Cadillac Announces V2V Safety Tech

Cadillac XT5 V2V Safety Tech

Cadillac has announced that this month they will begin the installation of inter-vehicular communication systems, also known as Vehicle to Vehicle or V2V.

In a statement released just this past Thursday, a representative of the company claimed that the vehicles will be able to communicate up to 300 metres (or 1000 feet) and pass 1000 messages per second to track each other’s speed, position, and direction.  It will be able to caution the drivers about any potential hazards on the road –any impairments, stalled or disabled vehicles ahead, slippery road conditions, or potential difficulties for breaking. As Richard Brekus, the global director of product strategy at Cadillac stated in the release, “Connecting vehicles through V2V holds tremendous potential, as this technology enables the car to acquire and analyze information outside the bounds of the driver’s field of vision”. The Technology installed in these vehicles will soon have capabilities as intricate as popular ERP software present in large organizations

The intention is for the V2V system to come standard on all 2017 CTS in both the United States and Canada; the reason for this being that in order to be most effective, this technology must be in several cars on the road, making it something people would not want to shell out extra money for. The issue as of right now, however, is that the V2V system can only communicate with other Cadillac CTS 2017 models.  While it is a guarantee that the technology will eventually end up in other GM vehicles, thus making it more effective, it is still up in the air as to whether or not other automotive brands will pursue it, however, Cadillac has expressed interest in opening the discussion with other brands in order to provide the best experience for their own customers on the road.

The frequency with which the vehicles will be able to communicate will be on a 5.9 GHz spectrum band, a channel approved by the Federal Communications Commission specifically for the use in automobiles. This allows for the vehicles to create an “ad hoc wireless network” which allows for the sharing of date between them without the need for satellites, cellular coverage, or good weather. Matthew Kirsch, the lead engineering group manager for automated driving and active safety, stated “[the vehicle] is sending out basic information that allows other CTS vehicles nearby to see each other, even if they’re not in the line of sight … [and] alerts the driver in advance of the hazard and gives the driver time to avoid by changing lanes or applying the brakes.”

It is uncertain as to whether or not this technology will take off or flop, however, the move towards making our roads safer for everyone is a positive one, even if it is just making room so that automakers can have the conversation about what is needed to be done.

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Volkswagen Groups Latest Legal Troubles

The Volkswagen group seems to be finding itself in increasing legal difficulties this month, facing action in both Canada and the United States for claiming that the vehicles they produce are more environmentally friendly than they actually are, to put it mildly.

The company has recently pled guilty to three felonies within the United States District Court under a plea agreement. This is the first time that the Volkswagen group has pleaded guilty to criminal conduct in any court worldwide. The charges laid against them consist of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and the introduction of imported merchandise into the United States by means of false statement. The guilty plea was accepted by Judge Sean Cox as settlement to the claims made by the American Environmental Protection Agency Act as well as the United States Customs and Border Protection, who asserted that the Volkswagen Group imported approximately 590 000 vehicles with turbodiesel engines that violated environmental protection and clean air regulations. Judge Cox, however, did state at the end of the hearing that, given the nature of the accusations, he required more time to assess the $4.3 billion U.S.  in fines. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for the 21st of April at 9:30am. The automaker must also pledge to give their full cooperation to further investigations into their company as well as completely adhere to environmental standards set by the federal government.  

This current legal trouble is the cherry on top for the Volkswagen Group and Audi Winnipeg, who has also faced similar charges and investigations in Canada. Barely three months prior, Volkswagen had reached a consent agreement between themselves and the Competition Bureau of Canada to pay $15 million Canadian for “false or misleading environmental marketing claims used to promote some vehicles with 2.0-litre engines”.  However, the Competition Bureau is still investigating marketing claims associated with 3.0-litre engines. Furthermore, there are two outstanding class-action suits against Volkswagen that will appear before Canadian Courts later this month.

As if that wasn’t enough, Environment and Climate Change Canada is conducting an investigation of their own into the diesel engines produced by Volkswagen. They have stated that if their findings contain sufficient evidence of having breached the regulations set to control vehicle emissions, “enforcement action will be taken in accordance with the Compliance and Enforcement Policy of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act”, adding to the cost already accumulated by the lawsuits in the United States.

The amount the automaker will still have to pay in total for these charges is still yet to be determined. If Volkswagen had not pled guilty to the charges in the United States, they would have been looking at potential fines that ranged anywhere from $17 billion U.S. to $34 billion, on top of charges faced in Canadian Courts.

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Record Number of Automotive Recalls

Over the past 20 years, the number of automotive recalls in the United States has hovered in between 10.2 million and 30.8 million; however, for the third year in a row, the U.S. has set a record number of auto recalls, with this year’s 53.2 million beating out 2015’s 51.1. As stated by the U.S. Department of Transportation, during 2016, the number of automotive recalls has sky-rocketed to a record-breaking 53.2 million vehicles after a recent expansion of the already existent callback of the airbag inflators produced by the Takata Corporation –inflators that have a tendency to rupture, being liked to at least 16 deaths worldwide. This unfortunate defect is estimated to affect around 42 million American vehicles with roughly 70 million inflators between them.  Automotive experts estimated that the Takata Corporation’s airbag inflator affects 1 in 4 cars on American roads, although they have reduced that number this year to 1 in 9.

