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Bringing a car to market is a long execution chain with numerous moving parts and vendors. Year in and year out the goal of most manufacturers is expansion coupled with cost reductions (when and where it makes sense). Shareholders seek out profitable businesses and profitable businesses make more money this year than they did last year. In the auto world suppliers play a vital role in this execution chain but are typically the first ones affected from a wage point of view when cuts or adjustments need to take place in order to maximize profit.

Since 2003 in the U.S. auto supplier wages (after adjusting for inflation) have declined by more than one quarter. The average per hour salary rate has been $20, and this has the industry a bit ticked off to say the least. As a larger industry, car manufacturers have been moving toward lower-cost solutions at a global level. Production shifts [...]

This blog has been no stranger to autonomous driving technology. We have run through the pros and cons, interesting insurance wrinkles, plus some really cool tech innovations that continue to push this towards the near and imminent future.
Some more exciting “autonomous” news surfaced recently from Jaguar Land Rover. Up to now most in the autonomous driving world have been talking about street driving. Better put, driving for the everyday guy and gal. Now we have a new addition to the conversation … all-terrain.

Jaguar Land Rover have spent millions of pounds developing what is called its Autonomous All. Terrain Driving research project. The idea is eventually consumers (drivers) will desire vehicles that are capable to handle themselves on their own, despite the terrain. “Real-world” situations is how Tony Harper, Head of Research at Jaguar Land Rover describes it.

So how does this work? Sensors have been designed to identify differing terrains [...]

We’ve all been there. You enter the highway, begin to merge and the guy in front is either driving like he’s 207 years of age, or the other extreme, like he’s 7 and determined to cut everything and everyone off at least once before hitting his destination. Now, if this doesn’t directly affect you it can be somewhat comical. But the moment you become the affected party, it’s downright annoying.

Bad drivers, yes, they’re around. We bet if we asked you which cities contain the worst drivers in the U.S. your city would leap from your lips 80 percent of the time. This is in fact normal as most folks tend to think their city or town is especially bad. That’s quite natural really, what affects you is what you in turn focus on. Anecdotal evidence aside, we now have a more complete snapshot of where the worst drivers in the U.S. are concentrated [...]

One could say Mercedes and BMW maintain a love/hate relationship. The two luxury clients share a similar client-base, each featuring cutting edge design and performance that is only seen in perhaps two or three similar automakers. Needless to say the rivalry is real, and in this case it is Mercedes who is pumping its collective fist. For the first time since 2005, Mercedes is seeking to unseat its rival in total sales.

At the six-month mark BMW brand deliveries have risen 5.8 percent from last year for a total of 986,557. Mercedes on the other hand has jumped a remarkable 12 percent to a smidge over 1 million cars for the year so far. BMW now trails its rival by 20,062 cars, a notable amount and quite some ground to cover moving forward to December.

Who isn’t being talked about is third place Audi, self-confessed seekers of that number 1 spot. Audi rose 5.6 [...]

We’ve nearly arrived to August and 2017 is just around the corner. Time for a quick snapshot of some of the hottest new rides in the coming year.

With a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and a plug-in hybrid option with roughly 400 hp offered (compared to 250 hp in the normal version), the new Volvo S90 and V90 replaces the S80 as its premier sedan offering. Long and sleek it’s a head-turner and sure to remain at the top of the list throughout the year.

Next up is the Toyota 86, and updated version of the sports car known as the FR-S and sold within the now out-of-business Scion brand. Talk about obscure, right? Well, it is anything but thankfully. Quicker gear ratios for the 6-speed manual transmission and impressive handling are just some of the improvements critics are already raving about. Couple that with an aggressive exterior and the 86 is [...]

Rollaways can be problematic. Especially if you were one of the 68 injuries linked to 266 rollaway crashes last year. Fiat Chrysler could have added a fail-safe device which would have prevented this. An addition onto the automatic transmission shifter would have been appropriate, but they didn’t and now are recalling roughly 811,000 vehicles as a result.

Fiat Chrysler was one of two manufacturers that purchased monostable shifters from a German manufacturer known as ZF. The device is rather odd as it returns back to the center position instead of utilizing a lever that goes through a series of positions as it changes gears. Think of a joystick, an immediate snap-back return. This signifies that the driver must make sure that the transmission is in Park. So what’s the issue? Well, the ZF shifter doesn’t have a fail-safe feature that would shift the transmission in Park or apply the parking brake in the event [...]

Hackers abound, folks. Not trying to put the fear of everything tech in your head, but now that our lives virtually function in the cloud, so do threats, and those threats are not from robots or third-party machines with bad morals. They are smart folks who either are out for bad or just to screw around. Either way, if a hacker hits you, you’ll feel it. Speaking of feeling it, last year Fiat Chrysler had to recall 1.4 million cars as hackers “demonstrated” how they were able to use a homemade kit to unlock, and even start a vehicle from the cloud. Yikes!

Fast forward to today and Fiat Chrysler is now trying to get ahead of the threat by offering hackers up to $1,500 for successfully exposing software vulnerabilities in their cars. Bounties start at $150 and go up from there to tech disrupters who can officially disrupt and identify bugs to the [...]

It is probably a safe bet that regardless of your proclivity towards new or used cars, the choice mostly comes down to cost. Some folks have lots of disposable income and choose to buy new, always. Some folks do not and thus buy used. Yet a third group might fall in one or the other of the previous two and either stretch themselves to the financial end to buy new, or don’t value new cars as much as say a three week adventure to Thailand or Bali.
The good news for those who buy used are technology upgrades now make it possible to have the best of both worlds – your used car that didn’t break the bank plus the amenities of new car. So what are the aftermarket upgrades that you can make? Let’s get to it!

First up, a new head unit. Otherwise known as your car’s stereo, at an economic end [...]

We all probably know how a lease works, right? The buyer agrees on a regular payment plan, follows a predetermined maintenance plan, and thus retains the vehicle for the duration of the agreement. When entering a lease many look at it as a done deal. Basically, this is either all or nothing, no way out. But that’s not the whole story, and in some cases, getting out of lease is just as important as the decision to jump in.

In theory any lease can be terminated early. But the small writing is small for a reason. There are usually an array of penalties and fees that follow to incentivize one not to rupture the agreement. So in the end this comes down to cost. But there are some things that one can do when seeking a break. First, wash, detail, and fix your car’s tires. Next, take the vehicle back to the dealership and request [...]

It has been echoed repeatedly, yet our collective behavior suggests we don’t take it that seriously. Most drivers have a greater likelihood of dying in an auto related accident than anywhere else. The anywhere part can also be transformed to anything for some folks. More likely than a heart attack, cancer, diabetes, you name it. So why do we act so nonchalant in the face of such disturbing statistics? A big reason is cars for some of us are a sort of second home. We are spending up to four or five hours per day in them and technology has facilitated our interconnectedness thus rendering them comfortable, cozy and seemingly safe.

So let’s talk numbers then. Last year approximately 35,200 people died in traffic accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that is a 7.7 percent jump from 2014. Small increases or decreases are usually explained away from a variance perspective. But 7.7 [...]

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