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Virtual Car Shopping?

Posted by carsdiva on June 4, 2014

The Internet has already changed the way we car shop.  Consumers spend less time at dealerships and more time online prior to making a purchase, (1.4 showroom visits to be exact.) But what about 5 years from now?  Imagine an experience achieved by virtual reality.

Audi_City_London_Architecture-515_RZ_1Think about what happened in other retail industries—  most notably publishing, electronics, and entertainment.  Along came Amazon and Netflix, and the traditional retailers either adapted or were doomed to fail (as, unfortunately, many of them did.)  In fact, leading retailers in these industries today collect more than 50% of their revenue online.

So what does that mean for automotive retailers?  A recent study suggested that 5% of all cars will be sold online by 2020.  Car companies are already starting to do this, and the challenge is in creating a seamless online and offline experience.  Furthermore, the trend is moving toward digital retail stores in the heart of the city– combining the living and working environment with the automotive experience.  (Sound familiar, Tesla?)  The focus becomes centered on creating a memorable and positive experience for the car shopper.

Audi, in particular is ahead of the curve, having opened digital showrooms in London and Beijing.  The Audi City Londoncustomer can digitally create and configure a vehicle as they watch it come to life.  For London Audi City, this approach has increased new car sales by 60-70%, and delving further, 75% of the orders were placed by first time Audi buyers.  It’s estimated that car makers will open about 100 of these flagship city-center stores globally by the end of the decade.  The idea being a one-stop shop, aimed at providing a unique brand experience.

Nowadays, consumers walk into a dealership already prepared, informed, having done their homework.  Therefore the role of the dealer is no longer an informational source, but a product experience provider.  So the question then becomes, will these city-center stores prevail to create the experience, while the car is later delivered?  Or will dealerships disappear altogether as car shopping transitions to an all-online experience?  The concept is not all that foreign…

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In Memoriam: William Clay Ford Sr.

Posted by carsdiva on March 18, 2014

The last surviving grandson of the legendary Henry Ford, William Clay Ford Sr, passed away earlier this month on March 9, 2014, at the age of 88.

Bill Ford SrA prominent automotive figure, beholden to the Ford name, Bill contributed 57 years to Ford Motor Company.  He joined the Board of Directors in 1948 at age 23, served as Vice Chairman, and retired as a Director in 2005.  Known as having an eye for design, he also chaired the company’s Design Committee for 32 years.

Upon his passing, CEO of Ford, Alan Mulally, stated:  “Mr. Ford had a profound impact on Ford Motor Company. …….While we mourn Mr. Ford’s death, we also are grateful for his many contributions to the company and the auto industry.”

William Clay Ford Sr. was the youngest of four children born to Eleanor Clay and Edsel Ford, Henry Ford’s only child.  He often told stories of taking driving lessons from grandfather, Henry, at age 10.  Ford was married to Martha Firestone, granddaughter of Harvey, who founded Firestone Tire & Rubber Co, and was a friend of Henry.  He was also owner of the Detroit Lions, (now passed on to his wife Martha), the NFL franchise he purchased for $4.5 Million in 1964.

Cheers to a true “car guy” and leader in the automotive industry.

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Car Shopping Abroad… in the UK

Posted by carsdiva on February 28, 2014

Traveling abroad?  After speaking with several of my friends who have relocated to the UK, or planning to do so in the near future, it occurred to me there is a great deal of planning that goes into a move overseas.  Whether you’re temporarily moving, or making a more permanent home in the UK, there’s a lot to consider: home, job, new city, but what about getting around?  (Go figure, as a “car girl,” getting a car is the first thing that came to my mind.)

AA CarsFor those of you Americans that are relocating, or Brits that happen to be reading my blog, I came across a very useful website recently, AA Cars.  Think classifieds + useful info.  Not only can you search for a car, but you’ll also find pertinent car-shopping-related advice/ information. They have everything from car reviews, to finance information, to a general automotive advice section, (or “Motoring” Advice, as the Brits like to call it.)  You can even “Ask Edmund” your specific car-related questions. Attention ladies– they even have a “women’s car insurance” section.

The next big question is do you opt for a new or used car?  This could be a lengthy discussion, but let’s take a look at some of the fundamentals of both.

