Archive for the ‘Auto’ Category

Consumer Appetite for Electric Vehicles Rivals Pickups

April 18th, 2017 by Jessica Souto

ErinSteppAAA unveils top electric, hybrid and fuel-efficient vehicles

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 18, 2017) – Despite lower gas prices, a new AAA study reveals that consumer interest in electric vehicles remains high, with the survey showing that more than 30 million Americans are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car. With rising sales, longer ranges and lower costs, AAA predicts a strong future for electric vehicles, and announces the top electric, hybrid and other efficient vehicles in its independent, rigorous test-track evaluation.

Additional Resources

“With their lower ownership costs and compatibility with emerging autonomous technologies, electric vehicles are poised to be a key vehicle of the future,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “Tesla — a standout in AAA’s evaluations — has helped widen the appeal of electric vehicles by showing they can be stylish, performance-focused and filled with cutting-edge technology.”

Despite the fact that gas prices are about 40 percent lower than five years ago, AAA found that consumer interest in electric vehicles and hybrids has not waned. In fact, the number of Americans interested in an electric vehicle approaches the number planning to purchase a pickup truck, with the survey showing that 15 percent are likely to buy an electric vehicle for their next car. Millennials are even more accepting of electric vehicles, with nearly one-in-five interested in going electric for their next car.

Concern for the environment remains the primary motivating factor for electric vehicle shoppers, but AAA also found that lower long-term costs, desire for the latest technology and access to car pool lanes are all influential. With their extended range and flexibility, hybrid vehicles are also desirable to Americans, with nearly one third (32 percent) likely to buy the gasoline- and battery-powered alternative.

Beyond electric and hybrid vehicles, AAA’s survey found that fuel economy remains a major purchase consideration for all U.S. drivers, with 70 percent rating it as an important factor in selecting any vehicle – equal to the importance of the cost, crash rating and performance – ahead of safety technology (50%), brand (48%), style, color and design (46%) and smartphone connectivity (34%).

With a focus on the future, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center rates and ranks electric vehicles, hybrids, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG), diesels and high fuel economy gasoline-powered vehicles for the annual AAA Green Car Guide.  Vehicles are rated on the criteria that matter most to car buyers, including ride quality, safety and performance.

“While desire for green vehicles is strong, making the leap to an electric, hybrid or other fuel efficient vehicles can be daunting to car shoppers,” said Megan McKernan, manager of Automotive Research Center. “AAA’s rigorous evaluations help take the guesswork out by providing an unbiased evaluation of these vehicles based on more than a dozen individual criteria.”  

In 2017, the following vehicles earned AAA’s Top Green Vehicle award:

Category Winner
Overall Tesla Model X 75D
Subcompact Car Chevy Bolt EV Premier
Compact Car Volkswagen e-Golf SE
Midsize Car Lexus GS 450h F Sport
Large Car Tesla Model S 60
Pickup Ford F150 XLT Super Crew
SUV Tesla Model X 75D

Winners, detailed evaluation criteria, vehicle reviews and an in-depth analysis of the green vehicle industry can be found at AAA.com/greencar.

While electric vehicles are an attractive option for car shoppers, AAA found that more than half of Americans are hesitant to make the switch due to “range anxiety” – the concern over running out of charge or having too few locations to charge a vehicle. This fear persists despite the fact that U.S. drivers report an average round-trip commute length (31 miles) and time (46 minutes) that are well within the range of the more than 100 miles of range that most electric vehicles offer.

“Range anxiety stems from seeing gas stations, not charging stations, on every corner,” continued Brannon. “While electric vehicles may not yet fit every lifestyle, the number of charging stations has quadrupled over the last five years and battery ranges support average commutes.”

To assist with range anxiety, drivers of electric vehicles can find the closest charging station via the AAA Mobile app or AAA’s TripTik Travel Planner. In 2017, charging station availability has grown to more than 15,000 locations across the United States.

Additional survey data, study methodology, infographics, photos and video can be found at NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Mariam Ali Contact TileAAA advises drivers to save $50 per month for car care fund

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 4, 2017) – According to a new AAA survey, 64 million American drivers would not be able to pay for an unexpected vehicle repair without going into debt, indicating that some drivers may underestimate the full cost of owning and operating a vehicle. Because some car repairs are unavoidable, and the average repair bill is between $500 and $600, AAA urges drivers to save at least $50 a month for unforeseen expenses, and identify a trusted repair facility before trouble strikes.

Additional Resources

“The average cost of owning and operating a vehicle is more than $8,500 a year, and AAA has found that millions of Americans are failing to set aside a car care fund to pay for the upkeep of their cars,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “To avoid a surprise down the road, drivers should budget for monthly payments, insurance premiums, fuel costs and the inevitable expenses of routine maintenance and repair.”

