Sunday, March 27, 2016

New York Auto Show: We'll be choking on most of these cars for many years to come

BETTER PLUG-IN: For green-car enthusiasts, tree-huggers and other lovers of the environment, Toyota on Wednesday unveiled the 2017 Prius Prime. The plug-in gas-electric hybrid, above, gets 120 or more MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent); and travels 22 miles and up to 84 mph in electric mode.

EV FROM KOREA: Meanwhile, Korean automaker Hyundai debuted its Ioniq line -- a gas-electric hybrid, a plug-in hybrid and a fully electric sedan, above, all with conventional styling and interiors. Prices weren't given.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Automakers use the media at big shows in New York and other world capitals to distract consumers from an over reliance on the antiquated internal-combustion engine to snare big profits.

On Wednesday, I walked the floor of the New York International Auto Show in Manhattan for about 5 hours, only to find a couple of new green cars that will go on sale soon.

Instead, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Nissan, Maserati and other automakers pitched their cars as the fastest, best-performing on earth -- and to hell with air pollution and climate change.

And the media -- desperate for ad revenue from oil companies, automakers and their legions of greedy dealers -- go along for the ride.


Media negativity

Since Toyota imported its first gas-electric hybrid in 2000, the number of negative, even hostile articles in the enthusiast and general press have numbered in the hundreds.

As they did in 2000, the media continue to virtually ignore the environmental benefit of green cars. 

Even green-car leader Toyota has begun to run Prius ads emphasizing performance, not fuel savings; and certainly never reductions in air pollution, disease and death. 

Tesla's Model S has been on sale since 2012, but the California-based company doesn't advertise.

Nor is it showing its swift and silent all-electric, zero-emissions hatchback at the New York show or crowing about its nationwide network of free-for-life Superchargers.

Instead, Tesla Motors relies on word of mouth, and sells its luxurious four-door hatchback directly to consumers.

That pisses off dealers, publishers, editors, auto writers and bloggers, who enjoy free loans of the cars they are writing about, junkets, and wining and dining at invitation-only events.


BIG QUESTION: General Motors says the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV will offer a range of about 200 miles on a full charge when it goes on sale at the end of the year. At the auto show on Wednesday, no executive was available to say whether Bolt buyers will get free charging for life, as do buyers of Tesla's Model S and the new, smaller Model 3, which is to go on sale in California at the end of 2017.

ONE-PEDAL OPERATION: BMW's all-electric i3 got a big head start on General Motors, but has a range of only 81 miles on a full charge. The i3 has been on sale since 2014, and its strong regenerative braking can bring the car to a full stop without use of the brake pedal.


Tesla tops EV sales

Despite media hysteria over how "expensive" a Tesla is, the Model S was the best-selling EV in the United States in 2015 and the first two months of 2016, according to Automotive News.

Its New York Auto Show Preview listed sales for the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S (estimates), BMW i3, Fiat 500e, Smart ForTwo EV, and VW e-Golf.

In 2014, the Leaf led the Model S -- 30,200 to 16,550. The i3 sold 6,092 units; 500e, 6,029; and Smart EV, 2,594.

In 2015, the Model S outsold the Leaf, 26,400 to 17, 269. The i3 sold 11,024 units; 500 e, 4,409; and e-Golf, 4,232.

In the first two months of 2016, Model S sales are estimated at 3,200, compared to the Leaf, 1,685; eGolf, 526; i3, 430; and 500e, 412.

Low gasoline prices were cited, but the price per gallon is beginning to rise again. 

See:

Maserati's irresponsible 164-mph SUV

First drive of hydrogen fuel-call car


FOR SPEED FREAKS: Ars Technica dubs the 2017 Nissan GT-R as "Godzilla Redux." Of course, we need this "faster ... supercar slayer" like we need a hole in the ozone layer.


GLOBAL WARMER: Ditto the Ford GT, which will be raced at Le Mans in June after disappointing finishes at Daytona and Sebring. A production model will be limited to 500 units.

TOP-DOWN POLLUTION: Porsche showed a new 718 Boxster that looks a lot like the old Boxster. Imagine how much fun it will be inching up to the tollbooth at the Lincoln Tunnel.

DISTRACTED DRIVING: Yet another new Mercedes-Benz is likely to drive owners crazy with interior controls from hell --dashboard, doors, steering wheel and console jammed with wheels, switches, buttons, a touch screen and even a rear-view camera you can turn off for some insane reason.

JAPAN v. ITALY: A new Mazda MX-5, including one with a targa-style top, is getting some competition from Fiat, below.

FIX IT AGAIN TONY: A performance version of the Fiat 124 Spider, above and below.


BIGGER IS BIGGER: Buick Avista concept.

ROLLING BEDROOM: If this monstrosity from Lincoln ever reaches production, the doors will be conventional, but the three steps will be standard so owners can climb into the land barge. One possible option is a 100-gallon gas tank.

BEST IN BLACK: Look for the new Lincoln Continental in Manhattan's black-car-for-hire fleets and as limousines at an airport near you.

TOYOTA EV: The three-wheel i-Road is a fully electric urban vehicle for two that leans on curves and at corners like a motorcycle, above and below. Toyota hasn't announced production plans.

TWO TO A SPOT: Two i-Roads can be parked side-by-side in a single parking space.