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Autonomous Driving Is Not The End For Insurance

Autonomous driving is becoming closer to a reality, which will change many different things.

If autonomous cars are so safe that accidents become rare, can the auto insurance industry survive?

Some car companies think they can eliminate road fatalities through autonomous driving and other safety features. “Our vision is that by 2020 no one should be killed or injured in a new Volvo car,” said the company’s president.

If that future becomes a reality, then why would we need liability insurance for our vehicles? (We’d still need insurance for theft or when someone else crashes into your parked car, for example.)

Automated driving is already here in several production cars, and dozens ofcompanies and university labs are working in the field. Tesla estimates that its Autopilot feature cuts accident rates in half, and that’s just in its current beta release. In Forbesalone, there have been at least four articles in the last four months about the possibledeath of auto insurance. So, the time seems right to take a closer look at the issues.

Why care?

The US auto insurance industry is significant: it generates $220 billion in annual revenue and supports 277,000 jobs, about the same number of mechanical engineeringjobs. Consultancy KPMG predicts that the market will shrink 60% by the year 2040.

If autonomous cars are so safe that accidents become rare, can the auto insurance industry survive?

Some car companies think they can eliminate road fatalities through autonomous driving and other safety features. “Our vision is that by 2020 no one should be killed or injured in a new Volvo car,” said the company’s president.

If that future becomes a reality, then why would we need liability insurance for our vehicles? (We’d still need insurance for theft or when someone else crashes into your parked car, for example.)

Automated driving is already here in several production cars, and dozens ofcompanies and university labs are working in the field. Tesla estimates that its Autopilot feature cuts accident rates in half, and that’s just in its current beta release. In Forbesalone, there have been at least four articles in the last four months about the possibledeath of auto insurance. So, the time seems right to take a closer look at the issues.

Why care?

The US auto insurance industry is significant: it generates $220 billion in annual revenue and supports 277,000 jobs, about the same number of mechanical engineeringjobs. Consultancy KPMG predicts that the market will shrink 60% by the year 2040.

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Young Drivers Prefer Driving Their Own Vehicles To Autonomous Driving

 

When autonomous driving finally becomes safe and is sold to the mass population, will you go by a new self-driving car? It’s largely considered a given that the latest as well as future generations of drivers don’t really care about driving. And it’s also believed that kids prefer to Snapchat rather than steer a car and as a result will embrace autonomous technology more than their elders.

But according to Nielsen’s recent Youth Viewpoint on Self-Driving Cars study, like most generalities, this generation-gap view of self-driving isn’t completely accurate. Conducted by Harris Poll among just over 1,000 respondents between the ages of 8 and 18, the survey revealed that although knowledge of self-driving vehicles is highest among older kids in grades 9 through 12, more than 60% of those surveyed said they would rather drive than let technology take the wheel.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, since they’re closer to having the freedom that comes with a set of car keys, the survey’s older respondents expressed the strongest desire to drive themselves. Almost three in four high-school students said they want to be in control, compared to just over half of elementary-age kids who feel the same way.

The survey also sheds light on one potential issue for established automakers regarding self-driving and brand loyalty: Whether nameplate will matter to future generations. And whether they would rather riding in one of Google’s egg-shaped autonomous pods or prefer a premium experience from a name-brand automaker, such as Mercedes-Benz’s exotic autonomous vision via its F 015 Luxury in Motion concept.

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Are Millenials Finally Ready To Enter The Auto Market

Each generation can make or break industries, for example the rise in auto industry with baby boomers. Millennials were once a source of panic in the auto industry. Dubbed the “go nowhere” generation, they weren’t getting driver’s licenses, never mind buying cars. Headlines declared it was “The End of Car Culture.”

New data suggests at least some of that worry was misplaced. Millennials — especially the oldest ones — are these days buying cars in big numbers. They just had a late start.

