What’s News: Ford to discontinue Flex

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  • Ford Motor is eliminating the Ford Flex in its redo of the vehicle lineup through 2020
  • Ford is shifting toward trucks and SUVs where it’s more dominate in the market.
  • This will eliminate about 450 employees at Ford’s Oakville Assembly plant in Ontario, Canada.
  • Also discontinued this month, the Lincoln MKT — a crossover built at the plant.

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Cheesy Car Ads

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What makes 50s car ads cheesy? It could be that look to a lifestyle we no longer recognize such as men in hats and women in headscarves, or it could be the convoluted way they say things. Some examples can be seen below.

What about “super-sonic sleekness exciting the most spirited imagination”? (The Oldsmobile’s Golden Rocket) or even “the way it looks, handles and makes you feel” (Mustang). Indeed no one seems to advertise a car nowadays on how the car handles, possibly because it is a subjective thing. But it certainly gave the 50’s driver a good reason to part with their dollars.

When in doubt maybe you might describe your car as the “greatest ever” as a ’73 version of the Volvo decided to do. (There’s some strange copy in their advert “the more comfier you are (sic), the safer you and your family are”). It might just be wishful thinking?

car-hop-4398145_1920Some pieces of copy might need you to become more interested in cars than you really are. “The best thing to happen to the 6 cylinder engine” – Chrysler Dodge. Why does it need to be a 6 cylinder engine? Would it be not so good if it was 7 cylinders? The 6 cylinder is apparently set at 30 degrees to produce a “bigger manifold system”. We’re not sure on the science, or really what they are going on about. To save a trip to the dictionary, the word manifold means “many and various” so it has the same meaning as system really.

It seems bizarre that advertisers would ever show cross-sections of cars to the public just to make them sell, but you need to remember that this might just possibly be the only car the driver would buy in their lifetime and it helped them to know it was reliable, even if they didn’t understand all the jargon involved. It was a case of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” – if a picture of a car’s inside worked before it must surely work again?

You’d worry nowadays if an engine said it had “hurricane power” but that seemed to be all right for the Willys-Overland Jeepster. For those who have not heard of the vehicle a Jeepster only was manufactured for two years as was designed as a cross between a convertible and a SUV. Put like that, it’s no wonder they didn’t catch on.

7g1zht0uxthxtiYou’ve got to love it when advertisers decide to highlight the most mundane items –for instance a Foam-Rubber Seat in a Mercury with the name “Lounge-Rest.” (Leather had yet to become the most obvious material for car seats). Strangely the carburettor has been nicknamed “Econ-O-Miser” because it doesn’t use that much gas, which seemed a common theme in writing copy for these types of advertisement.

A big thing seemed to be the way cars could “go for miles” on just thimblefuls of gas – this was before things like the Lanham Act, so it was much easier to lie at that time. Not that today’s advertisers tell the whole truth.

 

Cars in Time

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If you’re trying to be accurate or simplify tracking when things happen in relationship to each other one of the best techniques is to build a timeline. For example Henry Ford was born in 1863, so they would stick in other events that happened in the 19th Century possibly and continue into the 20th and 21st Centuries.

The problem is that you only can see which events happened when. If the goal is to give a clear context then you need an element of scale. In our Henry Ford example, it would be good practice to work out an event we can relate to that establishes when 1863 actually occurred. For instance, WWII’s Pearl Harbor in 1941 was halfway between when Henry Ford was born and 2019 – it gives a better idea to how long ago 1863 was.

A generation is a cohort of people who were born roughly the same time and whose upbringing was shaped by large events and the resulting cultural responses to them. Each generation lasts about 30 years. So another way to think of a timeline is by the number of generations that have passed between events.

Cars needed to have red flags in front of them in 1896 which was four generations ago (doesn’t seem as long as near as that!) or halfway between Sputnik falling to Earth and The Bridge Over The River Kwai winning an Oscar in 1958 and now.

