Geneva Motor Show: It’s got a whole lot of shakin’ going on!

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As I’m sure you’ve seen the auto show at Geneva has been in full swing this week, and I have to say, the Swiss show does not disappoint. Has anyone else noticed that the European manufacturers generally save their interesting concepts and big announcements for the European shows? It makes sense, it’s their home territory after all.

All right, let’s hit this.

There was a lot of news on the supercar front and I could do an entire post just on them! 

Aston Martin announced the name of their AM-RB 001, The Valkyrie. Always with the V names, but if something works for you, you stick with it. Co-designed with Red Bull, which explains the RG in it’s code name, this performance vehicle won’t disappoint.

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The Valkyrie. I don’t know about you, but I don’t get ‘shield maiden’ from this. Image rights. 

Aston Martin also announced a new performance sub-brand, AMR (Aston Martin Racing) at the show this week. It’s forebears are the Vantage DB8, and the newest iteration was unveiled at the show this week. For more info on the AMR racing line check out this article by the Telegraph.

Ferrari  unveiled the 812 Superfast this week, it’s a beautiful car. Exactly what you’ve come to expect from a Ferrari. The classic long, lean lines and the bright yellow badge. They also discussed the possibility of a new premium model to go alongside the California, the 488, the new models GTC4Lusso and 812 Superfast. Apparently their customers have been frustrated with long waiting lists and sold out models so Ferrari is toying with the idea of a new premium model to alongside the California, the 488, and the new models mentioned above. Time will tell.

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Ferrari 812 Superfast here.Image rights.

 

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812 Superfast interior shot. Image rights.

For you Lamborghini fans out there, the Huracan Performante has smashed the Nurburgring production car track record by 5.0 seconds! Beating out the Porsche 918 Spyder. Possibly old news for some, but, dang, is that impressive! I can’t be the only one who who likes it in that matte orange, right?

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Matte paint jobs are always easy on the eyes. Hard to keep looking their best though. Image rights.

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Oh, it looks great on that Italian countryside. Image rights.

And for pure kicks, have you heard about the Techrules Ren? This Chinese supercar company’s created the first patented diesel-fueled turbine-recharging (TREV) system. This custom TREV technology gives it an impressive  2.5 second 0-62mph and a top speed of 217 mph with a claimed fuel economy of 31.5mpg. If this car is the real deal, that is seriously impressive. I’m not particularly enamored with the three seat configuration or the two but that’s okay. I probably can’t afford one anyway. Scratch that, I know I can’t.

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The Techrules Ren with  3, 1 and 2 seat options. Image rights.

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That white pearl paint on it though. It looks clean. Image rights.

Okay, moving on.

I know the Volkswagen ID Buzz concept was released back at the Detroit Auto Show awhile a back, and apparently the microbus has gotten a thumbs up for production from Europe and the US but they’re waiting to get the green light from China before the ID Buzz could make it to production. This one has got to stoke the nostalgia factor in a lot of people. This is the closest a new microbus has gotten, it proves that the third time might just be the charm.

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You can’t help but smile when you see a microbus. Image rights.

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That steering ‘wheel’ is flat to the dash when not in use. Image rights. 

And wow. Have you seen Toyota’s electric city car concept, the i-TRIL? This single seat subcompact car has an interior you won’t be expecting, though their images do hint at it. It’s got this two-tone with blue accents look going on outside…

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Then BAM! Magenta and a golden yellow on the inside, with a dark purple dash and what looks like a wooden or possibly bamboo floor. And get a load of that steering… Well, I hesitate to call it a steering wheel. It looks straight out of a sci-fi movie.

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The more I look at it, the more it grows on me. And the more I am even more reminded of it looking a bit a jumping spider or a hermit crab.

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Sorry, if you don’t like spiders. Image rights. 

With all theis amazing car news going on at the Geneva Motor Show I hope to one day make it there and see it all first hand. That’s the dream.

 

 

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The Aeromobile 3.0: Is it a titan or a ‘Terror’?

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Still from The Fifth Element. Gotta love those flying cars!

