Should Angelinos Consider The SOLO?

Solo2

The Electra Meccanica SOLO, a three-wheeled, $16K, single-passenger EV, is making its Los Angeles debut this week. It’s said that 70% of Angelinos commute to work alone. While one does not need a big honking SUV to drive to and from work, should Angelinos consider the SOLO? Let’s take a look.

Range

The average work commute distance in Los Angeles is 8.8 miles each way. The SOLO has a range of 100  miles. Even if you ran a 2 mile errand every weeknight, you would only need to charge once a week. Speaking of charging, the SOLO takes 3 hours on a 220 volt outlet, and 6 hours on a standard one.

Solo1

Accoutrement

As a one-seater, the SOLO looks like a stripped down car, so is it possible to be comfortable in it? Yes. It has the features you would expect in a standard car including Bluetooth stereo, rear camera, and A/C.

Interior

Charging

It is said that one of the biggest barriers to EV adoption is lack of charging infrastructure. While this does not apply to homeowners who have available outlets, 54% of Angelinos rent and may not have access to outlets at home. So what’s the workaround? There are hundreds of free public chargers in Los Angeles. While it might be inconvenient to wait 3 hours for an EV to charge, think about this; the SOLO will save you $750 per year in fuel costs vs commuting in a compact SUV.

Charging.jpg

Additional Thoughts and Bottom Line

The SOLO is the first solo-EV to hit the market and will no doubt be a conversation piece everywhere you go. Regarding apartment dwellers, automotive manufacturers recognize the lack of public charging infrastructure and are investing in more public chargers as we speak. The future is sustainable and minimal. With the SOLO, you can leave less of a footprint both literally and figuratively. So consider ditching that polluting SUV, and think about driving SOLO.

solo-grey front

 

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America’s Hot-Hatch Dilemma

 

Ford Focus RS. The last of the hot-hatches?

When Ford announced that it was going to cease production of all its hatchbacks due to decreasing sales, car enthusiast forums lit up. Why? Sadly this also means the death of the Ford Fiesta ST, Focus ST, and Focus RS, some of the last manual-transmission performance version hatches sold in the U.S.

2019 Toyota Corolla XSE. Is there hope?

So is there any hope? Maybe. Toyota is about to release the Corolla XSE “hot” hatch for America. I put hot in quotes because the car has an output of 168 horsepower. However, Toyota also makes the Yaris GRMN for the European market. It’s a Nürburgring-tested proper hot-hatch with a 6-speed manual, aggressive-sounding center exhaust, and 210 supercharged horsepower.

So what’s the solution? Well are there any Toyota U.S. executives reading this?

Dear Toyota U.S. execs,

Could you please take some of the Yaris GRMN DNA and apply it to the U.S. Corolla XSE? I mean it already has an aggressive wing, and while you’re at it, could you please add a sport-tuned suspension, a mean sounding exhaust, and a supercharger to boost power to over 200 horsepower? Thank you.

Who are we?

Sincerely,

Americans who still love the art of driving!

Toyota Yaris GRMN, for the European market only . . .

The Last Scion: 2016 Scion tC Review

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In August 2016 Toyota transitioned away from its Scion brand. While three Scion models were rebadged as Toyotas, the tC was discontinued. One reason could be that the last generation tC saw an overall sales decrease of 27% from 2011 to 2015. The tC received a lot of flak on the internet as well, for being a “fake” sports car; a sheep in wolf’s clothing. Let’s take a look at one of the last examples built.

The tC looks like a stretched out Infiniti G35, and that’s not a bad thing. While the front is curvilinear the rear is squared off. The stock tires, Yokohama AVIDs, are low profile and quite sticky. They’re a pleasant surprise from a car at such a low price point.

The interior of the tC is highly functional. All controls are precisely where you would expect them to be. The stock car comes loaded with options including an easy to use, powerful Pioneer touchscreen head unit with 8 speakers. There are three speakers in each door alone.

2016_scion_tc_stereo                    2014_scion_tc_speakers

The tC also comes with a unique dual roof with two pieces of glass. One piece is the sunroof itself, and there’s another piece above the rear passenger cabin. That way your passengers can look up into the sky and stars.

2014_scion_tc_dual-roof

Front-wheel drive cars’ handling has come a long way (think Focus ST). The tC hugs curves well with those Yokohama AVIDs, without the tires even letting out a squeak. The car itself sits low and the 6 speed manual transmission is incredibly easy to use. The car pulls nicely in 3rd and 4th.

