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Trending Automotive News

TechnologyTrending Automotive News

3D Printing in the Automotive Industry

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The basic premise of 3D printing involves a process in which a person creates a physical object from a given three-dimensional digital model. Its wide application has changed the way we design, create, and ultimately use parts. Although 3D printing has found a purpose in several different markets, nowhere is its use more profound than in the automotive industry. In fact, it’s said that 3D printing will completely revolutionize the auto industry in the next decade or so! But why is that? What makes 3D printing so beneficial to auto manufacturers and aftermarket companies? Well, as it turns out, a number of things, which we will discuss below:

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Trending Automotive News

The Pros and Cons of a Vehicle Subscription Service

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Have you heard of General Motors’ new service called BOOK? BOOK is a car subscription service that enables users to pay for access to any type of Cadillac vehicle any time they want.

With BOOK, users pay $1,500 per month with an additional onetime initiate fee of $500 paid upfront. Industry experts have compared it to a Netflix subscription, but the only current options are for Cadillac vehicles, ranging from an Escalade to a CTS-V. Subscribers can swap vehicles up to 18 times per year through their app. Once a driver has selected the vehicle of their choice, it is delivered by a concierge service.

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TechnologyTrending Automotive News

How Car Manufacturers Are Creating Vehicles That Understand Human Emotions

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The technology and innovation in the vehicle manufacturing industry is changing as each day passes by. The invention of the autonomous car has left the automotive industry in a shaky state as manufacturers try to catch up. Automotive manufacturers and their components suppliers are working tirelessly to catch up with these recent innovations that define the cars of the future. This technology features cars that are driverless, semi-autonomous or human-operated.

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Trending Automotive News

It’s Time to Say Goodbye: Death of the Manual Transmission

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Depending on how old you are, the death of the manual transmission likely means something different to you. For older generations, drivers grew up on the manual transmission, learning how to properly shift gears while their parents taught them to drive.

For younger generations, this may not be on your radar at all. You may have had a friend or two who drove stick shift during college, and they were considered a rare and cool breed of driver.

According to car experts and trends, less and less cars will have the option of a manual transmission until they are extinct altogether. In fact, many believe that by the end of this decade, manual transmissions will be completely dead.

In the United States, gas-powered vehicles have been moving away from clutches for years. In 2006, 47 percent of new models offered in the U.S. were available with both automatic and manual transmissions. By 2011, that number had dropped to 37 percent. By 2016, the number had fallen to 27 percent.

One cause car experts are pointing to is the increased sales in the SUV market, where vehicles are almost exclusively automatic transmissions. 

While the death of manual transmissions in sedans was bound to happen, many car enthusiasts are angered to find that manual transmissions are disappearing in souped up sports cars, too. In fact, Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Volvo, Lexus, Chrysler, and Buick no longer offer a single model with manual transmission. Audi, Jaguar, Cadillac, and GMC offer only one.

“It’s a disgrace. Yes, it’s more troublesome and expensive for the automakers. But it’s completely inexcusable that Ferrari doesn’t even offer a manual transmission,” Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer said.

While the lack of manual transmissions may be frustrating for those looking for a car equipped with a stick shift and clutch pedal, the car sales don’t reflect a great desire for those vehicles. According to Edmunds senior analyst Ivan Drury, fewer than three percent of current U.S. car sales are manual vehicles—compared with 80 percent in some European and Asian countries, and down in the U.S. from seven percent in 2012 and 25 percent in 1992.

Manual transmissions are most popular for their lower up-front cost (nearly $1,000 cheaper), better fuel economy, generally greater durability, and greater driving involvement for enthusiasts.

True manual lovers are not alone, and can do their part to help change the tides of the auto industry. Car and Driver magazine has stated a campaign and developed its own Twitter hashtag to #SavetheManuals. While it has yet to gain any real traction among drivers or automaker, they’re hoping it gains momentum before it’s too late.

So if you’re among those looking to #SavetheManuals, head to Twitter and other major social media platforms to make your voice heard to auto makers in the United States.

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SafetyTrending Automotive News

The Dangers of Driving on Empty

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We’ve all done it—and probably more than once. The gas light went on the last time you drove your car, but you should be able to make it to your next destination without filling up. For some of us, it’s even a game we play. Just how far can I make it before I have to fill up?

