How Many Cars Does the Average American Family Need?

July 29th, 2016

2017_Acura_MDX

How many cars should a family own?

According to Experian, the average family owns two cars, while 35 percent of American households own three cars or more.

Ownership rates vary greatly across the country and are influenced more by location than income levels. In fact, households with incomes over $250,000 are just as likely to own a single vehicle as households with incomes of $25,000. No matter what your income, is it better to own one car that is an all-purpose, all-season vehicle, or two or more cars that each serve a specific purpose and are used only in certain conditions?

For many families, owning a single car can mean splurging on a luxury brand or buying brand new, while a 4-car family might prefer older used cars that can be purchased with cash.

Let’s look at a couple of scenarios. Which one is closest to your family’s preference?

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More on Tesla: Why Part Deux Will Work

July 28th, 2016

2016 Tesla Model X

Last week, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, unveiled his Master Plan, Part Deux, on his website. It lays out his plans for where his futuristic company will go in the next decade.

Now there are those of you out there who are wondering about his Master Plan, Part One, which included the following goals:

  • Create a low-volume car, which would necessarily be expensive;
  • Use that money to develop a medium-volume car at a lower price;
  • Use that money to create an affordable, high-volume car; and
  • Provide solar power.
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Apple Car Could Hit Roads in 2021

July 28th, 2016

apple car

It appears that, contrary to some rumors and speculation, Faraday Future is not Apple in disguise.

In recent weeks Faraday has hired a former Toyota executive to lead exterior design, while the Nevada treasurer began to question how the upstart electric carmaker will finance a $1 billion factory and deliver on its promise to help turn Nevada into an electric-vehicle production hub. (Tesla, of course, is building its Gigafactory there.)

Nevada has reason to be concerned, because the state has promised tax benefits and infrastructure improvements. Faraday’s failure would be a giant gambling loss for Nevada, a possibility that would seem less likely if Apple had control of the reigns.

The Apple plan, meanwhile, seems to be delayed.

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How Fuel-Efficient Are Your Tires?

July 27th, 2016

Illegal_tires

I just got a screaming deal on a 1999 Land Cruiser. The only problem is that it could have illegal tires.

The truck isn’t a daily driver, but will handle all towing duties and be called upon for those rare instances when my family of six is all together and needs to go to the same location. It’s also in great shape, runs strong, has a comfortable interior, and came wearing mostly new Hankook DynaPro off-road tires. They are chunky, have a beefy tread, and can take the Land Cruiser anywhere I want to drive it.

Of course, that’ll mostly consist of highways and paved back roads, which might make the tires slight overkill for what I need.

Plus, they could become illegal.

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Tesla, Autopilot, and the Future of Self-Driving Cars

July 26th, 2016

Tesla AutoPilot

From the first press release outlining Tesla’s Autopilot technology, potential customers have wondered how the system works, what its limitations are, and whether it will be welcomed or shunned. Since Joshua Brown’s fatal crash while using Autopilot in a Tesla Model S, these questions have grown larger and more pointed. Without a doubt, popular opinion has shifted toward negativity. But should it?

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Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux: Anticipating a New World

July 25th, 2016

Tesla-Model-X-Tesla-Roadster

Ten years ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed the world his plan to grow his electric car company into an international powerhouse. In his original master plan, posted in 2006, Musk summarized his ambitions by saying Tesla would:

  1. Build a sports car
  2. Use that money to build an affordable car
  3. Use that money to build an even more affordable car
  4. While doing the above, also provide zero-emission electric-power generation options

Mission accomplished.

With 2016 upon us, Musk has published his new master plan. It’s equally ambitious, if not more so, and includes some bombshells that give clues to Mr. Musk’s intentions to change our world for the better.

Perhaps the best idea in Musk’s “Master Plan, Part Deux,” is for an electric semi truck. Shocking, right?

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Cars and Crustaceans: Another Successful NEMPA Ragtop Ramble

July 22nd, 2016

ramble_opener

With perfect blue skies overhead and a couple cups of coffee in our stomachs, a CarGurus team made its way to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum yesterday in Brookline, Massachusetts, for this year’s Ragtop Ramble and Crustacean Crawl. The objective: mingle with automaker PR folks and New England auto journalists, check out a bunch of cool cars, capture footage, snap photos, and eat lobster.

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Ford Surprises Itself with New 3.5-Liter EcoBoost

July 22nd, 2016

EcoBoost

Ford’s EcoBoost technology has been a wild success in everything from the Mustang to the F-150.

EcoBoost is, of course, Ford’s name for a direct-injected turbocharged gasoline engine. While the EcoBoost name is specific to Ford, nearly every automaker sells an EcoBoost engine. They just call it a direct-injected turbocharged engine.

Regardless, buyers of the Expedition, Explorer, Taurus, Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta have also had the EcoBoost experience. Owners love them because they offer similar power to larger-displacement engines, but with better fuel economy and lower emissions.

Automakers love them because they get to charge a premium for the privilege of driving one.

Now there’s an additional benefit to driving an EcoBoost. Ford’s second-generation 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine has even more power than the automaker originally thought it would.

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Learning From New Jersey’s Gas Tax Disaster

July 21st, 2016

gastaxes

New Jersey has the second-lowest gas tax in the country. Residents of the state enjoy their cheap gas and neighboring New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians routinely jump across the border to take advantage of a cheap fill-up.

The average price per gallon in the state is about $2.10, with some locations showing prices between $1.80 and $1.90.

While that’s great news for commuters and road-trippers, it’s not so great for the state’s government. A low gas tax means less money for the state coffers, which has effectively bankrupted the state’s transportation department.

In fact, road construction projects state-wide were halted last week due to a lack of funds (and a hefty dose of political maneuvering). Drivers may enjoy cheap gas, but they’ve been left to navigate New Jersey’s deteriorating and unfinished roads until a solution is found.

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What the New CAFE Standards Mean for Auto Buyers

July 20th, 2016

White House Infographic, fuel economy standards

There has been a lot of news this week regarding the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration issuing new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The reports seem to suggest the government has gone lax on the issue of fuel economy because most Americans don’t seem to care about it.

One analyst, however, suggests the opposite may be true. Stephanie Brinley, a senior analyst at IHS Automotive, read the entire 1217-page midterm report that discussed the standards (something probably 99 percent of journalists didn’t do, including me).

She wrote in Forbes, “The (CAFE) standard and NHTSA projected figures for the 2025 model year targets, however, have now been revealed as a projection rather than a legal requirement. The report is supportive of the progress and direction of the existing standards. The agencies believe automakers can meet the challenge, and that consumers want it.”

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