The automotive industry frames electric vehicles as the future of motoring, but despite a large number of plug-in options already available, the entire idea of owning an electric car is still rather futuristic. Leasing one, however, is far more contemporary.
Growing in popularity, automotive leasing hit a record high in 2016, accounting for 31 percent of all new vehicle sales in the United States. But that’s nothing when you isolate the number of electric cars. U.S. drivers now lease nearly 80 percent of battery-electric vehicles and 55 percent of all plug-in hybrids. Accounting for this trend is a consumer perception that EVs will only get better over time — which isn’t all that different from saying the current fleet isn’t all that impressive.
The odds are still stacked against such a purchase, but next year stands to become the greatest year yet for vehicles not entirely powered by internal combustion.
In its look at industry trends for 2018, Edmunds reveals a number of no-brainers: the passenger car segment continues its sad decline, luxury SUVs remain a massive growth market, and the amount of new car buyers choosing to lease remains static at 30 percent.
One segment, however, stands to hit the accelerator next year. Green vehicles — covering the hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicle segments — will break out of the micro-niche category and catapult firmly into the “niche, but approaching mainstream” realm.
In addition to being needlessly stressful, obligatory holiday travel poses an elevated risk of roadway mishaps. Inclement weather, congested highways, and overtaxed drivers traversing long distances is an exceptionally bad formula. We don’t have to spell it out further; you’ve likely seen seasonal roadside tragedies firsthand and been thankful it wasn’t you.
However, depending on where you’re making your holiday pilgrimage this year, the associated risks could be much higher or lower than someone traveling a few states over. Not all regions are created equal, and some parts of the United States appear to be particularly susceptible to road fatalities during annual festivities.
You’ve decided to take the plunge. To lay down significant cash for a personal vehicle that burns no gasoline and isn’t a bicycle. Unlike the plethora of dino juice-sipping models competing for your attention, your choice of electric vehicles is still modest, albeit growing, and comes with a list of ownership concerns never mentioned around traditional cars.
Range, charging times, home connections, and the impact of temperature on the battery pack (and its longevity) are just some of the questions a salesman might be asked about. Pricing is easy.
This past fall, research firm Ipsos RDA Automotive sent secret shoppers into 141 EV-selling dealerships in the U.S., where the spies feigned interest in purchasing one of 11 fully electric models. The experience was a wildly mixed bag. It’s not entirely surprising, but in many showrooms dominated by gas-powered cars and SUVs, the sale the dealer employee attempted to close was not for the EV the secret shopper came in to buy.
If you ask any terrible motorist how skilled they are behind the wheel, the response is often the same. “Oh, I’m a great driver,” they’ll say with a self-assured smile. Meanwhile, you’re left holding back a series of screaming rants that involve first-hand accounts of why their claim couldn’t possibly be accurate. But what about the rest of the country?
As it turns out, the general consensus in the United States is that most people think they’re a fine driver. But things get a little more complicated when you drive into people’s habits behind the wheel. In a recent survey, Driving-tests.org found that 60.8 percent of surveyed Americans thought they were an above-average driver. While that percentage can only be an impossibility, some of the claimed behaviors were slightly better than a comparative sample of international respondents.
Insurance may be one of the greatest scams ever pulled on the general public, but it’s a very necessary evil. Right around the time the automobile became popular, people starting crashing them into things. By the 1920s, individual states began requiring drivers to purchase insurance — creating a pooled solution that covered at-fault drivers for damages they might be unable to pay otherwise.
However, not all drivers crash and not all vehicles incur the same costs when they take or deliver a beating. Collision losses might be astronomical for high-end sports cars but comparably moderate for midsize pickup trucks. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute recently compiled the loss averages for hundreds of models, grouping them by segments, to establish how lightly-used autos stack up against each other.
We’ve all been there. It’s late, we haven’t slept enough, and we’re cruising down a chilly freeway wrapped in warmth and white noise. Then, unexpectedly, we begin to nod off. From here, we can either spring back to a terrified state of consciousness that will sustain us the rest of the journey or we can fall asleep and ultimately destroy our vehicle — and maybe ourselves — in the process.
Drowsy driving is a real problem. But, while we’re always hearing about how it’s just as dangerous as driving drunk, we don’t often see statistics backing that up. That’s mainly because it’s a lot harder to assess someone’s tiredness than it is to give them a breathalyzer and toss them in the back of a squad car. But a 2014 study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated drowsy drivers could contribute to 328,000 accidents annually, with around 6,400 being fatal.
It always happens when you aren’t expecting it. You’re cruising along in your automobile, listening to the radio and making wonderful time. Then, all of a sudden, the steering feels odd — there is an overabundance of vibration and the car keeps pulling to one side. You’ve got a flat tire.
Annoying, to be sure. Fortunately, this isn’t your first rodeo and you pull off to swap the punctured rubber with a spare. However, if you own a brand new car, you might be disappointed to learn there’s decent chance it doesn’t even have one. According to a recent study conducted by the American Automobile Association, 28 percent of 2017 model-year vehicles aren’t equipped with spare tires — leaving you breaking out the compressed air and sealant or calling for a tow truck.
Picture a suburban street in an average middle class neighborhood. In each driveway sits two vehicles, as tradition states no modern American suburban family can make do with just one. Think about those two vehicles for a minute now.
Are they evenly matched? In other words, are they the same size? Do they fulfill the same requirements laid out by a single segment? Doubtful, and your mind’s eye already made this clear. One’s a Safari or Caprice wagon, the other’s a Datsun 210. One’s a Corolla, the other, a Suburban. A Focus and an F-150, and so on.
Does owning an economy car compel new car buyers to splurge when new-car buying time rolls around? Logic, and now science, says yes.
People love generational studies. The notion that being born a few years away from another person creates a disparate, irreconcilable identity is an appealing one and is, to some extent, backed by plausible evidence. After all, growing up in 1975 was different than growing up in 2005. However, when exactly those subtle differences surface to an extent where they can be measured is debatable.
That’s why I was so intrigued by a recent study indicating that Generation Z will be “nothing like their Millennial predecessors” when it comes to financing automobiles and purchasing automotive insurance. Members of Generation Z currently run between the ages of five and 21. So, how exactly will your five-year-old go about procuring coverage or a loan for their first automobile?
Automobiles are more tech-laden than ever and, according to a recent study, those interactive bells and whistles contribute heavily to distracted driving.
With connected cars ready to shoot off assembly lines and into driveways at an accelerated pace, the danger of someone flicking through their dashboard menus when they should be looking at the road is only going to grow. Many states prohibit phone usage while driving, yet there is no law against setting your radio pre-tunes or customizing your digital dashboard while hurtling down the expressway — not that there necessarily should be.
However, the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned researchers from the University of Utah to examine the physical and mental demand required to complete various tasks using the infotainment systems in 30 new 2017 vehicles. The conclusion was that the growing cavalcade of buttons, screens, and technology does an incredibly good job at keeping you from minding the road ahead.
Over 25 percent of the used vehicles sold through eight CarMax locations in the United States had recall defects that were not addressed, according to a recent safety report.
The 2017 study, conducted by the Center For Auto Safety, the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation and the MASSPIRG Education Fund, noted that vehicles with unresolved safety recalls had more than doubled since 2015 at the five locations surveyed in both years. That is worthy of a raised eyebrow or two.
Questions remain, however. While the review cites numerous locations selling vehicles with what many would consider unacceptable issues, we don’t definitively know if this is indicative of CarMax as a whole. But lets face it, there were 64 million vehicles recalled for safety problems last year — exceeding the total for the previous three years combined.
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.
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.
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.