These days you might see conspiracies everywhere you go, at least where China is concerned. However a closer look at car making in China presents an interesting conundrum. Although China has built up a reputation as the world’s factory (due to various tax exemptions and the ability to operate without too many rules and regulations) other countries have proved better in exporting cars. And China’s domestic market could be a lot better.
The question might not be why the Chinese car market is huge, but why isn’t it bigger?
Not that cars aren’t important of course, its just that other materials have been more important. It just has never been a priority for the country. Although 46.8% of China’s GDP is from manufacture, most of this is chemicals, steel, and cotton. The manufacture of cars goes way down the list. Typically, countries that make there own steel do well in the vehicle manufacturing arena.
When you consider the entrepreneurial spirit of countries such as the US and Japan it doesn’t come as that remarkable that these countries sell more cars. But China gives them a run for their money-or did until very recently.
Last July there were reports that the Chinese car industry was failing. In 2019 there were 21 million passenger vehicles created in the country whereas 2017 had 24 million cars (These figures are from the German Association of the Automotive Industry).
But as of now the country seems to have come through the Coronavirus and out the other side, its possible to view China car manufacturing as an investment.
It seemed that even without the virus, the Chinese car industry was in a bad way. It seems that car sales in China fell by 92% after that with only 811 vehicles produced per day. Even without the virus we wouldn’t exactly be singing China’s praises as far as the car market is concerned.
Names like Chang-an and Chery Automobiles haven’t fared that well in the Western world, where Japanese cars remain quite popular. In other words The “West” has no problem buying cars made in Japan or South Korea, but not China. The Chinese seem okay buying Western Cars so long as they are made in China, which was the case until Covid shut down several factories.
To look at one name in more detail, Ford’s sales in China fell 20%. Since a factory operating at 80% can only break even, Ford was forced to close factories temporarily.
We don’t really know how much of this is Covid related and how much was already in the works. The closures were treated as longer Lunar New Year holiday. There’s not that much good news at the moment.
The factories were not just manufacturing Chinese cars. In Wuhan there was a Nissan factory (which were founded in Japan) and one for Honda (also Japan) and Hyandai (South Korea). So, by China falling ill, other countries soon felt the pinch.
Maybe by looking into how the US and Japan operate, China can now take the advantage? When the lockdown is over, and people begin to take to their cars out more it will be a rush by all automakers to resume manufacture. China could focus on finding a competitive advantage for their designs.
Areas it might look into is creating lightweight designs with composite materials, possibly personalizing the design. Things must surely change for the Chinese market, there should be a way through. Granted, these times are unprecedented, so no one knows what is coming.
People are worried about sharing the road with autonomous cars, although there is a race by the car companies to create a level 5…
Every car has a level of autonomy. Level 5 is the highest.
Here is this list in full:
Level 0: This is a regular car with no autonomous features. The driver is in full capability – and full liability – of the car.
Level 1: Only one task is done autonomously, whether it is braking or so on. Otherwise the driver needs to be in charge. Presumably if anything goes wrong with the one thing being done autonomously, you need to take that over too.
Level 2: This car can handle more than one task, for example driver assist, braking and so on. This is being carried out by the big names such as Cadillac and Tesla. Unfortunately, it still isn’t considered self-driving as such, you need human intervention.
Level 3: This type of vehicle can only be driven autonomously if the conditions are correct. In emergencies, the car needs to switch to a regular car. Only the Audi A8 currently fits this description in the US.
Level 4: These show a massive difference from Level 3, they don’t require a driver. These at the moment cannot be purchased, they can’t drive in bad weather or at high speeds.
Level 5: Fully autonomous car and cannot switch off even for emergencies.
This technology relies on a number of sensors, but they need to be thorough. As hinted above there is a whole range of outside variables such as weather, traffic, road layout and so on. Either radar or laser can be used. But it is needs to be better in order to work on US roads.
The whole idea of autonomous cars is that comprehensive self-driving removes all the “driver error” but what of computer error? The theory is that even if a particular driver was able to outperform a computer driver, if every car on the road were computer driven, we’d have fewer accidents. The bad drivers wouldn’t be wracking up wrecks and the computers would learn to avoid each other by driving in a predictable manor.