While the Obama administration was in effect, automakers had issued 927 campaigns for recall, which is a seven percent increase from 2015. The reason for the Obama administration’s increase in automotive standards is due to a jump in traffic and automotive-related deaths by eight percent in 2015 and then rose again in 2016. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration failed to detect an ignition switch defect in General Motors Co. vehicles in 2014. After said switch was linked to 124 deaths, the NHTSA issued numerous fines to all those companies which were deemed to have failed to meet safety regulations. Among those fined were, of course, General Motors and Takata, as well as Honda Motor Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, and Graco Children’s Products –a manufacturer of car seats and booster seats.

Hopefully, car manufacturers will see an improvement in recall rates in 2017, however, with notices issued already for Mercedes-Benz, Buick, BMW 4 series, Subaru Impreza, and the Volkswagen Jetta, the year is not off to a great start. It is unclear exactly who is to blame for the increase in recalled vehicular technology –whether it is tighter regulation enforced by the government or if it is due to gross oversight on the part of the manufacturer. Regardless of where we place blame, it remains abundantly clear that changes need to be made if we wish to see a reduction in the number of recalled vehicles. If you are unaware of whether or not your vehicle has been recalled, plug you car’s vehicle identification number into the government’s online recall search tool and it should tell you whether or not your car has any unresolved recalls. You can also contact your vehicle manufacturer, who should have a record of any recent recalls on their product.

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Increased Consumer Costs in US Automotive Industry

Under the Presidency of Donald Trump, the American Automotive Industry, and, by extension, the Canadian Automotive Industry is expected to take a hit over the next few years. According to a study recently published by the Indiana University, the industry itself is likely to experience a drop in both shares and profits in the foreseeable future as well as an increased unemployment rate, varying from company to company. Furthermore, the study concluded that if automotive regulations are not altered, U.S. consumers can expect increased costs in the purchase of premium vehicles as well as in fuel utilization.

American automakers, and those who have a vested interest in the automotive market in the United States, have called for the Trump administration to re-examine the rules that constrict their production standards and reform them to the reality of the market, with Mark Fields, the CEO of Ford Motor Co. threatening that over 1 million American jobs are at stake. His statement is directly in contradiction with the study by Indiana University, which claims that the unemployment rates in the U.S. should peak around 2021 at approximately 150 000 jobs, with a longer-term benefit of an increase of jobs by 2031. The study additionally states that current fuel economy and emissions targets will, over the long-term, cost customers a premium of over $1800 per vehicle by 2025. This also follows the trend that with the economy being what it is, consumers are looking to purchase less costly vehicles, opting for endurance over luxury.

John Graham, the co-author of the Indiana University study, entitles A Microeconomic Study of Federal and State Automotive Regulations, suggests numerous ways in which… One such example is for legislatures to consider cost-effective methods to phases out older vehicles, which would both increase profits for auto dealers while reducing GHG emissions, and to refine performance standards in order to make the entire industry more cost-effective for production and consumers alike. The study also makes it clear the responsibility for improvement does not rest with one party in particular but rather is something shared by analysts, legislators, and regulators, by giving recommendations for reformation to each of them.

While the study admits that there are some factors not examined in its contents, such as numerous environmental restrictions as well as an overall societal benefit, the study is clear that there needs to be an examination and a reformation in the auto industry which may seem detrimental in the short-term but will have numerous long-term benefits.

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Buying a Used Car

buying a used car

Whether you are an experienced motorist or a newly licensed driver, buying a used car can be a challenging experience. In some ways, it’s a gamble to purchase a previously owned vehicle –it can be difficult to know exactly how much road time a vehicle has had or to know its history of accidents. There are a number of horror stories that exist in the used car market, most of which feature unscrupulous sellers and automobiles that fail after a small amount of time. While some of these stories may be fictitious, it is increasingly important to make sure you have your wits about you when making a big purchase such as this.

Some common sense rules to keep in mind while shopping for a used car involve meeting your potential vehicle in-person. This means that you should make sure to avoid online-only sellers. When choosing a used car, it’s important to use most of your senses to examine it. You need to look at in-person (not just pictures) both inside and out: are there any obvious signs of wear, is the paint new (could mean it was recently detailed), suspicious stains, marks on the interior as well as exterior? What does the car smell like: is there a strong chemical scent, smoke, pets, oil or gas, cleaners? You want to feel to see if there are any scratches or tears as well as any sort of residue on the interior of the vehicle. Unless your plan is to sell the vehicle for parts, it is best to examine all aspects of your potential vehicle.

One of the main things you need to watch for is your seller. It can be pretty easy to tell when someone is trying to pressure talk you into buying a vehicle if you know what to look for. Listen for provocative language –if it sounds a bit like propaganda, it is. You also want to try and get a full history of the vehicle from the time the owners purchased it. Ask if they can provide paperwork, although not everyone will be able to. If the owners cannot show you a record of the vehicles history, ask them questions about it. Of course, if your seller tries to sidestep any of your questions or you get the impression that they are lying, it is best to refuse to buy the vehicle and leave. Furthermore, remember that when you buy a used car, you do not get a warranty. This means that once ownership of the car has been transferred into your name, if anything goes wrong it comes out of your own pocket.

As long as you remember to be warry and to trust your instincts, the difficulties of purchasing a previously owned vehicle can be side-stepped and you will find yourself with a quality car at a decent price.

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