All posts in Auto Design

Self-Driving Cars: What Can We Expect?

Talk about self-driving cars, also known as autonomous vehicles (AV), is nothing new. Depending on where you live, you’ve probably seen a few Google AVs driving around your neighborhood. While major auto manufacturers have a goal to get AVs on the road by 2020, it may be awhile before you can experience one.

Don’t know much about AVs or want to know the projected time in regards to self-driving cars? We’ll get you up-to-date about the cars of the future.

Why Choose Self-Driving Cars?

After over 100 years of driving the vehicles we know and love today, why make the switch to self-driving cars? One of the major pushes to put AVs on the road is to eliminate accidents and increase roadway safety.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 90 percent of car accidents are caused by human error. While road conditions and mechanical issues are at fault from time to time, drivers have become too hurried, too distracted, and too reckless.

Can self-driving cars really make our roads safer? Yes, as long as they are consistently better drivers than the average human driver.

Safety Features and the “Brain” of AVs

Self-driving cars will have the same safety features, such crash avoidance, and lane departure warnings, that are already present in some newer standard vehicles. In the cars we drive, currently, these features are supplemental and require human drivers to have full control.

In self-driving cars, these features must work flawlessly and without any interruption. Thanks to constant connectivity, the sensors that are always “reading” the environment, and the software installed to collect data and help make AVs better drivers, an AV will be safer.

Some Things to Consider

Despite the promising future of safer roadways, there are many things to sort out and think about before a mass release of self-driving cars. Will the technology behind AVs be secure? Who will be held liable in an accident with a self-driving car? Will the same laws apply to AVs?

Considering the cars we drive today, and laws surrounding them, it may take years to figure out legal issues regarding AVs.

When Will We Own Self-Driving Cars?

While there’s a very good chance that we will continue to see a slow increase of self-driving cars on our roads by 2020, you probably won’t own a self-driving car until 30 or 40 years from now. Why? First of all, the cost of an AV costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The sensor, one of the most components, can cost over $80,000 leaving the average cost of the AV around $250,000.

Since self-driving cars will need to be safer and smarter than today’s drivers, AVs must be able to handle any kind of roadway scenario, and it will take some time to get it right. Self-driving cars are and will be, without a doubt, a luxury and novelty (especially in the beginning), but if you’re like a majority of car owners, your top priority should always be safety.

Need A New Ride? 4 Hot Features Sure To Make You Drool

It seems like just about every car these days has some sort of new technology. We’ve all heard about back-up cameras, automatic trunks, and blind spot alerts. Don’t get me wrong, these are all great features to have on your next car, but these aren’t the hot features that will really set your car apart and make your neighbor jealous of your ride. When you get a new car, from somewhere like Jack Burford Chevrolet, you want to make sure to get the best car for you with all of the hottest new features. Here are a few great new features to look into for your new car.

Built-in Vacuum

This is the cup holder of the 21st century. It’s a feature that most parents don’t even know they need. Think about all the soccer snacks, fast food wrappers, and dirty shoes that are sure to make a mess in the back of even the most careful parent’s new car. The days of rushing home and dragging the vacuum out to the car are over. This vacuum is conveniently already in your car and ready to clean up any mess life may throw your way. The Honda Odyssey is the first van to have this convenient feature, but I’m sure more cars will start including vacuums in the near future.

Hands-Free of the Future

Everyone knows that it’s a huge mistake to use your phone while you’re driving. However, most car manufacturers have realized that you often need to see information from your phone while you’re driving. Luckily, now-a-days there are things like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Both of these offerings let Android and iPhone users see their phone screen right in the dashboard of their car. This is a much safer way to have access to all that smartphone information while driving.

Auto-pilot for Parking

There isn’t a situation much more stressful than trying to parallel park on a busy street while lots of traffic is piling up behind you. That’s why the automatic parking feature on many new cars is so genius! It takes out all the guesswork and automatically parks using a series of sensors and cameras. This can definitely help make the most difficult parking a breeze.

360-Degree View

While it’s true that many cars today have backup cameras to help you see directly behind you, a true drool-worthy feature to have on a new car is the ability to see everywhere. The new 360-degree view camera systems allow drivers to park with confidence and see hidden obstacles by providing a birds-eye view from above the car. This is the perfect feature for anyone who needs to park in tight situations.

Hopefully the features listed above will whet your appetite and give you some inspiration as you are searching for your next new car. These features are useful, practical and will hopefully help you determine which new car has the features you need the most.

