A Decade Later

The Pacific ocean, somewhere near Santa Cruz California

The Pacific ocean, somewhere near Santa Cruz California

Last month, an anniversary passed in my life that I neglected to hightlight. On September 20, 2006, my first piece of writing for which I actually got paid was published on the still-nascent  AutoblogGreen. That began my transition from engineering to writing and talking about transportation technology. Over the course of the next four years I published nearly 7,500 posts on Autoblog and AutoblogGreen, along with a few hundred on the now defunct I also co-hosted more than 100 podcasts, attended countless media events, have driven hundreds of different cars and trucks and made many wonderful colleagues and friends along the way.

In the years since my departure from Autoblog, I’ve been fortunate to contribute to other publications including Popular Mechanics, Motor Trend, Road&Track, Car and Driver and most recently Forbes. I also spent several years on the other side of the business in product communications learning how the companies I cover tell their stories.

I’m incredibly grateful that a recruiter for Navigant Research reached out to me two years and set me on the path to being an analyst, a role where I can now provide companies with guidance on setting the strategies for the future of transportation.

A decade ago, my first media trip brought me out to Monterey, Calif. with Honda to learn about and drive the FCX fuel cell concept at the Laguna Seca race track. This weekend I’m back in the Monterey area for the weekend with my wonderful wife, who has been so supporting over the good and difficult times of past ten years before we head back into San Francisco for a week of talking about the future of transportation.

Saving Fuel and CO2 vs NOx Emissions With a Volkswagen Diesel


We bought our 2010 Volkswagen Jetta TDI wagon in November 2009 in large part based on the potential money we’d save at the pump. In the wake of the current diesel emissions fiasco and the fact that until recently, diesel has consistently been more expensive than gasoline, last night Julie? asked if we’ve even managed to save any money with this car.

I went to the Energy Information Administration website (an outstanding resource for historical data on fuel prices and supply) and downloaded the monthly average price data for the midwest which is available in a handy excel spreadsheet. You can also get national and regional data for annual and weekly averages. Based on the total mileage accumulated over 70 months and the EPA combined fuel economy estimates of 34 mpg for the diesel and 25 mpg for the 2.5-liter five-cylinder that was also available at the time I worked out the average monthly fuel consumption over the time we’ve owned the car. We have used approximately 23.1 gallons of ultra-low sulfur diesel per month and would have used about 31.4 gallons of regular gas with the five cylinder.

Putting that up against the average monthly price of regular gas and diesel we would have spent approximately $7,274 on gasoline. By comparison, despite the higher pump prices most of the time, I estimate that we’ve spent roughly $5,732 on diesel fuel, a savings about $1,540 dollars. The diesel emitted approximately 16.3 tonnes of CO2 over the past six years while the gasoline-fueled version would have output almost 19.4 tonnes, so we’ve saved roughly three tonnes of CO2 as well.

Does that justify all the extra NOx we’ve emitted? I have no idea. That’s one of those trade-offs that you simply can’t measure directly. Having paid a roughly $2,000 premium up front to buy the diesel engine, the economics are still an open question right now. A week ago, the $3,500 in extra resale value of a diesel compared to a gas engine would have more than covered the $500 difference we’re at right now in fuel savings and we would have been way ahead financially. A few weeks from now when this all sinks in, who knows what this car will be worth.

I don’t have answers yet, just some random data points. Stay tuned.

New iPhone Upgrade Program May Point to the Apple Car

silvercar+appleWhen I first started speculating on the idea of an Apple car last February as rumors about Project Titan emerged, I was enormously skeptical that it would ultimately happen. However in the days since Apple’s most recent media event where they announced the iPhone 6s, I’ve begun to rethink my assessment. I now see a way that might lead to Apple’s entry into the car business based on their latest approach to selling smartphones.

