Uber Reputation Update

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By A. Bunch

A lot going on at Uber again. Most of it centers on their reputation. As someone who’s followed Uber closely since they entered the Portland, OR market (about Fall 2014), I have viewed how they do business for better or worse. If we digest some of their recent coverage you’d think they are second only to Monsanto when it comes to evil reputation, but there are always two sides to the story. So let’s take a quick, neutral look at the most recent developments.

Uber picked their new CEO recently and the response was stern caution. David Martin, for example, asked the question in a recent article titled, “How can Dara Khosrowshahi repair the Uber brand? Turn inward and listen.

The article recommends that Khosrowshahi start immediately to change the corporate culture of Uber from making money by ruthless innovation to make transportation a better thing.

In a recent survey of consumer attitudes, consultancy cg42 found that since the recent spate of scandals began the proportion of consumers with negative views of the company has jumped from 9% to 27%. A full 26% of Uber’s existing customers said they are looking for an alternative (Lyft, anyone?). Meanwhile, 32% of prospective customers now said they did not want to use Uber, up from 13%.

Uber began trying to repair their brand by using TV ads, starting in the UK. Martin was adamant that it wouldn’t work and he was right. London has now declared Uber not “fit and proper” to do business in their city.  ). To be fair, London has always been uptight when it came to taxis. They require drivers to pass a knowledge of their insane street maps that are only slightly harder than med school finals and in exchange allow the cab companies to charge a little more than a doctor visit. Well, I guess a lot more since medical is free the UK.

Either way, that’s a blow because the TFL is potentially affecting 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million users According to Uber. It’s likely that the decision is an attempt to get Uber to clean up its act, since the TFL isn’t pulling their ticket, just letting it expire. The decision can be appealed and that’s Uber’s opportunity to show contrition.

How will Uber change their reputation? What Martin suggests Khosrowshahi do to fix the Uber brand crisis is turn inside his own company and talk to employees and drivers. In his earlier article, Martin wrote that your culture is your brand and I tend to agree. You can’t treat your drivers and employees as disposable and expect to start being seen as nice by riders and government officials. Everything is connected now. Your sins are front page gossip and much like that kid in grade school, captain pee pants, I mean Kevin Piedmont, can tell you, a single incident can be hard to live down.

After a few weeks on the job Khosrowshahi its clear that I’m not the only one who reads David Martin. Khosrowshahi has already met with drivers during a recent event of their 180 days of change, now he’s even going to drive for a day or two, that’s according to an email sent out to drivers dated September 22nd. I predict that driving will be an eye opener.

For one thing, their technology doesn’t work as well as they think it does. It’s not awful, and if you’re a programmer or business exec you probably love to see something that’s mostly reliable and bug free, but not unlike a life raft that mostly holds air small problems can bring a lot of stress.

But buggy software isn’t the problem in itself, it’s the attitude behind not getting it fixed. To be fair, Uber routinely updates and improves its technical platform, but they don’t change things that they don’t see are wrong. For example, the law requires businesses to allow service animals. Uber translates this to mean that Uber drivers must allow service animals in their vehicles. Drivers can’t ask if the animal is a service animal or just a pet, well they can ask but not for paperwork or proof. So if a rider wants to lie they can transport any animal in anyone’s car. Uber has half a dozen programs worldwide but not a pet friendly option. If your kid is allergic to cat hair, you simply can’t drive for Uber.

Hey if you don’t have 20/20 vision you can’t fly fighter planes for the air force. What’s the big deal? The big deal is that they can fix it with another ap. They haven’t, presumably because drivers are disposable. Whether that’s their attitude or not that’s how drivers perceive it.

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When all is said and done, it’s likely that Uber can improve how it operates and with those changes it can change its reputation. We’ll all just have to wait and see.

