and easy on the feet, ways to participate in a parade is to ride in a convertible car with it’s top down.

Many parades involve floats which are motorized vehicles built onto a frame and motor. Some floats are decorated tractors, trucks or even golf carts. Most are purpose built. Most parade floats are self propelled although some are towed, usually by tractor or horse. Of course the goal of a float is to give the illusion that it’s floating on the surface street like a ship on the sea (hence the name). Therefore the vehicle is entirely covered by some kind of decoration.

Regardless of the base vehicle inside the float it must be heavily modified. For one thing, floats don’t need to go fast and do need to go very slow without stalling for long periods of time. So extra gears boxes are often required to make first gear smooth at 2.5 miles per hour. Extra radiators are added so the engine doesn’t overheat running low and slow for several hours. Finally the tires are filled with foam so they wont’ get a flat during the parade.

Many floats are large enough to require a second driver in a second cockpit to steer around blind corners. Also most floats are two level so a deck must be built by welding together steel tubing.

If there are animatronics, like arms or elevators, then hydraulics are employed to make the motion smoother. That means cylinders and pumps all driven off a second engine. You’ll also need a complex array of valves and a computer to control them. You’ll need gauges, manual controls, and of course monitors to see what the animatronics are doing.

Floats are considered moving sculptures and receive permits to use roadways that are event by event specific. Floats must gather in a location near the beginning and end of the route which takes a lot of logistics. Most parade organizers hire professionals to inspect floats prior to their use to avoid injuring an operator, passenger or observer along the route. Of course almost as bad as injury is a breakdown that causes a delay mid route.

As a rule, parade floats aren’t used more than once, although parts are salvaged and reused in future designs. Often floats are viewed before and after the parade in special display locations, before being towed back to the place they were built so they may be dismantled.

There is a National Memorial Day Parade that takes place along Constitution Ave.