The Trouble with Self-Driving Cars: It’s the Drivers, Not the Cars

Angry driver shouting in his car

Picture yourself circling a crowded Market Basket parking lot. You see one empty spot ahead, but by the looks of it, there’s another car angling toward the same space. Your choices are simple: Politely take the high road and yield the vacancy to the other driver, or press on ahead, disregarding the feelings of your fellow motorist, and grab that parking spot while you still can.

Regardless of what they’d do in reality, I imagine most readers would profess their virtue while choosing the former. But what if you didn’t have to worry about insulting another driver? What if you only had to worry about offending an unemotional, soulless computer?

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Audi Accused of Emission Software Cheat… Again

2016-audi-a4

Audi delivered more than 17,700 vehicles in October as the German automaker hit its 70th straight month of sales increases.

The fastest-selling Audis are the A4 sedan and Q7 SUV, while the smaller Q3 is building some serious momentum.

Audi is a success story in America and is one of the top luxury brands sold here, in spite of being part of Volkswagen’s now-infamous diesel emission scandal last year.

If Audi can weather one emission-related scam, can it possibly escape two unscathed? Looks like we’re about to find out.

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The Truth About Ethanol

fuel pumps at a gas station

Thanks to growing environmental concerns and economic forces, 97% of fuel currently pumped in the U.S. is up to 10% ethanol. For a few reasons, ethanol in gas is a hot-button issue for some folks; search for an article on the topic and your chances of finding one that balances both sides of the aisle are pretty slim. But, while many drivers are familiar with Flex Fuel vehicles, which run on a fuel made of 85% ethanol, fewer realize that the gasoline they’re already putting in their cars is partially made from corn.

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Thanks Obama: 48 Ways to Cross the U.S. in an Electric Car

48_EV_Corridors

The dream of driving an electric car on an all-American road trip just moved a little closer to reality.

The Obama Administration yesterday announced new actions designed to give owners of electric cars access to a majority of the country.

In its announcement, the White House said,

By working together across the Federal government and with the private sector, we can ensure that electric vehicle drivers have access to charging stations at home, at work, and on the road – creating a new way of thinking about transportation that will drive America forward.

The plan includes 48 electric vehicle charging corridors spanning 25,000 miles of highway in 35 states and the District of Columbia. The electrified routes will place recharging stations at 50 mile intervals at a minimum, meaning all current EVs on the road will be able to reach them.

Is this the major step forward it appears to be?

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Should Gas Engines Be Banned?

Gas_engine_ban

That headline might have served as a teaser to get people to click just a few short years ago. In today’s world, though, technology advances at the speed of light, and a ban on internal combustion engines is a very real possibility.

Granted, it won’t happen overnight, and any such ban would be phased in over many years, but the wheels could already be in motion thanks to the speed at which electric vehicles are being developed.

For proof, all we have to do is look across the Atlantic toward the homeland of Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz.

Yes, Germany may become the first country to ban the sale of cars with gas-powered engines.

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Thanks, Donald: In Response to Trump, UAW Spills the Beans on Ford Bronco, Ranger

1985 Ford Bronco

Regardless of which side of the aisle you stand on, the 2016 presidential election has brought new meaning to “political theater.” Every election features its fair share of attack ads, smear campaigns, and slander, but with two unprecedentedly polarizing candidates, it’s no stretch to assume people are watching debates, social media at their fingertips, just to hear what the “other guy” will say.

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VW Makes Amends with Diesel Owners, But Isn’t It Forgetting Someone?

Porsche Cayenne Diesel

Raise your hand if you’ve ever responded to a friend’s complaint by saying, “Doesn’t this seem like a first-world problem?” Are you reading this in your cubicle, hand raised, feeling slightly foolish? All right—put your hand down. Here’s the thing with so-called “first-world problems”: despite their overall insignificance, they’re still real problems. Sure, we wouldn’t rank problems like “the only grocery store in my neighborhood is Whole Foods” alongside “educational inequality is a national epidemic” or “the extreme partisanship infecting the American political process is stunting the possibility of effective change,” but if the only grocery store in your neighborhood is Whole Foods, then the inevitability of spending half your paycheck on (amazing) bananas and homemade hummus could, in fact, very well be a serious personal inconvenience.

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Volkswagen’s Worldwide Sales Up, But Criminal Charges Could Loom

Volkswagen-TDI

It’s been almost one year since news broke of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal. At the time, we wondered how deep this scandal would go and if VW’s TDI plans were irreparable.

So far, Volkswagen has shown no interest in bringing its TDI line back to the U.S., but seems to have been doing just fine without it. Last month CNN said,

Global sales of Volkswagen cars and trucks have eked out about a 1% gain in the first five months of the year, despite the scandal. May sales gains were even stronger, a sign that the automaker is starting to put the diesel scandal behind it. Its U.S. sales have been down 7% in the first half of the year, although the United States accounts for only about 5% of its global sales.

Volkswagen’s outlook isn’t all rosy, though. This week investigators with the U.S. Department of Justice have found evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the case.

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Automakers Can Reach 54.5 MPG, But That Doesn’t Mean They Will

2016 Jeep® Renegade Trailhawk

We’ve all been there: January 1st nears, excitement builds, and you set a lofty goal for yourself. Eat healthier. Hit the gym 5 days a week. Engage friends and family in conversations that are not exclusively about cars. You know, your typical New Year’s resolution. In the following weeks, Whole Foods will record record sales and gym memberships will spike. But by mid-February or so, we’ll return to our old habits, and my loved ones will still be trying to remember which seemingly random collection of letters and numbers is made by Cadillac and which by Mercedes-Benz. Our resolutions—promises we made and agreed to stand behind—have become more akin to suggestions. They’re now goals to strive for and be congratulated on, not requirements by which to live. Don’t feel too bad: as it turns out, the auto industry isn’t too different.

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What the New CAFE Standards Mean for Auto Buyers

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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