Archive for the ‘Auto’ Category

AAA roadside assistance comes to Apple Watch

June 24th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Yolanda CadeOrlando, Fla. (June 24, 2015) – AAA is proud to announce the launch of an Apple Watch version of Service Tracker for the CAA app. The app allows members to easily track the location of their assigned service vehicle in real time. Using GPS, Service Tracker allows members to have the convenience to know exactly when their service vehicle will arrive. Soon, a quick glance at your Apple Watch will do the same thing, becoming the first roadside assistance app configured for Apple Watch.

The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) added Service Tracker to its Apple and Android smartphone apps in Ontario one year ago. Service Tracker for Apple Watch will roll out in Ontario in July 2015 and in other Canadian test markets beginning later this year. AAA members can also look forward to having access to the app as well. The Apple Watch App for Service Tracker will be available in U.S. test markets later this year. Meanwhile, the Service Tracker functionality is available now in select AAA markets.

“AAA understands the changing needs of our members and the role that emerging technology plays in our daily lives. This new Service Tracker function on Apple Watch delivers a state-of-the art digital version of roadside assistance that combines convenience with safety and security at the roadside,” said Marshall Doney, AAA President.

With the new Apple Watch functionality, members will get the peace of mind they’ve always had with AAA on their wrist, with the added benefit of knowing exactly when help will arrive.  AAA is using the latest technology to make member experiences even more seamless.

After making a service call using the AAA iPhone app, members will be able to automatically track the service vehicle to their location using the Apple Watch map display – including an ETA. Members can also choose to utilize its notifications function, which offer value-added benefits, such as special AAA Rewards offers or even a reminder to plug in your vehicle on a cold night.

The Apple Watch is proving to be Apple’s most successful product launch so far, with over seven million sold since it became available on April 24, 2015. AAA’s industry-leading roadside assistance continues to be available to members through regular web and 24/7 call center channels, allowing members access to AAA services any way they want

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Erin SteppAAA analysis, test results reveal that drivers, not automakers, responsible for shortcomings

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ORLANDO, Fla. (June 17, 2015)  – A new AAA survey reveals that one-in-three Americans do not believe the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new vehicle window sticker accurately reflects the fuel economy they achieve when driving. To assess the accuracy of this perception, AAA performed an analysis of data collected on the EPA’s FuelEconomy.gov website, along with laboratory and real-world vehicle testing, and found that driver behaviors and environmental conditions, rather than vehicle shortcomings, are likely responsible for most fuel economy variances.

“For years, we’ve heard that drivers question whether the fuel economy rating for their vehicle is accurate,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director, Automotive Engineering and Repair. “In the interest of our members, AAA aimed to address this issue with a multi-phase testing series designed to uncover the real reasons behind fuel economy variations.”

AAA engineers conducted a comprehensive analysis of 37,000 records submitted to the EPA, representing over 8,400 vehicle make, model and year combinations, to identify trends in real-world fuel economy.  Surprisingly, among the self-reported data, eight out of 10 drivers reported fuel economy that was higher than the combined city and highway EPA mileage rating for their vehicle. Additional findings include:

  • Owners of vehicles equipped with manual transmissions reported 17 percent higher fuel economy than EPA ratings.
  • Owners of diesel-fuel vehicles, including light trucks, reported 20 percent higher fuel economy than EPA ratings.
  • Truck owners with gasoline-fuel V-8 engines reported fuel economy five percent higher than EPA ratings, while owners of turbocharged V-6 engines reported fuel economy that was nine percent lower.
  • Owners of sedans with V-6 engines reported a nine percent higher fuel economy than EPA ratings, while owners of turbocharged four cylinder engines reported fuel economy that was four percent lower.
  • Minivan owners reported real-world fuel economy that was equal to or slightly lower than EPA ratings.

“The vast majority of drivers that submit their vehicle’s fuel economy to the EPA report mileage that beats the window sticker rating,” continued Nielsen. “Although self-reported data has limitations, it’s encouraging to see real-world fuel economy that more closely aligns with, or even exceeds, automaker promises.”

In conducting this analysis, AAA engineers identified a list of vehicles that were frequently reported as failing to achieve the EPA’s mileage rating. The majority of these vehicles, including the scrutinized Hyundai and Kia models, have since been retested and, in some cases, mileage ratings were revised.  AAA selected three additional vehicles – a 2014 full-size pickup truck, a 2014 large sedan and a 2012 medium sedan – for further testing.

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested the vehicles independently to verify the fuel economy.  Over the course of several weeks, testing was conducted using a certified dynamometer and on the streets of Southern California.  Test results from of all three vehicles confirmed the EPA mileage rating was accurate, leaving AAA to conclude that driving behaviors, vehicle condition, driving environment and terrain are likely responsible for most deviations from EPA ratings that consumers experience.

