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In Gear

In Gear offers a fresh look at the world of cars – its technology, economics, and future – through the eyes of Monitor staffers and other automobile writers from around the world. 

The 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray is revealed at media previews for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. (Paul Sancya/AP/File)

Corvette Stingray: 0-60 in 4.15 seconds ... with stock automatic transmission? (+video)

By Nelson IresonGuest blogger / 10.01.13

Hennessey Performance Engineering does many things we envy, from the Venom GT to its ridiculous/awesome CTS-Vs. But this we don't so much envy--we've already driven the Stingray hard. We can't say it surprises us, either. But it's still impressive.

A bone-stock, automatic-transmission Stingray, the first customer car known to have hit the strip, ran a 12.23-second quarter mile with a trap speed of 114.88 mph. And it's Hennessey's Corvette, so you can bet this is the slowest it will ever go.

Along the way to the end of the quarter mile, the Stingray ripped off a 4.15-second 0-60 mph time and 0-100-mph in 9.5 seconds. That's a hair under the claimed 3.7-second time for the Z51-package Corvette Stingray, but we're guessing it might have had a little trouble hooking up on its stock tires.

An impressive result, to be sure, but we're really looking forward to what comes next

Visitors look over electric cars at the National Plug In Day in Houston at the EVgo Freedom Station. California Governor Jerry Brown signed six bills promoting electric cars as part of National Plug In Day this past weekend. (The Courier, Alan Warren/ AP Photo )

California celebrates National Plug-In Day with legislation promoting electric cars

By Stephen EdelsteinGuest blogger / 09.30.13

California Governor Jerry Brown marked National Plug-In Day by signing six bills to promote electric cars.

The new laws created by these bills will enact or extend a variety of programs that promote the use of electric cars and alternative-fuel vehicles.

RECOMMENDED: Car logos quiz

Assembly Bill 8 (AB 8) will provide $2 billion in funding for several green initiatives.  ( Continue… )

Actor Daniel Craig at an unveiling for the new Range Rover Sport in advance of the New York Auto Show at at Skylight at Moynihan Station in New York. International demand for Range Rovers and Land Rovers has increased dramatically since the release of the new cars, driving prices up in international markets and leaving the company struggling to keep up with the demand. (Starpix, Kristina Bumphrey/AP Photo/File)

Range Rover is at full production and still can't build fast enough

By Nelson IresonGuest blogger / 09.30.13

The new Land Rover Ranger Rover and Range Rover Sport SUVs are lighter, higher-tech, and more luxurious than ever--and they're in massive demand. So much so, that even with production running full-blast around the clock, Land Rover simply can't keep up with demand, which is about 40 percent higher than the company predicted. 

What does that mean for buyers? Right now, there's a six-month wait on new orders of the Range Rover, and a nine-month wait for the Range Rover Sport, reports Automotive News Europe (subscription required).

China is the main driver behind this demand, according to the report, and buyers are willing to pay premiums of up to $80,000--on top of sticker prices that range as high as $458,000 in the Chinese market.

Considering that in the U.S., the Range Rover Sport starts from just $64,495, and the Range Rover starts from $83,545, it seems that high demand in China is a very good problem for Land Rover to have.

A customer fills up at a gas pump on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013 in Montpelier, Vt. Dashboard fuel efficiency ratings may be a bit misleading, according to a recent report. (Toby Talbot/AP)

Fuel economy: Why your car's gauge is probably wrong

By Stephen EdelsteinGuest blogger / 09.28.13

Your car's fuel economy gauge may be lying to you.

Well, exaggerating at least.

A recent article in the Detroit News says dashboard mpg readouts are about 5 percent too optimistic.

Some are worse than others, though: Edmunds tested a 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid and found its readout to be 19 percent overstated.

A 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI diesel was 15 percent too optimistic -- possibly explaining why many owners say their diesel Jettas overachieved on EPA fuel-efficiency ratings.

Getting an accurate fuel economy reading requires more than a quick glance at the dashboard.

The best way to ascertain your car's true fuel economy is to track fuel consumption over enough miles that the tank can be drained several times.

Six or eight full tanks, at around 300 to 350 miles each, means accumulating 1,800 to 2,800 miles on the car. Being thorough takes time.

Ideally, the car being tested should be filled at the same pump each time, at the same time of day. It's also important to test it over the same mix of city, suburban, and highway driving.

If maximizing fuel economy is a top priority, consider buying the smallest car possible for your needs. It may be cheaper to rent a larger car when you need it, rather than purchasing one and spending extra money on fuel.