Right now, at level 1, 2, and 3 the most effective use of autonomous driving capability is to reduce driver fatigue. In a way, these systems are just sophisticated versions of cruise control. Driver assists like emergency breaking, etc. aren’t controversial and don’t require a huge outlay of federal highway dollars to build infrastructure in order to enable them to operate “autonomously.” So how long before we’re banned from driving our own cars? Maybe we at the kicker will hazard a guess when car makers actually create the first level 5 car.
In the 80s a number of station wagon were introduced and before the introduction of Coupes and Sedans. The number of strikes in the 80s meant it was a tough time for car factories.
A car which had the power of the Acura is unknown these days. In the late 80s they were considered pretty cool with 118 hp.
The Audi Quattro was truly iconic with five turbocharged cylinders. These hatchbacks took the world rallies by storm. Sadly, not many of them made their way across to the US; most of the cars were rather neutral in comparison. Despite some strong contenders’ acceleration wasn’t as good as today’s vehicles.
Vehicle that did make it across the pond include the Pontiac Firebird and the Ford Mustang GT. The price however has fallen down in recent years due to lack of parts. Who’d have thought red convertibles would go out of style, but everything has its period of glory.
As Chrysler merged with Maserati the Chrysler TC was born. The Chrysler company has created a number of improved vehicles since. They did have a 5-year warranty, including maintenance. In 1987 Chrysler purchased another big player: AMC.
Look at the Dodge Daytona with its dipping headlights. Again, the lack of horsepower let it down.
Although these cars may not yet be known as classic, they show their age.
You could adapt these cars to get a better horsepower but then you’d lose something of the essential flavor of these vehicles.
Obviously, there is political pressure discouraging everyone from driving their cars, but is it really going to work? Has it already worked? Or is the answer to simply make cars more environmentally friendly? Do the powers that be want us to buy more cars or less? These are some of the questions we’ll look at today.
Carbon emission problems are discouraging folks from driving yet the need for domestic manufacturing jobs means it shouldn’t affect people’s car buying habits. The answer could be electric cars—that seems to be what car manufacturers are planning to do in response to the situation. The environment seems to be leading car production decisions.
Gridlock & Congestion
One issue with simply reducing vehicle carbon emissions is that it doesn’t eliminate gridlock. Unlike traffic jams, which result from accidents or construction, gridlock is that annoying traffic slowdown created by having too many commuters on the road at the same time. Gridlock is named for the grid pattern of city streets where efforts to coordinate traffic flow breaks down when capacity is reached. Clearly, your city doesn’t need a good grid-like layout in order to have gridlock—London and Rome manage to lockup pretty well and their streets meander about in every direction, seemingly at random.
People dislike gridlock but it doesn’t seem to detour them from going out at the prime times of the day when everyone else wants to go out–commuters for instance. Most people start and end work about same time as each other, which creates high demand. The laws of fluid dynamics come into play and suddenly congestion slows you down.
We reference fluid dynamics because that’s truly what governs traffic flow. It’s worth noting that gridlock and congestion don’t occur when traffic stops, they’re already happening when traffic goes under the posted speed. The simple act of having too much traffic causes the roadways to reduce capacity for throughput. Think of it in terms of supply and demand. Since supply can’t increase to meet demand, the price goes up. What are we paying the price with? Not dollars but time. Time is more precious than gold because when it’s spent, it’s gone forever.
If you avoid the busy periods like rush hours you can avoid some of the gridlock.
Another way is to use public transport, although it cannot go exactly where the commuter wants to go and runs on it’s own schedule, and let’s face it, services are often delayed or interrupted. Even a gridlocked road may get you to your place of work quicker than public transport. So if you have a problem paying a lot of time to gridlock you may pay just as much for mass transit.
Traffic seems to be shrinking since 2007, also known as “peak car.” (Peak Car is a term that came from Peak Oil, or the theory that oil will become too hard to pull out of the ground, and at some point, no longer be cost effective.)
We know empirically that there are fewer cars on the roads because traffic cameras count the number of cars on high volume roads. But why? The population as a whole has continued to grow.
One possibility is demand reduction people are moving out of cities to rural places that don’t suffer congestion. We’ll return to demand in a minute. Another possible reason would be people using mass transit, but we also know the ridership levels and while they’re on the rise it’s not enough to account for reduced traffic.
