Windshield Time

Electric vehicles: Downstream impact
Electric vehicles are coming. Be prepared. In a recent article, the Washington Post listed four consequences: 1) Oil demand could be slashed by 3.5 million barrels per day worldwide by 2025, and possibly 9 million barrels by 2040; 2) wait times for electric-vehicle charging at gas stations could turn those stations into “hospitality-type venues;” 3) if General Motors’ 2016 U.S. sales were converted to electric vehicles, 6.5 million tons, or 13 billion pounds, of greenhouse gasses would be reduced annually; and 4) the need for auto mechanics might shrink, as an electric vehicle has 20 or so electromagnetic parts, as opposed to 2,000 moving parts in the internal combustion engine.


…Speaking of GM and electric vehicles

After nearly a century of building vehicles powered by fossil fuels, General Motors announced in October that the end of GM producing internal combustion engines is fast approaching, reports the Washington Post. The acceleration to an all-electric future will begin almost immediately, with GM releasing two new electric models next year and an additional 18 by 2023. “General Motors believes in an all-electric future,” Mark Reuss, the company’s chief of global product development, was quoted as saying. “Although that future won’t happen overnight, GM is committed to driving increased usage and acceptance of electric vehicles.”


Top 5 most expensive states for auto insurance
CarData reports those states are: 1) Florida, a non-fault state with mandatory $10,000 personal injury protection, and whose hurricanes and tropical storms necessitate increased comprehensive coverage; 2) Louisiana, whose natural disasters, generous claim settlements, poorly maintained roads and the ability to directly sue insurance companies jack up premiums; 3) Michigan, with the most comprehensive no-fault insurance system, personal injury protection with unlimited lifetime medical benefits and mandatory property protection insurance; 4) New Jersey, with high accident rates, personal injury protection up to $250,000, medical fraud and population density; and 5) New York, a no-fault state (meaning that someone who is injured in an accident would first look to his or her own insurance coverage to pay for expanses), whose population density contributes to high prices.


Wandering minds
Keeping drivers engaged during hands-free driving – in case they need to re-take control of the vehicle when required – could be a challenge. Seeing Machines announced the debut of its FOVIO driver monitoring technology in the 2018 Cadillac CT6. The system uses an infrared camera on the steering wheel column to determine the driver’s attention state. The camera measures head orientation and eyelid movements under a full range of daytime and night-time driving conditions, including the use of sunglasses. If the driver looks away from the road or closes their eyes for more than a few seconds, a light bar integrated into the steering wheel will flash to guide the driver’s attention back to the road. If the system determines that the driver is continuing to ignore the road, intentionally or otherwise, a series of escalating visual, audible, seat vibration alerts are employed. This is followed, eventually, by an automatic safe stop of the vehicle if the driver does not, or cannot, return their attention to the road.


Beware flooded vehicles
More than 422,000 insured vehicles damaged by Hurricane Harvey in Texas were being processed at insurance industry salvage locations as of mid-October, reports the National Insurance Crime Bureau. In addition, more than 215,000 claims were filed following damage to vehicles from Hurricane Irma in Florida. These insured vehicles will be processed and rebranded with a salvage title and sold at online auctions to dismantlers, who will save usable parts or have the vehicle crushed and sold for scrap. Still, auto shoppers should be on the lookout for cars being sold with no indication of any damage. Some tips: Check vehicle carpeting for water damage; check for rust on screws; inspect upholstery and seat belts for water stains; remove the spare tire and inspect area for water damage; check the engine compartment for mud or indicators of submergence; check under the dashboard for mud or moisture; inspect headlights and taillights for signs of water; check the operation of electrical components; check for mold or musty odor.


Hankook opens plant in Tennessee
South Korea-based Hankook Tire opened its first manufacturing facility in the United States in Clarksville, Tenn. The Tennessee plant is Hankook’s eighth plant worldwide, and its first phase will produce 5.5 million units annually. In addition, Hankook moved its American headquarters to Nashville last year and reports it has hired more than 100 local employees to oversee operations there.


Auto pilot
To ensure the safe division of tasks between driver and vehicle in the highly and fully automated driving phases, a new device from Continental performs several key tasks. Located in the center console of the vehicle, it continuously informs vehicle occupants of the current driving mode using its kinematic function. During manual driving phases, Smart Control retracts into the center console so that the driver can use it only as a touchpad. As soon as the vehicle is on a section of road that is fit for automated driving, the device rises from the center console and the driver can activate the automated driving mode. The device can be operated in a similar way to a joystick and provides variable haptic feedback to the operator. Smart Control, combined with other cockpit elements such as a digital instrument cluster, informs vehicle occupants about the current driving mode by lighting up in a specific color. Continental believes this will contribute to keeping the driver’s attention at an optimal level, especially while the car is in automated driving mode.

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