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Episode 86 – Trimflation is on the Rise

 Welcome to the auto podcast that is not trying to populate the world with narcissistic CEOs.

On this episode of Throwin’ Wrenches…  

  • Historical Headlines!
  • EVs are falling Hybrids are rising
  • Find out what Ben Franklin and Elon have in common

All that and more on this episode of Throwin’ Wrenches.


Fort’s Toyota of Pekin

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  • Celicas everywhere
  • Camper wheel bearing redux


  • Swap meets coming up
  • My sale streak ended but I’ll probably keep buying more parts
  • Solara brakes. Please make me do my Solara brakes in 2024

Historical Headline

February 8, 1993 GM Sues NBC For Defamation over Exploing “Side Saddle Gas Tanks” 

Image Credit: YouTube

NBC Admits It Rigged Crash, Settles GM Suit

Source: LA Times

In an extraordinary public apology, NBC said Tuesday night that it erred in staging a fiery test crash of a General Motors pickup truck for its “Dateline NBC” news program and agreed to settle a defamation suit filed by the automaker.

“We deeply regret we included the inappropriate demonstration in our ‘Dateline’ report,” said a statement read by NBC News co-anchors Jane Pauley and Stone Phillips Tuesday night. “We apologize to our viewers and to General Motors. We have also concluded that unscientific demonstrations should have no place in hard news stories at NBC. That’s our new policy.”

The apology, still being negotiated within five minutes of air time, was part of a settlement of a lawsuit GM filed Monday over film used in a Nov. 17 segment of “Dateline.”

In its apology, NBC admitted that it had used incendiary devices to ensure that a fire would erupt if gasoline leaked from the truck being hit by a test car. The 15-minute segment was addressing critics’ charges that GM’s full-size pickup trucks built between 1973 and 1987 are unsafe because their gasoline tanks are on the sides of the trucks, outside the frame.

GM has staunchly denied that the trucks have safety problems.


Used vehicle prices will fall 5.7% in 2024, expert says

Source: Automotive News

Used-vehicle prices will continue falling this year, but affordability remains an issue for many buyers, said Jonathan Banks, vice president of product development and valuation services at J.D. Power. Speaking at the J.D. Power Auto Summit in Las Vegas, Banks said he expects used-vehicle prices will fall 5.7 percent this year, more than the 3.5 percent decline in 2023, as the market continues to recover from skyrocketing prices during the coronavirus pandemic.

Image Credit: Toyota Newsroom

Toyota to outshine rivals as more consumers opt for hybrids amid EV slowdown

Source: Reuters

U.S. hybrid sales have been rising as consumers balk at high EV prices and are anxious about the range of electric cars, especially in more rural areas, where there could be long distances between charging stations. Battery EVs are not as widely accepted in the Midwest as they are on the West Coast and other parts of the United States, Davis said.

Shelley Zalis: More Women in Auto Retail is ‘Good for Business’

Source: Automotive News

Car dealers looking to boost dealership profits might want to consider more inclusive hiring strategies. “If you want to add more revenue to your dealership, do the right thing. It’s good for business,” said Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, which seeks to advance equality in the workplace and raise the visibility of women across industries, including automotive. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist and bestselling author, also challenged the auto industry to reimagine their power and how it is conveyed in the workplace.

Side Note: Give the GET IN HER LANE PODCAST a try! 

Executives and employees from the Toyota Chicago Region have a show and it’s pretty great.  Taken from the view that women in the automotive industry have as they build careers in a traditionally male industry.  

Learn More at getinherlane.com

‘Seismic shift’: driving unaffordable for many in US amid push toward SUVs

Luxury vehicles, production cuts and soaring insurance prices have sent the cost of US car ownership out of control

Source: The Guardian

The average new car today sells for nearly $49,000, and the average used car lists at more than $26,000 – representing a 31% increase for new cars and nearly 40% increase for used cars since 2020, according to data from the industry group Cox Automotive.

These increases have brought the total cost of car ownership to all-time highs in a country where cars aren’t really optional. And that’s despite the easing of inflation and the supply chain issues that snarled the auto industry during the pandemic. So why are consumers still getting squeezed?

Here’s a hint: the automakers are doing great. By essentially coordinating an industry-wide production cut, the pandemic gave manufacturers power to demand mind-boggling prices for fewer cars, leading to record profits. As consumers adjusted their expectations, executives saw an opportunity to establish a lucrative new normal. Low inventory is an “opportunity to drive strong margins”, GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, told shareholders in 2022. Ford’s CEO, Jim Farley, went even further, declaring: “I want to make it extremely clear to everyone: we are going to run our business with a lower day supply than we have had in the recent past because that’s good for our company.”

Brian Moody, a senior editor at Kelley Blue Book, a car industry publication, says automakers used the pandemic to shift product lines toward higher-margin products. Instead of small cars and base models, they pivoted to luxury cars and SUVs with fully loaded trims, which turn far greater profits per sale. That means “the less expensive the car, the fewer choices you have”, says Moody. Some commentators have called the trend “trimflation”. 

Efforts underway to form union at Rivian EV plant in Normal

Source: 25 News

A union with almost 600,000 members is seeking to expand its ranks by organizing thousands of workers who build electric vehicles and Rivian Automotive in Normal.