Now the largest generation in the U.S., millennials bought 4 million cars and trucks in the U.S. last year, second only to the baby boomers, according to J.D. Power’s Power Information Network, which defines millennials as those between 21 and 38 in 2015. Millennials’ share of the new car market jumped to 28 percent. In the country’s biggest car market, California, millennials outpaced boomers for the first time.

Industry watchers say it’s been hard to get a read on millennials because the generation is big and diverse, ranging from recent college graduates to settled-down suburbanites. Automakers were also unsure about the impact of new transportation choices, like ZipCar and Uber, which helped millennials delay car buying. But as they got jobs and started families, millennials headed into car dealerships just like previous generations.

“This whole idea that they’re not going to need cars is absolutely ridiculous,” said Steven Szakaly, the chief economist for the National Automobile Dealers Association. “The new car buyer age is just happening much later.”

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Two Ways To Reach The Result Of Self-Driving

Every company is striving towards autonomous driving, which means competition is very high. Cars that drive themselves would mean a revolution in how people get around.

But they might arrive just as much by evolution, with everyday cars getting gradually smarter, as by sudden shifts to fully self-driving vehicles.

Autonomous driving — and its potential for sweeping change — was much on the minds of top auto executives at the Geneva International Motor Show.

The exhibit space in Geneva was mostly used for the show’s primary purpose: showing off product to the news media and the public in order to boost sales. Expensive sports and luxury cars dominated the display stands for the rich and new SUVs for more middle-class buyers.

But the future beyond the upcoming model year was very much a topic of discussion, if less visible on the display stands. Executives think that cars that drive themselves at least part of the time may be upon us by the end of this decade. Technology such as autonomous driving by cars equipped with cameras and radar sensors could blend with Internet connections and apps. For instance, a car could be ordered for a few hours through an app and drive itself to the customer.

Google, meanwhile, is testing completely autonomous cars on streets in Mountain View, Austin, Texas, and Kirkland, Washington.

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Low Price In Gas Means People Don’t Want To Buy Electric Cars

 

One of the main reasons people purchase hybrids and electric cars is to be economic, but low cost at the gas pump, puts a spin on the situationAmericans bought about 13,000 battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles in December – one of the best months on record for those kinds of cars and trucks.

But that’s only about four days worth of sales of the Ford Motor Co. F-Series pickup, underlining how difficult it is to convince drivers to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles when a gallon of gas at U.S. pumps costs considerably less than $2 (U.S.).

“This is arguably one of the biggest challenges the industry faces,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice-president of auto consulting firm LMC Automotive Ltd., of Troy, Mich.

There’s an electric or hybrid or fuel-cell vehicle on the stands of virtually every auto maker at the North American International Auto Show, which opened to the media in Detroit on Monday, and if they’re not on display, they’re on the drawing boards or coming to market later this decade.

Among the introductions and commitments made by auto makers on Monday was the appearance of the first hybrid minivan, with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (Chrysler) offering that option on its redesigned people haulers. Luxury maker Audi AG said it would offer three new hybrid vehicles over the next three years and Toyota said it would offer a fuel cell-powered vehicle in its fleet by 2020.

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Qualcomm Chip Brings Mobile Savvy To Auto Industry

As cars become smarter and more advanced we look to technology based companies to create different features that stand out from the rest.

On Tuesday at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show, the San Diego, Calif.-based chip maker announced the second generation of its automotive-grade “system on a chip” (SoC) with the Snapdragon 820A. The new chip is built off of its latest mobile phone processors.

The 820A contains all custom Qualcomm silicon, including a 64-bit Kryo CPU, Adreno 530 GPU and Hexagon 680 DSP. What does any of that mean? It means it can power a car infotainment systems with 4K graphics. More importantly, though, the new chip will support Qualcomm’s deep learning algorithms called Zeroth. First announced with mobile SoC Snapdragon 820, Zeroth runs locally on the Qualcomm chip and is used to analyze and classify images and sounds. Qualcomm has demonstrated how Zeroth can recognize specific objects like people, animals or even hand gestures. As more cameras and sensors get added to cars, this kind of image recognition is an essential part in the future of autonomous driving.