Flying cars. They’re a staple in any futuristic movie, other than those featuring a dystopia of course. They’ve been a part of our collective consciousness for well over 100 years. First discussed by Jules Verne’s “Master of the World” with “The Terror” a boat, car, AND aircraft that moves through space more quickly and easily than the largest birds. From the image below it looks more like a glider to me. How is it propelled?

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I don’t know about you, but the thought of riding in that is a bit terrifying. It looks like a canoe shaped submersible with wings and wheels. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it?

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I think Mr. Rickenbacker was a few decades early with this article…

And looking back through history ‘they’ have been promising us flying cars since 1944. (We’re looking at you Popular Science.) Long before a certain Hannah Barbara cartoon. So, where is my flying car? It’s been nearly 75 years.

Well, one company is in fact working on a flying car prototype (their fourth) that has actually flown and landed without incident. It is the 4th or 5th to reach this stage  if you’ve read through one of the many histories on flying cars. It can easily go from car to plane and back again with ease.

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Meet the AeroMobile 3.0.

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It even looks nice from the rear.

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Are you ready to take her for a spin?

The Slovakian company AeroMobil has released footage and information about their prototype (soon to be in production) vehicle the AeroMobile 3.0. If you visit their website you can see the current prototype flexing it’s wings. Pun absolutely intended.

Specs for the AeroMobil 3.0

  • 2 passengers + parachute deployment
  • Uses regular gasoline
  • 29 mpg road use  /  4 gallons an hour flying
  • Auto-pilot available in flight mode
  • Max speed: 99 mph road  /  124 mph flight
  • Will fit in a standard parking space (always good to know! The big question is, is it American or British?)
  • Licensing requirements:
    Standard driving license for road driving
    Private Pilot’s License (PPL) for flying

Weirdly enough you may see the resemblance between “The Terror” on the cover of Jules Verne’s novel and illustrations within and the AeroMobile 3.0.

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I can see it, do you?

Or maybe, being a part of the company building one of the world’s first flying car is something you’ve always dreamed of doing? Here’s your chance because they’re hiring!

I shall leave you with this quote from Henry Ford in 1940 that’s featured prominently on the AeroMobile website:

“Mark my words: a combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile, but it will come.”

Not soon enough for the majority of us, but hopefully sometime soon in the next few years for the lucky few. I’m still waiting for the flying car and the robo-nanny/housekeeper the Jetson’s had!

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Throwing Shade at Electric Cars: Hidden state fees

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Electric cars have been heralded as the cars of the future, our current solution to the United States’ dependence on petroleum products. The irony here is that electric automobiles were actually built and sold before petroleum powered automobiles. (The first electric vehicle was built in 1842, compared to 1864 for the first gasoline powered one.) The combustion engine over took the electric automobile in the early 20th century due to their high top speeds and a much higher range of travel on a single tank of gas vs an electric charge.

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Now this looks just like a horseless carriage… 1901 Waverly Runabout.

Nothing ever really changes, does it? People still complain about the relatively short range of fully electric vehicles nowadays. And back on track.

Yes, electric cars are seen as environmentally friendly due to the lack of carbon dioxide and other chemicals spewing from the exhaust pipe and into the atmosphere as you drive. Electricity is indeed cleaner, but you’re still using fossil fuels to power your car here in America. We don’t have many nuclear reactors or other large scale alternate power sources. A better solution is needed in the long run. Maybe we should burn all of our trash like Sweden? They’ve started to import trash from their neighbors to power their waste-to-energy generators.

And, back on track again. Sorry, there are so many interesting avenues we could follow.

One way the governments in the US are incentivizing EV purchases (as you probably already know) is through tax rebates to help offset the additional cost of your new car purchase. But did you know that there are at least 10 states that charge you extra fees for Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs)?

Yep, 10 states. And they all have an annual fee that you’ll pay above and beyond the ‘traditional’ registration fees paid to your state each year. Ranging from $47.50-$235 a year, that’s a pretty hefty sum to pay yearly. Indiana has a legislative plan in the works that includes a proposed $150 annual fee for electric vehicles, this would make them state number 11.

Is your state one of them?

