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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 [...]

Google is at it again, and this time privacy wonks are up in arms. In a recently released paper the Silicon Valley giant details a system where motorists would receive a varied range of content (music to even turn-by-turn directions) in exchange for data. What data you ask? Basically, data on personal driving behavior as well as whereabouts. This data of course will be used by Google in marketing/advertising to draw in vendors/suppliers and motorists who divulge their data could receive attractive discounts from insurance companies for example (based on good driving) or receive coupons from restaurants or shops in their vicinity.

So what’s all the fuss about? Well, anytime one talks of data, data based on personal behavior, etc., privacy issues come into play, and more important, how will that data be used? John Simpson, Director of the Privacy Project for Consumer Watchdog has expressed concern. Not only does he feel this is privacy [...]

When VW launched a public relations bomb (not willingly we might add) roughly a year ago announcing that they had used a software device to fake their way around emissions standards, many were outraged. Outraged that a brand as respected as VW would attempt this. Outraged that more than one person and one department obviously had signed off on this ill-conceived plan. And outraged more than likely that if VW were engaged in such nefarious plotting, what would keep others from not assuming they could do the same?

Well, this outrage was not shared by auto insiders. In fact, this had been an “open secret” according to some for nearly a decade. The issue wasn’t the “what,” but rather the “how.” Automakers were generally perplexed as to how VW could get their diesel offerings to run so cleanly when the same technology was obviously being employed elsewhere but generating different results.

Same suppliers, [...]

 

Auto sales volume is up, but that doesn’t mean the industry is resting on its collective laurels. Automakers are using a number of discounts and other mechanisms to keep these sales churning. In June for example, incentives reached an all-time high. An average of $3,278 per vehicle was registered, which again makes it a record setting summer month.

According to monthly forecasts developed by J.D. Power and LMC Automotive (a joint collaboration), the June $3,278 per vehicle discount is $119 above the June 2015 number. This is a four percent increase, something not seen for quite a while.

Coupled with these incentive numbers were new vehicle transaction prices also hit all-time highs. Consumers appear to be offsetting higher prices by examining leasing options and longer terms on loans. Total U.S. sales are expected to set a record for the first half of 2016. Analysts typically look at high incentives and (in most cases) rightly [...]

 

Some distressing (but perhaps not so surprising) news surfaced recently thanks to a Science Magazine study. Researchers conducted six online surveys of U.S. residents between June and November of this year. In it they posed a question – how should autonomous vehicles respond? Or better put, if you had an autonomous vehicle how should it behave (assuming you are the passenger of course).

The overwhelming majority felt an autonomous, self-driving car should be programmed with the decisions that the computer will make for the greatest good. Yet, by greatest good, this is where it gets interesting. Researchers used a series of quizzes that essentially presented a number of unpleasant options. Options that had to do with whether one would chose to spare others or protect themselves. In short, respondents indicated they would rather their autonomous vehicle run over a pedestrian over slamming into a wall (which would of course inflict injury on the passengers).

[...]

One of the clearest ways you can step up your “speed” game in the auto world is moving to 10. Not referring to 10 tires, but rather, 10 speeds. The F-150 is part of the 10-speed club as is the Chevy Camaro. In fact, the Chevy Camaro ZL1 shifts faster than a Porsche PDK for example. Claims are first to second, second to third, and third to fourth are faster than Porsche’s lauded dual-clutch. But enough of the Camaro, we’ll save that for another post. Today we’re talking about the third automobile to reach the 10-speed club – the Mustang.

Word on the street is the 2018 Mustang will have a 10-speed option, although this has yet to be confirmed by Ford. The F-150 and Camaro’s respective 10-speeds are part of a joint venture between GM and Ford. The deal involves sharing designs for both transmissions and Ford now says that the new transmission actually [...]

 

Want to talk Brexit? If you’re as fed up with the inundation of Brexit talk join the club. They’re leaving, probably not to return, and the world will continue marching forward. If I could give you any indication as to how true I feel this to be, take the Goodwood Festival as case in point. An annual hill climb held on the grounds of Goodwood House, West Sussex, England, the festival attracts over 100,000 people each year to catch a glimpse of the latest in F-1 racing coupled with antique cars and motorbikes.

Started back in 1993 the festival has been gaining traction ever since. Some feared this year that with Brexit and all Goodwood might see a drop or potentially cancelled outright. Not so, the sun rose once again of June 24th and the pastoral countryside of West Sussex was in proper form.

Lord March, the man behind Goodwood, made some interesting tweaks [...]

It should come as no surprise that safety eases to the front of mind, slowly but surely, as one ages. Is it really a good idea to attempt that backflip off the infamous Lake Havasu rock dive? Can I still hit the half pipe on the skate ramp with my old board from when I was 20? What is a parachute free-fall and how do I sign up? Ideas that perhaps might still be lingering for the occasional 40 year old, but 50 plus, forget about it.

Now, when it comes to the “mature” auto consumer, safety-tech features are what they want and items such as blind-spot warning and crash-mitigation systems, smart headlights and even the smartly placed lane-departure warning device are top of mind. According to a recently released survey from The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab, 76 percent of drivers feel that having previously mentioned technologies in their automobile will enable them to [...]

They’re bring hatchbacks back, yeah! (Sing it three times to the instrumental version of “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake. Then turn it off before someone sees you). In all seriousness, the hatchback is making a grand comeback and we are now flush – Ford Focus SE Hatch, Toyota Corolla iM, Mazda3 Hatch, Hyundai Elantra GT, Volkswagen Golf 4-door Hatch and the Chevy Cruze Hatchback. Our focus for today is the latter, the Chevy Cruze Hatchback that starts out at an affordable $22,190. Not bad!

Available in LT and Premier trims (with an additional RS package should that tickle your fancy), the $22,190 price point is actually a bit steeper than its competition. But the Cruze has some nice features in its favor. A 4G LTE data connection that will include a WiFi hotspot, Apple CarPlay compatibility, Android Auto compatibility and wireless mobile device charging (convenient for all compatible devices). Cargo capacity, as with most hatchbacks, [...]

 

The world over has always seemed to have a love/hate relationship with insurance companies. Most of us (regardless of health, car, life, etc) pay monthly quotas for decades on end and never use the policy once … thankfully. Others are not so lucky and therefore feel quite blessed to count on the support. J.D. Power released their annual insurance study and customer satisfaction has been on the decline. On a 1,000 point scale they looked at five factors: interaction, policy offerings, price, billing process and policy information. Over the past two years satisfaction had been on the climb, but not so for 2016.

Perception of price increases was the principal reason for the decline. The seventeen largest insurers are the main drivers of the decline and this year, for the first time ever, smaller insurers registered a higher satisfaction score than large insurers. A big drop was seen with regard to call center representatives [...]

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