Although an average repair bill can set a driver back up to $600, the cost can soar higher when a vehicle has been poorly maintained. A previous AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers skip or delay recommended service or repairs, which increases the likelihood of unexpected mechanical failures and leaves a vehicle more vulnerable to roadside breakdown. In 2016 alone, AAA responded to nearly 32 million stranded motorists.

“Anticipating your vehicle’s needs before problems strike is important,” continued Nielsen. “While it may seem that skipping maintenance and repairs can save money in the short term, staying on top of car care can save drivers hundreds of dollars in the long run.”  

Before a breakdown happens, AAA recommends that vehicle owners:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to avoid roadside trouble.
  • Identify a repair shop you trust. A recent AAA survey found that one-third of U.S. drivers have yet to find a trusted repair facility. Visit com/autorepair to locate a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.

If faced with an unexpected repair, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Get a written estimate for the repair and clarify with the shop the work that needs to be done on the vehicle Consider getting a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Negotiate the repair bill with the mechanic. Ask if the shop offers any discounts or payment plans that can reduce immediate out-of-pocket costs.

The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network consists of nearly 7,000 facilities that have met AAA’s high standards, including, technician certifications, ongoing training, financial stability, facility cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits at AAR facilities, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free maintenance inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/autorepair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 57 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ErinSteppNew AAA survey reveals that Americans still leery of a driverless future

ORLANDO, Fla. (March 7, 2017) – A new report from AAA reveals that the majority of U.S. drivers seek autonomous technologies in their next vehicle, but they continue to fear the fully self-driving car. Despite the prospect that autonomous vehicles will be safer, more efficient and more convenient than their human-driven counterparts, three-quarters of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car, and only 10 percent report that they’d actually feel safer sharing the roads with driverless vehicles. As automakers press forward in the development of autonomous vehicles, AAA urges the gradual, safe introduction of these technologies to ensure that American drivers are informed, prepared and comfortable with this shift in mobility.

Additional Resources

“A great race towards autonomy is underway and companies are vying to introduce the first driverless cars to our roadways,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “However, while U.S. drivers are eager to buy vehicles equipped with autonomous technology, they continue to fear a fully self-driving vehicle.”

In 2016, a AAA survey found that three-quarters of Americans reported feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving car. One year later, a new AAA survey found that fear is unchanged. While the majority are afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, the latest survey also found that the majority (59%) of Americans are keen to have autonomous features in their next vehicle. This marked contrast suggests that American drivers are ready embrace autonomous technology, but they are not yet ready to give up full control.

“U.S. drivers may experience the driver assistance technologies in their cars today and feel they don’t work consistently enough to replace a human driver – and they’re correct,” continued Brannon. “While these technologies will continue to improve over time, it’s important that consumers understand that today’s systems require your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel.”

Additional survey findings include:

  • Half (54%) of U.S. drivers feel less safe at the prospect of sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle, while one-third (34%) feel it wouldn’t make a difference and only 10 percent say they would feel safer.
    • Women (58%) are more likely to feel less safe than men (49%).
    • Baby Boomers (60%) are more likely to feel less safe than Generation X (56%) or Millennials (41%)
  • The majority (59%) of U.S. drivers want autonomous vehicle technology in their next vehicle, while the remainder do not (25%) or are unsure (16%).
    • Millennials (70%) are the most likely to want the technologies, compared to Generation X (54%) and Baby Boomers (51%).
  • Three-quarters (78%) of Americans are afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle.
    • Baby Boomers (85%) are more likely to be afraid than Millennials (73%) and Generation X (75%) drivers.
    • Women (85%) are more likely to be afraid than men (69%).

To educate consumers on the effectiveness of emerging vehicle technologies, AAA is committed to the on-going, unbiased testing of automated vehicle technologies. Previous testing of automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, self-parking technology and lane keeping systems has shown both great promise and great variation. This variation may be particularly concerning to consumers, with AAA’s survey revealing that 81 percent of Americans feel that automated vehicle systems should all work similarly and consistently across all vehicle manufacturers. Future AAA testing will look at how well systems work together to achieve higher levels of automation.

“Every year, we lose approximately 35,000 people on America’s roadways, most as a result of human error,” said Jill Ingrassia, AAA’s managing director of Government Relations and Traffic Safety. “Connected and automated vehicle technologies have the potential to dramatically reduce this number, and automakers, government agencies and safety organizations like AAA must continue working together to ensure that these new vehicles are safely tested and deployed.”

