Americans Are Biting Off More Than They Can Chew When It Comes to Auto Loans

The average loan term is over 60 months and $30,000… can people still afford to buy new cars?  

No, that shiny new car isn’t a necessity, but we want it- and some Americans are willing to go great lengths to get it. What new car owners see is the new car, immaculate interior, and the odometer at 5 miles. What many drivers do not see is that new-car loans are more expensive than they’ve ever been before. Aside from that, many are rolling their old loans into new loans, which is a recipe for financial disaster.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, only 18 percent of households in the United States can afford to pay cash for a new car. With so many people living beyond their means, it’s easy to get caught up in an unfavorable car loan. What’s difficult is having the willpower to buy a used car when many consumers want a new car.

According to Experian, the average new car loan was $32,119 during the second quarter of this year. For a used car, it was $20,156. Of those with loan payments, over seven million people are 90+ days behind on their payments. To make matters even worse, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that 42 percent of all car loans made in the year 2017 were 72 months or longer, with the average loan length for new cars at 69 months.

With the country swimming in $1.2 billion of auto debt, it’s easy to get caught up in the mess. While some monthly payments may seem small, the overall price of many loans (including monthly taxes, fees, etc.) can become much higher when interest is added. According to the Wall Street Journal, average interest rates are at 10 percent for used cars and 6 percent for new cars. A third of all car owners now roll their debt into new loans, compared to only a quarter of car owners before the 2009 recession.

New AAA Study asks: How “Smart” is New Vehicle Technology?

With so many new safety features rolling out, AAA analyzed how effective these automobiles really are. 

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), new vehicle safety features aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Testing done by the association shows an inconsistency in the effectiveness of pedestrian-detection technology. AAA tested four popular sedans- the Honda Accord, Chevrolet Malibu, Toyota Camry, and Tesla Model 3. The vehicles were put through various scenarios meant to simulate dangerous pedestrian situations. 

Successful pedestrian detection relies on radar, cameras and various sensors to detect people in the vehicle’s way. Once the car alerts the driver, the driver must react quickly. If the driver does not react, the car will brake automatically. This prevents a potentially fatal accident from occurring

When testers drove the cars directly toward a dummy in the dark, not only did the cars fail to brake, but completely failed to detect the pedestrian. Even at 20 miles an hour, the cars had a difficult time passing the AAA test. During the testing, pedestrians were hit approximately 89 percent of the time. 

While Tesla declined to comment on the matter, Honda said its customers are aware of the car’s technological limitations and provides a warning for all drivers to always keep their eyes on the road (featured in every owner’s manual). GM said its technologies are beneficial to customers but do not replace the primary responsibility of the driver. Toyota said its pedestrian-detection technology has performed well in other tests performed by AAA.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2017 due to traffic accidents. Of those 6,000 accidents, many are pedestrian fatalities. According to AAA director of automotive engineering Greg Brannon, “Pedestrian fatalities are really becoming a crisis. While pedestrian-detection systems have the potential to save lives, drivers shouldn’t become overly reliant on them to prevent accidents.” 

The AAA study proves that technology is never a perfect science. AAA worries that the way automotive companies advertise these safety features can leave drivers with the impression that they’re safer than they really are. 

While new vehicle safety features are constantly improving, the best safety measure you can take is to always pay attention to the road. With pedestrian fatalities occurring at alarming rates, it is especially important to remain focused and never find yourself distracted while driving. 

Volkswagen Introduces a “Friendlier” New Logo

We all know the iconic Volkswagen VW logo that marks some 150,000 vehicles on the road today.

While the design of the Volkswagen logo has gone through several updates in the past, the most common logo seen today is from the 2000 design. This, however, is about the change.

On September 9, 2019 Volkswagen introduced a new logo design to replace the current logo that has been the face of the company for over 15 years. While the general concept for the logo is roughly the same, the new logo is said to give a “friendlier” feel to the company (according to Volkswagen).