The key way to tell if we’re truly diving less or if it just people not using high traffic roads (where they’d get counted), is if people are buying fewer cars. If we really had a peak car situation then you’d see people avoiding new cars in favor of cheap and plentiful used cars. And that has been a trend since 2016.
But as with everything in this article, Peak Car isn’t the only explanation for people buying used over new. As cars become too expensive, drivers are opting to share a vehicle or find an alternate way to get to work. It especially affects the supercar market but even names like General Motors are decreasing in new car sales.
Automakers are trying to respond to car prices by including high class extras, but the customer still needs to be able to afford these extras. Another possible way to counter the “too expensive” issue some auto makers are trying is to make cars less luxurious, cutting corners but not compromising safety.
This may be linked to the bad economy and people using public transit; however, affordability might not be the reason new car sales are down.
There are demand issues. The baby-boomers are starting to not be able to drive. More people are working from home and the unemployed don’t need to commute to work. The digital age means people don’t need to drive to go shopping.
A big reason both road use and car buying are down is that millennials just don’t seem to want to buy cars, or even get a licence. In 2008 less than half of eligible drivers had a license when in 1998 two thirds of the population used did.
Is the car no longer a status symbol? It seems to be the case with young people and the trend continues: 26% of US 16 years old had a license in 2017. However, many Americans love having a car, even millennials. Vehicle registrations did go up in 2018.
There are a number of factors which affect car buying, not just finances. Some people think the reduction of cars is cyclical; others think it may be more permanent. This is why e-scooters, e-bikes and mini-motos are trying to gain a foothold.
“Research and forecast firms Cox Automotive, Edmunds and J.D. Power/LMC Automotive expect sales declined about 1% last year to roughly 17 million vehicles compared with 2018. Such results are considered healthy but would mark the lowest sales since 16.5 million vehicles in 2014.”
Despite research into this field, no one exactly knows what the future holds regarding the car economy.
The Future of Commuting Based on Current Trends:
The way things are going seems to be moving towards self-driving technology and electronic technology and we are moving into SUV, crossovers, and trucks. The kind of car to get away from the crowd, not the urban dweller.
What about taxis and Ubers? 95% of all trips will be made by taxis by 2030. This could be a piece of the answer, if not the whole, no matter what forces are driving the problem. It resolves the gridlock issue and affordability issue, and even the environmental issue. People are using Uber and Lyft – $20,000 a year and many people feel they won’t go back to a private car. Didi, a Chinese version of this kind of service took 10 million.
When we combine the trend toward larger off road vehicle purchases with the increase in rideshare usage the trend is easy to predict—people in cities will increasingly avoid owning a car and people in rural areas will insist on having them so they can “get away.”
Will 2030 roads be totally different from those of 2020? More likely than not, no; but here are some of the ideas that futurologists are speculating about, given that every year vehicles will grow by 3% up to 2030 and beyond.
The US has the world’s biggest and largest roadways, with 4.3 million km of paved roads and 2.28 million km of unpaved roads, according to government figures. Uber may at the moment be looking at flying cars, but this seems to be a pipe dream; in 2030 cars will still be confined to the roads.
A way of communicating with vehicles, so that you know how the lanes are managed, which ones are busy, which ones are closed and so on.
In a similar way all road users can operate safely with the bad moves anticipated, though it is still possible to break the rules of the road.
The surface of the road will be designed to help the environment, giving it a low carbon use. Electric vehicles can be charged by the roadside. Bike lanes will have their lighting system through LEDs.
With 60% of the population living in cities there is an argument for using shared spaces, known as “Tripanel.” How we use the roads will be integrated. Many people believe the way we use the city is wrong–we should be more flexible and open.
Companies like Daimler are looking for self-driving trucks in 2030, but this has been in the planning stage since 2014. Many countries such as Denmark are planning to flood the market with electric cars.
The numbers of electric cars on the roads can only improve-at the moment it’s only 1% of cars which are electric. By 2025 GM will add another 25 different models to their portfolio, at least according to the Houston Chronicle. During the same period Ford is planning 13 electric models.
Apple, Dyson and Google are also planning to dominate the car market, though it is unlikely that they will take over from the more conventional names, even the car of the future will become more tech-savvy.