For additional information about the survey, including a fact sheet and infographics, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Ellen Edmonds Contact TileSeventy percent of U.S. drivers at risk for costly, dangerous rust damage

ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 21, 2017) – As the end of winter approaches, millions of Americans will face pricey vehicle repairs from rust damage caused by chemicals used to de-ice roadways. According to a new AAA survey, U.S. drivers paid an estimated $15.4 billion in rust repairs caused by de-icing methods over the last five years, or approximately $3 billion annually. AAA warns drivers, especially the 70 percent (150 million) who live in areas affected by snow and ice, to take action to prevent dangerous rust-related vehicle damage to brake lines, fuel tanks, exhaust systems and other critical vehicle components.

Additional Resources

“While the application of de-icing salts and solutions is critical to keeping our nation’s roadways safe every winter, it’s important that drivers pay attention to warning signs that their vehicle may be suffering from rust-related damage,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “This can be much more than a cosmetic issue, it can also create serious safety issues for drivers by impacting brake lines, exhaust systems, fuel tanks and electrical connections.”

AAA strongly urges drivers who experience any of the following vehicle malfunctions to immediately move the vehicle off the road to a safe location and have it towed to a trusted repair facility.

  • In-dash warning lights for brakes and other critical systems.
  • A “spongey” or soft feeling when applying pressure to the brake pedal.
  • An unusually loud exhaust sound or the smell of fumes in or around the vehicle.
  • The prominent smell of gasoline or diesel fuel when the vehicle is parked or running.

In recent years, many state and local transportation departments have shifted from using rock salt to liquid de-icers to combat ice and snow on the roadways. These newer alternatives are more effective than traditional salt because they can be applied before a snowstorm, have a lower freezing point and melt ice and snow faster. However, these same characteristics can be even more damaging to vehicles since the chemicals remain in liquid form longer and are more likely to coat components and seep into cracks and crevices where corrosion can accelerate.

“In the last five years, 22 million U.S. drivers have experienced rust damage to their cars due to salt and liquid de-icers,” continued Nielsen. “In addition to the safety risk, repairs to fix these problems are often costly, averaging almost $500 per occurrence.”

While some rust damage is unavoidable, AAA recommends drivers take the following preventative steps in order to reduce the possibility of vehicle damage:

  • When possible, limit driving immediately before, during and after winter storms when salt and de-icing solutions are being applied and are at their highest concentrations.
  • Frequently wash your vehicle, paying particular attention to the undercarriage. This will loosen, dissolve and neutralize road salts. Many drive-through car washes offer an undercarriage rinse as an option.
  • Always use a high-quality car wash solution, not a household dish detergent that will strip the wax from your vehicle.
  • Repair any body damage and touch up paint scratches and chips that expose bare metal which could lead to rust.
  • Before the start of winter, thoroughly wash and clean your vehicle prior to the start of winter and apply a coat of wax to protect the finish.
  • Give the entire vehicle and undercarriage one last cleaning in the spring. Any deposits left over from winter can continue to cause corrosion year-round if not properly removed.

Pothole damage is another concern for drivers, as snow and ice melt and roadways begin to crumble. A new AAA survey found that nearly 30 million U.S. drivers experienced pothole damage significant enough to require repair in 2016, with repair bills ranging from under $250 to more than $1000. To address this issue, AAA believes that more funding is needed to keep pace with critical repairs and ongoing maintenance of the nation’s roadways.

When pothole or rust damage occurs, it is imperative to choose a reputable repair facility. The AAA Approved Auto Repair (AAR) network includes nearly 7,000 facilities which have met AAA’s high standards, including, certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, rigorous inspections and customer satisfaction. AAA members are eligible for special benefits such as priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts, free inspections, dispute resolution assistance and more. To locate an AAR shop in your area, visit AAA.com/AutoRepair.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Most U.S. Drivers Leery of Auto Repair Shops

December 1st, 2016 by Jessica Souto

Mariam Ali Contact TileAAA advises that finding a trusted mechanic is more important than ever

ORLANDO, Fla. (December 1, 2016) – According to a new AAA survey, two out of three U.S. drivers do not trust auto repair shops in general – citing overcharges, recommendations for unnecessary services and poor past experiences for their lack of confidence. However, the survey also reveals that the majority (64 percent) of U.S. drivers have singled out an auto repair shop that they do trust, suggesting that consumers have prioritized finding a reliable mechanic in an industry with imperfect reputation. AAA urges all drivers to identify a reputable repair facility well before one is needed.

Additional Resources

“To minimize the stress associated with vehicle repair and maintenance, it is critical that drivers find an honest repair shop that they can trust with their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA found that one-third of U.S. drivers – 75 million motorists in total – have yet to find a trusted repair facility, leaving them vulnerable when trouble strikes.”

