The Future of Transportation

OP-ED by Stephanie Larson

With the interstate building project of the 1950s, most U.S. cities suddenly became connected by paved roads. What was once dirt and gravel roads became paved asphalt highways. For car lovers, these highways were a dream come true. Drivers finally had long stretches of paved roads where they could see what their vehicles could do.

Some thought the interstate system was the future of transportation, but technology is advancing and changing how drivers get around. Here are some automotive advances you should watch for in the coming years.

1. Self-Driving Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are already here, and several car manufacturers have models slowly making their way up the guideline levels set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. There are four levels and two sub-levels vehicles have to pass before considered fully-automatic and safe to drive.

Most self-driving models are at level one. The vehicle reliably provides drivers with warnings and information. Some vehicles are in the early stages of level 2 for automated parking and highway driving. However, Google is currently the company ahead at level four. While the company’s vehicle is fully-automated there are still a few glitches that need to be worked out.

Soon, your car may be the one driving instead of you.

2. All Electric Vehicles

Hybrid vehicles are becoming more common as technology progresses. The batteries are capable of holding a charge longer and the vehicles are getting a little bigger instead of smaller. All electric models still won’t be larger than a small sedan for quite some time.

One of the appeals electric vehicles have is its simple components. Without the need for gasoline, several components will no longer be necessary. The essentially scale-downed vehicles are also expected to cost consumers less in the purchase price and maintenance.

These advancements in technology have even lead Bloomberg New Energy Finance to predict electric vehicles will comprise 35 percent of worldwide car sales by 2040.

3. Self-Driving Electric Vehicles

It’s not uncommon for technologies to mix. Smart cars owe their intelligence to computer technology. It’s not too far-fetched to imagine smart electric cars. Automobile manufacturers with eminent plans to release self-driving technology in 2022 now include giants like Ford. However, the automotive giant plans on using the technology in their hybrid vehicles first.

In the future, ride share services like Uber and others could do away with their drivers. When you use the app to order a ride, a self-driving electric vehicle shows up. Instead of bus drivers and train operators, public transportation could also become fully automated, along with electrically powered.

With these vehicles, you are the passenger.

What These Changes Mean For You

It’s impossible to stop technology advancing and this means changes, even in transportation. Self-driving cars, both gas and electric will be on the roads in the future. However, this doesn’t mean that your love of the open road has to change.

Electric cars don’t have the ‘oomph’ that an 8-cyllander engine has. Self-driving vehicles are still crashing into things on road tests. However, these glitches will be fixed, and these automobiles will become a common sight on the interstate.

There is one thing that will remain the same regardless of how far technology goes. Vehicle maintenance will always be important. Even self-driving electric vehicles need regular tune-ups. You will also want to keep an eye on the battery condition. This is something that you should still be doing regularly whether you drive a hybrid or have a gas engine.

The Story of the Drive-In

Like any cinema, a drive-in is a cinema with a large movie screen, projection booth, a stand selling snacks or drinks and a large area to park your car. What’s different is that instead of rows of seats, you have rows of parking spots and everyone views the movie from their car. Instead of buying individual tickets you generally pay by the carload.

As well as snacks and drinks, the drive-in was linked to larger restaurants – one business supporting the other, you might say.

There are drive-in theaters throughout the world; the first modern drive-in opened in 1933 in New Jersey, but it soon gained a cult following at about the 1950s.

Many old theaters appear on the National Registers of Historical Places. The 66 Drive-in at Carthage Missouri on US Route 66 is the oldest drive-in still going. It showed its first movie in 1949.

Mobmov is a worldwide network of guerilla (unofficial) drive-in theaters. It uses car powered video projectors and transmitters. This was begun in 2005 in San Francisco and all the shows were free.

The Early Drive-Ins:

The earliest drive-ins include The Theatre de Guadalupe in New Mexico, 1915, which only ran for a year. The first film presented was Bags of Gold.

The 1932 Hollingshead Theatre used a Kodak projector on the hood of a car. It was also necessary to set some of the vehicles on blocks so all viewers could see the screen. It offered 400 slots and advertised it as families welcome -not something you tend to see at cinemas today. The first movie was Wives Beware. Hollingshead ran it for three years without making a profit.

The problem could have been the sound issues, in regular theatres the speakers were high up on towers which unfortunately meant the sound wasn’t in sync when it traveled across an entire parking lot. In 1931 one solution was introduced, having a row of speakers in front of the cars. By 1941 you could control the sound using your own in-car speakers.

What’s the Draw of Watching a Moving in your Car?