The SoC will also come paired with a Qualcomm LTE modem. The company’s new x12 LTE modem supports download speed of up to 600 megabytes per second and upload speeds of up to 150 Mbps. And like many cars now, the new chip can generate a WiFi hotspot.

Qualcomm announced its first generation SoC focused on car infotainment systems with the Snapdragon 602A at CES in 2014. And after two years, Qualcomm finally has a customer to announce: Audi. The Germany company will start shipping Snapdragon 602A-powered cars in 2017 vehicles.

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What Should The Car Companies Resolution Be

Some people promise to go on a diet and lose weight, some eat healthier or try to get up earlier, every makes a change for the new year, so what should the car companies do.

Some suggested New Year’s resolutions for car companies in 2016. The times are changing. Don’t get left in the dust.

Simplify: Don’t bother drivers with prompts and options. Make high-tech gadgets smart enough to operate themselves, and easy to switch off.

Fun: Instead of focusing on Nurburgring lap times and max power, make cars that are fun to drive at any speed. Mazda proved it can be done – and on a budget – with the latest MX-5. We don’t have autobahns in Canada; we have traffic and potholes and police. We shouldn’t have to double the speed limit for a car to make us smile.

Services: Don’t be afraid of car-sharing services. Create your own. Offer all types of vehicles. Make it easy and convenient.

Interfaces: Why are they so bad? Steering wheels and pedals work well. But auto makers have had a century to perfect those. Almost everything else needs work. Touchscreens are still horrifically bad, even though Apple is on iPhone 6. Screens are fiddly, ugly and often distracting: Why not try designing them with drivers in mind? Audi’s “virtual cockpit” is headed in the right direction.

Wagons: My parents need a new wagon. A real one, not jacked-up like an SUV. Maybe a mid-size. Make one with all-wheel drive and an optional stick-shift and you’ll have their business. Would someone please build one? Subaru? Volvo? Anybody?

Connectivity: Don’t say it. It doesn’t mean anything. Or, rather, it means different things to everyone. So be specific. If you mean Bluetooth, say that. If you mean you can send maps to your car via Google or car-to-car communication – come up with a snappy name for it.

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Holiday Season Brought Top Car Sales For 2015

 

Saving money throughout the holiday on sales why not further that by saving on a new car.

Thanks in part to Black Friday deals and other specials that began well before Thanksgiving and continue to run past New Year’s Day, U.S. auto sales are set to break the all-time record in 2015, at about 17.5 million cars and trucks, forecasters said.

Automakers in the U.S. market won’t report December and full-year 2014 sales for another week, on Tuesday, Jan. 5. But several forecasters take a stab at sales results for the whole month, based on online shopping during the month, plus historical data.

Kelley Blue Book, for instance, said it expects December auto sales of around 1.7 million units, an increase of about 13 percent versus December 2014. That would put the 2015 total for the year at 17.5 million, the company said. A year ago, Kelly Blue Book, based in Irvine, Calif., predicted U.S. auto sales of 16.9 million in 2015.

TrueCar Inc., Santa Monica, Calif., had a similar forecast of about 1.7 million for December 2015 and about 17.5 million for the full year of 2015. A year ago, TrueCar said it expected sales of 17 million for 2015.

Due to the auto industry’s customary calendar magic — Sundays and federal holidays, like Jan. 1 don’t count as quote-unquote “sales days” — sales through Monday, Jan. 4, count as “December” sales.

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Are You Ready For The Winter? Thanks To Finland’s Test World You Can Be

 

When testing winter tires you usually assume that it would be done outside in the harsh condition, but this time it isn’t so.

