The Truth About Cars » Sign of the Times http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 28 May 2015 14:00:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Sign of the Times http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/sign-of-the-times/ General Motors Receives Patent To Sell ‘Geoboxed’ Radio Presets At Auction http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/general-motors-receives-patent-to-sell-geoboxed-radio-presets-at-auction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/general-motors-receives-patent-to-sell-geoboxed-radio-presets-at-auction/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 19:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076946 General Motors recently received a patent allowing the automaker to sell your radio’s presets to the highest bidder at auction. The patent — titled “System and method for auctioning geoboxed flexible, semi-locked or locked radio presets” — would let GM sell the presets to various bidders on different vehicles, Jalopnik reports, with each preset being […]

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2016-Cadillac-ELR-OnCue

General Motors recently received a patent allowing the automaker to sell your radio’s presets to the highest bidder at auction.

The patent — titled “System and method for auctioning geoboxed flexible, semi-locked or locked radio presets” — would let GM sell the presets to various bidders on different vehicles, Jalopnik reports, with each preset being geo-fenced.

Thus, if one were to be out on the road listening to NPR, the preset could switch abruptly from the sleepy sounds of “Morning Edition,” to the “wacky” antics of Scumdog McTatertot and the Mötley Breakfäst Crüe once the motorist entered the winning bidder’s geo-fence. Another scenario could have McDonald’s hijack your navigation settings when you were looking for Starbucks for breakfast.

Though GM has the patent to do this to its consumers to bring in revenue from the connected-vehicle space, whether it acts on the patent remains to be seen.

[Source: Cadillac]

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Lamborghini Officially Enters High-End SUV Game http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/lamborghini-officially-enters-high-end-suv-game/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/lamborghini-officially-enters-high-end-suv-game/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 16:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076866 It’s official: Lamborghini is entering the high-end luxury SUV game with a model set to hit showrooms by 2018. The new SUV will be assembled in Lamborghini’s home of Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, and is the result of a joint collaboration between the Italian automaker, national and regional governments, Volkswagen and Audi, and union representatives. The […]

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Lamborghini Urus at Pebble Beach

It’s official: Lamborghini is entering the high-end luxury SUV game with a model set to hit showrooms by 2018.

The new SUV will be assembled in Lamborghini’s home of Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, and is the result of a joint collaboration between the Italian automaker, national and regional governments, Volkswagen and Audi, and union representatives.

The SUV will be the third model in Lamborghini’s lineup, a feat CEO Stephan Winklemann says “endorses the stable and sustainable growth of the company,” while also signifying “the beginning of a new era” for the automaker.

To bring the yet-to-be-named product to the showroom, Lamborghini said it would invest “hundreds of millions of Euros” over the SUV’s lifecycle toward factory development and expansion. The factory where it will be assembled will go from an area of 80,000 square meters to 150,000, and will see a new assembly line and warehousing. R&D is set for an expansion, as well as the addition of 500 new jobs plus opportunities for the national and international supply chains as a result of the SUV.

[Source: 72Dino/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0]

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Italy Falling Out Of Love With Mopeds, Scooters Due To Changing Trends http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/italy-falling-out-of-love-with-mopeds-scooters-due-to-changing-trends/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/italy-falling-out-of-love-with-mopeds-scooters-due-to-changing-trends/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 19:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1076282 Like France falling out of love with diesels, Italy is falling out of love with mopeds and scooters due to changing trends. Data published by the National Association of Motorcycle, Bicycle and Accessories — ANCMA — shows moped sales crashing 97 percent, falling from the peak of 600,000 in 1980, to 26,727 units in 2014, […]

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Vespa In Ravenna, Italy Circa August 2011

Like France falling out of love with diesels, Italy is falling out of love with mopeds and scooters due to changing trends.

Data published by the National Association of Motorcycle, Bicycle and Accessories — ANCMA — shows moped sales crashing 97 percent, falling from the peak of 600,000 in 1980, to 26,727 units in 2014, Al Jazeera English writes. Sales of 125cc scooters aren’t doing so well, either, slowly declining from 173,343 units sold in 1955, to 37,388 in 2014.

The causes for the decline? According to ANCMA’s motorcycle chief Claudio Deviti, “the younger generation is just not as interested in mopeds as it used to be,” with technology the key reason. Deviti says the smartphone has taken the place of the moped in fostering friendships among young consumers.

Another factor is Italy’s ongoing economic downturn, weakening spending power as maintenance costs for mopeds rise. In the moped’s heyday, all one needed was the money buy such a vehicle. Over 50 years later, the average cost with licensing, stamp duty, and insurance comes to $2,250, $1,350 without. Cosenza, Italy moped mechanic Attilio Brisci explains:

Today mopeds are simply too expensive for the great majority of Italian households. People have two choices: renounce the use of the moped, or simply go without insurance at the risk of getting caught. I would say the average of those who do these is 50–50, with percentages getting higher the more one goes farther south.

[Source: Luca Sartoni/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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US Shale Oil Production Rising Amid Strengthening Dollar http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/us-shale-oil-production-rising-amid-strengthening-dollar/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/us-shale-oil-production-rising-amid-strengthening-dollar/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 13:35:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075874 Despite OPEC’s desire to keep its stranglehold on the market, U.S. shale oil production looks to rise again amid a strengthening dollar. Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch notes the 23-week decline in U.S. drilling activity seemed to have stopped, while the pricing level needed to increase production is being aided by “the significantly appreciating U.S. dollar,” […]

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Sergeant Major Oil Well - Arnegard, North Dakota Circa July 2013

Despite OPEC’s desire to keep its stranglehold on the market, U.S. shale oil production looks to rise again amid a strengthening dollar.

Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch notes the 23-week decline in U.S. drilling activity seemed to have stopped, while the pricing level needed to increase production is being aided by “the significantly appreciating U.S. dollar,” Reuters reports. Tuesday, the prices for Brent and West Texas Intermediate were both down 75 cents, coming in at $64.77 and $58.97 per barrel, respectively.

Goldman Sachs came to a similar conclusion, stating only one well was cut from the production rolls last week, adding producers would ramp production back up “given improved returns” were WTI to remain near $60/barrel. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley says “the USD downward correction is complete,” making dollar-priced commodities like oil more expensive for those who buy with other currencies.

Increased production would also head-off the potential for a tighter oil market down the road, though with OPEC’s ongoing strategy to hold the line regarding its own production targets among the member states involved — a strategy not likely to change when the group meets in Vienna next month — the possibility for an ongoing oil glut remains.

[Source: Tim Evanson/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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OPEC Doubles Down Against Shale, Fuel Prices Continue Downward Spiral http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/opec-doubles-down-against-shale-fuel-prices-continue-downward-spiral/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/opec-doubles-down-against-shale-fuel-prices-continue-downward-spiral/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 15:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071690 OPEC is doubling down on shoving shale off a cliff, continuing the trend of low fuel prices through the fall in so doing, Memorial Day Weekend aside. Thirty-three out of 34 analysts and traders surveyed by Bloomberg believe the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will stay the course of 30 million barrels produced daily when […]

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Ford Mustang Receiving Gas Circa April 2015

OPEC is doubling down on shoving shale off a cliff, continuing the trend of low fuel prices through the fall in so doing, Memorial Day Weekend aside.

Thirty-three out of 34 analysts and traders surveyed by Bloomberg believe the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will stay the course of 30 million barrels produced daily when the group meets in Vienna next month, the publication reports.

The reason to continue down this road is to ensure victory for Saudi Arabia’s strategy of putting shale oil producers and other competitive suppliers — notably those in Canada and the United States — in their place. Thus far, the plan is working: half of the drilling rigs in the U.S. have been idled since October, while production fell 1.2 percent last week to 9.3 million barrels/day. Global investment in production is expected to fall $100 billion in 2015, while demand growth for oil is projected to climb to 1.4 million per day over the same period.

In the meantime, fuel prices will continue on their own course. University of Purdue Wally Tyner predicts prices in all but California and Hawaii will remain below $3 throughout the summer, Forbes says. This is, of course, due to the ongoing supply glut, hovering around 485 million barrels compared to the 350 million barrels normally available.

Meanwhile, Oil Price Information Service Tom Kloza believes fuel prices will stop at $2.50 this summer before dropping down between $2 and $2.25 this fall. Tyner adds Iranian oil could cut prices at the pump by 30 cents in 2016 should a nuclear deal between Washington and Tehran lead to a lift in sanctions.

Before the prices can fall, however, they must climb a bit for Memorial Day Weekend. AAA says prices rose 5 cents a gallon within the last week, with the current average national price hitting $2.71/gallon Tuesday, The Detroit Bureau notes. The group adds motorists are paying an average of 26 cents more for a gallon of regular in May than in April.

Causes behind the rise include regional production issues in the Midwest and West Coast, as well as a rally in crude prices; West Texas Intermediate and Brent are trading for around $60 and $66 respectively as of this writing.

Despite the price hike, motorists hitting the road this holiday are paying 94 cents less for each gallon dispensed compared to last year, the lowest average since 2009.

[Source: Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Honda Continues Shift Toward SUVs, Crossovers With 2016 Pilot Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/honda-continues-shift-toward-suvs-crossovers-with-2016-pilot-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/honda-continues-shift-toward-suvs-crossovers-with-2016-pilot-production/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 20:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072322 With the 2016 Pilot leaving the assembly line starting Thursday, Honda continues its progress toward more SUVs and crossovers over passenger cars. According to American Honda sales boss John Mendel, 49 percent of the automaker’s U.S. production consists of SUVs and crossovers, and could go further depending on the growth rates between passenger car and […]

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2016 Honda Pilot Elite

With the 2016 Pilot leaving the assembly line starting Thursday, Honda continues its progress toward more SUVs and crossovers over passenger cars.

According to American Honda sales boss John Mendel, 49 percent of the automaker’s U.S. production consists of SUVs and crossovers, and could go further depending on the growth rates between passenger car and light-duty truck markets, The Detroit Bureau reports.

The increase is being aided by Honda’s Lincoln, Ala. factory, where the Pilot, Odyssey and Acura MDX are assembled. The facility is expected to produce 120,000 Pilots annually once production is at full bore, and will begin production of the second-gen Ridgeline in the near future. Mendel says the factory has “some upside potential” as more new product and capacity comes online.

In addition, Honda’s new plant in Celaya, Mexico is helping the automaker enter the U.S. subcompact crossover market with the introduction of the HR-V, whose competitors include the Jeep Renegade and Chevrolet Trax.

