By on July 27, 2017

lyft press kit photo, Image: Lyft

Taco Bell and ride-hail company Lyft announced plans this week to debut “a unique ride-thru” experience called “Taco Mode,” which will allow patrons to request a pit stop at the nearest Taco Bell location. Lyft claims it’s the perfect option for “passengers seeking the ultimate Taco Bell experience.”

While riders can already request to be driven to the restaurant with some of the worst-maintained bathrooms imaginable, Lyft promises the app makes the overall endeavor of  buying fast food “more convenient — and fun — than ever.”

Why would these companies join forces? According to the press release, it’s because they “are two like-minded brands at the forefront of technology and innovation.” Don’t laugh. After all, Taco Bell was the company that realized you could make a taco shell out of fried chicken, while Lyft was the organization that took Uber’s business model and added furry pink mustaches.

They also both serve the late-night community. The restaurant chain provides a “fourth meal” to individuals that are too drunk or stoned to cook and the ride-hailing service keeps them from endangering others by stopping them from operating a motor vehicle. On the surface, it seems like a natural fit for a genius cross-marketing opportunity — until you place yourself into the shoes of the driver plighted to slop these disgusting animals in the backseat.  (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2017

Ford Service Center, Image: Ford Motor Co.

Ford Motor Company may soon press dealership service centers to prioritize maintenance and repairs for ride-sharing fleets and their employees. This comes after the company’s decision to expand its in-house shuttling firm, known as Chariot, and as its long-term plan to bring an autonomous ride-sharing solution to market by 2021 takes shape. But Ford also knows rival companies can be a strong source of revenue. Omnicraft, anyone?

Even moderately sized cities have several thousand Uber and Lyft drivers, and Ford’s CEO of Smart Mobility Raj Rao thinks they represent an untapped resource. He believes service centers should go the extra mile for them, even if it means some dealerships have to stay open 24 hours to provide swift turnarounds.  (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2017

smart-fortwo

You’d probably never guess this from examining any parking lot in suburban North America, but Daimler’s microcar brand is actually doing exceedingly well. Despite the global trend toward crossovers, Smart saw record sales last year and increased its global volume 21 percent to 144,479 units. More amazing is that it’s still a brand that owes the entirety of its success to one niche market.

Smart doesn’t seem interested in changing course, either. While it’s abandoning internal combustion units to pursue a strict EV-only mentality in the United States, it will be business as usual for the the rest of the planet. But, with much of the industry offering spanking new compact crossovers and with fuel prices still so low, wouldn’t it be in Smart’s best interest to look beyond the limited microcar segment?  (Read More…)

By on April 20, 2017

2015_Toyota_Prius_c_007

Automakers, both domestic and come-from-away, all want you to do the next best thing if your meager funds aren’t enough to get you into a showroom: borrow a car.

Ride-sharing services provide mainly urban dwellers with the car they so desperately crave, without the years of payments or need to find permanent parking. And, if an automaker partners up with a service provider — or creates its own — there’s still money flowing back to the offices of Big Auto. Win-win, no?

The growing trend is hard to ignore, and it means that automakers — already new to the game — face ever greater competition, even from unlikely sources. The latest company to offer a ride-sharing service isn’t a manufacturer at all. It’s the American Automobile Association. (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

Uber (freestocks.org/Flickr)

Uber’s president Jeff Jones is quitting the car-hailing business after a brief six-month stretch.

Jones’ choice of a swift departure is essentially down to the company’s controversy laden decisions and apparent degenerate corporate culture. In addition to allegations of widespread sexual harassment, Uber has managed to routinely anger local governments by ignoring autonomous testing laws and by employing algorithms that denied service to potential investigators, regulators, or law enforcement officials. It’s also been accused of property theft, and CEO Travis Kalanick is exhibiting behavior unlikely to win people over.

It’s a real shit show.

(Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

Car2Go Mercedes

Daimler AG’s Car2Go has been a great way for the company to dump Smart Fortwos on urban areas and turn a profit while the itty-bitty city car’s popularity wanes. However, with only the single small offering, Car2Go is the only vehicle-sharing service that forces subscribers to decide which of their two children will have to be left behind to fend for themselves every time they take a trip somewhere.

In response, Mercedes-Benz is providing its CLA and GLA to C2G’s North American fleet — reuniting families, allowing a week’s worth of grocery shopping in a single run, and making its service substantially more competitive with rival ZipCar. (Read More…)

By on January 16, 2017

traffic gridlock

A great philosopher once said that you can’t start a fire without a spark, followed by something about rhythmic movements in unlit spaces.