“In addition to logging hundreds of miles in various driving environments, the research team put the vehicles through EPA-specified testing designed to mimic the real-world conditions, including city, highway and aggressive driving,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “The findings indicate that while vehicles tested are capable of achieving the EPA rating, a driver’s real-world mileage will vary based on driving style.”

In the next phase of AAA’s fuel economy testing series, to be released in late 2015, researchers will measure the impact that specific driving behaviors, such as acceleration rates and idle time, have on an individual driver’s fuel economy. In the meantime, AAA recommends that drivers take a closer look at their driving habits to understand the role they play in the fuel efficiency of their vehicle.

“If you drive aggressively, with heavy acceleration, hard braking and driving at higher speeds, your fuel economy is going to suffer,” continued Nielsen. “Driving just five miles-per-hour above 50 is like paying an additional 19 cents per gallon for gasoline.”

To learn more about AAA’s vehicle testing series, designed to educate and inform AAA members, the automotive industry and the general public, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com. For daily gas price information and fuel cost estimates for road trips, visit FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com. To find the cheapest gas prices near you, download the AAA Mobile app at AAA.com/mobile.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Heather HunterAuto technology showdown matched top high school student teams from all 50 states; over $12 million in scholarships awarded to help refuel auto industry’s next generation of talent

DEARBORN, Mich. (June 9, 2015) – Students from across the country gathered in Dearborn today, to match wits and workmanship in a race against the clock – and one another – for the right to claim a national championship and be named the winners of the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals at Ford World Headquarters.

When the dust settled, the duo of Morgan White and Jay Saunders from Vale High School in Vale, Ore., claimed the crown of America’s top auto technicians, registering the day’s top score under the tutelage of instructor Drew Barnes.

With over $12 million dollars in scholarship prizes in the balance, state winners gathered in Dearborn to solve “real world” automotive challenges – both digital and mechanical – in a timed competition. A quick mind and steady hands were required as top automotive students worked with wrenches and computers alike. With new and innovative technologies becoming a bigger part of the manuthercturing process, contestants in the 2015 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition represent the next generation of auto technicians who will work on these vehicles.

The 2015 winning team from Oregon represents a long-running family tradition of participation in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition. Jay Saunders, is one of five Saunders’ sons to participate in the program, including two of his brothers who were also crowned national champions in 1992 and 2011.  Morgan White’s father, Randy Belnap, was the second member of the 1992 national championship team. The instructor from Vale High School, Drew Barnes, is creating a legacy of his own capturing his second national title in just his 3rd appearance.

Beginning with a shotgun start, the student competitors (all paired in two-person teams) raced to their identical 2015 Ford Mustang Fastbacks to review a work order that challenged them to diagnose and repair a number of purposefully placed “bugs” ranging from digital to mechanical and electrical. Once the repairs were completed, it was a race to shut the hood, fire up the engine and steer the vehicle across the finish line – where a scrutinizing judging team awaited.

To earn the National Title, White and Saunders earned a “perfect car” score by flawlessly repairing all the “bugs” without any demerits. Students are graded on quality repair workmanship and safety. Combined with the results of a written examination taken on June 8, their score allowed them to hoist the trophy as national champions.

The top-10 teams in the 2015 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals were:

State High School City Student Student Instructor
1. Oregon Vale High School Vale Morgan White Jay Saunders Drew Barnes
2. Alaska North Pole High School North Pole Cole Vinton Andrew Risner Gerald Million
3. North Carolina Watauga High School Boone Graham Roten Daniel Taylor Larry Jones
4. Hawaii Maui High School Vale David Casayuran Joseph Burger Shannon Rowe
5. Virginia Fauquier High School Warrenton David Manzella Michael Stevens Harlan Freeman
6. California Santa Barbara County Regional Occupational Program Santa Maria Danny Zamora Angel Torralba Michael Johnson
7. Florida Manatee Technical College Bradenton Timothy Thompson Dylan Jones Jose Cestero
8. Pennsylvania Wallenpaupack AreaHigh School Hawley Nicolas Schroeder Anthony Litz Mark Watson
9. Massachusetts Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School Marlborough Jonathan Sherman Nate Rand Paul Airoldi
10. Idaho Meridian High School Meridian Clint McKague Phillip Penrod Randy Mahler

In addition to scholarships, the national champion Oregon team will enjoy an immersive, weeklong job shadow experience with auto racing royalty, Wood Brothers Racing’s legendary No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team and driver Ryan Blaney. The hands-on-experience will take place at the Wood Brothers Racing shop in Harrisburg, N.C. and also trackside in Daytona as the Team prepares the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion car for the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola in early July.