The popularity of drive-ins could be due to it being the early days of cinema, how exactly do you watch this movie? It tended to be more popular with teens than older people, it could possibly be somewhere to take your car, and usually at this time, your date. Teens had a limited number of places to spend time with a date, this was the most privacy you could find while still being in public.

The reason why drive-ins began to fail may have been linked to the Uniform Time Act. Because drive-ins took place outside and during the evening the level of light is important: you can’t show movies in daylight. There was, no doubt, good reasons for increasing the hours of sunlight in the summer months, but it wasn’t conducive with running a drive-in.

After the 1960s the number of drive-ins shrunk from over 4000 drive-ins to a mere 325. It might just have been the light-after all it doesn’t affect patrons in the Spring, Autumn or Winter. Maybe the novelty had just worn off?

In replicating this American institution, businesses have looked for creating Art-deco sign displays and looking for sponsors to fund their enterprise. As with everything else promotion on Facebook and Twitter works wonders. Many people look for drive-ins to make a comeback under the current lock-down conditions. Only time will tell.

Best of the Web: Lordstown Motors

Original story link

A lot has happened since June when Lordstown Motors announced their Endurance–the EV Truck. This article reminds of the grand vision of Lordstown motors.

“In a dramatic turn, one of the big questions left unanswered at the launch of the Endurance — namely, where the money to build it would come from — has been substantially addressed. In early August, Lordstown announced a merger with a “special purpose acquisitions company” called DiamondPeak Holdings. The merger will let Lordstown be publicly listed on the NASDAQ and generate upwards of $675 million of new investment to nudge the Endurance toward production. The deal should be finalized by the fourth quarter of this year, potentially setting Lordstown’s assembly line in motion — and starting to fill a claimed $1.4 billion in orders — in the second half of 2021.”

Peter Hughes

What’s news: Honda’s new EV

Honda had done hybrids but they’re now doing an all electric car…very tiny…but a car.

FILE PHOTO: A Honda E electric car is seen at Brussels Motor Show, Belgium January 9, 2020.REUTERS/FRANCOIS LENOIR

Most car companies, not just US auto-makers, but seriously most, are desperately trying to figure out how to make a bigger EV. Honda, who is entering the game a little later, is actually making waves by going small.

“The Honda e, released in Europe earlier this month, is a compact model meant solely for city driving.”

Maki Shiraki

Tesla dominates the market currently, and wisely started with a luxury sedan. Of Course Tesla was a startup company that needed to ramp up production. Selling a high ticket item with limited run capacity made a lot of sense.

Honda has evaluated the market and found a niche they feel they can dominate with an EV given the unique limitations of current technology.

I one sense they are removing the gas bill from a market that typically already drives very efficient vehicles. In another sense they’re removing carbon emissions from a community that is most conscious of smog.

Starting in Europe is the no-brainer choice as they have the highest population centers and highest fuel prices. They’re also less dependent on personal vehicles for longer trips as the rail system already fits that bill.

Story source.

Original story

The Future of Mass Transit

Even if you don’t typically take a form of public transportation you still expect to see city buses on the roads, along with light rail and trains in some major metropolitan areas. However, the future of mass transit might be in doubt.

The number of riders is down in the U.S. and other major cities across the globe and some people are wondering if this is the end of mass transit. While mass transit isn’t going away, at least in the foreseeable future, there will be some changes that riders will either love or hate.

Mass Transit in the Future

The number of annual riders on public mass transit systems has been declining over the years. Some of the decline is attributed to more affordable automobile pricing, along with drops in some types of vehicle insurance premiums.

Health concerns, both in the past and present, are also contributing to the drop in daily riders.

Having more room on buses and subway trains seems like a positive. It’ll be easier to find a seat, even during busy morning commutes. Social distancing also won’t be as big of a problem with fewer riders.

However, there is a serious downside to you being able to easily find a seat. The loss of riders means that less money is coming in. These are the funds that are used for maintenance, repairs, and even improvements. Without this money, mass transit will not be able to survive.

This doesn’t mean that public mass systems around the world are accepting the fact they might be obsolete. They have a few ideas that will keep mass transit operating well into the future.

Rental Vehicles

Scooters, bikes, and even electric mini cars are entering the mass transit system. In an effort to stay relevant, mass transit is expanding away from crowded buses and trains. How the system works is simple. Riders, using a credit card or token, rent the vehicle for a specific amount of time, returning it to one of the rental kiosks when they’re finished.

You will still be able to get around the city, even if you don’t own a vehicle. Best of all, you’ll never have to worry about finding a seat. These rental kiosks are showing up in major cities around the world.