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Colorado
Law:  H.B. 1110 (2013) $50 annual fee

Georgia
Law: H.B. 170 (2015) – $200 annual fee

Idaho
Law: H.B. 312 (2015) $75 – $140 depending on vehicle

Michigan
Law: H.B. 4736 (2015) varies from $47.50- $235 depending on vehicle

Missouri
S.B. 619 (1998) – $75 annual fee

Nebraska
L.B. 289 (2011) – $75 annual fee

North Carolina
S.B. 402 (2013) $100 annual fee
H.B. 97 (2015) increased the fee to $130

Virginia
S.B. 127 (2014) $64 annual fee

Washington
H.B. 2660 (2012) – $100 annual fee

Wyoming
H.B. 9 (2015) -$50 one-time fee
H.B. 2 makes the fee applicable every year

UPS Drivers Never Turn Left: Or do they?

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This topic seems to be taking the internet by storm. I’ve counted no fewer than 3 articles in my twitter newsfeed and when I did a search for it, more than half of the first 30 results are articles from the last 3 weeks. I took a look through the results and it seems that an article by The Conversation on January 20, may have kicked everything off this year. It was shared/discussed on reddit the next day and things seem to have snowballed from there.

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We all love useless facts.

Whether or not UPS makes left turns isn’t exactly a vital fact for anyone, other than UPS employees of course, but we all seem to be suckers for useless information and random facts. You should know that this topic is by no means new, even if it is the first time you’ve heard about it. Initiated company wide in 2004, the ‘no left turn’ policy has saved UPS millions of gallons in fuel. No one can seem to agree on what the actual number is, they just quote it from each other with no reference of time scale either.

There were quite a few of articles in 2014 and 2015, but the earliest reference I can find to it is from an ABC News article in April 2007. As to strictly written works Backpacker magazine covered it in September 2007 in an article titled ‘Damn, Climate Change is Funny!’ discussing how left turn traffic lights cause drivers to waste gas and how UPS used a new software to reconfigure their routes and saved 3 million gallons of fuel in the first year alone.

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I don’t know about you, but I haven’t really spent that much time following a UPS truck around town to even notice if they make left turns or not… I saw one article (IFL Science) quote 10% as UPS’ average for the number of left turns. Though that is a ‘guesstimate’ from Tasha Hovland one of their industrial engineering managers back in 2007.

So, why does UPS have a ‘no left turns’ policy in the first place?

  • Savings on fuel through vehicles spending less time idling waiting to turn left
  • Decreased safety hazards when turning with traffic
  • Fewer delays when turning with traffic

You can see why an international company would implement such a policy, but is it something worth doing for yourself? Well, UPS has increased safety for their employees, decreased their fuel costs, and lowered the time it takes to deliver their packages. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Can you believe it?- 10 crazy laws

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There really are some crazy laws out there and I did see a LOT of lists, but no one ever stated if they were true or not. Which is something I would want to know, especially if I plan on sharing them with other people! So here is a list of 10 crazy laws, of which I could find reasonable proof for 8, and some promising information on the other 2.

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  1. You’ll get fined if your truck leaves a mess in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
    This one is true, but it’s not just about vehicles. As seen is this newsletter, pg. 7.
    ‘It is illegal to drive a truck or other vehicle whose wheels or tires deposit mud, dirt, sticky substances, litter or other material on any street or highway. (Minnetonka). This one is still on the books in Minnetonka under section 845.010 – Public Nuisances.’

 

  1. Dunn, North Carolina, it’s illegal to play in traffic.
    I can’t find anything that shows this law is actually on the books, but it is one that would seem likely since the people who would be playing in the street would probably be children or young adults.

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  1. Skateboarders in Florida need a license.
    This one is actually true according to the Orlando Sentinel. A special license used to be required to skateboard, but the law is ignored today.

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  1. In California it’s illegal to shoot at any kind of game from a moving vehicle, of course, unless you’re shooting at a whale, that’s completely fine.
    According to Etags, this law is in fact true! It’s also listed across the internet as a law, but I really can’t find any actual proof it exists.

  1. It’s illegal to shoot whales from your car in Connecticut.
    Nissan of Norwich says this is true, so it must be. Right? It’s also one of those law’s that’s absolutely everywhere on the internet.

