Archives for the Category: MrCarJunk on the Web

Is The Start- Stop Technology Better for Us As It Is The Economy

With the concern of global warming looming over us everyday, car companies are pulling together ideas to help, but are they better?

Dr. Keith Tao, a radiologist in Danville, Calif., owns three late-model Mercedes’s, each equipped with a fuel-saving technology called start-stop.

The system saves fuel and reduces emissions by cutting the engine when the car comes to a full stop and restarting when the foot is taken off the brake.

One of the first things Dr. Tao does after starting the engine: He turns off the feature.

The problem, Dr. Tao says, is that the stopping and restarting is rather intrusive. “You actually feel it restarting,” he said. “In terrible stop-and-go traffic this thing comes on and off constantly. In 20 minutes you can have 50 stop-and-start cycles. It can drive you totally insane.”

Mercedes defends its technology, known as ECO Start/Stop, calling it “one of the most seamless systems,” according to Christian Bokich, a company spokesman. “Customers with any concerns always have the option of defeating the system each time they enter and start the vehicle.”

While start-stop technology may make some people crazy, the technology is here to stay.

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Studies Say Pedestrians Are Now At More Of A Risk

Just because you are walking to your destination does not mean you can be less aware of danger. The death toll of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes is projected to spike about 10% in 2015 compared with 2014. If the estimate proves to be accurate, it will be the largest annual increase ever.

That is the main finding of a new report released today by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), a nonprofit organization representing state highway safety offices.

“We are projecting the largest year-to-year increase in pedestrian fatalities since national records have been kept, and therefore we are quite alarmed,” Richard Retting, co-author of the report, said in a statement, referring to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System established in 1975.

Retting wrote the report with Dr. Heather Rothenberg, both of Sam Schwartz Consulting.

The association called the annual Spotlight on Highway Safety Report the first nationwide looks at 2015 pedestrian fatality trends, which is based on preliminary data supplied by the states and the District of Columbia for the first six months of the year.

“Pedestrian safety is clearly a growing problem across the country,” Retting added, stressing the importance of understanding the crash data so states and local governments “can apply the right mix of engineering, education and enforcement to counteract this troubling trend.”

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Car Companies Take One More Step Forward On The Road Electric Vehicles

LAS VEGAS— With the decline in the availability of oil, electric and hybrid cars will become more important. Although sales of electric and hybrid vehicles have struggled, automakers are charging ahead to bring new battery-powered vehicles to market.

Several car companies have focused on electric vehicles at the International CES consumer trade show here, including General Motors, which on Wednesday introduced the production version of its Chevrolet Bolt.

G.M.’s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, said the Bolt was a big step forward in the electrification of vehicles because of its price and ability to travel 200 miles on a fully charged battery.

“This is truly the first EV that cracks the code because of long range at an affordable price,” Ms. Barra said in a keynote speech at the show.

The Bolt, which will go on sale this year, will carry a sticker price of $30,000, including government incentives that total about $7,500.

But even with its extended range and mass-market price, the Bolt may still face a difficult battle to lure consumers who are taking advantage of $2-a-gallon gasoline to buy larger vehicles.

While sales of pickups and sport utility vehicles soared in 2015, all-electric models and gas-electric hybrids languished in showrooms.

For example, sales in the United States of the all-electric Nissan Leaf fell 43 percent in 2015 compared with 2014, and the leading hybrid model, the Toyota Prius, dropped about 11 percent.

Over all, electric and hybrid vehicles accounted for about 2 percent of the American market. Still, luxury automakers like BMW introduced a new electric car last year, and Tesla is expanding its lineup to include an all-electric S.U.V., the Model X.

G.M. has had mixed success with its Volt plug-in hybrid, which marries battery power with a small gasoline engine that significantly extends its driving range.

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Where’s The Fun When Your Car Drives For You?

Most people have some fun memories of a road trip, or a stretch of rad they enjoyed driving on, but what happens when you don’t have that opportunity anymore because the car drives for you, will it still be as much fun?

Mercedes-Benz , Cadillac, Volvo–not to mention Google GOOGL -1.51%, Tesla and, rumor has it, Apple AAPL +0.00%–are all racing to relieve drivers of that fun. Within five years, most automakers say, they’ll offer highly automated cars that can handle stop-and-go traffic and freeway speeds without any driver input. In ten years drivers will be able to work or even take a nap during their commute. Volvo just unveiled the Time Machine, a futuristic cockpit with a 25-inch flat-screen that rotates out of the dashboard as the steering wheel retreats and the driver reclines. Google is developing self-driving cars that don’t even come with a steering wheel or gas pedal.