Most of the time, we get by completely unscathed, even if we putter in to the gas station. However, if you might think running out of gas on the side of the road is the worst thing that can happen, you are surely mistaken.

When you’re cruising in your car and the gas light goes on, this means that your fuel has reached the reserve level, which is 10 to 15 percent of your tank’s total capacity. Knowing that percentage will allow you to calculate how many miles until empty you actually have. Some newer cars calculate it for you, too.

It’s crucial to avoid draining your tank and running on fumes in order to maintain vehicle health, and keep you and your passengers safe. Read more about both below:

  1. Save your fuel pump. The fuel pump in your gas tank sends the fuel from the tank to the engine. This pump relies on gas in your tank to stay cool and lubricated. Without enough gas in your tank, you run the risk of overheating your fuel pump. Once that happens, you have a much bigger problem, and an even bigger bill to pay.
  1. Save your passengers. If you run out of gas, and your engine stalls, you can become completely immobilized in the middle of the road. This greatly increases your chance of being hit, or causing a collision around you. This applies to both side streets and highways. Even if you coast onto the side of the freeway or road, some cars may not see you pull over until it’s too late to slow down.
  2. Save on your insurance bill. Calling for roadside assistance is never fun, especially when you know the problem could have been avoided. While great companies such as AAA are available to help you out, you may end up paying for it in the long run. Insurance companies take into account these call outs when your premiums are due to be renewed.

Taking time to fill up at the pump can be time consuming and cause you to go out of your way. However, taking 10 minutes at the gas station can save you a bigger headache down the road.

With gas prices at record low prices, now is the time to take advantage and save both your car and a few bucks!

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SafetyTrending Automotive News

The ‘Red Light Camera’ Debate

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According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), red light cameras are making a significant difference. Their recent study, published in July of this year, found that red light camera programs in 79 large U.S. cities saved nearly 1,300 lives through 2014.

The number of car accidents not only decreased in red light crashes, but in overall fatal intersection crashes. The belief is that drivers are more cautious around intersections when they know cameras are around.

Whether red light cameras are effective is something that some cities still aren’t convinced about. However, IIHS claims that shutting down these programs, as was done in Arizona earlier this year, increased red-light-running crashes by 30 percent.

While the solution to running red lights is highly contested, the problem is widely accepted. In 2014 alone, 709 people were killed in red-light-running crashes, and 126,000 were injured.

While having red-light cameras seems like a no-brainer for the IIHS, many cities believe the reasoning behind these cameras is less about saving lives and more about revenue for the city. For example, since 2003, the city of Chicago has brought in over $500 million from red-light camera tickets.

In March 2016, Governor Doug Ducey had red-light cameras in Arizona turned off as he believed the photo-enforcement company operating in Arizona needed to obtain a private-investigators’ license since they work with citizens’ personal information.

However, in May 2016, those cameras were turned back on as Redflex, the city’s photo-enforcement contractor, began to comply with the licensing requirements. Phoenix has red-light cameras located at the city’s most dangerous intersections based on collision data from crash reports. You can find a list of all of the cameras in Arizona online.

Other cities continue to keep the cameras turned off, or are coming up with creative ways to reduce the number of tickets issued. For example, the city of Tampa, Florida found that lengthening yellow-light times led to fewer accidents and reduced ticket revenue. At one intersection, yellow lights increased from 3.9 seconds to 4.8 seconds, which dropped citations 79 percent.

Whether we agree with the approach or not, it appears that red-light cameras are here to stay in Arizona. With a red-light camera ticket costing $165, it’s best to follow the rules of the road and avoid the ticket altogether. You’ll be saving yourself the money, and potentially saving lives, as well.

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TechnologyTrending Automotive News

Google Self-Driving Cars Now in the Valley

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What once seemed like a far-off dream is quickly becoming a reality. The race to have the first driverless car on the road was just a discussion initially, and now we have three companies leading the charge; Google, Uber, and Tesla.

For those of us who hate driving, this new technology can’t come soon enough. For many of us, however, we’re skeptical of what this could mean for our safety.

Take Tesla, for example.  Just this past June, Tesla had their first driver killed while in a vehicle operating the self-driving software. The 40-year-old Ohio resident was driving the vehicle on a Florida freeway when he was hit by a tractor trailer.