The first car which didn’t need a crank to start was patented in the US in 1903 which was slightly less than four generations ago or halfway between President John F Kennedy being sworn in, the release of 101 Dalmatians in cinemas and The Bay of Pigs in Cuba in 1961 and 2019.

The introduction of the assembly line began the Ford Motor Company in 1913. This is about 3 and a half generations ago, or half way between the Vietnam protests, and the debut of Batman and the release of the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine in 1966 and 2019.

The first automatic transmission of gears was in 1939 by General Motors. This is just over 2 and a half generations ago, or half way between Pink Floyd’s The Wall concert, the film releases of Alien and Life of Brian in 1979 and 2019.

Electric fuel injection began in 1966 (note that the half way points for Henry Ford being born, cars needing to have red flags in front of them and a car which didn’t need a crank being patented has already happened at this point, and this is the half-way point for the assembly line). This is slightly more than 1 and a half generations ago or half-way between Bill Clinton being made president, the release of Jurassic Park and the first launch of Endeavour in 1993 and 2019.

The first mass produced Hybrid car, the Toyota Prius was launched in 1997 (note that all the half-way points above have now happened.). This is slightly less than one generation ago or half-way between Barrack Obama becoming president and the premier of Breaking Bad in 2008 and 2019.

You should now have a clearer idea of when events happened! Or quite possibly you are even more confused. It might be worth reading the article again, just to see if it makes any more sense the second time! Just a thought. Or Check out this timeline online.

 

Getting Business Done With Your Car.

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Would it shock you to know that only 17% of people commute by car?!?! It does us.

Sure in part it’s a tribute to how popular commuting by motorbike, bike, train, etc. And of course, working from home has become very popular. But cars transporting workers to jobs is only one way in which cars are involved in business.

car-438029_1920.jpgAnother way to view vehicles and business is when they transport goods to consumers, delivery vehicles, or transporting people to do business away from the office. An example of the latter would be if your business involves visiting people in their own homes as a tradesman or salesperson.

There are also company owned vehicles which could be delivery vans, or work trucks, etc. but are also the company car. This is a sign of status; and an employee is advancing in the world. Companies can treat the car as an expense and write off many of the costs. (We should pointed out that only business use can be included as an expense, so you can’t get money back on ferrying your children around, visiting friends or relatives, popping down the looking store and so on.)

oldtimer-2436018_1920.jpgFor some hypocritical reason, even though an employer can write off these vehicles an employee who uses there vehicle to get to and from work cannot. Employers can, in some instances, write off more than just the lease cost. In the case of a work truck, the cost of the insurance can also be deducted.

coffee-mobile-2715696_1920.jpgMany businesses chose to lease a vehicle instead of owing it. It’s not recommended you do this if you are in the taxi business however, LOL. The good thing about leasing it that you pay the current market value for leasing rather than having a car which value depreciates the minute it is bought. You also don’t need to worry about down payments for the vehicle and worrying out whether all your cars are insured properly, you can let a third party handle that.

Despite the amount of people employed in the virtual world it seems that the link to the car and being able to visit your client or your contact won’t get away and if they are located nearby, why wouldn’t you?

There are still two types of vehicle in business.

The first is a vehicle that’s been wrapped in advertising. Many companies, and small business, are seeing their vehicles as a moving billboard and double dipping. Not only can they transport employees and good to market, they can increase brand awareness.

But the last and most interesting way to combined cars and business is the mobile office!

Business professionals are spending more and more time in their vehicles. In large cities this could mean hiring a driving service, which leaves hands and eyes free for checking emails or scheduling appointments, etc. In most of the less urban areas this looks like portable office equipment.

Here are some examples of the required equipment if you’re interested in taking your business mobile. Of course, you’ll need a laptop and cell phone. But there’s a couple more handy items that may not have leapt to mind.