With today’s cars collecting a variety of data about the health of the vehicle, drivers need a trusted repair facility more than ever. “Connected cars” with built-in diagnostic capabilities can alert drivers to vehicle trouble and help repair shops quickly and accurately address issues. Unsurprisingly, given concerns around data security, AAA found that the majority of U.S. drivers want the ability to direct their vehicle’s data to the repair shop of their choice – the trusted facility with whom they have built a relationship.

Additional findings from the survey include:

  • The top reasons that U.S. drivers do not trust repair shops are:
    • Recommending unnecessary services (76 percent)
    • Overcharging for services (73 percent)
    • Negative past experiences (63 percent)
    • Concerns that the work will not be done correctly (49 percent)
  • Older drivers are more likely to trust auto repair shops than younger drivers.
    • Baby Boomers are twice as likely than younger generations to fully trust auto repair facilities in general, with one-in-five reporting they “totally trust” the industry.
    • Baby Boomers (76 percent) are also more likely to have a chosen auto repair shop that they trust compared to Millennials (55 percent) and Gen-Xers (56 percent).

“As a service to our members and the general public, the AAA Approved Auto Repair program is designed to help drivers identify trustworthy repair shops,” Nielsen continued. “Facilities meet AAA standards by undergoing a rigorous investigation conducted by Automotive Service Excellence certified inspectors, including quarterly inspections and annual re-certifications that ensures high professional standards for technical training, equipment, cleanliness and customer service. Plus, if something does go wrong, AAA steps in to arbitrate any issues on behalf of its members.”

To find a trustworthy auto repair shop, AAA suggests that drivers:

  • Look for a repair shop before issues occur. Ask family and friends for recommendations and visit AAA.com/autorepair to locate an AAA Approved Auto Repair facility near you.
  • Research potential repair shops and find out how long they have been in business. This can be a good indicator of shop quality. Also, look into how they deal with consumer complaints. The Better Business Bureau, State Department of Consumer Affairs or attorney general’s office can provide those complaints.
  • Visit the auto repair shop for a minor job such as an oil change or tire rotation. While waiting, talk with shop employees and inspect the shop’s appearance, amenities, technician credentials, and parts and labor warranty. If you find the service to be good, stick with them. Build a relationship with the technician so they can get to know you and your vehicle.

AAA’s Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program was created more than 35 years ago and includes nearly 7,000 facilities across North America. Once a shop meets AAA’s high standards, including certifications, technical training, cleanliness, insurance requirements, it becomes part of the AAR program where it’s re-inspected annually and monitored for customer satisfaction. AAA members receive several unique benefits by selecting an AAR facility, including priority service, a 24-month/24,000-mile warranty, discounts on repairs, free inspections, AAA assistance with dispute resolutions and more.

For additional information about the survey, including a fact sheet and infographics, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

U.S. Drivers Waste $2.1 Billion Annually on Premium Gasoline

September 20th, 2016 by Jessica Souto

ErinSteppAAA testing shows no benefit to splurging on premium fuel when not required by the manufacturer

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 20, 2016) – According to new AAA research, American drivers wasted more than $2.1 billion dollars in the last year by using premium-grade gasoline in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. With 16.5 million U.S. drivers having used premium fuel despite the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation in the last 12 months, AAA conducted a comprehensive fuel evaluation to determine what, if any, benefit the practice offers to consumers. After using industry-standard test protocols designed to evaluate vehicle performance, fuel economy and emissions, AAA found no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that only requires regular-grade fuel.

Additional Resources

“Drivers see the ‘premium’ name at the pump and may assume the fuel is better for their vehicle,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “AAA cautions drivers that premium gasoline is higher octane, not higher quality, and urges drivers to follow the owner’s manual recommendations for their vehicle’s fuel.”

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested 87-octane (regular) and 93-octane (premium) gasoline in vehicles equipped with a V-8, V-6 or I4 engine designed to operate on regular-grade fuel. To evaluate the effects of using a higher-octane fuel when it’s not required by the manufacturer, each vehicle was tested on a dynamometer, which is essentially a treadmill for cars that is designed to measure horsepower, fuel economy and tailpipe emissions when using both fuel types and variety of driving conditions. The laboratory testing found no significant increases in any tested category, indicating the practice of using premium gasoline when it’s not required for the vehicle offers no advantage.

“AAA’s tests reveal that there is no benefit to using premium gasoline in a vehicle that requires regular fuel,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “Premium gasoline is specifically formulated to be compatible with specific types of engine designs and most vehicles cannot take advantage of the higher octane rating.”

