MIT: vehicle emissions cause 53,000 extra deaths a year

Filed under: Etc., EV/Plug-in, MPG, USA

Winter Weather

53,000 early deaths are attributed to exhaust from cars and trucks, annually.

And now for some not-so-uplifting news for your Labor Day weekend, especially if it involves a long road trip. Emissions from electric-power generation, industrial operations, commercial and residential sources and transportation (road, marine and rail) sources cause about 200,000 premature deaths in the US each year, Green Car Congress says, citing a study from MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment. The key point for us in the automotive world: road transportation alone accounts for “53,000 early deaths per year attributed to exhaust from the tailpipes of cars and trucks.” EV advocates shouldn’t gloat too much, as early deaths from electricity generation came in at 52,000, mostly in the Midwest where coal is still the main source of juice. The data MIT used came from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Emissions Inventory from 2005, the most recent available.

MIT somehow calculates that pollution-related deaths essentially occur about a decade before that person would’ve otherwise passed away. As far as geography is concerned, California alone accounts for about 21,000 of those 200,000 premature deaths, and fans of The Wire might be interested to know that Baltimore is the US city with the highest number of emissions-related deaths per capita. Amid all this negativity, there is some good news. Pollution-related deaths from rail operations were “relatively slight.” So we have that going for us.

MIT: vehicle emissions cause 53,000 extra deaths a year originally appeared on Autoblog Green on Sat, 31 Aug 2013 14:54:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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ETC: 105-year-old Facebook user gifted new car anonymously

Filed under: Etc., Honda

105-year-old Edythe, California's oldest driver, enjoying her new car.  (PRNewsFoto/Direct Relief)

105-year-old Edythe Kirchmaier is quite a woman. Not only is she California’s oldest driver – she just renewed her license this January after passing the test without incident – she has a perfect 86-year driving record without so much as a parking violation. In fact, she’s been driving for so long that she learned how on a Ford Model T (how many people alive today have even driven one of those, much less learned on one?). On top of all that, Edythe is a philanthropist; she’s been volunteering at Direct Relief, which provides free medications for people in need, for 40 years. You may have even seen her on TV earlier this year spreading the word.

So when Edythe’s 1997 minivan began breaking down, an anonymous fan did what any completely selfless person of means would: they gifted her a brand-new 2013 Honda Civic, ensuring that Edythe can continue working for the cause she loves. Check her out on Facebook – she’s the social media site’s oldest registered user – and scroll down to the press release for more on this heartwarming story.

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105-year-old Facebook user gifted new car anonymously originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 26 Aug 2013 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Read This: 72-year-old mailman has America’s longest route

Filed under: Truck, Etc., Government/Legal, Read This

Mailbox

Bloomberg has an interesting read from Oklahoma, following the story of Jim Ed Bull, a postal worker with the longest route in the country – a staggering 187.6 miles. For reference, that’s like driving from the far northern side of Detroit to the far eastern side of Cleveland every day just to deliver the mail. Bull does this five times per week.

And while the story might not be hugely focused on cars, aside from Bull’s Ford Ranger and his ability to drive entirely with the left side of his body while working mailboxes with his right hand, it’s quite an interesting story in and of itself.

Head over to Bloomberg for the full read on what keeps this Sooner going.

72-year-old mailman has America’s longest route originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 24 Aug 2013 11:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Initial D manga ends 18-year run with ‘Final Stage’

Filed under: Etc., Japan, TV/Movies

initial D

Initial D, the Japanese manga that helped popularize drifting and make the AE-86 generation Toyota Corolla (Trueno in Japan) the cult classic that it is today, has finally ended after 18 years of publication. The last installment, called Final Stage, was released in late July, in the August 6 edition of Young Magazine, reports The Truth About Cars.

If you don’t read the manga (a Japanese comic) perhaps you’ve watched the anime (a Japanese animated movie or TV show) series that it spawned, or the live-action movie from 2005 (which has some cool drifting scenes). What stands out the most about Initial D are the cars, which are drawn accurately and animated fluidly on paper or the TV screen – representing an acute understanding by the technical artists of how cars look and behave while they’re being driven.

As is often the case with manga-anime relationships, the Initial D manga takes storyline priority with the anime following loosely behind. Though the manga has ended, TTAC reports that another series of Initial D episodes (and another live-action movie) will be produced to tie things up for fans of the anime.

