Job-Loss Estimate in Transportation Sector Due to Self Driving Vehicles

One typical reaction to all new technology are fears about economic change – self driving cars are no different. As companies such as Tesla push the boundaries of autonomous vehicles, worries over job-loss in the transportation sector increase.

Writing for MSN Auto, Kyle Cheromcha addresses what appears to be a pretty credible fear about job loss in transportation due to future us of autonomous vehicles; potentially as high as 300,000 jobs a year according to a Goldman Sachs report. This number includes truck drivers, taxi drivers and bus drivers. The same Goldman Sachs report also notes that freight transportation may take the biggest hit because of the hard demands of the job.

While the report accounts for the snails pace of bureaucracy and red tape, it estimates that by the end of the next decade twenty-some percent of new cars sold will be autonomous.

Driving jobs account for 2% of the job market in the U.S., however the Goldman Sachs reports notes that the labor market should be able to absorb and retrain these workers. None-the-less, those working in the commercial driving sector are not likely soothed by this fact.
What do you think? Are autonomous commercial vehicles a good idea?

Ford Android Auto and Apple CarPlay Update Available

Ford 2016 model-year vehicles now have a Sync 3 infotainment system update available. Owners have several update options. The software can be downloaded to a USB drive or a Wi-Fi connection can be used to download the update directly to the vehicle.

Customers must upgrade their USB hubs in order to receive Apple CarPlay support. Android Auto support is available with the existing hardware. Both infotainment services allow users to access smartphone features such as navigation, music, phone, and messaging through Sync 3.

This is Ford’s first attempt at a Wi-Fi enabled update and their hired a specific team of engineers to for the project. Wi-Fi enabled vehicles will update automatically. 2017 model-year Fords are already equipped with Sync 3 that supports Android and Apple.

Exomotive Introduces Off-Road Kit Car

Exomotive, the manufacturer that developed the popular, open-top, DIY track toy has a new offering for off-road, home build enthusiasts. The Exocet Off-Road brings the same lightweight and attractively inexpensive fun of their original kit car to dirt roads near you.

As the original did, the Off-Road borrows its drivetrain and suspension parts from NA and NB Miatas and adheres them to a custom tube chassis. The simple design and easy assembly seem like a no brainer for performance driving hobbyists.

Major differences between the original and the Off-Road can be seen in sturdier axles, wider track and longer wheelbase. It offers 14 inches of suspension travel. Exomotive is offering the option for a custom Flyin’ NC Miata engine powers the new off-road kit car with 252 HP of fun.

Exomotive Off-Road basic 130HP kits will retail for $14k.

Find out more…

911 GT3 Bests Predecessor’s Lap Time

Porsche premiered its new track-ready 911 GT3 in Geneva and it bested the previous model by 12 seconds with a 7:12.7 lap time. While cosmetically virtually the same, the 2018 GT3 is improved in most performance aspects.

Porsche reports that the vehicle has 20 percent more downforce, while maintaining the same drag coefficient. Porsche have created a version of the high-revving, flat-six engine from the GT3 Cup race car—this and a new crankshaft, intake system cylinder head and valvetrain all are a part of the team of improvements that power the the 500 HP, 8250 RPM and 339 lb-ft of torque which send the 2018 GT3 to 60 MPH in a blinding 3.2 seconds.

Assuming the Nordschleife track time of 7:12.7 is accurate, the GT3 is one of the 10 fastest production cars to make the run. However, the GT3 has nothing on the legendary 918 Spyder which made the run in a mere 6:57.

Despite that, those with a need for speed will likely be satisfied with the $145K production car that is the 2018 Porsche GT3.

Is the US Electric Vehicle Market in Danger?

Writing for Bloomberg, Tom Randall takes a serious look at what might happen to the EV market with the looming cut of a $7,500 U.S. Tax Credit. He begins by comparing the $37,000 Chevy Bolt to the $17,000 Chevy Cruze, two very similar cars, and noted that the electric bolt isn’t “$20,000 better” than the Cruze.

Randall sites an example from the car-research company Edmunds, who think the loss of the tax credit will absolutely kill the EV market in the US.

“Edmunds pinned its argument on what happened in Georgia, a state that became an unlikely leader in electric cars thanks to an extra $5,000 incentive. At one point, almost four percent of new cars being sold in Georgia were electric. Then they pulled away the punch bowl.”

Randall notes that after Georgia pulled the extra state funding, Teslas sales actually ultimately went up. He notes that this is what happens when an electric vehicle “reaches parity with fuel-burning competitors in both price and function.”

Randall discusses the fact that the battery is basically the only thing holding back sub-luxury EVs from competing with their fuel consuming counter parts in price. Otherwise, he notes, that production and maintenance are actually far cheaper with an EV.

V.W. I.D. Crozz Concept Car: “the future is a little creepy”

Greg Fink reported on the new Volkswagen I.D. Crozz Concept Car for Car and Driver:

“If there’s one thing today’s cars are missing, it’s headlights that emulate the movements of the human eye. Volkswagen is working to change this, and its all-electric I.D. Crozz concept joins the brand’s I.D. and I.D. Buzz predecessor concepts by offering headlights that can wink, squint, and even stare at people and objects. The VW of the future is a little creepy.”

Fink suspects that the I.D. Crozz may be the concept for the electric vehicle V.W. plans to produce in 2020. Like its I.D. predecessors, the Crozz uses Volkswagen’s new, EV-specific MEB platform. It has approximately 109 inch wheelbase and is about 182 inches long. Similar to the Tiguan. An 83-kWh lithium-ion battery is located under the floor, and two electric motors, one at each axle, are contained within the front and rear subframes.