  1. In Alabama it is completely fine and legal to drive the wrong way down a one-way street as long as you have a lantern attached to the front of your car.
    Well this guy says it’s real! Michael Shafer, Personal Injury Attorney

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  1. Texas requires windshield wipers, but not necessarily a windshield.
    I’ve been finding a lot of hearsay evidence on this one, including someone who said they were a Texas inspector on a Cobra forum, but I can’t find the actual law. So jury’s still out.

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  1. Pennsylvania requires any motorist who sights a team of horses coming toward him must pull well off the road, cover his car with a blanket or canvas that blends with the countryside, and let the horses pass.
    Now this is one law I’ve heard about since high school and I am entertained to know that it is in fact true! Here it is cited in the book You Can Get Arrested for That.

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  1. In West Virginia Officials it’s perfectly legal for anyone to scavenge road kill.
    This one is absolutely true. In Marlinton, West Virginia they even have a Roadkill Cook-off, they’ll be having the 25th in the fall of 2017.

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  1. In Oklahoma you’ll be ticketed if caught reading a comic book while driving.
    You really have to wonder about some of these laws… but this one is also cited in a book, It’s the Law!.

One stop shop- You can buy a car at Walmart

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First there was the car vending machines with Carvana (click to read my post), now Walmart seems to want a piece of that sweet, sweet car sales action. I don’t think that they chose the best date to launch this new endeavor though, April 1, 2017. I don’t think it’s a joke though, there’s too much press coverage.

I have to say that we all had a feeling this was going to happen sooner or later… Not content to sell us inexpensive car accessories like steering wheel covers, seat covers, and all those other types of covers, Walmart has partnered with CarSaver (just one of the dealerships groups they are working with) to add car sales to 25 stores across the southwest.

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Now Walmart isn’t directly selling cars to us. You know how they have McDonald’s, inexpensive chain hair cutting places, and banks leasing space at the front of the store? Well, that’s what CarSaver is doing. I haven’t actually heard of CarSaver before, but that’s not out of the ordinary since they’re based down in Florida. From what I can tell they are an online company that acts as a middle man between a dealership and yourself who guarantees they’ll get the best deal possible. And according to reviews I’ve read, they actually do!

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A mock-up of what the kiosks could look like. source.

Walmart and CarSaver’s already ran a pilot program in Stuart, FL, last year. They’ve discovered that customers saved an average of $3,000 off of the sticker price. That’s a pretty hefty savings! You may be asking, ‘What does CarSaver get out of this?’ Well, $350 from the dealerships you bought the car from. That’s not all that high of a finder’s fee if you think about it.

According to Automotive News,

Customers will be able to select a new, used or certified pre-owned vehicle and apply for financing and auto insurance on the kiosk at the CarSaver Center, on their mobile device via CarSaver’s website or by calling an 800 number.

CarSaver then will connect customers with a local, certified dealer and schedule an appointment to visit the dealership. If a shopper doesn’t contact the dealership, an auto adviser reconnects with that shopper.

I’m kind of thinking that even though I find this type of thing really interesting… that maybe not many of you do. Let me know if this sort of thing is something you’re interested in reading. For a change of pace we’ll go off in a different direction next post!

Foil those morning frosts – Volkswagen’s climate windshield

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It’s one of those unifying daily tasks that no one enjoys doing, especially when you’re out in the freezing cold and the sun’s not even up yet. We all know the drill: Bundle up in our outdoor gear. Start the car. Turn the heater to defrost and (if you have it) turn on the defroster for your rear window. Then, you get out your scraper and spend the next 5-10 minutes putting scraper to windows clearing as much frost as you can.

Well, it turns out there may be a light at the end of the tunnel after all. You might even call it a silver lining. It’s an ultra-thin layer of silver sandwiched (or as the say ‘laminated’) between two layers of glass in Volkswagen’s new climate windshield. Unlike typical heated windshields with filaments of wire running through them, Volkswagen’s newest invention uses an invisible layer of silver that doesn’t affect your visibility at all. Imagine that.

Right now this is only available on the Volkswagen Golf, Golf Sportsvan, Tiguan, Sharan, Passat and Passat Variant… Which means it’s not actually available in the US. I did a bit of searching and I can’t find any mention of it anywhere on the US Volkswagen sites. I’m think this would be a big selling point in most of the country though. Most American deal with frost frequently during the winter months.