Gas stations may go out of business a number of years after 2030 as we start to use chargers instead, which may be found in such places as fast food places and hotels. It’s likely that net-zero emissions will soon be possible. Another plus for this is size: the charger takes up far less space than a gas pump. It’s not just electric though, some cars will run off sugar beet or flax, though these are not likely to be available at the pump!
There will be intelligent transport solutions where all the vehicles will move at the same speed to remove gridlock. However, it is believed that only city roads and the huge freeways will change, with the more rural roads you will have to rely on your natural driving ability. You may also have your new tech to help you in this situation though, which may be helpful.
Many car adverts in the past may have led you to think “What the Hell?” But surely these days people are more refined, more sensitive. However, controversial car adverts are not a thing of the past. In 2020 a commercial feature a black man being flicked by a giant hand (thanks to a perspective trick). It’s a bit confusing to why they thought the advert was okay.
Why do Car Ads Bring out the worst?
Could the reason be that so many car commercials that agencies are given full reign? It could explain recent sales tactics of showing a car in a huge shopping cart.
Starting in the 60’s car ads have drawn some of the oddest ideas for advertisements. Why else did a Ford Focus advert in the 1960’s use the Peanuts characters? One doesn’t think of luxury when they think of Peanuts. It might have given the comic strip some exposure, but what did Ford think they were gaining?
Let’s look at individual campaigns. No one today would ever say, “Women are soft and gentle but they hit things” in a car advert today. However, this was one of the less successful adverts in the 60’s saying that the parts are easily replaceable, so it doesn’t matter if she breaks them.
The difficulty was that all car adverts at the time seemed to be aimed at men. Indeed, until women had disposable income (which is later than you think) there was no reason to market cars at women at all, sad to say.
Nearly everyone knows the Delorean failed but most people don’t know it was advertised by a picture of the vehicle over an image of two whisky glasses clicking. It is of little wonder that drink hasn’t featured in any car advert since. A total disaster.
A public display by Volvo involved one of their cars being driven towards a truck trailer by remote control. The idea was to highlight its safety level when the auto-brake system kicked in. This could have been a fantastic display only the autobrakes didn’t kick in, the car hit the trailer.
In Spain, large numbers of women received letters with phrases like “You were looking at me funny yesterday.” It turns out that it was meant to have been written by a car. However, it wasn’t clear it was an advert and women felt as if they were being stalked, because evidently the idea that a car has written you a note isn’t the first thing most females think of.
A strange way to advertise a Toyota pickup was getting potential owners to undergo a selection process, which involved eating hot pies at a service station (slightly possible) or moving.sheep away from an electric fence (less possible). This was an Australian campaign which may explain the questioning.
The Lexus IS was compared to a ballerina. A Fiat ad had people running after a car which had Jennifer Lopez in it. Okay, some reasoning here, but not much.
No wonder many commercials prefer a car driving along an empty road in black and white with good music. A bit safe but it has the plus point that the customer sees the car more or less as it is. People always require a good-looking car which seems to handle the road comfortably – why overcomplicate things?
What exactly is a supercar? It’s one of the big luxury names: Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghi as well as more contemporary names. The name is applied to automakers with a long reputation and a focus on strong engine roadsters. This piece is not talking up the middling cars, so much as talking down what many talk of as “the best of the best.”
There’s a jet-like nature in some of these cars–especially in the headlights (many of these car manufacturers are behind the construction of private planes). No luxury car can ignore its interior, though customers might be divided on what type they want–artificial leather with all the trimmings may be preferred to standard leather style. Chances are, the supercars give you a better choice of interior, but there’s no reason affordable cars couldn’t compete.
It’s inevitable that you find these types of cars attempting to break land speed records; not that you should try this on the road, obviously! It’s likely a marketing stunt, but it makes us yearn for the luxury cars.
So, what is my beef with supercars? Is it a permanent version of the “new car syndrome,” the fear of getting damaged so it’s only pulled out on special occasions? Is it possible that they are too much muscle? Is it that they are simply priced beyond what’s reasonable for a budget lifestyle?
No, the problem is one of compromise, you spend all that money and you still can’t “have it all.” Why, if I spend $150,000 and up, should I be making so many concessions.
Fiat and Porsche are defined as mid-engine, meaning that the engine can be found between the front and rear axle, which should improve handling. Usually supercars place the engine under the hood.
