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Should you find yourself renting a Chevrolet Spark in Acapulco in the near future, beware: it won’t have the same safety features — as in none at all — as the Spark exported to your local dealership. In fact, unless a car or truck screwed together in Mexico is bound for the United States or Europe, only the bare minimum, if any, in safety features will be available to customers in Latin America shopping for base models.
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The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that it has the legal authority to regulate cellphones that interact with cars and trucks. At a Congressional hearing last week, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said the agency plans to issue voluntary guidelines for smartphones in vehicles next year that will be broader in scope than ones issued earlier this year. Strickland said that NHTSA already has authority under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act to regulate cellphones that work with systems in cars. The MVSA covers motor vehicle equipment.
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According to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), highway deaths in the United States increased in 2012 by more than 1,000 fatalities compared to 2011. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s getting less safe to drive since the majority of the 33,561 people killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2012 were motorcyclists and pedestrians. Pedestrian fatalities rose for the third year in a row and a majority of those deaths involved jaywalking at night. Many pedestrian deaths also involved alcohol. Even with the increase in 2012, highway fatalities over the past five years continue to be at a historic low. Read More >
This is the Renault Zoe. It’s like most EVs on the road, with its limited range, limited power, and limited usability.
Unlike the other EVs, however, the Zoe comes with DRM attached to its battery pack. In short: If you value your ability to drive the Zoe at all, then you will submit to a rental contract with the pack’s manufacturer. Should you fail to pay the rent or your lease term expires, Renault can and will turn your Zoe into an expensive, useless paperweight by preventing the pack’s ability to be recharged, consequences be damned.
It’s only the beginning.
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Photo credit: Instagram user DavanH
Tesla Motors is confirming that for the third time in less than two months a Model S electric car has caught fire after an accident and burned. The news first surfaced on the Tesla Motor Club website on Wednesday and after photos were posted on Instagram and the word spread, Tesla Motors stock, which has been buffeted recently, declined again, -6% in early trading today. The fire occurred in Smyrna, Tennessee, coincidentally about four miles from where Nissan assembles the Leaf EV. Police suggest that running over a piece of metal debris, the same cause of one of the earlier Model S fires, may have been the cause of the blaze. Read More >
If you’re one of the few, proud owners of the slightly angrier-looking 2014 Camaro, or one of the many to own the slightly less angry 2013 model, you may need to send it back to correct a problem. No, not spiders this time. The recall is about stickers. That don’t stick.
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Reports from unnamed sources critical of competitors are not the most reliable, but Pete DeLorenzo says according to his sources within the auto industry a design shortcoming is the reason why the batteries in two Tesla Model S cars have recently started fires following collisions. Presumably DeLorenzo’s source or sources are within General Motors because they compare the way the battery pack is housed in Tesla to the way the Chevy Volt does it. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has stressed how his company protects the battery pack with 1/4″ thick armor plating underneath the car, but DeLorenzo’s source says that is essentially a band-aid solution to the fact that the battery pack itself has only a single protective shield, compared to the three layers of wrapping that the Volt’s battery pack has. Read More >
A second Tesla Model S has burned following an accident, this time near Merida, Mexico. Tesla Motors issued a statement saying the customer was unhurt after crash in which the Model S hit a concrete barrier. The accident occurred on October 19 according to local news reports that say that the luxury electric car was speeding and “hit a raised pedestrian crossing and briefly took flight before crashing into a wall and tree.” Photos and video posted of the crash’s aftermath show the front end damaged and flames burning the car.
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From remarks by Alfa Romeo executives it appears that the Fiat owned brand is going to distinguish itself from competitors by what it doesn’t plan to offer: advanced electronic aids that could possibly interfere with the emotional part of driving enjoyment. Maurizio Consalvo, in charge of product planning for Alfa Romeo was quoted in Autocar as saying, “Customers want a mechanical car with minimal electrical interference.” In addition Alfa Romeo’s head of marketing, Alberto Cavaggioni, said that the brand’s commitment to drivers’ emotional connection to their cars means that it may not offer some advanced safety features like autonomous emergency braking. Read More >
An Oklahoma jury ruled that Toyota Motor Corp. must pay $3 for a lawsuit claiming that an electronic defect caused a 2005 Camry to unintentionally accelerate, resulting in an accident that left one woman dead and another seriously injured. The jury awarded $1.5 milion for each woman and will continue to deliberate over possible punitive damages. This is the first unintended acceleration lawsuit that Toyota has lost and the first to test the theory that the vehicles’ electronic throttle control system is defective.
One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, in an email, said that in addition to the jury finding that the Camry’s electronics were defective, they also found that Toyota acted with “reckless” disregard. Read More >
In an e-mailed statement, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said that it has decided against launching a formal investigation into the Washington state fire early this month involving a Tesla Model S. The electric car ran over some metal debris that punctured the front battery pack, sparking the fire. NHTSA said that it found no evidence of violations of federal motor vehicle safety standard or that the fire resulted from a vehicle defect. Read More >
Propelled by the fastest-aging nation in the world, there may soon come a day when senior motorists will find themselves behind the wheel (or lack thereof) of a fully autonomous car.
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One blah Monday morning, you’re commuting to the anonymous office park some 90 minutes away from the bedroom community you call a home in your equally anonymous Toyota Camry Hybrid, listening to yet another story about Congress kicking cans down roads and/or some wacky antics your favorite DJs had the past weekend while you take another swig of that mermaid-branded caffeinated goodness.
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In cities where owning a car can be a pain (New York, Boston, Seattle), drivers are opting instead to share vehicles with other drivers, with companies such as ZipCar, Car2Go, RelayRides et al offering their services to help the public get around. All anyone needs beyond the basics is a subscription to the car-sharing service, a reservation, and a drop-off location when they are finished with their errands. Even big-name rental car companies like Enterprise and Hertz are jumping into the new business model for a test drive, Avis having gone the farthest by purchasing ZipCar in January of 2013.
However, the insurance offered by these peer-to-peer rental companies might not all that it’s cracked up to be, with severe consequences should anything remotely catastrophic occur.
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