The Differences in Automobile Fuel Options

Whenever you pull up to a gas station to fill up, you might ask yourself, is there really a difference between the fuel options at the pump? The answer is a resounding yes. That is the reason auto manufacturers make a distinction about the type of fuel to put in specific vehicles. High performance cars require a certain amount of combustion for appropriate handling. Here is a quick look at fuel content, grades, and brands on the market.

Fuel Content

Several chemical compounds make up the content of all automobile fuels. There are five categories the EPA allows for use in vehicles. They also regulate and monitor programs in concert with other government agencies on state and local levels. This includes specific limits of each component regardless of the blend. The top two categories include sulfur and hydrocarbons such as benzene, acrolein, formaldehyde, naphthalene, and 1,3-butadiene.

Reformulated gas or RFG and Reid Vapor Pressure or RVP are used to ensure cleaner burns and better performance during the summer season. Winter is another time of year that requires special additives to mitigate the dangerous toxin carbon monoxide. This is the last category called winter oxygenates. There is also a new alternative used with each compound known as ethanol. The amount ranges from 5 to 15 percent of this renewable energy component across all fuel types.

Different Grades of Automobile Fuel

There is a difference between the three different fuel options at the pump. According to engineers at MIT’s School of Engineering, car performance dictates the type of fuel to purchase. Each fuel offers similar thermal energy releases to power vehicles. However, higher engine compression ratios respond better with the power generated by premium unleaded gas.

The science states these engines operate at higher pressures with hotter temperatures. In addition, new design factors with electronic components are capable of converting thermal energy more efficiently than those without them. If your car knocks, use higher octane gas of at least mid-grade and up to prevent this regardless of your car’s make. For heavier machinery, you might want to contact an expert at a place like TractorTool about your options.

Brands

There are several leading gas brands every consumer has frequented. Some drivers have preferences of one over another, citing various reasons such as better mileage. The major companies, including BP and Exxon/Mobil, claim their additives can bolster performance while keeping engines cleaner. This would make sense, because car owners have been adding engine performance products for decades. With each fill-up, take a moment to review what is actually in the fuel as well as the octane levels. It is a good idea to check for the amount of ethanol content as well. As a reminder, some brands start their mid-grade at 89 while others begin with 90.

Ground level ozone is the biggest culprit to unhealthy air caused by all gasoline or fossil fuels used by cars. This has been an important catalyst for emissions and government regulations. Since they are watching these critical issues, drivers simply need to listen for engine knocks to decide about the octane to buy. A caveat is to follow the manufacturers recommendation at all times.

How Automotive Technology is Being Influenced by the Green Initiative

Automotive technology has been constantly evolving since the first car was invented by Henry Ford. Many believe that the automobile has been actively contributing to pollution and other harmful environmental effects that we have been experiencing over the last century. Therefore, in order to help keep up with the times, the automobile has been influenced by environmentalists and environmental changes.

Environmental sustainability is more important than ever, and now even the automotive industry is getting on board with the green initiative! Here are just a few ways that automotive manufacturers have started to go green.

Design

Everyone knows that car producers have been releasing electric vehicles and hybrids to help cut back on the amount of fuel that a car uses and subsequently releases into the atmosphere. The green initiative in the automotive industry goes deeper than that, however. After all, not everyone wants to drive a small electric car. There is also a trend of car manufacturers going green in their methods of producing cars. After all, everyone needs a planet, even someone driving a gas guzzler!

Toyota claims that it is an environmental leader, and their manufacturing process does give some credence to that claim. They have been limiting the amount of resources used during production and claim to have saved 93 million gallons of water from this new practice. Of course, this is only compared to how much water they were using before, but it is still an undeniable progress.

Like anything else, manufacturing a car leaves waste. This can come in a lot of forms, but metal is one of the most common. Car manufacturers have begun to recycle unused steel from their cars, as well as recycling or composting their other wastes. This does a lot of good for the environment before the car is even finished!

Parts

Of course, a car does not have to be designed to run on electricity to be more eco-friendly. Companies like Power Test Inc. have been doing interesting work in the creation of an AC dynamometer which eliminates the need for water to be getting rid of extra power from the engine.

Instead, the excess power is dissipated in an air-cooled resistant load bank, where it can be released harmlessly into the atmosphere or put back into the electrical grid. This saves resources and could be a considerable help to those that don’t want to drive electric cars or hybrids, but still want to help the planet.