Mendel says Honda is looking for more opportunities to expand, though the search for so-called “white space” may diminish over time, prompting the automaker to seek better fortunes over “an incremental 5,000 units of sales.”

[Photo credit: Honda]

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American Motorists On Pace To Break 2007 Miles-Driven Record http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/american-motorists-on-pace-to-break-2007-miles-driven-record/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/american-motorists-on-pace-to-break-2007-miles-driven-record/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 19:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072290 Thanks to low fuel prices, American motorists drove a record 720.1 billion miles during the first quarter of 2015. The new record, reported by the United States Department of Transportation, moves ahead of the previous milestone in 2006, when 705.7 billion miles were driven over the period, and doubles the Q1 1982 figure of 345.5 […]

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Seattle Circa November 2010

Thanks to low fuel prices, American motorists drove a record 720.1 billion miles during the first quarter of 2015.

The new record, reported by the United States Department of Transportation, moves ahead of the previous milestone in 2006, when 705.7 billion miles were driven over the period, and doubles the Q1 1982 figure of 345.5 billion miles, The Detroit News writes.

In month-to-month figures, Americans drove 3.9 percent more in this March than they had in March 2014, netting 261.7 billion miles for the month since record collections began 79 years ago; March 2015 also marks the 13th consecutive month of an increase in miles driven.

Overall, the United States saw 3.02 trillion miles driven in 2014, the highest amount recorded since 2007. The increases are helped by lower fuel prices, currently standing at a national average of $2.731 as of this writing. At the current rate, Americans will surpass the 2007 peak of 3.03 trillion miles driven.

[Photo credit: Wonderlane/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Oregon First In Nation To Implement Per-Mile Road Tax Program http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/oregon-first-in-nation-to-implement-per-mile-road-tax-program/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/oregon-first-in-nation-to-implement-per-mile-road-tax-program/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 18:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072250 This July, Oregon will be the first to implement a program taxing motorists by miles driven instead of collecting at the pump. Up to 5,000 cars and light-duty commercial vehicles can volunteer for the program — dubbed OReGO — each of whom will then be charged 1.5 cents per mile, USA Today reports. The information […]

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Oregon Welcome Sign Circa October 2010

This July, Oregon will be the first to implement a program taxing motorists by miles driven instead of collecting at the pump.

Up to 5,000 cars and light-duty commercial vehicles can volunteer for the program — dubbed OReGO — each of whom will then be charged 1.5 cents per mile, USA Today reports. The information will be tracked via a device provided by the Oregon Department of Transportation/Sanef, Verizon Telematics, or Azuga, depending on the circumstances and needs of each volunteer.

Those whose vehicles fuel up at the pump will receive a tax credit if fuel use exceeds miles driven, while EV owners will pay the road-use tax without receiving the fuel tax credit. OReGO has a quota in place for less-efficient vehicles, limiting acceptance to 1,500 volunteers whose vehicles get less than 17 mpg, and 1,500 for those with vehicles between 17 mpg and 22 mpg.

The ultimate goal of programs like ODOT’s OReGO is to make up in infrastructure maintenance and repair funding what is being lost by continuously low fuel taxes and improving fleet fuel economy. Gas taxes provide Oregon with under half of the state’s highway fund, the rest coming from the Highway Trust Fund.

The $8.4-million program has no expiration date at this time, with permanence left in the hands of the Oregon legislature. Concerns over privacy and an alleged favoring of conventional vehicles over EVs and hybrids regarding tax credits have come up, the former remedied through data protections such as offering devices without GPS, and record destruction after 30 days with limits on the data’s use for devices with GPS. Volunteers can also opt-out of the program at any time, and can receive refunds for miles driven on private property and outside Oregon.

OReGO’s first day of implementation is July 1.

[Photo credit: Oregon Department of Transportation/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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California Hit By Rising Fuel Prices Due To Supply Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/california-hit-by-rising-fuel-prices-due-to-supply-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/california-hit-by-rising-fuel-prices-due-to-supply-issues/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 18:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071650 While most of the United States enjoys fuel prices under $3 per gallon, the West Coast can’t say the same, especially California. The average fuel price in the U.S. is currently $2.772/gal. per the AAA, Bloomberg reports, but a combination of factors have pushed California’s average to $3.809. The first involves a series of refinery […]

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Chevron Fuel Prices In Oceanside, California Circa March 2011

While most of the United States enjoys fuel prices under $3 per gallon, the West Coast can’t say the same, especially California.

The average fuel price in the U.S. is currently $2.772/gal. per the AAA, Bloomberg reports, but a combination of factors have pushed California’s average to $3.809.

The first involves a series of refinery shutdowns up and down the West Coast, including an explosion at an Exxon refinery in Torrance, Calif., and a recent fire at a U.S. Oil and Refining facility in Tacoma, Wash. Other units are closed for repairs.

The second is the state’s pipeline network. The one-way system delivers gasoline to Arizona and Nevada, but is otherwise cut-off from other pipeline networks in the U.S. Thus, the only way for the state to receive its fuel supply when the chips are down — a supply specially made for the state’s own set of emission standards — is by tanker deliveries from Asia and Europe.

At present, Los Angeles motorists are feeling the most pain at the pump, paying nearly $4/gal. AAA spokesman Michael Green says prices in the city are rising faster “than anywhere else in the country,” and will remain at the top until late summer.

