My Family Car News

Honda Scooter Ads

After spending some time with the Genze 2.0 last month I have been on a major scooter kick. Back when I lived in Kalamazoo, I rode a Honda Elite 50 to work everyday. I miss the scooter, but not the job. In honor of that, below are a selection of great Honda Scooters ads from the 1980s. 

Up first is the Elite 50. Mine was black with a grey seat with pink piping.

After this commercial I had a major hankering to jump on my bed :P

Honda partnered with numerous musicians and celebrities for some memorable scooter commercials. This first one features Velvet Underground's Lou Reed, and was considered a groundbreaking commercial at the time, influencing ads for the next decade. It did not however, do much for scooter awareness.

Up next is an even bigger name in music, Mr. Miles Davis.

And now for some Devo.

Let's take a break from the world of music to bring you Jim McMahon, without a shirt.

And Sandra Bernhardt reminding us she isn't Jim McMahon, but that she still has needs.

Here is the lovely Grace Jones, check out that 80s-tastic headlight!

Another variation of the commercial above.

And lastly, weird pairings for $500 please. Who are Grace Jones and Adam Ant?

GenZe Scooter & e-Bike

Last Thursday I had the great privilege of touring the Mahindra GenZe factory in Ann Arbor, MI. In addition to the the tour I had the opportunity to ride the GenZe 2.0 electric scooter, and e102 Cruiser e-Bike. More about our rides in a minute, first lets talk about the factory. GenZe was founded three years ago by parent company Mahindra. While GenZe is but a young pup, Mahindra has been around since 1945 when they built Willys Jeeps in India under license. GenZe was founded in 2012 around Mahindra's vision of the future of mobility, the 5C framework. The 5C's are: clean, convenient, connected, clever, and cost-effective. After spending an afternoon with their products I would have to agree on all counts. The engineering and design teams really did their homework. The factory has the capacity to build up to 12,000 bikes per year on one shift, with series production of the scooter beginning this past Monday. The e-bikes have been in production for awhile, and are currently available. In addition, GenZe is the exclusive North-American distributor for the Armadillo line of riding apparel.

"Christine" the first prototype, constructed in 2013.

"Christine" the first prototype, constructed in 2013.

Last gamma prototype, note competitive scooters in back for benchmarking. 

Last gamma prototype, note competitive scooters in back for benchmarking. 

 All GenZe scooters feature an aluminum exoskeleton, as can be seen above in white, and run a Cann bus electrical system, just like a car. Other scooters typically feature a tube frame draped in a plastic body (excluding Vespa, of course). The battery was developed to be easily removed for charging. Your scooter stays in the parking lot, the battery goes with you, saving you carrying a really long extension cord everywhere. As such the battery was designed and tested to sustain a 3ft drop onto concrete with no damage, try that with your smart phone. To charge the battery fully takes about 3.5 hours on a standard household outlet, and said battery is fully certified under the same guidelines as home appliances. GenZe states that it will maintain 80% of its capacity after 1200 charge cycles.

Production adding 3 new colors, preorders were only available in white, silver, and charcoal. 

Production adding 3 new colors, preorders were only available in white, silver, and charcoal. 

Similar to the Tesla Model S, the GenZe has a sim card and 3G connection offering the ability for remote diagnostics, and OnStar like emergency services. A down rider alert will use sensors built into the bike to send a text message to your predetermined emergency contact in the event of an incident. Geofencing alerts can be setup with the built in GPS, especially handy for monitoring younger riders. There are 3 drive modes: EZ; Eco (maximizes range, up to 35 miles); and sport mode.  EZ mode is designed for first time riders, and cuts throttle when the brakes are applied. The seat has 2 positions; traditional, and a semi-standing stool-like option. 

Designed to fit 3 grocery bags, rated to hold 75 pounds!

Designed to fit 3 grocery bags, rated to hold 75 pounds!

When Wired magazine rode the GenZe they described it as "relentlessly practical". Between the commanding view as a rider, and the incredible versatility that it offers, it is almost truck like, in a good way. The back bay was designed for hauling, and will offer numerous accessories, one of the available bags doubles as a backpack. GenZe has prepared an app for the scooter, which I didn't get the chance to try out, but hope to in the future. Major functions are controlled through the Cruise Connect touchscreen display (shown below), as well as having a built-in digital owner's manual.

Cruise Connect 7-inch touchscreen.

Cruise Connect 7-inch touchscreen.

And Now, On To The Rides...