This is the future, asserts Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk. “Any cars that are being made that don’t have full autonomy will have negative value,” he predicted in a November conference call with Wall Street analysts. “It will be like owning a horse. You’re really owning it for sentimental reasons.”

Not everyone thinks so. “It’s not just getting from point A to point B,” says Mazda’s soft-spoken CEO, Masamichi Kogai, who heads up perhaps the only major automaker that is not working on autonomous cars. “Our mission is to provide the essence of driving pleasure.

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  What You Need To Know To Leave The Action With A Car At the End Of The Day

When you need to buy a car do you search online through search engines, visit car companies or talk to friends? Another possible way for you to purchase a car is through an auction.

You wouldn’t know it from the road, but there are typically around 4000 vehicles tucked away awaiting sale at the Copart auction facility in Newburgh, New York. And arriving on a Thursday morning for the regular weekly auction, you really wouldn’t guess that about 1000 of those vehicles would be on their way to new homes by day’s end—whether that means the driveway of a proud new owner, on a dealer’s lot, in a body shop for pre-resale repairs, or off to the crusher. On the Thursday of our visit, the parking lot is empty, save for one agitated tow-truck driver talking on a cell phone and whose half of the conversation consists almost entirely of expletives.

Inside, however, is a different story. A busy staff of about a dozen headset-wearing workers is fielding nonstop calls from dealers, and handling title issues, deliveries, and other questions. The auction is in full swing, but there’s no fast-talking auctioneer, slamming of gavels, shouting of bids, or cars crossing the block. As with many car auctions these days, all the bidding happens online. And fast.

Used-car auctions are big business, and companies like Copart, Adesa, and Manheim are the giants of the industry, with daily auctions nationwide. Copart puts 75,000 cars up for sale every day, but Manheim is the biggest, handling some 7 million vehicles in 11 countries annually. It’s a complicated business, with cars moving locally and across the country to maximize profits based on supply and demand, regional needs, and even the price of scrap metal. The vehicles come from a variety of sources, including fleets, rental companies, carmakers, financial institutions, insurance companies, and other wholesalers.

The bad news for bargain hunters is that the bulk of these auctions are for dealers only. But paddle-wielding wannabes have plenty of other options, from municipal and federal government auctions, to commercial auctions catering to the public, and auction sites like the ubiquitous eBay.

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Tesla Creates Their Own Seating For Vehicles Within Their Own Company

Companies that used to focus on technology and electronics such as Tesla have expanded recently into the automotive industry to a point that it begins to make more sense to create certain pieces of the car in-house. The latest: the Model X’s second-row seats.

In August, Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk told investors it was difficult to make the seats, which he described as a “sculptural work of art, but a very tricky thing to get right.” They were so challenging that they led him to reduce the electric-car maker’s delivery forecast that month to as few as 50,000 from 55,000, which set off a wave of skepticism over his ambitious plans.

“We have substantially in-sourced the seats at this point,” Musk said Tuesday during the third-quarter earnings call with analysts. “Tesla is producing its own seats.”

Musk has long been a fan of doing things on his own as much as possible, such as building the world’s largest battery factory outside of Reno, Nevada, to streamline production and reduce costs to bring a more-affordable car — the Model 3 — to market. When an analyst asked Musk about the enormous costs of the automotive industry, Musk said that Tesla is becoming more capital-efficient.

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Volkswagen Moving Past The Diesel Emissions Scandal

Volkswagen is reeling from the eye opening scandal of the truth about the emissions tests and their “green cars” coming to light.

As Volkswagen AG strategizes to keep its business afloat and put its current crisis – the rigging of its “clean” diesel cars to cheat on U.S. emissions tests and misleading customers about its TDI vehicles’ green credentials — behind it, it must face the fact that the debacle will likely dog its reputation for years.

Not only will the actual fixes to diesel cars take two years or more to sort out, but New York Times reporter Jack Ewing has struck a six-figure book deal to write the yarn of what happened. Megastar Leonardo DiCaprio has already signed on to be a co-producer of the film version and might even star in the story. With the book taking a year or so to produce, and the movie presumably taking another year after that to make, VW can count on an epic rehash of the debacle after two years of damage control.

Conversations with several current and former Volkswagen executives over the past week since VW of America CEO Michael Horn testified before Congress portray a company that is vast and layered with bureaucracy, on top of a culture of fear and engineering arrogance.

One longtime executive said, “I can totally see how this could happen and very top managers not know. … I’m not saying that they didn’t know, but it is possible.”

