The Truth About Cars » Studies The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:19:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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 (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Studies AlixPartners: 2014 May Be The Peak Of U.S. Auto Sales Thu, 10 Jul 2014 10:00:59 +0000 Toyota Sales Lot

The good news? Automakers are enjoying a sales boom in the United States the likes of which haven’t been seen since the Great Recession brought the hammer down, with June 2014 sales alone surpassing those in July of 2006. Should the boom continue, 2014 will close as the industry’s best year in a long time, with over 16 million vehicles sold when the calendar ticks over to 2015.

The bad news? This year may be the last year U.S. sales ever climb this high.

Autoblog reports a study by AlixPartners suggests sales will peak later this year, then head back down the mountain on the beaten path of rising interest rates — diminishing purchasing power in the process — then veer toward the long trail built upon the Millennials’ alleged preference of Uber and Car2Go over individual ownership.

In the near-term, director Dan Hearsch warns the lines of cheap credit today will dry up over the next two to three years:

The biggest factor would be this credit bubble, and without making an exact projection of when that will happen, that, to use is the window when you’ll see an impact on car sales. The other side of it is cyclical and predictable. … We’re a little more pessimistic because of these other factors.

Further up the path, rising fuel prices will temporarily give hybrids and EVs a boost in sales, but improvements in the ICE and the ongoing issues with EVs — range, higher upfront costs and production of battery packs — will mitigate whatever gains are made unless the technology comes into parity with the ICE.

Finally, AlixPartners expects 80 percent of all vehicles sold in North America by 2017 will be connected vehicles, and advises governments and OEMs to prepare for the day autonomous vehicles take their first outings beyond Google’s research facility, as such vehicles will be key to future sales.

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Average Vehicle Age To Remain Around 11 Years Through 2019 Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:00:53 +0000 2003 Mazda Protege5

If the highways appear to be filled with vehicles built during the middle years of Bush II’s first term, your eyes are not deceiving you: IHS Automotive says the average age of a given vehicle on the road has remained at 11.4 years at the end of 2013.

Automotive News reports the average age figure will hold through 2015, then climb to 11.7 years by 2019. Though high at the moment, the firm’s director aftermarket solutions and global aftermarket practice leader Mark Seng states the figure is entering a plateau “without a major change in either direction” through the rest of the decade. He adds this is based upon “a number of factors, including the economy and increasing quality of today’s automobiles.”

As for new cars, IHS expects vehicles five years and younger will increase their presence by 32 percent in 2019, with vehicles 12 years and above to 15 percent and those in-between the two extremes to actually decrease in visibility by 21 percent in the same period.

Finally, the highways saw a record 252.7 million units travel upon them in 2013, up from 2 percent in 2012.

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AAA Study: Cost Of Ownership Falls In 2014 Due To Lower Fuel Prices Thu, 15 May 2014 10:00:18 +0000 Salesman With Customer

In its annual Your Driving Costs study, AAA says the cost of owning and operating a vehicle has fallen on the back of lower fuel prices, though its findings leave a little to be desired with current fuel costs.

USA Today reports the methodology behind AAA’s study uses fuel prices from the final three months of the outgoing year. In 2013, prices were beginning to peak during the collection period, peaking earlier this year before falling to current levels. The club’s manager of technical services, Michael Calkins, acknowleged as much during this year’s announcement, but stated that AAA uses its preferred methodology “for consistency in the results.”

Other factors in lowered O&O costs in this year’s study include the increased fuel efficiency in newer vehicles — a result of increasing CAFE targets — as well as lower tire costs. Also noted: Insurance costs remained stable while depreciation fell 1.71 percent to $3,510 per year for the first five years, and maintenance costs climbed 2 percent to 5.06 cents per mile.

As for the cost of ownership for 2014, sedan owners will see a 2.7 percent decrease overall, with an average cost of 59.2 cents per mile and $8,876 per year based upon 15,000 miles driven annually.

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Study: Connecticut EV Dealer Incentive Program Could Improve Technology Adoption Rates Wed, 07 May 2014 12:00:12 +0000 tesla courtesy nicholas fleury via flickr

While most states and the United States government offer tax credits to consumers for purchasing an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid, Connecticut instead offers dealers the incentive to sell EVs and PHEVs, a move research group Navigant Research claims could be more effective at bringing about greater adoption of the new technology.