While the tC is not a proper sports car, after all it’s not rear wheel drive, it is sporty. The ride is somewhat harsh like a sports car, and once you get going on the highway, you can hear the exhaust note. These elements add up to a sporty experience.

It’s a shame that Toyota decided not to add the tC to its family of vehicles. However, many low-mileage examples are available in the used market, including the rare tC Release Series, pictured above, that includes TRD exhaust and lowering springs. In a world of autonomous and connected vehicle talk, a raw, simple, manually-driven car like the tC will surely be missed.

When Does It Make Financial Sense To Purchase A Used Hybrid Or Electric Vehicle?

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We as Americans have been told to “Go Green,” but exactly when should you buy a green vehicle over a traditional gas-powered one? I will show you. Let’s take a look at two gas powered vehicles and their green competitors at a price point of $10K.

1.JPG

A used 2011 Toyota Corolla Gas has the same price point as the 2011 Toyota Prius Hybrid, but there is a difference. The Prius costs less to fuel and insure, for a total savings of $543 per year. If you keep the Prius for two years you will save $1000 over the Corolla. In the case of an electric car, the story improves.

2.JPG

The 2012 Honda Fit Gas and Nissan Leaf Electric have virtually the same price point, but plugging in the Leaf vs fueling the Fit costs less, as does maintenance. You will save $941 per year by purchasing the Leaf over the Fit. Keep the Leaf for two years and you will save $1,800.

Once we take a close look at gas powered vehicles’ green competitors, we see that it is financially advantageous to go green. Not to mention having a much smaller carbon footprint, and in the case of the Leaf, access to preferred parking and HOV lanes. 5

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1. Edmunds.com True Market Value; 2011 Prius and Corolla with 75K miles, 2012 Leaf and Fit with 60K miles in Inglewood, CA on 6/1/16
2. Fueleconomy.gov; 2011 Prius and Corolla, 2012 Leaf and Fit, based on 45% highway, 55% city driving, 15,000 annual miles and current fuel prices as of 6/1/16
3. Edmunds.com True Cost to Own 2011 Prius and Corolla, 2012 Leaf and Fit
4. Edmunds.com True Cost to Own 2011 Prius and Corolla, 2012 Leaf and Fit
5. California Environmental Protection Agency High Occupancy Vehicle (HOVs) lanes eligible vehicles list

 

2016 Nissan 370Z: A Proper Sports Car

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How do we define “sports car?” How about a rear wheel drive coupe with a naturally aspirated 330 horsepower V6, and incredibly precise steering?

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When you step into the Z, you’ll see the driver-centric interior. Some of the gauges, like oil temperature, are aimed directly at the driver, like in the MKIV Supra. Both the tach and speedo move with the steering wheel when it’s adjusted.

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You’ll need to keep your eyes on that speedo because the Z hits 60 in 5.1 seconds. You’ll hear noise from the engine, tires, and exhaust, and it’s absolutely brilliant. The Z has the most precise steering I’ve ever experienced. It’s heavy, on center, and you know exactly what the front tires are doing at all times. Entering and exiting the highway in the Z is downright exhilarating.

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I’ll never forget my time behind the wheel of the Z. It’s a visceral, driver-focused experience that stimulates the senses.

The Most Important Drive Of My Life

I went to college in New York City. Occasionally I would travel home. This meant the opportunity to drive the family car, a 3rd generation Nissan Maxima. During one particular visit, I took the most important drive of my life. I got a call from the local hospital. My grandmother fell and was in an ambulance en route to the ER. I grabbed the key to the Maxima and ran out the door. I peeled out of the driveway and raced to see her. I took backroads and shortcuts, redlining every gear change and accelerating briskly on straightaways. I arrived at the hospital at the same time as the ambulance. While this surprised me, my focus was on my grandmother. I threw the car into a parking space and ran to the ambulance. My grandmother was being taken out on a stretcher. She was conscious and immediately grabbed my hand. She did not let go of me as she was wheeled into the hospital.

sticker 7

When the 3rd generation Maxima was released, Nissan branded it a “4-Door Sports Car.” I don’t think it was a sports car but I would definitely replace the S with “Solid.” It got me exactly where I needed to be.

Should New Yorkers Consider The Elio?

 Elio at the plant

Elio Motors recently announced that the Elio, their $6800 3-wheeled 84 mpg autocycle, could be available for purchase as soon as first half 2016. The Elio is being marketed as a “second vehicle” for U.S. consumers, but many New Yorkers don’t own a first vehicle. Will the Elio work for our wallets? I’ll compare buying an Elio to other options for driving out of town.

