Automobile Jobs – What Might Change?

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Technology is the primary force driving changes in employment within the automotive industry. The increase of technology in cars and manufacturing is both an opportunity and a curse. As driving jobs are clearly threatened by AV’s (self-driving vehicles) new jobs are created like analytic engineers, 3D printing technicians and cybersecurity experts.

It’s a whole new game with cybersecurity since cars are getting ever more open to being hacked without physical contact. Why break to steal a car when you can hack it and tell it to drive to you. Then again, even an unsuccessful hack to a moving vehicle could prove fatal for dozens of people. The process of cybersecurity is needed to stop undesirables getting hold of self-drive cars in a process called “car hacking” where the dashboard and gearbox can be accessed from a distance. As a result, jobs are created for “white-hat” hackers who test the systems.

Engineering analysis is about applying the scientific process of analysis to work out how different forces react to the automobile. This area is also interested in remote systems. Another position that has existed but will now change radically is the drivability expert. This person used to evaluate the design for ergonomics and ease of operation. This position going forward will require experience with UXUI (user experience user interface) so that computer controls are intuitive instead of distracting.

There will also be a rise in jobs concerning electric and hybrid cars. Because they both require the need for better battery technology, this area of research is vital to improving the car driving experience.

cars-35082_1280On the assembly line, automation has been taking over for a long time. Some 800 million jobs could be affected by the change worldwide as robots begin doing the work people do now. It’s actually likely that many of these jobs will transition to part-time instead of being laid off, but it remains to be seen how unions will respond.

It seems whatever happens the Big Three companies; General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler will continue to be the biggest employers in America, also known as the Detroit Three.  Statistics are confused but it seems that 10% of American jobs (that is 14 million) will be at risk if these companies plummeted. Luckily that doesn’t seem to be happening any time soon.

It seems sometimes that cars must be built in Michigan. Forbes.com points to Fiat Chrysler moving a plant from Mexico back to Michigan. Although the car companies concentrate on Detroit technology is bringing in new players and we shouldn’t be surprised if they’re headquartered in Silicon Valley. Germany is also a big testing area for autonomous cars and engineers there are collaborating with designers in Canada and programmers in India to create the next wave of car for none other than Apple.inc.

It is difficult not to include politics in the discussion since tariffs are all over the news. It’s not just the tariffs on imported cars; the cost of steel has a huge impact on car makers. Although it does mean that fewer cars will be imported from abroad and international companies such as Toyota and Honda will increase the domestic manufacture of cars for the US market.

There has been an increase in the number of dealerships since 2014, which should mean there are more jobs for salesmen and lot porters, etc. (according to Staticia.com). Most gas stations went to self-pay a while ago so those job losses are mostly absorbed. So far it seems that jobs in Highway rest areas seem to be fairly stable and have been for decades; the only threat to these jobs would be high gas prices, higher freeway speeds, and affordable train or airline fares–so little threat there.

Technology is impacting jobs across the board but the simple lesson to draw here is that if you aren’t growing you’re withering. Always keep your skills up to date.

V8 vs. V6

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Ah, the V8 vs. V6 debate – it’s as classic as a second generation Trans Am. Which one is better? Is there really a big difference in these muscle car parts? The answer is that the “best” option is up to you, the driver. What will you be using your ride for? There are a lot of racing enthusiasts who are only happy with the V8 option because of the power and speed. However, for many “regular” drivers a V6 is (way) more than enough power. Consider what you really want from your machine to make the best-informed decision.

What’s the Difference?

Overall, V6 cars will be less expensive to purchase, insurance will likely be lower, and your pocketbook will thank you at the gas station. This can mean more cash flow for those must-have accessories. A V6 can easily handle the daily commute and the occasional road trip, packing enough punch to inject a good amount of speed and power into an open road ride. The downside? Well, it’s not a V8 and doesn’t have the power of that monster.Mehta_V6 Emblem

Yes, a V8 will likely cost more in every department. Is it worth it? That’s up to you. Are you jonesing for weekends at the track, car show hopping, or heading to that favorite stretch of open road? Then a V8 may well be worth it. Sure, it might be a little trickier (ahem, expensive) to modify and those with lead feet might be tempting fate, especially with highway photo radar systems, but you only live once.

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So, How Do I Choose?

Test driving many different V6’s and V8’s is the only way to get a real feel for the difference – and your preference. Many of the newer V6 models are extremely (and sometimes surprisingly) powerful and people realize that’s “all” they need. Others instantly fall in love with the rumble of a V8. There’s no way to predict which way you will lean until you get behind the wheel.

