Driver’s Talk Radio Blog – Frameless Future

By: Rick Titus
At a time when automotive manufacturers are using every method known to man to lower the static weight of their vehicles in the interests of improving gas mileage, it may strike some as odd that several new full-size and mid-size SUV and Crossovers are still being built on steel frames. With lighter alloys and stronger plastics, like those used in many cars and even Ford’s full-size pickups, the idea of a heavy, often nosey and poor handling steel frame on which to build a new vehicle appears like a step back.
Odd perhaps, and with some ill-effect to MPG, but using an already developed platform, or frame, can be a major cost savings to the launch of a new vehicle. With fuel prices currently down, for now, it’s still a winner to not have to develop a suspension and platform supporting unibody and deal rather improving MPG and performance wherever they can. That said, should gas prices jump back up, watch for a new wave of “frameless” SUVs and Crossovers.

Driver’s Talk Radio Powers into its 18th Season

Drivers Talk Radio is now halfway into its 18th season and our listener/viewer numbers have reached the big time. Funny though, how with a bigger audience the pressure to continue to improve the show and to have content that will appeal to a broader scope of interests increases – a lot.

Our review of industry news items, new product trends/introductions and then, of course, how much racing we should cover before we bore thousands of non-racing fans, all add a surprising amount of new found challenges. We test a lot of subjects (yes, some tank big-time) and try to react to emails with questions and suggestions, but in the end, we always follow the same passion we started the show with.

All this is a long way to say THANK YOU for listening/watching and please feel free to email us your thoughts and suggestions – we truly believe it’s your show as much as it is ours.



Drivers Talk Radio is a broad-reaching program that discusses the automotive industry in an informative and entertaining fashion. Rick is joined in studio by co-host Jay Dalton, BJ Killeen on Road Tests and Spencer Krick as Production Engineer as Drivers Talk Radio presents:

  • Interviews with the industry’s top movers
    and shakers
  • Discussions of the most controversial
    automotive topics
  • Current reviews of vehicles and products
  • Consumer tips

Currently in its 17th year of production, Drivers Talk Radio has already won 20 prestigious International Automotive Media conference (IAMC) awards and has reviewed over 400 vehicles.


By: Driver’s Talk Radio

You can access their website (here)

Experts are…you know…supposed to know their stuff. So here I stand before a pile of experts assembled on stage at the new Automobility LA (formerly the L.A. Auto Show).

Any questions?
The microphone is hot and five guys on stage are about to squirm in their seats. But first, let me tell you what is going on.

Future is kinda my thing. Mix substance and reality from the past, throw in a dash of human nature, now let’s compare ideas about how life is gonna be.

It’s easy to describe spot-less transportation pods that I summon with my cell phone. That’s nice, but I’m going to remind every one of the fact that someone will still have to clean those pods after the drunks and the dogs. That’s life.

During the Automobility Show there were numerous seminars on artificial intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, navigation overlays, electric vehicle recharging, and the modern cityscape. Oh, and one more subject…chat bots.
(I did not make this up…auto dealership CHAT BOTS).

Usually, a panel contains three or four very smart people. Most are very confident and interested in sharing what they know. Slide shows and little films and promoting ideas now under development. Many of the ideas are well known in the world of tech. So there are not many surprises.

We already know you can make a 3D car with a computer. We understand our navigation units (or phones) will soon tell us there is a tree in the road around the next corner. The blending of a Fitbit and the infotainment system can warn if the driver is sleepy. These are all good, but not really new ideas. So I waited. Thinking. And here comes the next panel.


“Realizing the EV Dream”
Four experts on stage joined by a clean-energy specialist…a guy from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. This is how electric powered BEV’s will be taking over our cityscapes with the new EV Ecosystems.

Yes, yes…sounds great! Clean cars…here they come!

Hot Mic. Any questions?
Sure, why not. I can’t control myself. I mean, these people are experts.

Ready. Aim. Fire.
“40 cents of every gallon of gas sold in California goes to road tax. How and when will EV’s be participating in road tax?”

OOOOH. Quiet room.
Five guys on stage all WINCED at once. Everyone shifted in their chair. Every face said don’t ask that question. It’s like I just took away their ball from the playground.

EVs are using the roads and not paying to maintain them. This would also be true if you used agricultural fuel in your personal truck, driven off the farm. Or, if you made your own fuel from old French fry cooking oil. If you make your own fuel, you owe the State of California $600 every year as your share of road tax. If you recharge an EV and use it in California, right now, you pay no road taxes. Zippo. A very quiet tax loophole. Same with compressed Natural Gas or Hydrogen used as a road fuel.

Today we have companies designing battery, and/or hydrogen, powered class 8 semi-tractor trucks. One of them is TOYOTA. Another is NIKOLA, the young startup from Salt Lake City. Highly likely that taxation is going to come up when big cargo trucks side step road taxes.


Regardless of how the road tax is collected, it will soon be coming due, and this expense will be factored into the cost of ownership because electric-powered cars and trucks are the future. Right? Right?