“The commitment necessary to make it to the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills National Finals was evident as I spoke with many of the students and instructors,” said driver Ryan Blaney. “Our team is extremely excited to host the Oregon team and show them behind-the-scenes at a race shop and then be part of our team in Daytona. It’s going to be a great experience for them to witness first-hand the adjustments that are made to a race car during an actual race.”

“For today’s automotive technicians, being able to diagnose and repair a computer-related malfunction is just as critical as fixing mechanical failures,” said Margaret Pittelkow, AAA Vice President, Automotive. “As a generation that has grown up with digital technology, these students are uniquely qualified to lead the auto industry forward and you saw their brilliance on display today in a high-octane atmosphere matching the nation’s best talent from coast-to-coast.”

“The automotive technicians of tomorrow must be well-educated and highly-skilled to meet the current and future technological advances in automotive technology,” said Steve DeAngelis, Ford’s Manager of Technical Support Operations. “The people at Ford are committed to training and retaining the best technicians in the industry, which is why we are so proud of our involvement in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition.”

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition that will award over $12 million in scholarships and prizes to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians. Approximately, 12,000 students from across the U.S. competed for the chance to represent their school and state in the National Finals. The competition tested students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities. For additional information on the competition, visit autoskills.aaa.com.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Michigan, manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 194,000 employees and 66 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.

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Heather Hunter

One hundred of the top automotive high school students from across the country will converge on the Motor City to compete for the national title and millions of dollars in scholarships and prizes

ORLANDO, Fla. (June 8, 2015) – As automotive vehicles become more technologically advanced, demand is high for skilled auto technicians that understand the intricacies of repairing America’s fleet of automobiles. The 2015 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition will gather the nation’s top young automotive minds to display their skills and compete for the national title and millions of dollars in scholarships.

The 2015 Student Auto Skills Competition culminates with the crowning of a national champion on Tuesday, June 9 at Ford Motor Company’s World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. The competition features 100 top automotive technology students from all 50 states, with each state represented by a two-student team and their high school instructor.

At the National Finals, the students will have their automotive skills and knowledge put to the test with a written exam and a timed event in which they race against the clock and each other to repair deliberately-installed “bugs” in identical 2015 Ford Mustang Fastbacks with 3.7L V6 engines.   The students will use the OTC Encore, a diagnostics tool made by Bosch, to identify issues and fix the vehicles. In addition to being a major automotive supplier, Bosch too, focuses on developing young technicians through hands-on training and a nationwide team of field training specialists.

The road to Dearborn began in January when nearly 12,000 high school juniors and seniors took an online exam testing their automotive technology knowledge, and will culminate with one team earning the title of national champion. In addition to scholarships and prizes, this year’s national champions will earn the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through a weeklong job shadow experience with auto racing royalty, Wood Brothers Racing’s legendary No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion team and driver Ryan Blaney. For these two automotive student national champions and their instructor, this unique job shadow experience extends from a high-tech performance garage in North Carolina to the world-famous Daytona International Speedway, including:

  • Immersion of the winning students into the Wood Brothers Racing team as these expert auto technicians prepare for one the biggest events on the Sprint Cup Series calendar – the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, July 5
  • Mentoring by No. 21 driver Ryan Blaney at both the Wood Brothers Racing shop in Harrisburg, North Carolina and also trackside at Daytona
  • Serving as honorary on-track pit crew members on the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion under the guidance of Crew Chief Jeremy Bullins

“Every week it’s the drivers who get all the attention on the track,” said Blaney, “but truthfully, we wouldn’t even be able to race if it wasn’t for our crew. Our team is the best in the business. They spend their entire week working to keep the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane car in top condition for me to race.”

Founded in 1950, Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active team in NASCAR. The Wood Brothers have won 14 Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway, more than any other team in the sport.

Added Blaney, “The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition is an unparalleled opportunity for the thousands of students across the country who want to break into the industry. I’m pretty excited to see these National Champions. Although the students are only in high school, they can work on the world’s best cars themselves. Who knows, maybe one of these students will end up on our pit crew!”

As cars continue to become more advanced, Ford is leading the way with new technologies such as all-electric vehicles, adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake assist. Understanding the mechanics behind these technologies is essential to the future of the automotive industry, the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills challenge focuses on technological practices, while educating the next generation of technicians in traditional mechanical principles so they will be able to understand and work on new vehicles.

The 2015 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills may enable many of its participants to embark on promising careers in the automotive repair industry to help fuel the demand for well-trained technicians that can repair both computer and mechanical components in today’s advanced vehicles. Both the national and the state-wide competitions were organized with the support of AAA and Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and the AAA Approved Auto Repair program, a public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country. The competition will award over $12 million in scholarships to high school auto students, including the national title winners, allowing them to further their education in this rapidly changing industry.

