Dan Harmon

Automotive Contributor

Dan Harmon was one of the original members of Lake Effect (formerly At Ten). He started at WUWM in November of 1998 and left December of 2015 after 17 years of production.

He continues on as one of Lake Effect's automotive contributors, which he's been since the early days of At Ten.

Dan's interest in cars goes way back, before he even had a drivers license. He usually finds something to like about any car and thinks we live in a very exciting time for automobiles.

"We're at a low in automotive aesthetic design, but the changes in technology make up for it," Dan says. "I love 'old' cars, but always look forward to what comes next.”

Dan interviews auto writer, Mark Savage, each month (among others), and can be seen haunting car dealerships and auto shows. He lives in Portland, OR, where old cars refuse to die.

Mark Savage

Electric cars have come a long way over the past few decades, but they still only run a short distance. Once limited to traveling less than 100 miles before needing a recharge, some modern electric vehicles have doubled that mileage.

"I guess what's impressive to me is that electric cars are coming on stronger and stronger. They have more distance, more range than they used to have, and there's more of them out there," notes automotive contributor Mark Savage.

Chicago Auto Show

The Milwaukee Auto Show finished its annual run over the weekend.  It was a chance for people in this area to see what’s new and different in cars coming to a dealer near you.  

But the Milwaukee show does not have the same influence in the industry or with the automotive press and some others, especially the Chicago Auto Show, which ran earlier this year.

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In December, automotive contributors Mark Savage and Dan Harmon discussed automakers pulling out of the sedan market. Thankfully, for people who do need small, medium, and large size cars, there are still plenty of makes and models to choose from.

But what ever happened to the family car? The car that defined the American middle class for a long time: the station wagon, complete with faux-wood paneling and a rooftop luggage rack chugging along the highway.

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General Motors announced in November that it's closing five plants in the U.S. and Canada and stopping production of several of its passenger cars. That will result in thousands of job losses as GM works to turn its financial picture around.

Analysts say GM has not adjusted to changing consumer tastes fast enough, which is why the company will now discontinue the once-popular Chevy Cruze and Volt lines, along with some Buick and Cadillac models.

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Buying a car may be one of the most stressful things you ever do. Whether it’s new or used, a car is one of the most expensive items you will ever buy.

While the internet has helped consumers arrive at a dealership armed with more information, that hasn’t really changed the overall dealership experience. And depending on that experience, it’s very easy to feel you’ve gotten a bad deal.

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Dan Harmon

It’s hard to imagine the world without hybrid cars.

More than 20 years ago in Japan, the Toyota Prius was the first of these cars produced for the mass market. Two years later, the Honda Insight was available in both the United States and Japan. Today, not only are there more hybrid options available, they also have a significant place in the automotive market.

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If you walked into a car dealership today and asked the salesperson which vehicles had anti-lock brakes, you would be in for a puzzled look. If you asked the same question 30 years ago, their reaction would be entirely different.

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Lake Effect speaks with contributor and car writer Mark Savage every month about trends in the automotive industry - from the minutiae to the bigger picture. But Savage also writes about much smaller cars - model cars, in fact.

"It's kind of creating your own special world in miniature because it's smaller and it's easier to deal with and you can fill a room or a house with it," he says.

Dan Harmon

The Swedish automaker Volvo made headlines last year - twice. The car company, already known for its safety, stepped up its game by asserting that "no one riding in their cars made after 2020 will die in a crash."

"Our idea is to avoid the collision in the first place, so that all those other things, like body rigidity, airbags, seat belts, become a safety net," says Volvo USA spokesman Russell Datz.

Bill Pugliano / Stringer / Getty Images News

General Motors’ entry into the zero emissions vehicle landscape started more than 20 years ago with its EV1 project.  The effort was, by most accounts, successful.  But the vehicles were all leased, and when the leases ran out, they were all returned to Chevrolet and unceremoniously destroyed.

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Although the general public may have reservations about the future of electric cars, car makers are plowing forward.  Chevrolet announced earlier this month that the company is moving towards an all-electric future.  That word comes as Tesla continues to scale up production of a growing line of cars.

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The great American road trip can be a cross-country sojourn, a long weekend, or even an afternoon.

It’s those latter two ideas – the shorter road trip that got contributors Dan Harmon and Mark Savage talking. Normally, they talk about cars. But both contributors are encouraging people to actually sit and enjoy using their cars through a classic American pastime.

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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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