•Nissan is working on a solid oxide fuel-cell (SOFC) system that’s capable of running on bioethanol electric power. The automaker said this is the first time for autos. The e-Bio fuel-cell system uses the SOFC as the power source, equaling range on par with gas vehicles.
•Hey, Kia—you’re better than Porsche. The J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Initial Quality Study looked at problems vehicle owners had in the first 90 days of ownership (hence, “initial quality”). Some findings included that domestic brands had fewer issues than imports—only the second time that has happened in the 30 years of the study, and that 49 percent of owners referenced “expected reliability” as the most important box to tick when buying a new vehicle. Now, back to Kia: It had the highest initial quality, and put the automaker as a footnote in history, being the first nonpremium brand to rank at the top in the study’s 27 years.
•Jaguar Land Rover opened a plant in Brazil, its first in Latin America.
•Volkswagen has opened the new Pacific Northwest Distribution Center in California, a $6.8 million facility, and will invest $4.5 million into a new training center, also in Cali.
•The ’16 Mercedes-Benz G550 4x4² will have a 416hp 4.0L biturbo V-8, ladder-style frame, and portal axles, among its offerings.
•The automotive industry’s Sexiest Man Alive 2016 is Mike Manley, the head of Jeep and Ram. Oh, wait, not that. Rather, he got the top spot on the Auto Express Brit List, which names the most influential British execs in the automotive industry, globally.
•The 10-speed transmission in the ’17 Ford F-150 will be the first bulk production of a 10-speed that consumers can get their hands on. And all 10 gears display on the dash.
•Also Ford: A fancy version of vinyl flooring is now available for the F-Series Super Duty King Ranch and Platinum trucks.
•Brand of the Year, Auto Insurance category: AAA, according to the Harris Poll EquiTrend study.
•The Waze navigation app has a new feature that has started with Los Angeles drivers: helping avoid dangerous left turns. There’s a setting (already enabled) called Difficult Intersections, which helps route drivers away from those sticky intersections or situations as often as possible.
•The Jeep Cherokee Overland is now in the UK.
•It’s not exactly an off-road vehicle, but most everyone cares about it anyway: the Dodge Viper. And its death is coming in the 2017 model year.
•There’s a new intake system that you might spot on vehicles such as the ’17 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra Denali HDs equipped with the Duramax. Spot it by way of the hoodscoop.
Is It True?
•Heavy exposure to diesel fumes could mean liver spots on the face?
•We can expect global sales of autonomous vehicles to reach 76 million by 2035, according to IHS Automotive?
•Only in LA? Tesla is selling its cars at Nordstrom?
•Toyota is one of the world’s smartest companies, based on what MIT Technology Review said? The only other automaker to make the list was Tesla? Is that because of the Nordstrom move or technology?
•Volkswagen is going to phase out more than 40 of its models?
•Hail damage amounted to total payouts of $7 billion for vehicle damage from 2008-2014, as analyzed by Highway Loss Data Institute?
•Mercedes-Benz is planning an all-electric SUV?
Your Government at Work
•Columbus, Ohio, won the Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge, meaning it will get up to $40 mil to fully integrate tech, like connected vehicles, smart sensors, and robot vehicles. That’s in addition to $10 mil from Vulcan and $90 mil it already raised from private partners.
•The U.S. Army has been testing autonomous vehicles in Michigan.
•Looks like GM is collaborating with the U.S. Navy on fuel-cell systems for the next-generation of unmanned undersea vehicles (aka UUVs).
•Norway is thinking hard about banning gas vehicles by 2025, while Paris is banning older vehicles now, while Germany wants to ban diesel and gas vehicle sales by 2030.
•In California, there’s a bill floating around that would make an ignition interlock mandatory for drunk-driving offenders.
What’s Happening in the Industry
•Want to play a video driving game that will also learn you things about brakes? Hit up wagnerbrake.com.
•Napa Filters has reached its golden 50th.
•The 2016 SCORE World Desert Championship has an official partner: 4 Wheel Parts.
Four Wheeler App
So, this is what dictionary.com defines an app as: “An application.” Well, there you go, the Four Wheeler app is a Four Wheeler application. Dictionary.com defines application as: “the act of putting to a special use or purpose” and also the more refined “the special use or purpose to which something is put.” Well, there you go. So then by definition, the Four Wheeler application is 24/7 access to a zillion tech articles, product reviews, feature trucks, buildups, travel and adventure, road tests, trail rides, and more for special use to put.
Your Tailgate Might Be Safe
Tailgate theft is down, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The rate of insured ’gates being stolen was down 6 percent in 2015, following a five-year upward spiral, and the first decrease since NICB started recording these back in 2010. It was 1,895 in 2014, and 1,787 in 2015. P.S. Back in 2010, it was 430. Top states for theft in 2014 and 2015 combined? Texas, California, Florida, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Hot cities included Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Phoenix.
Limited-Edition 2016 Ram Rebel
The new Ram Rebel is Mopar AF: It’s a 1500 4x4 Rebel crew cab with a Mopar Custom Shop package that includes everything Mopar, including a performance hood, wheel flares, skidplate, and 17-inch rims. And only 500 are being made, so there’s a metal birth plate. It’s also the truck segment’s first limited-edition Mopar-built vehicle.
“Celebrating the rugged and reliable work vehicles that Americans have driven for nearly a century, each of these four new Forever stamps features on [sic] of the following iconic models.”—The U.S. Postal Service announced it has finally released the stamps. And apparently it was so excited by this, it had a spellcheck fail.
“I have my sons truck up for sale that I bought for him as his first car, he thinks it's cool to drive around with his friends smokin’ dope and acting all thug and especially not showing me and my wife the respect that we deserve. This was a vehicle to finish school in, get a decent job, and get a head start on life but chose to throw it all away because his friends would rather have an influence on him more than me! Now he can put those Jordans to use walk his ass off on these hot summer days! It has ice-cold air and power everything! It's dirty as hell inside and out because he didn't respect it and take pride, seems to drive well but needs a few parts because it squeaks! I just put new tires on it that he never paid me for because dope was more important and driver seat doesn't come all the way up, I guess cause cops kept riding by! If you live on the WESTSIDE I'll take $250 off the price just so he sees it every now and then so it'll remind him of how good he had it! I have title in hand!” — Craigslist post in Jacksonville, Florida, for a ’98 Ford Explorer