How could that be? “You have no idea how much stuff lands on the desk of these senior guys to approve and sign, and they rely on their underlings to organize it,” said another former executive who now works for a different car company. Said another: “It’s possible, too, that the engineers couched the software addition in language that very senior people who signed off were meant to not see what it really was.”

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What’s New In The BMW 7 Series, To Make Driving Easier For Drivers

BMW is a standout among other luxury car companies, and this time the new 7 series vehicle is no different,  however why is this car so magnificent. Check out the following features BMW has added to their car.

With the proliferation of technology across all vehicle segments, luxury automakers have to work harder to differentiate their cars. After all, when Buick and BMW both have Apple CarPlay, there isn’t much brand discrepancy via the dashboard display.

The 7 Series is BMW’s flagship and therefore the German luxury car company’s technology standard-bearer. Previous generations debuted the first in-dash navigation system, active safety features and center-console infotainment controller, iDrive, which other automakers later adopted.

BMW boasts that the all-new 2016 7 Series features 24 new innovations, and that half of those are segment exclusives. I got a chance to test drive the new 7 Series at a press event earlier this week and came away impressed with these six new tech features.

Gesture Control

Not only is the new 7 Series the first BMW with a touchscreen, but to activate certain features it doesn’t even need to be touched. The 7 Series has gesture control thanks to an infrared camera positioned in the headliner that detects the position of a hand in a small sweet spot above the shifter. Twirling a finger clockwise increases the volume of the stereo and twirling it counter-clockwise decreases it. Simply pointing at the screen can perform answering a call on a connected Bluetooth phone or swiping a finger can ignore the call. Two gestures can also be programmed to control a pair of favorite features.

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Which Car Is Popular In Your State?

What car do you see the most driving to work each morning? Is it the state’s most popular car or not?

If you were to take a list of the most popular cars in each state in the U.S., it’d be a pretty monotonous list. A bunch of Ford F-150s, some Chevy Silverado and Ram pickups, the odd Honda Accord or Toyota Camry here or there.

But we were curious: What car was the most distinctive in each state? What model of car did, say, California buy far more often than any other state in the Union? We turned to auto analyst Tom Libby of IHS Automotive to help us crunch the numbers. First, Libby pulled data about the make and model of every car sold in the U.S., and calculated the popularity of each by percentage using registration data. Then, he did the same at the state level, and compared each state to the national average.

“I compared the share for each model in, for instance, Alabama with the share of the same of model in the United States and came up with a ratio,” says Libby. “Then I basically ranked those ratios within each state. It’s an interesting methodology—you’re basically able to compare the individual demand of a model in a state with the individual demand at the national level, and see what ways is each state unique from the nation.”

Some states seem to conform to stereotypes—Texas loves the hulking Cadillac Escalade EXT, NPR-loving New England enjoys their Volvos, and in the rough country of North Dakota they love the GMC Yukon Denali XL. But there are surprises: Georgia, for instance, seems to have a thing for Nissan Leaf. “Georgia had very, very strong incentives to buy electric vehicles,” says Libby, referencing the fact that until very recently, the Peach State offered $5,000 in state tax credits (in addition to $7,500 in federal tax credits) to anyone who bought an electric vehicle. In other words, everyone who bought a Nissan Leaf in Georgia saved themselves a cool $12,500.

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6 Issues With Autonomous Driving

With a car driving for you will it be safer than driving for yourself? Or are you opening yourself to different, dangerous possibilities.

As more than 800 engineers, software developers, transportation experts and other technical folks met last week in this Detroit suburb to discuss the risks and benefits of autonomous and connected vehicles, they were raising more questions than finding answers.

Here are six unsolved challenges that stand between the technologies’ potential and reality:

  1. Cybersecurity and privacy protection. Maybe this can’t be solved until there are thousands of pilot vehicles on our roads, but last week Wired magazine writer Andy Greenberg wrote about two cybersecurity experts who accessed a newer Jeep Cherokee’s computer brain through its Uconnect infotainment system and rewrote the firmware to plant their malicious code. The result: hip-hop began blasting through the stereo system, the AC turned to maximum force. Then the hacker’s code killed the transmission and brakes. We know autonomous cars will have even more software coding. One major attack and consumer confidence in the technology could be severely damaged.
  1. How much will these vehicles cost? Established automakers are introducing progressively more advanced autonomous features in their most expensive models. Ride-hailing or other fleet-based services such as Uber or Lyft will try to deliver their service at a lower price than competing options.

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