To understand the magnitude of the issue, AAA surveyed U.S. drivers to understand what type of fuel their vehicles require and the frequency at which they upgrade to premium fuel. Results reveal:

  • Seventy percent of U.S. drivers currently own a vehicle that requires regular gasoline, while 16 percent drive vehicles that require premium fuel. The remaining 14 percent own a vehicle that requires mid-grade gasoline (10 percent) or uses an alternative energy source (4 percent).
  • In the last 12 months, 16.5 million U.S. drivers unnecessarily used premium-grade gasoline in their vehicle at least once. On average, those that upgraded to premium gasoline did so at least once per month.
  • In the last 12 months, U.S. drivers unnecessarily used premium gasoline in their vehicle more than 270 million times.

“When it comes to gasoline, ‘premium’ does not mean ‘better’ if your vehicle doesn’t require it,” continued Nielsen. “Drivers looking to upgrade to a higher quality fuel for their vehicle should save their money and select a TOP TIER™ gasoline, not a higher-octane one.”

Previous AAA research found that fuel quality varies significantly among gasoline retailers and that using a gasoline that meets TOP TIER standards can result in 19 times fewer engine deposits, increase vehicle performance and improve fuel economy. To protect vehicle investments, AAA urges drivers to use the appropriate gasoline as determined by their car’s manufacturer (regular or premium) that meets TOP TIER standards for engine cleanliness and performance.

To calculate the total annual cost of using premium gasoline when not required by the vehicle manufacturer, AAA conducted a comprehensive analysis that included a U.S. consumer survey, Federal Highway Administration data, per-gallon costs of premium gasoline and regular gasoline and the average number of fill-ups annually. All testing was conducted at the Automotive Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center in Los Angeles, California, using an industry-standard chassis dynamometer, emissions test equipment and Environmental Protection Agency driving cycles. All gasoline used for testing was EPA Tier III certification fuel with ten percent ethanol content in both regular and premium grades. Certified test fuel was used to remove variability in fuel quality and additives. For this study, AAA did not evaluate the effects of using regular fuel in an engine that requires premium gasoline.

For additional information about premium fuel, including the full test report and fact sheet, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

ErinSteppAAA Tests Reveal Automatic Emergency Braking Systems Vary Significantly

ORLANDO, Fla (August 24, 2016) – New test results from AAA reveal that automatic emergency braking systems — the safety technology that will soon be standard equipment on 99 percent of vehicles — vary widely in design and performance. All the systems tested by AAA are designed to apply the brakes when a driver fails to engage, however, those that are designed to prevent crashes reduced vehicle speeds by nearly twice that of those designed to lessen crash severity. While any reduction in speed offers a significant safety benefit to drivers, AAA warns that automatic braking systems are not all designed to prevent collisions and urges consumers to fully understand system limitations before getting behind the wheel.

Additional Resources

“AAA found that two-thirds of Americans familiar with the technology believe that automatic emergency braking systems are designed to avoid crashes without driver intervention,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “The reality is that today’s systems vary greatly in performance, and many are not designed to stop a moving car.”

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA evaluated five 2016 model-year vehicles equipped with automatic emergency braking systems for performance within system limitations and in real-world driving scenarios that were designed to push the technology’s limits. Systems were tested and compared based on the capabilities and limitations stated in the owner’s manuals and grouped into two categories — those designed to slow or stop the vehicle enough to prevent crashes, and those designed to slow the vehicle to lessen crash severity. After more than 70 trials, tests reveal:

  • In terms of overall speed reduction, the systems designed to prevent crashes reduced vehicle speeds by twice that of systems that are designed to only lessen crash severity (79 percent speed reduction vs. 40 percent speed reduction).
  • With speed differentials of under 30 mph, systems designed to prevent crashes successfully avoided collisions in 60 percent of test scenarios.
    • Surprisingly, the systems designed to only lessen crash severity were able to completely avoid crashes in nearly one-third (33 percent) of test scenarios.
  • When pushed beyond stated system limitations and proposed federal requirements, the variation among systems became more pronounced.
    • When traveling at 45 mph and approaching a static vehicle, the systems designed to prevent crashes reduced speeds by 74 percent overall and avoided crashes in 40 percent of scenarios. In contrast, systems designed to lessen crash severity were only able to reduce vehicle speed by 9 percent overall.

“Automatic emergency braking systems have the potential to drastically reduce the risk of injury from a crash,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “When traveling at 30 mph, a speed reduction of just 10 mph can reduce the energy of crash impact by more than 50 percent.”