Once you've chosen your car, drive it gently and conservatively. Also consider combining trips or carpooling, only using your car when absolutely necessary.

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A cell phone zone located near Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently announced that road signs will advertise rest stops as 'text stops' as a program to combat distracted driving. (Jay LaPrete/ AP Photo / File )

You call them 'rest stops,' New York calls them 'text zones'

By Richard ReadGuest blogger / 09.27.13

The noble rest stop: an oasis of the interstate where weary travelers can relieve themselves, grab a soda, and do a few jumping jacks to perk up for the long drive ahead. 

Now, the rest stop is also the place to make phone calls and send text messages -- at least in New York State. 

This week, New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new program to combat distracted driving. It doesn't require any office buildings, no new governmental agencies, just the addition of several hundred signs along the state's thoroughfares.  ( Continue… )

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, poses with a Tesla car in Times Square following the electric automaker’s initial public offering in 2010. Tesla Motors is now valued at 47 percent of GM after just 10 years of business. (Mark Lennihan/AP Photo/File)

Is Tesla Motors really worth almost half the value of GM?

By Guest blogger / 09.27.13

Discussions of Tesla Motors sometimes seem couched in the terms of a religious tale: Tesla as David vs General Motors in the Goliath role.

One company is the plucky Silicon Valley electric-car startup that's never built a vehicle with a gasoline engine. 

The other is the largest U.S. automaker, one of the three largest car companies in the world, the slayer of the EV1 (and then parent of the Chevy Volt).  ( Continue… )

The new Alfa Romeo 4C is shown during the press day at the 83rd Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, in March. The 4C represents Alfa Romeo's return to the US, but Chrysler/Fiat announced Tuesday that it's delaying the US introduction. (Sandro Campardo/AP/File)

Alfa Romeo 4C still coming to US, but later

By Richard ReadGuest blogger / 09.26.13

Yesterday, we learned that the 2014 Jeep Cherokee -- which was supposed to arrive in July -- has been delayed for a third time. Now, another vehicle in the Chrysler/Fiat family has had its debut pushed back: the 2014 Alfa Romeo 4C.

The 4C marks Alfa Romeo's return to the U.S. When it was unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show in March, Sergio Marchionne said that he expected the 4C to arrive in America by the end of 2013. Fiat has stuck to that timeline, even confirming it at an event for the 500L earlier this month.

Unfortunately, it ain't happening. Fiat has announced that the 4C won't arrive in the U.S. until the second quarter of 2014 -- at the earliest.

Why the delay? No one knows.

No automaker wants to delay the launch of a new vehicle -- especially one as hotly anticipated as the 4C. To announce two such holdups in the span of just a few days? That's got to feel terrible. ( Continue… )

A motorist pumps gas at a Mount Lebanon, Pa., mini-mart. GreenCarReports explains that gas-mile gauges may be overstated. (Gene J. Puska/AP Photo/File)

Is your car's gas-mileage gauge overstated?

By Guest blogger / 09.25.13

It's one of the most common questions asked of any new car: "So what kind of gas mileage does it get?"

The answer most often comes from the car's gas-mileage readout on the dashboard, generally specified to the tenths of a mile per gallon.

But as Edmunds determined, those readings vary considerably in accuracy.  ( Continue… )

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, gets into a self-driven car. The Cadillac uses inputs from radars, laser rangefinders, and infrared cameras. New surveys show that the majority of consumers have distrust in autonomous vehicles and are not interested in purchasing one. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

Consumers lack confidence in self-driving cars

By Guest blogger / 09.25.13

While we've had no issues expressing our qualms about the driverless future of cars, we also can't help but find the technology interesting, even amazing, even at this early stage in its development. But most car buyers don't have a warm fuzzy feeling about self-driving cars, according to a new survey.

ORC International, at the behest of the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies (via Forbes), recently surveyed 1,000 car-buying adults to see how the public really feels about a computer being in charge of the wheel. The result? Only 18 percent said they'd buy an autonomous car.

What's the major concern? Trust.  ( Continue… )

An extended time exposure photo shows stoplights and traffic flowing along Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. (Reed Saxon/AP/File)

California issues regulations on ridesharing

By Stephen EdelsteinGuest blogger / 09.24.13

If you really want to go green, why not get rid of your car?

That's the logic behind ridesharing and carsharing services.

In theory, they provide all of the convenience of a car, without the need to own one. These services are pitched as an alternative form of transportation for urban areas.

But while carsharing services like Zipcar have been accepted and often welcomed by most municipal governments, newer ridesharing services have presented a few legal hurdles.  ( Continue… )

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