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

The Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition that offers over $12 million in scholarships and prizes to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians.  Approximately, 12,000 students from across the U.S. compete for the chance to represent their school and state in the National Finals. The competition tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities. For additional information on the competition, visit autoskills.aaa.com.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

About Ford Motor Company

For Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Michigan, manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 194,000 employees and 66 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.

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AAA Tests Shine High-Beam on Headlight Limitations

May 13th, 2015 by Amanda Shapiro

Erin SteppTests show headlights lights may fail to safely illuminate dark roadways

ORLANDO, Fla., (May 13, 2015) – New test results from AAA reveal the potential for significant headlight shortcomings when traveling on roadways that lack overhead lighting, typically America’s rural roads, which account for 40 percent of vehicle miles traveled annually. To assess headlight capabilities and limitations and learn what, if any, advantage advanced headlight technologies offer, AAA compared the performance of halogen, high intensity discharge (HID) and light emitting diode (LED) headlights. AAA’s test results suggest that halogen headlights, found in over 80 percent of vehicles on the road today, may fail to safely illuminate unlit roadways at speeds as low as 40 mph.

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The testing, conducted with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, measured the distances at which modern headlights illuminate non-reflective objects on both low-beam and high-beam settings. These findings, paired with guidelines issued by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, indicate that when traveling on unlit roadways, today’s headlights fail to light the full distance necessary for a driver to detect an object or obstacle in the roadway, react and come to a complete stop.

“AAA’s test results reveal that headlights found in U.S. vehicles fall short on safety,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “By failing to properly light roadways at moderate speeds, a pedestrian or animal may not become visible to a driver until it’s too late to stop.”

While high-beam settings on halogen headlights improved sight distances by 28 percent at the testing facility, in real-world conditions they may only provide enough light to safely stop at speeds of up to 48 mph, leaving drivers vulnerable at highway speeds. Despite the clear need for the additional visibility that high-beams offer, particularly on unlit roads, a recent AAA survey found that only a third of Americans admit to using these settings regularly.

Additional testing found that while the advanced headlight technology found in HID and LED headlights illuminated dark roadways 25 percent further than their halogen counter parts, they still may fail to fully illuminate roadways at speeds greater than 45 mph. High-beam settings on these advanced headlights offered significant improvement over low-beam settings, lighting distances of up to 500 feet (equal to 55 mph). Despite the increase, even the most advanced headlights fall 60 percent short of the sight distances that the full light of day provides.

“While it’s encouraging to see the safety benefit that newer headlight technology offers to drivers, there’s still room for improvement,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director, Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Unlike the more advanced headlight technology available in European vehicles, current government regulations limit the light output for vehicles sold in the United States. AAA looks forward to working with U.S. policy makers to ensure federal regulations keep up with changing technology.”

In addition to testing low-beam and high-beam headlight performance, AAA tested the effect that deteriorated headlight lenses have on light intensity and glare. The protective coating used on the plastics of modern lenses can slowly deteriorate and cloud after about five years, reducing light output and increasing light scatter which results in glare for other drivers.  The testing found that restoring headlights doubles the maximum light intensity and reduces glare-producing light scatter by up to 60 percent.  Yet, according to a recent AAA survey, only 20 percent of Americans have performed this service.

“Deteriorated or dirty headlight lenses are not just an aesthetic issue,” warned Nielsen. “An annual service on older vehicles will increase your nighttime visibility and minimize distracting glare for fellow drivers.”

To learn more about AAA’s vehicle testing series, designed to educate and inform AAA members, the automotive industry and the general public, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Erin SteppLower Gas Prices Help Fuel 2 Percent Decline From 2014

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 28, 2015) – Due to declines in gas prices and finance charges, the annual cost to own and operate a vehicle has fallen to $8,698, a nearly 2 percent drop from last year, according to AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs study.  This research examines the cost of fuel, maintenance, tires, insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges associated with driving a typical sedan 15,000 miles annually. In the United States, a driver can expect to spend 58 cents for each mile driven, nearly $725 per month, to cover the fixed and variable costs associated with owning and operating a car in 2015.

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“Fortunately, reduced gasoline and finance costs more than offset rising costs in other areas,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s Managing Director of Automotive Engineering and Repair.  “As a result, car owners can look forward to saving approximately $178 this year.”

Based on 15,000 miles

Small Sedan

Medium Sedan

Large Sedan

Sedan Average

Minivan

SUV (4WD)

Annual Total Cost

$6,729

$8,716

$10,649

$8,698

$9,372

$10,624

Annual Cost Per Mile

$0.449

$0.581

$0.710

$0.580

$0.625

$0.708

 

Fuel: DOWN 13.77 percent to 11.2 cents per mile/$1,681.50 per year (-$268.50).