There are dozens upon dozens of ways that automotive manufacturers are trying to help the planet. Most if not all car manufacturers now have some kind of hybrid and more energy efficient vehicle that emits less toxins into the air. As an understanding of the importance of green living continues to grow, the demand for more eco-friendly alternatives will continue to grow. Perhaps even to the point where the automobile will no longer be a so called environmental hazard and making the Earth a greener place to live. While the automotive industry does not change for much, it will certainly change for the desires of its consumers.

Cars that Defined a Generation

Cars are a statement of who you are. There is no way around, just like your clothes, they send a distinct message—even if you’re not trying to. Take a look around the next time you’re on the road. You can see the snowboarder with a Thule rack, the recent graduate who has a tassel hanging proudly on the mirror or an opinionated driver with multiple messages stuck to their bumper.

Makes and models also tell people a lot about you. They can determine the rich (Teslas and Ferraris), the poor (a 1991 aqua metallic Geo Metro), families (minivans) or the uber eco-conscious (the Prius). But the pinnacle is the cars that defined entire groups or generations of people. They were notorious without longevity, and sought after by many for a time. They were one-hit wonders that people still look back on fondly. Unlike classics that stay around for multiple generations—think F150s, Accords and Corollas—they were only with us for a time. Of course, there are some that are still around because they have a cult following, but are well past their heyday. Read on to find out some of the vehicles that defined a generation.

Model T

The Model T was produced from 1908 until 1927. Also known as the Tin Lizzie, the Model T was considered the first affordable, mass-produced automobile. Although cars had been around for a while at this point in time, the Model T made it possible for more households to adopt the technology. The Model T had a whopping two speeds, plus reverse, and cost between $300 and $800.

Mustang

In 1964, Ford introduced a car that would forever hold a place in the avid car collector’s heart. The Ford Mustang is considered the first muscle car, and before it was three, had 500 fan clubs. Mustang was a symbol for the 60s, and quickly skyrocketed to pop-star status. The Mustang is still produced today, but doesn’t possess the allure it once did. Back in the day, Mustang had people like Steve McQueen and David Bowie acting and singing alongside it. It was the first automobile to win the Tiffany Gold Medal for excellence in American Design. It’s a nostalgic look at how a car influenced an entire generation.

Beetle

The VW Beetle is a distinctively-shaped rear engine vehicle that was most popular in America during the 60s. The Beetle has been in production for over 70 years, and the newest version looks very little like the model that has been seen all over the world. During its reign, VWs were iconic with flower children. It’s easy to imagine a Beetle covered in flowers and peace symbols heading to Woodstock. Beetles have never been known for their performance and safety, something that many fans lovingly overlook.

Trans Am

There was a time when every wannabe rock star wanted the holy grail of cars—the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. The special addition from 1978 displayed an incredible firebird graphic on the hood. The Trans Am was made even more popular by television. It had featured roles in shows like Smokey and the Bandit and Knight Rider, and was also a hot car on the racing circuit. Eventually the Trans Am fell from favor, but it will always be associated with hard rock and the glorious manes of the 80s.

Hummer

When the economy was stable and gas affordable, Americans were ready for a new vehicle. Extra-large SUVs became the cornerstone of the industry, and its golden goose was Hummer. Based on the military Humvee, the Hummer became a prevalent sight on roadways across the nation. Hummers boasted terrible fuel economy, oozed excess and were notorious for their unflattering yet popular looks. When the economic slump hit around 2008, there was no room for a vehicle that sucked up money, and Hummer went bankrupt. Once sold for $50,000-$100,000, you can easily find them for under $20,000 today. For a time, they were the ultimate symbol of overconsumption

The Station Wagon

Now more commonly called a 5-door or hatchback, there was a time when a station wagon was a thing. Families and friends piled into the Plymouth Volare or the Volvo 200 Series. They preceded the minivan revolution, offering people enough space to cart a carload of people and more. Station wagons do differ from today’s “wagons”. It all comes down to pillars and cargo volume.

MG, Alfa Romeo, Impala, Cutlass, Saturns, LeSabre, Datsun—cars have risen and fallen throughout the years, each playing a role in generations. Many people remember certain cars fondly, even if they don’t exist today. What’s your favorite?

Korey Adekoya works with Shabana Motors in Houston, TX. He runs the Shabana Motors Blog where he writes specifically about fixing bad credit and in-house financing options.