2016 Honda Civic – Hitting Double Digits

American Honda EVP John Mendel reveals the 2016 Civic sedan

American Honda EVP John Mendel reveals the 2016 Civic sedan

For most companies that make and sell products there is often one particular product that is most important to its image and its bottom line. For Apple, it’s the iPhone, at Ford it’s the F-150 pickup. For Honda, that product is the Civic, its top-selling product globally with 800,000 annual sales and also its longest running continuous model after 43 years on the road. At events in Detroit and Los Angeles today, Honda revealed the all-new 10th generation Civic in the four-sedan form that will launch later this fall. The new Civic sedan is the first of several body styles that will arrive on our shores in the next two years including for the first time, a Civic Type-R.


2016 Chevrolet Camaro Performance Shows the Benefit of Going on a Diet 1

cq5dam.web.1280.1280When Chevrolet revealed the redesigned sixth-generation Camaro last spring, it looks like they significantly sandbagged everyone on the weight reductions including the engineers in Dearborn. The original press release indicated that “the total curb weight for Camaro has been reduced by more than 200 pounds,” which I took as an indication that it would end up at roughly the same weight as the 2015 Mustang. In fact, Chevy’s sports car undercuts its arch-rival the Mustang by anywhere from 20 to 200 pounds and offers vastly improved weight-to-power ratios, which is directly reflected in the performance numbers.


The 2016 Toyota Prius is Official!

2016_Toyota_Prius_031_1E9B69CE8E4156EB4B206135DFD860F936C2F099Late last night in Las Vegas, Toyota revealed the new fourth-generation of the world’s best selling hybrid, the Prius. Eighteen years after the debut of the original, the Prius has become an automotive icon with a distinctive look that has become synonymous with battery-assisted cars. Images of the of the new Prius have been leaking out for weeks and by time Toyota revealed the car it was no longer a surprise. All that was really left to reveal were the technical details, but unfortunately those have been kept to a bare minimum other than the news that it will offer a 10 percent boost in fuel efficiency.


Perhaps the most incredible thing about this story is that he and his colleagues managed to avoid getting infected when they first encountered the virus

Perhaps the most incredible thing about this story is that he and his colleagues managed to avoid getting infected when they first encountered the virus?

Peter Piot was a researcher at a lab in Antwerp when a pilot brought him a blood sample from a Belgian nun who had fallen mysteriously ill in Zaire • Ebola isn’t the big one. So what is? And are we ready for it? • Answering the ten basic questions you were afraid to ask

Real Estate developers suck! 4

Michigan desperately needs long-term high paying jobs. Building yet another subdivision will create a few construction jobs for a few months to a year. There are already plenty of houses that are sitting on the market for increasing amounts of time. What we need are companies that are going to create well paying high skilled jobs for the long haul. Today the Michigan Supreme Court decided to screw the workers of Michigan. They ruled in favor of an Oakland County developer who wants to buy the former Ypsilanti Psychiatric Hospital site for another subdivision. The state is trying to sell the property to Toyota who want to build a new Technical Center that will create 1000 new high paying jobs. If they don’t get this property they will very likely build their tech center in Kentucky where they have their biggest North American production facility. The developer DPG-York should stop this case now and walk away from this, but they clearly care more about their own short-term gain than they do about the health of the Michigan economy. The court should have dropped this case and let the Toyota deal move forward which would have been best for Michigan.

Faux News Joins the War on Christmas!

So all the fascists on the who are all against government telling you how to run your life (after all that is the fascist’s job, not some faceless bureaucrat’s) have been whining incessantly about the “Liberal War on Christmas!” Well now they have a new target to go after. The patron saints of the right wing media at News Corp., owners of Faux News are having a Holiday Party! That’s right, not a christmas party but a holiday party!. Here is a copy of the invite courtesy of our friends at Air America Radio
Fox news holiday part invitation

I wonder how much noise Rush, and Sean and “O’Really!” will make about this one? Since I am physically incapable of watching Faux News without immediately changing the channel or turning off the TV, I will have to rely on reports from others to see if it is ever mentioned on air there.