Well, if there’s a war brewing against autonomous technology and self-driving vehicles, the flashpoint might have occurred in New York — City and State — last week. A large trade group and labor union joined forces in denouncing the driverless scourge headed their way, with one of the groups angling for a 50-year-ban on the automotive heathens. (Read More…)

By on December 15, 2016

Car2go

Bitter rivals Daimler AG and BMW are planning to combine their car-sharing services —Car2Go and DriveNow — to compete with North America’s Uber car service. The two must be desperate to make headway into the world of vehicle ownership alternatives if they are willing to cooperate on the project.

BMW famously avoided a Daimler-Benz takeover in 1959 by convincing nearly every employee to invest back into the company, thus avoiding both bankruptcy and being forced to join with their main competitor. More recently, Daimler offered BMW employees free admission to the Mercedes-Benz Museum for BMW’s 100th birthday, where they could learn “the complete history of the automobile.” (Read More…)

By on November 29, 2016

UberSELECT

There are some absolutely terrible people in this world who are fools for prestige, suckers for any shiny bauble or deplorable frippery that might permit them the despicable foppery of believing themselves to be somehow better than their fellow men for the least justifiable of reasons.

I am one of those terrible people. I wear Kiton suits even though I am so breathtakingly ugly that no manner of haute couture can make any possible difference. I have a “Black Series” toothbrush. When I saw a fellow racer who happened to be a hugely wealthy fellow from Hong Kong pull out an “Infinite” series Visa card to lay down next to my “Signature” series Visa, I did not rest until I was also in possession of an “Infinite” Visa that was stamped from actual metal instead of merely molded out of plastic. When my plans to acquire a European noble title from some down-and-out distant relatives around the turn of the century foundered, I actually purchased a barony from a (very small, not quite legitimate) country.

There is no activity or purchase too ridiculous for me to undertake in the name of perceived prestige. Or so I thought … until the day I paid $78 dollars to ride in an Uber Select.

(Read More…)

By on November 3, 2016

Audi On Demand Concierge, Image: © 2016 Bozi Tatarevic/The Truth About Cars

My wife and I visited the Bay Area a couple of weeks ago. Our plan was open-ended and started with a one-way ticket to Oakland and two nights at the Westin in Union Square. Since parking in San Francisco is expensive, we decided to forgo renting a car at the airport and took an Uber into the city.

After exploring the city for a bit, we decided to head up north and visit some wineries. One of the more convenient options to rent a car for the day is the new Audi On Demand service, so we picked up an A4 and headed north.

(Read More…)

By on October 3, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

General Motors claims Chevrolet dealers will see some Bolts arrive before the end of the year, but it’s now clear who gets the 238-mile electric vehicle first.

The first Bolts to roll out of the Orion Assembly plant will go to drivers working for Lyft, the Detroit Free Press reports. (Read More…)

By on September 19, 2016

2015 Chevrolet Suburban LTZ

Yoyo believes, like other mobility disruptors, that the traditional automobile acquisition and ownership experience is broken. It maintains that the majority of consumers can be provided with more flexible, efficient, lower-cost alternatives to the incumbent model of personal mobility. However, the prevailing two-step distribution system is entrenched and the insurance, maintenance, parking, and other segments of the $2 trillion extended auto industry are not incentivized to embrace change.

Will Yoyo’s pay-per-mile subscription model participate in disrupting the calcified status quo? (Read More…)

By on August 18, 2016

Volvo Cars and Uber join forces to develop autonomous driving cars

Volvo is partnering with ride-hailing service Uber, a $300 million deal expected to spawn a fleet of self-driving vehicles on U.S. roads.

Both companies plan to develop their own autonomous technology using a Volvo “base” vehicle, but Pittsburgh will see a crop of self-driving Swedes by the end of the year, Automotive News reports. (Read More…)

By on August 15, 2016

Uber (freestocks.org/Flickr)

Uber claims it conducts lengthy background checks for all of its would-be drivers, but an investigation conducted in the wake of an alleged Boston-area rape says otherwise.

Darnell Booth, 34, of Dorchester, Massachusetts stands accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl while working for the company. The crime, allegedly committed  in early July, gives anti-Uber foes another weapon, and calls the company’s vetting process into question. (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2016

hipster lyft millennials

Automakers are turning up the wick on drive-sharing investments and slowly transitioning from car manufacturing to providing mobility. That’s likely a good bet, too, considering a recent report from McKinsey Global Institute.

The report, titled “Poorer than their parents? A new perspective on income inequality,” is a stark reminder that the economic situation isn’t as good as it was 10 years ago, let alone compared to the highs of the postwar West.

For starters, 65 or 70 percent of households in the advanced nations studied were “in income segments whose incomes in 2014 were flat or down compared with 2005,” states the report. The United States is one of the countries pulling up that average with 80-percent of households in income segments either flat or falling.

(Read More…)

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