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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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You Can Add In A Stereo, Change The Tires And Now Modify Your Cars Software

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – What better way to make sure your car drives like you want it too than to change the software of the car.

Car owners and computer security researchers can modify automobile software without incurring some U.S. copyright liability, according to new guidelines issued this month that had been opposed by the auto industry.

The Library of Congress, which oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, agreed with fair use advocates who argued that vehicle owners are entitled to modify their cars, which often involves altering software.

Automakers including General Motors, and other companies such as John Deere, opposed the rules. They said vehicle owners could visit authorized repair shops for changes they may need to undertake.

However, U.S. copyright officials decided that altering computer programs for vehicle repair or modification may not infringe a manufacturer’s software copyright.

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New Automotive Technologies Opens Window Of Opportunity For Samsung

SEOUL – Who could have foreseen a future where we can answer a call by driving, with one single command or play your favorite song because you asked the car to? Electronics and technology is changing rapidly when it involves car, which is why the tech companies want to enter now.

Samsung Electronics and group companies are making a belated push into the business of supplying technology to carmakers, while rivals are already lining up lucrative deals with an industry that is notoriously difficult to enter.

Data compiled by Thomson Reuters IP & Science shows the world’s top smartphone maker and other Samsung Group tech affiliates are ramping up r&d for auto technology, with two-thirds of their combined 1,804 U.S. patent filings related to electric vehicles and electric components for cars coming since 2010.

The analysis did not include filings made after 2013 due to a lag between filing and publication.

They haven’t yet landed significant business, and Samsung Group declined to comment on strategy, but the lure is obvious.

Automakers already incorporate or are developing technologies to enhance safety and provide better smartphone connectivity and entertainment systems, creating an opening for tech companies to break into a market for software, services and components that is worth around $500 billion, ABI Research analyst Dominique Bonte said.

“There are two trends: the car becomes a connected software device, and the entire mobile and ICT ecosystem is getting very interested in playing a part in that evolution,” Bonte said.

That is particularly welcome as demand for smartphones, TVs and computers slows, but Samsung is arriving late at a party where some of the best partners are already taken.

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  8 New Ways To Take Your Road Trip Up A Gear

 

When packing your car to head out on a family road trip, do you have everything that is needed, or are you missing some key new items to make it even better. You’ve got your phone with its battery at 100 percent. You’ve got great playlists to get you down the road. You’ve even got a proper emergency kit full of essential tools in case of trouble on the road. Now all you need is something that will make it easy to sift through your music, mount your phone at eye level, and keep you from getting that speeding ticket.

iBolt Command Remote ($35)

Call it the magic button for your car. This Bluetooth button adheres to your dashboard using an adhesive strip, then syncs over Bluetooth to your phone. You use it to issue voice commands to your phone, such as skipping a music track or asking Siri for directions, so that you don’t have to take your eyes or hands off the wheel while you drive.

Cobra DSP 9200 BT Radar Detector ($400)

The price tag on this small windshield-mounted adapter might seem high if your only goal is to avoid speed traps; other radar detectors come a lot cheaper. But Cobra has packed in handy extra features here. Once it’s installed and synced to the Cobra iRadar app on your phone, the detector scans for lasers, radars, and cameras, and notifies you by voice prompts as you drive. Other users can flag caution areas. The app also lets you control your music, get directions, and locate your car.

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Do You Use Every Safety Feature?

While automakers are spending billions of dollars loading up their vehicles with technologies of all kinds, many owners are not using them and would rather use their smartphones instead, according to the first-ever J.D. Power 2015 Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience (DrIVE) Report.

The market research firm found that at least 20 percent of new vehicle owners have never used 16 of the 33 technology features that DrIVE measured. For the consumer, this means they are paying for something they are not using, said Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction & HMI research at J.D. Power.

The report looked at driver experiences with in-vehicle technology features during the first 90 days of ownership and was based on responses from more than 4,200 owners and lessees of 2015-model-year vehicles.

Features that owners did not use

43 percent—In-vehicle concierge feature such as OnStar.
38 percent—Mobile connectivity, such as a factory installed Wi-Fi hot spot.
35 percent—Automatic parking system, which aids in either parallel or perpendicular parking with limited interaction by the driver.
33 percent—Head-up display.
32 percent—Built-in apps such as Pandora.

“Tired and impatient, car buyers just want to get out of the dealership, often without becoming fully oriented with all of their new car’s features,” says Tom Mutchler, Consumer Reports’ automotive human factors engineer. “But many high-tech features aren’t immediately obvious or intuitive, especially when trying to decipher their use for the first time when driving.”

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4 Differences About Tesla That Makes It So Successful

Tesla constantly reinvents the idea of how a car company should be through these 4 tactics.

Tesla Motors ranks No. 1 on FORBES’ new list of the world’s most innovative companies.  And, the differences between Tesla and a Detroit carmaker, or one from the rest of the world for that matter, are easy to spot.

Reading through this story accompanying the list, by Jeff Dyer, a professor at Brigham Young University’s MarriottSchool of Business, Hal Gregersen the executive director of the MIT Leadership Center and Nathan Furr, an assistant professor at INSEAD, I spotted four ways Tesla differs from its automotive competition.

1) It constantly tears up its assembly line. To me, the experts buried the lede, as we say in the journalism world. Deep down in their story, the authors write, “Most automakers lay out their shop floor once to minimize costs and plan model lines that will remain unchanged for several years. Tesla’s production engineers are continually changing the layout of the factory to learn as much as possible.”

That’s something no mass market car company can afford to do. But according to the writers, Tesla learned the benefits of staying nimble early on, with its first car, the Roadster. It tried to establish a global supply chain similar to that of a typical car company, but Tesla wasn’t ready for that setup, and having manufacturing spread out over the world led to massive coordination problems.

That said, Tesla is starting to standardize is production practices as it adds capacity for the Model S sedan and the upcoming Model X. The manufacturing world will be scrutinizing what happens with Tesla stops making constant changes and settles on a production system.

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