Compared to last year’s study, the average cost of regular unleaded fuel fell nearly 13 percent to $2.855 per gallon. This decline, coupled with improvements in vehicle fuel economy, resulted in an average 11.21 cents-per-mile fuel cost.  Due in large part to this decrease, the cost of owning and operating a sport utility vehicle is slightly less than that of a large sedan this year.

Finance Charges: DOWN 21.02 percent to $669 per year (-$178).

With rising car sales and stiff competition among dealers, many manufacturers are offering low finance rates to attract buyers.  In 2015, average vehicle finance rates dropped 21 percent, which equates to approximately $15 per month on a typical five-year loan. However, rates vary widely with borrower credit scores.

Depreciation: UP 4.10 percent to $3,654 per year (+144).

The single largest ownership expense, depreciation, rose for 2015 due to increasing new car sales that are causing an influx of used and off-lease vehicles entering the marketplace. This increased supply has resulted in lower values and selling prices for used vehicles, thus driving up depreciation costs.

Insurance: UP 8.99 percent to $1,115 per year (+$92)

Insurance rates vary widely by driver, driving habits, insurance company and geographical area. AAA’s calculations are based on low-risk drivers with excellent driving records. While premium calculations are confidential, this modest increase of $7.67 per month may be due in part to high-cost modern vehicle features such as infotainment systems, advanced safety features and lightweight materials that can be more expensive to repair and, therefore, insure.

Maintenance: UP .99 percent to 5.11 cents per mile/$766.50 per year (+$7.50)

Annual maintenance, including labor time and repair part costs associated with factory-recommended maintenance, was factored into the 2015 survey along with average costs of an extended warranty.  Maintenance costs varied widely by vehicle type but, on average, were up slightly from 5.06 cents to 5.11 cents per mile. A recent survey of AAA-Approved Auto Repair shops found that the majority of drivers are behind schedule in routine maintenance, including oil changes, tire maintenance and battery inspection/testing.

License/Registration/Taxes: UP 3.74 percent to $665 per year (+$24)

Vehicle prices rose modestly in 2014, contributing to an overall increase in state and local tax costs.  Additionally, some states increased fees related to vehicle purchasing, titling, registration and licensing.

Tires: UP 1.03 percent to .98 cents per mile/$147 per year (+$1.50)

Due to the competitive and dynamic nature of the tire market, tire costs in 2015 remain relatively unchanged, rising by just .01 cents per mile.

In addition to calculating the driving costs for sedans, AAA determined annual costs associated with both minivans and sport utility vehicles. Owners of these vehicles will benefit from annual driving costs nearly four percent lower this year, at $9,372 and $10,624 respectively, due to lower gas prices and finance rates.

“When shopping for a vehicle, smaller isn’t always cheaper,” cautioned Nielsen. “A minivan, for example, can carry up to 7 passengers, yet costs $100 less to own and operate each month compared to a large sedan.”

AAA has published Your Driving Costs since 1950. That year, driving a car 10,000 miles per year cost 9 cents per mile, and gasoline sold for 27 cents per gallon.

The Your Driving Costs study employs a proprietary AAA methodology to analyze the cost to own and operate a vehicle in the United States. Variable operating costs considered in the study include fuel, maintenance and repair, and tires. Fixed ownership costs factored into the results include insurance, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation and finance charges. Ownership costs are calculated based on the purchase of a new vehicle that is driven over five years and 75,000 miles. Your actual operating costs may vary. See AAA’s 2015 Your Driving Costs brochure for a list of vehicles and additional information on the underlying criteria used in the study.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Erin SteppORLANDO, Fla., (April 20, 2015) – The 2015 Tesla Model S P85D earned the top score in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide, the motor club announced today.  The Palo Alto-based automaker’s car is featured with more than 80 other green vehicles in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide.  The best green car value award went to the 2014 Nissan Versa SV.

To help those in the market for a green car or truck, the 160-page, comprehensive fifth annual AAA guide reviews 88 battery electric vehicles, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) vehicles, clean diesels, hybrids, partial zero emission vehicles (PZEVs), and vehicles with high fuel economy.  These vehicles were tested and scored by the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center (ARC) in 13 categories (braking, fuel economy, emissions, handling, ride comfort, etc.). The report also contains comprehensive information about green technologies from the ARC evaluators.

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“Low-emission vehicles and hybrid choices vary in quality, price and size.  The AAA Green Car Guide is one of our ongoing programs to help consumers navigate the wide-ranging green car marketplace,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering.  “AAA’s expertise and history of automotive research with alternative fuel vehicles continues to benefit AAA members and the public today.”

“The center also has a long-term interest in helping motorists cut their fuel bills and clean the air,” said ARC Manager Megan McKernan. “Green vehicles offer motorists a way to reduce emissions and save fuel and, depending on the choice of green vehicle, can help motorists save cash, especially when gas prices are high,” she added.