Elio vs. Leasing:

The cheapest lease in Manhattan is the Fiat 500. It’s $2000 down, $99 per month over 2 years. Over 4 years, you’d pay $8750 to lease the Fiat which you would have to say “ciao” to at the end of the lease, vs. $6800 to own the Elio. The advantage goes to the Elio.

Elio full

Elio vs. Renting:

Let’s say you get 2 weeks of vacation per year and during that time you rent an economy car. The car rents for $600 per week in New York City. If you rent 2 weeks per year over 5 years, you’d pay $6000 to drive 10 weeks total. Of course if you own an Elio you would have access to drive 365 days a year. Advantage Elio.

Elio vs. Car-Sharing:

Let’s say you don’t take long road-trips and you’re more of the daily getaway type. Taking out a Zipcar for 14 day trips per year (at $109 per day), over 5 years, costs $7630. It would be advantageous to purchase the Elio.

Elio back

Every New Yorker likes a bargain. If you’ve ever gone to Century 21 to buy a suit, or traveled to Newark just to rent an economical car, the Elio could be for you. It will be available for purchase in time for summer 2016. Will it be accepted in the Hamptons? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure: I’ll see you in Bridgehampton in a 4-wheeled (or possibly 3-wheeled) vehicle . . .

Elio Summer

 

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The Coolest Taxi Of All Time

I was crossing 14th Street and 3rd Ave last night. The crosswalk signal was blinking and I needed to get to the sidewalk to safely hail a cab. While in the crosswalk, a unique taxi caught my eye. Unlike other cabs, it had an aggressive stance, wide tires, and thick black rims in contrast to its yellowish-orange exterior. I immediately ran to it, got in, took a seat on the surprisingly soft vinyl, and said to the driver, “this is the nicest cab I’ve ever seen.” He laughed, I told him my destination, and we talked about the car. He explained it was a Police Interceptor (PI), one of 3 in his fleet. When he stepped on the gas, the vehicle moved with force. This was no 4 cylinder Toyota Camry or Nissan Altima, two very common taxis in New York City. Unlike the CVT transmission in the Altima that maximizes fuel economy, shift points in the 6-speed Ford PI are programmed to maximize acceleration.

Sedan Urban

When the PI hit bumps on 3rd Ave I felt them, and was ok with that. Unlike the smooth-riding, family-hauling Camry, the suspension in the PI is heavy duty and custom built for chases. The car not only drove solid, it felt safe. Unlike an economy car, the rear doors were thick. I got the sensation there was real distance between the outside world and the interior.

Sedan in Snow

When I got to my apartment, I wished the driver a safe night. He smiled and said, “thanks buddy.” I should have said, “have fun tearing up the streets.” No offense to the Camry or Altima, but they are the babies of the NYC taxi fleet, and the big, bad Police Interceptor is their daddy. It’s the coolest taxi of all time.

Police Interceptor Highway moving

 

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Driving The Camaro SS Convertible

I picked up the SS from a Midtown car rental location. My destination was Philadelphia. When driving through traffic-heavy Manhattan, isolated with the windows and top up, it was hard to tell the difference between the SS and the V6. After passing through the Holland Tunnel, I went to the first rest stop in New Jersey, where I safely dropped the top.

The 2011 Camaro Convertible will be offered with a standard 312-

I then gunned the Camaro onto the highway and headed straight to the left lane, where I remained. For the first time in my life, I understood why people take fast cars to the track. The Camaro ate up pavement like no other car I have ever experienced. It literally needed more road. Cars in the distance were merely obstacles for the SS to pass. I got to Philly in record time.

The 2011 Camaro Convertible begins production in early-2011, ext

After meeting my friend out in Philly, I followed her to her apartment, and that’s when the Camaro truly came to life in an urban setting. It was late and there wasn’t much traffic. My friend is a fast driver and she knows the streets of Philly well. I do not. I wanted to keep up with her so I threw the car into manual mode and used the paddles. Every light she stopped at, or passed through, I needed to be right there with her. Downshifting in the Camaro let out the most joyous exhaust burble. It’s literally addictive. Slam on the gas in manual mode, flick the right paddle, and you are thrown back into the seat. The next day I took the long way back to New York by driving along the ocean. To get to the coast, it’s a straight shot east. I opened up the Camaro once again, this time using the heads up display on the windshield to show my MPH. Downshifting and going in for the pass was a thrill every time. Having over 400 horses in front of your feet, with the wind rushing into the cabin and music blaring, is a real feeling of freedom. I crave a lot more of it. A toast to summer driving in the Northeast.

The 21st century rebirth of the Chevrolet Camaro opens a new cha

 

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