It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for another round of my Five For Friday: Five Thoughts about the Auto Industry for May 31, 2014. Life after death for the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, BMW's ignominious farewell to its ActiveE program, a Honda Accord is probably being stolen as you read this sentence, windshield washer fluid diseases give germophobes something new to fear, and the Bionic Cheetah is defanged - let’s look at my take on the most noteworthy and interesting automotive stories from the past week.
The heart of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution continues to beat on inside the empty shell that is Mitsubishi Motors' U.S. operations. There have been reports of its impending demise for several years now as Mitsubishi continues to slash its American lineup amidst uncertainty about its goals on this side of the Pacific. There's no next-generation Evolution waiting in the wings - the company confirmed as much this past spring - but it looks like the brand will continue to sell the existing all-wheel drive performance sedan as a 2015 model throughout next year. As to how many they can actually move in the face of a next-generation Subaru WRX STI, and under a cloud of 'will there or won't there be dealerships in 2016', remains to be seen.
Remember how shocked and appalled we all were when 'Who Killed The Electric Car?' publicized the fact that General Motors crushed all of the EV1 electric vehicles that it had been leasing to a handful of lucky drivers? Get ready to get upset a second time, because BMW is doing the same thing with its fleet of ActiveE EVs. After stripping them of their lithium-ion batteries, BMW has begun to crush the carcasses of its ActiveE coupes, which were essentially electric editions of the BMW 1 Series.
A total of 700 BMW ActiveE coupes were originally scattered around the country's EV hotbeds, but they were never legally available for 'sale' due to their exemption status under federal import laws (as a pre-production vehicle). Some of the ActiveEs have been repurposed for car-sharing fleets, but the ones that are left over will join their crushed companions as this chapter of BMW's research program into e-mobility comes to an end.
LoJack, manufacturer of one of the more popular vehicle tracking and recovery systems, has released the results of a new study indicating that the 2013 Honda Accord is the most stolen vehicle in the United States. It displaces the perennial favorite Acura Integra from the top spot, a vehicle which was most often targeted due to the interchangeability of its parts with other Honda models. The Integra has fallen to sixth place, behind the Honda Civic, Toyota Camry, the Toyota Corolla, and the Chevrolet Silverado. Rounding out the top 10 are the Cadillac Escalade, the Ford F-350, the Nissan Altima, and the Chevrolet Tahoe. According to LoJack, you're also more likely to get your car stolen in California than anywhere else in the country.
The American Society for Microbiology no doubt ruffled a few hobo feathers this past week when it released a report detailing how Legionella bacteria - the source of sometimes-deadly Legionnaire's Disease infections - has found a happy home in windshield washer fluid reservoirs. Specifically, the ASM referenced the results of bacteria testing in the reservoirs of an Arizona school district's school buses, of which 75% showed some traces of the bacterium. Spraying this disease-laden fluid onto windshields is unsurprisingly not a good idea, as it exposes anyone nearby to a mist of sick-making microbes. Suspicions about Legionnaires infections stemming from windshield fluid reservoirs have been voiced for some time in the medical community, but this is the first study to conclusively demonstrate the possibility.
The Infiniti QX70 - the crossover previously known as the FX - will no longer be able to frighten neighborhood children with the fierce roar of its optional V-8 engine. The 5.0-liter unit has been struck from the QX70's options sheet for 2015, which means that instead of its wonderful 390 horsepower buyers will have to settle for a still fun, but not quite as hooliganish 325 horsepower V-6 option. The reason for the deletion is an understandable combination of sales and fuel efficiency, two only two categories where the eight-cylinder QX70 was outperformed by the V-6.