Because passenger space is so compromised the mid-engines are no good for family cars, something they have in common with most supercars, it’s just designed in. It does mean that these cars are easier to brake due to the back wheel having much more weight. (Depends on rear wheel drive or 4-wheel drive.)
Other requisites of a supercar is a vehicle which has turbo acceleration (an impressive 0 to 60 rate). That’s what you are buying: an impressive pick-up in terms of speed.
Affordable Supercar-like Cars
Or possibly you could take a look at sedans, at contours, something with a more manageable price than the top of the market cars. It doesn’t mean you should give up the idea of owning a roadster altogether.
Dodge Chargers and Jaguar XE are sedans to look out for as well as Alfa Romeo and the Cadillac CT6-V. On a racetrack these can shift at speeds such as 190-200 MPH, depending on model.
Yet most buyers prefer the higher ticket cars. It comes down to prestige, how a car looks, rather than what a car can do.
One thing you don’t receive with lesser cars is complementary products, the Porsche 911 has just arrived on the market and comes with a free watch, which mimics the 1919 “Globetime.” We’re talking about highly expensive toys here and the promoters will do everything in their power to reel you in. If you’re a prestige conscious buyer then there is a car for you.
EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) had developed clean automotive technology and state of the art testing to help prevent air pollution, even if a ZEV or Zero Emissions Vehicle is a long way away (it’s not quite the same as an electric vehicle, see below).
The regulations around vehicle inspection are all over the place. Some states require periodic safety inspection, some states require safety inspection upon sale or transfer. Some states require a safety inspection when registering from elsewhere (different state or country), for instance Maryland and Alabama.
It seems that most states are on the side of the businesses, they don’t require inspection tests at all. States such as Minnesota and Kentucky have removed their tests and other states may follow suit. The tests might be unpopular but having them is better for the environment than not having them.
California set the strictest standards of all, with legislation that predated the 1970 Clean Air Act. California’s new laws weren’t that popular with the automobile industry as a whole, to put it mildly, even though some feel it should be the standard for all states.
The rules for heavy duty vehicles are very strict-requiring ultra-low sulfur diesel – 15 ppm (parts per million).
Around the World in two Paragraphs
It’s not a problem confined to the US. In 2009 a regulation said that all new passenger cars should have 130 grams of CO 2 as a target, but it was finally phased in as late as 2015. It seems as if many countries are slow to catch up to the emission standard and in 2021 they are due to change again.
In a perfect world, all vehicles would be zero emission, but we have not got there yet. A Google search of Zero Emission Vehicles will produce a list of low emission cars such as Audi or Mazda. However, if a car is recharged from fossil fuel, it cannot be called a ZEV.
The problem is further exasperated by hybrids being sold as ZEV – the problem is does anyone know or care if it’s being run on electrical power or not after it is sold? There’s something is suspiciously wrong with the classification here.
Fuel Cell Vehicles may be considered the better of the low emission vehicles as they run on cells powered by Hydrogen, rather than traditional methods. They work by transforming the Oxygen in the air. Even these type of car rely on a natural gas power, so more fossil fuel. It does seem a bit of a battle here to change the status quo.
Changing the Status Quo
Low emission zones in certain towns and built up islands may be one way to fix it as long as they are enforced strictly. The larger vehicles, such as trucks have the toughest rules, but it doesn’t mean that SUVs aren’t a problem. Some areas are imposing a diesel surcharge and you might wonder if companies would rather pay the charge than alter the fleet of trucks. Legislation can only go so far.
(Note: the following contains information about insurance pricing from the customer point of view. It has not been evaluated by insurance professionals nor is it meant as insurance advice.)
For those who wish lower fuel prices and road tax a motorbike is preferable to a car, but if you are under 25 you can lose what you save in increased insurance premiums. Most people know that insurance for young motorcycle riders is expensive because they don’t have years of experience on the roads, or in life.
Age is not the only thing that means you will have to pay more for your insurance. Other factors include the make of the bike, the engine power (also known as the CC, the measurement between the bore and the stroke). The stroke refers to the rotating motion, or cycle of cylinders, which draw in fuel air mix and exhale exhaust. Engines tend to be either two stroke or four-stroke. The bore is the length of the cylinder. You will also have to pay more if you break the no claims bonus.
