Posts Tagged ‘megan mckernan’

Americans Steer Away from Autonomous Parking

September 22nd, 2015 by AAA

Erin SteppAAA finds self-parking technology lacks consumer trust, outperforms drivers

ORLANDO, Fla. (September 22, 2015) – As automakers increasingly integrate self-parking features into new vehicles, Americans say they are not ready to give up control. According to a new survey from AAA, nearly 80 percent of American drivers are confident in their parallel parking abilities and only one-in-four would trust this technology to park their vehicle. Despite this, AAA testing found self-parking technology outperformed unassisted drivers in four key areas.

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“Autonomous features, such as active park assist, are rapidly being introduced into new vehicles, yet American drivers are hesitant to let go of the wheel,” said John Nielsen, AAA’s managing director of Automotive Engineering and Repair. “While the vast majority of Americans say they would not trust self-parking technology, AAA found these features performed well in tests and warrants consideration of new car buyers.”

In partnership with the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center, AAA tested self-parking features on five vehicles: a 2015 Lincoln MKC, a 2015 Mercedes-Benz ML400 4Matic, a 2015 Cadillac CTS-V Sport, a 2015 BMW i3 and a 2015 Jeep Cherokee Limited.

Compared to drivers that manually parallel parked with the aid of a standard back-up camera, AAA found:

  • Drivers using self-parking systems experienced 81 percent fewer curb strikes.
  • Self-parking systems parallel parked the vehicle using 47 percent fewer maneuvers, with some systems completing the task in as little as one maneuver.
  • Self-parking systems were able to park a vehicle 10 percent faster.
  • Self-parking systems were able to park 37 percent closer to the curb.

“AAA’s testing found that self-parking technology outperformed manual parking in number of curb strikes, number of maneuvers, speed and accuracy,” said Megan McKernan, manager of the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Automotive Research Center. “While Americans report feeling confident in their parallel parking abilities, this technology proves there is room for improvement.”

While the tested self-parking systems performed well and parked quicker and more accurately than an unassisted driver, the technology is not without flaws.  AAA found that some systems parked the vehicles exceedingly close to the curb, leaving wheels and tires vulnerable to scratches and costly repairs.

“AAA recommends that drivers leave six-to-eight inches between the vehicle and the curb when parallel parking,” warned Nielsen. “With some systems leaving as little as a half-inch buffer, AAA urges automakers to increase this distance to prevent vehicle damage.”

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.

 

 

 

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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.

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 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

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.

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“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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