Motor Mouth: An automotive Scrooge makes his Christmas wish list

first_imgSo, it’s the Friday before Christmas and my significant other is long past the hinting stage. “Are your black riding boots leaking” and “does the Suzuki need new tires” has morphed into the much more direct — almost accusatory — “well then, what do you want for Christmas?”  The problem is, like so many men, again of a certain age, I don’t need anything. A lifetime of hobbies has rendered my garage full, the Booth manse’s single bay so full of motorcycles, parts and equipment that there’s no room inside for even the smallest version of the City of Toronto’s recycling bins (which, much to my condo fuehrer’s chagrin, has to sit outside all winter). Upstairs, I have an entire room devoted to motorcycle books, and the master bedroom’s walk-in closet — large enough that it could qualify as Mariah Carey’s shoe closet — is so chockablock with riding gear that I actually visit dry cleaners looking for more coat hangers. In other words, I have everything I need and a whole bunch of stuff I don’t, just in case.  To one and all, Happy Holidays! COMMENTSSHARE YOUR THOUGHTS The Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car ever SHARE STORY Trending Videos See More Videos A peaceful resolution to the Nissan/Renault/Mitsubishi crisis. I suspect this story isn’t getting too much traction here in North America, but the largest automaker in the world — I bet you didn’t even know that Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi were one and the same, let alone the largest, right? — is on the brink of being rent asunder. The problem is the arrest on corruption and tax evasion charges of Carlos Ghosn, the conglomerate’s former chief executive. He’s been in a Japanese jail for almost a month now and the charges — supposedly under-reporting US$43 million bonus pay and using company money to upgrade private domiciles — damning. Officially, Nissan official profess shock. Shock, I tell you.  PlayThe Rolls-Royce Boat Tail may be the most expensive new car everPlay3 common new car problems (and how to prevent them) | Maintenance Advice | Driving.caPlayFinal 5 Minivan Contenders | Driving.caPlay2021 Volvo XC90 Recharge | Ministry of Interior Affairs | Driving.caPlayThe 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning is a new take on Canada’s fave truck | Driving.caPlayBuying a used Toyota Tundra? Check these 5 things first | Used Truck Advice | Driving.caPlayCanada’s most efficient trucks in 2021 | Driving.caPlay3 ways to make night driving safer and more comfortable | Advice | Driving.caPlayDriving into the Future: Sustainability and Innovation in tomorrow’s cars | virtual panelPlayThese spy shots get us an early glimpse of some future models | What’s causing even more controversy are the rumours is that this is really an automotive palace coup. According to various sources, many inside Nissan knew of his tax avoidance schemes and renovations for quite some time. What’s more, there is conjecture that this is really about Ghosn’s up-until-he-got-arrested plan to cement the Japanese/French alliance even tighter, just when Nissan is starting to feel that Renault — once its saviour — is being a drag on its fiscal prosperity. The two companies are barely talking, and since the French government owns a large portion of Renault, this has major disaster written all over it. Like so many of these spats, splitting marriages this enduring — Renault and Nissan have been a couple for 19 years — renders both parties lesser.The end of “Fake News.” The Donald coined this tawdry piece of deflection to divert attention from some of his more questionable political choices, but the fact is, there is a soupcon of truth to his accusations of reporters exaggerating the truth. In the automotive world, one of its manifestations is purporting to have first-hand experience in a car, when in fact, you only got to sit in the passenger’s seat. It’s a common enough practice that automakers call it taking a “taxi ride” — being driven around a track by a professional race car driver, as in paid for by the automaker while you take notes on the car’s comportment. The problem is that said impressions can come across in subsequent articles as first-hand experience, and indeed, some outlets encourage such misdirection. The recent 992-update of Porsche’s 911 is a case in point. Passed of as simply a technical seminar on the mechanical upgrades to the eighth generation of 911, we scribes were offered three laps around Hockenheim in the passenger seat as reward for sitting through tedious discussions regarding build quality and passenger satisfaction. Some outlets — you know who you are, Autocar — chose to report on the handling and speed of the new 911 as if sitting in the passenger seat gives you some insight on what it might be like to actually drive the car. The best of journalists, and even some of the worst such as Yours Truly, never report on these taxi rides. There’s enough accusation of fake news going around that we don’t need to actually substantiate them. Tesla owners get their heads out of their collective posteriors. Let me be clear about the importance of Elon Musk to the auto industry. First off, Musk is both something of a genius and one hell of a corporate motivator. Without him, the EV market — let alone Tesla — would hardly exist. His perseverance, dedication and almost Trump-like nose for headlines have given legitimacy and urgency to the need to reduce greenhouse gasses. He has, by sheer force of will, moved an industry. Unfortunately, the result has been an almost cult-like following of acolytes who, cue more Trump-like comparisons, will broach no criticism of their leader no matter how obvious. And, as great as he has been, this absence of critical discussion, especially amongst customers, is not good for Tesla’s long-term health.  Just one example: I have now driven three Model Xes, including a brand-new press car and a 30,000-plus-kilometre beater. All were — there’s no other description — shoddily built. The press vehicle — and one supposes that all test cars are given special attention since they are to be used by journalists looking to generate public-facing analysis — had duct tape holding on a piece of its interior trim. The high-mileage unit, meanwhile, had enough rattles for a 10-year-old Lada, suspension booming, crashing and banging over every bump and crevasse in the road.Plus, the worst squeaking window — both being lowered and raised — that I have heard in 45 years of driving. In any other $150,000-plus automobile, the owner would have been writing angry screeds to any autojournalist with a public forum. Instead, it was all beatification. Necessity being the mother of invention, what automotive engineer is going to bother building better products unless consumers demand them?So to Tesla owners, Nissan shareholders, errant autojournalists, and in fact, to anyone and everyone I have ever had a disagreement with, I reiterate humourist Oren Arnold’s Christmas wish list: “To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To yourself, respect.” RELATED TAGSNissanMotor MouthMotor MouthNew Vehicles We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles using Facebook commenting Visit our FAQ page for more information. What I could use is a little more Frank Capra-esque humanity. You know, an honest politician, a generous bank manager, and as long as we’re dreaming in Technicolor, peace in the Middle East. So here, cher Nadine, whose patience the rest of the year makes life worth living, is my real  wish list: Cheaper yes, but unfortunately less attainable than the heated insoles I hope I convinced you not to buy.  last_img

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