New Car

Let’s start with the obvious:  it’s brand-spanking-new! The allure of a new car, in and of itself, is exciting, much less the fact that you can equip the vehicle exactly how you’d like, and of course, nobody else has used or abused it first.  It comes with a full factory warranty, and chances are you won’t have to worry about any repairs or maintenance for quite some time.  And let’s not forget the unforgettable and intoxicating, new-car smell.Jaguar & british flag

Used Car

The overall car market has changed significantly in the last several years.  Quality, durability, and reliability have improved dramatically, so a used car is definitely worth considering, and may, in fact, be a better option for you.  First off it’s cheaper– we all know cars depreciate once they’re driven off the lot.  That being said, it’s not just a lower price, but often the best value, i.e. more bang for your buck.  You can drive away immediately with your car (as opposed to waiting if you custom-ordered a new one).  And if the car is only 1-2 years old, chances are you have the remainder of the manufacturer warranty to ease your mind.

As with anything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to both.  Although AA Cars is specific to used car listings, even if you’re considering new I’d recommend checking it out, as it provides all-around useful automotive advice…. excuse me, “motoring advice.”  (I’m getting the hang of this.)

And whichever route you choose, don’t forget to test drive the car first!

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Happy New Year 2014!

Posted by carsdiva on December 31, 2013

As we kiss 2013 goodbye and welcome 2014, remember to be smart about your choices. (And yes, I’m referring to transportation in this case.)  Have a plan before you head out tonight– or at least be aware of your options.  If you don’t have a designated driver (sh$%t happens), there are several ride-sharing and transportation services– SideCar, Uber, Lyft, to name a few of the more prominent ones.  Check them out and download the respective apps. Hec, there’s also a good old fashioned cab.  My point is have fun in your celebrations, but don’t drink and drive.  It’s not worth it.  Be smart and be safe.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy & prosperous 2014.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

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Evoque-ing a New Appreciation for Land Rover

Posted by carsdiva on November 26, 2013

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in the Winter Drive Event at the Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, WA, hosted by Land Rover Bellevue & Seattle, part of the AutoCenter NorthWest group.

LR_At SuncadiaDid you ever wonder about the true performance ability of a Land Rover–  particularly in instances they showcase in their commercials?  I did.  However, I’ll be honest, I didn’t initially get my Evoque solely for this purpose– i.e. off-roading.  I love the design in it’s compact form, and it still provides me with SUV-capability. (That’s what crossovers are supposed to do, right?)

Fast-forward a few months and I find myself at Land Rover Bellevue, where I met Service Manager, Rahim Sheikh.  He enthusiastically explained to me about the off-roading ability of a Land Rover, and then he went on to invite me to their upcoming Winter Drive Event.  As Rahim said, “why own one of these vehicles if you can’t experience what it really can do?  You can’t really appreciate a Land Rover unless you put it to the test.”  And after this event, I have to say I agree, Rahim.  Well said.LR_Evoque wheels up

Despite the inclement weather (which added to the experience), I joined the crew in setting up the course on Saturday.  The sneak preview was a nice precursor to the event the next morning.  As a passenger I got a chance to appreciate the breathtaking scenery, and furthermore, experience the drive from a different perspective.  I hopped in my Evoque the next day, along with a variety of about 30 other Land Rovers— from the full-size Range Rover to the Sport, LR2‘s and LR4’s, as well as several other Evoques. The off-roading course included driving through rough terrain up and down hills, crawling over logs and rocks, splashing through water, and plenty of pot holes.  I felt like I was in a commercial, but eh, should anything go awry, this was for real.  (Ok, ok, I felt slightly more at ease knowing that several people from the service department where with us…just in case.)  If anyone had any doubts about the capability of their vehicle at the onset, they were quickly diminished by the end of the course.  Would I do this again?  Absolutely! I can honestly say I have a whole new appreciation for my vehicle…. and the brand.

Thank you to Land Rover Bellevue, first and foremost for extending the invitation, and to both stores and their awesome staff for their superb hospitality and putting on a fun and fabulous event.

And now, without further adieu, here are some of the photos:

LR_Seattle BellevueLR_sidewaysLR_Approaching rocksLR_RocksLR_3 LRsLR_Nice ViewLR_LogsLR_ME

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Land Rover North America: #IAmDriven Contest

Posted by carsdiva on November 6, 2013

Are you driven?  Ambitious?  Passionate? Do you push yourself to the next level?  If so, then here’s your chance to enter Land Rover North America’s #IAmDriven social media contest, as part of their launch of the 2014 Range Rover Sport.  Beginning November 5, 2013 and ending December 15, 2013, the contest will recognize five runners up and one overall winner. The chosen few will be profiled by Land Rover North America each week, beginning on January 15, 2014.