Being headquartered in Michigan, where winters are usually gray, very often snowy, and bitterly cold, we’re major proponents of winter tires. Indeed, if you’ve ever driven a car on winter tires and experience the kind of additional stopping power they provide when ice, snow, and slush cover the roadways, you no doubt feel the same way. Of course, driving or testing winter tires in appropriate conditions is difficult in all but the coldest portions of the year, which is why Hankook invited us to Ivalo, Finland, some 186 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where we sampled its winter tires at an indoor facility called Test World.

Test World sits just a short distance east of the 4000-person city of Ivalo in the Lapland region. Lapland is about the size of Indiana, with the total population of Worcester, Massachusetts, but the only thing Lapland and “Wooster” have in common is funky pronunciations to us Midwesterners. Given that there are few signs in English, you need GPS to navigate—without it, you’ll likely end up in Russia, Norway, or Sweden.

You might think that indoor winter testing is commonplace. Tire Rack does a lot of testing on ice rinks as well as outdoor venues, but Test World is different than most manmade winter facilities in that the staff stockpiles natural snow in early spring and fills its two buildings with about 60 cm (24 inches) of packed white stuff. It’s worth noting that you can’t just dump a ton of snow in at once. Five-millimeter (0.2-inch) layers are applied and then given time to settle to make the resulting packed testing surface as natural as possible. Carefully controlled humidity and temperature keep snow loss, or evaporation, to a minimum. The painstaking process ensures consistent testing conditions, which is critical to tire development.

Hankook showed us its worldwide catalog of winter offerings including a newly updated Winter i*cept Evo2, a performance winter tire available in the United States. For those less familiar with winter tires, they can be grouped into roughly three categories. (There are more, but these three cover all the basics.) First are the studded winter tires that are fairly self-explanatory; metal studs inserted in the tread provide maximum grip on ice. Then there are studless snow-and-ice tires, which are our favorites because you get the most traction possible without noisy studs humming in your ear (not to mention studded tires are illegal in many places). Then, there are the aforementioned performance winter tires. These tires are generally rated for higher speeds—the Evo2, for example, is rated for 168 mph in some sizes—they come in lower-profile sizes, and they are usually constructed with an asymmetrical tread pattern. Performance winters give up traction on packed snow and ice in favor of improved performance in mixed conditions, or in the cold, wet, slushy mess that is common in metropolitan areas.

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How To Bid On A Car At Auction And What You Need To Know

A simple way to save on money when buying a used car is to visit a car auction. You wouldn’t know it from the road, but there are typically around 4000 vehicles tucked away awaiting sale at the Copart auction facility in Newburgh, New York. And arriving on a Thursday morning for the regular weekly auction, you really wouldn’t guess that about 1000 of those vehicles would be on their way to new homes by day’s end—whether that means the driveway of a proud new owner, on a dealer’s lot, in a body shop for pre-resale repairs, or off to the crusher. On the Thursday of our visit, the parking lot is empty, save for one agitated tow-truck driver talking on a cell phone and whose half of the conversation consists almost entirely of expletives.

Inside, however, is a different story. A busy staff of about a dozen headset-wearing workers is fielding nonstop calls from dealers, and handling title issues, deliveries, and other questions. The auction is in full swing, but there’s no fast-talking auctioneer, slamming of gavels, shouting of bids, or cars crossing the block. As with many car auctions these days, all the bidding happens online. And fast.

Used-car auctions are big business, and companies like Copart, Adesa, and Manheim are the giants of the industry, with daily auctions nationwide. Copart puts 75,000 cars up for sale every day, but Manheim is the biggest, handling some 7 million vehicles in 11 countries annually. It’s a complicated business, with cars moving locally and across the country to maximize profits based on supply and demand, regional needs, and even the price of scrap metal. The vehicles come from a variety of sources, including fleets, rental companies, carmakers, financial institutions, insurance companies, and other wholesalers.

The bad news for bargain hunters is that the bulk of these auctions are for dealers only. But paddle-wielding wannabes have plenty of other options, from municipal and federal government auctions, to commercial auctions catering to the public, and auction sites like the ubiquitous eBay.

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146 New Harbour Rd.
Blandford, NS
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