The subtle Volkswagen logo changes over the years. (Photo source: Yahoo News) 

The new Volkswagen logo is said to roll out in 2020 and will be featured on regular cars, advertisements, and their brand new ID.3 electric car.

In addition to the subtle yet profound changes in their logo, VW also plans on featuring a women’s voice in their commercials; stating the brand name in a “sound logo” for the first time in the company’s history.

While you may be questioning the significance of these logo changes, Volkswagen gave viewers an inside look into the vision behind the new logo.

Volkswagen’s vision behind the logo. (Photo Source: Volkswagen)

In short, the new Volkswagen logo is aimed at giving consumers a fresh and friendly spin on the logo we have known and loved for decades. Will the new logo attract a fresh young crowd of consumers? Or are the changes too subtle to make a true impact on the companies overall performance? With 2020 rapidly approaching, the true significance of Volkswagen’s logo will soon be put to the test.

Mercedes Benz Previews Electric Self-Driving Car

When you hear the words “electric” and “self-driving” what is the first car that comes to mind?

If you said Tesla, think again.

Mercedes Benz unveiled its new concept for their new electric self-driving car set to launch in the near future. While electric cars seemed to dominate the 2019 Frankfurt auto show, the Mercedes Benz Vision EQS largely took the spotlight.

New Mercedes Benz Vision EQS (Photo Source: Mercedes Benz)

The Mercedes Vision EQS is expected to rival the Tesla model S. While the Tesla model S takes roughly 10 hours to charge, the Vision EQS takes only 2 hours to charge. The Vision EQS is also capable of “Level 3” conditional autonomy for highway driving and can be upgraded to full autonomy because of a modular sensor set.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the Vision EQS is the two tone color scheme separating the top and bottom of the car. While the bottom of the car features a shiny, chrome-like surface, the top of the car is a stunning, glossy black color that gives the vehicle a polished feel.

According to Mercedes Benz, the Vision EQS was inspired by the classic design of a luxury yacht. It’s design is so sleek, it’s almost as if it can glide through the water. Along with its sleek body, the luxury car also features an impressive LED light display. The grill includes 940 individual LED lights along with the 500 high-performance LEDs producing a floating 3-D impression, according to Mercedes Benz.

While the rival Tesla model S takes longer to charge than the Vision EQS,  it still accelerates at a whopping 0-60 mph in a mere 2.4 seconds. This, beating out the Vision EQS which accelerates from 0-60 mph in roughly 4.5 seconds.

All in all, the Mercedes Benz EQS is sure to give the Tesla Model S a run for its money. With its sleek design, impressive LED lighting, and quick charging time, the Vision EQS is sure to give consumers a “vision” into the future of luxury electric automobiles.

The BMW 4-Series Coupe Gets a Fresh New Face

BMW is back with a innovative spin on the 4-Series coupe. BMW unveiled the concept vehicle at the Frankfurt auto show on Tuesday, September 10. The most notable design upgrade to the 4-series is the larger, flashier grille that (some say) resembles the shape of a kidney. 

The BMW 4-series coupe concept vehicle (Photo Source: autonews.com)

​In addition to the design upgrade, the new BMW 4-series coupe also includes a stretched wheelbase, curved roofline, and short overhangs. BMW describes their new 4-series model as “elegant and dynamic,” but will it be enough to improve the recent 30 percent decline of sales (according to JATO Dynamics)? BMW seems to think so.

Another notable design feature of the 4-series coupe is the sleek LED light that runs across the width of the vehicle, designed to make the car look more “brawny” according to the company. BMW also followed the trend of many other luxury car brands, minimalism. The slender rear view mirrors blend seamlessly with the window lines of the car, leaving them virtually invisible at first glance.

With a minimal design and glistening grille roaring with turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four or a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6, the BMW 4-series is sure to satisfy any driver. Whether you’re driving through a bustling city or cliff side along the Pacific Ocean, the BMW 4-series coupe is aimed to please.