Focus on Mustangs: (part 2) Chrome and Trim

 

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The picture above has zero chrome…

 

by Jessica Mehta

Much like the magpie, there’s just something we love about shiny things. Modding your Pony with custom parts like the right chrome piece or trim can make a big statement with a relatively small investment. However much chrome you like – or don’t – is a fully personal preference. You can go all out or just add a little touch here and there. No matter how much you like to indulge, one thing is certain – chrome keeps all eyes on your ride.

The Surprising Places

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Chrome rims are a staple. However, there are seemingly endless possibilities that will add a surprising dash of shine. Chrome mirror covers and door handles are one option that isn’t seen often. Remember that sometimes less is more. These little touches are just enough to make people double take without completely blinding those you share the road with on a sunny day.

A chrome gas cap is another option. If you’re not quite sure you’re ready to commit to a big piece, slowly adding these touches are a great way to transition. The other great aspect of smaller pieces is price. It’s very easy to find small chrome pieces for under $100. That’s a nice price tag to test out if you and chrome are a perfect match.

Step It Up

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So, chrome’s for you? Or maybe you knew it all along. Almost every part of your stang can be modified with chrome or stainless steel. Upgrading Mustang accessories like door sills is a great way to add a bigger slice of shine into your life. Car show regulars might also be interested in decking out what’s under the hood. Investing in a stainless steel firewall is no longer just for hot rodders. You can opt to replace the entire firewall in steel or choose a false firewall cover to give the same look for a fraction of the price.

Is it Back in Style?

Chrome and steel is a personal preference. Timeless things never go out of style. There will always be people who adore a ride dripping in chrome and others who don’t want to change the factory design of a vehicle. The good news is that chrome isn’t a trend. There’s no worry about whether the style will be “out” in a year or two.

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Does it Last?

Replacing parts with chrome or steel can actually help extend the life of that particular part. Chrome is durable, long-lasting, scratch resistant, and easy to buff if a scrape does happen. Unlike a traditional paint job, a minor scratch is usually not noticeable to the naked eye. This is particularly helpful on parts that are prone to damage like exterior handles and side mirrors that don’t fare well in busy parking lots.

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How to Get Out of a Speeding Ticket

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By Staff

They say that death and taxes are the only inevitabilities in life, but drive long enough and you can probably add a speeding ticket to that list. There is a sinking feeling that comes with being pulled over by the police for speeding, simply because you know that you are about to be seriously out of pocket once said ticket is handed over.

We all find ways to justify the fact that we are speeding, but we cannot deny that what we are doing is against the law. Some folks are lucky enough to avoid a speeding ticket for years, and if you count yourself in that group, then there may be something that you can do when those red and blue lights finally show up in your rearview mirror.speedometer-653246_1920

When a police officer pulls someone over for speeding, once of the first things they will do is input that person’s ID into their computer. There is a laundry list of reasons why the police do this, with one of them being that they will check to see how many times the person driving has been flagged for speeding offenses in the past. The information revealed on the computer may well be what makes the officer decide to write a ticket or issue a warning.

If you weren’t too far over the speed limit and you have never had a ticket in the past, the police officer may end up showing leniency. Oftentimes, a verbal warning is enough to make a driver think about what he is doing the next time he considers speeding. Contrary to popular belief, police officers are not out on the road with the sole intention of racking up as many tickets as possible. They are often more than happy to issue nothing more than a warning if your past driving history indicates that you have been a conscientious driver behind the wheel.highway-393492_1920

How you handle the situation when pulled over is another factor that can come into play. If you get angry or cop an attitude, you may well talk yourself into a ticket that would otherwise have been avoided. The officer on the scene may feel as though you don’t fully comprehend the seriousness of the situation if you have an attitude, and that could very well end up with you receiving a hefty fine, with the belief being that you will get the message when you need to part with your hard-earned cash. What this means is that you need to remain calm and respectful when dealing with the officer who pulls you over. You do not need to admit to speeding, but you do need to show that you are aware of the seriousness of speeding, as well as the impact that it can have on not just you, but also all the other drivers that you share the road with.