“For the 2015 guide, the research center divided the vehicles into six car classifications and identified the winners and finalists in each category,” said McKernan. “We also recognized overall ‘Green Car’ and ‘Best Value’ winners,” she said. “The Tesla took two awards – best overall and large car category.”

In describing the top-scoring green vehicle manufacturer, which held onto the top spot from last year, McKernan said, “All evaluators rated the Tesla high for comfort and ride quality. It handled well on our slalom course, and it has the best acceleration times of all the vehicles.”

The Tesla P85D has a 253-mile range, but even with a 240-volt charger, it can take 12 hours to fully re-charge, according to McKernan.  “Despite charging time, the Model P85D was our top-scoring electric vehicle this year.”

The 2014 Nissan Versa SV tops the 2015 guide list as the best green car value when price is factored in, according to McKernan. “It’s priced under $17,000, averages about 35 miles per gallon and has a spacious interior making it an affordable fuel-sipping car,” she added.

The research center tracks significant changes to a vehicle from model year to model year. If no significant changes were made to the power train in 2015, a prior model year’s results were used. For example, staff tested a 2014 Mazda3 sedan. No significant changes were made to its powertrain in 2015, so the 2014 results were include in the 2015 AAA Green Car Guide.

Overall Top Scoring Green Cars:

  1. 2015 Tesla S P85D Performance (Electric)                                                              94.87
  2. 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium (Electric)                                                 85.50
  3. 2014 BMW i3 (Electric)                                                                                                   85.40
  4. 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium Partial Zero-Emissions                            83.86
  5. 2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI SE Clean Diesel                                                            80.91

 Best Value: Cost-Per-Point Scores:

  1. 2014 Nissan Versa SV  (Gasoline)                                                                             $249
  2. 2014 Nissan Versa Note SV (Gasoline)                                                                   $260
  3. 2013 Hyundai Accent GLS (Gasoline)                                                                      $269
  4. 2015 Toyota Yaris LE (Gasoline)                                                                                 $273
  5. 2014 Kia Soul+ (Gasoline)                                                                                            $276

2015 AAA Green Car Guide Category Winners:

  • Large car: Tesla Model S P85D (Electric)
  • Midsize: Audi A7 TDI Quattro Tiptronic (Clean Diesel)
  • Compact: Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium (Electric)
  • Subcompact: BMW i3 (Electric)
  • SUV/Minivan: Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium (PZEV)
  • Pickup Truck: Ford F-150 Supercab Lariat (Gasoline)

The ARC’s engineers and technicians – who have more than 100 years combined experience – evaluated the vehicles. Each category was scored on 0-10 points.  Scores were totaled to determine top vehicles.  Then, each vehicle’s total score was divided by its “as-tested” price to determine its cost per point for best value.  The guide lists vehicle specifications, test scores, data and observations in one-page summaries.

Tested vehicles were selected based on emission certifications from the California Air Resources Board and U.S. EPA fuel economy ratings.  Tests were performed at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and on Southern California roads.  Testing procedures were developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the EPA and the Auto Club.

The guide will be available to AAA members at no charge at AAA branches while supplies last.  It also can be downloaded on the iPad or on the AAA web site. More information can be found at www.AAA.com/greencar.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Tesla_exterior news-2014-audi-a7-TDI-sedan-exterior-beauty-002 F-150 Is Truck Trend Magazine’s 2015 Pickup Truck of the Year The All-Electric BMW i3. BMW_i3_full_length BMW_i3_charging 2015SubaruOutback-15 2015 Ford F-150 2015_VW_Golf_TDI_IMG_9563 2015_e-golf_4196 2015_BMW_i8_slalom 2014_Nissan_Versa_SV_IMG_9280

JulieHallAAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Survey Provides In-Depth Data on Americans’ Driving Habits

WASHINGTON, D.C., (April 16, 2015) – On average, Americans drive 29.2 miles per day, making two trips with an average total duration of 46 minutes. This and other revealing data are the result of a ground-breaking study currently underway by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and the Urban Institute.

Additional Resources

The Foundation’s new American Driving Survey offers the most up-to-date, comprehensive look at how much Americans drive on a daily and yearly basis.  First-year data, collected May 2013 through May 2014, is available now from the ongoing study, which will set the benchmark for future data and ultimately reveal trends in Americans’ driving habits.

“This is the first ongoing study that provides a look at when and how much Americans are driving,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Existing federal data with this level of detail was last released in 2009, eight years after the previous release. This substantially limits the extent to which we can use existing data to draw conclusions about Americans’ current driving habits.”