Land Rover Defender is Revamped and Ready to Hit the United States Automotive Industry in 2020

The all-new Land Rover Defender has been given a serious makeover. The cutting edge off roading vehicle made its first appearance on Tuesday, Sept. 10th at the Frankfurt auto show.

While the vehicle lineup will not be completed until 2021, consumers can expect to see the 110 five-door model with five, six or seven seats at the beginning of next year and continuing in the second half of 2020 with the three-door, short-wheelbase version with five or six seats.

2020 Land Rover Defender, said to hit the market as early as Spring of 2020. (Photo source: Motor1.com) 

In terms of price, the 2020 Land Rover Defender is the most expensive model yet. The Defender starts at a base MSRP of $49,900* and can get substantially higher depending on the technology and design of the vehicle. While this is may seem like a steep price increase from the first Defender model, it is still moderately lower than other Land Rover vehicles which are sometimes priced as high as $90,900* MSRP for the new base model Rage Rover.

The new Defender is considerably longer and wider than the previous-generation model, which was originally born as an agricultural vehicle in 1948. The three-door Defender 90 is closer to the length of the previous-generation five-door 110 model. The new model’s wheelbase is 101.9 inches, and it is 180.4 inches (including the spare tire on the tailgate) long, 78.6 inches wide and 77.5 inches high.

1948 Land Rover Defender (Photo Source: rac.co.uk)

The 2020 Land Rover Defender features a brand new infotainment system with full smartphone connectivity along with a navigation pro system and ClearSight ground view technology included with the standard 3D surround camera. In addition to the cabin interior technology, Land Rover also equipped the Defender with its largest set of tires. With a diameter of 32″, the Defender is rugged, durable, and ready for adventure.

Electric Vehicle Fees May Soon Cost Drivers More Than Traditional Vehicles

With many states considering imposing a fee on Electric Vehicles, drivers may be left with a much heftier bill than those with regular gas vehicles.

According to an article by autonews.com, state legislators see annual fees on hybrid and electric cars as a way to offset gasoline tax revenue lost from having more of those vehicles on the road. While many states are still in the beginning phases of imposing this fee, 26 states with proposed or existing electric vehicle fees expect consumers to pay upwards of 3x the price of the annual gas tax. In states like Arizona and Texas, electric vehicle drivers can expect to pay more than 200% higher fees than those with vehicles that run on gasoline. 

According to Consumer Reports, these states have implemented or proposed EV fees of various rates depending on what the state legislation deems appropriate.

“Clearly the trends are not favoring the gas tax both in terms of fuel economy and inflation, and those two forces are really what’s driving down the revenue and what’s causing problems for states,” said Chris Harto, Consumer Reports senior policy analyst. “Right now, it’s not EV adoption.”

While the fees for owning an electric vehicle are becoming more and more costly for consumers, the proposed fees are only expected to generate 0.04 percent of all highway state funding (in states with a >200% fee). This underwhelming number begs the question, are the EV fees really about highway funding? Or does the lofty expense help to put money back in fuel companies pockets?

While this is still an ongoing debate, it’s no question that the imposed fee on electric cars is going to inevitably deter some consumers. One way to attract EV drivers, however, is to impose a lower fee on vehicles. Arkansas Department of Transportation spokesman Danny Straessle told Automotive News the state expects to raise $2 million from higher registration fees for hybrid and electric vehicles, a policy he said started as a fairness concept.

Evidently, the truth is in the numbers. The states that treat their drivers with “fairness” when it comes to the fee imposed on electric vehicles have more EV drivers, in turn, bringing more revenue to the state along with less carbon emissions into the atmosphere. States with fees that are more steep however, are suffering from less EV drivers, meaning not only less state income, but a heavily polluted environment for citizens.

General Motors Recalling 3.5 Million Automobiles Due To Faulty Brakes

General Motors is recalling 3.46 Million SUVs and Pickups due to a vacuum pump issue in some 2014-18 Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra, and GMC Yukon models.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the vacuum created by the vacuum pump may decrease over time, thus interfering with the braking process. According to a 2018 investigation done by the NHTSA, this issue is said to have caused nine crashes and two injuries since the problem first began.