Initial D manga ends 18-year run with ‘Final Stage’ originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 09 Aug 2013 08:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Your car’s ‘big data’ is worth $1,400 a year

Filed under: Safety, Technology, Earnings/Financials, Infotainment

Chevrolet MyLink screen

Connected cars are slowly but surely becoming more commonplace, mirroring the smartphone takeover of the mobile communications market, albeit at a much slower pace. But as we get more and more connected vehicles on the road, the ability of companies to take advantage of the accumulated data becomes greater and greater.

Now, one Cisco executive, Andreas Mai, has put a number on just what one car’s total data will mean in savings for a number of interested parties. According to a report from Automotive News, the average motorist will stand to save $550 per year thanks to smarter routing from navigation systems that allow them to both avoid traffic and improve fuel economy.

Society, as a whole, will benefit thanks to data that allows for an improved traffic flow and higher road capacity, with $420 in savings. Mai estimates that the service providers – those companies that provide the traffic guidance, navigation, parking services and such – should see $150 in value per car. Finally, the automakers should see an extra $300 in value thanks to app design and smarter diagnostics that lower warranty costs.

And while this is all very much still pie-in-the-sky stuff (connected cars are still in their infancy), the prospects are quite exciting. The sole sticking point we can really see has to do with privacy. The average citizen might not appreciate their commuting habits being monitored by faceless corporations, with some potentially electing to opt out.

The idea of incentivizing cooperation is one possibility, but even Mai recognizes that privacy and ownership of the data will be an issue, “There have to be rules about who owns the data. Most likely it’s the consumer, since he bought the car. A balance needs to be struck.”

Your car’s ‘big data’ is worth $1,400 a year originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 06 Aug 2013 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Toyota reports huge quarterly profit increase, raises forecast for the year

Filed under: Toyota, Earnings/Financials

2014 Toyota Tundra Grille

Toyota isn’t just the world’s largest automaker – so far its the biggest winner for quarterly profits. With an enormous $5.5 billion take during Q2, Toyota took advantage of the weak Japanese yen and strong US demand to record a 94-percent improvement in profit over the same period from last year. So far, Toyota brought in larger profits than Ford and General Motors combined.

Toyota is showing no signs of slowing down either, as it has bumped up its forecast for full-year global production, going from 9.94 million to 10.12 million vehicles, on the back of a 13-percent drop in the buying power of the Japanese yen versus the US dollar. That strong exchange rate is largely responsible for Toyota’s big jump in profits, although it also managed to shift 1.3 million vehicles in the US market this year. Strong Camry sales have also helped. But while Toyota is raking in the cash, it actually saw a small drop in market share, down 0.1 percent to 14.3 percent of the US market.

As is the case with most automakers, Toyota seems flummoxed by Europe, where it recorded less than one percent of its revenue. Still, as Automotive News points out, Toyota only maintains a 4.5-percent market share in Europe and is far less dependent on the continent than other manufacturers. Toyota also struggled at home, much like Honda. With 525,777 units sold, JDM sales were down almost 51,000 units, although Toyota still saw its operating profit jump from $3.5 billion to $4.6 billion.

Scroll down for Toyota’s official press release.

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Toyota reports huge quarterly profit increase, raises forecast for the year originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 04 Aug 2013 15:19:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Audi first to bring LTE to the car later this year

Filed under: Performance, Technology, Hatchback, Audi, Luxury, Infotainment

It appears Audi will be the first to market with in-car LTE service later this year. We knew that BMW was working on LTE integration last year with its ConnectedDrive, and we’ve been told that, by the end of 2015, most General Motors products will have it, but LTE can be ordered on the S3 Sportback (pictured) as soon as July. Other models in the A3 line-up will add the option in November.

Inserting an LTE-enabled SIM card into the Audi’s MMI navigation will make the S3 a WLAN hotspot that can quickly shuffle high-definition content from the cloud to the cockpit. It will also bolster Audi Connect services like Google Earth, Facebook and Twitter, e-mail, and streaming internet radio.

We’ve been told that we’ll be offered the LTE option when the 2015 A3 sedan gets here in the spring of 2014. Since the service requires you to provide a SIM card, we expect that costs and data caps will be a matter between you and the service provider; speaking of which, Audi hasn’t announced yet who that provider will be on this side of the Atlantic. The press release below has more details.

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Audi first to bring LTE to the car later this year originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 30 Jul 2013 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: 2014 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year long list released

Filed under: Etc.