Mobile Printer Wheel Desk14dc7982-0c9a-4c32-9eb5-bb534b685efa.jpg._CB328546843__SR300,300_

Work Station Work station

Battery Backup,  Steering Wheel Desk ,

Car Organizer  Car Organizer

 

Behind the Wheel

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By Paul Wimsett (UK Desk: So read it with an accent.)

Is steering more complicated than it should be? It’s all right for complicated turns and for parking but it’s hard for a learner driver to keep on the straight and narrow using a steering wheel. It should be noted that what allows you to steer isn’t just the steering wheel but also the steering column, the axels and the front wheels of a car (and in the case of 4 by 4 cars in difficult terrain, the back wheels).

What exactly is the steering column? Well it attaches the wheel to the rest of the mechanism. It also provides the mounting for various functions such as the transmission gear selector. To help with safety this column can collapse in an emergency.

The piece that causes this to happen is known as the “tolerance ring.” This part is designed to become unmoored from its housing. There are several federal regulations which must be applied to any steering column in the US. In China the regulations are more strict and requires an additional anti-theft mechanism in the column.

steering-wheel-801994_1920.jpgSteering depends on getting the series of linkages absolutely right and although a driver behind a wheel seems blind to the rest to the car it is better to see the whole machine as guiding you to where you want to go. The axel part is divided into the pinion, which appears like a cog, a steer arm and a fusee. To be even more precise there is also the Worm and roller gearbox and the Pitman arm. Too much jargon can be annoying though, so it might be best to leave things there.

Why might a car become hard to steer?

Well, the one most drivers seem to refer to first is icy terrain or something like rainy conditions. But setting aside environmental factors, things like lack of air pressure in your tires, your fluid level and a faulty pulley on your power safety unit may also make a difference as can un-lubricated axles. Maybe it’s just the steering wheel itself which is sticking, but even this can cause accidents.

If you find that the steering is harder than usual, it is definitely a good idea to take the car in for a service, as there might be more than one thing wrong. Should you be gearing up for a long journey it is recommended that you find out if there any potential steering problems.

Here’s a fact about holding a steering wheel which might just save your life, or at the very least save you from excess pain. A warning though it is rather distasteful. It seems that the old way of holding the wheel – in a ten to two position is incompatible with cars with air bags. To save your arms it is recommended that you hold the wheel in a quarter to three position, in order to be on the safe side.

 

Best of the Web: Tiny Toyota, it’s a thing.

Toyota is getting serious about electric cars and plans to have a portfolio of electric-driven models come 2025. Serving as the dawn of this new era is this little dude, which the Japanese automaker calls the Toyota Ultra-Compact Battery-Electric Vehicle.

This is not a concept, nor a drill. This electric city car is headed to production, the automaker said in the model’s online debut on Thursday. Like its size, the Ultra-Compact BEV is meant for short-distance travel. Drivers won’t be getting too far on a full charge, since there’s enough range to take drivers 62 miles, Toyota estimates. Then again, the automaker underscored this wasn’t designed to be a long-distance hauler.

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The Down & Dirty on Car Washes

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The first semi-automatic car wash which used a series of pulleys was introduced in Detroit in 1914. It did require manual brushing of the vehicle though.

car-wash-1408492_1920.jpgThe first big car washing franchise was Dan Hanna’s Rub-a-Dub. Starting in Oregon, Hanna Enterprises (as it became known) in 1955 it soon had 31 car washes all other America. In the 1960s the idea of soft friction washing, roller on demand conveyor belt (also known as a tunnel) and wrap around brush was introduced. It was not until the 1970s that you they introduced the automatic wheel cleaner and polish ‘n’ wax. By 1988, Hanna Enterprises grew to 80,000 car washes in 56 countries, the second biggest franchiser of the time, after McDonald’s of course. It now trades as Colman Hanna Carwash Systems and still owns a number of patents and trademarks linked to the car wash. So if you’ve used a car wash, you’ve probably used a system created by Hanna Enterprises.