In addition to the independent testing, AAA surveyed U.S. drivers to understand consumer purchase habits and trust of automatic emergency braking systems. Results reveal:

  • Nine percent of U.S. drivers currently have automatic emergency braking on their vehicle.
  • Nearly 40 percent of U.S. drivers want automatic emergency braking on their next vehicle.
    • Men are more likely to want an automatic emergency braking system in their next vehicle (42 percent) than female drivers (35 percent).
  • Two out of five U.S. drivers trust automatic emergency braking to work.
    • Drivers who currently own a vehicle equipped with automatic emergency braking system are more likely to trust it to work (71 percent) compared to drivers that have not experienced the technology (41 percent).

“When shopping for a new vehicle, AAA recommends considering one equipped with an automatic emergency braking system,” continued Nielsen. “However, with the proliferation of vehicle technology, it’s more important than ever for drivers to fully understand their vehicle’s capabilities and limitations before driving off the dealer lot.”

For its potential to reduce crash severity, 20 automakers representing 99 percent of vehicle sales have committed to making automatic emergency braking systems standard on all new vehicles by 2022. The U.S. Department of Transportation said this voluntary agreement will make the safety feature available on new cars up to three years sooner than could be achieved through the formal regulatory process. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions, which automatic emergency braking systems are designed to mitigate, result in nearly 2,000 fatalities and more than 500,000 injuries annually. Currently, 10 percent of new vehicles have automatic emergency braking as standard equipment, and more than half of new vehicles offer the feature as an option.

AAA’s testing of automatic emergency braking systems was conducted on a closed course at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Using instrumented vehicles and a state-of the-art robotic “soft car” that allowed for collisions without vehicle damage, AAA collected vehicle separation, speed and deceleration data in a variety of crash scenarios designed to mirror real-world driving conditions. The testing was designed to build on previous testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. For additional information, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Despite Vehicle Advances, Break Downs at Record High

July 20th, 2016 by Jessica Souto

Mariam Ali Contact TileAAA rescued a record-breaking 32 million drivers in 2015

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 20, 2016) – Despite advances in vehicle technology, including maintenance reminders and other dashboard alerts designed to mitigate roadside trouble, AAA rescued a record-breaking 32 million drivers in 2015, with more battery, flat tire and key problems than ever before, a new study shows. Vehicles fewer than five years old in particular experienced a higher proportion of tire and key-related issues than older vehicles, suggesting that the trend toward eliminating the spare tire and moving to electronic keyless ignitions may have unintended consequences.

Additional Resources

  • Infographic 1 | 2

“Vehicles today are advanced more than ever, yet are still vulnerable to breakdowns,” said Cliff Ruud, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Solutions. “Sleek, low profile tires are highly susceptible to damage, electronic keyless ignitions can zap battery life and despite advanced warning systems, more than half a million drivers ran out of gas last year.”

Owners of new vehicles may be unaware that some new vehicle designs and features may leave them vulnerable at the roadside. To reduce vehicle weight and boost fuel economy, spare tires are being eliminated from new vehicles at alarming rates, and are being replaced with tire inflator kits that can only remedy some flat tire situations. Additionally, new keyless ignition systems can drain the battery life when keys are stored too close to the vehicle and can lock a driver out of the vehicle while the engine is still running. Finally, despite nearly all new vehicles being equipped with low fuel warning alerts and range estimations, a higher proportion of drivers are using these systems to push the limits between fuel ups.

Other key findings from an analysis of AAA’s 2015 roadside assistance data include:

  • Battery failures, flat tires and keys locked inside the vehicle remain the top roadside assistance requests.
  • Vehicles fewer than five years old have a higher proportion of tire, key and fuel-related issues than older vehicles. Due in part to complex, electronic vehicle designs, one-in-five service calls for a newer vehicle required a tow to a repair facility.
  • Vehicles between 6 and 10 years old have the highest proportion of battery-related issues, as most batteries have a three- to five-year life.
  • Roadside assistance calls peak in the summer (8.3 million) followed by winter (8.1 million), fall (7.8 million) and spring (7.7 million).
  • Drivers are most likely to request roadside assistance on Mondays and least likely to request assistance on Sundays.
  • Drivers in the West experienced the most breakdowns, followed by the South, the Northeast and the Midwest.
  • Despite advances in key technology, AAA came to the rescue of more than four million drivers locked out of their vehicles.

“Drivers today have increasingly-connected lifestyles, and want reliable, flexible service options when trouble strikes,” continued Ruud. “AAA has responded with flexible roadside assistance offerings nationwide including app-based service requests and the ability to track assigned service vehicles in real time on a smartphone.”