The first-year results of the American Driving Survey revealed that:

  • Motorists age 16 years and older drive, on average, 29.2 miles per day or 10,658 miles per year.
  • Women take more driving trips, but men spend 25 percent more time behind the wheel and drive 35 percent more miles than women.
  • Both teenagers and seniors over the age of 75 drive less than any other age group; motorists 30-49 years old drive an average 13,140 miles annually, more than any other age group.
  • The average distance and time spent driving increase in relation to higher levels of education. A driver with a grade school or some high school education drove an average of 19.9 miles and 32 minutes daily, while a college graduate drove an average of 37.2 miles and 58 minutes.
  • Drivers who reported living “in the country” or “a small town” drive greater distances (12,264 miles annually) and spend a greater amount of time driving than people who described living in a “medium sized town” or city (9,709 miles annually).
  • Motorists in the South drive the most (11,826 miles annually), while those in the Northeast drive the least (8,468 miles annually).
  • On average, Americans drive fewer miles on the weekend than on weekdays.
  • Americans drive, on average, the least during winter months (January through March) at 25.7 miles daily; they drive the most during the summer months (July through September) at 30.6 miles daily.

“This new data, when combined with available crash data, will allow us to conduct unique, timely studies on crash rates for the first time,” continued Kissinger. “This will allow us to identify specific problems and evaluate various safety countermeasures to a degree never before possible.”

Results from the American Driver Survey were based on telephone interviews with a nationwide sample of 3,319 drivers who reported detailed information about all their driving trips taken the day before the interview. Data collection is ongoing; the information reported in the first-year results was collected between May 21, 2013 and May 31, 2014. The full results from the inaugural American Driving Survey are available online at www.aaafoundation.org.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit, publicly supported charitable educational and research organization.  Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation’s mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded more than 200 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur. Visit www.aaafoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 55 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the internet at AAA.com.

Heather HunterHundreds of high school students across America compete for the opportunity to represent their state in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 14, 2015) – Innovation and ingenuity will be on display at locations across the country this spring as the brightest young automotive minds from coast-to-coast will gather to compete for millions of dollars in scholarships in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition.

The 2015 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills Competition State Hands-On competitions will commence Tuesday, April 14 in Birmingham, AL. and continue across the country ending May 13 in Louisville, KY. The top team from each state will advance to the national finals at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich. June 7-9, 2015. At the national finals, champions from each state will vie for millions of dollars in scholarships, automotive equipment and a trip to the Wood Brothers Racing facility where the students and instructor will work on race cars and learn from top automotive engineers.

Below are the dates and locations of 2015 Ford/AAA State Hands-On Competitions:

  • Birmingham, Ala. – Tuesday, April 14
  • Anchorage, Alaska. – Friday, April 17
  • Charlotte, N.C. / S.C.– Saturday, April 18
  • Jackson, Miss. – Tuesday, April 21
  • Okmulgee, Okla.  – Thursday, April 23
  • Milford, Neb. – Thursday, April 23
  • Helena, Mont. – Thursday, April 23
  • Alexandria, La.  – Thursday, April 23
  • Avondale, Ariz. – Friday, April 24
  • La Porte, Texas – Friday, April 24
  • Sanford, Fla. – Friday, April 24
  • Baltimore, Md.  – Saturday, April 25
  • Honolulu, Hawaii – Saturday, April 25
  • Renton, Wash. – Tuesday, April 28
  • Warwick, R.I.  – Wednesday, April 29
  • Charleston, W.Va. – Thursday, April 30
  • Sioux Falls, S.D. – Thursday, April 30
  • Indianapolis, Ind. – Friday, May 1
  • Atlanta, Ga. – Friday, May 1
  • Little Rock, Ark. – Friday, May 1
  • Danville, Calif. – Friday, May 1
  • Pomona, Calif. – Friday, May 1
  • Cheyenne, Wyo. – Friday, May 1
  • Nampa, Idaho – Friday, May 1
  • North Haven, Conn. – Friday, May 1
  • Richmond, Va. – Saturday, May 2
  • Bethlehem, Pa. – Saturday, May 2
  • Albuquerque, N.M. – Saturday, May 2
  • Sandy, Utah – Wednesday, May 6
  • Mequon, Wis. – Wednesday, May 6
  • Chanhassen, Minn. – Wednesday, May 6
  • Norwood, Mass. – Wednesday, May 6
  • Pittsburg, KS/Missouri – Thursday, May 7
  • Eatontown, N.J. – Thursday, May 7
  • Warren, Mich. – Thursday, May 7
  • Nashville, Tenn. – Thursday, May 7
  • Independence, Ohio – Thursday, May 7 West Fargo, N.D. – Friday, May 8
  • Gresham, Ore. – Friday, May 8
  • Champaign, Ill. – Friday, May 8
  • Morrisville, N.Y. – Friday, May 8
  • Epping, N.H./Maine/Vt. – Saturday, May 9
  • Denver, Colo. – Saturday, May 9
  • Ankeny, Iowa – Tuesday, May 12
  • Dover, Del. – Tuesday, May 12
  • Sparks, Nev. – Tuesday, May 12
  • Louisville, Ky. – Wednesday, May 13

At the State Hands-On Competition, teams will race against the clock to correctly diagnose and repair a deliberately “bugged” 2015 Ford Fiesta SE. A combination of an online written exam and hands-on competition scores determines each state’s championship team that will compete in the national finals. For additional details on 2015 State Hands-On Competition locations and dates, visit AutoSkills.AAA.com.

