Ford’s Future

I went to a lovely lunch last week with Dan Kapp, who’s been in Ford’s powertrain division for 31 years, ever since he got out of college. He spoke to the group of NWAPA members and local media for over an hour about EcoBoost, hybrids, clean diesels, Ford’s long-term plans … he really covered a lot of ground.

You can read my post about the press event at GoodGreenCars.com.

$4 Gas and Buying Cars

I’m just finishing up the last rounds of edits for an article that will run in the September issue of Portland Monthly. I did a slew of interviews and test drove a Smart ForTwo to gauge the new-car market in Portland, now that gas is so ungodly expensive.

The magazine will hit metro-area newsstands around the first of September; I’ll have a PDF of it up on my Clips page as soon as I’ve got a copy.

Blogging about Blogging

I’ve been given a new blog all my own, though it’s still part of the RiverWired.com universe. Check it out at GoodGreenCars.com. There aren’t many posts yet — I heard about it Monday and it went live yesterday — but I’ll be posting more often here than I did on RiverWired.com.

The new blog is all cars and alternative energy, plus tips on saving gas. We’ll see how it goes in the next couple of months.

Why I Love My Job

I just got back from driving a Maserati, a Dodge Viper, a C63 Mercedes-Benz tuned by AMG, and the Audi S5, among 15 others, through the mountains of Central Oregon. I drove faster and pushed harder through corners than I probably ever have, and the people on the rally were as nice as the cars.

Fellow auto journalists Jeff Zurchmeide and John Vincent put the route together, and it was perfect — right down to the clear, blue skies and 85-degree afternoons. Perfect for driving in the drop-top cars. I was glad that the Maserati rep brought ball caps, though, since I forgot to put sunscreen where I part my hair the first day and burned a pink line right along the top of my head. Cute.

Now I’m back in my office, catching up on emails and making appointments for interviews. I’ve got a story due for Portland Monthly next week that I’m looking forward to writing.

Two Days of Driving — for Fun

I leave bright and early tomorrow morning to join my fellow Northwest Automotive Press Association members on a two-day jaunt through Central Oregon in a string of fast cars. The organizers lined up everything from a Mazda MX-5 (that’s a Miata) to a Maserati, with the likes of Audi, Volvo, and a Dodge Viper thrown in.

The route is one of my favorite drives in Oregon, along Old McKenzie Pass. The bummer will be the wildfires raging near Mt. Adams in Washington. We’re supposed to drive home on the Washington side of the Columbia River, but it may be smoky and nasty, especially in a convertible.

Article finally sees the light of day

I wrote this piece on Subaru tuners for Izmo Autos, a content site, over a year ago. A friend found it on the Internet and told me about it today, since he knew both the author (me) and the subject (local Subie enthusiast Tad Dinsmore).

Getting publication verification from Izmo has been a nightmare. I’m glad to see this one escaped the black hole and made it onto Portland’s local Fox station web site.

EV Awareness Day 7-5-08

I went to Pioneer Courthouse Square Saturday morning to check out EV Awareness Day, held by the Oregon Electric Vehicle Association. There were about a dozen cars and trucks there, from a squared-off Citicar from the early 1970s to a Prius converted to plug-in hybrid technology.

I overheard a woman tell her husband, “He’ll let me take a picture in it!” She led him away, so I followed. She was giddy at the idea of sitting in the driver’s seat of a little, green Fiat 500 that had been converted to run on DC power. They took pictures with the door open, with the door closed, with her leaning out, with her holding the steering wheel … she was really excited.

Shorepower was there, too. These are the guys making the charging stations that Portland General Electric will start installing around town soon. They had a charger/meter on display, which they explained to all comers, including a woman who works for the nearby city of Gresham who wanted to know how to get them in the budget and on the streets.
Even at 11 am on a Saturday morning after a late-night Jazz Fest on the waterfront, there were quite a few people checking out the cars from every angle and talking to their owners. Spectators ranged from guys in shorts and tucked-in polo shirts who crouched on the bricks to better see under the cars to skate punks with facial tattoos asking questions of the engineers who converted their Porsches 911s and Honda Insights to all-electric power.

New NY Times article

Here’s a link to my latest New York Times article, about the Isuzu Trooper that runs on wood chips. I’ll get a PDF in my clips sometime in the next couple of days. It took almost a week’s worth of edits and rewrites and expansions, but I’m happy with how it turned out. What started as a 350-word sidebar became a full-fledged article.

Wood-chip powered SUV in the NYT

I just finished (I think) the last round of edits for a story I did on Robert “Chip” Beam’s wood-chip-powered Isuzu Trooper. It’ll be in the Sunday New York Times, probably in just the metro edition. But you can always look it up online at nytimes.com/autos, and I’ll post it here on my Clips page.