Tag: Studies

By on September 19, 2017

Fictional Autonomous Ford in Super Bowl Commercial

There’s nothing that will convince me that the first wave of autonomous taxis will be anything other than mobile biohazards, providing a slightly less convenient solution to paying a man to let you ride in the back of his Toyota Camry for a few miles. However, I will give them a shot once they arrive — mainly out of curiosity, which puts me in the minority.

Gartner Inc., an American research and advisory firm that works specifically within the realm of advanced technologies, recently completed a survey where over half of its respondents said there was no way in hell they’d get into the back of a fully autonomous vehicle. Its findings echo an American-based MIT study from earlier this year, as well as a global survey from Deloitte. The consensus: most of the population doesn’t feel particularly good about self-driving cars.

Not to be a defender of unproven technology, but there’s also nothing stopping a human cab driver from driving you to the wrong destination before trying to murder you with an axe. It doesn’t happen often, but it is a possibility. Likewise, autonomous cabs pose some element of risk no matter how good a job manufacturers do with those early models. But you’re not likely to be the occupant of the one that does goes haywire. It’s a problem of perception more than anything else.  (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2017

s-class-multimiedia

Fifty years ago the equipment disparity between luxury vehicles and economy cars was vast, but things are different today. With the exception of nicer materials and cutting-edge technology, you can get essentially everything you would want in a basic hatchback. We’re not talking about power windows and air conditioning either; the technological trickle-down now includes things like active safety systems, heated seats, in-car navigation, multiple driving modes, and more.

As it turns out, the great unwashed masses of today enjoy their pleb-mobiles at about the same level as affluent individuals like their own diamond-encrusted executive mobility suites. The reason? Because nobody cares about premium features they can’t figure out how to use, nor do they miss technology that isn’t part of their daily routine.

(Read More…)

By on September 6, 2017

pumping-gas fuel

The average fuel economy of new cars and light trucks sold within the United States in August was 25.3 mpg, down a very modest 0.1 mpg from July. Based on data plotted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, that represents an overall increase for the summer months — though it’s been a few years since we’ve seen a meaningful net gain.

Peak efficiency occurred in August of 2014, when fuel economy averaged 25.5 mpg. Since then, it’s been a herky-jerky series of minor rises and falls — ultimately resulting in an annual stagnation. Lower gas prices, combined with a growing preference for crossovers and SUVs, has kept the yearly economy average at 25.1 mpg.  (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2017

mercedes gts

While local climate plays a role, prefered automotive paint schemes largely come down to personal feelings and dealer inventory. There is also the matter of what colors are trending within the industry and, according to a recent consumer survey tabulation from iSeeCars.com, gender.

The automotive data research company compiled survey results from over 700,000 consumers and close to 30 million used car sales between 2015 and 2016 to find gender biases for specific colors. For the most part, color preferences are irrelevant. But there are a few standout shades that one group seems to prefer over the other. (Read More…)

By on August 10, 2017

autonomous testing tesla

Autonomous vehicles are about as polarizing a subject as you could possibly bring up around a group of car enthusiasts. Plenty of gearheads get hot under the collar at the mere concept of a self-driving car. Meanwhile, automotive tech fetishists cannot wait to plant their — I’m assuming — khaki Chinos into the seat of an autonomous vehicle and enjoy a coffee without the hindrance of having to actually drive the thing to their destination.

I’ve previously discussed how autonomous cabs will become unparalleled filth-boxes, destined for salacious behavior. Because without driver oversight, why not sneeze into your hand and wipe it on the seat back? Now, surveys are beginning to indicate privately owned computer-controlled cars will be subject to similar activities — with some drivers suggesting they’ll have no qualms about having sex, drinking booze, or binge eating behind the wheel.

That’s the future we’re being promised, but a lot of autonomous features have already made it into modern production cars. Word is, they’re starting to make us terrible drivers. It’s enough to worry automakers to a point where they’re considering implementing an array of systems to more actively encourage driver involvement on a platform that’s designed to do the opposite.

Get ready to drive your self-driving car.  (Read More…)

By on August 8, 2017

1978 buick rega turbo v6 engine

If you’re the type of automotive enthusiast who covets cylinder volume above all else, this probably hasn’t been your decade. However, if you’re of the boosted breed, things couldn’t be better. Forced induction engines are bigger than ever, not in size (again, sorry displacement fans) but in factory application.

The numbers of turbocharged vehicles sold in the U.S. rose for a sixth consecutive year in 2017, now accounting for 27.6 percent of new cars and light truck models built through March 2017. For the sake of reference, the 2011 model year only saw 10.7 percent, while previous years loitered between 4.5 and 6.6 percent annually. This makes turbocharging less of a trend and more of a revolution.  (Read More…)

By on July 26, 2017

2017 chrysler pacifica

We’ve always been slightly hesitant to share J.D. Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Study, especially given how easily analysis can be clouded by customers failing to understand the technology within their own vehicles. However, the market research firm still provides an interesting peek into what consumers seem to covet versus what they actually purchase.

In J.D. Power’s U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, consumers were asked how they “feel” about their vehicles on a more visceral level in order to evaluate the car’s overall appeal — or its APEAL, as it were.

Based on a 1,000-point scale, the 2017 survey showed overall satisfaction increased from a score of 801 points to 810 — the highest in the study’s 22-years of existence. Perched at the top of the most appealing brands list is Porsche, for a 13th consecutive year of glory, but it didn’t record the most marked improvement.

Chrysler did.   (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2017

parking city

INRIX Research, which compiles automotive data for automakers and state agencies, is claiming Americans waste 73 billion dollars every year trying to find and hold a parking space. Following a survey of nearly 6,000 drivers in 10 U.S. cities, INRIX concluded the average driver suffers an average of 17 hours and $345 worth of wasted time, fuel, and emissions.