The scooter that I rode was the last completed gamma prototype, hand built, but with final production parts. (Pause, I get to ride hand built prototype scooters, I love my job!) Mine was missing the front logo, please pretend its there when perusing the gallery. In the thirty or so minutes that I spent riding, I was very impressed. The first thing I noticed was that the bike had great takeoff in sport mode. I meant to try all the riding modes, but had so much fun in sport, that I forgot. I am looking forward to spending some more time with a production bike, once the preorders have been delivered, and will be much more thorough at that time. I was absolutely struck by the solid feel of the bike. The fit and finish were well beyond that of a prototype. Cornering was very stable, aided by that low mounted battery, right at the scooter's center. The handling was responsive and confidence inspiring. That big 16" front tire sure can take on Michigan's finest speed bumps and potholes with aplomb. While it was but a brief ride, I came away anxious for my next opportunity to ride this great machine. The GenZe is entertaining to experience, and has a practical elegance when viewed in person. The scooter will retail for $3,000.

My trusty steed with seat shown in high setting.

My trusty steed with seat shown in high setting.

Lastly, I rode the GenZe e102 Cruiser e-Bike. It also features a removable battery, in this case offering 16 miles of range. The e-Bike can be ridden like moped in throttle mode, or as an assisted bike with 5 different levels of assistance available. The bikes powertrain is plenty powerful, in throttle mode it got all 210 pounds of me uphill from 0-15mph in the length of several parking spaces. For all you bus commuters, even the heaviest of the three styles of e-bike is under 50lbs. It was hands down the most fun I have had on a bike in my adult life. What I found most interesting was that you can attach a bike trailer, suddenly dragging that extra 100 pounds of trailer plus 2 kids doesn't seem so daunting. Retail price for the model ridden is $1500.

Most fun on a bike 20 years.

Most fun on a bike 20 years.

I would like to say thanks to all of the folks at Mahindra GenZe for allowing me to tour their facility. And I want to give a special thanks to Terry for being my tour guide, and setting me up with the demo rides.

Rutledge Wood's Civic Wagon

I know I made mention of this already, but after looking at it again, I just had to give it a dedicated post. If it were mine, I would swap out all of the purple anodized pieces (especially the lug nuts), and repaint the engine compartment. I really dig the vintage cooler as battery box. Here is the description straight from eBay:

"This is a custom 1983 Honda Civic Wagon built by Rutledge Wood, host of Top Gear USA and seen on Lost in Transmission on History.
It was built by Charles Warren, former owner of Mainstream Performance and tuned by Scotty B(Atlanta Honda Tuner).   It has a 1996 Acura Integra B18b Swap, so the car has been converted to fuel injection and uses a Walbro in tank fuel pump.  Since it was a cable transmission car, it uses a HASport cable to hydraulic transmission adapter to use the Integra’s hydro trans and shifts smoothly.  It features a custom Magnaflow exhaust and high flow catalytic convertor.  It is wired as OBD2 but uses a jumper harness and runs an OBD1 ecu.  Custom motor mounts were made for the car at Mainstream and custom axles were built by the Driveshaft Shop.  Car was believed to have 130hp to the wheels, which although that’s not a ton, it’s almost twice what this car had originally.
The body was stripped and repainted Nissan D-12 Tank Green at Brian’s Paint and Body in Sharpsburg,GA.  It has been stored indoors since restoration and the paint looks better than when the car was made new.  The suspension has been lowered using custom rate Eibach springs on coilover sleeves up front, and lowering blocks on the rear leaf springs.  The car also has new shocks all the way around.  It sits on 15” Enkei Wheel 92’s that are gold with a polished lip.
The interior has been completely redone by AAA Interiors in Moreland, GA.  It features a set of Recaro “Trophy” seats out of a MKII Volkswagen.  The interior is covered in a celery green vinyl and a plaid from a Volkswagen Westfalia camper.  There is also a beautiful Nardi wooden steering wheel, complete with a NRG quick release.  It features an old Momo F1 wooden shift knob that Rutledge told me came out of Tanner Foust’s Nissan 300zx from Season 1 of Top Gear in the Moonshine show they did.
In the rear hatch, there is a vintage Coleman cooler which hides the battery in it.  The car also features a wooden roof rack that uses the original crossbars.
Overall, it’s a great car that’s in great shape.  It has been driven very little since it was built.  The car was built and tuned all at Mainstream performance, and then painted and interior done.  The car was built to have air conditioning, so it uses an Integra b18b compressor with custom lines that use everything else that was original to the wagon.  It was charged when it was built, but there was some sort of leak in the system, so the AC does not blow cold.  It does have hot heat.
Because of Georgia’s title laws, it does not require a title due to its age, so please make a note of that.  Also due to its age, the state of Georgia does not require emissions, however it shows no check engine lights and I do think it should pass any standard emissions test since it has a new catalytic convertor, but I cannot guarantee it.
Great all around car that will make someone very happy.  Should be noted that the rear door on the driver’s side may need a new window regulator in the future since it does not roll all the way up (missed by about an inch).  Also, it has no radio, so it’s ready for the new owner to put in whatever they like."