The regional volatility issues do offer a possible silver lining: The U.S. government is studying how sudden jumps in prices could affect the nation’s economy, and is considering whether to build a fuel reserve for the West Coast in case of major supply disruptions.

[Photo credit: Joe Wolf/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Kitsap Transit Eyeing Liquor Advertising To Improve Bottom Line http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/kitsap-transit-eyeing-liquor-advertising-to-improve-bottom-line/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/kitsap-transit-eyeing-liquor-advertising-to-improve-bottom-line/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 20:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070978 Faced with a potential budget shortfall in the coming years, Kitsap Co., Wash.-based Kitsap Transit is eyeing liquor adverts to help with the bottom line. The move to place said adverts on its fleet came as a suggestion from the authority’s advertising partner, Titan Outdoor, KOMO-TV reports. The ad agency takes half of all revenue […]

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Kitsap_Transit_2004_Gillig_Low_Floor_774-a

Faced with a potential budget shortfall in the coming years, Kitsap Co., Wash.-based Kitsap Transit is eyeing liquor adverts to help with the bottom line.

The move to place said adverts on its fleet came as a suggestion from the authority’s advertising partner, Titan Outdoor, KOMO-TV reports. The ad agency takes half of all revenue made on ad sales related to Kitsap Transit, and is also in charge of the authority’s mobile ad program.

Executive Director John Clauson admits it would be hard to estimate how much additional revenue adding liquor advertising to the buses — adverts are only part of its budget, alongside local taxes and fare collection — but adds if doing so “adds an extra $20,000 a year, it’s tough to just walk away from it and say no.”

While the proposal would mandate “tasteful” advertising of liquor products and include responsible-drinking disclaimers, critics warn said adverts could encourage teenagers to drink. However, most riders are welcome to the idea, with reasons ranging from keeping fares low as a result of the increase in revenue, to freedom of speech for all advertisers.

The decision to go forward with the proposal may come as soon as the authority’s next board meeting June 2. If approved, Kitsap Transit would be the first transit authority in Washington state to allow liquor advertising on its fleet.

[Photo credit: Zargoman/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0]

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Takata Expands US Airbag Recall Nationwide, Covering 34M Units http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/takata-expands-us-airbag-recall-nationwide-covering-34m-units/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/takata-expands-us-airbag-recall-nationwide-covering-34m-units/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 19:06:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071026 The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday Takata would expand its airbag recall to cover 33.8 million units in the United States. The expanded recall is now one of the largest recalls in U.S. history, USA Today reports. Additionally, the supplier is under a consent order by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to cooperate […]

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Takata TTAC Style

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday Takata would expand its airbag recall to cover 33.8 million units in the United States.

The expanded recall is now one of the largest recalls in U.S. history, USA Today reports. Additionally, the supplier is under a consent order by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to cooperate with the agency in its investigation into the recall. The NHTSA also declared it would begin the process to sort and organize the replacement schedule of the defective airbags.

The expansion comes after Takata issued a regional recall last summer affecting units in vehicles located in humid locales in the U.S. The units were prone to catastrophic failure upon detonation, scattering shrapnel into the cabin and injuring or killing the occupants inside. Six fatalities have been linked thus far, with five occurring in the U.S.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx praised the agreement made between the supplier and his department, declaring it “a major step forward for public safety.” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind agreed with the assessment, adding all parties involved had more work ahead of them to remedy the issue as quickly as possible.

[Photo credit: Takata]

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Luxury Automakers Wary Around Growing Female Consumer Base http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/luxury-automakers-wary-around-growing-female-consumer-base/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/luxury-automakers-wary-around-growing-female-consumer-base/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 19:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070938 Those dealing in luxury vehicles and high-performance exotics may need to improve their relations with women soon, as more women seek such wares. While less than 10 percent of Lamborghini and Ferrari owners in the United States are women, and Porsche only boasts 25 percent, female consumers in emerging markets like China are flexing their […]

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McLaren MP4-12C Circa January 2012

Those dealing in luxury vehicles and high-performance exotics may need to improve their relations with women soon, as more women seek such wares.

While less than 10 percent of Lamborghini and Ferrari owners in the United States are women, and Porsche only boasts 25 percent, female consumers in emerging markets like China are flexing their wealth with the automakers’ models in significant numbers, Reuters reports. The overall female consumer base is expanding, as well, fueled by increasing wealth as more and more women enter into greater positions of power.

However, marketing leaves a lot to be desired, especially as some automakers are wary of appealing to the new consumer base. Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann explains:

It’s like with an engineering degree which attracts more men than women, that’s just how it is. Males are more into the car business and the super sportscar is the pinnacle of that business.

On the other side, automotive consultant Belinda Parmar says high-end and exotic manufacturers should consider women drivers when designing vehicles. Her work with Aston Martin on its planned crossover is slated to have a higher sitting position and smaller steering wheel, allowing those wearing skirts to enter and exit without having to worry about feeling “silly” about the matter.

