Week In Review: Fuel Cells, Future Corvettes, and Fun Cheap Cars
Many eyes–well, some anyhow–are looking forward to the impending happenings at next week’s Chicago Auto Show in anticipation of what new vehicles will debut. We’ll be on the scene next week in the Windy City to give you a play-by-play look at what’s going on. But the world hasn’t ground to a halt entirely. Deals are being brokered–for fuel cell development in this case–new cars are being promised for other auto shows, and we’ve even put together our own selection of inexpensive new cars we wouldn’t be afraid to recommend to our friends. Read all about it in this Saturday’s recap of the week’s events below.
Monday, January 28
Fuel cells are, theoretically, the ideal solution to our planet’s energy needs. Running purely on hydrogen, they combine the gas with oxygen to create electricity, which is then used to power a vehicle. Experimental cars–such as the Honda Clarity–have been on the roads for years now, and the combination of real-world mileage and the ease of a quick fill up, all without any more emissions than water vapor, are certainly the stuff of environmentalist dreams. This week, Ford, Nissan and Daimler–parent company of Mercedes-Benz–signed an agreement to combine their engineering talents to make that dream a reality. Of course, there are hurdles to overcome. For example, there’s really no such thing as a hydrogen infrastructure, and hydrogen itself is difficult and expensive to refine. However, the same thing used to be true of gasoline.
Tuesday, January 29
It’s no secret that there’s going to be a convertible version of the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray; we’ve already seen the spy shots. What was a secret, until Tuesday, was exactly when we’d see the real thing. Turns out, it’s going to be in Geneva, Switzerland, at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show in March. Geneva sounds like an odd venue for the baseball-and-apple-pie Corvette, but it makes sense. Chevy wants its sports car to be an international sensation, and there’s no greater international venue than Geneva. Besides, it’s where the convertible version of the previous-generation Corvette was introduced, and there’s nothing Chevy likes better for its sports car than some tradition.
Wednesday, January 30
Toyota and Lexus on Wednesday issued a fairly massive recall of some of its most popular models. And when you put the words “popular” and “Toyota” together, you’re talking about A LOT of vehicles. Around 752,000 Toyota Corolla sedans and Matrix hatchbacks are coming back to dealerships, and around 270,000 Lexus IS sedans as well. However, the issues are different: The Corolla and Matrix models may have a problem with their airbags, while the compact Lexus may have problems with the windshield wipers. Own one of these vehicles? Don’t worry, you’ll get a notice soon enough from the manufacturer, which will fix the problems free of charge.
Thursday, January 31
If you’re looking for wheels, but don’t have a lot of money to spend, it used to be that you either bought a stripped-down new car with a warranty, or a fully featured used car, where you took your chances without any kind of guarantee that it won’t leave you stranded. But today’s cheap wheels are far from the lowball black-bumper, windup-window, no-air-conditioning specials of the old days. They’re stocked with amenities like Bluetooth and power windows–it’s nearly impossible to buy a car without air conditioning these days–they’re mostly fun to drive, and they almost all come with great warranties. We’ve put together a list of 10 of these inexpensive cars; go check it out.
Friday, February 1
At the beginning of each month, manufacturers release their sales results. These numbers tell us not only what companies are doing well, but which vehicles segments are doing well in the market. Why does it matter? Well, if you like economics, what kinds of cars sell well in a given month can be a barometer of how confident people are in their finances. If luxury cars or high-end models do well, people have cash to burn. If subcompacts are leading sales, it may be because times are tough, or gas prices are going up. So what was driving this month’s sales? Midsize sedans, which is always a popular segment, but seemed even more so in January. Check it all out, and see which manufacturers actually went down in such an up month.