North American Car of the Year crystal award

Is it that time of the year again already? The 2014 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year award “long list” has just been revealed, with 29 nominees sliding into the car category and 19 up for consideration in the truck/utility space. As ever, both NACTOY lists serve to illustrate the ever-widening scope of product that our industry has to offer. Tiny electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Spark EV and luxury bruisers like the new Maserati Ghibli bookend the car list, and the truck/utility nominees continue to illustrate the growing popularity of crossovers.

Last year, the Cadillac ATS claimed the car award (the Ram 1500 took home the truck category), and this year, General Motors has a healthy crop of nominees, including two from Cadillac (CTS, ELR) and four from Chevrolet (Corvette, Impala, Spark EV, SS). On the other side of the fence, the Buick Encore and Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra twins are also vying for the coveted cut crystal. Kia and Mercedes-Benz also have a lot of vehicles up for consideration. The Korean brand is represented by the Cadenza, Forte, Soul, and Quoris on the car side, and the Sorento on the truck/utility front, while Daimler will see its B-Class, CLA-Class, E-Class and S-Class models in the mix.

As ever, the long list gets its name because it serves as broad brushstroke roundup of new or substantially updated vehicles released in time for consideration. Given the fluid nature of new vehicle releases, the long list shows which vehicles are eligible for consideration – some of them may not have been seen or driven by the NACTOY’s 50-strong juror pool yet. Select vehicles may thus fall off the list if they do not become available for judging in a timely fashion, while other vehicles not shown on the list may be still be added at this stage. Later this fall, after jurors have driven the vehicles, a first round of voting will be held, and the resulting “short list” of a dozen or so vehicles will trigger further assessment followed by another vote that will result in three finalists for each category. A final round of voting will commence, and the winners will be announced at January’s Detroit Auto Show.

Check out both lists of nominees by scrolling below, then have your say on who you think should win in Comments.

*Full Disclosure: Author is a NACTOY jury member.

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2014 North American Car and Truck/Utility of the Year long list released originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 23 Jul 2013 15:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Rumormill: First 1K next-gen Mustangs to carry 2014 1/2 model year?

Filed under: Coupe, Performance, Ford, Rumormill

Next-gen Ford Mustang spy shots - profile view, camouflaged

A new report from Mustangs Daily, citing insider sources at Ford, tells us that the Blue Oval will produce 1,000 next-generation Mustangs with the model year designation of 2014 ½, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the storied marque. The commemorative half-year designation is a rumor that’s been swirling in Mustang forums for quite some time now, and seems more plausible than ever with this most recent report. Certainly it’s not far-fetched to believe that Ford will want to make a big deal of the golden anniversary for its most-loved model.

The story (compiled by Drew Phillips, who runs the aforementioned Mustang site when he’s not directing the photography on these pages) goes on to say that the limited-run cars will be the first built on the new Mustang platform internally known as S550 (and spied testing in the attached gallery). Each car is said to carry a “special” VIN and build number, though no performance upgrades versus the 2015 cars to follow are in the works. A collector’s dream then, rather than a weekend racer’s.

First 1K next-gen Mustangs to carry 2014 1/2 model year? originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Jul 2013 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Study: Ford tops mid-year ranking of brands in the US

Filed under: Marketing/Advertising, Ford

2013 Ford Fusion  - front three-quarter view

YouGov’s mid-year Brand Index rankings of America’s best perceived brands has been released, and Ford has found its way to the top. The Dearborn, Michigan based manufacturer beat out online shopping giant Amazon, The History Channel, and home improvement superstore Lowe’s, to take the top spot.

Ford jumped from sixth overall in 2012 to first for 2013, but those that have been watching these rankings shouldn’t be hugely surprised. Ford was rated the best perceived automotive manufacturer by the same organization last year. The Blue Oval’s success on the overall brand rankings is made all the more impressive by the complete lack of other automakers on the list.

YouGov (that is, survey respondents) cited Ford’s first quarter of 2013 business, which saw an increase in market share and the best earnings recorded in over 10 years. Successfully launching the Focus and Fusion (pictured) and keeping them fresh in the minds of consumers has also contributed to Ford’s best overall score.

YouGov’s Brand Index asks survey respondents whether they’ve heard anything positive or negative about a brand in the last two weeks. That includes anything in advertising, news or word of mouth. Following the old saying “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,” the responses, both positive and negative, are correlated into the Buzz score, which rates the brand’s perception among the public. Check out all the results in the official press release below.

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Ford tops mid-year ranking of brands in the US originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Jul 2013 10:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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