RangeRoverSportSo how do you participate? Those who feel they’re up to the challenge are encouraged to post four photos or videos on Instagram and Twitter, using the hashtags #IAmDriven and #Contest.  The photos/videos should tell a story and express how you are driven, and essentially, how you push yourself to the next level.  A select panel will choose the winner and runners up based on creativity, nature of the challenge, and visual fulfillment of the theme.

Like the new Range Rover Sport, if you’re dedicated to achieving top performance, then you have the opportunity to win an unparalleled driving experience at The Land Rover Experience Driving School at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, CA.  The all-expenses-paid trip includes accommodations for two nights for the winner (and guest), as well as three smartphone camera lenses to capture the driving experience.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.  And may the tweeting begin!

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GPS Seduction

Posted by carsdiva on October 3, 2013

It’s been a while since my last post, but I came across this [very entertaining] article on the Huffington Post, titled “50 Shades of GPS,” (you imagine where this is going), and just couldn’t resist.

Writer Eva Moon says:  “It’s a seductive thing, a GPS device. At first you can’t imagine why you’d need it. Then you give it a try, just for kicks. Before you know it, you can’t find your way to the kitchen without a green line.”

Alright so I do have a back-up Garmin, and yes, I was quick to change the voice to the UK male version.  There’s just something about the accent that entices me to follow directions.

My vehicle has a built-in Navigation system, but unfortunately I must comply to the what-seems-to-be standard female, (somewhat monotonous,) voice that commands me to turn right ahead.  If only I could change it like the Garmin, I may get a bit more excited rather than annoyed when the system cuts into the song I’m jamming to in order to tell me my exit is 2 miles ahead.  But back to Eva.

I think my favorite part of Eva’s article is when she talks about “Antonio,” and her slight obsession over her newfound gift, which eventually results in her “deleting him.”  She explains:  “The truth is, I was in over my head. I’d started purposely getting lost, just to prolong our sessions. My gas bills were obscene. My husband was growing suspicious. It was a wrenching decision, but I deleted Antonio.”  There you have it ladies and gentlemen– subservience to our technological gadgets at its best.

Ok, perhaps, my affinity for my Garmin is not quite as extreme, but I’ll admit, I do enjoy taking directions from it more than my car’s built-in system.  At the end of the day, if the GPS, (whichever it may be,) gets me to my destination, mission accomplished.  Nevertheless, I am a bit curious to hear “Antonio”….

You have arrived, señorita.  Has a nice ring to it, no?

Intrigued? Well then I encourage you to read all of “50 Shades of GPS.” 

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Pick-up Trucks, A Leading Lady… and “Glamping”

Posted by carsdiva on June 19, 2013

A true “car girl”, honored by Automotive News as being one of 100 leading women in the North American auto industry— meet Jully Burau.  Burau is General Motors’ Chief Engineer for all full-size [light duty and heavy duty] trucks.  Her passion for the auto industry began at a young age, and she credits this back to her father’s influence growing up.  Burau was hired by Buick when she graduated in 1980 and the rest is history.

Oh and then there is “glamping.” Wanna know what it is?  Check out the video for the inside scoop and learn a bit more about Jully.

 

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LaFerrari ….that’s Italian for “The Ferrari”

Posted by carsdiva on June 3, 2013

The name speaks for itself.  Supercar of supercars, successor to the Enzo Ferrari, calling it “THE” Ferrari, is only fitting.  Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Ferrari’s President, said “we chose to call this model LaFerrari because it is the maximum expression of what defines our company- excellence.  Excellence in terms of technological innovation, performance, visionary styling and the sheer thrill of driving.”

LaFerrari frontI’m a bit behind on this one, but given my obsession with Ferraris, a post was inevitable.  Without further adieu, let’s take a look at Ferrari’s fastest car yet….

The LaFerrari was unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, and it’s the first production model designed in-house. It boasts a 6.3-liter V-12 internal combustion engine, coupled with Ferrari’s F1 dual-clutch gearbox, and it’s said to be 5 seconds quicker than the Enzo and 3 seconds quicker than the [current] F12 Berlinetta on the racetrack.  Ferrari’s first “mild hybrid”, the powertrain is a combo gasoline-electric hybrid.  The HY-KERS battery pack found in LaFerrari was developed with the Formula 1 racing efforts, and uses two electric motors– one to power the wheels and the other for the ancillary systems.  The battery is charged during braking and when more torque is produced than required (i.e. the excess energy is transferred to the battery.)  During acceleration, it works in conjunction with the 800hp-output 6.3L V-12 engine, producing additional power equivalent to 163hp (for a whopping total of 963hp,) while torque is said to be greater than 664 lb-ft.

