Autonomous Car Progress: Approaching Level 5

BMW iNext rendering

I thought adaptive cruise control was the coolest thing ever. Simply set the cruise to 70 miles per hour, and the car does the rest, even slowing down to match traffic when speeds drop.

I first experienced adaptive cruise control in 2014, and now, just three years later, we have automakers talking about “level 5” autonomy.

What is level 5? It means a car can control itself in all situations and doesn’t need a driver for anything. We’re not there yet, but some powerful and influential automakers are on the path to making it happen. Before level 5 cars arrive, lower priced cars will receive levels of autonomy that make my adaptive cruise look like technology straight out of 1999. Continue reading >>>

Should You Be Worried About Replacing a Used EV’s Batteries?

2017 Chevy Bolt

One of the benefits of owning an electric car is not needing to buy gasoline. The cost savings add up year after year, even when you include the cost of electrons to recharge the batteries.

Two of the biggest concerns since the advent of hybrid and EV technology are electric range and potential cost of replacing battery packs.

Range anxiety has mostly been solved as EV range steadily increases to over 200 miles per charge. Replacing battery packs has, so far, proven to be a non-issue, but it’s bound to become one as the earliest EVs continue to age. How much should people expect to pay once the inevitable happens?

About half of what the car cost new, at least according to Chevrolet. Continue reading >>>

What Would Make Your Car Perfect?

For almost a year I’ve driven an electric Nissan Leaf and there’s just one thing keeping it from being perfect.

Well, no. There are a lot of things keeping the Leaf from being perfect. Considering that it’s a $30,000 car, you’d think it would have power seats, door and steering wheel mounted controls that light up at night, and mirrors in the visors that light up. It doesn’t have any of those features and the interior is slathered in cheap plastic and ultra thin fabric wrapped around the door handles.

The Leaf does have plenty going for it, though. The heated seats and heated steering wheel are invaluable. The car has plenty of storage space and the 30-kwh battery pack offers an electric range that’s more than capable of managing commutes and daily errands.

My one wish for the Leaf is all-wheel drive, but one customizer is about to prove that the Leaf may not need it. Continue reading >>>

A Brief History of Batteries and Battery Tech

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

What comes to mind when you hear the term “car battery”? Fifteen years ago, the answer would have been quite obvious. But lately the idea of what a car battery entails has shifted away from that essential-but-oft-forgotten black box under the hood to state-of-the-art propulsion systems of the near future. When talking about batteries, we focus less on volts and more on kilowatt-hours and MPGe. We’ve mentioned batteries a lot lately, specifically in regards to the Chevrolet Bolt, GM’s potentially game-changing affordable all-electric vehicle. But when we talk about the Bolt’s 238 miles of battery range, how is that different from talking about the battery at the end of your jumper cables?

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Electric Boogaloo: EVs for the Average Car Shopper

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Automakers are on the verge of revving up their electric-vehicle production efforts. Global demand is certainly growing: countries around the world are planning markets in which 100% of vehicles sold will be completely emissions-free. Norway is probably the most prominent example, having declared a 2020 deadline for 100% EV and Fuel Cell adoption. Most auto manufacturers are therefore also moving in that direction, though their timetables aren’t quite as aggressive as Norway’s. Hyundai has promised 8 plug-in hybrids and 2 all-electric models in the next 4-5 years, Volkswagen AG has pledged to offer a plug-in version of every model in its lineup by 2025, and Honda wants fully electric cars to account for two-thirds of its total sales by 2030. So within 5, 10, or 15 years, buyers can expect most new cars being produced to be battery-powered.

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Changes Coming for Popular Nissan Juke, Leaf

Nissan_Juke

Electric cars shouldn’t look like electric cars if they are to go mainstream.

Tesla figured that out early, while other automakers, especially BMW and Nissan, made their electric cars look more and more… electric.

The BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf are perhaps the “most electric” looking of today’s electric cars.m BMW shows no signs of easing up on its polarizing styling, while Nissan, known for pushing the limits of good design taste, will soon unveil all-new looks for the Leaf and a slightly tamed-down design for the soon-to-be-hybrid Juke.

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10 Economical Options for the Sensible Graduate

personal_car_rental

As Boston-area folks know all too well, another year’s worth of college students will soon graduate and move on to their next stage in life. Whether that next stage will be an entry-level job, more school, volunteer or charity work, or getting right to work on their first (next?) startup, we wish this year’s graduates nothing but the best with whatever comes next.

We ran a recent survey that determined more than half of graduating college students plan to buy a car, and we were happily surprised to learn that over half of them expect to buy it themselves. Two-thirds of those getting a new car plan to buy a used one, and almost half expect to spend $15,000 or less, though we also learned that graduating college students don’t understand a car’s true costs. Over half plan to work in the city, and 71% plan to commute by car.

So here’s a graduation present from CarGurus: a list of 10 cars available used at an average cost of $15,000 or less that are all fine commuting cars and should hold their value relatively well. We deliberately avoided sports cars, which might tempt even a valedictorian to drive unsafely and would cost substantially more to insure. We hope all recent graduates plan to continue learning in their next stage of life, and we look forward to celebrating some of their successes in the no doubt impressively near future.

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Feeling Green? Our Top 10 Environmentally Friendly Used Vehicles

2013 Tesla Model S

Tesla made some serious waves last week when it debuted its Model 3 electric car. These weren’t your “gently lapping the shoreline” waves, either. Think “Laird Hamilton monstrous big-time waves.” We’re a data-driven, internet-focused company, so to demonstrate this point, we ran some basic Google searches. “Chevrolet Bolt” (the Model 3’s most direct competitor, and a car set to beat it to market by almost 2 years) returned 2.3 million results. “Nissan Leaf” (by and large the most popular electric car currently on sale) yields 4.9 million results. “Tesla Model 3?” 90.4 million results. So yeah… tidal waves.

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