According to the statement released by Tesla, “This is the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated. Among all vehicles in the US, there is a fatality every 94 million miles. Worldwide, there is a fatality approximately every 60 million miles.”

Tesla’s Autopilot software is meant to be used only as a driving assistance, and your hands should be kept on the steering wheel, ready to take over at any point. The software frequently checks that your hands are on the wheels, and makes visual and audible alerts if the hands aren’t detected.

After the incident in June, you would think the race toward driverless cars would slow down a bit. Not the case. According to Elon Musk, the driverless cars are currently in production, meaning they’ll be available to consumers in months, not years.

While hearing about these developments make it seem more real, this topic is closer to home than we think. In August, three car crashes involving Google self-driving cars occurred in Chandler, AZ. Google expanded its driving program into Arizona just last year to tests the cars response to dust storms and golf-cart crossings in the metro Phoenix area.

With all three Chandler accidents caused by the other driver, Google is finding that it is careless drivers, not dust storms or golf courses, that is hurting their testing.  Additionally, one of the three crashes involved a drunk driver, causing Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to release a statement saying, “MADD strongly supports advanced vehicle technologies, including autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, because of their potential to stop drunk driving and save lives.”

Whereas Tesla has logged 130 million miles in Autopilot mode, Google has logged just 1.9 million, putting them quite a ways behind Tesla. Uber, however, is the most new to the race. Having just rolled out their driverless cars in Pittsburg last week, each Uber vehicle will have a driver behind the wheel and an engineer in the front seat. They will also be picking up riders.  

Regardless of the company, each software seems to be encountering the same hurdles, some of which include: crossing bridges and pathways, extreme weather, plants, and disappearing obstacles (such as a person crossing the road).

The biggest issue, however, is having the company of human-operated cars on the road. While the goal for most of these companies is to see a road filled entirely with driverless cars, for the time being, the road will be a combination of both. The biggest hurdle then is to figure out how the Autopilot software will interact with the chaotic nature of human driving.

It will be a while, if ever, before driverless cars take over entirely. Until then, however, we must recognize that these vehicles are on the road, even in our own neighborhood. Being extra cautious to follow driving laws will help protect both you and the self-driving vehicle.

*Feature photo taken by WESCO employee, Spencer Fry, in Tempe, AZ.

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TechnologyTrending Automotive News

Technology and Driving: A Love/Hate Relationship

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If you’re like most people, you have a love/hate relationship with technology. The undeniable positives being the endless information found on the Web, and the ability to stay in touch with friends and family all over the world. On the other hand, it becomes all too easy to get sucked into the pages of apps on our device, causing us to pay little to no attention to the people right in front of us.

The relationship between technology and cars is no exception to this love/hate dynamic. While technology has allowed us to make cars safer with additions such as automated emergency braking and air bag detection, it has also made it near impossible to focus on the one reason you’re actually in the car—to drive.

Back in 2011, NHTSA found that at any given moment, nearly 660,000 individuals were using their smartphones while driving. Given the fact that our obsession with smartphones and related technology has rapidly increased over the years, it’s safe to say that number is significantly higher now. We’ve become so accustom to having our phones in our hands that when it comes time to drive, we find it difficult to disconnect.

The good news is, different campaigns and even technological inventions have allowed us to turn the focus back to safe driving. Here are a few of our favorites:

  1. Bluetooth. These days you’d be hard pressed to find a vehicle without Bluetooth. With buttons on the steering wheel allowing you to place and end calls, Bluetooth allows you to stay connected while driving without ever taking your hands off the steering wheel.
  1. It Can Wait Campaign. Launched in 2010, AT&T had a simple idea behind their ‘It Can Wait’ campaign: Keep your eyes on the road, not on your phone. With over 10 million people signing the pledge since then, this is a great way to motivate yourself to put your phone away when driving. You can sign up here: http://www.itcanwait.com/all
  1. Anti-texting apps. One of the biggest issues facing drivers today is the temptation to text while driving. You may be surprised to learn that there are tons of apps that prevent drivers from doing just that. Apps such Textecution and OneProtect don’t allow you to send or receive texts if the car (and thus the phone) is moving faster than 10 MPH. Other apps such as DriveMode and SafeCell send automated responses to texts and calls letting them know you are currently driving. While often utilized by parents, these are great for anyone tempted to text and drive.
  1. If you ever watch Shark Tank, you may already know about this one. To cut down on distracted driving, a group of young students created the SMARTwheel. The steering wheel cover detects if both hands aren’t on the wheel, and notifies a parent or loved one of how often, and for how long, one or both hands is removed.
  1. Education. Some of us operate with the mentality that a car accident could never happen to us. But in reality, 35,092 people were killed on public roads in 2015. Understanding the risks you take when you text and drive, or how dangerous distracting driving can be, is crucial to becoming a safer driver. Videos like the one below can be a great way to educate yourself and make a lasting impact on how you drive.