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A frosty 2016 Volkswagen Passat. source.

Yes, Volkswagen is in the middle of a public relations snafu of their own making, but this could be one of those things to bring them back into our (America’s) good graces. It’s not even that expensive but it could save you so much time and effort. Not to mention spending less time in the cold.

I’ve seen a few comparisons to the Ford QuickClear system, which is again only available in Europe, that uses a grid of wire filaments to clear your windshield. I can’t help but think why does Europe get all the good tech? So I looked into it… Apparently we had it in the 1990’s but it wasn’t popular. How strange, it seems like it would be a major selling point to me. Way to go earlier generation, why didn’t you like this?

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A Vehicle before Ford QuickClear was turned on. source.

Oh, and Volkswagen says that this state of the art windshield isn’t just for winter. The ‘the thin layer of silver acts as a passive heat shield. As it reflects up to 60 per cent of the summer heat.’ Thus reducing the interior temperature of the car by 15 degrees Celsius, or 27 degrees for those of us who live by Fahrenheit.

Prices start at €340 (approximately $363.03) depending on the model.

 

Look who’s back! -2020 Ford Bronco

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Back again…  Ford Bronco’s back… tell a friend.
(Sung to the tune of ‘Real Slim Shady.’ Just showing my age here.)

I know, the news has already taken twitter and other social media by storm. I should have written this last week, but you know me. I like to take my time. Like good coffee you need a bit of extra time for ideas to percolate.

I have to say it’s pretty awesome that both the Ford Bronco and the Chevy Blazer are going to be making a comeback by 2020. They’re two iconic US vehicle that have been gone for far too long. I bet this is how people felt about the Volkswagen Beetle’s return for the 1998 model year.

Arbitrary shots of the prototype.

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Such a great shot of the 2020 Ford Bronco! source 

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Look at that suspension. source

What? You’re telling me those are just outdoor shots and there’s nothing there? Yeah, you’re right. That’s because there aren’t any photos of the upcoming Ford Bronco at this point in time. All we’ve got is this teaser.

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Oh, nostalgia. I always thought the Bronco had a great logo. source

The concrete information we know is:

  • The new Bronco is one of four (possibly five) new utility vehicles that Ford is adding to it’s line up.
  • We’ve got the same logo as it was last used in 1996 on the F-150 based vehicle.
    There was also the Bronco II (my family had these) based on the Ford Ranger. FYI, the Ranger is also making a comeback in 2019.

Yep,  two facts. That’s all we actually know. Not really much, is it? It’s all very hush-hush.

There’s been chatter about how the Bronco is going to be Ford’s rival to the Jeep Wrangler JL, and I suppose it will be. As they fill the same space in their respective line-ups. But I really think that the revival of the name is more to do with how well it will do on  the nostalgia factor alone. 30 somethings and older are going to have a lot of memories involving the Bronco and people just LOVE to own the cars from their childhoods. Just look how amazingly well the Dodge Challenger and Volkswagen New Beetle have done. I would bet the Bronco scored really well with focus groups too.

What I want to know is:

  • How many doors will it have?
    2 is iconic look for the Bronco, but are more people wanting a 4-door? Would it still be a Bronco is it has 4 doors and you don’t have to awkwardly climb in to get to the back seat?
  • What body style is it going to have?
    Please don’t make it a cross-over, Ford. We’re begging you.
    (Luckily, Ford has mentioned that the Bronco and the Ranger will share a platform, so we’ll have to see.)
  • What kind of engine will be going into it?
    I know we all want a little bit of power to make off-roading fun.
  • Is it going to be available in 4-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive?
    I certainly hope so. It won’t be a Bronco without it.
  • What kind of mileage is it going to have?
    I remember my family’s Bronco IIs were pretty dismal…

I know, I know I really should also write about the Chevy Blazer, I did mention it. But truth be told? We were always a Ford family…  I’ll leave that to another blogger to cover.

UPDATE: As The Speed Trap mentioned in the comments below, Dana, the longtime supplier of Jeep stick axles, is going to supply solid axles in the front and rear for the Bronco. At least, according to Automotive News who cited an investor presentation from Dana. Thanks for the tip The Speed Trap!