[Photo credit: Axion23/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Direct Sales, Ride-Hailing Bills Among Those DOA In Texas House http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/direct-sales-ride-hailing-bills-among-those-doa-in-texas-house/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/direct-sales-ride-hailing-bills-among-those-doa-in-texas-house/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 18:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070898 Tesla and Uber are among those whose efforts were for nothing as a crucial deadline to win approval on the Texas House floor passed last week. The deadline was the last chance for House bills to win initial approval from the entire chamber, The Star-Telegram reports. Though said bills could be added onto other bills […]

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Uber Texas BBQ Pedicab

Tesla and Uber are among those whose efforts were for nothing as a crucial deadline to win approval on the Texas House floor passed last week.

The deadline was the last chance for House bills to win initial approval from the entire chamber, The Star-Telegram reports. Though said bills could be added onto other bills through the end of the legislative session June 1, “the funnel is only so large” to commit the necessary action, according to House Republican Caucus chair Rep. Tan Parker of Flower Mound.

One of the bills shut out by the deadline would have granted transportation network companies like Lyft and Uber statewide licenses to operate while stripping individual cities of their right to regulate their services. House Bill 2440, sponsored by Rep. Chris Paddie of Marshall, failed to receive a floor vote due to issues surrounding safety, wheelchair-access, and insurance.

Meanwhile, Tesla’s efforts to overturn the state’s ban on direct sales were thwarted for a second time since 2013. House Bill 1653 and Senate Bill 639 would have allowed automakers who’ve never sold their wares through a franchise dealership network to open and operated up to 12 stores in Texas. Neither bill drew a committee vote on their respective floors, with the blame directed at Tesla itself, according to Rep. Senfronia Thompson of Houston:

I can appreciate Tesla wanting to sell cars, but I think it would have been wiser if Mr. Tesla had sat down with the car dealers first.

[Photo credit: William Beutler/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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BMW X2 Green-Lit For Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/bmw-x2-green-lit-for-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/bmw-x2-green-lit-for-production/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 17:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070866 X is giving it to us again: BMW has green-lit production of the X2 crossover, slotted between the upcoming second-gen X1 and current X3. The X2 is based upon the UKL platform underpinning the X1 and 2 Series Active and Gran tourers, Autocar reports. Power will come from three- and four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, […]

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2015 BMW i3 Range Extender BMW logo

X is giving it to us again: BMW has green-lit production of the X2 crossover, slotted between the upcoming second-gen X1 and current X3.

The X2 is based upon the UKL platform underpinning the X1 and 2 Series Active and Gran tourers, Autocar reports. Power will come from three- and four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, including a performance-oriented B48 engine for an M Performance variant of the crossover, with output expected to hit 300 horsepower. Front- and all-wheel drive will link the power to the road.

Styling is said to follow in the footsteps of the X4 and X6 — four doors and a slanted hatchback — while the interior will be shared with the second-gen X1.

The publication’s sources state the concept version of the X2 will make its global debut as early as next year’s Geneva Auto Show. Prototype testing is set to begin by the end of May. North American sales are not known as of this writing, though the United Kingdom will get theirs starting in H2 2017.

[Photo credit: Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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OPEC: Oil To Remain Below $100 Per Barrel Through 2020s http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/opec-oil-to-remain-below-100-per-barrel-through-2020s/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/opec-oil-to-remain-below-100-per-barrel-through-2020s/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 20:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070218 Those hoping for a return to $100 per barrel of oil are in for a long wait, as OPEC says oil will remain below the price point through the 2020s. A report by the group forecasts oil will trade for around $76/barrel in 2025 under optimistic conditions, The Wall Street Journal reports, with $40/barrel under […]

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Entrance_OPEC_Headquarter_Vienna

Those hoping for a return to $100 per barrel of oil are in for a long wait, as OPEC says oil will remain below the price point through the 2020s.

A report by the group forecasts oil will trade for around $76/barrel in 2025 under optimistic conditions, The Wall Street Journal reports, with $40/barrel under more dire straits. The forecasts take into account the group’s competitors in the United States coping through low prices amid increased production.

To combat this, the report recommends OPEC return to the production-quota system it ditched in 2011 amid conflict over how much each member state would be allowed to produce. Members are reluctant to go back, preferring to attract new business instead of being tied down by quotas most ignored already. However, the proposal would grant poorer members, like Algeria and Venezuela, the right to produce more oil, and would come into force if OPEC’s share of the global oil market fell below 32 percent, the size of the share it holds now.

The report comes amid worries among the members about their ability to balance their respective budgets with oil money. According to the International Monetary Fund, only Qatar and Kuwait can weather trading at $76/barrel, while most need trading to be as much as $130/barrel for a properly balanced budget.

[Photo credit: Vincent Eisfeld/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0]

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FCA US Keeping Key Facilities Open Through Summer To Meet Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-us-keeping-key-facilities-open-through-summer-to-meet-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-us-keeping-key-facilities-open-through-summer-to-meet-demand/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 17:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1069186 Looking to make as many vehicles as possible, FCA US is foregoing its two-week summer shutdown at a number of the automaker’s facilities. The following list of FCA US properties to remain in operation this summer includes four assembly plants, all engine manufacturing locales, and one transmission factory, Detroit Free Press reports: Jefferson North Assembly […]

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2015 Chrysler 300C Platinum and 300S

Looking to make as many vehicles as possible, FCA US is foregoing its two-week summer shutdown at a number of the automaker’s facilities.