Some Things to Keep in Mind

Some racing pros suggest that a V6 is the right choice for someone new to the muscle car family. Others are more the “do what feels right” type. It’s important to keep practicality in mind, even though it may not be the most fun part of buying a new ride. If you’re shopping for an (extremely lucky) teen’s first car, they likely won’t need a V8 and that’s asking for trouble anyway.

However, if it’s a second “just for fun” car that won’t be eating up gas in a long routine commute, it might be the perfect pick. Think about financing, the often unpredictable gas prices, and insurance premiums when making a selection. Choosing power is a big deal, so do your research, test drive as many machines as possible, be reasonable, and most of all, enjoy.

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The Pros and Cons of Spoilers

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Adding a rear or chin spoiler is one of the necessary accessories for many drivers. What are the benefits? Some just prefer the look and consider it an extra dosage of muscle in the Pony. Of course, spoilers are “supposed” to add performance to the car, but whether or not any downforce is added is up for debate. Some pros say yes, some say no, so it’s up to what research strikes your fancy – but really, it’s what you think of the look.

One thing to consider is whether or not your specific model is “supposed” to have a spoiler. Some cars, like the 2008 Shelby GT, have ducktail spoilers made by Shelby for Shelby. Other models come straight from the manufacturer with a low wing rear spoiler. There are some enthusiasts who belong to the camp of believing only real Ford Mustang parts belong on these machines. On the other hand, there are others who enjoy thinking outside the box and are up for creating a one of a kind powerhouse with whatever spoiler floats their boat.Mehta_Spoilers2

The Downside

Adding the “wrong” spoiler will not negatively impact the performance of a car. However, choosing to modify a Mustang with a spoiler obviously costs money. Prices of spoilers can range drastically, so it’s important to do a little research to find one that fits a budget. More importantly, adding a spoiler – especially one that is not made specifically for a particular Mustang model – might make a difference when (or if) it comes time to sell. Will the new owner be a fan of your choice?

What Some Fans Say

Regardless of what you believe, the “real” reason spoilers were born was to increase a car’s grip on the road. How much downforce a car has is extremely important in the racing world and most of the time the only thing keeping a Mustang on a track is the weight of the car. One way to help with grip is to increase the weight of the car – but that negatively impacts how a Pony performs in turns. Spoilers are basically upside down airplane wings that are meant to add grip without the added weight. Does it work? That’s up to you to decide.

Options Abound

So, you’ve decided a spoiler is a right option for you. Now comes the tough part – there are seemingly limitless spoilers out there. Cobra styles come with or without lights. Maybe you want to replace that factory low wing rear spoiler with an F-40 high wing spoiler with a red light. An AIT racing spoiler is a popular option for drivers looking to improve on the track. No matter what you decide, remember that spoilers require some serious changes to the car (like holes in the trunk), so choose wisely.

 

Suspension Possibilities for Mustangs

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No matter what generation Pony you have, one of the most critical Ford Mustang parts is the suspension system. Think about the last time you were a passenger in a new car. If you remember spilling your drink, a “rough ride,” or grabbing for the handle on the corners, chances are the suspension system was subpar at best. Can’t remember the details of the last time you were a passenger? Then the suspension system is doing its job. A good system gives you a smooth ride and more control – and luckily for Mustang owners, there are a few possibilities.

Breaking Down the System

A suspension system is comprised of several Mustang accessories including the chassis (frame), springs, shock absorbers, and torsion bars. Knowing what’s inside of your machine – and if it can be improved – is something worth looking into. Both coil and leaf springs absorb any shocks along the road in order to give you a smoother ride. When these parts start to wear down or deteriorate, catching it early can be an inexpensive fix. Shock absorbers work with springs in order to release the shock that’s absorbed.Mehta_Suspension2

Torsion bars are optional, and most Mustangs do not have them. These bars are designed for top-heavy vehicles, such as Jeep Wranglers, and help maintain equal weight throughout the vehicle during side-to-side motion. However, for racers who take corners at high speeds, this is a possibility to consider.

Do You Need an Upgrade?

Most higher-end vehicles built for racing, like your stang, come with impressive suspension systems. However, if you’re looking for something more, or need to replace the existing system, think about a few crucial details. The right system can put your Pony’s power closer to the ground to avoid “wheel hop” for an overall better ride. You can replace the entire system as a kit or just a few key parts like strut braces, control arms, or add a roll cage (a smart idea for convertible owners).

Do you really need an upgrade? That’s up to you. If you’re a racer who spends weekends on the tracks, then an upgraded suspension system can make a big difference. If a trusted mechanic suggests that certain parts are on their last leg, it’s best to replace things early. However, if your Pony is in good shape and you’re not a daredevil, you should have a pretty solid ride with the factory system.

What’s in a Name?