Smart Buses

We already have smart cars and some light rail systems are also automated. Mass transit is also working on incorporating smart buses into their fleet.

The public transport app is being developed and has been granted a license to run a smart fleet in London. San Francisco also isn’t far behind in starting a fleet. The advantage of a smart bus will be its smaller size that will be better equipped to navigate narrow and crowded city streets.

Underwater Mass Transit

This doesn’t apply to all cities and the cost is expensive. England and France have The Channel Tunnel or ‘Chunnel’ as it’s referred to. Consisting of three tunnels – two are used for freight and passenger trains and the other for service and maintenance.

Some cities around the world are discussing the possibility of adding underwater tunnels to their mass transit system but this will be in the future if or when it happens.

Conclusion

Even though public mass transit systems are taking a financial hit, it doesn’t seem to mean the end of city buses and trains. Instead, it is forcing cities and transit administration to come up with new and innovative ideas to ensure their future.

Car Gorilla Adverts

Op-Ed By Wimsett

Guerrilla marketing for cars seems to suggest too many young guns given too much money. If it’s to show how wonderful the car is, that’s all to the good, but a weird idea doesn’t automatically sell the car. You need to think about your advertising in greater detail.

It’s not as if you can replace each billboard with a guerrilla campaign, it’s something you can only do in huge built up areas. And as suggested above, it’s a bit hit and miss.

However it does give a humorous direction to tempt potential buyers, particularly those who don’t respond to TV or radio adverts or even those Facebook adverts. In other words, advertisements for people who don’t respond, or feel they don’t respond to mainstream commercials.

Some campaigns do seem better than others, Honda’s “The Power of Dreams” seems memorable. But a large funnel of knickknacks going into a back of a box containing a Honda doesn’t necessarily work.

It does tend to be the more expensive cars such as a huge monster hand coming from nowhere holding a BMW or a Mercedes Benz apparently crashing through a poster. Maybe you remember an Alfa Romeo in a tiny shopping cart (held in place by ropes) or a SEAT, S.A. in a large plastic box where it is slightly obscured? No?

Then there was the mini cooper campaign which showed a conveyor belt with baggage coming out of it or a Renault in a giant snow globe. Or things like a car held in place by a giant bike lock or an upside-down car apparently being held in place by chewing gums. Then you have Smart Cars apparently being dispensed by a giant vending machine. Ideas about size and having the car at funny angles seem to play a part in most of these guerrilla ideas.

You might like an idea which includes technology and access to information as this is what 70% of car users are interested in. Could it be turned into a video? Video is what convinced 61% of potential buyers to buy a car in 2019. It makes sense-a moving image is much more convincing than a stunt in a mall.

What are we supposed to make of these ideas? There could be a link to economy in design with the vending machine or the giant bike lock ideas, you’re buying these because it’s a small car. The conveyor belt idea meanwhile must surely indicate a spacious trunk. Or the snow globe a celebration of the Christmas season as well as an advertisement for the car. Most ideas do seem a bit of a mishmash.

It should be pointed out that there is difficulty in coming up with a campaign to indicate a family car or a car for the older market. In these cases, your best bet is to rely on traditional advertising techniques.

Despite this young buck feeling of using obscure ideas and concepts there must be something profitable occurring or else it wouldn’t continue. It goes without saying that just because a crazy ad catches your eye, doesn’t mean you buy the car without further research.

French Cars

Oldtimer Citroen C2v

From the UK Desk

Why haven’t French cars conquered the US and Canada? Well, it’s complicated.

Despite the Citroen’s long history-it began in 1901-it has yet to challenge the USA or Canada. They’re onto a winning formula, because there are many similar cars such as Renault or Peugot.

There is a wide range of Citroen cars, from city cars and family vehicles to subcompacts and MPVs. The 2CV was the first subcompact. It is able to transport up to 5 people. As with every small car it is about being economical.

C2V

If you can get hold of a Citroen, there is a host of classic features. The C1 is about being advanced and stylish. The petrol is 3 cylinders and the diesel is 4 cylinders. They have a host of features such as a reverse camera to eliminate blind spots. There is also a “Mirror Screen,” a touchscreen which enables you to see more. The Hill Start Assist allows the car to be held in place on a slope.

There’s a keyless entry which you may have encountered before: the car can be opened remotely even if you keep your key in a pocket. A built-in camera may be used to send videos and photos. So, for technical features alone it has an edge on many competitors?

Could you buy an exported model? Maybe, but it wouldn’t pass the US or Canada’s safety tests (US tend to drive invested and its test must allow for this. But many foreign cars do not pass muster. However, Citroen has still been successful in South America or China.