The following list of FCA US properties to remain in operation this summer includes four assembly plants, all engine manufacturing locales, and one transmission factory, Detroit Free Press reports:

  • Jefferson North Assembly Plant; Detroit
  • Saltillo Van Assembly; Saltillo, Mexico
  • Toledo Assembly Complex; Toledo
  • Toluca Assembly; Toluca, Mexico
  • Kokomo Casting; Kokomo, Indiana
  • Kokomo Transmission; Kokomo, Indiana
  • Dundee Engine Plant; Dundee
  • Mack Avenue Engine; Detroit
  • Saltillo Engine; Saltillo, Mexico
  • Saltillo South Engine; Saltillo Mexico
  • Trenton Engine Complex; Trenton

Three other transmission factories in Kokomo and Tipton, Ind. will shut down for one week instead of two, while FCA US’ stamping plants will operate on the same schedules as the assembly plants they serve.

The break from the traditional two-week shutdown — meant for equipment repairs and changes to the assembly line for the upcoming model year — comes as the automaker continues its streak of rising sales on a year-over-year basis, currently standing at 61 months. The overall U.S. industry is set to sell 17 million units this year, a peak not seen since prior to the start of the Great Recession.

[Photo credit: Chrysler/Facebook]

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Compact Commercial Vans Booming Despite Challenges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/compact-commercial-vans-booming-despite-challenges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/compact-commercial-vans-booming-despite-challenges/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 15:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1069114 While old-school large vans are still kings in catering and flowers for now, more small business owners are opting instead for compact commercial vans. The new segment, boasting vans such as the Ford Transit Connect, Nissan NV200 and Ram ProMaster City, is gaining significant ground thus far in 2015, with sales jumping 58 percent compared […]

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2015 Ram ProMaster City Pursued By Ram 1500 Crew Cab

While old-school large vans are still kings in catering and flowers for now, more small business owners are opting instead for compact commercial vans.

The new segment, boasting vans such as the Ford Transit Connect, Nissan NV200 and Ram ProMaster City, is gaining significant ground thus far in 2015, with sales jumping 58 percent compared to the same period in 2014, Ward’s Auto reports. The aforementioned Transit Connect is the segment sales leader, with 43,210 units delivered last year.

The popularity of compact commercial vans is in part due to business owners needing a van smaller and more efficient than the Chevrolet Express, Ram ProMaster, and recently discontinued Ford E-Series. Karl Chevrolet fleet and commercial sales manager Scott Sams says the compacts offer those features, filling “a blank space in the lineup,” and adds a lot of catering and delivery businesses would benefit from exchanging larger vans for smaller models.

Though popular with those who know already, dealers and automakers alike are facing challenges in bringing those customers to the compact commercial van segment. For GM, who sells the Chevrolet City Express, most consumers in the market usually don’t have Chevrolet in mind when shopping. Dealer displays at local events have helped in promoting the compact and boosting sales in some parts of the country. Meanwhile, FCA US is helping dealers interested in adding commercial sales to their retail operations with a go-to-market plan aimed at building rapport with business customers.

[Photo credit: Ram]

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Phoenix Suburb Installing License Plate Readers To Thwart Rare Burglary Activity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/phoenix-suburb-installing-license-plate-readers-to-thwart-rare-burglary-activity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/phoenix-suburb-installing-license-plate-readers-to-thwart-rare-burglary-activity/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 20:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1068658 Police in Paradise Valley, Arizona are planning to install 15 license plate readers to aid in thwarting burglaries in the Phoenix suburb. The LPRs are the result of an anonymous donation of $234,000 to Paradise Valley Police Department, with 11 of the devices set to be installed in fake cactus plants, Ars Technica reports. The […]

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Paradise Valley Arizona Police

Police in Paradise Valley, Arizona are planning to install 15 license plate readers to aid in thwarting burglaries in the Phoenix suburb.

The LPRs are the result of an anonymous donation of $234,000 to Paradise Valley Police Department, with 11 of the devices set to be installed in fake cactus plants, Ars Technica reports. The goal is to continue to the decline in burglaries, falling from a peak of 195 in 2011, to a current low of 55 in 2014.

While privacy concerns are usually the norm surrounding LPRs, Paradise Valley residents are more concerned about aesthetics. Town manager Kevin Burke explains:

Everything in Paradise Valley is about the aesthetics. We’ll spend tens of thousands to cover up an electric box. We’ll spend hundreds of thousands to camouflage an electric substation. Our residents have spent hundreds of thousands or millions to bury overhead cables. Ugly posts are things that we do not want. But we do want people to know that these technologies are there. Probably we’ll end up putting a sign on it–half of the deterrent is knowing that people are there.

Regarding privacy, Burke says LPR data will be kept for six months, and will only be used to match plates with those on a hot list in case of criminal activity. However, parts of the datasets will be omitted from public view, while individual records won’t be released due to the city’s concerns about involvement in domestic disputes.

Further, the six-page LPR data policy lacks information on what safeguards, if any, are in place to prevent abuse of the data by officials, or how the data would be logged and audited. Burke says he’ll know if the LPRs are doing their job by clearance rates and reductions linked to burglaries.

[Photo credit: Paradise Valley PD/Facebook]

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Oil Bull Market Rally Could Soon Falter Without China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/oil-bull-market-rally-could-soon-falter-without-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/oil-bull-market-rally-could-soon-falter-without-china/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 19:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1067698 Those hoping to make it big on oil commodities would do well to bet against the bulls on parade, as China won’t be around to keep prices afloat this time. During the early days of the Great Recession, oil prices quickly regained footing thanks to China’s then-booming economic standing, Bloomberg reports. However, fuel use in […]

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PetroChina-Station

Those hoping to make it big on oil commodities would do well to bet against the bulls on parade, as China won’t be around to keep prices afloat this time.

