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What’s Past Is Prologue: Looking Back on the Origins of Today’s Tech

June 7th, 2016

1962 Oldsmobile Cutlass Jetfire Advertisement

In The Tempest, William Shakespeare once wrote, “what’s past is prologue.” The quotation implies that one’s history can dictate his or her future actions. It’s written outside the United States National Archives Building, and I had a particularly intelligent and entertaining professor who reflected on it often. Looking at the auto industry, it’s clear that the sentiment extends beyond Shakespeare’s verse.

New automotive technologies emerge every year. We covered some of them last week. Some, like the airbag or the seat belt, have ushered in a new era of motoring, changing the landscape forever. Others fall flat—despite Saab’s creative thinking with the 9000 Prometheus, steering via joystick never really got off the ground (the Prometheus didn’t even make it to production). What I find most interesting is looking back on these advancements and seeing how they’ve impacted cars today, despite their often lackluster starts.

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Digging Into Self-Driving Cars

June 3rd, 2016
NEMPA MIT panelists John Leonard, Gil Pratt, Timothy Anness, Mary Gustanski, and Michelle Finamore.

Panelists John Leonard, Gil Pratt, Timothy Anness, Mary Gustanski, and Michelle Finamore.

People are funny. We’ve complained about having to waste time sitting uncomfortably in traffic for decades now. But when the phrase “self-driving car” and the idea of traveling in a car without having to dedicate full attention to it started becoming unavoidable in auto news, drivers of all sorts cried foul, calling the idea bad for reasons ranging from practical and real to theoretical and imagined.

Too far along to abandon the self-driving idea, automakers experimented with new language; disruptor Elon Musk demonstrated his wisdom with words by naming Tesla’s system Autopilot, after an established technology that’s already trusted and relatively understood, at least conceptually. Another important differentiator for Tesla is the fact that Autopilot promises partial rather than full autonomy, a critical difference that came up repeatedly at the recent New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) conference on The Intersection of Technology and Design.

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Buyers Want Used Cars That Will Last a Decade

June 2nd, 2016

1970_ford_bronco-pic-52750-640x480There’s an interesting quirk happening in used car buying that could affect new car sales for years to come. Almost half of all buyers want the car they buy to last at least 10 years.

The survey from AutoMD.com showed the majority of buyers are thinking pre-owned, or what we mortals would call used cars, crossovers, SUVs, and pickups. Price was the most important factor, but so was making sure the car would last a decade.

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Self-Driving Cars Gain Steam, But Are We Ready?

June 1st, 2016

tesla_self_driving

Who better to develop a self-driving car than a video-game company?

In video games, cars behave almost like real cars and are programmed to react to obstacles while racing around tracks or through city streets. Games today are essentially driving simulators, so it makes sense that the technology could transfer over to the real world.

Granted, when a car in a video game crashes, a simple reset results in a fresh car without any consequences from the accident. Real life is much different, but a company known for its role in video games is quickly becoming one of the hottest self-driving companies in the world.

A couple of videos from last week, though, prove that self-driving still has a long way to go.

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New England Motor Press Announces 2016 Winter Cars of the Year

May 31st, 2016

2016_honda_pilot-pic-8447236220464335468-640x480

With this past year being a rare exception, winters in New England are a serious business. So, when the New England Motor Press Association gets together to award the best winter vehicles of the year, the industry takes notice.

Although the typical winter’s day this year was more hospitable than during the past few years, the official winter testing day for NEMPA’s auto experts was still a bitterly cold, windy affair – complete with weather service advisories instructing people to stay inside (just check out our Infiniti QX50 impression for proof). Undeterred, we gathered at Bugsy Lawlor’s Automotion garage to test the best winter rigs of the year.

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5 Things to Know About Buy Here, Pay Here Dealers

May 25th, 2016
buy here pay here lot

This Connecticut Buy Here, Pay Here dealer has cornered the market on used Suzukis.

There’s nothing inherently bad about Buy Here, Pay Here dealers. They provide a service to those automotive buyers without good credit who sometimes need a used car in a hurry.

However, it’s important to keep in mind most Buy Here, Pay Here dealers (BHPH dealers) aren’t in business to establish long-term relationships. They’re trying to make the most profit they can from financing used cars.

Here are five things you need to know before purchasing a used car from a BHPH dealer.

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The Intersection of Technology and Design Isn’t Boring

May 19th, 2016
Toyota's FCV Plus concept

Toyota’s FCV Plus concept

On May 26, the New England Motor Press Association, of which some of us here at CarGurus are members, will host a conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the theme Technology Intersecting Design. It may sound like a boring topic, but as you’ll see, it’s a compelling one.

The NEMPA conference will include prominent industry figures like Timothy Anness, head of advance design, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles – North America; Mary Gustanski, vice president of engineering, Delphi; Michelle Tolini Finamore, curator of fashion arts at the (Boston) Museum of Fine Arts; Dr. Gill Pratt – CEO, Toyota Research Institute; and John J. Leonard, professor of mechanical and ocean engineering at MIT.

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Nissan Takes Control of Mitsubishi

May 13th, 2016

nissan-mitsubishi

Nissan will take a controlling stake in Mitsubishi after the latter’s fuel-economy scandal in Japan.

The scandal arose when Mitsubishi admitted it had falsified fuel-efficiency tests on at least 13 models over the last 25 years, resulting in a firestorm of negative publicity in its home market.

Mitsubishi said its investigation showed that company managers, under pressure to keep pace with fuel-economy rates reported by competitors, fabricated numbers while using procedures to calculate efficiency that did not comply with Japanese law.

The scandal has not had an impact in the United States and no cars here are affected. In fact, U.S. Mitsubishi sales have increased over the past year.

In Japan, though, the company is reeling, which has prompted Nissan to swoop in with a lifeline.

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5 Ways Young Drivers Can Improve Their Skills, Lower Insurance Rates

May 12th, 2016

Kia Brakes program

Planning to buy a young driver a used car as a graduation present? Or maybe you’re a young person planning to buy your own first car? There’s lots of info available on safe cars for young drivers. What also needs consideration, though, is how young drivers can improve their skills and lower their insurance rates.

Here’s some advice along those lines.

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Hidden Used-Car Costs New Grads Must Know

May 12th, 2016

A car has hidden costs

In many students’ minds, “car” and “graduation” go together. For some, it’s because a post-grad job requires a vehicle to commute to and from work. Others may simply want a car to maintain their independent lifestyle from college (especially if they plan to move home).

This isn’t changing for the class of 2016, either. According to a recent survey conducted by CarGurus, almost one-third of upcoming graduates plan to buy a car. And of them, 57% plan to pay for it entirely on their own.

Buying a car is a major purchase—even if you opt for a moderately priced used one. Taking this on yourself is a big sign of financial freedom, but it’s also a big financial responsibility. To handle it wisely, keep in mind the following hidden costs.

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