Autoblog Green reports the Connecticut Revolutionary Dealer Award program offered by the state’s Department of Energy & Environmental Protection — or DEEP — which will bestow an award upon the dealership who moves the most EVs in a six-month period ending July 31st, as well as for the dealership whose sales and leases account for a significant percentage of overall sales, could help push non-Tesla dealers normally reluctant to sell an EV to learn about their offerings, thereby leading to more sales.

In addition, Navigant suggests Connecticut offer incentives to those who do purchase an EV, as well as offer EV HOV lane access; the state already provides grants to agencies purchasing EV charging stations, totaling $175,000 divided by 50 towns, businesses and schools for 75 such units thus far.

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Average Car Price Affordable Only To Washington, DC Customers Fri, 14 Mar 2014 11:37:39 +0000 1000px-Capital_Beltway_Map_Color.svg

Unlike the average Beltway insider, a report by claims the majority of medium-income American households in 24 of 25 cities studied cannot afford the average new-car price of $32,086.

AOL Autos reports the study focused on each city’s median income in relation to the new-car price average as pegged by Kelley Blue Book. Said price was broken down to monthly payments of $633 per month for 48 months with 20 percent down while interest, insurance and principal exceeded no more than 10 percent of the household’s gross income.

The only city out of 25 to pull off the feat? Washington, D.C., whose residents can afford the average of $32,531 on a new car, broken down to 48 monthly payments of $641. San Francisco and Boston trailed the nation’s capital, while everyone else in the remaining cities were paying too much for their new car, according to managing editor Mike Sante:

Too many families are spending way too much on new cars and trucks. Just because you can manage the monthly payment doesn’t mean you should let a $30,000 or $40,000 ride gobble up such a huge share of your paycheck.

Experts recommend spending up 20 percent of take-home pay on a vehicle purchase and subsequent payments.

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Australians Favoring Imports Over Domestics In Study Mon, 10 Mar 2014 13:35:24 +0000 Mirage (6)

In a study conducted by Roy Morgan Research, one in eight Australian consumers prefer locally made vehicles for their next new-car purchase today, down from one in four a decade earlier.

WardsAuto reports that while cars such as the Holden Commodore, Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Camry are at the top of the list for Australian-built new vehicle purchases, the overall decline in is due to the kind of vehicles made in Australia, as Roy Morgan Research Automotive Account director Jordan Parks explains:

Over the last 10 years, Australian car-buying preferences have changed substantially – with the small-car market in Australia now clearly the dominant segment. SUVs are also taking share from the once-dominant large-car segment, with more than 20% of buyers now after either a medium or large SUV.

Parks also adds that more options available to Australian consumers, a stronger Australian dollar, and decreasing tariffs also are among the growing number of factors fueling the import boom:

When combining the increase in choice, changing vehicle preferences, higher local labor costs, strong Australia dollar, increasing petrol prices and decreased tariff protection, it is not surprising to see the gradual demise of the locally built large car.

With the end of the local industry coming over the horizon, Parks believes that the tariffs that once protected the industry would all but vanish, allowing new-car prices to fall to more affordable levels as a result of savings of up to $1 billion AUD in annual fees paid by importers.

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The bell tolls over Seattle, but not for most commuters Thu, 17 Oct 2013 10:30:48 +0000 520_sunset510

It would appear as though the price of admission to traverse the longest floating bridge in the world on a daily basis has had quite the impact on commuting patterns in Seattle. A study to be issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation this week – barring another tragicomic display by the powers that be, of course – has uncovered that use of the Governor Albert D. Rosellini Bridge – Evergreen Point (colloquially known as the 520 floating bridge) has gone down by half since tolling began near the end of 2011.

The tolls, ranging from $0 for late-night and early morning travelers, to $5.25 for those rush-hour commuters who prefer to pay the man by mail, have caused 9 out of 10 drivers to find another path to work and play across Lake Washington. The majority of those avoiding the toll have annual incomes of $50,000 and under, while those making $200,000 and above (and are no doubt enjoying the more open road) pay little if any mind to being tolled.

On the upside, more commuters are using mass transit due to the tolls – which were enacted as one of the five DOT demonstration projects under their $1 billion Urban Partnerships Congestion Initiative – with around 45 percent preferring to “ride the wave” than drown in a congestion pricing tsunami.