To help prevent millions of roadside breakdowns from happening, AAA offers the following recommendations for common roadside problems:

  • Check for a spare tire: Before purchasing a car, check that the vehicle includes a spare tire. If it doesn’t, consider adding one as an option. Tire inflator kits — which have replaced spare tires on tens of millions of vehicles –cannot remedy all types of tire damage.
  • Check tires: At least once a month, check the tire pressure to ensure proper inflation. This affects tire wear and vehicle handling. Tires should be rotated based on the manufacturer’s recommended schedule for the vehicle.
  • Lockouts: AAA recommends motorists take special care of their “smart keys” and keyless entry fobs. Always take keys when exiting the car, avoid exposing keyless-entry remote or smart keys to water and always replace the key or fob battery when recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Battery: AAA recommends that drivers have their vehicle’s battery tested when it reaches three years of age and on an annual basis thereafter. AAA’s Mobile Battery Service offers free battery testing for AAA members.
  • Pack an emergency kit: A recent AAA survey shows that more than 40 percent of motorists do not carry an emergency kit in their vehicle. AAA recommends that every driver have a well-stocked emergency kit, which includes a mobile phone and car charger; a flashlight with extra batteries; a first-aid kit; drinking water; extra snacks/food for your travelers and any pets; battery booster cables; and emergency flares or reflectors.

Before hitting the road, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad, Android and Apple Watch. Travelers can use the app to request AAA roadside assistance, route a trip, find the lowest gas prices, access exclusive member discounts, book a hotel and more. In addition, AAA members can also track in real time the location of their assigned vehicle with Service Tracker. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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.

AAA: Not All Gasoline Created Equal

July 7th, 2016 by AAA

ErinSteppTests show quality gasoline keeps engines 19 times cleaner

ORLANDO, Fla. (July 7, 2016) – New testing from AAA has uncovered significant differences in the quality of gasoline sold at fuel retailers in the United States. The independent laboratory testing compared gasolines that meet TOP TIER™ standards often marketed to consumers as having enhanced, engine-cleaning detergent additives with gasoline brands that do not participate in the automaker-backed program. Among brands tested, non-TOP TIER gasolines caused 19 times more engine deposits than TOP TIER brands after just 4,000 miles of simulated driving. Such carbon deposits are known to reduce fuel economy, increase emissions and negatively impact vehicle performance, particularly on newer vehicles. To protect vehicle investments, AAA urges drivers to use a gasoline that meets TOP TIER standards for engine cleanliness and performance.

Additional Resources

“AAA was surprised to learn the extent to which detergent additives impact gasoline quality,” revealed John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “As advertised, tested TOP TIER gasolines kept engines remarkably cleaner than other fuels we tested.”

In response to increasing levels of carbon deposits in modern engine designs, the Environmental Protection Agency mandated a minimum level of detergent for all gasoline sold in the United States in 1996. However, some automakers believe the minimum does not go far enough to ensure optimal vehicle performance and their ability to meet increasingly-stringent fuel economy and emissions requirements. The TOP TIER program and performance standard were developed to guarantee that program participants’ gasoline meets stricter targets for engine cleanliness.

“When it comes to selecting a gasoline, automakers got it right – TOP TIER gasoline performs best,” continued Nielsen. “By selecting a quality gasoline, drivers can minimize engine deposits, increase vehicle performance and improve fuel economy.”

Despite the fact that two-thirds of U.S. drivers believe there is a difference in quality of gasoline sold by different gas stations, a AAA survey reveals that Americans value convenience and price over quality when it comes to selecting a gas station.

  • Three-quarters of U.S. drivers choose a gas station based on location (75 percent) or price (73 percent).
  • Nearly one-third (29 percent) of U.S drivers choose a gas station based on a rewards program.
  • Only 12 percent of U.S. drivers select a gas station based on whether the gasoline contains an enhanced detergent package.
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of U.S. drivers do not regularly buy gasoline that contains an enhanced detergent additive.
  • Men (44 percent) are more likely than women (26 percent) to regularly buy a gasoline that contains an enhanced detergent package, as are baby boomers (41 percent) compared to millennials (32 percent).

“Americans are six times more likely to choose a gas station based on the price of gasoline rather than the quality of the fuel,” continued Nielsen. “Since TOP TIER gasoline is widely available and only an average of three cents more per gallon, AAA urges drivers to reconsider their priorities when selecting a gas station.”

To ensure a gas station sells a high quality gasoline, consumers should research the fuel options near them. According to TOP TIER, one-third of gas stations meet the TOP TIER standard for fuel quality. Retailers interested in participating in the TOP TIER program can find additional information here.

“Fortunately, consumers can reverse some engine deposits simply by switching gasoline brands,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering. “After a few thousand miles with TOP TIER gasoline, performance issues like rough idling or hesitation during acceleration can often be resolved.”