Don’t think you can be uber green and drive this new supercar on pure electric mode.  Not going to happen.  As Roberto Fideli, Ferrari’s LaFerrari Interiortechnical director, says, it’s “designed for extreme performances,” and thus, top speed in full battery mode is limited to 3mph.  So basically you can roll in or out of your garage, driveway, parking spot, etc…….you get the point.  On the other [environmentally conscious] hand, CO2 emissions are lower than the output of the Enzo and F12 Berlinetta.

I should also mention that the interior features a carbon fiber cockpit, also inspired by Formula 1. The driver’s seat is fixed to the cockpit, but lo and behold, the pedals and steering wheel are adjustable.

Only a limited number of LaFerrari units are being built– 499 to be exact. Montezemolo goes on to clarify:  “Aimed at our collectors, this is a truly extraordinary car which encompasses advanced solutions that, in the future, will find their way onto the rest of the range, and it LaFerrari Rearrepresents the benchmark for the entire automotive industry. LaFerrari is the finest expression of our company’s unique, unparalleled engineering and design know-how, including that acquired in Formula 1.”  A bit of pride in those statements, no? Clearly not intended for the masses, only the true aficionados are entitled to such a supercar.

And at a mere $1.3 MILLION (taxes, title, license and registration not included :)), not for the frugal either– or last-in-line for that matter, as they’ve already sold out.  But hey, what’s a small fortune if it gets you the epitome of the Ferrari nameplate?

Can’t wait to hear THAT engine roar….

In the meantime, I’m going to go use my Ferrari blowdryer.  (Perhaps “obsessed” is an understatement.)

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Driving Under the Influence….of a Cell Phone

Posted by carsdiva on April 29, 2013

Did you know that of the 3.5 million people in the U.S. that suffer serious injuries in motor vehicle accidents, 24% involve cell phone usage?

7 out of 10 Americans talk on the phone will driving.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69% of Americans had used their cell phone while driving in the last 30 days before they were surveyed. Furthermore 31% sent or read text messages or emails while driving.

The ongoing debate of driver distraction

More and more auto manufacturers are offering hands-free/bluetooth in-car communication systems–  most people have heard of Ford’s SYNC system, and the others have followed suit:  Mercedes’ mbrace, Toyota’s enTune, Chevy’s MyLink, and so forth.  Definitely something to keep in mind when buying a new car.  If you’re not in the market for a new vehicle, well there are bluetooth ear pieces, you can pull over if you absolutely need to answer a call or text, or hec, just wait until you arrive at your destination.  Just as “don’t drink and drive” has become a commonplace advisory phrase, so now has “don’t drive and text” (or talk on your cell phone).

cellphone-carMultiple research studies indicate that texting while driving causes greater impairment than driving while under the influence of alcohol. Of course there are plenty of variables– level of intoxication vs. duration of time looking at the phone, etc…  But the point is it’s dangerous– more so than most people realize.  Would you bring your cocktail in the car while driving?  No. (Well….let’s hope not.) It puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?  Just ask yourself– Is it really worth the risk to others on the road, much less yourself, to answer that call or text right this second?

Guilty as Charged

I know on a personal note, I’ve been passing more and more billboards and signs that clearly state the ticket price if caught while either texting or using a hand-held cell phone.  Here are some interesting statistics from the Governors Highways Safety Association about the various state laws when it comes to cell phone usage:

Hand-held Cell Phone Use:  10 states, Puerto Rico, Guam, D.C., and the US Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held devices while driving.  i.e. you can be pulled over simply for this reason and get a ticket without any other traffic violation (except for Maryland & West Virginia until July 2013)

Novice Drivers:  36 States & DC ban cell phone use by novice drivers, and 19 states & DC ban cell phone use by bus drivers

Texting:  39 states, DC, Guam & US Virgin Islands ban texting while driving (45 states for novice drivers)

We’ve all heard of MADD— (mothers against drunk driving,) created in 1980 to stop drunk driving and prevent underage drinking.  Well, as the times have changed, and after looking at all the research and statistics that indicate that texting could be a more serious danger than drinking, perhaps they should revise it to MAID….Mothers Against Impaired Driving.  (To advocate against all impairments, of course.)

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