The unionization effort has gained the attention of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D – IL), who brought up the topic Wednesday during a meeting in Washington with Rivian founder and CEO RJ Scaringe.

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) created a Rivian Auto Union website stating that workers at the plant are “demanding fairness, respect and a voice on the job.”

Workers are being asked to sign authorization cards. If there’s enough interest, IAM will file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which will hold a hearing to determine who at the factory would be represented by the union. The NLRB would then hold an election requiring majority support to form a union.

Meantime, Sen. Durbin on Wednesday urged Scaringe to support the workers’ collective bargaining efforts.

“Rivian took a chance on Normal, Illinois, and it has paid off. Illinois is a leader in electric vehicle production, but only because of the unrelenting efforts of Rivian and its employees,” Durbin said in a statement.

“In meeting with Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe today, I reiterated my support for the company’s mission while reminding Mr. Scaringe that Rivian employees deserve the benefits and security offered by a union if they so choose,” Durbin also said.

Moment of Musk

Elon Musk Had Twins With His Top Neuralink Executive, But They Never Dated — She Explains ‘He Wants Smart People To Have Kids, So He Encouraged Me To’ And He’s The Person She ‘Admires Most In The World’

Source: Yahoo Finance

Elon Musk, the visionary behind Tesla and SpaceX, is also known for his distinct approach to family, as detailed in his biography by Walter Isaacson. The book sheds light on Musk’s rationale for having multiple children with different women, emphasizing his belief in the need for intelligent people to procreate.

Shivon Zilis, a senior executive at Neuralink Corp. — a company Musk helped to establish — played a pivotal role in this narrative. Initially contemplating sperm donation for childbirth, Zilis was persuaded by Musk to consider him as the donor, a proposal that aligned with Musk’s advocacy for procreation among the intellectually inclined.

“He really wants smart people to have kids, so he encouraged me to,” Zilis said.

When faced with the choice between an anonymous donor and Musk, whom she greatly admires, Zilis described the decision as straightforward.

“If the choice is between an anonymous donor or doing it with the person you admire more in the world, for me it was a pretty f***king easy decision,” she said.

This arrangement, according to Zilis, was also perceived as something that would “make him very, very happy.”

Initially, she said that she didn’t expect him to be very involved — he is the father to multiple other children with two other women. In the biography, she explains she assumed he would take on a more “godfatherly” role to the twins. However, he has been actively involved in their lives.

Trending: Are you rich? Here’s what Americans think you need to be considered wealthy.

Their decision to have children together, despite not being in a romantic relationship, stems from Musk’s broader concerns about the global decline in population. He has frequently voiced the importance of reversing this trend, especially among those with high intelligence, viewing it as crucial for civilization’s survival.

In July 2022, Musk took to X to express his commitment to addressing the underpopulation crisis, posting, “Doing my best to help the underpopulation crisis. A collapsing birth rate is the biggest danger civilization faces by far.”

The post was just one day after Insider reported on court documents detailing how Musk and Zilis petitioned for their twins’ names to be changed to include Musk’s surname and incorporate Zilis’ last name into their middle name, according to Forbes.

On Jan. 29, Musk took a significant step with Neuralink, announcing the first successful implantation of a “brain-reading” device in a person, marking a milestone in merging human cognition with technology. This advancement, coupled with his unique approach to family, highlights his multifaceted strategy to foster a smarter, more capable future generation.

Musk’s life, straddling groundbreaking technological innovations and personal choices like fathering children with “smart people,” reflects his complex approach to solving global challenges, from combating population decline to pioneering brain-computer interfaces.

Cars of the Weak


Eric: 1994 Toyota Celica SS-I $3,100 

Source: Bring a Trailer

From the listing:

This 1994 Toyota Celica SS-I is a right-hand-drive example that is powered by a 2.0-liter inline-four mated to a four-speed automatic transaxle and is finished in black over gray cloth upholstery. It is equipped with black-finished 18″ wheels, a sunroof, a rear wing, fog lights, power windows, air conditioning, and an Addzest stereo. The car was acquired by the selling dealer in November 2022 and imported from Japan to the US. This ST202 shows 83k kilometers (~52k miles) and is offered at no reserve with a Texas title.

Daryl: 1956 Continental Mark II (Coyote Swap) – Current Bid: $51,000 

Source: Bring a Trailer

From the listing:

This 1956 Continental Mark II is one of approximately 2,550 first-year examples produced and was modified under prior ownership in 2019–2020 with a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 mated to a six-speed automatic transmission and an 8.8” rear differential. 

Finished in black, the shaved exterior features narrowed chrome bumpers, flush door handles, and stainless-steel side moldings. A Heidts front subframe has been added along with a four-link rear setup, coilovers, 18” alloy wheels, and four-wheel disc brakes. 

The interior has been customized with brown leather upholstery, a full-length center console, Vintage Air climate control, Dakota Digital instrumentation, a Jensen touchscreen head unit, power windows, and power-adjustable front seats. 

Acquired by the current owner in May 2021, this modified Mark II is now offered on dealer consignment in Arizona with a Minnesota title.


Thanks for listening, and we’ll catch you on the next episode! 

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