Just like Mustang is an American icon known for excellence, every part of your Pony has a different type of reputation. Some of the most respected brands for suspension systems are BBK, DDJ, and Eibach. Choosing one of these brands when replacing or upgrading your system is always a safe bet. Eibach sportline lowering springs come in the staple fire engine red since beauty is also on the inside. BBK Gripp lowering springs offer a teal blue option. After all, paying a little more for top of the line parts should also have a fun side.

 

Mustang Mondays: Stripes and Decals

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Stripes and Decals

Ever since that first black on gold job on the first generation muscle cars, enthusiasts have been hooked. In the world of muscle and racing car parts, stripes and decals are perhaps the most personal. Nothing says, “This machine is built for speed,” like a racing or rally stripe. Selecting the right detailing might be as difficult as asking a child to choose only a couple of sweets in a candy shop, but that’s all part of the fun. The options are nearly limitless.

The Horse

Adding some extra horse emblems in the form of a decal can make it seem like there are a few more horses under the hood if you’re a Mustang fan. Unlike some of the competitors (if you can call them that), the Mustang logo is – for lack of better words – simply cool, classic, and instantly recognizable. Show some pride without breaking the bank. There are a number of colors and designs to choose from.

Need a Man with a Slow (Steady) Hand

Applying stripes yourself definitely saves some cash, but it’s also a painstaking process. This is not a, “hope for the best” kind of situation. Follow some simple steps for perfect results. Make sure you start with a freshly cleaned car – you’re going to want to show off the modded ride immediately, anyway. Do not wax it, but do make sure any wax residue is completely removed.

Preferably undertake the process in a garage, but if that isn’t an option it’s important to park away from debris or falling leaves. Mark the center of the hood with electrical tape, which is right at the tip of the Mustang’s mane on the grille. Carefully measure and re-measure again. Electrical tape will not damage the paint, so be liberal and be exacting. If working from a kit that supplies soap and decals, use as much soap as possible while working out the bubbles of the stripes.

Not the DIY Type?

It takes commitment, patience, and a little bit of OCD doesn’t hurt, in order to tackle striping yourself. One option is to have a professional body shop do the work, or there is always the possibility of finding a skilled pro yourself via Craigslist or asking around on Facebook. Working with these particular Mustang accessories is a tricky beast, so consider if the cash saved is worth the potential stress.

Color Combinations

If you don’t plan to give your car a complete paint job overhaul, consider the existing color and what works best. Many fans with black vehicles opt for the timeless gold stripes (an homage to the original is always in good taste). White stripes on blue, black on gray, black on red, and black on white are all popular options. Spend some time considering what color combinations say to you to decide on the perfect fit.

 

Another Mustang Monday: Horsepower

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Mustang Horsepower

How many ponies are under your hood is a favorite conversation topic of Mustang aficionados. There are a lot of muscle cars out there, but this is the original Pony Car that has been constantly evolving, changing, and developing for nearly fifty years. The very first “1964 ½ Mustang,” which came out six months before the official 1965 cars could be released, had 101 horsepower. The 2013 Shelby GT500 gets over 600 horsepower. That’s a lot of extra pony power and impressive Mustang parts in the mix.  

The Evolution

Second gen Mustangs, beginning in 1967, had competition not only from Corvettes but from Chevrolet, too. A variety of horsepower options were available with Ford Mustang parts including a new 6.4 liter 315 horsepower monster. A year later in 1968, the most popular options for buyers were the 220 and 230 horsepower models but there was also room for an amped up 335 and 390 horsepower option. These two powerful options were rare and served as a preview for what’s ahead.

The “Cobra Jet,” released in 1969, offered a 335 horsepower option of a “Super Cobra Jet” that dished up a devilish 360 horsepower. The Boss 429 was built for racing and boasted 375 horsepower. This Boss has become a hot collector since only 429 were built during the inaugural 1969 year. The decade of disco is not a favorite for many Mustang enthusiasts since the 429 was replaced with the 351 which “only” had 330 horsepower.

The Golden Years

The popularity of the car ebbed and flowed throughout the 70’s and 80’s with some quantifiable successes and other turnouts that are best left forgotten. However, any vehicle that has been successful for twenty years has a great shot at a comeback. By the time 1996 rolled around, gone were the days of sub-par horsepower and the Pony was back on the tracks. Cobra R and SVT models featured over 300 horsepower for the first time since the early 70’s.

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Millennium Power

The initiation into the “aughts” included the 2000 Cobra R with an astounding 385 horsepower, which quickly sold out. That wasn’t quite enough and by 2003 it was up to 390 horsepower. It’s now been over a decade since Mustang came back at (literally) full speed and it’s only looking up from here.