A biker may ride any size of bike after passing his test. Moped users do not need any test at all, but it helps in terms in insurance.
So, ways to keep costs down include having a bike with a small engine, driving as safely as possible, keeping the bike safe and secure, and gaining advanced qualifications (check out the state laws).
Of course, wearing a helmet use to factor in insurance price, but now it’s the law pretty much everywhere. It is best to not to modify your bike (which might be described as “keeping a sensible bike” – rare is the motorcyclist who doesn’t wish to change things).
Also, be certain you added yourself as a named driver; because if you don’t state yourself as a main driver the insurer can refuse to pay up if you have an accident as they have no idea if it is your bike or not.
It is debatable whether it is worth increasing your deductible. Although payments are reduced, it does mean that if you do need to claim you will pay a higher share of it.
If you carry a passenger, you will need pinion coverage, so they are covered in the event of injury. As with any insurance peace of mind is all.
When obtaining a quote make sure you have all the details to hand, including your license number and in addition the number of your motorbike.
It is vital that you only pay for the cover you need: should you only drive on holiday for example or alternately for test drives, you should attempt to get temporary cover–there are specialist insurers who can do this for you. It’s advisable to look at comparison websites too.
Before you attempt driving another person’s motorbike make certain that you’re covered to do so, many people do not check these things. You don’t want to fork out for a new motorcycle hoping to save money and that may be the least of your problems.
Whether you love Ford, Chevy, or just want to see the latest automotive advances, a car show is the place to be. You will be able to see and possibly test drive the newest models and get the first glimpse of the latest concept vehicles. Car shows are fun, exciting, and even educational and you can be a part of it.
Here are our picks for the top U.S. car shows automotive enthusiasts will want to attend.
Top 5 U.S. Car Shows
1. Woodward Dream Cruise
Typically held in mid-August, Michigan’s Woodward Dream Cruise is the largest single-day event in the world. Held appropriately on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, over 25,000 hot-rods, along with classic and muscle cars are proudly shown off by their owners.
Whether you own a vehicle to enter in the parade or just love to look at a piece of automotive history, the day-long event is something everyone should experience at least once in their life.
2. The North American International Auto Show
Detroit, Michigan is home to the North American International Auto Show. If you’re curious about what next year’s models will look like or what concepts are in development, this is the place to be.
You can also catch some great concerts at the auto show, along with see which company takes home the award for ‘truck of the year’. If you’re interested in attending the auto show, it’s usually held at the beginning of June.
3. Bonneville Speed Week
If luxury isn’t important but speed is, head out to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Wendover, Utah. During August, vintage cars take over the salt flats looking to see which vehicle is fastest, along with trying to beat previously set top speed records.
The week-long racing event has been held annually since 1949 and it is still the largest. Teams race everything from roadsters, hot roads, and motorcycles, to belly tankers, streamliners, and lakesters. Every type of vehicle can be seen during speed week.
4. Pebble Beach Concourse D’Elegance
If you prefer luxury to speed and salt flats, Pebble Beach, in California, welcomes the world’s top luxury car models each year in August. The car show doesn’t just draw in luxury automobile lovers, but celebrities and some of the richest people in the world also attend.
Along with being able to see these fabulous cars, you can also get into the bidding. Vehicles are auctioned for large sums of money, and even if you don’t enter the auction it’s still fun to see what some of these rare luxury vehicles sell for.
5. The SEMA Show
November is when the Las Vegas Convention Center usually hosts the annual SEMA Show. The acronym for the Specialty Equipment Market Association, you can expect to see over 2,000 exhibits showcasing new components, parts, and tools. Everything an automotive mechanic or car enthusiast needs to keep their vehicle running and looking great.
Product demonstrations and educational seminars will also be held. Don’t forget about the after-party where you can mingle with celebrities and see award-winning custom automobiles.
Get Your Vehicle Ready for the Show
Whether you want to show off your vehicle or just make it there safely, there are a few things you need to do. After all, the last thing you want when showing off your ride is for there to be a problem under the hood. This also applies if you’re just planning on driving to the car show.
It’s often the little things that drivers forget, and these are the ones that can cause the biggest problems. Check your oil and other fluid levels. Think about the last time you had the oil changed, how long ago was that? Depending on the type of motor oil, you can go as long as 15,000 miles but this only applies to synthetic blends.