The first thing that you need to do when the police officer appears at your window is remain calm and listen to what they are saying. The laws dictate that you should get a ticket, but the officer may also use their discretion and give you a warning instead. They will be a lot more inclined to do so if you show respect and make it clear that you have taken that warning to heart.

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Car Hack Series: Part 3

Sometimes the simplest hacks are the most genius. Often the most important problems to solve are the ones people don’t talk about…like stink. Does your car stink?

Here’s another entry from our informative and ever entertaining Car Hacker, Mike.

PS To if someone smoked in your car and you want to do more than just cover it up you have three options. Try them all and let us know what worked for you. Or, if we’ve forgotten one let us know by commenting below or at our Facebook page.

Option 1: Steam clean the seats. Can be spendy but should work or your money back.
Option 2: Ozone machine like the one found here.
Option 3: Try putting dryer sheets in the back window on reasonably hot days.

How to Save on Car Insurance

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By Jessica Mehta

Many drivers, regardless of age, don’t comprehensively shop around for car insurance. Even fewer establish a relationship with their agent. Sometimes simply asking if there are avenues to lower insurance premiums is all it takes! However, drivers will usually want to avoid “liability only” insurance. It can look like a great way to save on premiums, but when you have “liability only,” your insurance will only pay for costs and repairs due to the other driver in an accident. You’ll be stuck with all the bills related to your medical care and repairs. That’s a big but legal gamble few should take.

The good news is there are many ways to legally lower your insurance premiums without taking such a big risk. For starters, shop around—and keep doing so even when you already have coverage. There are various third-party comparison sites that give you un-biased answers. However, many of these sites might actually have a bias that isn’t advertised, might not ask all the questions that will determine a better rate, or might not include all of the premiums you’re eligible to enjoy. Try a few comparison sites, but also check out various insurance companies directly.

Mehta_Insurance2Young drivers might be especially averse to talking to an agent on the phone or in person, but this can often be the best way to secure lower rates. Talking to a qualified and reputable agent instead of depending on forms or email will let you explain your situation. Agents are often aware of special discounts that might not be advertised, and they’ll ask the right questions to make sure you’re getting the best rate. Remember, agents don’t get commissions or bonuses for inflating your insurance premiums. It’s in their best interest to make you happy with an affordable rate that still serves your needs. Comparison sites and algorithms, on the other hand, aren’t particularly interested in building a relationship with you or saving you money.

What Kind of Discounts Can I Get?

Every insurance agency might offer different discounts, but popular ones include discounts for having multiple policies or multiple cars. Young drivers who can be added onto a family member’s policy (while still paying their own premium) can often get a great deal. If you have an anti-theft device like an alarm, that might also score you a discount. There are also discounts for having passive restraints like airbags, daytime running lights, or even for having a newer vehicle because they’re inherently safer.

If you drive a green vehicle like an electric car or a hybrid, you might qualify for a discount. Being accident-free for a certain amount of time or otherwise, low-risk might be beneficial. Military members, drivers who keep low mileages, and even being a good student often comes with discounts. “Distant students” who are attending school far from home can sometimes get a discount, and homeowners might also qualify for lower rates.

Enroll in paperless billing and/or pay your premium in full instead of in monthly payments, and you’ll likely qualify for discounted coverage. Kind of like changing smartphone carriers, if you switch agencies before your policy is up, the new agency will likely pay off your remaining policy and give you a discount for switching.

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Always ask about loyalty discounts if you’ve been with an agency for awhile, and check to see if belonging to a certain organization or being an employee of a specific company qualifies you for a discount.

You can also lower your premiums by improving your credit score. Many times, agencies look at credit scores as an indicator of how “safe” a customer you’ll be. Younger drivers usually have lower credit scores because they haven’t had time to establish a solid credit history. However, if you focus on improving your credit score, your insurance premiums may slowly go down and you’ll also qualify for better rates on everything else from a mortgage to a credit card.