It does work in the other way round. Subcompacts work well in the US but it is not economical to ship such designs from Europe.

It’s interesting to see that cars such as the SUV are much more suited for the US market, rather than the smaller car. Though something like the Citroen DS historically could have done well in the US but it seems its time has gone.

The Peugot meanwhile started as various coffee mills and bike factories as long ago as 1810. In 1889 they created a steam driven car until finally moving onto a car powered by internal combustion. As well as domestic cars they became known for racing cars.

Renault has also moved into motosports. They were founded by two brothers and by 1907 most of the London and Paris taxis were built by Renalt. Also, in this year they became a US brand. They also moved into agricultural vehicles and tanks. Of course, lately they are moving into electric cars, it’s the trend. The Morphoz can be transformed from a short city car to a wider country car with both a wider exterior and interior. The Artificial Intelligence used in the guidance system is another selling point.

The US and Canada market tends towards American cars, which may be partly because many US cars are built in Canadian plants. (The runner up type of cars being sold are the Japanese and German.) But then again, the best manufacturers always find a way, even if the French manufacturers have been at it for a very long time.

Spare Tires and Run-Flats

The spare tire is still called a Stepney in India, Malta, Pakistan and so on. It originated with the Davies Brothers (it’s weird that so many innovations come from brothers). But it’s not what leaps to mind when you think of a spare tire.

Cars started out as a luxury item. They came pretty stock and were much more likely suffer mechanical failure then even to have a wreck. Prior to 1898 car wheels were basically wagon wheels, which didn’t go flat. Because wheels were usually made of wood or iron it was hard to keep a spare wheel—its pretty heavy to carry around and could even make a car top heavy and unstable.

In 1898 Charles Goodyear created vulcanized rubber and began wrapping wagon wheels in rubber, with an inflatable tube in it, like a bicycle tire. Then in 1904 the Davies brothers, of the Stepney Rubber Co. in in Llanelli, Wales, imagined a spare tire. The tire simply clamped around your existing tire and then was inflated by hand pump. Much like a modern donut spare it was only intended to get you home, then needed replaced. The nice thing is that you didn’t have to jack the car up to put it on.

It was patented in 1907. They tried to sell it to the US by their ideas were unfortunately stolen.

After only eight months they sold about a thousand without having to resort to advertising. A version of the Stepney Tire can be seen in the British Museum.

Where to Store a Spare

Carrying an entire spare tire came about later and was instantly popular. Sometimes there were a pair of tires behind both front fenders, sometimes they were in the cargo space, sometimes above the engine itself.

Nowadays the tires are generally stored in a well, a recess in the trunk, sometimes with a bolt and wing but fastener and covered by thick cardboard. They might be stored underneath the trunk in a “cradle” which allows you to change the tire without emptying the trunk. Unfortunately. it’s no good for four wheeled drive vehicles as the axle will get in the way of the cradle. So most 4-wheel-drive vehicles mount the spare to the front or rear of the vehicle.

In the case of rear engine cars and mid-engine cars (such as the F type Jaguar) have the tire at the front.

Run Flat Tires

The latest innovation to keep you from being stranded by a tire puncture is called a run-flat tire. These tires fill the inside air chamber with a honeycomb of stiff rubber that prevents the tire from completely loosing shape when it losses air pressure. Most vehicles that have run flats still carry a regular spare.

The first run-flat tire was created in 1935 as a rubber tire with inner fabric tire designed for trolleys and commuter trains. It was used for military vehicles as it was said to be bullet-proof. It wasn’t until 1958 when the costs came down that Chrysler and Goodyear teamed up to create a suitable vehicle tire.

In order to check the tires properly you need to invest in a tire monitoring system. A run-flat tire that has lost pressure is hard to recognize. If you think the tire has been punctured, you should the vehicle to see if it’s safe to drive. It’s not clear how slow you should drive a car with punctured run-flat tires, Audi suggest 20-30 mph, while BMW suggest less than 50 mph. It’s a good idea to stick to the back roads.

Opinions seem to be divided on whether it should be repaired or replaced when the “sidewall” has been punctured. The probable route is that you will have to replace the tire as it’s hard to find someone to repair the tire.

Increasingly, cars are coming with a small spare tire, called a donut, which is not meant to replace the tire for any length of time. It’s more crucial to replace the donut if it’s in the position of power (the rear of a rear wheel drive, or front of a front wheel drive) as the donut will cause your differential to fail.

There seems no real alternative to the spare tire as yet…

What has truly killed the need for a spare is road-side assistance. Most people prefer to sit and wait for help, over getting out on a rainy night and changing a tire.