Mobile car washes are a more recent invention using plastic water tanks and pressure washers. A number of car users prefer this type of car wash to the automatic type as they believe it damages the paintwork, etc. Just because they don’t use machines doesn’t mean that this type of service can’t deal with a huge number of customers, some of them even operate a fleet cleaning service.

With an average price per basic wash of $15 it’s likely that most of the profit comes from upgraded services. 20% of car businesses charge more than $18 per customer, which doesn’t sound too unreasonable though it is not clear what the maximum amount is. If a car wash is getting enough passing trade it should be receiving at least $1,500 per month.

Looking to Start a Mobile Operation?auto-519826_1920.jpg

As with anyone starting a business you need traffic, (pun intended) which you might derive from social media. However, conventional wisdom is to generate your leads offline as well. This starts with the golden trifecta of business—location, location, location! Find somewhere which is easy to get to, especially if it is near a supermarket or freeway. There also needs enough room for you to operate, there’s no point if you can only get two or three cars on site. As with any other business look to see what the competition are doing-can you undercut them? Or maybe you should look to offering a premium service instead? It sounds obvious but still many businesses go bust in the first six months.

Here is a glossary of terms:

A car wash service which wishes to clean the inside and the outside of a vehicle with at least one automatic system is technically known as a detail shop.

A full service is a garage that both repairs, clean cars, inspects the vehicle, etc.

Exterior only is a car wash that only cleans the outside, usually an automatic system one step at a time.

Self-service is similar but it isn’t done by a machine.

 

 

The Secret Parts of Cars (part 2)

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From the UK desk…Paul Wimsett

In part 1 we discussed some of the neat secret parts designers work into a car to help it appeal to a consumer, but Mercedes-Benz has included a secret part strictly for its own good. Location circuitry which can be used to invade privacy and spy on you.

Not disclosing that a car has spyware that pinpoint its location seems controversial. We are talking 170,000 cars in Britain and it could be further afield too. Apparently according to Mercedes-Benz, it is not about permanently tracking customers, though the same equipment could be used that way so it is hard to see how it would not work like that.

secret-2725302_1920It should come as no surprise that this is illegal according to the laws in Britain, should it be used in that manor, which again is not what the car maker claims the circuits are for.

It is not known how long these “sensors” (trackers might be a better word for them) have been in operation. The fact that Mercedes-Benz didn’t tell anyone about their built-in tracker makes it seem more suspect. The fact that no other car dealer factory installs such trackers also makes it seem more suspect. It seems that Mercs are on their own when it comes to this practice, Land Rover, BMW and Volkswagen confirmed that they do not use similar techniques and as far as I know the same is true for other car companies.

Company -owned fleet vehicles often have tracking built in which that company can use to determine the location of property they own, which seems reasonable. Police cars and government owned vehicles also have built in tracking in case someone steels them. Citizens can have “lo-jack” equipment installed into their vehicle to aid in recover for the same reason. And of course, you can often use Sat-Nav to locate a lost vehicle. But all these things are intentionally installed “after-market,” and the people who can access this information are the legal owners of the vehicle.

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So why is Mercedes-Benz doing it? The idea is it should only be used when customer has breached the financial agreement and hasn’t made other arrangements. The ability to repossess a vehicle in America is limited to it being parked on a publicly visible location. Certainly, it would assist agents of the lender to know exactly where a vehicle is, and perhaps even when it will be at a location it might be more easily seized.

This is a big grey area for many of us. It relies on an interpretation of a person’s rites under the law, that is based on the notion a car is stolen when you are far enough behind on your payments.

Presumably other terms of sale could be made, or bailiffs could be brought in? And the fact that the cars are tracked 100% of the time is a reason to worry. We’ve only the company’s word that they only check the location when they need to take the car back.

The customer should know when they are being spied on and not disclosing this feature until it was discovered independently deprives consumers of their rites in my opinion.