Fink states that:

“Passengers enter the I.D. Crozz through either the electrically opening front doors, which can swing out 90 degrees, or the electric sliding rear doors. Once seated, the driver can either take control of the wheel or waive driving duties by pressing the steering wheel’s VW logo for three seconds to activate the I.D. Pilot autonomous-driving mode. In that self-driving mode, the steering wheel retracts into the dashboard, the ambient cabin lighting switches from blue to violet, four laser scanners rise from the roof, and the headlights do their best imitation of a human eye by purposefully “looking” in the direction of travel or staring at pedestrians to make sure they’re thoroughly befuddled, made aware of the approaching VW, or both.”

While this concept car sounds a bit more like science fiction, than science fact if the specs of a production vehicle based off this concept come near the ballpark of the concept specs, V.W. may have a winner on their hands.

The Crozz has a 101-hop front motor and 201-hp in the rear motor. V.W. is claiming a top speed of 112mph and the driving range is listed at 311 miles. Volkswagen asserts that the crossover’s battery pack can be recharged to 80 percent full in only 30 minutes with a DC fast charger.

Fink reports that V.W. plans to sell a million EVs worldwide by 2025.

65th Anniversary of the Chevy Corvette

The 2018 model year is the 65th anniversary of Chevy’s iconic Corvette—and, no, the Corvette isn’t retiring. However, Chevy is marking the occasion by releasing a “Carbon 65 Edition” package for their 2018 Grand Sport and Z06 models. It is a special release of only 650 vehicles (no word on how the 650 will be split between the two models).

All of the Carbon 65 Edition Corvettes will be painted in Ceramic Matrix Gray with blue graphics on the doors and front fenders. Convertibles will get blue tops. The rest of the package focuses on carbon fiber upgrades.

The Carbon 65 gear thus includes the following carbon-fiber goodies: a ground-effects package , a hood insert, the roof panel on coupes, a spoiler, and side intake ducts. Dark-painted badges and side-mirror caps are included as well as carbon wheel centers fitted to black wheels wrapped in summer tires. Blue-painted brake calipers complete the exterior changes.

The interior gets Carbon 65 door sills, optional Competition Sport bucket seats, Jet Black suede upholstery with blue stitching, a carbon-fiber-rimmed steering wheel, and glossy carbon trim.

The $15K Carbon 65 package will be available this summer.

Head-On Collision … with a Turkey?

LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Michael Kellems says he has been an officer for 31 years and has “never seen something like that.”

Kellem is referring to the very bizarre incident in which A New Jersey family traveling through northern Indiana when a 30-pound turkey crashed through their vehicle’s windshield.

Kellems says the flying bird collided with the family’s rented SUV on 3/28/2017. The unfortunate turkey was left stuck in the broken windshield as driver John Tarabocchia of Emerson, New Jersey, pulled over along U.S. 20.

Captain Kellem was happy to report that Mr. Tarabocchia and his three passengers escaped with only a few minor cuts.

Tarabocchia tells The Indianapolis Star his family was headed to a Chicago airport to return home after visiting his daughter at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend. The family was about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of South Bend.

When The X-Files Meets Ferrari

Enzo Ferrari was laid to rest in his family’s tomb, near the Ferrari plant in Modena, in 1988 at the age of 90 shortly after giving his blessing to the famous Ferrari F40 supercar. Ferrari rested here peacefully up until recently.

According to Reuters, this past Tuesday Italian investigators stated that they had successfully interceded in a conspiracy to abscond with Enzo’s body and hold it for ransom.

Details were scarce. Police in Nuoroa City in Sardinia, Italy revealed only that they discovered the plot during an investigation into arms and drug trafficking in the region. Police said during a news conference that the gang suspected to be responsible for the plot was going to demand a ransom from either the Ferrari family or the supercar company itself, after exhuming Ferrari’s body and stealing away with it.

No other details, bizarre or otherwise, were available at the time.

Five Habits For Longer Vehicle Life

While many of these may seem like “common” sense measures, a lot of these simple habits can be tricky to integrate into our busy lives. Even taking on one of them at a time will begin a car owner down a new path to auto longevity.

Give Your Car a Bath

The road and parking lots are filled with all kinds of substances that lead to corrosion. It is important to remember there is an underside to every vehicle that doesn’t have the benefit of a paint job to protect it. While most cars’ undersides drain themselves pretty well, giving the entire car and especially the easily forgotten undercarriage a wash will help keep your vehicle in tip top shape.

Take a Load Off

Many of us have literal heavy loads we rely on our autos to taxi – materials for work, toys for play and with a family and kids it can seem like packing for a safari to just to go across town to the park. But remembering to unburden your vehicle when you don’t need to haul extra weight will let your vehicle’s engine work easier and reduce stress on the system.

Morning Warm-Up

Just like you need your morning ritual to get your blood pumping and your mind awake, let your car idle for a few minutes before taking off immediately. A cold vehicle’s transmission fluid and oil won’t be evenly distributed throughout the engine. Continual friction in vital parts of your vehicles engine can cause server (and costly) damage.

Regular Maintenance

Beyond regular oil changes and brake tune-ups, all drivers should remember to check the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule in their manual. Be prepared financially to regularly have belts, pumps and other important parts replaced as they age.