cars

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We live in an increasingly automated world. What used to take many physical steps can often be taken care of by a click of a mouse or a swipe of a finger across a screen.

However, there are still many things that require human intervention. For now we still have to drive our cars - but for how long? Lake Effect auto contributor Mark Savage notes that the market is changing quicker than expected. A younger target audience, Savage says, view cars as an appliance. "It does what you want it to do, and now you shouldn't even have to drive it," he says.

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Diesel passenger cars have had a tumultuous past in the United States. In the last 15 years, they gained some acceptance among American consumers before a recent downturn. But in the pursuit of increased gas mileage, an increasing number of car makers are now offering diesel models in this country.

But a notable absence today is Volkswagen, which once sold the most diesels vehicles in this country. After VW was slapped with a huge penalty for rigging emission test results, the company pulled its diesels off the market.

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For a long time, electric vehicles were neither practical nor especially affordable. To add insult to injury, you also couldn’t go very far in them before you needed an often hard to find charging station.

But Tesla’s newest Model 3 is the first mass produced electric car. It will also be the company’s most affordable car to date with a list price starting at $35,000. And the distance you can go between charges has improved to 215 miles.

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Long gone are the days of compact pickup trucks where the fanciest gadget you may have inside the cab is a radio. Today, pickup trucks are the top 3 selling vehicles in the North American market. But even as their sales numbers have risen, they’re used less and less for work and more as a luxury family vehicle.

New trucks are able to seat up to six adults, have a multitude of gadgets, and can easily cost up to $50,000.

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Not all that long ago - at least in automotive history - luxury cars were promoted in a lot of ways. There was the rich, Corinthian leather. The comfortable passenger space and the huge trunk. And of course, there was the soft - sometimes practically squishy ride.

That's not the way Cadillac, Lincoln, or really any luxury manufacturers advertise their cars any more. It's all about speed and performance, and maybe passenger space, too. But it's a trend that caught the eye of  Lake Effect automotive contributor, Mark Savage.

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Car thefts have been all over the Milwaukee news lately, and with good reason. Data point to an 11 percent increase last year, and numbers continuing to grow in 2016. The jump is one reason why the city’s Public Safety Committee has scheduled a half-dozen special meetings.

 Members are also concerned about homicides. They are tracking below 2015, but it was a violent year. The Wisconsin Department of Justice was the latest on Monday to testify on why the state’s largest city is seeing a surge in certain crimes.

State Representative Janel Brandtjen says she will fight to cut state funding for Milwaukee, unless city leaders take steps to dramatically cut crime.

The Menomonee Falls Republican says residents in Washington County were forced a few days ago "to unlock their gun cabinets and instruct their loved ones to shoot to kill" when five armed youths wanted for a car-jacking in Milwaukee fled into that neighboring county and law enforcement searched for them overnight.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn took the hot seat on Monday as homicides and carjackings grip the city. Members of the Common Council’s Public Safety committee wanted to know what the MPD is doing to fight criminal activity. Emotions ran high at times.

The chair of the Public Safety committee, Ald. Bob Donovan, opened the discussion.

“We indeed are not satisfied with the level of safety in Milwaukee and that the status quo is simply unacceptable,” Donovan says.

Police Chief Edward Flynn began his testimony by offering encouraging numbers.

Milwaukee is wrestling with the crime of carjacking. It seems there are regularly stories in the news about people forced at gunpoint to give up their vehicles. Sometimes those crimes have deadly outcomes, as perpetrators speed away and crash.

On Thursday, members of the Common Council plan to discuss action they could take to reduce carjacking and high-speed chases. Meanwhile, some people concerned about the crime are urging drivers to take precautions. AAA is among them.

The Johnson Controls name is one of the most iconic brands in Milwaukee today. Their products, high-tech batteries and temperature regulators like thermostats, are leaders in their industries. But if things had gone differently, the company could have been just as well-known in a different industry.

Today employees at Johnson Controls headquarters in Glendale pass a little piece of that history every day as they walk one of the corridors on the campus: a 1910 Johnson Empress sedan. 

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Horse racing fans have had two big dates on their calendar already this spring, with the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.  Auto racing fans have a huge one coming up on Sunday, with the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

"It's a team sport, so it's who has the best aerodynamicist and work best with the driver, who has the best team as far as making good pit stops and getting the car set up properly for the driver, and then who has the best driver," says automotive contributor Mark Savage, who writes about cars for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and on his website.

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There are probably still a few cars on the road that have only a radio, or perhaps even a cassette deck. However nowadays, it's kind of a throwback to even find a CD player in some newer models.

Electronics are a huge deal in the cars of the 21st century, from the way the engines themselves are controlled, to how drivers and passengers are kept safe and how they’re entertained.

On Monday, someone posted images on social media of a teen who was said to be attempting to steal a vehicle when the owner caught and beat the boy. He was left without pants lying on a snowy sidewalk. Police have said they will recommend charging the person accused of beating the boy. Many people believe something worst could be on the horizon.

LaToya Dennis

Having your car stolen might be an inconvenience for most people, but for those barely making it, suddenly losing a car throws things into a tailspin. 

Across the city, car thefts are up 67 percent compared to two years ago. WUWM looks at the impact of a stolen car on one Milwaukee family.

It’s around 7 am and Cesar Torres is patiently urging his four-year-old son Arturo to put on his tennis shoes, but there’s a meltdown. He doesn’t want to wear the shoes his dad has handed him, and he doesn’t know where his others are.

David Guo, flickr

So far this year, more than 5,600 people in Milwaukee have had their vehicle stolen. The number is more than 67 percent higher than it was at this time in 2013.

You might picture the thieves stealing cars to sell them or to sell their parts. But typically, that's not what's happening. "Often it's been determined that those vehicles have been used in the commission of crimes," says Jim Tolkan, president of the Automobile Dealers Association of Mega Milwaukee, or ADAMM.

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