Ensure that your agent knows your current and correct address. Oftentimes, drivers stick with their original policy for years, automatically re-enrolling annually. This can be completely fine as long as there are no better rates out there, but if you have an old address listed you might be overpaying. Part of what determines insurance rates is where you live. After all, living in a high-crime area where car theft or break-ins are relatively more common means you’ll be paying a higher premium. Having the correct address can make a big difference in your premiums.

Most importantly, establish a relationship with your agent and talk to them about ways to lower insurance costs. The worst they can say if you already have the best possible rate—but keep accident-free and improve your credit score, and next year you might get a lower quote.

Best of the Web: A.V.s

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By Staff/ OP Ed

Today’s best of the web covers a topic familiar to our readers–AVs or Autonomous Vehicles (self-driving cars).

You might be kind of sick of it by now, but the debate rolls on and who better to argue about things than the United States Congress. So we give you the “Self Driving Act.”

This one took most of us by surprise. So we searched around and there’s enough coverage to give the story credibility. The government is, in fact, going to jump into the discussion about self-driving cars and is supposed to end up writing a law about them.

Most of the “proof” that AVs are coming is usually pretty circumstantial. For example, the essay in this article, written by Jeff Brown, states:

2016 was also a record year for funding early-stage automotive technology companies primarily focused in and around autonomous vehicle technology and related systems. Eighty-seven deals took place at a value in excess of $1 billion.

So a bunch of well-heeled companies threw a billion research dollars at it. Clearly, AVs are on the cusp of joining our regular daily lives. It’s a great measure of interest but it falls short of predicting success.

However, Congress taking an interest can signal something different. A company may thoroughly go after an immerging market and change or delay things as it develops. The government has the power to make something impact the economy whether it works or not. Government subsidies made EVs (all electronic vehicles) sell well through subsidies and sales pretty much tanked when we stopped paying people to buy them.

We don’t see the government needing to throw money directly at consumers to create demand. But that doesn’t mean they won’t pave the way for AVs whether or not they are ready. If they can get even parts of major cities going on them they’ll hail it as a victory and move onto the next battle.

When our resident grump (OP ED guy) was asked to comment he had this to say:

Tech moguls and business men like the executives at Google and Uber are enthusiastic about letting cars drive themselves. Ask someone who USES google maps to DRIVE for Uber every day and you’ll get less enthusiasm. Not because they’re scared of losing their employment but because people who actually use technology have a better understanding of its limitations. And while we’re on the topic, where’s my personal jetpack?

Well, there you go. Here’s some further research for you to check out.

https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/27/us-self-driving-car-bill-house-floor/

https://www.wired.com/story/congress-self-driving-car-law-bill/

https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/6/16259170/self-drive-act-autonomous-cars-legislation

https://energycommerce.house.gov/selfdrive/

Focus on Mustangs: (part 1) Choosing a Convertible or Hardtop

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by Jessica Mehta

The wind in your hair, sun shining down, and a favorite song blaring on the radio – what’s better than that? Of course, for others it’s the worry of a sudden downpour and forgetting to put the top up that is always at the forefront of their mind. Choosing a convertible or hardtop Pony has been a tough decision ever since the first convertible was released just a few months after the “1964 ½ Mustang” was born. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to pick one over the other – like every other important decision in life, it’s all up to you.

The Pros…and Cons

Depending on what year of Mustang you’re looking at, you might get to choose between a soft top and hardtop convertible. Ford Mustang parts vary in price, but overall a hard top convertible will be more expensive to repair or replace than a soft top. On the other hand, some people prefer the looks and “sturdiness” of a hard top convertible regardless of price.