During the early days of the Great Recession, oil prices quickly regained footing thanks to China’s then-booming economic standing, Bloomberg reports. However, fuel use in the nation has slowed by half of what it was in the previous decade, following global trends of decreased consumption.

Global demand is expected to grow 1.3 million barrels/day to 94.58 million in 2016 according to the Energy Information Administration, with China taking 11.34 million barrels/day; the U.S. will use 19.44 million/day, lower than what was used in 2008. The figure is an increase of 3.1 percent over this year, yet pales when compared to the 11-percent jump in 2010. The spike delivered a boost to oil prices of 15 percent.

Combined with rising oil production pushing toward a glut in supply — to the tune of 1.8 million barrels/day in inventory currently, and 900,000/day during H2 2015 — China’s economic power faltering despite the government’s best efforts, and technological advancements reducing overall oil consumption, the global demand for oil will remain low for some time to come.

[Photo credit: Otebig/Wikimedia Commons/CC PD 1.0]

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Müller: Porsche 911 PHEV Under Negotiation For Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/muller-porsche-911-phev-under-negotiation-for-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/muller-porsche-911-phev-under-negotiation-for-production/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 15:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1067306 Could there be a Porsche 911 PHEV on the showroom floor in the future? The decision to build and market one could be made sometime this year. Porsche CEO Matthias Müller said a plug-in variant of the iconic vehicle could happen, alongside PHEVs of every other model in the automaker’s lineup, Automotive News reports: That […]

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911 50th Anniversary Edition _6_

Could there be a Porsche 911 PHEV on the showroom floor in the future? The decision to build and market one could be made sometime this year.

Porsche CEO Matthias Müller said a plug-in variant of the iconic vehicle could happen, alongside PHEVs of every other model in the automaker’s lineup, Automotive News reports:

That is a technique which we at Porsche are very familiar with, so we can suppose that we could have plug-ins all over the model range, not only to save fuel but also to boost the performance of these cars.

Mueller adds the decision to press ahead with a Porsche 911 PHEV is under negotiation, stating the technology “is the solution for the nearer future.”

Porsche sells three PHEVs thus far: the 918 Spyder, Cayenne and Panamera. Of the latter two, the Cayenne is projected to make up between 10 and 12 percent of overall U.S. sales of the crossover in 2015, while 15 percent of overall U.S. Panamera sales are of the PHEV variant. The 918, meanwhile, sold out its 918-unit limited edition run last December.

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Coal Rolling Banned In New Jersey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/coal-rolling-banned-new-jersey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/coal-rolling-banned-new-jersey/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 18:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1066506 Dudebros in their diesel brodozers will need to take their coal rolling outside of New Jersey, as the state has banned the practice. Governor Chris Christie signed the legislation — S2418 — earlier this month, according to NJ.com. S2148 outlaws “retrofitting any diesel-powered vehicle with any device, smoke stack, or other equipment which enhances the […]

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Mad Max Dudebro Coal Roller At AMERICA Walmart Circa November 2010

Dudebros in their diesel brodozers will need to take their coal rolling outside of New Jersey, as the state has banned the practice.

Governor Chris Christie signed the legislation — S2418 — earlier this month, according to NJ.com. S2148 outlaws “retrofitting any diesel-powered vehicle with any device, smoke stack, or other equipment which enhances the vehicle’s capacity to emit soot, smoke, or other particulate emissions.”

The law’s language is echoed elsewhere under current federal and state statutes, but Assemblyman Tim Eustace of Bergen, N.J. says the new law is there to ensure the aforementioned statutes are actually enforced:

It’s to actually make sure we enforce the law. We have laws that law fallow, I think, in some circumstances. This doesn’t come off as very important unless you’ve been coal-rolled.

As for what awaits someone more than willing to unleash black smoke upon their fellow driver in the Garden State, the New Jersey State Department of Environmental Regulations will have the power to establish fines meant to discourage coal rolling.

[Photo credit: Mark Spearman/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0]

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Urmson: Google Involved In 11 Autonomous-Vehicle Accidents Over Six Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/urmson-google-involved-11-autonomous-vehicle-accidents-six-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/urmson-google-involved-11-autonomous-vehicle-accidents-six-years/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 16:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1066282 Yesterday, Google said it was involved in three recent autonomous-vehicle accidents on California’s roads. The tech giant since admitted to eight more. The 11 total accidents occurred over the six-year period Google has been working on autonomous technology with its fleet of over 20 vehicles, Reuters reports, though project director Chris Urmson adds that none […]

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Google Autonomous Vehicle Prototype Circa December 2014

Yesterday, Google said it was involved in three recent autonomous-vehicle accidents on California’s roads. The tech giant since admitted to eight more.

The 11 total accidents occurred over the six-year period Google has been working on autonomous technology with its fleet of over 20 vehicles, Reuters reports, though project director Chris Urmson adds that none of them occurred with the vehicle in a proactive role.

Urmson said seven of the 11 reports involved rear-end collisions mainly on city streets at a traffic light, as well as a couple of instances where the vehicle was side-swiped, and one where a car rolled through a stop sign before striking one of Google’s cars.