The information provided by the study will be considered by Olympia, Wash.’s best and brightest this week as they debate on whether to set tolls upon the other two floating bridges (both carrying east- and westbound traffic on I-90) over Lake Washington to help fund the construction of the 520’s replacement, set to open in 2014.

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Toyota: The Battle Of The Papers Sun, 14 Feb 2010 12:17:33 +0000

The Toyota case is heading towards hearings in DC and to courts all over the country. Both sides are putting heavy artillery in position. Both sides of the SUA wars commission heavy caliber studies – both with inconclusive results. Toyota funded a study into the electronics in its vehicles. Before that, a group of lawyers had “sponsored” Safety Research and Strategies, a company that makes money by investigating auto-safety for those suing auto makers. Ford, which had been at the receiving end of an SRS fusillade during the Explorer crisis, called the company “supposed safety advocates who are actually just shills for trial attorneys.”

Here are the latest dispatches from the front lines:

SRS produced a Big Bertha of a 180 page research report, that can be downloaded here (if your Internet connection is up to it – I’m on one of Tokyo’s finest 50 Mbit connections, and I’m still waiting… ah, download completed.) The conclusion of the monster is that “sticking accelerator pedals do not appear to cause the SUA events,” and that basically nobody knows what the reason may be. SRS is pointing fingers at the drive-by-wire system, which they call – duh – “significantly different and more complex than the older, mechanical systems.”

The computer gremlin theory “taps into our almost instinctual fear that our machines will suddenly turn on us,” writes Popular Mechanics. “To judge by press accounts and statements from government officials, those innocuous-looking Toyota sedans and SUVs in millions of American driveways are somehow kin to the homicidal ’58 Plymouth Fury in the Stephen King novel “Christine”—haunted by technological poltergeists and prone to fits of mechanical mayhem.” Primordial fear at its finest.

Washington quickly took advantage of the automotive angst. The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform lobbed a heavy caliber staff memo that says: “Attention is now being focused on the electronic throttle control system (ETC) to determine whether sudden acceleration may be attributable to a software design problem or perhaps to electromagnetic interference.”

To provide counter-battery fire, Toyota hired the engineering research firm Exponent of Menlo Park, CA, to dig into its computers. Exponent found ”no evidence of problems in the electronics in Toyota and Lexus products,” says their study, that somehow found its way (guess how) to the Wall Street Journal.

Exponent bought six Toyota and Lexus vehicles, all equipped with the electronic throttle-control system. Then they threw all kinds of tests and stresses at the cars. When failures were induced in these sensors, Exponent says the electronic control module detected the problem and took appropriate action.

“Imposing these perturbations resulted in a significant drop in power rather than an increase,” Exponent says in the study. “In all cases, when a fault was imposed, the vehicle entered a fail-safe mode.”

So basically, instead of accelerating like a banshee, the cars on which Exponent performed a vivisection went in to limp mode, just good enough to crawl back to the next Toyota dealer.

Exponent is not finished with their investigation. “Testing and analysis by Exponent will continue for several months,” says the WSJ. So will the trench warfare. Armies of lawyers will record record amounts of billable hours, while the arms merchants of this war will deforest the earth to produce huge amounts of paper.

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1000s Injured and Killed in Non-Driving Car Accidents Mon, 09 Feb 2009 14:54:33 +0000

A US Department of Transportation study released last month shows that thousands of Americans (documented or otherwise) are injured or killed each year in vehicle-related accidents unrelated to driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) “Not in Traffic Surveillance – 2007 Highlights” study reveals that a total of of 1747 fatalities and 841k injuries were attributed to non-traffic crashes and non-crash incidents. The agency compiled the annual estimates to provide the first-ever look at the magnitude of accidents that cannot be resolved with a new law enforced with traffic citations. Among the findings: 168 individuals are killed each year by falling vehicles. Another 88 peg it by falling out of a car. Electric windows reduce the gene pool by five unlucky souls, and three die while locked in the trunk. About 22 percent of injuries are caused while entering or exiting a vehicle. Twenty percent of injuries are caused by car doors. Some 10k end up in ER after getting jiggy with jacks or hoists. The NHTSA compiled the information from a number of sources including police reports, hospital records and an injury database maintained by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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