It’s also important to consider where you live – particularly the weather. If it’s raining most of the year or exceptionally cold, a convertible might not be the best bet. However, practicality and Mustangs don’t always go hand in hand, which can be a great thing for adventurous spirits. There is a price difference between “regular” Mustangs and convertibles. Do you think the difference is worth those sunny days with the top down?Mehta_Mustang convertable

Dwindling Selection

Another very important consideration is just what model of Mustang you’re interested in. Not all models come with a convertible option. For example, there’s no Mach 1 Mustang convertible. Many Pony experts are well-versed on which come with a topless option, but for “new to the herd” fans this can be a surprise. What’s more important? Having a specific model that may not have a convertible option or having a convertible? This can drastically narrow down the possibilities.

Increase the Pony’s Life Expectancy

Knowing how to properly maintain a convertible top, and other key Mustang accessories, can increase a part’s lifespan and save you money. Older models may have a plastic rearview window, which doesn’t fare well in sunlight. Invest in a little cleaning and protecting materials like a vinyl window cleaner, convertible top cleaner and protectant, and take the time to cover the Pony every time it is parked. For quick trips around town, try to park in the shade even if the extra walk is inconvenient.

The Little Details

Weighed the pros and cons? Checked the average sunny days in your area? There are still a couple of things to consider. Test drive a convertible, preferably for at least a few miles on the highway, to see if owning a convertible is what you imagine. It might be heaven on earth – or it might make you quickly change your mind. Go on a test drive with an open mind and zero expectations to see what’s the best fit for you.

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AVs (self-driving) & Job Market Impact

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By Andy Bunch

Original Article by Cathy Engelbert &  Scott Corwin

The topic of automation touches every type of job market and where the Kicker Blog is concerned professional driving jobs seem conspicuously next on the chopping block. We’ve covered this topic from both sides of the debate, where the timing is concerned, and concluded that self-driving cars are inevitable but likely not imminent.

Industry expert and LinkedIn influencer Cathy Engelbert has written a great article on the topic based on its impact on the job market and since we’re always scouring the web for people talking about what we’re talking about we’d love to point you at it. For the full article go here. Our executive summary is below.

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Summary:

Automation will impact different job markets differently—there’s no single answer, good or bad. A balanced, fact oriented approach will lead to the most accurate prediction, not the over-enthusiastic or terror approaches that currently dominate the discussion.

Let’s consider a particular case to illustrate these points. When the media cites professions that may decline because of automation, some of the most common are jobs involving the movement of people and goods—trucking, taxis, ride-sharing, and the like. It often makes for good headlines and everyone “gets it” quickly. But the outlook is way more complicated, nuanced, and not necessarily as dire as portrayed.

While roughly 94 Million professional drivers currently answer the needs of moving people and goods, as people work and shop more at home, and cars begin to drive themselves the need for actual drivers will likely decline. However, we have an aging baby-boomer population that will continue to require assistance to live independently. Someone will need to take responsibility for good being delivered long distances and even when city’s become automated it could be years before particularly tricky areas become autonomous friendly. So a whole new industry of driver assistant could pop up. These jobs would require both driving skills as a backup to automation, but also another primary skill, like customer savvy.

If travel becomes cheaper and easier through automation, the demand will rise. This could lead to jobs serving the transportation industry in other ways. Roadway systems could wear out faster-increasing maintenance. Logistics to get people and items to destinations will likely increase. Automation could result in more interesting, less fatiguing labor that in turn causes reduced turn over and more interest in younger workers. This could mean that as the driving workforce loses workers to retirement it gains a lesser number of replacements who stay longer. Since currently there are nearly a million drivers needed it’s not likely that thousands of long-haul truckers will suddenly be out of work, which is the picture shoved at them by media daily.