For testing purposes, AAA selected TOP TIER and non-TOP TIER gasolines from a southern Texas market that represents the type of gasoline sold across the majority of the United States. To measure intake valve and combustion chamber deposits, AAA engaged the services of an independent International Standards Organization 17025 certified engine testing lab to perform an ASTM International standard test on fuels.

To evaluate consumer gasoline preferences, AAA contracted with a national research company to perform a telephone survey of 1,002 adults (18 years of age and older) living in the continental United States. Survey results are an accurate representation of the total continental U.S. population, 18 years of age and older, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

For additional information about fuel quality, including the full test report and fact sheet, visit NewsRoom.AAA.com.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

Tesla Model S 70D Is Top AAA Green Car

April 19th, 2016 by AAA

ErinStepp2016 AAA Green Car Guide Now Available

Additional Resources

ORLANDO, Fla. (April 19, 2016)The 2015 Tesla Model S 70D was named the Top AAA Green Car, the motor club announced today. The Tesla is featured with 80 other green vehicles in the 2016 AAA Green Car Guide, a comprehensive report published annually by the largest member of the AAA federation – the Automobile Club of Southern California and its Automotive Research Center.

AAA’s top three green vehicles, all electrics, were announced today. The BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium rounded out the top three.

“The Tesla Model S 70D has a 240-mile range, room for five, excellent power and steering, and fast charge capability,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “Add sleek styling, great acceleration and an air of sophistication that separates it from other alternative-fueled vehicles and you see why the Model S 70D was our top vehicle this year.”

2016 AAA Top Green Car and Top 5 points:

  1. 2015 Tesla Model S 70D 92.49
  2. 2014 BMW i3 88.47
  3. 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf SEL Premium 87.09
  4. 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron Premium 83.49
  5. 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium  81.96

Each of 13 evaluations was scored on 0-10 points.  Scores were totaled to determine top vehicles. The guide summarizes vehicle specifications, test scores, data and observations and lists its strengths and weaknesses. Each year, 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 2016, a prior model year’s results were used. Top green vehicle winners received AAA’s environmentally-friendly trophy made of sustainable bamboo and recycled aluminum.

“The research center’s evaluators divided the vehicles into six categories, crunched the numbers, and identified winners in each category,” added Nielsen. “They also recognized winners by price,” he said. “The Tesla took three awards – Best Green Car over $50,000, the large car category winner and the AAA Top Green Car. In other categories, the best green car under $30,000 was the Mazda 3S Grand Touring, and the best green pickup is the Ford F-150 Supercab Lariat.”

“Today car shoppers can choose high-quality, zero-to-low-emission vehicles in a growing selection of body type and size and price.  The AAA Green Car Guide is designed to help give consumers research-based information and tips to find the vehicle that best suits their needs and navigate the green car marketplace with confidence,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automotive Research Center. “AAA’s expertise along with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s nearly half-century of automotive research with alternative fuel vehicles continues to benefit AAA members and the public today.”

“Green vehicles offer motorists a way to save on energy costs,” she added.  A recent AAA member green vehicle survey found that green car issues are important across generations with millennials and non-millennials saying they’d consider buying a green vehicle because of fuel costs and environmental impact.  The majority of respondents in the AAA survey also said they are interested in a green vehicle when shopping for a new car and 82 percent stated it was important to understand green technology.

To help car buyers and enthusiasts looking for the latest information on fuel-efficient vehicles and low-emission technology, the sixth annual AAA guide reviews battery electric vehicles, compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) vehicles, clean diesels, hybrids, partial zero emission vehicles (PZEVs), and vehicles with high fuel economy. Vehicles were grouped into categories according to size, body type and three price ranges. They were scored by the Los Angeles-based Automotive Research Center in real-world evaluations (acceleration, handling, ride comfort, turning, cargo capacity, etc.). The report also contains in-depth information about green technologies, vehicle safety and advanced driver assistance systems.

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, Calif. and on Southern California roads. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the EPA and the Automobile Club of Southern California developed the testing procedures.

The guide will be available to AAA members at no charge at select AAA branches while supplies last. More information can be found at www.AAA.com/greencar.

2016 AAA Best Green Car by Price:

Over $50,000:                    2015 Tesla Model S 70D

$30,000 to $50,000:        2014 BMW i3

Under $30,000:                 2014 Mazda 3S Grand Touring

2016 AAA Green Car Guide Category Winners:

Large car:                             Tesla Model S 70D                                          (Electric)

Midsize:                               Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTEC 4matic       (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)

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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.  Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

Podcasts

B-Roll

YouTube Videos

AAA Senior Driver Expos

NewsRoom Video Gallery

Media: Find and Download AAA Videos and B Roll.