Nissan NV200 Taxi

Admittedly this is a little out in left field. I get my taste for the automotive-ly absurd honestly, my father did own a Levi's Gremlin. I propose that I would like to drive a small four-cylinder Nissan NV200 passenger van. Think of it as Nissan's answer to the Mazda5, that only happens to be available in one color, taxi yellow. It averages 24mpg per the EPA, has a completely kid proof passenger compartment, with a panoramic roof, and a driver's seat designed to be comfortable for hours of use. There are stylish yellow accents in the interior, and it is prewired for a television. Extra points for having its own intercom, a necessity as it also has a glass divider for when you really need a break, lol! You could add some black vinyl to the outside to diminish the taxi look, fog lights are available for the front bumper, and it comes standard with a navigation system. In addition to being able to hose out the rear compartment, it uses materials that are designed to be odor resistant, and has a 150,000 mile warranty. There is ample room behind the back seat for travel items, and unlike Rutledge Wood's Civic Wagon, does not have a fuscia painted engine compartment. Despite all of these well thought out reasons why its a great idea, my wife said "No". She also told me that I may not buy Rutledge's wagon, the plaid interior is amazing!  

2016 KIA Sedona SXL - Quick Spin

The redesigned Kia Sedona is both a great improvement over its predecessor, and a welcome addition to the segment. While the old Sedona was a fine vehicle, interior finish was sturdy but subpar in appearance. The new Sedona remedies many of the old van's maladies. The feel of the interior is a giant step up, with one exception. The grain of the plastic on the dashboard felt slightly out of place on what was a $44,000 vehicle as tested. Looking past that foible, the new Sedona was powerful and handled well, the interior is incredibly flexible and all seats were comfortable. If I were driving cross country with three adults, this vehicle and its "lounge seating" middle row would be on the short list of vehicles to choose from. Overall, its a fine choice, just watch the bottom line. 

BMW i3 REx Test Drive

I have test driven two different i3 with range extenders, the first was a Mega (base model) last october, the second was a bright orange Tera (loaded) this past weekend. Before we get too far in, I should include a couple of qualifiers for this review. First, and most obvious, this is not meant as a replacement for a minivan or three-row SUV, but as more of a second car. Second, I am a Chevrolet Volt owner. Third, despite not fitting in with our typical test drive fodder, you will probably never see me turn down an opportunity to review a car. With those out of the way, on with the fun...

While some may view the styling as too edgy, I find it quite refreshing. In the word's of one of my co-workers "it looks like a concept car". The same can be said of the interior as well, while the shift knob does take a moment to get used too. Overall, the interior is bright, open, and airy feeling. Visibility to the rear is good, and the materials used are nicely chosen. Our test unit was a Mega World trimmed model (BMW for base model i3). Stepping up to the Giga World trim nets you real eucalyptus wood in place of the less premium looking black plastic dash top featured in our tester. 

In the 48 hours that I had the first i3, it handled everything that I threw at it with aplomb, including a pair of car seats, and a long distance cruise to drain the battery so that I could drive it in range extended mode. Side note, the regenerative braking is so strong, that I had to make an extended highway trip to drain it, around town I was gaining back enough charge that it would have taken me longer than I first anticipated to get it near "empty". Once the range extender kicked in, it could be heard, but only if you were actively listening for it, and performance around town didn't seem noticeably restricted. Granted, with only 34 horsepower, and 650cc of displacement, unlike my Volt, it is NOT meant for primary propulsion, hence its 2 gallon gas tank. The i3 offers three driving modes, Comfort, Eco Pro, and Eco Pro +. Rather than feeling under powered in the Eco modes, it comes across as resistance in the accelerator pedal.

The BMW i3 is a joy to drive. The steering is light, but not devoid of feel, and eager to turn in. The suspension is quick to react, but not punishing. The interior feels much larger than you would guess based on the external dimensions. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in these cars, and would definitely consider owning one. Maybe when my lease is up on my Volt...


This marks the third year in a row that Ford of Europe has put out a stop motion video featuring their 1/64th scale drift hero Mental Block. Find them all in reverse order below. Happy Holidays!

"Happy to help, Mr. Claus"

For your holiday viewing pleasure, Honda has put together a charming little cartoon campaigning for a safer sleigh for Santa. Enjoy! And Happy Holidays from everyone at MyFamilyCar!