The explanation comes as the tech giant and supplier Delphi were found to have been involved in four recent accidents involving autonomous vehicles since California granted such vehicles permission to test on public roads last September, the details of which were kept private due to the state’s reporting laws. Urmson says none of the accidents involved injury, with all vehicles receiving only minor damage from each incident.

[Photo credit: Google]

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China Automotive Exports Crashing Against Geopolitical, Currency Challenges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/china-automotive-exports-crashing-geopolitical-currency-challenges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/china-automotive-exports-crashing-geopolitical-currency-challenges/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 19:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065906 China may be a hotbed for automakers to bring in their latest and greatest, but exports of its automotive wares aren’t as hot these days. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported a drop of 22 percent in exports of commercial and passenger vehicles during April, falling to 61,600 units shipped compared to the previous […]

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Landwind X9 Rally Trucklet

China may be a hotbed for automakers to bring in their latest and greatest, but exports of its automotive wares aren’t as hot these days.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported a drop of 22 percent in exports of commercial and passenger vehicles during April, falling to 61,600 units shipped compared to the previous month according to Bloomberg. The group also found a decline of 15 percent over the first four months of 2015, putting a significant ding on the nation’s goal of 860,000 units shipped elsewhere this year.

Causes of China’s export woes include geopolitical issues in Iraq, Russia and Ukraine, and currency challenges in Algeria and Argentina, per association deputy secretary-general Shi Jianhua, who sees no signs of improvement on the horizon.

The 2015 export target is a far cry from the nation’s peak of 1.06 million units in 2012, and is less than the 910,400 units sent overseas in 2014.

[Photo credit: Landwind]

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Autonomous Vehicles Scrutinized Over Liability Amid ‘Minor’ Incidents http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/autonomous-vehicles-scrutinized-liability-amid-minor-incidents/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/autonomous-vehicles-scrutinized-liability-amid-minor-incidents/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 17:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065818 Autonomous vehicles may need the Three Laws of Robotics to function in the future, while getting a handle on accident prevention remains a present concern. Since September of last year, four of the 48 autonomous vehicles permitted to roam freely in California have found themselves involved in accidents, The Detroit News reports. Two of the […]

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World Premiere Freightliner Inspiration Truck

Autonomous vehicles may need the Three Laws of Robotics to function in the future, while getting a handle on accident prevention remains a present concern.

Since September of last year, four of the 48 autonomous vehicles permitted to roam freely in California have found themselves involved in accidents, The Detroit News reports. Two of the accidents happened while the cars drove themselves, while the other pair occurred while their human occupant was behind the wheel.

The vehicles in question belonged to Google and Delphi, with the former linked to three of the four accidents. Both companies claimed they were not at fault, and that the accidents were minor in scope. An employee with the California Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed two of the accidents happened in autonomous mode at speeds below 10 mph, but no other information could be given due to confidentiality laws regarding collision reports.

The accidents come as autonomous vehicles are under ongoing scrutiny over safety and responsibility for whatever does happen in a given accident. Down the road, such a vehicle – which may have no means to override an action in the future – may decide to sacrifice the lives of its occupants in order to protect everyone else, a scenario among others likely to hold back the technology overall, according to BMW sales boss Ian Robertson:

The technology will be held back by the ultimate moral question on who’s responsible. An algorithm will make a decision which might not be acceptable from a cultural or societal point of view.

The potential solution may place full responsibility upon the occupant/driver, following an amendment to the United Nations’ Vienna Convention on Road Traffic made last year allowing assisted driving so long as “such systems can be overridden or switched off by the driver.” The 1968 convention previously banned autonomous vehicles outright when it came into force 38 years ago, declaring all drivers to maintain control of their vehicles at all times.

[Photo credit: Freightliner]

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Uber In Bidding War With German Automakers For Nokia’s Mapping Division http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/uber-bidding-war-german-automakers-nokias-mapping-division/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/uber-bidding-war-german-automakers-nokias-mapping-division/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 19:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1064370 For as long as Uber has been around, the TNC has used Google Maps to guide all from the airport to the party. This could soon change upon a winning bid. Uber is bidding against a consortium of German automakers — the latter teamed up with Chinese search engine Baidu — and a private equity […]

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Uber In The Money

For as long as Uber has been around, the TNC has used Google Maps to guide all from the airport to the party. This could soon change upon a winning bid.

Uber is bidding against a consortium of German automakers — the latter teamed up with Chinese search engine Baidu — and a private equity firm for ownership of Nokia’s Here mapping system, The New York Times reports. An announcement by the tech company is expected to come by the end of May, deal or no deal.

Whereas Google dominates the mobile space with Google Maps at an estimated 1 billion users, Here succeeds in the automotive navigation space. The Berlin-based mapping company holds over 80 percent global market share of all built-in car navigation systems, spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually to maintain and update the maps.

Here would be the latest hedge against Google’s mapping technology should Uber win. The TNC bought deCarta in March of this year, and joined up with Carnegie Mellon University earlier in 2015 to develop mapping and autonomous technologies via the Uber Advanced Technologies Center. The German consortium feels the same way about Google in its own bid for Here, and plans to license the mapping technology to all interested parties should it win.

[Photo credit: Uber/Facebook]

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