 

 

 

Giving the Boot the boot

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If you’re like me your first introduction to the car clamp, aka ‘The Boot’ was on a TV show or movie. The Simpson’s episode ‘the City of New York vs Homer Simpson’ springs to mind.

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Homer being upset over all the parking fines and the boot.

To see one in action you had to be from a more urban area and I was stuck out in the suburbs. Well, this specific parking punishment may be heading towards the end of its usefulness. At least, if Barnacle Parking has their way. Meet the Barnacle. And I don’t mean Barney from How I Met Your Mother.

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Left: Yes, this is the Barnacle parking enforcement device. Right: Not Barney Stinson

Last summer a new parking enforcement product entered the scene. The Barnacle is a relatively lightweight, plastic device that is attached to the vehicle’s windshield using commercial grade suction cups. You ask, ‘Wouldn’t the driver easily remove this device?’ Nope. There’s an integrated pump that provides 100’s of pounds of force to secure the Barnacle to the windshield. It even has a built-in anti-tamper alarm and a GPS to detect if someone is either attempting to move the vehicle or illegally remove the device. Pretty slick.

Barnacle Parking created their device because they saw a need for a new parking enforcement device that was efficient, user friendly and lightweight. One that would make the entire process of parking enforcement easier for all parties involved: the administration, enforcement personnel and the violator.

With the Barancle, gone are the days of waiting around for someone to come and remove the boot at their convenience. All you have to do is pay your fine over the phone and they’ll give you a code to punch in that will release the device. You’ll then have to drop the Barnacle at a specified drop point, but that’s easily done.

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The man in this photo looks too pleased with himself. Shouldn’t he look more annoyed?

Will the Barnacle be making its debut in a city near you? Well, it’s currently undergoing a trial period in Allentown, Pennsylvania and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “We wanted to see how the Barnacle held up in a variety of environments, and Fort Lauderdale’s heat and humidity made it a perfect test market,” company president Kevin Dougherty told City Lab.

Depending on how things go, will your city ditch the Boot and switch to the Barnacle? Only time will tell.

Barnacle photos courtesy of Barnacle Parking.

Detroit Auto Show: Concepts

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I’m sure I’m not the only person who was a bit…underwhelmed by the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I can say that this certainly wasn’t it. I mean, one of my favorite things about auto shows is seeing all of the concept cars. You’ve certainly seen my posts about them. Here, and Here.

But Detroit’s? Well, there wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary unless you count the Rinspeed Oasis, which reminds me of a very tiny train engine. It’s a two-seater, car sharing vehicle that has both a self-driving and manual mode.

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One of the quirkiest things about it is the tiny garden area on the dashboard. I’m not sure that’s an accessory I would really want myself. During the day you would get a small oxygen boost at least.

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Not sure how likely this is to making it into production but the ideas behind it are worth more attention. It’s not exactly an eye catching vehicle though. I suppose it’s on par with the Smart cars. I wasn’t ever terribly impressed with those. A truck looks like it could take one out.

Not a whole lot to say about the Acura Precision, it’s got strong flowing lines AND it looks like it’s happy to see me! Look at that smile.

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It really is a good looking car. I wouldn’t mind driving one. Or you know, you could give it to me as a gift

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And have you seen headlights like these?

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Now the car I most like the look of is the Nissan Vmotion 2.0 concept. In a lot of its pictures the paint job looks like quicksilver (mercury). (I accidentally broke an old school thermometer once, the mercury went everywhere and it looked a lot like this paint.)

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I like the sharp lines on the body panels and how the windshield sweeps back. Whoa, hold on. The doors. I hate when they put suicide rear doors with  a normal front doors. It just looks so wrong to me.

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I know, I know. It’s not exactly new. Lincoln Continentals back in the day had doors just like these. And the typical style is ‘boring.’ But hey, why screw with something that works really well? Suicide doors always make me worry a bit since you can’t really see cars coming up from behind. Then again, that’s why they’re called suicide doors.

Here’s hoping the next auto show has a few more interesting concepts out there.

Thanks to: AutoExpress, Car and Driver, Top Honda Cars, AutoBlog, and Carbuzz for the images.