While this issue is said to occur only in “rare circumstances,” the danger of malfunctioning brakes is not one to take lightly. So what is GM doing to fix the problem? According to GM, dealers will reprogram the electronic brake control module with a new calibration that will improve how the system utilizes the hydraulic brake boost assist function when vacuum assist is depleted. 

A normal-functioning brake vacuum pump  uses a vacuum to multiply the drivers pedal effort and apply that effort to the master cylinder. The vacuum can be generated in two distinct methods, dependent on the type of internal combustion engine, or other motive force (as in electric vehicles).

All in all, this is GM’s first major recall since May, 2014 when 2.1 Million vehicles were recalled including the 2005-2010 Chevrolet Cobalt, 2007-2010 Pontiac G5, 2003-2007 Saturn Ion, 2006-2011 Chevrolet HHR, 2006-2010 Pontiac Solstice and 2007-2010 Saturn Sky vehicles.

While this issue is still under investigation, the brake malfunction continues to pose a serious threat to consumers. If you or someone you know owns a recalled vehicle, contact your dealer right away. The sooner you get your brakes fixed, the sooner you can be on the road enjoying the car you love.

Nissan introduced the first mass-market battery powered electric vehicle, “The Leaf” ten years ago.  However, Nissan has been surpassed by competitors with EVs that have longer range and more power. Now, Nissan wants to catch up by launching a second EV in the United States with a bigger range and more power than the Leaf.  The vehicle will also have updated technologies.

The new EV is expected to arrive in the second half of 2021, and will be one of eight battery-powered models Nissan plans to launch globally in the upcoming years. At a dealer meeting in August, Nissan gave their retailers a look at the EV.  It has been reported that the vehicle is a 5-seat car with a 300-mile range that can go from 0 to 6 in under 5 seconds.

The vehicle is described as a compact crossover that looks similar to the Rogue on the exterior, but more like the Murano on the interior. Their second EV will launch joins other automakers who are doing similar such as Audi, Tesla and Jaguar. Analysts believe the electric crossover segment is likely to keep growing for the next few years.

Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research, said “the market is more likely to want an electric crossover in 2021 than it is in 2019.”

Because of the range, the vehicle will be competitive with non EV vehicles.  Nissan was the first to market a battery-powered vehicle with the Leaf in 2010.

Automakers Agree To Back-Seat Alerts Amid Rising Hot-Cat Incidents

In an effort to prevent the rising number of child heatstroke related deaths, an alliance of car makers announced an agreement to include rear-seat alert systems in almost all new trucks and cars. The auto industry resisted in years past, but decided pending legislation in congress would make it a mandate soon.  The push comes after 53 children died in hot cars last year, a record.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of Global Automakers—trade groups that represent the bulk of domestic- and international-made cars and trucks in the U.S. market said they will add the rear-seat reminder systems on new cars by 2025.

The alters will include visuals to remind drivers to check the back seat before leaving the car. Many also consider motion-detection technology crucial to back-seat alert systems.  The systems automakers will implement can include door sequencing technology that will detect when a rear door is opened at the beginning of a trip, sending an alert if the door is not opened again at the end of the trip.

“Most of these deaths are caused by children being unintentionally left in vehicles, our members are taking action to prevent these tragic losses,” Association of Global Automakers chief executive John Bozzella said in a statement. “I’m not saying this is a perfect solution and technology will always improve, but this gets us a long way toward where we need to be, and gets us there quicker than hoping the bill gets floor time in the House and Senate, gets to conference, and gets to the President,” says Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, who sponsored the bill along with Senators Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “This is a huge win and babies are going to live because of this.”

Many groups have pushed for these changes for years, and the solution also addresses 25% of heat-strokes where children get into cars on their own and get trapped. Hyundai and Kia already offer motion-detection, Nissan and Honda also deployed similar technologies last year.