So the conclusion is that the best predictor of what will happen as driving jobs are automated is the way automation has impacted other areas. A net reduction in the number of workers needed to produce the same output, which is felt heavily in industries that suffer an overall decline and not at all in industries that with growing demand over all. Jobs that are retained require more technical training and skill but are more interesting to do, and less physically dangerous. As a result, there’s no basis to fear going into an industry because the field won’t exist in 10 years. Some workers will need to make a lateral move and others will move up. Still, others will age out and retire. What isn’t likely? That professional drivers will become suddenly obsolete.

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Car Hack Series: Part 2

Welcome back Mike, for part 2 in our original series on hacking your car to drive for the rideshare market.

Here’s a link to units like the one discussed in the video. Full discloser we make no money through affiliate link for linking you to this product. Not because we think its evil to make money, but purely because we’re not organized far enough in advance to get an affiliate contract in place.  So please enjoy this special holiday presentation of Hacking your Car from the Kicker Blog.

PS Other cool solar chargers:
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/wakawaka-power-solar-charger-and-light-yellow/2092038.p?skuId=2092038

https://www.amazon.com/FKANT-15000mAh-Portable-Flashlight-Cellphones/dp/B016ZFZ54E/ref=sr_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1504206872&sr=8-18&keywords=solar+chargers

Concept Cars on the Horizon

 

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Above Picture is not yet slated for production.

 

By Ezekiel Gacee

Automakers have been coming up with new concepts that impress their customers. In this regard, the future for an auto lover is bound to be full of some awesome car designs. What sounds like a fantastic dream today might turn out to be a real car model in the near future. During the launch of the future film, I, Robot, no one would have thought that spherical tires would turn out to be a feasible concept. Today famous automakers have shown interest and they might be making autonomous cars with airless spherical tires. This will be an amazing phase in the development of vehicles and technology as a whole. Therefore, what does the future of car making look like and what are the possible cars to look out for in the future.

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Kia Stinger

This is a bold, sleek and a low-slung Stinger hatchback. It has great engines with 255hp, 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder and also a twin turbo 365hp, 3.3-litre V6. This new car bound to be launched in December 2017 has the capability of driving rear or all wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Its steering and suspension will have several settings ranging from comfortable to hardcore performance.

Lexus LS

In the ultra-luxury sedan segment, this car is bound to leave an impression. It is longer, lower, wider and 200 pounds lighter. This V8 vehicle comes with a twin turbo 3.5-litre V6 and is able to give 415 hp, it has a 10-speed automatic. The automaker has hinted that this car, which will be available in the market from November 2017, can move from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.  The car will be fitted with 12.3-inch infotainment screen and an additional 24-inch head up display.

 

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Note that we had a hard time getting the rights to pictures of these cars.

 

Chevrolet Traverse

The new traverse, which will be launching in fall 2017, will have more space in the second and third row. There is more provision for cargo behind the raised third row. The engine has a 20-litre four-cylinder turbo or a 3.6-litre V6 and both are paired with a nine speed automatic. Users will save on fuel, as it is a 3-mpg and good on the highway.

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Nissan Rogue Sport

Similar to other rogue sports this car has a141hp, 2.0- liter four-cylinder mated engine. The car offers a continuous variable transmission driven by front, or all wheel drive.  Some of the special features that it is bound to give include NissanConnect navigation/app system and an additional 7-inch screen and a 360 degree-view camera. The car will be available in the market later in 2017.

 

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Wow, pictured is the actual Ford Ecosport. Thank you, Ford!

 

Ford Ecosport

This will be Ford’s smallest ever SUV and will come with a turbo, 1.0liter three-cylinder or a 2.0-liter four cylinder both will be paired with a six –speed automatic. EcoSport comes with a side-hinged tailgate this is meant to be targeted for various markets.

Other impressive cars to look out for in the future include 2018 Audi A7/A7,  2019 Rolls-Royce Cullinan, 2017 Lincoln Continental, 2017 Infiniti Q60, 2018 MW X7,  2020, Apple iMaybe, and 2017 Porsche 718 Boxster.  These are new car concepts that are deemed to change the future of luxury cars.