While that sounds ridiculous, a 2017 national survey from the United Kingdom’s Department of Transport claimed average British drivers waste four days of their lives every year doing the same thing. The number was twice as high for city-based residents. Perhaps 17 annual hours is a little more reasonable than it initially seemed.  (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2017

fuel gauge

A recent study from Consumers Union — the public policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports — shows continued interest among U.S. residents in seeing automakers improve fuel economy figures, even as gas prices remain fairly low.

While this should come as a shock to no one, nearly nine in 10 surveyed consumers agreed automakers should continue improving fuel efficiency standards on all vehicles. As well, only 30 percent believed manufacturers actually cared about lowering fuel costs for their customers.

This might be true but, then again, why would automakers do such a thing when the general populace has essentially turned its back on economical passenger cars? With little incentive to sell them, especially if the Trump administration alters 2025 emission targets, any top-tier automaker focusing exclusively on building MPG-focused automobiles would be placing itself at major financial risk.

The survey indicated fuel economy as the area perceived to possess the most room for improvement in modern vehicles. However, consumers have not used their wallets to bolster economy car sales. There appears to be a disparity between what the public claims to value and how it actually behaves. At a minimum, consumers may have misunderstood everything it would take to see fleet-wide fuel consumption decline. If they want to see higher MPGs, they’re going to have to make some sacrifices and the survey doesn’t allude to that fact.  (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2017

cars on a street, public domain

There has been plenty of doomsday prophecies surrounding the automotive industry in the last year, based largely upon the assumption that younger drivers are less willing to support it or simply cannot afford to. Stupid, right? Not really. While the direness of the situation is often exaggerated, plenty of evidence exists to underscore the impending troubles of the new car market. Whether it’s because those in their salad days don’t care as much about cars as their elders or simply have less disposable income (hint: it’s the second one), real change is coming for OEMs.

Younger shoppers are noticeably more likely to purchase used vehicles than their more venerable contemporaries are, but “young” is a relative term — especially in this instance. According to a recent study, 53.7 percent of prospective buyers under forty plan on getting a used car the next time they need wheels. For those over forty, that number is 49.7 percent. As you’d expect older people to buy more new cars, this much of a disparity at mid-life is significant.  (Read More…)

By on May 26, 2017

2014 Hyundai Accent, Image: Hyundai

After a notable decline in driver fatalities during the Great Recession, deaths are back on the rise. However, the increase is rather minuscule compared to every other decade since automobiles became North America’s preferred mode of transportation and the number is projected to go back down in the years to come.

The averaged rate of driver deaths for 2014 models was 30 fatalities per million registered vehicle years, up from the 2011 low of 28. Fatal crashes rose a further 7 percent in 2015. This is can primarily be attributed to people having more reasons to drive when the economy is better, and those added miles translate into additional opportunities for crashes.

More interestingly, however, is which vehicles drivers are losing their lives in most often. As expected, smaller vehicles often are the most dangerous to occupy in the event of an accident but the stats between individual models vary widely. (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2017

autonomous hardware

A recent study has discovered most drivers prefer to see traditional automakers developing their autonomous cars, not ride-hailing companies like Uber or Lyft.

In Inrix’s Connected & Autonomous Vehicle Consumer Survey, 5,045 drivers from five countries weighed in on the subject. Roughly 30 percent of the pool indicated they “trusted” established automotive manufacturers to build their self-driving cars, with 20 percent feeling similarly about tech companies like Google’s Waymo. Only 4 percent said they had confidence in ride-hailing providers.

Some of that could be down to Uber’s lackluster performance. The company’s autonomous development efforts has seen it butting heads with regulators, annoying the entire city of Pittsburgh, and weathering high-profile traffic incidents(Read More…)

By on April 4, 2017

autonomous hardware

Ford’s head of research, Ken Washington, suggests that the general public won’t be able to buy a fully autonomous vehicle until sometime between 2026 and 2031. That’s a little later than CEO Mark Fields’ claim of “by 2025.”

We already know that companies are making timeline promises they can’t really keep but, with Ford currently working on an autonomous ride-sharing fleet to be used on public roadways in 2021, the amount of wiggle-room in Washington’s estimate is a little unsettling. If the technology is sufficient to shuttle people around in a taxi, shouldn’t it be equally adept in accomplishing that task regardless of what seat the human is occupying? Exactly who is leading in this race?  (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

navigation car GPS

A new study suggests drivers who follow GPS directions regularly do not engage their hippocampus, highly limiting the development of an internal map and making them more dependent on navigation devices. We’ve all heard accounts of London cabbies with juicy, swollen central lobes, stemming from the requisite training and memorization of city streets and landmarks. It turns out the inverse may also be true. This may be another classic case of if you don’t use it, you lose it.

The University College London discovered the hippocampus (used for direction and memory) and the prefrontal cortex (used for decision-making) both saw elevated levels of activity whenever drivers turned down unfamiliar streets or had free-choice to follow along their route. However, those making use of navigational systems produced no additional activity in those areas whatsoever. Zero, zilch, nada.  (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2017

pumping fuel

An economic assessment conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that, due to recent improvements in technology, the Environmental Protection Agency’s rationale for its 2025 fuel efficiency standards may have overestimated the cost for automakers to comply. The ICCT’s study shows average per-car investments 34 to 40 percent lower than the previous EPA appraisal.

While this information, had it come out sooner, may not have kept automotive executives from bending the president’s ear to reevaluate EPA guidelines, it certainly reframes their reasons for doing so. The ICCT, famous for turning researchers loose on Volkswagen diesels, makes a good case that manufacturers have the tools to meet current standards without spending a lot of money.  (Read More…)

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