 

 

The Next Generation

The 2013 Shelby GT500 was impressive when it boasted just over 600 horsepower. One of the most powerful machines in existence, it sated the appetite of even the most hard-core Pony enthusiast. Power, speed, beauty, and a strong peppering of all-American flavor has long been a staple of Mustangs. What a difference reaching the golden years can make, and who knows what’s in store by the 2020 mark.

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/

Why Mercedes Is Axing The SLC

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By Ezekiel Gacee

2017 has been a year of surprises to many auto users. In recent news, Mercedes will be axing SLC series from its range of convertible cars. This comes after it was recently rebranded from SLK to SLC series. The move of axing the series was revealed to the media and customers by the Mercedes-Benzes’ CEO, Dieter Zetsche in a recent held Geneva auto show.

Zetsche said the famous car manufacturer would be pruning back a number of specialty cars that it offers today. The affected car lines will be coupe and convertibles. He announced that Mercedes will continue to offer multiple specialty cars but not as they are available in today’s market. The carmaker is reported to have six convertibles with a body style that performs poorly.

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Performance and Sales

Poor sales performance seems to be the reason for removing SLC from the market. According to a sales report, Mercedes was only selling an average of 300 SLC a month in the United States market. This is seen as the major reason why the automaker will be doing away with the attractive convertible car series.

This move comes at a time when BMW is bound to launch its long waited convertible BMW Z5. This means BMW will enjoy a good time in the market, as their closest rival will not be up to the competition. BMW might yield a lot from that window of opportunity.  However, it is expected Mercedes will be relying on C-Class Cabrio to fill the gap left by SLC.

Besides axing the SLC-series, Mercedes is also reported to be on a move to drop the S-Class Coupe and settle on a more up scaled E-Class. In addition, the future of S-class cabriolet in the market seems to be uncertain.

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Identical Platform

On the same note, the newer models of Mercedes SL and AMG GT will be sharing an identical platform.  The platform is estimated to be priced at $50K.

The SL is reported to be upgraded into a larger 2+2 convertible. They will also see to it that their roof top will be replaced with a soft one made from fine fabric similar to that of AMG GT C. This move is suggested to help separate the next SL from AMG’s next GT, which sources say will maintain a similar formula to the current model.

It is however uncertain when the SLC will actually be dropped from the list and therefore discontinued from market sales. But as a pointer from auto observers, it can be sooner than expected. If the SLC series is, your favorite car model watch out it will be vanishing soon. Nevertheless, you can be sure to get more convertible cars from Mercedes Benz as an alternative.

The Number 1 Consumer Complaint

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By A.R. Bunch

We’ve written several times about the American Love Affair with cars and driving. We’ve also written about a growing trend among younger drivers, who see human error as the major cause of commuter risk and who would gladly let autonomous vehicles do the driving.

Now, according to an article in money watch, there are a few more threats to the American love affair with the car. It’s the number one complaint among consumers.

“1. Auto: Misrepresentations in advertising or sales of new and used cars, lemons, faulty repairs, leasing and towing disputes.”

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According to who? According to a report from the (CFA) Consumer Federation of America and the (NACP) North American Consumer Protection Investigators, who combined to survey 39 state and local agencies in 23 states about last year’s consumer complaints.

To be fair, the biggest complaints were among used car leases. With low to no down payment and shorter commitments, these programs have become more popular lately, but consumers are not fully savvy to these new programs and the lack of consumer protections afforded leasers when compared to purchasers. Still, dishonest salesmen, misrepresentation of performance capabilities like mileage and handling, and cost of repair play a role in people’s recent dissatisfaction with cars.

If it’s such a source of pain could it cause US drivers to finally separate from their beloved cars? It’s likely to depend on age. The answer is likely to depend on age. When the Kicker Staff interviewed drivers at random the majority of drivers believed that automated driving wouldn’t be able to replace an experienced human driver and would therefore only be “safer” if by law all vehicles were driven by a computer.

One driver in particular, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed to have driven for roughly thirty years without an accident. He believed that a computer could likely outdrive his fifteen-year-old son, and his eighty-year-old mother, but would not trust one more than he or his wife.

Another driver interviewed, who worked at a technology company in Portland, Oregon, suggested that drivers could be retested periodically to retain the best human drivers while potentially weeding out commuters who’re better off letting another person or robot drive for them.

The Kicker staff is all for treating a driver’s license as a privilege and not a right. So in the end, the answer to the question of the love affair with driving, no one answer fits all. Some commuters can’t wait for the more economical option to owning their own vehicle that’s also more useful than mass transit. Others will let go of their personal vehicle when you pry their cold dead body from it. Lucky for us all that we’ve got a little time to prepare for a transition.