While distracted driving is sometimes unavoidable, we can all make the road safer by taking care of the aspects of distracted driving we do have control over.

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SafetyTrending Automotive News

3 Common Car Seat Safety Mistakes

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Take a look at the cars whizzing by you. Many of them have children on board. Not a particularly shocking observation. However, what is surprising is that for every 10 of those cars, 7 have child safety restraints installed incorrectly or being used wrong. 70% is a chilling number. The good news is, a little education and the safety of the young passengers can be dramatically improved. Here are some commonly overlooked dangers:

The LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children)
This system is intended to make it easier to install car seats properly. But, many people make the mistake of using both the LATCH and the seatbelt. It’s also intended to be used only in certain seats. Here’s a little known fact according the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, LATCH has not been proven to be a safer option than a properly installed seat belt on a child restraint.

SWITCHING CAR SEATS TOO SOON
This happens when parents take their 1 year olds and turn them forward facing in the car seat. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics started recommending that kids stay sitting backwards for at least two years.   This is despite the child’s weight or height. The concern is that in the event of an accident which might only cause serious whiplash for an adult, it could actually have fatal consequences for a young child.

The same is also true for moving to the next stage of child restraints. Often, parents will eagerly anticipate the day they can move to a booster seat instead of a larger 5 point harness car seat. It’s viewed by some parents as “easier”, but according to safety experts, not safer.

EXPIRED OR RECALLED SAFETY SEATS
Your cheese has an expiration date and guess what? So does your car seat.   You can find it on the bottom of the seat. As a general rule, it’s about 6 years. So, if you have gaps in ages of your children, you may not be able to pass them down all the way to your family’s caboose. Primary reason for expirations are the plastic and other parts of it can wear out and be compromised by extreme temperatures. You also need to replace seats which haven’t expired if you have been in a car crash. Your insurance company will usually take care of the cost.

With a few of these safety tips in mind, you should also consider visiting a fire department if you have questions about installation. Generally, they have trained staff on proper installation. The most important thing to remember is that even the most expensive child safety seat can’t protect your child if it’s not properly installed.

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How-ToTrending Automotive News

Keeping It Cool With Your Car AC

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Our summer heat arrived later than usual this year in Arizona. The result? Cool mornings and evening and tolerable afternoons. Just maybe you still had your windows open at the end of May. But, the extreme head is headed our way. Hot, sweaty summer months when your car turns into a mobile oven and everyone chimes in declaring, ‘it’s a dry heat’. Dry or not, keeping your car’s a/c running well in the sweltering summer requires a bit more attention in our extreme heat.

Here are 3 tips to keep cool in your car.

  1. Refrigerant is the main factor to keeping you’re a/c blowing cool air. Like other parts of your car, the A/C can get old and ‘wear out’. A repair expert can replace refrigerant and many times this will correct the problem of air blowing out cool, instead of cold.
  1. Maximize the cold air you’re A/C turns out by using the “fresh air/outside air” setting. This brings the outside air in and the A/C system cools the dry heat. If it’s monsoon in Arizona use your “recirculate” setting. In this case your car will reuse existing air instead of bringing in more humid air.
  1. If you get to the point of hot air blowing out you might have a more significant problem with your compressor. That’s the main element in your car’s A/C system. This can be checked by a GarageFly repair expert. Find one here.

If you’re having trouble staying cool behind the wheel, don’t wait until the boiling point. Try the tips & tricks above, or give us a call today.

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