Students in 11th and 12th grades in secondary schools and colleges across the country that offer courses in automotive technology are participating in the Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition. Teams competing in the State Hands-On Competitions are comprised of the 10 teams that scored highest on a statewide online written exam, administered at the beginning of the competition in January.

Both the national and the state-wide competitions have been organized with the support of AAA and Ford personnel, local automotive instructors and the AAA Approved Auto Repair program, a free public service AAA performs to identify quality repair facilities throughout the country.

About Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills

The 2015 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills is a nationwide automotive technology competition that offers millions of dollars in scholarships and prizes to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing careers as automotive service technicians.  Approximately 12,000 students from across the U.S. are competing for the chance to represent their school and state in the National Finals. The competition tests students’ automotive knowledge, workmanship and problem-solving abilities. For additional information on the competition, visit http://autoskills.aaa.com/.

About Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 181,000 employees and 65 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit corporate.ford.com.

About AAA

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Erin SteppAAA Advises Drivers to Know the Limits When Using Blind Spot and Lane Departure Systems

ORLANDO, Fla., (December 9, 2014) – AAA’s Automotive Engineering experts are confident new advanced driver assistance technologies like blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems have great potential to keep drivers safer, as long as motorists are aware of system limitations.  As part of AAA’s auto technology series, these two systems were recently evaluated. While the systems performed effectively in multiple situations, this evaluation uncovered scenarios where the systems failed to perform as expected. This included delayed warnings by the blind-spot monitoring technologies and lane-departure warning systems failing to track the lane under certain road conditions.

AAA’s research, conducted with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, found that:

  • Blind-spot monitoring systems had difficulty detecting fast-moving vehicles – such as when merging onto a busy highway. Alerts were often provided too late for evasive action.
  • Motorcycles were detected by blind-spot monitoring systems 26 percent later than passenger vehicles.
  • Road conditions were often a problem for lane-departure warning systems. Worn pavement markers, construction zones and intersections can cause the lane-departure warning system to lose track of lane location.
  • The litany of alerts and warnings could be confusing.  Auditory, visual or haptic responses – or a combination – could be similar to other advanced driver assistance features that delivered the same warnings.

Additional Resources

“With nearly three-quarters of 2014 vehicles offering blind-spot detection and 50 percent offering lane-departure warning as options, it’s key that consumers are educated on how to get the best benefit from these systems,” says John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering. “AAA’s tests found that these systems are a great asset to drivers, but there is a learning curve.”

Test-track and on-road evaluations also highlighted system performance differences between test vehicles. “Some blind-spot monitoring systems we tested had a short detection range, which meant that a vehicle was already in the blind spot before the alert came on,” says Megan McKernan, Manager of Automotive Engineering at the Automobile Club of Southern California. “The lane-departure warning system on several vehicles experienced false-positive and miss-detections, which resulted in an inconsistent driver warning.  This can be annoying and could result in the driver disabling the system due to the false alerts.”

Pros and cons aside, motorists will encounter advanced driver assistance technology as automakers cascade these devices across vehicle lines. Being aware of these systems and understanding how they operate is a necessary step before driving the vehicle.

“As travelers head out for holiday visits, they may be renting a vehicle equipped with blind-spot monitoring or lane-departure warning systems,” says Nielsen. “It’s important to take the time to review these systems so that you’re prepared for alerts and warnings and understand the limits of the technology.”

In addition to AAA’s Automotive Engineering evaluation of these systems, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has also provided an assessment of lane-departure warning systems, along with six other advanced technologies, in the August 2014 report Evaluating Technologies Relevant to the Enhancement of Driver Safety. Conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology AgeLab, this study rates not only the potential for lane-departure systems to reduce crash fatalities but also rates how this advanced driver technology has actually performed based on the limited data currently available.  Motorists can review the AAA Foundation’s rating for new in-vehicle technologies, along with extensive informational material, at https://www.aaafoundation.org/ratings-vehicle-safety-technology.

Additional information regarding AAA’s research on blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems is available on the AAA Newsroom.

AAA conducts proprietary research to better understand and communicate to members the implications of automotive technology, design and functionality.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 54 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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